NFL Futures Betting: 20 Of My Best Bets for the 2023 Season

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Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks makes a catch during the NFL football team's training camp Monday, July 31, 2023, in Oxnard, Calif.
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Aug 24, 2023, 4:39 PM
  • NFL futures betting encompasses hundreds of markets at BetMGM.
  • The Atlanta Falcons present several prime betting opportunities.
  • Be wary of betting on teams that are priced out, like the Eagles and 49ers.
  • The AFC playoff picture will remain tight in 2023; the NFC middle class is far less competitive.

The 2023 NFL season is fast approaching, which means another cycle of NFL odds analysis.

Before the sports calendar spits out Week 1 games, why not consider a few NFL futures tickets?

NFL Futures: Best Bets for 2023

I have spent most of the summer scouring the NFL futures markets, tracking the line movement, and researching the roster moves.

The result is a long tally of nearly two dozen futures bets that I have already placed at the time of this writing.

Some of them are simple win total bets, where I think the market is too high or low on an individual team.

Others are hedge setups. Every year, I look for early, big-value futures to bet ahead of the season. I don’t necessarily believe in the bets by themselves; instead, I like the idea of establishing an early position that I can leverage to my advantage later on, deep into the regular season or playoffs. 

I’ll do my best to explain why I like each bet and what the overall objective is. For now, remember: in futures betting, the profitable option is often (but not always) to look for return in contrarian places, rather than adopt popular positions near the top of the market. 

Rams Over 6.5 Wins (+100)

Hey, remember back when the Rams won the Super Bowl? Way back in… February 2022? Just over 18 months ago?

The market for Rams futures has completely crashed, in large part because the team was woefully banged up last season. The front office was hyper-aggressive about the contracts they set up during the Super Bowl window, knowing that there would be an eventual bill to pay. It’s now come due.

That said, this is still a Sean McVay-coached team with quarterback Matt Stafford, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, and defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Even with those players aging into potential past-their-prime territory, there’s still a pretty high floor for this team, no?

With better injury luck this year, I don’t think it’s crazy to expect this team to get to 7-10. There are some advantage bettors who actually prefer the outright Rams’ NFC West odds, and they have a decent case to make from a pure value perspective. 

Personally, I think a more modest approach here makes more sense. That’s why I’m on the Rams’ 2023 win total.

Seahawks Win NFC West +195; Seahawks Make the 2023 NFL Playoffs -120

The 49ers are deeply priced out, so this is a sell-high angle for me. Kyle Shanahan is brilliant, but it’s unlikely that Brock Purdy and the 49ers come anywhere close to repeating their hot streak from the end of the 2022 regular season. This is a big-time regression candidate.

In exploring other candidates for the division, the Seahawks’ NFC West odds are the obvious target. There’s a chance that the Seahawks’ offense is the best unit in the division. 

Many bettors seem to think Geno Smith is due for a crash back to Earth, but this is more or less what was expected out of him as a draft pick back in 2013. But then he fell to the second round in a historically weak draft class, got taken by an anemic Jets offense, got punched in the face, and fell out with the team. I wasn’t at all surprised that he became a competent starter in Seattle last year, and I have the receipts to prove it. 

Still, if the divisional bet falls through here, I think the Seahawks’ odds to make the NFL Playoffs is a must-grab. The light middle class in the NFC leaves the Seahawks in prime position to grab a No. 5 or No. 6 seed in the 2023 NFL playoffs, even if they can’t win their division. At -120, the book says this is a coin flip. I say it’s a no-brainer.

Cowboys Win NFC East +170

Everyone here in NFC East country knows the stat. No one has gone back-to-back in this division for 20 years, dating back to when the Eagles did it with Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid in 2003-04. 

Obviously, the Eagles are a popular pick to break the streak this year, given that they’re the reigning NFC champions. But this Eagles roster experienced a ton of turnover this offseason, and we have no idea how all the new pieces are going to fit. 

There are some things I think I know about this team, like how good the receivers are. But are we sure Jalen Hurts is an MVP-caliber quarterback after just one year? Are we sure the trench play will continue to be elite this year? Are we sure the Eagles’ turnover margin, which was third-best in the league last year, won’t dramatically regress back toward the mean?

The Cowboys have what is likely the best defense in the division. They’ve finally got out from under the ridiculous Ezekiel Elliott contract. They’ve added Brandin Cooks as a real weapon for the passing game, alongside CeeDee Lamb. 

At +170, it’s absolutely worth taking a contrarian flier against the Eagles here on the Cowboys’ NFC East odds. (I also wrote about the Cowboys’ win total back in June, and you can follow the link and check that article out after this one if you want. However, the number has since ballooned to a place where I would no longer feel confident betting the over.)

