Every new NFL season brings with it changes and uncertainty. Some teams will pleasantly surprise, while others will disappoint. We know the New England Patriots will compete for a Super Bowl title until the end of time, but everything else is a mystery from year to year.
Last season, the Kansas City Chiefs were 30-1 to win the Super Bowl and Patrick Mahomes was 40-1 to win MVP. The quarterback cashed for bettors and the Chiefs were a Dee Ford offsides away from a Super Bowl appearance. Meanwhile, the Steelers were 12-1 in the preseason to win the Super Bowl and didn't even make the playoffs. Just business as usual in the NFL.
We know everything won't go as scripted, so here are our five bold betting predictions for the upcoming season.
The Ravens to win it all? You better believe it.
Baltimore is being undervalued in the betting market. The Ravens opened 20-1 in January to win the Super Bowl but saw their odds move to 40-1. That's great value for a team likely to finish among the top five in both rushing offense and total defense.
The X-factor is quarterback Lamar Jackson. Baltimore will make a serious run if he develops into an above-average passer. The Ravens are one of the most talented teams in the AFC but oddsmakers aren't buying into the sophomore signal-caller, which is why they're the seventh down the list to win the conference at 20-1.
This bet really comes down to value. Even if you love the Cleveland Browns, how much better on paper are they than the Ravens? Cleveland is 9-1 to win the AFC and 18-1 to win the Super Bowl, and all that hype has created value with the Ravens in the futures market.
Baltimore is a 5.5-point favorite over the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. If it wins that game easily and Jackson plays well, you can wave goodbye to that 40-1 number. Grab it now and ride the Ravens all the way to a Super Bowl title.
Keeping with the Ravens, Jackson at 55-1 to win MVP is crazy. We're talking about a player who has a legitimate shot to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 more. Those sound like MVP numbers to us.
Remember, Jackson opened last season as Joe Flacco's backup. He didn't make his first start until Week 10 and finished with 1,201 passing yards, 695 rushing yards, and 11 total touchdowns. Imagine the stats he'll put up in an offense designed to fit his talents? Scary.
The Ravens will win the division and Jackson will become the second long shot in as many years to take home MVP honors.
There is being on an island and then there's picking the Lions to win the NFC North. Well, say hello to this year's surprise team.
Stick with me here. The Lions finished 6-10 in Matt Patricia's first season and lost three games by three points or fewer. Patricia has built up the offensive and defensive lines since going to Detroit and has an established quarterback in Matthew Stafford. The Lions have enough talent to compete for a division title, so it comes down to whether Patricia is the right coach to get the most out of his personnel.
The Chicago Bears are the favorites to win the NFC North, and rightfully so, but any of the other three teams can make a serious playoff push if things fall the right way. Look for the Lions to blow out the Arizona Cardinals in the opener and use that early momentum to capture the NFC North title.
The Bills have been to the playoffs only one time in the last 19 years (2017) and oddsmakers don't love Buffalo's chances to make the postseason this campaign. We disagree.
Sean McDermott is 15-17 in two seasons as the head coach, and while that may not sound overly impressive, the 45-year-old led Buffalo to the playoffs two years ago with Tyrod Taylor under center and a 6-10 record last season despite some of the worst quarterback play you'll ever see. Sorry, Nathan Peterman.
The New York Jets are the flavor of the month among fans, media, and analysts. However, people are overlooking a much-improved Bills team. The AFC East is interesting because the Patriots will likely win the division and the Miami Dolphins are projected to finish last. That leaves the Jets and Bills to potentially fight for a playoff spot.
We'll call for McDermott to work his magic again and lead Buffalo to its second playoff appearance in three years.
Oddsmakers don't appear to be all-in on Conner. That's a mistake bettors can exploit, as the 24-year-old is a serious threat to lead the league in rushing yards.
Conner ran for 973 yards in his first season as a starter and should easily exceed that total in 2019. Despite averaging 4.5 yards per attempt and scoring 12 touchdowns, Conner received just 215 carries. He missed three games, and Pittsburgh fielded a young defense, which led to a lot of shootouts and Ben Roethlisberger topping the NFL in passing yards. The Steelers' defense should improve this season and the offense will be more balanced as a result.
Don't buy into the Jaylen Samuels love. Conner will be a workhorse this year and run for 1,300-plus yards. Jump all over him at 28-1.