As promised, here are my season predictions (a.k.a bets) for NFL teams this year. All are unders because I do better predicting failure rather than success (thank you, Boston sports scene for this gift). I have graded the season total bets in confidence points based on the “coach vote of confidence” system. This means if I put a bet on Bill Belichick levels, it’s a lock; and if I put in Marty Schottenheimer, that means it’s somewhat of a false vote of confidence, like when the San Diego Chargers brass said to the media and Marty (who coached the Chargers to a NFL best 14-2 in 2005) before a playoff game versus the Pats that “he has a vote of confidence to be our coach next year, win or lose”……and then fire the motherfucker 2 days after he loses in the playoffs in an excruciating fashion (again).
First, I will recommend a player prop bet that could be very lucrative: gross passing yards. I was looking at the lines last night for such players as Drew Brees (leader last year, 5056 yds), Tom Brady (threw for 4800 yds in 2007), and a dark horse in Aaron Rodgers (3450 yds in 2008).
Oddmakers.com has Brees at +200; I think this is a steal bet at 10 units to win 30. He has a great shot to do it in a Saints offense that is pass heavy, and will only improve with Reggie Bush and Jeremy Shockey coming back, never mind the fact the offense’s WR core didn’t miss a beat when they lost their #1 WO in Marques Colston last year. They have a very deep core in Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, and Lance Moore. Plus, if you look at their schedule, they have some real cupcake secondaries to face, at home on the turf, in the Lions (last vs pass last year), Pats (in the 20s), and the Bills (also in the 20s). They also face Miami (19th, and those numbers are skewed b/c sacks, which Miami is good at, count against the number of total yards that decide the ranking), on the road. Brees came about 40 yards shy of beating Marino’s record, and he may do it this year.
Two other plays you can make here are Tom Brady at +500 (if he stays healthy in that offense, he always has a shot) and Aaron Rodgers at +1000 (if you have watched Green Bay throw the ball around in the preseason, you know this kid and the offense is ready to make a charge versus a schedule that has the Lions twice, as well as the Browns and the Rams). There are speculative plays, but putting a low amount of cash on these high caliber players on very good teams is always a +EV decision, in my book.
Division/Conference Winner Bets (lines via oddsmaker.com):
Ravens +300, to win AFC North
Getting odds on a coinflip, IMO. The Steelers are good, but only won the division by 2 games (and the nose of the football) last year, and since 1980, have not made the playoffs the year after making it to a Super Bowl or AFC Championship. The Bengals or Browns aren’t winning the division, never less 8 games. Betting on Ray Lewis and Ed Reed isn’t a bad play, either.
Rams +800, to win NFC West
Like because you have faith in the Cardinals, Seahawks, and 49ers running away with this thing, right? Five to win 40, sign me up!
Packers, +1000, to win NFC Championship
Watch the preseason games. They have been by far the best team I have watched so far. Everyone looks ready to go, and the team is motivated even more with Minnesota having Favre in the division (which is tough minus the Lions). And you know how much we love betting against Favre here at Miracle Covers, especially if he has to play Green Bay, in Lambeau, for the NFC title.
Onto my season total picks (lines via oddsmaker.com):
Dallas, Under -9 @ +130
This is one of my favorite picks, and not just because I love betting against the Cowboys (a +EV decision since 1997). They’ve lost Greg Ellis and Terrell Owens. Their two best players on offense, Jason Witten and Marion Barber, are injury prone. The secondary is still weak in the 3-6 levels, and they’re quarterback is Tony Romo, who has the nickname, “Pepto Bismol” amongst Dallas fans. They also have a gauntlet of a schedule this year in that they play in the toughest division in football in the NFC East (if you go 3-3 in the NFL EAST, that’s AWESOME), as well as face the toughest division last year in the NFC South. They also have to go Green Bay again this year. And if you look at their schedule, the Cowboys, who have always been fast starters, especially under coach Wade Phillips, (who has had good starts in 3 places where he has coached: DAL, DEN, BUF) only to see the season fan down in flames each time. The last 5 games are ridiculously tough and all will be versus teams in the hunt. Yes, they do face the AFC West earlier in the year, which leads to easy wins, but those long road trips may hurt them in the end when the last 5 games are: @NYG (on short week), SD, @NO, @WAS (always a close rivalry game), and at home versus Philly, a game that like last year, will probably decide a playoff berth (as well all know what happened last year).
