Every year shortly after the Super Bowl the odds come out for next year's bets for the Super Bowl. It is always fun to look at that and speculate what could be a team to possibly wager on. Looking at the early odds that were posted by the MGM Grand sportsbook in Las Vegas, I have targeted several teams that look attractive to place bets on. Read below for my thoughts about those teams. I am looking at "underdog" type bets only, so I will not list the top 8 favorites.
The Texans were an injury to Matt Schaub away from possibly playing in the Super Bowl this year. Matt Schaub should be back to full health and eager to produce after missing several games in 2011. Andre Johnson should also be back at full health after a frustrating year dealing with injuries also. He showed in the playoffs that he could still be an outstanding Wide Receiver with 2 great games back-to-back. The best part about the Texans squad is the talent they have at Running Back. Arien Foster almost missed 3 entire games and still had a great year. He will be the top Running Back next year and his backup (Ben Tate) is very reliable as well. He will also have a good year because Houston likes to run the ball so much. The Texans' defense was vastly improved last year and looks like a unit set for many years. Mario Williams is a Free Agent, but he could stay with the Texans. In Las Vegas, the odds for Houston started at 12-1. That is the 9th out of 32 teams. For a team as strong as Houston, a wager might be in order.
A year after being the top seed in the NFC for the playoffs, the Falcons stumbled once again in the playoffs. Two years in a row they have lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champions. There is no doubt that Atlanta is loaded on offense. Roddy White year in and year out is always atop the receiving categories and the same goes for Michael Turner in the rushing categories. The Falcons traded up in the NFL Draft last year to select Julio Jones and now have another explosive weapon at their disposal. Tony Gonzalez found himself in familiar territory again last year, in the Pro Bowl. Some stories never change. The defense played less then expected in 2011. Free Agent acquisition Ray Edwards did not have the impact that they were hoping for. Another year of experience in this defense may be enough to put them over the hump. Matt Ryan has improved his play every year, is this the year that Atlanta can finally make it to the big game?? The odds makers have the Falcons at 18-1 odds, that is 12th best. The tools are in place to make a serious run.
This may seem a little odd being in this column, year after year the Ravens are always a threat to make a deep run in the playoffs. At 20-1 they might be the best bet on the board. Baltimore lost to New England in the AFC Championship game because of a missed field goal; they will want to prove it to everybody that was a mistake. It is a foregone conclusion the Ray Rice will be close to leading the NFL in yardage from scrimmage, he has done it for 3 straight years. It does not hurt that he has the best blocking Fullback in Vontae Leach blocking for him. The addition of Bryant McKinnie to the offensive line seemed to help out because of his huge frame size. Torrey Smith had a decent rookie campaign and he, Lee Evans, & Anquan Boldin make for a good 3 Wide Receiver team. Both Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta show promise out of the Tight End position. All Joe Flacco has to do is manage the game and the Ravens should be set up in good shape on offense. The defense was stellar again, thanks in large part to the league's defensive MVP Terrell Suggs. He led the defense to high rankings in both passing and rushing defense. If Ed Reed can stay healthy for the entire year, the defense should once again be near the top of the defensive categories. It also helps out that the biggest rivals for Baltimore, the Pittsburgh Steelers, have several reasons to be concerned going into next year. Will Ben Roethlisberger be 100% healthy?? How will the running game be now that Rashard Mendenhall is out for the year due to injury?? Can the Steelers find a way to keep Mike Wallace from leaving via Free Agency?? Those questions alone make me think that Baltimore should win the division and a decent chance for some home playoff games. January football in Baltimore could be enough to scare many teams. I like the chances for the Ravens!!
"Tebowmania" swept the nation last year as Tim Tebow rallied the Denver Broncos from an awful first half with a great second half and propelled them into the playoffs. The rushing attack by Willis McGahee led the NFL last year. Tim Tebow picked up after Kyle Orton proved ineffective and seemed to "will" the team to several wins. Eric Decker played really well last year after missing his rookie year due to injury and Demaryius Thomas came on at the end of the season after missing time last year also. With a full offseason and training camp to help them prepare, how much more can they do?? The defense improved last year due to the Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller. With Elvis Dumerville and Champ Bailey also on defense, they seem to be in good shape. Oh by the way, the Broncos have about $50 million in cap space this year. If the Broncos can find some help stopping the run and another Corner Back, they could very well win the AFC West again. The 50-1 odds established seems high, good enough to place a small bet on??