So I’ve been posting picks on NFL and College Football games on the Fake Sports Bar Facebook page all season, and have had some success (58-41-4, for a success rate of just under 59%) coming out on the right side of sides and totals. A few of the readers of this site have asked if I there is any rhyme or reason to the picks I make, so I decided to audit my picks and see if there were any trends of note. I also thought it might be helpful to pass along a few tips that can apply to NFL/Survivor Pools, office pools or a long weekend in Vegas or (if you’re lucky) Delaware, where you can bet parlays in many bars on the NFL games. If Chris Christie gets his way, sports gambling will come to New Jersey next, and if national trends continue many more states will adopt it as well so that they can tax it like marijuana and casinos.
The AFC North enters the 2014 season as one of the most wide open divisions in football. Las Vegas oddsmakers declined to take a stand and inserted the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals all at 8.5 or 9 wins. Cincy won the division last year but failed yet again to win a playoff game, losing at home to San Diego in the Wild Card round. The Ravens are now a full season removed from their Super Bowl win, which they followed up with a disappointing 8-8 season. Pittsburgh has now had two straight 8-8 seasons, doubly disappointing. Cleveland hasn’t finished over .500 since 2007 and had an offseason full of drama that rivaled the 49ers. Can Baltimore or Pittsburgh wrestle the division back from Cincy? Can Andy Dalton take the next step and win a playoff game? Will the Johnny Football circus eat the Browns season alive? Let’s take a look.
The best division in football rolls into 2014 as the only division with two teams who have double digits win totals. Not surprising, after three teams posted 10+ wins last year and 4th place St Louis went a very respectable 7-9. Seattle edged out the 49ers by a game to take the division crown, and then the two met in the NFC Championship Game; a slug fest that Seattle would narrowly win. Led by their ferocious defenses, these two teams were clearly the best of the NFL last year as Seattle obliterated Denver in the Super Bowl.
Ah, the NFC South. When the NFL envisioned a socialist land of parity, where every team deserves a chance at greatness, this is what they had in mind. Much like every union worker at the Springfield Power Plant is guaranteed an employee of the month award (yep, we got sucked into The Simpsons marathon this weekend on FXX), every team has won the division title over the past seven seasons. There’s also never been a repeat winner of the NFC South; last year the Falcons defended their title by limping to finish line with a 4-12 record. Carolina would take the title, and be joined in the playoffs by New Orleans. Since the Saints won the Super Bowl in January 2010, the NFC South is 3-7 in the playoffs. This year, Vegas sees this bunch as a pretty productive group with the lowest win total among the four teams set at seven. The biggest shake up in the division is definitely in Tampa, where another extremely active year in free agency was paired with the hiring of Lovie Smith as their new coach. The schedule rotation lands on the North, both NFC and AFC. Can Carolina become the first repeat winner of the division? Or does the rotating crown continue? Let’s take a look.
Since the Patriots won their first Super Bowl in 2001, they’ve failed to win the AFC East twice (’02 Jets, ’08 Dolphins). That’s the basic question when you look at the division; can you make a case for another team winning it? The Patriots early Super Bowl run has dried up during this stretch of division dominance. Since their ’04 championship, they’ve made it back to the big game twice, only to lose to the Giants both games.
Today we tackle what may be the most boring division in all of professional sports, the AFC South. But just because a division is boring, doesn’t mean you can’t make some money. The Colts won the division last season, as Andrew Luck took the next step in what appears to be a very promising career. The AFC South was the only division in the NFL to have three teams with losing records, and Vegas followed suit this year with only the Colts being slotted a win total higher than seven wins. The Texans were the big surprise, winning two games after winning back to back division titles. Two coaches are making debuts with their new teams (Ken Whisenhunt in Tennessee and Bill O’Brien in Houston). The most tenured coach in the division is Chuck Pagano, whose only been at Indy since 2012. The AFC South draws the NFC East and the AFC North, a pretty tame draw in the grand scheme of things.
As the NFL season draws closer, FSB will be taking a look at each division through the prism of the Las Vegas win totals set for each team. First up is the NFC East. Last year Chip Kelly and Nick Foles led the Eagles to 10 wins and a division championship. This division is such a crap shoot, that we may as well get it out of the way first. The win totals tell the story, as every team is posted between 7.5 and 9 wins. As far as the schedule rotation goes, the NFC East draws the best division (NFC West) and arguably the worst division (AFC South). Pretty much a wash there.