Looking at NFL Division Futures, MVP Futures, and Season-Long Prop Bets

Title: Looking at NFL Division Futures, MVP Futures, and Season-Long Prop Bets
Date: August 29, 2011
Original Source: The On Deck Circle
Synopsis: Heading into the NFL season, I put together a few pieces discussing NFL seasonal props and futures. This second piece looks at Divisional Champ odds, MVP Futures, and season-long prop bets.

Originally I was going to have Divison Odds and Player Futures/Props in two separate posts, but the division odds don’t really require a lot of detail, and I’m unsure if I’ll be able to get a separate post up tomorrow (plus, I have a few other article ideas I don’t want to let cool off in the meantime). So we’ll go through a few quick Divisional Futures picks and then move onto MVP Futures and season-long Player Props. I am once again joined by Under-19 Women’s International Soccer gambling afficianado and semi-professional low-life The Greek.
 More after the jump!
NFC Divisional Futures
The most interesting point for the NFC Divisions is the fact that Vegas is giving the NFC West a non-zero chance of grabbing a Wild Card spot. I’m working under the assumption that the division winner will be the division’s only playoff representative, so in my mind playoff odds should be equal to division odds. I know there is a small chance a second team slips in, but since I doubt it, I’d highly recommend putting your money on “division winner” instead of “playoffs” for a slightly better pay-out. For the record, I’d take Arizona at 16/5 (over 3-to-1 payout) rather than take St. Louis or San Fran at less than 2-to-1.

Despite having the same odds for the Super Bowl, Vegas is giving Atlanta slightly better odds than New Orleans to win the division. I can’t say I disagree, but it’s interesting to note.

A final note on the NFC would be to not waste your money on any NFC North team, as Green bay is most certainly going to take the division, but the pay-out is unfavorable at 10/19, unless you have a large chunk of cash to throw on it.

AFC Divisional Futures
The most interesting note for the AFC divisions is also about the difference between Division odds and Playoff odds, this time in the South. Vegas has basically decided that Indianapolis or Houston will take the division (fair), but the uncertainty around Peyton Manning has pushed them razor close in odds. If you believe Manning will return early and not miss a step, there is abover-average value on the Colts to win the division. On the other hand, if you’re fairly certain on Houston taking the division, it may be worth your risk to also bet on Indy to miss the playoffs entirely at 6/4.

Like with the Super Bowl and AFC Championship odds, Baltimore and Pittsburgh are separated by the smallest of margins. While they’re dead even in my mind, that means I’d lay money on the Baltimore side for a slightly larger pay-out, although I’d probably stay away from this coin-flip altogether.

Like Green Bay in the NFC North, don’t waste your resources on San Diego in the AFC West unless you have a sizable bank roll – they’ll win the division, but 4/9 isn’t enough pay-out for me to tie up resources for the entire season.

The AFC and NFC are currently even at -110 odds for the Super Bowl. This makes sense in a theoretical league with complete parity, but the value could lay on either side depending on how you think – does the AFC’s depth at the top of the class mean the eventual Super Bowl competitor will be banged up and at a disadvantage, or does it merely ensure a strong representative, while the NFC has less assurance of that? I’d tend to go with the latter, and see some small value with AFC -110 right now.

MVP Futures
Let’s turn it over to The Greek to start: Betting on NFL MVP’s is like screwing a stripper. It’s fun at the time, but you know you’re only going to regret it later.

I think of it as the true sucker bet. I bet on evvveryything, spending my hard earned dollars like a pirate, and I just don’t see value in this class. But that would make for boring reading, so let’s analyze what my play would be if I was going to go balls-deep into the NFL MVP betting pool.

What we know:
1) The MVP is historically never on a losing team
2) Unless you rush for 2,000 yards, or break some kind of crazy long-standing reception record (most receptions, TD’s, etc), the award is going to the QB (of a winning team)
3) All stats being the same, the better your team is doing, the better chance the QB has of winning (the 15-1 QB is getting more looks than the 10-6 QB)
4) The media loves a good story

Lets start out by all agreeing that NFL MVP betting lines are awful. Considering how many players are in the league, and how tough the competition is, anything less than 10-1 odds makes me laugh. I have already expressed my opinion that it is very likely a QB will take down this award (thank me in February). With that being said, we must then turn to the team in which they hail from.

