NFL Team Future Bets
The wait is almost over, football fans. Just a few more lonely Sundays until the NFL is back, but before we get there, let’s dive into the futures market and find some winners.
Last year, my NFL team futures went a cool 3-1-1 (+2.95 units); so if you were to bet $100 on each, you’d have profited $295. To recap: we hit the Seahawks to win the NFC West (+220), and to win over 9.5 games (+110), and the Jets to win under 6.5 games (-135). We pushed the Bears under 8 wins (-130), and we lost the Raiders under 7.5 wins (-135) because of that absurd comeback victory against the Dolphins in Week 16. Nearly undefeated, but I’ll happily take a profitable record.
This year, I’ve decided to expand the best future bets column into two parts. The first part below is focusing strictly on team futures, and I’ve broken them up into three categories so there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re in to win totals, playoff futures, or some longshots, I’ve handicapped a few of my favorite bets for each. Keep an eye out later in the month for my best player future bets, where I’ll pick out my favorite yardage totals, award winners, and other valuable bets for the 2021 season.
If you’re new to sports betting, remember to shop around for the best sportsbook. Search for the best bonus as some sites allow deposit free spins and 10X bonuses and remember to always bet responsibly within your means.
Without further adieu, here are my 12 favorite team futures.
Buffalo Bills Over 11 Wins (-110)
I have no idea why the books are offering us -110 odds on the Bills to be two wins worse than they were last year, but I’m happy to oblige. There’s expected regression for Stefon Diggs, sure. And the division is tougher. But while some are expecting regression from Josh Allen too, I certainly am not. He’s just getting started in this league, he’s improved every year, and he’s coming off over 4,500 yards, 45 touchdowns, and a 69.2% completion rate in 2020. Plus, Buffalo added Emmanuel Sanders, retained Brian Daboll as the offensive coordinator, and somehow kept Matt Milano in town – the quarterback of their defense.
— Greg Vorse TV (@GregVorse) July 28, 2021
This Bills team is at worst the second-best team in the conference, and there’s an extra game on the schedule this year. A schedule that’s ranked the 9th-easiest in terms of opponents projected win totals. With fans back in the stands in the great white north, slam the over before it disappears.
Indianapolis Colts Under 9 Wins (-125)
The Colts win total dropped down to 9.5 after the sharps hit the under, and then fell to 9 once Carson Wentz was ruled out for 5-12 weeks. Then Quenton Nelson hurt his foot, and we lost some juice, from -115 down to -125. So why am I jumping on a line that’s fallen a full win since it opened? Because I had the Colts projected at 8.5 wins before either of those guys got hurt. We’re still getting a gift with this line.
The Colts were a topsy-turvy team last year. Their defense was world-class, and then it wasn’t. Their offense was a runaway train, and then it wasn’t. That was all with Philip Rivers at the helm, and he’d seen it all in his NFL career. Now, the Colts are looking at either Jacob Eason or the ghost of Nick Foles under center (he’s currently the odds-on favorite to take the first snap of the season for Indy, despite being on the Bears). If that’s not bad enough, those guys will have to deal with an offensive line that just lost its – and the NFL’s – best guard. Even if Carson Wentz makes it back on the optimistic end of his injury timeline, he’s only had two practices with his new teammates. Indianapolis is overhyped and is primed to underperform in 2021.
Denver Broncos Under 8.5 Wins (+110)
The Broncos weapons have been getting hyped up all offseason long, and for a valid reason. They’re loaded at wide receiver, and they’ve got the running backs and tight ends to round out a potentially dynamic offense. But they have issues in the two most important spots on the field: the offensive line and the quarterback.
Denver brought in Teddy Bridgewater, and while he’s a covering machine, he’s not a winning machine. Bridgewater is 26-23 as a starter, but consider that he was 5-0 in 2019 with a loaded Saints team. This Broncos team is not that Saints team, and Bridgewater also doesn’t look poised at the moment to win the starting job; Drew Lock looks like the guy, and that’s even better for our under. Lock regressed like crazy in 2020, tossing 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while watching his completion percentage fall by 6.8%. And as for the offensive line, Denver’s group finished 25th in the NFL as a unit and projects to finish 21st in 2021, per PFF.
In an absolutely loaded division where even the projected last-place Raiders aren’t all that bad, and after posting negative net yards per play last year (-0.3), Denver is going to have an uphill climb posting a winning record. At plus money, I’ll gladly take the under.
