Tom Gable, Director of Race & Sports at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, provides our readers with insider tips and strategies for making the most of their sports betting ventures. This week, Tom is reflecting on the NFL season thus far and cluing us in on what’s to come!
The first 5 weeks of the NFL season are complete, and now is an excellent time to look at where some teams stand. We’ve seen some teams emerge as serious contenders (Buffalo, Arizona, Los Angeles), and others who we thought would be at the top before the season started, struggled out of the gates (Kansas City). Let’s get to it and look at how the divisions currently stand!
We will start in the NFC East, which was predicted to be the worst division in football. One team that has come out hot is the Dallas Cowboys (currently -400 to win the division and 16/1 to win the Super Bowl). Their defense has shown much improvement from last season, and Dak Prescott has been outstanding coming off his severe ankle injury that ended his 2020 season prematurely. Prescott has moved up the board to become one of the favorites to win MVP, and his odds are currently +650 to take home the award. Unfortunately, the rest of the division has played up to (or, in this case, down to) expectations. The remaining division teams are currently sitting with a losing record and in desperate need of wins to make any playoff push for this year.
In the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers are as expected, leading the way with a 4-1 record (currently -450) to win the division. The Chicago Bears have also gotten off to a decent start and sit at 3-2. The Minnesota Vikings have been disappointing as they were thought to be the main competition for the Packers in the division, and the Detroit Lions, as I predicted, are the worst team in the NFL and sit at 0-5 for the season.
The reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, determined to defend their title, have started out at 4-1 and are still the big favorites in the NFC South and the favorite to win the Super Bowl (-450 to win the division and +550 to win the Super Bowl). Quarterback Tom Brady continues to defy father time and has once again emerged as a leading MVP candidate (currently +650 to win the award). Tampa’s competition within the division has been solid in the early going, with both the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers starting the season off with 3-2 records, and both should at least remain in the playoff conversation as the season marches on.
The NFC West was slated to be the most competitive division in the NFL before the season started, but it now looks like it could be a two-team race. The Arizona Cardinals have started off the season 5-0. While I expected the Cardinals to remain competitive throughout the year, their hot start has been a little surprising as they are the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL. The Cardinals (currently +120 to win the division and 14/1 to win the Super Bowl) have seen their odds drop in the futures markets. The Los Angeles Rams remain in the equation as a Super Bowl contender and are one game behind the Cardinals currently in the standings. The Rams (+115 to win the division and 8/1 to win the Super Bowl) defense still haven’t played to the best of their ability yet, and once that happens, this team is as good as any in the NFL. The other two teams in the division, the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers, have been dealing with injuries to their starting quarterbacks. They will face an uphill battle moving forward in order to remain competitive in the division.
Switching over to the AFC, we have seen a true contender emerge in the East, in the Buffalo Bills (currently -1600 to win the AFC East and +600 to win the Super Bowl). They have played outstanding defense, including posting two shutouts already, and have a very dangerous offense. Quarterback Josh Allen is now the leading MVP candidate at +450 odds. There really is no competition for them within their division, and they are certainly on the right path to make it to the Super Bowl as the representative from the AFC.
Are we witnessing a changing of the guard in the AFC this year? Let’s look at the AFC West for clues. The dominant Kansas City Chiefs have a tough road ahead of them to make it to their third consecutive Super Bowl. They are currently sitting in last place in their division with a 2-3 record (+125 odds to win the division). While they are certainly a better team than both Denver and Las Vegas, who sit ahead of them in the standings, the Chiefs have not fixed their defensive issues that have plagued them. The Los Angeles Chargers have emerged as the leaders in the division with a 4-1 record (currently +115 to win the division). Second-year quarterback Justin Herbert has inserted himself into the early season MVP conversation (+650 to win the award) and, aside from a 3-point loss to the Cowboys in Week 2, The Los Angeles Chargers have looked like one of the top teams in the AFC. They are undoubtedly worth a wager at 14/1 to win the Super Bowl. Their offensive play calling is much more aggressive this year under first-year head coach Brandon Staley, and it has paid off nicely in the early going.
The Tennessee Titans are currently the betting favorites in the AFC South to take the division crown at -350 odds. They are probably the weakest division leader in all of football at the moment, though, with the injury-plagued Indianapolis Colts (+250 to win the division) their only real competition. The Titans have a horrendous defense that won’t get them very far in the playoffs this year. Don’t waste your money on a Titans future wager at this point. There is much better value for your dollar elsewhere in the futures markets.
Finally, we come to the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens as the betting favorite at -125 odds. The Ravens will have to hold off a strong Cleveland Browns team (currently +140 to win the division), and they have also been bitten by the injury bug early in the season. However, they continue to run the ball, control the clock and play solid defense, which makes them a threat to beat anyone at any time. The other two teams in the division, the Bengals and the Steelers, already have a lot of ground to make up if they want to remain competitive in the AFC.
Remember, you can continue to make wagers on NFL team futures throughout the season, along with all of your weekly NFL game wagers at the Borgata Race and Sportsbook, the BetMGM Sportsbook and Bar, or online at Borgatasports.com.