It’s that time of the year again, football-related sports gambling!
I went through every game this season and picked which team would win. The process took much longer than I anticipated but it is something that I enjoy doing every year. You should expect a lot of sports betting posts from me during the football season. I have had a lot of betting success with both NFL and NCAA college football. I like doing high-risk parlays that pay off well. I am looking forward to analyze the Week 1 point spreads as we get closer to the season.
I pick the over/under win totals for every NFL team this season. I pick a few underdogs and why Vegas has me confused by a couple over/under win totals. The 2012 NFL season will be a lot of fun. Here are my picks…
Arizona Cardinals – 6 1/2 – UNDER
The Cardinals ended the season on a hot streak with John Skelton as quarterback. The Cardinals will not have him start at the beginning of the season because they are paying Kevin Kolb so much money. They want to give Kolb every opportunity to succeed or to build up his trade value. I don’t trust their running game and Michael Floyd will not fix all of the problems with the receiving corps. I have them winning five games this season.
Atlanta Falcons – 9 – OVER
The Falcons won ten games in 2011 and I have them improving to an eleven win team in 2012. Matt Ryan will be battling the New Orleans Saints for the NFC South crown. Julio Jones will be more of a factor this year and Michael Turner has at least one more year on his legs. They are one of my sleeper teams to win the NFC this season.
Baltimore Ravens – 10 – OVER
Baltimore will be without Terrell Suggs for an undetermined amount of time this season, but I still see them as a 12 win team. I believe Joe Flacco will have a breakout season in 2012. The team has been drafting young talented receivers and are slowly getting younger on defense. They are my favorite to win the AFC North with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh battling for a wild-card spot.
Buffalo Bills – 7.5 – OVER
Ryan Fitzpatrick started off the season hot, but hit a wall at mid-season. I don’t have them winning the AFC East, but I have them winning 10 games in 2012. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller will finally be healthy at the same time and will help unburden Fitzpatrick. The Bills’ receivers, as a collective, are among the youngest in the league. They are talented and overachieving, but I expect them to sign a veteran receiver before training camp.
Carolina Panthers – 7.5 – UNDER
I’m not sold on Cam Newton duplicating the numbers he put up during his rookie season. Last season might be an anomaly since teams had a shortened training camps and limited practices. Teams will make Newton throw tougher passes and will have an answer for Carolina’s modified Wildcat. I have them winning six games because they need just a little more talent to get over the .500 hump.
Chicago Bears – 9 – OVER
I am very high on Chicago this season. The Bears were 7-3 last season before Jay Cutler and Matt Forte suffered injuries. They finished the season 8-8 and barely missed the playoffs. They replaced offensive coordinator Mike Martz with Mike Tice. He will run a balanced attack and not just long-developing passing plays. Tice has been an assistant there for the last few years and he knows what hasn’t worked. Cutler is reunited with former Denver teammate Brandon Marshall. He finally has an Pro Bowl-level talent at wideout. I have the Bears winning 12 games and fighting Detroit and Green Bay in a close battle in the NFC North.
Cincinnati Bengals – 8 – PUSH
Andy Dalton and A.J. Green made the Cincinnati front-office look like geniuses. Their young defense finished the season in the top-10 in both rushing and passing defense. The Bengals are headed in the right direction, but their schedule is more difficult in 2012. The Bengals’ non-divisional games were against the NFC West and AFC South last season, but this season they face more talented teams in the NFC East and AFC West. I have them 8-8, exactly where Vegas has the over/under line.
Cleveland Browns – 4.5 – UNDER
Cleveland had high hopes going into 2011, but they had issues with Peyton Hillis and Colt McCoy regressed. They drafted Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden to replace them. They will have their fair share of growing pains, but I don’t see them improving their 2011 record of 4-12. I have them winning four games again. The action has been on the Over (-140) so far this off-season with the Under (+120) being a value pick.
Dallas Cowboys – 8.5 – OVER
“This will be Tony Romo’s breakout year!” – Every NFL analyst…every year. The Cowboys have made some mistakes in the draft, but they have hit home runs lately. If Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray can stay healthy, as I expect them to, this team will get 12 wins. I love the 8.5 line, but you won’t get much value at -140. The Cowboys are a public team, so it is hard to get value when you bet ON the Cowboys.
