Odds to Win the 2014/2015 NBA Rookie of the Year

Jabari Parker will be the focus of the Bucks and that may help his Rookie of the Year chances.

With the National Basketball Association’s Draft complete, our friends at Bovada have graciously provided us with their odds on what rookies have the best chance of winning the Rookie of the Year Award.

My goal is to give you my thoughts on who I like, who I don’t and why. With NBA Free Agency pending, I recognize that could impact the play of these young men so bear that in mind as I proceed. Let’s break’em down.

Will Higgins get enough looks in Cleveland to become the Rookie of the Year?

Andrew Wiggins 13/2 – Wiggins was the number one overall pick in the draft last Thursday night by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The top pick is typically picked to be the favorite to win the award because in most scenarios, he ends up being the best player on the team immediately. Already in Cleveland is Kyrie Irving and until Higgins proves otherwise, Irving will be the best player for the Cavs.

Of course should the wild rumor about LeBron James returning to the Cavs happen then Higgins becomes number three. Can he win the award? Absolutely, but I think a RoY winner needs to be a guy that scores and creates night after night highlights and I’m not sure Higgins will have the opportunities his competitors will.

Jabari Parker 3/1 – Parker heads to Milwaukee and could find himself in the opposite position of Wiggins in that he may be ‘the man’ right away. We could argue that Parker has a much bigger responsibility in front of him. The franchise in Milwaukee is desperate for a winner. Yes, Cleveland needs a winner too, but they were at least respectable in recent years.

The other very recent factor on whether I like Parker to win the RoY Award or not is his head coach. There has been lots of discussion about Milwaukee getting Brooklyn Head Coach Jason Kidd in a trade. Regardless of whether Kidd is the coach or not, I think Parker has an excellent chance to win because more will be expected of him.

Julius Randle 9/1 – I really like Randle especially heading to Los Angeles where he is going to be around not only Kobe Bryant but lots of championship trophies as well. My question for Randle is where will his best fit be? Is he better suited as a three or a four in the NBA? Much of that will be answered depending upon what the Lakers do in free agency.

Because Randle has a really nice, balanced game, I think he has good shot at winning.

Dante Exum 10/1 – If you’re looking for a wild-card, here he is. Exum is an Australian point guard who is extremely talented but is he proven? He has played internationally, but how will that translate to the NBA? Either way, I think Utah is getting a very good player here from what I’ve seen.

Marcus Smart 12/1 – Here’s another guy I like because of his length and all-around game. Smart plays fantastic defense and is aggressive offensively. I’m curious to see if the Celtics keep Rajon Rondo with Smart on the roster.

Shabazz Napier 12/1 – Napier willed the UConn Huskies to the national title in April and now he will get a chance to play the point for Miami. There are lots of people who think he could be the type of catalyst the Heat needs to take the pressure off LeBron should he return. I don’t see Napier winning the RoY Award but I think he’ll have a very good rookie campaign.

Who Wins? – Obviously there is much that will go down between now and the start of the season, but right now I think Parker, Exum and Smart are your guys simply because I think they have the best opportunities to score and be the main focus of their teams.


NBA Rookie of the Year Futures Released with Parker on Top

Last week’s NBA draft was one of the deepest in a number of years. The top ten picks in the draft easily could all compete for top rookie honors in the NBA next season.

This fall each one of the picks from top to bottom will get their opportunity to start their professional careers in the NBA.

There is always a popular betting prop on Bovada, betonline, sportsbook.com and topbet that bettors look forward to following the NBA draft.

The option is the futures for the NBA Rookie of the Year.

The top player picked in the draft was Andrew Wiggins from the Kansas Jayhawks who was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nevertheless, odds makers have selected Jabari Parker the second overall pick in the draft, as the odds on favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors.

The just drafted Milwaukee Bucks player is going off at 13 to 5 as the favorite for this year’s rookie award.

The overall first choice, Wiggins is tied for second in the rookie futures at 8 to 1 with Julius Randle.

The rookie of the year award does not always end up in the hands of the favorite. Last season the rookie of the year went to Michael Carter-Williams. The point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers was at 12 to 1 at his highest prior to the start of the season, which was below a number of players.

Once free agency opens on Tuesday signings and new trades should take place that could include some of the first round draft picks.

This could mean the balance of power in a conference or division could be changed and could affect the playing time of some of these rookies.

