There are a few sportsbooks that are starting to release playoff odds for the NFL this season, and there are some nice values in both conferences.
We’ll start with the NFC, as I release my three best value plays for teams to make the postseason:
Arizona Cardinals (-162)
I was really surprised to see the Arizona Cardinals with this little chalk to just make the playoffs. This is a team who just got better in the offseason by adding Chandler Jones and Evan Mathis, and sure they got beat down in the NFC Championship, but they were still one win away from the Super Bowl.
Yes, the Seahawks are the best team in this division, but if the Cardinals fail to win the division, they are going to be a home seed in a wildcard game, but they will still be in the playoffs. Arizona has one of the deepest offenses and an improved defense this season. Their secondary is downright filthy good, and if Carson Palmer can stay healthy all season, this team has a chance to not only get back to the playoffs, but also get into the Super Bowl. The NFL odds of -162 are a bargain at Bet365.
New York Giants (+120)
Betway is one of three sportsbooks along with Will Hill and Bet365 that have odds for NFL teams to make the playoffs, and they are one of two that have the Giants at +120 to make the playoffs. I agree that the Cowboys are the best team in the division, but they aren't a lock to win the East. Dallas' defense may still not be very good, but their offense should be amazing, and I think they are one or two steps ahead of everyone else in that division.
However, after the top four teams in the NFC, the Seahawks, Packers, Panthers, Cardinals, the final two playoff spots are very much in play. The Cowboys won’t run away with the NFC, but even if they do, that leaves one wildcard spot basically between the Giants and Vikings. However, the Giants have the luxury of not having to play in a division with the Packers, so if New York can win all their divisional home games, as well as a few on the road, this team could easily get a wildcard spot and/or win the division. Tony Romo did miss most of the season last year, so crazier things have happened.
Atlanta Falcons (+250)
This is easily the long shot of the NFL picks, and while I can’t endorse it strongly like the two above plays, it is an interesting proposition at the price of +250 at Bovada. The Falcons are likely the second best team in their division outside of the defending NFC champion Panthers. Even though they have some shortcomings like their defense and second receiving options, if everything falls their way they could have nine wins, which would give them a shot at the playoffs.
Once again, assuming the four divisional winners are the Packers, Seahawks, Cowboys and Panthers, there is one spot up for grabs if the Cardinals take the first wildcard spot. Atlanta could be in play with the Giants and Vikings for this spot. The NFC South is a weak division outside of the Panthers, and if the Falcons can beat up on the Bucs and Saints, they have a chance of going 9-7. However, Atlanta was awful against their division last season outside of a win against the Panthers at home late in the season, so this is possibly just wishful thinking.