I hope everyone who has had a chance to check out our Texans 2011 preview "The New Normal" has enjoyed it.
Big ups to Monica Fuentes for coming up with the season-long interactive game card tracking Texans' results. You need to go check it out.
If you haven't read it, you're really not ready for the season quite yet. I mean, yeah, you can read other previews and come away sounding like a quasi-expert on the 3-4 defense, but what other preview can you find that compares Brian Cushing to Clark Kent (the "getting ass kicked in diner" version from Superman 2) and compares Arian Foster's hamstring to Charlie Sheen?
In short, ask yourself is it better to be highly educated and boring or slightly educated and funny? Stew on that.
As for my overall 2011 predictions, I think the best way to convey these is to speak in the language of my people -- closet degenerates. So without further ado, with odds courtesy of bodog.com (Who knew you could gamble on the Internet? No way!), here are my 2011 NFL predictions in wagering-ese:
(My selections in bold. My comments in italics.)
Unsigned/Retired Players Props Will Brett Favre play in a game in the 2011 Regular Season? Yes +500 No -600 (SP: Favre finally has people deciding for him that he won't play anymore. 32 people to be exact. We call them "general managers.")
Will Tiki Barber play in a game in the 2011 Regular Season? Yes +300 No -450 (SP: Ostensibly, he won't play but I think at some point, with his brother Ronde getting older, they're gonna pull the old WWE tag team trick where the lookalike partner sneaks in with fresh legs during a game.)
Will Clinton Portis play a game in the 2011 Regular Season? Yes -200 No +150 (SP: The league is finally learning that running backs age more like bread, not wine. But selfishly I hope Portis comes back because he's a radio-content machine.)
Will Randy Moss play in a game in the 2011 Regular Season? Yes -300 No +200
Coaches How many coaches will be fired during the the 2011 Regular Season? Over 1½ (-150) Under 1½ (+110)
Who will be the first coach fired in the 2011 Regular Season? Jack Del Rio 3/1 Tony Sparano 7/2 Gary Kubiak 11/2 Marvin Lewis 15/2 Tom Coughlin 15/2 Mike Shanahan 10/1 Norv Turner 10/1 Lovie Smith 12/1 Andy Reid 15/1 Field 2/1 (SP: Too many of the bad teams have new coaches to go over the total number. Del Rio has just been surviving too long, and the David Garrard cut is a pretty transparent effort to have an excuse for a 4-12 season. Marvin Lewis is a chic pick, but the Bengals are too cheap to pay someone to do nothing, the track record of 80 percent of the players who've ever played for them notwithstanding.)
Quarterbacks Cam Newton -- Total Rushing Yards in the 2011 Regular Season OVER/Under 500 (SP: "36, and that's a play!")
Cam Newton -- Total Rushing Touchdowns in the 2011 Regular Season OVER/Under 5 (SP: Again..."36, and that's a play!")
Michael Vick -- Total games started in the 2011 Regular Season Over/UNDER 14 ½ (SP: Vick is a virtual lock to miss games either because of injury and/or the Eagles being good enough to rest guys in Week 17. Vick's missing just two games is a winner? Yes.)
Tom Brady -- Total Passing Yards in the 2011 Regular Season OVER/Under 4000
Tom Brady -- Total Passing Touchdowns in the 2011 Regular Season OVER/Under 30 ½ (SP: Ride Brady all day long. Like Gisele!)
Terrelle Pryor -- Total Receptions in the 2011 Regular Season OVER/Under ½ (SP: I'd feel more comfortable with a "New Tattoos -3 1/2 vs Total Receptions" bet, but whatever.)
Tim Tebow -- Total Rushing Touchdowns in the 2011 Regular Season Over/UNDER 3 ½ (SP: The Denver Broncos' new brass are realizing a couple things -- a) Josh McDaniels was not a very good judge of talent because b) Tebow is a terrible quarterback. He won't see the field.)
