On the heels of last Sunday’s 51-14 sizzler in Cincinnati, the red-hot New Orleans Saints are now virtual co-favorites with the Los Angeles Rams in global betting markets to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LIII … and then to WIN it!
Though odds will vary at different shops depending on the betting preference of their clientele, a global consensus centers around these prices …
Favorites to win the NFC: Rams 7/4 (+175), Saints 2/1 (+200), Vikings 7/1 (+700), Bears 10/1 (+1000).
The Rams have failed to cover their last three games against possibly inflated point spreads. They had to sweat home nail biters vs. Green Bay and Seattle, sandwiched around a 10-point loss at the Superdome two Sundays ago. New Orleans has covered SEVEN in a row.
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Note that the Vikings and Bears play each other this week. That matchup has been time-changed to 7:20 p.m. for a national telecast on NBC (the originally scheduled Steelers/Jaguars game has been moved to a daytime kick). Chicago will likely be favored by -2.5 or -3 come kickoff.
Now, let’s look at global consensus odds to win the Super Bowl: Rams 7/2 (+350), Saints 4/1 (+400), Chiefs 5/1 (+500), Patriots 6/1 (+600), Steelers 10/1 (+1000), Chargers 12/1 (+1200).
The respected Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas has both the Rams and Saints at 11/4 (+275). Markets agree that the next four teams are from the AFC. It’s going to be tough for any NFC outsider to get through the Rams/Saints tandem in January.
There is a danger that the Saints are peaking too early. Hard to imagine anyone beating New Orleans last week given the dominant stats in Cincinnati.
New Orleans 51, Cincinnati 14
Total Yards: New Orleans 509, Cincinnati 284
Drive Points: New Orleans 38, Cincinnati 14
Third Downs: New Orleans 58%, Cincinnati 0%
Red Zone TD Rate: New Orleans 5/6, Cincinnati 1/1
“Drive points” are those scored or allowed on drives of 60 yards or more. The Saints scored FIVE touchdowns and a field goal on long drives … on the ROAD … in an obvious letdown spot … against an opponent that isn’t exactly Buffalo or Oakland. And, how about that defense?! Not a single third down conversion allowed all day (0/6).
This week, the Philadelphia Eagles visit the SuperDome. The Eagles are dealing with injuries in their defensive secondary. Those killed them in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s 27-20 home loss to Dallas. Drew Brees and company could have a field day if Philly can’t get healthy.
The Saints will be likely be favored by more than a touchdown at close … possibly as high as -10 if Philadelphia is still perceived as hobbled by the betting markets. Any price from -7.5 to -8.5 will invite aggressive teaser play from sharps (professional wagerers). Teasers are a prop bet where you get to move the line at least six points on multiple games … but then have to SWEEP those games to cash your ticket. Basic strategy for teasers encourages moves that cross the key numbers of three and seven in one fell swoop. Sharps will move lines of -7.5, -8, or -8.5 down to -1.5, -2, or -2.5.
It will be fun to watch the markets on game day to see if sports books push the line up to -9 or higher just to avoid getting flooded with teaser bets.
▪ Monday night’s potential Super Bowl preview featuring the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs has been moved from Mexico City to LA because of horrible field conditions at Azteca Stadium. This special international feature would normally have been a Rams home game in the interconference schedule rotation. More confirmation of the NFC’s superiority in the Super Bowl picture. The Rams were -2.5 on the neutral field over the AFC favorites. They reopened at -3.5 after the announcement of the site switch.
▪ We can use futures guidance to update our estimated “market” Power Ratings. Jonathan Von Tobel of VSiN and I put our heads together every week to make a good faith evaluation of market perceptions. Here they are by conference.
NFC: LA Rams 88, New Orleans 87, Carolina 83, Green Bay 82, Chicago 82, Minnesota 82, Philadelphia 81, Seattle 81, Dallas 80, Atlanta 80, Detroit 76, Tampa Bay 76, NY Giants 75, San Francisco 74, Arizona 72.
AFC: Kansas City 86, New England 86, Pittsburgh 86, LA Chargers 84, Baltimore 83, Houston 82, Tennessee 81, Indianapolis 80, Denver 80, Cincinnati 78, Jacksonville 78, Cleveland 76, Miami (with Osweiler) 74, NY Jets 73, Buffalo 72, Oakland 71.