The NFL Draft is over. Coaches have been fired and hired. Free agency is mostly taken care of. With a few notable exceptions, teams now know what their core is going to look like. We haven't checked in on our Super Bowl outlook since just after the last Super Bowl, so now that we have a lot more information it's a good time to check in again to see how things have changed and where the value might lie at this point (all odds to win the Super Bowl are from BetOnline):
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New England Patriots (+700): In normal circumstances I would have no issue with the Patriots being favored. They have the best coach and the best quarterback in the league, good talent, and commitment to the vision that goes throughout the organization. They are easy to like - or hate, depending upon who you cheer for.
As it stands now, though, I just don't see how you could bet on this team at a price like this. Tom Brady has not had a winning offseason on the legal front. He's down to his last-gasp appeals. His four-game suspension won't start until those are exhausted, but it could happen any time this season. He could be out for the first four games of the season, or for any other four games. Or he could pull off a miracle and win on appeal or decide to settle for a shorter suspension. It's also possible that things could drag on and nothing happens.
His availability has a big say in where the team ends up in the standings potentially, and that in turn has a big bearing on how likeable they are from a betting perspective. I'd like them a whole lot more as a top seed than a wild-card road team, for example.
All in all there is just too much uncertainty on the most important front for this team to justify a bet on them at this price.
Seattle Seahawks (+850): You know how sometimes you just have a feeling about a team? You can't necessarily pinpoint all the reasons for that feeling, but you know it's a strong one.
For the second year in a row I have a strong feeling about the Seahawks - and it's not a positive feeling. There is a lot to like, but I just don't feel like they are in a position to sustain what they have been doing or to bounce back from a year last year that wasn't adequate.
Good team? Certainly. Good enough to win it all? Not in my eyes. I'll pass.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+900): I really like this team. We know the offense works, and it should be more than solid again this year. Their offseason was patient but effective. The coaching is strong. The division is manageable.
I'd take the Patriots over the Steelers in a perfect world, but as things sit now the Steelers are my pick in the AFC at this price.
Carolina Panthers (+1000): And my NFC pick comes next. It's a risk to pick a team coming off a Super Bowl loss - that can often have a hangover effect. There is so much to like here, though. Cam Newton is established and very effective, and he has a lot of team around him to work with. I really like the coaching, too. The division isn't going to be a massive challenge again, and that helps as well. They are going to prove that last year was no fluke.
Arizona Cardinals (+1000): Like Carolina, there is a whole lot I like about this team. My biggest issue with backing them came down to one player - Carson Palmer. He isn't getting any younger, so trusting him to be effective all season is risky. In the playoffs he was truly lousy last year, and it's hard to imagine a complete turnaround this year given his history. I can't do it.
Green Bay Packers (+1100): This team was an ugly 4-6 after their bye week last season. They had plenty of excuses - injuries being chief among them. Still, I really didn't like the mindset of the team. They started feeling sorry for themselves, and they were their own worst enemy. Their luck could be better this year, but I am not convinced that they have what it takes mentally to truly shine here.
Denver Broncos (+1400): Mark Sanchez. Mark freaking Sanchez. We're seriously supposed to trust a team that seems as if they are going to trust Mark Sanchez at QB? No thanks.
I get the argument many will make - that they defense is good enough to overcome quarterbacking that is only decent. I don't entirely buy it, though - and I really don't have faith in Sanchez, or any other alternative they come up with at this point, to be even decent.
Cincinnati Bengals (+1600): Marvin Lewis, almost impossibly, kept his job yet again. The guy must have really embarrassing pictures of someone in his desk. He's terrible - the worst coach in football - and I'd never even dream of backing him.
Indianapolis Colts (+2000): I like the Colts here at this price. That means, of course, that I am putting my faith in Andrew Luck. He didn't deserve it at all given the rough season he had last year. His talent is so good, though, that at some point he's going to get back on track.
Health was a big issue for this team, and if they have better luck they could be dangerous. They have the advantage of stability in coaching - no more lame duck this year.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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