Most of us only have a minor understanding of the stock market.
It may go up as many days as it goes down in a given month. Moreover, one company's stock can still go up while another's goes down.
In fact, a company can be profitable and have its stock go down while another is losing money and sees its stock rise. This is because it is more tied to economic indicators and future potential than current gains and losses.
Only one team in the NFL sells stock—the Green Bay Packers. Because their stock is non-profit, it always holds at the same value.
But what if NFL teams were sold on the open market? And what if their stock value was based entirely on performance?
The best teams of 2010 would have ended last season with the highest stock value. But if I were a stockbroker, I would advise clients to sell some who are likely to take a step back, while taking those funds to buy cheaper stock in some non-playoff teams that will improve.
Just as the value of stock is predicated largely on public perception, so is the value of teams. Anyone can look at the Detroit Lions and see a team on the rise or the Cincinnati Bengals and see a team on the fall.
Public value can largely be seen in betting odds. Many people think they are based on a prediction of results on the field from those setting lines; they are actually made to get an even number of bettors on each side of a line. That is why lines sometimes change throughout a week even if there is no new reports that would affect the outcome.
Based on odds provided by Bodog.com, there are 12 teams favoured to make the 12 playoff spots: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers.
(A favourite is defined as a team with at most an even payoff if you bet on them and a positive payoff if you bet against them. You will note that there is no NFC West team listed as a favourite, and seven teams in the AFC. Perhaps that would be fair given their accomplishments, but it obviously will not play out that way.)
The way to out-smart the market is to find that stock others are not buying or selling. Thus, here are three teams favoured to make it into the playoffs that one should take the odds to bet against and three more that are underdogs to reach the postseason that are worth the odds to bet on...