NFL Futures: Which Super Bowl Bet Offers the Most Value?
Published on January 10, 2018
The first round of the 2017 NFL playoffs is in the books, with a couple of surprises, but no real cracks in the foundation of this year’s race for Super Bowl 52.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams were both upset at home, but few people really looked at either team as legit title threats.
The Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans live for another day and offer some interesting Super Bowl 52 value, but it’s fair to wonder just how much.
The Divisional Round is where things officially get interesting.
The New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings own the top three spots in terms of title odds at Bovada and most pro football betting sites. Unless something crazy happens, there is a good chance all three will advance to their conference title game.
The true chaos will come if that doesn’t happen, while it also remains to be seen if the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles (in the NFC) can live up to that billing sans .
Nothing has really changed up top to this point. The Chiefs and Rams were certainly Super Bowl contenders, but they weren’t necessarily favorites.
Kansas City has always been notorious for poor game management and was a very streaky team this year, while little could be expected out of a young Rams team that hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2004 (when they were in St. Louis).
Those were still upsets, but for the most part, the odds up top haven’t changed in terms of who the oddsmakers view as realistic options to run the table. Here’s how things currently stand at Bovada:
New England remains the Super Bowl 52 favorite across the board, even of Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
Of course, all three have refuted an ESPN report that alleges the three are butting heads and that the elite trio could finally go their separate ways after this season.
It’s anyone’s guess what is true in that mess, but the Pats still looked like one of the best teams in the league during the 2017 NFL regular season and not much has changed.
The Vikings look like the NFC’s best bet on paper, while the Steelers, Saints and Falcons all look like viable options with odds at +650 or greater.
The three teams I’m tossing aside are the Eagles, Jaguars and Titans.
Tennessee lucked out last week in layered fashion. They were down 21-3 at the break and benefited from the Kansas City Chiefs allowing stud running back Kareem Hunt to tote the rock a whopping five times in the second half.
Atrocious game management combined with a Travis Kelce injury and opportune offense by the Titans ultimately sunk the Chiefs.
Derrick Henry blew up against an overrated defense, too, while Marcus Mariota got the end-zone scoring going for the Titans by literally . Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
Long-winded explanation for Tennessee’s win aside, the Titans had everything break just right and they still only beat the Chiefs by one point.
Vegas hates them going into the Divisional Round (+13.5) at New England. If they even keep that game close – let alone pull off the upset – it’d be the shock of the playoffs.
Suffice to say, the Titans aren’t good bets to make it to the AFC title game. Even if they did, they’d be tasked with beating either the Steelers or Jaguars and then the best team the NFC has to offer.
I don’t see that happening and I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in the Jaguars, either.
Jacksonville’s defense might be the best in the league, but they honestly would have beaten only the Buffalo Bills last week. Facing anyone else, their inept passing game featuring Blake Bortles’ scorching 87-yard outing would have been one-and-done.
I’m not sure it’s impossible for the Jags to work some magic, but they’d probably have to win road games against both the Steelers and Pats before taking on the top team from the NFC. With Blake Bortles calling the shots through the air, it just isn’t a feasible expectation.
The case is similar for the Eagles and they don’t even have as stingy of a defense as Jacksonville does.
The Eagles are aggressive, can run the ball and sniff out the run with the best of them, but Nick Foles is quite the massive downgrade from what Carson Wentz was giving them under center.
Philly could easily turn up lame at home against the Falcons, but even if they edge that game out, bettors have to find a way to believe Nick Foles can avoid back-breaking mistakes in wins in both the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl.
Collectively, Vegas has listed these three teams correctly as the bottom three options and I just don’t see any of them winning it all – much less getting to the promised land.
In reality, this is a 5-team race and the big question bettors need to ask themselves is which team offers the most safety, which offers the most upside and which offers the most value.
New England is the easy call for safety. They have 5 Super Bowl wins and just won last year and they again look like a seriously tough out. It never hurts when Vegas backs you all year without a hiccup, either.
The upside call is obvious once you eliminate the bottom three teams and that puts Atlanta (+650) in the discussion.
It’s even more interesting when you consider they were in the Super Bowl last year, went on the road to beat a good Rams team and have the talent of a title threat on paper.
The third question is which team offers the most Super Bowl betting value.
That third option doesn’t have to be different than the safest bet or the one that offers the most upside, but in terms of sheer value, it’s probably the title contender bettors have a really hard time avoiding.
When you look at everything, I think the team offering the most value also offers the most upside; Atlanta.
The Patriots are the favorites, but they’re graded out as such. They do offer some value at +200, but it’s not staggering. It’s also not easy for any champion to repeat, while this rumored rift could end up being real and tearing the Patriots apart.
Minnesota is the next team up at +375, but they’ve hitched their wagon to Case Keenum of all people. He’s enjoyed a career-best year at age 29, but it’s increasingly tough to believe he’s going to lead the Vikings to their first-ever title.
The Vikings run the ball well, have a dynamic offense overall, and boast a very strong defense. Unfortunately, I keep going back to Keenum and due to his past failures, I’d prefer a bit more value with the Vikings.
The Steelers are where the value admittedly gets very interesting. The AFC feels a bit more top-heavy between the Pats and Steelers and if you’re looking only at talent, I’m not sure there is a better offensive roster left in these playoffs.
The bad thing with Pittsburgh is they probably have to get past the Patriots to even make it to the Super Bowl and ever since Ryan Shazier (back) went down, their defense has been less than elite. I doubt they get past the Pats and it’s not crazy to think they even have difficulty winning this week at home against the Jags.
New Orleans is being pitched as a tantalizing Super Bowl sleeper after downing the Panthers at home last week. Maybe that’s true, but they didn’t cover the spread and a late-game interception .
It’s pretty arguable the Saints are lucky to be in round two and now they have to go up to Minnesota to challenge a Vikings team they lost to in week one. Drew Brees proved last week he still can work some magic, but on the road against a tough defense, it’s possible he and this offense fizzle out.
Even if that doesn’t happen, the Saints would either have to go on the road again in Philly or battle the familiar Falcons for a third time in the NFC title game. None of that necessarily sounds easy, while a Super Bowl trip doesn’t offer a guaranteed title if they face the Pats or Steelers.
If you want real value, look at the viable teams that seem to have the easiest path to advancing this week. The Pats look like the most obvious locks at home against the Titans, but the Falcons are probably next up.
I have zero faith in Nick Foles, while Atlanta has looked dialed in on both sides of the ball for weeks now. It’s weird to think how different this team is compared to the potent bunch they were a year ago, but they’re still a deep, balanced and talented unit.
More importantly, the Falcons now have high-level experience. They know how to win tough games, they can win on the road and they have major incentive to get back to the NFL title game and redeem themselves for their harrowing 28-3 collapse last season.
I don’t know if they’ll actually pull it off, but things might be setting up in Atlanta’s favor. After all, a wild card team makes a deep run from time to time and they honestly might be one of the more dangerous wild card teams the NFL playoffs have ever seen.
Nobody wants to see the Falcons right now and with a date in Philly that has the Falcons standing in as the first 6th-seeded favorite ever, it’s tough to imagine Atlanta bowing out now.
In fact, if the Falcons were going to be dragged down by their Super Bowl loss, it probably would have happened already.
It could still happen at some point in these playoffs – heck, maybe it happens against the Pats again in a Super Bowl rematch. However, as things stand, the Falcons offer elite upside and the best value of any Super Bowl contender on the board.