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Dan Podheiser

Dan  Podheiser

Dan Podheiser has covered the gambling industry since 2013, but he has been an avid poker player for more than a decade, starting when he was just 14 years old. When he turned 18, he played online poker regularly on U.S.-friendly sites until Black Friday in April 2011.

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2015 NFL Betting Preview, Part 3: Top 10 futures bets for the 2015 NFL season

7 Sep 2015

By Dan Podheiser
2015 NFL Betting Preview, Part 3: Top 10 futures bets for the 2015 NFL season

This is part 3 of 3 of Casino City's 2015 NFL betting preview. Other articles in the series include:

Part 1: Top 10 degenerate tips for betting the NFL this season
Part 2: Top 10 tips for the novice daily fantasy football player

We are now at T-minus three days until the NFL season. If you haven't gotten your affairs in order yet, I advise you get moving on that pronto. Clear your schedule, liquidate your bank accounts and go buy that 60-inch plasma TV you've had your eye on. It's almost game time.

At this point, the experienced degenerates will already have their fantasy teams set. They've made their deposits on DraftKings or FanDuel, they've fired multiple bullets into a high-stakes survivor pool and they've joined several pick'em leagues. (I mean, someone else out there besides me does this, right?)

But there's still time to get that last bit of preseason gamble on before the NFL kicks off Thursday night. And to satisfy that craving, we turn to futures bets, one of my favorite ways to bet on sports.

With futures bets, as opposed to fantasy football or weekly pools, you get to sweat the outcome all season long. If you have money on a certain player to win the MVP, your bet is still alive until the award is handed out during the postseason. And if you have money the over/under of a team's win total, you automatically have a vested interest in every game that team plays.

Last year, my futures bets didn't turn out so well – my expectations were a bit too high for the Colts and Dolphins, and too low for the Ravens and Texans.

Oh well. It's a new season, and a new chance to make bets that will look either totally brilliant or completely insane 17 weeks from now. With that, here are my top 10 futures bets for the 2015 NFL season.

All odds provided by bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook as of Friday, Sep. 4.

10. Eli Manning most passing yards (+1400)

Despite throwing for 4,410 yards and 30 touchdowns last season, Giants quarterback Eli Manning finished just sixth in the league in passing yards. That should tell you something about the state of the passing offense in the NFL today.

Still, Manning came on strong at the end of the 2014 campaign, thanks in large part to the emergence of his star rookie wide receiver, Odell Beckham, who was banged up in the first half of the season. In Weeks 16 and 17, Manning finished second and first in the league in passing, respectively, and hooked up with Beckham on several touchdown bombs throughout the second half of the season.

Now with a full season of Beckham, the return of All Pro wideout Victor Cruz and the addition of pass-catching tailback Shane Vereen, Manning will have a full arsenal of studs running circles around opposing defenses. I think Manning is a long shot to win the passing title, but I do think he'll approach 5,000 yards this season. If he does that, and a few things go his way, it could be enough to lead the league and make me a nice payday.

9. Giants over 8.5 wins (+110)

It's rare to see a quarterback put up great numbers on a bad team. And since I have full confidence in Manning this season, it follows that I think the Giants as a whole will be a pretty decent team, too.

New York won just six games in 2014, but injuries played a large role in the team's downfall. And once the team got healthy and Manning and Beckham began to gel at the end of last season, the Giants finished strong at 3-1 in their last four contests.

I think a case could be made for either side of this bet, and I personally view it as a coin flip. But when you offer me a coin flip with +110 odds, I'll take it all day.

8. Giants win NFC East (+400)

Now here's where things get interesting with the G-Men. If one were to truly project Manning to have an All Pro season, and one believes the Giants offense will click to form one of the most dominant units in the NFL, then it stands to reason they should be able to fight for the division.

At 4-to-1 odds, in a division with no clear favorite (the Eagles and Cowboys are +120 and +163, respectively), I think the Giants are clearly the best bet on the board for the NFC East. If a few things bounce their way, it would not be unreasonable for them to get to a double-digit win total and take down the division.

7. Saints over 8.5 wins (-120)

The New Orleans Saints were my pick to win the Super Bowl last season, but they turned out to be the most disappointing team in all of football.

