We are just days away from the start of the 2016 NFL season, which means one very important thing: it's time to get your preseason bets in on who will win the Super Bowl, MVP, and every other category we can bet on before Week 1. Of course, anyone can make predictions about who's most likely to win. The real value comes in recognizing which players offer the biggest reward at the smallest risk to your gambling dollar. So these aren't necessarily the players and teams we think are most likely to win; instead, we're identifying the best bets on the board that could line your pockets and leave your friends speechless. (All lines courtesy of Bovada.com, as of 8/26.)
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Super Bowl winner: Carolina Panthers (12/1)
If you're looking for a little more of a long shot, you might want to consider a bet on the Oakland Raiders, who are going off at 25/1 to win it all this year. The best value, though, comes from last year's NFC champion. The Panthers have the third-best odds in their conference to win the Super Bowl (behind the Packers and Seahawks), which means you're in for a big payday when they exorcise the demons from last year's championship loss to the Denver Broncos.
Getty ImagesThearon W. Henderson
NFL MVP: QB Russell Wilson, Seahawks (8/1)
Assuming the Seahawks maintain their elite level of play in the post-Marshawn Lynch era, Wilson is going to get a ton of credit for keeping Seattle on the right track. Although Thomas Rawls and the rest of the Seahawks' running backs should make up for most of Lynch's lost production, expect Wilson to post the best season of his career as Seattle asks him to carry a bigger load on offense. Between his feet and his arm, Wilson is an easy choice here. Not interested in one of the favorites, however? Maybe consider Andy Dalton (50/1) if you think the Bengals will surprise people this year, or even Antonio Brown (66/1), who could shock the world and win MVP if he goes over 2,000 receiving yards for the Steelers
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Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys (-110)
No, that's not a typo. Elliott is literally the odds-on favorite to win this award and the only clear betting favorite we'd recommend. After his preseason debut on Thursday, there's no chance we're betting against him. (Aside: Bovada does not currently have odds listed for Defensive Rookie of the Year.)
Defensive Player of the Year: N/A
J.J. Watt is the most popular choice to win defensive player of the year on a yearly basis; with his health uncertain headed into the regular season, this category has been taken off the board for most of the preseason at Bovada. If that changes any time soon, we'll let you know.
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Coach of the Year: Mike McCarthy, Packers (10/1)
Voters will likely reward McCarthy for taking back control of the Green Bay offense, and a combination of his play-calling and improved player health should mean a big year for the Packers. On top of the on-field success we're expecting for McCarthy and Green Bay, he'll have a media narrative playing in his favor, as well. The Super Bowl-winning coach has yet to win the NFL's coach of the year award in his nine seasons in Green Bay. That probably changes this year.
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Most passing yards: QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers (10/1)
If you can find a sportsbook that allows you to parlay McCarthy as Coach of the Year with Rodgers for most passing yards (or even MVP, where Rodgers is listed as the favorite at 17/4), snatch up that bet as quickly as you can. With his wide receivers healthy and McCarthy back calling the plays, Rodgers is going to roast NFL secondaries in 2016. At 10-to-1, this is like printing free money.
Getty ImagesRob Carr
Most receiving yards: WR Brandon Marshall, Jets (33/1)
Marshall is by far the biggest underdog we're willing to take a chance on. Of course, the actual bet here is Steelers WR Antonio Brown, who has a solid chance to become the first receiver in NFL history to go over 2,000 yards receiving. But Brown is an overwhelming betting favorite (at 2/1), so that's not fun at all. We're in the same boat with Falcons WR Julio Jones (3/1), who just beat out Brown to lead the league in receiving last season. Marshall, on the other hand, was a distant fourth in 2015, but the payoff is huge if he happens to overtake Brown and Jones this year. Essentially, you're wagering on regression from those two and a bit more chemistry between Marshall and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick this year. At 33-to-1, it's not out of the question.
Getty ImagesTom Szczerbowski
Most rushing yards: RB David Johnson, Cardinals (16/1)
Adrian Peterson is an overwhelming betting favorite (7/2), which makes sense. He's going to carry the Vikings offense this year. There's also a chance he finally slows down in 2016, however, and if he does, Johnson is an outstanding choice to leap to the top of the running back rankings, over guys like Todd Gurley, Doug Martin and Jamaal Charles. Arizona retooled its offensive line this offseason, so Johnson should see much bigger holes than he did last year. His combination of explosive north-south running, lateral quickness and spectacular vision at the line has fantasy players and gamblers alike drooling over the Cardinals RB.