If we learned anything during the Wild Card Round (and the preceding 17 weeks), it's to expect the unexpected in the NFL.
Of the four opening-weekend playoff contests, three came down to a team's final possession, two were decided as the final "buzzer" and three were won by road squads. The only home team to advance needed a 28-point second-half comeback.
Literally (in Chris Traeger's voice, of course) anything can happen.
As such, betting on a team to win the Super Bowl can take a considerable amount of fortitude. But if you're brave enough, here's a look at the latest odds for each team:
|San Francisco 49ers||5/1|
|New England Patriots||8/1|
|New Orleans Saints||12/1|
|San Diego Chargers||13/1|
Unsurprisingly, it's each conference's top seed—the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos—with the best odds to hoist the Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 2.
The 'Hawks barely edge out the Horsies for top overall favorite, but that's not exactly surprising when you consider Seattle's home-field advantage. Pete Carroll's squad fell to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16 to snap an extensive home win streak, but the Seahawks are still incredibly dangerous at CenturyLink.
Moreover, ESPN Stats & Info notes the team's recent home success in the postseason:
Seahawks: 7-2 in home playoff games (won 5 straight)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 6, 2014
The NFC is stacked. The New Orleans Saints, despite their struggles away from home, boast an explosive offense and an underrated defense, while the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers are both white-hot.
Which favorite are you more confident in to win the Super Bowl?
Seattle has a very difficult road to the Super Bowl, but its defense stacks up with anyone in the league, its offense has playmakers all over the field and perhaps most importantly, that road doesn't veer away from SoDo.
On the other side of the league, the Broncos have been similarly difficult to beat at home, going 7-1 on the year. However, that one defeat came at the hands of the San Diego Chargers, who they so happen to play on Sunday.
However, as Demaryius Thomas notes, via the team's official Twitter feed, none of that matters now:
The Broncos are an intriguing pick. Considering their dynamic offense, which is arguably the best in the league, 13-5 odds are extremely attractive. But should they make it to MetLife Stadium, there's almost certainly going to be an elite defense waiting for them.
The Long Shots
The Indianapolis Colts come in as the long shot with 16-1 odds. I don't believe wholeheartedly Indy is going to win the Super Bowl, but it wouldn't really surprise me, either, and as such, those kind of odds are difficult to pass up.
Yes, the Colts defense has some serious question marks, but really, so does everyone else remaining in the AFC. If Andrew Luck plays like he did in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs, this team can beat anyone.
Moreover, it's always important to have a QB capable of performing during clutch times. As ESPN Stats & Info and NFL on ESPN both point out, Luck has been among the best in that regard:
You saw it last week ... but Andrew Luck has been among the top 2nd-half QB in the NFL all season. Take a look pic.twitter.com/Lytwxf1ery— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 9, 2014
Most GW drives (4thQ/OT) last 2 seasons (including playoffs): 1 Andrew Luck (11) 2 Tony Romo (9) 3 Russell Wilson (9) pic.twitter.com/joQ19yLWfi— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 8, 2014
While the Colts have shown plenty of inconsistency on the season, they are 5-1 since the beginning of December and have beaten San Francisco, Seattle, Denver and Kansas City overall. That's hardly common of a team with the worst odds.
Which underdog is the better bet to win the Super Bowl?
Meanwhile, the Chargers, the other long shot, have won five in a row, have beaten their upcoming opponent on the road already, have played extremely well away from home and have Philip Rivers, who has been one of the most efficient QBs in the NFL this season.
If you're someone who enjoys the low-risk, high-reward bets, both of these teams make sense.