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MHJ’s Tough Cover: A look at 2022 NFL futures

Welcome to my debut column here on Philly Influencer! Before I launch into my list of NFL futures division by division, I think it’s only right to start with a bit of a background.

My name is Mark Henry Jr. and I host a weekly radio show on Fox Sports Radio The Gambler called The Tough Cover Radio Show from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday. We discuss all things Philly Sports, as I am a Philly sports fan, but there is also a heavy focus sports betting. I am an avid sports gambler who specializes in the NFL. I had the best NFL season of my life last year, finishing at +150u on the season. This was, in part, due to some very savvy preseason gambling in the futures market, including multiple tickets on the L.A. Rams to win their division/conference/Super Bowl.

And that is what I’m here to do again this year. So without further ado, let’s break down my favorite plays in the NFL futures market for 2022.


• Dallas Cowboys Under 10(-110)(2u)

  • Talk about a team with a disastrous off-season. There’s not many teams that have lost more and gained less than the Dallas Cowboys have this off-season. Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson are gone and Michael Gallup is banged up which puts a ton of pressure on Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, CeeDee Lamb, and Dalton Schultz. And what’s that about pressure on Prescott? He’ll have a ton of it to deal with with a consistently declining offensive line in Big D. Their OL has a ton of question marks that are only enhanced by the loss of Tyron Smith and the addition of Jason Peters. On top of that, the defense far over performed their talent level and expectations last season. I’d guess that falls back down to earth. And the main reason that I’m confident we won’t be seeing a repeat of the success Dallas was able to have on defense is due to the high rate of turnover luck they had last year. That will regress to the mean and their defense will be average at best. Plus, we all know how this is going to go. A disappointing season with a talented roster leads to Mike McCarthy being fired so Jerry Jones can make his big splash hire in Sean Payton. An 8-9 record leads to a big change in the organization. Fade Dallas this year, back Dallas next year.

• Washington Commanders Over 7.5(-130)(1u)

  • The Carson Wentz hate and slander has gone too far. And I should know, I was right there with the pitchfork-wielding mob less than 20 months ago demanding he be traded from Philadelphia. He still threw for 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions last season for Indianapolis. And he’s still the best quarterback that the Washington Commanders have had since RG3’s rookie year. And this group of weapons is the most talented group Wentz has had since 2017: Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic give him two options in the passing game, and Terry McLaurin is a legitimate top 15 receiver in the league. Jahan Dotson is an exciting first-round pick. Logan Thomas is a tantalizing talent at tight end, if he can stay healthy. The defense should take a step forward back to where they were in their 2020 playoff season. And if they’re not, this will be Ron Rivera’s last season in Washington. The hot seat is the ultimate motivator. I have full faith that Washington will be at least average on both sides of the ball which will lead to a 9-8 season and a playoff berth.


• Detroit Lions Under 7(-105)(5u)

  • Hard Knocks be damned. This is my favorite bet in the entire 2022 NFL futures market. There is rabid optimism surrounding the 2022 Lions, and while I understand some of where it’s coming from, it’s still misguided. There has been a false narrative created about the 2021 Lions being a resilient team that hung in games, albeit with not a lot to show for it in the win column. While they hung in some games, they had their fair share of embarrassing losses. A 35-17 loss to Green Bay, two losses to the Matt Nagy-led Chicago Bears, a 34-11 loss to Cincinnati, an embarrassing 44-6 loss to a 2-5 Eagles team, a 38-10 loss to a Denver Broncos team quarterbacked by Teddy Bridgewater, and lastly, a 22-point loss to Seattle in which they surrendered 51 points. Their 2022 draft has put them in the right direction for the future. But Jared Goff is still their quarterback, and Dan Campbell is still their head coach — too many question marks at the two most important positions for a longtime moribund franchise. Goff’s last chance leads to a 4-13 record that will call Campbell’s coaching ability into question. Growth is not always linear.

• Chicago Bears Under 6.5(-150)(1u)

  • This bet is not a reflection on my personal Justin Fields stance. It is a reflection of what I believe to be the organizational stance on Fields that this new regime in Chicago has taken. No quarterback in the NFL is less set up for success than Fields for this year and long term. Their offseason was a step in the wrong direction. Instead of hiring an offensive-minded coach to mold Fields into a system, they hired a defensive coordinator from Indianapolis in Matt Eberflus. Instead of bringing in weapons and offensive linemen through free agency and the draft to help their young quarterback, they let Allen Robinson walk and added nothing of note at those positions. The NFC North cellar will be busy this year with both Chicago and Detroit winning four games apiece.


