When it comes to the quickly-approaching 2020 NFL regular season, there are legitimate contenders, pretenders and proverbial also-rans that have no chance whatsoever of upsetting the entire apple cart. While identifying the also-rans, that are either in rebuild mode or heading in the wrong direction isn’t overly difficult as teams like Cincinnati and Jacksonville don’t have a chance to do much of anything except build for future success, separating the pretenders from contenders is a bit more difficult. Thankfully, that’s where I come in with my look at the smartest teams to bet on this coming season whether they’ve been deemed as one of the top favorites on the board or not. With that thought in mind, here is a look at my top seven teams that are the smartest teams to bet on in 2020 so you can put your bets against their NFL odds.
Smartest Picks for the 2020 NFL Season That You Should Bet On
No. 7 New England Patriots
Sure, the Patriots might not have Tom Brady under center anymore, but I’m not sure that anyone should be counting the perennially-powerful Patriots out of the Super Bowl hunt in 2020. I know the Patriots have lost a bunch of players to opt-outs for the upcoming season, but this is still a team that led the NFL in fewest points allowed a year ago (14.1 ppg) and I expect their defense to be almost, if not quite as, good as they were a year ago under defensive taskmaster Bill Belichick, the man often regarded as the best head coach in NFL history.
I love New England’s addition of 2015 league MVP Cam Newton to take over for Brady and I believe the fact that Newton will be highly motivated in 2020, to be one of the reasons the Pats exceed expectations. New England has an elite running back in Sony Michel (912 yards, 7 TDs) that Newton can hand off to early and often and I believe Belichick will find suitable replacements at almost every position that needs to be addressed because of their coronavirus pull-outs. It might be a surprise for a lot of NFL fans and betting enthusiasts if New England wins the AFC east in 2020, but it certainly won’t be for me.
No. 6 Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers went a modest 8-8 a year ago, but for me, they had one of the most successful 2019 campaigns of any team in the league as they played almost the entire season without franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center. Now, with their future Hall of Famer back, I believe the Steelers could, not only challenge Baltimore for the FC North division title, but contend for a berth in the AFC title game if all goes according to plan.
The Steelers finished the 2019 regular season ranked 27th in scoring (18.1 ppg), but a stellar fifth in points allowed (18.9 ppg). In 15 seasons prior to last year, Pittsburgh recorded just one losing record with Roethlisberger under center (2006) while recording seven seasons of double-digit victories with Roethlisberger calling the shots. Pittsburgh may have missed the playoffs a year ago, but that likely won’t be the case in 2020 and I believe Pittsburgh is one of the smartest teams to back this coming season.
No. 5 Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens might have a superstar in quarterback Lamar Jackson and they might have an elite defense that finished third in points allowed (17.6 ppg) but Baltimore checks in as my No. 5 smartest team to wager on in 2020 simply because of their last two postseason failures and the fact that Jackson still isn’t a polished passer from the pocket. Baltimore will definitely contend, but I don’t believe they are as much of locks as their NFL futures odds may suggest, especially with Pittsburgh looking a lot stronger heading into the new season than they ever were a year ago.
No. 4 San Francisco 49ers
The Niners finished eighth in points allowed last season (19.4 ppg) while also ranking a stellar second in scoring (29.9 ppg). Frisco has a powerful rushing attack, a superstar tight end (George Kittle) and defensive end (Nick Bosa), but what they don’t have is an elite quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo is good, but certainly not elite and that fact could derail their Super Bowl hopes in 2020.
No. 3 Seattle Seahawks
Seattle went 11-5 a year ago and although they finished two games behind San Francisco in the NFC West, the Seahawks also early swept the Niners to win the division while literally coming up one yard short of doing so last season. Still, Seattle is my No. 3 ‘smartest’ team to back in 2020 because of one player in particular – the incomparable Russell Wilson. I know the Seahawks need to improve a defense that finished 22nd in points allowed a year ago (24.9 ppg), but I love their additions of Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, tight end Greg Olsen and several additions along the offensive line. Seattle also added a player that should see plenty of action in first round draft pick, former Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks and to a slightly lesser degree, second round pick, Tennessee defensive end Darrell Taylor. Seattle has a future Hall of Famer Pete Carroll and I believe the Seahawks are poised to surprise in a big way in 2020.
No. 2 New Orleans Saints
New Orleans has a future Hall of Fame quarterback in the ageless Drew Brees that is still playing at an extremely high level despite being 41-years-old. While recent rumors have the Saints potentially moving dual-threat running back Alvin Kamara, the Saints have arguably the best wide receiver in football in Michael Thomas and they added to their offense by picking up veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders in free agency while also adding veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins to a defense that finished a surprising 13th in points allowed (21.3 ppg) a year ago. For me, I love New Orleans as one of the smartest picks on the board in 2020 because of the gifted Drew Brees and the motivation of having their Super Bowl hopes come to a crushing halt in each of the last three years.
No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs
I hate to beat a dead horse, but there’s a reason why the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs are prohibitive favorites heading into 2020 and my top pick as the smartest team to bet on this coming campaign. Kansas City has arguably the best quarterback on the face of the planet in Patrick Mahomes, not to mention a pair of Pro Bowl receivers in speedy wideout Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. The Chiefs drafted dual-threat running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round and he’ll see plenty of action right away. Kansas City placed the franchise tag on Pro Bowl defensive end Chris Jones and have another flat-out star in safety Tyrann Mathieu. After finishing fifth in scoring last season (28.2 ppg) and a surprising seventh in points allowed (19.3 ppg), it looks like the smartest team to back in 2020 is undoubtedly, the Kansas City Chiefs!