5 NFL bets you need to make right now, from Cowboys over to Bears under

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Even with the NBA and Stanley Cup playoffs in full swing, I still find myself wanting to bet on the National Football League.

Training camps haven’t started, and the regular season doesn’t kick off until the second week of September, but there’s money to be made. And I would much rather strike now, before the general public starts to bet and water down the market on the popular teams.

I always laugh when people throw shade at me for firing NFL wagers in the summer. It doesn’t matter when you make a bet; it’s about the price you get. If you feel strongly about something in late June, it’s more than OK to jump into the pool and make an investment.

That said, here are five NFL season win totals that I like for the 2021 season (with all odds via FOX Bet).

Chicago Bears under 7.5 wins (-118;  bet $10 to win $18.47 total)

What is wrong with Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy? Any team that entertains Andy Dalton as a starting quarterback isn’t trying to win.

The Bears are clearly the third-best team in the division behind Green Bay and Minnesota, and they could realistically start with five losses (at Rams, at Browns, at Raiders, vs. Packers, at Bucs) in seven games. Eventually, they will turn the offense over to rookie Justin Fields, but then he’ll take time to assimilate to the pro game.

If I had a say in the matter, Fields would start Week 1. But the Bears' front office continues to make the wrong decisions. Odds are good that they’ll finish 6-11 or 7-10, and the brass will wise up and clean house.

Cleveland Browns over 10.5 wins (+100; bet $10 to win $20 total)

One professional bettor whom I regularly speak with believes Cleveland has the best 53-man roster in all of football. That’s saying something – especially considering that this fella hates hyperbole.

The verdict is still out on Baker Mayfield as far as his being a Super Bowl quarterback, but this is a regular-season bet. It’s amazing how much better the Browns are with Kevin Stefanski calling the shots. Competence is pretty important, and they had none of it with Freddie Kitchens.

Pittsburgh’s core is getting older by the minute, Cincinnati is still a couple of years away, and Lamar Jackson has a lot to prove in Baltimore. I don’t hate a pop on Cleveland to win the AFC North (+145; bet $10 to win $24.50 total), either.

Los Angeles Chargers over 9.5 wins (+110; bet $10 to win $21 total)

The Bolts are my sleeper this season. I’ve been riding quarterback Justin Herbert since his Rose Bowl-winning season at Oregon, and that will not change anytime soon. (Yes, I’ve bet Herbert to win MVP at +2500, too).

Herbert exploded onto the scene as a rookie last season, throwing for more than 4,300 yards and 31 touchdowns. The Chargers' offense could be even better in 2020, with Rashawn Slater cemented at left tackle and speedy rookie receiver Josh Palmer in the slot.

Former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz sat down with Rashawn Slater before the draft to break down his elite traits using college film from his time at Northwestern.

I have plenty of faith in offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi to throw tons of points on the board, and I’m a believer in head coach Brandon Staley. Assuming Aaron Rodgers isn’t dealt to Denver, Los Angeles is a great bet for 10 wins at plus-money.

Dallas Cowboys over 9.5 wins (-105; bet $10 to win $19.52 total)

How ‘bout that Dak Prescott contract?! Shouldn’t the highest-paid player in the NFL be able to lead his team to 10 wins? … Bueller?

America’s team made a handsome commitment to Prescott, and it made sense. Jerry Jones wanted no part of Andy Dalton – there he is again – or Ben DiNucci playing quarterback ever again.

Moreover, Prescott’s ability to sustain long drives improves a Dallas defense that certainly has some questions. It felt like all the Cowboys did down the stretch was go three-and-out or six-and-out, and the D was huffing and puffing all over the field. It’ll be easier this year, when they’re playing with leads more often.

I like Dallas to win the division, but I’m hesitant to get any more invested until I see if the Cowboys' defense can get off the field. They’ll be notably better with rookies Micah Parsons and Kelvin Joseph in the fold.

New York Jets over 6.5 wins (+125; bet $10 to win $22.50 total)

This selection will not be popular, and that’s OK. I’m willing to buy J-E-T-S stock now that Adam Gase, who was so bad that he couldn't even tank right for Trevor Lawrence, is no longer stinking up the joint with his awful adjustments and lack of preparation.

New head man Robert Salah should restore confidence in the locker room and order to the defensive side of the ball. By all accounts, players love playing for Saleh, and sometimes that’s half the battle.

Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson will have growing pains, but I applaud the Jets organization for starting him from day one. Wilson has plenty of weapons in Corey Davis, Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder, and I love that New York drafted offensive linemen in the first round the past two years.

Buffalo is the cream of the crop in the AFC East, but New England is hit-or-miss with Cam Newton under center, and Ryan Fitzpatrick won’t be there to save Miami from another Tua Tagovailoa meltdown late in games. The Jets could definitely surprise and win seven or eight games.

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