Patriots (PK) and first half under 24 One thing about Super Bowls is they don't tend to start with a bang.
High-value Super Bowl matchups
If one thing can be gleaned from the last two weeks, it’s that home-field advantage throughout the playoffs – while certainly coveted – by no means guarantees a trip to the Super Bowl. The Broncos and Seahawks may still be the favorites to meet in New Jersey on Feb. 2 (5/2 odds), but any perception of their invincibility at home no longer exists. The Chargers and Cardinals took care of that.
After taking a look at some high-value Super Bowl futures last week, let’s next examine some potential Super Bowl matchups – another way to extract good chunks of value while accounting for the highly variable nature of the NFL playoffs.
Bengals vs. Seahawks (+1650)
Only time will tell if losing to Arizona was a good thing for Seattle, which now knows it can’t simply rely on the comforts of CenturyLink Field and the 12th man to make it out of the NFC. Despite the first home hiccup of the Russell Wilson era, a lot would have to happen in Week 17 for the Seahawks to fall out of the No. 1 seed. Which is to say they remain the favorites to win the conference. The problem with that is the future odds on a Super Bowl matchup with the Broncos offers next to nothing in return, and even a Seahawks-Patriots matchup (+825) wouldn’t produce a ton of bang for the buck. Enter Cincinnati, which has come on strong in the second half of the season and is looking like the most complete team in the AFC. The only question mark is quarterback Andy Dalton, but this will be his third stab at the playoffs. If he’s ever going to make the leap, the time is now. With the Broncos looking more beatable by the day and New England as injury-ravaged as a team can be, the door is open for the Bengals to make a run.
Patriots vs. Panthers (+2750)
The Patriots may be shells of themselves in terms of personnel, but they still have Tom Brady and the AFC is full of flawed and beat up teams. New England looks like it will secure the second bye, meaning a trip to the AFC title game for the third straight year and fifth in the last eight is all but assured. The Panthers, meanwhile, have passed every test so far. Beat the Niners in San Francisco? Check. Take down the Patriots on Monday night? Check. Vanquish the Saints and control their own destiny for the 2-seed? Check, check. The only knock on Carolina is its lack of playoff experience. But all signs point to a first-round bye and home field against any team but the Seahawks. If the Panthers do have to travel to Seattle, it wouldn’t be until the NFC Championship Game. By then, the Panthers would have that postseason experience. With a punishing defense and strong running game, they are built to give Seattle problems.
Broncos vs. Packers (+3475)
Between Peyton Manning’s past struggles in the playoffs and the season-ending ACL injury to Von Miller, Denver is ripe for the picking. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the AFC remains the Broncos’ to lose in the eyes of oddsmakers. Because of that there’s not great value in Super Bowl matchups involving Denver. Except this one. Courtesy of neither Detroit or Chicago being able to claim the NFC North title when it was within their grasps, the Packers enter Week 17 needing only to beat the Bears at Soldier Field to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Often times, stories write themselves in the NFL. If the one being written in Green Bay continues as scripted – with the Packers somehow finding their way into the playoffs despite being without Aaron Rodgers for two months – they will be a live play.
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