What each team’s trends say about their chances in a wide-open NFL postseason
Finding a favorite in this year’s NFL playoff field is next to impossible, but we’ve got a few trends for you to watch.
It has been five years since the betting favorite entering the NFL playoffs went home with the Lombardi Trophy. It has been far longer since so many teams had a legitimate path to the Super Bowl. Last year, the Chiefs entered the playoffs as the heavy favorite (+190) to repeat as Super Bowl champions. The season prior, bookmakers listed MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens (+225) as the team most likely to win it all. Similar odds have been listed for the perceived favorite for years.
Now, no team inspires such confidence. The NFL’s best team has changed logos countless times this season. The Packers (+375) have the worst odds of winning the Super Bowl of any favorite in years. Tom Brady and the Bucs took last year’s title as a 5-seed. Aaron Rodgers’ lone Super Bowl victory came as a 6-seed. It has been four years since a 1-seed won the Super Bowl. It shouldn’t be a surprise if a surprise team claims the throne again.
Here is a look at the playoff field, their seeds in their conference and the odds for each team winning the Super Bowl (per BetMGM):
No. 1 Packers (+375): Green Bay (13-4) earned a bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, but the Packers’ once-unparalleled edge at Lambeau Field is gone, having lost the past two years’ NFC Championship games at home. While Rodgers is likely a lock to win his fourth MVP award, the quarterback has lost his past four NFC Championship game appearances and hasn’t returned to the Super Bowl since winning it 11 years ago.
No. 2 Chiefs (+500): The preseason favorite has lost one game since October, but Kansas City (12-5) has been wildly inconsistent on both sides of the ball and lost its cloak of invincibility after being destroyed by the Bucs in last year’s Super Bowl. Only one team in the past 48 years has won the Super Bowl after losing the big game the previous season.
No. 2 Buccaneers (+750): No team has won back-to-back titles since Tom Brady and the Patriots accomplished the feat in 2003-04. Like past champions, Tampa Bay (13-4) could be derailed by injuries, too. With starting wide receiver Chris Godwin already out for the postseason, the Bucs’ Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Leonard Fournette and Mike Evans — among others — are all battling injuries heading into Sunday’s game against the Eagles.
No. 1 Titans (+750): The field seems more open than recent years because Tennessee (12-5) has earned such little respect as the AFC’s top seed. Analytics have questioned the Titans’ success all season, but the team hopes the expected return of running back Derrick Henry — who missed nine games with a fractured foot — could propel the franchise to the Super Bowl for the first time in 22 years, when Kevin Dyson came one yard short of taking Kurt Warner and the Rams to overtime.
No. 3 Bills (+800): The early-season AFC favorite is a popular pick to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since their infamous back-to-back-to-back-to-back losing efforts in the early 1990s. If Buffalo (11-6) wins at home against New England this weekend, the Bills would likely next play in Kansas City, where the Chiefs were dominated, 38-20, by the Bills on Oct. 10.
No. 4 Rams (+1100): Los Angeles (12-5) pushed all its chips to the middle of the table, trading for Matt Stafford, Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. The Rams have the talent to win the team’s first Super Bowl in L.A., but Sean McVay’s group went 2-5 against teams in the playoffs, splitting a pair of games with Arizona, their wild-card opponent.
No. 3 Cowboys (+1200): Dallas (12-5) is back in the playoffs for the first time in three years, sporting the league’s top-ranked offense and a dynamic Dan Quinn-led defense, but Jerry Jones has seen more talented Cowboys teams fall apart in the postseason. Dallas hasn’t returned to the NFC Championship game since 1996. Only five teams have longer title-game droughts.
No. 5 Cardinals (+1800): The last team to suffer its first loss this season may have peaked too early. After opening 7-0, Arizona (11-6) closed the regular season with four losses in five games. The Cardinals have just one playoff win since 2009.
No. 4 Bengals (+2000): Cincinnati (10-7) has gone a league-worst 31 years without a playoff win. Losers of eight straight playoff games, the Bengals haven’t won in the postseason since the 1990 divisional round, when Cincinnati ended Bo Jackson’s football career (Karma!). But now, after winning the AFC North, former LSU teammates Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase lead the team to its first playoff game in six years as a favorite against the Raiders. Two years ago, Cincinnati finished 2-14. See, even the Jets and Giants have hope.
No. 6 49ers (+2000): Jimmy Garoppolo’s run in San Francisco (10-7) could soon be over. Though he is routinely listed as one of the team’s biggest hurdles to the franchise’s first Super Bowl win since 1995 — the 49ers’ selection of Trey Lance signaled their lack of faith in their starting quarterback — Garoppolo held a 21-10 lead in the Super Bowl two years ago, before the 49ers defense allowed three touchdowns in the final 6:13. Five teams have reached the Super Bowl by winning three playoff games on the road, including last year’s champion.
No. 6 Patriots (+2500): New England (10-7) heads to Buffalo in search of its first playoff win without Brady since 1997. Bill Belichick seeks his first playoff win ever without the Hall of Fame quarterback, having lost his lone playoff game as a head coach outside New England (Cleveland) in 1995. Brady won the first 10 playoff games of his career, beginning with the legendary, and snowy, divisional “tuck rule” game against the Raiders in 2002. Mac Jones will make his playoff debut in freezing temperatures — with a chance of snow — in Western New York.
No. 5 Raiders (+5000): Midway through the season, Las Vegas’ head coach (Jon Gruden) resigned in shame and its top young receiver (Henry Ruggs III) was arrested for a DUI resulting in a death. Somehow, the Raiders (10-7) rebounded and won their final four games to secure their second playoff berth in the past 19 years. Does the team have any miracles left?
No. 7 Eagles (+6600): Nick Sirianni, 40, is the lone rookie head coach in the playoffs, the only coach of the seven hired last winter to lead his team to the postseason. He should enjoy the honeymoon while it lasts. It was only four years ago that Doug Pederson led the franchise to its first Super Bowl win, and followed with another pair of playoff trips, before getting fired after last season.
No. 7 Steelers (+8000): A chaotic finish to the regular-season finale between the Raiders and Chargers allowed Ben Roethlisberger to play one more game, but Pittsburgh's (9-7-1) ride is likely to end in Kansas City, where the Steelers are the only double-digit underdog this weekend. The two-time Super Bowl champion QB led the Steelers to a title as the AFC’s lowest seed in 2006, but Roethlisberger has lost his past three playoff games. It has been five years since he led the Steelers to a postseason victory.
-New York Post