Are you ready for some football? Las Vegas is, and here on Memorial Day we’ve got the Over/Unders on win totals released at a couple of the major sportsbooks. TheSportsNotebook takes a run through the opening expectations of the betting markets on all 32 NFL teams and offers some comments…
NY Giants: 9.5
Comments: I’m not sure I get why the Eagles are the favorite here, considering the Giants just won the Super Bowl and the last time they had a year with a so-so regular season followed by a championship playoff run (that would be 2007) they came out in 2008 and earned the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs. That they spit in the bit in the postseason that year is irrelevant to this discussion. And I know the Cowboys went 8-8 a year ago, but unless you’re a Redskins fan with a moral objection to ever betting on Dallas (that would be me), it seems like a decent deal to just get them to have a winning season.
Green Bay: 12
Comments: I completely get the high expectations for the Packers but I cannot fathom why any sane person would take the over on any team at that level, considering we haven’t even had the first run of training camp injuries. Conversely, I think Detroit and Chicago are both going to be good and think the Over offers some solid value.
New Orleans: 10
Tampa Bay: 6
Comments: Did I completely miss something or are the Saints missing a coach? And isn’t the natural heir apparent to Sean Payton also suspended for the first six games? Look, this is still a good team and I can see a credible case made that Drew Brees could lead a team to ten wins. But I can’t see how they win more than that, and this number is supposed to be a median figure. Put another way—is it easier to see the Saints 12-4 or 8-8? I think the latter is quite imaginable, whereas I can’t even fathom the former. The only reason I can think of to take the Over on the Saints is that the Under looks so stunningly obvious, that I usually lose when something looks that easy. Call it Bettor’s Paradox.
San Francisco: 10
St. Louis: 6
Comments: This all looks pretty straightforward here, although I think asking the 49ers to have another huge year could be a little risky, and on the flip side remember the Rams did win seven games just two years ago and have a new coach in Jeff Fischer who has at least demonstrated he can make a team competitive.
New England: 12
NY Jets: 8.5
Comments: Take what I said about Green Bay and the (12) number, drop it down here to the Patriots and then multiply the sentiment about threefold. Do the same for the Cowboys and apply it to the Jets.
Comments: I like the Bengals, so I took the Over in my Bad Betting Advice section here at TheSportsNotebook. I think the Steelers and Ravens numbers are interesting, and this looks like typical Las Vegas conservatism. Both organizations deserve respect, but both have older teams that it’s hard to read. My thought is that the bookmakers decided to let the public pick the favorite, and I’m curious to see if these numbers move at all between now and August when we revisit them as part of the official team previews at TheSportsNotebook.
Comments: On the one hand…Houston’s better than Baltimore or Pittsburgh this year, so the Texans are a value at the same number. On the other hand…there’s no reason all three teams can’t be overrated. I love Houston’s talent, but am worried about their ability to handle the fact that they’ll likely be a trendy pick in the AFC overall. Indianapolis looks overrated, as does Jacksonville, although give that no number on the board is lower than 5.5, that’s again more Vegas conservatism at work than anything. With each team I can see them winning six games. I can’t see a reason for opening discussion at the number with either one.
San Diego: 9
Kansas City: 8
Comments: This is going be the most fun division to try and handicap (by “fun” I mean I’m going to be wrong almost every time I open my mouth). In some of the early Super Bowl odds I’ve seen, I think Denver’s been overrated, given we don’t know the health of Peyton Manning until he starts getting hit. But the win prop number is modest and reasonable. I think Kansas City is underrated, given all the injuries they had last season. The San Diego number looks like a split of the difference between what you’d give the personnel and what you’d give the coaching.
This is just the spring salvo and come August we’ll evaluate each NFL team against their win/prop number just as was done in baseball. But as the NBA and NHL playoffs hit the finish line, the clear sign here is Vegas is hungry for action and they’re unleashing the big guns is posting the first NFL numbers of 2012.