2016 NFL Division Winners at BetOnline: NFC East and NFC West Edition
Divisional futures are some of our favorite markets for NFL bettors. We seem to find a lot more value betting divisional futures versus postseason futures, such as which team will win the NFC Championship, AFC Championship, and Super Bowl.
Today, we will take a look the NFC divisional markets with a breakdown of NFC East and NFC West and our picks to win, along with some upside plays.
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Although we are using BetOnline’s odds, we encourage bettors to shop around for the best price. Our article on NFL Futures explains how to remove vig from futures markets to correctly figure out the vigorish and additional strategies for betting futures.
The Giants (+145)
Tom Coughlin has moved on after 12 years as the head coach of New York. In his place will be Ben McAdoo who was the offensive coordinator for the Giants in both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The offense’s production under McAdoo has been excellent, but much of it came from a breakout campaign of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Eli Manning is 35 years old now, and it’s easy to look at his 2015 season and be happy with his production, but he recorded a career-high in passing attempts last season. The Giants may need others to step, besides Odell Beckham for this offense to repeat last year’s numbers, particularly with a suspect offensive line.
Defensively, New York has a strong defensive and cornerbacks but suspect safety play hurt them last season. Their linebackers are also young and unproven, but if they step up their game this front seven would likely be one of the better units in football.
The Giants became favorites in this division after an injury to Tony Romo that should keep him out at least eight weeks. At +145, we see the appeal, but it’s tough to see the Giants improving much based on their changes in personnel since last season.
The Cowboys (+240)
Dallas was the favorite in the minds of the oddsmakers until Tony Romo went down with a back injury. That vaulted fourth round pick Dak Prescott into the starting position. Prescott is an athletic backup who went to school at Mississippi State.
He has looked fantastic in preseason and may do an even better job than the hobbled Tony Romo we’ve seen the last few years. Prescott isn’t Brandon Weeden or Matt Cassel. He can make plays with his legs and run this offense. He has the league’s best offensive line working for him, along with a dominant running game and elite skill players, such as wide receiver Dez Bryant.
Dallas’ defense has always been a problem and reports are coming out that linebacker Sean Lee may miss the season opener. However, the Cowboys have been able to mask this in years past by utilizing a ball-control offense. There is little reason why that can’t happen this year.
Most thought that the Cowboys would have run away with the division last year if they had Romo healthy. Well, they have a guy behind center that may offer something close or dare we say it, better. Even Vice President of operations of the Cowboys, Stephen Jones didn’t close the door on Prescott supplanting Romo as the starter if he plays well enough.
At +240, the Cowboys offer a ton of value, and one could make the argument that they should be the favorites in the NFC East.
The Redskins (+280)
The Redskins had a surprising season last year, finishing with a 9-7 record, which was good enough to win the division. They promptly lost in the first round of the playoffs, but there’s a lot to like about this Washington going forward.
Kirk Cousins is still facing questions on if he’s a franchise quarterback, but last season was by far his best as a pro. He lead the league in completion percentage, and the offense is loaded with weapons including tight end Jordan Reed and now healthy wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Washington’s offense may be the most underrated in the league.
The Redskins signed cornerback Josh Norman to a massive contract to shore up a leaky secondary. Norman hasn’t looked great in training camp or the preseason so far. The front seven is also full of question marks.
Washington has a lot of talented pieces, but many question marks as well. Realistically, in any other division, they were a fringe playoff team that now has a much tougher schedule. Getting a division winner at near 3/1 is enticing, but the Redskins may take a step back before they take another step forward.
The Eagles +550
Philadelphia offers the most uncertainty in the division. Chip Kelly is gone and off coaching in San Francisco and former Chiefs offensive coordinator, Doug Peterson, is now the head coach. It’s a distinct change in coaching philosophies.
Sam Bradford is still the quarterback until he gets hurt or is bench. His highly paid backup has the advantage of playing under Peterson for three years in Kansas City. There’s also first round pick and second overall pick Carson Wentz waiting in the wings.
Philadelphia’s offense is one of the weakest in the league on paper, but they have improved their offensive line in the offseason. Jim Schwartz has taken over as the defensive coordinator and added defensive backs, Rodney McLeod and Leodis McKelvin. The personnel, the Eagles, now have defensively is much more suited to Schwartz’s scheme.
With a lot of uncertainty in this division, a bet on Philly at +550 makes a lot of sense. It’s an entirely new coaching staff, the offensive line and secondary have both been upgraded, and it’s quite possible one of their young receivers emerges.
