NFL Odds: NFC Division Futures Betting
by Dave Schwab - 7/12/2011
There is still no new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) in place between the NFL owners and the Players Association, but optimism runs high that a deal can be worked out in enough time to avoid any disruption of the start of summer training camps and the preseason NFL schedule.
All 32 teams are already well behind in preparation for the 2011 NFL regular season since the owner-imposed lockout of the players went into effect in late March, but some of the more established teams could actually benefit from a competitive standpoint, especially within their division. The following is a look at the future odds for the four divisions in the NFC as provided by BetOnline.
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The co-favorites to win the East this season at +150 are Philadelphia and New York. The Eagles edged out the Giants last season on a tie-breaker as both clubs finished with identical 10-6 records. Philly will start the season with Michael Vick as its starting quarterback and should be able to pick up where it left off in 2010 with the likes of WR’s DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin along with RB LeSean McCoy. The big question for the Eagles is if new Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo return the luster to a unit that finished the 2010 season ranked 21st in points allowed.
The Giants’ roster remains basically intact from last season, but there are a few issues with some free agents, including RB Ahmad Bradshaw and WR Steve Smith, that have yet to be resolved due to the lockout. New York will also have to tighten up a defense that gave up an average of 21.7 points a game last year.
Dallas is the third favorite at +250. It will have both QB Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant back in the lineup, but there are still quite a few holes to fill on a team that went 6-10 last year. Washington’s unresolved situation at quarterback raises more questions than answers, leaving the Redskins a longshot at +1200 to win the East this year.
The defending champion Green Bay Packers are a prohibitive favorite to win the North at -250, and they should be even stronger this season with a wealth of talent back in the lineup that had to watch the team knock off Pittsburgh last year in Super Bowl XLV while on injured reserve.
The next favorite at +400 is the Chicago Bears, who actually won the North last year with a record of 11-5. If the Bears are going to have any chance to keep things close in the division, they will have to find a way to improve an offense that was ranked 30th in total yards last year.
Detroit, the third favorite at +450, continues to add the right pieces through the draft ,with first round-pick Nick Fairley joining last season’s ‘Defensive Rookie of the Year, Ndamukong Suh, on the defensive line. However, questions still remain for whether or not its 2008 first round pick; QB Mathew Stafford can remain healthy for a 16-game schedule. Minnesota is faced with the prospect of starting rookie Christian Ponder at quarterback, and thus is the longshot of the division at +1000.
This could be the most competitive division in the NFC with Atlanta the slight favorite at +110, followed closely by New Orleans at +120, and Tampa Bay at +375. The Falcons had the best record in the conference last season at 13-3 and remain the most balanced team with an offense that was ranked fifth in scoring and a defense that was ranked fifth in points allowed.
The Saints still have Drew Brees at quarterback, but have to hope that the addition of rookie RB Mark Ingram can improve a rushing offense that could only manage an average of 95 yards a game. The key to maintaining a defense that was ranked fourth against the pass will be New Orleans’ ability to quickly re-sign potential free agent safety Roman Harper once the lockout is lifted.
The Buccaneers took a major step back towards respectability last season with a 10-6 record, and figure to be right in the mix for the South title this year. For this to happen, they will need to find a way to improve upon a 3-3 record in the division. Carolina remains in a rebuilding mode with a new head coach and a rookie QB in Cam Newton making it the longest of shots at +2000.
The first thing the West needs to do is find a team that can win the division with an actual winning record. Right now it appears that San Francisco at +100 has the best shot to pull this off. The only problem is that the 49ers could really be adversely affected by the lockout with a rookie NFL head coach in Jim Harbaugh and an unsettled situation at quarterback.
St. Louis and Arizona are the second favorites at +275. The Rams could be a sleeper this season after a 7-9 record in 2010 exceeded their combined win total for the previous three seasons. Sam Bradford looks like the real deal at quarterback and third-year Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo has this team headed in the right direction.
The Cardinals took a major step backwards last year with the retirement of QB Kurt Warner and the loss of WR Anquan Boldin, but should be able to improve upon their five-win total under the watchful eye of Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt, who had this team in the Super Bowl just two years ago.
Seattle brings up the rear in the West at +550 and is another one of those teams with an unsettled situation at quarterback as it looks like Matt Hasselbeck will not be back with the team this year. The Seahawks also have the issue of winning on the road with just three wins away from Qwest Field in the past two seasons combined.
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