Checking on Las Vegas – Team Over/Under wins
Las Vegas has released the NFL Futures odds, and bettors who like a season-long sweat will continue to look for value by betting O/U team wins. There is still a ton of time left before the season starts, so teams still need to settle position battles, iron out player contract spats, and attempt to keep track of which of their players showed up on the police blotter in the past 24 hours. With all of the information available at this moment, (minus which players have been arrested since I started this article), we will try to break down just where gamblers should look to put their money this season:
Three Strong Buys:
Jacksonville Jaguars UNDER 5.5 wins (-135) – With a new coaching regime taking over, a young and unpolished QB, and a very public contract dispute with their only star player, the Jags are facing a very steep uphill battle this season. Watching Blaine “Goldilocks” Gabbert’s uneasiness and indecisiveness in the pocket last season (if the game wasn’t blacked out) cannot make the any Jags fan feel too confident that things will take a turn for the better this season. Even with a defense that improved down the stretch in 2011, the Jaguars will have some serious trouble putting points on the board this season with their lack of offensive firepower. OT’s Eugene Monroe and Ebon Britton have not provided the stability this team needs on their O-line, a clear reason why Gabbert has happy feet, and with good reason, he was dropped 40 times last season in 15 games. This season their schedule includes games vs the tough AFC East, and they will face a very tough out-of-conference schedule vs the NFC North. Between their dismal offense, the immaturity of their roster, and a litany of off the field distractions including MJDs holdout, and talk of the whole franchise moving to LA, I cannot see this seasons Jags improving on their 5 win season last year.
Minnesota Vikings UNDER 5.5 wins (+105) – It came as no surprise to me that when I researched the opening betting lines that came out in May, the Vikings were actually listed at O/U 6 wins. Good news and bad news for non-believers like myself. Bad news, we have lost a half-game edge that was there in May when the odds were released. Good news, the line movement means that the early smart money is on a dismal season for the Vikes. I personally believe that the value is still there at under 5.5. They play in a very tough NFC North division which could likely hand them six losses before they even got the schedule. Throw in out-of-division games vs. the 49ers and a Titans squad that projects to be better, along with some very tough road games in Houston and Seattle, the Vikes would have to win the remainder of their games to reach 6 wins. Those remaining games would still include three more road games as well(Washington, STL, and Indy). With an unproven and inexperienced coaching staff, Christian Ponder at QB behind a mediocre O-line, and the health of their franchise player still up in the air, I cannot see that happening.
Buffalo Bills OVER 7.5 wins (-180) – What I love about this bet is that Buffalo will not lose many games this year due to lack of effort. After acquiring the taste for winning last season, this is a hungry young team looking to make their mark. HC Chan Gailey is a solid gameday leader who keeps it simple for his players and only asks for max energy on Sundays, something that should translate well with this roster. The Bills have a slew of young talented players at their offensive skill positions who are poised to breakout in a big way. Another thing that will energize this roster is the addition of pass rusher extraordinaire Super Mario Williams. The front line of this defense is going to be overwhelming for O-coordinators, with the combination of Williams along with speed rusher Marc Anderson and stud DT Marcell Dareus. With a revamped D that will should keep them in games late instead of blowing leads, and an offense that seems almost certain to eclipse their 23 PPG from 2011, this Bills team will become the first squad from Orchard Park to surpass the .500 mark for a season since 2004.
BUY, but beware:
NE Patriots OVER 11.5 wins (-165) – Taking into account their opponents 2011 records, playing the easiest schedule in the NFL should bode well for the Pats chances of reaching 12 wins. It seems like a gimme however, taking a closer look at their schedule there is a 6-week stretch between week 3 and 8 that could be tough to maneuver. Starting on the road in Baltimore, the Pats then have to shuffle off to Buffalo, a place they never play well. They will then take on Peyton and the Broncos, followed by a trip to Seattle, a stadium widely regarded as one of the toughest. They come back home for some clam chowda week 7, but it will be another physical tough game vs the rival Jets. Finally, they will have to travel across the pond to play in Wembley Stadium, and while they play a mediocre Rams squad, it will be a tough task. They also have late season contests vs the Texans and 49ers, both very tough and well-coached opponents. However, the Pats had a superb offseason, adding playmakers in the draft, signing pro-bowl WR Brandon Lloyd who should shine in this offense, and bringing back OC Josh McDaniels. Oh, they also still have arguably the best QB and the best Head Coach in the league. Although it won’t be a cakewalk, the Pats should be primed to finish the season 12-4, if not better. Oh and PS, Gronk.
WATCH LIST, too close to call:
Browns UNDER 5.5 (-155)
49ers OVER 9.5 (-170)
Colts UNDER 5.5 (-190)
Broncos OVER 8.5 (-155)
These are the options that I believe have the most value to bettors, however there are many other Team Regular Season Win Totals that could be intriguing to predict. Leave your choices for “best bets” in the comments section for this article. Use the link on my homepage for Vegasinsider.com for help finding the lines.