The Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought the Lombardi Trophy back to the NFC for just the second time since 2014 when they defeated the Chiefs 31-9 to win Super Bowl LV.
Outside of the Buccaneers, the rest of the NFC looks far less daunting than the AFC, without too many legitimate Super Bowl threats other than the obvious favorites. Betting futures on such a top-heavy conference without much depth can be difficult, but there are still some potentially profitable wagers to place now before the market catches up.
Let’s dive into my best bets to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LVI – one favorite and one not-so-favorite – and don’t forget to check out part one of this series outlining my best bets for the AFC.
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Los Angeles Rams (+650)
The Rams’ defense in 2020 was the best in the entire NFL; it was surprisingly their offense and quarterback Jared Goff that held them back a bit.
The Los Angeles defense will mostly return its best playmakers—of course, a few, like safety John Johnson are no longer in the fold—but Jalen Ramsey, Aaron Donald, and company will look to build off an outstanding year in 2020, and I think they’ll do just that. The Rams were tops in the league in yards allowed per game, and were the only team to hold their opponents to an average of under 300 yards. They were also best in the league in yards per drive and points per drive allowed. This defense was, and still is, very good, and will go a long way in helping this team get back to the promised land.
Back to Goff; he threw just 20 touchdowns (19th among quarterbacks) to go along with 13 interceptions last season, third-most in the league. With the Rams defense in peak form right now, Sean McVay knew it was time to upgrade under center, so he went out and got his man: Matthew Stafford.
Stafford is at the nucleus of my reasons to love this bet. He’s an enormous upgrade over Goff, he’s just never had a quality-enough team around him to succeed. Until now. Stafford has thrown at least 20 touchdowns in every season he’s played more than ten games in, and he’ll have some interesting weapons at his disposal in Los Angeles.
Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are one of the best one-two punches in the league at the receiver position, and the Rams added and drafted a bunch of playmakers to help round out the group, like Tutu Atwell. They signed DeSean Jackson as well, who’s battled health issues over the last few seasons, but when healthy, will be a really nice fit with the Rams. The team lost Gerald Everett to division-rival Seattle, but Stafford has always relied far more on his receivers than his tight ends, and he’s still got a good one in Tyler Higbee to work with.
This defense, along with a proven veteran quarterback and top-tier head coach, is the perfect recipe to get the Rams back to the Super Bowl.
Dallas Cowboys (+1200)
The only thing holding me back from listing the Cowboys pick first was the “can’t get it done in the playoffs” stigma that’s been surrounding this team for two decades. The NFC East was terrible last year, and I think that’s causing a lot of people to overlook the Cowboys. But, don’t forget, the NFC East was as bad as it was because Dallas lost Dak Prescott for the year. It turned them from a pretty heavy favorite to win the division prior to the year, to a team that could barely find a way to win a single game.
Prescott will be back, and he’ll have his entire arsenal of weapons surrounding him with quite possibly the most talented receiving core in the league. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb helped the Cowboys average 32.6 points per game through their first five games – the five games Prescott started before his gruesome injury. And despite his struggles a year ago, I expect a better Ezekiel Elliott in 2021. He was facing a ton of loaded boxes from opposing defenses because the Cowboys couldn’t find any semblance of a passing game, and it really affected the way he ran the football.
What’s recently plagued Dallas has been their defense, or lack-there-of, and their front office knew it needed to be addressed in the offseason. The Cowboys spent seven of their 10 draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, including first-round linebacker Micah Parsons from Penn State. He should immediately slide in and make a huge difference with his freakishly athletic ability at the linebacker position. The team also added corner Kelvin Joseph out of Kentucky to take some pressure off Trevon Diggs.
The Cowboys offense is going to score points, but this bet really hinges on the defense. I expect it to be better in 2021, and thanks to a relatively soft division, I’m confident this team will be in the mix come playoff time.
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Mike Wagenman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @mjwags23.
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