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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 1:42 PM

The first National Football League training camps open in three weeks and that means it is time to bear down on handicapping the lucrative pre-season and laying the ground work for the 16-game regular season. While the New England Patriots are the 9-2 favorites to win the Super Bowl, followed by the Green Bay Packers 5-1, the hottest team in Las Vegas futures betting in San Francisco. The 49ers opened at 20-1 and have been bet down the 7-1 third choice.

Unless it is baseball season and the fools of the world continue to bet on the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series, futures betting is serious business and must be respected. Vegas bookies say the San Francisco money has come from both the sharps and the public-a fact not to be overlooked when getting ready for the regular season.

It is my belief this NFL pre-season is going to be more attractive for bettors because of the very flat salary cap. Last year each team had a limit of $120,375,000 to spend on players and this year that figure is just $120,600,000. There is no wiggle room for anybody and the cap is going to play a significant role in which key (high-priced) players stay with each team.

The cap is not going to impact star skill players but will determine whether a team keeps an offensive tackle making $5 million a year or decides to replace him with a younger and less experienced player who will draw by $1.5 million. This means we are going to see younger players and more rookies getting quality time during the pre-season.

Teams have just four exhibition games to get an answer to the high-priced veterans vs. cheaper younger and less-experienced question. It is obvious teams with no salary cap issues can afford to keep their best veteran linemen and will have a tremendous edge over those trying to get it done with less talented individuals.

One will also have to pay attention to the three teams that intend to start rookies at quarterback this season. Andrew Luck (Stanford) gets the call at Indianapolis, Robert Griffin III (Baylor) will start at Washington and Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) steps into the breach at Cleveland.

There is much for bettors to consider over the next few weeks and I do intend to cover them all, because I have a feeling this pre-season will be the most profitable ever, and you can get it free. (See below)

Getting Ready To Handicap 2012-13 NFL Season

National Football League training camps open in three weeks and that means it is time to lay the foundation for handicapping the pros this season. A good starting point is to consider what Las Vegas bookmakers project in their futures betting lines, usually an accurate assessment of what is to come during the regular 16-game NFL season.

The numbers below show the line at which each NFL team opened in futures betting, the current line, last year's regular season record and the number of games bookmakers project each team will win this season. All betting figures come from the Las Vegas Hotel, formerly the Las Vegas Hilton.

Team Opening Odds Current Odds SU Last Year Projected Wins
Arizona Cardinals 50-1 100-1 8-8
Atlanta Falcons 20-1 25-1 10-6 9
Baltimore Ravens 12-1 15-1 12-4 10
Buffalo Bills 50-1 50-1 6-10
Carolina Panthers 50-1 40-1 6-10
Chicago Bears 30-1 20-1 8-8 9
Cincinnati Bengals 40-1 40-1 9-7 8
Cleveland Browns 100-1 200-1 4-12
Dallas Cowboys 20-1 25-1 8-8
Denver Broncos 50-1 20-1 8-8
Detroit Lions 20-1 20-1 10-6 9
Green Bay Packers 5-1 5-1 15-1 12
Houston Texans 15-1 10-1 10-6
Indianapolis Colts 40-1 100-1 2-14 5
Jacksonville Jaguars 100-1 200-1 5-11 5
Kansas City Chiefs 50-1 40-1 7-9 8
Miami Dolphins 50-1 60-1 6-10
Minnesota Vikings 100-1 100-1 3-13 6
New England Patriots 7-1 9-2 13-3 12½
New Orleans Saints 6-1 15-1 13-3
New York Giants 20-1 25-1 9-7
New York Jets 20-1 30-1 8-8
Oakland Raiders 50-1 60-1 8-8
Philadelphia Eagles 12-1 8-1 8-8 10½
Pittsburgh Steelers 12-1 15-1 12-4 10½
San Diego Chargers 15-1 30-1 8-8 9
San Francisco 49ers 20-1 7-1 13-3
Seattle Seahawks 60-1 70-1 7-9 7
St. Louis Rams 100-1 200-1 2-14 6
Tampa Bay Bucs 100-1 200-1 4-12 5
Tennessee Titans 50-1 60-1 9-7
Washington Redskins 100-1 100-1 5-11 6

For those unfamiliar with projected win totals, one can bet over or under the posted number.

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