It's here, folks. The 2009 NFL Football betting picks Season, and I'm already licking my chops for what will prove to be a big transition year for the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers outlasted the Arizona Cardinals in one of the more exciting Superbowls of the past decade, and now they're ready to defend their throne.
How is your team shaping up? Where do upstart teams like the Bucs and Texans rank? How good are the Green Bay Packers? Is Tom Brady's knee ok? What the hell is happening in Denver? We'll have in-depth analysis so you can arm yourself to the teeth with the betting know-how to dominate the sportsbook this season. For now, get to reading below to find out where the Furious One has your team pegged for the upcoming season!
Look at the bright side, Detroit. Your Lions went winless last season, the Red Wings lost the Stanley Cup Finals to Pittsburgh, GM nearly went belly-up and the Tigers are putting together another mediocre, lackluster season. That means there's nowhere to go but up!
St. Louis Rams
If you've watched Marc Bulger at all in the last two years, it's like the kid has lost his smile or something. He hates playing in St. Louis. Can you blame him? They went just 2-14 SU last year, and their betting faithful got smacked around like a rape victim going 6-10 ATS.
There's nothing about this team that excites except the running game. Oakland has gone from a Commitment To Excellence" to committing themselves to turnovers, in-house fighting and horrific quarterback choices. Is Jeff Garcia the guy to turn this club around? Not with Al Davis calling the shots.
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have a quarterback controversy of their own, but walked away with the prize of the NFL draft, acquiring Michael Crabtree after the Raiders allowed him to fall to 10th. Who should their quarterback be? Shaun Hill, of course. He's 7-3 SU as a starter.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs went out and signed their quarterback of the future in Matt Cassell. Then they gave away their best receiver to Atlanta in Tony Gonzalez. It's decisions like these that allow a team to go 2-14 SU.
Brady Quinn will likely get the start this year under Eric Mangini. With only Braylon's "Stone hands" Edwards to throw to now, the Browns have about the same chance of winning the Superbowl as Mangini has of keeping his job past this season.
Traded Jay Cutler for Kyle Orton? Check. On the verge of losing Brandon Marshall? Check. Destroyed the locker room's faith in me in less than a month? Check. Great job, Josh McDaniels!
They got the offensive line draft picks to bolster the front line, but Maurice Jones-Drew and David Garrard went 4-12 ATS last year and blew their own betting backers out of the water. No significant changes = No life for their fans.
The question is not how well the Bengals will do. It's how badly to they have to do this year to get Marvin Lewis fired? Apparently going 19-28 SU in the past three seasons isn't bad enough.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Everything rests in the massive hands of Josh Freeman, the first-round draft pick. He has the weapons, but does he have the gusto? Tampa went 8-8 ATS last season, but that included a late season collapse under Jon Gruden. New head coach Raheem Morris has perhaps the best starting point of any new coach in the league.
New York Jets
The Brett Favre gamble didn't pay off for the Jets (9-7 SU) or their betting investors (7-9 ATS). Now they two unproven commodities at quarterback and Rex Ryan, a defensive mastermind that may not know exactly how to cure this club's offensive woes.
The league's most expensive roster now has the league's best defensive player in Albert Haynesworth. But this offense is a mess and Jason Campbell led a team that went 6-8-2 ATS and has had a rough offseason. Isn't it time the J-Cam experiment was shut down already?
Terrell Owens has landed, and him and Trent Edwards have a decent offense to work with. But the offensive line has to protect Edwards' something they failed to do this past NFL season.
No team made bigger steps forward this offseason than the Seahawks. Of course, when you end the season at 4-12 SU, you can't afford to take any more steps back. Houshmandzadeh joins Hasselbeck, but this defense has to prove it can shut down teams. The Blowhawks were the 25th worst defense last season.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is still an elite quarterback, but the rushing game has lost a step with the retirement of Deuce. The defense has always been the issue, and a lack of secondary is going to see the Saints get blown up through the air. You got another 5,000 passing yards in that arm, Mr. Brees? C'mon! You're only 30!
Brett Favre could salavage a lot on this team, especially if he's tossing in a dome. But he still isn't signed, and the defense is going to lose the Williams' brothers for a big set of games. If that's the case, then we're looking at another over-hyped 6-10 ATS team.
Jay Cutler aside, the rest of the team is absurdly thin. In Denver he had B-Marsh. In Chicago he has - looking at the Bears depth chart - oh good God!
Congratulations, Miami! A huge 11-5 SU season last year has put you right on the radar. Teams are going to take this club more seriously next year, which means stiffer competition. Remember, this is a team that went 2-6 ATS last year.
Are you ready for a breakout season? The AFC South is crumbling around them. It's up to Shaub and Andre Johnson to take advantage. This defense is far better than you think. Super Mario Williams is proving his value as a number-one overall pick.
