Posted in: NFL
With the 2018 NFL regular season fast approaching – the first game of the year kicks off on Thursday, September 6 – it’s time for bettors to take a serious look at the futures betting market.
Anything can happen in one game, but over the course of a grueling 16-game campaign, the cream tends to rise to the top in this league. With that in mind, savvy bettors can take advantage of futures betting by pouncing on divisional title odds*, Super Bowl championship prospects, and a few fun proposition wagers based on player performance.
To help you sharpen your futures betting skills, we’ll be covering all eight of the NFL’s divisions, beginning with the NFC East.
*All odds and lines included in this page were provided by online sportsbook Bovada on August 12th, 2018.
|Team||Odds to Win NFC East||Odds to Win Super Bowl 53|
|New York Giants||+500||+5000|
It’s no surprise to see the defending champion Eagles atop the betting board in the NFC East, and at (+1000), they’re second only to the Patriots in terms of Super Bowl odds. The rest of the division is quite stratified, with the Cowboys considered the only legit challenger for the division crown. Both the Giants and Redskins made efforts to improve their respective rosters over the offseason, but based on the odds above, neither team is considered likely to surpass the Eagles in the East. To find out why, check out the team capsules below for full coverage of all the NFC East action to come.
“Hopefully just show him that I look comfortable, I look confident and I know I will.
The reps I have gotten in seven-on-seven and everything, I feel confident in both my knee and just this team and the offense and everything.
Hopefully, I can just kind of jump right back in to where I left off. Whatever the case is, I know I’ll be ready whatever comes.”
– QB Carson Wentz on his hopes for a full recovery following last year’s season-ending torn ACL injury
|2||Sep. 16||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|3||Sep. 23||vs Indianapolis Colts|
|4||Sep. 30||@Tennessee Titans|
|6||Oct.11||@New York Giants|
|7||Oct. 21||vsCarolina Panthers|
|8||Oct. 28||@Jacksonville Jaguars|
|10||Nov. 11||vs Dallas Cowboys|
|11||Nov. 18||@ New Orleans Saints|
|12||Nov. 25||vs New York Giants|
|13||Dec.3||vs Washington Redskins|
|14||Dec. 9||@Dallas Cowboys|
|15||Dec. 16||@Los Angeles Rams|
|16||Dec. 23||vsHouston Texans|
|17||Dec. 30||@ Washington Redskins|
*(Opponents Went 126-130 in 2017 = T-19thMost DifficultSchedule)*
After 52 seasons of postseason futility – including two Super Bowl losses along the way – the Eagles finally broke through to win the big game last year. And with the core of their roster returning largely intact, the Birds are understandably big favorites to win the NFC East yet again.
That core includes both QB Carson Wentz, who will be coming back from a brutal torn ACL that cut short a stellar 2017 regular season. Before going down in Week 14, Wentz put up a gaudy stat line of 3,296 passing yards, with 33 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions on 60.2 percent passing accuracy – good enough for a 101.9 quarterback rating. And while he was forced to watch backup QB Nick Foles take over and lead Philly to the promised land, Wentz appears posed to become one of the NFL’s top signal-callers for years to come.
Speaking of Foles, he’ll be back in the fold too. Following the most successful backup run in recent memory, Foles opted to stay on, declining the opportunity to start for another team in favor of sticking with a winner.
And fans of Foles just might get a chance to see their favorite QB under center soon enough. With the Eagles taking things slowly when it comes to Wentz’ recovery, the ostensible starter isn’t a sure thing to take the field for Week 1, when Philadelphia kicks the season off with a home date against the Atlanta Falcons.
But whomever gets the ball in Week 1, both Wentz and Foles have an embarrassment of riches at their disposal on offense.
RB Jay Ajayi proved the Miami Dolphins wrong after a curious mid-season trade, emerging as an explosive threat alongside a big bruiser in RB LeGarrette Blount. Philadelphia chose not to offer Blount a contract extension, however, so the backfield will be Ajayi’s domain in 2018.
WR Alshon Jeffrey was always a beast during his time with the Bears, and he cemented his status as one of the league’s best wideouts after joining the Eagles last year. Throw in WR Nelson Agholor and TE Zach Ertz, and the Wentz/Foles duo should have no trouble replicating last year’s NFC-best 467 points.
All of that scoring was complimented by a killer defense too, as shown by Philadelphia’s impressive +162 point differential. Fittingly enough, that figure tied them with the Patriots, who were on the wrong side of the Eagles’ 41-33 shootout win in Super Bowl 52.
If you’re looking to bet on a Super Bowl rematch, the oddsmakers tend to agree, as the Eagles (+850) line on a repeat trails only the Patriots at (+650). The Eagles are just too talented of a team to pass up more than 8 to 1, and as Foles proved last season, they’ll be able to survive an injury to their starting QB that would prove disastrous for almost every other team in the league.
In the NFC East race, biting on that (-155) number is also a favorable play, as only the Cowboys pose a serious threat to dethrone the Eagles. The Giants and Redskins both improved over the offseason, but flawed rosters and aging QBs aren’t enough to get them over the hump.
On a final note, the Eagles boast the second-highest Win Total in football at 10.5 (-115 on Over / -115 on Under), and they get a middle of the pack schedule in terms of difficulty. With that in mind, taking the Over on a team that reeled off 13 wins last year certainly seems to make sense.
“I have been OK. I have made some good throws and some not-so-good throws. Taking chances here and there.
But definitely improving. It’s never as good and it’s never as bad as you think it is when you go back and watch the film.I’m tough on myself. I take my notes and I move forward.”
That is what camp is for. It’s challenging, but it’s not tough. That is what you want.”
– QB Dak Prescott, on his form in camp and efforts to improve after last season’s “sophomore slump”
|1||Sep. 9||@ Carolina Panthers|
|2||Sep. 16||vs New York Giants|
|3||Sep. 23||@ Seattle Seahawks|
|4||Sep. 30||vs Detroit Lions|
|5||Oct.7||@ Houston Texans|
|6||Oct. 14||vsJacksonville Jaguars|
|7||Oct. 21||@ Washington Redskins|
|9||Nov.5||vs Tennessee Titans|
|10||Nov. 11||@Philadelphia Eagles|
|11||Nov. 18||@ Atlanta Falcons|
|12||Nov. 22||vs Washington Redskins|
|13||Nov. 29||vsNew Orleans Saints|
|14||Dec. 9||vs Philadelphia Eagles|
|15||Dec. 16||@Indianapolis Colts|
|16||Dec. 23||vsTampa Bay Buccaneers|
|17||Dec. 30||@ New York Giants|
*(Opponents Went 128-128 in 2017 = T-15thMost Difficult Schedule)*
One of football’s greatest enigmas, the only thing consistent about the Cowboys is their inconsistency.
How are bettors expected to handicap a team that followed 2016’s NFC East title and 13-3 record with a 9-7 clunker and no playoffs last year? Before winning the division two years back, Dallas went 4-12, but in 2014, they won the East at 12-4. And all of that followed three straight 8-8 seasons to begin HC Jason Garrett’s tenure.
Garrett is back for another go, but many of the key components from the Cowboys earlier success have since moved on.
QB Tony Romo retired ahead of last season after yet another injury-derailed campaign. WR Dez Bryant is currently lost in the free agency wilderness after Dallas declined to resign him. And TE Jason Witten retired after 15 seasons as the most consistent pass-catcher in the game.
Change is certainly in the air for “America’s Team,” but with QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott entering their third year as Cowboys, the team’s future is still bright.
Their present might just be as well. Despite suffering the dreaded “sophomore slump” last year, Prescott’s regression was largely pinned on the suspension-caused absence of Elliott. With the scintillating runner back for what the ‘Boys hope is a full 16-game schedule, Prescott should have an extra second or two to find his playmakers.
Among those playmakers is newly acquired WR Allen Hurns, who helped lead the Jaguars offensive renaissance last season. If Hurns was able to make perennial punching bag Blake Bortles look great in Jacksonville, he’ll be capable of big things with Prescott throwing his way.
Overall, the Cowboys’ odds of (+350) to win the NFC East seem just about spot on. After all, this is a team that finished with a winning record last year, despite losing Elliott and defensive leader LB Sean Lee for big chunks of the schedule. They’ll still have to get through the Eagles of course, but with a schedule difficulty that ranks right in the middle of the road, Dallas could easily cobble together the 10- to 12-win year that’ll likely be needed to take the division.
Those Super Bowl odds of (+3000) are similarly attractive, but bettors may shy away based on Garrett’s infamous inability to guide great teams through the playoffs.
The real value attached to Dallas is the team’s Win Total, which stands at only 8.5 (-110 on Over / -120 on Under). As currently constructed, this roster has averaged 11 wins per over the last two seasons, so banking on the ‘Boys to reach at least 9-7 should be a breeze.
“A guy who does it the best is Le’Veon Bell. I was watching him this morning and how he was picking up blocks.
I think you have to be versatile as a running back. Catch the ball in the backfield and be able to block. Be able to run in between tackles and outside of tackles. If you really think if the three backs, the top five backs, that is what they are able to do. They block, catch the ball in the backfield and are able to run the ball. Just the way they set up their blocks.
That is what it takes to be a top back in the NFL.”
