I'm a big fan of NFL futures wagering. Rather than having to be the whim of a single individual event - like a side play or total - a futures wager encompasses knowledge and projections of a whole series of events. In a way it is a truer test of actual overall football knowledge, and I feel like there is a constant stream of value available to bold bettors.
One of the ways in which the books try to stimulate mid-week wagering is by offering props and futures odds on a host of situations and events in the NFL. Here are two that caught my eye this week that I think offer a bit of easy money for bettors:
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Who will win the AFC North (Cincinnati -535; Pittsburgh +425)
I know that these seem like steep odds on the Bengals, but this one is a foregone conclusion. The Bengals already have a two-game lead on Pittsburgh, and they have two weeks to prepare for their first meeting with the Steelers. That will also likely be Big Ben's first game back from injury, another advantage for Cincinnati.
The Steelers are a paper tiger. They have fluked their way to half of their wins, and even with Roethlisberger back under center there are a lot of holes on this team. The Bengals are absolutely legit. As long as they stay healthy they have one of the top six or seven offenses in football, and the defense is still better than what Pittsburgh is packing.
After the Bengals win in Pittsburgh in two weeks these odds will either double or be pulled off the board. So I know it seems like a big layout, but this bet is all but clinched already.
Who will win the NFC East (Philadelphia +100; Field -130)
It's pretty easy to see that I was wrong about the Eagles this year. On one hand, they probably should be 4-2, and if they hadn't blown that game at Atlanta (remember: as badly as they played they had a fourth-quarter lead) they could be 5-1. But the bottom line is that they are 3-3 and they are one of the sloppiest teams in the league.
I love a play on The Field here. The Giants have the easier schedule, and if Dallas wins in New York then they could be in a three-way tie for first place and with Tony Romo one week closer to returning. Basically getting those two teams compared to just Philadelphia on the other side is a great value for bettors. I'm still not sure how this ugly East is going to shake out. But there's no denying that these odds should be closer to -250, and even then the smart money would be on The Field.
Here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings for Week 7:
1. New England Patriots (5-0) - Tough backdoor beat for the Patriots backers (myself included) last Sunday. Their spread this week against the Jets opened at 10.0 but was quickly bet down to 9.0 as the sharp money pounded the Jets. However, Patriots are 14-6 against the spread in the regular season in the game following an ATS loss. The home team is just 2-5 ATS in the Jets series, and the 'over' has been the play, cashing in nine of the last 11 meetings. There is no value, in my opinion, in betting against the Patriots. They are 14-6 ATS in their last 20 home games and 35-15 ATS in their last 50 games in October.
2. Green Bay Packers (6-0) - If it seems like the Packers have played every game at home this year it's because that's not far off. Four of their first six games were in Lambeau, and the two roadies were outdoors, on grass, at Chicago and San Francisco. The Packers have a bye this week before things start to pick up. They have back-to-back road games at Denver and at Carolina before a string of four straight divisional games.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (6-0) - There is no difference in Andy Dalton this year. The difference in the Cincinnati offense, which is No. 3 in total yards and No. 4 in scoring and which has sailed over the total in five of six games, and the fact that their receivers are finally all healthy at the same time. A.J. Green (three games), Tyler Eifert (15 games), and Marvin Jones (16 games) all missed significant time last year. But when they are on the field at the same time this group is devastating.
4. Arizona Cardinals (4-2) - I'm not going to crush the Cardinals for that loss in Pittsburgh because they were absolutely piss-pounding the Steelers last week. The worst call of the weekend wasn't in the Detroit game on the Golden Tate touchdown. It was that bogus offensive pass interference penalty on Michael Floyd that wiped out an early Arizona touchdown. That would've made the score 14-3, and from there I think Arizona would've staged a blowout. Arizona is 0-5 ATS in its last five Monday Night Football games. But they are still 21-9 ATS in their last 30 games overall, and they are 13-3 ATS in the game following an ATS loss.
