Top 5 NFL Teams to Bet on in 2010-2011

Top5 NFLTeams to Bet on in 2010-11 (Against-the-Spread)
by Jeff Hochman of

If the NFL were a Stock Market these are five teams I would be buying for the 2010-11 regular season. I’ve been fortunate to have alot of success with this feature since 1998. Play away!

Seattle Seahawks, Coached by Pete Carroll (First Year)

2009-10 Record: 5-11 SU & 6-10 ATS

Pete Carroll wasofficially hired as the Seahawks head coach on January 11th, 2010. He has a career record of 83-19 in College Football and 33-31 during his time in the NFL from 1994-99. It will takea littletime, but I believe he’s a great fit for Seattle. I have been to many USC practices and his style is conducive to winning. On offense, Carroll is known for using aggressive, non-conservative play-calling that is open to trick plays. On Defense,he favors a bend-but-don’t-break scheme of preventing the big plays– allowing opposing teams to get small yardage but trying to keep the plays in front of his defenders.

His happy-go-lucky style takes pressure off his playerswhen times are tough.Pete loves to create competition at every position. He preaches that every day and wants his guys to compete at the highest level they know how. For this reason alone, the Seahawks will be much more competitive than last year. I really like this team as a sleeper in the NFC West.Theywereas “banged up” as any team in the NFL last year. Seattle will play the 29th toughest regular seasonschedule (3rdeasiest)as their foes went 116-140 (.453) in 2009. (See our 2010-2011 strength of schedule chart)

The offense took a hit when rookie tackle Russell Okung was lost for the year with an injury early in preseason. They still are loaded on offense with the likes of a healthy Matt Hasselbeck, Justin Forsett, Julius Jones,T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch, John Carlson and rookie WRGolden Tate. Tate should be a force in the return game.

Improvements in the secondary through the draftwill be welcomed by all ‘Hawks fans. Lawyer Milloy signed a one-year dealand should fit in nicely.If Lofa Tatupu returns from off-seasonsurgery to previous levels,the defense could be a surprise this season.

Key Stat: Matt Hasselbeck has missed 11 games over the last two seasons combined.

My 2010-11Prediction:10-6 SU & 11-5 ATS

Oakland Raiders, Coached by Tom Cable (2nd Year)

2009-10 Record: 5-11 SU & 8-8 ATS

Tom Cable coached the Raiders after Lane Kiffen was fired four games into the 2008 season. The Raiders finished the 2008 season with a 4-8 record under Cable. Tom Cable was officially introduced as the Raiders new head coach on February 4th, 2009. With their loss to Dallas on November 26, 2009, The Raiders sealed their seventh consecutive losing season.

But things are looking up in 2010-11. Gone is bust quarterback JaMarcus Russell, the former No. 1 overall draft pick. The Raiders traded for strong-armed quarterback Jason Campbell and also had of their best drafts in recent memory. Theyswooped uptwo stud defensive players in defensive tackle Lamarr Houston and linebacker Rolando McClain and collected two promising offensive lineman in Bruce Campbell and Jared Veldheer. The defense already boasts one of the best shut-down corners in the league with Nnamdi Asomugha.

The offense should improve with all their young receivers getting some valuable experience last season. Not to mention, a quarterback that knows how to command an offense. They also have one of the best kickers and punters in all of football. The Raiders will play the 16th easiest schedule as their foes went 128-128 (.500) in 2009-10.

Key Stat: The Raiders are 9-3 against-the-spread as underdogs of 7 or more points.

My 2010-11 Prediction: (9-7 SU & 10-6 ATS)

Houston Texans, coached by Gary Kubiak (Fifth Year)

2009-10 Record: 9-7 SU & 7-9 ATS

The Texans went 9-7 last season,and saw Matt Schaub pass for 4,770 yards, and Andre Johnson catch over 100 balls for over1,500 yards. The NFL leader in passer rating wasn’t Manning, Rogers, or Brees. It wasMatt Schaub!

