Today’s post talks about the NFL futures outlook for 7 teams who just missed making the playoffs in 2020. Perhaps you placed a futures bet on them last season and came up short. Therefore, you’re leary of doing so in 2021.
However, for some of the teams listed below, you may have done nothing more than bet one year too early. For other teams, chances are they may further deteriorate in 2021. Every team you see listed below is on the cusp of even winning their division.
And while they may not have the most talent nor figure to be the favorite to win their division and make the playoffs, you can figure that each team lives in the high-risk, high-reward category. But not too high of a risk. Let’s see what we got.
1. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins came oh, so close to earning their first playoff trip in 5 seasons and just their 2nd since 2008 in 2020. Many of you probably didn’t waste a futures bet on them, with it being just Year 2 of the Brian Flores era.
However, since Week 1 in the 2019 NFL Season, no team in the NFL has made more leaps and bounds (next to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) than the Dolphins. Outscored 102 to 10 in Weeks 1 and 2 of 2019, many thought the Dolphins would become historically bad.
Instead, they finished 15-15 since logging their 10-6 record in 2020.
They found a potential franchise quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa. Their first legit franchise quarterback since the Dan Marino era ended.
They also have put together solid building blocks on both offense and defense. One more solid free agency period along with another good draft will put the Dolphins into waters they haven’t sailed in over an age.
Not that they’ll surpass the Buffalo Bills and become the division’s best futures bet option. But don’t take anything off the table.
2. Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals were red hot in 2020, having scored upsets over the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, and Buffalo Bills. But they collapsed over the last 7 weeks of the season and finished a meager 8-8.
Like the Dolphins, the Cardinals have just a few more pieces to add. And they already got off to a head start after signing J.J. Watt to a monster deal. However bleak their cap space looked ended when they released corner Robert Alford and immediately re-signed him to a lesser contract.
Now the Cardinals are in a position to really benefit here and potentially upset the 49ers, Rams, and Seahawks. They’re still a longshot bet with the odds stacked against them. But of all the NFL teams who rank at the bottom of their divisional power rankings, the Cardinals are most likely to win their division.
Garnering them high-risk futures bets. But they’re good enough to really believe they’ll reap the rewards.
3. San Francisco 49ers
The notorious Super Bowl Hangover didn’t strike down the San Francisco 49ers. Instead, you can blame the injury bug. Of all the teams on this list, the 49ers are probably the safest futures bet. Sure, they finished in the NFC West’s cellar. But this team is far better than their record indicates.
They lost defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to the New York Jets. But the Niners still have a phenomenal core of young, talented players on both sides of the ball. The 49ers Way is just now heating up. So if you believe in them, they’re a solid bet.
The only downside remains the fact that they play in the NFL’s toughest division. The Seahawks are as lethal as ever. And it remains the status quo if Russell Wilson remains in the driver’s seat.
Also, the Los Angeles Rams pulled off a blockbuster trade for the NFL’s most underrated, and most dangerous quarterbacks in Matthew Stafford. Since they also possess the league’s best defense, expect the Rams to continue to threaten the Niners.
And, the Arizona Cardinals (discussed in the previous section) also made leaps in 2020. If they remain consistent, they too will threaten the Niners.
While the Niners look like a safe bet on paper, and they’re talented enough, they also face a gauntlet of talent in their division.
4. Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders have one of the league’s best offenses and one of the most underrated offensive trios in Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, and Darren Waller. They can score points at will. And they have an experienced coach and staff who can take them further than they have been in almost 2 decades.
However, the Kansas City Chiefs are probably the primary reason you’re hesitant to place anything more than an Over/Under futures bet on the Raiders. And rightfully so.
The Chiefs possess dynasty qualities, but they’re not the only team who can be a thorn in the Raiders’ side.
The Los Angeles Chargers (discussed below), are also threatening to make a few leaps. Add the Chiefs and Chargers to a historically bad defense, and the Raiders are still a longshot to do anything more than encroach the Over/Under.
5. Los Angeles Chargers
Obviously, a relocation didn’t do anything to exorcise the Curse of the Chargers. Once again, they blew leads and lost games they should have won. Now, a new coaching staff will take a crack at righting this wrong.
They’re on the right track, with quarterback Justin Herbert triggering his inner-Drew Brees. Herbert set the rookie record for touchdown passes in a single season and was the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw 30-plus touchdowns in a season.
Odds are, he’s not done setting records.
But the Chargers also have young talent on both sides of the ball. They feature a dynamic running back and 2 solid receivers. If they can bring back tight end Hunter Henry, watch out for this team.
Not that they can unseat the Chiefs. But of any team in the AFC West, the Chargers have the best chance in doing so. And now that they’ve gotten new uniforms (debuted last season), they can look good doing so.
The Chargers are still a long shot, much like the Las Vegas Raiders (see above). Just as anyone residing in the AFC West is. But if they make a few improvements, they may just become the safest futures bet on today’s list.
6. Minnesota Vikings
After a 1-5 start, the Minnesota Vikings got it together, finishing their season at 6-4. But it wasn’t enough, considering their overall 7-9 record.
However, they got it together on offense with a still-effective Kirk Cousins, the league’s best all-purpose back in Dalvin Cook, and the team’s best receiver since Randy Moss in Justin Jefferson. Yes, there is a lot to get excited over in Minneapolis.
But those pesky Packers and a poor defense remain 2 thorns in the Vikings’ sides. Therefore, they’re still longshots in the futures realm unless they can sign a few solid defensive free agents and draft a marquee defensive player, regardless of position.
The team needs a lot of help on defense if they’re looking to return to the playoffs. And of course, to once again become a viable futures bet. But those Packers are so good that if you bet on the Vikings, be warned that they still have a lot of obstacles to go before they make you any money.
7. New York Giants
Save today’s post. Because it might be the only one that will ever state a 6-10 team just missed the playoffs. But it’s true. If Washington lost in Week 17, the Giants would’ve become the first 6-10 team in NFL history to win their division.
But here they are, sitting as, on paper, the third-best team in the NFC East. Yes, the Dallas Cowboys will have better odds at winning the division here. But the Giants just barely missed out last year, which is why they make today’s list as opposed to the Cowboys.
Given the uncertainty regarding Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and so many other variables, you’d be taking a huge risk if you bet on the Giants. But they had stretches in 2020 where they looked capable of winning the NFC East. So perhaps they’ll reward you if you take that risk.
It depends on the type of bettor you are. If you’re okay with taking a risk, the Giants may reward you. If you’re more conservative, this is the one team on today’s list to steer clear from unless they have a monster draft and free agency period.
Any one of these teams are riskier bets. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bet. Go with your intuition if you’re considering placing a futures bet on any of these longshot teams, and they may surprise you.
However, proceed with caution. There’s a reason none of them won their division nor made the playoffs in 2020. Some were a year away, as we will find out come December 2021.
If not, you’re probably better off placing a futures bet on teams who you know have a better chance of winning you money.
What are your thoughts on today’s post? Are you considering placing a futures wager on any of the above at any of the top NFL betting sites? Let us know in the comments which one and why!