By Doug Kezirian Senior Betting Analyst
Updated 8/31/23 3:35am ET
Wall Street and sports betting overlap a lot more than many realize. Public perception is all that distinguishes their core concepts. One sector is still taboo and the other is considered wise investment strategy, which only speaks to the myopia and ignorance. Overall, they have shared philosophies and tactics, such as arbitrage and derivative trading.
Those financial strategies can be applied to the NFC West futures market. I see two smart wagers and given the current betting market, one can serve as potential protection of the larger wager. Keep in mind it is also undoubtedly possible to lose both bets.
Two-horse divisional race
The San Francisco 49ers are -180 NFC West favorites and seemingly only have one divisional threat in the Seattle Seahawks. That’s because the Arizona Cardinals are a lost cause, stockpiling draft capital and likely tanking for the 2024 NFL Draft. The Los Angeles Rams could theoretically surpass their win total of 6.5 by a decent margin but it is highly unlikely.
Furthermore, of all eight divisions, the NFC West has the longest odds for a team that’s expected to finish in third place. Specifically, the Rams (+1000) have longer odds than the Giants (+900), Broncos (+600), Colts (+600), Panthers (+500), Bears (+380) and Dolphins (+300).
And no last-place team has longer odds than the Cardinals (+3500). For comparison, the next-closest is the Raiders at +1600 in the AFC West and Commanders at +1300 in the NFC East.
This all means that the NFC West is projected as a two-horse race more than any other division. And here is a way to monetize that.
Correlated NFC West wagers
I do believe the Niners will win the division, regardless of their quarterback uncertainty. The odds of -180 translate to 64%. I think that’s a pretty fair price but I still would wager at that number. The roster is absolutely loaded, Kyle Shanahan is a wizard and they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
However, for slight protection, I am also backing Pete Carroll (+2500) for Coach of the Year. I think that wager offers far better value than the Seahawks at +220 to win the division. Plus, Carroll can still win the award if Seattle finishes as a Wild Card team. That’s because he would get tremendous credit for reaching the playoffs in consecutive seasons with Geno Smith, rather than Smith earning MVP consideration. Narratives are critical to handicapping awards. Plus, Carroll has never won this honor so it could serve as a ‘lifetime achievement’ for the 71-year-old, which certainly influences voters.
Now, there is also a world where Seattle wins the division and Carroll does not earn the hardware, meaning you would lose both wagers. But protecting a main bet with a ticket of 25-to-1 odds only necessitate a tiny wager.
Risk $18 to win $10 on the 49ers to win the division
Risk $1 on Carroll to win Coach of the Year at +2500
If the Niners win the NFC West and Carroll does not win the award, you net $9 (47% ROI)
If the Seahawks win the division and Carroll wins the award, you net $7 (37% ROI)
If both bets win, you net $35 (184%)
If both bets lose, you lose $19 (0% ROI)
In summary, I like these correlated wagers because the NFC West is viewed as a two-team race both in my eyes and by the betting market. Second, I like them independently of one another so I would be able to stomach losing both, especially with the additional “protection” at 25-to-1 odds.
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