Free Super Bowl Picks - Longshots and Odds on Favorites
I've talked about picking value among the NFL teams with mid-range odds to win the Super Bowl 2014, but today I wanted to talk about the odds on favorites and the longshots. Many people prefer to bet on the extreme ends the betting pool, following one of two threads of logic. When betting on the favorites, they want the best chance to win their bet. When betting on the long shots, they want the biggest return on the off-chance they win the bet.
Betting on Super Bowl Picks
The first makes a lot of sense. As much as we talk about parity in the National Football League, most NFL seasons are won by a team that was in the upper half of the league last year. In the past ten years, the New England Patriots have won the league three times, the Pittsburgh Steelers twice, and the New York Giants twice. Besides that, the Patriots have made the big show twice more and the Steelers have twice. A team like the Indianapolis Colts, which has one Super Bowl win in that time, made it to a second NFL championship game. These teams got close to the dream, so they got gamblers close to winning their odds-on-favorite bets. Our expert team gives you free super bowl picks to bet on.
The problem with this thinking is any one team has to face injuries, tipped balls, bad calls, and several other teams just as talented as them. The twists and turns in an NFL season are astounding. Several teams each year have their chances at a title vanish from injuries alone, because football is a brutal sport. So a 5-to-1 bet on any one team still isn't good odds, even if it seems like a gimme.
Gambling on NFL Long Shots
The second has a logic all its own. The St. Louis Rams had the worst records in the 1990s of any team in major sports. They were worse than the LA Clippers of the 1990s. They were worse than the Arizona Cardinals and the Cincinnati Bengals of the same era. So when the Rams lost big free agent quarterback addition, Trent Green, prior to the 1999 season, it looked like the St. Louis Rams were doomed to another year of futility. In steps obscure Kurt Warner, recently of the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena League, and he leads them to a Super Bowl title. In retrospect, the Rams seemed fated, since they added Marshall Faulk and Torry Holt to Isaac Bruce in that offseason, but no one but the most diehard Rams fans could have believed prior to that season.
The same thing happened two years later with the New England Patriots. I remember prior to that 2001 season, noticing the Patriots had added a number of low-priced veterans in free agency: names like Antowain Smith, Larry Izzo, Je'Rod Cherry, and Mike Vrabel. I distinctly remember thinking, "They could be improved.". Then I thought better of it. My thoughts quickly turned to, "No, Drew Bledsoe still makes rookie mistakes all these years later. Besides, Bill Belichick is the coach. He was awful with the Browns and his players hate him." Little did we know that the addition of Richard Seymour (1st round) and Matt Lyght (2nd round) greatly improved and stabilized the offensive and defensive lines. Of course, the key moment was when Drew Bledsoe got knocked out of the game running along the sideline in the second week of the season, ushering in little-known backup Tom Brady to the game. The Patriots lost that day, but went on to win 14 of the next 16 games, and three of the next four Super Bowls.
Picking the Best Odds in Super Bowl Betting
The point is, longshots do occasionally win the Super Bowl. In retrospect, it looks like it was bound to happen. As the two examples above show, sometimes key injuries open the door for somebody better. Those wanting the best free analysis of longshot picks and odds-on-favorites for the 2014 Super Bowl should continue reading.
New England Patriots - Odds-On-Favorites for the Superbowl
I want to mention that I predicted the New York Giants would beat the New England Patriots in Superbowl XLVI, for pretty much the same reasons the Giants had beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and in Week 10 of the 2011 regular season. The Giants had a better all-around team and, specifically, a much better pass rush. New York could put more pressure on Tom Brady than the New England could put on Eli Manning. My statement at the time was, "This is Tom Brady and a bunch of substitute teachers." In fairness, the Patriots only had a couple of former substitute teachers, but they had Julian Edelman, a slot receiver, playing defensive back. The point being, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick worked miracles in 2011, because they were playing undermanned (especially when Gronkowski got injured).
The New England Patriots are 5/1 favorites to win the 2014 Super Bowl, and for good reason for a super bowl pick. Tom Brady is still relatively young at 34, while the Patriots improved in the offseason.
Joseph Addai doesn't impress me much, but he was brought in to help replace the departing BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen should be better ready to contribute in their second seasons. Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gafney have been brought in to replace the departing Chad Ochocinco, while Anthony Gonzales has been brought in to compete.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots completely revamped their defensive end position, adding Trevor Scott and Jonathan Fanene to the end, while Chandler Jones and Jake Bequette were added through the draft. Don'te Hightower was drafted to challenge Rob Ninkovich for the starting OLB job. The young cornerback group should continue to improve, while veteran Steve Gregory signed a 3-year deal to provide support at free safety.
On top of everything else, the New England Patriots face one of the easiest schedules a returning 1st place team will face in 2012. They get the Dolphins and Bills twice apiece, of course, but due to the divisions they play, the Patriots play the Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, Titan, Jaguars, and Colts. Over half of their schedule should be against teams the Patriots should crush. Sure, some of those games are going to be tougher than they look on paper, but the Patriots should be well positioned to seize the #1 seed in the AFC.
