91 DAYS UNTIL NFL FOOTBALL! I REPEAT 91 DAYS UNTIL NFL FOOTBALL! NFL FOOTBALL IS LESS THAN 100 DAYS AWAY!
In case it wasn’t clear, NFL football is less than 100 days away. Could you tell I am excited? With the NFL just around the corner, it’s time to start looking at the best underdog teams available to make the playoffs! (Odds as of 6/7/2023, and as always, please bet responsibly)
(Also, before we get started, RIP to one of the most significant wrestling heels ever, The Iron Sheik)
5 Underdogs To Make the 2023-2024 NFL Playoffs Bets
1 and 2. Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons
This one is as simple as it gets. Divisional winners earn playoff births. The NFC South is wide open and can be viewed as anyone’s to win. The New Orleans Saints are the only team in the division favored to make the playoffs. Suppose you’re not a believer in the Saint’s front office move to bring in Derek Carr during the offseason as the Saint’s quarterback or an overall believer that the Saints will not win the division. In that case, there is value to be found in any of the other three teams in the division.
While Tampa Bay has the most value (+360 to make the playoffs, DraftKings), I think it’s safe to rule the Buccaneers out as being able to win the division since they look to have questions at the quarterback position, the requested trade by Devin White and the potential trade rumors of Mike Evans and/or Chris Godwin.
With the Buccaneers ruled out, the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons could still easily challenge the Saints to win the NFC South. The Panthers have added key pieces in the offseason, signing Adam Thielen, Miles Sanders, DJ Chark, and Hayden Hurst and selecting WR Jonathan Mingo in the second round. The true question is, can quarterback Bryce Young, the 2023 number one overall draft selection, lead the Panthers to a divisional championship in his rookie season?
The Atlanta Falcons could also challenge for the NFC South title. With second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder looking to solidify his role as an NFL starting quarterback and highly touted first-round selection running back Bijan Robinson looking to prove the hype surrounding his arrival, the Falcons also have highly talented pass catchers Kyle Pitts and Drake London. The Falcons could find themselves in the playoffs with the NFC South title.
Carolina Panthers +220 to make the playoffs (DraftKings)
Atlanta Falcons +130 to make the playoffs (DraftKings)
3. New York Giants
2023 NFL Coach of the Year, Brian Daboll, led the New York Giants to a playoff birth in his first season. Daboll goes two for two, as the Giants will make the wild card in the upcoming season.
Daniel Jones will continue heading in the right direction at quarterback and build rapport with a young and talented receiving core in Jalin Hyatt, Darius Slayton, and Isaiah Hodgins. Veteran wide receivers such as Jamison Crowder will provide leadership and consistency. Jones will also benefit from the offseason trade for Pro-Bowl-caliber tight end Darren Waller.
Also, don’t forget Saquon Barkley is coming off a great 2023 season which earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl. Look for the New York Giants to provide a bit of a shock and finish second in the NFC East, ahead of the Cowboys. (But, of course, behind the Philadelphia Eagles. Go Birds.)
New York Giants +160 to make the playoffs (FanDuel)
4. Minnesota Vikings
In case anyone forgot, the Minnesota Vikings were the NFC three-seed in the playoffs last season, with a 13-4 season and an NFC North division win. I understand that the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears have improved, but not to the point where the Vikings should be considered the underdogs in the division.
Kirk Cousins is still dependable at quarterback. After arriving last season via trade, T.J. Hockenson will have an entire season as the starting tight end in Minnesota. Oh, and Justin Jefferson is still the best wide receiver in football, period.
The Vikings also added wide receiver Jordan Addison in the 2023 NFL draft, which creates quite a dual threat at wide receiver for Kirk Cousins. The Vikings should have no problem making the playoffs behind that offense and could easily repeat as NFC North champs.
Minnesota Vikings +116 to make the playoffs (FanDuel)
5. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers being an underdog on DraftKings surprised me, as they are currently favored to make the playoffs on FanDuel. (-115 to make the playoffs), so I’m expecting these odds to potentially not last too long on Draft Kings.
All signs point to the Kansas City Chiefs repeating as AFC West division champs. Meaning the Chargers are looking at making the playoffs via the Wild Card. This looks to be easily possible as the Chargers will make a serious attempt at having the best record of AFC teams that are not divisional winners during the upcoming season.
The Chargers have an offense that is top-10 overall in the NFL. An offense that is high-powered behind the play of quarterback Justin Herbert and elite dual-threat running back Austin Ekeler, who is officially staying a Charger, at least for 2023. The Chargers also signed LB Eric Kendricks during the offseason.
Kendricks could prove to make an instant impact on the defensive side of the ball for the Chargers. Look for the Chargers to make the playoffs via the wild card for the second season in a row. Hopefully (at least for Chargers fans), they will not repeat their opening-round performance last season.
Los Angeles Chargers +100 to make the playoffs (DraftKings)