Green Bay Packers
The good: this team underachieved in the face of excessive bad luck, so a return to form is in order. The bad: 15 players entering contract years could mean motivated play, or a decimated and divided clubhouse.
The Panthers plummet in my rankings because of two wrods: Jake Freaking Delhomme. Ok, that's three words, but if you're a gambling man, then you're tired of losing your shirt because of this guy. Stay away.
A darling team last year that has a bitter Anquan Boldin, a shallow rushing game and a defense mired in contract disputes and holdouts this year. Good times.
The Titans took the league by storm last year, finishing 13-3 SU and going 12-3-1 ATS. But without Haynesworth, a team that relied on its treacherous front line now has to rely on (gulp) Kerry Collins having back-to-back career seasons. Good luck with that, Titans.
Tony Romo is not a winner. No playoff victories under his belt. Hoping that Roy Williams will become the number-one option his talent dictates him to be, and relying on an offensive line that blew more assignments than President Bush is a tall order. Even for America's supposed team.
Sophomore slumps, people. I'm telling you to be scared of them. Why nobody's listening, and feverishly lumping in sums of money on the Falcons to walk out of the NFC South, is far beyond my comprehension. Matt Ryan had one good season, and showed he had the stuff. But pressure has a bad effect on young minds. Don't say you haven't been warned.
The Ravens have the same question as the Atlanta Hawks: can surprise starter Joe Flacco put back-to-back seasons together? With that receiving corps, I'm not so sure. But this top-rated defense will keep the Ravens competitive.
San Diego Chargers
An elite team that has elite players and can never get over the hump. Is LDT losing his step? It looks that way. He hasn't finished the last two playoffs, and with Michael Turner in Atlanta, the load would fall on the tiny (and adorable) shoulders of Darren Sproles. That's not a good thing, despite Sproles' flashes of brilliance last season. The Chargers were a betting disappointment last season, going 7-8-1 ATS, and if you're a Chargers fan, then you know just how disappointing this team can be. Don't get your hopes up yet.
New coach. No Marvin Harrison. Joseph Addai just had arthroscopic knee surgery. Bob Sanders and Dwight Freeney can't stay healthy. This will be Peyton Manning's most challenging season to date. If there's anyone you can have faith in down the stretch, it's Manning.
New England Patriots
New England and Tom Brady are the favorites across the board for divisional, AFC Championship, MVP and Superbowl XLIV wins. That's a tall task to order for a guy one year removed for a debilitating ACL tear. Remember, it's Tom Brady's pivot foot. It's not just his throwing motion I have concerns about, it's more so if he can handle the pressure from NFL defenses.
Brady has to face the speedy pass-rush of the Bills, the creative Rex Ryan of the Jets, the brutishly strong front-seven of Atlanta, the Ravens, Tennessee and the always scary Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first seven weeks of the season. Brady has to escape that gauntlet first, before he's anointed as the reborn MVP. That's two months of teeth-grinding betting for Patriots' backers that I don't want to be a part of.
New York Giants
They lost Bradshaw to Tampa, and he was a much bigger part of the running-game than you might think. I have absolute faith in Brandon Jacobs and Eli Manning leading this team, but I have zero faith in this lackluster receiving corps. Coaching has kept the Giants competitive, and I guarantee that the oddsmakers will take them lightly again. Eli went 12-4 ATS last season, losing just three games to the betting line as favorites. While they're certainly not sexy, they're dangerous, kind of like my ex-girlfriends.
Go for broke, McNabb. Brian Westbrook is showing signs of age, but this defense is ridiculously stacked and ranked fourth in the league in points allowed, giving up just 18.4 points per game. The offense found all the tools they needed in the off-season, so now it's up to McNabb to put up the numbers, and wins, that this team expects. Philadelphia has been entrenched in failure for what seems like an eternity, and both McNabb and Westbrook are getting on in years.
But this team also has one of the best schedules in the league and the Eagles have had an entire off-season to package plays for standout DeSean Jackson. Westbrook is my pick for league MVP. The Eagles won't do it conventionally, but they're going to be competitive this year, and this is one year that the betting backers of Philly can rest assured of this team not only getting in to the playoffs but going deep in to them.
The Superbowl Champs have 20-of-22 starters returning from last year's epic season. They also have Limas Sweed and Rashard Mendenhall, their two big draft picks from 2008, entering their second year to compliment the already lethal offense of Pittsburgh. It's a scary thought, but the Steelers might be even better in 2009 than they were last season. At 12-4 SU, and 9-7 ATS, last season, that's a tall order. But if you think you're going to stop James Harrison from defending the top of the mountain then you, my idiot friend, are dead wrong.
Can the Patriots, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys and Chargers challenge the Steelers? Undoubtedly. Can the young Steelers build a dynasty coming off of their Superbowl victory against Arizona? Absolutely.
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