It didn’t take long after the Super Bowl Sunday night before Las Vegas starting taking bets for the 2016 NFL season. One of the first to come out with rankings was the Westgate SuperBook, which showed surprisingly little respect to the teams that battled it out in Super Bowl 50.
The favorites to win the Super Bowl are the Seahawks, Patriots and Steelers at 8:1 odds. New England was the only division winner of that group and advanced to the AFC Championship Game. Seattle and Pittsburgh were both wild card teams that won their first playoff game before being eliminated in the divisional round.
Defending NFC champion Carolina is in the next tier of teams at 10:1 odds, joining Green Bay and Arizona. Despite being the defending division champion, it wasn’t enough for Arizona – the No. 2 seed in the NFC last season – to get ranked higher than the wild card Seahawks. The Packers didn’t win the NFC North, yet they have the lowest odds of any team in the division (stay tuned).
Defending Super Bowl champion Denver and AFC North champ Cincinnati checked in at 14:1, odds that seem a little too optimistic for the Bengals given their penchant for being one-and-done in the playoffs and far too pessimistic for a Broncos team that won’t miss Peyton Manning nearly as much as the networks would make you think. Unless their defense is ravaged by injuries, there is little reason to believe that the Broncos won’t make a serious run at defending their title.
In one of the more surprising selections, the Dallas Cowboys checked in at 16:1, which, as will be explained below, was likely done more for gambling odds than reality.
The next tier of teams includes the Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs at 20:1. All of them make sense in their own way. The Vikings are a young team on the rise that won the NFC North. The Chiefs got off to a dismal start, but rattled off 10 straight wins to close out the regular season and finish 11-5. Even the Colts make sense because, heading into 2015, there was a camp of believers trusting Andrew Luck and the boys were ready to take the next step and make it to the Super Bowl.
Here is the complete list of teams and their odds of making the Super Bowl for those who may be heading to Vegas in the coming weeks before the numbers get altered by free agency and the draft this spring.
8:1 – Seattle, New England, Pittsburgh
10:1 – Green Bay, Arizona, Carolina
14:1 – Denver, Cincinnati
16:1 – Dallas
20:1 – Minnesota, Indianapolis, Kansas City
30:1 – New York Jets, Buffalo, Baltimore
40:1 – Atlanta, Houston, New York Giants, Washington, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans
50:1 – Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles Rams, Miami, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Oakland, San Diego
60:1 – San Francisco
200:1 – Cleveland
The key to placing odds is due in large part to the amount of offseason betting that is done for 11 or 12 months. They don’t build those new casinos based on losing. They know the habits of gamblers. Give Packers fans 10:1 odds and they’ll take it. Even with a ratty 2015 team, Cowboys fans will head to the betting window at 16:1. You can bet Carolina and Denver fans will do the same.
Vikings fans? If you’re going to offer Minnesota fans 20:1 odds to win the Super Bowl, you can bet there will be plenty of weekend snowbirds willing to plunk down some cash in hopes of getting to the pay window.
When you look at the list, most of the odds make sense with the possible exception of Denver and Carolina, who, because of their 2015 seasons, will have their fans believing their odds are a disgrace.
A year from now, the vast majority of tickets purchased for Super Bowl hunches will end up in the waste basket, which, for the boys in Vegas is the idea. But for those who make the purchases early while believing their franchises are being disrespected, those betting slips will be viewed as investments, even though only one of 32 teams will cash in.