There are a lot of different ways to analyze football teams and individual players every season. Creating a fantasy team is the most popular right now, and I’ve already talked about my favorite and least favorite team over/under wins, but another one of my favorite ways is to dissect the upcoming season is to look at the favorites for the individual passing, rushing, and receiving titles.
But first, let me explain how the odds work. Let’s say, for example, that the Houston Texans are favored at -600 to win the AFC South (they are). That means that the bettor would have to bet $600 dollars to win $100. Now, you don’t have to bet $600, it’s just a 1:6 ratio. So if you’re not a high roller (I’m definitely not) you could bet $20 to win $3.33. You’re not winning a huge sum here but the Texans are heavily favored so it’s not likely that you’ll lose. Very possible, but not likely. On the other hand, you could bet the Colts to win the AFC South at +1500. This means that you bet $100 to win $1500 (so 15:1 – the Colts winning the AFC South would be a huge upset). But if you really think the Colts might somehow win, these are fantastic odds. Hope all of that makes sense.
Now, let’s look at some player props!
Most Passing Yards:
Tom Brady (+350) - A perennial favorite for this every year, Brady is one of the most accurate passers in the NFL. Belichick loves to throw the ball and with the addition of deep threat receiver Brandon Lloyd, the Patriots are only going to throw more this year.
Aaron Rogers (+500) – He is by far the best combination of rushing ability and downfield throwing ability. He’s got plenty of offensive weapons with Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings. And to top it all off, he had a career year last year and threw for 280+ yards in 12 of the 15 games he started.
Peyton Manning (+1200) – Big risk here, but before the neck surgery last season, he was always a threat to win the passing title. He also has receivers capable of making big plays in Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. The one thing that tells me to stay away is that his career numbers outdoors are considerably lower than indoors and this season, he plays 15 of 16 games outside. But at 12:1 odds, I think it’s worth a small bet but it’s by not means a sure thing.
Most Rushing Yards:
Arian Foster (+350) – Gotta like Arian as the favorite. The Texans have the best zone-blocking scheme in the league and Arian is the best running back in the NFL. Houston is poised to make a Super Bowl run this season and the Texans are out to prove they are a team to be reckoned with, and all of that starts with Arian pounding the ball.
Ray Rice (+450) – With Ricky Williams gone as Rice’s backup, Ray is going to be getting all of the carries this season. He’ll rack up the yards but the Ravens will face some tough run-defenses like Pittsburgh. The question is, will Rice have enough to beat out Arian? I don’t think so.
Matt Forte (+2500) – Pretty big underdog here, but Forte was one of the leaders in all-purpose yards last season until he tore up his knee. If Cutler starts playing poorly and loses confidence, the Bears could start just pounding the ball with Forte. If he can manage to healthy, I really like him at 25:1.
Most Receiving Yards:
Calvin Johnson (+250) – Megatron! This guy is a freak. If his quarterback Matt Stafford can stay healthy all season, Calvin is going to be hard to beat. No corner is going to be able to shut him down - the best they can hope for is to contain him. But really, it’s hopeless – Megatron is unstoppable.
Andre Johnson (+700) – Andre used to be the consensus number one receiver in the NFL - great route runner, huge, soft hands, and elusive speed. The only problem is that Andre’s legs are made of glass. He hasn’t played a full season since 2009, and has only played in a total of 14 games the last two seasons combined. If Andre can somehow stay healthy, he has a chance to regain his “Best Receiver in the NFL” title but as he is entering his age 31 season, it isn’t likely. And definitely not 7:1 likely.
Greg Jennings (15:1) – If you like Aaron Rogers to win the passing title, then you have to love his biggest target, Greg Jennings, to win the receiving title at 15:1. Jordy Nelson is probably Rogers biggest deep threat but now that defenses have seen what he is capable of, they should focus on him a little more and open up some space for Greg Jennings. He is coming off of a sprained knee that held him out of the last 3 games last season but by all accounts, he is 100% for week 1.
*Next week is the week we’ve all been waiting for – I’ll start the regular season NFL game lines! What about you?