I’d say this is a Andy Reid lock; you might not get there, but at least you’ll have a guaranteed sweat in the end for entertainment value……but there is also enough talent there in Dallas (as well as unpredictability) that you may have made a Philadelphia-sized skid mark in your trousers while along for the ride.
Oakland Raiders, Under 5.5, @ +110
Ah, the Raiders. Thank god for today’s ESPN report that the Pittsburgh Pirates have broken the sports record mark of consecutive seasons of futility (17), otherwise Raiders fans may resort to suicide, especially since the second story today is that Richard Seymour, who they acquired in a trade from the Pats for a 2011 draft pick to help a run defense that was 31st last year, hasn’t yet reported to camp yet. I wonder why? Maybe it’s the .375 winning percentage the Raiders have had since 2003. Now, I can see why the juice is in the positive because the Raiders had a good end to last year, winning 3 out their last 4 ballgames, granted against the Broncos and Bucs. They play in the AFC West, and may not even be the worse team in the division, talent wise (they may actually be second!). And they can run that football….they have a good offensive run block scheme with 4 very good running backs. Sounds good, right?
So, why the under? In the NFL, you need certain things to win you can’t see on paper. Leadership at the QB position. I think the only leadership JaMarcus Russell has shown the last few years in that locker room is how to wear a white mink fur coat to press conferences after a game and somehow not look gay doing so. You need good example, and good coaching, you know, a guy who is motivated and can discipline players and make them do the right things by leading by example. Like when Tom Cable came into camp with a mission to cut down on penalties, he was so motivated to do so that he was willing to knock out his own motherfucking coaches to prove a point….which in turn, now has him being investigated by the Oakland-Alameda Police Department. Way to lead by example, Tom. The only thing you taught your players there is that cheating isn’t bad, as long as you don’t get arrested.
But the main reason I like the under: form. You need good form going into a year, or at the end of it, and the Raiders have none. They went 2 and 3/4 preseason games without scoring a TD (only one versus Saints 4th stringers), and only had 2 first downs (they did score also last week versus Seattle, who is bad against the run b/c they have an undersized defense). The faced the Saints, at home, in preseason Week 3 (which is considered the only game teams take seriously). The Saints wanted to play their guys for 3 quarters; but coach Sean Payton was disappointed. Not because the Saints played bad; but because his team only got 1 and ½ quarters work in, since they were already up 31-0 with 3 minutes left in the half, and the Raiders had negative -10 yards on offense. Their offensive line is big, but slow and not good at pass blocking. After they cut Jeff Garcia, I have no idea who the backup QB is. They lost their sack leader in Derrick Burgess to a trade to the Pats, and their best player, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, is only at 75% which a slight fracture in his wrist. So the player on the team with the best hands, the cornerback, is only playing with one hand. And not only that, the AFC West plays the NFC East this year, and have a brutal back to back with the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and then Pittsburgh on a short week right after, both on the road. Yikes.
You are getting juice on the Raiders sucking again this year. I’d say that’s a Herm Edwards lock…….as in when, Jets or Chiefs fans (or bettors against those teams) watched a game, there would always be a guarantee that a) your team would be up or down by a possession late in the game and b) Herm’s team would never have enough timeouts and the clock would run out, or leave the opposing team with enough time to make a “play to win the game,” to make Herm lose his shit after in the press conference and thanks to his mismanagement of time.
Indianapolis Colts, Under 10, @ -115
This is more of a hate bet for me because I dislike the Colts as a Pats fan, but I saw some things in last year’s AFC Wild Card game versus the Chargers that worry me if you are a Colt fan. First, they can’t move anyone off the ball at the line of scrimmage. To win any football game, high school to pro, you need to do this on a consistent basis to win versus tough teams. No run? You take away one of Manning’s weapons in his stellar play-action. Sure, they can still throw it to Reggie Wayne, but they also lost Ben Utecht to free agency, which leaves them fucked if Dallas Clark gets hurt (again). They also have issues at left tackle, although they have a solid pass blocking group which is helped by Peyton Manning’s quick release.
