One of the most underrated aspects of the NFL offseason is the optimism.
Every franchise's fans — except perhaps the Houston Texans — have a sense of hope that their team will surpass expectations. Unfortunately, when the season does kick off, that hope sadly turns into just hype for a lot of teams.
But which teams will live up to that hype and give their fans something to cheer about?
We've scoured the future betting odds and found the four best long shot prop bets for you to invest in. These teams are loaded and ready to strike even though there's doubt entering the season. An average of two teams see playoff turnover in each conference every year and therefore we've found two candidates in the AFC and NFC.
Our friends at DraftKings Sports provided these lines.
Los Angeles Chargers (+137)
The Chargers are one of the big winners of the offseason.
Already stacked with quality playmakers and young phenom Justin Herbert, the Chargers had one clear task: protect their prized possession with better blockers. The team was able to land three starters in Rashawn Slater, Corey Linsley, and Matt Feiler. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is a solid presence in place, and left guard will have a competition between Oday Aboushi and Brenden Jaimes.
The offense just needs to stay healthy. There's virtually no depth on the unit but the starters are excellent. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jared Cook and Austin Ekeler are a model of efficiency. Herbert will need to push the ball downfield more than he did last year in order to keep the unit effective and not just about the highlights.
This team can and should compete for an AFC Wild Card spot. The defense is good and is similar to the offense as far as lacking depth. Losing Casey Hayward was a bad move and the depth at linebacker is a concern.
But overall this is a well-rounded roster that is every bit as good on paper as any Wild Card contender.
Washington Football Team (+149)
The Washington Football Team checks almost every box for a playoff team. They have a great head coach with the reputation of overachieving in the regular season. Their defense is downright scary, and the offense has a bevy of young playmakers worth believing in.
And yet, they're an underdog to make the postseason. The reason is the question-mark at quarterback. Veteran passer Ryan Fitzpatrick is exciting, entertaining, and hilarious, but the journeyman isn't a winning quarterback.
Dealing with Fitzpatrick's valleys hasn't made his fun peaks worthwhile throughout his career. His lack of velocity and overall reliability as a pocket passer has limited his long-term success. He's a better stopgap option than most but the Football Team is seeing these odds because of the concern over his viability. It's true, Fitzpatrick will be an issue at some point, he's good enough to guide this great roster to enough wins to make the playoffs in a generally weak NFC.
The Football Team should get to at least nine wins and earn a favorable chance to win as a Wild Card or even NFC East title which makes the +149 line a screaming value.
Chicago Bears (+185)
The Chicago Bears were able to pull off what the Football Team was unable to: land a young star passer to take them to the next level. Their upside increased tremendously the moment they traded up in the 2021 NFL Draft to select Justin Fields. And it's now stunning to see them get nearly 2-to-1 odds to even reach the playoffs.
Fields may not start right away but there's no question the Bears were built to finally get back to the postseason. Andy Dalton can guide them closer to their goal, and Fields offers a tremendous skill set in case Dalton struggles. The rest of the roster is one of the finest in the league.
The NFC North may scare off some but the Bears have been a decent quarterback away from being a threat for years. They have two now, with one dripping with elite potential. This defense will carry the Bears as far as they can, but their margin for error is much bigger now than before.
Miami Dolphins (+137)
The 2020 Dolphins almost mirror Washington's situation this season. Their defense churned out a fantastic campaign, ranking among the very best in several categories. Head coach Brian Flores would be hard-pressed to replicate that success but the unit improved with the additions of Jaelan Phillips and Jevon Holland.
Of course, the bet here is on Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins invested heavily into his receiving corps, which was needed. I liked what Tagovailoa put on film in his first year even without considering the COVID-19 limitations and his injury recovery.
Obviously, Tua and the offense must be more aggressive. But his touch is special, and the speed on the unit will make them a frustrating unit to face. Miami should compete for the division and at worst nab a Wild Card spot.
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