Favorites, Value Plays and Skip’em Teams
Key reasons include just being the champion for starters, now the hunted instead of the hunter brings its own set of problems. Baltimore also lost several individual leaders who will not be easily replaced and though Joe Flacco has a Super Bowl ring, few people are endorsing him as a truly elite quarterback because even Trent Dilfer has a gaudy bling on his hand.
At most sportsbooks, those betting NFL football futures will find Denver, San Francisco, Seattle and New England as the top choices.
Of the four, the two squads from the NFC West would seem to have the greatest appeal. The 49ers (+850) for our NFL Picks, were very close as a Super Bowl runner-up last February and while we often hear about the hangover of losing the big game, Jim Harbaugh is the kind of coach who truly will move on and sell his club on finishing the deal in New Jersey this year.
Seattle (+850) has essentially everything they need to make a strong push again, along with the confidence gained from last year. The biggest question is Russell Wilson the special player he appeared to be last year or does he regress?
Denver is the actual favorite at +700, yet there has to be real concerns about generating a pass rush without Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller sitting out six games. The Broncos schedule is more daunting and it is hard to overlook Peyton Manning’s postseason history.
New England (+950) still has a fine club and they will find ways to win, but is this team really ready to win first Super Bowl in eight years?
This is a segment where you are not playing the favorites and getting a little more value for your money.
Green Bay is only the next rung down from the faves at +1100, yet are under the radar for most people. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers to begin with and with improved offensive line play and better commitment to the run, the Green Bay offense should still be an elite bunch.
The Packers added bulk to the defensive and the rookies they depended on last year who were injured are returning which makes the defense faster and less inclined to be shoved around.
The Houston (+2000) defense sagged noticeably in the second half and coach Gary Kubiak and his staff have worked to rectify the situation. The elements are in place for the Texans to at least reach the AFC title game and this has to be the year, since Matt Schaub is merely an above average quarterback and the decline could start at any time.
Everyone knew New Orleans (+2200) would struggle last year and they did finishing 7-9. However, Sean Payton returns and so will the Saints swagger, just without the bounties. Drew Brees is still a Top 5 thrower in the league and the offense will score points. Last year’s defense allowed the most yards in NFL history and while I am not a big fan of Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator, if the Saints can manufacture a pass rush and create turnovers similar to 2009, New Orleans has play on potential.
Play Real Long Shots Instead of These Teams
The Atlanta Falcons were 13-3 in 2012 and when the postseason arrived, they were not even truly thought of as a good bet even with the home field advantage (four-point home underdogs in the NFC title tilt). The Falcons roster has too many finesse players and is not tough in the trenches, which is a requirement for professional football. Do not waste your money on these Birds at +1400 on the NFL odds boards.
The same goes for the New York Giants (+2200). Anybody that picked them in 2007 and 2011 to win Super Bowls just fell into luck, because in each instance, the G-Men got hot late in the season and rolled as underdogs. Trying to guess who will close fast in August is like throwing darts at a board blindfolded.