We are happy to welcome Chris Celletti to the TOJ writing staff for the 2012 NFL season. He will be contributing a weekly NFL gambling column every Friday. Make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter and all the credit if you hit on any of these bets -
So preseason is finally, finally over, which means the beginning of the NFL gambling season (unless you have a serious problem and have been betting on preseason games, which I’m sure about 85% of the NFL gambling population does, no questions asked). Each week during the regular season, I’ll give you three picks against the spread.
And let’s get this out of the way, here’s my disclaimer: I am in no way trying to pass myself off as any sort of gambling expert. I don’t study how lines move during the week because I have a job, a life and friends. I’m simply going to waddle up to my computer every Friday or so and look at that week’s schedule, pick three games, and give football reasons as to why. From time-to-time I’ll also throw in a non-football bet and other random thoughts that pop into my head. We’ll tally my record and keep a running total each week and see how horrifically I did at the end of the year, because we all know betting on football has zilch to do with anything football related. This is gonna be a fun exercise.
So since we’re still a wee bit off until the actual games kickoff, I thought I’d debut with some futures bets; a few team over/unders and MVP and Super Bowl Champs bets. As with my weekly picks to come, I plan on having a big old laugh when looking back on these in February when the season is over and Mike Tannenbaum takes over for Bill Polian as ESPN’s “Expert NFL GM”.
FYI: I get lines from Bovada.
Baltimore Ravens (10) – UNDER
My dad is a huge believer of “being due” in sports, and he’s passed that on to me. This ranges from everything like “Good god is Swisher OVERDUE for a homer” to “All the home teams have won on Wild Card Weekend so far, one of the road teams has to win”. It’s completely illogical and totally irrational, and yet I still believe in it. And to me, the Baltimore Ravens are due for a crap year. They’ve made the playoffs in all of John Harbaugh’s four seasons, which is a miraculous accomplishment given that Joe Flacco has been the starting quarterback for all of them. And of course it’s because of the Ravens’ defense, which to me is on its last legs. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are on the way out, and Terrell Suggs is hurt. Their schedule isn’t a murderer’s row but does include games with the Giants, Cowboys, Eagles and of course two with the rival Steelers. It’s just pretty hard in the NFL to have five straight winning/playoff seasons, especially with a quarterback like Flacco. I don’t expect the Ravens to be bad, but I can see 8-8.
Jacksonville Jaguars (5.5) – UNDER
This is the biggest dumpster of a franchise in the NFL and it’s not even close. Can you blame Maurice Jones-Drew for wanting out? The Jags and Jets should have pulled a Tebow-MJD trade, but the Jags would rather start Blaine Gabbert at quarterback than someone who, at the very least, would fill their stadium. Oh, wait, this is easy to figure out…their owner wants absolutely nothing to do with the city of Jacksonville. Additionally, the Jags have the NFC North and the AFC East on their schedule this year. It will take them until they’re the London Jaguars before they win six games in a season.
Denver Broncos (9) – OVER
It’s going to be close but I have the Broncos slightly over, probably by about a game or so. The competition in the AFC West will remain mediocre and Denver’s schedule isn’t too bad. And then there’s this: last year, this team won eight games and one in the playoffs with Tim Tebow at quarterback. This season, they made an itty-bitty upgrade at the position with Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning throwing with his left hand could win 10 games if he gets half the support Lefty Jesus got last year from this defense, special teams and running game.
Eli Manning (18/1)
The Giants’ offense has a chance to be insanely good. If David Wilson is even a fraction as good as every Giants blogger has blabbered on about since April, and Ahmad Bradshaw stays healthy, can’t Elisha have a truly MVP-caliber season? With any semblance of a running game Eli should put up monster numbers throwing to Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Co. Of course for Eli to win the MVP, the Giants will need to have a big regular season, something many seem to think isn’t going to happen, but I do (and then they’ll promptly lose in the first round of the playoffs because that’s how the Giants do things). To me, there’s no reason at all why guys like Michael Vick, Arian Foster and Matt Stafford should have better odds to win the MVP than Eli.
Super Bowl Champs
New Orleans (18/1)
What the Saints will prove this year is that in the NFL, coaching doesn’t mean a whole lot when you have a great quarterback who runs your offense from the huddle/line of scrimmage. In 2009, The Colts went 14-2 (should have went 16-0) with Jim Caldwell as their head coach, and Jim Caldwell is about as aware of his surroundings as a deer that sprints across the Garden State Parkway . The only reason that Colts team was worth anything was because of Peyton Manning. The Saints still have that whether Sean Payton is on the sidelines or not because of Drew Brees, and Brees also still has plenty of explosive weapons to use. The whole bounty scandal will end up being good for them because it forced ax-murderer wannabe Greg Williams and his Transitions lenses out of town, and Nola replaced him with Steve Spagnuolo, a totally competent and Super Bowl winning defensive coordinator. Besides, defense means jack in the NFL these days, just ask last year’s Patriots. And then there’s the dome. The Saints are impossible to beat in that dome. If they can get to the Super Bowl, well, do you know where the Super Bowl is this year? Why take the Eagles at 11/1 (this is a joke, right?) or the Bears at 15/1 if the Saints are sitting there below them?
New York Jets (40/1)
You remember what site you’re on, right?