Expert NFL Betting Advice: Odds to Win NFC with Predictions
Just one game can make such a difference when it comes to a playoff race. It seems unlikely when every team plays 16 games over a season that goes on for months, but almost always you can look at one game that really shaped how a race turned out. And it's quite possible that we will look back to this past Sunday when we are thinking about the race to win the NFC, or at least to have a bye week. If Philadelphia had beaten Seattle - as many people expected - then they would have maintained their cushion atop the conference and would have been in very good shape. But that loss, and the doubts that arose from it, have really tightened things up. Now Seattle is alive in the race, and Philadelphia is in a dogfight. And with a quarter of the season left this is going to be a lot of fun.
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What makes the race so interesting is that the playoff field is likely mostly set. Atlanta could get into things again with a win over New Orleans this week, but if that doesn't happen then the six teams heading to the playoffs are likely determined, and it's all about how they finish and who they play. Here is how the race shapes up (Odds to win the NFC are from BetOnline ):
Philadelphia Eagles (10-2), +275: Now we really get to see what the Eagles are all about. They faced their first adversity in months last week, and now they have a brutally-tough game at the Rams. The team has been incredibly tough this year, but the truth is that they haven't played a hugely tough schedule. The Chargers and the Panthers are the only two potential playoff teams that they have beaten. They got put in their place by the Seahawks, and now they have to learn from it, regroup, and be ready for what should be an even tougher game. If they lose that game they will still be in decent shape because they close with a manageable stretch of games - at the Giants and then at home against Oakland and Dallas. But if they don't beat the Rams they will have absolutely given up their advantage in the race, they would not have the tiebreak against the Rams, and could have dropped from in charge of the conference to likely not having a bye. I like this team a lot, but given where they are at I just can't see any value at all in this price.
Minnesota Vikings (10-2), +300: The Vikings also play a tough and important game this week against the Panthers. If they win that then they will be in very good shape to at least have a bye. They host the Bengals and Bears, which are almost sure wins, and a trip to the Packers could be more interesting if Aaron Rodgers is back and competent, but the Vikings will still be in decent shape. If the Vikings beat the Panthers they will win the conference, and if they lose they will still have a bye - at least that's what I would bet on.
New Orleans Saints (9-3), +450: The Saints have losses to the Rams and Vikings, and those are really going to be a problem in their hunt for a bye. But they have two wins over the Panthers, so that could help. The team is going to beat the Jets and Bucs to get to 11 wins, and then it comes down to two games against the Falcons. At least a split seems likely there, so this is a team that is comfortably playing a home game in the playoffs.
L.A. Rams (9-3), +600: The challenge for the Rams is that they have a tougher schedule than some of the teams they are chasing. They have that huge game against the Eagles this week, and then they play consecutive road games against playoff teams - Seattle and Tennessee. They are good enough to win any of those games, but it is still a big test for a team that is playing at the top end of their potential. We can't really know where they are going to be at until the Philly game is over - a win there would give them a huge tiebreaker edge. They will have a home game in the playoffs, and it feels more likely that it will be in the first week than the second.
Seattle Seahawks (8-4), +600: Russell Wilson has been spectacular lately, but he is being asked to do a whole lot by himself. That is tough for any guy, and he not only has to keep leading this team but has to get a whole lot of breaks because they are behind in wins. They just don't have the schedule to make up ground. They play at Jacksonville and their very tough defense then they host the Rams before playing at Dallas. They close against the Cardinals, which is winnable, but that won't be enough. They should wind up with 10 wins, but that should put them on the road for their playoff opener.
Carolina Panthers (8-4), +1200: The odds reflect that the chances aren't great here, and I agree. I just don't like this team that much. They have a tougher schedule as well - Minnesota, Green Bay and Atlanta could all be tough. They are a playoff team, and could do some damage in the postseason, but they will have to do it on the road.
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