NFL Handicapping: Early Futures Look
by Indian Cowboy - 7/1/2013
The NFL season is still a couple of months away, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been on our minds.
In particular, for this week's early look at the upcoming NFL betting season, we've been researching team wins “over/unders”. And in homeworking some possible futures wagers one of the first angles we consider are teams that might be susceptible to what we think of as the natural bio-rhythms of life in the NFL.
How many times have we seen a team that, after a surprisingly good season, take a step back the next? Or a team that disappointed one season, then bounced back off the canvas the next? It seems to happen to a handful of teams every season, and can be attributed to several factors, including injuries, schedules and, basically, luck. Such as when a team wins a bunch of close games one year, then loses most of their close ones the next – or vice-verse.
The trick for NFL futures bettors is to discern in advance which teams might enjoy or suffer such roller-coaster fates, and bet accordingly.
Here's a quick look at teams we consider to be candidates to either leap ahead, and play ‘over’ on their NFL season win totals, or fall back, and go ‘under’.
Among the biggest surprises of last year in the NFL were the Indianapolis Colts, who with a rookie starting at quarterback went from 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 and the playoffs; the Minnesota Vikings, who, powered by 2,000 yards from Adrian Peterson, jumped from 3-13 to 10-6; the Washington Redskins, who also with a rook at QB went from 5-11 to 10-6; and the Seattle Seahawks, also with a rookie at quarterback, who jumped from 7-9 to 11-5.
Among the biggest flops of last year were the Philadelphia Eagles, who crashed and burned to a 4-12 record, which led to a change at head coach; the Detroit Lions, who fell from 10-6 in 2011 to 4-12; and the New Orleans Saints, who for an array of reasons dropped from 13-3 to 7-9.
Indy managed to win nine games by a touchdown or less last year, and even though they finished six games above .500 they got outscored on the season by 30 points. This year Luck will try to avoid a sophomore slump and improve upon his 54 percent completion rate and 18 interceptions.
Washington rode rookie QB Robert Griffin III to its first postseason berth in five seasons. Griffin them succumbed to a ghastly knee injury in that playoff loss to Seattle. This year opposing teams will scheme to stop RG3, and beyond him we're not sure how good the 'Skins really are. And of course, if Griffin goes down again for any extended period of time, Washington will be in trouble.
Of the three teams that made the playoffs last year with rookies at quarterback, Seattle got the biggest bang for its buck with third-round choice Russell Wilson, who looked like a wily veteran in leading the Seahawks to within a field goal of the NFC championship game. This year, though, Seattle won't be sneaking up on anybody, and they're not likely to get gift victories like the one over Green Bay last September.
As of earlier this week Bovada was listing a season win totals of 8.5 on Indianapolis, 8.5 on Washington and 10.5 on Seattle.
A couple of teams on our lists above played true to our theory last year, and might just do so again this season.
Two years ago Detroit won 10 games and made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. But we had a feeling heading into last season the Lions might experience a letdown, and they did, going 4-12. This season will be very important for the foreseeable future of this team; will the Lions bounce back with a good season, and perhaps set the tone for the next 5-10 years? Or will they miss the playoffs again, and then have to fight the urge to bring in yet another head coach, with new systems and the built-in learning curve?
On the other end of the spectrum Minnesota went 3-13 two seasons ago, losing nine games by a touchdown or less, blowing second-half leads in several of them. Last year the Vikings reversed that trend, winning five close games in going 10-6 and making the playoffs.
Can Minnesota build upon last season, and make the playoffs again? Or will the Vikes come back to reality? Our guess is that Peterson won't run for 2,000 yards this year, so if QB Christian Ponder doesn't make some strides, the latter seems likelier than that former.
As of earlier this week Bodog was listing Detroit with a wins O/U of eight, and Minnesota at 7.5.
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