Kevin Kolb -- Total Passing Yards in the 2011 Regular Season OVER/Under 3650 (SP: They didn't pay him six years, $63 million to hand off to Beanie Wells.)
Running Backs Ahmad Bradshaw -- Total Fumbles lost in the 2011 Regular Season Over/Under 5 (SP: Tom Coughlin will bite his head off like a bat at an Ozzy Osbourne concert before he even has a chance to get to five.)
Adrian Peterson -- Total Rushing Yards in the 2011 Regular Season OVER/Under 1375 (SP: Peterson is still in his diesel mode. Trucking fools. Two more years left to ride this bet.)
Wide Receivers DeSean Jackson -- When will the Eagles sign him to a new contract during the 2011 Regular Season? Before the first 8 games are played 6/5 After the first 8 games are played 5/2 Will not be signed 3/2 (SP: For grins, I'd like to see Jackson put pen to paper right as the gun is sounding to end Game 8. Just to mess with the gamblers.)
Plaxico Burress -- Total Receiving Yards in the 2011 Regular Season Over/Under 675 Plaxico Burress -- Total Receiving Touchdowns in the 2011 Regular Season Over/Under 5 (SP: I refuse to bet on any Plaxico prop bets that don't involve a piece and Plax accidentally shooting himself. Sorry.)
Chad Ochocinco -- Total Receiving Touchdowns in the 2011 Regular Season Over/Under 7 Chad Ochocinco -- Total Receptions in the 2011 Regular Season Over/Under 65 (SP: I refuse to bet on any Ochocinco prop bets that don't involve Ochocinco taming a live bengal tiger while dressed in a sport coat made of steak. Sorry.)
Dez Bryant -- Total Receiving Yards in the 2011 Regular Season OVER/Under 800 (SP: Dez Bryant is my stable "I think I can count on this guy" play at wide receiver. It's that kind of year.)
Defensive Players James Harrison -- Total times fined by the NFL in the 2011 Regular Season OVER/Under 1 ½ (SP: You know the old saying in gambling..."Nobody ever got rich betting on James Harrison to remain sane for 16 games.")
(BOLD indicates winner. ** indicates wild card. Best value is the pick I would make if maximizing my monetary winnings mattered, i.e., I think the Steelers will win the division, but if I were betting real money I'd take a shot at winning an 8/1 bet on the Browns.)
Odds to win the 2011/12 NFC East Division Philadelphia Eagles -140 ** Dallas Cowboys +300 New York Giants +325 Washington Redskins +1600 ** wild card Best value: Cowboys +300
Odds to win the 2011/12 NFC North Division Green Bay Packers -250 Detroit Lions +400 Chicago Bears +600 Minnesota Vikings +1000 Best value: Chicago +600
Odds to win the 2011/12 NFC South Division ** New Orleans Saints -110 Atlanta Falcons +130 Tampa Bay Buccaneers +600 Carolina Panthers +1800 ** wild card Best value: Atlanta +130
Odds to win the 2011/12 NFC West Division St.Louis Rams +140 Arizona Cardinals +200 San Francisco 49ers +260 Seattle Seahawks +700 Best value: Seattle +700 (Division is so bad, why not?)
Odds to win the 2011/12 AFC East Division New England Patriots -165 ** New York Jets +185 Miami Dolphins +900 Buffalo Bills +2000 ** wild card Best value: Jets +185
Odds to win the 2011/12 AFC North Division Pittsburgh Steelers -130 ** Baltimore Ravens +135 Cleveland Browns +800 Cincinnati Bengals +2500 Ravens wild card Best value: Browns +800
NOTE: With Peyton Manning's injury, AFC South is off the board. I'm taking the Texans.
