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NFL Predictions: Surprise Teams for Early in the NFL Season
by Jason Sharpe - 9/2/2010

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford

When a handicapping an NFL football card, sports bettors should always be looking to buy certain teams that most of the other bettors may not be looking at. This is much like the stock market term of looking too “buy low”. Sure, we all know that the Colts and Saints are two of the best teams in football once again this year, but this isn’t likely to make us any money as the oddsmakers put a higher tax on the so called ‘good teams’.

What you need to do is be one step ahead of the other NFL handicappers. You need to find under-the-radar teams and get extra value when supporting these teams at the window. With this being the case and the NFL regular season a little more then a week away I wanted to give you three teams to watch out for early in the season this year. These are three teams most people aren’t talking too highly of right now, so we say go out and buy low on these teams early on this year.

  1. Detroit Lions- No laughing please. We didn’t say this was a list of playoff teams. Instead it’s all about grabbing a team that most people are overlooking going into this season. The Detroit Lions were just 2-14 last year and are now 2-30 the last two years combined. The pieces are in place to become a decent team that can surprise people early on. Matthew Stafford comes into the last week of the preseason with a QB rating of 106.4, ranking him third in the NFC. His only interception was a tipped pass early in Game 1. He looks like a totally different player heading into his second year in the league. He will be teaming up again with one of the games best receivers in Calvin Johnson. CJ has emerged as a top-flight receiver in his first few years in the league and this is with an array of journeyman quarterbacks throwing him the ball so far in his career and with no running game to speak of. Jahvid Best (8.6 yards per carry this preseason) looks to be the home run hitter at running back this team has lacked since the days of Barry Sanders, more than a decade ago. The defense is the weak point of the team, but more than half this unit is comprised of new faces. This is Head Coach Jim Schwartz’ second year and now that the Matt Millen stench is starting to wear off the Lions should start to make some major progress this year. With four very tough games too start the year (at Chicago, home to Philadelphia, at Minnesota and at Green Bay), backing the Lions will take some guts. However, there is no doubt that you will get your fair share of points in each game also.

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  1. Cleveland Browns- Ending a 5-11 season with four straight wins was quite impressive by the 2009 Cleveland Browns. It not only saved head coach Eric Mangini’s job, it also created some optimism for the 2010 season. The Browns went out and got proven veteran signal caller Jake Delhomme in the offseason and look to have all the pieces in place on the offensive side of the ball to play a smash mouth, conservative game that worked well for them last year during their four-game winning streak, their longest streak in 15 years. During this stretch they lead the league in rushing the final four games of the season. This is Year 2 of the Mangini regime in Cleveland and this is usually a big year for coaches who look too turn programs around. For as much credit as the offensive line and running game got last year for their turnaround, it was the defense that really stepped things up those last four games, holding opponents to 17 points or less in three of those games. Being the former Patriots defensive coordinator will only help Mangini mold this Browns team to exactly fit the style he wants to employ. With three of their first five games at home and the two road games against smash mouth teams like the Bucs and Ravens, don’t be surprised to hear a lot about this Browns team come mid- October.
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers- The Steelers come into the 2010 season all business. Just a year removed from a Super Bowl win, the Steelers still have tons of talent on their roster. Usually teams who come off Super Bowl seasons have major letdowns and the Steelers were no exceptions to this rule last year. Though statistically they ranked towards in the top half in both offense and defense in 2009 (seventh in offense and fifth in defense), they just couldn’t seem to catch many breaks and didn’t have the same fire in their eyes that got them a title in 2008. Now with some offseason distractions added in this year it seems like almost everyone has given up on Pittsburgh for 2010. Hold on a minute though. This is still a very talented veteran team and one that will come into this year playing with an attitude, the Steelers attitude. They feel they have something to prove from last year and will be extremely focused without their quarterback and leader Ben Roethlisberger to start the season. Sure Big Ben is needed for the drive to the playoffs and into the postseason, but early on with good weather the QB position may not be as important. If anything the bettors will get a much better price on a Ben-less Steelers team early in the season. This suspension comes as no surprise and the Steelers coaching staff has had all off-season to prepare for this. If anything, teams like the Falcons, who will play Pittsburgh in Week 1, will be unsure on what to expect from the new Pittsburgh signal caller. All in all there will be lots of value here with this veteran group early on this year.

 

Most professional sports bettors will tell you the best time to make money during any sports season is early in the season. Most of the betting public has all the same information to work with, but the bettors who have really done their home work and our one step ahead of their competition will reap the rewards. If you follow my NFL predictions and back these three teams early on this year, you should be able to get off to a great start in the 2010 NFL season. Good luck!!!

Jason Sharpe is gearing up for his first season releasing his expert football picks at Doc’s Sports, but in now way is he new to the game – he has been beating the Las Vegas bookies for years as a professional sports bettor in Sin City. He has become known by those bookies for his college football and NFL handicapping capabilities, and now he wants to share these with Doc’s Sports. He expects to beat the majority of NFL point spreads this season and he plans on dominating the college football betting landscape as well!


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