8 NFL Teams You Should Bet on to Make the 2021 Playoffs

By Dan Vasta in NFL
| July 4, 2021 6:40 am PDT

There are only a select few in the NFL that have a knack at finding ways to win close ball games. It takes a special skill to win in the NFL, and getting to the postseason deserves a celebration since the season can be such a struggle.

Injuries and the overall grind are such a tough task that it is tough to maintain a balance. One stat backing up the fact of how tough it is to have consistent success in the NFL would be to look at the playoffs.

Since 1990, there have been at least four new playoff teams every season. Many of the heavy favorites are expected to win their divisions and have home-field advantage well into the playoffs. Having a successful offseason or sometimes even a quiet one can put a franchise at ease.

So, which teams are locks to make it to the NFL playoffs this season? Only a handful really stand out, but they can be good to know if you’re getting ready to bet on the NFL in 2021.

Without further ado, here are the NFL teams that are locks to reach the 2021 playoffs.

Kansas City Chiefs (-1000)

The Chiefs are a near mortal lock to reach the postseason if Patrick Mahomes can stay healthy.

They nearly lost to the Cleveland Browns in the divisional round at home when Mahomes was dinged up late in that second half. Chad Henne took over, and miraculously it was his legs that ended up making the difference.

Mahomes has been one of the most valuable players in the NFL for the past three seasons now, and he undeniably takes the top spot when looking at the best NFL quarterbacks in 2021.

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Throw in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, and the offense seems poised to set more records in the near future. They have lacked a run game recently but managed to run it when they needed to.

Hill and Kelce have been hauling in half of the scores that Mahomes has been tossing around, but they would like to see a third option emerge with more consistency.

The top NFL betting sites have the Chiefs at -1000 to reach the postseason, with their odds of missing the playoffs at +625. Those odds are nearly identical to last season.

Kansas City was the favorite to win it all last season (and are again this year), so it should not come as a surprise to see them being locked to make the NFL playoffs again.

The current odds for the Chiefs are among the most favorable odds we have ever seen in the history of the NFL. Per Sports Odds History, the Chiefs are getting closer to New England territory when they had won double-digit games in 13 consecutive seasons (2003-2019).

If you’re betting on which NFL teams will make the playoffs in 2021, starting with Kansas City makes sense. The problem? That -1000 price isn’t very alluring for bettors.

It is almost like free money if Mahomes can play in over half the games, but hundreds of other bets you would be better off taking. So instead of going after the Chiefs to make the playoffs at -1000, consider them at these prices.

  • To Win AFC West (-250)
  • To Win Super Bowl 56 (+575)

Still, Kansas City has the shortest and most favorable odds to reach the postseason. They are a lock for 11-12 wins, and nobody should be stunned if they have home-field advantage at Arrowhead before a potential trip to Super Bowl 56.

The value obviously isn’t great, but when searching for 2021 NFL playoff locks, the Chiefs are at the top of the list.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-650)

The defending champs will be back at it with a super favorable schedule that makes a ton of folks out there jealous.

Seriously, they face just five different teams that even made the playoffs last year.

Playing in a division that just lost Drew Brees to retirement helps, but the schedule simply sets up nicely.

Taking on the AFC and NFC East divisions is always a bonus, too. Despite the Bills being one of the better teams in the league, there are not many difficult matchups with those other seven squads.

The defense alone should keep the Bucs in all their games this season. On paper, they may not lose a game in terms of the oddsmakers. We know there will be a few games that the defense has an off game, or perhaps Brady just has a bad game. TB12 has been amazing in crunch time, and the weapons he is surrounded with are impressive.

Factoring everything together, the Buccaneers are one of the best locks to make the 2021 NFL playoffs. The top sportsbooks agree, too. Just check out their playoff odds for this year.

  • To make playoffs (-650)
  • To miss playoffs (+425)

Since Sports Odds History has kept track of NFL playoff odds (2009), Tampa has never had shorter odds to reach the postseason than entering this season. Tom Brady and the momentum after winning a title will do that. With the expanded playoffs of three wild cards, it does make it much easier to make it than prior seasons.

Still, the pieces are there to accomplish a task they fell short of last season, and that was winning the NFC South division crown.

New Orleans looks like they may take a slight step back in the post-Drew Brees era. Carolina should be improved, but not even Panther fans believe they will win the division. Atlanta is a hot mess, and they are just trying to stay close with a borderline 500 record.

There are not many (if any) true weaknesses on this roster. The distant future looks like it could be rough if and when Tom Brady retires. This league is tough to consistently win without production under center. The run game was not consistent enough last season, but Leonard Fournette went bonkers in the postseason.

