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Are the Chargers Underrated as Super Bowl 53 Contenders?

NFL Super Bowl Longshots - Los Angeles Chargers

We are just a few weeks away from the NFL playoffs, and the races in both conferences couldn’t be more competitive! We have seen time and again that having the best record in the regular season doesn’t mean much when the playoffs start.

There are several teams that are offering very attractive odds to win the Super Bowl as long shots, and this article we will take a realistic look at which teams are worth backing for a future’s bet. Let’s get started!

The Favorites

There are four teams, two from each conference, that stick out as being the odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl. Making a bet on any of these teams has a decent shot of paying off as these are the best four teams in the league. But we aren’t here to back favorites, we are looking for value on teams with higher odds that can lead to a very profitable hedge situation come playoff time. Listed below are the current odds for the top two teams in each conference.

LOS ANGELES RAMS
+300
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
+330
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
+550
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
+550

As you can see, while these teams are very good, you aren’t getting a very big payout to back any of them, so for this article, we will ignore the big favorites. Instead, we will look further down the board to try and find more value.

The Contenders

In this second section, I will look at the second tier of teams competing for the Super Bowl title this year. These are teams that are likely going to win division titles and have at least one home playoff game. Teams from this group won’t pay out huge, but they are just slightly lower level teams than the favorites, that are paying out more than twice as much, meaning they offer lots of value. Please see the current odds below.

Los Angeles Chargers Logo

Los Angeles Chargers (+1100)

The team that sticks out in this tier is the Los Angeles Chargers. While the Chargers have really struggled to get fan support in their new adoptive city of Los Angeles, this team is playing at a very high level. I can’t remember a time that a 10-3 team was given this little respect. Maybe it is the fact that they have played the 27th easiest schedule this season. Maybe it is the fact that they are dead last in attendance by a wide margin. Part of that is the fact that the city seems to be supporting the Rams and not the Chargers, and the other part is the fact that the Chargers are playing in a tiny soccer stadium that is half the size of most other NFL stadiums. Whatever the case may be, Phillip Rivers and company seem to be flying under the radar much more than they probably should be.

Now, all that being said, I don’t really like a play on the Chargers at this number. They head to Kansas City next week and play the Chiefs. If they can knock the Chiefs off, they will have a line to the division title and possibly home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. But I don’t think they are going to be able to beat the Chiefs. They lost to them at home by double-digits, and I don’t think that they are good enough to go into Arrowhead and steal a win.

So, if you do like the Chargers, I would wait a week and see where this number goes after they lose to Kansas City. It will likely go up significantly. In sports betting timing is very key, and I think for this one, we wait it out for a better number. Now, if the Chargers do find a way to go into KC and win next week this number will probably drop down to the +500 range, and the value will have been missed. But that is a risk I am willing to take. Wait this one out.

Houston Texans Logo

Houston Texans (+1600)

This is a team that, a week ago, I would have loved backing. They had won nine straight games and were one home win against the Indianapolis Colts away from locking up the AFC South Division title. But then they blew it at home to Andrew Luck and the Colts, and all the sudden you have to wonder if this team is really as good as we all thought they were. But when you take a quick glance at their remaining schedule, you realize that you have nothing to really worry about and that this team will very likely end up running the table and locking in a home playoff game. The Texans play the New York Jets, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Jacksonville Jaguars to finish out the year, all teams that if the playoffs started today, would be on the outside looking in.

Deshaun Watson showed us in college that he is a winner and loves to raise his game up when it counts. He led his Clemson Tigers team to back to back national title games, winning the title in 2016. And I love what this Texans team is doing. They made a great trade at the deadline to acquire Demaryius Thomas that has really helped open up the offense and get Deandre Hopkins one on one looks. Throw in this star-studded defense, led by JJ Watt, that is allowing the fifth-fewest points in the NFL, and you have a recipe for playoff success.

I love a play on Houston right now at 16-1. I think this number will only continue to shrink as they should easily finish the season with three straight wins and a division title, so the time is right for a play on Houston now. It is going to be very tough to go into Kansas City or Foxboro and win a playoff game, but if anybody can win in those tough environments, it’s this Texans team. I especially like their chances of knocking off the Chiefs, as they are one of the few teams that could get into a shootout with KC and survive.

Pittsburgh Steelers Logo

Pittsburgh Steelers (+1600)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are offering the same price as the Texans, with a lot more liability. This Steelers team has dropped three straight games and are without their star running back, James Conner. Remember, Connor was only the starter because Leveon Bell sat out the season with a contract dispute, so the Steelers are now down to their third-string guy in the backfield. We saw how ugly that looked this week when the Steelers went into Oakland and lost to an awful Raiders team.

Pittsburgh is mired in a nasty division title race with the Baltimore Ravens, and don’t look now, but the Cleveland Browns are even hanging around with a chance to catch the Steelers in the AFC North. With a strong finish, the Steelers could win their division title. If they stumble to the finish line like they have been doing for the last month, they could miss the playoffs altogether. For a team that is offering just 16-1, there are a lot of question marks in the Steel City.

