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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Developments from the last few weeks of the NFL regular season have greatly complicated the Super Bowl Futures picture. The injury-riddled New England Patriots are no longer considered a sure thing to win the AFC. If they can’t get their stars back to 100% health, that conference will be wide open. In the NFC, Carolina is a slight favorite to reach the big game. But, sharps still have a lot of respect for both Arizona and Seattle.

Here are composite odds to win the Championship for the 12 playoff teams gathered from Nevada and offshore as we head into Wildcard Weekend.



Carolina +400

New England +450

Arizona +450

Seattle +600

Denver +600

Pittsburgh +1200

Kansas City +1600

Green Bay +1600

Cincinnati +1600

Minnesota +2200

Washington +4000

Houston +6600

That’s the final dozen. You can tell that there are five teams who are largely seen as frontrunners. New England and Denver are supposed to play in the AFC finals. Carolina, Arizona, and Seattle are all very legitimate threats to win the NFC. Interestingly, the #6 seeds are getting the most respect of the non-bye teams. In fact, Seattle and Pittsburgh are both in the top six spots!

If you look closely, you’ll see kind of a “reverse” order of seeds down at the bottom of the odds.

*Washington and Houston are #4 seeds, yet are the two biggest longshots.

*Cincinnati and Minnesota are #3 seeds, yet are home underdogs this week and longshots to go the distance.

*Kansas City and Green Bay are #5 seeds who are getting more respect than the #4’s and #3’s in the market.

#Seattle and Pittsburgh are #6 seeds who are getting more respect than everyone but the bye teams.

I’ll talk more about the individual games this Friday when we go in depth on the Wildcard markets. For now, let’s focus on the big picture. Here are some reasons I’ve gathered from sharps as to why nobody’s shorter than +400 to win the Super Bowl right now.



There’s still sharp skepticism about Cam Newton’s ability to win big games. The Wise Guys had largely given up on him before this season. They recognize and respect his growth in 2015. But, his personality may not be well-suited to keeping poise under pressure. Plus, the quants know that Carolina faced one of the easiest schedules in the league this year.



The Patriots are mortal when they have offensive injuries. They need to get their offensive line back on the field healthy, and both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have to be near 100% for this team to be considered championship caliber. Having a bye week could be what saves the Pats from suffering a huge disappointment after seeming so dominant early.



A lot of respect here. Can you trust Carson Palmer to avoid turnovers when a championship is on the line? That’s the main question I’m hearing. Otherwise, sharps liked this team entering the season…and like them even more now. The brackets give them a break because hard-closing Seattle would have to face Carolina in the divisional round should the Seahawks win in Minnesota Sunday.



This team really has played like champions down the stretch. Winning on the road hasn’t been much of an issue for them during their back-to-back NFC titles. Would they be favored in a #6 at #1 game in Carolina next week? Not out of the question with the Seahawks laying -5.5 in Minnesota. Sharps are looking for reasons to fade Cam Newton.



The Broncos have the best defense in the league, and now have Peyton Manning back for the postseason. He’s still showing some weakness in terms of physical impact. But, his experience and poise could prove vital. Bad luck, though, in that they’d draw hard-charging Pittsburgh in the Divisional round if the Steelers win in Cincinnati this week.

Below that, you have these issues…

Pittsburgh: defense may be too soft to run the table

Kansas City: coach and QB known to struggle vs. quality

Green Bay: shorthanded offense has been horrible lately

Cincinnati: issues at the QB position

Minnesota: QB isn’t trusted, plus bad home losses to Seattle and GB

Washington: seen as a pretender from a bad division

Houston: seen as even more of a pretender from an even worse division

Now, sharps may like Washington and Houston at value prices at home this weekend. But…those teams aren’t seen as being capable of running the table in the context of Super Bowl Futures.

Back with you Friday to talk more specifically about those Wildcard games. Then I’ll post a report Sunday looking at the college football championship game featuring Alabama and Clemson.

You can purchase my top selections in all sports 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 for reading these Futures reports all through the season. It’s amazing how much things have changed. The first several weeks saw a virtually unanimous assessment that New England and Green Bay were the class of their conferences. Now, anything can happen! It’s going to be fun covering the NFL playoffs from start to finish. See you again in a few days.


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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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