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Super Bowl XLVII: Odds Update, Analysis and Predictions

Kevin StottSenior Analyst IOctober 6, 2012

Super Bowl XLVII: Odds Update, Analysis and Predictions

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    With Super Bowl XLVII less than four months away—February 3, 2013—now is as good a time as any to separate the wheat from the chaff to try and see if there is any value in the most recent futures odds for the 32 NFL teams.

    Fresh from the Las Vegas Hotel—formerly the Las Vegas Hilton and the place where Elvis Presley lived in a penthouse suite suite on the 30th floor (room 3000) up until his last performance there in December of 1976—here are the updated odds (October 2) compared to the opening odds put out this summer, along with some analysis and an opinion as to whether or not each team is worth taking a shot at bringing home the Lombardi Trophy.

    If you like any of these teams, best act now as futures odds in the NFL are a very fluid beast and these numbers move almost as frequently as the mercury here in Sin City.

Cleveland Browns

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    Current Odds: 1000/1
    Opening Odds: 100/1
    Division: AFC North
    Record: 0-4

    The Skinny: The longest odds on the board at the LVH, the Browns are one of only two teams in the NFL without a win (with the Saints) so far but really aren’t as bad as their 0-4 record or these 1000/1 odds reflect.

    The bad thing for Cleveland—who is good at covering the point spread, going 8-2-1 its last 11 against the number—and the reason this bet would be dead in the water is that they play in the same division as the improving Bengals, Steelers and Ravens.

    The Browns had a nice draft this summer, taking QB Brandon Weeden and RB Trent Richardson in the first round, but are probably at least several years away from competing into what is now evolving into one of the league’s toughest divisions.

    Head coach Pat Shurmur and Cleveland (73 points for, 98 points against) are at the defending Super Bowl champions Giants on Sunday, then welcome intrastate rival Cincinnati the following week, so a 0-6 start is a distinct possibility.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Current Odds: 500/1
    Opening Odds: 100/1
    Division: AFC South
    Record: 1-3

    The Skinny: Only the Colts (61) have scored less points so far than the Jaguars (62) who boast last season's leading rusher in Maurice Jones-Drew but are far from ever appearing in, let alone winning, their first Super Bowl.

    QB Blaine Gabbert doesn’t look like the answer for new coach Mike Mularkey in Jacksonville. WR Justin Blackmon was a tremendous draft pick and may have a bright future, but this team has a long way to go to even consider a future bet on them to win the conference, let alone the Big Game.

    The Jaguars (62 PF-97 PA) do enjoy the luxury of playing in the NFL’s worst division alongside the Colts and the Titans, with the upstart Texans being the only quality team and a shoo-in to win the division.

    With a home game against Chicago up next this Sunday, the odds on this futures bet may climb to 750/1 or 1000/1 before too long.

Miami Dolphins

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    Current Odds: 300/1
    Opening Odds: 50/1
    Division: AFC North
    Record: 1-3

    The Skinny: After three straight losing seasons, the Dolphins brought in new coach Joe Philbin, but to ask Miami to get to and win Super Bowl XLVII is an awfully big stretch, even though they dwell in the same division as the Bills and the Jets.

    The Fish (86 PF-90 PA) brought in RB Reggie Bush and drafted QB Ryan Tannehill in the first round, but this team is far from an offensive juggernaut.

    Miami is at Cincinnati on Sunday, so a 1-4 start is a strong possibility, although this team, like the Browns, isn’t as bad as their record now reflects. They currently have the best defense against the run in the league.

    Still, the Dolphins will have to rest on its laurels as being the last team in the league to have a perfect season (17-0) back in 1972.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Current Odds: 300/1
    Opening Odds: 40/1
    Division: AFC South
    Record: 1-2

    The Skinny: Not so long ago the Colts were a perennial playoff team, but age crept up on them and now Indianapolis is definitely in a rebuilding mode.

    Peyton Manning is gone and Andrew Luck is the team’s QB for the future, but Indianapolis (61 PF-83 PA) and Super Bowl won’t go in the same sentence for at least five more years.

