After a dramatic Week 18, the NFL's regular season is in the books. Now we turn to a crowded race for the Super Bowl championship, as 14 teams are left standing.
As I have mentioned before, finding value in a one-way betting market is difficult. Oddsmakers are rarely caught off guard and they have plenty of data points at this juncture of the season. Look no further than Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship game. Eventual winner Georgia was favored over Alabama, despite having just been dominated by the Crimson Tide a month earlier.
The betting market is often sharp.
Odds tables below from Caesars Sportsbook.
Super Bowl odds
The Green Bay Packers (+380) are justifiable Super Bowl favorites and will likely emerge from an NFC that no longer looks like a gauntlet. Tampa Bay (+800) has suffered numerous injuries but still has quarterback Tom Brady. The Los Angeles Rams (+900) have elite potential, but their inconsistency shines bright. The Dallas Cowboys (12-1) have the means to win at Lambeau Field, but it's hard to ignore their 6-5 record outside of the weak NFC East. The Arizona Cardinals (22-1) are capable of beating everyone, but they closed the regular season with one win in their final five games.
Personally, I want no part of the Rams or Bucs at those prices, but I'm intrigued by Arizona and Dallas. For Arizona, the Cardinals have QB Kyler Murray, and he's a cheat code who can change the game. At times, he's impossible to defend, and he might get top receiver DeAndre Hopkins back as early as this weekend. This is still a team that won at the Rams and Cowboys, and came one play from defeating the Packers. The 22-1 odds are enticing enough.
As for Dallas, the Cowboys have looked sharper than anyone at their peak. The valleys displayed their warts, but they were also suffering through injuries, so I think the upside is there. Quarterback Dak Prescott is not as consistent as I would like, but 12-1 does feel like a value play. They host San Francisco and then would have to win at Tampa Bay and Green Bay. I do believe they can do that. They might even get another home game if we see the right upsets.
Super Bowl futures
Green Bay Packers +380
Kansas City Chiefs +475
Buffalo Bills +750
Tennessee Titans +800
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +800
Los Angeles Rams +900
Dallas Cowboys +1200
Cincinnati Bengals +1800
New England Patriots +2000
Arizona Cardinals +2200
San Francisco 49ers +2500
Las Vegas Raiders +4000
Philadelphia Eagles +6000
Pittsburgh Steelers +6000
Do I believe Aaron Rodgers should be a -500 favorite? No. Do I think he's going to win the MVP? Yes. That's where we are right now. Tom Brady (+350) led the NFL in passing yards and passing touchdowns. There's a case to be made for him, but reading the tea leaves would suggest this will be a definitive result for Rodgers.
Chicago media member Herb Arkush raised eyebrows when he shared that Rodgers' personality was causing Arkush to vote for another player. All along I have felt that the quarterback's handling of his vaccination status and also his offseason standoff with Packers management might cost him votes. However, his play has been overwhelmingly awesome, as he's thrown 37 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Green Bay snagged the NFC's top seed, and, frankly, we saw the Packers look horrific in their one game without him.
I actually bet -400 last week and recommend a play at -500, although it's tough to make a lot of money with high moneylines. And I can't blame anyone for passing on the wager. NBC Sports' Peter King conducted a poll with 36 media members and/or former players. None has an MVP vote this year, but the survey is telling: 32 of the 36 voted for Rodgers. Like I said, I think it's a done deal. The -500 translates to 83.3%, and I think there's a higher likelihood that we have a repeat MVP winner.