Odds to win the 2011/12 AFC West Division San Diego Chargers -250 Kansas City Chiefs +450 Oakland Raiders +600 Denver Broncos +1000 Best value: Chargers -250
Odds to win the 2012 AFC Conference New England Patriots 5/2 San Diego Chargers 11/2 New York Jets 6/1 Pittsburgh Steelers 13/2 Baltimore Ravens 15/2 Houston Texans 10/1 Kansas City Chiefs 22/1 Miami Dolphins 30/1 Oakland Raiders 30/1 Tennessee Titans 35/1 Cleveland Browns 40/1 Denver Broncos 40/1 Jacksonville Jaguars 40/1 Cincinnati Bengals 60/1 Buffalo Bills 75/1 Best value: Baltimore 15/2
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Odds to win the 2012 NFC Conference Green Bay Packers 7/2 Philadelphia Eagles 7/2 New Orleans Saints 7/1 Atlanta Falcons 15/2 Dallas Cowboys 10/1 New York Giants 12/1 Chicago Bears 14/1 Detroit Lions 14/1 Minnesota Vikings 18/1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18/1 St. Louis Rams 20/1 Arizona Cardinals 25/1 San Francisco 49ers 25/1 Seattle Seahawks 40/1 Washington Redskins 50/1 Carolina Panthers 65/1 Best value: Cowboys 10/1
Odds to win Super Bowl XLVI New England Patriots 11/2 Green Bay Packers 7/1 Philadelphia Eagles 15/2 San Diego Chargers 11/1 New Orleans Saints 12/1 New York Jets 12/1 Pittsburgh Steelers 13/1 Atlanta Falcons 16/1 Baltimore Ravens 16/1 Dallas Cowboys 20/1 Houston Texans 20/1 New York Giants 28/1 Chicago Bears 30/1 Detroit Lions 30/1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35/1 Minnesota Vikings 40/1 St. Louis Rams 45/1 Kansas City Chiefs 50/1 Arizona Cardinals 60/1 Miami Dolphins 60/1 San Francisco 49ers 60/1 Oakland Raiders 80/1 Tennessee Titans 80/1 Cleveland Browns 100/1 Denver Broncos 100/1 Jacksonville Jaguars 100/1 Seattle Seahawks 100/1 Washington Redskins 100/1 Carolina Panthers 125/1 Buffalo Bills 150/1 Cincinnati Bengals 150/1 Best value: Atlanta Falcons 16/1
2011 NFL MVP -- Odds to Win Aaron Rodgers (GB) QB 11/2 Philip Rivers (SD) QB 11/2 Tom Brady (NE) QB 6/1 Michael Vick (PHI) QB 17/2 Drew Brees (NO) QB 10/1 Peyton Maninng (IND) QB 14/1 Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) QB 18/1 Matt Ryan (ATL) QB 18/1 Adrian Peterson (MIN) RB 20/1 Chris Johnson (TEN) RB 20/1 Tony Romo (DAL) QB 20/1 Matt Schaub (HOU) QB 22/1 Arian Foster (HOU) RB 25/1 Joe Flacco (BAL) QB 25/1 Sam Bradford (STL) QB 25/1 Eli Manning (NYG) QB 28/1 Mark Sanchez (NYJ) QB 28/1 Jamaal Charles (KC) RB 30/1 Matt Cassel (KC) QB 30/1 Matthew Stafford (DET) QB 30/1 Josh Freeman (TB) QB 35/1 Kevin Kolb (ARI) QB 35/1 Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC) RB 35/1 Ray Rice (BAL) RB 35/1 Steven Jackson (STL) RB 40/1 Andre Johnson (HOU) WR 50/1 Calvin Johnson (DET) WR 50/1 Frank Gore (SF) RB 50/1 Jay Cutler (CHI) QB 50/1 Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) WR 50/1 Michael Turner (ATL) RB 50/1 Peyton Hillis (CLE) RB 50/1 Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) RB 50/1 Roddy White (ATL) WR 60/1 Best value: Ray Rice 53/1
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio and 1560 The Game weekdays noon to 3PM Central Time, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.