NFL Pre-Season Review – Hunting for Value

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The long awaited 2013 season gets under way on the 5th September so it’s about time someone stepped up to the plate and gave us a bit of a guide to the best, worst and most interesting pre-season selections. That mantle has been seized by our very own NFL obsessor, Beerbart. Here’s his first rundown of the year before the pigskins let fly:

Ok. First post of the new season from me. Firstly, I’m not too going to lie but betting on the NFL is hard work. It’s arguably the most competitive sport in the world mainly due to its draft system which results in the worst placed team getting the first choice of the finest college player the following year. As a result some teams are not far from turning around an average season to a playoff run and a shot at the Superbowl the following year. You will not see years of one team dominating in this sport and consecutive Superbowl wins are relatively rare, the last time was the New England Patriots in 2005 and before that the Denver Broncos in 1999.

Now, before I start, I’m going to have to assume you know a little bit about the sport. If not there are plenty of guides are out there that can explain everything far better than me and would mean that you aren’t throwing money at a sport you don’t understand; leaving this article purely about the tips and the inexpert logic used in justifying them.

Now without further ado here’s my pick of teams likely to go far in the NFC Conference:

NFC

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Now this is a team stacked with talent on both sides of the ball and with Aaron Rodgers they have one of the finest quarterbacks playing the game. Despite a disappointing showing in the divisional playoff final last season they were recent Superbowl winners in 2010 and have a similar side that have only grown in experience, plus they used the 2013 draft to boost their running game. I’m pretty confident these guys will be there or thereabouts this year. Odds are 11/1 to win the Superbowl and 11/2 to win the NFC Conference (both with bet365).

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers

Last years defeated Superbowl finalists, the 49ers are hotly tipped to go the extra yard and win the whole thing this season. The world famous west coast team had some of the greatest players of the 80’s and 90’s playing for them: Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Steve Young et al but then spend much of the 2000’s in the doldrums. But they’re on fire now, led by the excellent coach Jim Harbaugh and possessing one of the finest all around teams in the NFL makes them hot favourites in the NFC. Odds are 7/1 for the Superbowl and 7/2 to win the NFC Conference (bet365).

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Seattle has a fine young team that possess a formidable home record. Seattle was always a notoriously hard place to visit due to both the geographical location and the raucous atmosphere generated by the home fans. Last year the Seahawks won all 8 games at their turf cementing this reputation even further. There’s not much to dislike about this team, the offense scores big and the defence is very strong. My concern though is the dreaded second year slump which seems to affect a lot of young quarterbacks. Russell Wilson was very impressive in his rookie year but he will have a challenge keeping that momentum up in his second year and opposition defence coaches will have spent all off-season working him out. As a result I think they are slightly over-valued at 8/1 to win the Superbowl and 4/1 to win their conference (bet365)

Outsiders

Now I’ve made the case above for the three favourites in the NFC but there are some longer shots worth considering. Chicago Bears can do some damage but they have a tough division to get out of and a quarterback who blows hot and cold– current price 33/1 with bet365. In addition the New Orleans Saints have one of the finest offences in the NFL and consistently score big; unfortunately for them last year they conceded big as well and had one of the worst defences in the history of the sport. A new defensive coach, system and players are in place for the upcoming year so you have to assume there will at least be an improvement. If they can just keep the defence competitive they will go far. bet365 are offering odds of 20/1 to win the Superbowl. Finally for the NFC, the 2011 winners the New York Giants are definitely worth considering at 22/1 with bet365. They have recent experience being champs in 2007 and 2011 and a deep roster but tend to be un-impressive regular season performers, if they get in the playoffs though they can be hard to stop.

Now to the AFC conference:

AFC

Denver Broncos

Now before I even looked at the odds for this year’s out-right winner I thought these guys will be at the top. Possessing a mouth-watering offense, a strong and quick defence and a legend at quarterback in Peyton Manning they tick all the boxes when you’re looking for Superbowl contenders. The only slight negative is Peyton Manning’s play-off record which isn’t exactly stellar but he certainly deserves another Superbowl ring and he will not get a better chance than this upcoming season. The Broncos are overall favourites at 6/1 for the Superbowl and 5/2 for the AFC conference (bet365).

New England Patriots

The Patriots are second favourites in the AFC because under Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady they always get to the playoffs. If the NFL had an equivalent to Manchester United then I guess the Pats are it. In the last twelve years Tom Brady is a three time Superbowl winner and two time runner up and the Patriots are pretty much covered on all sides of the ball going into this season. However, the off-season has been a disaster for the Patriots. Their highly regarded tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested on a suspected murder charge and immediately sacked from the team, the resulting media circus was huge and even made the mainstream news channels here. In addition, the Pats signed college legend Tim Tebow, a player that splits opinion more than anyone in the league, and if he makes the final roster he will bring his own media circus/fanfare with him this year. As a result, despite their excellent pedigree, they are slightly too low for me at 9/1 for the Superbowl and 3/1 for the AFC conference (bet365).

Houston Texans

This is a very solid team. They have probably the best ‘1-2’ punch at running back in their conference and an absolute beast at wide receiver in Andre Johnson. Coupled with a dependable defence the Texans are third favourites in the AFC and justifiably so. I see the Texans in a similar way to Green Bay in the NFC and represent good value at 12/1 for the Superbowl and 6/1 for the AFC conference (bet365).

Outsiders

As with the NFC there are longer shots worth considering. The AFC North power houses the Pittsburgh Steelers and last year’s Superbowl winners the Baltimore Ravens are both 25/1 with bet365. The Steelers usually always bounce back from disappointing seasons and I can’t see them going 8-8 again, although they are more inexperienced on defence and running back now. The Ravens won the whole thing last year but will go into this year much changed; coupled with my point earlier about rare consecutive Superbowl wins puts the Ravens as nothing more than a shot in the dark for me this year. The Indianapolis Colts could continue the good work from last year under the increasingly impressive Andrew Luck, however they’ve lost a big player on defence in Dwight Freeney. Tempting odds are on offer at 33/1 with bet365.

That’s basically me done for my pre-season tips. I’ll be back at some point before the season commences on the 5th September 2013 for some week one selections.

Happy Punting!