Cincinnati Bengals Under 6.5 Wins (-130)
The reports out of Cincinnati have been… bad. According to beat writers, the offense has looked absolutely anemic against a Bengals defense that finished 22nd in the NFL last year. They added Trey Hendrickson and some secondary help, and it’s still early, but this isn’t a great way to start for Joe Burrow and company.
You needed to draft left tackle, this is on the Bengals pic.twitter.com/DAyaIFQfTf
— Jeff-LJ-Lloyd (@Jeff_LJ_Lloyd) August 4, 2021
Speaking of Burrow, he’s coming off ACL surgery, and it’s anyone’s guess how long it’s going to take him to feel comfortable in the pocket. I also thought the Bengals took a massive risk drafting Ja’Marr Chase in the first round when Penei Sewell was staring them right in the face. It’s nice to have weapons, but weapons are useless if you have no time to find them.
The Bengals have the fourth-hardest schedule based on win projections in the entire NFL, and their division is absolutely brutal with three teams who have legitimate deep playoff run aspirations. I know Cincinnati can still lose 10 games and cash the over here thanks to the extra week on the schedule, but there is too much negative smoke rising from Bengals camp. I’m laying a bit of juice, but the under looks great.
New England Patriots Under 9.5 Wins (-110)
Two straight seasons of doing the unthinkable for me: fading Bill Belichick. The Patriots went crazy in free agency and tried to recreate the Patriots teams from the dynasty years, but I’m one of the few that didn’t really love their offseason. I thought they had bigger problems than the ones they addressed by paying two tight ends nearly $80 million.
Cam Newton looked absolutely cooked last year. He threw for just 6.4 air yards per attempt – 27th in the NFL. Mac Jones isn’t starting Week 1, that’s just not how they do things in Foxboro, so we’re about to see more of the same from Newton, despite his new tight ends. Plus, this is a difficult division. The Bills are one of the best teams in the NFL, the Dolphins are going to contend for a playoff spot, and the Jets – while they don’t have realistic postseason hopes – are not going to be a pushover. This isn’t the AFC East of old where New England could all but book a 5-1 record year in and year out.
To Make The Playoffs
Washington Football Team To Make The Playoffs (+135)
Lost in the flurry of jokes about the NFC East’s futility in 2021 was the fact that Washington really wasn’t a bad football team once Ron Rivera’s system hit its stride. They closed out the season on a 5-2 run, and only lost to the eventual champion Buccaneers by eight – the only team other than Green Bay to be within single digits of Tampa Bay all playoffs.
Washington’s defense was fourth in the league in points allowed last year, and for my money has the best defensive front in the NFL. They also upgraded on offense, adding Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries on the outside and Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Washington’s division is also one of the lighter ones; Philadelphia isn’t all that great and I just don’t believe the hype around the Giants. I’m not sure I’m taking them to win the NFC East crown, but there’s room in the Wild Card hunt for them to find a spot – especially if the NFC West beats each other up as I expect.
Los Angeles Chargers To Make The Playoffs (+105)
How this is plus money, I have no idea. Los Angeles finally moved on from head coach Anthony Lynn, and they improved their offensive line in a big way this offseason. They signed Corey Linsley and drafted Rashawn Slater, so now reigning Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert not only has weapons, he also has protection. The Chargers will also get a healthy Derwin James back after injuries limited him to just five games over the last two seasons.
It’s important to note how much better a team the Chargers were than their record indicated in 2020. Los Angeles finished last season at 7-9, but they ranked in the top-10 in both yards per game on offense and yards per game allowed on defense. Close losses were their kryptonite. Their first seven losses of the year were by one score, eight of their nine losses were by 10 points or less, three of their losses were by three or less, and two losses came in overtime.
There were an alarming amount of missed opportunities for the Chargers in 2020, but this team has the talent and the new coaching staff to fix those mistakes that lead to blown leads and turn some of those close losses into wins.
Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers To Finish Top 2 In AFC West (+120)
These teams don’t have to finish in an exact order. As long as they’re the top two teams in the AFC West, regardless of who wins it, we cash.
I’ll keep this handicap short and sweet since I’ve touched on the Chargers and we all know how good the Chiefs are. The Chargers upgraded their roster in all three aspects – via the draft, via free agency, and organically – by players returning from injury. They’ve got one of the best young quarterbacks in the sport, they’ve got a coaching staff that can’t possibly be any worse than last year’s, and there’s a significant gap between Los Angeles and both Denver and Las Vegas. I already faded Denver earlier and bought the Chargers to make the playoffs. Given how good the Chiefs are, this bet is a no-brainer.
