Posted in: NFL
Super Bowl LIII, unlike the NCAA College Football National Championship, could feature a multitude of matchups. I think most of us had a pretty good idea at the beginning of the season that Clemson and Alabama were going to meet once again to decide the nation’s top football school.
Predicting a Super Bowl matchup is a bit more of a crapshoot, but just like the craps table, some of the payouts are worth the squeeze.
You don’t believe me?
You think the books have it figured out?
The Dallas Cowboys, as much as I was born and raised to dislike them, are a fairly legitimate Super Bowl contender with a solid defense and a great running back. Their betting odds to win the Super Bowl, though, (+2500) tell a much different story.
Replace your Friday lunch with the boys this weekend and throw 10 bucks on the Jerry’s ‘Boys. I’m definitely not hoping for it, but I’ve seen more odd things occur.
Hey, the Cowboys are just a taste. I have several potential conference and Super Bowl champion contenders for you that are loaded with sweet-savory, delicious value.
Simmer down now, there’s enough for everybody.
The downside to having so much available “food” is deciding what to eat.
It wasn’t easy at all with so many good football teams in this year’s playoff tournament, but I managed to narrow the field to 1 favorite, 2 value picks, and I’m going to begin with an underdog bet. Let’s get to it!
There were 6 NFL teams that allowed less than 4.0 yards per rush attempt on defense. It’s not a coincidence either that those 6 teams are all in the playoffs.
Conversely, though, the 4 worst rushing defenses in that category are each in the playoffs as well.
It depends on the matchup but defensive rush yards/attempt is a rather telling statistic.
Andrew Luck is in the talks for MVP of the league this year and rightfully so. We saw how his team performed without him on the field as Luck certainly wasn’t living up to his name when the injury bug hit for a few years.
He has the Colts looking like the Peyton Manning-led Indy of old that used to put up major league statistics the entire year only to get smacked by Tom Brady’s New England Patriots.
Tom always had a better coach and many times the better defense as well in his meetings with Peyton but that’s old news.
The #1 draft pick that led to Peyton’s departure, Andrew Luck, has been the man for the Colts for a while now and has never looked better.
His #1, T.Y. Hilton has been one of the top five wide receivers in the NFL since his sophomore year and even set a career high this season with over 90 yards a game receiving.
The offensive line looks more like 2.5 pairs of Siamese twins out there they way they move in unison and leave only the gaps that are intended.
The Colts, statistically, aren’t a top 5 or a top 10 team in the league overall. They have been playing their best football as of late, though, and as you’ve seen many times in the past, a little “Mo is all you need.
Winners of four in a row as well as 9 out of their last 10, there is no argument as to who is the hottest team in football.
The stat that jumps out of my screen is 3rd down conversion rate. The Colts are #1! If you’re even the most casual football fan, you understand how important that statistic is. With a 16 game sample size, the stat signifies a team that stays on schedule with plenty of “3rd and shorts” as well as executing and converting for the first down.
With a strong rushing defense and maybe the best quarterback/wide receiver combo in the league that has an offensive line to give them time to hook up, I think Indy can go a long way this year.
Ol’ Philip is still at it! While other quarterbacks his age skills’ have fallen off the table, ehem…Eli…ehem, Rivers has maintained a moderately high level of play since he’s been in the league.
Even though the NC State Alum is known to go after it and consequently throw a few picks, he has managed to stay fairly consistent doing so for the better part of his career. You know what you’re going to get with this gunslinger.
Philip had his best year throwing the ball since 2013 and the running game is one of the top ten in the NFL averaging 4.7 yards/attempt.
The Chargers are a top 5 offense and a top 10 defense, essentially, with the #1 red zone scoring defense allowing a touchdown only 50% of the time their opponent gets the ball inside the Bolts’ 20.
Another statistic the Chargers owned this year was 4th down conversion rate on offense. Philip and crew converted on, get this, 87.5% of 4th down attempts. I don’t think I’ve seen a percentage that high before at the end of the year even at the collegiate level.
We know Rivers has the ability, grit, heart, toughness, and leadership skills to get it done. He hasn’t always had a good defense and running game in his career and the fan base was never near the level of say Philly, Dallas, or New England.
They will need Austin to perform up to standards as #1 running back Melvin Gordon suffered a high ankle sprain in the season finale on the same darn leg as his sprained MCL from November.
The numbers don’t lie, though, as you can see Ekeler has done everything asked of him when Melvin isn’t available.
The Chargers, like the Luck-led Colts, are hot as well. They have won 7 of their last 10 contests. They did fall at home a couple weeks ago to their first-round playoff opponent, the Baltimore Ravens.
