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Teams with simple fixtures for the preseason

Yesterday we talked about teams that have a tough schedule at the start of the season. The thought process was, “These teams are off to a difficult start. So if you want to bet on their futures markets, hold back and do it in season.”

That kind of sucks!

It’s july We have the NBA Finals and the Open Championship, but the sports calendar is drier than usual. We need action! Stop telling us what not to bet, you fool.


Today we’re going to go over some teams whose schedules are simpler than the others at the start of the season. In these cases, it is likely that we in these teams will now get the best numbers in the futures markets. So if you have a general interest in the teams, this is the time to start making some cash.

Granted, I don’t want to bet on all of these teams. So there will still be a healthy dose of forward-looking analysis here. But if you want to bet on any of these teams, your best time slot is before week 1.

So which teams could start with a bang? Let’s look at that and analyze what that means for their futures markets.

Baltimore Ravens

Of the teams we’ll talk about, the Baltimore Ravens are certainly the ones whose futures markets excite me the most. I predicted her at 10.0 wins, which is less than her 11 wins at FanDuel Sportsbook, but enough to get her to the top of the AFC North.

If you’re looking to bet on winning the division – or getting bigger – now is a good time to pull the trigger.

The Ravens must face the Kansas City Chiefs in week 2 which is a disappointment. But outside of that, they get the Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, and Detroit Lions all within the first seven games. Two of their tougher matchups – with the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles chargers – are in Baltimore. Her predicted win percentage before her bye (61.9%) is a healthy amount higher than her 56.4% mark after her bye.

As of now, the Ravens are +115 to win the division. That’s pretty short since I have the Cleveland Browns forecast only 0.6 fewer wins. But they’re +650 to win the AFC and +1400 to win the Super Bowl. They are third in my power rankings in the AFC (behind the Chiefs and Buffalo Bills) and fifth overall. If the Ravens take care of business during this opening period, they will be gone by the end of October, and they could become Frontier favorites if they find a way to take out the Chiefs.

NumberFire’s power rankings – which, to be clear, differ from my total profit projections and power rankings – let the Ravens win the Super Bowl 7.9% of the time, which is higher than their implied odds of 6, 7%. Given the way their other numbers break down, I think this is the optimal way to bet on the Ravens if you want to get ahead of their early season schedule.

Los Angeles Rams

For the Los Angeles Rams, I’ll stretch the definition of “early season”. Your easy stretch comes in weeks 6 to 8, which isn’t exactly to start with. But it’s worth discussing here.

My profit forecasts currently show that the Rams have at least a 60% chance of winning five games. Four of these hit the first eight weeks, and three of them are in the three week stretch mentioned above. By week 8, we’ll likely think Sean McVay is a genius again for giving birth to Matthew Stafford.

From then on it gets tough. Your projected profit share from week 9 on dips to 52.6% from 63.5% before. Get the Green Bay Packers without Aaron Rodgers in week 12 a lot of it would change, but there is a big gap in difficulty between the two halves.

What makes the futures market difficult is that their overall schedule is tough. Despite being seventh on my power rankings and number one among the NFC West teams, they are ninth in forecast wins, trailing the San Francisco 49ers in this department. So I’m not that interested in betting on their future.

Instead, the takeaway could be spying on the Seattle Seahawks‘Chances of division. Three of their four easiest games run up against the last five, and they also go on a date with the Rams. If the Rams get off to a hot start, their division chances will decrease and the Seahawks will likely get longer. I predicted exactly 9.8 wins for both teams, so I have to disappoint again and say, “Bet on this bet see you later.”

Pittsburgh Steelers

Do you remember the Pittsburgh Steelers crash last year? You could do that again in 2021, whether Ben Roethlisberger‘s game rejects or not.

In their first nine games, I’ve got the Steelers five times more than 60% chances of winning. They have never reached this mark in their last eight games and are expected to be at least slight underdogs in all but two. This includes appointments with the Chiefs and Ravens in the past three weeks.

To top it off, my numbers aren’t that great about the Steelers to begin with. They are forecast to win 8.5, exactly in line with their FanDuel winnings. That keeps me from betting +440 to win the division, even if the schedule is easy to open up.

So, again, this is a “don’t bet now” scenario. If you don’t already hate me for dragging you in on false pretenses, you should! I accept and applaud your anger.

The big ripple effect of this – combined with our discussion of the Ravens – concerns Brown’s futures. You have some easy games against the Houston Texans in weeks 2 and 3 and Chicago Bears. That could tempt you to bet on them now, if they are what you want.

However, there’s a good chance the best number we get from them will come before week 7 when they go up against the Denver Broncos. So I’d skip this for now, watch the Browns play for the first six weeks, and see if at that point you can warrant some futures on Baker’s pals.

Carolina Panthers

As you can probably see, I’m not going to start hitting the table begging you to bet the Carolina Panthers to win the NFC South. Unfortunately, this is once again a forward-looking note. But it’s a big one.

The planners clearly want Sam Darnold‘s tenure with his new team to get off to a good start. The Panthers play the Texans, New York Jets, and Philadelphia Eagles all within the first five weeks. These are all teams in the top five of my power rankings, so Darnold will see Engel in the form of blown coverages and open receivers.

The ghosts are coming back last month. This is where the Panthers meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice and the Bills and New Orleans Saints once per piece. Three of these four games are on the way to make things even more enjoyable.

I predicted the Panthers would have a record 6.5-6.5 after their first 13 games. That’s probably enough to make them fight for a place with wild cards. But with the way this schedule rounds off, actually pushing that limit is a huge task.

This is, for the most part, a note to keep in mind, possibly as early as week 6. When the Panthers start increasing the odds – be it to win the division or reach the playoffs – it is probably time to fade them out and look elsewhere for value. Darnold’s situation here is much better than in New York, but with the schedule getting tighter, it’s very likely that the good preseason won’t last.

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