NFL Favorites Free Picks to Make the 2016 Playoffs
There is nothing that’s a sure thing when it comes to NFL betting. If there were, sportsbooks like Mybookie would be out of business and I’d be on my yacht. With that said, here are three teams with short playoff NFL betting odds that I feel are all but locks to make it this year.
Here are the NFL Favorites Free Picks to Make the 2016 Playoffs
Carolina Panthers (-425 to make playoffs on NFL odds)
The Panthers of course were 15-1 last year and won the NFC title for the second time in franchise history. So no surprise they have the shortest odds in the NFL to make the playoffs. It helps that Carolina plays in maybe the NFL’s easiest division, the NFC South. The Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Bucs were all below .500 last year.
As long as reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton stays healthy, this will at least be a wild-card team. Carolina welcomes back top receiver Kelvin Benjamin after he missed all of last year. And Newton has one of the NFL’s top tight ends in Greg Olsen. He’s coming off back-to- back years over 1,000 and is on the verge of history in his 10th season. If Olsen gets to 1,000 yards in 2016, he’ll be the first tight end to have ever done it three consecutive seasons. New England tight end Rob Gronkowski is in the same boat.
The Cats lost cornerback Josh Norman, a Pro Bowler, in free agency, but the defense is still loaded. Carolina got good news this week in the secondary on Bene Benwikere. He was placed on the physically unable to perform list when camp got underway because he wasn’t cleared to resume practicing after breaking his leg last December. But on Wednesday, he was practicing.
With Carolina’s surprise decision to rescind Norman’s franchise tag, letting the All-Pro walk away as a free agent, Benwikere has long been in position for a lead role in the defensive backfield. Benwikere appeared in 13 games as a sophomore last season before the injury forced him to injured reserve. Benwikere and Robert McClain will be the lone veterans among a young group of Panthers cornerbacks.
New England Patriots (-350 to make playoffs in NFL betting)
The team with the shortest odds to make the playoffs in the AFC is New England even though Tom Brady will miss the first four games of the season. Clearly oddsmakers think Jimmy Garoppolo can hold down the fort and at worst go 2-2.
Garoppolo/Brady will have one of the NFL’s best tight end duos ever in Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. Gronkowski and Bennett rarely share the field during training camp, but they’ve been dominating the Patriots’ defense in one tight end sets. The Patriots haven’t had a dominant tight end duo since Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez shared the field from 2010 to 2012. Since 2012, only four tight ends have caught more passes than Bennett. He’s tallied 50 or more receptions each season with a total of 19 touchdowns over that span.
“Gronk is really (expletive) good,” Bennett said Wednesday. “He’s been a pleasure playing with. I think we’ve been raising each others’ game. He does some things very well. We do some things different. The thing is, we’re built alike, but we’re two totally different players — the way we run routes, the way go about our business is totally different.”
According to reports, Gronkowski has been “incredible” through Patriots camp so far. Squarely in his prime at age 27, Gronkowski enters the 2016 season with 29 touchdowns over his last 35 games. Expect plenty of two-tight end sets this year, which will mean less playing time for New England’s wideout corps behind Julian Edelman. But that’s probably a good thing.