    The Colts suffered a major blow earlier this week when head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia.

    Playing in the same division as the Titans and the Jaguars is a good thing, but with Green Bay coming to Naptown this week, a 1-3 start is likely in the cards. But to think this team is as bad as it was last season is a big mistake—the Colts are much improved, but not a contender to win the AFC this season, let alone the Super Bowl.

Oakland Raiders

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    Current Odds: 200/1
    Opening Odds: 50/1
    Division: AFC West
    Record: 1-3

    The Skinny: Al Davis is gone but the Raiders still seem to be the Raiders of the past—a team that has trouble gaining momentum and one that constantly hurts itself with penalties and poor decisions.

    Dennis Allen is Oakland’s new coach, but why new general manager Reggie McKenzie let a guy like Hue Jackson go after leading Oakland to an 8-8 record and a strong finish last year is beyond me.

    The Black-and-Silver (67 PF-125 PA) have been outscored by almost a 2-to-1 margin so far this season. QB Carson Palmer and RB Darren McFadden are solid enough but something‘s just not clicking for the once-mighty and feared Raiders.

    Oakland does have one of the best kickers in the NFL in Sebastian Jankowski, but after a bye this week, the Raiders travel to Hotlanta to face the high-flying Falcons on October 14, so a 1-4 start looks probable.

    Not a good bet with the Broncos on the upswing, the Chargers rolling and heavies like the Texans, Patriots and Ravens lying in wait in the AFC.

St. Louis Rams

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    Current Odds: 200/1
    Opening Odds: 100/1
    Division: NFC West
    Record: 3-2

    The Skinny: The Rams have already won more games this season than they did all of last season (2-14) but their odds have gone from 100/1 to 200/1, likely because of Arizona’s crazy start (4-1) and the presence of fellow division studs San Francisco (3-1), who I strongly believe are the best team in the NFL this season.

    St. Louis has a new coach in Jeff Fisher and a couple of pretty talented guys on offense in QB Sam Bradford and RB Steven Jackson, but with two games against the 49ers as well as dates with the Patriots and Packers still to come, everything will have to go right for the Rams to even have a chance to make the playoffs this season.

    Only a true St. Louis fan oozing optimism would be advised to place a futures wager on this team at this point in the year, despite how well it looked in Thursday night’s dominating win over the then-undefeated Cardinals.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Current Odds: 200/1
    Opening Odds: 50/1
    Division: NFC South
    Record: 1-3

    The Skinny: The Buccaneers have a new coach in former Rutgers head man Greg Schiano, and QB Josh Freeman has a couple of nice targets in WR’s Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Plus, the team has always prided itself in its strong defense.

    But Tampa Bay (82 PF-91 PA) has to play the Falcons, Panthers and Saints six times every year and simply topping the .500 mark this season should be the goal for a team which has alternated winning and losing records over the last four seasons.

    At least the Bucs can lay claim to being the best professional football team in the state of Florida.

Tennessee Titans

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    Current Odds: 200/1
    Opening Odds: 50/1
    Division: AFC South
    Record: 1-3

    The Skinny: Nobody has allowed as many points this season as the Titans (151) and head coach Mike Munchak will have to shore up that side of the ball in order for the Titans to become a contender once again.

    Tennessee does have some talent on offense in RB Chris Johnson and WRs Nate Washington and Kenny Britt—who is expected to return this week—but with just 81 points in four games and just one contest where they scored more than 14, the offense may be as inept as the defense at this point in the season.

    QB Jake Locker is out now with a dislocated shoulder. Matt Hasselbeck is a quality backup, but money spent on a Titans futures bet would be better spent on a good order of barbecued ribs, in my opinion.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Current Odds: 200/1
    Opening Odds: 50/1
    Division: AFC West
    Record: 1-3

    The Skinny: Romeo Crennel is now the head Chief, but it looks like another losing season for Kansas City (88 PF-136 PA), off to a 1-3 start and a schedule that features the Ravens, Chargers, Steelers, Bengals, Broncos and Panthers in six of its next eight.

