4 Long Shots That Could Beat The 2016 NFL Odds
Every year since the playoffs expanded in 1990, at least four new teams each season made the playoffs that didn’t the previous year. So with that said, here are four longer-shots worth wagering on NFL odds to win their division for the coming season.
2016 NFL Predictions: 4 Long Shots That Could Beat The Betting Odds
Jacksonville Jaguars (+300 for AFC South)
The Jaguars finally appear headed on the right path, especially offensively behind third-year QB Blake Bortles and one of the best receiving duos in the NFL in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. The Jaguars began last year without having had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2005. By the end of the season they had two, as both Robinson and Hurns reached the plateau. The second-year wideouts each had at least 10 TD receptions. If Jacksonville’s talent on defense lives up to its billing, the Jaguars should be contenders for the division crown. The Jaguars recorded the fewest interceptions in the NFL (26) and ranked 31st in scoring defense (27.3 points per game), 31st in third-down defense (43.8 percent) and 29th in total defense (375.0 yards per game) during that span. They added two key free agents in DT Malik Jackson and FS Tashaun Gipson and drafted CB Jalen Ramsey and LB Myles Jack in the first two rounds.
Oakland Raiders (+240 in AFC West)
The Raiders are basically Jaguars West in that they too are finally ready to be a contender again with plenty of young talent on the roster. Oakland’s Khalil Mack, who will only be entering his third season, made NFL history by becoming the first player to be named All-Pro at two positions — outside linebacker and defensive end — in the same season. Few pass-rushers in the league can hold a candle to Mack, who also throws in excellent run defense and the ability to flash as a coverage linebacker. And for the first time in a generation, Oakland became a destination for highly sought-after free agents as offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, linebacker Bruce Irvin, cornerback Sean Smith and free safety Reggie Nelson are all Raiders.
Buffalo Bills (+500 in AFC East)
Obviously the New England Patriots are the team to beat in the AFC East because they have won it nearly every year this decade. But remember that the Patriots won’t have Tom Brady for the first four games of the season due to suspension so perhaps the Bills could take control of the division early with a win over New England in Week 4. A key will be the health of star receiver Sammy Watkins. He backed off slightly Saturday from his recent prediction that he will miss only “two or three days” of training camp after surgery to repair a broken foot. “Hopefully I’ll be back [for training camp]. If not, then cool. Get ready for the first [regular season] game,” he said. Perhaps no team has better running back depth. As if LeSean McCoy isn’t tough enough to stop, Karlos Williams and Mike Gillislee each showed some pop in 2015, giving the Bills’ one of the league’s best backfields.
Atlanta Falcons (+500 in NFC South)
The defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers are heavy favorites on NFL odds to repeat in the South. But remember that the Falcons did start 5-0 last season before things went off the rails. There’s a ton of offensive talent here, led by maybe the best receiver in football, Julio Jones. He caught one pass for every 4.43 routes he ran last season, the highest rate of any wide receiver in the league. The Falcons’ offense focused on getting the ball in his hands, and Jones’ 642 yards after the catch were tops in the NFL. Jones has averaged 111.7 yards per game over the past two seasons. Now if the Falcons can play some defense …