5. Denver Broncos (6-0) - I'm not a big believer in ATS margin. To me, a cover is a cover. But it is interesting to compare how the five top teams have performed against the spread this year. Denver's four ATS wins have come by an average of just 5.3 points per win. Green Bay is at just 5.2 points per win against the spread. But New England (13.8), Cincinnati (11.3) and Arizona (21.8) have not just beaten the spreads in their ATS wins, they've destroyed them.
6. Minnesota Vikings (3-2) - I think I am still higher on the Vikings than most people. But their defense continues to impress me, and it is much better than its No. 13 total yardage ranking suggests. The Vikings are allowing just 16.6 points per game (No. 2 in the NFL), and they are fast and physical. They do, however, need to get their putrid offense going, and Stefon Diggs might be the guy to do it. He has 13 catches and 216 yards the past two games and looks exceptionally fast. Norv Turner needs to work his magic with this group. And they should be able to muster a breakout effort against Detroit's weak front seven. Don't be surprised to see a vintage Adrian Peterson 150-yard day this Sunday, and the Vikings are 5-2 ATS in their last seven road games and 7-2 ATS in their last nine against the Lions.
7. Atlanta Falcons (5-1) - The Falcons can easily shrug off their loss at New Orleans as some version of bad luck. After all, they really controlled the game and lost due to a blocked punt touchdown and a bunch of fumbles in Saints territory. However, what should be worrisome is that they played essentially the same way against the Redskins the Sunday before but were able to steal an overtime win. That's two really sloppy performances in less than a week. Atlanta is a bit familiar with the Titans personnel as they've met in the preseason the last two Augusts (including this year). The Falcons are 4-1 ATS on the road and 4-1 ATS in their last five games after a loss.
8. Carolina Panthers (5-0) - If we believe that the Seahawks aren't a very good team then how much credit should we really give the Panthers for that win in the Emerald City? I know I keep banging the, "the Panthers haven't beaten anyone" drum. But it's just a fact. Carolina hasn't played a team that's above .500, and they haven't had to match up with a playoff-caliber opponent yet. The Eagles are a great matchup for the Panthers this week. Carolina's defense is a brick wall that demands execution to beat. Philadelphia hasn't executed all year. The Panthers have revenge for a 24-point beat down that they took in Philly last November, and I don't see why they wouldn't get it here.
9. New York Jets (4-1) - The Jets match up really well with the Patriots, and they could be catching New England in a bit of a letdown spot this week after the Pats' emotionally satisfying win at Indianapolis. New England swept the series last season, but the Jets lost those two games by just three combined points. The Jets have stayed within a field goal of the Patriots in five of the last six meetings - going 5-1 ATS in the process - and only three of their 11 meetings this decade have been decided by double-digits. The Jets are on a 7-1 ATS run and are 7-0 ATS in conference games.
10. Buffalo Bills (3-3) - This offseason I said that one of the biggest problems I have with the Bills this year is the fact that they were switching from their dominating 4-3 defense back to a 3-4. The result has been just nine sacks in six games, and they aren't nearly as dominant at the line of scrimmage as they were last year in the 4-3. I think that's been a major problem for this team. Lack of locker room discipline has manifested itself in many ways for Buffalo this year. First it was the penalties. Now it is players complaining to the media for a second straight week. This is all just vintage Rex Ryan stuff, and this team looks headed for a disappointing 8-8 or 9-7 season despite the talent to do so much more.
11. Indianapolis Colts (3-3) - This is how awful the NFL is right now: the Colts stink, but I don't know whom to move ahead of them. The Eagles? The Chargers? The Giants? Gimme a break. I also don't know why everyone is piling on Chuck Pagano right now. This Indianapolis roster stinks. They do get somewhat of a reprieve this week playing against a weak New Orleans squad, and Indianapolis has gone 20-6 ATS in its last 26 games against below-.500 teams. But the Colts are yet to beat anyone outside the AFC South, and their three nondivisional losses have come by an average score of 27-16.
