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NFL betting futures: 3 division exactas

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Exactas are popular in horse racing, as they are a way to turn a little bit of money into a lot of money. It is essentially a parlay – something I stress time and time again is that parlays are a waste of money. However, correlated parlays for the right odds can very much provide positive expected value, as one event can have a domino effect and you can increase your payouts. Think an underdog wins the division? That might pay out at +200, but the exact order could payout at +800 and your division winner likely pushes the favorite to second and you only have two more teams to go. They have more risk, but the upside is significantly greater. Here are a few of my favorites this year.

NFL Betting Futures 

Washington to win the NFC East.

Exact order: Washington, Cowboys, Giants, Eagles
Odds: +850 on BetMGM

Washington currently has a win total of 8  – one game lower than the notoriously overpriced Dallas Cowboys – with the juice being on the over. Currently, on BetMGM, the Cowboys are +125 to win the division with Washington +250, the Giants +450 and the Eagles +500. Washington is far and away the most complete team in the division with arguably the league’s best defense and a much-improved quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Cowboys have a historically bad defense and the only real improvement they were able to make this offseason is an off-ball linebacker in Micah Parsons – someone who is not going to transform this defense. The Cowboys will have one of the league’s best offenses with Dak Prescott back healthy, which should keep them in contention for a top-two spot in this division. With this being a true coin flip, getting the odds at +850 for these two to finish first and the Giants and Eagles to finish third and fourth respectively is fantastic value.

The Giants also have a top defense and a much-improved offense, adding Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney in the offseason while getting Saquon Barkley back from injury. The combination of Daniel Jones and Jason Garrett likely caps this team’s ceiling, but there is enough talent for them to be a middle-of-the-pack team – comfortably ahead of the Eagles, but not good enough to overtake the top two. The Eagles, on the other hand, are a team I am selling hard. While Jalen Hurts is a fantasy asset – he is a betting liability. Using FTN Fantasy’s premium stats of all quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts last season, Jalen Hurts had the lowest adjusted completion percentage in all of football – behind players like Joe Flacco, Dwayne Haskins, Jake Luton and Brandon Allen. The Eagles’ entire offseason set up for them to go into somewhat of a tank mode and play for 2022. I am very comfortable betting them to come in last place in the division, and they currently sit +130 to do so. 

Fading the Saints can pay off big

Exact order: Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints, Falcons
Odds: +750 on BetMGM

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the most complete team in football. A line I grabbed in the bet tracker earlier in the offseason was Buccaneers to win the division at -155 – a number that is long gone, as they currently sit at -200. Now, the division gets interesting. The New Orleans Saints are currently favored to finish second in the division with the odds of +130 and a win total of 9. Michael Thomas looks to be out at least six weeks and the Saints are staring at the worst WR group in the NFL with unproven quarterbacks and a defense that has taken a step back over the last couple of years. That is an easy fade and I am combining that with buying a Panthers ascension. This Panthers team has great coaching in Matt Rhule and Joe Brady, fantastic playmakers in Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Terrace Marshall, and an improving young defense with Brian Burns, Jaycee Horn and Derrick Brown. Nevertheless, they will go as far as Sam Darnold takes them. Darnold has struggled in his career but has played under the league’s worst coaching with no playmakers – improvement is likely and a big step is possible for him to lead the Panthers to second place in this division. The Falcons will continue to be one of the league’s worst teams. They lost Julio Jones, had an awful offensive line, an aging quarterback and a bottom-of-the-barrel defense. I am down on the Saints, but not so down that the Falcons leapfrog them. 

Tua Tagovailoa improving could lead to the divisional crown

Exact order: Dolphins, Bills, Patriots, Jets
Odds: +500 on BetMGM

The bottom half of the division seems easy to me. The Jets ceiling is likely eight wins this year –  despite a much-improved roster and coaching staff. It all comes down to: Can the Dolphins take the leap and surpass the Buffalo Bills – one of the league’s best teams in 2020? I think they can be behind an elite corner tandem, a fantastic defense that added the draft’s best pass rusher and a much-improved offense. While Tua struggled his rookie year, many doctors didn’t even expect him to play. Now he has an entire offseason of being healthy and adjusting to the NFL to take the next step forward. The Dolphins also added some serious offensive firepower in Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle. Fuller, when healthy, has been one of the league’s best receivers, and Waddle steps in as one of the most explosive players in football from Day 1. Combine that with DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki and you have a complete team. The Bills won’t be easy to overcome, but a 20% implied probability of this finish is too low and the number offers us real value. 

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