    Should the Chiefs somehow go 4-4 in these next eight, they would be just 5-7 and still likely to be chasing the Chargers and Broncos in their division.

    Injuries ravaged Kansas City last season (Eric Berry, Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles), but even a healthy Chiefs side this season wouldn’t be a wise team to bet on to win the Super Bowl, no matter what the odds.

    Kansas City’s last Super Bowl appearance was 42 years ago in 1970, when Len Dawson, Mike Garrett and Otis Taylor led the Chiefs to their only win in the game against the Vikings, who were 13-point favorites.  

Carolina Panthers

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    Current Odds: 120/1
    Opening Odds: 40/1
    Division: NFC South
    Record: 1-3

    The Skinny: The Panthers should be a huge beneficiary from the Saints' woes in the NFC South this season, but it seems Carolina and Tampa Bay will simply be fighting each other for second place and —hopefully—a wild card spot this season.

    And please note that the word hopefully is in italics for a good reason, Bubba.

    The team has found its QB for the future in Cam Newton, and WR Steve Smith is a natural leader, but coach Ron Rivera and the Panthers (80 PF-109 PA) still have some work to do before we can start putting them in any Super Bowl discussions.  

New Orleans Saints

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    Current Odds: 120/1
    Opening Odds: 6/1
    Division: NFC South
    Record: 0-4

    The Skinny: One only needs to look at the Saints' current odds compared to their opening odds to see how dismal their chances are for reaching this year’s Super Bowl, which will be played at the Superdome in New Orleans.

    Not having head coach Sean Payton or defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on the sidelines due to the bounty scandal is a huge blow, and the 0-4 start has almost eliminated the Saints from any playoff dreams at this somewhat early point in the season.

    QB Drew Brees is one of the game’s best, but the black cloud surrounding this team seems to be too much to compensate for, especially when considering making a futures bet on New Orleans this time around.

Buffalo Bills

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    Current Odds: 100/1
    Opening Odds: 50/1
    Division: AFC East
    Record: 2-2

    The Skinny: Any hopes the Bills had of making a run at the AFC East title and a possible run in the playoffs likely went out the window last Sunday, when the Patriots scored 35 straight in Buffalo in the second half to humble the hosts.

    Many were high on the Bills (115 PF-131 PA) heading into this season, but with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB and the 27th-ranked defense in the league, this franchise still has some work to do to be dubbed as one of the NFL’s elite teams or even be considered as a Super Bowl contender.

    And road dates with San Francisco this Sunday, as well as Houston (November 4) and New England (November 11) on the horizon, likely mean that just finishing .500 or above would be deemed a success in Buffalo this season.

Detroit Lions

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    Current Odds: 100/1
    Opening Odds: 20/1
    Division: NFC North
    Record: 1-3

    The Skinny: The Lions went from 0-16 in 2008 to 2-14 in 2009 to 6-10 in 2010 to last season’s respectable 10-7 record, but that may have been their peak, with the Packers and Bears always tough divisional foes and the Vikings suddenly seeming like a contender this season.

    Detroit’s home loss to Minnesota was revealing for both teams, and although the Lions have QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson, plus some of the most loyal fans in the league, the lack of discipline displayed by some of the players—both on and off the field—sure makes it hard to ever visualizing this team making, let alone winning its first-ever Super Bowl.

    The Lions (100 PF-114 PA) will no doubt continue to be an incredibly entertaining team to watch and a tough opponent for anyone in the league, but the current odds (100/1) are a true reflection of Jim Schwartz’s boys' chances of bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to the Motor City.

New York Jets

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    Current Odds: 100/1
    Opening Odds: 20/1
    Division: AFC East
    Record: 2-2

    The Skinny: Like Detroit, the Jets opened at 20/1 to win the Super Bowl, and, like the Lions, I think we can all see that was as low as the odds will get for this team this season here in Sin City.

    New York (81 PF-109 PA) may be 2-2, but no one would be scared to play Rex Ryan’s club right about now. QB Mark Sanchez may have the team already looking ahead to next year’s NFL Draft, and the phrase ‘Tebow Time’ has already been bandied about by fans and media alike this week.

