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Nothing is more rewarding than a winning futures bet, especially in a league as volatile as the NFL. And after a shortened offseason that will surely affect the campaign, there's never been a better time to scour the oddsboard for compelling long shots.
We're here to help. Here are our five favorite value bets to make before the 2020 NFL season begins.
In 2019, I hitched my futures wagon to Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens - the biggest collective cash cow of the season. This year, I'm all-in on the Bills, who are a screaming value in nearly every futures market:
|Win total||Bills over 8.5||-150|
|Coach of the Year||Sean McDermott||+2000|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Tre'Davious White||+2500|
Buffalo returns its head coach, coordinators, and nearly every starter from last year's 10-win group, while adding star receiver Stefon Diggs to one of the five-most talented rosters in the NFL. The X-factor is Josh Allen, who's already made dramatic strides in his game and has the arm talent to put together an exceptional season.
It's a similar script to the one Jackson and the Ravens followed a year ago when they swept the MVP and Coach of the Year awards and nearly made a run at the title. This group has that type of upside, and they're easily my favorite bet of the 2020 season.
This price was floating around 100-1 earlier this summer but has tightened ahead of the season, and for a good reason. Tannehill made history a year ago and has the talent and supporting cast to replicate his success.
He posted the fourth-best passer rating in NFL history (117.5) in 2019, and became only the second quarterback in the Super Bowl era to complete more than 70% of his passes while averaging more than 9.0 yards per attempt. He ended the year as PFF's highest-graded quarterback despite not having a full offseason as the team's starter.
He wasn't dramatically different as a player - instead, he finally had the coaching staff and offensive weapons to support his aggressive but deliberate approach in the pocket. The Tennessee Titans return the same infrastructure that turned Tannehill into a star last year, so don't be surprised to see an even sharper version in 2020.
This bet doesn't look great in a headline, but it's a safe and savvy move in a traditionally hard-to-predict market.
My favorite dark horses for this award are elite Denver Broncos edge rusher Bradley Chubb and New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell. Chubb missed most of last year with the second ACL tear of his career and is included with this ticket, while Bell is one of the most talented - yet disappointing - players in the league.
And then, of course, you have Rob Gronkowski, who should be a clear front-runner during his reunion tour with Tom Brady. The tight end might be worth this price alone, so getting a handful of other worthy comeback candidates makes this bet hard to ignore.
Pass rushers have dominated this award in recent years, but Adams is a top-two defensive talent in the NFL and is versatile enough to buck the pass-rusher trend in his first year with the Seattle Seahawks.
In 2019, the former New York Jets safety became one of three players in NFL history with at least 6.5 sacks, seven passes defended, an interception returned for a touchdown, and a fumble return for a touchdown in a season. He's also one of just five defensive backs to record at least 6.5 sacks in a single campaign.
Eleven of the last 13 players to win this award played for teams with at least 11 wins or a division title. The Seahawks will need a monster effort from Adams to reach either milestone, which would only help his case as the most important defensive player in football.
I'm prepared to die on this hill. Many before me have looked foolish for trying to predict the end of the Patriots' reign, but there simply isn't enough talent or chemistry with this year's group to expect double-digit wins.
No team lost more this offseason than New England - the Pats have waved goodbye to a Hall of Fame quarterback in Brady, a pivotal assistant coach in Dante Scarnecchia, many key defensive leaders from 2019, and a handful of opt-outs that leave this year's roster lacking high-end talent and depth.
Cam Newton's arrival is exciting but possibly misleading. He hasn't been the same since injuries took over in 2018, and he'd need to rediscover his MVP form to carry the young, undeveloped talent around him. The AFC East isn't what it once was, and neither are the Patriots. Fade this number into oblivion.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.