Preseason is over!
So much fun, wasn’t it?
I was enthralled!
It would be foolish to say we didn’t learn anything from these games but along with 99% of fans in America, I would love to see them do away with them completely.
Money talks, though, and I suppose contracts are in place. At least they are over.
Fantasy drafts have mostly been completed. I hope you were smart with your picks and focused on indirect talent from the “non-skill” positions particularly the offensive line.
Then there was, of course, the retirement of Andrew Luck. I would give you my take on this but I’m sure every point and angle has been beaten to death by now.
He was a very good player and would have loved to see him in more postseason games but coming from someone who’s been doing Muay Thai for nearly 15 years now, brain health and quality of life are paramount.
I like the Redskins, though, so you’re talking with a guy who is familiar with perennial hopelessness and pain.
Today, let’s discuss the NFC divisional races and pick a winner from each.
BetOnline has betting odds on each division’s winner.
Let’s take the route of the late great Jack Kerouac and go “On The Road” from East to West.
New York Giants (+1000)
Better than last year?
Sure. I would say that even before they even take the field for the first time in 2019, that has already happened.
I like what they did in the offseason, besides one thing. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Drafting Dexter Lawrence will in all likelihood prove to be a tremendous call from the front office.
Drafting Daniel Jones?
Man, I don’t know.
I like the fact that they got rid of Odell Beckham. He doesn’t seem like the kind of personality you want around while you’re trying to rebuild.
As a Redskins fan, I sure will miss him inadvertently headbutting the crossbar on kicking net. He’s a very good player but a bit more flash than substance for my taste.
Okay, it’s the elephant in the locker room time!
I know he played an obvious massive role in helping you win 2 Super Bowls and but the last time I checked, the NFL still stands for “Not For Long”.
Even for his own legacy, do him a favor and let go.
Okay, that’s enough. They won’t win the division.
Washington Redskins (+1000)
As long as Dan Snyder is the owner of the Washington Redskins, they will never win a Super Bowl. Things have gotten progressively worse it seems ever since he came to power in our nation’s capital.
How many draft picks to Washington give up to the soon to be great Los Angeles Rams for RG3?
I lost count.
Hold on. I have to wipe the tears from my keyboard.
Okay. I’m back.
It’s arguable whether they will finish last in the NFC East this year. I guess it depends on how long the Giants take to replace Eli.
The same can be said about Washington’s QB situation. How good Dwayne Haskins will turn out to be is still in question but nobody wants to see Case Keenum out there. “He gives us the best chance to win right now.” That’s the ‘Skins biggest problem. They can’t take a step back to take several forward.
Forget about winning right now!
Put your #1 pick on the field and let him get some OJT.
I saw where head coach Jay Gruden was atop the list of betting odds to be the first NFL head coach to lose their job this season.
I hope that doesn’t happen. He’s done very well, in my opinion. We’ve seen Snyder place the blame for Giffin’s struggles on Mike and Kyle Shanahan in the past.
Ugh, I’ll stop now.
They are going to win it.
Dallas Cowboys (+225)
I just told you I was a ‘Skins fan so I must hate these girls. I mean ‘Boys.
The Dallas Cowboys will be a good team this year that has an outside shot at winning the division.
Quarterback Dak Prescott has yet to prove he can throw the ball down the field effectively and NFL defenses are just too good, so if you can’t stretch the field, there will be plenty of 3rd downs.
That’s where Ezekial Elliott comes in. Although signed through the 2020 season, the running back is still holding out. I think he will be back and a running back missing training camp shouldn’t be as much of a detriment as a QB or wideout would.
Speaking of wide receivers, the Amari Cooper trade during last year’s regular season appeared to be well worth it. He is hampered by a bad heel at the moment, though, and that just adds to the question marks for the Cowboys offense heading into week one.
I have full confidence in the defense but keeping up with the potentially high scoring Eagles proves too difficult for a bet from me.
Philadelphia Eagles (-125)
It almost feels like a trap.
Odds this close to even in a weak division?
Desean Jackson is back. That right there separates their offensive capabilities from those of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Long Beach-native averaged nearly 19 yards per reception in 2018 for the Bucs which was his highest in the past 5 years.
At 32, he may have lost a quarter of a step but I think he makes up for it with experience running various routes on the field. I expect Philly to use him on some 12-15 yard crossers that could lead to some serious YAC.
