Breaking Down Super Bowl XLIX

Brady
Brady
I believe Super Bowl XLIX will come down to a final drive and Tom Brady will be under center for it. Will he be successful?

My favorite part of the the two weeks leading up to the playing of the actual Super Bowl is… The playing of the actual Super Bowl.

On Sunday night, we will be able to finally stop worrying about deflate-gate, what Marshawn Lynch says or doesn’t say and whether Idina Menzel has messed up the national anthem or not. In short, it will finally be time to play football.

Choosing who to go with in Super Bowl XLIX has not been easy. There are so many factors that must be considered for both teams and of course we can never predict turnovers or how the game is called by the officials. Nevertheless, I think I have a good read on this game so see whether you agree or not by reading on.

Super Bowl XLIX New England Patriots (-2) vs Seattle Seahawks (O/U 47.5) – Let’s take everything off the field off the table. That means let’s focus on the two teams and not deflate-gate or Marshawn Lynch’s hat.

Tom Brady is making his sixth start in a Super Bowl and he’s lost his last two which were both against the New York Giants. In the prior five Super Bowls, the game has come down to the final drive and I feel this one will be no different.

Seahawks
Look for both Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas to be involved with covering Rob Gronkowski.

If we analyze both of the Patriots’ losses, the Giants were able to get consistent pressure up the middle on Brady and most of that pressure came from just the front four defensive linemen. The Seahawks are significantly better than the Giants were in the secondary but can they get the same type of pressure the Giants did?

My assumption is that the Patriots will learn from Denver’s struggles last year in the Super Bowl and they will not abandon the run. The problem is whether Josh McDaniels chooses to use LeGarrette Blount or another running back like Jonas Gray. Seattle must also decide how they are going to cover Rob Gronkowski. Will they attempt to keep a linebacker on him or will Kam Chancellor or Earl Thomas be stuck with that assignment?

When the Seahawks are on offense, they will know that Bill Belichick typically likes to take away his opponent’s best player. Common sense points us to that being Russell Wilson or Marshawn Lynch. Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will be prepared and I think you’ll see more read-option from Seattle than we’ve seen recently from them this season.

If they find any success with that, the passing game will open up, especially on the edges and to the tight ends. Will that be enough to keep New England on it’s heels defensively?

Obviously the one area we can’t forget is special teams. Turnovers or major mistakes here are likely to be disastrous as close as I expect this game to be.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in six of New England’s last eight games… Seattle is 6-2 straight up in their last eight games against New England… The Patriots are 2-6 against the spread in their last right games against the Seahawks… Seattle is 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight games.

Key Injuries: NE C Brian Stork QUES/Knee, CB Brandon Browner QUES/Knee… SEA S Earl Thomas QUES/Shoulder

The Pick:  No one holds a lead as well as the Seahawks but I think they will fall behind early. Tom Brady has an opportunity to seal his legacy as an all-time great with a win and to do it, he’ll need a touchdown to win the game late. I think Seattle takes its’ first lead in the second half and holds on to win 27-23. Take the Seahawks and the points and take the OVER.

Super Bowl Special Prop Bets Because You Deserve to Win Money on Ridiculous Things

SB XliX
SB XliX
Prop bets are a great way to watch the Super Bowl even for the most average of fans.

I honestly can’t tell you when the first prop bet occurred but it would only seem right if it were during a Super Bowl. I laid out the history of betting the Super Bowl earlier this week and hopefully you took that to heart before laying your dough on either the Patriots or Seahawks.

Prop bets can essentially be wagers on just about anything related to the event. If Dick Vitale were doing the Final Four, there would be a prop on how many times he says one of his famous phrases. When Jim Nantz does The Masters, a prop bet could be home times he mentions the azaleas or other flower.

Prop bets have even started to creep their way into popular culture. You can actually wager on things like the Academy Awards and what color will Meryl Streep be wearing. Yes my friends, we’ve clearly gone off the deep end. The prop bets featured today are just a small sampling of the type of prop bets you can make. But the great news is that you have options.

If you’re attending one of the millions of Super Bowl parties around the country then get creative! Bring in the Super Bowl commercials and you can do that in a number of ways. From the most ads, to the ones with celebrities and so on.

The bottom line is that with prop bets, you can do just about whatever you want. Have fun with them and enjoy the guy.

Today I’m giving you special prop bets from our friends at Bovada. I hope you enjoy these props and my picks for each. My best bets have an * next to them.