12. Seattle Seahawks (2-4) - Seattle's problems are really easy to diagnose: their defense simply isn't even close to what it has been over the past four years. Part of that is the fact that they've lost so much depth and talent to free agency. Another part is that they are on their third defensive coordinator in four years, and they've seen a host of talented position coaches move on over the past 12 months as well. I don't care that they are ranked No. 4 in total defense; this is not one of the five best defenses in football right now. Not even close. Seattle is still much better than San Francisco's No. 31-rated defense, however, and the Seahawks have gone 5-2 SU and 7-0 ATS in their last seven meetings with the 49ers.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) - This team is trash. It really is. Don't buy into the Steelers for one second. There is no way they should've beaten the Chargers last Monday and absolutely no way that they should've beaten Arizona on Sunday. If you take away that garbage 88-yard touchdown pass in the final minutes (after the game was essentially decided) then Pittsburgh was outgained 469-222. It is ridiculous. The Steelers get to play the putrid Chiefs this week and then have four of their next five games at home with a bye week to boot. They are living a charmed life. But it will end. I expect Landry Jones to start under center for the Steelers this week. And if he plays like he did last Sunday he'll be fine against Kansas City's woeful stop unit.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) - Sam Bradford has thrown five interceptions in the past two weeks, and the Eagles have still won their two games 66-24. Philadelphia's defense has been doing incredible work. Well, except for Byron Maxwell, who is terrible and who can't play defense without holding. But the other 10 defenders have been exceptional, regardless of what Philadelphia's defensive rankings suggest. It is really fashionable to bang on Sam Bradford right now. But as I've pointed out, who is he throwing to right now? Miles Austin is seriously the second-best receiver on the team! That's pathetic! I have no idea how Philadelphia's sloppy, inconsistent, undermanned offense plans to score against Carolina's uber-disciplined defense.
15. San Diego Chargers (2-4) - The Chargers have outgained their last four opponents by an average of 81.5 yards per game but have won just one time. Ironically enough, the lone win came in the contest in which they outgained their opponent by the fewest yards (Cleveland - six). Philip Rivers has owned the Raiders, beating them in six of the last seven meetings. Keenan Allen (hip flexor) is questionable for this week. He's obviously San Diego's top wideout, and if he can't go that's a big blow to this attack. The Chargers are 1-7 ATS in their last eight home games and 2-7 ATS as a division home favorite.
16. New York Giants (3-3) - Seriously, the Giants can't stop anyone. I mean anyone. Their defense is horrendous right now and - as I predicted - Steve Spagnuolo has no clue how to fix it. I will grant the Giants that they are banged up on that side of the ball. But that's been a running theme the past four seasons. Either get tougher players or get better trainers. This week is being treated as a revenge game for the Giants, who choked away a win in Big D in Week 1. But the Giants never should've been in that game. Of their two touchdowns, one was a defensive score and the other was set up at the one-yard line by another Dallas turnover. The 'over' is 15-5 in the last 20 meetings in this series and is 9-3 in the last 12 meetings in New York.
17. Oakland Raiders (2-3) - This week is a great opportunity for the Raiders to get a statement win in the AFC West. They are coming off a bye while San Diego played two grueling, emotionally-draining games (both losses) in a span of six days. However, the Raiders have fallen on their faces time and time and time again in these spots over the last two decades, so I am not sure why we would expect anything different here. Oakland should be riding a four-game winning streak right now but blew games at Chicago and against Denver. But that's what the Raiders do: blow games. The underdog has been the play in this series (11-1 ATS), and the Raiders are 5-1 ATS in their last six games in San Diego.
18. Chicago Bears (2-4) - Jay Cutler, aside from an end zone interception, played really well again last week in Detroit. But if you want a referendum on how much the coaching staff trusts him just look at their play calling on their second-to-last drive in regulation. With a four-point lead and less than eight minutes to play the Bears ran the ball three straight times before punting. They didn't even give him a chance to go out and win (or lose) the game.
