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2023 NFL Divisional Futures Picks & Best Bets To Back Today

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 9 mins

2023 NFL Divisional Futures Picks & Best Bets To Back Today

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The 2023 NFL betting season kicks off on Sept. 7 when Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs host Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions. That offers ample time to attack the NFL futures markets. 

While choosing a Super Bowl champion is always the favorite of sports bettors, divisional futures have exploded in recent years. After all, you’re only picking a winner from a field of four teams instead of 32, and it isn’t subject to the unpredictable nature of the one-and-done NFL Playoffs. 

Four of the eight preseason favorites to win their division did so. Six of the eight winners were at plus odds before the start of the season, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, who took the AFC South, despite being +750 on betting apps, to do so. 

Bookies.com NFL handicapper Adam Thompson, who hit on more than half of his divisional NFL futures picks in 2022, offers up his top-five selections for the coming season. (Odds courtesy of BetMGM)

2023 NFL Divisional Futures Best Bets

Market Pick Best Odds
NFL - NFC - Division West
NFL - NFC - Division East
NFL - AFC - Division East
NFL - AFC - Division North
NFL - NFC - Division South

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NFC West Division Winner: San Francisco 49ers

Odds: -165 at BetMGM Sportsbook  

The Niners won this division by four games over the Seahawks. It was a two-team race last year and should be again this season, with Seattle (+195) again a contender and the Rams (+900)and Cardinals (+2500) total afterthoughts. 

By this handicapper’s estimation, the 49ers own the NFL’s best defense coming into 2023. Teams are not going to be able to run against it, and the pass D is top-five as well. Offensively, there are weapons galore, with Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle among the best and most versatile at their positions. 

The big question, of course, is QB. Brock Purdy was 7-0 as a starter before being injured in the playoffs. He gets the ball to begin the year, but can the 2022 7th-round pick keep it up for his sophomore season? Is Trey Lance breathing down his neck? Not at the moment, but things change quickly in the NFL.

The Seahawks are going to be better than last year, but 4-5 games better to catch the Niners? That’s a big ask. 

Win NFC East Division Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Odds: -110 at BetMGM Sportsbook  

This was the top division in the NFL last year. The Eagles took it at 14-3 en route to an NFC Championship and Super Bowl berth. The Cowboys finished 12-5 but the Giants and Commanders were competitive as well. 

Dallas is a legit contender, not just for the East but for the NFC and the Super Bowl. There are certainly questions – how quickly and effectively will Tony Pollard return from a torn ACL? Dak Prescott became the first player in NFL history to miss five games but still lead the league in INTs. 

The Eagles? They have almost no issues going into Week 1. They might have the best O-line and D-line in football, revamped a run game and Jalen Hurts may still be trending upward after taking second in MVP voting last year. The Eagles are my pick to win the Super Bowl, so taking them at near even-money to win the division is the play. 

Win AFC East Division Winner: Miami Dolphins

Odds: +275 at BetMGM Sportsbook

The East was a tough division in 2022. Buffalo won it handily at 13-3, but just two games separated the Dolphins (9-8), Patriots (8-9) and Jets (7-10) in the standings. 

Miami is No. 3 on the board in this division this season, expectedly behind the powerful Bills (+130) and slightly under Aaron Rodgers’ Jets (+250). Miami’s big issue last season was passing defense, where it ranked 25th in the league. So the team acquired three-time All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey and used a first-round pick on Cam Smith, another corner. 

The key is the health of Ramsey (torn meniscus) and QB Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins were 8-5 when he played last season, and 1-3 when he didn’t. He led the NFL in TD percentage, yards per attempt and yards per reception, and QB rating. Tua plays, Jalen plays, Miami is a force. 

The division won’t be easy, though one could argue Buffalo’s defense will take a slight dip and questions at running back and Stefon Diggs’ mental focus are out there. The value is there for the Dolphins. 

AFC North Division Winner: Cleveland Browns

Odds: +375 at BetMGM Sportsbook  

The Browns were a trendy Super Bowl pick last year. Then Deshaun Watson got suspended for most of the year. By the time he came back, the Browns were in a hole, and Watson didn’t play well en route to a 7-10 and last-place finish in the North. 

This is a huge prove-it season for Watson, who led the league in passing in 2020, his last full NFL season. If he plays to his capabilities, this offense, with Nick Chubb running the ball and a revamped WR corps (featuring new addition Elijah Moore), the Browns should be a force. 

Cleveland spent much of its offseason ensuring that Myles Garrett can’t be double-teamed on every play anymore, adding edge Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Za’Darius Smith, among others. The team is stocked with potential playmakers on both sides of the ball. 

The Bengals and Ravens, and to a lesser extent the Steelers, are all capable. Cincy has the league’s most-feared passing attack, but its pass defense and run game don’t match up with the Browns. The same goes for Baltimore. Cleveland can win this. At worst, it’s another solid value choice. 

NFC South Division Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Odds: +750 at BetMGM Sportsbook  

This is the ultimate flyer pick. The Bucs won the South in ’22, but replacing Tom Brady with Baker Mayfield isn’t exactly a lateral move, despite how clearly diminished Brady looked at times last year. 

The run game is likely to be subpar, which means more pressure on Mayfield to make plays. That could end very poorly, or with unproven Kyle Trask under center before long. 

But the defense was top 10 last year and should be just as competent. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin return to catch passes. There’s also the question of competition. 

All four teams in the division finished 8-9 or 7-10 last year, making the South a free for all. Massive salary cap issues forced the Saints to jettison a lot of talent this offseason. Like the Bucs, the Falcons and Panthers have their own questions at QB as well. The difference between those teams is Tampa’s defense was way better than Atlanta’s (27th) and Carolina’s (22nd). 

Does defense win (divisional) championships? We’ll find out.

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About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been established as one of the nation's premier handicappers, specializing in the NFL where he's hit on more than 60% over the past three years. Adam's NBA, PGA and horse racing picks have also produced major winners over the last 12 months. His customized NFL and NBA odds for players and teams have been picked up by hundreds of websites over the past year.