I've recently started checking Bovada for their NFL lines. I think anyone can make bold predictions, but once you suggest putting money on it, people back down. With the money factor, I realized the way I analyse the game changes. I put all emotions aside and think as objectively as possible. I will make a later post discussing what exactly I look for and how I judge outcomes, but for now I'm going to make a few predictions of my own.
Things I would put money on:
1. Giants win the division (+500)
The Giants have been a joke all year, but they've had a dysfunctional defense and the worst run game in the NFL. As of late, their defense has been playing much better and they look like they've finally found the answer to their running problems in Andre Brown. Its just a matter of time before the offense gets it together. I think theres a higher probability of that than the dallas defense coming together. With the loss of Sean Lee, I think Dallas is done, I believe the team is too one dimensional. I have the same problem with philly. Ultimately record and schedule aside, I feel like the Giants are the best team in the division, and thats why I feel like the 5/1 odds of winning the division are worth it.
2. Seahawks win the superbowl (+375)
I started watching the seahawks mid-way through last season and every time I see them bring their A-game, I just think wow, this is one of the best teams I've ever seen. I dont see anyone beating them when they play their best. Unfortunately they didn't show up to the falcons playoff game until half-time. And in that second half, the seahawks scored a TD on every drive except 1. Since right after that game, I've been picking the Seahawks to win the superbowl this year. When I see em bring their best, I'm still amazed. If you take away the garbage time TD with a minute something left, they beat the niners in their last 2 meetings with a combined score of 71-9 forcing a total of 7 turnovers with Wilson scoring 5 TDs and Lynch scoring 3. Their biggest challenge will be New Orleans, I would guess in the NFC championship. That will be a game of the ages. Denver is much too one sided to win the superbowl, but I will talk about them next.
Things I would NOT put money on:
1. Denver winning the superbowl (+333)
They are much too one-sided to win the superbowl. You absolutely need a balanced team to win it all. They're so powerful on offense that they can get through the regular season with 3 losses maximum. But from the NFC they will face teams with elite pass defenses like the Seahawks, Saints, Panthers, all of whom have top 5 pass-defenses. (Which is also the reason I feel the niners can't get through any of those teams, with an already weak passing offense, they are rendered completely inept against those teams.)
An elite pass-rush can take out any pocket quarterback. That was the formula the Colts used to beat the broncos. That was the formula the Giants used to beat the Patriots, which looked like one of the greatest offenses ever. None of those games were flukes. Bronco fans will be quick to mention the Hillman fumble at the goal-line, but even more fluky was Trent Richardson losing the first fumble of his NFL career right before that drive that gave them the ball. As great as the offense is, I see too many flaws on defense, I see the loss of Ryan Clady hurting them big-time. Its what allowed Mathis to have 2 sacks and 4 QB hits, its why Mannings has been getting hit alot lately to the point where he's questionable every week now. Its known that his ankles are weak, one bad hit could put him out for a week or two, which could lose them the division to the chiefs, forcing them to go on the road at Foxborough and Arrowhead. I honestly believe they split 1-1 with the Chiefs this season.
2. The Niners winning anything important - SB (+1000), NFC (+550), Division(+400), Big Regular Season Games
I absolutely don't believe in the niners, and I absolutely don't believe in Kaepernick as a passing QB. I need to see them pass the ball effectively before I pick them for anything. They have a brilliant defense, a declining run-game, a decimated receiving corps, and a poor-vision passer who is as good as the playcalling. Thats enough to keep them out of the top tier of teams. I put them in the tier of Carolina with an elite defense and an offense that will dominate weak defenses and struggle against good ones. I picked the Seahawks and Panthers to beat em, and I'm picking the Saints to beat em as well, and then the Seahawks to beat them again in San Francisco.
Theres a few teams I really believe in, including the Saints, Panthers, Chiefs, and Colts, in that order, to be contenders. But I'm still weighing out whether its worth putting down the money or not. Thats the only thing that holds me back.