Length of the National Anthem by Idina Menzel

Two Minutes 1 Second OVER -120, UNDER -120

Will Idina Menzel forget or omit at least one word from the National Anthem?

Yes +450, No -700

Will Marshawn Lynch grab his crotch after scoring a touchdown?

Yes +600, No -1000

Which coach will be mentioned first by name after the opening kickoff on TV?

Pete Carroll EVEN, Bill Belichick -140

Hoodie
Got thoughts on what style hoodie Bill Belichick will be wearing? You can wager on that.

What color will Bill Belichick’s hoodie be?

Gray -150, Blue +110, Red +700

How many times will Katy Perry be mentioned before halftime?*

Over 2 -110, Under 2 -130

Will Bill Belichick smile on TV cameras during the game?

Yes +150, No -250

Bill Belichick hoodie type

sleeves cut -175, sleeves intact +135

What will Katy Perry be wearing when she begins her halftime show?

Pants (below knees) +275, Shorts (above knees) +225, Skirt or Dress -175

How many times will Gisele Bundchen be shown on TV during the game?

Over 1.5 EVEN, Under 1.5 -140

Who will be shown more on TV during the game?*

Robert Kraft -250, Paul Allen +170

Will Al Michaels mention during the broadcast the spread, total, odds or prop bets during the game?

Yes +170, No -250

What will the Nielsen rating of the game be?

Over 47.5 -120, Under 47.5 -120

Who will the Super Bowl MVP mention first in his interview?

Teammates 3/2, God 2/1, Fans/City 15/2, Owner 12/1, Coach 15/1, Family 15/1, Does not mention any of the above 5/2

How many viewers will the game have?

Over 113 million -140, Under 113 million Even

How many times will “deflated” balls be mentioned during the game?

Over 3 -140, Under 3 Even

 

 

 

Early NFL Lines as the Playoffs Come Into Focus

Murray
Murray
I expect the Cowboys to get DeMarco Murray involved early and often in Chicago.

Here’s an early look at your NFL Lines for week 14. Picks in BOLD

Dallas (-3.5) at Chicago – The Cowboys were humbled before a national TV audience on Turkey Day and now hit the road for another Thursday nighter. Look for them to get back to the running game in Chicago.

Baltimore (+3) at Miami – The Ravens dropped a stunner at home to San Diego and now travel to Miami where the Dolphins are fighting for a playoff spot with these same Ravens. Best match-up here is the Ravens’ offense versus the Dolphins’ D.

Tomlin
Mike Tomlin's Steelers in a 'must-win' situation in Cincinnati on Sunday.

Pittsburgh (+3.5) at Cincinnati – It’s this simple for the Steelers; they have to win or the playoffs are all but out for a third straight season. The Bengals have won three-straight road games and will be happy to return home.

Indianapolis (-3) at Cleveland – Will it be Johnny Football or will Cleveland Coach Mike Pettine stay with Brian Hoyer? You can bet the Colts are prepping for both while their offense just keeps humming along behind Andrew Luck.

Houston (-4) at Jacksonville – If J.J. Watt doesn’t finish in the top three for league MVP then there’s a huge problem. He has scored five touchdowns this year and his play on the DL is only getting better. The Jags are coming off an amazing comeback win over the Giants though and will have some momentum.

NY Giants (EVEN) at Tennessee – You have my sympathies if you have to watch this game Sunday. The Giants and Titans are a combined 5-19 and have not won in 13 straight games.

Carolina (+9.5) at New Orleans – The Panthers have lost six straight and are no longer a threat in the brutal NFC South. The Saints got a much-needed win in Pittsburgh to stay even with Atlanta atop the division.

Tampa Bay (+9.5) at Detroit – The Buccaneers are better than their 2-9 record in my opinion. They’ve lost some tough games as evidenced by Sunday’s one-point loss to Cincinnati so I don’t think the Lions should treat this as a cakewalk by any stretch.

St. Louis (-2) at Washington – I’ll join the chorus in saying the Redskins are better without RGIII at QB right now. They just are, it’s that easy. The Rams might be the hottest team in the NFL and are coming off of a massive shutout over Oakland.

NY Jets (+4.5) at Minnesota – The Vikings have played well at home even in defeat and now the Jets come in with Rex Ryan on the hottest seat in the league.

