NFL Futures: “Name The Finalists” Edition

NFL Futures: “Name The Finalists” Edition

NFL Futures 2020

Playing futures allows you the opportunity to freely bet or hedge against the futures with single-game moneyline bets as the playoffs roll on. For example, last week, I placed a $20 bet on a pairing the Saints with the Ravens in the Championship at +750.

Play it safe

Just to be safe, I bet $20 on the Vikings moneyline at +255, knowing I’m essentially hedging a potential payout of $170 with $20 already invested. By betting the Vikings moneyline, I’m hedging against my $20 investment with another $20 investment, knowing that if I lose the Vikings bet, I’m $40 in the hole for a possible return of $170. If I win, the Saints vs Ravens futures bet is gone, but I’ll net a profit of $31 from the Vikings victory, and I’ll be up $31 and a clean board.

For these futures bets, it’s always a safe play to bet a heavy amount on the favorites to match up in the Championship. This is so you can hedge over the next two rounds by going in low on the money line against the teams you have in the futures bets. You can then essentially repeat what I did with my futures bet.

Today we’ll go over some solid odds for “Name the Finalists” and how to properly hedge them. I’ll also discuss why sometimes futures bets just aren’t worth it when compared to a simple parlay.

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NFL Futures to consider: “Name The Finalists”

Ravens vs 49ers +230

This is the biggest chalk pick, but there’s not a lot of reasons to doubt this as a strong choice, nonetheless. The Ravens are not the team the Chiefs played early in the season. Though both teams’ defenses have improved, the Ravens have been the strongest team since their early-season matchup, so even if you aren’t sold on this, you can always make this bet and then hedge against it, considering the 49ers are currently -110 favorites in the NFC.

Example: I bet $100 on this Ravens vs 49ers +230 bet to win $230. You have to wait a week to hedge, but when the Ravens face the Chiefs — assuming both 10 point favorites win in the Divisional round — I would then bet $70 on the Chiefs moneyline +150. This way, if the Chiefs win and thereby nullify the Ravens/49ers futures bet, I would win $105 and net myself a $5 profit on the hedge. If the Ravens win and the 49ers handle either team they’ve combined to go 3-0 against already this season, you will have net yourself a $60 profit.

Of course, the assumption here is that the 49ers go clean through the NFC, which, at -110 right now, seems very likely.

Chiefs vs 49ers +415

The Chiefs are a dangerous team and have been since their defense really began showing up about a quarter of the way through the season. They beat the Ravens earlier in the season and seemed to validate themselves in the AFC favorites discussion. As the season progressed, the decline of the Patriots and ascent of the Ravens overshadowed what the Chiefs were quietly doing throughout the season, despite the key injuries hampering the team’s ceiling.

A good futures bet to hedge here is taking the Chiefs/49ers bet at $100 to win $415. If you do this, you can take the Ravens moneyline for $200 at -195 to win $103. The risk here is the 49ers on the back end, but like I said in the previous hedge scenario, the Ravens and Chiefs are both ten point favorites, so if you can stomach eating that risk, the payoff can be big.

By hedging on the Ravens side, you’re risking more by depending on the 49ers to get it done on their side, but if the Chiefs win, you’re netting a profit of $115 and if the Chiefs lose, you’re netting $3.

Titans vs Vikings +9000 (don’t hedge until Conference title round!)

Here’s why it’s tricky to make futures bets involving underdogs and why it may be better to just make a string of parlay bets. The Titans and Vikings bet is interesting but they turn bad if you hedge too early. Since the Packers are the perceived weak link among the favorites in this round, a Vikings win could result in them playing a weakened Seattle team who they played very close at a time the Seahawks had a healthy backfield.

Even if the Packers win, the Vikings will have a healthy offensive line and backfield this time around, so they won’t be significant dogs this time. If you bet $100 on this, you’ll stand to win $9,000. Here’s the tricky part though. You’ll need to make this bet with the understanding that you can’t hedge until the second leg. The truth is, if you want this to be profitable, you’ll have to sit out the entire divisional round for this to happen, so you’re banking on two big upsets happening for this to work.

Here’s why you can’t hedge until the Conference title round

The Titans have to beat the Ravens for you to begin hedging and regardless, you’ll need a big account balance to make this happen.

If the Titans win and you bet $630 the 49ers to win $200 and turn a quick $100 profit. If the Vikings win, you’re now $730 invested into the bet and have to hedge it out because you stand to lose so much by the end. The next leg, you’ll likely have to bet $2,770 on the Chiefs moneyline -325 to win $852 and profit $122.

If the Titans win, the last leg is the Packers/Seahawks with both being around -200 favorites. You’ve now invested $3,500. You can bet $8,000 to win $4,000 and net a profit of $500. If the Seahawks/Packers lose, you’ll win the $9,000 but you’ll have net a loss of $2,500 because you’ll have invested $11,500. This is why YOU HAVE TO WAIT A ROUND TO HEDGE.

Here’s why you have to wait until the Conference title round to hedge

Assuming both the Titans and the Vikings pull off upsets in the divisional round, you’ll have to bet $325 on the Chiefs vs the Titans to break even on the original $100 investment via a hedge. If the Titans win, you’re now $425 in the hole, but you can bet the last leg on the Seahawks/Packers and at what should be -200 odds, you’ll have to bet $1,000 on the Seahawks or Packers, but if one of them win, you can profit $75 from the compounded investment.

If the Vikings win, it will net you a profit of $7,575. Of course, if you want to make more money hedging along the way, go for it, since the scenario I put out is really just the most lenient hedges to maximize total profit from the original futures bet.

I hope this helps explain why futures bets are tricky, but you can always find a way to turn a profit along the way. For comparison, if you were just to bet the Vikings and the Titans moneyline parlay, a $100 bet would net you around $1,400 if both simply win in the divisional round. Although hedging can be a solid, conservative strategy along the way, it takes some careful navigating to make it worthwhile.