Somebody’s going to surprise the football betting market this year. Teams that underperformed in 2013 will shock the world in 2014. But which ones? Let’s look at the numbers and see who the best NFL bets are.
There are two sure-fire ways to make money betting on football:
1. Bet on undervalued teams; and
2. Bet against overvalued teams.
Pretty simple, right? Now all you need to do is pick the right teams. There are certain rules of thumb that you can use; you’ll find some of them in this NFL betting manifesto. So let’s get to work and identify the five best “follow” candidates for 2014. If you agree with this assessment, you can hammer these teams right now on the NFL odds totals, or you can look for specific single-game spots during the regular season and beyond.
The Bears had one of the best offenses in the NFL under first-year head coach Marc Trestman, finishing sixth overall on the efficiency charts even while QB Jay Cutler (89.2 passer rating) missed five games. Unfortunately for Chicago supporters, their team had one of the league’s weakest defenses (No. 25 overall), ending the season out of the playoffs at 8-8 SU and an NFC-worst 4-11-1 ATS. Chicago’s 9.2 Estimated Wins from last year, plus an influx of defensive talent like DE Jared Allen and safety Ryan Mundy, suggest the Bears will do better this year.
We’ve already discussed the Cowboys pretty heavily in this space, but they definitely belong on this list. Much like the Bears, the ‘Boys were all hat and no cattle last year, finishing 8-8 (9-7 ATS) with the No. 11-ranked offense and the No. 30-ranked defense. The difference in their respective ATS records speaks volumes about how negatively the NFL betting public views the Cowboys. There isn’t quite as much regression room here with Dallas checking in at 8.2 Estimated Wins in 2013, and things can always go off the rails in Big D with QB Tony Romo (96.7 passer rating) turning 34. But these are the chances you take when you bet on football.
Now here’s a “follow” candidate that just about everyone can agree on. The Texans were unusually bad last year at 2-14 SU and 4-12 ATS, dead last in both the regular standings and the NFL betting charts. However, while the Texans were imploding, they did play well enough to earn 3.9 Estimated Wins. They also went for the complete makeover, with a new head coach in Bill O’Brien, a new starting QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick (82.0 passer rating with Tennessee), and a new defensive star in their No. 1 overall NFL pick, LB Jadeveon Clowney. Playing in the soft AFC South should help Houston get over the hump.
Speaking of game-manager quarterbacks: Matt Cassel (81.6 passer rating). He got very little credit when he filled in for the injured Tom Brady and led the 2008 New England Patriots to a 10-5 record (9-6 ATS) in his 15 starts. And nobody talks about Cassel’s 2010 Pro Bowl season with the Kansas City Chiefs – again, 10 wins and a 9-6 ATS record in 15 starts. We’re not necessarily predicting 10 wins for the Vikings this year, but they did go 5-4 SU and 6-3 ATS with Cassel at the controls. Just sayin’.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We’re not sure if the Buccaneers (4-12 SU, 6-10 ATS) took care of that MRSA problem in their dressing room, but they did clean out the front office, installing a new GM (Jason Licht) and a new head coach (Lovie Smith). Those are solid moves for a team that already played better than you might think, posting 6.3 Estimated Wins – Tampa Bay lost its first two games by a combined three points, and nearly beat the eventual Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks (–16) in Seattle before finally succumbing in overtime. Onward and upward.