    Granted, losing CB Darrelle Revis and now WR Santonio Holmes is a brutal reality, but being naive enough to make Holmes his captain speaks volumes about Ryan and what he has to work with in New York.

    Getting to face the Dolphins and the Bills twice in their division every year is a blessing for the Jets, but playing consistent football and finding a QB they can hitch their wagon to is proving to be much harder than anyone initially thought.

    And even if they could find their form and a signal caller to lead the club into the future, the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets will always have to worry about the mighty Patriots in their division, as well as teams like the Ravens and Texans outside of it in the conference.

    Maybe next year. Probably not.

Washington Redskins

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    Current Odds: 90/1
    Opening Odds: 100/1
    Division: NFC East
    Record: 2-2

    The Skinny: Whereas the Jets could be seen as a fairly bad 2-2 team, I think it’s safe to say the Redskins are a pretty good 2-2 club.

    The team solved its QB problem in the offseason, selecting Baylor’s Robert Griffin III in the first round of the draft, and Mike Shanahan is a pretty smart head coach. The problem, as always for Washington, is living in the NFC East, where six dates with the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys are guaranteed every season in a schedule with 16 games.

    What’s bad for football fans in our nation’s capital is that none of those six games has happened yet, and games at Pittsburgh (October 28) and against Baltimore (December 9) still lie ahead.

    Washington (123 PF-123 PA) is vastly improved and will be a thorn in many other teams’ sides, but the math simply seems to be against the Redskins this season.

    And anyone taking a chance and betting Washington at 90/1 now would certainly deserve that healthy payout should the team find a way to make and win Super Bowl XLVII.  

Seattle Seahawks

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    Current Odds: 60/1
    Opening Odds: 50/1
    Division: NFC West
    Record: 2-2

    The Skinny: Seattle fans deserve to be confident about the improvements their team has made, and no one can deny that playing at CenturyLink Field in the Emerald City is a daunting task for opponents, but we’re talking about making and winning the Super Bowl this season—not just making the postseason.

    Even though rookie Russell Wilson has done an admirable job at QB for the Seahawks, I still believe Matt Flynn would have been a better choice to start the season for Pete Carroll & Company. And one has to at least ponder the possibility Seattle would be 1-3 if not for the horrible call by the replacement referees in its memorable win against the Packers on Monday Night Football on September 24.

    With the 49ers looking like the class of the conference and the Cardinals and Rams both off to winning starts, the Seahawks (70 PF-58 PA) still have their work cut out for them to simply make the postseason.

    It can be done, but getting to the Big Game with Wilson or Flynn at the helm is asking a lot from this team at this point in their history. But like Houston was two seasons ago, this is a team to watch for the future in a division that’s better than most fans perceive.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Current Odds: 50/1
    Opening Odds: 40/1
    Division: AFC North
    Record: 3-1

    The Skinny: With the Steelers struggling a bit so far this season and the Ravens still trying to prove they can make a run at a championship with their aging defense, this pick actually intrigues me at 50/1.

    Cincinnati’s (112 PF -112 PA) lone loss was the season opener at Baltimore, but wins against the Browns, Redskins and Jaguars are the reason why there isn’t more confidence from oddsmakers and gamblers for the Bengals to go all the way.

    Drafting QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green last season was pure genius and gives the club some real talent to build around on offense for years to come. Plus, Marvin Lewis is a pretty good head coach.

    But the Bengals—who haven’t had back-to-back playoff appearance since 1981-1982—have a tough road ahead with games against the Broncos, Giants, Chargers, Eagles and the Steelers (twice) all on the schedule.

    But Cincinnati does have some winnable games still on tap (Dolphins on Sunday, Browns, Chiefs, Raiders and Cowboys) and a wild-card berth is a distinct possibility, meaning anyone who really believes in this team would be well-served to grab the 50/1 now, as a 5-1 start will certainly garner much attention, whether it’s warranted or not, and a line movement to as low as 30/1 is very possible.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Current Odds: 50/1
    Opening Odds: 50/1
    Division: NFC North
    Record: 3-1

    The Skinny: Now here’s one to really consider at 50/1.

