It's time for the NFL season to start people! Even more importantly, it's time for the betting bonanza to begin. No matter what your bankroll may be, I have the secrets to maximizing both your fun level and money level. There are tons of people, places, and things to waste your money on, but football does not have to be one of them. Betting is not an exact science, but that's what makes it so sweet when you win. Overall, the best value bets are the NFL team prop bets. This is where Vegas thinks they know how many games everyone will win. Vegas has picked how many games each team will win within one game 80% of the time. That leaves 20% of the picks being good ones. The key is identifying the 20% and making the right call. Here are my top five team prop bets:
1. San Francisco 49ers (8 1/2). This is the most obvious of all of the over/unders. San Francisco is the one eyed king in the land of the blind that is the NFC west. The first team All American team in college can beat Rams twice. For the first time in a while, the AFC west will have some competition for the worst division in football, AND THOSE TWO DIVISIONS PLAY EACH OTHER THIS YEAR. Let me repeat that: THE NFC AND AFC WEST PLAY EACH OTHER THIS YEAR. This should be the breakout year for the young 49ers. Mike Singletary was one of the most intelligent and intense middle linebackers of all time (the quarterback of the defense), and he will be bring those same characteristics to this year's team. Not only does he have the best linebacker in football in Patrick Willis (kinda reminds me of a young Singletary), but the offense was coming around at the end of last year when Crabtree was finally getting his groove on. One of San Fran's main weaknesses on offense was the fact that Alex Smith's three set drop was 1-2-3-DUCK! So, like any good organization, San Fran drafted not one, but two first round offense lineman. Speaking of Alex Smith, all he has to Trent Dilfer it this year and San Fran will win at least 10 games. Finally, you know the niners have some mojo going when a saint of a running in Brian Westbrook replaces Glen Coffee, a promising second year running back, suddenly retired because he wanted to be a preacher. Talk about a good omen. I'm taking that omen all the way to a 10-6 season. Whenever my opinion varies by two or more, I bet it.
2. Detroit Lions (5). Even though the Lions are one of the biggest punch lines in sports, I am going to put money down on the over here. The Lions have drafted too early for too long to be this bad all the time. Ever since Matt Millen left, the Lions drafts have been stellar. Jim Schwartz is going to do wonders with this newly constructed defensive line with a stud in Suh and a solid pass rusher with Vanden Bosch. Even with those improvements on defense, I believe the most improved unit in football will be the Lions passing game. Calvin Johnson was a relatively tamed lion last year because he had absolutely zero help. This year, Jahvid Best will be in contention for offense rookie of the year and Matthew Stafford will make better in-game adjustments with a year of experience under his belt. I think that the Lions will go 8-8 and beat the Bears into the cellar. Take the Lions on the over.
3. Arizona (7 1/2). It may as well have been two decades since the Cardinals came one spectacular Santonio Holmes catch away from a Superbowl title because this year's team will be battling for the #1 pick in the draft. If you haven't heard, Derek Anderson is going to be the starting quarterback this year. Derek Anderson. The good news is that Anderson can win a game while only completing two passes (of course against the Bills). Bad news is that he is 15-18 in all of the other games he has started with a career passer rating of 69.7. Throw in the fact that they've lost most of their veteran leadership in Kurt Warner (retired), Anquan Boldin (Baltimore), Antrelle Rolle (New York Giants), and Karlos Dansby (Miami) gives you a recipe for disaster. Bottom line is that this is a team that is being led by quarterbacks that the head coach did not draft and a defense that was shaky at best last year and getting worse. Take the under.
4. Miami (8 1/2). This may come as a surprise to most, but the Miami Dolphins are going to win the AFC East. This is due to a combination of the Dolphins getting better and the Patriots getting worse. I know it's weird that I've written two sentences about the AFC East and didn't mention the Jets, but there are too many new pieces that need to be worked into that team. Don't get me wrong, I love the Jets to make the playoffs and do a lot of damage in the playoffs, but the regular season will belong to the Dolphins. With the addition of Karlos Dansby on defense, Tony Sporano finally has the playmaker he needs on defense to disrupt the basic offenses of teams like the Bills and Jets. Plus, the wildcat will get wilder with a legitimate deep threat in Brandon Marshall. For all of you fantasy owners out there, think about Davone Bess as a deep sleeper in your drafts. The only reason why the Dolphins traded Greg Camarillo to the Vikings was because of the development of Bess. This team has the sweet stench of the Big Tuna and you can order up 10 wins this season.
5. Green Bay (9 1/2). This is a pick that is fueled partially by the fact that they can get nearly half of the minimum nine wins in the four games they have with the Bears and Lions. Additionally, most of their difficult games are in the confines of Lambeau Field, which is still one of the best home field advantages. Furthermore, their most difficult road game (@min) comes after their bye week. The Packers will also benefit from the suddenly injury ridden passing attack of the Vikings. Does anyone not see the Packers as a playoff team? Does anyone see a 9-7 team making the playoffs in the NFC? I didn't think so. Put the Pack down for at least 10 wins, and could easily win 11.