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Packers, Patriots and Seahawks Preseason Chalk on NFL Playoff Odds

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Having a good feeling about a potential Super Bowl team before NFL training camps begin can bring a rush of anticipation, but there’s also the percentage play of betting on whether particular teams will make the playoffs.

Not surprisingly for teams quarterbacked by Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Russell Wilson, the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks are each listed at -500 to qualify for the postseason at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Patriots have a favorable early-season schedule that should allow them to do no worse than 2-2 while Jimmy Garoppolo is starting during Brady’s Deflategate suspension. The Patriots have -350 odds for not making the playoffs; they haven’t missed since 2008, when Brady suffered a serious knee injury in Week 1.

Eight of the 12 playoff teams last season also qualified in 2014. Seven teams that qualified in 2014 also did so in 2013.

The defending champion Denver Broncos, with upheaval at both quarterback and on defense, are -150 to qualify again, but slightly better than even money to miss the playoffs at +110 on those NFL betting lines. While Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers surely won’t repeat their 15-1 record from 2015, they would need a serious nosedive to be done in December. The Panthers’ playoff odds are -140.

The Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings, who are both defending division champions, are each listed at -200. Each team is respectively well-quarterbacked with Carson Palmer and Teddy Bridgewater and well-stocked defensively, making a wild-card spot a fallback if the division slips away.

One way to simplify the process might be to narrow the focus down to divisions with a shaky defending champion. Based on off-season departures and arrivals, that would likely be the AFC South, the AFC West due to Denver’s turmoil, and the NFC East since it’s the NFC East.

In the AFC South, Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts have -165 playoff odds, which seems derived mostly from the expectation Luck will stay healthy. The J.J. Luck-led Houston Texans are at -135 after upgrading offensively with QB Brock Osweiler and RB Lamar Miller. A bettor who is unsold on either could look at the +300 darkhorse Jacksonville Jaguars, who have improved on each side of the ball by adding LT Kelvin Beachum and CB Jalen Ramsey.

The Kansas City Chiefs, who reached the divisional round last season despite losing main cogs such as RB Jamaal Charles, are listed at -150. The Oakland Raiders have a 13-season playoff drought, but are at +110 due to expectations that QB Derek Carr and WR Amari Cooper will be difference-makers for a young team.

The Washington Redskins, at +160, have the highest potential payout of any playoff incumbent. Washington retained QB Kirk Cousins without blowing its salary-cup structure. However, the NFC East changes hands on an almost annual basis. The Dallas Cowboys have the best playoff odds in the East at -140, with the New York Giants at even and the Philadelphia Eagles at +215.

Drew Brees, Le’Veon Bell Favorites in NFL Season Leader Props

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When it comes to betting props on NFL individual leaders, the tried-and-true works for picking a passing yards leader while rushing and receiving leaders are a little more random.

With training camps set to open in a matter of days, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a +300 favorite to lead the NFL in passing yards at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Brees has led (or co-led) the NFL in aerial yards five times in the last six seasons, with the lone exception coming in 2013 when Peyton Manning complied a NFL-record 5,477.

Brees will still have Willie Snead and Michael Thomas as outlets for his passes and, assuming the Saints’ defense stays near the bottom of the league, will have the opportunity to get into a few offensive shootouts.

The Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan (+400) and New England Patriots’ Tom Brady (+500) are the next two on the board. Ryan and the Falcons are likely to face a tougher schedule than what it turned out they had in 2016. Brady has only led the NFL in yards once, in 2007, and would be the oldest player to do so if he succeeds this season.

Based on 2016 won-loss records, the Indianapolis Colts and QB Andrew Luck (+1400) have the easiest schedule in the league, which could lead to Luck putting up some big numbers against softer competition. Another valid darkhorse play is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston (+1600), since he will have a 1-2 punch at receiver with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson and a team that still relies on being pass-heavy.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell (+300) and Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott (+350) are tightly bunched atop the NFL rushing champion futures board. Bell will no doubt be among the leaders in yards from scrimmage per game, but he’s only played 16 games once in four seasons. While there hasn’t been a back-to-back rushing leader in 10 years, Elliott will be running behind an excellent Dallas offensive line.

The Los Angeles Rams’ third-year workhorse Todd Gurley (+2000) will be in a new offensive system and, hopefully for the Rams, will be better complemented by second-year QB Jared Goff in the passing phase. That would give Gurley a fairer shot at breaking big runs on the regular.

Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (+400) and Atlanta’s Julio Jones (+400) are co-favorites on the odds to tally the most receiving yards, with the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham (+500) also coming in highly touted. Brown had two fewer targets per game in 2016 than in ’15, meaning he might be a less high-volume receiver now that he is 29. Jones has a receiving title from 2015, but last season the Falcons were most efficient when they spread the ball around.

Last year, the Indianapolis Colts’ T.Y. Hilton (+1200 this year) led the league in yards after being listed at +3300 in the preseason. Among the potential 2017 replicants are New England’s Brandin Cooks (+3300), who is expected to be the field-stretching target the Patriots have managed to do without since the Randy Moss days a decade ago. The aforementioned Mike Evans (+1200) is also close to a sure thing to get 11-12 targets per game in Tampa Bay and the continued development of Winston could make him a 1,500-yard receiver.

The last 12 league leaders in receiving yardage have been less than 30 years old at the start of the season. That trend has been consistent dating to the mid-1990s, with 19 of the last 21 receiving leaders being players who were no older than 29 at the start of the season.

Internet reacts to O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing

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In case you weren’t aware, O.J. Simpson was granted parole and the internet went crazy.

Cue hilarious tweets.