NFL Simulations: 3 Division Futures to Bet Entering Week 9

NFL Simulations: 3 Division Futures to Bet Entering Week 9 article feature image

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers

  • After 10,000 simulations of the remainder of the NFL season, we've found value on three different futures.
  • See which teams are worth betting to win their respective divisions entering Week 9.

If the NFL season ended today, the Patriots, Ravens, Colts and Chiefs would be division winners in the AFC, while the Cowboys, Packers, Saints and 49ers would be division champions in the NFC.

Of course, only eight weeks are in the books and a lot will change between now and the playoffs. With that in mind, which teams are offering bettors value to win their division?

We ran 10,000 simulations of the 2019 NFL season using player and team statistics adjusted for strength of schedule to determine the most likely division champions.

By comparing our model to the betting odds at FanDuel, we found three division bets worth making before kickoff of Week 9.

San Francisco 49ers to win NFC West

  • Current odds: -185, Implied Probability: 64.9%
  • 49ers win division 79.3% of the time

The NFC West might be the best division in football. So, while the 49ers are undefeated it is no guarantee that San Francisco will earn its first division crown since 2012. But if the defense has anything to say about it, we won’t have to sweat this bet.

Last year the Niners’ defense ranked 27th in points allowed per game, 24th in yards allowed per game, 26th in net yards allowed per pass attempt and 21st in opposing passer rating. San Francisco is now either first or second in each of those categories.

The Nick Bosa-led unit is also tops in the NFL in sacks per dropback, while blitzing on 14.8% of dropbacks — second-lowest rate in the league. It is cliché, but defense wins championships and the 49ers have the best unit in the division.

Green Bay Packers to win NFC North

  • Current odds: -175, Implied Probability: 63.6%
  • Packers win division 74.8% of the time

This season, Aaron Rodgers has completed 65.4% of his passes for 2,324 yards and 16 touchdowns, while throwing only two interceptions and sporting a 106.7 passer rating. This is standard stuff for the former MVP.

But Rodgers doesn’t have to do it all by himself this season. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have helped the team average 4.0 rushing yards per attempt, and the defense that ranked 29th in DVOA in 2019 has improved to 13th.

A healthy Rodgers, a strong run game and a solid defense would be enough to justify this bet, but Green Bay has also banked wins against the Vikings, Bears and Lions.

The Packers will be difficult to catch in the NFC North. According to our model, the Cheeseheads’ odds should be closer to -240 instead of -175 to win the division.

Indianapolis Colts to win AFC South

  • Current odds: +130, Implied Probability: 43.5%
  • Colts win division 48.3% of the time

Indy has won three games in a row and is in first place in the AFC South. This may surprise casual fans that expected the team to fall apart without Andrew Luck, but this is no fluke.

Even without Luck, the offense has been efficient. The Colts rank ninth in offensive DVOA and Jacoby Brissett has been impressive. The backup turned starter is completing 64.5% of his passes for 14 touchdowns against just three interceptions.

Brissett is proving that the Colts don’t need Luck to be successful. Bettors can still find value on Indy to win the division at +130 odds.

According to our model, Brissett & Co. are the most likely team to win the AFC South with a 48.3% chance.

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