The offense is loaded with Steve Slaton and Arian Foster at running back. Rookie, Ben Tatewas lost for the season with an injury.Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Owen Daniels (TE), and Jacoby Jones all can catch balls and run after the catch. I like Arian Foster as a Fantasy running back sleeper this season. The offensive line did a better job last year thanks to rookie Left TackleDuane Brown. When he was drafted in the firstround a lot of people questioned that pick, but he started all 16 games last season and could have made the pro-bowl.Center, ChrisWhite has started every game for Houston since 2008.

The defense has improved two straight years and will have to get bywithout linebacker Brian Cushing, who is suspended for four games. He won defensive rookie of the year despite testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. They have good depth to get by until October rolls around. Look for DeMeco Ryan, Zac Dills, and Darryl Sharpton to pick up the slack. First round pick, Kareem Jackson (Alabama) will start immediately at cornerback and provided a big boost.

Houston did not make the playoffs last year despite their winning record. This team has beenrunning Kubiak’s system for four years now,andit would not shock me to see this team make it for the first time in franchise history. Houston has 21 starters returning from last year’s squad.

Key Stat: The Texans lost six of their sevengames by 8 or fewer points last season.

2010-11 Prediction:9-7 SU &10-6 ATS

Miami Dolphins, Coached by Tony Sparano (Third Year)

2009-10 Record: 7-9 SU& 8-8 ATS

Tony Sparano enters season No. 3 of his four-year contract. In his first season, Sparano led the Dolphins to an 115 record and the AFC East division title, securing the franchise’s first playoff berth in eight seasons before losing to the Ravens in a Wild Card game. Last season saw his cub take a step back going 7-9 and has a career record of 18-14 in the regular season. Bill Parcells and Sparano know how to draft and this team has a lot of good young players. I remember when Parcells was the Head Coachof Dallas and he had a Wide Receiverthat was 6th or 7th on his depth chart. That player turned out to be Miles Austin, who is ready for big things this season afterhis breakout year in 2009.He said that Miles Austin will be a “Star” in this league sooner rather than later. He was right!

The offense will try to be more balanced this year with the addition of Wide ReceiverBrandon Marshall and full time quarterback Chad Henne. With an improved offensive line and a very fast defense the Dolphins will be very competitive in 2010-11. The Wildcat will feature Ronnie Brown and Rickey Williams. Both players are capable of at least 1,000 rushing yard seasons. The Dolphins will play the 16th easiest schedule as their foes went 128-128 (.500) last season. This team will be very competitive this season so a “play on” as underdogs is the call.

Key Stat: Chad Henne went 7-6 SU and 8-5 ATSas a starting QBlast season.

My 2010-11 Prediction: 9-7 SU & 9-7 ATS

Detroit Lions, coached byJim Schwartz(Second Year)

2009-10 Record: 2-14 SU & 5-11 ATS

The Lions won’t be winning the division this season but they continue to upgrade their talent level. The Lions are going to score points in bunches. Matthew Stafford threw 20 interceptions last year in ten games but showed a lot of grit playing hurt with a torn AC joint. He showed flashes of brilliance (throwing for2,267 yards &13 TD)and will take that next step this season. He can make all the throws and has many weapons as his disposal. Look for running back Jahvid Best to possibly win rookie of the year and Calvin Johnson to be a force in the red-zone. Tony Scheffler was another good pick-up in the off-season and has excellent pass-catching skills.The offensive line should be better with the addition of Rob Sims and the return of Stephen Peterman.

The Lions signed Kyle Vanden Bosh to bolster the pass rush and drafted tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was the most dominate player in College football last season. These two guys will give the Lions some muchneeded attitude and swagger.The Lions secondary is young and hasroom to grow. The unit is comingoff an injury plagued 2009-10 season. Ifcornerback Chris Houston stays healthy thepass defensewill improve for sure. I am getting a good vibe from this team and the pieces are in place to make a big improvement this season. Look for the Lions to win some games as big underdogs this season!

Key Stat: The Lions were -18 in turnover/takeaway differential in 2009-10.

My Prediction:7-9 SU & 9-7 ATS

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