The glory days are back – almost. The NFC was the marquee conference in football from the 1970 AFL-NFL merger all the way until the start of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady regime in New England. The Patriots may be winning Super Bowls, but the rest of the AFC has taken a step back in recent years, while the NFC has grown stronger. It’s time for someone to step up and take back the throne.

But who? There are so many teams to choose from; at press time, the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers are +500 co-favorites on the NFC futures market, just a shade ahead of the Seattle Seahawks (+550) and the defending conference champions, the Atlanta Falcons (+600). It’s the kind of parity you’d expect from a conference that has sent eight different teams to the Super Bowl over the past nine years. Any of these four reigning division champions can win, but some will have more betting value than others.

 

Market Watch

The Cowboys (13-3 SU, 10-6 ATS last year) and Packers (10-6 SU, 9-6-1 ATS last year) are both very popular teams on the NFC odds list. However, Dallas is expected to take a step back this year, at least during the regular season; they’re looking at a win total of 9.5, with the over pegged at –140. Green Bay has a total of 10 wins (over –150) and an easier strength of schedule in the NFC North.

As smaller-market teams, the Seahawks (10-5-1 SU, 8-8 ATS last year) and Falcons (11-5 SU, 10-6 ATS last year) should have more value as potential NFC champions, and Seattle will enjoy the weakest schedule of the foursome coming out of the damaged NFC West. There’s a catch, though: Seattle joins both the Cowboys and Packers as teams with question marks on the offensive line. Atlanta doesn’t share those concerns.

 

Pick a Lane

The Falcons also don’t carry the same burden of expectation as Seattle. They have a win total of 9.5 this year (over –130), while the Seahawks are staring at an over/under of 10.5 wins with both sides priced at –115. Football fans in the Pacific Northwest have been spoiled over the past five years of the  Pete Carroll-Russell Wilson era; their peak may have already passed, while Atlanta reached (and nearly won) Super Bowl 51 after a four-year rebuilding period.

There’s one team outside this group that merits serious consideration: the Philadelphia Eagles (7-9 SU, 8-8 ATS last year), who are lurking in the weeds at +2500 to win the NFC with a win total of eight (over –125). The Eagles had to do without stud RT Lane Johnson for 10 games last year because of a suspension. They went 4-2 SU and 5-1 ATS in the six games Johnson did play. Expect more of that in 2017.

 

*Odds as of June 8, 2017