NFL Predictions: 2009 AFC Division Winners Futures
by Matt Severance - 8/11/2009
The first NFL exhibition game took place on Sunday, so that means it’s definitely time to start getting serious about those NFL futures bets. With this article, I’m going to try and guide you toward the best value in each division of the AFC (NFC is its own story). All odds are courtesy of Bodog.
AFC East: Is there really any reason to think anyone but the Patriots is going to win this? Those Bodog oddsmakers sure don’t think so, as the Pats are a ridiculous 2/9 to win the AFC East. No other division favorite has shorter odds. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine looking anywhere else. Not only is Tom Brady back, but the Pats added another backfield weapon in Fred Taylor to go along with Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris as well as another big-time receiving threat in Joey Galloway to complement Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
If New England doesn’t lead the league in points, it will be a surprise. But what’s the point of betting at 2/9? Among the other three teams, I believe the Buffalo Bills are the best value at 37/4 – and I’m not just saying that because they are the longest shots. Terrell Owens usually has a great first season at all his locations, so that bodes well. I also like the fact that Buffalo’s two games outside of the division rotation are against the Chiefs and Browns. The loss of Marshawn Lynch for the first three games hurts, but if the Bills can go 2-1 in that stretch (at New England, vs. Tampa Bay, vs. New Orleans), then watch out.
AFC North: The Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers are big favorites at 4/9 in the North. And again that seems like a no-brainer, although the Steelers struggled the season following their last Super Bowl. Some might say the whole Ben Roethlisberger civil lawsuit drama might be a distraction, but I actually think it helps the team bond together sooner. Now coaches don’t have to warn them about how they are wearing a bull’s eye all season – this Roethlisberger thing is a subtle reminder of its own.
Baltimore is the second-favorite at 3/1, but the Ravens are scary bad at receiver. Try not to laugh, but the best value here might be Cincinnati at 8/1 -- if Carson Palmer can stay healthy all year and if they actually have found something in Cedric Benson. I also think Laveranues Coles is a fine replacement for T.J. Houshmandzadeh. That season-ending injury to tight end Reggie Kelly doesn’t help, however. Don’t bother with the Browns at 12/1.
AFC South: I think this one could be a great race all season. The Colts are slight favorites at 3/2, but how will the team adjust to losing coach Tony Dungy? And will the running game be fixed after being one of the worst in the league last year (UConn rookie Donald Brown should help)? If Reggie Wayne gets hurt (I’m just assuming Peyton Manning stays healthy), this team could be in a world of hurt because the receiving depth is not good.
Tennessee is 12/5, but I’m not a huge Titans fan because of Kerry Collins. Sure, he got the job done last year just by handing off to Chris Johnson and LenDale White and managing the game, but I think teams figure him out this year. Plus, the Titans also are pretty weak at receiver. I love Houston as the best value at 3/1. The Texans are loaded on offense with Steve Slaton, Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels. If QB Matt Schaub stays upright, I think this is a contender not just in the South but in the AFC. Houston won’t be 8-8 again this year, mark my words.
AFC West: What is it with the West division in both conferences? They certainly both seem to be the weak sister right now. The Chargers are mammoth favorites here at 2/7, and I’m trying to think of a reason to bet on someone else and can’t really. Denver (5/1) looks likely to take a step back after trading Jay Cutler, and unhappy WR Brandon Marshall is probably one more incident away from a long suspension. Don’t forget he already might be facing one for a trial scheduled to start Aug. 13 on a misdemeanor battery charge. Oakland (12/1) is, well, Oakland, with QB JaMarcus Russell reportedly not looking too sharp this offseason and well overweight. I think the Chiefs (8/1) might be a little better than everyone thinks with Matt Cassel and two well-regarded drafts in a row, but they aren’t ready to approach .500 yet.
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