For the sake of the handicap, I’ll touch on the Chiefs. Kansas City’s quarterback is Patrick Mahomes, so they’re going to win the division and most likely have one of the best, if not the best record in the NFL. There’s no chance they finish outside the top two in the division.
Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team To Finish Top 2 In NFC East (+140)
The same bet as the AFC East bet above, over on the NFC side of things.
This is another bet I’ve sort of touched on throughout this piece. I like Washington a lot this year; their defense is scary, Ron Rivera is an excellent head coach, and they upgraded the offense. Plus, I’m not buying into the Giants hype or the Eagles as a dark horse. Both rosters are still incredibly flawed.
I haven’t touched on the Cowboys yet, but I will very shortly. Right below this bet, in fact. I think Dallas has a chance to have the best offense in football if Dak Prescott comes back and plays like the Dak Prescott who I expected to lead the NFL in touchdown passes last year. Plus, they upgraded their defense, namely by adding Micah Parsons in the draft. I think there are way too many people scarred by the futility of this division last year, which is why we’re getting such great odds here.
Dallas Cowboys To Win NFC (+1500)
This is very clearly a true longshot, and I touched on my high hopes for the Dallas offense just a few sentences above, so let’s take a look at who has shorter odds to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
CeeDee Lamb doing CeeDee Lamb things pic.twitter.com/b0r4qnzleI
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 1, 2021
The Buccaneers (+275) lead the way, obviously, but there’s absolutely no value left at that number. The Packers (+600) are up next. Any time Aaron Rodgers is ‘all in’, your team has a chance to win it all. But Green Bay’s defense is not good, and is Rodgers actually ‘all in’? There are way too many question marks surrounding this team to only be getting +600 odds. The Rams (+650), 49ers (+650), and Seahawks (+1000) are the final three teams ahead of the Cowboys, and all three play in the same division. They are going to beat the daylights out of each other all year long, so will they even be healthy or fit enough come playoff time? That’s not a risk I’m willing to take. I’m not saying Dallas doesn’t have issues, but +1500 with an offense this dynamic is way too good to pass up on.
Buffalo Bills To Win AFC (+500)
I won’t bore you with reading another Bills handicap. I took the over on their win total at the top of this piece, and as I mentioned then, Buffalo is at minimum the second-best team in the AFC behind Kansas City. And Kansas City’s defense is suspect.
Keep in mind, if Buffalo has to go into Kansas City for another AFC title game, there won’t be any shock factor. They’ll know what to expect the second time around, and they’ll be far more prepared and confident. And if the Bills host an AFC title game in front of the most insane fans in sports, I feel sorry for the team who has to come in and run an offense through that noise. I think this is a dynamic team with a really good head coach, and one who can represent the AFC in the Super Bowl and perhaps even win it.
Houston Texans To Have The Worst Record In The NFL (+200)
The only other team in contention for this dubious honor is the Lions, and in my eyes, there’s a significant talent gap between Houston and Detroit. The Lions can at least spread the ball around with Jared Goff to D’Andre Swift, T.J. Hockenson, Tyrell Williams, Jamaal Williams, even Breshad Perriman. Not great, but it could be worse, and the Texans are worse.
the Houston Texans officially have both the NFL's oldest roster and the NFL's worst roster
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) June 1, 2021
Houston’s offense consists of the following, confidently assuming Deshaun Watson isn’t part of it: Tyrod Taylor, Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, Keke Coutee, Jordan Akins, Phillip Lindsay, David Johnson, Rex Burkhead, and Mark Ingram. Perhaps decent in 2016, but not in 2021. This is the oldest offense (and team) in the NFL, it’s extremely injury prone, and the unit relied so heavily on Watson that the transition to a career backup is going to be a bumpy road. Plus, the Texans signed the highest number of free agents this offseason of any team – and few of them are expected to bring much impact – so the turnover is going to create a long lead time to build chemistry, especially under a new coaching staff.
No team in the NFL tries to lose, but Nick Caserio knows the value of a franchise quarterback. If his Texans are in the running for the number one overall pick, you’d better believe he’s going to ‘audition his young players’ as the season winds down with the ultimate goal of taking Spencer Rattler at the top of next year’s draft.
Mike is an avid sports bettor and fantasy football player, and has been writing since 2013. He previously worked for NBC Sports Philadelphia and Alliance Football Focus, and currently contributes to BettingPros as a featured writer. Mike is a resident of New Jersey, a graduate of Rider University, and currently works as a research analyst. When he isn’t searching for his next wager or watching the New Jersey Devils, Mike enjoys spending time with his wife, his dog and his two cats.