Buffalo (+9) at Denver – Four weeks ago I would have said the Bills have a great shot to win this game because the Broncos really didn’t have a running game. Now that they do, Buffalo will have to respect that and in turn their pass rush will slow down.

Kansas City (+1.5) at Arizona – The Chiefs have dropped two-straight as have the Cardinals. This is a monster game for both teams in terms of playoff implications. A loss by Kansas City pretty much ends their chances of the postseason while a Cards’ loss brings Seattle right back into division title contention.

San Francisco (-7) at Oakland – The Raiders certainly led us on didn’t they? A week after beating Kansas City, they got throttled by St. Louis and didn’t score a point. The Niners need a win to stay alive in the NFC playoff chase.

Seattle (EVEN) at Philadelphia – A possible NFC Championship Game preview here? The Seahawks have suddenly turned on the defense and that’s not good for Mark Sanchez who can be a turnover machine.

New England (-3.5) at San Diego – Best game of the week features teams who right now would be in the playoffs. The Pats headed west immediately after losing to Green Bay so the time change and weather will not be a factor.

Atlanta (+11.5) at Green Bay – There is not a hotter quarterback on the planet than Aaron Rodgers, especially at home. The Falcons can score points but their defense is in for a long day at Lambeau.

Three Late NFL Games Plus the Monday Night Game are Here for the Taking

Ryan
Ryan
Matt Ryan knows he and the Falcons are under .500 but they still lead the division heading into today's game with Arizona.

Arizona (-1.5) at Atlanta (O/U 44.5) – The Cardinals finally cam back to Earth last Sunday with a very humiliating loss to Seattle. Arizona was dominated in each facet of the game and now has to travel across the country to Atlanta where the Falcons are waiting.

Atlanta will know the fate of New Orleans when they kickoff so a win would give them a game lead in the NFC South should the Saints lose in Pittsburgh and the Falcons take care of business against Arizona.

The question is simply this; can Drew Stanton shake off last week’s poor performance? If he can, the Cards can maintain their lead in the NFC West but if not thing could start to unravel for them with Seattle breathing down their necks.

Trends: Arizona is 5-2 straight up in their last seven games on the road… The total has gone UNDER in six of Atlanta’s last seven games… The Cardinals are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games on the road in Atlanta… The Falcons are 5-0 straight up in their last five games at home against the Cardinals.

The Pick: Everything tells me to go with Arizona here but I’m not. Take the Falcons to win at home and take the UNDER.

Lacy
Eddie Lacy may be the most important Packer on offense today against the Patriots.

New England (+3) at Green Bay (O/U 58.5) – This one is being touted as a potential Super Bowl preview as only the media can do it. I’m not ready to go that far just yet but it’s clear these are two of the better teams in football at the moment. Regardless of the elements, the Patriots are used to the same weather the Packers are so throw that out the window.

Look for both teams to establish the run by throwing early. Limiting pressure on their respective quarterbacks will go a long ways towards victory.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in four of New England’s last five games on the road… The Packers are 4-0-1 against the spread in their last five home games… The Patriots are 5-10-1 ATS in their last 16 road games… Green Bay is 5-0 in their last five games at home.

The Pick: This is the type of game where Bill Belichick and Tom Brady thrive at home but on the road? I’m not so sure. Take the Packers to cover with a late score and the UNDER is a good way to go here too.

Denver (-1.5) at Kansas City (O/U 49.5) – The Broncos are dinged up at key positions and have struggled in recent weeks but they put things together in time to come back and beat Miami in the fourth quarter last week. The Chiefs are coming off of a sobering loss to the Oakland Raiders which was their first win of the season.

With a difficult remaining schedule, that loss could prove especially costly if they drop this one at home today. Look for Andy Reid to get the running and play-action game going early. The real key is whether the Chiefs pass rushers can get to Peyton Manning.

Trends: Denver is 14-5 straight up in their last 19 road games… The total has gone UNDER in six of the Chiefs’ last eight games at home against Denver… The Broncos are 4-1 SU in their last five meeting s with the Chiefs in KC… The Chiefs are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at home against the Broncos.

The Pick: Take the home dog Chiefs and the UNDER.

Monday Night

Miami (-7) at NY Jets (O/U 42) – The Jets are going back to Geno Smith at quarterback but I don’t think it really matters. Miami is really good defensively and unless the Jets run the ball well early I expect multiple turnovers from Smith.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in six of Miami’s last seven games on the road against the Jets… The Jets are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games at home… The Dolphins are 5-1 straight up in their last six games against the Jets… New York is 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven home games against Miami.