Second, as evidenced by the second half of the Charger game where the Colts could NOT stop Darren Sproles, the defense gets gassed very quickly. The Colts are a top heavy team…..with very little depth. Their defensive leader, SS Bob Sanders, is crucial to them winning. His backup is a white guy who played at BYU last year. If he gets hurt, expect Tom E. Curran of MSNBC.com to put out his annual, “Colts Winning percentage w/o Bob Sanders” article that demonstrates this. Plus, their best pass rusher in Dwight Freeney, is coming off his second broken foot in 5 years, and if Peyton ever got hurt, their backup is Jim Sorgi, who has been there since 2000. He had a chance to leave for free agency in 2006 and try to go to another team for a starting gig, but didn’t. Wanna know why?
It’s because he sucks, but he (like all Americans) like job security…..that and Peyton likes him making fat girl jokes in the QB meetings. I also think having no Tom Moore (who is now just a consultant, not the OCoordinator) and Marvin Harrison (old, but still has the touch with Manning) will affect Peyton, especially if they struggle early (and he already questioned some moves in the offseason in regards to coaching placement).
They also have a new coach in Jim Caldwell, who I am sure is a nice man, but is no Tony Dungy, who has a Joe Torre-like influence on his team when it came to dealing with adversity (and some luck as well, they won 3 games last year thanks to the other teams giving it to them). He is a question mark until he can prove it. I give this a Marty Schottenheimer vote of confidence. I am betting on what, I think, is the inevitable rather than the impossible…so much so I took the Colts at under 9 games (although in charity towards a degenerate friend).
They’ve won 12 games each of the last 7 years. The odds are against them to do it 8 times, with their schedule in an improved division. Plus if any of the top three get significantly hurt, that will be a fun text message to send to Pat Darts (and another reason to drink, like he needs one).
Cleveland Browns, Under 6.5, @ -140
I hate the juice, but I do love betting against this team this year. A new coach who struggled in NY at times as the coach of the Jets, in Eric Mangini, is already stirring up controversy when he made his rookies go on an “involuntary” 10-hour bus ride to Long Island to speak at his football camp, or when he STILL won’t announce who his starting QB is before Week 1, when both are the same player. That’s gonna win some people in the locker room! The defense, bad last year (although at times played well at home under the defensive minded Romeo Crennel) is now even worse, especially losing their emotional leader in Willie McGinest and leading pass catcher in Kellen Winslow, Jr. They play in a division versus the two teams who were in the AFC Championship game in the AFC North, and the 3rd team, the Bengals, have improved as well, making them the worst in the division (the only upside is that they face the NFC North). And they have very little running game with an old man in Jamal Lewis, and the WR corps is headed by Braylon Edwards, whose only headline in the last few years was being in the middle in a war of words between blogger and Deadspin.com founder Will Leitch and “Friday Night Lights” writer Buzz Bissinger on HBO’s Costas Now. Edwards has more chance of catching a swab of spit from Buzz saying the word, “fuck” for the 50th time in describing his hatred for bloggers, than a pass from whatever mediocre QB they throw out there this year. I’d place a small-to-medium wager here and give it a Romeo Crennel vote of confidence, as in, if you have bet against Crennel and are getting 7 or less points and his team is driving, it’s a guarantee he’ll go for the field goal (and covering your bet) and kick the ball back to the other team, rather than having some balls and going for the win.
Denver Broncos, Under 7, @ -115
THE bet of the year, IMO. They lost their starting QB thanks to a dispute with the new coach, former Pats OCoordinator Josh McDaniels, and replaced him with Kyle Orton, who ejects more ducks than a 300 pound guy who’s just downed 4 sausages in the parking lot. He also hurt his throwing index finger last week, and his backup is either Chris Simms (also hurt) or some rookie with a long name I have no time to Google for.
They now have a contract dispute with Brandon Marshall, who undoubtedly will get the Plaxico Burress “NFL Douchebag Award” by seasons’ end (on the bright side, Broncos fan, at least it isn’t the Rae Carruth “Farewell, You Bitch” award). It’s his douche-ness that may actually keep Marshall with the Broncos this year; other teams want his talent, but don’t want to put their money and draft picks behind a guy who is just as good at catching passes as he is at smacking his girlfriend. And their defense is still awful, even those they have added Brian Dawkins (playing with one hand) and finally made Elvis Dumervil just a LB pass rusher (seeing Elvis Dumervil trying to guard the run is like trying to listen to someone on Turrets’ syndrome try to recreate the Emancipation Proclamation speech, everyone at the end feels uncomfortable, even the guys who laughed about it afterward).