The Top 10 Futures for 2014-15 NBA Rookie of the Year

Jabari Parker 13 to 5
Julius Randle 8 to 1
Andrew Wiggins 8 to 1
Marcus Smart 10 to 1
Dante Exum 10 to 1
Doug McDermott 15 to 1
Aaron Gordon 15 to 1
Nerlens Noel 15/ to 1
Nik Stauskas 18 to 1
Shabazz Napier 18 to 1

The Top 10 Overall Picks in the NBA

No. 1 Andrew Wiggins Cleveland Cavaliers

No 2 Jabari Parker Milwaukee Bucks

No 3 Joel Embiid Philadelphia 76ers

No 4 Aaron Gordon Orlando Magic

No. 5 Dante Exum Utah Jazz

No. 6 Marcus Smart Boston Celtics

No. 7 Julius Randle Los Angeles Lakers

No. 8 Nik Stauskas Sacramento Kings

No. 9 Noah Vonleh Charlotte Hornets

No. 10 Elfrid Payton Philadelphia 76ers

Heat Having an Opt-Out Party; Decline of US Tennis is Troubling

How will Pat Riley proceed with all the opt-outs in Miami?

Like many, I think I jumped to conclusions regarding the future of LeBron James. Following his decision to opt out, speculation ran rampant that James could be on the move once again. Would it be back to Cleveland? Chicago maybe? What about the Lakers?

It looks more and more like James isn’t going to go anywhere and I’m not so sure that this isn’t a mistake on his part.

Fellow Heat teammates Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade opted out of their contracts yesterday and it is being reported that Chris Bosh likely will will do the same on Monday. With this unfolding the way that it is, it appears that following a meeting between James, Bosh and Wade earlier this week, that the plan will be for them all to take less and stay in Miami.

This would allow them to go after another fairly big-time player, maybe, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and still add another role player or two. Windhorst also reported the team may be looking to trade guard Norris Cole in the wake of obtaining rookie Shabazz Napier.

So why do I think this isn’t such a great idea? First we have to ask the question of just how much does Dwyane Wade have left? He was clearly less than the player he used to be and will he accept being a role player? Wade has been the rock of the Miami Heat foundation for over a decade. Going to the bench isn’t the easiest thing in the world for a player to take. Some can do it while others struggle with it.

Bringing back Haslem doesn’t do much for James’ goal of getting another title either. His minutes have declined rapidly over the years and I don’t see him returning doing much for the team.

James knows he will always be judged by titles and that the standard is six which Michael Jordan earned in the 1990’s. James is now 2-3 in the NBA Finals and I don’t see the current roster in Miami doing much to better that record. Perhaps Pat Riley and the front office have bigger plans ahead so we shall see.

Serena was bounced early for the second straight major as US tennis continues to slide.

Tennis on the decline in America

While America continues to bask in the glory of soccer which many think will finally have long-lasting acceptance in this country, another sport which we once saw dominance in is fading fast.

There was once a time when Wimbledon was ‘must-see’ television because of the myriad of US players that were worth watching. From Jimmy Connors to Chris Evert to Pete Sampras and to the Williams’ sisters, tennis in the United States was once dominant.

Yesterday, Serena Williams bowed out in the third round of Wimbledon leaving both she and her sister watching rather than competing. An up and coming US player, Sloane Stephens, was bounced in the first round.

The men’s side is even worse for US players as only one American man is ranked in the ATP top 60. Because of the decline, tennis has lost popularity in this country and it doesn’t appear to be getting any better despite many young people continuing to play the game.The problem is that they don’t stick with it as they get older.

While some of the international players are nice draws and create attention here in the states, the fact that there is no worthy American to root for hurts the sport. I wish I had the answers but I don’t and chances are, I won’t be watching the Wimbledon finals if I don’t have a rooting interest.

Greece an Underdog Against Costa Rica

Costa Rica has been given the title of Cinderella and Underdog thus far in the 2014 World Cup. Today the Central American team takes on Greece another underdog at the Cup.

This is the second match on Sunday’s calendar, with the first featuring the Netherlands vs. Mexico.

Both Greece and Costa Rica were picked my most, including many bookmakers to finish in the cellar of their respective groups.

Costa Rica actually was sitting on 50 to 1 odds on Bovada and topbet for winning Group D, which included England, Italy and Uruguay.

Looking at stats from betonline and sportsbook.com Greece and Costa Rica are arguably the two weakest sides remaining in the tournament.

