The NFL is the biggest thing in town when it comes to USsportsbooks and each game on the schedule attracts millions of dollars in wagers. The NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl are among the biggest betting events of the entire year with almost $7 billion bet on Super Bowl 54 alone.
But there’s a lot more to wagering on football than game-by-game action on moneylines and point spreads.
If you’re more of a long-range bettor and want to make great returns on how you think the NFL season as a whole will play out, the NFL futures odds market is for you.
Futures are a huge part of NFL betting at any sportsbook. There are numerous options to consider each and every season and, even better, futures are simple to understand and an outstanding option for casual fans and those new to sports betting.
NFL futures are available for both teams and players. In this guide to NFL futures bets, we’ll cover all of the ins and outs you need to get started.
Latest NFL futures odds – who is favored to win in 2020?
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Types of NFL futures bets
The NFL futures market is vast and there are numerous offerings to explore. It can all seem overwhelming at first glance, but it’s actually all easy to understand once you have a handle on how it all works. Let’s take a look at each of the main segments.
Super Bowl Futures
The main attraction for NFL futures bettors is betting on the winner of the next Super Bowl. Odds are released nearly immediately after the current season’s Super Bowl is in the books and bettors begin weighing in.
As bets come in, that can lead to a shift in the odds for the individual teams based on market action. In short, prices may increase for some squads and shorten on others. Timing is a good part of the strategy when it comes to betting on futures.
Teams are typically listed in descending order, so it can be helpful to think of the board in a few different tiers:
Favorites at the top
Possible contenders in middle
Longshots at the bottom
You can place your bet on the team you feel best about, or spread things out and zero in on a few intriguing choices. As the season plays out, you can also stay on top of the market and look to catch teams at the best possible price.
Staying on top of the NFL futures market is real easy. On our Super Bowl betting page you can see the live odds at multiple sportsbooks in real time. That means line shopping will take just seconds, which will allow you to jump on the best odds as they come up.
Super Bowl MVP Futures
When the Big Game rolls around, you’ll have plenty of betting opportunities to consider, including the winner of the game and hundreds of different props. Take the time to explore the odds for winning the Super Bowl MVP as well.
While quarterbacks for the respective teams will be the favorites, don’t be scared to think outside the box. Over the past decade, the Super Bowl MVP award has gone to a non-QB three times. Since the turn of the century, it has happened eight times.
Once the Super Bowl matchup is official, MVP odds will be released. As always, the market will move based on betting action. Check in and place some bets upon release, and keep an eye out in advance of kickoff for intriguing price shifts.
NFL MVP Futures
The ultimate individual honor for players is the NFL MVP award. You can place your bets on which player you think will be MVP at any time in the year.
Futures odds for NFL MVP are released in the offseason. The initial release can be a great time to jump in and place some bets, especially if you have a great feel on a dark horse contender who not everyone has caught onto yet, or a strong non-QB candidate.
If you have several different players you’re sold on as having a realistic chance, then you can go with multiple bets to take even more shots. Remember that the odds will move based on betting action, so be sure to check back often.
As the season moves along and favorites go through rough patches or longshots start to show more life, that can also be a fantastic time to find the best prices. The market for NFL MVP will continually evolve, so stay in tune with the ebbs and flows.
Doing so is really easy via our dedicated page for the NFL MVP futures market. Each time you check in, you’ll find live odds from multiple sportsbooks. It’s a real-time snapshot of what the market looks like, so you’ll be able to get a handle on things in an instant.
NFL Division/Conference Winners Futures
Another big highlight of the futures market is you can drill down even further and place your bets on how the season will play out. You can place futures bets on both conference and division winners plus teams to make the playoffs.
On the conference front, you’ll find odds for all 16 teams in both the AFC and NFC.
For the eight divisions, there will be odds for each of the four teams. In some divisional races, the favorite is clear cut while others are more wide open.
When it comes to betting on teams to make the NFL Playoffs, the clubs that pulled it off a season ago are typically among the favorites. However, remember that turnover is common. From year to year, half of the field or more could be completely different.
After odds are released and adjusted throughout the season, the market will continue to take shape. Teams will rise and fall and vice versa, but you can stay on top of the current picture at any time via our dedicated live odds page.
