NFL Glances: 49ers, Texans, Ravens


We're coming up on the Baseball All-Star break in a few days and no doubt more than a few of your sports minds will be wandering with thoughts of pigskins dancin' thru your heads. Well, let's beat the rush and get in some football talk here in early July - yes, the camps don't open till later this month but we're already itching for the NFL (and the College Football kids too) to get started, okay?

Today's topic: The Super Bowl 52 Odds to Win it All and right now note the defending champion New England Patriots are the heavy-duty betting favorites at + 200 (based on $100 per-play wagers) while the Dallas Cowboys are priced at + 700, the Green Bay Packers are listed at + 800, the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks each are priced at + 900 and the Oakland (soon-to-be-Las Vegas) Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting there at + 1000.

Don't tell anyone, but we're already checking out a couple of long-shots even though our "gut" tells us the Patriots will - indeed - be tough to topple and so give a gander to a couple of NFC South squads as the Carolina Panthers (+ 2500) and the on-the-come Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+ 2600) might be worth your financial attention.


SAN FRANCISCO (2-14) - New head coach Kyle Shanahan may be a pass-first type of play-caller but he's certainly not gonna ignore the ground game in Year One and so RB Carlos Hyde (988 yards rushing with 6 TDs and a solid 4.6 yards-per-carry average last season) figures to be kept busy even though there's rumblings that Hyde must "compete" for playing time with the likes of Tim Hightower, Kapri Bibbs and Joe Williams.
Pointspread Notes - The Niners have been brutally bad versus the vig the past three years while compiling a 17-29-2 ATS (against the spread) log with last season's ugly-as-sin 4-11-1 ATS mark the low point. Note that San Fran registered a 1-11-1 spread mark in the 13 games that followed that 2016-opening 28-0 triumph over the LA Rams.

HOUSTON (10-8) - There's no ands, ifs or buts about it: Heading into this month's Texans' training camp the team's numero uno signal-caller is journeyman Tom Savage with rookie Deshaun Watson (Clemson) running in second place. If Savage (46-of-73 passing for 461 yards with no TDs/no INTs last year) is gonna stave off Watson early on this '17 season than he must be able to connect with WR DeAndre Hopkins on the more-than-occasional long ball. Note that last year Hopkins was targeted 150 times overall (he caught 78 balls and scored 4 TDs) but averaged just 12.2 yards a catch ... not good enough!
Pointspread Notes - How about the "splits" last year spreadwise for the Texans who delivered a 5-2-1 ATS mark as betting favorites while going a rotten 2-8 vig-wise as underdogs? Houston's overall 7-10-1 spread mark was just the team's second losing ATS season since 2010.

BALTIMORE (8-8) - Call it trending in the wrong direction 'cause the Ravens now have failed to make it to the post-season in three of the last four years and one reason why is because the pass rush has slipped. Last season the Ravens collected 31 quarterback sacks (that tied 'em with Houston and the Los Angeles Rams for 24th place in the league) and even NT Brandon Williams (one sack last year) is talking up the fact he believes his personal pass rush skills will be better with help from D-line coach Joe Cullen.
Pointspread Notes - Get a load of this: The 2016 Ravens covered their first three games out of the starting gate yet managed a modest 8-7-1 ATS mark that included a crummy 0-3-1 spread log when playing NFC East foes.