NFL 2021 Preseason Update
With the 2021 NFL Draft, organized team activities, and minicamps now complete, teams are preparing for the start of training camp. Unlike previous seasons, when camps opened on various dates, 29 of 32 teams will get back to work on July 27, 2021. Pittsburgh and Dallas play in the Hall of Fame Game, so their camps begin on July 21. Defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay can report to camp starting on July 24.
While the NFL is in a short summer slumber, there are loads of preseason betting options at top-ranked U.S. sportsbooks like DraftKings. From Division champions and team win totals to Season Specials and Super Bowl LVI odds, NFL futures betting is packed with choices. This betting preview focuses on the odds to be one of the 14 teams to make the playoffs. Let’s dig in and uncover some postseason value.
We track our preseason picks and publish hedge betting advice during the regular season when warranted. SI premium subscribers receive betting plays, updates, and articles, as soon as they are published.
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Dallas Cowboys' Playoff Odds
After posting an 8–8 record in 2019, plus a dreadful 6–10 run last year, Dallas is looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2018. While the Cowboys have been up and down, since they defeated Pittsburgh during Super Bowl XXX in 1996, losing QB Dak Prescott was too much to overcome. Prescott went down in Week 5 and that affected the entire Dallas offense. Including RB Ezekiel Elliott and WR Amari Cooper.
The defense allowed a franchise record 473 points and 6,183 total yards last year. Active on that side of the ball, during the 2021 NFL Draft, expect the defense to be better this season. I bet the Cowboys as the NFC East Division winner with a (+125) price at FanDuel. I also have their win total going OVER 9.5 (+107). As such, I am comfortable taking the (-150) odds on the ‘Boys making the NFL postseason.
Pick: Dallas Cowboys to Make the Playoffs - YES (-150)
Minnesota Vikings’ Playoff Odds
Minnesota stumbled to a 7-9 record during the 2020 NFL season. The Vikings opened the year on a 1–5 slide and never recovered. While Minnesota was still in the hunt late in the season, Alvin Kamara and the Saints ran roughshod over them on Christmas Day, finishing ninth overall in the NFC standings. This was despite monster size stats from RB Dalvin Cook and rookie WR Justin Jefferson.
Similar to Dallas, the defense shoulders a chunk of the blame for Minnesota missing the playoffs last year. The Vikings allowed 29.7 points per game, fourth-most in the league, plus they gave up 393.3 total yards per game. QB Kirk Cousins posted decent numbers last season and I don’t expect a drop-off this year. I took a shot on Minnesota winning the NFC North and I am taking their plus price to make the NFC playoffs.
Pick: Minnesota Vikings to Make the Playoffs - YES (+123)
New England Patriots’ Playoff Odds
Brutal. That’s the best way to describe the 2020 NFL season for New England. After winning the AFC East title over 11 straight years, the Patriots finished 7–9 and missed the postseason for the first time since 2002. After the GOAT signed with Tampa Bay during the offseason, Cam Newton was asked to fill the void at quarterback. While he battled hard all season, Newton did not have much of a supporting cast on offense.
There may be another change at QB this season. SI NFL insider Albert Breer recently reported that Mac Jones, "has done enough in the spring to merit a real competition with Cam Newton in the summer." Newton remains the starter at this point, and has several new weapons on offense including TE Hunter Henry, WR Nelson Agholor, and WR Kendrick Bourne. I am taking a shot and betting on Bill Belichick with this pick.
Pick: New England Patriots to Make the Playoffs - YES (+144)
Los Angeles Chargers’ Odds to Make the 2021 AFC Playoffs
Mind-boggling is how the 2020 season played out for Los Angeles fans. Despite a record-setting season by rookie QB Justin Herbert, the Chargers posted a 7–9 record. A familiar theme throughout this article, the defense was an achilles heel for Los Angeles. The Chargers blew a 16-point lead in four straight games during a 2–5 start to the season. Los Angeles slipped to 3–9 before winning their final four games.
New head coach Brandon Staley received an “A” from SI football expert Conor Orr back in January. Staley guided the Los Angeles Rams defense that allowed a league-low 18.5 points per game last year. Herbert, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, deserved a better won/loss record in his first season. I bet the Chargers, as +500 longshots, to win the AFC West. I am also taking their plus moneyline odds to make the AFC playoffs.
Pick: Los Angeles Chargers Make the AFC Playoffs - YES (+137)
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- 2021 AFC South Team Futures - Division Winner and Win Totals Outlook