NFL Win Totals
While the NFL season is relatively short, fans and bettors remain engaged year-round and the futures market certainly helps in that regard. Interest really starts to ramp up when season win totals are released in advance of the season.
These are projections from the sportsbooks on how many wins a team will have in the coming year. They’re typically released in April or May and are presented in Over/Under format for each of the league’s 32 teams.
An individual team listing will look something like this.
Dallas Cowboys Over 9.5 (-150)
Dallas Cowboys Under 9.5 (+125)
In this case, the Cowboys have been benchmarked at 9.5 wins, so bettors get to decide if the team will finish Over or Under that mark. Odds are listed on both sides of the equation.
Upon release, they’ll be in the range of -110 on both sides, but betting action will impact the prices. This can reveal valuable insight into what the betting market sees as the most likely outcome, so be sure to pay attention to the line moves.
When the initial set of numbers come out, NFL handicappers will scan for opportunities and make note of any that may look off. For example, a team that looks to be on the ascent could be pegged at 7.5 wins, so in-tune bettors may jump on the Over.
As you examine the market, you’ll want to consider each of the teams and where they currently stand. For those that have a high bar set by oddsmakers, it’s a matter of figuring out if they can live up to expectations or not based on the schedule at hand.
At the present time, there are just four clubs that fall into the double-digit win category at most sportsbooks.
Baltimore Ravens – 11.5
Kansas City Chiefs – 11.5
New Orleans Saints – 10.5
San Francisco 49ers – 10.5
Below them is a middle-tier of teams which could be in the playoff mix if all goes well, but there are naturally no guarantees. Here are some of the more interesting totals to keep an eye on.
Buffalo Bills –5
Los Angeles Rams –5
New England Patriots –5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers –5
After the playoff contenders — which you can ballpark at between 8 and 9.5 wins — are the clubs expected to fall into the also-ran category. Of course, some dark horses could emerge from this group, so there are intriguing opportunities to consider. Here are some to watch.
Arizona Cardinals – 7
Las Vegas Raiders –5
Miami Dolphins – 6
Washington Redskins – 5
For some basic sports betting strategy, look toward teams that made some good strides at the tail end of the previous campaign. While flashy free agent acquisitions and solid draft picks can help, also be mindful of continuity on the coaching front and any new regimes that have been installed.
Every year like clockwork, there will be “preseason darlings” which the betting public falls in love with. While there are times when the public is on the money, there are also times when the projections are wildly off. Don’t be afraid to go with your gut and against popular sentiment when your research tells you otherwise.
Also, lines can become inflated at some books which see a ton of action on certain teams. Always remember to shop around for lines to find the best prices. Our dedicated live odds page will show you where the market stands in real time, so check back often.
NFL Player Futures
If you’re a fantasy football aficionado or just someone who has a good feel on which players are going to light it up in the coming season, then you’re going to love NFL player futures. These are bets you can make on the specific performance of players.
There will be markets for a number of top players in various statistical categories with all of the bet types presented in Over/Under format, such as:
NFL Passing Yards
NFL Passing TDs
NFL Rushing Yards
NFL Receiving Yards
NFL Rushing + Receiving
NFL Rushing TDs
NFL Receiving TDs
NFL Sack Futures
NFL Interception Futures
If you have a good read on certain players, then just focus on them. However, you should also take the time to explore other opportunities. There will be plenty of times when the market looks “off” on certain players in one direction or the other, so be sure to take advantage when it does.
Beyond individual player metrics, you can also place your bets on the leader in a number of different statistical categories.
NFL Passing Yards Leader
NFL Rushing Yards Leader
NFL Receiving Yards Leader
NFL Sacks Leader
NFL Interceptions Leader
Depending on the book, you may also find other markets for specific positions or categories, such as the player with the most receptions or rushing TDs. This is another big area of the NFL futures market for which you’ll have plenty of different possibilities to consider.
Bet on NFL Awards (Non-MVP)
Awards season in the NFL doesn’t end at MVP. Here are some of the other big markets you can take a look at:
NFL Offensive Player of the Year
NFL Defensive Player of the Year
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
NFL Coach of the Year
NFL Comeback Player of the Year
The markets for these work just like the rest. There will be odds listed for all in contention with the favorites at the top and dark horses sprinkled throughout. As always, the goal is to make the right call on the winner at the best price possible.
