by Bob Gaughan, Buffalo Sports Page
When betting the NFL division winners I believe sometimes you go with the favorite and other times you need to look for value. Here is who I would place bets on for each division in football and why.
AFC East: The Bills at 8:1
Obviously the Patriots are the heavy favorite. New England is a 1:5 favorite. Those odds are way too high for me. This means to win 20 bucks I need to bet 100. I’d rather take a chance on the Jets or the Bills. The reason I would take the Bills over the Jets is the Bills have slightly better odds. The Jets are 6:1. The other reason is the Jets are in disarray with firing their GM and Adam Gase has too much power there. The Bills or the Jets will go 9-7 this year and make a run at the playoffs. You need an injury to Brady to cash in this bet. He is 42.
AFC North: Steelers 2:1
The favorite in the north is the Browns. The Browns are getting too much love for me. I think the Steelers should be the favorite so I’ll take them as a 2:1 underdog. I’m not a fan of Lamar Jackson and I see a down year for the Ravens. This will be a two horse race between the Browns and Steelers. The Browns defense struggled last year giving up 393 yards per game and they lose DC Gregg Williams. Everyone talks about how good their offense will be but I still question their defense. I get the much better defense and Big Ben as a underdog. I’ll take it.
AFC South: Jacksonville 9:2
The heavy money is on the Colts here. The Colts are a 4:5 favorite. I see value in betting the Jaguars. People forget that Jacksonville had the fourth best defense in football last year. They add a good pass rusher in Josh Allen from Kentucky. Their offense was so bad with Blake Bortles. Nick Foles will make that side of the ball better. This division is brutal with Houston and Tennessee in it as well. This is the best division in football from top to bottom.
AFC West: Chargers 2:1
I love this bet. This might be my favorite bet of the year. The Chiefs are the favorite at 4:7. In my mind the Chargers are the better team. The Chargers have the much better defense under Gus Bradley. LA had the 8th best defense in football. The Chiefs again couldn’t stop anyone giving up over 400 yards per game which was 31st in the league. The Chiefs defense got worse losing their best two pass rushers in Houston and Ford. Chargers get the advantage of a little easier schedule as well.
NFL East Eagles 1:1
This is one favorite that I love. First of all I believe the Eagles bounce back with a great year. I like the addition of Jordan Howard and DeSean Jackson to the offense. The Eagles still have a good defense with Jim Schwartz as DC. I don’t like the rest of the division. The Redskins and Giants are awful. I’m not a believer in Dak and the Cowboys. I think the Eagles run away with the division.
NFC North: Vikings 2:1
See good value here with the Vikings bouncing back from an off year. The Bears had everything go right last year. They move back this year. Everyone is on Green Bay and Rodgers to win the division with a new head coach. I think people are sleeping on Minnesota. The offense should improve with Dalvin Cook coming back from injury and first round pick Garrett Bradbury helping the line. Everyone talked about how good the Bears defense was last year. The Bears gave up 300 yards per game and the Vikings gave up 310 yards per game. I’ll take the Vikings over the Packers because of a much better defense.
NFC South: Saints 1:2
This is a heavy favorite I know. Just not a fan of anyone else in the division. If I had to bet another team in the division it would be Tampa Bay at 12:1. Bruce Arians could resurrect Jameis Winston’s career. The Saints seem head and shoulders above the rest for me. Cam Newton’s injury concerns hold me back on a Panthers team that lost their best receivers and offensive lineman. I don’t think Matt Ryan has been the same since he lost Kyle Shanahan as his OC.
NFC West: San Francisco 17:4
I think the 49ers had a great offseason adding Tevin Coleman to the offense and Nick Bosa to the defense. This is a team that got ravaged with injuries last year. Most notably was to Jimmy Garoppolo. I can see this team fighting it out with the Rams for the division title. I like Garoppolo more than Jared Goff. I could see a Super Bowl hangover for the Rams. Seattle is very good and could win the division as well but the odds are better with the Niners. The Cardinals will be improved and this division is the third best division in football.