Last season’s Super Bowl was arguably the most compelling in NFL history. The New England Patriots trailed the Atlanta Falcons 28-3 late in the third quarter before storming back to win 34-28.
New England heads into the 2017 season as the strong favorite to win the championship again. Despite an injury to receiver Julian Edelman, they look destined to be near the top of the league in most major offensive and defensive categories.
Of course, the NFL is an unpredictable league, and surprise teams can sneak up on everyone to win a Super Bowl. The New York Giants in 2011 and Baltimore Ravens in 2012 both stand out as examples of shocking championship winners.
Let’s analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the three teams with the shortest odds to win the Super Bowl. Then, we’ll highlight three teams outside the top three that seem like solid bets — these won’t necessarily be the best teams outside the favorites, but the teams that appeal as the best value at the Super Bowl futures’ odds.
The favorites and dark horses have the best odds available from the top sports betting websites for USA residents listed next to their team name.
Super Bowl Favorites
New England Patriots (+380 at 5Dimes)
What do you get when you combine the league’s best quarterback (Tom Brady), its best scoring defense and its best coach (Bill Belichick)? Last year, it resulted in a dominant 14-2 season and a Super Bowl win for the Patriots.
New England is in a great position to repeat its dominance from last season. Brady should be around for all 16 games this time around (instead of 12), the defense kept most of its key pieces and they play in a weak division and conference.
Green Bay Packers (+1005 at Bookmaker)
The only quarterback with an argument over Brady is Aaron Rodgers, who is one of the few players in the NFL who makes his team guaranteed to be at least decent. Thankfully, he does also have great weapons around him on offense.
On defense, the Packers should be mediocre. The team lost some key veteran leaders that were vital to the team’s pass defense, even though that unit still struggled quite a bit already. The other question: can converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery run well enough as a No. 1 halfback to relieve Rodgers’ workload?
Seattle Seahawks (+1200 at Bovada)
As we mentioned in our NFC Championship preview, the Seahawks look like the smart pick to win the NFC. Seattle has defensive playmakers to spare, and the only main position group of weakness is the offensive line.
However, with the defense frequently giving the offense such good field position, even another disastrous year for the line could still result in an awesome season. Quarterback Russell Wilson has enough other weapons, such as running backs Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy and pass-catchers Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham, that the offense should still be solid.
Super Bowl LII Dark Horses
Arizona Cardinals (+3350 at Bookmaker)
Which NFC team has the best combined point differential over the past two years? Nope, not the Packers, Seahawks or Carolina Panthers — it’s the Cardinals, who have outscored their opponents by 232 points since the beginning of the 2015 season. Even in their losing record last season, they registered a point differential of plus-56.
Even with the Seahawks in their division, it doesn’t make sense for the Cardinals to be seventh favorite in the Super Bowl odds in their conference, which they do at Bookmaker. In a passing league, Arizona has a solid veteran quarterback (Carson Palmer), the best pass-catching running back in the NFL (David Johnson), a great No. 1 wide receiver (Larry Fitzgerald), a superstar cornerback (Patrick Peterson) and an awesome pass rush.
Many people are worried about Palmer and the veteran roster staying healthy, which are legit concerns. But the ceiling for this team is quite high.
Cincinnati Bengals (+7500 at Bookmaker)
Like the Cardinals, the Bengals are a great buy-low squad because of their disastrous 2016 season. They had just a 6-9-1 record and blew several close games.
But remember, Cincinnati’s defense has been second and eight in points allowed in the past two seasons respectively. The offense was great in 2015 and has the chance to be great again this year with better health and its new additions, including rookies Joe Mixon and John Ross.
Indianapolis Colts (+10000 at Bookmaker)
The Colts are certainly not guaranteed to be a good team, but with odds as long as +10000, you already knew that. At Bookmaker only six of the 32 teams have longer odds than that.
Indianapolis actually has a chance at winning its division, which merely has two solid teams (the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans) and one below-average one (Jacksonville Jaguars). Star quarterback Andrew Luck will be out for Week 1 as he continues to recover from his offseason shoulder, but we’ve seen him drag unimpressive rosters to the playoffs three times, including one AFC Championship Game.
If Luck ends up being out for much of the season, or isn’t himself when he returns, the Colts will probably be terrible. But considering the young signal-caller’s potential for a fantastic season once he returns, Indianapolis would be a decent high-reward bet.
Our Preview’s Super Bowl LII Picks & Betting Predictions
- The competition at the top of the AFC is much less crowded than the competition at the top of the NFC. There are several teams that could conceivably win the NFC, but the Patriots look head and shoulders better than the second-best team in their conference (probably the Pittsburgh Steelers). Going with the Patriots (best at +380 with 5Dimes) is just a really safe bet, and this preview believes that they are also the best bet overall.
- Outside of the top three teams, the Bengals’ +7500 line at Bookmaker should be a tempting one for all dark horse bettors. That number is much lower in some other places, including as low as +3300 at MyBookie. They were a perennial playoff team until last year, and they have above-average talent on both sides of the ball. Cincinnati could bring a sizable payout if the squad realizes its potential.