NFL Futures Bets: Win Totals & Playoff Picks To Make After the Schedule Release
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images. Pictured: Sam Darnold
With the release of a full 17-week schedule, the NFL is moving forward with its plans for the 2020 season.
Our staff has taken the opportunity to re-evaluate the futures market, finding value on two win totals and one playoff bet. Let’s take a look at their picks.
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Sean Koerner: Jets Under 6.5 Wins (-105)
The Jets have the fifth-toughest schedule according to my strength of schedule rankings. Yes, they get to face the (post-Tom Brady era) Patriots, Bills, and Dolphins twice. But the Bills should be the team to beat in the AFC East while the Dolphins should improve significantly over the next couple of seasons.
The Jets also landed some brutal non-division road games against the Rams, Chiefs, Colts, Chargers, Rams and Seahawks. I have the Jets favored in only three games this season, and all by 3.5 or fewer points. And they’re 6-point underdogs or higher in seven games, according to my power ratings.
I feel the Jets had one of the better drafts and will likely get two instant starters in Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims. However, they probably won’t get the coaching they need under Adam Gase to reach their full potential out of the gate.
Given their brutal schedule, the Jets will likely need a couple of upsets and/or to win a majority of their close games to even net seven wins. Having a poor coach makes that unlikely.
Mike Randle: Chargers Under 7.5 Wins (-106)
For the first time since the start of the 2006 season, the Chargers will not have Philip Rivers as their starting quarterback. With the veteran signal-caller now in Indianapolis, the reins are handed to veteran Tyrod Taylor with first-round rookie Justin Herbert serving as the backup.
Coming off a disappointing 5-11 season in 2019 which saw the Chargers vastly underperform their expected win total (9.5), there are several factors working against an 8-8 season.
Los Angeles will also adjust to life without former starting running back Melvin Gordon, who produced 47 touchdowns over the past four seasons. The Chargers will try to supplant Gordon with a committee approach led by the 5-foo-9, 199-pound Austin Ekeler. Veteran wideout Keenan Allen relied more on his precise route-running and connection with Rivers, rather than his sub-standard athleticism (4.7 40-yard dash speed).
The 31-year old Taylor will force a much more conservative offensive approach with a severe downgrade in offensive weaponry.
The Chargers will also contend with one of the toughest groups of divisional foes. Denver and Oakland upgraded their offensive talent through the draft to try and keep pace with Super Bowl champion Kansas City, to round out one of the toughest divisions in football.
Having to annually contend with a minimal home-field advantage, it’s difficult to see the Chargers improve their 2019 total by three wins with so much uncertainty throughout the offense. With non-divisional games against the AFC East and NFC South, the schedule-makers have done Los Angeles no favors.
A 7-9 record feels like the ceiling for a Chargers team in a very competitive division.
Collin Wilson: Colts to Make Playoffs (-154)
Per Koerner’s strength of schedule rankings, the Colts will have the easiest slate of the 2020 season.
Early power ratings suggest that they’ll be favored in nine games, with their toughest coming as a 3.5-point underdog at the Steelers. That road trip to Pittsburgh is their only game in November and December with a chance of bad weather. Other trips on the schedule come against teams projected to finish .500 or worse: At the Raiders, Lions, Bears and Jaguars.
The draft addressed all of the Colts’ needs, starting with the trade for DeForest Buckner. Frank Reich’s team finished 32nd in Power Success in 2019, and Buckner is a big addition to improving that number. Safety Julian Blackmon comes in from Utah via a third-round pick, and although there were criticisms with the former Utes star, he was one of the biggest havoc-minded defensive players in all of college football over the past two seasons.
Finally, my love for Jonathan Taylor extends to the projection of the Colts’ season, so I’m paying a bit of juice to see Indianapolis back in the playoffs.