Now that the abbreviated NFL exhibition season is complete, it’s time to re-examine the betting value of the teams’ futures odds (division/Super Bowl) after taking into consideration injuries, cuts, and so forth.
Particularly affected by injuries were AFC North preseason favorite Baltimore, Indianapolis and the NY Giants. And The Turk caused a stir in New England when he visited presumed starting QB Cam Newton.
What was extra peculiar about the preseason was that seven AFC teams finished 3-0 with no winless squads. In the NFC, no team had a perfect mark and seven finished with all losses, including Dallas at 0-4.
Below is a look at the eight divisions.
Buffalo has held steady as the odds-on choice to win the division at the various online sites, with DraftKings even dropping the Bills’ odds from +1200 to +1000. Thus, ptui on this team! Not worth a bet.
But just like in July, the Patriots remain a better value, especially now that they have opted to go with Alabama rookie QB Mac Jones. He will team with rookie RB Rhamondre Stevenson, who dazzled this summer. At the DK site, the team’s Super odds have gone from a preseason +3300 to +3500. That’s great for a team that has a very easy first seven games and signed a bevy of high-priced free agents.
Although Miami is coming off a 10-6 record, it had a league-best 29 takeaways last season and still didn’t make the playoffs. That number surely will drop. And if QB Tua Tagovailoa is indeed worthy of being considered the Dolphins’ franchise QB, then why the recent rumors they were looking into acquiring Houston’s Deshaun Watson? Maybe now they’ll chase down Newton.
As for the Jets, rookie QB Zach Wilson threw only 20 passes this summer and is operating with a rookie head coach and new staff, so give them time.
Baltimore, which just came off its fifth straight unbeaten exhibition season, puzzlingly remains the clear loop favorite, with DraftKings and BetMGM having them at +110 and +115 respectively — even after leading running back J.K. Dobbins was just lost for the season with a knee injury.
That makes Cleveland an even better value for both the division (+155/+150) and Super Bowl (+1600 at both sites). Even before the Ravens’ setback, the Browns seemed to be the real division choice coming off its dynamic 2020 season that ended in the second round of the postseason in KC. And it helps they have by far the easiest schedule of teams in the division.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, showed little in the preseason with a reworked offensive line missing three departed standouts.
Cincinnati has blossoming QB Joe Burrow coming off a brutal leg injury, but he doesn’t play defense for a team that had the fewest sacks in 2020 and yielded 5.1 yards a rush. Blechh!
Tennessee and Indianapolis were co-favorites when camps opened, but with the travails of new Colts QB Carson Wentz the Titans have evolved into the odds-on choice to win this division (-115/-110) while Indy’s number has rocketed up to +150 at the DK and BetMGM sites.
Wentz has missed significant practice time, first with foot surgery and now while being quarantined for COVID tracing. Thus, unlike in July, the recommendation to jump on Indy with a wager is rescinded.
Tennessee and QB Ryan Tannehill have had their own COVID issues, but at least he has been a starter for the Titans two full years and knows the system. But since the Titans have an unfavorable schedule they aren’t worth a gamble.
Houston isn’t worth even a small Super Bowl wager at ONLY +30000, but Jacksonville, which lost first-round RB pick Travis Etienne (knee) for the year, could still be a fun bet at +13000 (DraftKings) to win the league title under coach Urban Meyer and QB Trevor Lawrence. And like with all mega long shots, hedge bets can be handy if they enter the playoffs.
Barring a rash of injuries to Super Bowl favorite Kansas City, the Chiefs should roll to the division crown and deep into the postseason.
The LA Chargers would be the logical second wagering choice (+450 division/+3000 Super Bowl at both sites), especially if they quit blowing double-digit leads and losing four times, as they did in 2020. But with a rookie coach taking over a team with a losing record (7-9), there are going to be some steep hurdles. LA didn’t exactly finish the summer in fine fashion, either.
Denver seems shaky behind QB Teddy Bridgewater, who took all summer to prove he was better than Drew Lock, the 32nd-rated passer in the league last season. But, zowie, the Broncos’ defense didn’t allow a touchdown this summer on 31 enemy possessions. So, at +5000 for the Super Bowl (BetMGM) the Broncos are betting choice in this group.
