Let’s be honest: the Packers’ main concern at the moment is the identity of the next coach, so the betting lines on Josh McDaniels, Matt LaFleur and whoever else throws their hat into the ring might interest Packers fans more than the NFL Playoffs over the coming weeks.
However, watching the Playoffs as a neutral, especially when not having to bear witness to any divisional rivals’ triumph, can be almost refreshing. Almost. Still, some of the betting lines are intriguing, certainly if you look past the favorites and, indeed, some teams show much more value than others.
Saints went from strength to strength
The betting favorite for the Super Bowl with all major sportsbooks is the Saints, a team whose odds were almost double that of the Packers’ at the beginning of the season. Most pundits thought that the Saints may have been on a down year when opening with a loss to Tampa Bay at the Superdome, nor were they completely convinced when New Orleans got a narrow victory over the Bengals.
However, an OT victory in Atlanta seemed to galvanize Sean Payton’s men, and they were really seen as contenders when defeating the red-hot Rams in early November. The current lines see the Saints at +250 (Bet365), not far off where they have been for the last few weeks.
Saints have home advantage
The Rams and Chiefs are next in line at +400. The former, of course, will have to make a trip to the Superdome if both teams get through, yet injury problems seem to be easing for the Rams at the moment and the Saints haven’t been brilliant at home. To be frank, it feels like a toss-up between the Rams and Saints for the NFC Championship, so it might be wise to go for the team with the bigger odds.
Whatever happens in the Chiefs season, at least they can look back and say it was exciting. Chiefs’ games averaged 61 points in the regular season, and they were the best team to watch from a neutrals’ perspective. The main problem is that seemed to lose the plot a bit when they came up against fellow Playoff contenders, as evidenced in the 43-40 loss to the Patriots and the crazy 54-51 loss to the Rams.
Patriots impeccable at home
As for the Patriots, it’s been a funny old season that can be easily broken down: The preseason favorites for the Super Bowl have been impeccable at home (8-0) and fairly terrible away from Gillette Stadium. They are found at +600 with Unibet and other sportsbooks – almost an identical to where they were at the beginning of the season. Does that mean they are worth a shot now that the Patriots are just a few games away from another title?
The Patriots, Rams, Chiefs and Saints have been leading the betting markets all season, but do the sportsbooks rate the chances of the rest? Of all the teams who came through the Wild Card Round, the Chargers are most liked by bookies, with a price of +900 from William Hill. Some bookies, like Sportingbet, have doubled those odds though, perhaps focusing on the difficulty of going to Gillette Stadium in the Divisional Round.
The Colts, Cowboys and Eagles’ odds all fluctuate from around +1000 to +2000. Are any worth a shot? Sure, but not having home advantage at any point through the Playoffs can often be a real handicap. However, the Eagles can thank Cody Parkey the crossbar of the Bears’ goal for keeping them in the Playoffs. That kind of serendipity can sometimes be part of the narrative of champions. Could they do it again? It’ll be tough for sure, but it always is at this point of the season.