Originally posted on The Football Fan Spot  |  Last updated 9/7/13
Kansas City Chiefs to make the playoffs +250 I didn’t really see any value with over 7.5 (-175) on the Chiefs, but I thought it was a little strange their odds to make the playoffs were this high. The odds makers seen fairly certain they’ll win 7 and probably 8 games, but the AFC sucks. 9 wins can get you into the playoffs. The Chiefs have legitimate talent around the quarterback and the Alex Smith/Andy Reid combination should stabilize their Head Coaching situation, their quarterback situation, and their league worst turnover margin. Add in a last place schedule in arguably the easiest division in football in by far the easier of the two conferences and I think this is a playoff team. One team goes from 5 wins or fewer to the playoffs every year. Minnesota Vikings under 7 wins -125 One team also does the opposite and I think the Vikings are the team to do it this year. They weren’t actually far from being one of the 3 worst teams in the NFC last year according to DVOA. DVOA had them as the 9th best team in the NFC, making the playoffs because of a 5-1 record in close games, and there wasn’t much distance between them and the 14th ranked team in the NFC. Give them a tougher schedule, an even more improved conference, more injuries (2nd fewest in the league last year), and a more human season from Adrian Peterson and I think they’re below than 5 wins threshold. This bet gives me 2 games of buffer. Carolina Panthers to win NFC South +350, to make playoffs +220, and over 7.5 wins -140 There’s also a team that goes from out of the playoffs to a first round bye every year. I think that’s the Panthers, who finished last year 6-3 with wins over Washington, Atlanta, and in New Orleans. Their defense surrendered just 21.2 points per game in the final 12 games of last season, after they moved Luke Kuechly to middle linebacker, despite playing 8 top-16 scoring offenses in that stretch. Now they add Star Lotulelei, Kawaan Short, and return Jon Beason. Offensively, they scored 26.0 points per game in the final 8 games of the season as Cam Newton shook off his early season sophomore slump. That’s no fluke as they scored 25.4 points per game in 2011. Going into his 3rd year in the league, I expect the best season of his career from Newton. They could possibly have a top-10 offense and defense. Baltimore Ravens to make playoffs +130, over 8.5 wins -125 Their demise has been greatly exaggerated. Sure, they didn’t look good week 1, but I don’t think there were many teams that could beat Peyton Manning when he was playing like that. It’s important not to over-react, which naturally everyone is doing with the 3 day layover. For that reason, I wish I made these bets after week 1, but I still like both of these bets. Atlanta Falcons to miss playoffs +160 A lot of good teams for not a lot of playoff spots in the NFC. One team always goes from a first round bye to out of the playoffs and the Falcons are by far the most likely to do so this season. 10 wins might not be enough for a playoff spot in the NFC. The average 13 win team wins 9.5 games the following season and, in 2012, the Falcons benefitted from a 7-2 record in games decided by a touchdown or less, an unsustainably high fumble recovery rate and turnover margin, and a schedule that featured just 2 eventual playoff teams. They also return just 2 starters in their original spot on an offensive line whose biggest strength is continuity and they lost their top pass rusher John Abraham. New England Patriots over 11 wins +130 The AFC East should give them 5 wins at the very least. They’d only need to go 6-4 in their only 10 games to at least push this bet and I think they have a much better chance at 12 wins than 10. A lot has been made about what they’ve lost in the receiving corps, but before 2007, they had 5 different leading receivers in 7 years and only Moss, who came over from a 4th round pick, ever did anything before or after leaving New England. Aaron Hernandez is also gone, but Brady somehow played better without him last season, which just solidifies my point that receivers don’t really matter to him. The offensive line is still one of the best in the league and they’ll still be able to run the ball. Defensively, their young squad played well to end last season and may have finally matured. Oakland Raiders under 5 wins -165 I hate taking publicly bet sides and paying huge juice, but the Raiders are terrible. They’re going to have a hard time winning the 4 games they won last year, let alone winning the 6 that would lose this bet for me. They have 50+ million in dead money on their cap and of their top-10 cap numbers, 6 are dead money guys, 1 is a kicker, and one is a backup quarterback. They lost arguably their top best defensive players in Philip Wheeler and Desmond Bryant, as well as starting defensive back Michael Huff, and leading receiver Brandon Myers, while top offensive player, left tackle Jared Veldheer, is expected to miss 10-12 games with a torn triceps. Indianapolis Colts under 8.5 wins -110 They won just 2 came by more than double digits last season and beat just 3 teams that finished with 8 or more wins. If they want to come close to 11 wins again, they’ll have to play much, much better than they did last season. A few solid off-season additions and a 2nd year Andrew Luck could do that, but this number is high enough that I’m comfortable making this play.
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