Getting to the Super Bowl is one thing, but winning the Big Game is the real challenge. As we’ve seen in recent years, anything can happen when the AFC and NFC champs collide on the grand stage. So rather than watch your futures bet go up in smoke on Super Bowl Sunday, why not focus on just picking the conference champions?
If you’re out for value from the best handicappers for the NFC Championship betting odds, these sleeper teams could come through with a big payday and boost your bankroll right before Super Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys (+1,000)
The Cowboys nearly made the postseason cut in 2017 despite losing their best player for six games in the home stretch of the schedule. Dallas is roped into a NFC East with the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles, as well as the Giants and Redskins, who are hoping new-look weapons on offense can get them into the tournament.
But the Cowboys have a great shot, with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott leading the charge, as well as an underrated defense that did a great job getting after quarterbacks and causing chaos last year. Big D is right in the middle of the pack in terms of strength of schedule but plays four of its final six games at home, which should give them a good shot at winning the division or at least earning a Wild Card spot.
San Francisco 49ers (+1,000)
If the Niners’ finish to 2017 was any indication of their potential 2018 record, San Francisco is a steal at 10/1 odds to win the NFC. The 49ers closed last year with five straight victories, including wins against Tennessee, Jacksonville, and the L.A. Rams – all playoff teams. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo appears to be the real deal under center and the team did some work to protect him while also adding to its offensive arsenal this offseason.
San Francisco is among the middle of the pack in terms of strength of schedule but is playing in a softening NFC West. The Seattle Seahawks are long past their prime and the Arizona Cardinals are in rebuild mode, leaving the Rams as their toughest competition. The Niners play three of their final four games in the Bay Area before what will be a huge showdown with L.A. on the road in Week 17.
Carolina Panthers (+1,500)
The Panthers were kings of the NFC just three seasons ago and made the playoffs in 2017, so there’s a lot to like about Carolina’s futures odds. The NFC South is incredibly competitive, with the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints atop the board and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers primed to improve in 2018. However, all those teams are missing one thing: Cam Newton. The Panthers’ dynamic QB is a one-man offense, and when healthy he’s the most dangerous player in the NFL.
Lost in Newton’s brilliance is just how good Carolina’s defense is. The Panthers finished seventh in yards allowed and consistently rank among the top pass-rushing units in the league. So even when the offense is misfiring, the stop unit gives the Panthers a chance to win. Carolina boasts the 12th toughest schedule in the NFL but plays three of its first four games at home, giving it a good chance to pick up steam early in the season.