At the end of the day, one will move on to the quarterfinals and the other will end a good run at the World Cup.

Greece has taken a page from its championship in Euro 2012. The club played poorly in the first two matches, but reached the final match with needing just a win to qualify.

They did that by defeating the Ivory Coast by the score of 2-1 on a late controversial penalty.

Costa Rica has been the more impressive of the two squads thus far in the tournament and has been given the honor of being the favorite at 5 to 4, while Greece is 12 to 5, with a draw in regulation at 23 to 10. The price on the draw is the shortest of any draw in the past 16 ties.

Many are overlooking Greece in this match due to all the feel good thoughts about how well Costa Rica is playing.

Greece needs to remain conservative, as the attacking strategy is not what best suits the players on Greece.

The squad defends deep, but can launch big counter attacks. With just 10 men, they held Japan to 0-0.

Scoring will be at a premium in this matchup.

Greece during the Euro 2004 won all of its knockout matches 1-0. Taking the UNDER on 2.5 is very short at 39 to 100, while the OVER is sitting on 1 to 1.

Greece is anchored in the middle by 37-year old Giorgios Karagounis who is easily able to connect the team’s defense with its offense.

Greece will get its shots off from long distance and that could be dangerous for Costa Rica.

Other bets to take a look at include Greece qualifying at 23 to 20 and Karagounis scoring first at 20 to 1.

I like Greece in a mini-upset 3-2 on penalties.

The Latest Odds on American League Division Winners

Edwin Encarncion leads the league with 24 homers but can he lead the Blue Jays to an East Division Title?

The latest odds from our friends at Bovada are out on Major League Baseball’s division winners. Today I’ll be looking at the American League. I’ll give you a breakdown on whether the current leaders are safe bets and whether or not there are teams to consider that could be serious contenders down the stretch.

AL East

Toronto +140

NY Yankees +200

Baltimore +250

Boston +800

Tampa Bay +6600

The Blue Jays have played well in stretches but they’ve also benefited from disappointing seasons from the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. What will be interesting is whether the Red Sox will feel they are close enough to a playoff a spot a month from now to warrant making some moves.

The Rays have already started discussions about moving pitching ace David Price according to ESPN’s Buster Olney but the Rays haven’t gone that far yet. There’s very little chance Tampa Bay is going to make the playoffs so getting rid of Price sooner rather than later makes sense. St. Louis is rumored to be a leading contender to gain his services.

While Baltimore has been fairly impressive this season the real team to watch is New York. The biggest reason is that they will go out and get talent regardless of price to make a return to the playoffs. At this point, I like New York to catch the Jays for the division.

Anibal Sanchez has been great for Detroit since his arrival.

AL Central

Detroit -400

Kansas City +350

Cleveland +800

Chicago +5000

Minnesota +5000

Just when I start to think the Tigers are going to let everyone back in the AL Central Division race then rip off more wins. This is exactly what the Tigers have done as they’ve won seven straight heading into last night’s action. It wasn’t that long ago they lost three of four to the Royals and found themselves in second place.

Detroit now has a 4.5 game lead and Kansas City has stumbled going just 4-6 in their last ten games. Cleveland is 6.5 back but I’m just not sure how serious to take the Indians. They lack consistent starting pitching and while the team is fourth in the AL in hitting, it just hasn’t been enough.

Minnesota is 8.5 back and has lost three straight. This isn’t surprising because the youth movement is on in the Twin Cities and everyone knows it. The White Sox are a little different. They might even be disappointing to put it mildly and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Manager Robin Ventura in some hot water as the season progresses.

I think the Tigers will have some issues especially in the bullpen in the second half of the season, but I like them as a lock for the division title.

AL West

Oakland -250

LA Angels +225

Seattle +750

Texas +5000

Houston +20,000

I’m going to tell you right now that I’m not taking the Astros to catch the Oakland A’s but I like the improvement that is happening in Houston.

Speaking of Oakland, they have a 3.5 game lead over the Angels right now in the West. Both teams have gone 7-3 over their last ten games but the Angels have won six straight games. The A’s lead the American League in both hitting and pitching so it’s no surprise they are leading the West. The Angels aren’t far behind in either category so I like this race to continue into the early fall.

Seattle has managed to stay close and is just 6.5 games back but will they have the horses to contend down the stretch? Texas has been hit too hard by injuries and has had really poor pitching. I don’t see them being a factor.

