Sizing up the NFL futures odds isn’t just about weighing a team’s current body of work but also planning for the road ahead.
We take a look at six teams – three with easy schedules to finish the year and three with rough runs ahead – and their odds to win the Super Bowl, conference title and division, looking for value in the NFL futures market:
Easiest remaining schedules
Dallas Cowboys (4-5 SU, 4-5 ATS)
Futures odds: +3,500 Super Bowl, +1,800 NFC, +350 NFC East
Remaining schedule: Cleveland, Washington, Philadelphia, @ Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, @ Washington
If you’re looking for a live futures long shot, the Cowboys are worth a look. The talent for a postseason run is there, it’s just a matter of if the Cowboys can stay out of their own way. After a tough opening slate, the schedule makers took it easy on Dallas down the home stretch. Just one of its remaining foes are above .500 and that team may have lost its starting QB for the rest of the year.
Denver Broncos (6-3 SU, 6-3 ATS)
Futures odds: +650 Super Bowl, +275 AFC, -800 AFC West
Remaining schedule: San Diego, @ Kansas City, Tampa Bay, @ Oakland, @ Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City
Think Denver has what it takes to go all the way in Year 1 of the Peyton Manning era? Now is the time to buy the Broncos, because those futures odds aren’t getting any fatter thanks to a light sked to wrap up the season. A trip to Baltimore is the lone bump in what should be smooth sailing for Denver. Any team that has two games versus the Chiefs still in their back pocket is in a good spot heading for home.
Buffalo Bills (3-6 SU, 4-5 ATS)
Futures odds: +50,000 Super Bowl, +20,000 AFC, +6,600 AFC East
Remaining schedule: Miami, @ Indianapolis, Jacksonville, St. Louis, Seattle, @ Miami, N.Y. Jets
Betting on Buffalo in any of those futures markets listed above is in the same vein as lighting your cigars with $50 bills. But the remaining schedule is so soft for the Bills, you’d swear it was printed on a baby’s bottom wearing diapers made out of dog ears. There is great value in the Bills against the spread down the stretch, with five of the final seven games coming at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the bitter Buffalo cold.
Toughest remaining schedules
Minnesota Vikings (6-4 SU, 4-5-1 ATS)
Futures odds: +15,000 Super Bowl, +6,600 NFC, +1,600 NFC North
Remaining schedule: @ Chicago, @ Green Bay, Chicago, @ St. Louis, @ Houston, Green Bay
It was fun while it lasted in Minnesota but it’s time to abandon the Vikings’ ship. After shocking the NFL with a solid start, Minnesota is about to come crashing back to earth thanks to a closing slate that would give even the best NFL teams the willies. Even the easiest matchup on the calendar – at St. Louis in Week 15 – is no guarantee. Divisional rival Detroit has a similarly scary sked ahead (Green Bay, Houston, Indianapolis, @ Green Bay, @ Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago) but that’s just life in the NFC North this year.
Baltimore Ravens (7-2 SU, 4-5 ATS)
Futures odds: +1,400 Super Bowl, +650 AFC, -175 AFC North
Remaining schedule: @ Pittsburgh, @ San Diego, Pittsburgh, @ Washington, Denver, N.Y. Giants, @ Cincinnati
Wondering why the Ravens are faves to take the AFC North but a relative long shot to win the Super Bowl? An upcoming calendar that takes the team away from home four times in seven games, and welcomes Pittsburgh, Denver and the Giants in the remaining home tilts is a big reason why. Baltimore may have caught a break with Ben Roethlisberger’s injury but nothing is a gimme in the final seven weeks of the schedule.
New York Giants (6-4 SU, 4-5-1 ATS)
Futures odds: +1,600 Super Bowl, +650 NFC, -250 NFC East
Remaining schedule: Green Bay, @ Washington, New Orleans, @ Atlanta, @ Baltimore, Philadelphia
Counting out the Giants during crunch time has proved to be a fatal mistake for bettors in recent years. Sure, New York could again find its Super Bowl swagger late in the year but the schedule makers aren’t doing the champs any favors. The two divisional games are hardly cake walks and the Saints could be back in business by the time they come to N.Y. in Week 14.