Denver has a good O-Line that can block run and pass, and has good young talent in RBs Knowshon Moreno and Peyton Hills, and WR Eddie Royal; but especially without a big arm and a big play WR in Marshall, it is going to be a tough sell versus a tough schedule (same as the Raiders) for a team who still can’t defend the run, while at the same time trying to learn a new system based on timing since the screen game is a big part of McDaniels’ offense. I put this at Bill Belichick confidence level, pretty much a lock 90% of the time here, unless David Tyree somehow gets picked up by the Broncos for karma points, because John Elway ain’t walking through that door.
As the season progresses, I’ll put out my bets week to week, as well as info on the rest of the games of the season (we also may do a pick’em challenge here at Miracle Covers).
To start placing the preseason wagers right away (only 2 days left!), go to oddsmaker.com/join and sign up, and use referral code 1288283, to qualify for a 100% signup bonus.
From Mike Lombardi:
I’m not suggesting that Raheem Morris or Todd Haley should not have replaced their offensive coordinators. What I am suggesting is that they should not have hired either man in the first place. The interview process should have alerted both coaches of potential problems. But since both men have never really been in a position to interview coaches, they ran the risk of making mistakes.
What would worry me most if I were a Bucs fan is that the word going around was that while players and coaches were not happy with Jagodzinski, Morris in fact got along with him — but felt he needed to make the change to make peace with everyone. That doesn’t sound like the work of the leader, but rather the work of a committee.
Dick Jauron doesn’t have that excuse, but seeing how wretched their offense was this preseason, it’s probably the most defensible move of the three. It doesn’t change the fact that their offensive line according to their left tackle, “is still trying to come together.” Whether they can do that before their fragile QB gets injured again is a big question as their skill position guys are pretty solid, and they have one of the best return men in the game.
Full writeups on all 32 teamsOver/Under Picks coming next week after cut day, but the lines for the fired three:
Kansas City 6
I think Tampa was actually at 6.5 some time ago, which seems ridiculous now. There may be value in the current 5.5 and I’m almost certain 6 or 6.5 with some juice is still out there. I’m certainly going to try and find where as rebuilding teams with little/young talent and coaching problems are probably teams to bet against winning seven games. KC is currently off the board so we’ll see if their line moves at all. We’ll look at Buffalo some more next week, but firing the guy who tried to run a slow no-huddle offense with a new O-line is probably a good thing.
Edit: Quote by Dick Jauron in the press conference today shows the difference in his thinking compared to Morris:
“I wasn’t thinking about it two weeks ago. And when you start thinking about it, I think you need to move on it and do something. So when I started thinking about it I gave it a good deal of thought and did it. Clearly I believe it’s the right thing to do. It’s painful for him and for his family and for the organization to go through it, but it was just a decision I needed to make I felt, and made it.”
Jauron acknowledged that the preseason struggles factored heavily into his decision.
The productivity parts of it, no doubt,” Jauron said. “I just didn’t feel like we were progressing and I didn’t get the sense that we were going to move forward and that we were going there.”
Turn on ESPN today, and what do you see? Chris Mortensen reporting on Brett Favre, coming back from retirement and signing with another team. You can just vision the collective eye roll of the entire nation when the news was reported.
The funny thing is with Favre, I actually supported him the first retirement go-around. As a Bobby Orr fan, I knew of the plight of the aging legend getting let go by the organization because they either didn’t want to pay him, or had someone younger, who was cheaper, behind him. Before 2008, Favre had openly wanted to leave the Packers because they were average at best. Then they go 12-4 and lose in the NFC Championship versus the Giants. He could have had every opportunity there to say, “I want to stay”, and the Packers, who are owned partially by the people, would have to accept that. Favre couldn’t have said, “Green Bay is boring, too damn cold for my arthritic joints, and Deanna hates cheese”, because Farve at some point has to come back to Green Bay to get his number retired. Rodgers would have had to leave, or sit on the bench. Instead, Favre goes into pseudo-retirement (due to his “displeasure” of them not offering a contract extension to a 40 year old QB), texts flirts with the Vikings and Bears during said period, which allows the Packers to trade him (without public backlash) to the Jets for draft picks (where he will epically fail, to my glee).
