NFL Futures Picks, Predictions: Stuckey’s 5 Favorite Bets, Including Super Bowl, Division Futures, More
Cooper Neill/Getty Images. Pictured: Lamar Jackson.
If you missed it a few weeks ago, I gave out my favorite NFL season win totals. I have since added Arizona Under 8.5, which should be the fifth and final one of the 2022-23 NFL season.
Below, you will find my five other season-long wager, including my lone Super Bowl future. I also took shots on three teams to win their division and another to make the playoffs.
Ravens To Win the Super Bowl (+2000, BetMGM)
I grabbed the Ravens at 30-1 before the draft and again recently at 22-1. Both numbers are way too high compared to my projected true odds.
Remember, going into last season, Baltimore was considered one of the primary AFC contenders (13-1 Super Bowl odds) along with the Bills and Chiefs. The Ravens missed the playoffs after having the worst injury luck of any team this century from an Adjusted Games Lost standpoint. In a Week 16 loss to the Bengals, the Ravens lost their only remaining starting defensive back from Week 1 to injury in a game that saw them start their third-string quarterback.
I also loved what Baltimore did in the offseason. I had them with one of the three best drafts in the league, which isn’t surprising for such a well-run organization.
Bringing in Mike Macdonald as new defensive coordinator is a very underrated move. Wink Martindale did some good things while in the Charm City, but his relentless blitzing scheme simply didn’t work against elite AFC quarterbacks — Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, etc. — who the Ravens will have to beat to make it out of the AFC.
The Ravens also have some intangibles working in their favor. Their schedule gets significantly easier after finishing in last place in 2021. Baltimore also comes in much more under the radar than in previous seasons, which could prove beneficial over the course of a season.
Meanwhile, the AFC North got weaker overall. Mitchell Trubisky will be under center for the Steelers and Jacoby Brissett for the Browns for the first 11 games. Baltimore will host the Deshaun Watson-less Browns in Week 7 and then presumably face Watson on the road in Week 15.
In a buy-low and sell-high league, I think this serves as a prime opportunity to buy the dip on the Ravens after a disappointing season, mainly due to factors outside of their control. Baltimore should make the playoffs and be in the mix. That’s all you really need in the NFL.
Plus, if the AFC West does indeed cannibalize itself, that increases the odds of Baltimore securing the No. 1 overall seed in the conference. It also gets to host the Bills, one of the primary contenders for that lone ever-important lone bye, this season.
Saints To Win NFC South (+325, BetRivers)
I believe the Saints have higher than normal variance this season due to uncertainty surrounding a possible Alvin Kamara suspension (which looks unlikely), Michael Thomas’ return from injury and the performance of Jameis Winston — really, the offense as a whole — without Sean Payton.
Regardless, I’m buying New Orleans’ upside.
I decided to go the division route since I show Tampa Bay as a tad bit overvalued. Tom Brady has amazingly won his division in 18 of the 20 seasons that he finished as a starter, though one of those was in 2020 with Tampa Bay.
The Bucs have potential issues, starting with the interior offensive line following a plethora of key departures and injuries. The Saints defense can apply the interior pressure with tight man coverage to slow down Brady, who missed time during camp.
The Bucs’ early schedule also doesn’t do them any favors. They start out on the road against the Cowboys and Saints before coming home to face the Packers and Chiefs.
And while I’m not personally considering it since I’ve concluded Brady — now 45 (!) — is an alien, there’s at least a non-zero chance he endures a slight decline. The same goes for an injury, which would almost certainly be lights out for Tampa Bay.
Meanwhile, New Orleans at least now has a competent veteran backup quarterback in Andy Dalton a year after suffering through Trevor Siemian and Ian Book. The Saints lost all five of their starts, while going 9-3 in the others.
The Saints were 9-3 when Trevor Siemian and Ian Book didn’t start at QB last season. With a potential top-five defense and an offense with upside after upgrading at receiver, New Orleans could reach double-digit wins. Factor in those question marks surrounding Tampa Bay, and there’s too much value to pass up.
Chargers To Win AFC West (+250, BetMGM)
I loved what the Chargers did in the offseason to bolster its defense and interior offensive line. You could argue this is the most complete roster in the NFL with really only one major question at right tackle. I have them ranked similarly to the Chiefs, who have a more difficult schedule.
I simply don’t think there should be this wide of a price discrepancy between the two clubs in the division market. Plus, the Raiders are a prime candidate for negative regression and I think the Broncos are slightly overrated after bringing in Russell Wilson.
Jaguars To Win AFC South (+800, BetMGM)
Staying in the AFC, the Jaguars play in one of the weaker divisions in the league. They should also benefit from offseason coaching changes.
After the failed Urban Meyer experiment, bringing in Doug Pederson should serve as a massive upgrade. Additionally, new defensive coordinator Doug Caldwell, who worked under Todd Bowles, should schematically improve an underwhelming defensive depth chart.
If Trevor Lawrence takes a massive step forward in his second season, the Jaguars have decent upside in a wide-open division, especially since I’m significantly lower than the market on the Titans. I much prefer the better division odds over playoff odds (or win total) since I want to buy the upside and it’s tough to see two teams making the postseason from their division in an absolutely loaded AFC.
Vikings To Make Playoffs (-110, FanDuel)
Lastly, in the very top-heavy NFC, I think the Vikings have value to make the playoffs. Replacing Mike Zimmer with Kevin O’Connell should breathe new life into this offense and overall decision making. The skill position talent is all there for this to be a top-5 offense with more efficient play calling, especially on early downs.
I also think the defensive scheme shift will better fit the personnel. The pass rush also has a chance to shine if Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter can stay healthy. Having the league’s fifth-easiest schedule per my power ratings also doesn’t hurt.