As NFL Week Nine arrives, the current state of the NFC East has many of us scratching our heads.

It’s been shaky. It’s been flaky.

Here we are at the  halfway point of the 2020 NFL season, and the Philadelphia Eagles are sitting gingerly atop what is now affectionately known as the NFC Least.

As the Eagles bye week dawns, the NJ sports betting crowd can examine the wagering prospects and the shape of the division.

NFL Week 9: Eagles + NFC East lead

While Sunday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys was not pretty by any means, the Eagles just saved their season. Sunday’s 23-9 victory gives them two critical home triumphs over the course of 10 days.

DraftKings Sportsbook had the Eagles odds at +10.5, which somehow managed to pay out. Combine the Dallas win with last week’s 22-21 narrow escape against the New York Giants, and it’s Philadelphia with the inside track to win the NFC Least.

And from an NFL betting perspective, the Eagles are 3 -4-1 against the moneyline and 3-5 against the spread. By the way, the Birds are the first team in the division to put together a two-game win streak.

The Eagles still have three division games remaining on the schedule:

  • Nov. 15 at Giants, 1 p.m.
  • Dec. 27 at Dallas, 4:25 p.m.
  • Jan. 3 Washington, 1 p.m.

Suddenly, that 23-23 tie with the Cincinnati Bengals in Week Three looks like half a win rather than half a loss.

NFC East futures heading into NFL Week 9

So remember the beginning of the season, when the Cowboys were getting all the NFC East action at BetMGM Sportsbook?

Well, those Cowboys wagers are not looking so hot at the moment. At the same time, from a division-wagering standpoint, the Eagles’ train just left the station. The value went from -155 before the Dallas game to -250 at DraftKings.

Within the division, the value appears to be with the Washington Football Team, still an attractive +400 with its 2-5 record. Washington maintained a good price and vaulted to second behind Philadelphia.

Dallas, which stood  at +350 before the game, soared to +800. The Cowboys have been overbet all season and are the only NFL team that has yet to cover a spread.

It’s true that a small win streak can elevate any team’s chances in this division, but we’re essentially halfway home. Division losses are big.

Just look at the Giants. They held an 11-point fourth-quarter lead over the Eagles a few days ago. Strangely, the Giants would have been tied for first place had they pulled out the victory. Three days later, Washington beat Dallas.

But the Giants didn’t get the job done.

New York is in last place and getting  12.5 points at home against Tampa Bay tonight. New York will probably have seven losses when they invade Washington.

They have surged to +1300 to win the division.

OK, this is the first time since 1970 that no NFC East team had at least three wins through seven weeks. However, one of these teams will host a playoff game.

NFL Week 9 big matchups

Barring a tie in Sunday’s game, either Washington will move solidly into second place or New York will give the Eagles breathing room.

The FanDuel Sportsbook line of Washington -3.5 reflects the standard home-field edge of three points.

Washington lost to the G-Men 20-19 in Week Six. The team looks much better with Kyle Allen at quarterback than Dwayne Haskins, and Washington appears ready to play the best football it’s capable of in the next month. Plus, the Football Team  has covered the spread two weeks in a row.

Washington also has wins over Philadelphia and Dallas. This means if the team defeats the Giants, the franchise will have a victory over every NFC Least opponent.

And we can’t forget about them Cowboys.

They have the dubious task of facing the NFL’s only remaining unbeaten team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, at home. FanDuel has Dallas, who is rapidly becoming irrelevant, as 9.5-point underdogs.

Will Andy Dalton return at quarterback for the Cowboys? Will it matter?

Eagles offense continues to be a concern

Even though they are leading the NFC East, the Eagles are struggling offensively.

Coming into the Sunday game against Dallas, quarterback Carson Wentz had been sacked 28 times, which was the most in the league.

He had been hurried 128 times, also tops in the league.

The trend continued Sunday.

Wentz was sacked four times. He also committed a ghastly four turnovers, with two interceptions and two fumbles lost. Better teams will make the Eagles pay for those mistakes more than the Cowboys did Sunday.

Some of the trouble originates from the offensive line protection.

But most of it happens because receivers can’t get open. Wentz often has time, surveys the field and can’t find a receiver. Then he makes a bad play.

The Eagles need to involve the tight end, which used to be the key to their offense. They also need to pass more on first down, as this team has become significantly predictable.

Philadelphia passed on first down just once when starting drives against the Cowboys. There were no crossing routes and few screens.

Wentz made two awful plays in the first half against the Cowboys. One resulted in a fumble that threatened to help Dallas build on its 3-0 lead. The second was a throw off of the wrong foot when he could have run or thrown for a short gain. Wentz’s pass was intercepted in the end zone. The Eagles wasted prime field position throughout the second quarter.

Dallas had set a league record by allowing 20 points in the first half of every game this season. Against the Eagles, they gave up seven points and actually led at intermission.

Eagles bettors like that the defense tallied a touchdown to provide the cover and break open a 15-9 game midway through the final quarter. The defensive score prop also paid between 4-1 and 5-1 across NJ sportsbooks apps.

Around the league

We’ll see what Monday’s game takes out of the Buccaneers. They must turn it around quickly to host the New Orleans Saints in their most important matchup of the season.

This has the makings of a revenge game for Tampa quarterback Tom Brady, who looked ordinary in Tampa’s Week One loss to the Saints. Now he has Rob Gronkowski in full form, so this week could be a different story.

The Seattle Seahawks as a small favorite against the Buffalo Bills is an excellent matchup. The Bills are 6-2 but have not covered for three straight weeks.

And the Jets, playing better despite being the league’s lone winless team, are +7 on the early DraftKings line. They play the New England Patriots next Monday night.

The Jets and Giants may share MetLife Stadium, but between them, they have one home win. The visiting San Francisco 49ers have two.

Speaking of the 49ers, they host the Green Bay Packers in a marquee Thursday Night Football matchup. Green Bay is giving in the neighborhood of a field goal.

photo by ASSOCIATED PRESS

Dave Bontempo

About

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.