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Futures Shopping: 2020 NFL Bargains and Ripoffs

With the dust beginning to settle on NFL free agency, teams are moving up and down futures oddsboards with the typical overreactions and underreactions we see with so much roster movement taking place.

We still have the monster known as the NFL draft ahead of us that will further shape rosters, but there’s some pretty good spots we can take advantage of right now. There’s also some spots where over-antsy bettors with too much time on their hands might be enticed to get some bets in, but they’d be better off investing in tickets to a 2020 XFL game.

Here’s my best bargains and biggest ripoffs in NFL futures betting ahead of the NFL draft:

All odds courtesy of BetOnline.

Best Bargains:

Eagles +140 to win the NFC East

I don’t think another team was more decimated by injuries last season than Philly, who despite having difference-making players in and out of the lineup all season still managed to finish above .500 and get into the playoffs. Yes, I realize this was due in part to the NFC East being a disgrace last season.

There’s no guarantees that injuries won’t be an issue in 2020 and depth at the skill positions remains a concern. However, it’s hard to envision back-to-back injury-riddled seasons, especially with more roster turnover expected where I assume they’ll look to land a highly touted receiver in a draft rich in pass catchers.

They also just significantly upgraded their secondary with the acquisition of Darius Slay while the Dallas Cowboys, their top competition in the division, are facing a downgrade at cornerback with the departure of Byron Jones to the Dolphins. As for the Redskins and Giants, it looks like the never-ending rebuilds will continue. AlI these things considered, I love the Eagles at plus money in a shallow division and these odds could inch closer to EVEN if they make some noise in the draft.

Buccaneers +200 to win the NFC South

On the surface, this looks like a square bet due to the Tom Brady acquisition, but don’t forget they went 5-3 in their final eight games last season and six of their losses were by a touchdown or less. Now, combine all those close losses with the fact that they led the league with 41 turnovers, highlighted by 30 interceptions. Now, consider the guy who threw all those interceptions is no longer on the team and he’s being replaced by a guy who threw 22 fewer picks with right around the same number of attempts.

Yes, Brady’s skills are in decline and we shouldn’t expect numbers near his career bests, but the Bucs will see a gigantic improvement in ball security that should lead to extra wins.

The Bucs finished tied for first in yards allowed per rush while allowing a league-low 73.8 rushing yards per game in 2019.

While Brady and his new toys on offense are getting all the headlines, perhaps flying under the radar is the fact that this defense is pretty good, especially vs the run. They finished tied for first in yards allowed per rush while allowing a league-low 73.8 rushing yards per game.

Obviously, the big red flag for this bet is the division favorite Saints, who were one of the best teams in the regular season last year, but in a league that has a fair amount of turnover from season to season, I think Brady and the Bucs are about to shake up the division.

Patriots OVER 9.5 wins -110

Do ya think coach Bill might be just a little extra inspired coming into the 2020 season? I do. It’s obvious what this team’s flaws are – essentially the entire offense – but if you don’t think the greatest coach to ever do it can learn from last season’s mistakes and get to double-digit wins for an 18th straight season, then you are a complete and total … person who’s entitled to their own opinion.

Yes, they failed to make any sort of splash in free agency (so far) and bringing in Brian Hoyer to compete for the starting quarterback position shouldn’t inspire a lot of confidence, but there’s still a lot of work that can be done through the draft. Some might be quick to write off New England due to Tom Brady’s departure, but we see surprises out of the quarterback position every single season in the NFL – look at Ryan Tannehill leading the Titans to the AFC title game last season.

While counting on a surprise isn’t a strong betting strategy, something we can depend on will be the return of New England’s dominant defense, which was in the discussion as one of the NFL’s best in 2019. They allowed a league-low 14.4 points per game while also tying for first in opponent yards per play. If the defense returns to form, they should have a great shot at being in most games, especially if they can improve the run game and limit mistakes at the quarterback position.