    Upsets of the 49ers at home and against the Lions on the road might not exactly be earth-shattering stuff, but it was enough to turn some heads.

    Head coach Leslie Frazier does have some real talent on offense in unheralded QB Christian Ponder, RB Adrian Peterson and WR Percy Harvin, and the defense is strong enough to hang with anyone in the league.

    Minnesota (90 PF-72 PA) has only won one division game in each of the last two seasons, but this team is for real and with a home win against the Titans on Sunday, will improve to 4-1 to start the season.

    Like the Redskins, this is a bet you need to make now if you believe in the Vikings, as this is a team soon to be on everyone’s radar if they keep winning. Well worth a small play from where I’m sitting.

Dallas Cowboys

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    Current Odds: 40/1
    Opening Odds: 20/1
    Division: NFC East
    Record: 2-2

    The Skinny: Poor Dallas. Every year it thinks it has done enough to contend, and then reality creeps its ugly head in and the Cowboys and their fans soon realize they’re a pretty average team.

    Blaming QB Tony Romo is always the easy way out, but Dallas’ receivers haven’t exactly helped him out, as was evident in Monday night’s embarrassment in Big D to the Bears.

    The Cowboys (65 PF-88 PA), like Romo, seem to play good one week and then poorly the next, and that’s not a good recipe for making the Super Bowl. And at 40/1, Dallas still seems a little overvalued (should be between 50/1 to 75/1) by the oddsmakers, but that’s likely a byproduct of so many Cowboys fans blindly backing their boys with future wagers this year and in years past.

    Dallas still has games ahead against the Ravens, Falcons, Steelers, Bengals, Giants and the Redskins and Eagles twice each, so even making the playoffs will be a hard task for coach Jason Garrett to pull off.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Current Odds: 25/1
    Opening Odds: 50/1
    Division: NFC West
    Record: 4-1

    The Skinny: Surprise! The Cardinals got off to a perfect 4-0 start before the Rams brought them back down to earth on Thursday night in St. Louis.

    Now anyone betting or thinking that Arizona could make or even win the Super Bowl would have to be a myopic Cardinals fan, but the defense is pretty darn good and WR Larry Fitzgerald is still one of the best in the NFL at his position.

    Arizona’s stunning upset at New England surely brought waves of confidence the Cardinals' way, but no doubt most of those good vibes were washed away in St. Louis earlier this week, where Arizona could only muster a Jay Feely field goal.

    The Cardinals' future schedule does have a number of potential wins on it, but games against the Vikings, Packers, Bears and 49ers (twice) will reveal if this year’s team is a real contender or just a pretender.

    At 25/1 (Wednesday, October 3), I’d wait for a better price (50/1 and up) before throwing down on this team.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Current Odds: 25/1
    Opening Odds: 12/1
    Division: AFC North
    Record: 1-2

    The Skinny: Always capable of making the Super Bowl, the Steelers' futures odds, like those of the Cowboys, are always a bit higher than they probably should be every year, due to the sheer number of fans who blindly bet their team. And that’s fair.

    The Steelers have had a rough go of it so far this season, but to be fair to them, RB Rashard Mendenhall, LB James Harrison and S Troy Polamalu have all been injured. The good news? All three should be back for Mike Tomlin on Sunday when the Black-and-Gold host intrastate rivals Philadelphia at Heinz Field (FOX, 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT).

    Should the Steelers (77 PF-75 PA) lose to the Eagles, expect the sky to fall for the media in The Steel City. QB Ben Roethlisberger and WRs Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace can get things done on offense, but the team’s running game leaves an awful lot to be desired.

    For me, this season’s Opening Night loss at Denver to the Broncos set the tone for the entire season, and with two games each against division rivals Baltimore and Cincinnati and a date at the defending Super Bowl champion Giants (November 4) looming, simply making the postseason again will be a challenge.