• New Orleans Saints Under 8.5(+118)(3u)

  • Whatever you do, don’t let #SaintsTwitter see this. This is one of my favorite picks on the future market, and I’ve been vocal about it on Twitter to the chagrin of Saints fans. Somehow, Saints fans have convinced themselves that Sean Payton (who I have as the second-best NFL coach of my lifetime) was actually holding them back last year? Somehow, Saints fans have convinced themselves that Dennis Allen and Jameis Winston will lead them not only to the playoffs, but to compete for a Super Bowl. Somehow, the Saints front office convinced themselves that this was the year to trade their first-round pick next year to try and compete this year? Their front office is writing checks that their roster can’t cash. The Saints inexplicably traded Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who was an important piece of their secondary, and an even more important part of their identity and swagger as a defense. Immediately following the trade, star Safety Marcus Maye was arrested. For a team that is reliant on their defense, losing CGJ and Maye is a very tough blow. I’m even more bullish on this Saints season going down the drain. Saints fans will learn to respect the legend of Sean Payton when they disappoint the football community en route to a 5-12 record. Howie Roseman deserves a parade.

• Atlanta Falcons Over 4.5(-120)(3u)

  • The money is in the dumpster. This may not be sexy, but the Falcons went 7-10 against all odds last year. Arthur Smith showed me a lot last year, milking everything that he could out of Matt Ryan, developing Kyle Pitts in his rookie year, and finally finding a role for Cordarrelle Patterson in the NFL. They won seven games with a bottom-five roster. Another year into Kyle Pitts’ prime and the Draft Day acquisitions of Drake London and Tyler Allgeier could help their offense even more. So the question becomes: is a 37-year-old statuesque Matt Ryan worth 3+ wins? And another question becomes: can Marcus Mariota turn into Ryan Tannehill-esque reclamation project who turns into an average quarterback? He did lead teams to playoff berths. I don’t need all that, just a 5-12 record or better. I think they repeat a 7-10 record. Put some respect on Arthur Smith’s name.


• L.A. Rams Over 10.5(-120)(1u)

  • The Rams still have Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey? Yeah, they’ll be right back in the mix in January. This line seems disrespectful to the champs. 12-5.

• San Francisco 49ers Over 10(-125)(1u)

  • I believe in Trey Lance and more importantly, I trust Kyle Shanahan to make use of Lance’s physical tools to the best possible degree. Not to mention, the 49ers have a top-notch running game with three elite weapons in Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle, as well as a top five offensive line in football. Bosa’s crew on defense is also looking ready to go for another top 5-10 campaign. If you take the quarterback position out of consideration, the 49ers have the best roster in football by a wide margin for me. All Lance needs to do to compete for a conference title is to be average. That’s how good this roster is. The 49ers win 12 games on their path to winning the NFC and making the Super Bowl.

• Seattle Seahawks Under 5.5(-120)(1.5u)

  • Pete Carroll has convinced himself that he can win without Russell Wilson, and I think he’s the only person who believes it. The loss of Wilson and Bobby Wagner starts a new era for the Seahawks, and I don’t think they’ll like this new era. Geno Smith is the right choice over Drew Lock, but they are two pretty terrible choices. Add on the difficulty of their six divisional games against the 49ers/Rams/Cardinals to their ever-changing roster, and this smells like a three-win disaster of a season leading to a top three pick in next year’s draft.


• Bucs to win NFC South/Eagles to win NFC East(+236)(1.5u to win 4u)

  • These are the two teams that I’m most confident in to win their divisions this year. That will shock some Bills/Colts/Ravens/Packers fans and backers but it says more about the conditions in the NFC South and East, which are ripe for the Eagles and Bucs to win the divisions rather easily.


• Miami Dolphins to make playoffs(+150)(2u)

  • Count me in as part of TuAnon. He is being very prematurely and unfairly judged. There have been so many factors working against him. Even with all of these factors working against Miami, they went 9-8 last year and 10-6 the year before. Add Tyreek Hill, a handful of RB’s, a couple legitimate offensive linemen, and an offensive genius in Mike McDaniel to a roster filled with talent, and I think we see a playoff season out of the Miami Dolphins. Don’t be surprised if Miami competes and hangs with Buffalo in this division. I don’t see a way this team wins less than 10 games.

• New England Patriots Over 8.5(-115)(1u)

  • The Patriots went 10-7 last year with a rookie quarterback. Normally, when a team wins 10 games with a rookie quarterback, we expect growth and improvement. So, why are we expecting the Pats to fall off a cliff? I know it’s weird to have Matt Patricia and Joe Judge playing offensive coordinator, but at the end of the day, Bill Belichick is running the show. I have no reason to believe that Belichick will let an offensive line scheme change and the lack of quality assistant coaches disrupt the steady train that is the New England Patriots. Ten wins again. Ho Hum.

• New York Jets Under 6(-145)(1u)

  • I would bet more units on this if it was not juiced all the way up to -145 post-Zach Wilson injury news. Funny enough, Wilson being out makes me feel worse about this win total under. Joe Flacco is better than Wilson, and I’m not even sure that Flacco is a top 50 quarterback. Similarly to the Lions, the Jets had a good draft that is going to set them in the right direction, but they haven’t come close to figuring out quarterback yet. Zach Wilson is not the guy, even if he’s had some legendary conquests off the field. In my opinion, the Jets will be one of the first two picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.


