The NFL futures market can be pretty tough to beat. That’s especially the case when you’re betting against the odds to win the Super Bowl, the conference, and the divisions. The value really just isn’t there.
Think about it. If you’re betting a team to win the Super Bowl, you only have a 1-in-32 shot of cashing that wager essentially. The bettors who had the Falcons at 100/1 at the beginning of the season were feeling great when they were up 28-3 in the Super Bowl. But the fact of the matter is that none of those tickets cashed.
The favorite to win in 2017 is the New England Patriots at +375. That’s just terrible value and not even worth making a wager on. The other Super Bowl favorites are only slightly better values with the Packers (9/1), Seahawks (10/1), Steelers (10/1) and Cowboys (12/1).
There will only be two conference winners as well, which is basically a 1-in-16 chance. You have a 1-in-4 chance to win a bet on the division, but more times than not you’ll be laying juice on a favorite, which is just not worth your time.
The NFL futures market that I feel is the most beatable with the fairest odds is with the season win totals. Most of them are around -110 odds, which is like betting the spread on a game. And unlike the Super Bowl odds, where you can only bet ON a team, you can actually bet AGAINST teams on the season win totals market.
The season win totals give the handicapper a chance to actually go through the schedule and predict which games a team will win and lose. And most books have odds on every game through Week 16, so you can see which games a certain team will be favorites and underdogs in. By using these week-by-week lines, you can make a reasonable guess as to how many games each team will win.
Every half-win is worth about 50 cents in juice on these season win totals. At 5Dimes, you have many different options on which numbers to bet on every team. Let’s use the Patriots as an example. You can bet them over 13.5 at +180, or over 10.5 at -665. So there is a 3-win variance there at 5Dimes. Not all books will have this many options, and some will only have one number to choose from, so you’ll have to use your best judgment.
|Team||Win Total||Over Odds||Under Odds|
|Green Bay Packers||10||-120||+100|
|Kansas City Chiefs||9||-115||-105|
|Los Angeles Chargers||8||+110||-130|
|Los Angeles Rams||5.5||-120||+100|
|New England Patriots||12.5||-120||+100|
|New Orleans Saints||7.5||-135||+115|
|New York Giants||9||+105||-125|
|New York Jets||4||+111||-131|
|San Francisco 49ers||5||-110||-110|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8.5||+105||-125|
I have gone through and picked out my five favorite NFL season win totals for the 2017 season. These are five that I already have action on myself and I recommend that you do too.
The Arizona Cardinals went 7-8-1 last season, but they were much better than their record would indicate. They actually led the NFL in yardage differential, outgaining teams by 61.6 yards per game. They averaged 366.8 yards per game offensively while giving up only 305.2 yards per game defensively. To compare, the Patriots were the second-best team in this department in 2016 at +59.9 and the Falcons (+44.6) were fourth, so they were in some good company.
Five of Arizona’s eight losses in 2016 came by a touchdown or less, and they tied with the Seahawks in a game they dominated but should have won. The Cardinals are prime bounce-back candidates in 2017. They will have better luck in the health department and win more of their close games.
Arizona finished second in the league in total defense last season and led the league with 44 sacks. The tandem of Chandler Jones and Markus Golden combined for 23.5 of those sacks, and both are back to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. They also have one of the best secondary’s in the league. Carson Palmer is reportedly in the best shape of his career. He has David Johnson to lean on, who had over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 20 total touchdowns last year.
The Buffalo Bills have quietly been a .500 team over the last three seasons, going 24-24 in spite of poor coaching from Rex Ryan and Doug Marrone. They have won at least seven games all three years. That’s all they have to win in 2017 to get up and OVER this 6.5 total.
Six of Buffalo’s nine losses last season came by a touchdown or less, so they simply could not get out of their own way in close games. New head coach Sean McDermott was a great addition. He guided great defenses in Carolina and Philadelphia previously. His presence will give the team an injection of life. Tyrod Taylor is underrated and only threw six interceptions all of 2016. He and LeSean McCoy will guide one of the best rushing attacks in the league once again.
One of the biggest reasons I like the OVER for the Bills is the division they play in. The Dolphins will take a big step back this year after making the playoffs last season, especially with Ryan Tannehill now likely out for the year due to injury. The Jets may be the worst team in pro football now, and the Patriots aren’t winning 14 games again, as you’ll see below.
I am taking the Patriots at U 13 (-155) rather than U 12.5 (+100) because I believe it is worth it for that half win. I just see no way the Patriots get to 14 wins this season, so therefore the worst-case scenario here is a push. They will have to try and get over the Super Bowl hangover. After all, as good as they’ve been, they haven’t won back-to-back Super Bowls since 2003-04.
New England has won 13 or fewer games nine times in the last 12 seasons, and 12 or fewer eight times. They have still been dominant, but asking a team to win 13 games in the NFL is asking a lot. Tom Brady had his revenge season last year following the suspension, and there’s no way he’ll be as motivated in 2017 as he was last year.
The schedule is going to be tough with losable road games at New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Denver, Oakland, Buffalo, Miami, and Pittsburgh. Even if they run the table at home and go 8-0, which is unlikely, they should drop at least three of those road games. I think the most likely scenario for the Patriots is an 11-5 season in 2017.
In Mike Zimmer I trust. This guy has turned around a Vikings franchise that had won six or fewer games in three of the previous four seasons before he took over. All Zimmer has done is lead the Vikings to a combined 26-22 record in his three seasons on the job. And Year 4 should be his best team yet, which is why they shouldn’t have a problem winning 8 or more games.
The biggest problem last year was the injuries to the offensive line that derailed the offense. They had five different left tackles start a game last year. That’s why they used free agency to resolve the issue by giving LT Riley Reiff $26 million guaranteed and RT Mike Remmers $10.5 million guaranteed. LG Alex Booner and C Joe Berger were bright spots for the unit last year and both return. Look for Sam Bradford to have a much more consistent season in Year 2. Latavius Murray will be a real nice addition to the running game after scoring 12 touchdowns for the Raiders last season. Rookie Dalvin Cook is the home run hitter who is expected eventually fill Adrian Peterson’s shoes.
Zimmer made his name with defense, and the Vikings have one of the best units in the NFL. The Vikings looked like the top defense in the NFL through seven weeks last year when they were only giving up 13 points per game. They had some injuries hurt them in the second half but still managed to finish 6th in scoring (19.2 ppg) and fifth in yards per play (5.1) allowed. If the offense can just be average in 2017, this defense is good enough to carry the team to nine or 10 wins and possibly a playoff berth.
The Baltimore Ravens were done in by injuries last season en route to an 8-8 campaign. Their offense was stagnant, which led to Marc Trestman getting fired last October. And Joe Flacco is actually hurt with no timetable for his return heading into the preseason. The Ravens even considered signing Colin Kaepernick, which shows how desperate they really are. And their ground game won’t be much help after finishing 28th in the league last year, averaging just 91.4 yards per game rushing.
The defense was strong through the first 12 weeks last season, but imploded in the final month and allowed 28.5 points per game. That’s the reason the Ravens lost three of their final four games and failed to make the playoffs. John Harbaugh is one of the better head coaches in the NFL. But Ozzie Newsome hasn’t given him enough talent to work with in recent years, and injuries haven’t helped matters.
The Steelers are still the class of this division and should win 10 or 11 games. I’m not so sure that the Bengals aren’t the second-best team when healthy, which wasn’t the case for them last year as they had several key injuries. And the Browns clearly won’t be as bad as they were last year. I foresee another 8-8 or 7-9 season for the Ravens in 2017 as this team is the definition of mediocre, and Joe Flacco’s injury is a huge concern.