NFL Betting: How To Handicap Divisions

The 2017 NFL regular season kicks off in just under a month and for the sports bettor who is all about futures betting, you may want to look at trying to handicap NFL divisions and locking in some divisional bets. With eight divisions to choose from, you should be able to get picky and take two or three picks on potential divisional winners that have the most value. Here is a look at how to handicap NFL divisions.

Examine Offseason News

The offseason often brings about lots of changes to the composition and structure of teams and as a result, it would be prudent to follow offseason news closely. Factors such as coaching changes, free agent departures or signings, NFL draft, offseason injuries, and player development may significantly alter the outlook of a team for the upcoming season. When handicapping divisions, it is noteworthy to take into account these factors as they apply to each of the five teams within a division.


The difficulty of team schedules may vary widely from one team to another and as a result, teams with relatively easier schedules will often end off the season with better records than teams with relatively tougher schedules. The NFL regular season is a 17–week grind and anything that can ease a team’s number of road games, travel requirements, and relatively higher number of games against tough opponents may go a long way when the regular season concludes. Additionally, when handicapping divisions, a prudent bettor must take into account head-to-head divisional matchups, especially when they will happen over the course of the regular season. If a team faces all of its divisional rivals throughout the regular season during relatively easy stretches of its overall schedule, the team will have a pretty sizeable advantage since the team will likely be more well-rested. On the other hand, if a team tends to match up against divisional rivals at the end of brutal stretches of its overall schedule, the team will likely be exhausted and on its last legs when the matchup occurs. Since head-to-head divisional matchups have such a huge impact on the division standings, it would be wise to focus more on these matchups and when they will happen when handicapping divisions.

Strength Of Teams Within Division

Whether a team ends up winning its division at the end of the regular season depends on the strength of the other three teams in its division. If the remaining three teams in the division are all likely to churn out mediocre seasons, you would be pretty confident that the team you picked should come out on top, even though the line for the team to win the division will likely reflect this fact as well. Additionally, if all four teams within a certain division are looking pretty stacked to start the season, it may be extremely difficult to confidently predict the division winner 17 weeks from now. As a result, a smart bettor would try to find value in these divisional futures bets. Often, finding value in these types of bets is similar to finding a diamond in the rough – it is difficult, but not impossible. Focus on factors that most other people would not try to take into account but would play a decent role in how a team will be likely to perform over the course of the regular season.

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