NFL Division Winner Futures Odds with Expert Betting Predictions
There are still three weeks left to play in the NFL season. If what gets you excited about the late stages of the season is the drama of tight divisional races, then I have some bad news for you. There just isn't too much going on this year. In fact, it's verging on dull. Last year at this point there were four divisional races that were wide open. The year before that it was five. But this year there are only two, and one of those two could be wrapped up by Thursday night. Yawn. Here's a look at how the races break down from a betting perspective.
It's worth noting that three of the eight divisions don't even have odds listed on Bovada right now, and three more are listed but with massive favorites. In other words, if you are looking for big value you have come to the wrong place:
AFC North: This is by far the most interesting race. Pittsburgh sits at -195, with Baltimore at +135. Both teams have seven wins, but the Steelers are in front because they have a tie. The teams have split their two meetings so far. Pittsburgh is in a death spiral, having lost three straight. They finish off with the Bengals, so they should at least get to eight wins. But playing New England this week and at New Orleans next week is far from ideal. So, 8-7-1 seems like the most likely record. To beat that Baltimore needs to get to nine wins. They have won three of four. And with games remaining against the Bucs and Browns at home, they have a good look at nine wins. Their other game is at the Chargers - a much tougher spot. If the Chargers lose this week, though, they will likely be deflated - they will be a playoff team but will have lost their chance at winning the division. The Ravens could have a shot there. The odds suggest that the Steelers are solidly favored. If I had to back just one team, though, it would absolutely be the Ravens. I'm just not convinced that the Steelers can get out of their own way at this point.
AFC West: This is the second-closest race, which tells you how uninteresting the races are this year. Kansas City has a one-game edge over the Chargers, and the two teams meet on Thursday night. The Chiefs won the first meeting, so they would clinch the division if they win at home. That explains why they are the -650 favorites, while the Chargers are at +320. If the Chargers can pull off the upset, though, things get much more interesting. But the Chiefs still have the edge. L.A.'s last two games are against the Ravens and Broncos. Baltimore is playing well, and the Broncos are oddly feisty. Kansas City closes out with a tougher game at the Seahawks then a very easy one against the Raiders. If the teams were to finish with the same record but the Chiefs beat the Raiders then they would have the tiebreak because of the record against the division. And if the Broncos beat the Chargers it would be over if they have the same record as well. So, the possibility still exists for the Chargers to win the division, but things are stacked against them in a big way.
AFC South: We have reached the point in the article where we pretend that there is drama where there really is very little. Houston (-7000) has a two-game lead over the Colts (+1600) and have games remaining against the Jets, Eagles and Jaguars. Playing like they have been lately against those three opponents they will be favored in all three barring a setback. Two wins wraps things up, and with one win they are still in solid shape - especially if that win is against Jacksonville. The Colts would need Houston to collapse and would need to run the table against their remaining schedule of Dallas, the Giants and at the Titans. That is a much tougher schedule, which explains why Houston has such a big advantage in the odds.
NFC North: The Bears (-12500) have a huge edge over the Vikings (+1400) here, but they have not quite wrapped the division up yet. It's all but over, but not over yet. If the Bears don't win again, they would finish 9-7. If the Vikings run the table, they would finish 9-6-1 and win the crown. The teams meet in the finale, so there could be some real drama if it gets that far. For that to happen, the Vikings and their new offensive coordinator would have to beat the Dolphins at home then win in Detroit. There are bigger challenges than that. But the Bears host the Packers and then visit San Francisco. At this point it would be tough for a bad team to lose to both of those teams, and the Bears are a long way from a bad team. The Bears could lose the division, but the Bears really, really aren't losing the division.
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