NFC East Best Bet(s): Dallas is easily the best value on in the division at +240. Prescott may not be much of a drop off from Romo. However, the Eagles make a lot of sense at +550 with a coaching overhaul and fairly talented roster. There’s no surefire elite team in this division.
The Seahawks (-120)
Seattle had an up and down season last year, finishing with ten wins and losing to the Cardinals in the divisional round of the playoffs 31-24. Some are down on them this season and predict the Cardinals will take the division, the oddsmakers at BetOnline differ.
The biggest issue with the Seahawks is a weak offensive line. However, that hasn’t stopped them from dominating before, and it shouldn’t be this year, especially as they shift to a more pass-oriented offense this season centered around Russell Wilson.
Seattle did lose some valuable players to free agency including linebacker Bruce Irvin, but one would make a mistake in thinking this defense isn’t still in the running for the best defense in the league. They’re easily a top-three unit.
This division is ultimately a battle between the Cardinals and Seahawks. You’re paying a higher price for Seattle, but they easily have the talent to win 12 or 13 games. Paying just -120 for a team of this talent level is a steal.
The Cardinals (+140)
The Cardinals were the team that bested Seattle in the West last year, winning 13 games. They made it as far as the NFC Title game before losing badly to the Carolina Panthers. The Cardinals are loaded on both sides of the ball.
Carson Palmer is coming off an MVP level 2016, and though he has gotten up there in age, he’s still producing at an elite level. Arizona has the deepest wide receiver corps in the league that features Michael Floyd, John Brown, and future Hall of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald. Running back David Johnson broke out as a rookie and could be a star in the making.
The Cardinals elite offensive line did take a few hits this offseason, however. While the left side is left unchanged, Arizona will have a new center and guard and tackle on the right side. How the offensive line performs will be vital if Arizona wants to return to 13 wins.
The secondary features Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, two elite players at their positions. Arizona added to their pass rush by trading for Chandler Jones from New England in the offseason. Although, their front seven is still a middling unit.
Arizona doesn’t have any major holes. They’re easily a top-five or top-three team in the NFC. The only problem is that Seattle in their division. As attractive as the Cardinals look at +140 looks, we much prefer the Seahawks at -120.
The Rams (+1000)
Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher said on HBO’s Hard Knocks that he was not going “7-9 or 8-8, OK? Or 10-6 for that matter.” Jeff, will you settle for 6-10? The now Los Angeles Rams finished with a 7-9 record last season, their final in St. Louis.
Fisher isn’t a good football coach, and the Rams don’t have much talent on their roster aside from a few standout players. Todd Gurley is arguably the most talented running back in the league but is running behind a suspect offensive line that may offer few scoring opportunities. Journeyman Case Keenum beat out number one overall pick Jared Goff for the starting job, by a margin that should worry the Rams.
Aaron Donald graded out as the best football player last year according to Pro Football Focus making the Rams front seven one of the best in the league. However, the secondary lost a lot in the offseason. Both Rodney McLeod and Janoris Jenkins departed in free agency, their top two defensive backs.
Los Angeles’ first season in the City of Angels isn’t one that is likely to be remembered fondly. The Rams simply don’t have enough offensive talent to compete, particularly in a division with so many tough defenses. A team with little talent coached by a boring Jeff Fisher isn’t even worth a long shot wager at 10/1.
The 49ers (+2000)
After being fired towards the end of last season in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly took a head coaching job in San Francisco. The 49ers are a rebuilding project, to say the least. After making to two conference championships and a Super Bowl under former coach Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers haven’t won more than eight games since 2013.
That’s unlikely to change this year, but there is some hope for optimism. Chip Kelly has failed to achieve the success he had in college in three years in Philly, but he has succeeded just about at every other stop. No longer, general manager, Chip is focused on coaching the players he has on the roster.
Blaine Gabbert won the quarterback job by default in the preseason. Colin Kaepernick’s fall from grace continues as not only has his play on the field been horrible, but he’s made himself quite the polarizing figure in recent weeks.
If Chip can work his magic, there’s a small chance the 49ers can turn into a spoiler. The defense is improved, and the offense will probably see an uptick under Kelly’s scheme. As far as long shots go, the 49ers are a better bet at 20/1 than the Rams are at 10/1.
NFC West Best Bet(s): We can’t argue with those interested in the Cardinals at +140, but getting a team like Seattle at -120 is an opportunity that we can’t pass up. The Rams don’t deserve any consideration, but San Francisco is attractive at +2000 as a high upside wager.