Aside from betting on who will win the Super Bowl, putting money on which NFL teams will win their division is one of the most popular future bets available every season. Right now, before training camps take place, can often be the best time to place bets, as there is still mystery surrounding each team, which may result in better odds. Once (if) training camps and preseason games start taking place, odds will move, and it is often not in the bettor’s favor.
There are multiple strategies that could be used in placing your futures bets. It could make sense to target the obvious favorite since they have the best chance to hit. However, the odds for these teams are obviously less profitable. Another strategy could be to target the teams with the best value. These bets are more profitable, with better odds, but the likelihood of them hitting is less, and missing on them all could leave your bankroll looking pretty sad come the NFL Playoffs.
These are the best bets to win each NFL division. In selecting them, I am using a hybrid of both strategies, giving hypothetical points for likelihood to win, what their path is to becoming the favorite to win, and, of course, how good of a value their odds are.
All NFL futures odds were taken from FanDuel Sportsbook
This is going to be an extremely tight division yet again, but my best bet for the NFC North is the Chicago Bears, who actually have the third-best odds in the division. The Minnesota Vikings are the favorites, but after losing Stefon Diggs, there is even more pressure on Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook. Cousins has shown to crack and Cook has not proven he can handle the workload necessary to carry the offense. Defensively, this is the most holes a Mike Zimmer-led Vikings team has had, with new and inexperienced cornerbacks.
The Green Bay Packers are second in the odds and have a great chance to win the division again. However, the biggest weakness for this team, which isn’t being talked about, is the defense. Inside linebacker is both weak and has no depth, relying on the injury-prone Christian Kirksey. The cornerbacks, outside of Jaire Alexander, are also atrocious.
So, the Bears have the same likelihood to win the division, in my opinion, yet much better odds. If they get stability at quarterback, this team should rally around them and put up some dominant performances. As of now, the thought is that Nick Foles will win the job. The veteran should be more respected inside the locker room and out than Mitchell Trubisky. All he has to do is manage the game and not lose it for this defense.
The NFC South is one of the best divisions in football, but the New Orleans Saints are the best all-around team in the division. One could argue that the Saints are the best team in football. Drew Brees is still doing his thing, and his receiving corps is as good as ever. He still has Michael Thomas and Jared Cook, Alvin Kamara appears to finally be healthy again and now they also have another veteran in Emmanuel Sanders.
Defensively, they still have tough run stoppers upfront. The linebackers are solid and can hang with running backs in the open space just as good as filling gaps, and the secondary got better, led by shutdown cornerback Marshon Lattimore. It’s tough to find an actual weakness on this team, and they could be good enough to exploit the weaknesses of both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons.
Much of the media, as always, are again excited about the Dallas Cowboys and are expecting them to win the division, but why? This offseason, Dallas got a highly-criticized head coach in Mike McCarthy, drafted a wide receiver to add to last season’s top offense, and locked down Amari Cooper while giving Dak Prescott the franchise tag. They lost Travis Frederick, the anchor of their offensive line. Byron Jones, their top cornerback, is gone. They also lost Robert Quinn, who was their sacks leader. Dallas also has a tougher schedule than 2019 and couldn’t they even win the division last season.
It was the Philadelphia Eagles that won the division, with Greg Ward serving as their top wide receiver for many weeks. Their receiving corps is at least healthy for now, and they drafted Jalen Reagor to add to the mix. They are likely going to add another running back, but Miles Sanders is a stud that can do it all. Defensively, they finally have a cornerback, after trading for Darius Slay. Losing Malcolm Jenkins is a massive loss, but the defense should still have its moments and it isn’t far behind the defensive unit of Dallas.
If we’re picking the division winner, why not put money on last season’s winner, who is improved but is not the odds favorite.
This may have been my toughest choice. Is it best to side with the best team in the NFC last season, or the team that has remained steady? In the end, my pick is the Seattle Seahawks, whose odds are more favorable.
Are the San Francisco 49ers dominant? Of course, but we have seen plenty of Super Bowl hangovers from the losers, recently. On top of the possible mental regression and not playing as underdogs any longer, they already lost Emmanuel Sanders from the receiving corps, and now Deebo Samuel suffered a Jones fracture. The 49ers will either have to rely on unproven pass catchers (outside of George Kittle, of course), or again lean on the running game, which no longer features Matt Breida. Defensively, they will likely regress a bit, due to the losses, but there is no sign of them being anything other than solid.
