A long time NFL wise guy I have known for years has shared with me part of scouts player ratings book for several seasons, which can be valuable when looking over the NFL odds for futures.
What this explains is how scouts view players on teams from their perspective and color-code them. Here we have three colors that rate the players on offense, defense and special teams, with Blue (Pro Bowl or All-Division), Red (Above Average) and Purple (A little above average talent and or hard-working).
This grading system only pertains to players that played in the NFL and does not include rookies.
While this not an exact science, as a sports handicapper or someone making NFL picks, this is a good exercise to compare against the betting odds. Here is a look at the NFC.
Philadelphia -18 (5-Blue, 4-Red and 9-Purple)
Dallas -12 (4-Blue, 6-Red and 2-Purple)
Washington -11 (3-Blue, 5-Red and 3-Purple)
N.Y. Giants -8 (1-Blue, 4-Red and 3-Purple)
Dallas might be favored to win the division, but scouts like the depth of front line talent from Philadelphia more. Both clubs have the same amount of blue chippers on offense (4) and when it comes right down to it, the Cowboys are the third choice in the NFC at +850 and the Eagles are fourth at (+1200). Though the Giants odds to win the NFC East are vastly superior to Washington at 5Dimes.eu (+450 vs. +1500), the guys watching tape believe the Redskins have a few better players. Should be a interesting division.
Green Bay -14 (6-Blue, 5-Red and 3-Purple)
Detroit -14 (5-Blue, 6-Red and 3-Purple)
Minnesota -11 (3-Blue, 6-Red and 2-Purple)
Chicago -10 (3-Blue, 5-Red and 2-Purple)
Though Green Bay is a prohibitive favorite to win the division (-315) and the second-choice overall in the NFC, they are not listed as head and shoulders above Detroit or Minnesota for that matter. Of course the Packers have the most blue chippers on offense in the NFC at five, defensively they come up short in scouts eyes. The Lions have the most blue and red defensive players in the conference at six, which is stunning without Ndamkong Suh and Nick Fairley. Minnesota is a team by all indications on the rise, while Chicago is a step behind, but don't bet against new coach John Fox not making the Bear defense better.
Carolina -11 (2-Blue, 6-Red and 3-Purple)
New Orleans -9 (3-Blue, 3-Red and 3-Purple)
Atlanta -8 (3-Blue, 3-Red and 2-Purple)
Tampa Bay -6 (3-Blue, 1-Red and 2-Purple)
Overview - Sportsbooks and scouts agree, the NFC South is the weak link in the conference, being low on talent. Sort of humorous that Carolina is the first team to show up out of the division to win the NFC at seventh (+1775) yet they are the third choice behind New Orleans and Atlanta to win the division. The Saints and Falcons are both in decline, particularly at the line of scrimmage and Tampa Bay is devoid of much talent on either side of the pigskin.
San Francisco -11 (3-Blue, 4-Red and 4-Purple)
Seattle -10 (7-Blue, 0-Red and 3-Purple)
Arizona -10 (2-Blue, 7-Red and 1-Purple)
St. Louis -8 (3-Blue, 1-Red and 4-Purple)
San Francisco still returns a number of fine players, but a lot of locker room leadership has been lost and the coaching situation looks iffy. Seattle still has a ton of defensive studs and Jimmy Graham will make Russell Wilson an even better quarterback. The Seahawks remain the team to beat in the division (-295) and in the conference (+285). Arizona has quietly been adding building blocks and figure to be a real threat for the postseason. St. Louis is adding pieces but still has a way to go be taken seriously in the NFC West.