The time is finally here! It is about to be football central here until MLK Day. We are coming up on our 1st weekend with real football since Eli Manning to David Tyree shocked the world! I will get to some college stuff in a few weeks as I am still compiling my pre-season Top 30. For those of you out there that wager a buck or two on pro or college football, I will go ahead and give you the LOCK futures bet for this season.
University of Tennessee - Over 7.5 Wins
The reason this is such a great futures bet is you will have a decent idea of their season after Game #1 on September 1st (you can even hedge and take UCLA). If they beat UCLA, they are certain to get to 8 wins and still might get there with a loss. Take a look at UT's home games this year: Florida, Wyoming, UAB, Alabama, Northern Illinois, Kentucky, and Mississippi State. I would guess UT goes 6-1 in those games, but lets say they go 5-2 and the Tide pull an upset. If the UCLA game is a win, that means only 2 more wins are needed to get to 8. Road games this year are South Carolina, Georgia, Auburn, and Vanderbilt. Splitting these 4 would do the trick.
This is a team with 5 returning starters on the O-line and a All-Conference running back. The QB is a new starter, but he will have a good receiving core and maybe the top secondary in the nation helping him out.
Lets get to some pro stuff...
I think the top 4 teams in the NFC are the 4 Eastern division teams. Washington is the sleeper here after acquiring Jason Taylor. The Skins have a decent line, and Jason Campbell will have some receiving targets this year that are taller than 5'9. The defense should be pretty good now that the D-line has been upgraded. We will know a lot about Washington pretty early in the season - 3 of their 1st 5 games are on the road against the other 3 teams in the East.
I wish there was another team I liked to win the NFC besides Dallas. They still don't have a #2 receiver that will scare anyone, but Jason Witten takes some pressure off Owens. That defense looks like it could be the best in the league after locking up their secondary and adding Zach Thomas. Marion Barber will have to carry more of the load this year and I believe Dallas will use Felix Jones in different ways to get him the ball.
Don't but the New Orleans hype - they are still a bottom tier defensive team and while they might get to 10 wins playing in the NFC South, they won't get far in the playoffs.
I really believe the Falcons can win 6 games. They have more talent than people think and could sneak up on people with their running game and play-making linebacker core. This would also keep them out of the top 5 in the draft and having to spend a ridiculous amount of cash on another pick. I want Michael Oher (OL - Ole Miss) in next year's draft...
There is no reason to think New England will go away and other recent powers Indy, Pitt, SD, and Jax will also be pretty good again. I don't really like anyone of the 5 over another, but NE looks to have the easiest schedule and the best chance at home-field...
Least intriguing non-Brett Favre story this pre-season? The Bears QB race between Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman. Can't wait to see what happens there...
Most intriguing non-Fantasy Football story this pre-season? The development of Matt Ryan. I haven't been this excited about pre-season since 2001.
Finally, lets take a shot at the final division standings...