2020 NFC Betting Preview
In this craziest of all seasons, there are so many unknows that it is almost impossible to predict. However, that goes for odds-makers as well as odds-takers. In this article we will be breaking down the NFC divisions to look for the value in each division winner betting market for 2020.
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Prices are correct as of 10th September at 3:30pm (BST)
Discounting the Giants and Washington is easy and obvious and the lack of ability in those two organisations will almost certainly give both the Eagles and Cowboys a four-game head start to make the play-offs.
For my mind there is very little between the Dallas Cowboys (5/6 with various) and the Philadelphia Eagles (6/4 with 888 and Unibet). As per usual, the Cowboys have been adding big names, such as Everson Griffen and Aldon Smith, and there is no question that the addition of CeeDee Lamb to be yet another weapon for Dak Prescott delivers a huge amount of excitement.
The question though is how much of a difference those upgrades, alongside the return of a healthy Leighton Vander Esch, make in comparison with the Philadelphia Eagles who won the NFC East in 2019.
It certainly does and I think most people would say that talent wise, they are the class of the NFC East, especially with the Eagles current offensive line woes. However, simple common sense suggests that the Eagles receivers can’t possibly drop balls at the rate they did in 2019.
If you ran a simulation of the NFC East 100 times, I reckon the Cowboys win about 50 and the Eagles win about 48. As a result, I’d much rather take the odds-against Eagles as opposed to the odds-on Cowboys.
Selection: Philadelphia Eagles
Any fading prospect of considering the Bears as an option in this market disappeared when they named Mitch Trubisky as starter again. Any trust you could have had about the Bears being a reliable, albeit not exciting offense disappeared in that moment.
Talking about offense, the Lions (11/2 with various) offense did look exciting last year before Matt Stafford went down injured. The addition of D’Andre Swift will only help that. However, they still only had a 3-4-1 record when Stafford went down last season and that makes them very hard to back this time around as you can’t rely on any kind of defensive turnaround.
Which leaves the favoured Vikings (17/10 with bet365 and SkyBet) and the Packers (15/8 with BetFred). For as good as the Vikings are, having them favoured seems highly sceptical. It is similar to a price issue as the AFC South where the Texans off-season mistakes are having a bigger effect on the price than they should.
Were the Packers wrong to not add any weapons for Aaron Rodgers? Of course, but they still went 13-3 and won a play-off game with the absolute no-names that he had! Plus, you now have an angry Rodgers who feels he is being pushed out. Aaron Rodgers with a fire lit up his backside could be something very special.
Selection: Green Bay Packers
It is impossible to start any discussion of the NFC South without starting in Tampa. Signing Tom Brady and later Rob Gronkowski will do that for a franchise. There is plenty to like at One Buc Place as well; they went 7-9 with a team that turned the ball over 41 times, the last team that did that went 0-16! If you have enough talent on both sides of the ball that you can turn the ball over by that amount and win seven games, then cutting those turnover numbers should have a major impact. Even if Tom Brady is distinctly average, that is one stat that will definitely improve by a significant amount.
That is why the Buccaneers (13/8 with BetFred) are so short. What that may not take into account is the glaring question mark of just how different Brady’s strengths are to the Arians’ system. Even if there is some meshing between the two, Brady still has to learn a new playbook and new terminology for the first time since he was 23. You may be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but ask any old dog, it takes a darn sight longer!
The Panthers (25/1 with bet365 and SkyBet) are worth a cursory look because, unlike the Miami Dolphins last year, they haven’t gutted the roster completely and do have some decent talent in the building. However, given Matt Rhule’s college history, he has had horribly bad first years before turning around both Temple and Baylor. As a result, the possibility of a complete collapse in year one makes them unbackable.
Matt Ryan and the Falcons (10/1 with 888) are interesting purely because they went 6-2 after the bye with an improving defense. However, predicting them to win the division would need them to get back to a Kyle Shanahan offense as opposed to a Dirk Koetter one.
Which leaves the New Orleans Saints (11/10 with 888), one of the best teams in the NFL and all in on 2020 as their salary cap magic must surely come to an end after this year thanks to COVID and the expected salary cap drop in 2021. Once again, they seemed to have been able to add pieces to their roster from last year and got better. They are actually just odds-on in most places and there is value even then, but if you can get evens or odd-against it is a terrific bet.
Selection: New Orleans Saints
Kyler Murray at the helm of the Kliff Kingsbury four wide offense will unquestionably make the Arizona Cardinals (17/11 with various) an exciting watch this season. However, to back them to top a division which contains the last two NFC Champions as well as Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, would require much higher odds than what is on offer.
Sean McVay’s shine has worn off in LA and trying to work out which version of the Rams (11/2 with Unibet) that we are going to get will not be easy to decipher. Can we rely on Cam Akers, Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson to replicate Todd Gurley circa 2018? Not at 11/2.
We know the narative now: Hot-shot young OC-turned-Head Coach takes inexperienced QB to the Super Bowl by creating an offense that looks unstoppable.
That could apply to both those 2018 Rams and the 2019 San Francisco 49ers (23/20 with 888). While there is no guarantee that history repeats itself, taking around evens on them winning a division with a consistent top-tier powerhouse up against them is rather off-putting.
That is why the Seattle Seahawks (23/10 with Betfair and Unibet) are the selection for the West. They have an elite QB over several years that you can count on. They only finished two games behind the 49ers as it was, allied with the addition of Jamal Adams gives the Seahawks a defensive chess piece to make them elite for the first time since peak Earl Thomas.
Simply put, all three other NFC West sides could end up finishing below .500 if things go wrong. There is no realistic world, outside of a serious Russell Wilson injury, where the Seahawks win less than 10-games.
Selection: Seattle Seahawks
NFL Betting Analyst