Super Bowl LIV Odds: Should You Bet on the Ravens?
Only three weeks remain in what has been a less than predictable NFL season... to say the least.
Needless to say, there isn't much time left to place some Super Bowl bets while there's still value to be had.
I’m not here to tell you why betting on the Denver Broncos or Oakland Raiders is a bad idea -- that’s pretty self-explanatory. What I will do is look at those teams who still have a realistic chance of winning it and see if there’s any value in their odds.
The Long Shots
The NFC East in 2019 is the NFL equivalent of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. It's on TV even though most people hate it, everyone involved is extremely overrated, and chances are, someone will get something they don't deserve.
Dallas has been playing whatever the opposite of inspired football is. But hey, maybe cutting their kicker on the day he's visiting sick kids will give them the spark they need?
Meanwhile, the Eagles have been playing a brand of football that makes you want to gauge your eyes out -- and they also came pretty close to playing 38-year-old backup quarterback Josh McCown at wide receiver.
Frankly, neither of these teams are deserving of a playoff spot, let alone a bet to win the Super Bowl. In fact, there should be a rule eliminating teams who lose to the Jets or Dolphins from the playoffs.
FanDuel Odds: +4200
numberFire Odds: 1.2%
At 9-4, the Bills are probably the most surprising contender in the AFC. However, a more in-depth look at Buffalo's 2019 season yields more questions than answers.
For one, the Bills have yet to beat a team that is currently over .500. Buffalo's most impressive victory came against Dallas in Week 13, but how much can be taken away from that game given the way the Cowboys have been playing? The Bills did keep their contests with New England and Baltimore close, but is that enough to name them legitimate contenders?
While Buffalo's defense (ninth) does crack the top-10 in NEP per play, their offense is right around league average -- 15th, to be exact.
Even at 42/1, there isn't much value to be had by betting on Buffalo.
The Value Picks
FanDuel Odds: +8500
numberFire Odds: 0.8%
Considering their start and their circumstances, Pittsburgh's turnaround this season has been nothing short of remarkable.
Let's walk through a hypothetical: If after three games, an 0-3 team was allowing 28.3 points per game, would eventually be on their third-string quarterback, and would be without their top weapon for most of the season -- what would you say if I told you that said team would be in legitimate playoff contention in Week 15? You'd probably want some of what I was smoking.
It's absolutely mind-boggling that the Steelers are in this position, yet here we are. What's even more mind-boggling is the fact that three of Pittsburgh's five losses came by a combined nine points to the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Ravens. Think about it -- the Steelers were a possession away, on the three different occasions, from being 11-2... against three Super Bowl contenders.
Despite the rough start defensively, Pittsburgh is inside the top-five in both rushing and passing defense, according to our rankings.
Offensively, things haven't been pretty for Mike Tomlin's squad. The Steelers possess our fifth-worst ranked defense and are bottom-10 in both rushing and passing Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) per play. That said, they have started to look a bit more viable with Devlin "Duck" Hodges at quarterback.
Of all the teams that we give more than a 50 percent chance of making the playoffs, the Steelers (85/1) have the longest Super Bowl odds. With JuJu Smith-Schuster's -- and, possibly James Conner's -- impending return, and the defense playing better than any other unit in the league -- there is value to be had by wagering on Pittsburgh.
FanDuel odds: +5000
numberFire Odds: 1.4%
One thing is certain -- the Houston Texans have plenty of talent on their roster. This season alone, Houston has beaten the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead, came within two points of beating the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome, and beat the New England Patriots handily just two weeks ago.
As evidenced by their ugly losses to the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts in two of their last four games, the Texans are not the most consistent of football teams. That said, they have shown the ability to go toe-to-toe with the league's best squads.
With J.J. Watt looking increasingly likely to return for the postseason, it might be worth it to wager on the Texans at 50/1.
Kansas City Chiefs
FanDuel Odds: +800
numberFire Odds: 10.2%
The Kansas City Chiefs have the fifth-highest Super Bowl odds, so why are they a value pick? Because, at 8/1, you can get a team that has beaten two teams with higher odds than them. The Chiefs beat the Ravens in Week 3 and just became the first team to beat the Patriots in Gillette Stadium in 22 games.
Patrick Mahomes has been playing through a plethora of injuries as of late, but we all know what he's capable of when healthy. Kansas City's defense has also improved recently, as they've allowed just 14 points per game over their last three -- against the Chargers, Raiders, and Patriots.
This is a team that is quite capable of winning it all, which makes their +800 odds look attractive from a value perspective.
New England Patriots
FanDuel Odds: +650
numberFire Odds: 17.4%
It's hard to look at New England's +650 odds and feel good about it.
The Patriots dominated the first half of the season, especially defensively, but that was against a hoard of bottom-feeding opponents. Since then, the Pats have looked overmatched in each of their three games versus Championship-caliber teams.
It will be impossible for New England to beat legitimate playoff contenders with their offense sputtering as it is now. It's never smart to bet against Bill Belichick, but they will need to get into a better rhythm in order to get another ring.
New Orleans Saints
FanDuel odds: +600
numberFire Odds: 11.7%
Though it's probably more attractive then New England's right now, the 6/1 odds for New Orleans is tough to be viewed in a "value" light.
Aside from a couple of games where they essentially fell asleep at the wheel, the Saints have looked like legitimate contenders. That said, their Week 14 loss to the 49ers all but guarantees that they'll have to go on the road in order to reach the Super Bowl. The fact that they lost both Sheldon Rankins and Marcus Davenport to injuries makes betting on them much less appealing.
San Francisco 49ers
FanDuel odds: +470
numberFire Odds: 12.6%
Of all the frontrunners, the 49ers are probably the most appealing from a value perspective.
San Francisco also suffered some injuries in Sunday's win against the Saints, but only center Weston Richburg's is believed to be season-ending. Meanwhile, the 49ers boast one of the league's most impressive resumes. So far in 2019, the Niners have beaten the Steelers, Rams, Packers, and, most recently, the Saints in New Orleans. They also went toe-to-toe with the Ravens in Baltimore in Week 13.
Per our metrics, the 49ers have the league's seventh-ranked offense and second-ranked defense.
Given San Francisco's talents up and down their roster, they are worth a wager at +470 odds.
FanDuel odds: +220
numberFire Odds: 21.8%
Speaking of impressive resumes, no team has been more impressive than the Baltimore Ravens.
This season, the Ravens have beaten the Steelers, Seahawks, Patriots, Texans, Rams, 49ers, and Bills. There's a good chance that each of those seven teams will make the playoffs.
In terms of Adjusted NEP per play, Baltimore ranks first in the NFL offensively and eighth defensively. Baltimore has allowed just 13.7 points per game in the seven contests since acquiring Marcus Peters.
The biggest drawback with the Ravens is their +220 odds. Our models currently give six teams at least a double-digit percent chance of winning the Super Bowl, so it definitely won't be a gimme for the Ravens. With their odds currently more than two times higher than the next closest team, there's little value here.
These teams are good enough to be considered contenders, but are neither value picks nor frontrunners: The Green Bay Packers (+1500), Seattle Seahawks (+1400), Minnesota Vikings (+3000), and Tennessee Titans (+4000).