Breaking Down the Super Bowl Odds of Every Remaining Team
With a seventh seed added to each conference, Wild Card Weekend featured 12 teams for the first time. Neither of the bottom teams advanced, though we did see major upsets.
The Seattle Seahawks went into the playoffs as NFC West champions but fell at home to the Los Angeles Rams, largely because of their offensive futility for much of the contest.
In the final wild-card matchup, the Cleveland Browns scored the most points in the first quarter of a playoff game (28) against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They used an early advantage to springboard themselves to a 48-37 victory.
The No. 1-seeded Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers will jump into the playoff action next week for the divisional round. How do their chances at a Lombardi Trophy stack up against the other six clubs?
Using DraftKings, we'll highlight and break down each team's Super Bowl odds in ascending order following Wild Card Weekend.
Leading up to Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cleveland Browns practiced once (Friday) during the week because of a COVID-19 outbreak. They activated safety Ronnie Harrison Jr., linebacker Malcolm Smith and tight end Harrison Bryant before the game. Multiple coaches, including lead skipper Kevin Stefanski, who tested positive, didn't travel with the team. Guard Joel Bitonio also had to sit out.
Yet the Browns jumped out to a 28-0 lead on the Steelers. Cleveland saw its lead shrink down to 12 in the third quarter but staved off Pittsburgh's late comeback push.
The Browns have the lowest Super Bowl odds, but they're built to win in January. Their defense ranks 21st in points allowed. On the flip side, the unit lists ninth against the run. On crucial third downs, Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi can pressure the pocket to end drives.
The Browns will head to Kansas City as underdogs, though their third-ranked ground attack gives them a chance to remain competitive. The Chiefs gave up 4.5 yards per rush attempt (17th) this season. Ideally, Cleveland should plan to turn this divisional matchup into a physical slugfest.
Only brave bettors will lay big money on the Browns, but they're a sleeper squad with some momentum after a big win over Pittsburgh.
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams had to overcome some adversity to advance over the Seattle Seahawks. Quarterback John Wolford exited the first quarter of Saturday's game with a stinger, which forced Jared Goff back under center only 12 days after thumb surgery. He had a solid performance, throwing for 155 yards and a touchdown.
The Rams defense, though, deserves a large chunk of the credit for the team's victory.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took five sacks, and cornerback Darious Williams scored on a pick-six. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald made his presence felt through the first three quarters (two sacks), but he exited the game in the fourth frame because of a rib injury. Head coach Sean McVay hopes to have him back for the upcoming matchup, per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.
McVay hasn't named a starting quarterback for the divisional round, per Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. Los Angeles received good news about wideout Cooper Kupp, who left late in the previous game because of a knee injury. He suffered a contusion, and "all indications are nothing major," according to Garafolo.
The Green Bay Packers must turn their attention to rookie running back Cam Akers, who ran for 131 yards and a touchdown on the Seahawks defense. He'll play a big role in the upcoming matchup with Goff at less than 100 percent.
The Rams have the second-lowest Super Bowl odds among the eight remaining teams, but their defense makes a few more upsets possible.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat a pesky Washington Football Team that had Taylor Heinicke under center in place of Alex Smith (calf).
Heinicke kept Washington alive through four quarters, throwing for 306 yards, a touchdown and an interception. In the end, the Buccaneers outmatched the NFC East champions with their offensive firepower despite running back Ronald Jones II's absence because of a quad issue and wideout Chris Godwin's drops.
Quarterback Tom Brady threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns while Tampa Bay's rushing attack racked up 142 yards and a score. Running back Leonard Fournette led the team on the ground with 93 yards and one trip to paydirt.
The Buccaneers lost a key offensive player in pregame warmups, and one of their starting wide receivers had one of his worst games as a pro. Yet they scored 31 points on a top-five defense. That's why Tampa Bay is arguably the most dangerous wild-card team. Brady has a plethora of playmakers to dissect the opposition.
Even though the New Orleans Saints swept the season series with Tampa Bay, don't dismiss an upset between these two teams in the divisional round. Wideout Antonio Brown missed the first matchup and made his debut in the second meeting. Now, he seems comfortable in the Buccaneers offense, scoring five touchdowns in the last four games.
If Buccaneers defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett apply pressure to Drew Brees in the pocket, Tampa Bay has a shot to advance for an NFC Championship Game appearance, a step away from a Super Bowl matchup on its home field at Raymond James Stadium.
With a six-time Super Bowl champion in Brady under center, the Buccaneers' late-season momentum makes them an attractive bet.
The Baltimore Ravens play a hard-nosed style of football with a downhill ground attack and a stout defense. They knocked off a Tennessee Titans team that beat them down in recent outings.
As a starter, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson lost his first two games against the Titans—one in last year's postseason and in Week 11 of this term. In Sunday's win, he threw for 179 yards and rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown.
Baltimore's defense limited Titans running back Derrick Henry to 2.2 yards per carry and 40 rushing yards in total. Cornerback Marcus Peters sealed the game with an interception.
Jackson has erased the narrative about his inability to win in the postseason. Now, he'll face a Buffalo Bills team on a seven-game win streak. If Baltimore's defense contains quarterback Josh Allen in the pocket and blankets his top target in Stefon Diggs downfield, the Ravens will have a shot to reach the AFC Championship Game.
