2022 NFL Futures Odds & Picks: Best Bets to Make Super Bowl LVII

May 2, 2022 - 5:05 PM

The dust has settled on the 2022 NFL Draft. And just like every other year, we have prematurely assigned winners and losers as well as draft steals and draft busts.

Projecting what these athletes will become years from now is practically an exercise in futility. Still, the draft clarifies things as we enter the slow period before training camp ramps up. Obviously, the rosters we see in early May won’t be exactly the same come Week 1. There will be trades, surprise cuts, and injuries.

But for the most part, we know what these NFL rosters will look like heading into the summer. That allows bettors to pounce on the value before the rest of the betting public starts thinking about the 2022 season.

Using the new info at our disposal, here are some best bets to win the AFC and NFC.

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All odds come from DraftKings Sportsbook

Best Bets to Win the AFC

Indianapolis Colts (12/1

The Colts had a productive draft despite not having a first-round selection. Indianapolis wound up with four picks on day two, and general manager Chris Ballard did a great job filling needs. The Colts added two young pass catchers in Cincinnati receiver Alec Pierce and Virginia tight end Jelani Woods. They bolstered the offensive line with offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann. And perhaps my favorite pick of their draft was their final third-round pick, Maryland safety Nick Cross.

These additions will help boost a Colts team that finished 13th in offensive DVOA and eighth in defensive DVOA. Indianapolis also upgraded at quarterback, replacing Carson Wentz with Matt Ryan.

Ryan could absolutely follow in Matthew Stafford’s footsteps and go on a Super Bowl run in his first year with a new team. Matty Ice can sometimes be incredibly conservative, but he’s still competent. Indy’s 2021 season literally cratered because of Wentz. With a tremendous offensive line and running game backed by Jonathan Taylor supporting him, there’s no reason for Ryan not to be an improvement under center.

Defensively, the Colts possess plenty of talent up front, with DeForest Buckner, Yannick Ngakoue, and Darius Leonard manning the front seven. Indianapolis is hoping new free-agent signee Stephon Gilmore can be the shutdown corner on the outside they need to pair with star slot corner Kenny Moore. New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley should have plenty to work with in making this unit a beast to play against.

It’s hard to find a better value in the AFC than the Colts at 12/1. Winning the division is entirely manageable, if not probable. The Tennessee Titans got worse during the draft, as it felt like the team put more emphasis on better positioning itself for the future. And I don’t suspect the Jaguars or Texans are ready to pose a serious threat.

Nobody will want to see Jonathan Taylor and this defense in December. And Ryan has a Super Bowl appearance (and should have a championship) on his resume. The Colts are my favorite bet to win the AFC.

Baltimore Ravens (11/1)

Baltimore is just ahead of Indianapolis, which could be an excellent team to buy low on in 2022.

Just about everything went wrong for the Ravens last season. They were decimated by injuries from the start to significant players like Marcus Peters and J.K. Dobbins, just to name a couple. Lamar Jackson struggled with injuries and illnesses throughout the year.

Despite all that adversity, Baltimore was 8-3 before collapsing down the stretch and losing their last six games. If there’s a team that should experience positive regression this season, it’s Baltimore.

Baltimore routinely nails the draft, and 2022 was no different. Safety Kyle Hamilton fell to them at No. 14. They added a potential Pro Bowl center in Tyler Lindenbaum at pick 25. They took a flyer on Michigan pass rusher David Ojabo, who suffered a torn Achilles during his pro day workout.

I don’t love to overplay the contract year narrative, but I’m expecting Jackson to be fully locked in this season as his future with the team might depend on it. During the draft, Baltimore trading away one of his favorite weapons, Marquise Brown, doesn’t help. With a healthy Dobbins plus growth from receiver Rashod Bateman, Baltimore’s offense should return to normalcy in 2022.

Defensively, I loved the hiring of Mike MacDonald as defensive coordinator. Baltimore also brought in safety Marcus Williams on a sizable deal in free agency and added Michael Pierce to the interior defensive line. Combine those additions with better injury luck, and Baltimore’s defense could return to elite status this season.

In taking the Ravens to win the AFC, I’m saying that last year’s bottoming out was due to a boatload of bad luck. This is still a strong roster with one of the best coaching staffs in the NFL. The AFC North will be challenging, but the extra wild card spot gives Baltimore some leeway.

It wouldn’t stun me if the Ravens bounced back and went on a deep run.

Best Bets to win the NFC 

Minnesota Vikings (22/1)

Finding value in the NFC was admittedly the tougher exercise. It feels as if the Buccaneers and defending champion Rams are the clear-cut top teams in the conference. The sportsbooks know this, which is why their odds are rather unappealing. While taking Tampa at +350 and Los Angeles at +450 aren’t bad bets, they don’t offer a ton of value.

The problem is I can poke holes in just about every team below Tampa and L.A. on the board. The Packers haven’t had the best offseason and have stripped Aaron Rodgers of his only trustworthy weapon. The San Francisco 49ers could be going with a second-year QB who looked lost at times as a rookie. Dallas has the talent, but I don’t trust Dak Prescott and Mike McCarthy. I’m not tying up any money in an Arizona team led by Kliff Kingsbury. And while Philadelphia’s roster might be really good, I’m still not sold on Jalen Hurts.

So I’m going further down the list and taking a stab at the Vikings. Perhaps former Rams assistant Kevin O’Connell can follow in Zac Taylor’s footsteps and lead an improbable Super Bowl run.

Minnesota has a solid roster, and they finished 16th in DVOA last season. They have the firepower offensively with Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen. They bolstered their most significant needs — the secondary and offensive line — throughout free agency and the draft.

O’Connell should bring a more contemporary approach after Mike Zimmer’s schtick grew stale. The Packers are still the frontrunners in the division, but they’re more vulnerable than in years past. The rest of the division is still rebuilding.

This is admittedly a smaller bet, but I see value on a talented roster that’ll welcome the change in management.

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