With minicamps and OTAs in the rearview mirror, we are in the dead period of the NFL calendar. While there may not be much football for us to digest over these next few weeks before training camps open up, there's still an opportunity to get a leg up on the looming 2022 season as it relates to the futures market. If you peruse it hard enough, there are some valuable tickets to be snatched up over this time.
Below, we're going to dive into three of my favorite futures bets that are all currently paying out plus money.
All NFL odds via Caesars Sportsbook.
Comeback Player of the Year: Jameis Winston
In all honesty, the Comeback Player of the Year odds boggle my mind. Titans running back Derrick Henry is currently the betting favorite at +350 and that doesn't really make much sense. While a Jones fracture in his foot took a chunk out of his 2021 season, he did return for the playoffs and rushed 20 times for 62 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the Bengals. If we're giving an award to someone for their comeback efforts for next season, isn't it kind of silly if we give it to a guy who technically had already returned to action?
That's why Jameis Winston --- who suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Week 8 -- should be looked at as the clear favorite for this award. After a flirtation with Deshaun Watson flamed out, New Orleans opted to re-sign him to a two-year, $28 million deal and have surrounded him with new weapons like rookie wideout Chris Olave and veteran receiver Jarvis Landry, along with returning players like Michael Thomas.
In the seven games Winston did play last season, the Saints were 5-2 and he had 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions. Given that these types of awards gravitate to quarterbacks, Winston should be the slam dunk winner if he resumes that level of play in 2022 and New Orleans is in playoff contention.
Meanwhile, It's also laughable that Deshaun Watson currently owns the third-highest odds for CPOY at +700. Even if he put together the greatest season of all time, would the voters really reward him with the honor, factoring in that he missed last season due to the 24 allegations of sexual misconduct?
Again, these odds boggle the mind, but don't sleep on the opportunity to bet Winston here.
Lowest scoring team in the NFL: Bears
The Chicago Bears are currently tied for the lowest odds to win the NFC North and are -440 to miss the playoffs. That's a long way of saying that the oddsmakers don't exactly think they'll be making much noise in 2022. I'd agree with that assumption and take it one step further: Chicago has a chance to be the lowest-scoring team in the NFL next season.
This offseason, they have seen more offensive talent -- like receiver Allen Robinson -- leave the organization than come in. New GM Ryan Poles' first two picks at the NFL draft were on the defensive side of the ball and new head coach Matt Eberflus is a former defensive coordinator for the Colts, so he has more of a defensive background than anything else.
With the likes of Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, and Equanimeous St. Brown as Chicago's top three receivers, that's not a whole lot for second-year quarterback Justin Fields to work with. Fields' best weapon in this offense is running back David Montgomery, but centering your offensive attack around the ground game will cap Chicago's scoring ability. Meanwhile, in the 10 games that Fields started during his rookie campaign in 2021, the Bears averaged 16.8 points per game, which would have been good for the fourth-lowest points scored in the NFL.
Currently, the Houston Texans (+500) and Atlanta Falcons (+600) are the only teams with worse odds in this category. As it relates to Houston, Davis Mills showed promise during his rookie year and has better pass-catching weapons around him, headlined by Brandin Cooks. Meanwhile, the Falcons could be a legit contender for the worst record in the NFL next year, but Marcus Mariota is a capable veteran quarterback that head coach Arthur Smith (a former offensive coordinator) should be able to put up points with, especially with weapons like tight end Kyle Pitts, utility weapons Cordarrelle Patterson and first-round rookie wideout Drake London.
Division winner: Rams
If you can get the defending Super Bowl champions to win their division at plus money, run to the ticket window. The Rams are still the favorite to come out of the NFC West, but getting them at +135 makes this a very attractive bet at this stage of the offseason.
More than in recent years, the NFC West is in a state of uncertainty. The Seattle Seahawks traded away Russell Wilson and currently have Drew Lock and Geno Smith duking it out for the starting job. In Arizona, they have stumbled down the stretch under Kliff Kingsbury, could possibly have a disgruntled Kyler Murray on their hands as he seeks a new contract, and they'll be without star receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games of the season during to a PED suspension. The Cards also lost pass rusher Chandler Jones and receiver Christian Kirk in free agency.
The biggest threat to the Rams is the San Francisco 49ers, who'll likely be rolling out a first-year start in Trey Lance. While the organization has held firm that they won't trade him, Deebo Samuel's future with the team is also clouded in mystery until he receives a new contract.
That leaves the Rams as the only team in the division with clear stability. They are bringing back a large chunk of their championship core from a year ago and have added the likes of linebacker Bobby Wagner and receiver Allen Robinson. While this wager won't cash out as big as the other future two above, it's still one worth grabbing while it's still at plus money.