Denver Broncos – 8.5 – OVER
I have Denver winning nine games, but I’m not confident enough to put money on the Over. If you bet the over you will be saying that you expect Peyton Manning to play every game this season. He is the biggest question mark going into the 2012 season (yes, even bigger than Tim Tebow’s role on the Jets). The Broncos’ defense was staunch in 2011 and should expect the same this season. They also had the #1 rushing attack and they may need to rely heavily on Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno if Manning isn’t 100%. The AFC West division is up for grabs and could be a three-team race with Denver, San Diego, and Oakland.
Detroit Lions – 9 – OVER
I love this Over bet, but it is trendy and currently has a -140 payout. I have the Lions winning 13 games and winning the NFC North this season. Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Brandon Pettigrew put up video game numbers last year. If they had any help from the running game, the Lions would have advanced farther in the playoffs. Detroit gets last year’s draft pick Mikel Leshoure back from injury. He may have to sit out the first couple games because of a marijuana arrest. Jahvid Best is having a hard time staying healthy and attempts to sign a veteran running back (Ryan Grant) haven’t been easy for the salary cap strained team.
Green Bay Packers – 12 – PUSH
It is really hard pulling the trigger on an over/under bet when it is 11 1/2 and higher. A single injury could derail your preseason bet. Green Bay were 15-1 last season and had a harder schedule than this upcoming year. Their non-divisional games are against the NFC West and AFC South, the worst two division in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers will have an MVP-caliber year, but I worry about their running game and the moves they made on the defensive side of the ball. James Starks takes over the starting running back position with John Kuhn keeping his goal-line duties. I think Starks is very talented but he has yet to have more than 133 carries in a season. They are getting old in the secondary and it will be another issue in 2012.
Houston Texans – 9.5 – OVER
The Texans made the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s history, but made some head-scratching moves in the off-season. They lost Mario Williams to free agency and traded DeMeco Ryans to Philadelphia, arguably their best two players on defense. Houston backed into the playoffs and had to play backup quarterback T.J. Yates for the injured Matt Schaub. Arian Foster and Ben Tate return as the most talented backfield duo in the NFL. I have the Texans winning 10 games in 2012 and the Over payout is (-165). I would pass on making a bet here, because it is too close and the juice isn’t worth the risk.
Indianapolis Colts – 5 – UNDER
As an Indianapolis Colts fan, I rarely bet on them. A smart sports handicapper gave me some great advice a few years ago. He said, “Never bet on the team you love, bet against them. If your favorite team loses, at least you have some extra cash to wipe the tears from your face.” The Colts will be bad again in 2012. The only notable returning players are Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, and Antoine Bethea. Andrew Luck will have issues with the very green offensive line. I have Indianapolis winning three games and will once again have a pick in the top-5 in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Jacksonville Jaguars – 5 – UNDER
The AFC South is so bad. The division lacks the star power that the other divisions have. Maurice Jones-Drew is the star on Jacksonville, but he is rumored to be having knee issues. Blaine Gabbert looked like a deer in headlights during his rookie campaign. The Jaguars no-name wide receiving corps will not make life very easy for the sophomore. I have Jacksonville at four wins in 2012 and the juice is even on both the Over and the Under. My confidence is very high on the Jaguars’ Under bet.
Kansas City Chiefs – 8 – UNDER
This over/under is very confusing to me, it is very high. I understand that Jamaal Charles, Matt Cassel, and Eric Berry are coming into the season healthy. They finished 7-9 in 2011 and I have them only winning four games in 2012. I wasn’t very high on them last season and knew it was more of a fluke they made the playoffs in 2010. Kansas City has some pieces and the AFC West is balanced. The teams will beat each other up and the Chiefs are a notch below the other teams. The Under has been bet heavy and it is currently -130 on Sportsbook.ag.
Miami Dolphins – 7.5 – UNDER
On paper, the talent on Miami looks like an Arena Football League’s roster. Reggie Bush and Cameron Wake are the lone stars and one could argue that Bush is more famous for his off-the-field work (Kim Kardashian, Melissa Molinaro). The Dolphins have short-term questions at quarterback and lack a #1 receiver. I have Miami only winning three games in 2012. Miami is a three win team if they don’t sign an impact player before training camp.
Minnesota Vikings – 6 – UNDER
Minnesota is a team in transition and are confused at which direction they want to go. They aren’t completely rebuilding the squad since they have some high paid veterans and have only added rookies to play along side of them. We don’t know if Adrian Peterson will be 100% from a knee injury he suffered at the end of the season. The normal healing time is roughly 10-12 months and it has only been six so far and videos are popping up of him working out. I am not sold on Christian Ponder being the long-term option at quarterback and think he could be in a Colt McCoy situation if a quarterback is there in 2013 NFL Draft. They will get a high draft pick since I have them also winning three games.