On the defensive side of the ball, did they lose some talent?
Yes. Chris Long is a monster. They should have the middle plugged up better than any team in the league this year, though, with Fletcher Cox returning and the signing of DT Malik Jackson.
That in and of itself should force opposing offenses into obvious passing situations which will hopefully make up for their losses on the edge.
NFC Norris (North)
Shoutout to Chris Berman!
Man, those were the glory years for Sportscenter, right?
Keith Olberman and Dan Patrick are still the best duo of all the times and I swear my resting heart rate was 10 beats below normal listening to the calming golden voice of Bob Ley.
Detroit Lions (+1000)
Perhaps the most hotly contested division in the NFC, the North should supply us with plenty of potentially live underdog bets as the season plays out.
Most of those games probably won’t feature the Detroit Lions, though.
Or will they?
Much of their success depends on how the offense plays out under new coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Last season the Lions offense was under the call of Jim Bob Cooter, the great-nephew of former NASCAR “not great” Dick Trickle.
The biggest shift will be a hopeful reliance on the running game. For Lions fans, this should be more rhythm than blues as Matthew Stafford has had far too much weight on his shoulders for years.
Minnesota Vikings (+250)
I’m just not buying the Minnesota Vikings this year. I could very well see them losing more games than they win and missing the playoffs.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins is easily top ten in the league on paper but that’s where this conversation meets an abrupt end.
I was a huge fan of his when he was a Skin and pardon the pun, but this stat threw me.
He is 4-25 against teams with winning records in his career!
That’s not good for 2019, especially considering the strength of this division.
I expect the three-headed monster of Rudolph, Diggs, and Theilen to eat well but the Vikes can’t get my vote with the numbers I just gave you looming.
Don’t get me started on their kicking game, either.
Green Bay Packers (+200)
Mike McCarthy is out. It was either him or Aaron Rodgers and I think we all knew who was going to kick rocks after 2018.
Enter Matt Lefleur.
Much like the Viking potential success this year, I’m just not buying it.
Aaron Rodgers is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. That is without question. When he’s not on the field, his value to his team is undeniable.
This is true maybe even more than when he plays.
If any player’s argument for winning an MVP award could be defined by the time he spent sitting out with an injury, it would be Rodgers.
That rhetoric slowed dramatically in 2018, though, as the Pack went 6-9-1 with Rodgers on the field. That was the first time the team had a losing record since the quarterback’s first year with the team in 2008.
He was sacked 49 times and had a career-worst QBR. Their 2019 schedule is fairly tough too…
Chicago Bears (+200)
Daaa Bearss will be in the hunt, for sure, but if the divisional crown comes down to quarterback play, I don’t know if Mitch Trubisky has the versatility as a passer to make the same throws as Aaron Rodgers or Kirk Cousins.
Will he even need to, though?
Everywhere you look, people are saying the defense is going to regress this year.
Well, they didn’t have very much room to progress. So…
Most of their players will be back but the defense lost their coordinator to a head coaching opportunity in Denver.
Playing in the elements at Soldier Field in Chicago will favor the team who would rather be conservative on offense and aggressive on defense.
The Chicago Bears fit the bill. Trubisky will need to continue to play within himself.
The divisional race may not be as close as the betting odds are projecting.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1000)
Well, the organization is officially all in on Jameis Winston.
I think he appears to be one of the best locker room difference-makers to come along since Ray Lewis or even Tim Tebow.
Is he truly a difference-maker on the field, though?
That is the question.
Is new head coach Bruce Arians the answer?
We might see the most improved team in football.
What does that do, though, for the conversation we are having today?
Not enough, in my opinion.
Carolina Panthers (+475)
Welp, it looks like an up year for Cam and the Carolina Panthers.
Looking back at the team’s success under the former Auburn quarterback, unpredictable but predictable seems to be the pattern.
We are told not to forget history, right?
I mentioned his health earlier but the reports are that he will be hobbling into the regular season opener and expected to start.
The man has heart. That’s all I know. I still have visions of him rolling around on the sideline holding his helmet after receiving multiple concussions.
He leaves it all on the field every time.
Their running back Christian McCaffrey is going for 1K on the ground and 1K receiving this year. I think he will be able to do it, especially if a healthy Luke Kuechly leads another top 5 defense on the field each week.
