Wed, Aug 21, 3:30pm by Ed Scimia
The National Football League has begun preseason play, which means we’re just a few weeks away from the start of the 2013 regular season. Last season provided plenty of excitement for punters and fans alike, as a talented class of rookie quarterbacks and the re-emergence of veteran Peyton Manning gave viewers plenty to watch each week. In the end, the Super Bowl came down to a battle between the Harbaugh brothers, with John’s Baltimore Ravens ultimately defeating Jim’s San Francisco 49ers.
While it’s too early to make any firm predictions about who will win Super Bowl 48, it’s never too soon to take a look at the futures markets and find out where we might be able to find some value for the upcoming season. Here’s a look at a few teams you might want to back early.
IASBet.com already has futures odds up for most markets, so we’ll be using their numbers throughout this article. The Denver Broncos have been installed as the early favourites to win Super Bowl 48, though they’re a soft favourite pegged at 7.00. Others near the top of the charts include the 49ers (8.00), Seattle Seahawks (9.00), New England Patriots (10.00) and Green Bay Packers (11.00).
There’s one thing you’ll notice about all of these teams: they’ve had great quarterback play in recent years, which is a must if you’re going to win an NFL Championship. From that group, I’ll immediately eliminate the Patriots as a betting option. While coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady are sure to keep the team relevant, I’m too wary about the fallout from the Aaron Hernandez situation to put any money on them.
Of the remaining teams, I think there are a few interesting bets. First, even as the favourites, I think the Broncos offer us good value: they were absolutely dominant for most of last season, with only a stunning 70-yard touchdown pass at the end of regulation allowing the Ravens to knock them out of the playoffs, eventually winning in double overtime. There are no locks in the NFL, but I think Peyton Manning has one more great year in him, and the Broncos have only gotten better in the offseason (the signing of WR Wes Welker being a particularly important addition), so we can at least feel confident that they should be a contender. I’m backing Denver now before they get off to a hot start and the odds shrink.
While I’m not putting my money out there yet, I can also see arguments for backing the 49ers or the Packers. In the case of the 49ers, we have a team that looked absolutely unstoppable at times, with Colin Kaepernick being perhaps the most exciting player in the league last year. I’m not sure 8.00 is enough though, as I’m not sure this is a team that has the consistency to deserve that much respect – and we can expect defensive coordinators to find ways of dealing with (or at least slowing down) Kaepernick this year.
Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers are perennial contenders behind Aaron Rodgers, and 11.00 is a nice price if you’re looking for a team that you can depend on to make the playoffs, even if their talent level isn’t quite up to some of the other top contenders.
Here are a few other bets I think punters should consider:
Regular Season MVP: I love Peyton Manning at 7.00 with IASbet. The Broncos are going to put up loads of points every week, which should help Manning’s numbers look even more outstanding than usual.
If you don’t want to go with the chalk like I am, look at Adrian Peterson at 11.00, Colin Kaepernick at 15.00, or even Robert Griffin III at 26.00 as strong possibilities. I probably don’t need to tell you that even at 326.00, Tim Tebow is not a good bet.
Division Winners: These bets are extremely difficult early in the year, as the big favourites are hardly worth betting (lacking value) and it’s never quite clear which teams will rise up to challenge them. However, I’m placing a modest 1/2 unit on the Miami Dolphins (5.00) to win the AFC East. Are they likely to win the division? Probably not, but if someone is going to upset the Patriots here, it will be them, and I think all the turmoil around New England makes it at least plausible that they have a down year.
Conference Championships: Let’s look at a couple of long shots here. I’ll put a unit on the Indianapolis Colts at 17.00 to win the AFC Championship; Andrew Luck had a penchant for showing up at big moments in his rookie year, and it’s at least conceivable that he could break out and take his team to the next level in his second season.
In the NFC, I’ll place a bet on the New York Giants at 13.00, who always seem to be in the hunt. At these odds it seems like we’re getting more than enough value to hope that Eli Manning can once again take the Giants to the Super Bowl – this time, in their home arena.
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