NFL Betting Props — Surprise, Surprise! It’s the Tampa Bay Bucs!
by Charles Jay of Predictem.com
When examining some of the NFL betting props when it comes to the over/unders on team wins, we know that this is a long season. But let’s take a look at four teams in particular with a speculative forecast on what they might do, using the latest proposition odds as a reference:
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
BetAnySportsOdds: Under 6.5 Wins -140, Over 6.5 Wins +120
— Tampa Bay made the coaching change in the off-season, dipping into the college ranks to sign Greg Schiano, who had been the head coach at Rutgers, building that program from a position of mediocrity into one that went to six bowls in his last seven years on the job. Schiano is no stranger to the NFL, having served as a Chicago Bears assistant for three seasons. And he has sent an unusual amount of talent into the league, including the likes of Ray Rice, Gary Brackett, Kenny Britt, Tiquan Underwood, Anthony Davis and Devin McCourty.
Schiano is a disciplinarian, which is just what the doctor ordered for this crew that had become very sloppy under Raheem Morris. The Bucs were so lax last season that they had a minus-16 turnover ratio, and QB Josh Freeman was a major culprit, with 22 interceptions. But Freeman is also talented and fearless, and he’s got a lot more to work with this season. Not only did they go out and sign wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who was a star in San Diego, but they also picked up tight end Dallas Clark, one of the most productive guys in the business when he was teamed up with Peyton Manning. First-round draft choice Doug martin (Boise State) gives them the makings of a first-rate running tandem (with LeGarrette Blount) and this will allow Schiano to play a little smash-mouth. Schiano wants an extremely aggressive posture on the part of his defenders, and although they’ll pick up some penalties, you can bet they’ll improve significantly upon their #32 (last) ranking in the NFL in rushing defense and sacks. Let’s not forget that when this team had a bit more fire under them, the Buccaneers surged to a 10-6 record in 2010. Expect that they will get that fire back, one year removed from a near-playoff season. And look for Schiano to capture the coach of the year award.
JAY’S PLAY: OVER 6.5 WINS (+120)
BetAnySportsOdds: Over 5.5 Wins -120, Under 5.5 Wins +100
— First-year coach Mike Mularkey had a crisis to deal with right away. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew held out of camp, and signed very late, and so there has to be a question as to how ready he’s going to be. Jones-Drew has had 954 carries over the last three years, so there’s some mileage on him as well. Blaine Gabbert has been a bright spot in camp; after last year’s unsteady performance as a rookie, he went 61% without an interception in the pre-season, and they’re very impressed with his poise. Management has also given him some more ammunition to work with, as Laurent Robinson, who broke out in Dallas last year (16 yards per reception) was signed as a free agent, while Justin Blackmon, the two-time Biletnikoff Award winner out of Oklahoma State, was drafted in the first round. If Blackmon can stay out of trouble off the field, he’ll be a great addition.
On defense, the Jags can hold their own. They ranked sixth overall in the entire NFL. The problem with this unit is that it has not gotten a consistent rush on the passer; in fact, in none of the last four seasons have the Jaguars ranked higher than 20th in the league in sacks.
JAY’S PLAY: OVER 5.5 WINS (-120)
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SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
BetAnySportsOdds: Under 10.5 Wins -205, Over 10.5 Wins +173
— The Niners, as you know, got one step from the Super Bowl in Jim Harbaugh’s first season as head coach. They played old school football, ranking first in the league against the run and employing a powerful ground attack themselves. This year the team looks more menacing on offense, with the addition of running back Brandon Jacobs and wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. To utilize those wideouts in particular, San Francisco may have to open up the offense a little. Is that a good thing or a bad thing for Alex Smith? The former #1 overall draft choice had been largely an NFL bust until he came into the care of Harbaugh, a former Pro Bowl quarterback. Smith threw 17 touchdown passes with just five interceptions - the same numbers Harbaugh posted in 1995 when the UPI named him its AFC Player of the Year (for the Colts). But now he has to demonstrate that he can repeat something Like that, or step up the pure production. Anyone who saw him under pressure in the playoff game against the Saints would probably put their money on him. We’re not altogether sure, though. There are rough games ahead, with road games against the Packers, Jets, Patriots and Saints, and home contests with the Lions and Giants.
JAY’S PLAY: UNDER 10.5 WINS (-205)
NEW YORK JETS
BetAnySportsOdds: Under 8.5 Wins -165, Over 8.5 Wins +145
— You have to wonder how much of a distraction Tim Tebow is going to be wind up being before all is said and done. We know that Tony Sparano, the new offensive coordinator, implemented the Wildcat successfully in Miami, and we suspect he’ll try to do some of that here. But if you listened to some of those comments by Santonio Holmes, Mark Sanchez was a little rattled to see Tebow signed. Sanchez, who completed just 57% of his passes with 18 interceptions, is not our favorite quarterback, and the last thing he would seem to need was something to threaten his confidence. But that’s the way Rex Ryan wants it.
We’d like the Jets’ chances if we saw a deep running game. But beyond Shonn Greene, there is very little that is exciting, aside from occasional bursts by the very athletic Joe McKnight. The defense should do its part, but when all is said and done, this team could be severely lacking for offensive punch. Why else would they be experimenting with Antonio Cromartie on that side of the ball? At this number, though, we’ll take a shot. We’ve got enough faith in Rex.
JAY’S PLAY: OVER 8.5 WINS (+145)
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