- The New Orleans Saints are Super Bowl favorites with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
- Odds on other top contenders are trending up.
- In what appears a pretty wide open bracket, there is value if you have conviction in your opinions.
It’s a pretty strange season in the NFL when, with two weeks left in the regular season, not a single division title in the AFC has been sewn up, and there are a number of teams under .500 still alive for playoff berths. That said, the bracket is starting to become more clear, and it appears the path to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through New Orleans.
By gutting out a win at Carolina on Monday Night Football, the Saints need to beat either the Steelers or Panthers at home over the final two weeks to clinch the top seed in the NFC. Meanwhile, Kansas City controls its own destiny in the AFC, but a slip up at Seattle in Week 16 or against Oakland in Week 17 could lead to the Chargers or Texans taking the #1 seed.
Because we’ve reached the stage in the year that things are semi-clear, however you like to bet there is a way to do it. New Orleans is well positioned, and you can see the path for many other squads. Jump on somebody playing great, or play contrarian and assume that the Patriots or Rams will figure out what has taken place recently and reverse course.
Let’s check out the updated odds and ponder some strategic spots to place our dollars. The odds below are from BetOnline.
Odds to Win Super Bowl 53
|Team||Odds to Win Super Bowl 53 from BetOnline (Dec. 18)|
|New Orleans Saints||+250|
|Los Angeles Rams||+400|
|Kansas City Chiefs||+600|
|New England Patriots||+700|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+750|
The Favorite: New Orleans Saints
The reason why the top seed is so important is because, when the Saints play at home in the playoffs, they win. Sure a lot of the players have changed, but New Orleans hasn’t lost a playoff game at the Superdome since 1992. They are 5-0 under Sean Payton in the Big Easy during the postseason.
While the Saints were co-favorites just a couple of weeks ago, what makes New Orleans the clear-cut best right now is, surprisingly, their defense. We know Drew Brees can put up points, but over the last six weeks, New Orleans has yielded a league-best 12.3 points per game.
Top Challengers: Rams, Chiefs, Patriots, and Chargers
Aside from the Chargers, this group has shown vulnerabilities in recent weeks. Each has a chance to earn a playoff bye, though, and the question is which squad can recapture its mid-season form.
The Rams have lost back-to-back games with quarterback Jared Goff tossing six interceptions over that span. He had seven picks in the first 12 games.
Kansas City was rolling along at 9-1. They are 2-2 since, and each game has been decided by one score. Over those four games, the Chiefs have yielded 35 points a game.
The Pats lost on a miracle in Miami, and followed that up by squandering plenty of opportunities in a 17-10 setback at Pittsburgh. New England needs two wins and help to earn a playoff bye. If they don’t get a first-round bye, they’ll host a Wild Card game before traveling in the Divisional Playoffs. The Pats have never won a Super Bowl without a bye and are 3-5 on the road this year.
While the Chargers are playing the best of the top contenders, winning four straight and 10 of 11, they need two wins and a Chiefs loss to win the AFC West. If that doesn’t happen, their path to the Super Bowl is likely three straight road games.
If you are going to pass on the Saints, and see vulnerabilities in the quartet mentioned among top challengers, there is value on everybody else. Two teams worth keeping a close eye on are Chicago and Houston. Unlike many other teams on the board, we know they are both going to the playoffs, and their draw could be favorable.
The Bears have an outside shot at a bye, but are very likely to be the #3 seed in the NFC. That would mean a playoff game against someone around .500 (Minnesota, Philadelphia, Washington) and then a trip to LA.
The Rams don’t have much of a home-field advantage, and with Goff struggling, facing a strong Chicago defense could be a match-up advantage for the Bears. The odds are juicy if you think Chicago at New Orleans could very well be the NFC Championship Game.
In the AFC, the Texans seem to be the forgotten squad. If they win their final two games, at Philadelphia and against Jacksonville, they earn a bye. Since an 0-3 start, Houston has won 10 of 11. Though they haven’t played the world’s toughest schedule, their path to the Super Bowl may be one home game and a challenging road game, or even two home contests. At 20/1, that makes you think.