Scott Shapiro's NFL futures plays

August 28th, 2019

The NFL regular season is less than two weeks away and that means it is time to finalize those futures wagers.

Whether you want to take a shot with a team to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy, would rather take a stand on who will be MVP or simply want to select a team to go over or under its win total, time is running out to wager on those props at BetAmerica.

Here are a few wagers I am locking in with just eight days until the first game kicks off at Soldier Field.

Indianapolis Colts (Over/Under 7.5 wins)

Franchise quarterback Andrew Luck opted to retire over the weekend and that means a lowered expectation for Indianapolis in 2019, with Jacoby Brissett now at the helm. The question is, how much did Luck mean to the Colts?

Lots of folks are rewinding to 2017, when Brissett started 15 of 16 games for Indy and the Colts went 4-11 in his starts, but that isn't an ideal way to assess the strength of this squad, for a few reasons.

Since that losing season a couple years back, the Colts front office has turned one of the league’s worst offensive lines into one of the top units in the NFL. This should not only give Brissett more time in the pocket, but will also allow the 6-foot-4 signal caller to lean more heavily on the running game.

The Colts defense, which gave up more than 25 points per game in 2017, has also been revamped. Last season's Defensive Rookie of the Year Darius Leonard significantly improved the unit a year ago. The addition of ex-Chief Justin Houston to a youthful core should help the Colts get to the quarterback more often. Their defense likely won't be elite, but it should be markedly better than it was the last time Brissett started a game.
Second-year head coach Frank Reich is also a major asset. The ex-Bills quarterback was the offensive coordinator when the Eagles won the Super Bowl two seasons ago. He then got off to a rocky start in his first year as Indy's head coach, but showed a ton of composure and leadership to get his team to the playoffs and into the divisional round after a victory against division rival Houston in the wild-card round last season. Reich will have to regroup a bit without Luck, but this offense has enough talent to work with, especially with a number of key additions to the receiving corps.

With a plethora of weapons at Brissett’s disposal, a top-tier offensive line and one of the league’s top coaches, I still expect the Colts to be competitive in 2019, which makes the move down to 7.5 wins an overreaction to the Luck news.

Play: Over

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers make the playoffs?

The Steelers were never able to make the most of having Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown in the same huddle with future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but that does not mean they will not be successful in 2019 without either of those star position players on the roster.

Pittsburgh will need to find someone to play along with budding star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, but with one of the league’s best offensive lines and a top-notch defensewhich should continue to get better with the addition of first-round pick Devin Bushit shouldn't be assumed the Steelers are not a major player in the AFC.

Less is not always more, but the Steelers’ locker room was a circus for the past few seasons. With strong interiors on both sides of the ball, plenty of talent still at skilled positions and one of the league’s best pass rushes, Pittsburgh should be in the mix for a division title. Worst case a wild card seems extremely likely.

Play: Yes (-110)

Super Bowl winner

After a trip to the conference championships, and much of their rosters back this year, it is not surprising that the Patriots, Chiefs, Saints and Rams sit atop the Super Bowl futures market as we approach the regular season. I can poke holes in the four best teams from a year ago, but they all have solid chances to make another run. But, at better value, so do the Philadelphia Eagles.

Philly had just about everything go wrong in 2018. Not only did the Eagles lose quarterback Carson Wentz to injury late in the regular season, but they were also banged up on defense, particularly in the secondary, for most of 2019. Despite being at less than full strength, the Eagles made a late-season run back to the playoffs, won in Chicago and then almost defeated top-seeded New Orleans in the divisional round.

A year later the Eagles do not have the luxury of having Nick Foles to backup Wentz, but they are healthier and have a much stronger overall roster, which gives Philadelphia a great chance to get back to the Super Bowl. The return of veteran wideout DeSean Jackson will give them a deep threat they sorely missed a year ago. This should open things up for the dynamic tight end duo of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, as well as Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Add in the speed and quickness of Miles Sanders and one of the league’s best offensive lines, and you have an offense that should regularly post 30 points or more.

The defense is unlikely to be among the league’s best, but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was able to patch things together in a nearly impossible spot in 2018. I expect a healthier unit to be above average and good enough to get Philadelphia back to the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons. At +1200 the Eagles offer fair value.

Pick: Philadelphia Eagles (+1200)

Whether you want to play Scott's selections or go in another direction, you can do it all at BetAmerica!