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2024 NFL Schedule Release: Best Futures Bets To Make Now

C.J. Stroud Houston Texans AFC Divisional Playoff Maryland
C.J. Stroud #7 of the Houston Texans scrambles against Arthur Maulet #10 of the Baltimore Ravens during the fourth quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 20, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP

With the 2024 NFL schedule release, we can see the exact path each team has ahead of them this season. This shows us things like which teams have an early bye, which have to play 3 games in a 10-day span and who has the potential to get off to a fast start or a rough finish based on the expected quality of opponents.

It also informs our thoughts on NFL future bets since we know some of those key games late in the season tend to have a larger impact on things like playoff seeding and individual award races.

With that in mind, here are some of our favorite NFL futures bets to make now that the 2024 NFL schedule release has happened, clearing the path to training camps in July as the next big step in the NFL calendar year.

Still, you can always start making your NFL futures bets today at top-rated sportsbooks.

Picks Summary

  • 2024 NFC South Winner – Atlanta Falcons (-125)
  • Team to Make the Playoffs – Los Angeles Chargers (-105)
  • 2024 NFL MVP – C.J. Stroud (+1000)

*All odds from Bet365 (check our Bet365 Review


NFC South Winner: Atlanta Falcons


These are the current odds at Bet365 to win the NFC South in 2024:

  • Atlanta Falcons (-125)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+300)
  • New Orleans Saints (+350)
  • Carolina Panthers (+1400)

This is going to sound familiar to fans who followed the 2023 season, but the Atlanta Falcons have one of the easiest schedules in the league this year. Yes, the same was true last year and they still found a way to finish 7-10.

However, maybe the Falcons removed the parts that were holding them back as coach Arthur Smith and quarterback Desmond Ridder are gone. They’ve been replaced by Raheem Morris, who has a lot of coaching experience in the NFC, and quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was playing some of his best ball before he tore his Achilles last year.

The schedule may also prove to be even easier this year than it was in 2023, yet time will tell on that one. Still, the Falcons get some of their toughest games out of the way early as they head to Philadelphia in Week 2, and yes, Cousins on a Monday night is usually unfavorable. However, he did get a win over the 49ers last year on Monday Night Football. Then the Falcons host the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football in Week 3, another tough game.

While a back-to-back with the Eagles and Chiefs in prime time sounds rough, let’s keep in mind that Dallas is the only 10-win team from 2023 that the Falcons have to face in the final 14 games this season.

Can Take Control of Division Early, Clean Up Late

Still, even if the Falcons start 1-2, they get the Saints and Buccaneers at home in Weeks 4-5 in key NFC South games. In fact, 5 of Atlanta’s 6 division games will be completed by Week 10. So, if they can start strong in those, they can get a nice lead in the division that will be hard to beat without those head-to-head matchups coming later in the year like in a normal schedule.

After a Week 12 bye, the Falcons play 6 games against teams that had a losing record in 2023. Expectations are not that high for them this year either, though the Chargers are a different story. However, that leaves a very winnable slate to end the season, and the last 3 games specifically are against the Giants, Commanders and Panthers (at home).

The $180 Million Question

If Cousins can’t clean up with that kind of schedule to finish the year, then he wasn’t the right guy to sign to such a huge deal (4 years, $180 million). Neither was Morris the right hire over Bill Belichick, who was interviewed twice for the job.

Of course, if the Falcons start 1-4, then people will be chanting for rookie quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to take over for Cousins. Still, that’s why they never should have made that pick in the first place and spared themselves this issue.

However, let’s count on the schedule helping the team with arguably the best quarterback in the division finding a way to break the 7-10 malaise Arthur Smith brought to the franchise and to get the Falcons back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2017 season.

NFL Pick: 2024 NFC South Winner – Atlanta Falcons (-125) at Bet365


Team to Make the Playoffs: Los Angeles Chargers


With the 2024 Chargers, we get a great case study to see the importance of coaching in professional football. Justin Herbert has been a great passer for the Chargers but it has not resulted in many wins since the team often leaves him hung out to dry, resulting in hero ball and every game seemingly coming down to Herbert’s arm in the 4th quarter.

By hiring Jim Harbaugh to be Herbert’s head coach, the Chargers are looking for a complete team effort. That means better offensive line play to bolster the running attack, which is why the team drafted Notre Dame tackle Joe Alt instead of using the No. 5 pick on a wide receiver in a deep draft class at that position. They moved up to get Ladd McConkey (Georgia) in the 2nd round, a good move.

That also hopefully means an improved defense, something Herbert has never had in any adequate form in his 4 seasons with the Chargers.

A Divisional Dilemma

The Chargers play in a tough division by virtue of the Chiefs winning it every year since 2016, the 2nd-longest streak in NFL history. However, Harbaugh has won everywhere he’s been, including in San Francisco when he became an NFL coach in 2011.

That year, the 49ers had low expectations (over/under 7.5 wins), yet that team started 9-1. That was big since the 49ers had not won 9 games in any of the previous 8 seasons. They finished 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship Game, and this was with Alex Smith at quarterback, who had been a bust to that point.

Harbaugh had a better roster in San Francisco to work with than he’ll have with the Chargers in 2024, but a healthy Herbert can make up a lot of that difference. Even last year, the Chargers lost 4 games where Herbert led a game-tying or go-ahead drive in the 4th quarter.

