Now that the NFL Draft and free agency have run their course, the shape every team's roster is starting to come into focus. For bettors, this means that they now have a better idea of what moves they should be making in the futures markets.
In this crazy offseason, a lot has transpired since the San Francisco 49ers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. Teams — like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills — have improved immensely, while plenty of players have switched teams.
With the acquisitions of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the Buccaneers are a popular team to gamble on. But which futures should you bet? Now with the championship, division winner and season win total futures up for grabs, there are several wagers that shouldn’t be missed before teams get ready for training camp.
Buffalo Bills to win the AFC East: +140
This bet combines several betting angles that are beneficial to pursue. It goes against public opinion, it backs a team on the rise over a team poised to decline and it comes at a plus price. Public opinion, of course, will be that the New England Patriots are still going to find a way to win the AFC East despite all of their shortcomings stemming from the relocation of Tom Brady to Tampa Bay.
As for the talent on the field, the Bills are likely to continue to improve in 2020. Josh Allen has playoff experience under his belt and the Bills added a true No. 1 wide receiver in Stefon Diggs. On top of that, Buffalo’s defense remains one of the toughest in the league.
The New England Patriots, meanwhile, are riding with an unproven quarterback in Jarrett Stidham... unless the Pats make another move before the start of the season. That seems pretty unlikely at this point.
Getting the Bills to win the division at +140 gives bettors a chance to back a team clearly heading in the right direction over a team that is currently elite in name only. Instead of backing one of the heavy favorites to win a division — like the Kansas City Chiefs — there is some value in Buffalo in 2020.
Buffalo Bills over 9 wins: -110
In a similar vein, taking the Bills to win over nine games is a play that makes a lot of sense this season. A huge reason for this is the division that the Bills play in. Residing in the AFC East, the Bills, fortunately, get to play six winnable games. The New York Jets are still figuring things out with Sam Darnold at quarterback, the Miami Dolphins will be nursing a rookie quarterback along and the Patriots might have a post-Brady hangover.
The schedule for the Bills outside of those three teams is pretty difficult, though. Luckily for the Bills, most of their games against potential playoff contenders will come at home. If the Bills can manage to win about half of those tilts, they should be able to win enough of their division games to get over the hump and reach double digits in the win column this season.
There's also added value in taking the Bills to go 9-7 this season. This line illustrates the importance of shopping for the best value, as a 9.5 win total would result in a loss if the Bills were to finish 9-7. Either way, the Bills should be able to replicate their double-digit win total from a year ago.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers under 9.5 wins: +110
The hype is real surrounding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to the acquisition of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. While Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL, this season might turn into a disappointing campaign for the Bucs. That's why we're taking the plus price on the Buccaneers failing to reach 10 wins in 2020.
By replacing Jameis Winston with Tom Brady, the Bucs should have a huge reduction in turnovers this season. But their offense won't be as explosive with Brady under center, that's for sure.
Brady will operate with better weapons than he did with the Patriots, sure, but the future Hall of Famer sure looked like an unreliable passer on enough occasions to be skeptical about his ability to instantly turn the Bucs around.
The NFC South is a gauntlet of a division, with every team having considerable talent on the offensive side of the ball. The Buccaneers were in the bottom five in scoring defense last season, and could very well find themselves there again this year. Even if Brady improves after last season’s decline, the Bucs may struggle to make the playoffs in Brady’s first season in what he has called Tom-pa Bay.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers to miss the playoffs: +240
This is a correlated play, as the Buccaneers failing to reach double-digits wins would make it difficult for them to reach the postseason. At a tantalizing plus price, there is every reason to take a chance on the Bucs failing to make the playoffs. There aren't a lot of playoff openings in the talented NFC, either. That'll make the Bucs' road to the postseason that much harder.
The four division winners in the NFC will receive entries into the playoffs right off the bat. In the NFC South, that team is likely to be the New Orleans Saints, who are once again among the top contenders to reach the Super Bowl in 2020. After those four teams, there are three wild card teams that will be selected. Given the strength of the NFC West, one or two of those wild cards could go to that division, while the Minnesota Vikings and the NFC East runners up could earn one of those spots as well.
That does not leave a lot of room for the Bucs to slide into the postseason, especially if they fail to win 10 or more games. With Tampa playing the NFC North and AFC West in the upcoming season, there will not be many easy games on the schedule for Tampa Bay in 2020. Tampa Bay could be better than last year, but they will not make the playoffs.
Tom Brady under 32.5 touchdown passes: -130
Tom Brady threw 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season with the New England Patriots. And while it bears repeating that Brady will have better weapons with the Buccaneers than he did with the Patriots, asking him to throw nine more touchdown passes in order to win this bet is a lot. With Brady firmly in his forties, his best days as a quarterback are behind him.
One of the most mind-blowing stats from Brady’s 2019 season was that he finished 27th in the NFL in yards per pass attempt, at 6.6. That's tied with Andy Dalton, who is now a backup for the Dallas Cowboys. That low of a mark for yards per pass attempt is a big red flag for Brady's future. It proves that Brady played much more conservatively and wasn't as efficient as he has been in years past. That's not surprising given his age and the lack of talent around him in New England, but it's still a scary proposition for bettors.
While it may not be fair to flat out state that Brady is washed, it's clear that he's experiencing a decline that is typical for a player at his advanced age. Having better weapons than he has had in a few years should help him, but a touchdown total in the mid-30s might be too aggressive for Brady to reach as he tries to develop chemistry with a new crop of receivers.
New York Giants under 6.5 wins: -115
The New York Giants are one of the worst teams in the NFL. And without any substantial improvement made in the offseason, it's hard to understand why the Giants would be considered capable of winning seven or more games in the 2020 campaign.
A bottom-five team in 2019, the Giants finished in the bottom half of the league in yards per play for and against last season, with a suspect defense and developing offense combining for a disastrous 2019 season. This year, Daniel Jones enters his second, but Danny Dimes didn't do much to inspire confidence last season if you look beyond the surface of his statistics.
Jones threw 24 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions in his rookie campaign, but nearly half of those touchdowns came in three games against the Redskins, Lions and Jets, three of the worst teams in the NFL. Jones also led the league in fumbles last season.
This year, the Giants have to face the NFC West and AFC North, two of the toughest divisions in the league. With the Giants having the worst strength of victory in the NFL last season, the lack of easy games on this year’s schedule could mean another long year for Big Blue.
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