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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Tuesday, December 15, 2015 at 11:00 AM

When Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals suffered a fractured thumb early in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers…you knew the impact would be felt all over the Super Bowl Futures marketplace.

*Cincinnati falls to being a longshot if Dalton can’t return by the playoffs

*Life gets easier for all the other AFC contenders!

Of course, skeptics could point out that Dalton was already known for being great in the regular season before falling apart in the playoffs. That means the injury didn’t “derail” a ride to the championship. It just brought some bad news sooner!

According to Futures prices, Cincinnati went from about 13% to lift the Lombardi Trophy down to around 6% after losing Dalton and that home game to the Steelers. I saw one publication say that Cincy’s hopes were “crushed” by the injury. At best, they probably went from 87% to NOT win up to 94% to NOT win. If you think Dalton is the type of QB to get outclassed in January when facing tough defenses…maybe the numbers were even worse.

But, the fact that Dalton isn’t there to be a potential spoiler against the likes of New England, Denver, Pittsburgh, could prove to be important. At the top, life is easier for the Pats. Further down, a door may open for a Wildcard to go deep. If Cincinnati earns a #2 seed…but then has to use a generic backup QB…who knows which hard finisher is going to charge through the door?

For now…the Bengals are hoping he can return in January after missing the regular season. The Futures market is pricing that “slight maybe” into the mix. Here’s a look at composite pricing from around Nevada and the offshore world…

(If this is your first time reading one of my Futures articles, these are based on $100 bets. So, a $100 bet on New England would win $350 if they win the Super Bowl…a $100 bet on Kansas City would win $2,000)

 

ODDS TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL

New England +350 (back up from +400 with win over Houston, Dalton injury)

Carolina +350 (standing pat as NFC fave’s as they stay undefeated)

Arizona +550 (steady after beating Minnesota)

Seattle +750 (up from +1600 three weeks ago and a legitimate force again)

Green Bay +8000 (up from +1000 after dumping Dallas)

Denver +1000 (sliding off loss to Oakland, but also helped by Dalton injury)

Pittsburgh +1200 (another big jump as they seem to be peaking at right time)

Cincinnati +1600 (plummeting from +750, as they hope Dalton’s back for playoffs)

Kansas City +2000 (up from +2500, dangerous Wildcard)

There are only four NFC teams in that group. Minnesota and the eventual winner of the NFC East aren’t seen as teams who are likely to string together victories in January. Minnesota has now dropped behind Green Bay in the NFC North standings too. Boy has Seattle become a team to keep an eye on again.

In the AFC…Pittsburgh and Kansas City are closing very strong as potentially dangerous Wildcards. (The Jets aren’t on that list…but are in the WC discussion as well). Up at the top, New England is once again at least co-favorites to win the Super Bowl after temporarily being kicked down the ladder by Carolina (well, by losing to Denver and Philadelphia while Carolina kept winning!)

Moving down to the teams who have a chance as Wildcards (for the first two) or because they’re fighting for first place in one of the two bad divisions…the NFC East and AFC South...

 

POTENTIAL SPOILERS

Minnesota +4000 (down from +1800 not long ago)

NY Jets +4000 (up from +6600 two weeks ago, closing hard)

Indianapolis +5000 (struggling badly of late, but can still win division)

Philadelphia +5000 (some stubborn sharps wont’ give up!)

NY Giants +6600 (still positioned after win MNF win over Miami)

Washington +6600 (held steady after upset at Chicago)

Houston +10000 (two straight bad losses, can they win in Indy Sunday?)

Buffalo +15000 (drop after loss in Philly, earning WC will be tough)

Jacksonville +20000 (sneaking on the radar with Indy/Hou losing in AFC South)

Oakland +20000 (win in Denver gives them a tiny bit of hope)

It’s getting harder to take these teams seriously as “champions.” Though, there’s still plenty of time for somebody like Philadelphia to get hot. Some sharps still think the Eagles have darkhorse potential. The Jets at least have the kind of roster that does well in January…conservative offense, game manager quarterback, strong defense. They may not reach the brackets. But, if they do, they could put a scare into anyone. Wouldn’t it be something if Jacksonville rallied late to win the AFC South?!

 

DISTANT LONGSHOTS

Dallas +25000 (way down after bad loss at GB, and wins from divisional rivals)

Tampa Bay +25000 (home loss to the Saints exposes/confirms them as pretender)

Atlanta +25000 (getting worse every week, but “alive” at 6-7)

I’m no longer going to list the teams at the bottom of the league. They’re either mathematically eliminated, or “virtually” eliminated with no real chances to win out AND have the best Wildcard contenders all get swept.

A quick review of the college football championship odds…

 

ODDS TO WIN THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

Alabama even

Oklahoma +275

Clemson +450

Michigan State +700

Not much will happen here between now and December 31 barring injuries, suspensions, or a few well-respected sharps making huge investments. It is possible that the public lines up on Alabama in such a way that you’ll eventually have to lay odds to take the Tide. That’s probably the single most likely development…holiday squares making it more expensive to back ‘Bama.

For the game lines, we’re starting to see a tug-of-war between Alabama -9.5 and Michigan State +10 in the Cotton Bowl. The total is down from 49 to 47 because of respect for both defenses (and Alabama’s extreme run-heavy tendencies in recent action). Oklahoma is -3.5 and 66 (total up from 64.5) in the Orange Bowl. 

Speaking of bowls…I’ll talk about that first big Saturday of action the next time we’re together. Here’s an early taste of what will be a busier schedule for my “sharps” reports…

Thursday: Tampa Bay at St. Louis in the NFL plus the first FIVE bowl games that go Saturday (New Mexico, Las Vegas, Camellia, Auto Nation, and New Orleans bowls).

Friday: NFL Week 15, regular report (including Jets/Cowboys Saturday night).

Monday: I’ll look at SEVEN weekday bowls that run from Monday through Christmas Eve on Thursday (Miami Beach, Idaho, Boca Raton, Poinsettia, Go Daddy, Bahamas, and Hawaii Bowls)

Tuesday December 22: my next Futures report upon the close of Week 15.

You can purchase my top selections all sports through the college bowls and NFL Playoffs right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours.

Thanks very much for helping to make my “sharps” reports the most widely read sports betting feature on the internet. I know we’re all looking forward to these next few VERY busy weeks!  

 

Be sure to follow:

Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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