It won’t be every year you see a team priced at 150/1, like the Cincinnati Bengals were last season, reach the Super Bowl but every year you always see experts, non-experts and fans blindly following their below-average team to whack a couple of nuggets on at big prices hoping that their team or pick makes it to the big dance.
Ahead of the 2022 season and whilst we are in the offseason lull, signified by social media polls on best unis, best WR duos and whatnot, I take a look at a couple of big priced teams that could make a decent leap or at the very least outrun their odds. Also, be sure to check out my piece on early Hail Mary MVP selections.
When betting on Super Bowl outright, just take a cursory glance at the each-way odds terms and what the team is priced up at to win the conference. You may be able to sneak a few more points out of the bookies. For example, if a team is 66/1 to win the Super Bowl and the each-way terms are ½ 1-2, if that team’s respective conference winning odds are 35/1 or 40/1, it would make sense to wager the place part on the conference. This is especially true if there are enhanced odds for the win only market.
We also need to state, as every year, don’t ever pick “Team A vs Team B” on a “Name the finalist market, take each to win their conference in a double, you’ll get much better odds.
Let’s speculate to accumulate!
Indianapolis Colts – 25/1 (Most)
Most NFL teams that win (or make the Super Bowl) usually have had the majority of pieces in place for a couple of seasons. Former #1 overall pick Matt Stafford debunked that trend last year when he packed his bags from Detroit and shipped them over to LA, taking the Rams all the way to the promised land. That was even without having much postseason experience.
Here we have a team with a new Quarterback in the form of Matt Ryan, coming over from the Falcons in place for the upcoming season but we have a few kickers here. Frank Reich, the Head Coach has been there and done it all with the Philadelphia Eagles which was not too long ago, although he was unable to resurrect Carson Wentz’s best form to replicate that feat in 2021. Matt Ryan himself has been in the Super Bowl and went down in the biggest of heartbreaks to the Patriots and some say he and the Falcons have never been the same since.
But now that the canvas has been wiped clean, Ryan has pretty much all the boxes ticked to conjure up another shot at the Lombardi Trophy.
He has one of the best offensive lines in the league, something which he wasn’t always blessed with in Atlanta and for a Quarterback that isn’t the most mobile in the league, the importance of trust in his 5 lineman is paramount. He has decent weapons on offence: Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman. In his Super Bowl run with the Falcons, Ryan had Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman doing the damage. Whilst Pittman isn’t quite Julio, the supporting cast around Ryan is more than sufficient for him to thrive.
Added to that, the defence is competent enough and they are in a division where Houston haven’t a clue what’s going on, Jacksonville are still getting over Urban Meyer’s disastrous season and the Titans just let the best receiver in the division go in AJ Brown when they sent him off to Philly. Couple that with an easy schedule outside of the division and you have an under the radar team with more than a possibility to have a shot at the #1 seed.
Yes, the AFC conference is a monster in terms of teams with talent, especially at the Quarterback position, but most of those find themselves in the AFC West and once you are in the playoffs it’s anyone’s game, especially if the “draw” is opening up like it is with the Colts.
Philadelphia Eagles – 28/1 (most)
This one all relies on Jalen Hurts.
I know all teams’ chances depend on the Quarterback play, but in my view, everything is in place for the Eagles and just requires Hurts to push the launch button.
As mentioned above, they acquired Wide Receiver AJ Brown to pair with Devonta Smith who has been a decent addition since being drafted. Whilst their Running back approach is mystifying, when they cranked up the run game, they were obliterating all defensive boxes with everyone who toted the pigskin including Jordan Howard and Boston Scott.
Add in Dallas Goedert at Tight End, a more than competent offensive line and you have a very good offensive set of weapons who can be now effective and hopefully more balanced in 2022.
On defence, the Eagles signed Cornerback James Bradberry to pair with Darius Slay to have a decent pair on the perimeter on the back end of the defence and Kyzir White is an underrated addition that will go under the radar after he racked up the tackles for the Chargers last year. They’ve always been great in the trenches and always had depth too, which is often overlooked as injuries are guaranteed to happen, especially amongst the veterans the Eagles have in their squad.
Nick Sirianni is no longer a rookie HC and there was enough to suggest he’ll “improve for the run” in 2022.
The Eagles are in an easy division, similar to the Colts where two of the other teams don’t know their arse from their elbow. Last year’s winner the Cowboys have not had much in the way of positivity in the offseason and continue to trip over their own feet rather than trying to be a competent Franchise outside of the regular season and their schedule will not strike fear into the dressing room, with their hardest games outside of the division being the Packers at home.
So if Jalen Hurts has the requisite production from his weapons to help mask his deficiencies in the passing game, become a bit more dinky-dunky and YAC similar in ilk to the 49ers whilst also maximising his strengths with his legs, the Eagles could easily find themselves on 12 or 13 wins come the end of December and at the odds, you should get a decent run for your money, especially if they are able to get a home playoff game.
New Orleans Saints – 50/1 (Redzone)
Whilst the Sean Payton era has finished, Dennis Allen takes over the reigns after spending the majority of the past decade as defensive Co-ordinator, working under Payton.
Whilst Allen’s previous HC experience and record does not fill you with much confidence (8-28 record in just over 2 seasons), we can try and look past that as the talent available to him compared from then to now is night and day.
Whilst they lost stud Left Tackle Terron Armstead in the offseason, replacing him with 1st round rookie Trevor Penning, they also bolstered at Wide Receiver due to the recent inabilities of Michael Thomas to see the field. Catch it all Jarvis Landry and flashy rook Chris Olave make this Wide Receiver trio a very decent bunch.
Throwing to that bunch is Jameis Winston, who needs no introductions. He’ll be looking to eat more W’s this season after “beating out” Taysom Hill for the gig. We are never quite sure what Jameis we are going to get and some could say he has been shackled a little bit during his time in Louisiana, it’ll be interesting to see if it’s the 2021 Jameis we see this season or the one from Tampa Bay where every game was an up and down ride. He has more than enough talent in the locker to be able to get this team, in it’s current state, to the playoffs, especially when the Falcons and Panthers are in disarray within the division. The Saints always seem to have the Bucs’ numbers too in recent matchups.
It makes sense for your shot in the dark Super Bowl wagers to come from the NFC, just because the AFC is so tough and competitive. The NFC is a bit easier to separate the men from the boys and it’s also true that the teams in the slumbers of the NFC don’t actually need to make a huge leap to be able to participate in post-season football.
Their schedule could have been slightly easier though, as they face the NFC West and AFC North, both difficult divisions and also housing the two most recent Super Bowl participants, 5 of their last 8 are away from the dome too.
Defensively, they have been invariably stingy, being top 5 in points given up the last few years.
Whilst I’d prefer someone other than Jameis Winston commandeering the ship for the Saints, there aren’t too many other glaring holes in the roster as we sit here in Late May/Early June.
One for 2023…The Jacksonville Jaguars
Whilst I was tempted to put them on the list to come from the clouds this year, there are way too many moving parts and pieces throughout the organisation to include them this year. A change at Head Coach (thank the lord), way too many changes on the offence, I think it will take a year of letting the dust settle and Trevor Lawrence hopefully seeing the game a bit slower from his point of view to put them in the Hail Mary selection column this year, but if there is progression made this year, in an easy division, who’s to say they cant surprise in 2023?
Most people, probably. (Editor note: I think this is batshit crazy.)