We are sitting at the start of a long NFL season. Optimism about most teams will never be higher than it is now. For some teams that means that the betting public gets excited - probably more excited than they should given the circumstances. What we are looking at today is teams that the public seems to have high hopes for this year that might not be in a position to deliver on those expectations quite like the betting public hopes they will. Here are four potential NFL ATS disappointments this season:
Seattle Seahawks: This one is obvious. The team is the +$450 favorite to win the Super Bowl this year at BetOnline, so expectations are obviously high. It's no wonder that the public likes them, too, after winning one Super Bowl and coming just one idiotic play call from a second. It is exceptionally tough to perform at such a high level three years in a row, though - especially in this era of parity. There are a couple of mildly concerning signs, too. Contracts have been a bigger issue this offseason than we have seen before, and as that happens egos and pressure both become bigger factors as well. There are also some questions on the field - like the moves they have made at running back recently, for example. There is nothing near-fatal with the team, and it is quite possible they will lead the way again. Given the expectations and the ways other teams have performed after similar stretches of success, though, it is quite possible that the team will fail to meet the high expectations of the public. Not only has the team been strong on the scoreboard, but have topped the league at 11-5 ATS the last two years, so the public is going to be fully committed. Perhaps too committed.
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Atlanta Falcons: On paper the Falcons should be a decent team. Good quarterback. Solid talent - including one of the two or three best receivers in the sport. A dramatically improved coaching situation. People are taking notice, too. The expectation doesn't seem for this to be a championship team, or even a major contender, but they are definitely getting a much more significant amount of respect than they have recently. That could be optimistic. The problem the last couple of years hasn't been the talent that the team has had. Not most significantly. It has been the mindset. This team just hasn't cared. We can assume that the coaching changes will make a big difference on that front, but until we see them play we can't know for sure that the problem was with coaching and not player leadership. This is a team that a lot of people seem to be looking at as a second-tier pick for ATS success. At best that is premature.
Denver Broncos: The Broncos are the third choice to win the AFC. That is just plain crazy. And it's an indicator of just how much too much credit the public is giving this team. They are going through a coaching change - the first in a while. Their quarterback will turn 40 in the offseason, is banged up in every way imaginable, doesn't have feeling in his fingers as it turns out, and was really lousy at the end of last season. He's also not at all mobile, which makes the horrific state of the offensive line a real concern. Add all that to the offseason that doesn't seem to have been a net gain in personnel and there is cause for concern. Could the team be just fine? Sure - never entirely count out a Manning team. People are not looking at this team with the degree of objectivity and reality that they should be, though, and that means that the chances of overestimating them early on are high.
New England Patriots: Like Seattle, it's not hard to see where the potential exists for disappointment here. If they were to struggle relative to expectations this year they would not be the first defending champions to do so. It hasn't exactly been a normal offseason, either, and the whole "Deflategate" mess has been just the kind of distraction that could be a problem. Add to that some depth questions in key areas - like receiver - and there is a chance that this team won't be able to perform like the AFC favorites that the public thinks they are. The gap in the eyes of the public, at least according to the odds, is massive between these guys, and the Dolphins and Bills in the AFC East. If either of those teams can be strong early on then the issues for the Pats ATS could really magnify. Like the Seahawks and Falcons, I'm not saying that they are sure to be an ATS disaster. It's just that more objectivity and caution is likely warranted than most people are exercising at this point.
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