Then, we have their scheduled opponents for 2020, where I think we can find 10 wins. Let’s say they go 4-2 in the AFC East, then there’s winnable games vs the Texans, Chargers, Rams, Broncos, Raiders and Cardinals. They’ll face some stiff tests vs the Chiefs, 49ers, Ravens and Seahawks, but could definitely pull out one or two upsets here to put them over the top.

It won’t be pretty, as the Patriots will squeak out some close wins in low-scoring games, but I feel strongly that a combination of good coaching, elite defense and a fairly light schedule can get them to 10 wins.

Biggest Ripoffs:

Bills OVER 8.5 wins -150

The Patriots’ loss is the Bills’ gain, right? Not so fast! The narrative in the AFC East began to shift with the departure of Tom Brady and many have the Bills penciled in to take the next step, but I think it’ll be a step back.

The Bills benefited greatly in 2019 from a super-light schedule. I won’t fault them for taking advantage and getting to 10 wins for the first time since 1999, but we do need to consider that they went just 1-4 vs other playoff teams, and the competition will rise in 2020 with their schedule including six games vs teams that made the playoffs in 2019, plus a handful of matches vs middle-of-the-pack teams, which is where I put them.

Stefon Diggs won’t be the difference-maker Bills fans are expecting, especially with Josh Allen and his brutal career 56.3 completion percentage throwing to him.

This offense is flawed and won’t have the luxury of getting by vs bottom-feeders this season. Last year, we saw them close out the season with five straight games in which they failed to score 20 points. They ranked 23rd overall in scoring and 22nd in yards per play. Stefon Diggs will help them improve the passing game, but I don’t think he’ll be the difference-maker most Bills fans are expecting, especially with Josh Allen and his brutal career 56.3 completion percentage throwing to him.

When you factor in the -150 juice on the Bills to get to nine wins, this bet simply isn’t worth it.

Browns OVER 8.5 wins -110

They’re doing it again, and many are taking the bait. Although it doesn’t compare to last offseason, the Browns made another splash in free agency and I wouldn’t count out other headline-grabbing moves before the season kicks off.

My primary reason for fading the Browns is because they’re on their fourth head coach since 2018 and I don’t think Kevin Stefanski – a rookie head coach – is the right guy to lead the gigantic egos on this roster. We saw how that worked out for rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens last season and he had a history with the roster prior to being named head coach.

As offensive coordinator of the Vikings last season, Stefanski also put together one of the worst offensive game plans in recent playoff history when the Vikings put up 10 points off 147 yards in the divisional round vs the 49ers. You might argue that it’s just one game, but it was one game where the stakes were extremely high and now the pressure will be jacked way up with all eyes on him as the man calling the shots.

I’m not going to do what everyone else does and bash Baker and Beckham, because I still think there’s potential there, but I think a three-win improvement is too much to ask for when you factor in the ridiculous turnover on the coaching staff... Plus, ya know, it’s the Browns and they always find a way to be a clown show.

Steelers +2500 to win the Super Bowl

What exactly did the Steelers do to be tied for the sixth-best odds to win the Super Bowl? Surely, this can’t be an overreaction to Ben Roethlisberger coming back, can it? Big Ben’s comeback might inspire some to make Pittsburgh a trendy pick, but the Steelers are a second-tier team at best and are simply getting too much respect from oddsmakers based on their reputation.

There’s no denying that this is a great defense, but aside from the massive red flag that is Roethlisberger’s ability to stay on the field, we also need to question the coaching ability of Mike Tomlin, whose in-game management gets worse with each passing year.

This isn’t to say that the Steelers can’t sneak into the playoffs, especially with an extra spot up for grabs in each conference, but making it out of the conference and winning the Super Bowl would be a major overachievement with this roster, making the 25-to-1 odds not worth the gamble.

So, that’s where I see the value along with some trendy spots that have “backfire” written all over them. Let me know in the comment section below what your best bets are for the upcoming season along with the biggest ripoffs and, as always, KEEP CHASING THAT PAPER!