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Submitted by Jim Feist on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 12:00 AM

This has been a year where the sports books have gotten killed booking NFL wagers. The reason is clear; there simply is very little parity in the NFL this season. Actually, this is a year of HAVES AND HAVE NOTS. We all know which teams fit in each bracket. The Steelers and Patriots are the premier AFC teams, just as many of us thought before the season began. In the NFC, it’s a little more complicated since that conference is much deeper in talented teams than the AFC. How deep you ask? The Falcons, Saints, Panthers, Eagles, Vikings, Lions, Seahawks, Rams, all have shown that they are dangerous contenders.

Is it possible some other team or teams could rise to become surprise Super Bowl contenders? Sure it is especially considering how much of an effect injuries can have on the fortunes of a team. Just look at what happened to the Packers playoff chances after losing quarterback Aaron Rogers. Similarly, the Houston Texans looked poised to make a run until they lost quarterback Deshaun Watson. The New York Giants have lost key offensive plays all season long. Look at how devastating a key offensive lineman going down can mess up an offensive game plan. Just ask the Dallas Cowboys or Green Bay Packers.  In fact, besides quarterback, there is no bigger impact on team’s fortunes then the health of their offensive linemen.  I could go on and on about how much a Watson and JJ Watt means to the Texans or Andrew Luck not playing a down for the Colts has been. I think you get the point.

I predicted even before the season started that there would be a resurgence of the running back in the NFL. That sure has come true. The LA Rams Todd Gurley stuck a dagger in many a fantasy football owner’s heart last year. This season, he’s looking like the star everyone saw in 2015.  Most of the really successful teams this year have better balance than was the trend in prior campaigns.  Still, there exists this huge division between the Haves and Have Nots. The root of this division can be directly attributed to the lack of quality offensive lineman and quarterbacks.

Overall, even though I believe this is down year for the NFL in terms of depth of talented squads, given time many of these teams will develop the people they have and jell into competitive teams for years to come. The league will always have to overcome the pending loss of some star QB’s that are reaching the end of their careers.

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