I believe Oakland will hang onto this division but I also like the Angels to get a Wild-Card.


Will Carmelo Anthony Remain a Knick or Play Elsewhere

The New York Knicks hope they can re-sign Carmelo Anthony even though he has opted out of his contract to test out the free agent market.

Even though Anthony will entertain other offers from teams around the league, the front office of New York is confident they can re-sign him.

Sources have also said that officials at the Knick s feel Anthony will stay in New York as he has started to connect better with Phil Jackson the team president.

In addition, one source who is close to the entire process said that Jackson was going to put forth a big attempt at convincing Pau Gasol the Los Angeles Lakers forward to sign with the Knicks to replace Tyson Chandler who was recently traded to Dallas.

However, the Knicks can only offer Gasol under $4 million for the upcoming season.

It is very uncertain if Anthony will return after opting out of a contract whose final year would have paid him $23.3 million.

On Tuesday, the 30-year old will officially become a free agent and already has plans to visit with the Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks and Lakers all prior to Friday the Fourth of July.

The Miami Heat is also expected to be in the running for Anthony due to LeBron James and Anthony being close.

New York reportedly traded Chandler and Raymond Felton, who had become out of favor to bring back veterans including Jose Calderon in a belief that Anthony would like to play alongside the Spaniard.

Everywhere Calderon has played, he has been considered a great teammate.

Jackson said he believes what Anthony has said about wanting to stay in New York, but knows things do not always happen as expected.

Even though there are some dream situations Anthony could have with James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, or Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose in Chicago, the stage at Madison Square Garden is nothing to sneeze at.

The latest odds on where Anthony will play next season can be found on Bovada, topbet, sportsbook.com and betonline.

By staying in New York, Anthony could get a $129 million five-year deal, but just $95.9 million over four years if he leaves.

If Anthony really does want to leave, the Knicks could possibly make a sign and trade deal with another team featuring Anthony.

Chicago apparently started its pursuit of Anthony back in January when they traded away Luol Deng while the Rockets traded Omer Asik this week to New Orleans in an attempt to clear salary cap space, to get James or Anthony.

The fun begins next week and should turn out to be quite exciting to see if the movement of free agents will change the NBA futures.

I’m Further Violating My Own Stance and I’m Talking About the World Cup

Luis Suarez bit an Italian player than acted as if he were the one hurt.

I’m in a ranting mood today and want better target for rants than the World Cup? As I explained before the tournament began, I’m not a soccer guy and never will be. I hope the US Men’s National Team does well every four years but I’m not wearing a team jersey, attending a watch party or setting my schedule around a game.

What I’ve observed, especially this past week, is nothing short of absurd. First of all, we have a player from Uruguay who bites another player and gets a rather pathetic suspension. I’ll say this for the governing body of international soccer FIFA, they do a hell of a lot better job of handing out suspensions than the leader of American Football does that’s for damn sure.

Still, we have a player in Luis Suarez who has a history of biting and using racial slurs aimed at opponents and he is only suspended for a total of nine matches and is banned for four months. Wow, you sure showed him FIFA! Enjoy the break Luis!

To make matters worse, upon his arrival home to the capital city of Montevideo, Suarez was given a hero’s welcome by thousands of fans. Is this what we are headed for in the US? I guess if Mike Trout bites a first baseman while rounding the bags after a homer the fans in LA will throw a party for him when he returns for his suspension.

I could rant on the pathetic suspension but I need to move on to something even more disturbing.

I've never seen a coach so excited following his team's loss.

The United States finished group play with a record of 1-1-1 and they have qualified for the ‘knockout’ stage which means one and done. They qualified despite a 1-0 loss to Germany yesterday. The reason they advance ahead of Ghana and Portugal is because of ‘goal differential.’ Portugal lost to the Germans by four goals while the US lost by just one. Therefore, the US Team advances.

My first question is what’s with the ties? This is the greatest soccer tournament in the world and we settle for ties? If these are the s-called greatest athletes in the world then why in the hell aren’t they playing until someone breaks through with a goal?

First of all, soccer players may be the most conditioned athletes in the world but they aren’t the ‘best’ athletes in the world. In my book that belongs to hockey players. Try doing what they do on your feet then switch over to doing it on what amounts to razor blades for 60 minutes. I understand that in hockey’s regular season, they have shootouts after a brief OT period but in the playoffs? Uh-uh. They play until someone actually wins.