If the odds you are getting for the NFL MVP QB < Odds you are getting for a Superbowl win… forget it. It’s just far too risky – the best teams could have multiple MVP candidates, and individual players have more risk than full temas.

I have identified three value bets that don’t follow the trend apparent in all other options.
1) Phillip Rivers (12/1 MVP, 9/2 Super Bowl)
2) Ben Roethlisberger (16/1 MVP, 15/1 Super Bowl)
3) Joe Flacco (22/1 MVP, 16/1 Super Bowl)

Now let us immediately remove Big Ben so you don’t have to waste your entire season cheering for the Steelers, and insert Michael Vick. After all, I’ll take a dog-beater over a (Editor’s note: An alleged.) rapist any day.

Vick’s odds of winning MVP = odds of Eagles to win SB (8/1). AND, This follows Rule 4 of what we know, in that the media will sensationalize his average-good play to look great (not to mention he hits on Rules 1-3 as well, since the Eagles promise to be great).

With the Chargers, Eagles and Ravens , no matter how you shake it, you get to cheer for a very good football team, with a great QB with the tools to win. And you don’t have to ride Manning or Brady’s D……which is a huuuge win for me!

Back to Blake: The Greek did a good job breaking that down for you, so allow me just a few quick points.

*As was evident in the Super Bowl Odds article, I’m very high on the Chargers. Rivers is by far their best player and unquestioned leader, and is, in my mind, the most likely to win the award. So with the sixth best odds, I’ll run with that pick.
*While Flacco is interesting as the QB of a very good team, the defense gets a lot of love and Ray Rice may do too much for Flacco to get the credit required for MVP.
*For Trevor, I should point out that Sanchez, at 33/1, would be a very handsome pay-out (see what I did there?) if the Jets could take a bye in the AFC playoffs with a top-two seed, as the GQ cover-boy and media darling of a major-market winner.

Player Props/Futures
A few quick notes on some attractive player-related bets I saw out there.

Julio Jones, Offensive Rookie of the Year, +450 – While he has the lowest pay-out, he’s also had the best preseason, has the best dreadlocks, and has the best situation. Giddy up.
Darren McFadden, Rushing Yards Title, +2500 – You have to look a bit of the way down the list to find Run DMC, but he has the pedigree, a run-first offense, and every tool you could ask for except durability. If healthy and upright for 16 games, this is a risk worth taking.
Jamaal Charles +5 Season Rushing Yards v. Chris Johnson, -110 – This line will change quickly if CJ2K gets any closer to missing time, so jump on it while you can if you think the holdout drags into the season.
Larry Fitzgerald +55 Season Receiving Yards v. Greg Jennings, -110 – Easy money. They were near even last year (1265-1137 Jennings), while Fitz was taking passes from John Skelton & Co, and Jennings benefited from an injury to Jermichael Finley.

Team Props/Futures
A few quick notes on some attractive team-related bets I saw out there.

Arizona -1 Wins v. Denver, -105 – The Cardinals play in a mediocre division and should make a bit of a jump with the addition of Kevin Kolb behind center.
NY Jets -1 Wins v. NY Giants, +105 – Not the easiest of calls here, but the Giants have had a lot of injuries pop up in the preseason already, and their secondary looks thin now. The Jets should win 11, can the Giants go 10-6?
Green Bay, Highest Scoring Team, +550 – They have the third lowest pauout (New England +350, San Diego +450) but could be an offensive juggernaut with a healthy Jermichael Finley and an emerging Jordy Nelson added to Aaron Rodgers’ arsenal of weapons.
Carolina Panthers, Lowest Scoring Team, +400 – The lowest payout, yes, but this is also a near certainty. They scored 75 less points than anyone last season and probably lost ground on Cleveland, Miami, and Buffalo in this regard.

That’s all for my 2011 Gambling Preview, but check back from time to time for weekly notes or updates if any futures odds change significantly. The rest of the week will have a Fantasy Football flavor to it now that my draft is complete!

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