As we start to optimistically look at the upcoming NFL season, I decided to check out some of the prices for NFL team futures. I'm not really big into team win totals, but I do like to look at team odds to make the playoffs. It's very important to shop for value with these bets and see where the market is on certain teams.
This season, instead of 12 teams, 14 teams will qualify for the NFL playoffs, one extra team from each conference. If they were using this format last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Los Angels Rams would have been the extra teams. There is a real possibility that a team with an 8-8 record will make the playoffs.
Here are three of the best values to make the playoffs from the DraftKings Sportsbook.
Houston Texans (+149)
The public has really soured on the Texans going into the 2020 season. There are a number of reasons for this, but let's start with the rest of the division.
The Colts adding Philip Rivers in the offseason was enough to make them the favorites to win the AFC South. The Colts looked good at times last season, but Jacoby Brissett did not have enough juice to get them into the tournament. I don't think that will be a problem again with Rivers at the helm.
The Tennessee Titans had a great run to the AFC Championship game last season, as they knocked off conference powerhouses New England and Baltimore on the way there. Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry will look to run it back in 2020.
Another reason why the public doesn't like the Texans is because of the trade of star wide receiver and Deshaun Watson's top target DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins and Texans head coach Bill O'Brien have not been seeing eye-to-eye, so it looks like the trade was made just to ship Hopkins out by any means necessary. In actuality, the Hopkins deal was made because the star wide receiver was getting ready to hold out this summer if a new contract was not negotiated.
In return, the Texans got running back David Johnson. Johnson has not looked like the same player from earlier in his career the past few seasons. O'Brien is very optimistic on Johnson. SI Texans Maven Patrick Starr says that, "O'Brien is confident that the Texans are getting a running back that will turn it around to his old form one of the best running backs in the league."
O'Brien takes a lot of criticism for the way the franchise has been run, but the truth of the matter is, he has had the team in the playoffs five of the six seasons he has been in Houston, including winning the division four times. I don't think they will win the AFC South, but I do think they will make the playoffs.
Minnesota Vikings (+104)
The Vikings, much like the Texans, are a team that the public just doesn't get behind. In the case of the Texans, people don't trust O'Brien. In the case of the Vikings, the public doesn't fool with quarterback Kirk Cousins. However, Cousins has earned a lot of the criticism, but he should also get more credit for being at the helm for one of the league's top 10 scoring offenses last season.
The Vikings lost two critical pieces in the offseason: Stefon Diggs was traded to the Buffalo Bills, and offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski left to take over the head coaching job for the Cleveland Browns. The good news for the Vikings is that they still have a top wide receiver in Adam Theilen and their offense should not struggle with Gary Kubiak taking over as O.C. Their running game will still be one of the best in the league—Dalvin Cook is the feature back and he's one of the best in the league.
Last season, Minnesota won 10 games in the regular season and had a +104 point differential, 41 more points than the division champion Green Bay Packers. I think Minnesota is a slam dunk to make the playoffs and I like them to win the NFC North.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-115)
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did a great job last season given everything that happened between Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger. Tomlin had the Steelers on the brink of the playoffs with third-string QBs. In 2019, the Steelers' leading passer was Mason Rudolph, who basically split time with unknown Devlin Hodges. This season, Ben Roethlisberger should return healthy. That alone should be good for at least one extra victory.
According to the strength of schedule rankings, the Steelers have the second-easiest schedule in the league. A healthy Roethlisberger should return JuJu Smith-Schuster to one of the top wide receivers in the league. It's important for Pittsburgh to sign a back-up quarterback before the season starts and Jameis Winston should be a player that the Steelers kick the tires on.
Laying -115 is not a bad price for the Steelers to qualify for the postseason. In SI's Jenny Vrentas initial NFL Power rankings, she has the Steelers ranked 13th in the league.
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