The 2017 NFL Futures have been released by our friends at Bovada, and I’m here to take a deep dive in to what’s going to be an intriguing set of plays you can make in this market. It does seem like the AFC is relatively spoken for, while the NFC is anyone’s guess. Some people love to sprinkle their money around randomly. Me? I like to be a bit more precise.
NFL FUTURES – 2017 AFC CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS
The AFC playoff table looks like a cruel joke on football fans. The worst part is that the “big news” in the lead up to wild card weekend is about which crappy quarterback is going to start for which crappy team. Can I please read more about Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill? Is Tom Savage better than Brock Osweiler?! Does any of this matter?!
The sad truth is that the long game of the AFC – and that of the Super Bowl – pretty much goes through the top two teams in the conference. That would be New England (-500 to win AFC) and Kansas City (+450 to win AFC). Honestly, I could do a major deep dive on my preference, but a hedge play on Kansas City here seems like the smartest play if you’re going to take the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs are a good team; well rounded with a quarterback who can pick apart the Patriots. If the Patriots were any other team, you wouldn’t be as high and mighty on them. They play games too close to the chest to ingest a long term NFL futures bet on them to win the Super Bowl, but as an upset conference champion? I’m all for it. Especially given the odds.
“But what about Pittsburgh?!” Well some of you may be wondering why I am not giving special credence to the Steelers as +400 second favorites. The reason is simple: their defense stinks. They’ve given up double-digit points in their last 5 games, and everything about this team is mediocre in terms of production despite the presence of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. If you like them to steal the AFC in a bad year, then go for it. But I’m just not sold given that their seven-game winning streak to cap the regular season came on the backs of a schedule that had just one winning team.
NFL FUTURES – 2017 NFC CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS
This is where the NFL futures gets really juicy. Unlike the AFC, the NFC has a suspiciously tight race at the top and all things are equal now that we’re in to the playoffs. Almost every team is walking in with some notable momentum.
The longest shot amongst the bunch is the Detroit Lions (+3300 to win the NFC) because…well…they’re the Lions. No team loves to engulf themselves in flames of frustration more than this franchise when it comes to the post season. They haven’t won a playoff game in a quarter-century. You read that right. Not since 1991. Forget about these guys.
Perhaps the most dangerous take is on the steady New York Giants (+800 to win the NFC). This team has a very specific make up that is not unlike their championship teams of recent years. Incredible defensive pressure, a star receiver, a no-name rushing attack and Eli Manning pulling rabbits from every part of his goddamn uniform. The trends and metrics make no sense with the Giants, but they’ve never had to. This is still an 11-5 SU team that also went 9-6 ATS. You could spend your money on dumber things.
Next up is the Seattle Seahawks (+550 to win the NFC), who would undoubtedly be a stronger candidate in the NFL futures if Earl Thomas was healthy. Since his injury they’ve surrendered 24.3 points per game, which is +6.1 points compared to their season average of 18.2. Offensively they’re capable, but defensively they have a gaping hole which is why people are rushing to take the Lions as +8.0 point underdogs in Seattle this weekend.
At the top of the table are the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers, who each share +350 odds to win the NFC. That’s fair and fine. Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers have each submitted MVP worthy seasons (despite what I may believe), but both have been fairly unlucky in the playoffs.
The Packers are famously overvalued in the post season. They’re 7-7 SU overall in 12 post season games, but if you subtract their four wins from their 2008 championship season, that record falls to just 3-7 SU.
As for Atlanta, well you simply have to say the words “Matty Ice” to any Falcons fan to see their eyes roll. I hate teams that don’t have a capable defence. Opponents just seem too capable of getting points off of the Falcons when they need to. If you’re splitting hairs between the two second choices in the NFC, Green Bay is definitely the pick.
The case for the Dallas Cowboys as +150 favorites in the NFC is absolutely straightforward. They have the best offensive line in the league, two great quarterbacks and running-backs who can carry the load. And with Sean Lee finally healthy, the defence looks absolutely invigorated. Sure, Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott are rookies, but they’ve bucked almost every statistical measure for first-year players playing at this level.
The Cowboys are the easy pick for me in the NFC. But if you pointed a gun to my head, I’d be scared of the New York Giants. We saw this in 2007 and 2011. They lull you to sleep during bad years, and then make the biggest splash when it matters.
2017 SUPER BOWL ODDS
Throwing stones a month away is hard to do, and the value on all but one of these teams is going to stay relatively similar through the next two rounds of the playoffs. The only team you should be launching yourself at for sheer value is the New England Patriots at +190. That number will get steeper and steeper as we approach the end of January.
AFC Teams To Win Super Bowl
New England (+190)
Pittsburgh Steelers (+800)
Kansas City Chiefs (+900)
NFC Teams To Win Super Bowl
Green Bay (+700)
You can probably afford to hold off on Dallas here until you see what the divisional round of the playoffs looks like. They’re a solid team to bank on, but they’re by no means a lock. Green Bay and Dallas are heady plays here depending on how you feel about either. Obviously, if you read anything I wrote in the NFC futures section then you know that I’m going to take a dip in to the longshot New York Giants at +1600 as well.
BONUS – BETTING THE SPECIFIC MATCHUP
Betting the exact Super Bowl matchups is always a hedge play for me. The odds are the longest here because of the probabilities. I’ve listed a few of the matchups to give you an idea of the market.
Dallas vs. New England (+550)
Green Bay vs. New England (+550)
Seattle vs. New England (+900)
Dallas vs. Pittsburgh (+1200)
NYG vs. New England (+1200)
Green Bay vs. Pittsburgh (+2000)
Atlanta vs. Kansas City (+2200)
And so on. A lot of people use this NFL futures feature as a fun, flier play but the smarter way to put value in to this market is as insurance. Say you’ve bet on Dallas and New England to go all the way. You can then take two other top teams (like Green Bay and Pittsburgh) here at a relative cheap price to cover most of your wagers. The best part about this bet is you get the result on championships weekend, and that will leave you with money in the wallet should other investments go sideways.
My Favorite NFL Futures Plays
You have to think of your NFL futures picks as a package. It covers all the likely outcomes that you expect. For below, I have my preferred longshot play over the long haul along with some conference bets to hedge and an exact Super Bowl matchup that could cover all my other plays (and then some) should I be way off. If you’re not covering your bases tactfully, you’re not playing the NFL futures market properly. Building your own strategic package is the key to getting the most out of what the oddsmakers give you in this type of market.
2017 Super Bowl: New England +190 and New York Giants (+1600)
AFC Champion: Kansas City +450
NFC Champion: Dallas +150
Exact Super Bowl Matchup: Green Bay vs. Pittsburgh (+2000)