Football Betting: 2015 NFC Division Previews and Odds
The Philadelphia Eagles stole all of the headlines in the offseason with Chip Kelly reworking the roster with some major moves. Was it enough to usurp power from the Dallas Cowboys, who won 12 games and the NFC East last season? The oddsmakers still have Dallas favored with the Eagles in second place.
+180 to Win NFC East
The Cowboys had a banner season as they won 12 and were a Dez Bryant catch away from making the NFC Championship game. However, their hammer, DeMarco Murray, who rushed for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns, left via free agency. The Cowboys are banking on the fact that some of Murray’s production was based on the stellar offensive line. The Cowboys invested in their defense heavily with draft picks Byron Jones and Randy Gregory, as well as free agent Greg Hardy.
-120 to Win NFC East
The Eagles garnered plenty of headlines this offseason as coach and GM Chip Kelly reshaped the roster. Quarterback Nick Foles, running back LeSean McCoy and receiver Jeremy Maclin are all gone. Sam Bradford, Murray and Ryan Mathews are the replacements. It’s a lot of change for a team that won 10 games last season. Kelly has a sharp offensive mind, but he’ll take a lot of heat if these moves don’t pan out.
New York Giants
+550 to Win NFC East
New York is a work in progress, but if things go their way, they’ll have plenty of upside. If Victor Cruz returns to health, if Odell Beckham Jr. can repeat last season’s performance, if the running game can get going, if the defense can improve, then the Giants might compete for an NFC East crown. However, that’s a lot of “ifs” considering they won six games last season and underwent some sizable roster renovations. However, if they can simply run the ball a little better to take the pressure off of Manning and the defense, they’ll be in better shape than last season. The Giants averaged just 3.6 yards per carry, which ranked 30th in the NFL.
+1800 to Win NFC East
The Redskins still look like they’ve got a power struggle going on at quarterback where Jay Gruden would probably love to move on from Robert Griffin III, but owner Dan Snyder still sees visions of RGIII throwing for 20 touchdowns and five interceptions in his rookie season despite the fact that RGIII had 20 touchdowns, 18 picks and 11 fumbles over his last 19 games. A lot of work in the offseason has been done to surround him with a better offensive line and a better running game.
All but two starters from the offense are returning to the Redskins, but if they aren’t improved, this team will again be destined for last place in the NFC East. That’s where they’ve finished in six of the last seven years.
The Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West last year and likely came one yard away from winning the Super Bowl. In the offseason, it seems like the rich got richer as the Seahawks added superstar tight end Jimmy Graham in the offseason. Can anyone take the division crown from them?
-260 to Win the NFC West
The Seahawks have won the NFC West the past two seasons in a very competitive division. Their main concerns going forward are on the offensive line. They traded away Pro Bowler Max Unger to acquire Graham at center, and need to replace James Carpenter, who signed with the New York Jets. They also need someone to step up and complement leading receiver Doug Baldwin.
If they can improve their offensive line, and keep their secondary in good shape, the Seahawks should be ready to defend not just their NFC West title but their conference title too.
+400 to Win the NFC West
The Cardinals were 9-1 through 10 games last season and three games ahead of the 6-4 Seahawks before everything fell apart. The Cardinals had the best defense in the NFL and were disciplined in close games, but when starting quarterback Carson Palmer got injured, the team collapsed.
The Cardinals upgraded their offensive line in the offseason and now appears to have more depth than they’ve had in a really long time. Despite winning 21 games in Bruce Arians’ first two seasons, bettors continue to doubt this team, but the Cardinals are the only ones with the potential to unseat the Seahawks.
St. Louis Rams
+900 to Win the NFC West
This could be the most interesting team in the NFC. The Rams brought in quarterback Nick Foles, so their offense should improve. The team seems intent on getting their ground game going, spending their first three draft picks on running back Todd Gurley and two offensive linemen. If Foles is serviceable and the ground game improves, this team could be dangerous. They have one of the best defensive lines with Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald and Nick Fairley, but their offense has previously held them back.
