Betting NFL Division Futures - The Bettors Edge
Top online sportsbooks such as 5Dimes continue to expand their preseason board for betting on the NFL. The annual Hall of Fame Game from Canton on Thursday, Aug. 1 marks the start of the four-week exhibition season of games leading up to Week 1 of the NFL regular season in early September.
Along with actual betting lines for the preseason contests, there are any number of recently updated NFL futures and props to bet on. One of the most popular bets are on the posted odds to win each of the eight divisions. Some races are expected to be somewhat lopsided with one really heavy favorite. Yet, there are a few other races that could come right down to the wire in Week 17 of the regular season schedule.
Going Chalk With The Favorite
The obvious team at the top of this list would be the New England Patriots as -420 favorites to win the AFC East. You would have to go all the way back to 2008 to find the last time New England finished lower than first in this division title race. Since the 2003 season, the Patriots have won the AFC East 15 times in 16 seasons. While the risk is rather high with this year's prohibitive -420 odds, the actual return on that bet is almost guaranteed.
The most substantial favorite in the NFC to win its division is the New Orleans Saints in the South at -168 odds. They are closely followed by the Los Angeles Rams at -153 odds to win the NFC West.
Each of these teams is coming off a division title run in 2018 and more than capable of repeating as the top team in their respective division this year. The NFC South tends to be a more competitive race, and Atlanta is an interesting choice at +375. Seattle could be better than expected as a +310 second-favorite to win the West in the NFC.
The Best Value in The Odds
As -110 favorites, the Philadelphia Eagles will be gunning for their second NFC East title in three seasons. After posting an incredible Super Bowl run in 2017, they slipped to second in the standings to Dallas last year at 9-7. Philadelphia eventually lost to New Orleans in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
The big question mark heading into this season is Carson Wentz as the team's franchise quarterback. He has been hampered by injuries his past two seasons that have limited his playing time. The consensus around the league is highly optimistic for the Eagles if he can remain healthy and return to the form that had Wentz on pace to win league MVP honors in just his second NFL season.
The Cleveland Browns are fan favorites at +127 odds to win the AFC North for the first time since 1989. They improved to 7-8-1 last season with Baker Mayfield at quarterback. An active offseason added some more personnel that could produce the team's first winning season since 2007 when it went 10-6.
I do have Pittsburgh taking a step backward in 2019 as a +173 second-favorite to win the AFC North. If the Steelers falter, this could pave the way for the Baltimore Ravens repeating as division champs with higher betting odds of +335. John Harbaugh led his team to a 10-6 record last season followed by an early exit in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. This season will be his 12th as the Ravens' head coach, and his team has finished first or second in the AFC North the past three years.