As 2016 wraps up, every sports channel is doing its own 2016 year-in-review, reminding us that the Cubs finally won the World Series, LeBron James cheered up the factory of sadness that is Cleveland, and Payton Manning loped into the Super Bowl sunset a champion.
When 2017 comes to an end, we’ll be treated to the same sort of thing. And I don’t just mean that the style of show will be the same. I’m pretty sure some of the results will, as well. The Cubs have as good a chance as any recent WS champ to repeat; the Cavs should cruise back to the NBA Finals, at the very least; and the Broncos … well, ok … not everything will be the same.
The world of golf is another realm that could see some turnover come 2017. Tiger Woods’ late 2016 comeback attempt has some people believing the 14-time major champ might have a couple clutch, red-shirted Sundays left in him.
In the college basketball ranks, we’re fresh off one of the most memorable March Madness tournaments ever, complete with a title-winning buzzer-beater from Villanova’s Kris Jenkins. The Wildcats are strong again heading into the 2017 tournament, but the true blue bloods – Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA – are all fielding powerhouse teams of their own. Jay Wright’s scrappy squad has a monumental hill to climb if it hopes to go back-to-back.
Join me on a prognosticative sports journey for the next 12 months as I set the odds for ten major sports props in the year to come.
2017 Major Sports Props
Odds to win the 2017 Super Bowl
New England: 5/2
Green Bay: 10/1
Kansas City: 15/1
The Pats are the heavy favorites heading into the postseason. The AFC is as weak as it has been in ages. Every other team is substantially flawed. The Steelers may be the one exception, but the “Killer Bs” really haven’t put together the dynamic offensive performances everyone’s been expecting.
In the NFC, Dallas is the cream of the crop, but no rookie QB has ever won the Super Bowl. Temper your expectations for Dak Prescott and company.
Over/Under on NFL players arrested in 2017: 24.5
Don’t look now, but NFL players, on the whole, might just be cleaning up their act! Based on the USA Today’s “NFL Player Arrests Database” (yes, it’s such an epidemic that said database actually exists), only 26 players were arrested in 2016. That’s down from 40 in 2015, which itself was well down from 51 the year before. Are teams simply less willing to employ problem children than they were before, or are attitudes among players really changing?
I can’t answer that. I don’t know why I posed it.
Odds to win the 2017 NBA Title
Golden State: 7/5
San Antonio: 10/1
LA Clippers: 25/1
Let’s be honest, we only need to list three teams here. The defending champion Cavaliers still trail the NBA-leading Warriors in my view, even though they have a much easier road back to the finals. The addition of Kevin Durant had made Golden State nearly impossible to defend, and they’re starting to figure out how to best use their ridiculously talented puzzle pieces.
The Spurs aren’t playing as consistently as Gregg Popovich would like. But they did absolutely hammer the Warriors on opening night, so don’t count them out.
Odds to win NBA MVP
Russell Westbrook: 5/4
James Harden: 4/1
LeBron James: 6/1
Kawhi Leonard: 9/1
Anthony Davis: 15/1
Yeah, averaging a triple-double will situate you as the heavy MVP favorite, especially if you lead your essentially one-man team to the playoffs in the powerful Western Conference. Unless Russell Westbrook seriously regresses when the calendar changes, this award is his to lose.
James Harden is ahead of LeBron because he, like Westbrook, has a lackluster supporting cast. Anthony Davis is also a one-man show in New Orleans, but the Pelicans aren’t a very good team.
No Warrior is going to win this award. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry will siphon too many votes from each other.
Odds to win the 2017 World Series
Chicago Cubs: 11/2
Cleveland Indians: 11/1
LA Dodgers: 16/1
The Cubs are the favorites, no doubt. They have great pitching; they have a lineup of mashers; and they’re incredibly young and still getting better. That said, repeating in the MLB is really hard. No team has done it since the Yankees three-peated from 1998 to 2000. There are just so many finicky little variables in baseball. And while sabermetrics are great at predictions over the long-run, the playoffs are too short to be anything but a crapshoot.
Odds to win the 2017 Stanley Cup
It’s adorable that Columbus is on a nice little run. But the Blue Jackets do not have a playoff-tested roster. Guess who does. Both the Penguins and the Blackhawks, both of whom find themselves near the top of their respective conferences. Give battle-tested teams like that home-ice in the postseason and they’re as good a bet as you’ll ever find in the always unpredictable Stanley Cup playoffs.
Odds Tiger Woods wins a PGA tournament in 2017: 9/1
Tiger hasn’t won a PGA tournament since 2013. He looked decent at the Hero World Challenge late in 2016, his first tournament in the last year and a half. He showed the inconsistencies which will kill you against a PGA field, though. On top of rust, there are injuries to worry about. Woods has proven incredibly fragile. It’s very debatable how many tournaments he’ll play. How many he’ll actually finish is an even bigger question mark.
Odds Tiger Woods wins a major in 2017: 19/1
Those odds might not look as long as they should given the preceding prop. But Tiger could probably fire one-under at Augusta with a broken leg (just not a broken marriage). If he’s healthy come April, look for the four-time Masters champ to come out firing darts.
Odds to win 2017 March Madness
My colleague Bubs set out these odds a couple days ago, and not much has changed since. Duke is the favorite because of its ridiculous depth. You could remove any one player and the Blue Devils would still be a top-five team.
UCLA is proving deeper than expected, as well. Lonzo Ball has lived up to all the hype, while TJ Leaf has been downright dominant in his freshman season. Beating Kentucky at Rupp will shoot you up these rankings awfully fast.
Odds on which university will commit the next major NCAA rules infraction
Florida Gulf Coast: 30/1
This is a tough one to predict, because many infractions come from the schools you would least expect. Rutgers football has been notified of a possible seven violations; this despite the fact Rutgers football is the equivalent of a person in a wheelchair falling down the stairs. So we need to include schools you would never think of.
But then you see a school like UNC get hit for their academic scandal, and that makes total sense, because the Tar Heels will do anything to keep their basketball dominance going. So we also need to include schools you would totally think of. What you end up with is a list of a lot of schools with very similar odds. Here’s six of them.
Photo credit: By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons