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 NFCWest.
*All odds and lines included in this page were provided by online sportsbook Bovada on August 12th, 2018.
|Team||Odds to Win NFC West||Odds to Win Super Bowl 53|
|Los Angeles Rams||-155||+850|
|San Francisco 49ers||+300||+2200|
After last year’s breakout season for QB Jared Goff produced an 11-5 record and the NFC West title, the Rams broke a 12-season playoff drought. And they’re big favorites to make a second straight trip to the postseason by claiming the NFC West crown once again. But should the upstarts slip up, another potential Cinderella story might just be told should the 49ers take the next step. Surprisingly, a Seahawks team that took three of four West titles before last season finds itself in 3rd place on the divisional totem pole. And the less said about an abysmal Arizona Cardinals squad pegged as the worst Win Total team in football, the better. The team capsules below contain everything you need to know as an NFC West bettor.
We’ve got a handful of guys that are veterans, but then also some younger guys that are stepping into some leadership roles as they’ve continued to accumulate some experience.
I’ve had fun just getting to know these guys (Peters and Talib) and just kind of picking their brain from an offensive standpoint to kind of see what they’re thinking.”
– HC Sean McVay, on how the revamped Rams defense will come together as the upstart contenders look to take the next step
|1||Sep.10||@ Oakland Raiders|
|2||Sep. 16||vs Arizona Cardinals|
|3||Sep. 23||vs Los Angeles Chargers|
|4||Sep.27||vs Minnesota Vikings|
|5||Oct.7||@ Seattle Seahawks|
|6||Oct. 14||@ Denver Broncos|
|7||Oct. 21||@ San Francisco 49ers|
|8||Oct. 28||vsGreen Bay Packers|
|9||Nov. 4||@ New Orleans Saints|
|10||Nov. 11||vs Seattle Seahawks|
|11||Nov. 19||vs Kansas City Chiefs|
|13||Dec. 2||@ Detroit Lions|
|14||Dec. 9||@ Chicago Bears|
|15||Dec. 16||vs Philadelphia Eagles|
|16||Dec. 23||@ Arizona Cardinals|
|17||Dec. 30||vs San Francisco 49ers|
*(Opponents Went 134-122 in 2017 = T-5thMost DifficultSchedule)*
The Rams enjoyed a renaissance in 2017, their second year playing in Los Angeles after relocating from St. Louis.
After missing the playoffs for an incredible 12 straight seasons, rookie head coach Sean McVay revamped the offense behind second-year stars QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley. After scoring a league-low 224 points with Jeff Fisher leading the way in 2016, McVay’s high-flying approach put the Rams at the top of the scoring list with 478 points.
And with ferocious DE Aaron Donald attacking opposing quarterbacks en route to Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) honors, Los Angeles boasted a complete team on both sides of the ball.
They broke that playoff drought by winning the NFC West, and while a 26-13 loss to the Falcons in the Wild Card round wasn’t what McVay envisioned, the organization is going all-in behind their 30-year old coach.
The Rams added DL Ndamukong Suh to pair with Donald, immediately causing headaches for offensive coordinators on the other sideline. And to bolster a secondary that stood out as the team’s only weakness last season, CB Marcus Peters and CB Aqib Talib were brought in to create a Warriors-like “super-defense” squad.
And while WR Sammy Watkins has departed, WR Brandin Cooks was quickly slotted in as his replacement.
Sufficed to say, this Rams team is loaded for bear. And with the rest of the NFC West in various stages of rebuild projects, they clearly deserve that (-155) favorite status.
The only thing standing in L.A.’s way seems to be the schedule, which happens to be the 5th most difficult in all of football. They’ll face playoff teams like the Vikings, Saints, and Chiefs in non-divisional games, not to mention the defending champion Eagles. That’s a tough road to hoe, so the Rams will look to feast on their six divisional games against teams that are clearly inferior.
While the divisional race looks to be a layup for bettors, the Rams (+850) are also one of three teams priced at 10 to 1 or better to win a Super Bowl of their own. And why not? It may not be the “Greatest Show on Turf” that Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, and Isaac Bruce once powered, but this Rams team is close. Taking a flier on McVay – one of the brightest young minds in the coaching ranks – to turn his stacked roster into a Super Bowl title could just be a steal at that price.
The more interesting bet in terms of a sweat will probably be their Win Total of 10 (-120 on Over / -110 on Under). The Rams finished 11-5 last season, so that number is right on the money, but bookmakers might be anticipating a bit of a backslide due to their tough schedule.
Excitement is in the L.A. air, however, and given the team’s aggressive additions in free agency over the offseason, backing the Over has to be the lean.
But that wasn’t the only reason – there were a lot of factors.
The 49ers were the first team that called me, and they showed genuine interest. And I want to play someplace where I know I’m valued – where I know I’m wanted.”
– CB Richard Sherman, on whether or not playing in the NFC West and facing the Seahawks twice a year motivated his decision to sign with the 49ers
|1||Sep. 9||@ Minnesota Vikings|
|2||Sep. 16||vs Detroit Lions|
|3||Sep. 23||@ Kansas City Chiefs|
|4||Sep. 30||@ Los Angeles Chargers|
|5||Oct.7||vs Arizona Cardinals|
|6||Oct. 15||@ Green Bay Packers|
|7||Oct. 21||vs Los Angeles Rams|
|8||Oct. 28||@Arizona Cardinals|
|9||Nov.1||vs Oakland Raiders|
|10||Nov. 12||vs New York Giants|
|12||Nov. 25||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|13||Dec. 2||@ Seattle Seahawks|
|14||Dec. 9||vs Denver Broncos|
|15||Dec. 16||vs Seattle Seahawks|
|16||Dec. 23||vs Chicago Bears|
|17||Dec. 30||@ Los Angeles Rams|
*(Opponents Went 128-128 in 2017 = T-15thMost Difficult Schedule)*
It’s not every day bettors see a team start out 0-9, finish up the year 6-10, and suddenly find themselves as dark horse candidates to win the division – or even a Super Bowl.
But that’s exactly what happened in San Francisco, where the 49ers transformed themselves from pretender to contender with the acquisition of a single player – QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Tom Brady’s backup in New England for several seasons, Garoppolo immediately embraced his chance to lead a team, firing up a moribund 49ers team both with his confidence in the huddle, and his accuracy through the air.
He won each and every one of his five starts, including impressive wins over playoff squads like the Titans, Jaguars, and Rams to close out 2017. Simply put, the 49ers looked like a completely different team with Garoppolo under center, and bettors anticipate the winning ways to continue going forward.
The 49ers roster doesn’t stack up all that well against the Rams, however, as Garoppolo will be throwing to unknowns like Kyle Juszczyk and George Kittle. But he will have a new toy to play with in RB Jerick McKinnon, who’s elusive and explosive running helped propel the Vikings into the playoffs last year.
On the defensive side of the ball, CB Richard Sherman signed on after being released by the Seahawks. He’s coming off a torn Achilles though, and with age advancing inexorably, even Sherman knows he might not be the all-world lockdown corner he once was. But if he can find even some of the star power that fueled those memorable Seahawks defenses of old, Sherman should bring swagger and a veteran presence to this upstart Niners team.
And don’t forget about Weeks 13 and 15, when Sherman gets his chance at revenge against Seattle. Those games should be intense to say the least, especially if one or both of the participants is fighting for a postseason spot.
Given the “anything can happen” nature of the NFL – where teams regress from the title games to cellar-dweller seemingly every season – backing the 49ers at (+300) for a surprise NFC West title isn’t a bad idea. Seattle and Arizona have both been stripped for parts, so all it would take is for L.A. to stumble for San Fran to take the next step.
Those (+2200) odds on a Super Bowl are another story, however, having been inflated by a rush of Niners fans and casual bettors who were convinced by Garoppolo’s success over a short sample. In reality, this number should be somewhere closer to (+3000), so bettors just aren’t getting any value at the current price.
The same can be said for their Win Total of 8.5 (-120 on Over / -110 on Under), which feels a tad too high for a 6-10 team that didn’t really improve its roster. Sure, Garoppolo is worth another win or two, but he’ll need to up the Niners’ tally by three victories to get bettors over the hump. A savvier play would be betting the Under and hoping the Jimmy G rocket ride comes back to Earth in Year 2.
And it feels like four or five years ago. It feels fresh and wide open, it’s more of an open competition for some of the spots.
And that’s a really good thing for us, because it does feed into the whole approach.”
– Pete Carroll, on adjusting to a “rebuild” mode following the departure of several core players that helped take Seattle to two Super Bowls during his tenure
|1||Sep. 9||@ Denver Broncos|
|2||Sep. 17||@ Chicago Bears|
|3||Sep. 23||vs Dallas Cowboys|
|4||Sep. 30||@ Arizona Cardinals|
|5||Oct.7||vsLos Angeles Rams|
|6||Oct. 14||@ Oakland Raiders|
|8||Oct. 28||@ Detroit Lions|
|9||Nov. 4||vsLos Angeles Chargers|
|10||Nov. 11||@Los Angeles Rams|
|11||Nov. 15||vs Green Bay Packers|
|12||Nov. 25||@ Carolina Panthers|
|13||Dec. 2||vs San Francisco 49ers|
|14||Dec.10||vs Minnesota Vikings|
|15||Dec. 16||@ San Francisco 49ers|
|16||Dec. 23||vs Kansas City Chiefs|
|17||Dec. 30||vs Arizona Cardinals|
|17||Dec. 30||vs Arizona Cardinals|
*(Opponents Went 134-122 in 2017 = T-5thMost DifficultSchedule)*
Why didn’t he just run the damned ball?
That lament has surrounded the Seahawks ever since HC Pete Carroll opted to pass from the goal line with the Super Bowl 48, rather than let RB Marshawn Lynch pound the rock.
Of course, CB Malcom Butler snatched that ill-conceived slant out of the air, stealing a title for the Patriots while denying Carroll and Seattle their second straight Lombardi Trophy.
And it’s been downhill for the team ever since. Sure, the Seahawks made the playoffs in the next two years following Carroll’s curious call – but they were ousted in the Divisional Round each time. Their record also fell from 12-4 in 2014 to 10-6 the following year, and 10-5-1 one year later.
The bottom fell out last season, as Seattle sleepwalked to a 9-7 record to miss out on the postseason for the first time in six years.
And if you scan the list of departed players above, you’ll see that Seattle is poised to miss the playoffs yet again. Simply put, the “window” closed abruptly for this team, as almost all of its core pieces from the Super Bowl runs have either departed, signed elsewhere, or were cut.
Carroll has his work cut out for him, and if anybody can get the most out of a rebuild, it’s him. Even so, avoiding any title wagers on Seattle is the clear play given their roster attrition.
That’s what we’re focusing on. We don’t want to look in the telescope. The Super Bowl is going to take care of itself.
That’s what he’s focusing on now. And that’s what we have to do each and every day we come in here.”
– HC Steve Wilks, on changing the Cardinals’ locker room philosophy in his first year taking over for Bruce Arians
|1||Sep.9||vs Washington Redskins|
|2||Sep. 16||@ Los Angeles Rams|
|3||Sep. 23||vs Chicago Bears|
|4||Sep. 30||vs Seattle Seahawks|
|5||Oct.7||@ San Francisco 49ers|
|6||Oct. 14||@ Minnesota Vikings|
|7||Oct.18||vs Denver Broncos|
|8||Oct. 28||vs San Francisco 49ers|
|10||Nov. 11||@ Kansas City Chiefs|
|11||Nov. 18||vs Oakland Raiders|
|12||Nov. 25||@ Los Angeles Chargers|
|13||Dec. 2||@ Green Bay Packers|
|14||Dec. 9||vs Detroit Lions|
|15||Dec. 15||@ Atlanta Falcons|
|16||Dec. 23||vs Los Angeles Rams|
|17||Dec. 30||@ Seattle Seahawks|
*(Opponents Went 133-123 in 2017 = T-8thMost DifficultSchedule)*
Speaking of roster attrition, the Cardinals front office allowed an already mediocre team to get even worse.
QB Carson Palmer’s retirement caused retread Sam Bradford to be brought aboard, while star safety Tyrann Mathieu was allowed to sign with Houston. This team just doesn’t have the weapons to compete, not only in the division, but against most of the NFL.
The books have Arizona pegged to be the worst team in football, with a Win Total of just 5.5 (-175 on Over / +145 on Under). Division title and Super Bowl bets are obviously a nonstarter, but bettors should look at the Cards’ tough schedule to find 16 reasons to bet the Under.
The Rams are the trendy pick in the division, but it’s hard to count out the 49ers and the Seahawks. Is this the year the Cardinals finally turn the corner? It’s doubtful, but it all comes down to the quarterback play.