Forget Vegas, which has the hardest schedule in the NFL and one of the worst defenses.
Of the eight divisions, the Cowboys are the favored team with the highest Super Bowl odds (+3500 DraftKings). That’s nice value despite their winless summer.
But Dallas had 0-4 exhibition marks twice previously since 2014 and both times went on to win the division. QB Dak Prescott is said to be a full-go after ankle and shoulder issues, the offensive line is improved and so is the defense.
Washington is coming off a division title with only a 7-9 record mark while using four starting QBs, including playoffs. This season Football Team’s ninth starter over the past four seasons will be hot-and-cold veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who excelled for Miami last year, but in six of his nine games faced defenses ranked in the bottom 12 and only once played a team in the top 13. Steer clear.
The NY Giants have been injury-ravaged this summer, and RB Saquon Barkley and standout WR Kenny Golladay are still less than 100 percent. Only Giants fans wlll want to jump on them at +8000 (DraftKings/Caesars).
As for Philadelphia, QB Jalen Hurts hasn’t proven much of anything and will be operating behind a line that allowed the most sacks last season, even though ex-QB Carson Wentz deserved much of the blame.
Now that QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have essentially fist-bumped and made up, Green Bay is the solid favorite to win the division for the third straight seasons. But with odds of only +1400 for the Super Bowl (BetMGM), there’s got to be a better betting option in this loop.
What about Minnesota? It’s a crapshoot expecting QB Kirk Cousins to come through in the clutch on a regular basis, but with RB Dalvin Cook and sensational second-year WR Justin Jefferson, maybe he’s got the weapons to help. Plus, the Vikings’ defense, which was horrible last season, surely will improve or hot lava will start pouring from coach Mike Zimmer’s skull. At +4000 for the Super Bowl (FanDuel, BetMGM) the Vikings are worth the gamble.
In Chicago, ex-Bengals/Cowboys QB Andy Dalton has been anointed the starter ahead of first-round draft choice Justin Fields. But Dalton is coming off his two worst seasons and operating behind a weak offensive line.
The Lions, meanwhile, lost most of their receiving talent this offseason and it’s unlikely new QB Jared Goff will make any difference.
Tom Brady and the defending NFL champion Tampa Bay Bucs are heavy favorites to win the loop (-240 FanDuel) and still have just about all their key components from last season when they churned through the postseason despite playing their first three playoff games on the road.
New Orleans, which won the division last year behind now-retired QB Drew Brees, took a shot to the gut with Hurricane Ida this week and the Saints can’t help but be distracted while being relocated to the Dallas area for the immediate future. The team doesn’t know when it wll play at home again or where it’s Week 1 game will be. Not to mention, the team has turned to turnover-prone Jameis Winston as its starter at QB.
But then again, any time you can get a Sean Payton-coached team at +4000 for the Super Bowl (BetMGM) you take it.
In Atlanta, standout WR Julio Jones wanted to jump ship for a reason, and with Sam Darnold taking over at QB in Carolina, only bet on the Panthers with someone else’s money.
But with the 49ers clearly having the easiest schedule in the league, they warrant an edge. Potential bettors shouldn’t let last season’s sad-sack 6-10 record scare them off, considering it was the play of backup QB Nick Mullens and injuries across the board that sent the team off a cliff. Only a year earlier, San Fran was in the Super Bowl.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo is back from injury and could be sharing time with third-overall 2021 draft pick Trey Lance for a formidable duo. And star TE George Kittle is also back and joined by star rookie RB Trey Sermon, who wowed observers this summer.
The Rams took some hits in the preseason at the running back position and will be relying on recent pickup Sony Michel from New England. He’s not a difference-maker but new QB Matt Stafford is. A playoff berth is likely thanks to a defense that ranked No. 1 last, but as a wild card.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson has endlessly moaned about his offensive line not keeping him clean, so until further notice the Seahawks aren’t worth the risk.
Arizona, meanwhile, has three tough division rivals to contend with twice a year. The Cardinals could, maybe, possibly contend for division honors and chase a Super Bowl, but at only +4800 (FanDuel) the value isn’t there.