If this team can stay relatively healthy, they will be a mortal lock to reach the postseason and the clear-cut favorite to repeat as NFC champions.

There is great value to win the division and conference, but making the playoffs is a layup. Despite these odds making it tough to make a play on the Bucs reaching the postseason, they are one of the few teams that are highly favored to lead their conference in wins.

Buffalo Bills (-350)

Josh Allen put together an MVP-like season last year despite not winning the award. He led the Bills to their best season in a quarter of a century. The ability that Allen has shown these last two seasons is remarkable.

It was only three seasons ago in which he was awful as a passer. The postseason loss two seasons ago to the Texans was the turning point. Then, he tried a horrid-looking backward lateral that deserved to be banned from the sport.

Buffalo played as if that game inspired them to become an absolute juggernaut. They kept finding ways every week to move the chains and put points on the scoreboard last season. This team did not even have much of a run game, and yet they were still dominant.

All-Pro wideout Stefon Diggs was unguardable, and the AFC East has some of the better defensive backs in the NFL. But, unshockingly, Allen and Diggs find themselves among the very best QB-WR duos in the NFL in 2021.

Add all their offensive weapons and an improving defense, and you have yourself one of the better teams in the NFL. There seems to be a ton of staying power on the Bills, and the folks wagering on them should reap the benefits.

Buffalo is -350 to reach the playoffs with +285 odds to miss the postseason. Even if they were to fall short of winning the AFC East, the wild card chances would be great due to three chances at grabbing a berth.

The -350 juice is not much, and the Bills are -150 to win the AFC East, so those are favorable odds.

Buffalo has their best playoff odds since 2009, which was when Sports Odds History started to keep track of NFL playoff odds. The Bills even have their highest win total since 1992, when it was set at 11.5 wins.

Times are looking great at the moment for the Bills with the way Josh Allen played last season. Buffalo will have as good of a shot as anybody to knock off the Chiefs and represent the AFC in Super Bowl 56, so wager on them appropriately.

Baltimore Ravens (-300)

John Harbaugh has won eight games on the road in the postseason, which is more than any coach in the history of the NFL. The Ravens enjoy winning, but it surely is easier to do so at home, and more wins will be needed to have a chance to defend their home turf in January.

Lamar Jackson is one of the biggest discussions in sports due to his ability to matriculate the ball down the field with his legs. If you blink, you might miss a house call that Jackson makes look so effortless. Throw in JK Dobbins, and this is one of the better youngster-led backfields in the entire NFL.

Despite Jackson being part of an absurdly dynamic offense, the guy continues to get nothing but disrespect.

You can talk down about his pure passing ability, but Jackson heads perhaps the most dominant rushing attack in all of football.

The NFL has also proven to benefit teams that can control the clock and play great defense and special teams. Justin Tucker has won more games due to his leg as a kicker for the last decade than any other player, arguably. Baltimore is tough to knock off, to begin with, but ultimately Jackson and the passing game will determine how far this team goes.

Getting to the playoffs has not been overly difficult for Baltimore, winning 35 games in the regular season over a three-season timespan. The real challenge starts to pick up when you look at the competition in the AFC North.

Cincinnati is projected to finish last, but their offense will not be easy to defend with all of Joe Burrow’s weapons improving by the season.

Pittsburgh should be respectable with Ben Roethlisberger returning his trio of wide receivers that were tough to defend last season. Plus, the addition of Alabama running back Najee Harris should give them a pulse in the run game after being inept last season.

Cleveland, on paper, will be the toughest squad to compete with all season. However, an improving defense with a dominant run game should make life easier on Baker Mayfield.

The division is not a lock per the odds of BetOnline, as Baltimore is listed at +135 to win the North. The playoffs odds show more confidence as the Ravens are at -300 to make it and +240 to miss it. Most teams are projected not much over -150 to reach the postseason, but most teams do not have the talent roster that Baltimore owns.

Cleveland Browns (-225)

The odds do not need to be adjusted accordingly, but it is still amazing to see the Browns receiving this much love from the oddsmakers. Cleveland is a remarkable -225 to make the postseason for a second straight season.

For the haters out there that believe this franchise is still cursed (which has been accurate), the odds are +185 to miss the postseason.

The AFC North is tough, and there will be plenty of obstacles outside the division that could make life difficult for the Browns. The success they have will often be determined by the play of Baker Mayfield.

The star passer is presently awaiting a long-term contract extension, and Emmanuel Acho recently broke down why the Browns absolutely need to pay him.

