The NFL is fast approaching, and as fans and bettors we are looking forward to all of the action. We need our weekly fall betting rhythm with college football completely disrupted, and hoops and MLB just don’t cut it. There are a lot of question marks coming into the season, sure, but we still have you covered. If you are looking for some future plays, here are some bets, division-by-division, that caught my eye.
AFC East – Buffalo Bills +130 to win the division
The Bills are a team on the rise and it looks like the New England Patriots are finally ready to get out of the way. This is not just a fade of the Brady-less Pats, though. Buffalo has great continuity, a really strong defense and finally gave QB Josh Allen a top target. There is every reason to think the young quarterback keeps improving and he is already one of the most exciting players in the league. Definitely a guy you want to root for, so you might as well get some money down too.
AFC North – Cleveland Browns Under 8.5 Wins
Remember what this means for the Browns: at least 9-7, an actual winning record. Looking at the schedule, they still have to play Baltimore and Pittsburgh twice, which could be four losses right there. Cincinnati is likely improved too, so that could be a fifth loss in the division play alone. I am just not ready to buy that they might need to go 8-2 in their other games to get the over here. I am not sure about any part of this team: Baker Mayfield, the coaching, none of it. When you’re going to back an over, you should not have as many doubt as I do now.
AFC South – Houston to win the Division +350
I know it seems like the team is on fire in Houston. None of their personnel moves make any sense. Still, I am not sure there is a clear cut leader in the AFC South this season and Houston still has the best quarterback and a chance for a good defense too. You are getting three times the payoff you will get from Indianapolis or Tennessee, and neither of those teams are elite. That is what I would call good old fashioned value. I would put the odds for all of those teams at about the same coming into the season.
AFC West – Las Vegas Raiders Over 7.5 Wins
The AFC West may be the home of the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, but the rest of the division is pretty weak. Oakland should get half of the wins they need just from playing Denver and Los Angeles, and then would only need four more from the rest of the schedule. The offense is legit and can get better, and Gruden is a good coach overall. There will be some buzz from being in a new home, and teams will not be prepared for it. Vegas might not be as much as an advantage as it would have been in a non-pandemic year, but it will still be an advantage.
NFC East – New York Giants Under 6.5
Tons of question marks for the New York Giants this season, beginning with the head coach, who kind of got the job from out of nowhere. QB Daniel Jones showed that he isn’t a disaster when he actually throws the ball, but those fumbles are killer, especially because they seem so avoidable. I am not sold on their defense or their offense being good enough to carry them on those days they might need it. Saquon Barkley might be a fantasy monster, but that is it for these guys. Seven wins feels like almost twice as many they’ll get.
NFC North – Detroit Lions to win the Division +600
You could have got +900 earlier this offseason, so that tells you something as the markets are clearly warming on Detroit some. I am not predicting a 13-3 season, just a tidy 10-6 that outpaces Minnesota and Green Bay, both of whom probably bag nine wins each (maybe less if Aaron Rodgers is a little disgruntled). QB Matt Stafford should be healthy for the whole season and coach Matt Patricia saves his job by overachieving this season. They are not going to dominate teams, but have a lot of potential if they just play smart and get some wins.
NFC South – Carolina Panthers Under 5.5 Wins
I like new coach Matt Rhule a lot and think he will ultimately have some success in Carolina, but everything other than Christian McCaffery looks like a mess this season. Sure McCaffery can do some special things, but a new QB and a totally new program heading into this season looks like a disaster. I am not sure they even get three wins in the improving NFC South. When this team was at its best, even with Cam Newton, they had a punishing defense. That side of the ball is really going to get pushed around this season.
NFC West – San Francisco Under 10.5 Wins
The 49ers are going to be good again, but another dominant regular season with 11 wins is required to cash this one. Their division is the toughest in the NFL and there is now a lot of documented evidence of how to make things tough for Jimmy G. Further, they were forced to retool a little in the way that champions often are, but didn’t get the championship prior to doing so. They can take a small step back during the regular season and finish something like 10-6 and still make the playoffs. They just won’t cash that over ticket in the process.