Betting on weekly NFL games is always fun, but there can sometimes be even more value betting on futures depending on the odds available. We have access to the latest odds from a variety of sports betting and I’ve scoured the futures markets to find the ones I like and I’ve put some up for the coming weeks as I plan to make this a weekly in the future To make column. Below are two futures bets that I make before week 8 starts.
Cardinals under 13.5 win
I get it; Betting against the hottest team in the NFL isn’t necessarily the funnest proposition. However, I see value in this number for the Cardinals due to a relatively demanding remaining schedule. Arizona has four division games left, all of which should be considered lost, provided Russell Wilson is back in time for the teams’ matchup in Week 11. The Cardinals also face the Packers, Cowboys and Colts, three likely playoff teams, as well as a deviously difficult street match against the Bears. The second half of their schedule certainly looks more challenging than the first and they now have to go into the game without JJ Watt, who has undergone shoulder surgery and will miss the rest of the season.
The advanced analyzes also show that the cardinals may fall due for regression sooner rather than later. Steven Ruiz wrote an excellent article about this for The Ringer, and I’ll point out some of my key takeaways. One of the most telling signs of a possible regression is third-down success, and the Cardinals were too reliant on third-downs on offense, having achieved Arizona’s 24th first-down success rate of first-down in the offensive DVOA 18% is on par with the Dolphins, Steelers, and Jets, three of the worst offenses in the NFL, and only the Texans have a lower rate. Additionally, Football Outsiders reveals that the Cardinals have found 11 of their 12 own fumbles this year. This luck is unlikely to last as a typical team’s recovery rate is around 50%.
In defense, the Cardinals also keep their opponents in third place with a rate of 28.8%, the lowest rate in the NFL. By comparison, their defense had a third-place rate of 39.6% last season, and the Bills and Saints, the other two defenses that allow less than 17 points per game, are both over 33% on third-place. Vance Joseph deserves a lot of credit for putting Cardinals’ opponents into difficult third down situations with aggressive play calls on first and second down. However, his defense will face some quarterbacks who can take advantage of their untested secondary and have some glaring weaknesses. Arizona forces the same number of turnovers (14%) as punts (14%) on defensive drives, which certainly won’t go on.
The Cardinals have Kyler Murray, an early MVP front runner, and tons of offensive talent led by DeAndre Hopkins. Kliff Kingsbury appears to have turned around and the Cardinals are a serious threat to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. However, the advanced metrics suggest this is a team heading backwards and that is before you consider Kyler Murray’s potential to hurt himself from the number of scary hits he takes in each game. I bet the Cardinals will struggle in the second half compared to the first half and end the year with 12 or 13 wins.
The Patriots may sit at just 3-4 with wins over the Jets and Texans their only wins of the season, but they’re a couple of jumps from the statement wins over the Buccaneers and Cowboys as well as a win over the Dolphins. Of course, the NFL doesn’t work that way, and moral wins don’t matter when it comes to the playoffs. However, New England is developing its post-Tom Brady identity and it’s seemingly getting better every week. Mac Jones is improving every week as a passer and is incredibly confident as he ranks fourth in the NFL with a completion rate of 70.4% and ninth with 1,779 passing yards. We can only hope that as Jones continues to prove himself, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels will see that he deserves their trust to push the ball and take chances late in these games.
If you’re more into advanced analytics, Jones ranks 16th in the NFL in the EPA and 14th in the EPA. Jones also made 19 straight passes in the Buccaneers game a few weeks ago, the longest streak a rookie has had in 40 years, and Tom Brady’s longest streak of his career. He did that against one of the NFL’s best pass rushes with an injured offensive line. It’s even more impressive that Jones did this with Jakobi Meyers as his lead pass catcher, and while that won’t change anytime soon, despite the lack of talent, the offensive is very productive.
New England’s offensive line has underperformed compared to expectations this season. After finishing third in adjusted line yards last season, the Football Outsiders run-blocking metric, New England ranks 22nd this year. Isaiah Wynn and Michael Onwenwu had bouts of COVID-19 earlier this year. In contrast, Shaq Mason has sustained an abdominal injury and Trent Brown is on hold with a calf injury sustained in the Dolphins opener of the season. The offensive line should gel more in the second half of the year with the luckier at the Ministry of Health and help the over-talented Damien Harris to be a significant part of the team’s success.
This Patriots team has been disciplined with just six penalties per game, the ninth fewest in the NFL, but it has five fumbles, the third most in the NFL. New England has an even sales gap that should improve later in the season. As Mac Jones continues to gain confidence and the coaches let him take over games more often, I expect the setbacks to be in the direction of the Patriots. New England still have to play the Bills twice, the Chargers, Titans, Colts and Browns, but I think 9-8 could get a playoff spot in the AFC East and they still have very winnable games against the Panthers, Falcons , Jaguars, and dolphins. Throw in a few surprises along the way and you have what it takes to be a playoff squad that can bet three times your money.