It’s hard to believe, but the half way point of the NFL season is upon us, and after a wild start to the season, the conclusion of the 2015 NFL year should be just as exciting.
Arizona Cardinals (Super Bowl +1400, NFC +700, NFC West +100, 5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS)
The Cardinals have proven to the league that they are the class of the NFC West, but do they have a shot at winning the NFC? Beating the Green Bay Packers would be a tall order, but this team has some doubters still. The teams they have played this season have a combined win/loss record of only 16-31, and with a tough stretch of their schedule upcoming, the Cardinals will be tested to see if they are truly an NFC contender, or pretender. Four of Arizona’s next five games are on the road, and it might not be the best time to tail them.
Atlanta Falcons (Super Bowl +2200, NFC +1000, NFC South +105, 6-1 SU, 4-3 ATS)
The Falcons have been quite a surprise this season, but are they worthy of the title of NFC Contender? It remains to be seen, but surely winning the NFC South would go a long way in doing so. The path has been laid for the Falcons. The Panthers are banged up and their depth is lacking. The rest of the teams in the division aren’t as good as Atlanta, but the main question mark for this team is their defense. While they are 3rd overall in the league in total offense, after a hot start, their defense has started to crumble. Atlanta is currently 18th in total defense and falling fast, and over their last two games, they have not looked great on either side of the ball. Luckily for Atlanta, their schedule coming up has five straight games against losing teams.
Baltimore Ravens (Super Bowl +20000, AFC +8000, AFC North +10000, 1-6 SU, 1-5-1 ATS)
Baltimore has been a complete dumpster fire this season, and after losing Terrell Suggs for the season, their defense has fallen off a cliff. Baltimore is giving up 27 points per game so far through seven games, and it doesn’t look like a turnaround is going to happen any time soon. They have a winnable game this week against the Chargers at home, and after a bye week they play the Jaguars and Rams at home as well. A turnaround in the next four weeks isn’t out of the question, but more so ATS than in the standings. The AFC North is out of reach already, so their only hope will be to start winning some of these home games, and to hope that the Steelers and Bengals start to lose more.
Buffalo Bills (Super Bowl +10000, AFC +4000, AFC East +80000, 3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS)
At the beginning of the season, I picked the Bills to make the playoffs, and while that still isn’t out of the question, injury, inconsistency and a tough division are all working against them. If they can get Tyrod Taylor back any time soon, they still have a chance to make a run at the playoffs. However, after losing two straight games and giving up 34 points in each of their last two games, a turnaround might be farfetched. They have a bye week in Week 8, but following that they play the three teams in their division in three straight weeks, and five of their next seven games after their bye are on the road. It’s not out of the question, but it might be a long shot at this point.
Carolina Panthers (Super Bowl +1400, NFC +700, NFC South -115, 6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS)
Carolina is one of the last remaining undefeated teams in the NFL this season, but much like the Falcons, their schedule has been easier than most. They have yet to play a team that currently has a winning record, and their opponents combined records after Week 7 is 15-26 SU. The Panthers have a solid team, but they have outperformed expectations even more so then their divisional counterpart, the Falcons. However, outside of two games against Atlanta, and games against the Giants and Packers, the Panthers do not play a team with a winning record for the rest of the season. It’s good to be in the NFC South apparently. As long as their defense can hold up, they are a solid play in the future odds, but might start to fall off eventually ATS.
Chicago Bears (Super Bowl +20000, NFC +10000, NFC North +8000, 2-4 SU, 3-3 ATS)
Outside of a couple of nice wins before their bye week, the Bears have looked like the team we thought they would. However, with a .500 ATS record against some solid opponents, the Bears might still hold some value this season in game NFL Odds. Chicago’s offense, when at full strength can still hang with almost anyone in the NFL. Their offensive numbers are a bit skewed because of being without Alshon Jeffrey to start the season, as well as missing Jay Cutler for a few games, but if those two, along with Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett can stay healthy, the Bears will be great bets on the over for the rest of the season. Outside of a three-game stretch from Weeks 10-12 where they play the Rams, Broncos and Packers, the Bears also have four games remaining against teams giving up 26 points or more. Keep an eye on Bears totals.
