- How do the final eight teams in the 2019 NFL Playoffs stack up?
- New Orleans remains the Super Bowl 53 favorite.
- Wild Card-game winners offer odds of 9/1 or more.
The first four NFL playoff games were mostly competitive and saw three road teams come away with victories. Defense led the way, and because there were first-round upsets, the spreads for this weekend’s Divisional Round games are higher that we are used to, particularly in the NFC.
Though more than 35-percent of the playoffs have been completed, the odds to win the Super Bowl have not changed dramatically among the favorites since last week. That makes sense since the chalky teams all had byes.
The odds on the Wild Card winners dipped, particularly the Colts, who saw their 25/1 price cut in half after beating Houston (21-7).
Let’s look at the updated prices and see where we find value. The odds below are from BetOnline.
Odds to Win Super Bowl 53
|Team||Odds to Win Super Bowl 53 from BetOnline (Jan. 8)|
|New Orleans Saints||+250|
|Kansas City Chiefs||+400|
|Los Angeles Rams||+450|
|New England Patriots||+600|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+900|
Not a lot has changed since last week, though we now know the semifinal matchups. The Rams host the Cowboys as 7.0-point favorites (8:15 PM ET, Saturday, Jan. 12), while the Saints are 8.0-point chalk against the Eagles in New Orleans (4:40 PM ET, Sunday, Jan. 13).
The two home teams are big favorites, and that makes sense since they have been the best teams for most of the season. New Orleans beat the Eagles 48-7 in Week 11. The Cowboys and Rams have not faced each other this season.
Analytics suggest that these are the two top squads in the NFL against two slightly above-average teams. That justifies the spreads and makes a bet on the Eagles or Cowboys seem like throwing a dart. That said, the odds are big, and if you have an inkling on a team that is over 10/1, fire away.
It is unclear why the Rams’ odds went from 11/2 to 9/2 without playing a game. Perhaps hosting the Cowboys is easier than what many assumed would take place: a re-match with the Bears, who had beaten LA in their first meeting. While +450 on the Rams isn’t incredible, we continue to believe the NFC is stronger than the AFC, and if LA wins this week, they’ll either be a home favorite against the Eagles, or a small road ‘dog in New Orleans.
LA remains the best value in the NFC.
Unlike the NFC, where the match-ups for the Divisional Round were going to be somewhat equitable regardless of the outcomes of the Wildcard games, things in the AFC took a major turn on Saturday.
The JV game of Wildcard Weekend was Indianapolis at Houston. Had the Texans won, they would have played in New England, giving the Patriots the easier game than top-seed Kansas City, who would have had to battle the Chargers or Ravens. However, since the Colts pulled the mild upset, now Indy goes to Kansas City, a softer match-up for the Chiefs, while LA travels to New England, a more difficult duel for the Pats.
Interestingly, the odds didn’t shift significantly based on the AFC results. The Chiefs dropped from 9/2 to 4/1 while New England’s price remained 6/1.
Last week, we argued that the Patriots were the call because of what seemed like the potentially easiest path to the Super Bowl. If you bet on them, the price remains fair, but the chances of winning their first playoff game went down slightly, and the likelihood of having to travel to KC for the AFC Championship Game got stronger.
Because our confidence level in the Chiefs handling Indianapolis is stronger than it would have been against the Chargers, and KC’s opportunity to potentially host LA instead of the Patriots in the AFC Title Game got greater, we now think the value is with the Chiefs, the best team in the AFC for most of the season.
Don’t overthink this. Whether you prefer record or power rankings, the Chargers are the best team left who did not receive a bye. LA was good on the road against Baltimore and are fully capable of beating the Patriots. They already have a win over the Chiefs this season and have not lost a game outside of California all year.
At 9/1, we don’t fault anyone investing at that price.