In 2011, only three outright favorites in the preseason went on to win their respective NFL divisions.
The Patriots (-140), Packers (-220) and 49ers (+180) all pulled off the feat, while other longshots like the Broncos (+700) and Giants (+300) surprisingly won their divisions.
The year before that, only two preseason favorites went on to claim division titles.
Just another example of how much parity there is in NFL betting.
The great part about betting NFL division futures odds, as opposed to college football or Super Bowl futures, is that almost every underdog has a decent shot. There are still generous payouts even though teams only have to beat out three other opponents.
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The odds: Patriots -340, Bills +600, Jets +650, Dolphins +1800
Fun fact: With a healthy Tom Brady, New England has won eight straight division crowns.
The pick: Patriots. The Bills are gathering a lot of preseason hype, while no one seems to be high on the Jets. A Patriots loss here would cripple the bankroll, but it’s just too difficult to make a realistic case for anyone other than Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, especially after a good offseason.
The odds: Steelers +110, Ravens +160, Bengals +465, Browns +3000
Fun fact: The Browns have the NFL’s longest division title drought, dating all the way back to 1989 when they won the old AFC Central.
The pick: Ravens. It’s funny how much oddsmakers consider Pittsburgh and Baltimore to be essentially the same team. The home team is always favored by exactly three points in each of their head-to-head matchups, and both teams are favored by the same amount against similar opponents. If that’s the case, why not take the better payout?
The odds: Texans -410, Titans +495, Colts +2000, Jaguars +2200
Fun fact: The AFC South winner has posted at least a 10-6 record every year of its existence (since 2002).
The pick: Colts. Crazy? Yes, probably. No, we don’t think the Colts have a better chance than Houston to win the division. But laying -410 on the Texans is probably more insane than going with an intriguing Indianapolis team at 20-to-1.
The odds: Broncos +165, Chargers +210, Chiefs +280, Raiders +635
Fun fact: The winner of this division has finished with an 8-8 record in two of the past four years.
The pick: Chiefs. They don’t have the best quarterback (in fact, they might have the worst of the four), but Cassel showed two years ago that he’s more than capable enough to win with a strong supporting cast. Kansas City has a schedule advantage over Denver and San Diego, and the Chiefs have the most complete team in this well-rounded division.
The odds: Eagles +155, Giants +215, Cowboys +260, Redskins +1150
Fun fact: Last year was the first time ever (since 1970) that it took less than a 10-6 record to win this division.
The pick: Giants. Why is everyone predicting a New York collapse? The tough schedule? Here’s the problem with that: Much like the Ravens, the Giants have always played up or down to their competition. (It’s how they’ve won two surprising Super Bowls.) They have the best QB in the NFC East and the best pass rush. Not bad for a team sitting at better than 2-to-1.
The odds: Packers -215, Bears +440, Lions +475, Vikings +3200
Fun fact: The winner of this division hasn’t gone on to win the Super Bowl since Green Bay did it in 1996.
The pick: Packers. The Bears and Lions are both tempting, but Aaron Rodgers is approaching invincibility as a quarterback, and the defense should be better. Last year, they were 6-0 against their division mates, and the closest game was the season finale against Detroit when they were resting their starters.
The odds: Saints +125, Falcons +150, Panthers +510, Buccaneers +1500
Fun fact: The NFC South has never had a repeat champion since the division’s creation in 2002.
The pick: Falcons. In the interest of that trend continuing, let’s go with Atlanta (although Tampa Bay at 15-to-1 is worth a flier). The Falcons went 13-3 two years ago and, overall, the roster is more complete and mature than it was back then. Matt Ryan is set to break out, and he might have the best one-two punch at receiver in the league.
The odds: 49ers -225, Seahawks +395, Cardinals +900, Rams +1150
Fun fact: Since 2002, Seattle has won as many NFC West titles (five) as the other three teams combined.
The pick: Seahawks. Russell Wilsanity? Seattle’s rookie was just named the starter after an impressive preseason, and he could (could) give them an element that no other team in the division has—a playmaker at quarterback. With an underrated defense, the Seahawks are worth a look at almost 4-to-1.