When the World Cup’s knockout stage begins, if the team’s are tied, they’ll go to a shootout. Basically, they’ll play 90 minutes and then let guys stand in front of the goalie and kick it in the net to settle the biggest games in the history of soccer. If they’re the greatest athletes in the world then they should be playing until someone wins!

My question goes further though. Why will they settle things in the knockout stage but not in the group stage? Don’t these teams play three and a half years for this opportunity?

I don’t get the appeal of soccer and I never will. I fully admit that my favorite sports have plenty of problems both on and off the field but the way they do things on soccer’s biggest stage makes little sense to me.


Successful NCAA Football Coaches Against the Spread

One great gauge to see which coaches in college football are getting more than what is expected from their players is the closing against the point spread record.

The closing line on sportsbooks such as Bovada and topbet is sharpened by thousands of dollars in bets and represents the expectations of the college football betting world.

Bill Snyder

One active coach, Bill Snyder from Kansas State has exceeded the norm for decades. No active head coach in college football has covered the number in more overall games than Snyder.

Amongst coaches with five seasons or more, only Urban Meyer the Ohio State head coach has a better ATS winning percentage. However, Snyder has 61 more games in which he has covered the spread than Meyer has.

Charlie Weis knows just what it is like to face Kansas State. Long before Weis arrived in Kansas, Snyder has been manhandling the Jayhawks. K-State under Snyder is 14-1 ATS versus Kansas.

When Snyder was away for three seasons between 2006 and 2008, the Wildcats lost the three games versus Kansas.

Since his return in 2009, K-State is 5-0 SU as well as ATS versus Kansas.

In those 5 matchups, K-State covered the spread by over 20 point per game on average. Betonline and sportsbook.com have K-State favored by 25 points in their head the head matchup on November 29.

However, Snyder is not potent in just games against the Jayhawks, but also the conference. In conference games, Snyder is 31-11 against the number since returning in 2009 and no other team in the conference since that time has a better record.

During his head coaching career, Snyder is 88-52 against the spread in home games and 149-102 against the number overall.

Urban Meyer and Gus Malzahn

Urban Meyer in his career is 30-9 against the spread when his has over a week to prepare his team and that included opening games of the season.

Meyer is also 15-5 against the spread when an underdog. In the 20 games as an underdog in his career, Meyer has won 12 outright. Only David Shaw at Stanford has a better winning percentage when an underdog.

Meyer following a loss is 14-6-2 against the number.

Gus Malzahn since becoming a head coach is 20-6 against the number. Of course, that is not much time to make comparisons with just a single season at Arkansas State and least season’s 12-2 ATS with Auburn.

However, Malzahn is just the third head coach over the past 10 years to cover the spread in 20 games during two consecutive seasons. His predecessors were Meyer at Utah and then Florida and George O’Leary at Central Florida.

The Auburn head coach is also 8-1 ATS when a favorite. He is also 14-3 against the number in games that are non-conference.

Three Night Games Highlight Tonight’s MLB Schedule

Rick Porcello's strong season has been needed with the struggles of ace Justin Verlander.

Three really good games scheduled for tonight are the ones I’m looking at for your wagering pleasure so let’s not waste any more time and get to the games.

Detroit (-140) at Texas (+120), O/U 10Rick Porcello 9-4 vs. Nick Martinez 1-4,

The Tigers have to be baseball’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde considering the way they have played over the last six weeks. They are currently on a six-game winning streak and look to sweep the Rangers tonight in Arlington. Taking the mound for Detroit is Rick Porcello who is quietly having a very nice season.

Porcello is 1-1 in his last three starts and has an ERA of 4.00. That isn’t spectacular by any measure but that’s kind of the way he does things in a nutshell. His opponent for the injury-riddled Rangers is Nick Martinez who faces an incredibly hot-hitting Tigers’ line-up which doesn’t bode well. Martinez is 0-2 with an ERA of 7.20 in his last three starts.

This one seems too easy and it probably is but I love the OVER and I like the Tigers to win.

Adam Wainwright is in the midst of another fine season for the Cards and takes the mound tonight in LA.

St. Louis (-125) at LA Dodgers (+105),  O/U 6.5Adam Wainwright 10-3 vs. Josh Beckett 5-4,

This game features two teams who are both in second place in their respective divisions. They are also fighting to close the gaps on the leaders that sit in front of them. The Cardinals are 4.5 games back of Milwaukee and have gone 6-4 in their last ten outings. The Dodgers are 3.5 games back of the San Francisco Giants and have gone 7-3 over their last ten games.

