News and Notes from the NFL- July 16th
The ongoing labor negotiations between the NFL owners and the Players Association to try and hammer out a new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) continue to move along at a snail’s pace, which is starting to get the natives restless. Some heavy hitters such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees have publically gone on record as saying “it is time to get a deal done” so they can go back to work.
The goal of both sides is to have some kind of completed proposal ready by this time next week, which is the start of a scheduled owner’s meeting in Atlanta. The two main sticking points that have yet to be ironed out are the rookie wage scale and the funding of retirees benefits. Next Thursday would also be the realistic deadline to avoid any disruption of the start of training camp and the preseason game schedule.
When this whole mess finally does get resolved and the league goes back to work, certain teams will be far ahead of the curve then others. The ones with established coaching staffs and player rosters should be able to hit the ground running, while other teams that have a new face at the helm and/or numerous personnel issues will have to go into overdrive to try and quickly close the gap. The‘futures’ that have recently been released by a few sportsbooks seem to favor this theory when examining each team’s odds to win its division.
One example would be the NFC East where the Eagles and the Giants come into this season looking very similar to last year when they both went 10-6. They are co-favorites to win the division at +150. Philadelphia’s Andy Reid is now the longest tenured head coach in the league and Tom Coughlin is entering is eighth season at the helm for New York.
The Cowboys elevated interim coach Jason Garrett to the top spot after salvaging six wins in a lost 2010 season. They are also hoping that their starting quarterback, Tony Romo can successfully come back from missing 10 games last year with an injured shoulder. They have been opened as the third favorite at +250. The Redskins, who are dealing with numerous personnel issues especially at the quarterback position, are bringing up the rear at +1200.
Another division that appears to be a two-team race is the AFC North, where the Steelers and the Ravens are co-favorites at +100 followed by the Browns at +700 and the Bengals at +1500. While the talent level of each team is the primary factor in these odds, their current level of stability is also a contributing factor. Pittsburgh will have its starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger behind center on opening day and Joe Flacco returns for his fourth season with Baltimore along with numerous veterans that contributed to the 12-4 record they both achieved in 2010.
Cleveland is a team on the rise, but is still unsettled at the quarterback position with second-year player Colt McCoy as the current front runner to be the starter on opening day. Cincinnati’s quarterback situation is in complete disarray after Carson Palmer threatened to retire if he was not traded. The Bengals responded by using a second round pick to draft Andy Dalton, who was throwing balls for TCU this time last year.
The lack of preparation due to the prolonged player lockout will undoubtedly take some kind of toll on all 32 teams, but the first few weeks of the regular season should offer some tremendous opportunities to ‘bang the book’ while the odds makers scramble to figure out exactly how each and every team was affected by the layoff.
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