1 - This is when Vegas has the least amount of information to establish their odds. You will see that as the preseason progresses, the odds will continually change as more information unfolds. As I write this, I have seen most of the odds on my selections decrease in value. This is a good sign for me because it tells me my picks were ahead of the curve.
2 - Most odds are adjusted to fall in line with public perception. Many betters will base their reasoning on last season's results. For example, if you see a strength of schedule report on ESPN or a handicappers website - IGNORE IT. If you go back and look at last season's results more closely, you will understand that some teams win-lose records were inflated and vice versa. After adjusting the 2009 results to reflect how teams really did, the 2010 "strength of schedule" will appear very different.
The following are my best early predictions for NFL season win totals in the NFC. I will update this list throughout the preseason for the remaining teams.
- New Orleans Saints 10.5 Wins - OVER
- 2009 5 tough matchups: 4-1 record
- 2010 4 tough (MIN, @DAL, @CIN, @BAL), 4 challenging (ATL, @ATL, @SF, @PIT)
The defending Super Bowl champs had an easy schedule in 2009 with only five tough games and they won four of them. Their schedule is a little tougher this year and without a doubt every team will want to knock of the champs. NO will not be going for an undefeated season this year, but they should still win 11+ games. They didn't lose any core players in the offseason and the returning cast is healthy and confident. The NFL is a quarterback-centered league and NO have one of the best with Brees. They have a favorable schedule and they know how to win the big games. Prediction: Bank the OVER.
- Atlanta Falcons 9 Wins - OVER
- 2009 6 tough matchups: 1-5 record
- 2010 6 tough (@NO, NO, @PHI, CIN, BAL, GB ), 1 challenging (SF)
A detailed analysis would put this bet into serious question. After a breakout rookie season with Matt Ryan in 2008, ATL took a small step back last year. They did not do well in the big games. However, there is an important factor about this team - they have a lot of key players entering their third year. Many players take that next big step and really start to come into their own. They plucked Dunta Robinson from the Texans and he will help considerably against Brees and company. Given how the rest of the NFC looks, they might miss the playoffs even with 10 wins, but this team is on the rise and could be a dark horse this season. Prediction: Bank the OVER.
- Carolina Panthers 7.5 Wins - UNDER
- 2009 8 tough matchups: 2-6 record
- 2010 4 tough (@NO, NO, CIN, BAL), 4 challenging (SF, ATL, @ATL, PIT)
- Philadelphia Eagles 8.5 Wins - OVER
- 2009 4 tough matchups: 1-3 record
- 2010 5 tough (GB, IND, DAL, @DAL, MIN), 5 challenging (@WSH, SF, ATL, @TEN, HOU)
The early trends have betters taking the UNDER for PHI. Many base this on one look at their schedule and who is under center at quarterback. However, Kolb will suit Andy Reid's west coast offense better than McNabb. He is a traditional three-step drop passer and his biggest asset is his accuracy. This team will score. Kolb will not suffer the same kind of growing pains as Bradford, Stafford, etc. He knows the system and will be ready for the challenge. Getting Bradley back at middle linebacker is a huge boost for the defense. The stability in this organization is on par with the likes of PIT and NE. The core is young and on the rise. Prediction: Bank the OVER.
- New York Giants 8.5 Wins - UNDER
- 2009 8 tough matchups: 3-5 record
- 2010 5 tough (@GB, @IND, DAL, @DAL, @MIN), 2 challenging (@HOU, @PHI)
The G-Men might have won the biggest game in football a few years ago, but they could not recapture that magic last year. Picking up Rolle will help their secondary, but not enough to stop the daunting opponents they face this year. Justin Tuck will need to expand his leadership role, but one has to wonder if it will matter. Like John Fox in CAR, coach Coughlin is on the hot seat and players are questioning if they were better off with his old-school military coaching style. The NFC East has one of the toughest schedules and Peyton's little brother has not proven he can be a difference-maker on a consistent basis despite winning a ring. Given the inevitable ups and downs seen from Eli, it would be a miracle if they can win nine games. Prediction: Bank the UNDER.
- San Fransisco 49ers 8.5 Wins - OVER
- 2009 6 tough matchups: 0-6 record
- 2010 5 tough (NO, @ATL, PHI, @GB, @SD)
A lot of people are betting the OVER on SF and with good reason. They play in arguably the worst division in the NFL and only have five difficult games on the 2010 schedule. However, as they proved last year, this is not a team that is ready for prime time - yet. They did not defeat one good team in 2009, but still managed to pull out eight wins. Look for them to pull out one or two of those this season as they look to capture the division title. They will build on a great run defense and need only adequate play from Alex Smith to win with this schedule. Prediction: Bank the OVER.
- Arizona Cardinals 7.5 Wins -UNDER
- 2009 4 tough matchups: 1-3 record
- 2010 5 tough (@ATL, @SD, NO, @MIN, DAL), 2 challenging games (SF, @SF)
No Kurt Warner. No Anquan Boldin. They also lost three starters on defense. This is a team going in the wrong direction. They do not have the worst schedule in the league, but they might have one of the worst quarterbacks. Leinart must start from scratch and prove to the league (and more importantly to his own team) that he can win some games. If not, this team is headed for a high draft pick in 2011. Most think this team will win at least eight games because of who is in their division, but if you want to place hard-earned money on Leinart - good luck to you. Prediction: Bank the UNDER.
- Green Bay Packers 9.5 Wins - OVER
- 2009 6 tough matchups: 2-4 record
- 2010 6 tough (@PHI, MIN, @NYJ, DAL, @MIN, @NE), 2 challenging (@ATL, SF)
GB is one the sheik picks of the 2010 NFL season. It is not hard to understand why after watching Rogers develop into a bonafide stud last year. As his O-line adjusted and he began to get the ball out quicker, it was no surprise to see him go toe-to-toe with Warner in the post-season. Their defense eventually let them down after ranking near the top in both rushing and passing defense. Losing Kampman to JAX did not help either. Having said that, they have enough pieces in place to make another strong run this year. Whether the self-obsessed Favre returns or not will make little difference in the Packers rise to the top of the NFC North. Jump on the bandwagon - it will be a fun ride for the Cheeseheads. Prediction: Bank the OVER.
Tomorrow I will breakdown the AFC...