19. Cleveland Browns (2-4) - The Browns have been very feisty the past several weeks, playing back-to-back overtime games and three straight games decided by just a field goal. The Browns have covered the spread in each of those three games as an underdog. Yet the public still has no faith in this squad as only 35 percent of the early-week betting action has come in on the Rams. The Browns are 5-1 ATS after a loss and 4-1 ATS in their last five road games. They are 8-2 ATS as a road underdog and 7-3-1 ATS as a nondivisional road underdog going back to 2009, with several outright upsets.
20. Dallas Cowboys (2-3) - As I have said repeatedly for the past few years: Matt Cassel is a noddle-armed loser. Anyone that thinks he is the answer to any offensive problems is absolutely kidding himself. Cassel can't throw the ball more than 15 yards downfield, so I would expect a very conservative approach from the Cowboys this week, even against New York's sieve stop unit. The underdog has gone 9-4 ATS in the Giants series, and Dallas is desperate for a strong outing here.
21. Washington Redskins (2-4) - I really have seen a lot of improvement out of this team, and they aren't nearly as hapless as they've been the past two seasons. Their problem is that they are just too banged up right now. On offense alone they could be down two offensive linemen, two running backs, a tight end and their best receiver. That's impossible to overcome. But they are still posted as a healthy favorite and garnering 70 percent of the betting action over Tampa Bay. Washington is just 7-18 ATS as a nondivisional home favorite, and they are 16-38 ATS against teams with a losing record. Washington is 6-13 ATS in its last 19 games and 3-7 ATS in its last 10 home games.
22. San Francisco 49ers (2-4) - It is still amazing to me how inefficient this San Francisco offense is when it gets into its opponents' side of the field. The 49ers are converting just 36.8 percent of their red zone attempts into touchdowns (third-worst) this year after converting just 43.2 percent last year (fourth-worst). How can a group with red zone beasts Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis be so bad in the red zone?The 49ers are ranked 30th in total offense and 31 st in total defense, and they've been outscored by an average of 10 points per game. But they are on a 4-1 'over' run and have been showing clear improvement.
23. St. Louis Rams (2-3) - I still have absolutely no idea why people love this team. I've seen the Rams in the top half of the NFL in several mainstream media NFL power rankings. Why? They are basically a carbon copy of the Redskins and are just 11-19 ATS as a home favorite. Todd Gurley should be able to tear up Cleveland's No. 32-ranked rushing defense. This will be the third straight rush defense that St. Louis has faced that is ranked in the bottom half of the league standings. Jeff Fisher is 4-0 ATS coming out of a bye week as the Rams coach, and he has been outstanding in his career in that situation.
24. New Orleans Saints (2-4) - Am I undervaluing the Saints? They really were competitive in Arizona and they actually led 10-0 against Carolina before losing by five points. New Orleans is 3-1 ATS in its last four games, and Drew Brees will benefit from the extra few days rest he's received. Willie Snead has really given the passing attack a jolt with 16 catches and 285 yards in the last three games. He's also had a catch of at least 20 yards in each of those games, and he looks like a keeper. I really expected this team to run the ball more to try to protect their comically bad defense. But the Saints are just No. 31 in yards per game and No. 22 in attempts per game. The Saints are 0-4 ATS after a win and likely won't benefit from a plus-four turnover differential this week.
25. Miami Dolphins (2-3) - Well, apparently Dan Campbell's clueless meathead coaching style is exactly what the Dolphins needed. There's no doubt that Miami played a more focused and physical brand of football. But Ryan Tannehill still looked awful and did just about everything that he could to keep the feeble Titans in the game. He had one interception - and another near-interception - on check-down passes to his running backs. If these guys can't even get on the same page for dump-off passes, that doesn't say much for the future of their passing game on the whole. Miami is just 13-33 ATS in its last 46 games as a home favorite, so I would be careful about crowding onto the bandwagon.
26. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5) - The hits just keep on coming for this squad. Jeremy Maclin and Mike DeVito will both likely sit this week with concussions. The loss of Maclin is a deathblow to an offense that was already on life support; the Chiefs now own the worst collection of skill position talent in the NFL. Add in the fact that their offensive line is atrocious and I would expect to see a lot more performances like the one we saw last Sunday. And lest you think that Kansas City has too much talent to simply roll over on this season, remember that in four of their past eight campaigns they've won four or fewer games.
27. Detroit Lions (1-5) - It took fake punts, terrible calls, Cutler going all Cutler on things, a monster effort from Calvin Johnson, and overtime to get the Lions their first win. That's not a great sign. Detroit's defense is now what I call an "accidental defense". They don't generate stops. They can't. They are a wet paper bag. The only time the Lions defense can get off the field is if the opposing team screws up with something like a holding penalty, a dropped pass, or some other fluke occurrence. They've given up season highs in yards and scoring to weak Chicago and Minnesota offenses, and I think the Vikings should be able to carve them up again this week. Detroit is 2-9 ATS as an underdog.
28. Baltimore Ravens (1-5) - It is a little unsettling to see the Ravens be this bad. And make no mistake: they are absolutely pathetic. They have zero weapons other than a banged-up Steve Smith, their offensive line is a mess, their secondary is horrific, and they have no leadership or playmakers in the linebacking corps. Their one win was a complete and utter fluke, and there is no way that this team will get to .500 for the eighth straight season.
29. Tennessee Titans (1-4) - Holy god was I wrong about this bunch of losers. Their receiving corps is the biggest bunch of pansies of any position group in the NFL. It is amazing how soft they are. Ken Whisenhunt is now just 4-29 straight up in his last 33 games as an NFL coach. The Titans are 15-36 ATS against teams above .500, and they are just 19-38 ATS in their last 57 games overall. Tennessee is about to do the unthinkable: losing every game on an exceedingly rare four-game homestand. NFL teams never play four home games in a row, and I can't believe the Titans aren't going to win a single one of them. That's pathetic.
30. Houston Texans (2-4) - Does anyone else realize that three of the four worst teams in football reside in the AFC South? I know last year's NFC South was historically bad (with a 7-9 division winner), but I think that this year's AFC South is even worse. I've been saying for over a month that DeAndre Hopkins is clearly the only weapon on this offense, and I can't believe teams aren't quadruple teaming him on every play. Houston has never lost to the Dolphins, beating them in all seven meetings while going 5-2 ATS.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) - The Bucs exit their bye week with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier suggesting that they will continue to tinker with their secondary while looking for the "right combination". That's not what you want to hear about the back four after three months of playing together. But facts are facts: Tampa Bay can't effectively run Lovie Smith's (doomed?) Cover-2 scheme without quality secondary play. The Bucs have allowed the fourth-most touchdown passes and the fourth-best passer rating against.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) - The decision to start Blake Bortles (along with limp support for the putrid Texans) actually resulted in a 5.5-point move on the spread. Naturally, Bortles went out and threw three interceptions, including the sixth pick-six of his 19-game starting career. The Jaguars are in London this week, if anyone cares, and Jacksonville has lost its last two trips across the pond by a combined 73-27 score and they are just 13-23 ATS as an underdog.
Throughout the season I will have my NFL Power Rankings every Wednesday. My next ones will be released on Wednesday, Oct. 28.
Robert Ferringo was good for nearly $13,000 in profit in 2013 and 2014 and has averaged $5,600 in profit for his clients the last four years. Robert's two winning months to start this season make it 14 of 18 winning football months and an unreal 37 of 53 over the last eight years! Also, Robert's proprietary KING College Football Betting System has posted two of three winning seasons and is 104-73 over the last three years (58.8 percent). We are offering new clients $60 in free college football picks for Robert's picks or any Advisory Board handicapper of your choosing. Get your free college football picks now!
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