Cincinnati Bengals (Super Bowl +1000, AFC +450, AFC North -1400, 6-0 SU, 5-0-1 ATS)
At this point in the season, if you don’t think the Bengals are contenders, well; neither do I. The problem with trusting the Bengals is not their defense or their stacked skill player depth, it’s Andy Dalton. Dalton has now been in the league for several years, and he has yet to pull his class move of disappearing when the calendar turns to December. Until Dalton proves that he can get it done in December, I can’t trust the Bengals to be a title contender. All signs point to them having to get past New England in a potential playoff battle, so even at their prices right now, they don’t look like a team that you could make money off of in the future odds.
Cleveland Browns (Super Bowl +25000, AFC +10000, AFC North +10000, 2-5 SU, 4-3 ATS)
The Browns are one of those teams that you might have to be crazy to put them on any future odds ticket, but ATS they are a solid team when you know they are healthy. Josh McCown has been a credible quarterback passing the ball this season, and even though they still don’t have much of a run game, the Browns have covered some games you wouldn’t expect them to. The Browns are also the 6th best team in total yards so far through the first seven weeks, and that should continue. The problem with Cleveland is they are coming into a tough part of their schedule. They have to play the Cardinals, Ravens, Steelers and also play the Bengals twice in the next five games. As long as McCown can play this week, they might even be in play against Arizona.
Dallas Cowboys (Super Bowl +6600, NFC +3300, NFC East +800, 2-4 SU, 1-5 ATS)
Dallas has almost surely been the unluckiest team in the entire NFL this season, and what makes them intriguing is that even at 2-4 SU, they still have a shot at winning their division. At +800, they are by far the biggest underdog in that division through seven weeks, and even though it might take another few weeks of stomaching life without Dez Bryant and Tony Romo, as long as the Giants don’t start running away with the division, those two Cowboys will be back in time for the stretch run of the season. It may not be likely, but it’s definitely a possibility. Stay tuned.
Denver Broncos (Super Bowl +1000, AFC +450, AFC West -3300, 6-0 SU, 4-2 ATS)
Denver’s record and numbers are baffling to this point in the season. They have not lost a game, although their average margin of victory has been just six points, and their last three games they have won by an average of only four points. Their defense is tops in yards allowed and passing yards allowed. They are 2nd in points allowed and third in rushing yards allowed. However, they rank 30th in total offense, but somehow are in the top half of the league in points scored per game at 23.2. Will the offense turn things around and send us to the inevitable matchup between the Broncos and Patriots in the AFC Title game? Or, will their offense never recover and send the Broncos to a first round out in the playoffs? Denver is luck they play in a crap division, but one thing is sure, I am not touching this team with a ten-foot pole the rest of the season.
Detroit Lions (Super Bowl +30000, NFC +15000, NFC North +10000, 1-6 SU, 1-6 ATS)
If it weren’t for the Bears blowing their game against the Lions to gift Detroit their first win, Jim Caldwell might not have made it into this column as Lions head coach. The Lions are an absolute mess. Their offense rebounded some last week but it was against the Bears, one of the softest teams in the NFL on defense. If it weren’t for the 49ers, I might label the Lions the worst team in football right now, but don’t be surprised if Caldwell is the next coach to go, which could be a nice prop bet for you if you really want the value in the Lions.
Green Bay Packers (Super Bowl +300, NFC +137, NFC North -2500, 6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS)
The Packers had their streak of five straight ATS cashes broken last week against Phillip Rivers and the Chargers, but he and the Packers are still the class of the NFC. The only thing keeping them from being an even bigger favorite in the conference is how their injuries have shaped up this season, and the fact that Eddie Lacy looks like he just got up from the buffet table every time he touches the ball. I am still bullish on the Packers to win the NFC and maybe the Super Bowl against the Patriots even, but they are not without concern. The Packers next two games are also against undefeated teams on the road, but if they win those two, they have a stretch of four straight divisional games. Green Bay might be 12-0 heading into a December 13th game at home against what should be by that time a healthy Cowboys team.
Houston Texans (Super Bowl +25000, AFC +10000, AFC South +850, 2-5 SU, 2-5 ATS)
If Houston isn’t evidence enough that the Hard Knocks cure exists, I’m not sure what other evidence you’re looking for. Their defense is a lot worse than anyone thought, and it looks like Romeo Crennel is squarely to blame. Arian Foster missed the first four games with a groin injury, comes back and looks great, and then ruptures his achilles tendon in a game that the Texans were down by 30-plus points. On top of all that, their quarterbacks are awful, and DeAndre Hopkins still is a beast. It probably hurts worse to be a Texans fan this season that any other team, and if this disappointing season continues, there are going to be some changes in Houston. Bill O’Brien is squarely in the hot seat along with Caldwell, Ken Whisenhunt, Chuck Pagano and maybe even Chip Kelly.
