NFL Futures: Which Teams Should You Bet On to Win the NFC?
The NFC has been a revolving door for Super Bowl appearances lately as six different teams have made the big game in the past six seasons -- eight different squads over the last 10 years overall. As tough as it has been to predict the NFC Champion, the best question to ask heading into 2020 is this -- can anyone dethrone the San Francisco 49ers?
The odds at FanDuel Sportsbook have the 49ers the favorite. Should you bet on San Fran to repeat as conference champions, or should you bet on someone else?
Let's take a look at the three best bets to win the NFC Championship in 2020, starting with the Niners.
San Francisco 49ers (+480)
The 49ers' success from last season was no fluke, and oddsmakers agree as San Fran is the clear favorite over the rest of the NFC. Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy Garoppolo and a great defense engineered one of the most impressive turnaround seasons of all-time -- going from 4-12 in 2018 to 13-3 in 2019.
In Jimmy G's first full season as a starting quarterback, Shanahan took off the training wheels as Garoppolo ripped off 3,978 yards through the air for 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The 49ers' defense was the backbone of the Super Bowl run, ranking second in total yards per game (281.8) and eighth in points per game (19.6). The 49ers haven't made a splash in free agency as they're content with their loaded roster entering 2020, and they're tied for the fifth-toughest schedule going off opponent win percentage in 2019 (52.7%).
While the D was great, the 49ers' offense was solid, too, finishing the season second in points per game (29.9), second in rushing yards per game (144.1), and 13th in passing yards per game (237.0). The running back trio of Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, and Matt Breida all return in 2020 after all three rushed for more than 500 yards -- combining for 1,939 yards, 15 rushing touchdowns and 4 receiving touchdowns. George Kittle was a stud at tight end, and Deebo Samuel improved as the year went on.
The 49ers will miss the departure of Emmanuel Sanders -- to our next team on the list -- but they have more than enough weapons on both sides of the ball to win the NFC West and make another Super Bowl.
New Orleans Saints (+700)
Drew Brees returns to New Orleans on a two-year deal with some unfinished business as they've had three straight playoff appearances with no Super Bowl showings. The Saints went out and added the aforementioned Sanders on offense and Malcolm Jenkins on defense to solidify an already impressive roster.
The Saints have gone 13-3 in consecutive seasons and 37-11 over the last three seasons. New Orleans has the second-best odds for an NFC title (+700) and the best odds among all NFC teams to win their division (-110).
The Saints' schedule works in their favor as it's the ninth-easiest (49.0%). Their three NFC South opponents went 38-58 (39.5%) last season, and their rotational opponents ended 2019 with a 65-62-1 (50.7%) record. Their eight games versus the NFC North and AFC West gives them home games versus three of the best teams in those divisions (Packers, Chiefs and Vikings).
There's no slowing down Michael Thomas, who set the NFL single-season record for receptions (149) with three different quarterbacks throwing him the ball last season as Brees played 11 of 16 games. Add in Sanders -- who should be Brees' best number-two wideout since Brandin Cooks -- to Thomas, Latavius Murray, Alvin Kamara, Taysom Hill and Jared Cook, and you're looking at an offense that could be better than they were in 2019, when they ranked third in points per game (28.6).
The Saints' defense stole the show last season, too, as they allowed their second-lowest points per game total (21.3) and total points (341) in the last six seasons.
New Orleans is oddsmakers best bet to dethrone the 49ers, and they're my personal pick to win the NFC. The Saints' schedule provides them with a favorable opportunity to get the top seed in the NFC, and I like the value here at +700.
Philadelphia Eagles (+900)
The Philadelphia Eagles won their division last season at 9-7, closing out the final month of the regular season on a four-game winning streak. Philadelphia eventually lost in the Wild Card Round to Seattle, but given all the injuries Philly had to deal with, including an injury to Carson Wentz in said playoff game, the season was very much a success.
The Eagles have secured a playoff spot in three straight seasons. Philadelphia has gone 38-26 in four years under Doug Pederson, and they are AFC East co-favorites with the Dallas Cowboys at +125.
The Eagles enter 2020 with the eighth-easiest strength of schedule (.484), the most favorable slate of the three teams mentioned here. Outside of Philly, the NFC East finished 30-66 last year, and the Eagles' 2020 rotational opponents had a 68-59-1 (53.1%) record.
The Eagles lost five games by eight points or fewer last season, but have they done enough so far this offseason to improve their defense? We won't know for sure until the season kicks off, but they're definitely trying to address the problem.
Philadelphia's defense struggled at times last season, especially versus the pass, as they gave up 22.1 points per game (15th) and 239.6 passing yards per game (19th). The two strong suits of the defense were that they ranked 10th in total yards per game (360.8) and third in rushing yards per game (90.1). Philadelphia went out and added Javon Hargrave to lineup alongside Fletcher Cox, improving the already dominant rushing defense, and they traded for corner Darius Slay, which should prove to be a huge pickup.
Don't count out Philly winning the NFC in 2020.