Taphorn’s Twelve Pack: NFL Preseason Bets
This write-up will feature weekly picks in the form of a twelve-pack. Four bets I like, four bets to stay away from, and four prop bets for fun.
4 NFL Preseason Bets I Like
1. Browns to win AFC North +155
The Ravens are the betting favorites to win the division, but the Browns are primed to take the crown. Baker Mayfield enters his first NFL season with continuity on the coaching staff. The Browns went 11-5 a year ago, with Nick Chubb and Odell Beckham missing a combined 13 games.
The defense adds John Johnson and Jadeveon Clowney in free agency and Greg Newsome and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the draft. Pittsburgh won the division a year ago thanks to an 11-0 start but dropped five of their last six games to end the season, including the wild card matchup against the Browns.
2. Falcons under 7.5 wins +110
Atlanta made the tough decision and traded franchise leading receiver, Julio Jones, to the Titans this offseason after the star asked to be traded to a contender. Kyle Pitts will help as a rookie, but it typically takes time for tight ends to make an impact in the league. The big issues for Atlanta reside on the offensive line and the defense. The offensive line is full of the first-round draft picks but not ones that have panned out. This will likely be one of the weaker units in the league. On the defensive side, the team wasn’t terrible, but former pro bowlers Keanu Neal and Demontae Kazee are in Dallas with former head coach Dan Quinn.
3. Jaguars under 6.5 wins -125
Trevor Lawrence hasn’t lost a regular-season game, possibly ever. He never lost one in high school or college, but he’s about to be in for a reality check. The Jags are bringing in a brand-new culture, and Urban Myer is going to have to see if he can buck the trend of high-profile college coaches failing in the NFL.
So far the preseason hasn’t provided much optimism for Duval County with a lackluster offense and Trevor seeming to run for his life more times than not. Add in Travis Etienne’s season-ending foot injury and the rumors of trading second-year former first-round pick CJ Henderson, and things aren’t starting off hot in Jacksonville.
4. Washington Football Team NFC East Champions +260
There hasn’t been a repeat champion in this division since the Eagles won it four straight years from 2001-2004. Washington won the division race last year at 7-9 in one of the more embarrassing displays of football from an entire division in recent memory.
The Cowboys are the favorite with Dak Prescott back, and an offense that should be towards the top of the league, but is their defense able to stop a high school team this year? Washington brings back most of a defense that peaked at the end of the year behind breakout rookie Chase Young and adds Landon Collins back from a season-ending injury and first-round linebacker and physical freak Jamin Davis.
If Ryan Fitzpatrick can just eclipse the performance of a hobbled Alex Smith from a season ago, the Football Team should be in a position to be a serious threat to win back-to-back NFC East titles.
4 Bets to Stay Away From
1. Titans AFC South Champions -110
This is not to say I think the Titans won’t win the division this season. The Titans are one of five teams favored to win their division that you’re giving more than you get on a return. The others, Chiefs, Bills, Packers, and Bucs are all clear outright favorites to win their division, while Tennessee may not be.
The Colts, despite foot injuries to Wentz and Nelson, will be neck and neck with the Titans all season long. The difference in the teams’ schedules comes down to last season’s division finish, meaning Tennessee gets Kansas City and Pittsburgh added to their slate while the Colts get Baltimore and Las Vegas. This one will come down to the last few weeks of the season.
2. 49ers NFC West Champions +190
The Niners are the favorites to win the NFC West. Injuries derailed the team’s season a year ago after reaching the Super Bowl two years ago. San Francisco can certainly bounce back to being a relevant competitor in the NFC this season, but the division is downright brutal.
The Rams bring in Matthew Stafford and Desean Jackson, which should elevate McVay’s offense even more than we’ve seen in recent years. Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray will have another year together and added veterans AJ Green and JJ Watt. And to top it all off reigning division champion Seattle hasn’t won less than 9 games under the combination of Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson.
3. New Orleans Saints over 9 wins +110
“If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one”. Steve Spurrier’s adage may not necessarily apply here because we’re still not sure if Taysom Hill is an actual quarterback.
The Saints play a first-place schedule after winning the South a season ago, have an unsettled quarterback battle, and a star wide receiver out until October. Sean Payton may work wonders with Jamies Winston, but Bruce Arians couldn’t stop the former number one overall pick from throwing 30 interceptions, and he’s no slouch as a play-caller.
4. Baltimore Ravens over 11 wins +100
This plays along with the Cleveland Browns winning the AFC North. The division will be tough, and the schedule does them no favors. Three out of the first four games come on the road, with the one home game being against the AFC favorite Chiefs. From week 10 to week 16 the Ravens are on the road five times in seven weeks with home games against the Browns and Packers. Getting to 12 wins would be a massive feat for this team.
4 Prop Bets
1. Zach Wilson Offensive Rookie of the Year +650
Wilson’s got the third-best odds to win rookie of the year on the offensive side of the ball behind Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence. Fields will likely take over at some point this season as the starter but is currently slated behind Andy Dalton.
Lawrence will start, but the situation is looking to be a dicey one from the get-go. Wilson has looked impressive in the preseason and the Jets have invested in the offensive line in front of him with two first-rounders in as many years. Wilson has the highlight ability that’s going to put him on Sportscenter a few times this season which should help his case.
2. Micah Parsons Defensive Rookie of the Year +600
Another rookie that’s been popping during the preseason is Cowboys’ linebacker, Micah Parsons. Playing for America’s Team has its benefits as Parsons will get a chance to shine on nationally televised games more than most rookies. Parsons looks to be in line for a starting role so there will be ample chance to make plays and rack up stats.
3. Chase Young Defensive Player of the Year +1100
Can Young steal the award away from Aaron Donald, who seems have more of these awards than successful blocks against him? Young will be a part of a Washington defensive line that features four first-round draft picks, so the chances of double teams being pushed his way will be less than other players. His ability to get around the edge with power and athleticism is as good as any veteran in the league and he flashed that without an offseason to prepare a season ago.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Most Regular Season Wins +600. How boring, the Super Bowl Champs with the best regular-season record. The Chiefs have the best odds to finish the regular season with the high-water mark but Tampa’s schedule lines up best for it. The Bucs finished second in the division a season ago meaning their schedule is less difficult than the Saints.
The NFC South looks to be down this season and matches up against the NFC and AFC East, two of the weaker divisions of the past few years. The NFL hasn’t had a repeat champion since…..Tom Brady and the 2003-2004 New England Patriots. Brady is back, the coaching staff is back and the other 21 starters return; this bodes well to earn home-field advantage.