NFL Futures: Questions and Odds for AFC and NFC Favorites and Longshots
All NFL teams not holding the Lombardi Trophy are today at their facilities looking to crack the code of how to dethrone the 2-time defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. The reason Patrick Mahomes and co. will be looking to 3-peat in the fall is because in shortly after the parade they will get back to work with an eye on being that much better next season.
Bettors can also begin to study a handful of Futures’ Markets offered by the sports books. However, with Free Agency and the Draft still to come, these are markets that are tough to justify diving into in February.
It does not mean we can’t begin to look at a few of the teams and ask questions of each as their offseason begins in earnest.
What will it take for each to win their respective conference? Here’s a quick couple of questions for the current favorites in each conference and a couple of longshots.
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Kansas City Chiefs (+400)
While it does not appear to be an issue with this team, do they find the motivation to put in the offseason work required?
Clearly gassed on defense at numerous points during the Super Bowl and banged up along the offensive line, can the Chiefs find a way to efficiently manage the cap and yet add a handful of linemen?
Baltimore Ravens (+475)
With a laundry list of players eligible for free agency and the cap always looming as an issue, who will Baltimore choose to retain? Can their defense survive if either or both of Patrick Queen and Justin Madubuike depart?
On offense, do OC Todd Monken and MVP Lamar Jackson take a step forward in the offseason and as a result return stronger in 2024? That is a must if the Ravens are to have any shot at dethroning the Chiefs as each looked intimidated by the moment against Kansas City.
Buffalo Bills (+475)
Can Josh Allen and the Bills overcome the mental as well as the physical hurdles still in front of them following yet another loss to Mahomes and the Chiefs? While they work on the mental side, the team is getting older physically. Their window, if ever there was one, is closing.
Is there an issue with Stefon Diggs? Regardless, Allen needs additional weapons, and the Bills are facing massive salary cap issues. Those must be solved if the Bills are going to compete for a division title let alone the conference title.
Cincinnati Bengals (+700)
Can Joe Burrow stay healthy? That has proven difficult for the Heisman winner and the Bengals can’t win if he does not make it through the bulk of the regular season let alone the playoffs.
What happens to Tee Higgins and maybe more importantly DJ Reader? While Higgins has had a good run in Cincinnati, he is more easily replaced. Reader’s presence changes that defense. If he is not back following surgery, where does Cincy turn?
San Francisco 49ers (+225)
The 49ers again fall just short. Can they mentally regroup and put in the effort to run it back? Is it easier to regroup when you reflect back and see you outplayed the Chiefs for much of the game? Or does that make it all the more difficult because you know the Lombardi Trophy was there for the taking?
They do not have many impactful free agents, but they also do not have much room under the cap. Which, if any, free agents do they keep as each comes with questions? For example, midseason acquisition Chase Young was a force in the 1st half of the Super Bowl but not even sure he dressed for the 2nd half and overtime. Can you afford to pay for his potential knowing the warts that exist?
Detroit Lions (+550)
What moves do the Lions make to improve their defensive backfield? It is a must for a team that truly struggled against the pass despite having the defensive lineman who statistically applied more pressure on opposing quarterbacks in the league.
Speaking of quarterback, Jared Goff has one year remaining on his contract. How much will it cost to resign the man who has resurrected his career in Motown? Do the Lions view him as their quarterback beyond the 2024 season? If the answer is anything other than a resounding yes, does how that plays out affect the locker room.
Philadelphia Eagles (+800)
Do veteran leaders Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox return for one more run? And whether they do or not, do the young guns playing on that side of the ball take the offseason seriously and get in the shape it takes to withstand the grueling 17 game slate of an NFL regular season?
Is Jalen Hurts the quarterback we saw in 2022 or 2023? There were stark differences in his performance over the course of the past two seasons and the Eagles will not win without Hurts returning to MVP-level form.
Dallas Cowboys (+800)
What changes in Dallas to make Cowboys’ backers believe 2024 will be different than this past season? Currently, Jerry Jones and co. sit nearly 22 million OVER the salary cap. How do they remain a playoff team and make the necessary cuts?
Can both Dak Prescott and Micah Parsons take the necessary next step to truly lead Dallas to a deep playoff run?
Pittsburgh Steelers (+4500)
They may be just rumors, but there are rumblings of interest in the Steel City in Bears’ QB Justin Fields. Is he enough of an upgrade when paired with that Steel Curtain defense to propel the Steelers to a division title and top end seed in the playoffs?
If they bring back the same laundry list of signal callers, can Mike Tomlin survive? Will he want to remain in Pittsburgh?
Chicago Bears (+1400)
Fields’ current but soon to be former team has two first round picks. When the Trojans draft Caleb Williams 1st overall, can they then follow the blueprint published by the Houston Texans this past season?
With plenty of cap space, can the Bears bolster a defense that started to do damage following the trade for Montez Sweat?
Again, it is difficult to recommend betting on these markets and having the books hold your money for nearly a full year. The recommendation today is take a beat and let the front offices start to maneuver this offseason. Once we get at least closer to the Draft and Free Agency we can consider sprinkling a little on a team or two...or three. Until then, take a deep breath, exhale, and smile. Life is good.
*odds courtesy of DraftKings