A Whole Lot of Falcons Bets

I drank long and deep from the Kool-Aid tank of Atlanta Falcons futures odds, and here are the resulting bets:

  • Falcons Win the NFC South +210. I’m not sure I buy New Orleans as this obvious and pre-eminent favorite. The Falcons have arguably the best offensive line in the NFL (prepare to hear me say that a lot this year) and just drafted a sick running back to lead the charge. They’re going to be elite at something, which is more than I can say for all the other teams in this division.
  • Falcons Make the 2023 NFL Playoffs +110. Okay, let’s say I’m wrong about the Saints. I still think Atlanta is going to be good, and this NFC is, as we know, a bit shallow on playoff teams. I love the idea of the Falcons as a playoff team, given the pool of competitors. The idea that this is plus money is beyond me.
  • Bijan Robinson Wins Rookie of the Year +250. I wrote about this a little in my Bijan Robinson odds post. Basically, the history of the award says you should pick a quarterback whose team is going to be half-decent right away. But do you really feel great about the Colts, Texans, or Panthers this year? There’s a reason a running back is the favorite for this award – none of those three guys are going to be in an early position to be successful. And in the case of Bryce Young, Robinson will actually get multiple head-to-head outings against him. Think there’s any chance that comes up during ESPN segments late in the year?
  • Bijan Robinson Leads the NFL in Rushing Yards +1000. This truly is not as crazy as it sounds. Atlanta has an elite offensive line, a head coach that loves to run the ball, and a replacement-level quarterback. What do you think they’re going to do on offense? Because I think it’s going to be a wholeeeee lot of handoffs to Bijan.
  • Falcons Win NFC +3000. No, I do not actually think the Falcons are going to win the NFC. But if the Falcons end up being a dominant, ball-control team that plays in a crappy division, there’s a pretty realistic chance that they end up with an overinflated record. That could mean the No. 1 seed and a Wild Card bye into the divisional round. From there, they only need one little home win to reach the NFC Championship, where I will hedge out of this bet so fast that my soul might leave my body. 

Buccaneers Under 6.5 Wins 

Tampa Bay has an underwhelming head coach, an aging roster, a growing pile of unwieldy contracts, and Baker Mayfield at quarterback. Uh-oh.

It gets worse. Here are the first seven games for the Bucs, before the trade deadline comes after Week 8: at Vikings, Bears, Eagles, at Saints, Lions, Falcons, at Bills.

There’s a very real chance that the Bucs are 1-6 or 0-7 heading into the trade deadline, depending on how you feel about the Bears. (Personally, I’m not buying the hype.) That poor start might prompt the front office to hit the eject button, selling off parts for future draft picks and firing Todd Bowles.

That sell-off scenario could make a bet on the Buccaneers’ 2023 win total one of the breeziest wagers of the season. Even if they don’t do any of that, though, I’d still feel pretty good about an under 6.5 with a one-win team, heading into November. 

Lions Win NFC North +135

The Lions hype train this summer has been furious and memorable, to say the least. And while these Lions futures odds are generally a bit square and not all that valuable, I decided to buy it anyway. 

Ben Johnson’s Detroit offense has become incredibly powerful, and I think we’ll talk about this year in ways that are similar to how we described the Eagles last year. And while the number may not blow anyone away, the division’s opposing quarterbacks are Justin Fields, Kirk Cousins, and Jordan Love. There’s nothing in there that really scares me. 

Broncos Make the 2023 NFL Playoffs (+200) 

The second-place team in the AFC West is going to be competing for a Wild Card spot. I’ll cover the Raiders in a second, but for now, let’s focus on the Broncos and Chargers.

Remember how dramatic the change in Jacksonville was when the Jaguars moved from Urban Meyer to Doug Pederson? That’s the level of coaching evolution that Denver will get this year. So yes, let’s take Denver as seriously as we take Justin Herbert’s Chargers.

The Chargers are -115 to make the playoffs, in large part because they did it last year, and people like to bet what they recently saw.

Denver, on the other hand, was a hot mess last year, so they’re +200. 

There are plenty of roster factors, quarterback regression stats, and analysis points I could walk through here. But at bottom, if everything else is equal, which ticket do I really want? The -115, or the +200? The Broncos’ playoff odds are going to be a popular target until the season starts, but even with the public attention, I’m still not convinced the market is accurately capturing Denver’s likely leap forward.

Raiders Miss 2023 NFL Playoffs -550

This ticket isn’t for everyone, because not everyone wants to stash their bankroll away for nearly five months on a -550 ticket. So I’m acknowledging that this play might not be for you.

That said, if you’re operating with a large bankroll, or you’re planning a trip to a retail BetMGM sportsbook and bringing with you a large wad of cash, I love this bet. 

The Raiders are a clear fourth-place team with an old, injury-prone quarterback. They have three teams that are significantly better than them in division, and they’re playing in a loaded AFC where the path to a playoff spot will be incredibly difficult. Thus, the Raiders’ odds to make the NFL playoffs are not looking so hot. 

One common mistake that novice bettors make is they mistake value for return. It’s hard to look at a -550 ticket and see the kind of value that it offers. But in this case, I see loads of value in this bet. I would price this closer to -2000, where the Cardinals’ playoff odds are. There is just no foreseeable path for the Raiders to be a top-7 team in an AFC that has at least 10 teams noticeably better than them. 