The Saints went just 7-9 in 2014 and blew fourth quarter leads in games against the Falcons, Browns, Buccaneers, Lions, 49ers and Ravens. But the Saints were ravaged by injuries last season, and their offensive line was absolutely putrid.

An offseason trade that sent all-world tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks means New Orleans will lose its top offensive weapon, but in return, the Saints received Pro Bowl center Max Unger. With an offense now designed around bruising halfback Mark Ingram, the addition of Unger will surely help the Saints steamroll their opponents on the ground, while still relying on future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees to throw for his usual 5,000 yards.

I view the Saints as a prime candidate to improve over last season and think they'll have no problem getting to 9 or 10 wins.

6. Packers over 10.5 wins (-140)

Even with Pro Bowl wide receiver Jordy Nelson's season-ending injury and the short-term loss of Randall Cobb, the Packers will be just fine on offense. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is, in my opinion, the greatest player of all time at his position, and can turn any group of receivers into stars.

The Packers were also probably the best team in the NFL last season. They lost two games in Seattle that crushed them: first, a Week 1 loss on opening night, and then the devastating NFC Championship Game, in which they blew a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.

Aside from those games, the Packers were nearly invincible, especially in the second half of the season. They dealt the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots their only "real" loss of the second half (the Patriots lost a Week 17 contest to the Bills when they rested all of their starters), and had they advanced past the Seahawks and into the Super Bowl, they very likely would have beaten the Pats again.

I imagine the Packers are still pissed about how last season ended, which means Rodgers will be in pure, unadulterated "F-U mode" this year. I can't wait.

5. Marshawn Lynch most rushing yards (+600)

Remember how the 2014 season ended for the Seahawks? Instead of handing the ball off to the best running back in the league on the goal line at the end of the most thrilling Super Bowl ever, the Seahawks decided to put the ball in the hands of their young quarterback, Russell Wilson.

Wilson and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll will never live that play down. And rest assured, Lynch will get more carries than ever this season. He will win the rushing title hands down.

4. T.Y. Hilton most receiving yards (+1600)

Last season, I picked Hilton to win the receiving title at 50-to-1 odds … and he actually came close! Hilton finished the season sixth in the NFL with 1,345 receiving yards, 353 behind top man Antonio Brown. But he was leading the league right around Week 10, and I was starting to count my (fictional) winnings.

Hilton is the No. 1 target on what I predict will be the top offense in the league, the Indianapolis Colts. He benefits from playing with quarterback Andrew Luck, the best in the league outside Rodgers. And the addition of wide receiver Andre Johnson from the Texans will only mean more space for Hilton, who racked up yards last season by beating the defense downfield with his blazing speed.

This is still a longshot, because Hilton will likely never be a guy who will catch 129 balls like Brown did in 2014. But I'd be surprised if he finishes outside the top five in 2015.

3. Andrew Luck to win MVP (+550)

I also picked Luck to win the MVP last season at 28-to-1, and I'm still not exactly sure how he didn't. Luck led the league in passing touchdowns, finished third in passing yards and was the sole reason why his Colts rumbled through the AFC South.

This year will be different, since I predict the Colts will not only steamroll their division, but will also finish with the top record in the AFC. That, combined with Luck's now expected greatness, should be enough to net him the award.

2. AFC South team makes Super Bowl (+450)

I wanted to bet on the Colts to make it to the Super Bowl. Right now, their odds on bet365 are +400. Anyone see what I'm seeing?

By betting on any AFC South team to make the Super Bowl, that obviously includes the Colts. So I'm not sure why you can get better odds when you bet on the Colts plus three other teams, as opposed to just betting on the Colts.

Either way, I'm "locking this in" right now, before bet365 figures it out.

1. Packers to win Super Bowl (+650)

Packers vs. Colts. Rodgers vs. Luck. Where do I sign up?

Like I said, Rodgers is going to be in "F-U mode" this season. Tom Brady was in F-U mode last year, and that turned out pretty well for the Patriots. (Side note: Brady will be in "Ultimate F-U mode" this year, but the Patriots' defense is so bad that it won't matter).

I like the Packers to get it done this year. I'm high on Luck and the Colts, but I believe their time will come. So far in Luck's three seasons in the NFL, he's lost in the AFC Wild Card round, then the Divisional round, then the AFC Championship Game. It stands to reason he'll lose in the Super Bowl next, then win every Super Bowl for the foreseeable future after that.
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