NFL Draft Futures
Once the Super Bowl is wrapped up, the eyes of the football world turn toward the offseason, the biggest highlight of which is the NFL Draft. The nation’s top collegiate players go through an evaluation phase and the best of the best will hear their names called on draft day.
From a futures perspective, the biggest market is on which player will be the first-overall selection. Odds for this wager will be released well in advance of the draft, while new markets will open up as the day draws near.
Here are some of the bet types you’ll come across.
First three picks in a row
First player selected by position
Odds on number of players at specific position drafted in first round
Player to be drafted by team
Over/Under on player draft position
Over/Under on number of players drafted by position
Odds on which of two players will be drafted first
First pick of second round
College with most draft picks
Conference with most draft picks
Player to be drafted last overall
Betting on the NFL Draft continues to grow in popularity, and that’s directly correlated to the rise of legal and regulated sports betting here in the United States. We can safely expect the trend to continue, so be sure to study up and take advantage of these futures markets.
NFL Offseason Futures
Just because the games are on hold in the offseason doesn’t mean the NFL news cycle takes a break. There’s lots of news, analysis and speculation going on at all times, and lots of it revolves on what the future may hold for the league’s teams and players.
You’ll find betting opportunities on the most noteworthy offseason items in the futures market. Some of them will be simple Yes/No or Over/Under wagers, while others will present a range of potential outcomes. Here are a few examples.
Free agent QB’s next team
Team to sign marquee free agents
Trade destinations for players that may be on the move
There will often be offerings in this category that see lots of betting action, while others may not move the needle all that much. In the end, it’s all about taking advantage of the opportunities you find most appealing, and hopefully turning a profit when all is said and done.
NFL Futures “Specials”
While NFL futures betting can be serious business, there’s still room to have some fun. There are interesting storylines throughout each and every season, and you’ll find that bets and odds are offered on many of the biggest.
Offerings will vary in this category based on the operator and what’s going on, but here are some of the more interesting ones you should come across in 2020.
How many total TDs will Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski combine for?
Which team will have more wins – New England Patriots or Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
Who will be the first head coach fired?
As with all other types of sports betting, the goal here is to cash some tickets at the end. However, you can also have some fun and kick up the rooting interest a bit while hoping for the best. To stay on top of offerings like these and the rest of the futures mark, be sure to check out our dedicated live odds page.
Betting tips and strategy for futures
For any type of betting on football, it’s always a good idea to have a game plan. While you can rely on the advice of sources you trust, doing some of your own legwork can make a world of difference. Here are some strategy tips you can implement once you zero in on the market and the bets you like the best.
Trust Your Gut But Be Realistic With Expectations: When scanning the odds board, don’t be surprised if certain futures jump out to you as particularly good or bad opportunities. For those that fall into the former category, listen to your instincts. These are the ones you should be including on your list of potential bets and exploring in full detail. That said, be careful not to be too influenced by personal feelings. Rooting interest is great and all, but smart and well-timed bets are even better.
Study the Market and Follow the Moves: One of the great benefits of the futures market is you have plenty of time to study and research. While doing that, pay attention to the way the winds are blowing with the odds. Certain bets will see lots of action, so take advantage of the intel provided by that. Odds that move strongly in one direction are indicative of the way the money is flowing. Handicappers then get the luxury of deciding whether or not the public money is making the correct call.
Use History as a Guide: Each NFL season is unique and should be treated as such, but there are still clues you can watch out for from previous campaigns. This is especially true when it comes to individual awards such as NFL regular season or Super Bowl MVP. QBs tend to win these awards often, so that’s a great spot to err towards the past. That said, those who manage to nail a dark horse selection from another position could be in for quite the payday.
When you find an NFL futures market you’re interested in wagering on, here’s a simple process you can follow to make the most of your time.
Research the market from top to bottom and make note of the options that jump out to you from each category: favorites, mid-range, and longshots.
Go through the list again while paying close attention to the ones that caught your eye and make a short list of top choices.
This is where you’ll spend your research time and decide which ones to wager or pass on.
Rinse and repeat for all of the other NFL futures you are interested in.
