2016-17 NFL Divisional Expert Betting Picks
We are in the much-awaited month of August and that means we’ll soon be enjoying plenty of football as the NFL preseason games begin and we ready ourselves for the official kickoff of the 2016 NFL betting season. With one eye on the preseason games, roster cuts, injuries and suspensions ahead of the new season, and the other eye on the usual trends in the various divisions of the league; here is our 2016-17 NFL Divisional Expert Betting Picks.
Here’s a Look at the 2016-17 NFL Divisional Expert Betting Picks
As was proven last season, the Cowboys can only go as far as Tony Romo takes them, and with questions surrounding the Dallas starting quarterback’s ability to stay healthy all season with the team’s ever-thinning secondary; I’d be wary of picking odds-on favorites Dallas for the divisional title. And neither would I be confident in picking the Eagles, who are in rebuild mode and have an iffy quarterback situation, or the Redskins, who were very lucky—in all honesty—to win the crown last year. That leaves me with the Giants, who’ve lavishly upgraded their shaky defense and added more protection to the durable Eli Manning, as arguably the most trustworthy team in the division, at least on paper. If Romo stays healthy, then the Cowboys will be a tough out in the race. Even so, Manning and the Giants have enough depth and talent to go toe-to- toe with the Cowboys in the title race (with or without Romo) and sweep everyone else in this division, assuming they predictably get their defensive act together. This makes the New York team my recommended pick in the NFL odds to win the 2016-17 NFC East crown.
Divisional Winner: New York Giants
Saying that the 2016-17 NFC West title odds will highly likely be decided by Arizona and Seattle should come as no surprise to serious bettors, given the way the Rams and the 49ers have been lethargic in this division and haven’t done well enough in the offseason to warrant being taken seriously as title contenders. Now, in a choice between Arizona and Seattle’s defense, I’d easily go with the Seahawks, who’ve led the NFL for a record four years in points allowed per game and have the personnel to continue being solid. In a choice between Russell Wilson and Carson Palmer, I really like Palmer’s strong arms, but with Wilson able to make plays with his arms and legs, the Seattle man comes with more edge. Even so, Arizona’s offense could be more effective than Seattle, thanks to a bevy of solid tailbacks and dependable receivers, so I’d easily take the Palmers and Cardinals’ offense over Wilson and the Beast Mode-less Seahawks in terms of efficiency. Considering all those aspects (which gives the Hawks better final edge over the Cards), and the fact that Seattle has been the better team over the past five years; I’ll have to take NFC West top favorites (the Seahawks) for the divisional title while I openly admit that Zona could easily mess this pick with a second-straight NFC West crown.
Divisional Winners: Seattle Seahawks
With no disrespect to Chicago and Detroit, this divisional race is also likely to come down to two teams — Green Bay (who are the odds-on divisional favs) and Minnesota, the reigning NFC North champs. John Fox and the offseason defensive improvements in Chicago will make the Bears better in D, but with so many questions in offense (read that a shaky QB in Jay Cutler), this team won’t be hitting the double-digit win mark, which should put them out of the title race. Detroit could be better in offense with their new OC despite the loss of Megatron, but the Lions defense has lost too many key players over the past two seasons (Ndamukong Suh and Co.) and replacing them won’t be easy, leaving them vulnerable at the back. This therefore leaves the Packers and the Vikings as the two main title contenders. It’s hard not to like Green Bay in 2016, given that Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in this division and he will be getting his favorite receiver Jordy Nelson back while the improved Green Bay O-line should keep the QB and his targets healthy. The Vikings, meanwhile, should be improved on both sides of the ball, possibly with the best defense in the division (if not the entire league) and a balanced offense with Adrian Peterson leading the runners while Teddy Bridgewater, Laquon Treadwell and Stefon Diggs take care of things aerially. So, who will be taking the NFC North title? In my opinion, this will be a tight race, with GB and Minnesota fighting heartily. In the end, though, Minnesota should have the last laugh, given their overall balance, as opposed to the Packers, who still have some questions in defense that could see the team drop or throw away some key games at the start or end of the season.
