Having the best record in your conference in the NFL is very important - home-field advantage through to the Super Bowl can make the path easier. Having the best record in football, though, ultimately doesn't mean that much. That doesn't mean that it isn't fun to think about, though - especially when you can bet on it. BetOnline has posted odds both on which team will have the best record and which team will have the worst. Here's a look:
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Green Bay Packers (+600): This is an obvious and safe pick. Their schedule got much easier with the unfortunate Teddy Bridgewater injury in Minnesota. Their road schedule is about as soft as one can be, and they have the potential to win seven or eight away from home. As good as they play at home, that is a heck of a head start in this race. It would be hard to bet on anyone else in this race.
Seattle Seahawks (+650): I've been saying all summer that I don't trust the Seahawks this year and I anticipate a bit of a step backwards. I'm not budging from that stance now. The schedule is manageable, but I feel like they aren't going to be as sharp or focused as they could be. I'd definitely pass on this price.
New England Patriots (+750): The initial reaction of many people would be that you can't touch this price with Tom Brady sidelined for the first four games and Jimmy Garoppolo running the show. I'm not buying that - at least not completely. Garoppolo has a brutal introduction at Arizona, but his nest three - home against Miami, Houston and Buffalo - are all winnable. A record of 2-2 seems a baseline for his time, and 3-1 is easily manageable. Brady gets to feast on a very underwhelming AL East when he returns, and he has some very soft games out of the division - at Cleveland and San Francisco are gifts as road games, and the Rams at home is a nice one, too. There are certainly some tough spots, but it's not as bad as it could be overall. I don't think they are the best bet overall, but you don't need to be scared of the suspension if you like the team.
Carolina Panthers (+800): Like the Packers, the Panthers have a lot of road games that are winnable. They should be able to win at least six away from home. Their home schedule is tougher, but they are at home. There is always the risk of a letdown after the Super Bowl loss last year, but there is enough to like here that you could justify this bet if, for some reason, you didn't like the more attractive Green Bay one.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+800): There is one team I like as much as Green Bay here, and it is the Steelers. I really like their offense right now, and the schedule is more than manageable as well. Kansas City and New England are both tough, but they have to travel to Pittsburgh. I am not that high on the Bengals, so there is at least a chance that Pittsburgh can sweep them. I like this bet.
Cleveland Browns (+350): This one is almost too easy. The Browns have a real shortage of talent and have to deal with yet another coaching change. They have looked horrible in the preseason, and there is no reason to think that it was a real fluke. There are seven games I give them virtually no hope in and none that I think they have even a solid chance of winning. They are just a really, really bad team, and it's going to show. They are solid favorites here, and the only surprise is that the price is as high as it is.
San Francisco 49ers (+550): Let's pretend for a minute that the Browns weren't going to run away with this. If we ignore that then you can make a decent case for the Niners. They play in a tough division (though so does Cleveland), and they play other very tough opponents like Carolina and New England. They easily could have a lousy record. That being said, I trust Blaine Gabbert a lot more than whatever Cleveland has, and the coaching staff has more to work with on both sides of the ball. I am far from optimistic about this season, but I don't see how you can justify this price.
New Orleans Saints (+1400): If you don't want to pick on the Browns and would rather look for a long shot, I think you could do a whole lot worse than the Saints. They have had a rough preseason and have issues in several places. I don't think that Sean Payton really cares about being in New Orleans anymore. And as much as I respect Drew Brees I don't trust his ability to work miracles with the team around him. The schedule is fairly tough, and it would be easy for the wheels to fall off.
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