New England Patriots – 12.5 – OVER
Once again, I really hate betting the Over on high win totals, but I have the Patriots at 14 wins in 2012. My confidence is very high with betting the Over in this situation. New England made smart moves in the off-season. They drafted young players to improve their historically bad defense in 2011. They lost Benjarvus Green-Ellis to free agency and signed Joseph Addai to help fill some of the role. They will rely in-house for most of the running attack with Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead. They are loaded at the wide receiver position. They have already released Anthony Gonzalez and Chad Ochocinco because they signed former Patriots Jabar Gaffney and Donté Stallworth. Tom Brady will have one of his best seasons ever with his crew.
New Orleans Saints – 9.5 – OVER
The Saints aren’t sure if Drew Brees will show up at training camp. The over/under bets have been balanced so far. I am positive that the Brees contract situation will be resolved before the season and have them at eleven wins in 2012. Robert Meachem is the only weapon that will not be with the team this season. New Orleans drafted Nick Toon to help replace his production. Jonathan Vilma will be missed this season, but the Saints’ bread and butter will always be on the offensive side of the ball. The Falcons will win the NFC South, but New Orleans will fight Green Bay and Chicago for the NFC wild-card spots.
New York Giants – 8.5 – UNDER
After the Giants’ last Super Bowl win, they went 12-4 the following season and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs. They were one of the worst rushing teams and pass defense teams in the NFL in 2011. New York drafted David Wilson to help Ahmad Bradshaw, but didn’t do much to address their secondary issues. The Eagles were hurt by the lack of off-season last year and will be improved this year. The Cowboys and Redskins also made moves that will positively impact their teams. I have the Giants has an 8-8 team in 2012.
New York Jets – 8.5 – OVER
Mark Sanchez hasn’t improved into Joe Namath. The team has been winning because of their defense over the years and he could be replaced by the newly acquired Tim Tebow. The Jets have a brutal schedule to start out the season and could start hearing “TE-BOW” chants by Week 5. They are currently dealing with issues that surround Darrelle Revis (contract) and Santonio Holmes (attitude). I still have the Jets winning ten games in 2012, even with all of the question marks that surround the team. They will not put up 24+ points per game, but they will be able to hold their opponents to field goals. The juice on the over is currently -145. There isn’t much value there, but expect it to move closer to -130 by the time training camp starts…especially if Revis holds out.
Oakland Raiders – 7.5 – UNDER
Carson Palmer will have the off-season to work with his new coaches and teammates. He has not be the same since the knee injury he suffered in his first playoff game. The Raiders were an 8-8 team last year and I have them at 6-10 in 2012. Darren McFadden is coming back from an injury and lack a trusted backup running back. They will miss Michael Bush, who signed with Chicago. Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson would share the role if McFadden isn’t able to start the season. The team has a lot of question marks and overachieved a bit last year. The AFC West is a tougher division with an improved Denver team and San Diego are always in the discussion.
Philadelphia Eagles – 10.5 – OVER
Philadelphia wants everyone to forget ‘the dream team’ nickname and the first half of the 2011 season. The team had too many new additions and the shortened off-season hurt them the most. Everything started to click in the second-half and they nearly made the playoffs. DeSean Jackson will have a bounce-back season in 2012 and LeSean McCoy will continue to improve. The Eagles defense will be sick with the addition of DeMeco Ryans from Houston. Philadelphia will be fun to watch this season. I have them at 11 wins in a tough NFC East. The action on the over/under is pretty even. You will be able to get value on either the Over (-120) and Under (even).
Pittsburgh Steelers – 10.5 – UNDER
The Steelers started to show their age in 2011. They were very inconsistent early in the season, bounced back to make the playoffs, but then lost to Tim Tebow and the Broncos in the first-round. They addressed their offensive line issues in the draft by picking David DeCastro and Mike Adams. They are currently dealing with a Mike Wallace contract issue that could leak into the season. Rashard Mendenhall had a disappointing 2011 season and didn’t crack the 1,000 yard mark. I have Steelers winning nine games in 2012. The Bengals will surpass them as the second-best team in the AFC North.
