NFL: Previewing the NFC

So, does the recent acquisition of one Michael Vick by the Philadelphia Eagles throw a wrench in the futures for….almost got through that entire sentence without laughing. Anyway, let’s peek in on the NFC, see how the futures have things stacked so far and break down who might be a sleeper hit to come out of the conference this year.

The Giants, to nobody’s surprise, lead the way with 9/2 odds. Yes, they’ve been there before and won it all, but last year they showed more why the previous year was a fluke than why Eli is guiding this team to a dynasty a la Brady and the Patriots. Look, Brandon Jacobs is maybe a top 15 back in the league, pretty average. Eli is maybe a top 8 QB, and the defense hasn’t recovered from last year’s drop in talent. There’s certainly expectations in New York, but one gets the sense there isn’t a whole lot of excitement and spark. If the Giants aren’t careful, they could find themselves at 9-7 and not even making the playoffs. They have as tough a schedule as anyone, and the opponents will all be gunning for them. Lightning might not strike Arizona twice, but it appears more and more it’s going to miss New York, too. With the small return and the intangible risk, I’d avoid straight bets for the Giants to win the Superbowl or the NFC this year.

Speaking of Arizona, the oddsmakers seem to agree with me, and have put them at 10/1 odds to win the NFC again. They share that spot with the Saints, and are behind eight other teams. Why they’re so low is no mystery, either. Yeah, they’re receiving core is sick, but Warner is always one snap away from missing half the season. The guy is 38 after all. They’ll probably end up being RBBC committee, too, which used to work if you were the Broncos, but isn’t a great recipe for success anywhere else in the league. Come to think of it, 10/1 might be too generous with the Eagles, Bears, Falcons and Vikings all knocking on the door.

If I had to make an educated guess right now, I’m jumping on the Bears hype machine and going with them. The receiving corps is going to surprise everyone this year. Forte will benefit the most from Cutler’s presence. The defense, if Tommie Harris comes back all the way, is still one of the elite squads in the league. They’re well coached and have the experience to get there again…sure it waits to be seen whether all they needed was that one QB to take them through, but if their biggest problem is worrying about the loss of Muhsim Muhammad, that’s a pretty good problem to have. At 8/1 odds, a $100-$200 pre-season bet to see them come out of the NFC is a no-brainer.

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