When the whiff of turkey is in the air it means the NFL stretch drive is at hand. Everybody has five games left, there are no more bye weeks, and we’re only two weeks away from the end of the college football regular season, giving the NFL the weekend to itself. Let’s check in on the Super Bowl betting odds as the crunch point of 2013 begins.
The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks remain the odds-on favorites to make it to New York City this February, even after the Broncos’ Sunday night collapse in Foxboro. Both teams are posted at 7-5 to win the Super Bowl. If you look at the number simply to make it to NYC, then the Broncos are a tight 11-10, and the Seahawks a barely profitable 7-5.
This seems excessive confidence to me, and has from the beginning of the season when I opined that none of the “Big Five” teams in terms of the betting odds (Denver, Seattle, New England, San Francisco & Green Bay) would win it all, and that 2013’s eventual champion would come from someone outside this group.
With teams like New Orleans and Carolina coming on strong and the Kansas City Chiefs having a big year, that statement might not seem all that bold, but every team outside the Big Five went off at odds of 18-1 or longer back in the heat of August.
The New England Patriots are still a solid 6-1 shot to grab the fourth ring for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, while New Orleans is sitting at 8-1. Carolina’s recent hot streak has moved them to 12-1, while San Francisco’s offensive struggles have dropped them down to 15-1.
What I continue to find surprising is the landscape in the AFC. The question of who (if anyone) will oust the Denver/New England power couple is the key question in this conference and for some reason it’s the Cincinnati Bengals that bettors are most confident in. Cincy is at 20-1, while Kansas City is 28-1 and Indianapolis at 40-1.
The Chiefs may have lost two in a row and have Denver ahead of them on Sunday, but the big picture has to be kept in mind. There are injury concerns with Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, the outside linebackers who generate the pass rush, but neither appears to be anything long-term and Kansas City is going to be in the playoffs. We’ve seen that in the last three years that it’s about being healthy in January, not late November that determines championships.
I would ask why people are skeptical about Indianapolis, but I guess when you get blown out by St. Louis and Arizona, you’re asking for skeptics. I see the logic, but I also see a team that has a pretty good running game, a defense with some playmakers and a quarterback in Andrew Luck that for all his rough edges is still a tough, physical player who can produce a clutch drive.
I understand the skepticism when you compare the Colts to Denver or New England, but why does Cincinnati generate so much more confidence.
The Green Bay Packers are the one team in the Big Five that’s fallen off the radar after the injury to Aaron Rodgers, and the Packers now go off at 45-1. This is a good bet. Even if the Packers lose to Detroit on Thursday, Green Bay is still likely to get Rodgers back the following week. If they can win out, they get to 9-6-1, which might be enough to steal a weak NFC North. Then you’d have a healthy Rodgers, a healthy defense, a first-round home game and a juicy 45-1 ticket in your back pocket when the playoffs began.
TheSportsNotebook is sticking to its guns that not just the eventual Super Bowl winner, but both Super Bowl teams are coming from outside the Big Five. When we reviewed the Super Bowl betting odds several weeks ago, I settled on New Orleans over Indianapolis, in a 2009 rematch, and that’s still my story here as the stretch drive begins.
THANKSGIVING TV SCHEDULE & MONEYLINES
Coming up later Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, we’ll have feature posts looking at both the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens in a little more detail. Each team is familiar with mounting a late push for a Super Bowl title, with the Packers doing it in 2010 and the Ravens pulling it off in 2012. Each team will be part of the Thanksgiving festivities. Below is the schedule for Thursday, the moneyline odds for an outright win and the likely futile pick of TheSportsNotebook for each game.
Green Bay (+210) Detroit (-225) (12:30 PM ET, Fox): Detroit
Oakland (+335) Dallas (-420) (4:30 PM ET, CBS): Dallas
Pittsburgh (+125) Baltimore (-145) (8:30 PM ET, NBC): Baltimore
Season-Long Moneyline Record: (-2760)