By 750 The Game Staff
The NFL season is here as the Chiefs and Lions kick off from Kansas City.
Steven Vaughan & Judah Newby give their picks for division winners, and a best value bet to win the division, in the AFC and NFC entering a new season.
Steven’s pick: Bills. The Bills still have the most talented roster in the division, and Josh Allen is going to be right in the MVP race. But there are some cracks. Everyone is getting a little older. Some of the skill position players haven’t popped like they thought. But Buffalo is the most likely to win the divison.
Judah’s pick: Dolphins. Vic Fangio’s presence on defense cannot be understated. Backup QB Mike White is solid insurance if Tua misses time. Mike McDaniel is the man.
Steven’s bet: Dolphins (+300). Tua was right in the thick of the MVP race last season when healthy. If Tua can stay healthy. The offense is as good as anyone. Mike McDaniel may be awesome as a coach. The Dolphins could outscore a lot of teams.
Judah’s bet: Dolphins +300. Since I’m picking them anyway!
Steven’s pick: Ravens. I believe in John Harbaugh. Last season without Lamar Jackson for a big chunk of the season the Ravens still made the playoffs and should have beaten the Bengals on the road in the Wild Card. Lamar got the bag and is in line for a huge season under new offensive coordinatoor, Todd Monken. The receivers are also upgraded with Odell Beckham Jr and rookie, Zay Flowers.
Judah’s pick: Steelers. In a brutal division, give me the best defense and consistency of Mike Tomlin. Minkah Fitzpatrick is a sneaky Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Kenny Pickett is not a top-ten QB, but is perfect for the job in Pittsburgh.
Steven’s bet: Ravens (+235). Baltimore is my bet. I wanted to put both Pittsburgh and Cleveland, but to get +235 on the Ravens, who I think could be the best team in the AFC is to much to pass up. The AFC North is the best division in football.
Judah’s bet: Browns (+380). Cleveland has the biggest boom or bust potential, and in an up-for-grabs division, +380 is too good value to pass up.
Steven’s pick: Jaguars. Trevor Lawrence and Doug Pederson in year two should be great. Add Calvin Ridley who was great before the suspension and the Jags offense is one of the best in the NFL. Defensively there are problems, but the division isn’t good enough to justify picking anyone else.
Steven’s bet: Jaguars (-155). It’s a big number to lay. But I don’t see anyone else competing. The Titans have potential to be really bad and they could turn to Will Levis. The Colts and Texans both are starting rookie quarterbacks who I both like in Anthony Richardson and CJ Stroud. But not good enough to bet.
Judah’s pick: Jaguars. This offense has a chance to be the best in the league, and in the softest division in football, Jacksonville has a clean look to the division title.
Judah’s bet: Titans (+350). Mike Vrabel always squeezes a surprising amount of juice from his lemons. Did I just say that?
Steven’s pick: Chiefs. How could I not pick the Chiefs? Super Bowl champions, Patrick Mahomes, and they return a lot. Chris Jones holdout is concerning as he is one of the best in the league. He will be back in week 8 which means by the time the playoffs roll around he will be in shape. Kansas City will be fine.
Judah’s pick: Chargers. I can’t help it. I am going with Herbie. I’m drinking the cool aid. Kellen Moore is the difference that offense needed. Chargers go 13-4 and win the division.
Steven’s bet: Broncos (+600). I love Denver this year. I think they are better then the Chargers and it’s because of coaching. Sean Payton is elite and will get the offense right. Russell Wilson should still have some in the tank and the defense is always good. The Broncos have been down for a few years but they could pop.
Judah’s bet: Chargers +340.
Steven’s pick: Eagles. Jalen Hurts got the bag and is way better than I thought. The Eagles have four good running backs and still have AJ Brown and Devonta Smith at receiver. The defense can get after the quarterback and I expect the Eagles to win the division.
Judah’s pick: Cowboys. I expect enough regression from Philly, and Dan Quinn’s defense could be the best in the league. Mike McCarthy taking over the offense from Kellen Moore is a little concerning, but he is a better coach than his public perception would indicate.
Steven’s bet: Commanders (+1300). Huge longshot here. This is all a what if game with Washington. What if Sam Howell is awesome? There was a time where he was thought to be the #1 overall pick and then slipped in the draft. What if Eric Bienemy is awesome and didn’t get the credit in Kansas City? He comes in as the new OC with a lot to prove. Ron Rivera is a proven winner. New ownership is in. At +1300 I am willing to take a shot on a team and a fanbase that has been rejuvenated.
Judah’s bet: Giants (+850). Too much value on a returning playoff team with the reigning NFL Coach of the Year.
Steven’s pick: Packers. I think the loss of Aaron Rodgers could help. Not that Jordan Love is better. But the fact that the drama is over. Every year we didn’t know if Rodgers wanted to be there or not. Now we know as he’s out and it Jordan Love and Matt LaFleur’s team. LaFleur traded up and drafted Love for a reason. He sees something in him.
Judah’s pick: Lions. Ben Johnson for president. The Lions play caller could have been a head coach this past hiring cycle but withdrew his name from a handful of openings and decided to return to Detroit. That day, I knew I was picking Detroit to win the NFC North in 2023.
Steven’s bet: Packers (+400). I think the Packers win the division and they have the worst odds in the division. So I’m making this bet.
Judah’s bet: Packers (+400). I love drafting and stashing a QB of the future, and it clearly has worked in Green Bay before. I think Jordan Love is going to have a really nice year, and Green Bay’s talent on defense makes this a great value.
Steven’s pick: Saints. I don’t think the Saints are good. Dennis Allen has never proven to be a good coach. Derek Carr is average at best. But the division is so bad and the Saints have one of the easier schedules in the league. New Orleans is most likely to win.
Judah’s pick: Saints. Wanted to take the Falcons but just couldn’t buy all the way in on Desmond Ridder. Saints aren’t sexy but I trust their defense and Derek Carr gives them enough juice on offense to win the South.
Steven’s bet: Panthers (+500). Bryce Young could be awesome. He was the first pick for a reason. The preseason scared me with the fact that the Panthers couldn’t block anybody. But Young may be the best quarterback in the league, and I don’t trust Desmond Ridder or Baker Mayfield. I could see the Panthers being 8-9 and winning the division.
Judah’s bet: Falcons (+215). I have Atlanta as a Wild Card team, so getting more than 2/1 to win the division is good value.
Steven’s pick: 49ers. I don’t trust Brock Purdy. But I trust Kyle Shanahan and Christian McCaffery. I mostly trust this defense who just locked up Nick Bosa. The defense will keep them in every game they play.
Judah’s pick: Seahawks. You really thought I was going to pick San Francisco? Fandom aside, I did pick the 49ers to reach the Super Bowl last year and face the Chiefs, and that wasn’t far off. No one wants to predict injury, but you can’t ignore the bad health luck Kyle Shanahan teams have had over the years. Toss in another step forward from the Seahawks, and you get a division title.
Steven’s bet: Seahawks. With the news that Cooper Kupp may end up on the IR makes me change my mind and go with Seattle. Offensively the Seahawks are great. The only question is if Geno Smith can continue what he did last season. Defensively the Seahawks made strides, and the home field advantage is real.
Judah’s bet: Seahawks +195. Jaxon Smith-Njigba +2000 for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
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