With the NFL playoffs set to begin, bettors everywhere can settle in to sweat their Super Bowl futures. Some others may be placing futures bets now, though, and that brings up a question. Should they actually place these bets, or would building a rolling parlay on each game for their team of choice pay out better than NFL futures prices?
Frequently, the latter offers a bigger payout.
Not familiar with this concept? Read on before you place your NFL futures bet because it just might increase your expected value.
How It Works: Rolling Parlays Vs. NFL Futures
If you’re reading this article, you likely know how betting futures works. If you don’t, read this article about futures and then come back.
In any case, betting futures obviously locks you into a price. You see the Chiefs at +500 to win the Super Bowl, indicating around a 17% chance they’ll win it all. You think the Chiefs have, say, a 25% chance to win the Super Bowl. So, you bet the +500 because you see value.
But there’s actually another way to bet futures that sharp bettors have used for years. It’s built into the mechanics of parlay betting and often yields greater ROI than clicking whatever price the sportsbook gives you on the futures market.
You start by betting the Chiefs on the moneyline in their opening round game against the Steelers. Then, assuming KC prevails, you take the entire amount the bet returned — the original stake plus the profit — and bet on the Chiefs again in the Divisional Playoff. If they again win, you do the same in the Conference Championship and so forth.
You’re parlaying each game the Chiefs play with all of the others. They need to win every game in the sequence, the exact same parameters needed to win your futures bet. Except, again, the payout often winds up much more handsome.
More Notes And Caveats
Before we dive into each team’s futures odds versus rolling parlay odds, we should note a few things.
This exercise requires us to prognosticate betting lines in the forthcoming games. Different opponents and playing home or away will create different market prices, changing the parlay odds. Additionally, something like a QB injury can drastically change the prices as well.
Plus, imagine a scenario where a team like the 49ers makes it to the Super Bowl. They’ll have likely beaten three strong opponents on the road. Their market power number will have increased, assuming they didn’t just catch an incredible run of luck to win these game. That means shorter odds in the Super Bowl and a lower parlay payout.
Speaking of market power numbers, that’s what we’ll be using to approximate the betting lines for each team in hypothetical future games. Learn more about these market power numbers here. To account for probabilistic nature of second-round opponents, we used weighted market prices, then we used more general estimations in the Conference Championship and Super Bowl rounds.
Now, let’s check on each team in the field and see how their current NFL futures prices compare to potential payouts from a rolling parlay.
NFL Futures Vs. Rolling Parlays: Team By Team
|Team||Best Super Bowl Price (Jan. 13)||Estimated Rolling Parlay Price||Difference Per $100 Bet|
|Green Bay Packers||+380||+275||-$105|
|Kansas City Chiefs||+500||+440||-$60|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+800||+600||-$200|
|New England Patriots||+2500||+3100||+$600|
|San Francisco 49ers||+2500||+4000||+$1,500|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+6000||+18800||+$12,800|
Note that the prices in the AFC are very much in flux due to the status of Derrick Henry. He likely makes a point or two worth of difference to the line. That might not seem like a ton, but when these small differences become compounded in a parlay, it can wind up drastically changing the payouts.
In some cases, you may still be better off buying a future. Pretty much always, these come on the shorter prices. What does that tell us?
Most likely, the sportsbooks are mitigating risk against a large longshot payout by shortening those prices. That makes sense. They don’t care that much if you hit Chiefs +500. Even a $10,000 bet means a $50,000 payout.
These estimated odds perhaps overestimate the markets for these longshots by the time they reach later rounds. Remember, they’ve presumably beaten several strong teams by this point.
Even still, you are very likely to get a better payout using a rolling parlay on a longshot.
This is the most important concept to take from this article. Don’t shortchange yourself on NFL futures prices. If you really believe the Eagles have a shot to beat several elite teams in a row, consider using a rolling parlay to maximize your potential profit.