Aug 23, 2021
By Tony Dunst
It’s that time of year where I started to get excited for football, and that means I’m flipping through sportsbooks pretending I’ll beat the lines. I can only watch so much pre-season before pining for the real thing, and futures markets are a fun exercise for thinking about the regular season. I’ll admit the money is better spent blindly firing on crypto or obscure NFT’s, but if you watch tons of football then the sweat equity evens it out. So if I were going to splash around on the more popular betting lines for the season (as of Aug 20th), here’s what I’d take:
1. Super Bowl Champion: It feels a little easy to take one of the half-dozen favorites here and I don’t feel especially strong about any of them, so I like a longer shot on Miami at 38 to 1. Those are the longest odds on any team available at or around their 9.5 win total (although the Vikings getting 50 to 1 with a 9 win total is intriguing), and they’re an ascending team with plenty of young talent. It’s not great that they play in a tough division with the Bills and Patriots, but if Tua takes a leap with an uninterrupted year to prepare they could exceed expectations.
2. MVP: Over the last 15 years the MVP has almost always been a QB on an elite team who puts up big passing stats, save Lamar Jackson and Adrian Peterson. And since the MVP is a slightly subjective award, it helps when the player has a narrative of some kind working in their favor. For those reasons I like Dak Prescott at 16 to 1, coming back from his ankle injury. Leading up to his injury, Dak was leading the league in passing yards and had a 68% completion rate, and he’s flanked by an excellent set of weapons on this offense. Thanks to the Cowboys recent defensive woes, Dak is often forced into shoot-outs that inflate his stats even further (he threw for over 450 yards in 3 of 5 games played last year but lost two of them), and if he’s successful he’ll have enormous support from the media for returning to form after injury.
3. Offensive Rookie of the Year: The quarterback position is a favorite for this award in any year, and seems especially so in 2021 when we’ll see a handful of rookie QB’s starting in week one. And I do think starting week 1 is the key point here; the guys locked into realistic quarterback competitions are probably bad bets here and simply can’t rack up the same volume of stats if they only get their shot a month into the season. If I had to pick now, I’d take Zack Wilson at 10 to 1 since he’s getting over triple the price of Trevor Laurence and they’re the only two named starters…but I also like the idea of seeking out the best price on Justin Fields and Trey Lance (I found Fields at 8 and Lance at 7) then trying to jump quickly if either gets named the starter before week 1. I like Fields as the better talent with the better price, but Lance has the higher win total and better offensive line, so depending how you weight those factors pick your guy and bet accordingly.