Indianapolis Colts (Super Bowl +2800, AFC +1200, AFC South -650, 3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS)
Speaking of colossal disappointments now is a perfect time to bring up the Colts! Indy might be the worst team that everyone thought was going to be good this season. They have underperformed on all sides, and now they are in a hole, and coming up on the toughest part of their schedule. Pagano’s name has already been floated as a candidate to get fired midseason, and with a soft defense and no offensive line, the Colts even at these prices don’t give me any excitement about trying to invest in them from here on out. Indy has to play at Carolina and against the Broncos in their next two weeks before the bye week, and if they lose both those games, you can expect their season to be over, and for Pagano to be looking for a job, even though this team’s problems should be faulted more heavily on Ryan Grigson, their GM. If I‘m Pagano, and I get fired and Grigson gets to keep his job, I would try and light some stuff on fire on my way out the door.
Jacksonville Jaguars (Super Bowl +25000, AFC +10000, AFC South +750, 2-5 SU, 3-4 ATS)
Among all the bad teams in the NFL, the Jaguars might be the best bad team in the league. Their young core is finally starting to play well on both sides of the ball, and although they are 2-5, the fact they are in the AFC South actually gives them a shot to make the playoffs. I’m about to say something crazy here, but of all the NFL Odds you’ll read about in this article, the Jags’ odds to win the AFC South at +750 might be the best value you’ll see. No one wants to win this division, and with a softer schedule and a balanced roster, the Jaguars could make the impossible happen this season if the Colts keep losing, which we have already established as likely over the next two weeks.
Kansas City Chiefs (Super Bowl +12500, AFC +5000, AFC West +4000, 2-5 SU, 2-5 ATS)
If the Chiefs are unlucky this season, I would hate to see the word for the Dallas Cowboys. However, after losing Jamaal Charles to another season ending knee injury, it has sucked the life out of Kansas City. It’s a good thing the Royals are doing well in the World Series, because if not the western-most city in Missouri might be in a deep depression. Kansas City’s pass defense has been the worst in the NFL this season by almost every stat and metric, and without Charles, they have few other options in both the run and pass game. It’s hard to imagine them being a value in any sort of wager for the rest of the season, so I suggest fading if the value is there on their future opponents.
Miami Dolphins (Super Bowl +10000, AFC +4000, AFC East +8000, 3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS)
After winning two straight games under new head coach, Dan Campbell, the Dolphins ran into the immovable object in the first game of Week 8. Miami got waxed by the Patriots on Thursday Night Football, and even though they are firmly out of the picture in the AFC East, this team should have some ATS value going forward. The Jets and Patriots are both better teams, but this team is very capable of going above .500 ATS for the rest of the season, even after the devastating news of losing Cameron Wake for the rest of the season.
Minnesota Vikings (Super Bowl +3300, NFC+1600, NFC North +900, 4-2 SU, 5-1 ATS)
Before the season started I picked the Vikings to make the Super Bowl against the Patriots as one of my super long-shot value plays, because it was about 1000/1. However, now that we are almost half way through the season, it’s hard not to think that the Vikings have what it takes to make the playoffs, which I also predicted before the season. There is still a long way to go, and a lot of value has been taken away from them over the course of the last six or seven weeks, however, this team has what it takes. They start a nice and winnable three game stretch this week when they play the Bears, Rams and Raiders, but after that they have a gauntlet to run if they want to continue their quest for the playoffs. They have two games left against Green Bay, along with trips to Atlanta and Arizona, and home games against Seattle and the Giants in their final seven games.