Mayfield was remarkable as a rookie, but the numbers took a slight decrease in production last season. However, that does not matter, and it is beneficial to Cleveland when Mayfield does not have to take over games with his arm.

When the Browns can run downhill with 30-plus attempts shared between Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, this team is nearly unstoppable.

Mayfield only threw for 40-plus passing attempts and more than two touchdowns on two occasions in the 2020 regular season. Both of those numbers stayed the same in their two postseason games, but Mayfield threw for over 450 yards on 71 passing attempts.

Those numbers need to be lower for the Browns to reach their full potential. Having Baker throw it all around the field has been his kryptonite. That is when things start to get away from Cleveland. Falling behind the chains can be costly for any team, but the Browns are hindered more than most.

Even if they fail to win their division, they will still be a heavy favorite to land one of the three wild card berths. The AFC is about as deep as it has been in several years, though. It won’t be a walk in the park and never has been for the Browns.

Reaching the playoffs last season was so newsworthy that it felt like they were going to the Super Bowl. The schedule is so difficult with matchups against the AFC West that it is imperative to avoid a disastrous start. If they can avoid that and stay healthy, this team should be able to make a return to playing football deep into January.

Los Angeles Rams (-180)

The Rams finally crack this list thanks to a dominant defense that can carry them to the postseason. They are one of the best 2021 NFL playoff locks, but they’re also one of the best values at this -180 price.

Aaron Donald continues to tee off on opposing quarterbacks in the NFL. There have not been too many offensive lines that have been able to hold off the interior dominance of Donald, and the talent around him has continued to improve.

It is always helpful to have an impact player that can make a game-changing play on any given snap. Jalen Ramsey is a monster that can stay on an island by himself and defend it better than any other defensive back in the league.

He held his own against DK Metcalf last season and was able to limit the damage, unlike so many other corners. In the regular season, Ramsey ate him up alongside the rest of his teammates.

The former Seminole can do that to any top target in the game, and the Rams rely on him to take one-half of the field away from the opposition. Having a few alpha dog players on that side of the ball is huge to stay afloat in the NFC West.

There may not be a tougher division in all of football when you look at the quarterback play. Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson are fantastic, but adding Matthew Stafford turns it into a whole new ball game.

Despite having never won a game in the postseason (career record is 0-3), Stafford is the perfect missing ingredient to make the Rams a slam-dunk to reach the postseason.

The current odds to reach the postseason are -180 at the top NFL sportsbooks, while the odds for the Rams to miss it are +155. Since their Super Bowl loss to New England, Sean McVay has done an excellent job, where the offense was inept.

But people tend to forget that the guy has put a quality product on the field every year. All he’s done is win, too. Look at his year-by-year record so far in L.A.

Season Record Main Accomplishment
2017 11-5 Won NFC West
2018 13-3 Lost Super Bowl LIII
2019 9-7 Finished Above .500
2020 10-6 Made Playoffs

Jared Goff had a solid season taking them to the final game of the year, but his injury-plagued season down the stretch frustrated and handcuffed the franchise.

They seemed poised to make another deep postseason run had it not been for the inconsistent (thumb injury didn’t help) play from Goff. Even when he was healthy, the inaccuracy he displayed made it seem as if he should never be starting in the NFL.

Matthew Stafford has the makings of a future Hall of Famer despite never having a ton of talent at his disposal. Unfortunately, he has not had half the talent that Goff had during his stay with the Rams.

Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are a dynamic duo at wide receiver that Stafford should take full advantage of. Players that know how to run proper routes and have eyes on the first down chains are underrated. Stafford has the arm where he can throw receivers open, and it should be a perfect match for major success.

This team has it all, and it is about time they put it all together. The odds are in favor of the Rams, and it should surprise nobody if they find themselves matching up with the Packers again, with the winner perhaps getting a shot at Tampa Bay to decide the NFC crown.

Indianapolis Colts (-180)

The Colts squad may not be the sexy pick to win the AFC South next season, but they should surely be highly entertaining and productive. Jonathan Taylor ran with his hair on fire down the stretch and showed glimpses of what we all saw during his spectacular collegiate career in Madison.

He was accustomed to running behind elite offensive linemen, and we should see the same entering his second season as a Colt. Quentin Nelson is highly regarded as one of the best-run blockers in the NFL. In general, the hog mollies for the Colts will keep them in the running for a division crown and a playoff spot all season.

The return of Marlon Mack (Achilles in Week 1) will be vital because it allows Nyheim Hines to focus on catching the ball out of the backfield. Hines has been a star as a pass-catching back, and filling the role players on an NFL roster is always easier said than done.

