Two of the league’s premier franchise clash in a Week 1 matchup that NFL fans will keep their eye on. Baltimore, Super Bowl champions in 2012, and Denver, winners of four straight AFC West Division titles, square off in a season-opening Sunday game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Ravens vs Broncos odds for the week 1 AFC conference battle have Denver favored at home by 5-points against Baltimore while NFL picks for week 1 on the over/under are posted at a high scoring 48½. Despite those four straight division championships, the Broncos dumped head coach John Fox, now the head man in Chicago. Gary Kubiak, the former offensive coordinator in Baltimore, is the head coach in Denver and has adapted his zone run-based offense to future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.
The 18-year veteran is finally healthy (a quadriceps injury hampered him in 2014) and the Broncos have a plan in place for resting the five-time league MVP throughout the season. Manning still has plenty of weapons surrounding him including wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryious Thomas. Both Sanders and Thomas recorded over 1,400 yards receiving in 2014 and are primed to do it again. The Broncos did lose one of the game’s better receiving tight ends in Julius Thomas, but gained former Raven Owen Daniel. The Broncos running game will undoubtedly be better as Kubiak brings his philosophy to a capable set of backs led by C.J. Anderson, Montee Ball, and Ronnie Hillman. Both Hillman and Ball suffered injuries last season, so having depth at the position, which Denver does, is a key to covering the point spread as favorites in Ravens vs Broncos odds. Baltimore will be Baltimore again in 2015 featuring a run-stopping defense, a strong ground game, and the heady play of veteran Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco. The Ravens lost All-Pro nose tackle Haloti Ngata, but last year’s first-round draft pick Timmy Jernigan appears ready to take over.
The linebacking corps is solid with Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw on the outside and future star C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith on the inside. The Ravens secondary is solid and is going to have to play well against arguably the league’s best quarterback and one-two receiving tandem if they are to cover the spread as five point underdogs in NFL picks for Ravens vs Broncos odds. The last time Manning faced the Ravens, he threw for 462 yards and seven touchdowns. The Ravens offense still has Justin Forsett (1,266 yards, eight TDs) and 15-year veteran wide receiver Steve Smith, who is coming off a season where he caught 79 passes for 1,065 yards. They will also have first round draft pick Breshad Perriman but not for the season opener. Perriman suffered a sprained knee in the preseason. Regardless, the Ravens will still have to face a very good Denver defense led by DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. The week 1 season opener (Sunday, September 13th) between the Ravens and Broncos can be seen live on CBS at 4:25pm EST from Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
In the 2012 NFL Draft, the big names were the quarterbacks – Andrew Luck and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Luck went first to the Indianapolis Colts and Griffin second to the Washington Redskins in that year’s draft and while Luck has made a name for himself, Griffin has struggled. In that same draft, the Miami Dolphins found their quarterback of the future when they selected Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill with the eighth overall pick. Fast forward to week 1 of the 2015 NFL season and Tannehill will face not Griffin, but yet another quarterback drafted in 2012 – Kirk Cousins. The former Michigan State product won the Washington Redskins starting quarterback job over RGIII and Colt McCoy. Tannehill and Cousins will face off in the season opener but despite Washington playing at home, Dolphins vs Redskins odds favor Miami on the road by four points (-4) with NFL picks on the over/under total for week 1 set at 43.
Besides Luck, it has been Tannehill who has enjoyed the most success leading the Dolphins to an 8-8 record last year. He and the Dolphins are poised to do even greater things this season now that the team added TE Jordan Cameron and wide receivers Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills, and first round draft pick DeVante Parker from Louisville. The big news in Miami during the offseason was the addition of former Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who signed the richest defensive contract in league history in becoming a Dolphin. Will he make a difference? Absolutely, and certainly against an offensive line in Washington that may have two rookie starters. For head coach Joe Philbin's squad to cover the 4-point spread as road favorites in Miami Dolphins vs Washington Redskins odds, Suh along with DE Cameron Wake will need to dominate the Redskins offensive line.
