Best Bets on Who Makes the Playoffs in the NFL

Are Bruce Arians' Cardinals a good pick to make the playoffs?

This is always one of my favorite things to discuss when it comes to betting on the National Football League because there are so many factors that can come into play that it might make one absolutely nuts. Our friends at Bovada have posted their over/under odds on the chances for each team to make the NFL playoffs and I think there are some really good mid to long-shot opportunities for you to consider.

Keep in mind, these aren’t teams that are heavily favored to make the playoffs because hey, where’s the fun in that?

Will Arizona make the playoffs? Yes +1000/No -2000 – The biggest problem facing the Cardinals is their division. Both Seattle and San Francisco are favorites to go to the Super Bowl and St. Louis will be improved on both sides of the ball. I like the pairing of Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer.

Arians will allow Palmer to throw the ball down the field which benefits Larry Fitzgerald and I really like the athleticism of the defense which looks like they’ll create a lot of turnovers. Arizona will be a better team this year but they won’t make the playoffs simply because they’ll get lost in the shuffle of the NFC West.

Will Baltimore make the playoffs? Yes -105/No -125 – I know, “You said these were teams not heavily favored to make the playoffs and these are the Super Bowl Champs!” Consider this however; the Ravens will enter the season with more new starters than any Super Bowl winning team in history. Gone are Anquan Boldin, Ray Lewis, Paul Krueger, Ed Reed and so on…

Baltimore is also in a division that I believe gets much closer together in terms of competitiveness. Cleveland will be improved, the Steelers are the Steelers and the Bengals enter as the favorites. I say the Ravens make it to the playoffs riding the offense and a younger defense.

Will Turner improve the Browns' offense enough to get them into the playoffs?

Will Cleveland make the playoffs? Yes +350/No -500 – Norv Turner is two different people. There’s the head coach Norv Turner and the offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Give me the coordinator over the head coach Norv Turner any day. This is the one the Browns have and I believe he’ll immediately upgrade the offense and the play of Brandon Weeden.

The defense was very solid for the most part last year and if Turner can get Trent Richardson the ball and he stays healthy then that makes Weeden that much more effective. I look at the Browns the same way I do the Cardinals. They are in a very competitive division and will get lost in the shuffle. I see vast improvement, but I see no playoffs this year.

Will Detroit make the playoffs? Yes +250/No -325 – The Lions were a lot better than their 4-12 record last year. They suffered numerous close losses and Calvin Johnson was tackled inside the five yard line eight times last year and Detroit only punched it in half the time. That trend should change in 2013.

Reggie Bush will improve the running game and will be a monster catching passes out of the backfield. The front four defensively will be outstanding but what is behind them is the question mark. Can the linebackers and secondary make plays? I see the Bears and Vikings taking steps back this year so look for the Lions to make the playoffs.