The Pick: That’s a huge number on the road and it scares me enough to take the Jets and the points although Miami wins and take the UNDER.

Monster Games in the NFL Today

Rodgers
Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers leads the Packers today as they host the Eagles at Lambeau.

Philadelphia (+6) at Green Bay (O/U 55) – Division leaders are set for a chilly showdown in Lambeau Field today as the NFC East leading Eagles hit the road to face the NFC North leading Packers. Philadelphia of course is now led by Mark Sanchez who has played well in a game and a half but now things get a little more serious.

The Green Bay defense isn’t without its’ problems, but they will get after Sanchez so he’s going to have be willing to take his check-downs. The Packers’ Aaron Rodgers will be in the exact same boat as the Eagles come in off a game where they sacked Cam Newton eight times.

Look for both teams to ride the running game a little more than usual.

Key Injuries: PHI Nick Foles OUT/Collarbone… GB Guard T.J. Lang PROBABLE/Ankle

Trends: Philadelphia is 6-3 straight up in their last nine games against the Packers… The total has gone OVER in all five of Green Bay’s last five games… The Eagles are 2-4 SU in their last six games in Green Bay… The Packers are 6-13 against the spread in their last 19 games against the Eagles.

The Pick: I expect a close one today so take the Eagles getting the points and take the OVER.

Stanton
Drew Stanton takes over as the Cardinals host Detroit today.

Detroit (Pick’Em) at Arizona (O/U 41.5) – The big story here is obviously Arizona now being led by Drew Stanton. He’s facing the league’s top defense in the Lions who are riding their front seven to a successful season so far. Arizona’s defense is pretty darn good too and I expect a great match-up between Calvin Johnson and Patrick Peterson.

The one thing I’m really keeping an eye here is special teams. I say this because I have a feeling both teams will struggle to move the ball. Detroit has struggled in the kicking game and that could be an issue today.

Key Injuries: DET DT Nick Fairly OUT/Knee… ARI DT Ed Stinson OUT/Toe

Trends: Detroit is 7-17-1 against the spread in their last 25 games on the road… Arizona is 5-0 straight up in their last five games at home… The Lions are winless in their last five trips to Arizona… The total has gone OVER in five of Arizona’s last seven games when playing at home against Detroit.

The Pick: Take the Cards at home and take the UNDER.

New England (+3) at Indianapolis (O/U 58) – The last time these two teams saw each other, the Patriots were running over the Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoffs en route to the AFC Title game. This one is not without drama as well because the winner gains a serious leg up on the loser in terms of home-field advantage in the playoffs.

It’s easy to assume that both teams will throw the ball all over the field today but don’t be too quick to make that judgment. New England often sets up teams to think this and I have a feeling the Colts will do the same thing.Whoever becomes one-dimensional first will more than likely lose this game.

Key Injuries: NE DE Chandler Jones OUT/Hip… IND DT Arthur Jones OUT/Ankle

Trends: The total has gone OVER in five of New England’s last seven game at Indianapolis… The Colts are 1-4 straight up in their last five games against the Patriots… The Pats are 16-2-1 against the spread in their last 19 games on the road in Indy… Indianapolis is 7-1 SU in their last eight home games.

The Pick: I love the Pats getting the three and take the OVER.

Other Games

Seattle (Pick’em) at Kansas City – Take the Chiefs at home.

Cincinnati (+7.5) at New Orleans – Must-win for both, take the Bengals getting the points.

Today’s Saturday Sports Bullets

Kershaw
Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw pulled off a double with his Cy Young and MVP wins.

Saturday has again rolled up on me and with so many things to discuss I figure it’s time to throw some more bullets your way with a variety of thoughts from around the sports’ world.

College basketball tips off this weekend so I know all of you are dying for my Final Four selections. Here goes; Kentucky, Arizona, Wisconsin, Wichita State
No surprises in the baseball voting with Clayton Kershaw grabbing both the NL Cy Young Award and the MVP. Mike Trout was the easy winner of the AL MVP as well. I have no issue with pitcher winning MVP. If he’s the most dominant guy on the field then so be it.

I have to wonder what Florida Gator fans are thinking. Will Muschamp is going to get this team to a bowl game. Even if they lose to South Carolina today and Florida State in the finale, they’re going to beat Eastern Kentucky which will give them six wins. Is this what Gators’ fans want?