This one will be about the pitching. Wainwright is having another excellent season for the Cards. He has gone 2-0 in his last three starts and has a sterling ERA of 1.17. His last start was an eight inning win over Philadelphia where he gave up just six hits and one run. Josh Beckett takes the mound for LA and while he hasn’t been as impressive as Wainwright, he does have a no-hitter to his credit.

Beckett is 2-1 in his last three starts and he has an excellent ERA of 1.35 in that stretch. The Dodgers will pose a tough threat to Wainwright as they are third in the National League in batting. I love the UNDER tonight and I like the Dodgers in a close game.

Cincinnati (EVEN) at San Francisco (-120), O/U 7.5Mike Leake 5-6  vs. Ryan Vogelsong 5-3,

So you’re Ryan Vogelsong and you’re having a decent year and now you have to take the hill at home just a day after your teammate throws a no-hitter. Such is life for a big-leaguer… Vogelsong gets the nod today against the Cincinnati Reds following Tim Lincecum’s no-no against the San Diego Padres yesterday.

In the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t mean a lot but it’s hard to avoid knowing that history was made in the exact same spot that you’re getting ready to work on. That aside, Vogelsong is 1-1 in his last three starts but he also has an alarming ERA of 7.31. He could get healthy tonight against a Reds’ line-up that ranks 10th in the National League.

His counter-part Mike Leake is 2-1 in his last three starts and is coming off a gem against Toronto in which he went eight innings and gave up just one run. The Reds have won seven of their last ten yet remain 7.5 games out of first in the NL Central. The Giants have won just three of their last ten but could be motivated by the Lincecum no-hitter.

The stats are hard to ignore going into tonight. I like the Reds and the OVER.

Sportsbooks Receiving Plenty of Action on NFL for 2014 Season

Do not look now but NFL training camps start in a month and bettors have already been influencing the opening numbers for football.

Bovada, betonline and a host of other sportsbooks are already receiving action on regular season total wins, division and conference winners and Super Bowl futures.

Ten weeks from today, the Seattle Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers for opening night of the NFL on Thursday.

Looking at a number of different sportsbooks including topbet and sportsbook.com shows that bettors believe the Titans, Jaguars, Bears and Rams are being undervalued in their opening numbers.

On the other side of the coin, bettors considered the Chiefs, Falcons and Panthers as being overvalued.

Last season the public was behind Seattle and has once again backed them thus far. In 2013, the Seahawks opened at 12 to 1 to win the Super Bowl and were bet down at once to 6 to 1, before they eventually reached 4 to 1.

The defending Super Bowl champions this season were opened following their Super Bowl win at 8 to 1 but were immediately shortened to 4 to 1 with bettors backing a repeat for the Seahawks.

On many books, the most action has been on Seattle, followed by Green Bay, Chicago and Denver.

One book said that Green Bay has had the most action, but Seattle the most money.

One analyst on a prominent sports site said Green Bay had bad break after bad break last season. With Aaron Rodgers once again healthy and a division that is not as strong as in other seasons has given them lots of action.

On one sportsbook, Green Bay opened at 18 to 1 and now sits at 8 to 1.

The Bears are also popular this summer. Chicago opened 20 to 1 on Bovada to be the Super Bowl winner. That has since been slashed down by half by bettors.

The Bears opened at 7 to 2 to be the NFC North champions and that has been bet down to 3 to 1.

Last season, the Bears were a solid team but decimated by injuries. This season the team’s defense has improved and with a few breaks could be a team to beat in the NFC.

Chicago used four of its first five picks in the NFL draft to shore up its defense. The team also signed Jared Allen a standout defensive end to replace the spot left vacant by the departure of Julius Peppers.

Seven of the eight winners of divisions last season are once again favored to win the division again this season.

The NFC South has the exception where New Orleans at 6 to 5 is expected to take the top spot from the Carolina Panthers. The odds of that are good, as the division has not had a repeat champion since it became an NFL division in 2002.

Last season’s favorites were an impressive 139-122-5 ATS for a success rate of 53.3%, while favorites at home were even more impressive at 93-78-4 ATS for a 54.4% rate.

West was the best last season, as the NFC West was 42-22 and the AFC West was 37-27 and this season the two divisions meet head to head which could influence win totals.