This is more about the Seahawks, who have won double-digit games in every single season with Russell Wilson, besides one (nine-win season). The offense looks to be even better, adding more talent to both the backfield and the receiving corps. Defensively, they will mostly run it back with the same cast, and it is possible they re-sign Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year deal, which appears to be the only thing he will get offered and agree to at this point. There is also the Antonio Brown possibility, after he and Wilson were seen practicing together. But even without these two veterans, we can pretty much assume Seattle will win double-digit games at this point.
Do I think teams will figure out Lamar Jackson? Yes, somewhat. I think they will have more of an answer for the designed runs and teams know they need a spy on him, but if he progresses as a passer, there really isn’t much defenses can do. Initially, they will try to force him to pass. There will still be plays where the defense breaks down and he scrambles, and all signs point to him improving as a passer anyways. He took a massive jump in years one to two, and the third year is really when skills are shown. Also, Marquise Brown was recovering from an injury last offseason, so we could see a much-improved receiving weapon in him too, which creates an entirely new category of defensive problems.
Speaking of defensive problems, this defense will be a problem for offenses. Their only weakness last season was stopping the run. So, what did Baltimore do? They drafted Patrick Queen and brought in Calais Campbell. Take notes, Packer’s front office. Similar to the Saints, there really isn’t a weakness on this team, when they are rolling.
The Houston Texans being third in the odds to win the AFC South is too good to pass up. It’s easy to see a scenario where this offense is better than it was last season. Before it was DeAndre Hopkins and nobody to pass to since Will Fuller was always hurt. Now, Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb can fill solid roles at wide receiver, David Johnson can be a receiving weapon out of the backfield and Fuller will probably still get hurt, but he will be around to win a game or two for them. Also, everyone is acting as if Johnson forgot what is football even is. Let’s see how well he runs behind an offensive line that knows how to block. He should be a solid weapon for this offense.
The top two teams in the division, according to the odds, are the Indianapolis Colts (+135) and Tennessee Titans (+165). It’s pretty easy to imagine a scenario where Philip Rivers loses a lot of games for the Colts with terrible decisions. It’s even easier to imagine Derrick Henry wearing down from the ridiculous workload and Ryan Tannehill regressing. Meanwhile, the Texans have Deshaun Watson leading them, and he is looking to prove he deserves a big contract.
Yes, the New England Patriots just signed Cam Newton. And yes, I know I am going against the Patriots to win something, which is about as foolish as it gets. But even with Newton at quarterback, this is still a team with bottom-10 talent without much debate. They will be well-coached and will be in the race at the end of the season, but we don’t need to discount what the Buffalo Bills have managed to build.
Simply, the Bills will go as far as Josh Allen will take them this season. The defense is physical and can fly, matching up with any team. Offensively, the offensive line is pretty good, there is a great, young one-two punch at running back and the receiving corps is built to complement the big arm of Allen. If he can protect the ball and move the chains consistently, this team will be incredibly tough to beat. Buffalo has always been a tough-minded, physical team, but now they have weapons.
I was thinking about going with the Los Angeles Chargers and their sneaky-good offense, but Patrick Mahomes was just given a half-billion dollars, so screw it.
Kansas City is running it back with mostly the same cast, after winning the Super Bowl. The offense looks even more dangerous, with Mecole Hardman getting another year under his belt and also adding Clyde Edwards-Helaire to the backfield. Mahomes escaped the “Madden Curse” last season overall, so I would not be surprised if he broke every single-season passing record this year. This team will be that good, and the defense is improved enough where they shouldn’t lose games for the Chiefs.
If there’s one thing I know about Andy Reid, I know he’s always hungry. Do you think him finally winning a Super Bowl is going to satiate his appetite? Nah, watch what they do this year.
Best NFL Division Bets
- NFC North: Chicago Bears (+350)
- NFC South: New Orleans Saints (-110)
- NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles (+140)
- NFC West: Seattle Seahawks (+240)
- AFC North: Baltimore Ravens (-200)
- AFC South: Houston Texans (+300)
- AFC East: Buffalo Bills (+150)
- AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs (-390)
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