NFL playoff odds: Redskins underdogs, Cowboys favorites

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The Washington Redskins have followed up their surprising first-place finish in the NFC East last year with a productive offseason, inking pivot Kirk Cousins and free agent cornerback Josh Norman. However, they remain underdogs on the odds to make the NFL playoffs in the upcoming  season at a betting line of +160 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Redskins open the upcoming NFL campaign with a visit from Pittsburgh, followed by a stretch of six games against clubs who amassed losing records a year ago.

But with the division-rival Cowboys and Giants expected to improve on their poor 2015 performances Washington trails on the NFC East futures at +275, and are also pegged as early 3-point home underdogs in their Week 1 game against the Steelers at FedExField.

While the Redskins sit as a -200 wager to miss next year’s playoffs, the Cowboys are favored to return to contention following their worst campaign since 1989.

With their backfield bolstered by the addition of fourth-overall pick Ezekiel Elliott, and a healthy Tony Romo expected back under center, the Cowboys’ odds of returning to the playoffs are a strong -140 at the sportsbooks.

However, Romo’s good health remains central to the club’s success, and is a factor in Dallas’ short +110 odds of missing the playoffs yet again.

Dallas has strengthened their position as favorites to win the NFC East, improving to +175 after opening at +200, while the Giants have risen slightly to +225 and are an even-money bet to clinch a playoff berth after winning just six games a year ago.

Confidence in the Philadelphia Eagles is far lower, with the team tumbling as far as +450 on the NFC East odds, and listed as a -275 wager to miss the playoffs for a third straight season.

Meanwhile, the departure of quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler and defensive tackle Malik Jackson have made it a difficult offseason for the Denver Broncos, but the defending Super Bowl champions are a solid -150 bet to reach the playoffs.

The Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, and Seattle Seahawks own the best odds of seeing playoff action, each sitting at -500, while the Carolina Panthers closely trail at -450.

At the other end of the board the Tennessee Titans have taken significant steps to improve on last year’s feeble 3-13 record but maintain low +400 odds of claiming a playoff berth, ahead of the Cleveland Browns at +600 and the San Francisco 49ers at a distant +750.

Pederson remembers coaching start before Super Bowl

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Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson hasn’t forgotten where his journey began: High school.

Following his playing career with the Dolphins, Packers, Browns and Eagles, Pederson bypassed professional coaching jobs. Instead, he joined Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport, L.A., and quickly added an NFL-caliber playbook to the second-year program.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

This is where he learned that he loved to coach the game. He embraced his role at the school, where he would help in the cafeteria and line the field before games. “I just enjoyed that part of it,” he says. Ten seasons later, he will coach on the biggest stage in the world.

Super Bowl LII Prop Bets

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Oddsmakers have Super Bowl LII covered from every angle, and that includes the halftime show. There is all manner of betting speculation around Justin Timberlake being the featured halftime show performer, 14 years after the infamous “Nipplegate” incident with Janet Jackson at Super Bowl XVIII.

With the game in Minneapolis, hometown of Prince, it seems obvious that JT will cover a song by the Twin Cities’ favorite son, which pays out at -140 on the Super Bowl LII props at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The total on Janet Jackson references is 1.5, with the over at even money; it’s hard to think Al Michaels could resist one mention.

The Philadelphia Eagles, with Nick Foles, are the first team in 27 years to reach the Super Bowl after losing their starting quarterback in December. It’s -150 on injured Carson Wentz being mentioned more than 3.5 times.

But oddsmakers also clearly expect the announcers to build a storyline around the New England Patriots, as it’s -130 for separate props on whether owner Robert Kraft or coach Bill Belichick will be mentioned or shown on-screen before their Eagles counterparts, Jeff Lurie and Doug Pederson respectively. Belichick is -125 to wear a blue shirt at kickoff time, since he wore that color during New England’s past two Super Bowl shows.

More than half of Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks and Tom Brady is a -110 favorite while Nick Foles comes back at +350. It would probably take something on order of a three-touchdown day to wrest the honor from the winning QB, so both the Patriots’ Dion Lewis (+1800) and Eagles’ Jay Ajayi (+1800) are worthy darkhorse picks.

History is not on the side of Rob Gronkowski (+900) since a tight end has never been the game MVP, but Gronk does offer immense value at +400 to score the first Patriots touchdown.

It is +300 on any quarterback passing for 400 or more yards. The strength of the Eagles defense and the run-pass balance of Philadelphia’s offense makes that result look far-fetched.

There was no Gatorade bath for Belichick after Super Bowl LI, which the Patriots won in overtime, but he was doused with orange Gatorade after Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. It is +225 that the liquid poured on the winning coach will be either green, lime or yellow, with +250 for orange, +275 for red and +275 for clear/water.

Clear and orange have been the result four times apiece in the last 15 occurrences and red has not come up. Purple (+1000) has also been used four of the last 15 times and it would be ironic if it happens again, since that is the color of the host Vikings.

For more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.