Don’t hate on the Hall of Fame Game. We’re one week away from betting on the NFL again.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at NFL futures. Even though gravitating towards Super Bowl bets is the most obvious play, digging deeper in the market allows for more sound wagers. Below are my favorite futures for the 2019-20 campaign.
*Prices via FanDuel Sportsbook
Kyler Murray, Offensive Rookie of the Year (+195):
Starting under center in Kliff Kingbury’s spread attack, Murray should have the opportunity to pound the stat sheet with a bevy of underrated weapons, led by seemingly-forgotten tailback David Johnson. The ex-Oklahoma star tallied the most yards per attempt (11.57 Y/A) in college football last season, and his creativity outside the pocket was constantly on display.
Although the Cardinals tied for the fifth-most sacks allowed (52) a campaign ago, Murray’s nimble footwork should allow his past success to translate to the next level. Arizona will also likely play from behind often, allowing him to glorify his numbers. Nabbing the 2019 No. 1 overall pick at plus-money is a gift.
Vikings to win the NFC North (+220):
Kirk Cousins’ haters will protest this play, but Minnesota was one win away from making the playoffs in 2018. With offensive mastermind Gary Kubiak in the fold as the assistant head coach, Cousins should improve after notching the 10th-lowest Y/A (7.09) last season. He’ll nab more time in the pocket with first-round pick Josh Kline at center, and a two-tight end set with veteran Kyle Rudolph and rookie Irv Smith Jr. will play to Kubiak’s past strengths in Baltimore and Dever, respectively.
Expecting the Bears (+175) to regress after a 12-win season is a factor, too, despite public bettors driving the Mitchell Trubisky-for-MVP hype train down from 200-1 to 40-1 odds. I’m not bullish on the Packers (+185), either, as Aaron Rodgers and first-year coach Matt LaFleur are reportedly dealing with issues while Rodgers adjusts to his system.
With last season’s third-ranked weighted defense (via Football Outsiders) returning all but one of their starters, the Vikings will make a leap in the standings with a weakened schedule.
Ravens under 8.5 wins (-135):
Much of this bet revolves around second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson, as the Louisville product manufactured 7.1 Y/A against zone defenses while tallying just 4.1 Y/A vs. man-to-man units. Look for opposing defenses to adjust towards Jackson’s presumed weakness, especially if his true completion percentage (62.7 percent, via PlayerProfiler) fails to improve.
On top of that, Baltimore’s No. 1-rated overall defense in 2018 should take a hit after losing four starters, including now-Jets middle linebacker C.J. Mosely and Cardinals defensive end Terrell Suggs. Even if six-time Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas stays healthy after suffering a fractured leg last season, their front-seven’s productivity will dip while facing superior offenses via a first-place schedule.