The NFC is once again a loaded conference that should feature plenty of tight divisional races. And while plenty can change with rosters once training camp begins, summertime can be the best time to find value on some division futures.
Using the BettingPros consensus odds, here are my best bets for each division in the NFC.
Compare odds from all major sportsbooks for the best bets to win the NFC >>
Dallas Cowboys +125
Washington Football Team +260
New York Giants +350
Philadelphia Eagles +500
The NFC East was comically bad last season, with the 7-9 Washington Football Team clinching the division in Week 17 against a Philadelphia Eagles team that was clearly tanking.
Historically, this division is all about parity. There hasn’t been a repeat winner since 2004 when the Eagles won their fourth division title in a row. It won’t surprise me if that trend continues.
Head coach Ron Rivera brought instant credibility to Washington, and Chase Young brought the heat, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
What held Washington back last season was its terrible quarterback play. And I’m not sure adding the whimsical Ryan Fitzpatrick was enough of an upgrade. By now, you should know how the Fitzpatrick roller coaster goes. He starts hot, inspires hope, then throws four interceptions when you need him most, and he gets benched. There’s a reason he’s never led a team to the playoffs in his 16-year career.
The Football Team has pieces and a bright future. But let’s not forget it finished below .500. Fitzpatrick under center won’t make this team that much better. Meanwhile, I don’t trust the quarterbacks in New York or Philadelphia enough to put my hard-earned money on them to take home the crown.
So for my best bet, I’m going with the favored Dallas Cowboys. Dak Prescott should be healthy by Week 1, and I suspect his return will raise the sinking ship that was Dallas’ offense. I don’t think Ezekiel Elliott is done. I liked the addition of Keanu Neal via free agency and liked Dallas’ emphasis on defense during the draft. Micah Parsons should be an instant starter, and I expect a couple of other impact players to emerge from their draft class.
I’m betting on this division to change hands once again and think there’s still value on the ‘Boys at plus-money.
Best Bet: Cowboys +125
Green Bay Packers -121
Minnesota Vikings +225
Chicago Bears +350
Detroit Lions +2,000
Obviously, this division has an enormous elephant in the room: Aaron Rodgers’ unhappiness with the organization. Rodgers expressed his displeasure with the Packers earlier in the offseason, but it’s clear oddsmakers aren’t overly worried about the future Hall of Famer holding out into the season.
The Packers are the rightful favorites, assuming Rodgers suits up for them this year. But after a quiet offseason in which the Packers brought in few outside free agents, it’s fair to wonder how much better the team got entering 2021. Green Bay lost its starting center, Corey Linsley, to the Chargers, and the Packers’ depth at cornerback behind Jaire Alexander is concerning, especially after how badly Kevin King was exposed in the NFC Championship Game.
On paper, the Packers are still the best team in this division. However, at -121, I think there’s better value out there. I would need much better than +350 on the Bears, considering they could start Andy Dalton under center and parted ways with their best cornerback. And I won’t even bother trying to find a scenario in which the lowly Detroit Lions win the NFC North.
That leads me to the Minnesota Vikings. They have the offensive firepower to keep up with Green Bay with Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen. They’ve got a good enough QB in Kirk Cousins. And I expect Minnesota’s defense to take strides in 2021. Coach Mike Zimmer is still among the best defensive coaches in the game. While Patrick Peterson is on the decline, he brings much-needed experience to this group. I also expect second-year cornerbacks Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler to improve after being thrown into the fire as rookies.
And in the surprising event that Rodgers doesn’t return to Green Bay, this price will be an absolute steal.
Best Bet: Vikings +225
San Francisco 49ers +185
Los Angeles Rams +190
Seattle Seahawks +275
Arizona Cardinals +550
This may be the toughest division to figure out, as all four teams are capable of making the playoffs. Clearly, oddsmakers expect some positive regression and better luck for the 49ers, who were decimated by injuries in a wasted 2020 season.
The biggest question revolving around San Francisco — and the reason why I’m not willing to take them at this price — is at quarterback. I’d feel a bit better if the 49ers started Jimmy Garoppolo over rookie Trey Lance, as pedestrian as he can be. While San Francisco’s offensive upside is probably capped with Garoppolo under center, Lance is an incredibly raw prospect coming out of North Dakota State. Otherwise, this roster is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball.
The Rams seem to be a public darling after swapping Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford at quarterback. Stafford will be more than willing to push the ball downfield, something Goff simply wasn’t comfortable with. The Rams have plenty of star power on both sides of the ball, but their lack of cap space and draft picks could start to catch up with their roster depth.
The Seahawks can score with anyone, thanks to their dynamic passing game led by Russell Wilson. But do you really trust their defense? Wilson was indeed cooking at the start of the year, but then Seattle’s offense hit a wall. Wilson is spectacular, but new Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron will need to establish more balance.
Finally, there’s the Arizona Cardinals. Kyler Murray was dynamic before a shoulder injury clearly impacted his arm strength and willingness to run. The Cardinals appeared poised for a playoff berth at 5-2 before going 3-6 down the stretch. Arizona brought in veterans J.J. Watt and Malcolm Butler to a defense that ranked eighth in yards per play allowed, 12th in points allowed, and fourth in sacks. Watt, Chandler Jones, and Hasaan Reddick could be a handful for opposing offenses.
Arizona has the quarterback and the defense to finish the job and make some noise in 2021. Keeping Murray upright will be pivotal, and the Cardinals’ offensive line and running game give me some cause for pause. I’m also not a big fan of Kliff Kingsbury. But at +550, Arizona is the best value in what should be a highly competitive division.
Best bet: Cardinals +550
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -200
New Orleans Saints +300
Atlanta Falcons +800
Carolina Panthers +1,100
I’m leaving the NFC South for last because it’s the division I least want to bet. It’s very obvious the Buccaneers are the best team in this division, and they’re returning pretty much their entire Super Bowl-winning team. But you didn’t come here to lay $2 to win $1, right? Betting on the Bucs right now presents little to no value.
However, at +300, the New Orleans Saints offer a ton of value based on their recent history. The Saints haven’t changed a ton between last season and this, but there’s uncertainty under center after Drew Brees retired. Either Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston will take the helm for the Saints. And while I’m personally not a fan of either of them, I trust Sean Payton and a strong roster to overcome any drop-off at QB.
The other teams in this division feel incomplete. The Falcons have offensive firepower but are rebuilding defensively. And while the Carolina Panthers have potential, they’re a year or two away and don’t have the question at quarterback answered yet.
Best bet: Saints +300
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