Sportsbooks Set Odds to Make NFL Playoffs Heading into Season

Many of the 12 teams that made the NFL playoffs last year will face some serious pressure to return again following the 2015 regular season with parity seemingly at an all-time high. New teams typically make the postseason on an annual basis while there are few mainstays that continue to appear from year to year, making it somewhat unpredictable and a bit difficult to bet on who will actually make it and who will not.
One team that took a bit of a hit recently was the Green Bay Packers, who lost wide receiver Jordy Nelson to a torn ACL in last Sunday’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nelson is the favorite target of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, although the Packers are still massive -550 favorites (bet $550 to win $100) to make the playoffs without him while a wager that they miss the postseason is worth +375 (bet $100 to win $375).
Of course Nelson’s season-ending injury also impacts other teams in the division and affects their chances to make the playoffs as well. The Detroit Lions (+155 to reach the postseason), Minnesota Vikings (+225) and Chicago Bears (+500) are unlikely to win the NFC North over Green Bay. But Detroit and Minnesota at least have a decent shot to earn a Wild Card berth with second-year coaches Jim Caldwell and Mike Zimmer while Chicago is viewed as a longshot with John Fox taking over for Marc Trestman.
The Packers and Lions were two of the 12 teams that made last year’s NFL playoffs, and all of them will try to accomplish what the New England Patriots did in winning the Super Bowl at the end of last season. The Patriots will face top competition from the Miami Dolphins in the AFC East as they try to win back-to-back league titles with a victory in Super Bowl 50, and they will do so without suspended quarterback Tom Brady for the first four games. Brady is still appealing the suspension and hoping he can play.
The Dolphins are +120 to qualify for the postseason for the first time since winning the division in 2008. New England has won six straight AFC East titles though after Miami’s last playoff appearance and had finished first five consecutive years before that. The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets do not figure to challenge either of them this year and are much bigger favorites not to make the postseason at -215 and -500, respectively.
The AFC and NFC West are two of the most competitive divisions in the NFL, and both have multiple teams capable of making the playoffs this year. The defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks are -800 to get into the postseason for the 10th time in 13 years. The Seahawks are gunning for their third straight division title and fourth playoff appearance in a row with quarterback Russell Wilson under center.
In the AFC West, the Denver Broncos are -300 to make the postseason with new head coach Gary Kubiak. The Broncos have won the division four straight years and are expected to be tested again by the Kansas City Chiefs (+120) and San Diego Chargers (+160), who also each qualified for the playoffs two years ago.