NFL Betting: Hard Teams to Handicap in Preseason

Doc Moseman@DocsSportsCorrespondent IAugust 8, 2012

CORTLAND, NY - JULY 27:  Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Jets talks with Tony Sparano, offensive coordinator of the New York Jets at Jets Training Camp at SUNY Cortland on July 27, 2012 in Cortland, New York.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

There are two types of teams in the NFL: those that are easy to understand and those that aren’t.

Some teams are clearly going to be either very good or very bad, and it would take something shocking to change that. Those ones are easy to deal with.

But then there are the ones that are less clear. Perhaps they seem to be good but could have a glaring issue that could hijack everything. Or maybe they have obvious problems that could totally destroy their season, but they have other factors that could make them competitive.

If you have watched the NFL for any period of time, then you know that good teams don’t always win and bad teams don’t always lose—and you can’t always see it coming. For bettors that leads to headaches.

Here’s a look at four teams that are making my head hurt as this regular season slowly approaches:

Miami Dolphins

This team has not been very good for a long time now and there are a lot of reasons to believe that they won’t be good again this year. Every time I feel like I am about to write them off, though, I hear something else that makes me hesitate.

There are definitely positives.

With Brandon Marshall out of town, the attitude seems to be much more positive. Joe Philbin was by far the best offseason coaching hire this year, and the early indications are that his team has taken to him very well. He has assembled a strong coaching staff as well.

There is a three-way quarterback battle underway, but David Garrard is clearly the right choice in my eyes and he seems to be establishing himself as such. Cameron Wake is moving to defensive end from linebacker with the change in schemes, and he’s only going to be more impressive there.

I am not suggesting this is a playoff team by any means, but my gut keeps telling me they could be a pleasant surprise—even if my mind tells me they are a long way away.

Tennessee Titans

This team is so hard to judge for two big reasons.

First, what can we expect from Chris Johnson? Two years ago he was the biggest difference-maker in the game. Last year he was largely invisible. The offense is going to be run through him, so his effectiveness is obviously a massive factor in the success this team will enjoy. He’s in a better mental space and could be as good as ever, but the list of outstanding running backs who have bounced back strong from a subpar season is much shorter than the list of those that haven’t.

Second, and more significant, is the quarterback situation. They have a unique situation. Matt Hasselbeck is a veteran in the later stages of his outstanding career, while Jake Locker is a future star in the early days of his. Sooner or later Locker will take over this team, but right now they probably have a better chance of winning under Hasselbeck.

Who they go with, and how long they stick with him, will have a big impact on how this team fares in a division that is wide open.

Seattle Seahawks

We know what Pete Carroll was able to do at USC, so he is obviously worth plenty of respect. He’s in his third year with this team, so by now he should be in a position to really break through and work his magic.

That’s what a lot of people seem to think, and given the questions surrounding the teams in their division, a lot of people like the Seahawks.

While I get that sentiment to an extent—and there are a lot of things I like about the team—I also can’t shake the feeling that they could really be in trouble.

Carroll has made a total mess of the quarterback situation with his indecisiveness, and that could be a massive problem going forward—especially because none of the options leap out as clearly a great one.

The wide receivers will be relied on to ease the pressure on those quarterbacks, but you need to look no further than the signing of Terrell Owens to realize that there are obvious issues there.

All in all, this strikes me as a team that could win 10 games but could just as easily win five.

Carroll could be Coach of the Year or jobless by January, and I wouldn’t be particularly surprised either way.

New York Jets

This team is the definition of a circus. If you watch ESPN you would think that there is only one team in the league given the amount of coverage they are getting. That is going to translate into massive public betting support—especially if Tim Tebow plays a prominent role early.

While a lot of people are high on this team I am certainly not one of them.

I think the quarterback situation is a recipe for disaster and the volatile Rex Ryan is about the worst guy to manage the delicate situation. There are talent issues and attitude concerns at several positions.

I am not at all positive about this team. I really don’t like them. But then I read people who I respect saying that they could be good and I get confused—at least somewhat.