I promise I�m not turning this into a column about football gambling, but I think there�s a few interesting lines to look at before the season starts. Over the next two weeks I�ll take a look at the lines for each team with respect to their odds of winning their division. The lines I�m using can be found here
For the fun of it, I�ll write about who I think will win the division as well as who I think provides the best value in the division in a section that I�ll call �Want To Gamble?� We�ll start with the AFC and than go with the NFC next week.
New England Patriots -500
New York Jets +600
Buffalo Bills +800
Miami Dolphins +1000
It�s obvious and boring here, but the Patriots are the most likely to win their division in the AFC. They should be healthier this season and their defense showed improvement throughout the past season. The addition of Brandon Lloyd makes an already potent receiving group even better and Rob Gronkowski should have plenty of motivation after inking a new contract. Throw in that the Patriots have won the division eight of the last nine seasons and the -500 is more than justified.
Want To Gamble?
I find it interesting that when these lines first came out, the Bills were actually +1200. Given that the public has been on the Bills since the early lines came out, it�s not surprising to see this line drop. I still think they provide the best value in the division at +800. Miami has too many question marks on offense and the Jets should be a giant circus with Tim Tebow on board. One potentially important upgrade the Jets did make was bringing on Tony Sparano to run the offense. It wouldn�t surprise me if Sparano eventually becomes the team�s head coach if/when Rex Ryan is fired.
Pittsburgh Steelers +120
Baltimore Ravens +125
Cincinnati Bengals +350
Cleveland Browns +2000
Given that their defense is getting older and factoring in the loss of DPOTY Terrell Suggs, I think it�s going to be hard for Baltimore to win the division for the second straight season. Oddly, both Baltimore and Pittsburgh have finished 12-4 each of the last two seasons with Pittsburgh winning the division two seasons ago. I�m going with Pittsburgh here, given the revamping of the team�s offensive line and addition of Todd Haley as offensive coordinator. Haley is another coach who strikes me better as a coordinator than a head coach, although I could be wrong about him considering the offensive woes during the last part of his tenure in Kansas City.
Want To Gamble?
I couldn�t actually suggest taking the Cleveland Browns here, could I? Follow me for a minute. They�ve upgraded at the two most important positions on offense by drafting QB Brandon Weeden and RB Trent Richardson. Greg Little still has a lot of upside, provided he�s improved his hands during the offseason and Joe Haden is an emerging star on the defensive side of the ball. Speaking of the defense, would it surprise you that the Browns were ranked 10th in the league last season? It�s possible they will improve this season if the offense can sustain more lengthy drives instead of constant three-and-outs.
Houston Texans -500
Tennessee Titans +450
Indianapolis Colts +1200
Jacksonville Jaguars +1200
Here�s the other division in the conference where it seems crystal clear who should win. The Texans won the division last season despite losing Matt Schaub for their final six games (in which they went 3-3). Andre Johnson should be healthier this season and Arian Foster and Ben Tate form the best running back tandem in the league. Wade Phillips has the defense playing at a high level and this is a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations if it can stay healthy.
Want To Gamble?
The Colt and Jags look tempting at +1200, but I think the value play is the Tennessee Titans at +450. They have one of the better running backs in the league in bounce-back candidate Chris Johnson and they have a lot of potential at quarterback if Jake Locker wins the job. Moreover, Kenny Britt is hoping to be healthy for Week 1 and Jared Cook, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright and Damian Williams are all good receiving options. On defense, the additions of Mike Martin and Kamerion Wimbley will add some muscle to the defensive line.
Denver Broncos +140
San Diego Chargers +140
Kansas City Chiefs +450
I�m going to go with the Chargers to win the division although I find it odd that they have the same odds as Denver. The loss of Vincent Jackson was countered with the signings of Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal and it�s possible that we�ll be talking about Ryan Mathews as the best running back in the league by season�s end. Defensively, John Pagano should provide some spark as the team�s new defensive coordinator and they signed Jarret Johnson and Atari (the coolest name in the league) Bigby.
Want To Gamble?
The choice here comes down to Oakland +600 or Kansas City +450. I just can�t take Oakland, given their defense although I expect they�ll score a lot of points (I picked Carson Palmer as a sleeper for our football magazine). So that brings us to Kansas City. I can get on board considering that there is still some upside with Matt Cassel. He has plenty of weapons on offense, notably a healthy Jamaal Charles. Dwayne Bowe is an elite receiver and Jon Baldwin has the potential to be one of the better No. 2 wide receivers in the league. I thought they picked up Peyton Hillis ($3 million) in bargain fashion and besides getting TE Tony Moeaki back, they signed Kevin Boss as well. Defensively, they were ranked 11th best in total defense and they�ll get Eric Berry back as well.
Agree or disagree? Who do you like that I didn�t discuss?