    On the positive side, Pittsburgh has Tennessee, Kansas City and Cleveland (twice) on the schedule, but this team doesn’t look like the dominant defensive force we’ve come to respect and fear throughout the years.

    At 25/1, this is a very fair price, and now would be a good time to grab that number if you believe in the Steelers rebounding and strutting their stuff down the stretch of this NFL season.

Denver Broncos

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    Current Odds: 20/1
    Opening Odds: 50/1
    Division: AFC West
    Record: 2-2

    The Skinny: Denver got the man it wanted in the offseason (Peyton Manning) and has done a real nice job building around him, and after games at New England this Sunday and at San Diego (October 15), the Broncos have a really soft schedule, outside of a date at Baltimore on December 16.

    Whether or not the Broncos (114 PF-83 PA) can beat out the Chargers for the AFC West crown is another thing, but Denver should at least make a run at the playoffs, and with the talented Manning may just find a way to upset a Patriots or Ravens, or possibly Texans on the road in January.

    If you really like the Broncos and are mulling a future bet on them, probably best to wait until a week from now, as an expected loss at New England will drop Denver to 2-3 and the odds to around 30/1.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Current Odds: 20/1
    Opening Odds: 12/1
    Division: NFC East
    Record: 3-1

    The Skinny: If Philadelphia can beat Pittsburgh on Sunday (FOX, 1:00 p.m.ET/10:00 a.m. PT), expect these odds to possibly be cut in half to 10/1.

    The Eagles have the strange statistical reality of being outscored 83-66 but enjoying a 3-1 record, with one-point wins against the Browns and Ravens and a two-point victory against division rival New York.

    The schedule for QB Michael Vick and the Eagles isn’t too bad for the duration of the season, and if the defense can continue to play as it has, the NFC East is probably theirs to lose.

    Whether or not Philadelphia has enough to win the Super Bowl is the real question, and at 20/1 now I’d say it’s definitely worth a small shot. But beware: If the Eagles lose at Pittsburgh the line may go to 25/1, but if Philadelphia can beat the Steelers the odds should drop to around 12/1 to 15/1.

    So if you think Pittsburgh wins Sunday and you like the Eagles, best to wait a week. If you think Philly can win at the Steelers, like I do, better grab this at 20/1 while it’s there, brother.

San Diego Chargers

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    Current Odds: 20/1
    Opening Odds: 15/1
    Division: AFC West
    Record: 3-1

    The Skinny: Wins against the Raiders, Titans and Chiefs are nothing to really hang your hat on, and if there’s one team in the NFL that always seems to have the potential to get to the Super Bowl but fails to do so, it’s the Bolts.

    Much will be revealed about San Diego (100 PF-71 PA) and Norv Turner when they travel to The Big Easy on Sunday to dance with the Saints (0-4). Should the Chargers dominate and move to 4-1, then all is possible, but if New Orleans should find a way to knock off San Diego, then it could be another frustrating winter for Chargers backers.

    Just not sold on this team enough at this point in time to suggest betting on them to win the Super Bowl.

New York Giants

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    Current Odds: 18/1
    Opening Odds: 20/1
    Division: NFC East
    Record: 2-2

    The Skinny: All you need to remember here is how the Giants rallied last season and back in 2007 to get to the Big Game, and then as underdogs in both Super Bowls beat Tom Brady and the Patriots.

    No small feat there.

    New York (111 PF-84 PA) always has a rough road even making the playoffs every year, but Tom Coughlin is a fantastic coach, QB Eli Manning has proven he can get it done in crunch time and the club’s defense is as dangerous and as dominant as they come when they are on their game.

    Green Bay, Atlanta and San Francisco all lie ahead on the Giants rough schedule, but this is a team that thrives in the face of adversity. And although a .500 season may be in the works, the potential to close strong is always there, and a bet at 18/1 at this point may look like a genius move in early February.