Washington's head coach Jay Gruden named Cousins the starter for Week 1 bringing about speculation that RGIII’s days in Maryland are numbered. Griffin suffered a concussion in a preseason game and fell behind Cousins on the depth chart. Cousins will have DeSean Jackson (56 receptions, 1,169 yards in 2014) as his No. 1 receiver. Jackson, who averaged over 20 yards per catch last year, is one of the NFL’s premier deep threats. If the Redskins pick up where they left off in 2014 losing seven of their last eight games to close the season, they will get blown out by an improving Miami Dolphins squad. As NFL picks for week 1 suggest, this could be the beginning of a long year in Washington. The season opener (Sunday, September 13th) between the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins can be seen live on CBS at 1:00pm EST from FedEx Field.
The Washington Huskies head coach Chris Petersen will lead his Huskies against his former school, the Boise State Broncos, in both teams’ season opener on the Blue Turf in Idaho. Both the Huskies and the Broncos have huge challenges ahead and getting off to a good start is imperative for both schools. It is the Broncos however who are -10½ betting favorites at home in college football picks for week 1 against the Huskies. Washington vs Boise State odds are also expecting a high scoring affair with the over/under total posted at 56½. Petersen is coming off an 8-6 season, his first as the school’s head coach. A win over a program like Boise State would give the Huskies some momentum in the non-conference portion of the schedule which includes games against Sacramento State and Utah State.
Petersen would love to be 3-0 before beginning Pac-12 play on Sept. 26th against Cal. To do so, the Huskies will need more consistent play from their defense. Last season, Washington was pretty good against the run (22nd in the nation) but not so good versus the pass yielding nearly 287 yards per game which ranked the Huskies 120th overall. And this was from a defense that had four players picked in the top 44 picks of the 2015 NFL Draft. Nose tackle Danny Shelton was one of those four and was selected 12th overall. Shelton and his three teammates who have moved on to the NFL accounted for 44 of the 52 sacks registered by Washington last year. If the Huskies are to have any chance of cover the 10½-point spread as underdogs in Washington vs Boise State odds, they will need to have a strong pass rush.
The Broncos return nine starters on offense; however, the two players they lost – QB Grant Hedrick and RB Jay Ajayi – accounted for 90 percent of the Broncos’ yardage and scoring in 2014. Everyone else, including skilled receivers Chaz Anderson and Shane Williams-Rhodes, returns. The QB job will go to either sophomore Ryan Finley or incoming freshman Brett Rypien. Whoever runs the show should be able to keep head coach Bryan Harsin’s offense near the top of the nation’s scoring charts. Last season, Boise State was ninth in the nation averaging 39.7 points a game. The Broncos are coming off a 12-2 season that featured a Fiesta Bowl win over Arizona so it's not hard to understand why they are double digit favorites in college football picks for week 1. A season-opening victory over Washington would go a long way in helping Harsin and company contend for the Group of Five berth in the College Football Playoff. The week 1 season opener (Friday, September 4th) between the Washington Huskies and Boise State Broncos can be seen live on ESPN at 10:15pm EST from Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho.
The Seattle Seahawks finished one play short of becoming the first NFL team to repeat as Super Bowl champions since the team they lost to in Super Bowl XLIX, the New England Patriots. The Seahawks won the NFC West for the second year in a row and recorded at least 11 regular season wins for the third straight time. They are poised to do it all again. In fact, Vegas Super Bowl predictions have listed the Seahawks as +650 favorites to win the Lombardi trophy next February in San Francisco. As expected, NFL odds also have Seattle to win the NFC Conference at +325 and -250 to win the NFC West. And why not? Head coach Pete Carroll has put together a roster that could very well become the next great dynasty in NFL history. The masterful zone-blitz heavy defense and the power running game behind “The Beast” Marshawn Lynch are what make Seattle one of the best franchises in the league right now.
