by Kevin Stott | On Aug. 3, the Hall of Fame Game starts the NFL preseason.
So let’s quick-kick to the NFC-AFC conferences and Super Bowl odds before gas hits $5 a gallon and we’re taking a rickshaw to the sports book…
The value lies in the South, with the Colts (4-1 to win conference, LV Hilton SuperBook), Jags (13-2), Texans (30-1) all strong defensively. NE (2-1) and SD (4-1) are the popular choices along with the Steelers (8-1), whose fans will always back mascot Steely McBeam and their Black and Gold. The Browns (15-1) and Bills (25-1) are interesting picks but Cleveland would have to improve a lot on D. Bets on the Jets/Titans (20-1) and Bengals/Raiders (25-1) would yield a lot but we’re talking about winning the AFC, not just playing in it. The best idea? Go South, young man! JAGUARS, CHARGERS, COLTS.
This is a great betting opportunity – that is if you can figure out the Rubik’s Cube that is the NFC, with 12 teams possibly able to make it to Tampa next February. My thought is to throw out the chalk Dallas (7-4), along with NO/Seattle/Green Bay (all 9-1), Minnesota (8-1) and Chicago (12-1).That means taking the Super Bowl champ Giants (6-1) and Eagles (7-1) at decent prices and the Bucs (18-1) and Rams (30-1) as longshots. I really like Philadelphia as a BEST BET here, but a healthy Donovan McNabb will be imperative for the Eagles to fly like they once did. And they could use a WR or two. EAGLES, GIANTS.
The AFC’s elite teams, the Pats (7-2) and the Colts (7-1) will be motivated to get back to the big game for different reasons – Indy won it in 2006 while NE lost it last year on a play where a football stuck on a helmet like a fly on flypaper. The Chargers (6-1) also have memories of the Pats in their minds while the Jaguars (12-1) can play with anyone in the league.
Kornegay & Co. got it right opening up the Steelers 25-1 (but they’ve been bet down to 15-1), but the teams below them in the odds would yield big paybacks with the Browns (30-1), Titans/Jets (40-1), Broncos/Bills/Raiders (50-1) and Bengals/Texans (60-1). My strategy here would be to go $20 or so, depending on your bankroll, on the COLTS, JAGUARS and CHARGERS again.
In the NFC, Dallas (6-1) is the chalk as usual, but its reputation in the playoffs makes it hard to saddle up. The next two favorites are the Giants 15-1 (opened 20-1) and Eagles 20-1. These two are definitely worth a shot.
The Vikings (20-1), Saints/Seahawks (25-1) and Bears (35-1) look like losers to me but there are some intriguing Super Bowl longshots in the Bucs (40-1), Redskins/Panthers (50-1) and Rams (75-1).
My longshots for a five-spot each? The BUCS, RAMS, and PANTHERS.
BEST AFC VALUE: COLTS (4-1, AFC; 7-1 SB)
BEST NFC VALUE: EAGLES (8-1, NFC; 20-1 SB)