UPDATED 2/5/2018 – We will be the first to admit, we got this year’s Playoff bracket wrong. Things did not play out how we expected in either conference, but that is the beauty of the NFL. Let’s examine what happened.
In the AFC, we expected the Patriots and Steelers to blow by their competition. The Patriots dismantled the Tennessee Titans, as expected. The Steelers shocked us and the sports world by losing at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not only that, but also in giving up 45 points to Jacksonville, where Blake Bortles plays QB. To be fair, Bortles had an incredible game and so did RB Leonard Fournette.
This set up a Patriots-Jaguars AFC Championship. New England entered as the favorites and were expected to win with ease. Jacksonville came to town as the underdogs looking to topple the regime. Jacksonville came out the aggressors and got on the board early. Their defense flustered Brady and the Patriots seemed unable to get anything going offensively. The fourth quarter started out 20-10 Jaguars, in New England. However, this turned out to be another incredible fourth quarter Tom Brady performance. The defensive pressure eased and Brady went to work. He led his team on 2 scoring drives to finish things off 24-20. WR Danny Amendola emerged as the MVP with 2 touchdowns and several important catches down the stretch. The Patriots booked their ticket to an 8th Super Bowl appearance.
In the NFC, we, like the other sportsbooks, didn’t give the Eagles enough credit. Everyone expected backup QB Nick Foles to cause this offense to implode. The Eagles had a strong defensive game against the Falcons and held them to 10 points. We assumed Atlanta had a chip on their shoulder after Super Bowl 51, but it seems the LA Rams game was more experience versus young talent than anything else. The Falcons had no answers to the Eagles defense. Foles played a conservative game, but did enough to win.
Minnesota came out to an early lead against New Orleans, but the Saints fought back and looked to be on track to win. In all honesty, the Saints probably should’ve won that game, but Minnesota scored a walk-off touchdown as time expired to head to the NFC Championship.
Again, the Eagles were counted as the underdogs. Minnesota’s #1 defense was supposed to expose Foles and put Philadelphia to bed. Instead, Foles had the game of his life and threw for 352 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Eagles defense shut down QB Case Keenum and the entire Minnesota offense. They only managed 7 points in the first quarter. The rest of the game was all Philly. The Eagles were firing on all cylinders in the NFC Championship and posed a serious threat to the defending champions in the Super Bowl.
We had Atlanta and Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl, which was completely wrong. That would’ve likely been nowhere near as exciting as what actually happened. The Eagles and Patriots played an intense back and forth game that saw a couple of lead changes, trick plays, turnovers, missed kicks, plenty of touchdowns and more. The game actually set the record for most combined offensive yards ever. Brady threw for over 500 yards and Foles threw for over 300. Each team’s receivers’ numbers were off the charts. For the Patriots, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski were the top 3 and 396 yards and 3 touchdowns between them. For the Eagles, RB Corey Clement led all receivers (the x-factor), but the usual suspects of Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and Torrey Smith all had great games.
The sportsbooks had New England winning this game by -4.5. The projected combined total was 48 points. The final score was 41-33 Philadelphia. All those who bet on the underdog saw nice returns. The majority of player props hit, as evidenced by the offensive numbers put up by both teams. We were wrong in our selection, but that shows how unpredictable things are in the NFL. Everyone had the Eagles as underdogs, and they won. Everyone had Nick Foles as a bust, and he won Super Bowl MVP.
With this current Patriots’ squad possibly not returning intact next season, the AFC is wide open. Meanwhile, the NFC looks competitive as ever with Philly on top, but New Orleans, LA, Carolina and Atlanta all in the hunt.
PREDICTING THE TOP CONTENDERS FOR SUPER BOWL 52
UPDATED JANUARY 2018 – If you watched Super Bowl LI and bet on the Atlanta Falcons, you were a happy camper heading into the second half. The Falcons went into halftime 21-3 against the New England Patriots and looked just about set to cap off their dominant season with a championship. However, in true Patriot fashion, New England grinded throughout the second half (Atlanta’s defense collapsed simultaneously) to score 6 in the third (ATL scored a touchdown as well) and then 19 unanswered points in the fourth to send the game into overtime. The Patriots scored first in overtime to seal the 5th championship in the Brady-Belichick era while setting a record for the largest Super Bowl comeback ever. Meanwhile, Atlanta fans were left with their jaws on the floor. The game was a testament to the unpredictable nature of the NFL and to how good of a team the New England Patriots really are. The upset had a profound effect on those who had legally betting on the Super Bowl.