The defense returns all but one starter from a year ago – CB Byron Maxwell. Cary Williams, a seventh-year pro, will likely replace Maxwell. The Seattle Seahawks also signed Will Blackmon from Jacksonville for depth at the position. The rest of the unit that led the NFL in scoring defense (15.9 points per game) returns. In fact, the Seahawks have led the league in scoring defense for the past three seasons. The last team to do so was Minnesota in the days of the “Purple People Eaters” from 1969 to 1971. The biggest offseason move in Seattle, of course, was the trade that brought the league’s premier tight end to the Seahawks. Seattle traded veteran center Max Unger and a first-round draft pick to New Orleans for the Jimmy Graham. The Pro Bowler gives QB Russell Wilson another weapon who creates severe mismatch problems against defenses around the league and helps to make the Seahawks instant contenders in Super Bowl predictions.
Wilson will return for his fourth season as the Seahawks starter. All he has done is won a profitable 42 games in NFL odds, including a Super Bowl, in three seasons. He’ll have wide receivers Doug Baldwin (66 receptions) and Jermaine Kearse back. Graham will add another dimension to the passing game. The running game is what makes the Seattle offense go. The Seahawks led the league in rushing averaging 172.6 yards per game. Lynch recorded his fourth straight season of over 1,200 yards and does not appear to be slipping. Seattle rewarded Lynch with a three-year, $31 million contract extension in the offseason. Seattle once again has the talent to win the 2015 NFC West title and fulfill Super Bowl predictions as favorites. If they can stay healthy, fans will once again see the blueprint for success in the NFL: play great defense, run the football, and do not settle for mediocrity.
Seahawks Update (9/12/15): Seattle are now +600 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +325 to win the NFC Conference and -300 to win the NFC West.
The New Orleans Saints have had two mediocre seasons in the past three including last years’ 7-9 campaign in which New Orleans forgot how to play defense. After hiring defensive coordinator Rob Ryan prior to last season, the Saints finished No. 4 in total defense only to fall to 31st last season. The defense will have to get better if New Orleans is to reach the postseason once again. That being said, NFL odds have listed the Saints as +225 longshots to win the NFC South, +1800 to win the NFC Conference and +3300 in Super Bowl predictions to hoist the Lombardi trophy once again. Head coach Sean Payton and the Saints front office believes they have taken the necessary steps to shore up the defense. Payton brought in Dennis Allen, the former Raiders head coach, to assist Ryan with the defense.
The club signed cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Kyle Wilson and linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Anthony Spencer in the offseason. The New Orleans Saints also went defense-heavy in this year’s draft using five picks including a first-rounder on Stephone Anthony, a 6-3, 243-pound linebacker from Clemson. The resurgence starts with the defensive line where fourth-year DE Akiem Hicks and running mate Cameron Jordan need to rebound from a so-so season last year. Junior Galette was the team’s best pass rusher with 10 sacks. Jordan finished with 7.5. Whatever Ryan and Allen can put together is likely to be better than the output seen last season. Offensively, any time you have Drew Brees under center, you’ve got a chance. Brees enters his 15th NFL season, coming off of one in which he led the league (tied with Pittsburgh’s Ben Rothliesberger) in passing yards with 4,952. He threw for 33 touchdowns and was the key to the NFL’s No. 1 offense.
This year though, Brees will have to do it without Pro Bowl TE Jimmy Graham. The Saints traded Graham to the Seahawks for veteran center Max Unger and a first-round draft pick. It’s not as if the well is dry on offense. New Orleans added RB C.J. Spiller, drafted giant tackle Andrus Peat (6-7, 313) out of Stanford, and still have receivers Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks. The Saints should still be one of the league’s best offenses. With an improved defense, New Orleans will contend for the 2015 NFC South title and a trip to the postseason. In terms of Super Bowl predictions, the schedule is a favorable one but Brees and the Saints will have to be more consistent and avoid traps like the three-game skid they suffered last season, one that cost them a division title.
Saints Update (9/9/15): New Orleans are now +4000 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +2200 to win the NFC Conference and +175 to win the NFC South.
