It’s only May, yet Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has already posted NFL team playoff props for the 2019 season. Last year, the Colts (+325) and the Bears (+450) both made the postseason while favorites such as the Vikings (-260) and Jaguars (-140) failed to qualify. So who will surprise this year?
First of all, I want to say that we are looking for value here. The Patriots (-900), Rams (-350), Chiefs (-450) and Saints (-310) are all going to make the playoffs in my estimation, but you can get much better odds on them to win their division, which is very likely in each scenario. There is no value in picking them to simply make the playoffs.
Second, I hate the Bears and Ravens this year. The Bears remind me of the 2017 Jaguars. They overachieved, and with how good the NFC North is, they could be in for a bit of a letdown this season. Remember, they play in a division where the worst team is led by Matthew Stafford. As for the Ravens, I believe that teams are going to figure out Lamar Jackson. He was incredible to watch in his rookie campaign, but they are going to have to reevaluate their game plan going into his second year. Very rarely do run-first QBs succeed in back-to-back seasons.
So, without further ado, the best bets.
Atlanta Falcons (+150)
This is a great value pick. The Falcons’ defense was atrocious last year, primarily because of injuries to their entire secondary. Early in the season, they found themselves losing nail-biter games. Late in the season, they gave up. With a healthy Devonta Freeman and the departure of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, I firmly believe the Falcons could fight not only for a wild-card spot, but also for the NFC South.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+300)
Remember two seasons ago when the Jaguars were 8:44 seconds away from going to the Super Bowl? And that was with Blake Bortles under center. After a disappointing 2018-2019 season, everyone is sleeping on the Jags. But with the addition of Nick Foles and a wide-open AFC South (even if the Colts have Andrew Luck), they could once again be the surprise of the league. At +300, this value is just too good to pass up.
Minnesota Vikings (+130)
The hype around the Vikings last season was through the roof. The addition of Kirk Cousins made the mantra “Super Bowl or bust” in Minnesota. Then they got decimated by the Bills at home and never really rebounded. Yet they still found themselves in a win-and-in situation to end of the season. I believe the Bears take a huge step back this year, and with the pressure off, the Vikings cruise to a playoff berth.
San Francisco 49ers (+240)
The 49ers were expected to compete with the Rams for the NFC West last year. Before Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a season-ending ACL injury, they were a popular pick to make the playoffs. Because of their 4-12 record, they selected Nick Bosa with the second pick of the NFL Draft. Then they got wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd in Rounds 2 and 3, respectively, to help out Greg Kittle, who had a career year in 2018. With Jimmy G back, it’s hard not to like this +240 number, especially when there is no clear favorite for the NFC’s sixth seed.
Green Bay Packers (+120)
Mike McCarthy is gone, and the Packers are coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory. With Aaron Rodgers realizing his career is almost over, I expect to see him go off this season. They play in the toughest division in football, but if Rodgers is being called an underdog to make the playoffs, you have to take advantage.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+110)
Antonio Brown is gone and Cleveland is everyone’s darling this year. But even after a disappointing season, Ben Roethlisberger can right the ship with limited distractions this time around. Plus the Browns always seem to find a way to disappoint, so until they overcome that, I’ll take my chances with Pittsburgh winning the AFC North.
Finally, I’ll end with three teams that I think could really shock people this season. These are long shots for sure, but they are great examples of betting a little to win big.
Detroit Lions (+500)
Matt Patricia’s first season was a disappointment. The Lions got destroyed by Sam Darnold in his first game, yet beat the Patriots on the national stage. This team has talent, and I believe Patricia will learn how to use it in his second season. With Stafford leading the way, any game is winnable (and also losable). Huge offseason acquisitions in Danny Amendola, Trey Flowers, and Justin Coleman could make the Lions a surprise factor in the NFC North. It’s a crowded division, but these are great odds if you’re looking for a big underdog.
Buffalo Bills (+500)
I’m not crazy. There is no front-runner for the AFC’s sixth playoff spot, and the Bills overachieved last year with Josh Allen at the helm. Sure, they got blown out a lot last season, but they also could have easily won two more games to miraculously finish 8-8. With a relatively easy schedule, this is a team that could shock.
Tennessee Titans (+300)
Last season, the Titans played a home game on Sunday Night Football in Week 17 with a chance to go to the playoffs. They lost. But they were that close even with an unhealthy Marcus Mariota. If Mariota can stay healthy, how high is the ceiling? It’s a big If, but what if?