There might be seven teams in each conference that make the playoffs, there might be eight… frankly, who knows if we’re even getting an NFL postseason.
I won’t pretend to know.
But should we reach the finish line, I like two underdog teams to win their divisions.
Frankly, there’s so much value in these two bets, that I might just parlay the two.
AFC East Winner: Miami Dolphins
I understand the skepticism. Rookie quarterback.
The team that has been terrible for the last few years. A division that’s had a clear favorite since Day One.
I don’t care about any of that.
The Dolphins are the class of the East, and I expect them to prove that down the home stretch.
There might be a game where rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa struggles, but he has weapons and a coaching staff that knows how to properly game-plan for a rookie. He doesn’t have to win the Dolphins games. The 52-man roster around him is good enough to do that.
And the Dolphins’ defense. Oh that defense. There’s something special about that unit.
Miami has allowed 161 points this season, tied for the league-low with the Steelers. No one is questioning the Steeler’s defense, right?
Now, it’s not perfect, but it’s ranked No. 8 in pass defense this season, and that’s the number that I really care about. Yes, the rushing defense has been poor, statistically, but I don’t actually see the structural deficiencies. I think that number improves in the weeks to come. Let the fact that they held Chase Edmonds to 2.8 yards per carry on 25 attempts last week guide you.
But there’s another angle to this bet: I’m fading the Bills.
I like so much of what Buffalo has done in recent years, and I’m not here to tell you that Josh Allen is a bad quarterback, but I straight up do not trust their defense. The Bills, despite having a defensive-minded head coach, are allowing as many points per game as the Packers, whose defense is certified bad. Miami and — you guessed it — Pittsburgh are tied when it comes to opponent PPG.
I would be stunned if Week 17 the AFC East title didn’t come down to Week 17 and a showdown between the Bills and Dolphins in Buffalo.
If that indeed comes to pass, right now you’d effectively be betting -600 that Buffalo wins that game and the division. You’d get a +460 line on the Dolphins.
That’s just great value.
NFC West winner: Arizona Cardinals
The Seahawks are the class of the division right now, but they’re starting to slip.
And we’ve seen Arizona already beat them this year.
I’m not ruling out a Rams division victory possibility — they have a strong defense and an offense that can put up points when conditions are perfect — but I like the Cardinals +480 odds quite a bit more.
Arizona can score on anybody. Full stop. That matters. And their defense, while not particularly impressive, is better than Seattle’s.
I’d like them against the Rams, and I’ll bet them to beat the Seahawks again next Thursday night.
I would not be shocked if it only takes 11 wins to win the NFC West — such is the parity of the division. Why can’t Arizona reach that number?
The big reason why I’m in on Arizona is Kyler Murray.
Everyone can see that he’s the real deal. There’s no doubt about that. But I can also see the limitations. He makes some bone-headed throws. Free possessions for the other team isn’t a good formula
But Murray is also young. At 23 years old with 24 career starts, he’s learning on the fly, and I would say his improvement is progressive.
He’s already awesome, but he has one more level to go. What’s to say he doesn’t reach that level — what’s to say he stops throwing bad picks — in the final two months of the season?
I’m betting on that. And so I’m betting on the Cardinals.
Best Bets for Week 10
New Orleans -10 vs. San Francisco
The Saints will be able to score at will against this Niners’ defense, just like they did last year. Meanwhile, can you trust San Francisco to get 20?
Tampa Bay at Carolina (+6)
The tape is out on how to stop Tom Brady. Matt Rhule is an outstanding defensive coach and this Panthers team has players on both sides of the ball. I like them to make life difficult and cover.
Buffalo at Arizona Under 56.5
This total has jumped up more than a touchdown. I don’t disagree with the movement, but this is an over shift. Too many strange things can happen in a football game.