Betting on NFL futures can be lots of fun, and it’s a potentially profitable endeavor as well. Those are two big reasons why the market continues to grow at a rapid pace.
NFL Futures vs. Single-Game Betting
So if you want to bet on the NFL, which is the better path to take: single games or futures? The answer to that question is going to vary depending on what kind of bettor you are and what you hope to accomplish, but there are a number of factors that can help you make the decision.
Pros of Futures Betting
Market is open year-round
Wide range of opportunities to explore
Chance to make nice profits off of well-timed bets
Cons of Futures Betting
Requires a long-range perspective
Bets can be impacted by outside circumstances like injuries, etc.
Can be challenging to pick with accuracy
Pros of Single-Game Betting
Instant results once the final whistle blows
Full slate of games to choose from each week
Tons of research and analysis to lean on
Cons of Single-Game Betting
Can be tough to beat the sportsbooks long-term
Research intensive to break down an entire slate of games
Line moves can happen quickly before you have a chance to catch
The good news is you don’t necessarily have to decide between the two forms of betting. There are plenty of experienced handicappers who wager on both futures and single games. Casual bettors and those new to the game can do the same.
If you think of the NFL betting season as being year-round, you can implement a specific budget you want to use for futures, as well as for single games once the contests get underway.
As a simple example, you could set your budget at $100 for futures and $50 per single game during the season. Naturally, you can adjust the amounts up or down based on your personal comfort level.
Famous Futures Bets that Paid Off Big in the NFL
It’s possible to make some seriously big scores in the futures market. For example, in August 2019 a prescient bettor placed $25,000 on the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl.
In February 2020, the Chiefs went on to defeat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, 31-20. The return for the bettor? A staggering $175,000.
Not everyone has that kind of bankroll laying around, so hitting a massive score such as that one doesn’t happen every day. However, you can still see some really nice returns in the futures market with some well-timed wagers.
Let’s say that you dropped $100 on the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl at odds of +600 last season. When the confetti began to fly as the team was handed the Lombardi Trophy, you’d have a winning ticket worth a total of $700.
Now let’s imagine you placed a bet on a dark horse contender for this year at the same dollar amount. Let’s say it’s the Minnesota Vikings at odds of +2500. If the Vikings go on to win the Big Game, you’ll be cashing a ticket worth $2,600.
Of course, there are no guarantees you’ll make the right calls on your NFL futures. However, as our example demonstrates, the results can be outstanding when everything breaks just right.
How are futures bets different from prop bets?
A prop bet is generally tied to a single game, while futures are bets that require a longer term to pay off. However, there are futures wagers which resemble props. An example is player futures, which revolve around things such as individual award winners or specific statistical achievements.
Why do futures differ from sportsbook to sportsbook?
The major NFL futures markets — Super Bowl, team win totals, award winners, etc. — will be found at all major sportsbook operators. However, the offerings will vary as you get further down into the niche categories, such as offseason moves or specific season-long storylines. In short, some books don’t feel they’ll attract enough action in certain bets so they don’t offer them, while others are happy to provide markets when there’s an edge to be found.
What happens to futures bets if a season/game is suspended?
For specific questions on bet settlement, you should get in the habit of reviewing the exact rules at the sportsbooks you’ll be playing on as the way things are handled may vary from operator to operator. That said, the general procedure for an extreme event, such as a canceled season or event, is for markets to be considered void and for all bets to be refunded as a result.
Are Las Vegas NFL futures different from other NFL futures?
Back in the day, Las Vegas lines and odds were pretty much the last word on NFL betting. That’s just no longer the case. Sports betting has been legalized in several states, and many more will follow in the coming years. Operators that service these markets provide odds and bet types right on par with what’s offered in Sin City. While you may find an obscure bet type that’s offered in one spot over the other, you’ll generally have access to all of the NFL futures you need with major operators outside of Vegas.
What is a futures contract in the NFL?
In a nutshell, an NFL futures contract means a team is making a claim on a player. This typically happens at the end of the regular season, and the contract is generally at the league minimum salary. For salary cap purposes, the contract counts against the budget for the following season, so a futures contract signed at the end of the 2020 NFL regular season would be counted against the cap in 2021.