Divisional Winner: Minnesota Vikings
Firing Lovie Smith was a surprise by the Bucs, but the team has done nearly everything else right since then, which should give Jameis Winston a chance to build on his decent rookie season. The Saints, thanks to their mega investments in the defense, should equally be an improved unit under the stellar guidance of QB Drew Brees. The Falcons are a bit of a mystery after storming out of the gates last year before collapsing down the stretch. Maybe Matt Ryan and Julio Jones will take advantage of the upgrades on both sides of the ball to lead Atlanta to a complete solid season, or maybe the Falcons will be as iffy as always. Whatever the case, Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Atlanta should be better in 2015, making life more difficult for Carolina in the bid to repeat as run-away NFC South Champs. But then again, with the most complete roster in the division and a highly-motivated QB in Cam Newton coming off a career and NFL MVP-winning season, it’s hard to see anyone besides Carolina winning this division.
Divisional Winner: Carolina Panthers
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets, Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins, and Tyrod Taylor and the Bills will give a decent account of themselves and probably cut down on the gap between them and the Pats at the end of the year due to Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. But as has been the case since 2009, the Patriots should use their unbridled superiority to win the AFC East title as divisional betting favorites.
Divisional Winner: New England Patriots
Denver Coach Gary Kubiak has been complaining that his quarterbacks aren’t getting much respect from outside their locker room, and looking at the combo of Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch, you wouldn’t help feeling nothing but disrespect for them. Sanchez is perennial veteran underperformer while Lynch is too raw to be trusted for immediate impact in the pros. So, much- as Denver’s tried-and- true defense will still be best in the division and probably the conference, you’ll have to tone down your hopes on the Broncos as far as AFC West title odds are concerned, at least until the offense proves that it can hold its own against Philip Rivers (San Diego), Alex Smith (Kansas City) and Derek Carr (Oakland), who are all better QBs than the signal-callers in Denver. And of these remaining QBs and their teams, Smith and KC offer the most promise as legit contenders to dethrone Denver’s divisional supremacy, considering their solid 2015 campaign. Car and the Raiders are coming in as very solid sleepers, thanks to their busy offseason and the growing experience in the team’s roster. For the Chargers, well, they will continue to chew up big yardages in offense due to the experience of Rivers as an intelligent quarterback, but with not enough investments in the defense, San Diego will most likely end up as the average team it has been over the last several seasons.
Divisional Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
The Steelers beat the Bengals in two of their three meetings last season (including the playoffs), and that is likely to be the difference in this divisional race that will most likely go down to the wire of Week 17 games. Of course, the confirmed season-long absence of star WR Martavis Bryant and the possible four-game suspension of Le’Veon Bell could hurt the team, and Cincy (or even Baltimore) could take advantage. Still, this a team that missed Big Ben and Bell in several games last season, yet the Steelers finished the year with the best scoring offense in the division and second-best scoring offense in the entire conference, meaning the team has enough depth to overcome this year’s challenges. Not to forget, Pittsburgh’s defense has been improving over the last couple of years, which should give them the much-needed boost in toss-up games like in Cincinnati and Baltimore. So, while it is right to expect a strong competition from Andy Dalton and the Bengals, along with a revitalized push from Joe Flacco and the Ravens; the Steelers should be the preferred pick here, with the troubled Cleveland Browns being a non- factor.
Divisional Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s hard not to be high on the Texans in 2016 after they made all the wise decisions in the free agency and draft. In fact, if you consider the offseason upgrades in Houston and the solid play the team has delivered over the past two seasons (including an AFC South title last year), you’d be hard done to find a team in the entire NFL looking primed for most improvement in 2016. That said, the Colts (8-8 in 2015 despite playing half the season without starting QB Andrew Luck) showed a lot of fighting spirit and ability to cope with injuries; something that makes them a trendy pick even in the instance that things go south for them in 2016. That’s a benefit-of- doubt that can’t be given to the Texans, who were largely healthy in 2015 and will most likely get tested harshly in 2016 now that their most important player, J.J. Watt, is still recovering from an offseason surgery. With that, the Luck and the Colts look like the smart pick to win the AFC South title that they’ve actually dominated over the past decade. FYI, Jacksonville and Tennessee should both be improved in 2016, but both teams still need one or two more years before they can become legit title contenders.
Divisional Winner: Indianapolis Colts