Givin Futures: Before Week 1

Courtland Sutton #14 of the Denver Broncos celebrates with Teddy Bridgewater #5 and Tim Patrick #81 after a second quarter touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams at Empower Field at Mile High on August 28, 2021 in Denver, Colorado.
Image Credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Each week, BetPrep Sharp and NBC Sports Betting Analyst Brad Feinberg discusses expected win totals, division odds, Super Bowl favorites, and potential award winners with host and BetPrep Editor Michael Salfino of The Athletic and FiveThirtyEight. It’s the official futures podcast of BetPrep, a free sports betting research site that empowers bettors with the same tools both the sharps and the sportsbooks use.

Here are some highlights from the latest episode of the Givin’ Futures Podcast.

On this week’s Givin Futures, we’re going to get some updates on team futures on the eve of Kickoff 2021, given summer-long developments.

Brad first on your list is the Washington Football Team, who you like plus-250 to win the division and over 8.5 wins.

Brad: It’s not going to do anyone any good talking about numbers that I got months ago, when Washington was 4-to-1. But they’re still at plus-250. I still like that. I believe they’re the most likely winner in this division, The Giants look bad and the Eagles are not going to be good enough. Dak Prescott’s health is still a question mark. These odds are basically saying every team has an equal chance, as that would be 3-to-1. They’re an explosive team. I don’t know why Washington isn’t the favorite and division. I think I have a really solid defense. Good running game. Good coach. Decent receiving corps. I think they really improved the quarterback play with Ryan Fitzpatrick. I do believe they’re most likely to win the division and you want to give me plus-250? I’m going to take my chances.

Now what if I told you that Dak Prescott was going to play all 17 games? Would that move you off of Washington?

Brad: That’s obviously a good question. Even with Dak “back,” I still would pick Washington. Obviously, it’d be a lot harder. I always say I’m betting numbers, not teams. If Dallas was plus-250 in Washington was minus-130. I’d be sitting here telling you I like Dallas.

Next is the Titans minus-110 to win the AFC South.

Brad: If you go back to one of our earlier podcasts when I first gave out over unders, they were one — under 9.0. But the more I look at them. I do think they have a chance to be special. They went and got Julio Jones, who was still great last year when he played.  The Texans are out. Jacksonville? You want to make a pizza bet on them at 12-to-1, fine. But I don’t like what I’m seeing so far. Now it’s just Tennessee and the Colts and do we even know that Carson Wentz is good? So this basically comes down to: Who do I like more, Indy or Tennessee. I’m under 9.5 on Indy now because their lines have flipped in the early season to being the underdog in their first five games and the total hasn’t moved accordingly. The Colts are actually favored only eight times all year. So how is 9.5 the number?

Tampa Bay minus-200 to win the division is next as well as something you like more than a pizza bet and that’s the Panthers at 12-to-1 to win the division.

Brad: I’m very comfortable that Atlanta is not going to win it. And I don’t like New Orleans at all. The Bucs should be priced at minus-400. The second most likely winner in this division really is Carolina. I saw a stat: The Saints had Drew Brees throw 23 picks the past four years and Jameis Winston had 30 in his last full season.

I love that. What about the argument that, “Oh Jamison has been watching Drew Brees for a year so now no more interceptions.”

Brad: Yeah, I’ve been watching Brad Pitt on the movie screen. I still don’t look like him. And we have the same first name on top of it. That’s just ridiculous. Carolina has more than a 1 out of 13 chance to win the division. I like the coach. I could see how things could break right with Sam Darnold. So let’s say you’re betting one unit on Tampa Bay to win the division; maybe I’d put a third of a unit on Carolina so that way either way, you win. That’s how I would play it.

Saints under 9.0 you’ve basically covered.

Brad: I have a ton of bets against this team. I have this team minus-125 not to make the playoffs. Under 9.5 wins initially and still betting under 9. Alvin Kamara is a special player. But who else is there on this offense with Michael Thomas out? And their schedule: Green Bay on a neutral field, at Carolina, at New England, Giants at home (maybe, pending the availability of their stadium), at Washington, at Seattle. They can start really bad and then have the wheels fall off. This team’s also in salary cap hell. I don’t think the defense is going to be nearly as strong as it was last year. I like them not to make the playoffs at minus-125. And I also bet New Orleans getting 7-to-1 odds to come in last place in the division.

Miami under 9.5 wins. Miami is kind of like the analytics darling, because of the trades that they’ve made. But what actual draft picks or free agent signings have worked out? They were near the bottom last year in play success differential. They weren’t really as good as the record in 2020.

Brad: It’s much easier being the hunter and the hunted. And when teams are always coming after you it’s just harder. Coach Flores has done a really good job of obviously changing the culture of the team. Tua Tagovailoa is not the athlete he was in college after these injuries, not that he was even a great athlete in college. I can’t get to 9.5 wins. The AFC East is an improved division. This is going to be a harder row to hoe for them than it was last year. I’m going to dare this team to win double digits.

Denver over 8.5 wins. The Broncos are sort of like the AFC’s Washington Football Team. 

Brad: That’s why you’re pretty, pretty good, Michael. That’s actually a pretty pretty good comp. I have a conviction in this Denver team. I actually think they’re going to win double digits. I like this team to make the playoffs; you can get around plus-160. This team defensively has a chance to be really really good. They are loaded with receivers and running backs and a great receiving tight end even in Noah Fant. Teddy Bridgewater is fine. You don’t have to be great at QB to win. He and Fitzpatrick are the same kind of guy. If you have a serviceable quarterback, a placeholder like a Bridgewater, it’s fine. I bit the bullet after waiting for 8.5 wins to drop back down to 7.5 after the news that Aaron Rodgers was not coming. It never moved. I still think even 8.5 merited the over. And by the way, if you want to take a shot on them at 6.5-to-1 to win the division, that’s fine, too.

Before we sign off, talk briefly about Coach of the Year because maybe that’s a way to sort of leverage some of your recommendations for a bigger payoff. Ron Rivera vs. betting Washington. Matt Rhule instead of betting the Panthers, or even in addition to betting them. 

Brad: I like it. You can eliminate about half the field. You have to win at least three more than expected, probably. If you’re looking to take a chance on a long shot, Rhule or Vic Fangio/the Broncos are the way to go. And I actually think Denver makes the playoffs so Fangio as Coach of the Year seems well priced. (Note: Fangio is plus-2500, the 13th best odds to win the award. Rhule is plus-2200.)