Chicago Bears

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    Current Odds: 16/1
    Opening Odds: 30/1
    Division: NFC North
    Record: 3-1

    The Skinny: Everyone would be talking about the Bears right now if not for their beat down in Green Bay on Monday Night Football on September 13.

    Chicago (108 PF-68 PA) added some real talent on offense in the offseason, getting WRs Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and RB Michael Bush to go along with QB Jay Cutler, RB Matt Forte and KR Devin Hester.

    If Chicago and Lovie Smith are to get to the Super Bowl, the defense will have to be outstanding, and so far Da Bears haven’t been too shabby on that side of the ball.

    The Bears looked pretty good Monday night but it was hard to tell if that was more them shining or the Cowboys floundering.

    The schedule isn’t too nasty, but two games against the Vikings all of a sudden look tough and meetings with the Texans, 49ers and Packers (in Chicago) will really test this team’s mettle.

    At 16/1 now, I would highly recommend a small play on Chicago, as this team is the best they’ve been in years and have a number of weapons, plus a defense that can take over games.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Current Odds: 9/1
    Opening Odds: 12/1
    Division: AFC North
    Record: 3-1

    The Skinny: There are many psychological reasons the Ravens could win the Super Bowl this season. First, head coach John Harbaugh sees his brother Jim and his 49ers across the country playing some great football again; second, QB Joe Flacco continues to get better every year; and third, veteran defenders Ray Lewis and Ed Reed probably don’t have many years left and would love nothing better than to go out in a blaze of glory with a title this year.

    Baltimore (121 PF-83 PA) can certainly hang with AFC heavies New England and Houston, but getting by both of them just to make the Super Bowl, should they have to play them both, would be a feat in itself.

    But at 9/1 now, grabbing a piece of the Ravens seems like a pretty wise move as their remaining schedule is pretty manageable.

Green Bay Packers

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    Current Odds: 8/1
    Opening Odds: 5/1
    Division: NFC North
    Record: 2-2

    The Skinny: Like New England, defense is the Packers Achilles’ heel, but with Aaron Rodgers at QB and some of the best fans in the NFL behind them, Green Bay (85 PF-81 PA) is always in the running to win the championship.

    The MNF loss to the Seahawks was a nightmare for the Green-and-Gold, but if the Packers are smart, they’ll find a way to use it as motivation from October to January.

    One thing Green Bay has in its favor is a fairly easy schedule coming up, but surprisingly enough, I think the two games against the Vikings will reveal how close this team is to winning it all.

    But at 8/1 currently, it’s just not tempting enough to bet on the Packers right now.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Current Odds: 7/1
    Opening Odds: 20/1
    Division: NFC South
    Record: 4-0

    The Skinny: Matt Ryan has looked like the league’s best QB to date and WR Julio Jones is turning into one of the most exciting and dangerous players in the NFL.

    Toss in RB Michael Turner, TE Tony Gonzalez  and WR Roddy White, and you can start to see why Mike Smith and the Dirty Birds are undefeated heading into Sunday’s game at Washington.

    The Falcons are tops in the NFL in turnover margin (plus 10) so far this season with 12 takeaways and only two giveaways.

    Atlanta (124 PF-76 PA) has slowly been improving each year, but the question of whether they can win big games still remains after losing 24-2 to the Giants in last year’s playoffs.

    At the opening 20/1 odds I like Atlanta, but after their nice start and some public money driving those odds down to 7/1, I just can’t recommend hopping on the Falcons now.

New England Patriots

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    Current Odds: 6/1
    Opening Odds: 8/1
    Division: AFC East
    Record: 2-2

    The Skinny: After being upset by the Giants in their last two Super Bowl appearances, no doubt the Patriots are motivated to get back there and win the Big Game.  

    The good news? New England plays in the same division as the Jets, Bills and Dolphins. The bad news? The Patriots play in the same conference as the Ravens, Steelers, Chargers, Broncos and Texans.

    With Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Rob Gronkowski and an improved rushing attack that features Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley, Bill Belichick and New England can put up points faster than anyone in the league, as they showed by rattling off 35-straight to rally and beat the Bills in Buffalo last Sunday.

