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Odds and Ends

Red-hot Washington now favored to win NFC East

by Will Gray
Updated On: December 18, 2020, 9:15 am ET

Largely a laughingstock for much of the NFL season, the NFC East has shown a bit of life in recent weeks. And, for the first time all year, it's now topped by burgundy and gold.

The Washington Football Team entered the 2020 campaign with few expectations, as oddsmakers at PointsBet Sportsbook listed them as +2000 longshots to win the four-team division. Those odds dipped again after the team struggled in the first half of the season, losing four of its first five and five of its first seven games.

But keyed by an upset win over the previously-undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington is suddenly one of the hottest teams in the league and riding a four-game win streak after Sunday's 23-15 win over San Francisco. The victory brought their record to a meager 6-7, but in the land of the East that's good enough for a one-game lead over the New York Giants.

Washington's win combined with the Giants' loss to Arizona meant an abrupt switch in the odds to win the division: while the Giants entered last week as -150 favorites, with Washington priced at +155, the Giants dropped to +400 with the loss while Washington vaulted to -300. Philadelphia, which upset New Orleans, also moved from +1400 to +600.

Washington odds to win NFC East (via PointsBet)

Preseason: +2000

After 1-4 start: +1200

After 2-7 start: +800

After Steelers win (5-7): +155

Current (6-7): -300

It's the first time all season that Washington has been the betting favorite to win the East. With games remaining against Seattle, Carolina and Philadelphia to finish the season, PointsBet senior sports analyst Andrew Mannino believes the division is now Washington's to lose, even though the Giants hold the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series.

"The Giants have some tough games left (vs. Cleveland, at Baltimore, vs. Dallas)," Mannino said. "Washington's got some winnable games left on the schedule. I think it's certainly shaping up to be their division right now, especially on the back of this four-game winning streak."


Rodgers gaining ground on Mahomes in MVP race

The Kansas City Chiefs have the best record in the NFL, but Patrick Mahomes has some company in the race to be crowned league MVP.

Mahomes has been leading the MVP market by a wide margin for weeks, and ahead of Week 14 he was listed at -500 to win the award for the second time. While Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was his closest pursuer, he was well back at +460.

But a wobbly effort from Mahomes in Miami combined with a strong performance from Rodgers in Detroit has tightened the race considerably. Mahomes is still out in front, but it's getting closer by the day: after dipping to -285 on Sunday, he currently sits at -225 and less than half the price offered before the Miami game. Rodgers, whose odds were +600 two weeks ago, moved to +185 Sunday and is currently listed at +170. Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (+2000) is the next closest player in what is shaping up to be a two-man race.

"(Mahomes) is still on the negative side of the odds, so it's still his race to lose. But Rodgers keeps getting it done, week in and week out," Mannino said. "So if Mahomes stumbles, Rodgers seems like he's going to be right there to pick up the pieces. I think some people are seeing the value there in Rodgers, but even still at (+170) I think the ship has sailed for a lot of bettors and there was more value earlier in the year."


Bills pass Steelers in futures market with SNF win

The Bills' home win over the Steelers on Sunday Night Football brought their first division title in 25 years within reach, and it also caused a shake up in the Super Bowl futures market at PointsBet.

While the Chiefs (+190) continue to lead the way, the Steelers were one of their closest pursuers before dropping their first two games of the year. Now they're not only behind Kansas City, but they're also behind Buffalo: the Bills, who have never won a Super Bowl, moved from +1700 to +1200 and now sit behind only four teams in the futures market:

Updated odds to win Super Bowl (after Week 14)

+190: Kansas City Chiefs

+650: New Orleans Saints

+700: Green Bay Packers

+1100: Los Angeles Rams

+1200: Buffalo Bills

+1400: Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks

+1600: Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Chiefs (-125) remain hefty favorites to advance to their second straight Super Bowl, listed ahead of the Steelers (+500) and Bills (+600) to win the AFC. There was a shift in NFC odds last week, as the Saints dropped from +200 favorites to +275 after losing in Philadelphia. The Packers, who entered the week at +325, are now slim +250 favorites to win the conference, with the Rams (+500), Seahawks (+600) and Bucs (+650) also in the mix.

"We've seen the Packers come in and the Saints drift a bit," Mannino said. "In the AFC, the Steelers and the Bills are both sort of stuck chasing the Chiefs, who are still the prohibitive favorites so far."

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Will Gray

Will Gray joined Golf Channel in 2007 and currently serves as a staff writer for GolfChannel.com. Gray has been covering fantasy golf since 2012 and is a regular contributor to the Golf Central blog and covers several PGA Tour events each year. He's also a regular contributor to several digital properties on GolfChannel.com, including Stat Man, On the Clock, Fantasy Central, Grill Room and the Monday Scramble podcast.