The Panthers could be pretty tough this year.
There’s just not enough consistency to get my vote…unless you believe in eternal patterns.
Atlanta Falcons (+350)
Could the Falcons have more value than the (-125) Saints?
I think the Eagles have it outright and the Bears odds are virtually the same as two other teams in their division but there’s a sizable gap here with nearly four whole points separating the Saints and the Falcons.
It’s no secret among football fans that injuries ruined the Falcons playoff chances last season.
Finishing 7-9 again with a healthy squad in 2019 is out of the question for the front office and coaching staff as well as the players namely quarterback Matty “Ice” Ryan who desperately wants another chance at Super Bowl glory.
They will improve but not enough.
New Orleans Saints (-125)
Drew Brees really is something special.
He just seems to be getting better as he approaches the 40-mark. The man completed nearly 75% of his passes last year!
They will have a rookie replacing a pro bowler at the all-important and underrated position of center.
Football is a game of inches as we know, and losing 180 at a time due to a rookie’s mistake could cost them dearly.
I just don’t see giving either Atlanta or Carolina the nod over this Saints team.
The plus money is tempting, but nah.
Arizona Cardinals (+1800)
Wouldn’t that be fun?
Cashing that ticket?
Forget about it.
Yea, there’s a new head coach and Kyler Murray will be exciting but it’s not going to happen.
Their new head coach is essentially a loser who couldn’t put together a winning record at Texas Tech.
I’m as intrigued as anyone to watch Murray and this new offense but I call no dice on the division.
San Francisco 49ers (+450)
It’s the Jimmy G show!
It sounds like something I used to watch on Nick at Nite.
I’m not sold on Jim yet.
His IQ can’t be that high.
Cris Carter called it an idiotic play that got him injured last year and I’ve heard plenty worse. I will spare you the vulgarity.
They will have a dynamic pass rush. I know that. Drafting Nick Bosa and signing Dee Ford should put opposing quarterbacks on high alert.
Overall, though, there are just too many questions at several positions on both sides of the ball to make a wager.
Los Angeles Rams (-135)
Not many people are talking about it but there’s a significant amount of uncertainty regarding their future with the team for the Los Angeles Rams’ two biggest offensive stars.
Everyone is talking about Todd Gurley’s knee but not going as far as to mention that the team could potentially move in another direction. Running backs are just not that valuable anymore.
It’s not just your fantasy team. This is real life too. Tell me all about the running backs who led the Patriots to however many Super Bowls it is they’ve played in now.
I wrote a piece in February on the top players in the Super Bowl and their odds for MVP.
He’s not that good. Maybe he turns out to be but he was barely top 20 if you think about all the talent that played in the Super Bowl.
His performance or lack thereof in the big game showed it too.
The rest of the Rams were stacked!
They are again this year but there’s a reason the front office hasn’t resigned him off of his rookie contract.
It’s not a matter of lighting a fire under his butt. The man is trying but he’s playing the toughest position in sports.
I would much rather have a certain NC State and Wisconsin alum under center.
Seattle Seahawks (+325)
You didn’t expect me to go with all favorites, did you?
Hey, I tried earlier but just couldn’t come off of the Saints or Philly, and the Bears had the same odds as the Pack so that was an easy choice, in my opinion.
Many experts have the Rams winning the division and while that’s certainly possible, most of them have it coming down to one game or even a tie-breaker.
The recent addition of Jadeveon Clowney is what puts them neck and neck with the Rams here. Even if you were to have the Seahawks 10 percentage points below LA to win the West, the wager holds strong value.
Russell Wilson is re-signed.
The team is no longer in the process of changing face on the defense either.
The legion of boom thing is over and that’s cool.
Their strengths lay in the pass rush now and less in the secondary.
LA cannot match the home-field advantage the Hawks have in Seattle either. The Rams don’t even have their own stadium.
The NFL is becoming more and more unpredictable from year to year, that is minus Belichick, Brady, and their Pats.
The ebb and flow are strong, though, outside of Foxboro.
The NFC would love to put up more of a fight than they did in last season’s Super Bowl.
It starts at the divisional level and I think the picks we made today hold some tremendous betting value.
Give the Bears, Eagles, Saints, and Seahawks some of your cash. At least your wager will provide months of excitement and intrigue at the least.