The way things stand now, it looks like there could be a potential rematch between the Falcons and Pats for Super Bowl LII. There were a few new faces in the Playoffs this year that shook things up a bit—including the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, LA Rams, Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars—but the usual AFC suspects were still there. While New England has a solid chance, they must get past rivals Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers lost in last year’s AFC Championship, so they are looking for a shot at redemption against the Pats. In the NFC, the Falcons managed to pick up a Wild Card berth (their season was nowhere near as exciting as last year’s), but they made a statement win against the LA Rams in the Wild Card Round, showing everybody they mean business. Their biggest threats are the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings, but 1 of these teams will be knocked out in the Divisional Round. The odds of a repeat Super Bowl are not worth ignoring, but there are some teams looking to topple the regime.
Top Eight Teams Based on Current Future Odds
The following 8 teams have the best odds to win based on the sportsbooks heading into divisional weekend:
- New England Patriots +175
- Minnesota Vikings +350
- Pittsburgh Steelers +550
- New Orleans Saints +600
- Atlanta Falcons +750
- Philadelphia Eagles +1200
- Jacksonville Jaguars +1600
- Tennessee Titans +4000
Our Predictions For Super Bowl LII
To narrow it down to the respective conference championships, we believe that New England will play Pittsburgh in the AFC and Atlanta will play Minnesota in the NFC. The Pats and Steelers have a cakewalk to the championship through the Titans and Jaguars. It would take a miracle for either of these Wild Card teams to win. However, we are going to go against the oddsmakers and say that Pittsburgh will come out on top. They are seeing red from their last matchup in the regular season, which saw them lose at the last second to a controversial call, and over the whole James Harrison fiasco. New England will be without Julian Edelman, who was instrumental in their postseason last year. New England is certainly a strong team, but we see Pittsburgh coming out on top to go onto the Super Bowl.
In the NFC, Atlanta will beat Philadelphia to go on to the NFC Championship. The Eagles are without Carson Wentz, who helped them roll through the season, so their offense will be lacking. The Saints-Vikings game is interesting, given both teams’ success this season, however Minnesota has the best defense in the league right now and will look to snuff the Saints’ run game. We give them the edge over New Orleans. So, that brings us to a Falcons-Vikings NFC game. This game will be gritty, but we see the Falcons as pulling it off. Minnesota may be dominant, but Atlanta has a massive chip on their shoulder after last year. They want to give fans the Super Bowl victory they deserve.
Now, on to the Super Bowl. Given a Steelers-Falcons scenario, we see the Falcons winning the championship. QB Matt Ryan has been solid in the postseason, and if RB Devonta Freeman and WR Julio Jones can be engaged early, Atlanta’s offense will look like they did last year. Pittsburgh has powerful weapons in QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell, but the Falcons have redemption on their side. While the tale of redemption may not sit well with conventional bettors, the emotional factor does play in to how teams perform. When these teams played in the regular season, it was a close matchup going Pittsburgh’s way. Atlanta has made numerous adjustments since then and looks like they deserve a shot at the title.
How You Should Approach Betting On The Super Bowl
The two teams playing in the Super Bowl have not yet been determined, so it’s a little early to be betting on this game. Right? Well, it all depends on what you’re after. Let’s say you really think the a specific team can win the Super Bowl, and they’re currently going off at 11/1. This means every $1 you bet on your team will net you $11 if they win, so you wouldn’t have to place a huge bet. Get them while they still have favorable odds. If, for instance, a team starts off with a record of 9-1, you’ll see their odds will change and you’ll be looking at odds like 4/1 or such and your win margin won’t be nearly as large. So place a smaller bet on the team(s) you think will win ahead of time. Just keep it small though; these are long shots which are obviously a lot tougher to hit. To make money during the regular season, you will bet on regular season games and not futures. With the right approach, you could win some money every week. As the season inches closer to the Super Bowl, keep your eyes peeled for favorable futures that may be in your best interest to help you leverage. If you take your time, do the math, and leverage correctly, you can put yourself in a fantastic position to win a few bucks no matter what.
Always bet with caution. Don’t bet while under the influence of anything, and don’t bet as a strict fan or to chase a win. Do your research and bet a small amount on teams you truly feel have the best shot at winning.