The Ravens' second-ranked scoring defense evens the playing field against top-notch offenses. Baltimore's Super Bowl odds should attract bettors who want to take their chances on a dark-horse contender.
The Buffalo Bills jumped ahead of the Indianapolis Colts just before halftime and held on to their lead for the remainder of the game. Quarterback Josh Allen had an impressive performance, throwing for 324 yards and two touchdowns, though he had a crucial fumble that took his team out of field-goal range and gave the Colts a chance at a comeback.
The Bills will accept the good with the bad in Allen because his ability to extend plays has paid dividends for the team's offense, which is ranked second in both points and yards.
Indianapolis made some mistakes Saturday, missing a field goal and turning the ball over on downs inside Buffalo's 5-yard line. Nevertheless, credit the Bills for capitalizing on those errors, scoring on the ensuing possessions following both the Colts' missed opportunities.
The Bills have an explosive offense with Allen and wideout Stefon Diggs on the same page. They can certainly compete against the Kansas City Chiefs' high-powered attack. But first, they have to focus on the Baltimore Ravens.
Though Lamar Jackson is the reigning MVP, Allen put himself in the discussion to win the award this season, throwing for 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Both quarterbacks can extend plays with their legs, so we could see dueling offenses put together jaw-dropping scoring drives.
On Saturday, the Bills won their first playoff game since the 1995 season, but they have intriguing Super Bowl odds with a high-octane offense.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints had control throughout their entire matchup with the Chicago Bears on Sunday. In the first quarter, Chicago could've made a splash, but wideout Javon Wims dropped a pass for a touchdown.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who missed four contests between Weeks 11 and 14 with a punctured lung and multiple fractured ribs, looked sharp in the pocket. He threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he dissected the Bears defense with decisiveness and precision.
Running back Alvin Kamara (reserve/COVID-19 list) and wideout Michael Thomas (ankle) played well coming off an illness and an injury. The former rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown while the latter caught five passes for 73 yards and a score.
The Saints will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the third time this season. New Orleans swept the regular-season series. With Brees and Tom Brady suiting up, we'll see two starting quarterbacks over the age of 40 face off in a playoff game for the first time in NFL history.
Don't pencil the Saints into the NFC Championship Game yet. They've beaten the Buccaneers twice, but Tampa Bay's offense had time to jell with wideout Antonio Brown, who the team signed in October.
Still, bettors may feel more comfortable rolling the dice on the Saints than on any other team trying to knock off the Kansas City Chiefs. They have a balanced squad that ranks among the top five in scoring offense and defense.
Green Bay Packers
The well-rested Green Bay Packers have the second-best Super Bowl odds during MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers' exceptional 2020 campaign. He's thrown for 48 touchdowns and five interceptions, often targeting one of the league's top wideouts in Davante Adams, who has the most receiving yards per game (98.1) for the season.
Green Bay can also move the ball with a more physical approach. Running backs Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon have all rushed for at least 75 yards in a game this season. If opposing defenses take advantage of left tackle David Bakhtiari's absence (torn ACL), head coach Matt LaFleur can neutralize an aggressive pass rush with a run-heavy game plan.
In the Packers' upcoming matchup with the Los Angeles Rams, we could see Jones, Williams and even Dillon pound the ball at a high volume to slow down defensive tackle Aaron Donald and edge-rusher Leonard Floyd. Furthermore, Adams will have a tough matchup with cornerback Jalen Ramsey downfield.
The Rams can mirror that strategy and feed rookie running back Cam Akers to ease the pressure on quarterback Jared Goff, who's recovering from thumb surgery.
The Packers have home-field advantage and elite quarterback play, though their pathway to Super Bowl 55 would come with some tough challenges, starting with a Rams squad that will test them physically on both sides of the ball.
Still, with Rodgers playing at a high level, the Packers are the NFC favorites.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs haven't looked explosive down the stretch.
Even excluding Week 17 when they rested starters, the sixth-ranked scoring offense has put up fewer than 23 points twice after a Week 10 bye. It hit that total or eclipsed it in every contest through the first nine weeks. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes also threw three interceptions in a game for the second time in his career against the Miami Dolphins in Week 14.
Still, the Chiefs finished the 2020 campaign with just one loss, which came to the Las Vegas Raiders back in Week 5. Perhaps we'll see the offense flip a switch in the playoffs. If not, the defense can lead this team to close games and victories. The unit ranks 10th in points allowed and has forced a turnover in all but two contests.
The Chiefs will face the Cleveland Browns, who crushed the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. While this looks like a mismatch because the Browns just won their first playoff game since 1995, Kansas City's 21st-ranked run defense has to prepare for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt on the ground.
If the Browns dominate the time of possession, which would keep Mahomes on the sideline, they could keep the score close and put the reigning champions on upset alert next week.
Still, Kansas City is favorited to repeat as champions with Mahomes leading the league in passing yards per game (316). His top targets in tight end Travis Kelce and wideout Tyreek Hill ranked top-10 in receiving yards and touchdowns for the season. On the other side of the ball, Pro Bowlers Chris Jones and Frank Clark will make quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket.
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