My stance on what I call “long positions” or what is most commonly referred to as futures are very simple. I only place them pre-season when I am confident the price will shrink the regular season. With that said, Sometimes I am willing to take a long-term position at a reduced price in the NFL because despite what the league would have you believe, the injury problem is very real. I don’t care if a team is 200-1 preseason, if they lose a starting quarterback the wheels can fall off. The path to a championship or laying out the hedging opportunities is also something I take into account when weighting when the right time to strike on a futures position is.
It’s a difficult task to explain to someone sometimes the idea of placing a future on a team that you truly don’t believe can win a championship. The term “value” is tossed around far too much in this industry because quite frankly, there is no value in a losing ticket if you don’t have the skills needed to know when to buy and sell from a hedge perspective. I could have offered anyone 1,000-1 on the New York Jets to win the AFC this season. If you don’t know how to hedge or simply don’t hedge – I would argue that bet is still in my favor.
So, with this all being said, let’s break down each team and unleash a future bet or two shall we?
The Key Trend: A team within the top 3 of Net Yards Per Play (YPP) has been in The SuperBowl for 17 straight seasons. It comes as no surprise that the top three teams have all made the playoffs.
- New Orleans Saints
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Atlanta Falcons
New England Patriots (-150), Pittsburgh Steelers (+200), Kansas City Chiefs (+1000), Jacksonville Jaguars (+1000), Buffalo Bills (+7500), Tennessee Titans (+1000)
With the market share being dominated by New England and Pittsburgh, anything short of a chalk AFC Championship game between Pittsburgh and New England would come as a surprise to many people. The AFC Wild Card round features two heavy favorites as both matchups have the home team laying over a touchdown (KC -8.5 Vs. TEN & JAX -8.5 Vs. Buffalo) and in all honesty, neither Tennessee or Buffalo truly deserve to be in the playoffs as it took an all time collapse by Baltimore to open the door. I don’t expect much in the way of an upset Wild Card Weekend as Buffalo and Tennesee will most likely be sent home, which leaves us with 4 teams (NE, PIT, KC, & JAX.)
New England Patriots (-150)
The ultimate gamblers fallacy is that if a roulette wheel lands on red 6 times in a row the thought process is to bet black the next spin because it’s “due.” I don’t subscribe to this theory as I’d like to share one key sentence with you that many people do not realise. You can lose many times betting against a streak, but can only lose once. New England has been to 6 straight AFC Championship games and until it proves to not be profitable, they are the only team you should be backing preseason because the market is certain to shrink during the season outside of injury. I get it, the price sucks but -150 is a shorter price to lay on a money line in any game New England will be playing in during the playoffs. They are the most likely to represent the AFC, it’s just a fact.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+200)
The most talented team in the AFC (so long as Antonio Brown plays) should already hold a win over New England if it wasn’t for a all time in-game collapse. The thing is, this price is too short for a 2 game season in the AFC playoffs. Pittsburgh will likely be right around a +160 money line underdog to New England, so I’m perfectly fine holding off and playing Pittsburgh on the money line against New England at a bit of a reduced price if Pittsburgh is the team you want to back.
Kansas City (+1000) & Jacksonville (+1000)
Kansas City is the only team to represent the AFC in the top 3 of net yards per play, which certainly helps. They also already own a victory over New England this season, although it was week one which seems like a lifetime ago. If there’s a surprise team to make a deep run in the playoffs it’s far more likely to be Kansas City than Jacksonville. The reason I say this is that the blueprint to beat Jacksvonille has been shown so many times. If you can get out to an early lead and force Jacksonville to have to pass the ball, they are one of the worst teams in the league. That being said, if Jacksonville is able to get out to a lead and force their opponent to pass the ball they are one of the best in the league because they have the best pass defense in the NFL. The playoffs never go according to plan however and I have no faith in Jacksvonille to be able to come back from adversity. Kansas City at 10/1 however provides great value to guarantee profit via hedging.
1. The Best Option: New England Moneyline Rollover
2. Second Best Option: Pittsburgh Moneyline Vs. New England
3. The Value Hedge Play: Kansas City Chiefs (+1000)
*Odds courtesy of Westgate Superbook Las Vegas
Minnesota Vikings (+150), LA Rams (+400), New Orleans Saints (+400), Philadelphia Eagles (+500), Atlanta Falcons (+800), Carolina Panthers (+1500)
Minnesota Vikings (+150)
Minnesota is trying to become the first team in history to host a Super Bowl and they are doing so as the new favorite in The NFC thanks to the injury to Carson Wentz. I realise that Case Keenum still hasn’t probably earned your trust week in and week out but Minnesota was tied with New England for the best against the spread record in the NFL at 11-5, and are just below New England at 20-12 ATS the last two seasons. Belief or not, Minnesota has been a great bet. They will have home field throughout the playoffs as long as Philadelphia gets knocked out along the way, which is very likely. The price is too short for my taste, but they have a chance to make history.
LA Rams (+400)
The two favorites in the NFC are led by Case Keenum and Jared Goff. What a time to be alive. I’m not buying The Rams at all and I’ll tell you why. To me, the moment is always too big the first time. Sean McVay is going to win coach of the year, Jared Goff has been outstanding, and Todd Gurley is a legit MVP candidate, but didn’t we say the same things about Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliot last season? I sold Dallas hard last season and it paid off, and this is this seasons version. I will be backing Atlanta on the moneyline this weekend.
New Orleans Saints (+400) & Atlanta Falcons (+800)
I’ve lumped these two teams together because in short, I’ve already bought futures on both of them. They are my favorite two bets in the NFC and they round out the top 3 teams in Net YPP with The Kansas City Chiefs. As far as New Orleans goes: From a simple math perspective, if you let the future price ride on Carolina, you only have two games left in the NFC (likely PK against Philadelphia and a short dog against Minnesota) while getting a price of 4/1 for the NFC alone, let alone an additional +400 for The Super Bowl. This is another team I’m buying with the intention to hedge, but with a likely win against Carolina, the price will shorten and shorten quick.
Atlanta, on the other hand, I bought with the intention of riding out, even though the price is actually longer. Not only is this price somewhat disrespectful to the defending NFC Champions, it’s the second straight year they’ve been undervalued and I’m not sure why as this season Atlanta gains 8% more total yards per play than their opponents averagely allows per play (See chart below.) On top of that, Atlanta currently has the same record they did when they made their championship run last season and are actually looked at as if they are a worse version of themselves. If they can spring the upset against an inexperienced Rams team this price may be cut in half and you will be able to carve out a nice profit.
1. The Best Option: New Orleans Saints (+400) & Atlanta Falcons (+800)
2. The Worst Option: LA Rams (+400)