Just like most NFL seasons, the 2012 campaign isn't going according to plan - at the oddsmakers' plan. Books released divisional futures before the season started and a lot of those prices have moved since Week 1.
Take a look at which teams opened the season as divisional favorites and which teams are now the books' pick to take the division crown:
Preseason favorite – New Orleans +125
Current favorite – Atlanta Falcons -1,666
Atlanta still has five division games to play, but we can just about put this puppy to bed. We’re used to the Falcons starting fast and getting out of the blocks 5-0 is great, but the Saints going winless in September shut this down. New Orleans is now at +1,100 and Atlanta -1,665, which is the books’ way of telling us this is over.
Preseason favorite – Houston Texans -400
Current favorite – Houston -10,000
Tennessee (+450) was given a puncher’s chance before opening day, but the 1-4 Titans have faded out of the picture while Houston plays out the season and hopes there are no major injuries before the playoffs. Indianapolis’s win over Green Bay kept things interesting and the Colts have five straight winnable games on the schedule, but they don’t get a crack at the Texans until Week 15, and things might be moot by then.
Preseason favorite -- Philadelphia Eagles +140
Current favorite – New York Giants +150
New York is the only team in division scoring more points than it gives up and the way things are going, three big-name quarterbacks in this division might be sitting out the playoffs. The odds have remained relatively stable in this division as books wait to see if one team can separate itself. Looks like a race to the wire, with 10-6 or even 9-7 enough to get it done.
Preseason favorite – New England Patriots -350
Current favorite – New England -833
The Patriots are a missed field goal (Arizona) and a made one (Baltimore) away from being 5-0, so those two losses have had less impact on the numbers than the three wins (blowouts by an average score of 39-20) have. Miami (+1,800 preseason, +1400 now) has shown signs of life, but the perception that the Jets are in a gully has sucked the oxygen out of this race.
Preseason favorite – San Francisco 49ers -229
Current favorite – San Francisco -300
Tough one to figure here as both the Cardinals (+800 preseason, +700 now) and 49ers are 4-1 and haven’t yet played. Arizona gets the first home game (Oct. 29), then they meet in San Francisco in Week 17. Arizona’s stinko loss in St. Louis last Thursday no doubt depressed the numbers somewhat. We’ll know a lot more by the end of the month, but right now the Cards look like a bargain.
Preseason favorite – Denver Broncos +185
Current favorite – San Diego Chargers +100
Looks like splitting hairs here with the Broncos (+110) and Chargers both spinning their wheels in the early going. Denver’s three losses have been to teams with a combined record of 13-2 (New England, Houston, Atlanta). Not having a dominant division team has kept Kansas City (+350 preseason, +2,000 now) from falling completely off the map.
Preseason favorite – Green Bay Packers -225
Current favorite – Green Bay +120
The big story here is the Vikings, who were a +3,300 afterthought but are listed now at +450 after their 4-1 start. Numbers crunchers figure that the Packers would be 3-2 and right in it if they hadn’t gotten screwed by the replacement refs, so Green Bay is still liked by the books a little more than the +150 Bears.
Preseason favorite – Pittsburgh Steelers +150
Current favorite – Baltimore Ravens -175
Is there any way this thing doesn’t go to the wire, just as it has in every year since 2006 when Baltimore went 13-3? The only interesting number here is Cleveland’s current number (+30,000), on the board so Las Vegas can steal money from gullible Ohio tourists. The AFC North has had three different winners in the last three years.