Brady Hoke’s future is in the same boat. The team needs to beat either Maryland or Ohio State to get to a bowl game. Either way the only way Hoke’s job is saved is through a win at Ohio State and then a bowl win. Those things are unlikely to happen.

I think the Chicago Bulls have a serious problem with Derrick Rose. There’s no way he should be talking about his “after basketball life” the way he is. Then Thursday night he comes up lame again with a hamstring pull. I can’t see the Bulls wanting to invest another dime in him. After all, this is the city where Michael Jordan would have run through brick walls to beat the Washington Bullets.

Kobe Bryant made one of 14 field goal attempts last night in a loss to San Antonio. It was kind of a fitting scene as Bryant and Tim Duncan chatted a few times during the game. Duncan had another double-double going for 13 points and 11 boards. I applaud Bryant for coming back from his injuries but I really don’t know that he is helping the Lakers.

The NBA announced this week that when teams play on Christmas their jerseys will feature the players’ first names rather than their last. Not real sure why but OK.

Drebin
You would think Frank Drebin is running things in Tallahassee the way they do business.

I’m paraphrasing a bit here but I loved the tweet from Fox Sports’ College Football Writer Stewart Mandel who wondered if the people of Tallahassee wouldn’t be safer in the hands of Frank Drebin. I couldn’t agree more. This is of course in response to the constant blundering of the Tallahassee Police Department when it comes to Jameis Winston and Florida State.

There are some great games on tap for the National Football League tomorrow. The Eagles play at Green Bay where the tundra is expected to be frozen a bit early this year. The Patriots play in Indianapolis and this game could go a long way towards securing home-field advantage. Two of the best teams in the NFL face off in Arizona where the Cardinals host the Lions. Unless you have the NFL Sunday Ticket, you’ll most likely be out of luck. Only about 19% of the nation will get this game.

Obviously there are some great college football games on tap today but I want to focus a Big 12 game for a second. Oklahoma will face Texas Tech today without QB Travis Knight. The Sooners were ranked number one in many preseason polls and now have three losses, two of which came at home. Don’t be a bit surprised if Bob Stoops is suddenly on the hot seat. Yes he wins games, but this is a “what have you done for me lately” market place. Alumni aren’t thrilled about losing to Kansas State and Baylor in Norman.

 

 

Two Great Rivalries are the Focus of Today’s NFL Late Games

Manning Brady
Manning Brady
The two long-time rivals meet for the 16th time in Foxboro today.

St. Louis (+10) at San Francisco (O/U 44) – The Rams head west giving up 30 points per game and now have to play the Niners who are scoring only 22 points per game. Obviously something will give here.

I have no doubt that San Francisco Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has paid close attention to the surging Cardinals and somewhat dysfunctional Seahawks in his own division. Dropping a game here could be a death blow if Arizona continues playing well.

Trends: St. Louis is 8-14-1 against the spread in their last 23 games against San Francisco… The total has gone UNDER in in five of the 49ers last seven games at home… The Rams are 0-4-1 straight up in their last five games at San Francisco… The 49ers are 5-1 SU in their last six games at home.

The Pick: Look for a lot of Frank Gore early and Colin Kaepernick off of him. Take the Niners to cover and the OVER.

Denver (-3.5) at New England (O/U 54) – Tom Brady and Peyton Manning hook up for the 16th time in their careers and this time around Manning’s Broncos are favorites on the road in a place where Brady doesn’t lose very often.

The biggest injury concern I have in this game is that New England will be without defensive end Chandler Jones who is out with a hip injury. His ability to get to Manning and create problematic throwing lanes will be sorely missed.

My gut feeling tells me the Bill Belichick and the Pats will establish the run early to keep Manning and his receiving weapons on the sidelines.

Trends: Denver is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against New England… The Patriots are 8-17 straight up in their last 25 games against the Broncos… The total has gone OVER in four of Denver’s last five games against New England… The total as gone OVER in eight of the Patriots’ last nine games at home.

The Pick: Take the home underdog Pats and the OVER too.

Lynch
Expect to see early doses of Marshawn Lynch in today's game against the Radiers.

Oakland (+14.5) at Seattle (O/U 43) – Heavy doses of Marshawn Lynch plus the play-action ability of Russell Wilson equals too much for the Raiders. Oh and need I mention the struggling Raiders’ offense against a defense searching for its’ groove?