• Cincinnati Bengals to miss Playoffs(+123)(1u)

• Cincinnati Bengals Under 10(-120)(1u)

  • It feels sacrilegious to bet against Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, but I’m expecting a classic Super Bowl loser letdown. Every single game/moment that led to the Bengals getting to the Super Bowl was a fluke. A blown call leading to a game-winning touchdown against the Raiders, Ryan Tannehill throwing interceptions on his first and last throw to hand Cincy the game, and then played a Kansas City Chiefs team that had one of the worst collapses in NFL Playoff history that we’re likely not going to see again. I understand that they addressed the offensive line, but there are still weak spots. And above all, I am concerned about their secondary. Eli Apple is far too important to this team’s defensive success. In a brutal division and conference, the Bengals take a step back to being an 8-9 win team with a brutally tough schedule.

• Pittsburgh Steelers Over 7.5(-105)(3u)

  • This one is simple: Mike Tomlin and the Steelers do not go under .500. The Steelers have not finished worse than .500 since 2003. Ben Roethlisberger was a corpse last year, I don’t even think Trubisky/Pickett are a downgrade at all. The Steelers have one of the best groups of weapons in the entire NFL. Najee Harris is a true throwback do it all workhorse running back. Diontae Johnson had one of the quietest 100+ catch seasons in NFL history, and he is flanked by two athletic specimens in Chase Claypool and George Pickens. Not to mention a young and versatile tight end target in Pat Friermuth. And as always, this defense led by T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick should be special, especially now that they have assistant defensive mastermind Brian Flores helping out. The Steelers are gonna shock the world like always and go to the playoffs.

• Cleveland Browns Under 8.5(-160)(1u)

  • The Browns have an incredibly talented roster. Their offensive line and running game should allow them to avoid a full trainwreck of a season. I just don’t think this football team will be able to escape the black cloud that is the Deshaun Watson situation, and I don’t think Jacoby Brissett holding the ball forever will do the trick. I just don’t see how Cleveland finishes anywhere other than fourth in this division. I see a 6-11 season on the horizon.


• Indianapolis Colts Under 10.5(-130)(3u)

  • There is entirely too much optimism surrounding this team, as there seems to be every year. People seem to think they’ve completely fixed their lingering quarterback dilemma, but I think they’ve downgraded. Carson Wentz threw for 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, while also handing the ball off to Jonathan Taylor, who had a career season. Their offense is going to lose an element of improvisation with the statue that is 37-year-old Matt Ryan. I think this is going to be a disaster season in which we realize that Ryan is cooked and that Frank Reich might be on the hot seat. 7-10.


• Chargers Over 9.5(-182)(1u)

• Chargers to win AFC(+1400)(3u)

• Chargers to win AFC(+1100)(1u)

  • Can you tell I love the Chargers? They remind me of this year’s Rams in terms of having a roster on paper that I can’t even believe. With the additions of J.C. Jackson, Khalil Mack, Kyle Van Noy, and Sebastian Joseph-Day, I think Brandon Staley is gonna turn this defense into a juggernaut. Their pass-rushing ability married with an absolutely elite secondary is going to be a scary combination for the rest of the AFC. And with all this talk about the defense, you might think that’s their best side of the ball. Not quite. Justin Herbert is the fastest-rising superstar in the NFL, and he’s got quite the group of playmakers surrounding him with Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams, and the uber-reliable Keenan Allen. They also have a revamped offensive line led by a young stud at tackle, Rashawn Slater. Herbert’s official star-making season is on the horizon; he is going to win the MVP en route to winning the Super Bowl and collecting the Super Bowl MVP. It’s Justin Herbert’s world, we’re just living in it.

• Broncos Under 10

  • Somebody has to be disappointing in the AFC West. Just like the Saints, this front office is writing checks that their roster can’t cash. Denver has been one of the most hapless organizations in the NFL since Peyton Manning retired, and I don’t view Russell Wilson as a cure-all. I’m not as gung-ho about the Denver weapons(Javonte Williams/Jerry Jeudy/Courtland Sutton) as the fantasy football community seems to be. Denver’s defense has some exciting pieces on paper, but can they stay healthy? I’m not so sure. There are too many question marks with a first-time coach, a new quarterback, a ton of new pieces, a lot of injury risk. Most importantly, the Broncos are in the same division as the Chargers and Chiefs. They will be one of the most disappointing teams in football and go comfortably below .500.

You can follow Mark Henry Jr. on Twitter (@MarkHenryJr_) and listen to the Tough Cover Radio Show every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fox Sports Radio The Gambler.

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