NFL logoPicking NFL Division Winners - 2018 NFL Division Breakdown and Predictions

In 1963, Bob Dylan wrote the lyrics for “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and released the song the following year. Today, the song is a testament to how things change over time and those who accept and adapt to these changes are the ones who grow and flourish, while those who don’t will “sink like a stone.”

In the NFL, this couldn’t be truer, and a myriad of things occur from one season to the next. Things like offensive/defensive schemes, overall performance levels, injuries, retirements, signing free agents, drafting college players, and coaching changes are just a few examples of things that change every year.

Betting on things to stay exactly the same year-to-year is fool’s errand, and to show this, let’s look at the 2015, 2016, 2017 NFL seasons and which teams have the best odds at Bovada entering the 2018 NFL season.

NFL Picks Chart

2015 Division Winners

AFC East: Pats
AFC North: Bengals
AFC South: Texans
AFC West: Broncos

NFC East: Redskins
NFC North: Vikings
NFC South: Panthers
NFC West: Cardinals

2016 Division Winners

AFC East: Pats
AFC North: Steelers
AFC South: Texans
AFC West: Chiefs

NFC East: Cowboys
NFC North: Packers
NFC South: Falcons
NFC West: Seahawks

2017 Division Winners

AFC East: Pats
AFC North: Steelers
AFC South: Jags
AFC West: Chiefs

NFC East: Eagles
NFC North: Vikings
NFC South: Saints
NFC West: Rams

Bovada 2018 Best Odds to Win Division

AFC East: Pats
AFC North: Steelers
AFC South: Jags
AFC West: Chargers

NFC East: Eagles
NFC North: Vikings
NFC South: Saints
NFC West: Rams

A few takeaways from this chart:

  • The New England Patriots were the only team to win their division the past three years.
  • 6 out of the 8 division winners in 2015 did not win their division in 2016.
  • 5 out of the 8 division winners in 2016 did not win their division in 2017.
  • When comparing the 2017 division winners to Bovada’s 2018 NFL teams with the best odds to win the division, 7 of the 8 teams remained the same.

Bovada isn’t the only sportsbook who has these same teams as the predicted winner of all 8 NFL divisions in 2018. Most sportsbooks give the best odds to teams who were successful in the previous season, but the likelihood of this happening is slim to none. However, sportsbooks want bettors to wager on the favorite, especially with the divisions, since when the favorite doesn’t win, the sportsbooks will make a huge profit since most of the money will be bet on the favorites.

But betting on a previous year’s division winner to win it again is less likely to happen than them winning the division again. It’s actually better to pick against the favorite when it comes to division, excluding the Patriots. After analyzing this information and going through the process of eliminating the teams with the least likely chance of winning a division, here is our prediction for each division winner for the 2018 NFL season.

2018 AFC East Winner– New England Patriots

This is the easiest bet of the bunch since the Patriots are the only team in the past three years to win the division in back-to-back-to-back years so expect Belichick and Brady to add another back to that at the end of the season. The team hasn’t lost the division since 2008 when Brady went down in Week 1 and missed the entire season. The other teams in the division either lost key players or are rebuilding where the Patriots are preparing for another Super Bowl run before Belichick and Brady finally decide to hang it up. Until then, the Patriots are arguably the safest bet in sports when it comes to winning the division.

2018 AFC North Winner – Baltimore Ravens

The Pittsburgh Steelers are the favorites at sportsbooks, but considering QB Ben Roethlisberger’s age, RB Le’Veon Bell’s holdout and a defense that’s getting a bit too much credit, the Ravens are starting to look like a better pick. In fact, here’s a bold prediction: QB Lamar Jackson will take the job from Joe Flacco, either by injury or poor play and lead the team to the division title. The Ravens will have a top rank defense and several playmakers on offense. Even if the bold prediction doesn’t happen, Flacco is more than capable of going on hot streaks and winning the division for the Ravens.

2018 AFC South Winner – Houston Texans

The Jacksonville Jaguars took advantage of injuries to the Texans last season and won the AFC South. However, this pick is based on the Texans staying healthy since if that happens, then QB Deshaun Watson is likely to be an NFL MVP candidate this season based on what he showed us last season before his season-ending injury. Whether DE J.J. Watt can fully recover is another question, but Watson’s play at QB will be the biggest factor on whether the Texans win the division in 2018.

2018 AFC West Winner – Los Angeles Chargers

Of all the teams who won the division last year, Bovada and many sportsbooks are favoring the Chargers to win the division over the 2017 AFC West winner, the Kansas City Chiefs. This is likely because of QB Alex Smith being traded to the Redskins in the offseason and the uncertainty around QB Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs are likely still going to make the NFL playoffs, but the Chargers are the more complete team and could even make a run at the Super Bowl if they can improve their No.31-ranked rush defense. QB Phillip Rivers doesn’t get the respect he deserves and is a top 10 QB every season statistically and with one of the most talented Chargers team he’s ever had, this could be the year he makes the Super Bowl.

2018 NFC East Winner – Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are a bit of a risky pick here but given how much talent the team has, they should win the NFC East in 2018. QB Carson Wentz will miss some of the beginning of the season, but Nick Foles showed in the playoffs and the Eagles Super Bowl victory that he is more than capable of leading the offense until Wentz is healthy. The Giants and Cowboys could make a run at the division. However, the Giants are still rebuilding, and the Cowboys will have to play without WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten for the first time in several years. Don’t bet on the Eagles winning the Super Bowl, but them winning the division should be manageable.

2018 NFC North Winner – Green Bay Packers

Future Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers is 100% healthy and when that’s the case, the Packers can beat any team in the league. Rodgers is often regarded as the most valuable player to any team in the league, as indicted by his new contract making him the highest paid NFL player in history, and even though the Vikings have one of the best defenses in the NFL, it’s hard to bet against arguably the best player in the league. This one is a bit of a coin-flip, and while the Packers and Vikings will likely both make the playoffs, expect Rodgers to push the Packers over the top and win the NFC North in 2018.

2018 NFC South Winner – New Orleans Saints

The toughest division in football is also the toughest to predict. The Panthers or the Falcons could also win this division, but the Saints are one of the most complete teams in the league led by Future Hall of Fame head coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees. RB Alvin Kamara will likely see his touches increase significantly this season and expect him to be an MVP candidate by season’s end. While this division rarely has a back-to-back winner, the Saints are hard to bet against in 2018 when they have so much going right for them.

2018 NFC West Winner – Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are the clear favorites to win the NFC West division and have an even more talented team then they fielded last year. The addition of DT Ndamukong Suh and signing DT Aaron Donald gives the Rams possibly the best defensive line in the NFL, which will likely cause nightmares for opposing QBs and offensive coordinators all season. Adding a playmaker like WR Brandin Cooks gives the Rams a big-play threat on offense to compliment MVP candidate RB Todd Gurley. The 49ers have a slim chance to win the division but don’t bet on them seriously challenging the Rams.

Division Winners Summary

Out of our 8 predicted NFL division winners, only 4 teams won their division last year, and of those 4 teams, Patriots, Eagles, Saints, Rams, only the Saints could realistically not win because of the talent level of the other teams in the NFC South. Betting on only the favorites is not a wise decision, since the division winners will differ from last season even if sportsbooks would have bettors believe otherwise. Just remember: This NFL season will questionably be different than the last and if anything, it’s simply for the times they are a-changin’.