Superbowl Picks I Don't Like in 2012-2014
I wouldn't bet on the San Francisco 49ers or the Baltimore Ravens, mainly because of their quarterback play. I don't think Joe Flacco and Alex Smith will ever be good enough consistently enough, despite showing flashes. I love what the Harbaugh brothers do, but they can't overcome average quarterbacks in a QB-heavy league. I also don't like the Green Bay Packers, because I think they put too much on all-world passer, Aaron Rodgers. Mike McCarthy puts Rodgers back to throw so much, no matter what the score is, Rodgers is bound to get injured at some point. McCarthy has stated he has no intention on trying to improve the running attack (or use it more), despite James Starks' 6-game streak in the 2010-11 playoffs being a key reason the Cheeseheads separated themselves and won the Superbowl. I'm not sure that Starks is the answer, but somebody should be. Also, the Packers pass rush has to return before they warrant the super bowl odds they're getting from the MGM Grand.
Longshot Bets for Superbowl XLVII
They call them longshots for a reason. You'd have to be insane to think a 100-to-1 team has a chance to win the Super Bowl, but the NFL isn't always a rational sport. Injuries, momentum, and belief are key factors in this sport. So I'm throwing two names out there that might stick, but probably just get stuck on the windshield of the real Super Bowl contenders in 2012-13.
St. Louis Rams at 100-to-1 Odds
The Rams are probably two years away from contending, but you get the sense they've turned the corner. Jeff Fisher is a huge addition for St. Louis. Fisher has been one of the most respected coaches in the NFL these past 15 years, because he did what he did with one of the stupidest owners in the league. For instance, Bud Adams insisted the Tennessee Titans draft Vince Young over the complaints of Jeff Fisher and his staff, then blamed Vince Young's failure on Fisher when it inevitably went bad. All that's in the past now.
For the first time in a long time, Jeff Fisher has a top young NFL quarterback to work with. Fisher's penchant has been defensive, but he's had his share of stars over the years. Mostly, he's needed the right situation to shine and this may be it. The Rams still have to find Sam Bradford a target or two, but that player might be on the roster already: perhaps 2nd round pick Brian Quick or last year's tight end selection Lance Kendricks. If that isn't the case, Bradford might have to make due, but he's going to be helped with additions like free agent Joel Dreesen from the Texans. If Steven Jackson can stay healthy one more year, the Rams could have a little something. It's not like their division is a powerhouse.
Once again, this is a work in progress. The Rams are probably two drafts away from real contention, but they were helped by getting a treasure trove in picks trading the Robert Griffin III draft spot. Jeff Fisher is going to get the defense playing well sooner or later. He's also shown the ability to spot RBs (Eddie George, Chris Johnson), so when Steven Jackson is gone, expect the Rams to have somebody ready. It's probably going to take time, but if you want a 100-to-1 shot that gives you some hope, take the St. Louis Rams.
Cleveland Browns at 100-to-1 Odds
If you really want to get crazy, let's talk about the Cleveland Browns. Here's what you might not know about the Browns in 2012. The Browns had a Top 10 defensemen in the NFL. The Browns had 3 offensive linemen who are considered top young players at their position, including Joe Thomas, whom many consider on a par with any other in the league. The Browns would seem to have the infrastructure for a rapid increase in production. What's they've lacked were playmakers and skill position players to make a difference. The Browns finished with a 6-game losing streak, but that include a 4-point loss to the Steelers, a 4-point loss to the Ravens, and a 3-point loss to the Bengals. In a league where scoring is rampant seemingly everywhere, only two teams scored more than 24 points against the Cleveland Browns in 2011. The offense was simply awful--one of the worst.
Enter Trent Richardson. Trent Richardson might be the man to give the Browns a new identity. The Browns have been smarting since they passed on Adrian Peterson in the draft, so they look at Trent Richardson as that kind of difference maker. They traded up a spot to assure Richardson would be a Brown. Also, the Cleveland Browns drafted Brandon Wheedon, the 28 year old quarterback from OSU, to be their quarterback of the present. They were already talking about trading Colt McCoy, so Wheedon appears to be the man. Wheedon I'm less certain about, especially since early talk out of OTA's is he's having trouble under center. If 2nd year receiver Greg Little can turn into an NFL standout, they Browns could have the makings of a decent offense. Remember, their offensive line isn't that bad. Remember, they helped Peyton Hillis to 16 touchdowns in 2010.
Again, this looks like a crazy pick, but if you're wanting a surprise 100-to-1 bet, you could do worse than picking the lowly Cleveland Browns. They have players in place at key positions, but need difference makers at even more important positions. Maybe, just maybe, they have them now. The big obstacle is leaping over their tough division opponents: the Steelers, the Ravens, and the Bengals. But I won't believe the Bengals are a perennial contender until I see it, while the Steelers and Ravens are getting long in the tooth at key positions. You just never know.