Trends: Oakland is 1-5 straight up in their last six games on the road against the Seahawks… Seattle is 19-2 SU in their last 21 games at home… The total has gone OVER in seven of the Raiders last eight games when playing on the road in Seattle… The Seahawks are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games.

The Pick: Seattle will pull away late so take them to cover and take the OVER.

Baltimore (-1) at Pittsburgh (O/U 47.5) – The best rivalry in pro football goes primetime again as the Ravens invade Heinz Field. Both teams stand at 5-3 but the game is arguably ore important to the Steelers because they stand 1-2 in the division with two games remaining and both are with Cincinnati.

The Ravens are 2-2 in the division with tonight’s game and then a date with Cleveland remaining so it’s vital for the Steelers to get the win and even the season series with Baltimore at a game apiece.

The Steelers come off an offensive explosion in the win over Indy last week while the Ravens dropped a tough game in Cincinnati to the Bengals who own two victories over the Ravens this season.Look for Baltimore to take shots early against an average Steelers’ secondary while Pittsburgh will look to Le’Veon Bell to carry the load

Trends: Baltimore is 2-3-2 against the spread in their last seven games on the road in Pittsburgh… Pittsburgh is 11-4 straight up in their last 15 games against the Ravens in Pittsburgh… The total has gone OVER in four of the Ravens’ last six games… The total has gone OVER in nine of Pittsburgh’s last 13 games.

The Pick: The Ravens have the Steelers number of late. Take them to cover and the OVER.

My NFL 2014 Predictions

Brady
Brady
This could be Tom Brady's last significant shot at another Super Bowl.

I’m not wasting any time here. My predictions for the 2014 NFL Season.

AFC EAST

New England 12-4, Miami 9-7, NY Jets 8-8, Buffalo 5-11

Breakdown: I’m not convinced Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins are ready for the next step yet. Buffalo has weapons but I have little faith in E.J. Manuel. The Jets secondary will be their downfall. I like the Pats to run away with it.

AFC NORTH

Cincinnati 10-6, Pittsburgh 9-7, Baltimore 9-7, Cleveland 6-10

Breakdown: The Bengals have the most talent in what will be the most competitive division. The Browns will be feisty but the lack of weapons will haunt them. The Steelers and Ravens will rely on their offenses to cover for questionable defenses.

AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis 11-5, Houston 8-8, Tennessee 7-9, Jacksonville 5-11

Breakdown: The Colts win by default. The other three teams will be better but still lack experience and good QB play. Although it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Texans make a run, I think the lack of a solid QB hurts them.

AFC WEST

Denver 12-4, Kansas City 9-7, San Diego 8-8, Oakland 4-12

Breakdown: As long as Peyton Manning stays healthy, the Broncos should whip the rest of the division. The Chefs will be OK, but need to get better on defense. I think Philip Rivers suffers from the loss of Ken Whisenhunt too.

AFC PLAYOFFS

Wild Card Round: Pittsburgh over Indianapolis, Cincinnati over Baltimore

Divisional Round: New England over Pittsburgh, Denver over Cincinnati

AFC Championship game: New England over Denver

AFC Analysis: Both New England and Denver are several levels above the rest of the AFC in my opinion. I can see teams like Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Kansas City ruffling the feathers of the Broncos and Patriots but they have too many question marks.

Kelly
I love what Chip Kelly is doing in Philly and I expect a division title this season.

NFC EAST

Philadelphia 10-6, Washington 8-8, Dallas 7-9, NY Giants 7-9

Breakdown: I love the way the Eagles are set up offensively and that’ll be too much for the rest of the division. I’m guessing Tony Romo doesn’t play the whole season and I’m also thinking the Redskins are going to be up and down. The Giants just don’t look good period.

NFC NORTH

Green Bay 11-5, Chicago 10-6, Detroit 8-8, Minnesota 6-10

Breakdown: The Lions have a lot to like but their lack of discipline worries me. The Packers and Bears will duke it out and in this case I’ll always take Aaron Rodgers over Jay Cutler.

NFC SOUTH

New Orleans 11-5, Carolina 9-7, Tampa Bay 9-7, Atlanta 7-9

Breakdown: Don’t be surprised is the Saints put up record offensive numbers this year while their defense continues to get better. I’m not sold on the Falcons at all and I think the Panthers slip a bit without Steve Smith. The Bucs are the team to watch but they have a very tough schedule.

