This article has been update by the editor on December 26th, 2016. Any changed will be made using
strikethrough or square [brackets].
While there is no question the NFL is a league with a lot of parity, don’t mistake that to mean a lot of teams can win the Super Bowl. Having a large group of average squads actually dwindles the number of true contenders, because, let’s face it, the .500 crowd just isn’t good enough. Let’s examine some options for future betting, and see if we can make a reasonable bet considering, a team’s chances and their odds.
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to recognize the Patriots (12/5) and Cowboys (33/7) are legitimate. However, I do not believe without Rob Gronkowski, New England has a 30-percent chance to win it all. While 12-2 is a great mark, the only other serious contender the Pats have faced they lost to, when the Seahawks came calling in mid-November.
Similiarly, a rookie quarterback and running back in Dallas, combined with a coach who has won one playoff game in seven years, doesn’t prosper over 17-percent of the time. There are analytics people who believe Dallas is the favorite, and indeed their path might be the easiest, and their resume the most impressive. That said, young guys usually need to learn what the postseason is about once or twice before winning it all.
The Seahawks (6/1) are the third choice at sportsbooks, and it’s a simple equation that decides whether they are worthy of a bet. Do you like their chances playing in Dallas, and in a neutral site game against New England? Of course, they might get easier options, but if you think they stand a strong chance to win those two games, they should be your wager.
If Seattle takes care of the Cardinals and Niners down the stretch, they will be the second seed in the NFC. [If the Seahawks beat the Niners, Atlanta loses at home to the Saints, and Detroit loses one of its final two games, Seattle would be the second seed in the NFC]. While they have lost tight road games this season to New Orleans, Tampa Bay, and Green Bay, the only place they could possibly go on the road in the playoffs is Dallas. Remember, when fully geared up [the Hawks lost WR Tyler Lockett to a broken leg on Christmas Eve], they won in New England this season. Meanwhile, at home, Seattle is unbeaten, and continue to have the second best defense in the league
Kansas City (16/1) isn’t sexy, but they get it done. The Chiefs have won 21 of their last 26 games dating back to last season. Their only two losses over the past 10 games came by two points each. They usually don’t beat themselves, and have a similar makeup to Andy Reid’s 2004 Philadelphia team that reached the Super Bowl.
The Steelers (10/1) and Raiders (29/2) are public teams, and that always makes us leery. People want to bet on them. Pittsburgh has been good recently, but they also have five losses. Their four straight road wins have come against non-playoff teams. Their path will be on the road primarily, and that is difficult. Oakland is young like Dallas, and not nearly as good on defense as the Cowboys. The Raiders have a nice foundation, which will probably take them through the next few seasons. [It might be tough for Oakland’s run to continue, as they lost QB Derek Carr to a broken fibula on Christmas Eve.]
Even though there are reasons to like Green Bay (18/1), Denver (125/1), Miami (80/1), Tampa Bay (70/1), Baltimore (65/1), and Washington (125/1), none are a lot better than 50/50 to qualify for the postseason, and therefore, should not be bet to run the table.
The only other squads on the table are Atlanta (18/1), NY Giants (16/1), Detroit (55/1), and the group from the AFC South (Tennessee (55/1), Indianapolis (100/1), Houston (100/1)). I simply can’t imagine the Lions or the South teams winning the big one. If you have to suspend belief to make a bet, it is a bad wager. The Falcons are a little bit like Kansas City, they tend to play close games. However, trusting a speed oriented dome team outdoors in the playoffs is a leap of faith. As for the Giants, aside from the win in Dallas, their road resume is weak (loses to the Vikings, Packers, Steelers, and a win over the Browns). While New York has an impressive 10-4 mark, including eight wins in their last nine weeks, they are consistently winning tight games, and that isn’t sustainable.
The Seahawks and Chiefs offer the most value, and Seattle’s path to the NFC Championship game is fairly easy. If you are going to take a shot, the Falcons or Giants are not unreasonable based on their price.
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