The 2020 NFL season is still a few months away but that won’t stop us from looking for value picks. Franchises looked poised to play this year despite the COVID concerns, even if that means games are played without fans in attendance. We know we’ll be betting regardless of whether we’re watching from home or in the stands.
We’ve scoured our favorite betting sites to find the best NFL divisional value bets for the 2020 season. The offseason has led to some clearly improved rosters and others that have us scratching our heads. Now is the time to get the best return with our future NFL picks.
Make sure to let us know what your top divisional bets for 2020 are so we can compare our thoughts.
The battle for the AFC East is between the upstart Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots. Surprisingly, the Patriots have similar odds as the Bills despite losing Tom Brady and replacing him with a second-year quarterback and complete unknown Jarrett Stidham. That seems insane despite the quality of the Patriots’ coaching staff and defense.
The Bills have everything it takes to win the division by multiple games. Though both the Dolphins and Jets figure to be much more competitive than last year, the Bills have rounded out their roster as well as any team in the conference. That doesn’t mean they’re ready for a Super Bowl run but unless the Patriots sign Cam Newton and he proves to be the quarterback he was several years ago, the Bills at +120 at BookMaker are an excellent value.
It’s not easy to commit to a line that returns less than two dollars for every dollar spent, but the AFC North is clearly the Ravens‘ unless you believe Lamar Jackson may suffer a significant injury. Jackson avoids contact as well as any ball-carrying playmaker, but those looking for a big return may opt to look at Pittsburgh or Cleveland as sleepers instead of going with the favorite. I’m not willing to take that risk though.
The Steelers will be relying on an ancient and declined Ben Roethlisberger to make chicken salad with a supporting cast that’s vastly worse than what he grew accustomed to years ago. The 38-year-old has had impressive numbers for many years in an explosive offense, but the trend of turnovers and lazy mechanics must be reversed. This defense is playoff-caliber, but is Roethlisberger going to stay healthy and be able to lift his young core of playmakers?
Cleveland‘s another major question mark. This is a massive year for Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham in Cleveland despite both entering their second season. New head coach Kevin Stefanski looked like a good hire and he has plenty of stars on the roster to win with, but it’s still a young staff and collection of talent. I like their value at +475 at BetOnline if you’re going against the Ravens.
My bold prediction is neither will be significant. Rivers had an amazing season in 2018 and is undoubtedly behind a better offensive line this year, but his playmakers are limited and the defense isn’t quite as good as Tennessee’s. The Titans will likely lose some of their luster as Ryan Tannehill isn’t as elite, and defenses adjust to their run-heavy approach. But their formula is strong and the talent is good overall, so I’ll be going with the slight underdog with Tennessee because of the value.
The Colts‘ defense has a lot to prove after choosing to invest in DeForest Buckner and largely ignoring the cornerback position. Signing Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie over keeping Pierre Desir was a shockingly poor move, and another young talent at safety, linebacker and defensive end must emerge as consistent performers.
I prefer Tennessee’s odds at Bovada because largely, I know what I’m getting.
The obvious choice to win the AFC West is the reigning Super Bowl winner, but Kansas City is -556 to win. Even if you’re willing to bet several thousand dollars in order to win a few hundred, there’s no value here. Going with the next-best option is a tough one to decide but the payout could be massive if Patrick Mahomes suffers another injury and misses significant time.
The Chargers have the best roster, and the Raiders have the allure of being in Vegas with Jon Gruden, but I like the Denver Broncos most. They offer the most upside at quarterback in 2020 over Tyrod Taylor, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr, and their defense has been more durable than the Chargers’. You can take your pick here, but give me this loaded, young roster with a defensive-minded head coach to be a pain for opponents each week.
I’m buying the Dallas Cowboys this offseason despite my lukewarm feelings on Mike McCarthy. I don’t think McCarthy needs to be the home run hire that some had hoped for in order for him to be an upgrade over Jason Garrett. He inherited quite the offensive collection of talent, including the shocking pick of CeeDee Lamb, and that should vault them into the 10-win range even after their disappointing decision to let Byron Jones walk.
That doesn’t mean the Philadelphia Eagles will allow the Cowboys to win the division with ease, though. The Eagles still possess a terrific offensive line, a playmaking quarterback and a deep defensive front. Plus the addition of Darius Slay will help address the Achilles’ Heel of their defense.
The difference for me is the offensive supporting cast being in favor of Dallas, and the reliability of Dak Prescott. Carson Wentz has brilliant moments but still has question marks about his decision-making and durability. The Eagles are an understandable value pick at +110 at Heritage, but Dallas has the strong resume today.
The Green Bay Packers had a fairly fraudulent 13-win season last year and utterly failed to support a good but lacking roster this offseason. The offense returns with a nearly-identical cast, and I doubt second-round reach A.J. Dillion will earn significant touches away from an already efficient Aaron Jones. Even defensively, their lone addition of Christian Kirksey comes with the asterisk that he’s coming off the worst season of his career.
Meanwhile the Minnesota Vikings have nicely retooled their roster with limited assets. They nailed their first three picks with Justin Jefferson, Jeff Gladney and Ezra Cleveland. Losing Stefon Diggs is a major blow, but that situation had grown untenable, and getting another technician with upside in Jefferson to replace him will help ease the pain.
Expect the Vikings to continue to win with the familiar formula of limiting the pressure on Kirk Cousins’ shoulder on offense, and being a fiercely physical and stingy unit on defense. The Bears and Lions don’t have a shot at the divisional crown this year, so I’ll go with the team I think I can count on more weekly after a few upgrades.
The divisional games in the NFC South should be quite fun. The offensive talent on each team is notable, and I have a lot of interest in seeing how Matt Rhule’s first year goes with Teddy Bridgewater in Carolina. Of course, all-time quarterbacks Tom Brady and Drew Brees will dominate headlines, but Matt Ryan still has enough around him for the Falcons to be heard from.
I think the Buccaneers are the most competitive and best Super Bowl contenders within the division. Brees’ arm looked shot late last year and that’s despite missing a large chunk of the season, and his recent comments could divide the locker room. The Saints‘ offense will churn points and yards again but the defensive upside is limited, whereas the Buccaneers are trending upwards.
Some faith is needed that the end of 2019 wasn’t a fluke in terms of how the young Bucs grew in the secondary and that Brady won’t sharply decline. I’m willing to make that bet for this +125 return because I love this offensive collection and coaching staff.
The Los Angeles Rams have grossly mismanaged their assets and roster over the last two years, and the Arizona Cardinals are a young but promising team that just isn’t ready yet. This division will surely come down to two excellent rosters and coaching staffs, just as it did last year. It would stun me if both the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks don’t make the playoffs in 2020.
The 49ers still have the best overall roster in the conference despite losing Buckner and possessing just two significant draft picks to bolster their roster. Their recipe will work as Trent Williams was an amazing addition for meager mid-round picks, and their defense should still be excellent as Javon Kinlaw takes some of the snaps left by Buckner.
Seattle is also an impressive team but their formula has been tried and it fails too often. There’s still so much pressure on Russell Wilson to create on his own that we can almost be sure their engine will break down at some point. This team was ripe for a trade for Stefon Diggs or DeAndre Hopkins, but instead they selected a coverage linebacker.
Their old school valuations and mismanagement don’t make them a bad franchise, but it limits their upside and margin for error.