Do you hear that? We are knocking on the door of the return of the NFL with the preseason officially kicking off on August 5th with the regular season kicking off on Friday, September 9th with a blockbuster between the reigning Super Bowl champions in the L.A Rams hosting a Buffalo Bills outfit looking for redemption following their Division Playoff overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Over the past week or so, I have been compiling last season’s stats, studying the gains and losses of each team, and of course, assessing the schedules of all the NFL teams for the upcoming season, and hopefully, have found some winning Futures bets for us to kick the season off with.
*All prices displayed at via TAB as of 30/07/2022
Los Angeles Chargers – AFC West Winners
This is a team that missed out on the playoffs by just one win following a mixed season. Losses to the Chiefs in Week 2 in overtime, an upset loss to the Panthers in week 3 shortly followed by an overtime loss to the Saints in week 5, and narrow losses to the Broncos (Week 8) and Raiders (Week 9). Unfortunately, their season is remembered by their embarrassing week 13 loss to the Patriots 45-0 and by finishing the season with four straight wins. With an offence that is very similar to last season, the Chargers will be looking to ease the workload of running-back Austin Eckler with the drafting of fourth-round pick Isaiah Spiller, and help with their run protection issues with the first-round pick-up of guard Zion Johnson. Despite these additions to the offence, I still expect the Chargers to be pass-heavy throughout the year. Defensively, the Chargers already look good in the secondary with Asante Samuel Jr entering his second year and the signing of J.C Jackson from the Patriots ensures they are ready for division rivals Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, and Derek Carr. The signing of Khalil Mack to team with Joey Bosa is another formidable combination for their Chargers defence and they are likely to cause plenty of havoc for opposition quarterbacks. Last year the Chargers were ranked 30th in rushing yards against, averaging nearly 140 rushing yards a game and a league-worst with the Pittsburgh Steelers 144 rushing first downs. They haven’t fixed this area majorly, but it seems to be the biggest chink in their armour. Schedule-wise, this is where the Chargers have a good chance to make a dint. They faced the NFC West and AFC South this year with their tough games being back to back in Week 16 and 17 against the Colts (Away) and Rams (Home). If they split the divisional games, I still have them winning at least nine games early on with tough match-ups in the second half of the season. They lost six games by seven points or less last year, and half of those were by three points or less. That’s six losses out of their total of eight, and if they can flip them around this season, they are easily playoff bound and divisional winners.
Back the Los Angeles Chargers to win the AFC West | 0.8u @ $3.25
Philadelphia Eagles – NFC East Winner
The Philadelphia Eagles would have walked away from last year thinking they were just ‘okay’ after a 9-8 season that ended in a Wild Card loss to the Buccaneers. They split their divisional games as well, which is one thing they will be looking to rectify this year. On the offensive side of the ball, the Eagles led the league in Rushing yards with 2715, which is an average of almost 160 yards per game, led the league in rushing touchdowns with 25, and led the league in first downs with 163. They will be looking to mimic 2021 on the rushing side of the ball but now they have a receiving weapon in A.J Brown, who was signed following a trade for their number one pick. He will join last year’s number one receiver in DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, and tight-end Dallas Goedart. With one of the league’s best offensive lines and their dominance on the ground last year, expect their passing game to open up a bit more this season, which is another major arsenal in this Eagles attack. Defensively in 2021, the Eagles were just fair but ranked among the worst in conceding passing TDs, and interceptions and they were ranked second last in the league in sacks behind the Atlanta Falcons. They have added two notable players to their defensive unit, tackling machine Kyzir White from the Chargers, who is coming off a career-best season, and of course Haason Reddick from the Carolina Panthers, who will dramatically improve their pass rush. These two won’t solve all their defensive problems, but should the unit remain healthy, they are a definite improvement from 2021. The Eagles face the AFC South and NFC North in the schedule this season, which could give them at least four wins from those eight games with tough ones against the Titans, Colts, Vikings, and Packers. They also get to face the Steelers at home and Texans away which are also two very winnable games meanwhile they have two tough games against the Cardinals and Saints. All things going well, if they can win half their divisional games again in 2022, they will get around 9 wins. But I have them going around 11 wins, and securing the division. I will be very surprised if the Eagles aren’t playoff bound again in 2022, and definitely worth the risk to usurp the Cowboys are the kings of the East.
Back the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East | 1u @ $2.75
Baltimore Ravens – Over 10.5 Wins
Coming off their worst season in some time despite winning eight games, the Baltimore Ravens will be looking to turn around the misfortune of 2021. There was no doubting their rushing ability, finishing second in rushing first downs and in the top 5 for rushing yards, but it was their passing game under the microscope (as usual) statistically, they were around mid-field for most areas but really struggled to defend the quarterback, allowing 57 sacks (31st) and they threw a massive 18 interceptions. Despite losing Hollywood Brown to the Cardinals, the Ravens showed intent in the offseason to bolster their offensive line by signing Morgan Moses and drafting center Tyler Linderbaum in the first round of the draft. Injuries plagued their defence in 2021 which saw the team concede a league-high 4986 passing yards at almost 294 yards a game, concede 31 touchdowns, and only 9 interceptions. On the flip side, they were the league’s best in conceding just 81 rushing first downs. They needed to invest in the secondary for 2022 as they face some formidable passing quarterbacks in their schedule, and they did so by signing safety Marcus Williams and drafting safety Kyle Hamilton with their first pick of the draft. With plenty of safeties and the returns of Marcus Peters (who sat out 2021 with a knee injury) and Marlon Humphrey, their defence will look to return to the previous season’s standards, despite their lack of depth at cornerback. They get to play the NFC South which should see them get victories against at least two of the four teams and the AFC East, which is as tough as ever in 2022. Hypothetically, three wins from those eight games could be banked and I expect them to win at least three of their divisional games with the possibility of more. That gives us a minimum of six wins from fourteen games with the remaining three games being away games to the Giants and Jaguars whilst hosting the Broncos, all three are very winnable games. With 10.5 the aim, if they can win two or three of those 50/50 games, that still gives them around 12 wins with 5 losses. They could easily hit this mark and if you ignore last year (which was injury ravaged), the Ravens won 14 in 2020, so 10.5 wins should be no issues at all.
Back the Baltimore Ravens to win over 10.5 wins | 1u @ $2.00
For reference for the 2022/2023 season, below are my picks for Division winners with prices and possible/predicted wild cards.
AFC East: Buffalo Bills ($1.55)
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens ($2.50)
AFC South: Indianapolis Colts ($1.95)
AFC West: Los Angeles Chargers ($3.25)
Possible Wildcards: Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs
Predicted Wildcards: Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs
NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles ($2.75)
NFC North: Green Bay Packers ($1.55)
NFC South: Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($1.35)
NFC West: Los Angeles Rams ($2.25)
Possible Wildcards: Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals
Predicted Wildcards: Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys
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