How to Bet on NFL Futures

Who will win Super Bowl LII this February? Nobody knows for sure, but if you look at the NFL futures market at Bovada Sportsbook, you’ll find the New England Patriots (+325) at the top of the odds list. You’ll also find the Patriots at +175 to win the AFC, and a mighty –1000 to win the AFC East. These numbers aren’t static and change as the season progresses. But it gives you an idea of what futures are all about: Betting on an event that’s happening later down the road. It’s one of the easiest bet types to understand – and very popular with recreational bettors.

It’s not just the Patriots. All 32 teams had their NFL betting lines for Super Bowl LII posted mere moments after Super Bowl LI kicked off in Houston. These odds have changed slightly over the offseason, as bettors reacted to the news of the day; for example, the Dallas Cowboys have fallen from +1000 to +1200, after RB Ezekiel Elliott was handed a six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. And the Miami Dolphins fell from +5000 to +7500 after QB Ryan Tannehill (torn ACL) was replaced by Jay Cutler, who came out of retirement after playing last year in Chicago.


Hold My Beer

With most NFL wagers, you’re paying a small commission to the sportsbook called vigorish or juice. A standard single-game bet (-110) will come with 10% juice, meaning you wager $110 to win $100 (or any multiple thereof). But when it comes to NFL futures bets, the juice is already baked right into the odds. It’s called hold percentage, referring to how much of the action the book holds onto as its fee for processing your bet.

It’s also important to note that when you make a futures bet, that money is locked up until the end of the season and the winners are declared. You won’t have the same opportunity to compound your winnings throughout the year as you would making single-game bets. Because of this, many sharp bettors prefer to make smaller wagers on the futures market, with a focus on second- or third-tier contenders who will pay out handsomely if they win. The Kansas City Chiefs (+2800) and Minnesota Vikings (+4000) fall into this category.

Fewer people bet on who will win the AFC or NFC, and fewer still on the division champions, so you might be able to find a bargain or two here. But if you want the closest thing to a dead-bolt lock, the Patriots have won eight straight AFC East titles. They’ll probably win it again this year.