With the NFL season due to kickoff in a few hours, FTW looks at some of the most enjoyable future, prop and Super Bowl bets offered online. We all know Denver and Seattle are favored to win the Super Bowl, but which coach is going to get fired first? What are the odds on a running back winning MVP? And will Johnny Manziel make it through his rookie season without getting another fine? (All odds courtesy Bovada.)
1. Johnny Manziel has the same MVP odds as Marshawn Lynch (75/1).
One is the workhorse running back for the Super Bowl favorite. The other had some good games against Alabama and shares his depth-chart position (QB2) with such NFL luminaries as Charlie Whitehurst, Dan Orlovsky, Tyrod Taylor and Brandon Weeden.
2. The Patriots (-400) and Broncos (-350) are the heaviest favorites to win their respective divisions.
No surprise there. It's been 12 years since New England lost the AFC East with a healthy Tom Brady, while Peyton Manning has won his division 10 of his last 11 seasons.
3. No one knows who's going to win the AFC North.
While all other divisions have a clear betting favorite, the AFC North is completely up for grabs. Cincinnati (+180) is the slight favorite while Pittsburgh (+200) and Baltimore (+275) are close behind. Those two teams are getting better odds to win their division than any other non-favorite in the entire league, with the exception of San Francisco. (The 49ers are +225 to win the NFC West while the Seahawks are favored at -150).
4. You can wager on which eight teams will win their respective divisions, with the favorites getting 50/1.
A straight-favorite play for the eight division winners is: Eagles, Packers, Saints, Seahawks, Patriots, Bengals, Colts, Broncos. But since all favorites never win, you can search the board for eight-team octfectas (that's a word, right?) that range all the way up to 1000/1. (There are a number of combinations at those odds, most of which have the Redskins winning the NFC East. One example: Redskins, Bears, Seahawks, Panthers, Patriots, Ravens, Colts, Broncos.)
5. A team from the NFC West (11/4) is favored to win the Super Bowl.
The NFC West's two Super Bowl contenders are enough to make that division a favorite to win it all. The AFC West, with just one theoretical contender (unless you count San Diego or Kansas City, which we do not), is next at 7/2. Bringing up the rear is the NFC East, AFC South and AFC North at 9/1. Bovada reports that just 0.7% of action in this category has gone to teams from the AFC North. On one hand, this isn't a shock: Neither Cincinnati, Pittsburgh nor Baltimore is expected to go far this year. On the other hand, the AFC North is the only division with two different Super Bowl winners in the past decade.
6. The Raiders have the worst odds (+2000) to win their own division and worst odds to make the playoffs (+700).
This is due to two things: 1) Being in the same division with Peyton Manning and the Broncos. 2) Being the Raiders.
7. Cleveland went from 200/1 to win the Super Bowl (pre-Johnny) to 30/1 (post-Johnny) to 75/1 (sobering reality).
Cleveland started the offseason with some of the longest odds to win the Super Bowl. Then, after drafting Johnny Manziel, the Browns shot up the board based on the irrational Manziel exuberance that Merril Hoge so decries. After the preseason revealed Johnny Football left his game and nickname back in College Station, things evened out and the Browns fell to a still-ridiculous 75/1.
8. Jacksonville (7/2) and Oakland (7/2) are "favored" to have the worst record in the NFL.
But if you're looking for value and the entertainment factor necessary to make such a frivolous wager, the New York Jets (20/1) and New York Giants (25/1) are gold. Denver, New England and Seattle have the worst odds in this category at 200/1.
9. Of the top 12 MVP candidates, 10 are quarterbacks.
Peyton Manning (11/4), Aaron Rodgers (5/1), Drew Brees (8/1) and Tom Brady (9/1) are the favorites to win the MVP, which is fitting, as six of the past seven winners (and 15 of the past 20) have been quarterbacks. The only non-QBs to crack the top 12: Adrian Peterson (22/1) and LeSean McCoy (25/1).
10. Jason Garrett (3/1) is favored to be the first coach fired.
This just seems mean and macabre and pretty silly because Jerry Jones has only fired a coach midseason once (Garrett's successor, Wade Phillips) and that was mostly because he had his hand-picked successor (Garrett) already on the coaching staff. Other favorites to get the early axe: Dennis Allen (9/2), Joe Philbin (5/1), Doug Marrone (8/1) and Rex Ryan (10/1). Mike Tomlin is at 33/1, which is preposterous given that he's won a Super Bowl and the Pittsburgh Steelers haven't fired a coach since Lyndon Johnson was president.
11. For some reason, Ray Rice (40/1) is listed on the board for Comeback Player of the Year.
More conventional candidates include Aaron Rodgers (5/1), Robert Griffin III (7/1) and Rob Gronkowski (7/1). If Aaron Rodgers wins, the award should just be renamed "Best player who got injured last year." There are "comebacks" and then there's just "healing."
12. You can wager on whether Johnny Manziel will be fined during the season.
Interestingly, Vegas thinks Johnny Football won't be fined this year. Did they not get Browns' preseason games out in the desert? Have they not factored in how angry Manziel is going to get if/when he gets sacked for the fourth time in a game and a defender dances over him making the "money Manziel" sign for the fourth time? A "yes" goes for 2/1, while a "no" brings in 1/3.
13. Odds are that Jason Garrett won't be Dallas Cowboys coach for Week 1 of the 2015 season.
There are 3/2 odds that he will be and 1/2 odds that he won't be. Come on. That's just piling on, Vegas.
14. When will Peyton Manning break Brett Favre's career touchdown record?
Manning needs 18 touchdown passes to move past Favre for the all-time lead. The over/under on that is week 7.5. Peyton passed 18 touchdowns in Week 5 of last year, but that included his record-tying seven-touchdown performace in Week 1.
15. Will Eli Manning throw more interceptions than touchdowns?
The "yes" bet is at (3/1), which is low given that Eli has done this just once in his career (last year, but still). A more fun bet would ask "when will Eli Manning break Brett Favre's career interception record?" Eli is currently 165 INTs behind the ol' gunslinger, so I'd put the over/under at week 7.5, just like with Peyton.
16. The odds of Seattle winning a playoff game aren't as good as you'd think.
It's an even bet that Seattle will win a postseason game, but a -140 bet that the Seahawks won't. That's an implied probability of 58.3%. There's some overlap with the "yes" bet in that percentage because that's the way the house always wins. Still, it's a little surprising, no?
17. Odds of a team having a perfect (16-0) or imperfect season (0-16) are 33/1.
Such feats have only been accomplished twice in NFL history, both in the past seven years. The 2007 Patriots went 16-0 and the 2008 Lions went 0-16. Is it likely to happen again this year? No. Is a team going 16-0 or 0-16 more likely than the Oakland Raiders winning the AFC East (20/1)? Yes. Yes it is.
18. Peyton Manning has most passing yards, wins MVP and wins Super Bowl (25/1).
19. Johnny Manziel wins Rookie of the Year and the Browns make playoffs (20/1).
Speaking of things less likely than a team going undefeated — there's a better chance of Johnny Manziel walking on the moon in 2014 than there is of him winning Rookie of the Year and making the playoffs. Yet, somehow, the odds of his ROY/playoff combo are better than the very-realistic possibility of Peyton repeating his 2013 season, albeit without the 43-8 Super Bowl loss. It's maddening. It's wonderful. It's football and it's back. What a glorious day.