NFL betting: Which teams are bettors backing to make the playoffs?

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The NFL season finally begins on Thursday night. We've survived the offseason and now enter the best time of the year. Congratulations to us. We deserve this. 

The start of any season usually brings with it a lot of hope. Fans believe in their teams until they see them hit the field. People feel empowered to spit hot takes. However, actions speak louder than words. Where are bettors putting their hard-earned money?

Most bet teams to make the playoffs

Denver Broncos (+140): The Denver Broncos come in as the most bet on team to make the playoffs in terms of betting tickets written. There's no denying the talent level on the roster. Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams give the Broncos a loaded group of weapons. Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson headline an extremely capable group on defense. 

DENVER, COLORADO - AUGUST 28:  Courtland Sutton #14 of the Denver Broncos celebrates with Teddy Bridgewater #5 and Tim Patrick #81 after a second quarter touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams at Empower Field at Mile High on August 28, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Courtland Sutton of the Denver Broncos celebrates with Teddy Bridgewater and Tim Patrick after a preseason touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams. (Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The two main questions for the Broncos will be their division and their quarterback play. In the AFC West, the Kansas City Chiefs reign supreme. Behind the Chiefs, the Chargers are expected to take a big step forward with Justin Herbert entering his second season and a new coach in Brandon Staley. The Las Vegas Raiders are a true wildcard. However, if Teddy Bridgewater can efficiently distribute the ball to his weapons and limit turnovers, the Broncos could be in for a solid season in 2021. 

Detroit Lions (+700): I guess the fans of the Detroit Lions really do love their football team. With +700 odds to make the playoffs, oddsmakers don't view the Lions as a legitimate threat. I agree with the oddsmakers. This is a bad team that's more likely to compete for the number one overall draft pick rather than a playoff spot. You can't knock those backing the Lions though! Optimism is a good trait to have.  

Philadelphia Eagles (+275): Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz are out. Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts are in. The Eagles missed the playoffs last season, but they qualified for the dance three straight years before that, highlighted by their Super Bowl win in 2018. The NFC East was the worst division in football last season. Most are picking the Dallas Cowboys or Washington Football team to emerge this season, but at +275 the Eagles aren't an awful bet. 

Most bet teams to miss the playoffs

New Orleans Saints (-130): One of the main narratives of the 2020 football season was Tom Brady vs. Bill Belichick. After a dominant run together, could they survive without each other? This season, we have a similar, albeit not as juicy, situation in New Orleans. Sean Payton is entering his 15th season as the head coach of the Saints, and this will be the first one without Drew Brees. 

Bettors once again seem to be siding with the quarterback, as they are fading New Orleans' chances of making the playoffs. Will Payton be able to mold Jameis Winston into a franchise quarterback? I'm not so sure I'd be rushing to bet against the Saints this season, but others are. 

Dallas Cowboys (+105): Love them or hate them, you have an opinion on the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas struggled mightily last season after losing quarterback Dak Prescott to injury. With Prescott healthy, the main questions in Dallas are the defense and the coaching. The defensive unit was awful last season while Mike McCarthy did little to instill hope that he learned from his mistakes in Green Bay. The Cowboys are the favorites in the NFC East, but bettors aren't buying Dallas just yet. 

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 21: Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Dallas Cowboys reacts as the Dallas Cowboys take on the Houston Texans in the second half of a preseason NFL game at AT&T Stadium on August 21, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Dallas Cowboys watches during a 2021 preseason game against the Houston Texans. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Steelers (-200): After opening the 2020 season with an 11-0 record, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost 5 of their final 6 games en route to a Wild Card round thrashing at the hands of the Cleveland Browns. Things fell apart quickly for the Steelers last season, and bettors see that as a sign of things to come. Ben Roethlisberger notably wore down as the season went on, and he's not getting any younger. The Browns and the Baltimore Ravens look like legitimate Super Bowl contenders in the AFC North, making the Steelers' path to success a murky one. 

Notable line movement

Broncos to make playoffs: The Broncos opened at +275 to make the playoffs. However, bettors flocked to back Denver and oddsmakers were forced to adjust. Currently, the Broncos sit at +140 to make the playoffs. 

Washington to make playoffs: The Football Team opened at +185 to make the playoffs, but that's been bet down to +145. We outlined how bettors were backing the Cowboys to miss the playoffs. If Dallas were to not win the NFC East, Washington seems like the team most likely to take advantage. 

Colts to miss playoffs: At the start of the offseason, you could get +165 odds on the Colts to miss the playoffs. However, that price now sits at -120. Indianapolis has dealt with a bunch of injuries in training camp to key players such as Carson Wentz, T.Y. Hilton and Quenton Nelson. The Tennessee Titans are favorites to win the AFC South. Getting a wildcard from this division will be tough when you account for the strength of the other three divisions in the AFC. 

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