While the NFL season is a few months away, the futures market continues to heat up. With training camp and preseason still yet to unfold, injuries and roster changes will shake up win totals for each of these teams. However, we can still gain an edge with some NFL betting picks. Targeting win totals and playoff odds in the early months can provide an edge as lines continue to move towards the start of the season. This piece will take a look at some sharp 2021 NFL playoff betting odds, as well as some of my favorite prop picks and predictions for a few notable teams ahead of the regular season.
2021 NFL Playoff Odds: Expert Betting Picks & Predictions
Miami Dolphins + 137 (DraftKings)
Despite finishing last season 10-6, the Dolphins narrowly missed the playoffs in a competitive AFC. The Dolphins again hold favorable playoff odds at +137 on DraftKings. With the Bills widely expected to win the division (-375), Miami’s chances could come down to their ability to sneak into one of the three wild card spots.
The Dolphins continue to make significant improvements. They are still reaping the benefits of their Laremy Tunsil trade with Houston and added significant talent this offseason. They drafted Jaylen Waddle fifth overall and added Will Fuller in free agency upgrade skill position players around Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins also continue to improve protection around Tagovailoa. Last year they selected Austin Jackson in the first round, and this year they added Liam Eichenberg on Day 2.
As for quarterback, Tagovailoa expects to take a step forward in his second season after playing his first year without a full offseason. The offense will also move forward with new co-offensive coordinators Eric Studesville and George Godsey. The new offense expects to utilize more tempo, shifts and motions to better suit Tagovailoa’s style of play.
Miami draws the AFC South and NFC South on top of their divisional games. Within that cohort, they will face the Texans, Jaguars, Falcons and Jets twice. Each of those teams projects for seven wins or fewer. Also adding the Raiders and Giants as standalone games, the Dolphins set up for a winning record in 2021. They are projected for 9.1 wins across sportsbooks, and the extra wild card team added last year will only help Miami’s chances of a playoff berth. As it stands, Miami has the 10th-easiest schedule based on opponent win totals.
While the AFC is the stronger conference on paper, Miami’s winnable schedule sets up the Dolphins for a 2021 playoff berth. With the Miami Dolphins’ NFL playoff odds still at +137, this is a solid pick.
Washington Football Team +156 (FanDuel)
After winning the NFC East with a 7-9 record, the Washington Football Team will look for its second consecutive playoff berth in 2021. Playing in one of the weaker divisions in football, Washington has a clear path to the postseason. Dallas currently holds the top odds to make the playoffs in this division (-156), but a weaker NFC conference opens the door for a wild card position as well.
From a roster building standpoint, Washington made a massive upgrade at the quarterback position with the signing of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Last year, Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen all made multiple starts for the Football Team. None averaged more than 205.6 yards passing per game. Conversely, Fitzpatrick averaged 232.3 yards per game while completing 68.5% of his passes for 7.8 yards per attempt. Fitzpatrick also went over 300 yards passing in three of six starts to open the season.
Beyond the quarterback position, Washington invested in Curtis Samuel in free agency and Dyami Brown in the NFL Draft. They also had the sixth-ranked offensive line according to Pro Football Focus last year. Losing only Morgan Moses, this unit should again function as a strength in 2021. On defense, Washington also has one of the top front sevens in football. Between Chase Young, Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen, this unit ranked sixth in sacks per game last year.
Washington has one of the toughest schedules in football, ranking fifth-most difficult by opponent win totals. However, Washington still projects for 8.3 wins and has division-winning upside. They play in a weak division and face the AFC West and NFC South. Between Las Vegas, Denver, Carolina and Atlanta, none project above 7.5 wins. As for standalone opponents, Washington also faces off against the Packers potentially without Aaron Rodgers.
With positive odds to make the playoffs, Washington looks capable of capitalizing on a weak NFC. While Dallas is the favorite to win the NFC East, the odds at +156 provide enough value to take a shot in the betting markets.
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Los Angeles Chargers +137 (DraftKings)
After a 7-9 finish in 2020, the Chargers will look to take a step forward in Justin Herbert‘s second season. While the Chargers play in the same division as Kansas City (-1000 to make the playoffs), Los Angeles still has a legitimate path to a playoff berth. With plus-money odds, Los Angeles as a playoff underdog makes plenty of sense for wagers.
Los Angeles rightfully prioritized building around Herbert in Year 2. Herbert impressively averaged 289.1 yards passing per game while completing 66.6% of his passes as a rookie. Providing increased protection, the Chargers drafted Rashawn Slater in the first round of the NFL Draft. They also signed Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler in free agency. Herbert experienced pressure on 37% of his dropbacks as a rookie; improving this unit projects to subsequently improve the entire offense.
On top of their offensive additions, Los Angeles also changed coaching staffs. Management hired Brandon Staley and brought in former Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi to coordinate the offense. After working with Drew Brees for the last five seasons, Lombardi expects to implement more uptempo and no-huddle with Herbert in 2021. With ample weapons in place, Los Angeles again projects as one of the top offenses in football.
On defense, Joey Bosa returns after playing just 12 games in 2020. In the secondary, the Chargers added Asante Samuel Jr. in the second round as well. With Derwin James also returning to full health, Los Angeles has one of the most complete rosters in football. This should help the Charges improve on the 26.6 points they allowed per game last year (23rd).
As for schedule, Los Angeles ranks 11th according to opponent win totals. On top of their usual games against the AFC West, Los Angeles faces the NFC East and AFC North. With Houston also on the schedule as a standalone opponent, the Chargers have eight games against opponents projected for fewer than eight wins. With a few other close victories, the Chargers should challenge for a wild card spot in the AFC.
Between an improved roster and winnable schedule, the Chargers look like a sharp bet to make the playoffs at plus odds.
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