New England Patriots (Super Bowl +260, AFC +100, AFC East -10000, 7-0 SU, 4-2-1 ATS)
When you look up the definition of ‘chalk’ in the dictionary, you’ll see two pictures; one of them will be the white, slender, calcium carbonate writing utensil, and the other picture will be Tom Brady. Everyone was predicting the Patriots would run away with the AFC East, the AFC and potentially the Super Bowl before the season, and it turns out we were all right, at least for now. The Dolphins were the Patriots latest ‘FU Tour 2015’ victim this past Thursday night, and by the looks of it, the Patriots may be on the path to another undefeated regular season. Other than a showdown in Denver against the Broncos and that defense, the Patriots will likely be at least a touchdown favorite against all the rest of their last eight opponents. They are also only 20 points off their pace from 2007 when they broke the record for most points scored in a season.
New Orleans Saints (Super Bowl +6600, NFC +4000, NFC South +1200, 3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS)
We’re going to get a good look at what the Saints are made up this week. They have now won two games in a row, and they play the Giants this week at home. If they can win SU and ATS, they will be .500 SU and on pace to be a solid bet over the course of the season. Their defense is still not going to be that good, but slowly this offense is starting to recover from the heavier than expected hit from the Jimmy Graham trade. If they can win this week and improve to 4-4 SU, this team is an excellent speculation bet at their current prices. The NFC is wider open than I predicted with the Packers’ injuries, and the Saints are the type of offense that can get hot and stay that way. They actually have a running game this season, and at the price of 40/1 to win the NFC, you might never see those prices again. Outside of their game this week, and Weeks 13 and 17 where they played two teams that are currently undefeated, the Saints have six games coming up against teams that are currently a combined 11-29 SU. I’m placing a unit or two on the Saints to both win the division and conference.
New York Giants (Super Bowl +2500, NFC +1400, NFC East +130, 4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS)
New York is another team that was probably a much better bet a couple weeks ago when they got embarrassed by the Eagles, but since then they have climbed back to above .500, and into the currently lead in the NFC East. That could be the Saints in a few weeks, but for New York, the question for them is not really their offense, but their defense. We have seen their defense get hot at the right time before and win a couple of Super Bowls because of it, so could this be the year that they make a run and win the NFC? At +1400, I’m not sold on them as a play, but if you were able to get them last week or two weeks ago, I’d feel better about it.
New York Jets (Super Bowl +3300, AFC +1600, AFC East +1800, 4-2 SU, 4-1-1 ATS)
The Jets are another team we identified before the season as a team that would hold a ton of value. Because of their defense and the timely insertion of Ryan Fitzpatrick into the starting lineup because of Geno Smith getting sucker-punched, the Jets are well on their way to a potential wild card spot in the AFC. While their future odds have long been devoid of value, their ATS value should continue to be good for the rest of the season. The Jets have not lost this season ATS when they are an underdog, and I would expect that to continue in any upcoming matchups as well.
Oakland Raiders (Super Bowl +8000, AFC +3300, AFC West +1000, 3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS)
If I would have told you before the season started that by Week 8 the Raiders would have the second best NFL Odds to win the AFC West, you would have laughed me and killed my notifications on Twitter. While I think we all knew the Raiders would be good, I know I didn’t see them as a .500 team on the season, but that’s what it looks like. While I am nowhere near ready to mark them as a potential value in anything other than the occasional game ATS, this team has exceeded expectations. However, that concerns me with this team going forward. Could the sportsbooks take advantage of that and overvalue them in hopes of public support? Maybe the Raiders are a fade for the rest of the season ATS.
Philadelphia Eagles (Super Bowl +2500, NFC +1400, NFC East +150, 3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS)
The Eagles have huddled right at or below expectations all season, but there is still plenty of time to turn things around. However, this team needs to start stringing together some wins, because even though 8-8 might win this division, the Eagles have some tough games coming up after their bye week. From Weeks 9-15, the Eagles play at New England, and have home games against the Cardinals, Bills and Dolphins. It might not be a bad play if you want to play the Eagles to win the East, but that’s about all the endorsement I can give for the Eagles at this point.
Pittsburgh Steelers (Super Bowl +2800, AFC +1200, AFC North +650, 4-3 SU, 5-1-1 ATS)
If the rumors are true, and Ben Roethlisberger is coming back this week, then the Steelers might have dodged about eight bullets. If I would have told you the Steelers would still be above .500 when Big Ben was ready to come back, you also might have called me crazy. However, that’s the NFL for you! Even with the Bengals running away with the division, if you aren’t a believer in the Bengals just yet, the Steelers should be one of your number one future odds plays for the rest of the season. At +650 to win the AFC North, they are one of the best divisional values left on the NFL Odds boards at this point in the season.
