Looking at early NFL futures and totals

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Now that the Super Bowl is history and the New England Patriots have won their fourth Super Bowl in the past 14 seasons, the attention for most NFL fans turns to the upcoming scouting combine and subsequent draft of college talent.

But for those of us in Nevada who are linesmakers, handicappers and bettors, or a combination thereof, the next key event will be the release of the Season Win Totals for each of the 32 NFL teams within the next few months.

Once the regular season has been completed each team’s 16 opponents for the 2015 season are determined according to formula. Once the NFL releases the 2015 schedule, usually in late April, the sequencing of those opponents will complete the maze through which teams must traverse to make it to next season’s Playoffs.

But even before we get to evaluate and attack those season win totals we can look at the Super Bowl odds for next season that were posted by many of Nevada’s Sports Books a week or so prior to the playing of Super Bowl 49.

To nobody’s surprise the early favorites to win Super Bowl 50 are the teams that just decided Super Bowl 49. Representative odds have Seattle a 5-to-1 favorite followed by New England at 6-1.

Green Bay (7-1) and Denver (8-1) are also held at single digit odds with Indianapolis (12-1) and Dallas (14-1) the only other teams being held at less than 20-1 odds.

A total of 20 teams are listed at odds ranging from 20-1 to 60-1 with six teams having odds between 100-1 and 300-1 at the Westgate.

As we have seen over the years teams that get hot and play their best football in December are in excellent position to play in, and win, the Super Bowl. The past two seasons were anomalies with both Super Bowl teams having been the top seeds in their respective conferences.

More often than not over the past decade one of the Super Bowl teams has been a team that won a Wild Card game. Three times in the past 10 seasons the Super Bowl has featured a pair of teams neither of which was a number one seed.

Another factor to consider is that the composition of the 12-team Playoff field changes by an average of 5 or 6 teams from one season to the next. In looking for teams at attractively priced odds on which to make a Super Bowl futures wager it is often best to look for teams that did not make the Playoffs this season but are teams you think are on the rise and/or have playoff caliber talent to make it next season.

The half dozen or so teams you expect to repeat will often have odds that are too short to play so far in advance. There has been some talk that the NFL may, beginning with this season, expand the Playoff field for the first time in a quarter century, going from 12 to 14 teams with the addition of one additional Wild Card from each conference.

Such a plan would result in three, rather than two, games played during Wild Card weekend with only the top seed from each Conference earning bye. But any such decision is still a couple of months away.

In looking at the 12 teams that made the Playoffs this past season the half dozen teams most likely to be Playoff teams again in 2015 would be Baltimore, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New England and Seattle. This list is based on their recent history of making the Playoffs and level of personnel/coaching stability.

The uncertain status of QB Peyton Manning keeps Denver as part of the half dozen teams whose return to the Playoffs is, for the moment, less likely. But the Broncos should still be considered at the outset as being more likely to make the Playoffs than to miss them if Manning is physically cleared.

More questionable in returning to the Playoffs are Arizona, Carolina, Dallas, Detroit and Pittsburgh although, of this group, Pittsburgh may be the most likely to return.

Teams that appear capable of replacing those teams are New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Francisco in the NFC and Buffalo, Houston, Kansas City and San Diego in the AFC.

The Saints, Eagles, 49ers, Chiefs and Chargers all made the Playoffs in 2013 before missing out last season.

Buffalo was one of most improved teams in 2014 and their coaching change from Doug Marone to Rex Ryan is not considered a negative by many observers. 2014 was Buffalo’s most successful season since going 9-7 in 2004.

Houston slipped from two straight Playoff appearances in 2011 and 2012 to a 2-14 season in 2013 before rebounding to 9-7 in 2014.

There is a tradeoff in playing Super Bowl futures nearly a year in advance of playing the game itself. Whereas the odds, in most cases, are the most favorable for many teams there is also the greatest amount of uncertainty.

The draft, free agency and injuries are just three of the myriad of factors that will influence a team’s chances come training camp and the regular season.

It is also important to keep in mind that attractive odds can be found at the start of the Playoffs. So there is no rush to make a futures bet on a team that is currently held at odds of 30-1 or less unless you are of the opinion one such team might do well enough to be a 1 or a 2 seed and thus be priced at much lower odds once the Playoff field is set.

Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected].

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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