The Steelers host the New England Patriots and then travel to New Orleans in the next two weeks. Those are some pretty rough games that are must win, and to be honest, I just don’t see it happening for Pittsburgh. I think that by the time the Steelers host the Bengals in week seventeen, it might just be too late, and I expect the Steelers to miss the playoffs altogether. So, needless to say, I hate a play on the Steelers at this price and strongly advise you to stay away.

Chicago Bears Logo

Chicago Bears (+1800)

Next up are the Bears at 18-1. Now, this is a number I can get behind! The Bears looked shaky without starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky for two weeks, but what team wouldn’t slow down a bit without their starting signal caller? Trubisky came back last week, and the Bears made an enormous statement by completely shutting down the Los Angeles Rams. The Bears got back to the basics with a power running game, they had nearly two hundred yards on the ground against the Rams, and one of the best defenses in the league.

They sacked Jared Goff three times and picked him off four times while holding Todd Gurley to just twenty-eight yards on the ground. This Bears defense could not have looked any better and the win all but locked up the NFC North Division title. Chicago has a soft finish to the schedule as they play Green Bay and San Francisco the next two weeks and finish up the season in Minnesota. It is very likely that week seventeen in Minnesota won’t matter, and they will be able to rest their best players for the playoffs, which is a big advantage many other teams won’t have.

A bet on the Bears is one of my highest valued plays. They are a great team, they have a style that tends to have great success in the playoffs, and they just showed us they can beat any team in the NFL. This number is only going to shrink as the Bears lock up their division title, so I would fire on this now and fire hard.

Dallas Cowboys Logo

Dallas Cowboys (+2500)

The last team in this second tier is the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have taken control of the NFC East Division that has been up for grabs all season long with five straight wins. And it hasn’t just been that the Cowboys are winning, it is who they are beating. Dem Boys beat the New Orleans Saints two weeks ago and wins against the Washington Redskins, and the Philadelphia Eagles, went a long way into taking any doubt out of the Cowboys division title hopes.

It would take an epic collapse for the Cowboys to not win the division at this point, they have a two-game lead with three games left to go. We have seen the Cowboys collapse before, but I am confident that they lock up this division and host a wild-card round playoff game. Any time you can get a division champion at this great of a price, you have to make a play on it, the hedge value alone is through the roof.

Is it going to be easy to go into New Orleans or Los Angeles in the playoffs and win? Of course not. But the Boys showed they can play with anyone when they beat the Saints two weeks ago, so they need to be considered a legit threat to win it all. The scheduled also lays out nicely for Dallas as they have games against Tampa Bay and the Giants still on the schedule, they could hit the playoffs having won eight straight games, that is the type of momentum teams love heading into the postseason.

The True Longshots

In this last section, we will highlight the true longshots that might be worth a play. This group consists of teams that are struggling to make the playoffs but could do damage if they find a way to sneak in. Anyone not listed here, is in my estimation, is just too far back to be able to justify a play on. The real value in this last group is your hedge value if they were to make the playoffs, these teams offer very attractive prices that give ample opportunity for multi-round hedges. Please see the current odds below.

Seattle Seahawks (+2800)

The Seahawks have won three straight games and currently occupy the top wild-card spot in the NFC. Two of their last three games are against the 49ers and the Cardinals, two of the worst teams in the NFL, so their chances of making the playoffs are great at this point. Any team that is going to make the playoffs is a great investment at odds this high, so fire away. But be careful going too hard on Seattle, as you can get a similar price on a Cowboys team in a much better overall situation. Make a play on the Hawks, but not a huge one.

Baltimore Ravens (+4000)

I love this number. The Ravens are in a spot where they could very well win their division. They are tied in the win column with the first place Pittsburgh Steelers right now and have a much easier path the rest of the way out, and I think they find a way to win the division. Getting a division champ at 40-1? That is just too good to pass up on.

Indianapolis Colts (+4000)

The Colts are another team that deserve a play at a huge price of 40-1. Indy has won six out of their last seven games, including a huge statement win against the Texans last week. I don’t like this bet as much as I like the bet on the Ravens though. And I think the Colts are the better overall team, but the Ravens have a very real shot to win their division, whereas the Colts don’t. So, the upside on the Colts is there, but they are currently in a four-way tie for the final playoff spot, so just making the playoffs is going to be a tough task for Indy.

Tennessee Titans (+8000)

The final team we will highlight are the Tennessee Titans. This team is nearly impossible to predict as they are wildly inconsistent each week. But they are part of that four-way tie in the AFC, and they have one of the softer remaining schedules of those four squads. So, they have a very real chance to make the playoffs, and any team that could make the playoffs is well worthy of a play at the outrageously high odds of 80-1.

Wrap Up

And here they are folks, my long shot future’s bet recommendations. These numbers are going to change drastically every week the rest of the way out as division titles are won, and teams are eliminated from contention. Making now the time perfect to make some plays, as the numbers are only going to get smaller and smaller as the season winds to a close. Thanks for reading and good luck betting the NFL!

Patrick Carter / author

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