NFL Betting Odds: Division-by-Division Props Predictions
by Aaron Smith - 9/7/2011
The offseason was filled with question marks as to whether there would even be games this year, but this week all the hard-hitting action gets started. There are plenty of reasons why the NFL is loved, but one of the biggest reasons is every year your favorite team has a chance. There are always going to be surprise teams that go from the bottom of the division to the top. How will the divisional races look this season? Let’s take a closer look at each division, and investigate where the value on NFL betting odds is for bettors.
AFC East- The Patriots went out and made their team a lot better in the offseason. The Jets picked up Plaxico Burress, but I’m not sure they did as much to improve as the Patriots. It’s hard to imagine the Dolphins or Bills finishing the season within shouting distance of the leader. It’s a two-team race in the AFC East, but I like the Patriots to take this division. BetOnline lists the Patriots at -200 to win the AFC East. I think that is a fair price for a team that looks ready for another trip to the Super Bowl.
AFC North- The Steelers fell just short of winning another ring last year. The Ravens have been right on their heels the last few seasons, but they just can’t seem to get over the hump. Cleveland appears to be headed in the right direction, but they have a long ways to go to reach the top of this tough division. In the end, I think it’s hard not to like the team with the best defense in this division. The Steelers have the best front seven on defense in the NFL. Legends Sportsbook lists the Steelers at -110 to win the AFC North. I’m picking the Steelers.
AFC South- This is one of the tougher divisions to handicap because of the Peyton Manning injury. If Manning was completely healthy, there is no doubt the Colts would be the strong favorite in this league. It’s currently difficult to find a sportsbook willing to put up odds on this division, but Bookmaker has listed the Houston Texans as the favorite at -230. Indianapolis and Tennessee are both listed at +400. Every year the Texans appear ready to take the next step, but they manage to fall just short each time. I’m not willing to lay -230 on a team with the past history of the Texans. I’ll take my chances on Manning recovering better than expected. The Colts have become a solid value at +400.
AFC West- The Chargers are much healthier than they were last year, and they have become the huge favorite in the AFC West. Bookmaker lists the Chargers at -660 to win the AFC West. I see absolutely no value in laying that kind of money on any team before the season starts. In fact, I believe those who play huge favorites such as that are destined to end up broke in the long run. The Kansas City Chiefs won this division a year ago, but everyone is down on them after their quick playoff exit. At +700, I’ll take the value on the Chiefs.
NFC East- This has been one of the most competitive leagues in the NFL for the last few years. The Eagles clearly did a lot to make their team better during the offseason, but I do think the team has become a little overvalued. The Eagles sit at -300 to win the division, according to Legends Sportsbook. The Giants still have a solid nucleus, and I certainly wouldn’t count them out. It’s extremely rare that I find value in a team loved by the public as much as the Dallas Cowboys, but this year is the exception. Tony Romo and the offense should be very good, and the defense is better than most realize. At +300, I like the Cowboys here.
NFC North- The Green Bay Packers didn’t win this division last year, but they did go on to win the Super Bowl. The Chicago Bears have leaned heavily on their defense for the last few years, but I think this defense is starting to slowly decline. I expect the Detroit Lions to be one of the most improved teams in the NFL, but I don’t think they can get above second in this division. In the end, I just don’t see anyone other than Green Bay winning the NFC North. WagerWeb lists the Packers at -250. I think the Packers comfortably win this division.
NFC South- No division has improved its image more than the NFC South in the past year. Cam Newton and the Panthers will be better, but they’ll probably still be at the bottom of this division. The Buccaneers have a solid young base to build from, but I don’t think they have the horses to keep up with Atlanta or New Orleans. I think Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles will be great additions for the Saints. Shaun Rogers and Cameron Jordan will help this Saints defense take another step forward this year. BetOnline lists the Saints at +105 to win the NFC South. I like the Saints to return to the top of this division.
NFC West- Is there a weaker division in the NFL? The Seahawks managed to win this division last year despite a 7-9 record. Seattle has taken several steps back in the offseason. San Francisco brought in Jim Harbaugh, but their player acquisitions didn’t impress me. The Cardinals have gotten better, but the team still has quite a few question marks. Sam Bradford was tremendous in his rookie campaign, and Steve Spagnulo completely turned around the St. Louis Rams defense last season. Bookmaker lists the Rams and the Cardinals as co-favorites at +145. I really like the value on the Rams to win the NFC West.
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