NFC WEST

Seattle 13-3, Arizona 10-6, San Francisco 9-7, St. Louis 5-11

Breakdown: I get the feeling all is not well in San Francisco and that aging defense worries me. The Cards will finally make the playoffs and the Rams fall back because of the injury to Sam Bradford. This is the Seahawks division plain and simple.

NFC PLAYOFFS

Wild Card Round Philadelphia over Chicago, Green Bay over Arizona

Divisional Round Seattle over Philadelphia, Green Bay over New Orleans

NFC championship game Seattle over Green Bay

NFC Analysis: I see the NFC as quite loaded and can view as many as four or five teams making serious runs to the Super Bowl. The problem is that I just don’t see anyone knocking off the Seahawks. If they get home-field advantage which I believe they will, it will be a return trip to the Super Bowl for Seattle.

SUPER BOWL XLIX

Seattle over New England

NFL MVP: Drew Brees

NFL Offensive Player of the Year: Drew Brees

NFL Defensive Player of the Year: Vontaze Burfict

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Brandin Cooks

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ryan Shazier

NFL Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick

 

 

AFC Division Winner Odds for 2014

Gronk
Gronk
Rob Gronkowski's health may be the difference for New England's success in 2014.

I gave you the odds on NFC Division winners on Sunday and today it’s the AFC’s turn. I’ll tell you right now I’ve got two big surprises for you. Lets get to the AFC.

AFC East

New England -250 – The window on Tom Brady getting his elusive fourth Super Bowl title is closing. Even if Rob Gronkowski is healthy, does he Brady have enough weapons to get another division title?

Miami +450 – The biggest question is whether or not the Dolphins can survive the early season without center Mike Pouncey. Related to that, have they gotten past the Richie Incognito situation?

NY Jets +750 – Don’t laugh, but this team could challenge for a playoff spot. Why? Because of defense and a running game and more experience at quarterback.

Buffalo +850 – The Bills suffered a horrible blow when LB Kiko Alonso went down last week with a knee injury. My question for Buffalo is can E.J. Manuel stay healthy and take advantage of a ton of weapons?

PICK: NY Jets

AFC North

Cincinnati +200 – Andy Dalton will have even better regular season success under new coordinator Hue Jackson. Can that translate into postseason success? If it doesn’t, Dalton could be gone.

Pittsburgh +200 – The Steelers haven’t missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons since the late 1990’s. If they can get more pressure defensively and find a legitimate #2 receiver then anything is possible.

Baltimore +250 – The pending Ray Rice suspension might not be that big of a deal considering Rice didn’t play well in 2013. Still, can the Ravens play well on both sides of the ball consistently enough to win the North?

Cleveland +500 – Josh Gordon won’t see the field in 2014. Johnny Manziel continues to make partying a priority. There is talent in Cleveland but I don’t think this is the year it comes together.

PICK: Cincinnati

Luck
In his third year, expectations are higher than ever for Andrew Luck in Indianapolis.

AFC South

Indianapolis -140 – Everyone talks about Andy Dalton’s playoff woes, but Andrew Luck is a miracle comeback away from being 0-2 himself. The Colts need to shore up the run defense and get something out of Trent Richardson before we can hand them the division.

Houston +260 – Bill O’Brien will have this team competitive I guarantee that. The defense may be the funnest in the league to watch but will the quarterback play be enough?

Tennessee +475 – I think Ken Whisenhunt is a really good coach and I believe he will get this team in the thick of the South race. The issue is of course QB, but if Jake Locker can stay healthy, he will play better under Whisenhunt’s tutelage.

Jacksonville +1,400 – I really do like the direction the Jags are headed but I don’t see this year being the one for them to win. Chad Henne makes to many mistakes for the young team to overcome.

PICK: Indianapolis

AFC West 

Denver -275 – The Broncos should survive the post-Super Bowl hangover due to veteran leadership but Denver has a brutal schedule that could cause problems. How much does Manning have left in the tank too?

Kansas City +500 – I fully expect the Chiefs to slip a bit this year and it could be worse if Alex Smith doesn’t get the contract he desires. Andy Reid always has tough teams but this will be a step back in 2014.

San Diego +550 – Philip Rivers continues to carry the mantle of ‘only first round QB from the 2004 draft not to win a Super Bowl.’ Manning and Roethlisberger each have two and Rivers’ isn’t getting any younger. The good news is that if the defense plays well, he could get his shot.

