As I told you on Friday, National Football League Training Camps open in less than two weeks so our time to start breaking down the favorites and long-shots is running short.
Today my focus is NFC Division odds.
Philadelphia +125 – The Eagles enter 2014 with De’Sean Jackson in Washington but Coach Chip Kelly feels like the addition of Darren Sproles will help ease some of the burden of Jackson’s loss. Nick Foles proved last season that he is more than capable of being an NFL QB and I expect him to have a similar season.
NY Giants +300 – The G-Men look to bounce back from a disastrous where Eli Manning was nothing short of a turnover machine. Tom Coughlin has brought the Giants two Super Bowl wins but another poor season will send him packing. The offensive and defensive lines both need improvement.
Dallas +375 – The Cowboys’ historically bad defense got another blow when Sean Lee went down with a season-ending injury in OTAs. Despite his monster contract, I think Tony Romo is getting down to his final chances in Big D. If he can’t produce a playoff win then Jerry Jones patience will run even shorter.
Washington +450 – The NFL is more than curious to see how new coach Jay Gruden handles Robert Griffin III. RGIII has to prove he can stay healthy and that means being more of a pocket passer and running when it’s necessary. The defense must get more pressure to help out the secondary.
Green Bay -110 – This could be a big year for Green Bay. Clay Matthews has to stay healthy as he has started to lose favor with the fans who are tired of seeing him on the sidelines. With Eddie Lacy in the backfield, I expect Aaron Rodgers to have a monster year.
Chicago +250 – The Bears will go only as far as Jay Cutler can take them. The offense is loaded with weapons so there are no excuses not to be great. With the offensive firepower, the defense doesn’t have to be great, they just need to be consistent.
Detroit +400 – New coach Jim Caldwell has one major goal for Matthew Stafford; make better decisions with the football. Like the Bears, offense shouldn’t be a problem. The defense has to create more consistent pressure because the secondary really hasn’t improved.
Minnesota +1000 – As I said Friday, I think Teddy Bridgewater will be the starting QB on day one. Whether that means success is unclear.
PICK: Green Bay
New Orleans EVEN – The defense improved greatly under Rob Ryan but how does Sean Payton replace Darren Sproles?
Atlanta +325 – Yes the Falcons had a lot of injuries last year but I didn’t think this team recovered from their NFC Title game loss the year before either. I don’t see a bounce back year.
Carolina +325 – The Panthers have lost Steve Smith to the Ravens but a good defense remains. Wide receiving experience is lacking and I think they take a step back.
Tampa Bay +550 – With new coach Lovie Smith aboard, I believe the only thing keeping this team from challenging for the division will be QB play. Luke McCown showed in Chicago he could be successful and I think he will be in Tampa as well.
PICK: Tampa Bay
Seattle +130 – The only question is will the hunger remain?
San Francisco +140 – Speaking of hunger, will the 49ers ride it enough to overthrow the Seahawks?
Arizona +700 – Everything appears to be in place in the desert following a 10-win season. If Carson Palmer can stay healthy and avoid turnovers then I like their chances.
St. Louis +700 – 2014 will be a huge year for Sam Bradford. Yes, the division is the toughest in pro football, but he has to get the Rams to the playoffs or questions about his future will pile up.