Network Notebook: NFC Powers Square Off Sunday
THE TOP FOUR SUPER BOWL THREATS IN NFC SQUARE OFF SUNDAY WITH SEATTLE/GB, NYG/DALLAS
Though it's widely understood that the NFC was going to have some "good games" to watch on TV this Sunday, you may not be aware that the TOP FOUR teams in NFC Super Bowl futures prices are going to battle head-to-head in these two games:
Seattle (8/1) at Green Bay (8/1) at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX
NY Giants (12/1) at Dallas (12/1) at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Even though the Atlanta Falcons are the defending NFC champions, there's skepticism that they can get back to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row. There are so many "decent" teams in the NFC this season that there's just no margin for error. And, that's even true for the four teams set for those high-profile games.
*Seattle's window of opportunity may be closing, as the players tire of the current coaching regime.
*Green Bay turns mortal right away if there's an injury to Aaron Rodgers. And, any team that has a chance to at least contain him can beat them.
*The NY Giants are a popular dark horse amongst professional wagerers entering the new season. But, questions remain about Eli Manning's ability to remain at the top of his game, and this head coach is known to make fans scratch their heads a few times a week.
*Dallas is seen as the NFC power most likely to regress since they went 13-3 with a rookie quarterback last year, and will probably see their star running back miss games due to a suspension (though Ezekiel Elliot will be on the field this Sunday night). It's one thing to catch people by surprise and go 13-3. It's another to go at about 25-7 over two seasons with young talent that dodges the injury bug.
And, who's knocking on the door? WHO ISN'T?! Philadelphia is getting buzz from sharps in the NFC East. Minnesota has a playoff caliber defense and is probably Wildcard caliber already. We already talked about Atlanta. Tampa Bay is on the radar for sharps. Drew Brees and the Saints never come off it, at least in terms of being a playoff threat. Is everyone forgetting about Cam Newton and Carolina? Throw the Arizona Cardinals on that list of danger teams in the NFC as well.
This is going to be some race! And, whoever loses those Seahawks/Packers and Giants/Cowboys games will be in the hole 0-1 with work to do. It might be smart for futures bettors to wait to see who wins those games, then bet the losers at better futures prices after the market adjusts Monday. That's particularly true with the loser of Seattle/Green Bay since those teams play in relatively softer NFC divisions.
What's the best way to bet those games? JIM HURLEY will likely have at least one MONSTER in one of those matchups, so we can't provide that information for free here in the HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK. But, we can point to areas that have been getting a lot of attention from all the elements in NETWORK'S exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach this week.
DEFENSE: Defense can still win championships in this league, though last year's Super Bowl was more about great offenses. Let's not forget that other recent league champs have been doing the job with elite defensive units. Last year's defensive yards-per-play for Sunday's four TV teams were Seattle 5.0, NY Giants 5.1, Dallas 5.5, and Green Bay 5.9. Third down percentages allowed were NY Giants 35%, Seattle 39%, Dallas, 39%, and Green Bay 41%.
You can see what we mean about Green Bay turning mortal if Aaron Rodgers gets hurt! The Packers don't have a high-quality defense. It might be good enough to get the job done, the way Atlanta's was last season up until the fourth quarter of its final game.
AVOIDING INTERCEPTIONS: Too many handicappers focus on stats that count up what's happening…while neglecting evidence about what's "not" happening. Dak Prescott was a high impact quarterback last season because he wasn't making mistakes. The main separating factor between star quarterbacks and just "pretty good" is the ability to avoid throwing interceptions. Last season in this category: Green Bay threw only 8 interceptions in 16 games, Dallas 9, Seattle 12, and the NY Giants 16. No way Eli Manning is taking the Giants back to the big game unless he can get that down in the 10-12 range.
Oh, don't forget that the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots only threw 2 interceptions last season! They managed to avoid picks again Thursday night, but the defense collapsed in a blowout loss to Kansas City. Thanks to all of you who were with us for that easy blowout cover from JIM HURLEY.
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Back with you Monday to preview a big college football game for Week 3. Among the options: #3 Clemson at #17 Louisville, #16 Miami at #10 Florida State, and #25 Tennessee at #22 Florida.
Between now and then, enjoy some BIG, JUICY WINNERS from 30-YEAR PROVEN WINNER JIM HURLEY!
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