23 Aug Stromme’s Picks: 2016 NFL Futures Odds
By Mike Stromme
To Make the Playoffs:
Best Bet: Baltimore Ravens NO -175
In my AFC North Preview, I talked about how the Ravens are an ageing team with too many elder players at key positions. To me, the Bengals and Steelers are far superior football teams and the Browns will be a much-improved team on offense. There’s just too many factors working against the Ravens for them to contend in 2016. You’ll have to lay a little chalk at this price, but this seems a little too easy to pass up.
Value Play: Jacksonville Jaguars YES +175
The Jaguars were my pick to take the division in my AFC South Preview. They’re a young, explosive offense with a ton of young talent on defense. If this team can figure it out, they can really make things interesting. Yes, there’s some risk in backing an inexperienced group. But at plus money, the value seemed right.
Long-Shot: Los Angeles Rams YES +300
Yes, the Cardinals and the Seahawks are better teams. But, don’t tell the Rams that. Last season, the Rams were 4-2 within this gauntlet of a division, this included a sweep of the Seahawks. This team is dominant between the trenches on both sides of the ball. If rookie QB Jared Goff can be just adequate and limit the turnovers, this team could really be something. They have a very slim chance at taking the division. But if everything breaks their way, the Rams could surprise some folks this season. At +300, I’m willing to sprinkle a little on that action.
To Win Division Outright:
Best Bet: Arizona Cardinals +140
To me, the Cardinals are the best team in the NFC. They’re strong on all sides of the ball and are one of the more well-coached teams in the NFL. High-flying offense, strong running game, elite secondary and an improved defensive front. At plus-money, this wager seems like a no-brainer to me.
Value Play: Cincinnati Bengals +180
The public play for AFC North futures will always be the Steelers; a popular franchise with an offense that can be absolutely lethal. However, I’ll take the unsexy and sensible play in the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have the best defense in this division, one of the better backfields in the game and an above average passing game. The Bengals have made the playoffs every season since 2011 and have won the division twice in that span. They’re going to be near the top of the AFC North all season, why not take the value?
Long-Shot: New York Jets + 503
Nobody has ever gotten rich betting against the New England Patriots over the last 15 years or so. And, for a good reason. The Patriots have been to six Super Bowls over that span, won four of them and have won the division every year with the exception of two season (one of which they won 11 games without Tom Brady). There worst season over the last 15 years was 9-7 in 2003. This is all baked into the +503 price tag for the Jets.
That being said, the Jets won 10 games last season despite not making the postseason. The passing trio of Decker, Marshall and Fitzpatrick has some chemistry that’s tough to match. They brought in Matt Forte, still have Darrelle Revis and a nasty defensive front lead by Muhhammed Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. Obviously Brady will miss the first four games. Dion Lewis will be on the PUP list to start the season, as will OT Sebastian Vollmer. Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, LeGarrette Blount and even Rob Gronkowski aren’t exactly NFL iron men. Who knows? Maybe the Jets will surprise this season and take a division that hasn’t been theirs in years? I think it’s an interesting small play.
AFC Championship Outright:
Best Bet: New England Patriots +275
Yes, they have some question marks surrounding them. And yes, I did mention that the Jets look like an interesting long shot to win the division. But last I checked, each conference has two wild card spots. I still do think that the Patriots overcome the four-Brady-less games, Dion Lewis comes back and it’s probably business as usual for Belichick and company. Like I said earlier, nobody got rich betting against the New England Patriots.
I might wait on this bet though. Say the Patriots go 2-2 during Brady’s suspension, another team in the division goes 3-1 and another team in the conference gets off to a red-hot 4-0 start, you might see +275 turn into +350 or something like that. But it can’t hurt to grab this bet at this price either.
Value Play: Cincinnati Bengals +800
Behind the Patriots, the Bengals are the second-strongest team in the AFC in my opinion for all the reasons I listed above. Yes, the Bengals have a tendency to choke in January. They’ve failed to win a playoff game in the whole A.J. Green-Andy Dalton era. However, they’ve been to the playoffs every year in the last five seasons. Based on recent history, they’re a pretty safe bet to make the playoffs. All any team needs is a ticket to the playoffs and they have a chance to go to the big dance. +800 is well worth a chance.
Long-Shot: San Diego Chargers +3300
Not a whole lot of faith in this one, but there’s not too many else that leap out at me. I like the passing attack in SoCal quite a bit. Maybe Melvin Gordon finds himself and they establish a running game. They have one of the best young group of linebackers in the game. They’ve added depth in the secondary and while I liked the Joey Bosa pick in May, this asinine hold-out situation really concerns me.
This is a very, very small play that’s mostly predicated on the team sneaking into a Wild Card spot and catching lightening in a bottle. +3300 makes this one a fun little play.
NFC Championship Outright:
Best Bet: Arizona Cardinals +650
Again, to me, they’re the best team in the NFC. The fact that the Packers and Seahawks have greater odds kinda baffles me. Sign me up with the RedBirds.
Value Play: Minnesota Vikings +800
The Vikings are my pick to win the NFC North. Love the young talent on defense. I believe in Mike Zimmer is one of the better defensive minds in football. Adrian Peterson is still there, the offensive line is improved. I think Bridgewater takes a step forward in his third season and Laquan Treadwell provides some much-needed receiver depth. At 8/1, placing a wager on the Vikings to make a run next January is a nice little investment.