Just get this quarterback more support, which is what Harbaugh intends to do.

The Schedule

Maybe the Chargers don’t have what it takes to topple the Chiefs for the AFC West this year, but the schedule looks favorable enough for Harbaugh to get this team off to a good start and in a position for a wild card berth.

  • The Chargers open at home with the Raiders, who have a bad quarterback situation and likely won’t score a lot of points this year.
  • Week 2 is in Carolina, the team with the worst record last year.
  • Week 6 is in Denver against a probable rookie quarterback in Bo Nix in what looks like a rebuilding year for the Broncos.
  • The Chargers could get 3-4 wins from the Raiders and Broncos alone this year.
  • Week 7 is a Monday night game in Arizona, which is winnable.
  • The Chargers should be favored at home against the Titans, and they play the weakest NFC division (NFC South).
  • The schedule ends with road games, but they are against the Patriots and Raiders, so again, the Chargers have the edge at coach and quarterback.

If Harbaugh can work his magic, this team has a path to 10 wins, which should be enough for the playoffs in a conference that could easily see the Steelers and Browns not repeat as playoff teams from 2023.

NFL Pick: Team to Make the Playoffs – Los Angeles Chargers (-105) at Bet365


C.J. Stroud’s Golden Opportunity in the MVP Race


Finally, let’s not discredit how important the schedule has become for the NFL’s MVP race. Last year, Brock Purdy blew his shot in Week 16 when he threw 4 interceptions against the Ravens on Christmas night. That elevated Lamar Jackson as the new favorite despite a season that would normally never be in the running for MVP.

We saw this in 2021 as well when Tom Brady blew his MVP campaign with a 9-0 shutout loss to the Saints on a Sunday night game. Those prime-time games late in the season can have a huge swing on an MVP race where no one is running away with it statistically.

This year, the NFL sure seems to be feeding into this with a Week 16-17 schedule with the following games that could have huge implications for the No. 1 seed and the MVP award:

  • Week 16: Texans at Chiefs (Saturday, 01:00 PM start)
  • Week 16: Steelers at Ravens (Saturday, 04:30 PM start)
  • Week 16: Saints at Packers (Monday, 08:15 PM start)
  • Week 17: Chiefs at Steelers (Wednesday, 01:00 PM start on Christmas)
  • Week 17: Ravens at Texans (Wednesday, 04:30 PM start on Christmas)

Had to throw the Green Bay game in there as it’s Jordan Love’s final prime-time game in 2024, and you never know if he will keep up his 2023 finish and have an MVP-worthy season this year.

Still, these are some huge games in the AFC for Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and C.J. Stroud, and it is shocking the NFL chose to make the Chiefs and Ravens their guinea pigs for this Wednesday experiment with a Christmas Day double-header on Netflix.

Seizing the Opportunity

Playing on a Wednesday after a Saturday is like playing on a Thursday after a Sunday, but this is late in the season, and these games are really important. Weird decision by the league here but look at the eyeballs that will be on these nationally televised games that should be very important for the overall scope of the 2024 NFL season.

At Bet365, Mahomes (+600) is the odds-on favorite for MVP with Jackson (+1000) and Stroud (+1000) tied for the 3rd-highest odds.

While it is not likely to happen, can you imagine if the Chiefs crap the bed again on Christmas like they did against the Raiders last year and lose an ugly performance in Pittsburgh? That could kill Mahomes’ MVP case if he’s in a close battle.

Meanwhile, Stroud has so much to gain here if Houston is in fact having a special season. He can beat the Chiefs on Saturday on the road, then take down the Ravens in a playoff rematch on Christmas. That could even lock up the No. 1 seed for Houston if this season is going to go that well.

That might lock up MVP too for Stroud, taking down the Chiefs and Ravens 5 days apart in games everyone will be watching.

The Rookie Sensation

We already liked Stroud as an MVP candidate to begin with.

He is the Offensive Rookie of the Year and already led the NFL in passing yards per game and lowest interception rate as a rookie. He has his offensive coordinator (Bobby Slowik) back, Tank Dell is healthy at receiver and they upgraded with Stefon Diggs to go along with Nico Collins.

He has arguably the best receiving corps in the league in a great offensive system.

The Texans also should have upgraded the defense in coach DeMeco Ryans’ 2nd year. He can use Danielle Hunter and Will Anderson Jr. to tee off on quarterbacks after Stroud builds leads with the offense.

This is a lot of talk about realizing potential, but who imagined the Texans winning 10 games, the AFC South and a playoff game last year? Maybe they just take the natural steps of getting better this year after improving their roster.

The schedule release further solidifies Stroud as the best bet for MVP this year. Sure, maybe Mahomes has his 1st super team that’s elite on both sides of the ball and he wins his 3rd MVP and seeks a 3rd-straight Super Bowl. However, if you want to go with some fresh blood given the last 4 MVP winners already had an MVP before the season started, then Stroud is the pick, and this schedule can clinch it for him with strong performances.

NFL Pick: 2024 NFL MVP – C.J. Stroud (+1000) at Bet365

*The line and/or odds referenced in this article might have changed since the content was published. For the latest information on line movements, visit OddsTrader’s free betting odds tool.

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