Weekly Would You Rather: AFC or NFC for Super Bowl 51?

We all know “would you rather?” The game that typically sets out to discover which deplorable scenario you find less objectionable, usually involving fornicating with a species that is not your own. But it can also be a useful tool for examining the sports world around us. Or at least I’m going to try and make that so, in this new section: Weekly Would You Rather?

Which Conference Would You Rather Back in the Super Bowl?

One of the most interesting bets in the NFL, I find, is the early Super Bowl line. Set long before the season, the early line gives an idea of which conference Vegas thinks is strongest, at least at the top. At last look, the line was -1.5 in favor of the AFC, which raises the question, which conference are you on board with?

This question goes beyond football acumen to your personality as a whole. Are you the type of person who likes the known commodity, the safe route?

Or do you enjoy wandering into the great unknown? If you don’t know these answers about yourself, you’ll never answer this question. I however, know exactly how I feel!

The AFC has produced three of the last four Super Bowl Champions, partly because the team that emerged from that conference was either the Patriots or a team that beat the Patriots. With only five teams representing the conference in the big game over the last decade-plus, the AFC is a top-heavy conference with very little surprises.

The NFC seemingly has a new powerhouse every year, and this season is no different, as the Minnesota Vikings currently hold the title of team to beat. If the playoffs were to start today (a most ridiculous scenario, because the last thing the ratings-starved NFL wants to is go up against the World Series), the only teams on the NFC side with any prior Super Bowl experience would be the Packers and Seahawks, neither of whom has looked great for any long stretch this year.

While turnover and parity are exciting from a fan perspective, it’s maddening from a betting view. The Vikings look dominant now, but what happens when a playoff game comes down to a Blair Walsh kick? Can a team that lost its starting QB and RB really make the Super Bowl? Can a team with a defense as poor as Atlanta’s really go on a run in January?

You could argue there’s plenty of season left for the wonky NFC to sort itself. Perhaps preseason favorites the Arizona Cardinals will continue their climb back into the race and grab a stranglehold on a conference? But if you did bet on the NFC, there’s also a significant chance a team like Washington could be the horse you’re backing in February.

The AFC is very cut and dry. If you take this route, you’ll almost certainly be rooting for the Patriots in Houston. New England appeared to have competition from the Pittsburgh Steelers but, without Ben Roethlisberger for a few weeks, their seeding will likely take a hit, meaning they’ll have to win in Foxborough in January. Denver is also faltering after a hot start, and will be in trouble to even win their own division now.

Sure, there are other teams, but their participation in this conversation is trivial at best. Oakland and Buffalo are too inexperienced, and Kansas City, well, Andy Reid coached teams don’t tend to perform when they’re on the doorstep of the Super Bowl. Also Tom Brady is 15-3 at home in the playoffs; do you see any of the AFC’s many middling teams changing that?

So for the betting line mentioned above, it’s basically New England (-1.5) vs undetermined NFC team. I don’t know where you normally stand, but I’ll take them odds any day.


Photo Credit: Karen (Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/].

Boris

Hockey may be a wildly unpopular sport in the U.S., but where no one is paying attention, there's a ton of value for Boris to mine. An avid NHL fan of over 20 years, Malloy made his first bet against a friend during the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals (going against Ray Bourque) and has been hooked ever since. He has yet to pay off that debt of $2, but he's made plenty back since. In between worrying about the league's next lockout, he regularly contributes to MTS and is also fluent in football, basketball, baseball and French (sort of).