San Diego Chargers – 9 – PUSH
Oh, Norv Turner. He held onto his job for another year, but if San Diego doesn’t make the playoffs this year, he could finally be on his way out. Phillip Rivers will have two new faces to throw to in 2012. Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal are replacing Vincent Jackson and Legedu Naanee. They didn’t match their 2010 anomaly by being #1 in both total offense and total defense last season. Their defense didn’t play very well and finished the season in the middle of the pack in most categories. They finished 8-8 last season and I have them slightly improved to 9-7. The juice is even on the Over and Under, but I would push at this point. If you have a hunch one way or another, you could end up doubling your money or if you add them in a parlay, win much more.
San Francisco 49ers – 9.5 – OVER
Vegas clearly believes that San Francisco’s 13-3 record last season was an aberration. You could point to the NFC West for most of your answers. They were 5-1 against their division foes and only allowed 229 points the entire season. Alex Smith didn’t win games for the 49ers, but he made sure he didn’t lose them either. San Francisco added Randy Moss and Mario Manningham to help Smith and return Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree as targets. I have the 49ers as a 10-win team in 2012, because they have a couple road games on the east coast. Travelling cross country doesn’t do the visiting team any favors. They will win the NFC West rather easily.
Seattle Seahawks – 7 – UNDER
I wasn’t a fan of Seattle before last season, but they finished the season with a 7-9 record. Vegas believes they will have the same record in 2012, but I don’t see it. I have them as a four win team in 2012. I’m not sold on Matt Flynn as a starter in the NFL or Marshawn Lynch having another productive season in him. Flynn received a big contract from Seattle based on one game when he filled in for Aaron Rodgers. Scott Mitchell had similar feat, but never panned out long-term as a starter. Seattle drafted Robert Turbin to help Lynch out in the running game, but their offense will be stagnant once again in 2012. Seattle’s lone bright spot is Earl Thomas on defense. He disrupts the opposing team’s passing attack and the Seahawks could squeak out a few upsets…but it isn’t very likely.
St. Louis Rams – 5.5 – OVER
Going into the 2011 season, the Rams were thought to have a breakout season. St. Louis season went down in flames when Bradford started to accumulate injuries that would make him miss time. A.J. Feeley and Kellen Clemens filled in for him and the team only finished 30th in passing yards. Bradford lacks a veteran wide receiver and they could still go out and sign an available option. The Rams’ run defense didn’t do them any favors, but they drafted DT Michael Brockers in the first-round of the NFL Draft. They gave up 152 rushing yards per game in 2011, so Brockers can only help lower that number. I have the Rams going 6-10 in 2012.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 5 – OVER
The Bucs started out the 2011 season with a 3-3 record, but quit on their coach after the bye-week. Josh Freeman threw 22 interceptions and their defense might as well played a constant Prevent defense. Tampa Bay signed Doug Martin to help take some of the load off LaGarrette Blount and Mark Barron to help their pass defense. Tampa Bay also signed Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark to add to Freeman’s weapons of Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams. The Buccaneers are a trendy pick to do well this year, but I only have them barely covering the Over at 6-10 in 2012. The juice is currently at -150 on the Over, not great but it is easy money.
Tennessee Titans – 7.5 – UNDER
Charles Barkley would say that Chris Johnson had a ‘turrible’ 2011 season. He finished the season over 1,000 rushing, but started the season with his yards per carry under 3.0 after the first four games. He will need to rush for over 100 yards if the Titans want to win. Johnson had four games over 100 yards and Tennessee won those games. The team hasn’t announced if Matt Hasselbeck will start the season as the starting quarterback or officially give the job to Jake Locker. The Titans will need strong play from the quarterback position to keep the opposing defense honest. A defense will cram eight in the box to stop Johnson if they don’t respect the pass. I have Tennessee as a 6-10 team in 2012 with the over/under juice being fairly even.
Washington Redskins – 6 – UNDER
I have the Redskins as a 3-13 team in 2012. How can I say that Washington will be a worse team this season than in 2011? I don’t trust Robert Griffin III this early as a starter or signing Pierre Garcon to join a group already full of undersized wide receivers. I am not sold on having Tim Hightower and Roy Helu as any team’s rushing attack. The only areas of the Redskins that I love are the tight ends (Chris Cooley, Fred Davis) and their linebackers (Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan). The juice is currently higher for the Under (even) than the Over (-120). I love the Under and think it is a very smart play.