The NFL playoffs are almost upon us, which means now is a great time to see which teams truly have a chance to not only make it all the way to Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay, but which ones actually have a chance to win it. We break these legitimate NFL title contenders down into three groups and tell you which ones have the best chances of bringing home top value for those willing to wager on them. All odds are courtesy of the online sportsbook Betonline.ag.
Kansas City Chiefs (Record: 13-1; Odds to win Super Bowl: +175)
The Chiefs are undoubtedly the favorites to win the Super Bowl, and rightly so. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is having another MVP-type season, he has a variety of offensive weapons surrounding him, and the Kansas City defense is a bend-but-don’t-break type that is underrated and plenty good enough to help secure another title. Plus, with the monkey off Coach Andy Reid’s back and one championship now finally under his belt, the entire team seems to be operating at a level of free-flowing self-confidence that all multiple championship clubs possess during their greatest runs. Plus, who in the AFC is truly going to be good enough to challenge the Chiefs? The problem is that with Kansas City’s odds currently sitting at +170, according to MyBookie.com, there is little value in taking this future. If you want to attempt to play it safe and drop a fair amount of money on the Chiefs in the hopes of making a fair amount in return, go for it. But there is currently better value to be had elsewhere on the NFL Futures board.
Green Bay Packers (Record: 11-3; Odds to win SB: +575)
If the Packers end up being the most formidable roadblock to the Chiefs winning another championship, then the Chiefs should feel pretty good about their chances. Green Bay’s own terrific quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, was making his own case for MVP earlier in the year and continues to play at a high level. But he’s no Mahomes, who likely hasn’t even reached the peak of his enormous potential yet. While the Packers also have arguably the game’s top receiver in Davonte Adams and an excellent running back in Aaron Jones, Rodgers does not have at his disposal an array of weapons comparable to what Mahomes has in Kansas City. The biggest problem we have with the Packers, though, is that they have beaten just one team all season that currently has a winning record, that being the Saints 37-30 in the second week of the season. And although they are 10-1 against teams with losing records, they have been pushed to the brink in too many of those contests before pulling them out. The rush defense is a glaring issue for the Packers. They rank 22nd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per attempt and in the playoffs, teams like to run the football and dictate the tempo of the game. At +500, do not throw your money away on the Pack. They look much like last year’s team: good enough to look good on paper, but more likely to stumble in the playoffs before they even get to the Super Bowl, let alone win it. Stay away.
New Orleans Saints (Record: 10-4; Odds to win SB: +800)
Yes, Drew Brees is back at quarterback after suffering 11 fractured ribs and a partially collapsed lung in a game earlier this season vs. San Francisco. But will he hold up? And if he doesn’t, does anyone really think the Saints can go anywhere in the playoffs with Taysom Hill under center? Still, if Brees can survive the Saints seem solid everywhere else and Sean Payton isn’t going to get out-coached in any playoff games. Prior to Payton’s arrival as head coach in 2006, the Saints had only one playoff win to their credit in team history. Now they have eight (Payton is 8-7 in the postseason) and one Super Bowl title. It is a huge IF, but IF Brees can stay healthy enough and make enough down-the-field throws throughout the playoffs, the Saints at +800 to win it all is a bet worth considering.
Buffalo Bills (Record: 11-3; Odds to win SB: +1100)
The Bills are 11-3, but with picking an AFC team to win the Super Bowl you first have to ask yourself one question: Can they beat the Chiefs? The Bills can beat anyone any given Sunday and they have displayed enough consistency to strongly consider taking them at +1000, especially considering they are unlikely to finish worse than the No. 3 seed in the AFC. The Bills lost to the Chiefs 26-17 back in Week 6 on a rainy Monday night in Buffalo. The Bills were able to limit Mahomes to 225 yards passing, his third-lowest total of the season. In the other two such contests, the Chiefs won by two touchdowns or more. Kansas City running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire triggered Buffalo’s demise that night with 161 rushing yards. Edwards-Helaire, a rookie, has cooled off considerably as the season has progressed, surpassing 50 rushing yards only once in his last seven games. He also is currently nursing a sprained ankle that has put his postseason status in jeopardy. The Bills have proved they can compete with the Chiefs already this season, and with the connection of Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs getting more efficient week by week, there is no doubt the Buffalo Bills pose the biggest threat to the defending champs in the AFC. When taking into account the value currently offered and the overall upward trend of the team, they seem to be the best pick of The Favorites group listed here at +1000.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Record: 9-5; Odds to win SB: +1200)
The middle tier features one team from the NFC that still seems to have the best combination of value and a real possibility of making a Super Bowl playoff run, and that’s Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers sit at 12-1 and have a well-rounded team with arguably the greatest quarterback of all time under center in the seemingly ageless Tom Brady, who certainly knows how to turn it up a notch in the playoffs. The Bucs are more consistent than other teams in this range, a group that includes the Los Angeles Rams (16-1 on MyBookie and 14-1 on BetOnline), Seattle (14-1), Baltimore (14-1) and suddenly fading Pittsburgh (20-1). Tampa Bay boasts the top rush defense in all of the NFL and as we all know defense travels well in the playoffs. Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians has been highly criticized for his play calling, in large part because he has had Brady throwing the ball downfield in large numbers. The issue is that Brady is 43 years old and can not efficiently throw the ball downfield that effectively any longer, although he is crafty and experienced enough to hit big plays when he picks his spots. Brady and the Bucs got back to their strengths over the past two weeks, throwing the ball to their playmakers on shorter routes and allowing them to do damage after the catch. Tom Brady at 14-1 to win a Super Bowl when he has this much talent around him will have value until the day he retires. And one more factor to consider is that if the Bucs get through the NFC playoffs to reach Super Bowl LV, it will be a home game for them. Even without a full crowd, playing on the familiar turf of Raymond James Stadium right in Tampa would be yet another advantage.
