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Last Call: Final Preseason NFC Futures

Will the favorites emerge from the NFC this season or will an underdog surprise everybody?

Will the favorites emerge from the NFC this season or will an underdog surprise everybody?

The Denver Broncos ensured the 2013 NFL season started with a bang Thursday night, handing the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens a 49-27 defeat.

The lopsided result saw Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning connect with a NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes, including six in the second half. Bronco fans left Sports Authority Field jubilant while a global television audience celebrated the return of football.

Of course, any elation resulting from the return of football now finds itself on hold for another 60 hours or so as we await Sunday afternoon’s kickoff proper.

Ahead of that, BettingSports.com has taken one final look at the NFC futures still on the board. We’ve detailed each team’s odds of winning the NFC championship game and representing the conference at Super Bowl XLVIII. Bettors wanting to take advantage of these early odds should heed a last orders call and lay some money down sooner rather than later.

Note: all odds quoted courtesy of Bovada.

San Francisco 49ers 4/1

The San Francisco 49ers have been sitting pretty at the top of the NFL and NFC futures since coming up short in Super Bowl XLVII. That’s a lot of pressure for a team riding a quarterback without a full season under his belt. Now for some alarming news for 49er fans: the last team to lose a Super Bowl and make a repeat visit the following season was the 1993 Buffalo Bills. The last (and only) team to lose a Super Bowl and return the following year to lift the Lombardi Trophy was the 1971 Dallas Cowboys. The odds may be with San Francisco on paper but they certainly appear to be against the Bay Area side.

Seattle Seahawks 5/1

Bookmakers are expecting the NFC West to be one wild race this season. The Seattle Seahawks have inched their way into second place on the NFC futures, thanks in part to some solid signings and an undefeated preseason. But the Seahawks will need an exceptional second season from quarterback Russell Wilson and will need to get the better of the Niners if they’re to stand any chance.

Green Bay Packers 6/1

Things have been fairly quiet in Wisconsin this offseason and the Green Bay Packers continue to fly under the radar, almost. The Packers are currently third on the NFC futures, so nobody’s writing them off, but from this vantage point, those 12/1 odds to win Super Bowl XLVIII are lookingmighty tempting. The Pack should have a potentially easier time of it this season than the Niners, but how will they fair head-to-head. We won’t have to wait long as the two meet on Sunday.

Atlanta Falcons 7/1

Expected to win the NFC South, the Atlanta Falcons are a risky bet when it comes to an NFC championship. It’s doesn’t take much of a stretch to imagine the side missing out on the postseason altogether, partly because the New Orleans Saints look a very real threat for the division title and partly because Wild Card berths could be at a premium. Add to that the fact that, whilst they managed to win last year’s divisional playoff game, the team remains unproven against high end opposition.

New Orleans Saints 10/1

Testament to how close the race in the NFC South is expected to be, the Saints sit just behind the Falcons on the NFC futures. With stability returning to the team after last year’s ‘Bountygate’ scandal, Drew Brees and the Saints have the firepower to overwhelm opponents. We’ll get an early opportunity to see if they are better than the Falcons when the two meet in the Big Easy on Sunday afternoon. Like the Packers, the Saints (at 18/1) are a tasty prospect when it comes to winning the Super Bowl.

New York Giants 12/1

While the NFC South might prove to be a close battle, it’s the NFC East that is proving almost impossible to predict. As it stands, the New York Giants are narrowly favored over Dallas and the Washington Redskins in the NFC futures, but there’s no gap between the Giants and Cowboys in the division odds. As we’ve said numerous times during our NFC East previews, whoever plays best in divisional games is going to emerge from this one. That means backing any one team at this stage is risky business.

Dallas Cowboys 14/1

The Cowboys have the tools to win the NFC East but that’s been true for the past few years, and those haven’t exactly gone according to plan. Add to this the well-documented shortcomings of the team (and Tony Romo) come playoff time, and you have a team that could break your heart if you back them now.

Chicago Bears 14/1

Organizational changes, including the addition of new head coach Marc Trestman, add a lot of uncertainty to the upcoming season for the Chicago Bears, as does last year’s fall-off and the health status of quarterback Jay Cutler. The Bears enter 2013 as an unproven commodity, and with Green Bay looking good for the NFC North title, backing the Bears is unlikely to be the most prosperous of decisions.

Washington Redskins 16/1

Can the Redskins repeat last year’s success? That’s a question that could lie solely on the shoulder pads of Robert Griffin III, returning from injury to start Monday’s opener. With a largely unchanged roster, there’s potential here, but the play of the Giants and Cowboys will be as important as Washington’s own play when it comes to getting to the postseason. From there, the Redskins would need to prove they can win in the playoffs, something the team hasn’t done since 2005.

Detroit Lions 22/1

Football fans in Motown will be desperate for the Detroit Lions to find some success. Undoubtedly, the Lions have talent where it matters, but the team was woeful a year ago and any early disappointment could be costly in 2013. If Detroit’s roster lives up to its potential, the Lions could finish second in the NFC North, but that doesn’t guarantee a playoff spot. Subsequently, it’s hard to want to back the team.

St. Louis Rams 22/1

In the second year of the Jeff Fisher era, the St. Louis Rams will look to improve on last season’s 7-9 season. Improvement is likely, although a tough schedule means the team may not win more than seven. The Rams are unlikely to make a first postseason appearance since 2004, so backing them for a NFC title would be fruitless. 2-3 years from now things might be very different.

Minnesota Vikings 25/1

Having made the playoffs last season, the Minnesota Vikings are slip sliding away, at least in the eyes of the bookmakers. Certainly the Vikings benefited from a mess of a NFC North division last year, as well as the NFC East’s ability to beat itself up. Still, who’s to say we won’t get the same again this year? And who’s to say Adrian Peterson won’t rack up another 2,000-plus yards rushing. At 25/1 the Vikings are worth taking a punt on, but there success will depend on some of last year’s underachievers as much as their own abilities.

Carolina Panthers 25/1

If they play like they did during the final six weeks of last season, the Carolina Panthers could prove to be a dark horse this season. The Panthers were 5-1 during that stretch and actually could have finished the year 6-1 had they outlasted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Week 11 overtime game. However, the unrest that seems to run through the club, and particularly the club’s relationship with quarterback Cam Newton means the team could be in for a rough time of it.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25/1

The Buccaneers finished the season heading in the opposite direction to the Panthers, closing out the year with one win from six games. The going consensus is that the Bucs will be even worse this season, and that certainly looks like a viable opinion, not least with both the Saints and Panthers looking to improve with in the division. Bettors should avoid the Buccaneers like the plague.

Philadelphia Eagles 28/1

On June 11, the Philadelphia Eagles were tied for 12th on Bovada’s list of NFL futures. While that was undoubtedly positive thinking, the Eagles now find themselves in 15th place in the NFC (and 21st in the NFL for those keeping count). With new head coach Chip Kelly looking to turn the team around, there’s plenty of things that can go wrong with the Eagles this year. As such, taking them to win the NFC isn’t a smart move.

Arizona Cardinals 66/1

The Arizona Cardinals began the offseason with 66/1 odds to win Super Bowl XLVIII. They now have 66/1 odds just to win the conference. That tells you all you need to know about the Cardinals this season. If you’re interested, the Red Birds are currently 125/1 to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

For a full list of NFL Futures, click here.

For more NFL team prop bets, click here.

For more NFL player prop bets, click here.

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