Four Long-Shot NFL Bets To Win Their Division This 2017 Season

Posted by Kenny Bell on Tuesday,May 23, 2017 11:40, EDT in

Parity is alive and well in the National Football League. At least four new teams — and an average of 5.7 — have made the playoffs every season since the NFL realigned in 2002. We’re still a few months left to kick off the 2017 NFL season, but here are my recommendations for four longer-shot NFL betting picks to win division titles this year.

Four Long-Shot NFL Bets To Win Their Division This 2017 Season

New Orleans Saints

The Saints are +400 long shots to win the NFC South. This will be a new-look Saints teams. Sure, they are still going to pass the ball plenty with Drew Brees under center, but I expect more emphasis on the running game after the Saints signed free-agent Adrian Peterson to team with Mark Ingram in the backfield. The trio of Ingram, Peterson and rookie Alvin Kamara more mirrors the approach the Saints used in 2009 and 2011. Those two seasons were the team’s best rushing outputs in the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era with the Saints finishing sixth in the NFL both seasons. New Orleans averaged more than 130 rushing yards per game in 2011, which complements the passing game and takes pressure off the defense. New Orleans’ 404 rushing attempts ranked 19th last season. The Saints could move into the Top 10 without anyone even noticing a change in style of play. All it would have taken last year is about two more rushing attempts per game.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The sad-sack Jaguars are the +450 long shots in the AFC South. This team does have a ton of talent, especially on defense. It could be this year’s version of the 2016 Oakland Raiders. The Jags took LSU running back Leonard Fournette at No. 4 overall and he could be this year’s Ezekiel Elliott. The 6-foot, 228-pound Fournette is the perfect fit for the ball-control, play-action offense the Jaguars want to run under new head coach Doug Marrone. But everything pretty much rides on inconsistent QB Blake Bortles. This is a make-or-break year for the third-overall pick in 2014, who has the most turnovers (63) and second-most interceptions (51) since he entered the league.

Philadelphia Eagles

Philly is the +300 third-favorite in the NFC East. Can Carson Wentz take a leap in his second season? He has some nice new weapons, led by receiver Alshon Jeffrey and running back LeGarrette Blount. Jeffery finished the 2016 season with 821 receiving yards, which would have led the Eagles. When you consider the fact that Jeffery was suspended for four games, you get an idea of how badly the Eagles struggled last season. Jordan Matthews was the only true receiver on the roster who finished with more than 400 receiving yards. Blount led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns, which was the highest total in the NFL since Adrian Peterson had 18 in 2009. He was the Patriots’ top power running back, totaling 1,161 yards on 299 carries in the regular season.

Detroit Lions

The Lions are +700 third-favorites in the NFC North. This team was on course to win its first division title since 1993 last year before Matthew Stafford injured his finger late in the season and the Lions lost their final three regular-season games. They did get a wild-card spot. Stafford is terrific, but this team needs more balance. In Jim Caldwell’s three years as coach, no back has had a 100-yard game. The running game’s been a joke the past two years (the leading rusher in 2015 had 597 yards; in 2016, 357 yards). The Lions haven’t finished better than 28th in rushing since Caldwell’s arrival in 2014, and hasn’t sniffed the top 10 since 1998. The question is how much the signings of guard T.J. Lang and tackle Rick Wagner can help that.