Giants Not Favored to Repeat NFC East Title in Super Bowl Defense

Giants Not Favored to Repeat NFC East Title in Super Bowl DefenseOnly one team from the NFC East has won a Super Bowl
this century, and that's the New York Giants, who have beaten the New England
Patriots in two of the past five NFL championship games. The G-Men were the
last NFL team to earn a playoff spot in 2011, beating the Dallas Cowboys in the
Sunday night finale of the regular season to win the East. However, New York
isn't favored to repeat as division champion in 2012 and, in fact, is favored to
miss the playoffs entirely.

The current NFC East favorite is the Philadelphia
Eagles at +140. Philly was the overwhelming division favorite a year ago as
well after landing a handful of stars via free agency and trades, but the Eagles
struggled to an 8-8 mark as one of the NFL's biggest disappointments. As usual,
quarterback Michael Vick couldn't make it through a season healthy — he missed
three games and Philly lost two of those. The injury problem has continued
this preseason as Vick has taken just 12 total snaps in two exhibition games,
leaving both with injuries. He will be ready to go in the season opener in
Cleveland.

With Vick, running back LeSean McCoy and receiver
DeSean Jackson, the Eagles should have one of the NFL's top offenses again in
2012. Philadelphia ranked fourth in the NFL in yards and eighth in points a
year ago. However, that offense will surely miss All-Pro left tackle Jason
Peters
, who is out for the season with a torn right Achilles' tendon. The
Philadelphia defense struggled at times last season but should be boosted by
the offseason trade for Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

The Eagles simply need to be better at holding leads. In
five of its first six losses last season, Philadelphia had a lead at either
halftime or entering the fourth quarter. The Eagles' over/under wins total this
season at Bovada is 10 (under a -140 favorite), and Philly is -150 to make the
playoffs and +120 to miss out again.

The last time the Giants won the Super Bowl, the 2007
season, they followed it with a division championship thanks to a 12-4 record
in '08. But New York lost its first playoff game to Philadelphia.

New York squeaked into last year's playoffs on the
strength of Eli Manning's arm as the Giants ranked last in the NFL in rushing.
Manning threw for a career-high 4,933 yards along with 29 touchdowns. Former
undrafted free agent receiver Victor Cruz became a star in 2011, catching 82
passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. He and Hakeem Nicks are one of the best receiving duos in the NFL. In addition, New York has
arguably the NFL's most feared defensive line when it comes to getting to the quarterback. But
the G-Men did lose top cornerback Aaron Ross to free agency.

The Giants were the opposite of the Eagles in that they
were terrific at comebacks. Manning tied a league record by directing seven
fourth-quarter comeback victories. New York is +200 to win the East this
season, with an over/under wins total of 9 (over a -130 favorite), which is how
many had the Giants last regular season. New York is at -135 to miss the playoffs, with
a return to the postseason at +105.

The perennially underachieving Cowboys are at +260 to
win the East, which they last did in 2009. That was the last season Jerry
Jones
' club made the postseason. Dallas finished 2011 at 8-8 and would have won
the division had the Cowboys beaten the Giants on the final Sunday. Division games were
a killer for the Cowboys, as they were 2-4 versus divisional foes — with both wins
against the last-place Washington Redskins.

The Cowboys' big problem a year ago was in the
secondary. After a Thanksgiving Day win over Miami, Dallas was 7-4 and in
control of the division. But Dallas lost four of its final five games and
allowed an average of 306 yards passing in those games. The Giants' Manning
threw for a combined 746 yards and five scores in two New York wins against the
Cowboys in that stretch. Dallas hopes it solved that problem by trading up to
take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne in the first round of this year’s draft
and signing free-agent corner Brandon Carr.

Dallas' over/under for wins this season is 8.5 (over a
-160 favorite) and not making the playoffs is the -165 favorite. The Cowboys
and Giants kick off the NFL season next Wednesday in New Jersey, with New York a
3.5-point favorite.

The Redskins haven't won the NFC East since 1999 and
they are +800 long shots to do so in 2012. Washington has been looking for a
quarterback for years and thinks it has a future superstar in Robert Griffin
III
. Washington paid a ransom to St. Louis to move up to No. 2 overall and take
the Heisman winner in this year's draft.

Washington
finished 5-11 last year for its fourth straight non-winning season. But the Skins did beat the Super Bowl-champion Giants twice in 2011. Washington wasn't
far from finishing at least .500 as six of its 11 losses came by eight points
(i.e. one possession) or less. The Redskins' over/under for wins this season is
6.5 (both -115). To make the playoffs is +450 but to miss out for the fifth
straight year is a big -650 favorite.

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