– RB Saquon Barkley, on how he’s adjusting from the college game to pro football, where versatile threats in the backfield are increasingly in demand
|1||Sep. 9||vs Jacksonville Jaguars|
|2||Sep. 16||@ Dallas Cowboys|
|3||Sep. 23||@Houston Texans|
|4||Sep. 30||vs New Orleans Saints|
|5||Oct.7||@ Carolina Panthers|
|6||Oct. 11||vs Philadelphia Eagles|
|7||Oct. 22||@Atlanta Falcons|
|8||Oct. 28||vs Washington Redskins|
|10||Nov. 12||@San Francisco 49ers|
|11||Nov. 18||vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|12||Nov. 25||@ Philadelphia Eagles|
|13||Dec. 2||vs Chicago Bears|
|14||Dec. 9||@ Washington Redskins|
|15||Dec. 16||vs Tennessee Titans|
|16||Dec. 23||@ Indianapolis Colts|
|17||Dec. 30||vsDallas Cowboys|
*(Opponents Went 133-123 in 2017 = T-8thMost DifficultSchedule)*
After snagging coveted RB Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Giants boast an air of optimism at the moment.
But there’s a great chance that the boys in blue will be underdogs in their first seven games, which combine to form a Murderer’s Row of sorts. Home dates against playoff teams like the Jaguars, Saints, and Eagles are sandwiched around roadies against playoff teams like the Panthers and Falcons. Throw in a Texas twostep in Dallas and Houston – which will have QB Deshaun Watson and DE J.J. Watt back from injury – and New York could easily start the year 1-6 or even 0-7.
The Giants schedule is tied for the 8th most difficult in football, and they’ll need everything veteran QB Eli Manning can muster if they hope to make the most of a tough draw.
The only thing is, Manning appears to be a long ways away from his two-time Super Bowl winning form. His 3,468 passing yards last year were Manning’s fewest in a decade, and he failed to crack 20 touchdown tosses for only the second time in 13 full seasons.
Sufficed to say, that level of performance isn’t going to cut it if the Giants hope to cash in on (+500) odds to win the East. They may be rejuvenated under new HC Pat Shurmur, but that boost can only take a team so far.
From the outside looking in, wagering on either a division title or a Super Bowl at (+5500) simply feels like setting money on fire. But then again, Manning led the Giants to not one but TWO surprise Super Bowl victories as a Wild Card entrant – so they just need to get in the dance to give bettors a sweat.
Finally, given the aforementioned brutal schedule, taking the Under on a Win Total of 7 (-140 on Over / +110 on Under) would be perfectly reasonable.
“No, I don’t think you can rely on the fact that, ‘Oh, it’s the first year here.’ Nobody cares.
It’s not like in the fall, you guys are going to be like, ‘Ah, well, this is his first year here. We’ll give him a break.’
It just doesn’t work that way.”
– QB Alex Smith, on how his first year in Washington will be evaluated by fans and media
|1||Sep.9||@ Arizona Cardinals|
|2||Sep. 16||vs Indianapolis Colts|
|3||Sep. 23||vs Green Bay Packers|
|5||Oct.8||@ New Orleans Saints|
|6||Oct. 14||vsCarolina Panthers|
|7||Oct. 21||vs Dallas Cowboys|
|8||Oct. 28||@New York Giants|
|9||Nov. 4||vs Atlanta Falcons|
|10||Nov. 11||@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|11||Nov. 18||vs Houston Texans|
|12||Nov. 22||@ Dallas Cowboys|
|13||Dec.3||@ Philadelphia Eagles|
|14||Dec. 9||vs New York Giants|
|15||Dec. 16||@ Jacksonville Jaguars|
|16||Dec. 23||@ Tennessee Titans|
|17||Dec. 30||vs Philadelphia Eagles|
*(Opponents Went 129-127 in 2017 = 14thMost DifficultSchedule)*
For several years running, the only thing football fans had to focus on in Washington D.C. was the drama surrounding QB Kirk Cousins. He showed flashes of brilliance, even with a roster full of retreads, but the Redskins brass didn’t want to pay him like a franchise quarterback.
Fast forward to 2018, and Cousins finally got his payday – in Minnesota. The ‘Skins moved quickly to replace him with another veteran QB in Alex Smith, who was acquired from the Chiefs in a rare trade.
But aside from Smith, and standout CB Josh Norman, this roster is dreadfully deficient on talent.
That doesn’t bode well for HC Jay Gruden, who has yet to crack the 10-win plateau in his four seasons on the sideline.
Smith has put bad teams on his back before, but even if he puts up his typically consistent aerial numbers, the Redskins’ major underdog odds of (+750) and (+7500) feel entirely accurate.
With that in mind, most bettors will look to the Win Total of 7 (-115 on Over / -115 on Over) for a little Washington action. A medium strength schedule could lean toward the Over here, but unless the underachieving Redskins pull more than a few upsets, the Under might just be a lock.
The Eagles are the safe pick in the division after their amazing run last year, but the Cowboys are a wild card pick. A full season from their star running back Elliot may help them compete for the division.