Los Angeles Rams (Record: 9-5; Odds to win SB: +1400)
“Buy low” is a phrase common in gambling and following a totally unexpected loss to the previously winless New York Jets, the Rams will not offer more value than they do at this very moment. The Rams lost as 17.5-point favorites to the Jets, the biggest upset in the NFL since 1995. A little history lesson here is important to remember, however. The 1995 Cowboys lost to Washington as 17.5-point favorites and it was not a kiss of death. The Cowboys went on to win the Super Bowl that season. So, don’t totally discount the Rams and now may, in fact, be the best time to buy into them. The Rams still control their destiny in the NFC West with a Week 16 matchup in Seattle that likely decide the division. Sean McVay is 5-2 against the Seahawks since taking over as head coach of the Rams in 2017. With the Rams still having a good chance at the No. 3 seed, and being in the playoffs barring a disaster, the Rams are worth the 16-1 price tag. Los Angeles boasts an elite defense and they have begun to develop a serious rushing attack. Jared Goff proved just two years ago that he can do just enough to lead his team to the big game and despite the stumble against the Jets, he looks to be returning to 2018 form. The Rams did it on the road in New Orleans that year, and there is no reason to think they could not win on the road again. The Rams are more talented this go around with the additions of edge rusher Leornard Floyd and star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Aaron Donald ranks second in the NFL with 12.5 sacks this season to go along with Floyd’s 7.5. The defense ranked 20th in points allowed back in the 2018 season, giving up 24 points per game. This season they rank third in the NFL, only allowing 19.2 points per game. Los Angeles gained valuable experience in their 2018 run to the Super Bowl and they can use that to get back there once again and perhaps win. They remain a good value at the +1400 to win it all that is currently being offered by BetOnline.
Cleveland Browns (Record: 10-4; Odds to win SB: +2800)
The teams currently over lurking in the 25-1 range include five teams currently in the playoff picture: The Colts (25-1), Browns (28-1 on MyBookie and an even more favorable 33-1 on BetOnline), Cardinals (50-1), Dolphins (66-1), and Washington (80-1). Only one of these teams shows any value for a Super Bowl future, and that is the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers losing to the Bengals on Monday Night Football has officially opened the door for the Browns to play for the AFC North crown in Week 17. If the Steelers lose to the Colts in Week 16, and the Browns handle the Jets, the Browns will be one head-to-head win away from the No. 2 or No.3 seed. Regardless, the Browns will be just fine if they have to win on the road in the playoffs. Two things travel in the playoffs: defense and a running game. Those are the two strongest areas of the Browns’ football team. Defensive end Myles Garrett has been tormenting opposing offensive lines this season and already has registered 11 sacks. On the other side of the ball, the Browns have a two-headed monster in the backfield with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Despite wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. being out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield has shown improvement down the stretch with two recent breakout efforts in high-pressure, playoff-type games against the Titans and the Ravens. A large reason why has been the emergence of wide receivers Jarvis Landry, Rashad Higgins, and Donavon Peoples-Jones since Beckham Jr. was lost for the season. Mayfield is spreading the ball around more without feeling the need to force it to Beckham Jr. If Baker can carry his recent form into this postseason, the Browns can beat anyone. At +3300, they definitely are a team worthy of having a few bucks thrown on them at this point.