Two NFL division futures appear to have significant value

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/30125/" data-ylk="slk:Deshaun Watson">Deshaun Watson</a> gives the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/teams/houston/" data-ylk="slk:Texans">Texans</a> quite an advantage. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Deshaun Watson gives the Texans quite an advantage. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

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Five weeks into the 2019 NFL season there are four winless teams. Hope looks to be lost for these poor franchises, but the playoff dream is still alive for much of the league.

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With that in mind, we ran 10,000 simulations of the 2019 NFL season using player and team statistics adjusted for strength of schedule to produce projected playoff and Super Bowl probabilities heading into Week 6.

Odds as of Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200 percent deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

By comparing our model to the betting odds at PointsBet, we have found two division bets worth making before kickoff of Week 6.

Houston Texans to win AFC South

  • Current odds: +150; implied probability: 40.0 percent

  • Simulations: Texans win division 58.5 percent of the time

There is a logjam in the AFC South. The Texans and Colts are 3-2; the Jaguars and Titans are 2-3. It looks to be anyone’s division to win, with each team listed at plus money.

Our simulations disagree with the oddsmakers. The Texans should be clear favorites to win the AFC South and it all starts with the quarterback.

Deshaun Watson was great in Week 5, throwing for a career-high 426 yards and five touchdowns on 28-of-33 passing. Watson is the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 400 yards and five touchdowns with five incompletions or fewer in a game. He also had a perfect 158.3 passer rating.

We love Gardner Minshew, Jacoby Brissett is filling in admirably for Andrew Luck, and Marcus Mariota is playing some of the best football of his career (seven TDs, zero INTs) but none of them can reach the heights of Watson.

As long as the Texans can keep Watson upright and healthy, this offense will be explosive. Our model has Houston winning the division 58.5 percent of the time. That would put the team’s odds to win the division at -140. So there is value betting the Texans at plus money to win the division.

Green Bay Packers to win NFC North

  • Current odds: +12; implied probability: 45.5 percent

  • Simulations: Packers win division 56 percent of the time

The Packers went on the road as an underdog and beat the Cowboys by double digits in Week 5. Aaron Jones led the way, rushing for 107 yards and four touchdowns. The defense picked off Dak Prescott three times and had three timely sacks of the Cowboys’ quarterback.

After the impressive performance, Green Bay entered the top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency, according to Football Outsiders DVOA. The Packers are one of four teams to rank in the top 10 in both categories.

The Packers are 4-1, with home games upcoming against the Lions and Raiders that could have them at 6-1 with a stranglehold on the NFC North. Chicago is 1-1 in division play, while Minnesota is 0-2, and Detroit plays its first division game against Green Bay on Sunday.

Rodgers and the Packers are sitting pretty in the division, but for some reason the oddsmakers still have the Packers at plus money. Our simulations make them the clear favorites. Move quickly to place this bet because the Pack will likely be odds-on favorites to win the division after beating the Lions on Sunday.

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