NFL Betting 2023: Surveying the division futures landscape after free agency's initial wave

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell during the 36-27 win over the Washington Commanders at Ford Field, Sept. 18, 2022. Nfl Washington Commanders At Detroit Lions

• Lamar Jackson news sends Ravens tumbling: Baltimore now has the third-best odds to win the AFC North, behind the Bengals and Browns.

• Lions the favorite in a volatile NFC North: The pending Aaron Rodgers news has the division in an uncertain state, but Detroit leads the way.

Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins

(all Odds from BetMGM)

AFC

AFC North

The odds in the North swung drastically on Monday after Lamar Jackson tweeted details confirming he has requested a trade out of Baltimore. That update sent Ravens’ odds plummeting, while the rest of the division saw sizable jumps — the expected result of a former MVP potentially leaving a divisional power. 

The Bengals moved further into control at the top, sitting at +125 prior to the news. Yet, the biggest jumps came from the Browns, who overtook the Ravens for the second-best odds to take the division. Both sit around a 24%-25% implied probability to win the division. 


AFC East

With the expectation that Aaron Rodgers will be playing in New York next season, the Jets’ odds have steadily shortened over the past few weeks, sitting around +250 previously. Oddsmakers haven’t swung the line substantially yet, as the Packers and Jets haven't settled on trade terms. Once compensation is agreed upon — or negotiations fall through — these odds will see plenty of fluctuation.

The Bills still sit atop the division for good reason, but the value certainly falls further down the board. The Dolphins (22% implied probability) last season were vying for the division lead before Tua Tagovailoa’s scary injury, but were never able to regain their footing down the stretch. Miami still possesses a strong roster and added a high-end talent in cornerback Jalen Ramsey through a trade this offseason. This could be a team that surprises in 2023.


AFC South

For the first time since 2018, the Jaguars are preseason favorites to win the South. This division runs through Duval in 2023, due in large part to the state of their roster compared to that of others. Jacksonville is looking to build on a strong 2022 behind quarterback Trevor Lawrence (10th-highest WAR), while the other three teams look to be on the downswing or fully invested in a rebuild.

Outside of Lawrence, this division has numerous question marks at the most important position on the field. The Titans could potentially be forced to move on from a number of foundational pieces, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running back Derrick Henry and safety Kevin Byard, which would substantially hurt their division odds. And the Colts and Texans could each be starting a rookie under center.


AFC West

The reigning champion Chiefs are not only the pace car for this division, but the league as a whole. Winning the past seven divisional crowns in one of the league’s toughest divisions tends to have that effect. Although, a 62% implied probability may be a bit rich given the strength of the division as a whole. With that being said, the value obviously falls further down the board.

Both the Chargers and Broncos have talented rosters that can provide plenty of resistance should a few things fall their way. The Chargers managed a playoff berth after dealing with a number of injuries to key players, hitting their stride late in the year. The Broncos, however, underperformed after the acquisition of quarterback Russell Wilson, leading to the hiring of head coach Sean Payton to turn around an anemic offense. If either of these teams takes steps, this division could be hotly contested.


NFC

NFC North

The obvious catalyst for these NFC North odds is the potential departure of Aaron Rodgers. The Packers’ odds have stumbled as a result, previously sitting around 3-1. A perennial power losing a former-MVP passer will open up this division to all challengers.

This is the first time the Lions have been preseason favorites to win the North in over two decades. Still, this division could swing in many directions. The Bears made quite the splash in this free agency cycle, putting them right in the discussion, currently tied with the reigning division champion Vikings. 


NFC East

Despite a number of departures in free agency, the Eagles remain the favorites to win this division. But, in a division that sports three playoff teams from this past season, this will be a closer race than the odds suggest.

The Giants look to be a considerable value at +500. Some bettors may overlook them due to the lukewarm reception of the Daniel Jones extension, but further time in Brian Daboll’s system can only help with Jones’ production and development. The Giants do need to address some holes in the draft, namely receiver, which could further shorten their odds.


NFC South

After Tom Brady‘s retirement, the Bucs no longer stand atop the NFC South and this division is up for grabs. The Saints have the shortest odds of taking control, due in large part to having the only proven veteran quarterback in the division after signing Derek Carr.

The Panthers slot in high on this board after trading up with the Bears to acquire the top overall pick in this April’s draft. Having a top pick under center raises Carolina’s ceiling in a very low-floor division.


NFC West

Even without knowing who will be the starting quarterback for Week 1, the Niners find themselves the far and away favorites to win the NFC West. Brock Purdy and Trey Lance, both coming off tough injuries, are due to battle it out in camp for the job. Although the Niners had immense success last season without stability under center, 2022 should be looked at as the exception, not the rule. It’s very hard to win in the NFL without quality quarterback play. 

The Rams may be coming off a down season, but much of that could be attributed to bad injury luck. If Matt Stafford and Cooper Kupp are able to return to their pre-injury ways, then I'd expect them to make a push for the division again.

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