1. #1
    Chance Harper
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    Steelers, Patriots make for easy AFC picks

    Steelers, Patriots make for easy AFC picks

    While several of the NFC divisions appear to be up for grabs, the AFC provides some clear choices for their eventual division winners, including the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.


    Picking the division winners in the NFC wasn't too much of a stretch; only the NFC South was truly up for grabs in my mind – since there's no way I'm putting my money on Tarvaris Jackson (70.8 QB rating) to lead the Minnesota Vikings anywhere.

    But figuring out the mighty AFC should be considerably more difficult. Shouldn't it?

    Not according to the betting odds. Each of the four divisions has a favorite priced at higher than even money; the 4-7 Cowboys were the only such team in the NFC. We're talking four pretty damn good teams here, too. Yet I only see one of the divisions as being truly airtight. This could prove to be a great year for value handicappers in the AFC.

    AFC East: New England Patriots
    So the Patriots went 18-1 last year instead of 19-0. And they went 1-8 against the spread to finish out the season. Let's not hold that against them in this case. The Patriots are still the class of the AFC East and the entire league. Barring some catastrophe involving Tom Brady (117.2 QB rating), Gisele BŁndchen (36-24-35) and a salad shooter, they're not going to be challenged by the Dolphins, Jets or the Bills. New England is a 1-8 chalk to win the AFC East and rightly so.

    You'd have to dig pretty deep to find any aspect of the game of football the Patriots got wrong last year. They finished 19th in defensive run blocking, and their red-zone defense wasn't pristine. New England will focus on improving those areas in camp, content in the knowledge that their offense is all that and a bag of chowder.

    AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers
    The Steelers have the longest odds of any of the AFC divisional favorites at 5-6. They'll get a run for their money from the Browns (3-2) and Bengals (9-2), both of whom are talented yet uncertain commodities capable of who knows what. With Pittsburgh, you know you're going to get QB Ben Roethliserger (104.1 passer rating), one of the absolute best in the game. You're also going to get a defense that was ranked second in the league in efficiency last year.

    But the Steelers have been associated with power running for some time, and that was actually their weak link last year. Willie Parker ran for 1,316 yards last year. Big whoop - that was on 4.1 yards per carry, and he got into the end zone twice. I like first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall to come in right away and give Pittsburgh something more useful at running back.

    AFC South: Indianapolis Colts
    The Colts are a brilliant football team. They're 5-8 to win the South, and they're coming off a 13-3 (9-7 ATS) campaign. Just one problem – okay, two problems: Jacksonville (11-5 last year) and Tennessee (10-6). None of these three teams is about to slack off in 2008.

    As a pure pick, Indy is still the obvious choice. This team is only one season removed from winning the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning (98.0 QB rating) is still in his prime, his Colts offense is outstanding, and the defense improved from 27th to third in efficiency after winning the Super Bowl. But as a handicapper, I'm looking at Tennessee brimming with value at 7-1.

    AFC West: San Diego Chargers
    San Diego had two different seasons under Norv Turner. In his first year at the switch, the Chargers went 4-4 SU and ATS to start the season, then 7-1 SU and ATS to win the West. They even beat the Colts on the road in the Divisional round and gave the Patriots a rough ride in New England before finally bowing out.

    Maybe they would have made the Super Bowl if Philip Rivers (82.4 QB rating) had been at full health. He wasn't the only gimpy Charger last year, either, which makes me unwilling to touch them at 1-6 odds when Denver is lurking. But like the Colts, San Diego has proven itself the team to beat.
    Last edited by Chance Harper; 07-11-08 at 09:30 AM. Reason: photo

  2. #2
    Panic
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    Pitt is gonna have a monsterous backfield and Big Ben finally got his tall reciever in Sweed, but they have the hardest schedule in football this year. Its gonna be tough to win 10+ games and I'm a Steeler fan saying this.

  3. #3
    BadFinger
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    steelers and colts in tougher divisions with harder schedules than pats or chargers. steelers play tough schedule but they do get giants, colts and cowboys at home.

  4. #4
    slacker00
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    I still wonder about Pitts O-line. If they can figure that out, they could be explosive in 2008.

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  5. #5
    Panic
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    Im with ya, Slacker. If they can get protection and get through their brutual schedule, making the playoffs...look out. They will be the team nobody wants to play in the playoffs.

  6. #6
    INVEGA MAN
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    I have a feeling Big Ben is going to take a pounding this year

  7. #7
    ChiGuy23
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    Why even discuss AFC division futures? NE, Pit, Ind, SD yea yea yea we know. Might as well discuss NFC divisions.

  8. #8
    topcat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panic View Post
    Pitt is gonna have a monsterous backfield and Big Ben finally got his tall reciever in Sweed, but they have the hardest schedule in football this year. Its gonna be tough to win 10+ games and I'm a Steeler fan saying this.
    i agree with the steelers also.iam a big fan of willie parker.eventhough his highschool team beat ours for the state champioship.i pull for him every week.his team was clinton dark horses.our team is called south colum bus stallions.i believe new england is the team to beat.

  9. #9
    topcat
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    Quote Originally Posted by INVEGA MAN View Post
    I have a feeling Big Ben is going to take a pounding this year
    it couldnt be any worse than a near fatal accident.

