With the NFL preseason right around the corner, this is the time of the year that football fans capitalize on the NFL futures betting market with some excellent value options available to anybody that is paying attention. In fact, with so many different types of futures available, the hardest part about betting them might very well be separating the futures worth betting from those that should be ignored. We took the time to establish a list of key rules that you can follow in order to maximize your potential earnings when it comes to one futures bet in particular that you should be focused on. Here is a look at how to bet on NFL division futures.
Follow Momentum From Last Season
The starting point for every new season is actually the previous one. After all, we can learn a lot about the direction a team is headed in based on how they finished the previous year. Is there a team that stumbled out of the gate but then ended the year on a hot streak that should inspire confidence in the direction they are headed for the upcoming season? What about a team that struggled down the stretch and could be slightly overrated heading in to the new season? Momentum isn’t an exact science. However, tracking the direction teams appear to be headed in from one year to the next could be used as a good starting point for betting on NFL division futures.
Analyze Offseason Changes
Regardless of whether a team finished a season on a hot streak or in a cold spell, there are offseason changes that take place that will impact their overall outlook from one season to the next. How many times does a team that made the playoffs one year completely miss out on them the next? How many times does a team that didn’t make the postseason turn things around and end up contending for a Super bowl the following year? With the draft, free agency and trade activity teams can completely shift their outlook from one year to the next.
By tracking and analyzing offseason changes, you can get a really good idea of what to expect around the league heading in to the preseason.
Study The Preseason Tape
One of the most underrated periods of time on the NFL calendar is the preseason, which can provide a ton of important information that often goes overlooked by casual bettors. While it’s true that backups and fringe roster players spend a lot of the time battling for positions we also get our first look at the starters in most cases, especially when it comes to the third preseason game for each team. How did the new starting quarterback perform when he got the opportunity to showcase his skill set in a new offense after he signed as a free agent? How did the rookie wide receiver fare in limited snaps with the Pro Bowl quarterback? How did the defense perform in its first preseason under a new coordinator?
These are the types of questions you should be asking when analyzing the preseason tape. A lot can change from one year to the next. The preseason provides us with our first look at what to expect, even if we have to be able to decipher which information matters and which information isn’t nearly as important.
Understand Betting Values
Once you have acknowledged the momentum of teams around the league, analyzed the offseason changes that they have made and studied the preseason tape, you can work your understand of betting values in to deciding which NFL division futures to bet on. The key is to understand that no two situations are exactly the same. For example, if a team is listed at -500 odds to win its division is that good value? Well, in almost every situation the answer to that question is no. However, what if the team listed at -500 to win its division is the New England Patriots? The Patriots have won the AFC East in every single season that quarterback Tom Brady has been healthy dating back to 2003. After winning 15 of the last 16 division titles, is it fair to call New England a lock as long as Brady is healthy?
As long as we consider the Patriots a lock or the closest thing to it, it makes sense to take New England to win the AFC East. However, not all situations are the same. Let’s use the NFC South as another example. The New Orleans Saints have won that division in each of the last two years. However, the Saints’ current run marks only the second time since the division was created that the same team has won the NFC South at least two years in a row. So what do we do if New Orleans is listed at -500 to win its division? The Saints certainly aren’t a lock to win the NFC South, so perhaps that number is an indication we would be better off finding value somewhere else. According to the actual odds for 2019, New Orleans is listed at -200 to win the NFC South while the Atlanta Falcons are available at +350 while the Carolina Panthers are available at +550 odds.
Perhaps it makes more sense to take the Falcons or Panthers as a value pick to win the NFC South. Or maybe it’s better to stay away from betting on that division winner entirely. Understanding values is key to making some serious money betting on NFL division winners.
Keep Hedging In Your Back Pocket
The final rule that you need to keep in mind is the importance of keeping hedging in your back pocket as an outstanding tool. In every situation, you can potentially hedge your bet once more information becomes available. For example, let’s say that you took the Saints to win the NFC South at -200 odds. In Week 3 of the preseason, Drew Brees suffers a serious injury that could force him to miss the entire season. Suddenly, New Orleans doesn’t look like a good bet to win its division any longer. What’s the next move? The Falcons suddenly look like a smart bet to win the NFC South. Perhaps the Panthers might be a decent value play as well.
There is nothing wrong with taking either of those teams to hedge your bet on the Saints based on which team you think has the best chance to win the division. The hedging scenario doesn’t apply solely to injury situations either. Momentum, surprising performances, and teams that were overrated or underrated heading in to a new season could all factor in to your decisions. As more and more information comes in, you need to be able to react appropriately. Keep hedging as an important tool in your back pocket. If you follow the rules we have listed here, that alone should have you on the right track to making some serious money picking NFL division winners over time.