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Our NFL futures page is designed to direct you to the best bets and odds available across all the major sportsbooks. If it's unclear as to what a futures bet is, don't worry. All futures means is you're betting on an outcome that won't pay off until a while in the future.
This guide serves to help you understand what futures are, how to read the odds, and to clearly distinguish between the various types of futures wagers we have available for you on this hub.
All futures odds are in relation to bets of $100. If it helps to think of it in slightly smaller terms in the event your sports betting bankroll isn't that high, you can also do the math with hypothetical $10 bets.
Let's walk through an example. Entering Week 7 of the 2020 NFL season, the Arizona Cardinals had +1800 odds to win the NFC, with a 4-2 record to that point. If you were to bet $100 on the Cardinals and they won the conference, you'd win $1800; if you wagered $10, it'd be a $180 payout.
Apply this math to every odds listing, and you'll have no problem figuring out what the potential payout will be on the team you want to wager on. What's more, at abe and any other sports betting site, you'll have the payout calculated for you.
As opposed to betting on basic lines such as a point spread, moneyline, or Over/Under or Total, NFL futures have much more delayed gratification and require bettors to have a far longer-ranging view of the season. This is part of the beauty — and, perhaps, frustration — that comes with these types of bets in general.
In almost any other sport or major league, it's more clear-cut as to who the contenders and pretenders are. The NFL's week-to-week parity and depth of quality teams make it especially difficult. The odds to win are long because, well, the NFL season is a lengthy grind not for the faint of heart.
Any given game is far easier to predict than which team will win the Super Bowl — or even a division. When it's a one-game line, you have a series of bets. You even have the aid of a point spread to increase your margin for error. Futures don't require any sort of points differential or even so-called style points. It's all about who gets it done, and who's left standing in the end.
The challenge is undeniable, but in the NFL, future forecasting can be a lucrative business for the keenest bettors. Continue reading as we break down the biggest types of NFL futures bets you'll see.
When it comes to futures, NFL bettors are most commonly going to bet on which team will win the Super Bowl. Whether it's the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady or the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, you can wager on a team to hoist the Lombardi Trophy throughout most of the NFL season. The upcoming playoffs will ultimately end with Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay.
The only time you can't bet on a team's NFL future championship line is when they're eliminated from Super Bowl contention. This means they're out of the playoff picture and won't qualify for the postseason, thus rendering it illogical to list them as a contender.
All this makes sense because when there are 32 teams in the NFL and all of them need to be assigned Super Bowl odds, even the prohibitive favorites will have betting lines that are extremely high odds. Entering Week 7 of the 2020 campaign, the Chiefs were listed at +400 odds to win it all. Those are still pretty high odds and would earn you a $400 gross payout off a $100 Kansas City bet ($300 profit).
Sportsbooks frequently feature NFL futures bets on the Super Bowl as a central pillar of the site before the season kicks off. Super Bowl odds are posted prior to the start of the regular season, so the earlier you jump on just about any team, the longer your odds tend to be, and that increases your profit ceiling. Unless a team makes a midseason rally after a slow start or wins the championship as a Wild Card team, most futures betting odds will reward you for betting on a winner earlier rather than later.
Odds fluctuate throughout the season, and the opening lines are a great spot to land a bargain deal. Injuries to key players can often tank a season for any sports franchise, and that applies to the NFL so much due to the physical nature of the game. Thus, bettors who take the plunge early must be mindful of that. Generally, the deeper teams who aren't quite as reliant on star players are safer bets.
Circling back to Kansas City for a second: you might've been able to get the Chiefs at +600 or even higher prior to Week 1. Not the case anymore, because as of Week 7, they managed to stay healthy, live up to high expectations, and remained among the NFL's elite teams. If the Chiefs remain on that track, their odds to win it all are only going to shrink.
It's almost as tough to pick a conference winner as it is to predict who will win the Super Bowl, but the task is at least slightly less daunting. One important fact that you must know before jumping into conference championship futures: there can be confusion as to whether this means the regular-season winner — aka the No. 1 playoff seed — or whether it's the eventual Super Bowl participant.
A futures wager of this variety is indeed for which team will win the AFC Championship Game or the NFC Championship Game. The regular-season AFC championship and NFC championship is completely separate from this, so if the team you bet on ends up earning the top playoff seed and a first-round bye, don't count on a payout right away. They still have to win two more postseason contests to validate your winning betting ticket.