Long Shot: Washington Redskins +2000
In my opinion, the Redskins are the most balanced team in the NFC East. I think they repeat as divisional champs and while a Super Bowl run is highly unlikely, I like the +2000 price from a team I think has a decent chance of making the playoffs.
Super Bowl LI Outright:
Best Bet: Arizona Cardinals +1100
I just think it’s their year for all the reasons listed above.
Value Play: Cincinnati Bengals +1600
Like I said, second-best team in the AFC. While I do think the Patriots are the team who will inevitably challenge the Cardinals in the Super Bowl, the value is too good to pass up.
Long-Shot: New York Jets +5000
They’re the strongest team on both sides of the ball in this price range. If this team was hypothetically in, say the NFC East or AFC South, they’re odds might be closer to the +2000/+2500 range. Say they earn a Wild Card spot, or even win the division outright, they could really make some noise in the playoffs.
NFL MVP Outright:
Best Bet: Russell Wilson +800
Unless a skill position player has a historic season and carries their team to the postseason, the MVP is usually a QB.
The top QBs for MVP candidates are as followed:
Aaron Rodgers: +425
Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson: +800
Tom Brady: +900
I don’t like laying “chalk” on an MVP future unless I believe its a sure-thing. And while Rodgers has done it before, I don’t think he’s a lock to win the award. Big Ben isn’t consistent enough over 16 games, nor do I believe that he can stay healthy for a full season. I think Cam and the Panthers take a step back this season and I can’t back Brady given that at max, he’ll play 12 games this season. Wilson is my pick based on process of elimination.
The Seahawks should be back in the playoffs next season, he had an electric finish to 2015. Why can’t he have an MVP season in 2016?
Value Play: None.
I don’t really see a value play on the board. The next two Qbs behind the five mentioned above are Andrew Luck (+1200) and Carson Palmer (+1600). I’m not a believer in the Colts, I have them last in the division and Carson Palmer won’t be the sole reason why the Cardinals will be a success this season. After those guys, the next-best odds are Eli Manning at +2500, that’s long-shot territory.
Long-Shot(s): J.J. Watt +2500, Todd Gurley +4900 and Antonio Brown +6100
J.J. Watt is a once-in-a-generation defensive player that has the capability to single-handedly take a defense (and a team) on his back and carry them. That’s just unheard of in today’s NFL. If there isn’t a breakout QB that’s far and away better than the field and the Texans make the playoffs, J.J. Watt could be getting some MVP votes. And who knows? Maybe 2016 is the year he finally gets the recognition in the MVP conversation that he deserves.
If the Rams somehow make the playoffs, it will be because of Todd Gurley. At nearly 50/1, it would take an Adrian Peterson circa 2012 type of season for the second year running back to take the award. However, I think he has that type of upside. Before he retires, Gurley will be in contention for a few MVPs. He’s that talented.
Antonio Brown probably won’t win the MVP. A WR hasn’t won the award since… well they’ve never won. If AB has any chance to win, he would need to break the single-season receiving yards record, the single-season receiving TD record or both. If Ben plays a full 16, it’s possible. Brown is that good.
Most Passing Yards:
Best Bet: Drew Brees +550
He did it last season, he did it in 2014, he threw for 5,162 in 2013, he was the leader in 2012 and in 2011, he set an NFL record in passing yards with 5,476 (a record that lasted all of two years). He’s consistently at the top of the league in passing yards and that probably won’t change in 2016. The New Orleans defense will be bad once again, the Saints will be in a ton of shootouts and Brees will lead the league in passing yards for the fifth time in six season. I honestly wouldn’t make a serious wager on any other QB for this prop.
Value Play: Andrew Luck +1200
Much like the Saints, the Colts have an awful defense and should be throwing a ton. He totalled 4,761 passing yards in 2014 and the team threw the ball 619 times last season.
Long Shot: Brock Osweiler +6600
Now, this likely won’t happen. But, here’s some facts to ponder.
The Texans lead the league in total plays run last season and threw the ball 619 times.
He’ll be throwing to a talented group of receivers that include DeAndre Hopkins, 2016 first round pick Will Fuller and a breakout candidate Jaelen Strong.
Probably won’t happen, but it could. And that’s worth a small, small sprinkle at +6600
2016 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year:
Best Bet: Ezekiel Elliot -110
This seems obvious. The O-Line, this talented running back. There’s a reason why you have to lay 10 cents with this one. If Elliot doesn’t win this award, something terrible happened. Watch out though, running backs get hurt all the time and that whole mess with his ex-girlfriend could rear its ugly head again. But again, if he’s out there for a full 16 games, he should win.
Value Play: Josh Doctson +1400
While this group of rookie WR hasn’t been nearly as great as the classes of year’s past, Doctson is the exception. I am a huge believer in his talent. He could pass both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon on the depth chart by season’s end. He has A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall-type upside.
Long-Shot: Paxton Lynch +2400
Now is the time to get in on this bet. I truly believe that he’s the best option the Broncos have at QB and after the underwhelming performances both Sanchez and Siemian put forth in Week 2 of the preseason, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lynch got first-team reps and even started in Week 3. This competition is still wide-open and if Lynch is named the starter for Week 1, I guarantee all the value in making this bet will vanish.
Lines courtesy of sportsinteraction.com.