Dan Favale | Tue 21/11/2017 - 03:55 EST

Biggest Surprises of the 2017 NFL Season

Board the below bangwagons before it's too late. We've brought you a few quality Super Bowl bets that basically no one saw coming at the start of the season, as their beginning-of-the-year odds will show. While these options qualify as dark horses, they all also warrant your attention. All odds come courtesy of the Las Vegas Westgate Hotel & Casino Sportsbooks and are accurate ahead of Week 12's games.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Preseason Super Bowl Odds: +8000

Current Super Bowl Odds: +2500

jaguars

How far can a team go in the playoffs without any semblance of a passing game on the more glamorous side of the ball? 

The Jacksonville Jaguars are about to find out.

Few people billed them as even a quasi-postseason contender ahead of this year, in large part because franchise quarterback Blake Bortles appeared to be in danger of losing his job. And while he remains under center, he isn't even kind of why the Jaguars are on the verge of winning the AFC South. They rank 27th in total passing attempts and yards, in addition to 24th in aerial touchdowns. They place in the top 10 of interceptions thrown, in a good way, but that has more to do with their lack of volume through the air than anything else.

This inclusion instead belongs to Leonard Fournette, the running back who anchors the highest-volume ground attack in football. The Jaguars rank first in total rushing attempts and yards, sixth in rushing touchdowns and fourth in yards per carry. Fournette is the main reason why.

This honor also belongs to their defense, which ranks first in yards and touchdowns allowed through the air, not to mention third in interceptions. Their secondary makes life hell on earth for opposing quarterbacks—something that bodes well for their ability to slow down the pace of play and limit big-time gains once the playoffs roll around. 

Los Angeles Rams

Preseason Super Bowl Odds: +10000

Current Super Bowl Odds: +1200

rams

So, um, what?

No one saw the Los Angeles Rams emerging as anything special, like their odds clearly show. The most optimistic peeps saw them maybe, possibly, if they were lucky, piecing together an average defense. 

But a top-seven finish in points allowed per game? No way, Jose.

Flip over to the offensive side, and the Rams are full of even more surprises. They rank second in points scored per game, another development even the most bold seers couldn’t have predicted. Todd Gurley is once again headlining one of the league’s strongest rushing attacks while quarterback Jason Goff has proved to be something of a gambler’s Alex Smith—a game manager who ranks 25th in total passing attempts, yet ninth in total yards and 10th in total touchdowns.

Aspects of the Rams’ performance can sometimes feel like a mirage. They play in a crummy NFC West division and, as a result, have waltzed through one of the NFL’s easiest schedules. 

Still, Pro-Football-Reference’s Simple Rating System (SRS), which ranks teams according to strength of schedule and point differential, scores them as the second-best outfit in the NFL. You need to take them seriously—as do their opponents.

New Orleans Saints

Preseason Super Bowl Odds: +8000

Current Super Bowl Odds: +2500

saints

Oddsmakers didn’t have anything good to say about the New Orleans Saints at the beginning of the season. They had seen this movie before. The Saints would bleed points on the defensive end, score a bunch of points themselves in garbage time, win between six and eight games, and then miss the playoffs.

So much for that.

The Saints are, perhaps, the scariest team on this list. They’re third in the NFL in points scored per game, which is pleasantly surprising, not completely shocking. The real kicker: They’re sporting a top-10 defense. Seriously. They enter Week 12 placing ninth in points allowed per game despite playing through a slightly above-average schedule. 

According to SRS, no team in football is better. That is not a typo. Relative to their strength of schedule and point differential, the Saints are playing like the cream of the NFL’s crop. If you haven’t penciled them in as possible Super Bowl bets, you better do it now, because their odds aren’t going to get any more lucrative. Real-deal options never do.

Philadelphia Eagles

Preseason Super Bowl Odds: +6000

Current Super Bowl Odds: +500

eagles

Look at the Philadelphia Eagles, giving the Saints a run for their money as the NFL’s most surprising team and everything. They lose out on the shock-and-awe scale, but their league-best record is nevertheless disarming.

Few analysts saw them contending for the NFC East’s Division title. That honor seemingly belonged to the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. Some souls would have penciled in the Washington Redskins, and their Kirk Cousins-piloted offense, before the offense.

And yet, here the Eagles sit, at 9-1 entering Week 12, with the NFL’s best offense, which has thrown more touchdowns than any squad, and a top-eight defense, which places first in rushing yards allowed and second in rushing touchdowns relinquished. 

To simply call the Eagles a Super Bowl option would be a borderline insult. They’re closer to favorites than they are to dark-horse status, and their odds reflect as much. 

Results / FixturesNFL

*All stats come via Pro-Football-Reference and are accurate leading into games for Week 12 unless otherwise cited.

Category : Sports Betting News

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