Baltimore was playing for their playoff lives at that point and the Chargers were not. Hopefully, when the pressure is even on both sides, Philip can outshine the rookie Lamar Jackson and eventually take these guys to the Super Bowl.
I think there are many people that would really love to see Philip get a ring. They handed the Kansas City Chiefs their lone home loss of the season at Arrowhead less than a month ago.
If they can win there, the LA Chargers can win anywhere.
The Dallas Cowboys have not been the same team since they traded for Amari Cooper back in October. Cooper has been able to spread the field as well as give quarterback Dak Prescott the #1 possession receiver he and the rest of the team so desperately needed.
Just look at what he did the rival Eagles a month ago.
Jerry’s ‘Boys are 7-1 in their last 8 games with their only loss to the aforementioned Indianapolis Colts on the road. This success is in big part like I was saying, to the addition and performance of wideout Amari Cooper.
This is still Ezekiel Elliott’s team. The Ohio State Buckeye more than doubled his career-high for receptions with 77 for over 500 yards this year as well as averaging 4.7/carry, up more than half a yard than his modest average of 4.1 a year ago.
Dallas attempted to run him into the ground last year. If he was a bit older with more wear, they might have. This season has been different as in games 1-2, 7-8, and 15-16, head coach Jason Garrett kept Zeke’s carries under 20 each contest.
You’ve heard of three little birds, right?
Bob Marley, “I Am Legend”…great song.
Well, Elliott got 3 little breaks. In the game following each of his first couple “breaks”, Elliott rushed for a combined 278 yards averaging 7.94 yards/attempt. I wanted to say 8 yards so bad, but you get the point.
I don’t think they will need 7 or 8 yards/carry to beat Seattle this week, but it sure wouldn’t hurt.
Homefield should make the difference and help the Cowboys secure a first-round playoff win. A team with a strong defense and extra powerful running game is a bad matchup for anyone.
This was a hard pick. I spent quite a bit of time looking at the different favorites, examining statistics as well as recent performances.
First, I’ll tell you why I didn’t like some of the other first-round-bye teams.
The New Orleans Saints are the favorite to win the Super Bowl this year at (+275) and are barely even money (+120) to make it to SB LIII in Atlanta.
They played in a weak division where they were the only team to make the playoffs. New Orleans also only played 4 out of the other 11 playoff teams this year. Out of those games, they only lost to the Cowboys on the road.
There was a sharp drop-off statistically in the last 3 games of the year for the Saints. This is likely due to them coasting into the playoffs, which is understandable. I also understand that they haven’t had that competitive edge in a month. The last time they needed a win really bad, they lost to Dallas.
The Bears defense has been incredible, but betting on Mitch Trubisky to beat guys like Brady, Brees, and Mahomes is a bit of a stretch.
The Pats have not been consistent enough and they will have to go through Arrowhead where Mahomes and the Chiefs will be out for revenge in one of the hardest places to play in the NFL.
We know how dominant KC has been in their 12 wins this season. Mahomes can hit a chimney swallow from 50 yards. Tyreek Hill, while undersized at wide receiver, is sure as heck bigger than a bird. He runs a much more predictable route, predictable for Mahomes that is.
Let’s look at their four losses. Three of them were on the road and the Chiefs have home field throughout the AFC playoffs.
Those four losses were close ones with an average margin of only 3.5 points! The Chiefs are really the only team in the league that could have definitely every game they played.
8th in the league at takeaways is about the best I can give you from the defense. It is well known around the league this year that KC is primarily an offensive squad.
The offense is so good, though. Not only is Patrick Mahomes scorching the competition for 35 points and covering over 425 yards per contest, but the ground game is strong as well with the Chiefs averaging 4.8 yards/rush good for 6th in the NFL.
If you don’t think they don’t match up well with the Saints, you can always just take them to win the AFC.
This year, the NFL Playoffs are as wide open as I can remember. It is usually about 2 maybe 3 teams that could be considered legit Super Bowl contenders as we approach wild-card weekend.
I can think of 5 very quickly. There’s the LA Rams, Pats, Chiefs, Saints, and the Cowboys.
We can’t forget about Nick “Dejavu” Foles and his Eagle squad defending their title.
The Chargers and the Ravens have shown they can beat anyone and the Seattle Seahawks are always dangerous with Russell Wilson slinging it to Doug Baldwin.
This means a blessing and a curse. The blessing is all of your options, each with good value, and the curse is the number of options you have.
Life is like that sometimes. Your biggest strength can also be your biggest weakness.