Atlanta (+5) vs. Miami The Hawks have been a tough team to handicap all season, but they've played the Heat pretty
Finding value in Super Bowl odds
As another NFL campaign sprints to the finish, it’s now or never for bettors – particularly those who have enjoyed profitable seasons – to dip into the pool of Super Bowl odds. While Vegas always has a strong opinion when it comes to the favorite to hoist the Lombardi trophy, it’s time for the obligatory note that the last three champions – and four of the last six – have played on Wild Card Weekend. Moreover, only once since 2005 has a No. 1 seed gone all the way (the 2009 Saints). Which is to say a smattering of long shots and perceived also-rans have turned into handsome paydays for prescient bettors.
So despite the currents odds in Vegas indicating that the AFC and NFC playoffs are going to be mere formalities en route to the coronation of the Broncos and Seahawks as conference champs, we say not so fast. All it takes is for a team to get hot and see a few bounces of the ball go its way before a substantial underdog finds itself bathing in confetti. Look no further than the 2012 Ravens or the ’07 or ’11 Giants.
With Seattle (+180) and Denver (+260) offering very little bang for the buck, here are a few teams with enticing Super Bowl odds relative to their realistic chances.
San Francisco 49ers (15/2)
For a team that was a play away from winning it all last year, is finally getting healthy and rounding into form (four straight wins by an average of nearly two touchdowns), this number is directly correlated to the Niners’ recent track record in Seattle. It’s certainly not good (losses by 29 and 26), but there’s a decent chance San Francisco wouldn’t have to clash with its division rivals until the NFC Championship Game. Who knows what could happen between now and then.
New England Patriots (14/1)
Losing Rob Gronkowski is probably a death blow to the Patriots, but the star tight end’s injury has also given them exceptional value. One thing that can’t be questioned when it comes to New England is its mental toughness – with and without Gronk. All four games the Patriots have lost this season have been on the final play. Getting 14/1 on a team that’s always going to have a shot to win makes for a solid play.
New Orleans Saints (18/1)
Were the Saints not being talked about as arguably the team to beat as recently as Thanksgiving? Sure, getting pummeled twice in three weeks doesn’t create a lot of cause for optimism, but last we checked Drew Brees was still the quarterback and the Saints continue to boast their best defense since winning the Super Bowl four years ago.
Green Bay Packers (35/1)
Don’t look now, but thanks to the Lions’ implosion on Monday night, the Packers officially control their own destiny for the NFC North title. With Aaron Rodgers potentially returning in Week 16, the Packers suddenly have a legitimate pulse. It’s also worth noting they’re the only team to have won in Seattle during the Russell Wilson era (even if the official standings didn’t reflect it). If Green Bay finds its way into the tournament, this number will plummet faster than the Cowboys in December.
Indianapolis Colts (40/1)
The Colts have turned into a hit-or-miss bunch of late, but they’re also the only team to have beaten the Seahawks, Broncos and 49ers (no other team has knocked off even two of those heavyweights). There are worse things than getting 40/1 on your money for a team that’s guaranteed to be playing in January and led by a quarterback who has already shown time and again that he’s at his best in the biggest moments against the stiffest competition.
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