  10. #10
    slacker00
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiGuy23 View Post
    Why even discuss AFC division futures? NE, Pit, Ind, SD yea yea yea we know. Might as well discuss NFC divisions.
    I kinda agree.

    I mean, NE is -1000 to win yet another division title this year. I'd rather discuss whether this is good betting value or not. Nobody is going to stand up and say the Bills are gonna win it, even though I think there might be some value there if someplace wants to lay some ridiculous odds.

    Otherwise, here's the other division favorites' odds:

    Colts -162,
    Chargers -344,
    Steelers -109.
    Cowboys -125,
    Seahawks -120,
    Saints +110,
    Vikings +140.

    These are all of the favorites for their respective divisions. I got these from Bodog.

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  11. #11
    seaborneq
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    Quote Originally Posted by slacker00 View Post
    I kinda agree.

    I mean, NE is -1000 to win yet another division title this year. I'd rather discuss whether this is good betting value or not. Nobody is going to stand up and say the Bills are gonna win it, even though I think there might be some value there if someplace wants to lay some ridiculous odds.

    Otherwise, here's the other division favorites' odds:

    Colts -162,
    Chargers -344,
    Steelers -109.
    Cowboys -125,
    Seahawks -120,
    Saints +110,
    Vikings +140.

    These are all of the favorites for their respective divisions. I got these from Bodog.

    I like the Rams at 5-1, and the Panthers at nearly 3-1.

  12. #12
    jjgold
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    Looks like the same teams will be good this year, I do not see any sleepers.

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  13. #13
    slacker00
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjgold View Post
    Looks like the same teams will be good this year, I do not see any sleepers.

    Would you consider the Vikings & Saints to be sleepers? Neither was in the playoffs last year. I'm also pencilling in Philly to get that last wildcard spot.

    In the AFC, it's tough to pick against last year's playoff teams. But, what about the Browns? It's the sexy pick for 2008, but they've still got a long way to go to mix it up with the big boys. I like Buffalo to make a run at a wildcard spot. Maybe the Texans can sneak in there too?

    Anyone like any of these "sleepers"?

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  14. #14
    ChiGuy23
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    OM has the Colts at -200. I think thats pretty solid considering NEs -1000. Might as well take the Colts there, i also really like St Louis at +500. SF at +500 may be worth a small play too. All odds considered though, I might lay the lumber on the Colts at that price.

  15. #15
    slacker00
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiGuy23 View Post
    OM has the Colts at -200. I think thats pretty solid considering NEs -1000. Might as well take the Colts there, i also really like St Louis at +500. SF at +500 may be worth a small play too. All odds considered though, I might lay the lumber on the Colts at that price.
    I'm not wild about laying -200 on the Colts. The AFC South has gotta be the toughest division in football coming up in 2008. Yes, even tougher than the NFC East, IMHO. I know it's easy to slip into that comfort zone with the Colts taking the division every year, but I see Jax, Tenn, Hou all taking it up a notch in 2008. I don't think laying ANY chalk on the Colts taking the division is wise this year, especially when it's 3 versus 1, any of these teams could win it, yes even the Texans!

    If you want a safe bet, take the Chargers. You gotta lay some chalk, but the Chiefs aren't even close, the Broncos are overrated, and nobody is even rating them better than mediocre, the Raiders are also rebuilding.

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  16. #16
    ChiGuy23
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    I just feel the South is very overrated. No offense in Tenn, Hou doesnt scare me in terms of winning the div., and Jax just cant get over the hump.


    Any thoughts on the NFC West?

  17. #17
    slacker00
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiGuy23 View Post
    I just feel the South is very overrated. No offense in Tenn, Hou doesnt scare me in terms of winning the div., and Jax just cant get over the hump.


    Any thoughts on the NFC West?
    Vince Young in his 3rd year should start to shine, despite them not getting a big name WR in the early part of the draft. There'll be adequate offense in Tenn, besides "defense wins championships". I don't sleep on coach Fischer, who puts out competitive teams year after year.

    Houston be solid in 2008. They've finally got stability at the QB position. They've got momentum and continuity now under Kubiak. Their defense is young and improving. They'll prove 8-8 was no joke and press towards a winning record in 2008.

    Jax got over the hump when they shipped out the hump to Atlanta. They got a quality playoff win on the road against Pitts, which is a quality win, IMHO. Granted they ran into a 16-0 team on the road after that, which would've been difficult for anyone to overcome. I see Jax pressing Indy every step of the way in 2008.

    What about Indy? They are my team, but Harrison's health doesn't inspire me one bit. Peyton definitely loses a step when Marvin isn't right. I certainly have faith in the young talent on this team and expect Gonzalez to move into a more dominant role in 2008, but this all still remains to be seen. Nevertheless, I hope you're right about the Colts walking away with this division, I just don't realistically see it happening in 2008.



    As for the NFC west, it's wide open. But I've said that the last couple years, and Seattle seems to keep dominating it. I seriously think the Cards can win it this year, but do you really want to bet on the Cards? lol. Rams too. Last year was forgettable, but only because of rampant injuries. The Rams have players, they just need to stay healthy and on the field for them to have a chance. Even the 49ers have a shot, IMHO. But they need some consistency from the QB position, that's really what you're betting on with the 49ers.

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  18. #18
    ChiGuy23
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    Mike Martz is exactly what SF needed......

  19. #19
    Saunders FTW
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    NE and SD are locks in their divisions

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