All eyes will be on the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil when UFC 190 takes place on Saturday night. The main fight card will feature Ronda "Rowdy" Rousey looking to remain undefeated (11-0-0) and defend her 135-pound women's bantamweight title against Bethe "Pitbull" Correia. UFC 190 predictions in Vegas have listed Rousey as a hefty -1400 betting favorite to defeat Correia who would return +700 (7/1) on a $100 wager for the upset. On paper, this is perhaps one of the biggest mismatches in MMA history as Rousey will enter the octagon on Saturday night coming off of three straight wins in which she violently destroyed her opponents in 66-seconds or less. In fact, Rousey vs Correia odds are predicting the fight will end before one full round (-325) is finished.
Correia is currently undefeated with a 9-0 record but has only two knock-outs in her nine wins and only three of them were in the UFC. Although the Brazilian has been given a shot at the bantemweight title, she certainly does not have a resume that is deserving of the belt. Correias' most recent wins include defeating Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Julie Kedzie. To put it lightly, Correia has been able to defeat fighters at the TUF level and those that are close to retirement. Correia is not a fighter anywhere near the level of experience that Rousey possesses which will be proven in the first couple of minutes of the bout. UFC 190 predictions don't even expect the fight to last 1½ rounds favoring the UNDER at -400.
Since this is mixed martial arts where anything can happen, just for argument sake, say that Correia can somehow outlast the predictions and go the full five rounds. If so, Rousey vs Correia odds would pay out +750 while a draw would return a profitable +10000. But enough crazy talk, let's get back to reality. Rousey is simply a dominant force that has ended ten of her eleven fights within the first round by either a submission or knock-out and gamblers can expect the same on Saturday night. UFC 190 predictions have Rousey retaining her belt by submission at odds of -230 while a KO or TKO would pay out +220 and by decision at +850. This bout will be similar to the early days of when boxer Mike Tyson would step in the ring. If you dare get up for a beer or use the restroom in the first round, it will be over.
In the past fourteen years, the New England Patriots have simply dominated the AFC East division. In fact, under the reign of Bill Belichick with Tom Brady at quarterback, the Patriots have won the division twelve times and are the NFL betting favorites to do so once again in 2015. Although Brady will be sidelined for the first four games of the season due to the "deflategate" scandal, 2015 AFC East odds to win still favor the New England Patriots (-150) followed by the Miami Dolphins (+400), the Buffalo Bills (+425) and the New York Jets (+750).
Without Brady at the helm, it is likely that Jimmy Garoppolo will get the start behind center as he enters his second season. Although the Pats also lost cornerback Darrelle Revis (Jets) and Brandon Browner (Saints) to the free agency market, Vegas sportsbooks do not seem too concerned about New England being able to win the AFC East once again. That being said, many gamblers and fans of Patriots Nation are wondering if the Dolphins, Bills and Jets have made enough substantial roster changes to dethrone New England in 2015?
The Miami Dolphins added numerous offensive weapons during the off-season with the additions of Greg Jennings (Vikings), Kenny Stills (Saints) and DeVante Parker (Louisville) as their first-round pick in the NFL draft. Ryan Tannehill will once again lead the "phins" at QB after throwing for 4,045-yards last season to make Miami a formidable foe for any team but as it has been said, it is the defense that wins championships. The Dolphins did add Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (Lions) to tighten up the inside run but with numerous young players filling in the secondary, does Miami have the experience to win the division in 2015 AFC East odds and beyond? That remains to be seen.
The Buffalo Bills have a new head coach in Rex Ryan but with a considerable amount of uncertainty at the quarterback position, it's anyone guess as to how their season will pan out. Either EJ Manual or Matt Cassel will get the start for Buffalo at QB and will be happy to see running back LeSean McCoy (Eagles) eager to better last year's mark of 1,319-yards. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins returns to the field for his second year after undergoing hip surgery during the offseason. On the defensive side of the ball; some analysts consider the Bills to have a top 3 squad playing under Ryan's aggressive style.