San Diego Chargers (Super Bowl +10000, AFC +4000, AFC West +5000, 2-5 SU, 2-5 ATS)
You could make the argument that the Chargers are the most disappointing team in the entire NFL. A lot of people, including myself thought they would easily be the second best team in their division, and definitely compete for a wildcard spot assuming the Broncos win the division. Outside of the once again underrated and fantastic play of Phillip Rivers, the Chargers have underperformed at almost every position. Their defense is especially bad, and their giving up more than 28 points per game. Unfortunately for Chargers fans the only way to make money off the Chargers at this point in the season might be to target their receivers in fantasy football, because they are going to be throwing a lot the rest of the season.
San Francisco (Super Bowl +30000, NFC +15000, NFC West +12500, 2-5 SU, 3-4 ATS)
Outside of having the worst NFL Odds to win the Super Bowl outside of the Bucs, the 49ers are right about where everyone expected them to be after the offseason they had. Their defense is without very many credible threats to the run or pass game, and although they are barely below .500 ATS this season, they also could very easily go on a deep and dark losing streak both SU and ATS. Their next four games are the Rams, Falcons, Seahawks and Cardinals, and I could easily see them being 2-9 SU in five weeks. Fade them Niners.
Seattle Seahawks (Super Bowl +1100, NFC +550, NFC West +150, 3-4 SU, 2-4-1 ATS)
I can not remember a time over the last two seasons where the Seahawks have been this big of an underdog in their division, as well as the conference and Super Bowl NFL Odds. It’s kind of strange to see, but so is their play so far. Their wins and losses have all come in pairs to this point in the season, so if the trend holds this week, they should be a good play in Dallas in Week 8. However, while their defense has shown up against bad teams like the Niners, Lions and Bears, who they held to a combined 13 points in those three games, against teams that are good, the Seahawks defense has been brutally average.
St. Louis Rams (Super Bowl +5000, NFC +2800, NFC West +450, 3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS)
At the halfway point in the season, it’s hard to judge the 3-3 teams. You can judge the teams that are undefeated, and you can of course judge the teams that are bad, but the ones that are right in the middle are hard to predict, and that’s where I’m at with the Rams right now. Their defense is undeniably good, both against the run and the pass, and while their offense leaves a lot to be desired, Jeff Fisher has done more with less before. Plus, with Todd Gurley emerging as a legitimate star running back, the Rams have the Fish Formula to make the playoffs. St. Louis is currently +275 to make the playoffs, and that may not be a bad play at the halfway point in the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Super Bowl +40000, NFC +17500, NFC South +12500, 2-4 SU, 3-3 ATS)
While the Bucs have some solid pieces to build around, their offense has been average under the first season of Jameis Winston, and their defense has been an utter disaster. I think it might cost Lovie Smith his job, but the only thing standing in his way may be that he is starting a rookie quarterback and rebuilding a team from almost scratch. However, once we get late into the season, and the Bucs have nothing to play for but pride, we could also wee some nice ATS value on them if they can figure it out. Winston has shown flashes, and if he gets more experience under his belt, he could surprise some people at the end of the season.
Tennessee Titans (Super Bowl +25000, AFC +10000, AFC South +4000, 1-5 SU, 3-3 ATS)
Everyone knew the Titans would be bad, and that’s why I’m confused as to why so many people are calling for Kent Whisenhunt’s job and not Smith’s. The Titans are a MUCH worse team outside of quarterback than the Bucs, especially on offense where the Bucs have great skill players, and the Titans have none. Needless to say the Titans are not a bet in the future odds, however much like the Bucs, if Marcus Mariota turns things around late in the season when the pressure is off, the Titans could be a good ATS wager.
Washington Redskins (Super Bowl +10000, NFC +5000, NFC East +500, 3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS)
Last but not least is the Washington football team, a football team so dysfunctional, that it is only fitting that they play just outside of America’s capital. Washington seemingly has the ability to be just good enough not to get everyone fired, and with the quick trigger of both Kirk Cousins and owner, Dan Snyder, it’s amazing Jay Gruden has lasted this long in defying Snyder his unwarranted desire to see Robert Griffin III start. While the Redskins might finish the season around .500, I’m not going near them with a cent of my bankroll, and neither should you.