San Francisco 49ers
+1200 to Win the NFC West
The 49ers have crumbled quickly. Lots of player retirements, especially on defense, and free agency have eroded this team’s depth. With former coach Jim Harbaugh no longer around, new coach Jim Tomsula will have his hands full. This looks like an 8-8 team at best.
The NFC South was clearly the worst division in football a year ago. The winner of the division had a losing record, and while the Carolina Panthers did win their NFC wild card game, they won it because the Arizona Cardinals were down to their third-string quarterback. We’ll see if any of these teams can rebound in 2015.
+190 to Win the NFC South
The Panthers would probably rate as the favorite in this division because their defense was so tough in the latter stages of the season. The offense suffered because they lacked a dependable pass catcher after Steve Smith left, but the defense was an anchor for this team. This offseason, the Panthers didn’t add a whole lot as they’ll be counting on Jarrett Boykin and Michael Oher to make a difference.
+225 to Win the NFC South
The Falcons’ last season ended when the Panthers dominated them (34-3) at home on a day when Atlanta had a chance to win the division and move to the playoffs. Atlanta lacked a strong offensive line, and that made their quarterback, Matt Ryan, quite vulnerable. They didn’t make many changes along the offensive line, so they’re banking on staying healthy and running the ball better.
New Orleans Saints
+225 to Win the NFC South
The Saints were a tremendous disappointment in 2014. They expected to win the division, but failed to do so. They only needed to go 8-8 to win it, but they fell short of that mark. Everything crumbled for New Orleans. Drew Brees was very shaky in road games. The offense was inconsistent. The defense, which had a thin secondary, could not be counted on. In the offseason, they made major changes by trading away Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills and Ben Grubbs. They want to shift from being an explosive team to one that can run the ball, control the clock and play better defense – something they failed to do last season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
+550 to Win the NFC South
The Buccaneers are reconstructing. They drafted Jameis Winston at quarterback with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. Their defense is decent, but their offense is being built for the long haul – not for 2015. If Winston is NFL-ready, the Bucs could surprise us. He has help around him with a couple of competent running backs and two quality wideouts in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. However, if Winston is raw and the defense is no better, this team won’t win more than five games.
The Green Bay Packers have made the playoffs for six straight seasons, and they’ve registered double-digit wins in five of those seasons. While the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and even the lowly Chicago Bears could be on the upswing, none appear to be on the Packers’ level just yet.
Green Bay Packers
-225 to Win the NFC North
The theme of the division seems to be ball-possession and improving ground games, which is a trend the Packers started when they drafted Eddie Lacy two seasons ago. It worked quite well for the Packers last season as Lacy helped the Packers pound away for the 11th-best rushing offense in the NFL. This team didn’t need many offseason changes. They didn’t make any major acquisitions and spent three of their first four draft picks on defense with their top two picks directed at the secondary. They should win the North and compete for an NFC title once again this upcoming season.
+450 to Win the NFC North
The Lions won 11 games in Jim Caldwell’s first season, but their success could be the result of a good schedule. Their five losses last season came from the Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers. Four of those teams were in the playoffs, and the Bills won seven games. Almost all of the Lions’ other wins came against sub-.500 teams.
The Lions focused on offense during their offseason because they’re trying to fix the sluggish running game, which finished 28th in the NFL with 88.9 rushing yards per game. Gone are defensive stalwarts Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, but we’re seeing the additions of speedy rookie runner Ameer Abdullah, and a couple new offensive linemen.
+425 to Win the NFC North
The Vikings could be on the rise as they won seven games last season. A lot of people are high on them because they finished 5-4 down the stretch after starting just 2-5 in their first seven contests. In the offseason, they added speedster Mike Wallace and will welcome back running back Adrian Peterson. If that tandem can support quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota could compete for second place in the division.
+1800 to Win the NFC North
It seems like there is only one direction the Bears can go and that’s up. New head coach John Fox has long been a solid leader, and the Bears shouldn’t be such a disaster with him patrolling the sidelines. If he can help Jay Cutler avoid crippling mistakes, show the offense how to play ball control and improve the defense in any fashion, this team should be close to seven or eight wins.
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