NFL News & Analysis

NFL Betting 2022: Surveying the division futures landscape

Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) signals to the sidelines against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL offseason isn't just for free agency and the NFL draft. For some, it's an opportunity to get ahead of the game when it comes to futures betting.

Last week, we looked at the current collection of Super Bowl futures on DraftKings Sportsbook. This week, in a gift that keeps on giving, the sportsbook has opened up their division futures for the 2022 season, as well.

In this article, we go through each division and give out some plays we like on these initial numbers.

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NFC West

One of the reasons the Rams aren’t favored to repeat as Super Bowl champions (they are +1,000, third behind Buffalo and Kansas City) is that they aren’t even favored against the field in their own division.

The 49ers, who have five NFC Championship Game appearances and five seasons with six or fewer wins since 2011, have once again garnered the respect of the market despite all indications that they will start unproven quarterback Trey Lance in 2022. The Cardinals, who would have won this division (after closing +600 to do so) with a win over a bad Seahawks team in Week 18, remain underdogs.

NFC North

As of Tuesday morning — in the wake of an emotional Instagram post by longtime Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — this is off the board after opening Green Bay -225, Minnesota +350, Chicago +650 and Detroit +1,800.

Unlike last summer, when the markets momentarily pushed the Vikings into the spot as the division favorite, the markets initially gave some probability to the idea that Green Bay will run it back with Rodgers and Davante Adams, giving Matt LaFleur a chance at an unprecedented fourth straight 13-win season.

A bet on the Vikings yesterday was a bet on a few things: A.) Kirk Cousins returning, B.) Aaron Rodgers departing, and C.) Justin Fields failing to take a step forward in Year 2. We’ll see.

NFC South

Tampa Bay appears here by default. They probably lose Tom Brady to retirement, but the Saints are no further along in finding their quarterback for 2022 as the Bucs are, the Panthers were terrible last year and the Falcons still have a roster that is actually worse than the 7-10 record they put on the field in 2021.

The fact that Carolina and Atlanta have the same odds is perplexing to me, though, as the Falcons are clearly better at the head coach, offensive playcaller and quarterback positions than the Panthers are, with Matt Rhule in serious jeopardy of losing his job next year.

NFC East

Dallas is rightfully the favorite here. Even though Mike McCarthy struggles a bit with in-game management and the like, they are the most talented team in this division by quite a stretch, and regression is possibly in store for an Eagles team that finished 9-8 a season ago.

Be that as it may, the whole division has a pretty easy slate, facing the AFC South and the NFC North in their off-division games, meaning season win total unders might not be in play here. Given what Brian Daboll is assembling in New York and the low price you are getting on them given their terrible finish to 2021, the Giants might be a value here.

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AFC West

The AFC West is currently off the board due to the speculation about who the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback will be. At one point, the prices were Kansas City Chiefs -175, Los Angeles Chargers +450, Denver Broncos +450 and Las Vegas Raiders +900. As you can imagine, the Broncos are a value there if you think Aaron Rodgers will play quarterback for them.

AFC North

While the Browns have never won the AFC North, and haven’t won a division title at all since 1989, this division has had three different winners in the past three years. While it makes sense that the AFC champion would have a leg up, one has to wonder if the Bengals are being overvalued here.

The Ravens, whose top four cap hits for 2022 — Lamar Jackson, Ronnie Stanley, Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters — all missed significant time in 2021, appear to be quite a value here at +200 (it was +225 when I posted this TikTok video yesterday). The Browns, who from players 2-53 might be one of the best rosters in football, would see their odds shorten should they improve at the quarterback position this offseason.

AFC South

The Titans have won the division two years in a row, while the Colts completely melted in an effort to make the playoffs for the second straight year. The Titans will likely have to get better just to stay the same, while the Colts are going to be taking another swing at the quarterback position. This leaves us with a good flier on the Jaguars.

The answer to “who is this year’s Cincinnati Bengals” is very, very likely “no one,” but conditional on one existing, it might be a team in a weak division, with a No. 1 overall pick at quarterback, young weapons and a Super Bowl-winning head coach. 

AFC East

The Bills are tied with the Packers as the biggest favorites to win their division at this time, and while there was a brief period in which they were an underdog to overtake the Patriots and win their second straight title in 2021, they ultimately got the job done and humbled New England come January in the AFC playoffs.

The Jets, who are longer shots to win the division in 2022 than 2021, might also fall into the category of repeating what the Bengals did in 2021, but Zach Wilson will have to improve mightily on what was a < 0 WAR season in 2021. 

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