The New York Jets are longshots in 2015 AFC East odds to win with new head coach Todd Boyles and deciding to to continue putting their faith in quarterback Geno Smith. "Gang Green" nation is counting on the third year veteran to better last season's total of just 2,525-yards for 13-touchdowns and 13-interceptions. Smith is also guilty of committing 41-tournovers in just 30-career games. That being said, Smith and the Jets will have a new offensive weapon this season with the addition of Brandon Marshall (Bears) to compliment Eric Decker at wide receiver. The defense welcomes back Revis (Patriots) and Antonio Cromartie (Cardinals) to improve the secondary.
It’s hard to believe that just four seasons ago the New York Giants were the Super Bowl champions. Now after consecutive losing seasons, a first in the 11-year tenure of head coach Tom Coughlin, the Giants may be headed in the wrong direction. The Giants opened the 2014 season with a pair of losses and then rallied to move to 3-2 in NFL odds with impressive wins over Houston, Washington, and Atlanta. What followed was nothing short of a debacle. The Giants suffered their share of injuries, the running game dried up, and the defense fell apart as they dropped seven straight. The bright spot for the Giants was the rise of rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
The former LSU star emerged as QB Eli Manning’s go-to guy when Victor Cruz was lost due to injury. Beckham Jr. finished the season with 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns…and that was in 12 games. Coughlin and Giants fans will expect more of the same from Beckham Jr. as well as Manning who enters his 12th season at the controls of the offense. That being said, bookmakers in Vegas don't expect the New York Giants to have much of break-out season in 2015 with Super Bowl predictions listing the "G Men" as 28/1 longshots to hoist the Lombardi trophy, 16/1 to win the NFC Conference and +300 to win the NFC East.
Manning, who passed for 4,410 yards and 30 touchdowns, and Beckham Jr. were the Giants offense, for the most part, after No. 1 running back Rashad Jennings was hurt. The Giants will need to improve in the running game. They managed just 100 yards per game last season. The club signed former Patriot RB Shane Vereen in the offseason and they will have a healthy Jennings as well as last year’s leading rusher Andre Williams. The Giants looked to upgrade the defense in the offseason and the biggest addition was the hiring of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who ran the defense when the Giants won the Super Bowl back in 2008.
New York added defensive end George Selvie, defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis, and linebackers Jonathan Casillas and J.T. Thomas to provide more depth. The problem that Spagnuolo will have is with the uncertain status of franchise player Jason Pierre-Paul. The Giants sack leader with 12.5 last season, Pierre-Paul did not sign his franchise offer before the July deadline. While he will most likely remain a Giant, he has yet to participate in any offseason activities. The Giants were a top 10 offense in 2014 and if they can maintain that and improve on defense, especially against the run, they should be able to contend for a playoff spot in the volatile 2015 NFC East division. However, paying out as 16/1 longshots in NFL odds to win the conference and play in the Super Bowl seems improbable.
Giants Update (9/12/15): New York are now +5000 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +2500 to win the NFC Conference and +500 to win the NFC East.
The Kansas City Chiefs are an interesting enigma as they enter the 2015 National Football League season. The Chiefs went 9-7 a year ago with impressive wins over both the AFC and NFC champions (New England and Seattle), but they failed to reach the postseason. Part of the team’s problems had a lot to do with the rash of injuries that included an Achilles injury to inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and the nagging leg problems of running back Jamaal Charles. Johnson got hurt in Week 1 and missed the entire season and his return to start the 2015 season is not guaranteed. As such, bookmakers have listed the Chiefs as 33/1 longshots in Super Bowl predictions, 16/1 to win the AFC Conference and +400 in NFL odds to win the AFC West.