In 2019, the Baltimore Ravens wound up with the No. 1 seed. Unfortunately for them, they came out flat off the bye and lost in the Divisional Round to the Tennessee Titans, who proceeded to fall to Kansas City in an epic AFC title clash. Baltimore bettors were probably feeling good about themselves after the Ravens posted a 14-2 record, but that's part of what makes sports, and the NFL in particular, so exciting when it's a one-and-done playoff scenario.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might not finish first in the NFC prior to the playoffs, but if they managed to make the postseason and earn their way to hosting a home Super Bowl for the first time in NFL history, well, the bettors who took the Bucs will be mighty pleased. It won't matter if the Bucs finished third, fourth, or got the NFC's seventh and final playoff berth. As long as they represent the NFC in Super Bowl LV, it's a betting win.
Unlike the last futures odds section, this particular type of bet doesn't pertain to the playoffs. You'll get paid out for a successful wager once all the action finishes off in Week 17. So, what to consider when making predictions for NFL division winners?
Organizational stability, coaching and quarterback play in some combination often determine who wins a division. Take the NFC North: superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers had continuity on the coaching staff, remained healthy, and in his prime, helped the Green Bay Packers to five division titles in six years. The coach-quarterback combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady helped New England win the AFC East in 16 of 17 seasons.
Now, with Brady going from the Patriots to the Bucs, it looks like the Buffalo Bills could finally supplant New England atop the AFC East. It often pays to wager on NFL futures favorites if you can get them at any sort of bargain. However, certain teams are such perpetual contenders or winners of their respective divisions that their odds aren't even worth betting on due to the lack of return on investment. Such was the case with the Patriots for many years.
With Mahomes under center in Kansas City and growing under coach Andy Reid, it'd be difficult to garner decent odds for the Chiefs to win the AFC West. They'll be something like -1000, so it's not worth throwing down any money. Again, QBs and coaches are so important, and it's vital for bettors to take into account those basic factors before betting.
Taking a flier on an NFL division winner just because the odds are good for a team with a new coach, an inexperienced or mediocre signal-caller and a bad organizational culture basically amounts to throwing money away. Any single one of those elements is a red flag for a potential bet.
Exhibit A of this phenomenon: Before the 2020 season, even in a weak NFC East division, you wouldn't expect Saquon Barkley to lift the New York Giants to a title. Running backs aren't near as valuable as QBs, and even though Daniel Jones has shown some promise in the Big Apple, New York was breaking in a new coach in Joe Judge with no offseason program due to COVID-19. Frankly, the Giants weren't fielding any top-flight talent on the roster other than Barkley, and once he got hurt early on, their outlook was particularly bleak.
Maybe the G-Men had appealing odds to win the NFC East prior to the year starting. Due to their roster construction, young quarterback, and first-time head coach, you can see why a bet on them would be a stretch in the first place. Just because sportsbooks list a team's futures doesn't mean you should bet on them.
Whichever type of NFL futures bet you a place among what we have available here — or whether you're wagering on player futures like, say, Mahomes or Brady to win NFL MVP, or Joe Burrow to win Offensive Rookie of the Year — the tactic of hedging is always recommended. If bettors are to heed any tips on NFL futures betting, this would probably be the top priority.
Hedging a bet means you're betting on a different outcome to guard against the potential that your initial bet doesn't hit. The benefits of this are harder to see when it comes to betting on a single game and is virtually nonexistent on binary Yes/No prop bets. This wouldn't work for team win totals, for instance. When it comes to the pure team or player futures, though, it's a no-brainer to hedge.
In our deeper, overall dive on futures betting, we discuss how you can view futures as building a daily fantasy lineup. That is, you'll probably want to pick a couple of heavier favorites, but the long shot a team is, the higher the potential payout is. You can find tons of value on the futures market for Super Bowl odds by unearthing dark-horse contenders. Take a couple of favorites, and hedge accordingly with long-shot teams you feel good about.
When it comes to Super Bowl odds or AFC/NFC championship futures, that's where you'll have the best luck with hedging. Seldom does it pay off so much when it comes to division winners? Only in the event of a hotly contested division like, say, the NFC West with the Seahawks, 49ers, Rams, and Cardinals would it be a more viable play.
For more guidance, tutorials, and betting tips about pro football, and much more, visit abe's "How to Bet" page, where we provide plenty of tools for beginning bettors and even experienced players who want to sharpen their skills. Do make use of our odds comparison engine on our main odds page as well, so that you don't miss out on maximizing your payouts on every bet.