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Five favorite NFL futures for the 2022 season

The Action Network’s Michael Arinze offers his take on five NFL futures for the upcoming season

Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers throws the ball during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers throws the ball during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)Read moreCarmen Mandato / Getty Images

While some might scoff at exhibition games, the NFL preseason can provide bettors with a glimpse of what could transpire once we start keeping score for good in September.

I’ve been keeping a close eye on the proceedings, and after scouring the markets, I’ve put together a list of five futures that offer value heading into the season.

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AP Coach of the Year - John Harbaugh +2500 (0.25 unit)

It’s worth taking a shot with Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh here because this line seems off.

There are 13 coaches with shorter odds than Harbaugh, and given what the Ravens went through last season with injuries, I think there’s plenty of upside for a bounce-back year.

Baltimore was 8-3 after Week 12 but lost its final six games of the season, with Lamar Jackson sidelined for five of them.

I’m willing to wager that the injury gods will be kinder to Baltimore after last season. These odds are too valuable to pass up here with Harbaugh at 25-to-1.

Most Passing Yards - Justin Herbert +750 (0.25 unit)

Although Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is the chalk play to lead the league in passing, grabbing him at 7.5-to-1 is still enticing.

Last season, Herbert finished second behind Tom Brady (5,316) in passing with 5,014 yards on the season.

One thing that bodes well for Herbert in this category is that, for the most part, his receiving corps remains intact.

In comparison, other quarterbacks likely to challenge for the honor lost key pieces like Brady with Rob Gronkowski and Patrick Mahomes with Tyreek Hill.

Lastly, since the Chargers are in a division with four of the best quarterbacks in the league, look for them to be involved in quite a few high-scoring games this season.

NFC West Team to Win Conference Championship +180 (0.5 unit)

I love this prop because if we exclude the Seattle Seahawks, the NFC West has three teams with a legitimate chance to go to the Super Bowl.

And based on my projections, the remaining three divisions only have one team that can win the NFC.

The Green Bay Packers and Buccaneers are certainly a threat in their divisions, but it’s hard to think Green Bay will finally get back to the Super Bowl a year after losing Davante Adams.

As for the Buccaneers, I’m not sure we know the complete picture regarding Brady’s status this season.

While I think the Philadelphia Eagles could be a big surprise in the East, I’ll rely on the strength in numbers with the NFC West.

Justin Fields Over 499.5 Rushing Yards -115 (1 unit)

The Chicago Bears’ offensive line is a work in progress. It led the league with 58 sacks allowed last year.

The Bears will begin this season without Jason Peters (77.5 PFF grade) at the tackle position and James Daniels (71.0 PFF grade) at guard.

The Bears didn’t do much in free agency to replenish what they lost. Pro Football Focus ranked them near the bottom with an offseason grade of a C.

And after trading up to select Justin Fields in the previous draft, they didn’t have a first-round pick this year.

Moreover, Chicago didn’t draft an offensive lineman until the fifth round, so it’s hard to think the protection will be much better for Fields in his second season.

Fields rushed for 420 yards in his rookie year while playing in just 12 games.

If he can stay on the field for at least 14 games, he should have no problem going over his projection of 499.5 rushing yards.

Packers/Vikings NFC North Dual Forecast -165 (2 units)

This could be a bit of a whale play as a dual forecast involves selecting the two teams that will finish first or second in the division in any order.

Over the past 11 seasons, the Bears are the only team to win the division outside the Packers or Minnesota Vikings.

And since I still think the Bears and Lions are in the beginning stages of their rebuilding process, this is one bet where I won’t mind laying the juice at -165 odds.

When it’s all said and done, I’ll probably be kicking myself for not fully committing to an even bigger wager.

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