Heading into Week 17 of the NFL, the New Orleans Saints are now the clear market favorites across the globe to win the NFC and the Super Bowl.
Last Sunday’s 31-28 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers locked in home field advantage through the NFC brackets. Should the Saints play into February, they would likely be a short favorite to win the Super Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta … a site the team is familiar with and well-suited for.
Here’s a look at composite odds to win the NFC from a study of global sites: New Orleans +120, the Los Angeles Rams +200, Chicago +600, Dallas +1200, Seattle +1600, Minnesota +1800, Philadelphia +2500.
If you’re unfamiliar with betting futures, a $100 bet on the Saints would earn $120 if they win the NFC (meaning the sports book would return your $100 bet, and then pay you an additional $120 for your victory). Note that only six teams reach the postseason from each conference. Either Minnesota or Philadelphia will miss out depending on what happens Sunday.
The win percentage equivalents for those contenders are: New Orleans 45%, Rams 33%, Chicago 14%, Dallas 8%, Seattle 6%, Minnesota 5%, and Philadelphia 4%. Those add up to 115% because sports books build universes larger than 100% to create a house edge. Though the Saints have the best individual shot to win the NFC, they’re still an underdog to “the field.” Somebody besides the Saints is projected to win more than half the time.
What about the Super Bowl? Composite odds for the top 10 threats: New Orleans +260 (28%), Rams +500 (17%), Kansas City +500 (17%), New England +650 (13%), Chicago +1200 (8%), Los Angeles Chargers +1400 (7%), Baltimore +1600 (6%), Dallas +2500 (4%), Houston +2500 (4%), Seattle +2800 (3%).
Despite “favored” status, the Saints are still about 3/1 to NOT win the Super Bowl in a crowded, competitive field.
There’s still one game left in the regular season. But, it’s a meaningless return bout Sunday with Carolina.
VSiN looks forward to talking more about Drew Brees and company when they begin playoff action in the NFC Divisional round on the weekend of January 12-13. A victory sends the Saints to the NFC Championship game Sunday January 20 (FOX, 2:05 p.m.). The Super Bowl is Sunday February 3 (CBS, 5:30 p.m.)
For now, let’s pick up our college bowl discussion where we left off Thursday. Here’s how early bettors have been attacking the remaining bowls featuring teams from the SEC…
▪ Monday, Missouri plays Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl (ESPN, 2:45 p.m.), one of two league teams closing out 2018 on the gridiron. An stout opening line of Missouri -9.5 was initially bet down to -8. Be sure you monitor prices all through the weekend. Many could be influenced by early conference performances, or news involving player suspensions.
▪ Texas A&M vs. NC State in Monday night’s Gator Bowl (ESPN, 6:30 p.m.) has the honor of being the final football game of 2018. The Aggies were hit hard at the opener of -4.5, with the line rising all the way to -7.
▪ Mississippi State facing Iowa in New Years Day’s Outback Bowl (ESPN2, 11 a.m.) means the SEC is in the last game of 2018, and the first game of 2019. Early support for this league entry favorite as well, as the Bulldogs have been bet up from -6 to -7 in the early Tuesday kickoff.
▪ Kentucky vs. Penn State in the Citrus Bowl (ABC, noon) is another SEC/Big 10 battle. Here, it’s the Nittany Lions from the north attracting betting interest. Penn State opened at -5.5, and was bet up to -6.5. It’s assumed professional bettors would like “defensive dog” Kentucky if the full +7 comes into play.
▪ LSU vs. Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl (ESPN, noon) gives the SEC a chance to atone for Auburn’s loss to the Golden Knights in last season’s Peach Bowl. UCF carries a 25-game winning streak into this showdown. LSU opened at -8. The line has dropped to -7 after early support for Cinderella.
▪ Georgia vs. Texas in the Sugar Bowl (ESPN, 7:45 p.m.) will be the final college football game until the National Championship Monday night January 7. Georgia impressed influential bettors in a heartbreaking loss to Alabama in the SEC title tilt. That helped this line rise from an opener of Georgia -10.5 all the way up to -13.
All told, the SEC will close as market favorites in nine of 11 postseason appearances, and 10 of 12 if Alabama advances past Oklahoma Saturday.