Chiefs win AFC +300

The Chiefs have made five straight AFC Championship games. There’s a pretty good chance they’ll make a sixth in 2023. I can bet them in January, but what are the odds I can get them Chiefs AFC championship odds at +300, five months down the road? 

For now, I view this as a hedge setup, but it’s also possible that I let it ride with the Chiefs if I like what I see in the playoffs. 

Titans Score Fewest Points in NFL +1100

This is an exotic that’s available at BetMGM. I went and looked at who the lowest-scoring teams were from 2022, and it’s all the teams you think it would be – the Broncos (287), Colts (289), Texans (289), and Jets (296). The Titans (298) were fifth-worst.

All four of those first teams took dramatic steps to improve their offenses in the off-season. The Broncos fired their coach and signed an offensive genius in Sean Payton. The Jets traded for Aaron Rodgers. The Colts and Texans used top draft picks to grab new quarterbacks. 

The Titans, however, made no dramatic, high-level changes to their offense. I expect another double-dose of draws and dives, shorter games and fewer possessions. This feels like great value at 11-to-1.

Jets Miss 2023 NFL Playoffs +115

One of the themes of most offseason analysis (including my own) is the heavy AFC playoff picture and the light NFC middle-class. It’s a simple function of very basic mathematics that there will be good AFC teams that miss the playoffs this year.

In terms of betting, the best place to take advantage of this is the Jets. New York grabbed a ton of hype and headlines by trading for Rodgers, pricing out most of their futures markets, but they still have a lousy offensive line and a brutally tough opening schedule. 

All that adds up to a jeopardized playoff bid, and the Jets betting hype means we can buy fade tickets at lucrative prices. 

Fatal flaws will be particularly damning in this year’s AFC, so betting against the Jets’ playoff odds feels like one of the top tickets to buy ahead of the season.  

Ravens Earn No. 1 Seed in AFC +850

Head back to the halfway standings in last year’s NFL, and you may be surprised to see which team was leading the AFC. That was the Baltimore Ravens, who were on a rocket ship toward the No. 1 seed and a deep playoff run before injuries hit Lamar Jackson and the rest of the roster. 

Lamar, heading into a contract dispute, decided to stay away from the team for the final quarter of the season to protect himself. Baltimore was forced to rely on third and fourth-stringers; even still, they qualified for the playoffs and came within a play or two of beating the Bengals, in Cincinnati, during the Wild Card round. 

Jackson has a fresh new contract, as well as a new offensive coordinator in Todd Monken, who comes over from the two-time defending national champions at the University of Georgia. He’s also got Odell Beckham Jr. and what is almost certainly the best group of receivers he’s ever had. Understandably, Baltimore Ravens futures odds are a hot commodity as the season draws near.

The Ravens play in a brutally tough division where all four teams are legitimately good teams that will threaten to make the playoffs. But the Ravens have total alignment between front office, coach, quarterback, and roster, which will threaten to turn last year’s early promise into a reality. This is a tough needle to thread, but the path is there. I like this as a fun dart throw at +850.

Browns Win AFC North +375

I’ve taken some contradictory positions here in the AFC North, where the field has become so tilted toward the status quo of Joe Burrow and the Bengals that there’s tons of value everywhere else. 

The Browns have a case to make for the best blend of total talent along the offensive and defensive lines. They have a quarterback who was once very good at football and could be again, now that he’s actually taking snaps again. They have a ground game that can dominate most opponents. 

Cleveland has been a hot mess for a couple years, but it seems like this is the year that Kevin Stefanski & Co. will get the operation back on track. That makes the Browns’ AFC North odds a very appealing division bet at +375. 

Steelers Over 8.5 Wins Wins; Steelers Win AFC North +450

The Steelers are perceived as the bottom of the AFC North, and they very well could be. Someone has to finish last in this division, and whoever it is, it’ll probably be a team that’s actually pretty good.

But I’m not convinced that the Steelers aren’t live for this division title, which is why I’ve bet multiple tickets from the tree of Steelers’ futures odds. They have a cheap quarterback, an elite defensive front, and a head coach that milks every last drop of potential out of his rosters and in-game situations. 

The real interest here is the over 8.5 wins, which the Steelers improbably got to last year and may do so again this year. The +450 divisional bet is more of an add-on dart throw, but I do think it’s a strong value play. Another year of experience for Kenny Pickett might yield more results in Pittsburgh than many of us are expecting. 

NFL PODCAST: Want More NFL Betting Odds & Analysis?

Congratulations on making it all the way to the end of a very long article.

If you like this sort of content, I’d recommend checking out my podcast, The Lion’s Edge, which I host on behalf of our content team here at BetMGM.

Every week, I highlight odds and bets that I think are interesting or ripe for advantage bettors, like me. I also bring on expert guests from both inside and outside of the sportsbook so that you can learn a little bit more about key topics in online sports betting.

Check it out and subscribe on the podcast player of your choice. You can also listen to some of the most recent episodes in the podcast player below.

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.