2020 NFL Futures: A Super Bowl Longshot, Playoff Pick & Division Winner Bet
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Allen
Stuckey outlines his three favorite NFL futures for the 2020 season below. (Odds as of Sept. 4 and via various legal sportsbooks.)
Broncos to Win Super Bowl (+5000 at DraftKings)
I’m not in love with any Super Bowl futures this year. Although, with so much uncertainty this season regarding COVID and the potential for more injuries after a shortened summer preparation season, I did see three longer shots worth investing in.
A seventh team in each conference will get into the playoffs under the new expanded format this season, which could really benefit a team that may struggle early before figuring it out midway through the season then peak late.
The teams that immediately jumped out to me in this regard were the Browns and Broncos — two teams that sit in divisions with elite teams, so that extra wild-card spot could really come in handy.
If Denver can just figure out its cornerback position — A.J. Bouye gets back to form and Bryce Callahan stays healthy and someone else steps up — this is a Super Bowl caliber defense that should improve regardless in Vic Fangio’s second year.
The upside lies with the offense.
The Broncos drafted a pair of dynamic receivers to help out Courtland Sutton. They also have a promising young tight end in Noah Fant, who should thrive in Pat Shurmur’s offense. I still have questions about Drew Lock, but if he can take that next step in Year 2 and develop into an above average quarterback, this team becomes very dangerous.
I have similar sentiments about the Browns.
The coaching upgrades were massive. They also addressed their glaring weakness at both tackle spots. The new scheme and presumably improved tackle spots should lead to more consistency and production from Baker Mayfield. It may take some time for all of these changes to take hold, though, which is why I think the better way to invest in the Browns is their late-season potential upside.
Now I did invest in Cleveland prior to some of the recent defensive injuries, so if I had to choose one of the two teams as of right now, it would be Denver at the juicier price.
Bills to Win AFC East (+125 at FanDuel)
I’m going with a team that hasn’t won its division since 1994, which also happens to be the last time it won a playoff game.
This is the year the Bills finally win the AFC East.
They have a lot of factors working in their favor given the unprecedented nature of this season. They have a great coaching staff and as much continuity with returning starters as any team in the league. They also added Stefon Diggs to give Josh Allen a bona-fide 1-2 punch at wide receiver. And the offensive line should continue to improve as the completely-rebuilt unit from last season all returns.
The Bills had a Super Bowl-caliber defense in 2019 in large part due to their secondary, which will be the strength once again. And some of the front seven additions could help it become better overall against a much tougher schedule this season.
I like the Bills to win the division so much almost by default, as I am way lower on the Patriots and Jets than the rest of the market. And while I do love what the Dolphins are building, they’re still a year away.
In a quarterback-driven league, Buffalo’s ceiling all hinges on Allen. He can’t lead the Bills to a Super Bowl (yet), but he’s certainly capable enough to lead them to a division title.
Lions to Make Playoffs (+245 at DraftKings)
The Lions flashed last season before Matthew Stafford was forced to miss their final eight games. Remember that they could have easily started 5-0 — including a win over Kansas City — if not for some horrid officiating and a few flukey bounces that didn’t go their way.
Well, now Stafford is back and has plenty of weapons on an offense that should put up points.
The defense needs to get better, but head coach Matt Patricia brought in some former Patriots who fit his scheme and could improve a locker room that was rumored to have all kinds of issues. No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah projects to be a solid lockdown corner in Patricia’s Cover 1-heavy scheme sooner than later.
The defensive play-calling does need to be creative, but this unit has potential to at least improve from 2019.
I really don’t hate any of the Lions’ futures. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to take a shot on them to win the Super Bowl and/or their division, I wouldn’t stop you.
The NFC North is wide open: Chicago still has major questions at quarterback. Minnesota lost star playmaker Stefon Diggs and must deal with plenty of turnover on defense. And Green Bay didn’t do much to address its primary weaknesses this offseason. It wouldn’t shock me to see any of these four teams win the division, so give me the one with the longest odds that could also sneak into a wild-card spot — especially with the new 14-team format.