With the start of the 2014 NFL season less than a month away, expectations are high among fans of several teams that posted disappointing records a year ago. But with plenty of change in the off-season, more than one squad that missed the NFL playoffs in 2013 will be looking to return to post-season action.
The New York Giants entered the 2013 NFL campaign with odds of 25/1 to win Super Bowl XLVIII, but after losing their first six games of the season by an average of over 15 points per game, the G-men quickly tumbled to 300/1 longshots with bookmakers like bettingsports.com, and out of playoff contention.
While there was plenty of blame to go around in the Giants’ locker room, quarterback Eli Manning took most of the heat after the two-time Super Bowl MVP threw 27 interceptions versus just 18 TDs, including 15 picks in the Giants’ first six games.
New York would eventually turn things around, winning seven of their last ten to finish the season 7-9. But the Giants, who are currently a -130 bet to win more than eight games this season, will need to improve on their 30th place offense of a year ago, with Manning returning to Super Bowl form, to have any chance of returning to the NFL post-season.
The Atlanta Falcons were a 12/1 favorite to win their first Super Bowl at the start of last season, but a slow start quickly turned into a nightmare for the Falcons, who won just once on the road, en route to a dismal 4-12 record. The Falcons’ collapse was all the more surprising coming after a solid campaign in 2012, when they posted a 13-3 regular season record before losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Conference Championship.
While the loss of tight end Tony Gonzalez will be a challenge to overcome, the return of wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White should give a boost to a Falcons offense that averaged just 22.1 points per game in 2013.
But as with the Giants, the Falcons’ success will likely hinge on the performance of their franchise quarterback, Matt Ryan, who completed 67.4% of his passes for over 4500 yards a year ago; good for fourth overall among NFL starters.