Free Picks and Best Bets: Division Winners

By Todd L. Frank  |   Thursday, August 26, 2010  |  Comments( 0 )

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As we gear up for the start of the 2010 NFL regular season, there’s still time to get in some good “futures bets” on who will win each division.

I’m not going to pick each division, just offer a few best bets that are good value picks:

Washington Redskins (+550 to win the NFC East)
OK, so the Dallas Cowboys are more likely to win this division, and most people would say that the NY Giants and Philadelphia Eagles will have better records than the Redskins. But this is about value. If you bet $100 on Dallas at +110, you’d only win $100. That same $100 on the Redskins at +550 would pay out $550. Of course, Donovan McNabb has to stay healthy and that offensive line has to be much improved. That’s a lot of ifs, but it’s never too risky to bet against Wade Phillips and Tony Romo. (The Giants are +280; the Eagles are +260.)

Pittsburgh Steelers (+225 to win the AFC North)
Not tremendous value here, but it seems unlikely that the Bengals will win this division again. Baltimore should be one of the best teams in the league, and their status as division favorites shows Vegas agrees. But with Troy Palumalu back, the suddenly under-the-radar Steelers could certainly make a run at the division title. (Baltimore is -140; Cincinnati is +300; Cleveland is +2000.)

Oakland Raiders (+600 to win the AFC West)
Obviously this is great value, laying just $100 to win $600. Of course most of you probably think it’s still a crazy waste of money to bet on the Raiders to win the division. But I think San Diego is a bit overrated, and are certainly one serious Phillip Rivers injury away from being 4-12. The Chiefs are not ready to take the leap that a few experts claim they’ll make this season, and the Broncos seem very much in flux right now. So Oakland could shock some people and manage to eek out the division crown at 9-7. (San Diego is -300; Denver is +650; KC is +600.)

Other possible plays:
Miami (+300) could certainly be a player in the AFC and beat out the Pats (+120 ) and Jets (+140 ). If you expect New Orleans (-160) to take a small step back and for Atlanta (+175) to improve, then the Falcons are a decent play, but not a huge value.
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