With the NFL exhibition season kicking off Friday and Brett Favre already dominating the NFL news cycles – I’m sure that story won’t be over until Opening Day – it’s time for the writers here at Doc’s Sports to start inundating you with NFL predictions and player prop picks stories.
Today I will start with my NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award predictions and picks. BetUS has released odds on this award, and I’d like to say right off there’s not a good long shot bet on here who I would recommend and that I completely agree with the site’s choice as favorite: San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (+400), who led college football in rushing last season while at Fresno State.
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How high were the Bolts on Mathews? Chargers GM A.J. Smith said he didn’t bring in a veteran back to replace departed future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson because he targeted Mathews all along in the NFL Draft. The Chargers moved up from No. 28 in the draft to take Mathews at No. 12, and there’s simply no reason he isn’t the featured back on opening day. Yes, the Chargers were 31st in rushing last year and seem to be shifting to more of a passing team under Philip Rivers, but there isn’t a back on the roster who can handle the bulk of carries like Mathews – Darren Sproles is more of a third-down guy. And, as an added bonus, Mathews is already signed and in camp.
Somewhat surprisingly, a running back has only won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award twice in the past seven seasons: Cadillac Williams with the 2005 Buccaneers and Adrian Peterson with the 2007 Vikings. Voters seem to prefer an offensive ROY on a team that’s at least competitive. The last player to win the award on a losing club was Anquan Boldin with the 4-12 Cardinals in 2003.
Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is the second favorite this year on BetUS at +500. And certainly no rookie has gotten the hype/publicity that Bryant has – it helps to play for the Cowboys and then make national news by refusing to carry a veteran’s pads. But I would say Bryant has two strikes against him for betting purposes: First off, he suffered a serious high ankle sprain last week and could miss the entire preseason and those tend to linger. So it seems unlikely to think he easily segues into the lineup. And secondly, he’s not going to start ahead of Roy Williams (at least to begin with) or Miles Austin. Plus, the Cowboys have a ton of other weapons (Jason Witten, Felix Jones, etc.) that Tony Romo must make happy.
Houston’s Ben Tate and Detroit’s Jahvid Best are next on BetUS at +600. Texans coach Gary Kubiak recently said Tate “had a long way to go” and he’s clearly third on the running back depth chart. Don’t bother there. But Best could be great value. The Lions moved up to get him and it appears he will be the go-to guy with Kevin Smith still not 100 percent healthy. Plus, Best has breakaway ability Smith simply doesn’t. That Lions offense should be much better this season in Matthew Stafford’s second year and with a few offseason additions, and I love Best at this price.
No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford is at +800, but the Rams don’t want him playing anytime soon. And they are just plain putrid. I would have said maybe take a shot on the Vikings’ Toby Gerhart at +1500 before Favre said he was retiring. But now I have no faith in that Minnesota offense, although Gerhart will be the man if Adrian Peterson goes down.
As for long shots, Browns RB Monterio Hardesty (+1500) is expected to get plenty of carries, but he suffered an injury that will cost him a few weeks of camp – that won’t help beat out Jerome Harrison. And how can you not take a shot on Broncos QB Tim Tebow at +2000? You don’t think Josh McDaniels wants him in there sooner than later? If/when Kyle Orton falters, look for Tebow to get the shot over Brady Quinn. Plus, will any player get more publicity than Tebow?
Allen Eastman is back with his 99 System for NFL picks in 2010 and before he even came across this system he was considered one of the best NFL handicappers in the business – now he is just unstoppable. Last season the 99 System was 27-13 ATS and this system not only helped his clients make a boatload of money, but also helped Eastman to third place in the prestigious Las Vegas Hilton NFL Contest.