Oakland +1,800 – The Raiders continue to be the team that just can’t put things together and this season won’t be much different.

PICK: San Diego

Latest Super Bowl XLIX Odds

Manning Brady
Manning Brady
The window is closing on both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Will either lead their teams to Super Bowl XLIX?

Now that our nation’s little foray in Brazil is over, we can turn our attention back to the type of football that I prefer. Believe it or not, we are about a month away from the Hall of Fame game which is the traditional kick-off to the NFL’s Preseason. The Buffalo Bills, who will be playing in that game against the New York Giants, report to camp two weeks from today.

Hard to believe, but are you ready for some football?

Here are the latest Super Bowl XLIX odds from our friends at Bovada. My best bets are in BOLD.

Denver 13/2 – Teams that have lost the previous Super Bowl rarely make it back but the Broncos are ‘all-in’ on trying.

Seattle 13/2 – We haven’t seen a repeat champion since the Patriots back near the beginning of this century. Can Seattle handle the crown which has brought many players (Sherman, Lynch, Wilson, etc) significant personal attention?

San Francisco 7/1 – Colin Kaepernick has a new deal, but will age catch up with the defense?

New England 9/1 – Speaking of age, when will Father Time finally force Tom Brady to the sidelines? I’m not sure, but his offensive weapons are still lacking a bit.

Green Bay 12/1 – How much will the defense be improved? If it makes a big jump, then this could be a sexy pick right here with Aaron Rodgers running the offense.

New Orleans 14/1 – How often does a head coach testify against one of his players? That’s what Sean Payton had to do in Jimmy Graham’s hearing. Will that be a factor this season and how do the Saints replace Darren Sproles?

Chicago 18/1 – Is Jay Cutler worth the monster deal the Bears signed him to? He has plenty of talent around him so there are no excuses.

Indianapolis 18/1 – Andrew Luck enters his third season and is 0-2 in the playoffs. In a weak division, he needs to get back and get a playoff win under his belt.

Foles
I like the future for Nick Foles and I think this could be a big year for him in Philly.

Philadelphia 25/1 – Like Green Bay, the Eagles have some appeal because of offensive firepower. Can the defense improve though?

Atlanta 28/1 – The question here centers on last year. Was it just an anomaly or a pattern of things to come? This team has a lot of holes to fill too.

Carolina 33/1 – The same could be said of the Panthers. Should we expect more of the same from them or will they revert back to a .500 or worse team?

Detroit 33/1 – Defense, defense, defense… If they can cover receivers and if Matthew Stafford can take better care of the ball then watch out. I have my doubts on both ends however.

Pittsburgh 33/1 – The youth movement has begun in the Steel City. As long as Ben Roethlisberger is there, they have a chance but the defense has to create more pressure.

Arizona 40/1 – The Cardinals won 10 games last year and missed the playoffs. They need splits with the Niners and Seahawks and great play from Carson Palmer.

Baltimore 40/1 – How long will Ray Rice’s suspension be and will it matter? He was very unproductive last year and has the defense improved at all?

Cincinnati 40/1 – This is all about Andy Dalton.

Kansas City 40/1 – Competitive, but I see a fall back year.

NY Giants 40/1 – Can Eli limit the turnovers?

San Diego 40/1 – Bolts need another good year from Rivers and a better effort on defense as well.

Cleveland 50/1 – How soon before we see Johnny on the field?

Dallas 50/1 – Loss of Sean Lee hurts an already bad defense.

Houston 50/1 – This defense will be fun to watch but the offense? Yikes.

Miami 50/1 – The Dolphins were right there last season and now they need to make the jump. Can they is the question especially without Mike Pouncey.

St. Louis 50/1 – Sam Bradford, this is it for you man.

Tampa Bay 50/1 – Lovie Smith will turn this team around immediately. Don’t be surprised to see them push for a playoff berth.

Washington 50/1 – Which RGIII will get this year?

Minnesota 66/1 – Teddy Bridgewater will start at QB on day one. You heard it here first.

NY Jets 66/1 – Personally, I don’t think Vick is going to help the development of Geno Smith but that’s just me.

Buffalo 75/1 – Loss of Alonso is a heart-breaker.

Oakland 100/1 – Is Ken Stabler returning?

Tennessee 100/1 – This team will be better under Ken Whisenhunt. Mark my words.

Jacksonville 200/1 – At least they have “cool” uniforms.