While the Kansas City Chiefs had their share of problems, they still found a way to win nine games. A big part of the team’s success had to do with a defense that ranked second against the pass and second in scoring defense in the NFL. Outside linebacker Justin Houston came within half a sack of tying Michael Strahan’s league record of 22.5 sacks. Houston (6-3, 258) quietly ravaged offenses for 22 sacks in the Chiefs 3-4 defense. Houston, Josh Mauga, Tamba Hali, and a healthy Johnson give the Chiefs one of the best linebacking corps in the league. It is unknown yet whether free safety Eric Berry will be able to return after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He is expected to recover fully, but that may not mean he will be in football shape this fall. The Kansas City Chiefs signed former Oakland safety Tyvon Branch and drafted cornerback Marcus Peters out of Washington to help shore up the secondary.
Offensively, Kansas City is solid. They have a capable veteran quarterback in Alex Smith threw for 18 touchdowns against just six interceptions. He also completed over 65 percent of his passes for 3,265 yards. Charles, even though hurt, still managed 1,033 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. The Chiefs, though, became the first team since the merger of the AFL and NFL to not have a touchdown pass thrown to a wide receiver. That should change this year with the addition of Jeremy Maclin. The former Eagle played collegiately at Missouri and brings some explosiveness to the Chiefs offense. Maclin had 85 receptions for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns last season in Philadelphia.
For Kansas City to have any chance of defying Super Bowl predictions, they must contend with Denver in the 2015 AFC West division. They will face the Broncos in Week 2 followed by a Monday night date in Green Bay. The schedule gets a little easier down the stretch which is why the Chiefs should have a great shot at making the postseason. Vegas has also taken notice of Kansas City's schedule and despite being a team with many questions still left to be answered, NFL odds for the Chiefs total regular season wins at 8½ OVER (-130).
Chiefs Update (9/8/15): Kansas City are now +3300 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +1600 to win the AFC Conference and +325 to win the AFC West.
The MLB All-Star game looms in the very near future and the game’s starters are set. Toronto’s Josh Donaldson and Washington’s Bryce Harper were the leading vote-getters. Donaldson established a new record with over 14 million votes. Four Kansas City Royals will start the game for the American League. Catcher Salvador Alvarez, shortstop Alcides Escobar, and outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon will represent the Royals, who lead the AL Central Division. The four starters in the 2015 All-Star game is more than the Royals have had in the previous 25 years combined.
The Royals could get a fifth starter due to the injury of Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers’ slugger, who leads the majors with a .350 batting average, is going to miss six weeks with a calf injury. Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer may start in his place. Donaldson, the Blue Jays third baseman, is third in the league in RBIs with 56 and is batting .296. Toronto is two games behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees. The Blue Jays lead the majors in runs scored, RBIs, total bases, and slugging percentage. Harper is having one of the best seasons in recent memory. He is second in the National League hitting .347. His 25 home runs is currently second in the majors and his 60 RBIs is among the top ten. Harper received just under 14 million All-Star votes.
All-Star game pitchers will be named this week. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Grienke is catching fire at midseason. Grienke leads MLB with an astounding 1.48 ERA. He is currently 7-2 and has not given up an earned run since June 18. Max Scherzer, who the Nationals acquired in the offseason from Detroit, is also enjoying a stellar season. His 1.82 ERA would be MLB’s best if not for Grienke. In a two-game stretch in June – starts against Milwaukee and Pittsburgh – Scherzer pitched back-to-back complete games giving up one hit in 18 innings while striking out 26. Pirates righthander Gerrit Cole leads the majors with 12 wins. Cole is 12-3 overall with 113 strikeouts for the Pirates, who are six games behind NL Central Division-leading St. Louis. In the American League, Houston’s Dallas Keuchel tops the league with 10 wins and an ERA of 2.03.
Heading into the MLB All-Star game, 2015 World Series odds currently favor the Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals at 7/1. The Royals are tied with the Astros (12/1) for first place in the American League with a record of 46-33 while the Cardinals lead the National League with a record of 54-28. The Nationals are 8½ games back of St. Louis and will need to gain some ground on the Pittsburgh Pirates (16/1) and Los Angeles Dodgers (8/1) if they are to have any chance of winning the division. Rounding out the top choices to win World Series are the Chicago Cubs (12/1), San Francisco Giants (14/1) and New York Yankees (16/1).