    The Patriots (134 PF-92 PA) have almost always been in the AFC hunt the last decade, and at 6/1 might be a smart bet right about now. And it speaks volumes about this team that despite a 2-2 record, they are still 6/1 to get to New Orleans and beat the NFC’s representative on February 3.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Current Odds: 6/1
    Opening Odds: 20/1
    Division: NFC West
    Record: 3-1

    The Skinny: This team looks incredibly driven to me and is my pick to win the Super Bowl from this distance.

    Motivated by last season’s 20-17 loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship game, San Francisco (104 PF-65 PA) is solid on offense, defense, and special teams, and has one of the game’s best coaches in Jim Harbaugh.

    On offense, QB Alex Smith has a talented cast with which to work in Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and rookie LaMichael James. On defense, the Niners are allowing just 16 points per game—the same amount they gave up last season.

    If San Francisco can increase its turnover plus/minus margin (plus-4, 10 takeaways, six giveaways), they will be very hard to beat, and this team seems like the one to beat in the NFC this season.

    And getting out of the NFC and into the Super Bowl should be a lot easier in the NFC than in the AFC this year.

Houston Texans

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    Current Odds: 7/2
    Opening Odds: 15/1
    Division: AFC South
    Record: 4-0

    The Skinny: No longer under the radar, the Texans have given up the fewest points so far (56) and scored the second-most (126), certainly warranting these 7/2 odds at the LVH. But are they worth a shot at these short odds?

    I think not. If you wanted to wager on Houston, your time to do so was in the offseason when they were at a more-than-fair 15/1. Now the favorites in the entire league, the Texans and QB Matt Schaub, RB Arian Foster and WR Andre Johnson will get everybody’s best game.

    No doubt the Texans will win the weak AFC South with the Colts, Titans and Jaguars providing little competition. But when the AFC playoffs start, Houston will have to get past either the Chargers, Steelers, Bengals, Broncos, Patriots and Ravens. Although they will likely have a bye and the home-field advantage, beating any combination of those teams back-to-back is no small feat.

    Should Houston win the AFC and make the Super Bowl, the 49ers or possibly the Eagles, Giants or Packers would by lying in wait, and I strongly believe the NFC has gotten a little better than the AFC over the last three years.

    The Texans in the Super Bowl would be a big story, as would a Texans-49ers showdown, but winning in the AFC semifinals, AFC championship and the Super Bowl back-to-back-to-back seems like it should be worth way more than the 7/2 odds now pinned on Houston.

Conclusion

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    It’s important to point out at this point that only one team can and will win the Super Bowl this season, so it's best not to get lost in all the odds,hype or emotions one has for his or her favorite team.

    Seahawks and Cardinals fans were feeling pretty good about their teams up until this past week, but it is a long season and only the strong survive and make it to the conference finals.

    Paul Bessire and predictionmachine.com is a pretty good source when it comes to the math and the postseason possibilities of each team, and their latest NFL Playoff Probabilities chart ranks the teams fairly close to what the LVH SuperBook’s latest odds are presently.

    If I had to chose between three teams in each conference that I think have the best value right now I’d go with the Vikings (50/1) Giants (18/1) and Bears (16/1) in the NFC and the Bengals (50/1), Ravens (9/1) and Patriots (6/1) in the AFC.

    But value is a tricky and weird word as all gamblers know, and the only real value one gets from a bet is in cashing it. It’s that simple.

    So if I had to pick one team to run with, the team I think truly has a shot to bring home the bacon this season would be the 49ers at 6/1.

    If you do like a team at these current odds, best to act now as the real contenders' odds will eventually go down as the season progresses. Also, there’s nothing wrong with betting a small amount (LVH SuperBook accepts $5 bets for futures) if you’re a fan and just want to pull for your team.

    Also, it’s smart to remember that if you have a team to win the Super Bowl that ends up winning the AFC or NFC championship, then you have the added luxury of being able to hedge your bet and guarantee some winnings by taking the other side in the Big Game if you wish.


    Follow me on Twitter:@KevinStott11

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