Most NFL sportsbooks have Indy’s odds at -180 to reach the postseason with a +150 value to miss it.

The benefit of playing in the AFC South should allow them to pick up momentum quite often in the regular season. They made the postseason last year despite a season-opening loss to the Jaguars, who did not win a game after that matchup. So if they can sweep the Jaguars and Texans, they should not have any issues reaching double-digit victories.

Philip Rivers played fairly well under center, but the hope is that Carson Wentz can return close to the MVP form he showed in 2017. Since then, his health has been a concern, and certainly, he was turning the ball over at will.

Luckily, he will be able to get comfortable in the pocket and stay upright in Indianapolis.

The Colts offensive line should be the perfect situation for the franchise, but the weapons at wide receiver will need to step up. Michael Pittman Jr. had a phenomenal postseason debut against the Bills, hauling in 5 of his 10 targets for 90 yards.

The upside is there for a breakthrough year in his sophomore season, and Wentz could be the one to deliver the goods. TY Hilton, Zach Pascal, and Parris Campbell can make plays, but they have not been consistent enough. That would be the one weakness that needs to improve upon to be a true AFC title contender.

The defense is going to eat with DeForest Buckner and Darius Leonard leading the way. This is not a squad that makes too many mental mistakes, and that will be something that allows them to chalk up victories against teams such as the Texans, Jaguars, Jets, and Raiders.

Playing those four will be helpful for a spot in the postseason. We are all expecting a few slugfests against the Titans. Those matchups could be some of the best matchups of the entire NFL.

This team can go as far as Wentz takes them, but the odds suggest their overall roster is more than good enough to grab a wild card berth. Some good fortune and health would put them right there for the division, and you won’t find much better value to make the postseason than Indianapolis.

The juice is heavy on all the major favorites, and the Colts are just below that due to their questionable quarterback play entering the season. Of course, the value could improve if they struggle out of the gates due to an abysmal schedule, but they should go on a huge run in October when the slate opens up.

Play it safe on the overall odds, but reaching the postseason won’t be as difficult as some are making it out to be.

Tennessee Titans (-130)

Ryan Tannehill must be loving life these days after the franchise added a third superstar to the offensive depth chart. Most were already aware of the skills Derrick Henry brought to the table, but Julio Jones truly is a difference-maker. He helps out in so many different ways that it could be a sight to see this season.

A.J. Brown was consistently doubled in the passing game, and we saw how tough it was for Tannehill to find him without getting harassed by two-plus defenders. Now Jones will take most of the attention away from Brown and onto himself, which opens Pandora’s box.

Limiting the touches for Henry is something fans never want to see. Despite not getting any looks in the passing game, the monster among men needs to be on the field for the majority of the game. The box will not have eight or nine men ready to take their shots at Henry since the opposition would be exposing themselves in the secondary.

The arrival of Julio helps Henry and this entire offense. You know it’s good when two guys on the same team deserve to be among the top NFL MVP sleepers.

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Jones and Brown need at least three or four defensive backs glued to them, so the biggest winner could be Henry. He nearly ran for 2,100 yards last season, and with an added game on the slate, anything is possible.

The other winner that deserves more praise has to be Ryan Tannehill. The uber-athletic signal-caller found paydirt seven times on the ground. That is crazy to think about, but he has been a solid athlete that can run by some defenders in the box.

The wild card that could throw everything up for grabs is how much the defense improves with the latest offseason additions. There were games (see Green Bay) where the defense forgot to get off the bus by allowing wide-open players to dominate in the passing game.

Davante Adams is All-Pro and is worthy of his accolades, but the Titans made him look like he was Jerry Rice out there on Week 16’s Sunday Night Football. Adams hauled in three scores to go along with his 11 grabs and 142 yards. If Tennessee can avoid performances that flat-out stink, their postseason chances will be as good as gold.

Betting on the 2021 NFL Playoffs

You can bet on who will make the 2021 NFL playoffs in any way you choose. This list just details the eight best NFL locks to make the playoffs in 2021.

That still leaves 24 teams to work with. If you don’t love the pricing here (or disagree with the logic), you can always bet the other way or shop for superior odds with another franchise. Only so many teams make the playoffs, though.

If you’re betting on the NFL this year – whether it be futures or player props – starting with what teams will make the playoffs is logical.

This is a great list to get the ball rolling with, and you can bet accordingly. But, of course, there is much more to soak up, and we’ll be pushing out loads of 2021 NFL betting content all year long.

Check out some of that content in these posts.

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