Ok, so he goes to NYC, loves it at first (Hey, Deanna, they have Tiffany’s!), and starts out 8-3. The media is openly blowing him; Collinsworth says he’s the MVP after they beat the undefeated Titans. But then, the same old Brett that bettors knew had helped them pay many a rent late in the year thanks to an aging arm leads to a Jets collapse, finishing up with a horrid performance against the hated Dolphins (where he runs out of the stadium after, his bags packed ready to leave), also costing Eric Mangini his job. Suddenly, New York City isn’t as fun when not only you are the reason the team doesn’t make the playoffs, but also cost people their jobs.
He still wants to play, just not with the Jets because now the players on the team hate him. Hey, the Vikings are a good destination, they have the Mall of America….and a dome! But wait, he doesn’t want to do training camp, so instead of actually saying that and pulling a Clemens (not the juice), he goes back into pseudo-retirement in June, and 1 week immediately after camp ends……he signs a deal! What a disingenuous poser! If you are ever THINKING of betting on Farve, think of this before you have the confidence to place that bet in.
Unless you are a Vikings fan who is happy as can be that the starting QB will not be named Sage or Tavaris (sounds like the cast of a Greek tragedy), you roll your eyes at this news……BUT as a bettor, you are giddy in glee. The Vikings season win totals, previously off the board, are now at 9 to 9.5, depending on the site. I was really anticipating 10 or higher, which would become an auto-bet on the under. I was surprised at such a low line because the Vikings were an 8.5 win team, with their easy schedule, BEFORE Favre signed. I would assume that the bookies would add 2 more wins because of the casual sports fans’ collective hard-on for him; but yet again, these are the same bookies who Favre burnt at the end of the year last year (see: +7 @ SF where they lost by two TDs or +4 at a snowy Seattle in December where the Jets lost 13-3), so I can see why the caution from the bookmakers (plus we are in a recession and you can tell; even the bookies have been nittier than usual).
Fear not, he still becomes an auto insta-bet against late in the year on the road, and in the playoffs, as Favre has been terrible the last 5 years after Thanksgiving, even in the 12-4 year, and even in domes or not-so-cold weather. He is, you know, a 41 year old coming off of a slight biceps tear AND shoulder surgery in his throwing arm. He’s never played well in the Metrodome; he has more INTs than TDs there. And the Vikings themselves have a history of season ending collapses as they are the NFL’s version of the Mets (see: 2004 in the last game of the year versus the Cardinals).
Plus their coach is still Brad Childress.
However, at least we get jokes in return out of seeing Favre on ESPN 24/7. We can all laugh when some guy takes Brett 4-5 rounds too early in your fantasy draft. Laugh when I tell my friend Jason, a Vikes fan, that I tried to send him a Favre jersey via the mail, but it got intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Or laugh when you all shout at the Avenue bar, “He’s a Mississippi gambling gunslinger!” when he’s thrown his 3rd INT in the 4th quarter versus the Lions. So it’s not a total wash, I just wish someone would tell Chris Mortensen, who texts Favre as often as a 16 year old girl texts her friends at Jonas Bros concert, that Brett Favre’s balls are on his face.
I was going to write about Electronic Arts releasing their simulated predictions of the NFL season via Madden NFL 2010, but now with Favre coming back, I will do one myself at the end of August and write a report tied to my official season win totals. I always love to see the results because of the unintentional comedy that is the Oakland Raiders being 7-9 or 8-8 in the video game, when that would NEVER happen in real life. You see, the Raiders have very good video game talent; they just haven’t have had much coaching in the last, oh, 10 years. The NFL is a coaching first league. At least Tom Cable, coach of the Raiders, is showing more spark during camp. Cable, who looks exactly like Walter from the Big Lebowski, punched out his assistant coach cold this week. I guess that’s what happens when you question the coach’s Commitment to Excellence AND Judaism!
But, this leads me to an idea for Al Davis: hire the Madden 2010 Engine to call your plays! Human coaches haven’t worked, try a computer! It’s not such a bad idea. He could save money (and maybe make more in ad revenue when Xbox 360 becomes the Official Playcaller of the Oakland Raiders). The Madden engine would reflect the same lifeless, morbid, and mute personality of the organization and its zombie owner. The only bad thing would be the computer can’t verbally discipline the players when they get out of control…..but the human coaches have failed miserably at this for the last 25 years in Oakland, so it would just be business as usual! It’s a win-win!