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Top 3 Plus-Money Favorites to Make the 2021 NFL Playoffs

April 27, 2021
Odds on if Washington Football Team will make the playoffs

The 2021 NFL Draft gets underway soon and it will certainly have an impact on the upcoming season. Regardless, there are a handful of teams sitting at plus-money to make the 2021 NFL playoffs right now. Which, if any, teams have the best opportunity of playing in the postseason? Is there another Cleveland out there in 2021?

Here are the top three plus-money favorites to make the 2021 NFL playoffs.

WASHINGTON (+170)
Last year, the NFC East was simply awful. That may be the case again in 2021. Washington ended up winning the division with a 7-9 record. One of the great comeback stories of all-time – QB Alex Smith – has retired and the reigns of the offense will now be in the hands of NFL journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick.

What gives the Football Team an edge on making the playoffs again in 2021 is its defense. Washington won five of its final seven games last season and never gave up more than 20 points in any of the seven. The defense finished No. 2 against the pass and No. 2 in total defense. That resulted in Washington allowing 20.6 points per game, which was fourth-best in the league.

Defensive end Chase Young recorded 7.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss as a rookie and should be even better in 2021. Montez Sweat, who plays opposite Young, was a first-round pick in 2019 and recorded nine sacks last season.

With a defense like that, Washington should be able to at least repeat its 4-2 division record from a year ago. The NFC East will cross over to play the AFC West and NFC South giving the Football Team plenty of opportunities to add W’s to the win column. At +170 to make the playoffs, you have to like Washington’s chances…and the payout.

SAN FRANCISCO (+125)
The NFC West will be the best division in football in 2021. Both Seattle and the Los Angeles Rams made the postseason in 2020 and both are likely to do so again in 2021. One might be inclined to choose Arizona to break through and make the postseason this year. The Cardinals are given +190 odds to make the playoffs after starting last season 6-3 behind dynamic QB Kyler Murray. The Cardinals bus took a wrong turn though the remainder of the season and wound up 8-8.

The Cardinals will probably compete for a playoff spot, but the 49ers have something Arizona does not – an elite defense. And, that elite defense returns DE Nick Bosa and DT Solomon Thomas who both missed almost all of the 2020 season with injuries. Even without Bosa, Thomas, and a few others; the Niners were still a top-5 defense finishing fourth against the pass and fifth in total defense (314.4 ypg).

The question mark for San Francisco will be at quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo had his share of injury issues last year and now head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch appear ready to draft the franchise’s quarterback of the future. How that plays out is anyone’s guess, but the 49ers offense is built around a powerful running game and the play-action pass.

The key for San Francisco is health. If the 49ers stay healthy, they will challenge for the division title. The division schedule will be brutal, but the Niners went 3-3 last season. While the 2021 schedule hasn’t been announced yet, San Francisco will cross over and play the AFC South and NFC North. That means games against Jacksonville, Houston, Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit. The 49ers will also play two games against teams that finished in last place in their respective divisions. That’s nine to ten wins right there and that means a playoff berth.

MIAMI (+135)
A year ago, Miami started the season 1-3 but rebounded and just missed out on a playoff berth after finishing 10-6. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins first-round draft pick in 2020, was inserted into the lineup after Miami’s bye week and the rookie promptly won his first three starts.

Head coach Brian Flores has the Dolphins headed in the right direction. The offense does need a playmaking wide receiver, which Miami should get in this year’s draft. They have worked to upgrade the offensive line and must find a way to run the ball more effectively.

The key for Flores and Miami is a defense that finished sixth in the NFL in scoring last year giving up 21.1 points per game. The defense is young and talented and will give Miami a chance in every game it plays in 2021.

Miami will have the benefit of playing the Jets twice. The Dolphins went 3-3 in the division last year and they will have a schedule that includes Jacksonville, Houston, Carolina, and Atlanta. The rebuilding of the franchise enters Year 3 and it is the year that Miami makes the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

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