It was always supposed to boil down to the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. Which of these AFC West rivals is the right NFL pick for Super Bowl 50?
Jason's 2015 record as of Dec. 10: 46-44-2 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 25-31 Total
Of course everything in the AFC West is going according to plan. Look at the Denver Broncos: first place in the division at 10-2 SU and 7-5 ATS. Highly predictable. Or how about those scrappy Kansas City Chiefs (7-5 SU and ATS) in second place? Also highly predictable. Sure, the Broncos made it this far even though Peyton Manning's right arm doesn't work any more, and the Chiefs had to win their last six games SU and ATS to get into Wild Card position, but here we are as scheduled.
Now it's time to see which of these two AFC West teams belongs in your NFL picks for Super Bowl 50. Let's head on over to the futures market, where the NFL odds are pretty keen on the Broncos (+800 at GTBets) to win the title. The Chiefs? A viable outsider at +2000. It's a classic binary decision between low risk/low reward and high risk/high reward. Or is it?
It's not too difficult to argue that Kansas City is performing at the higher level of the two teams right now. Over at Football Outsiders, the Chiefs are ranked No. 2 in the league in Weighted DVOA, which measures team efficiency for the season thus far, while placing more emphasis on recent games. Denver ranks No. 8 in this category.
Let's take a closer look at the two quarterbacks while we're at it. Brock Osweiler has made three starts for Denver in place of Manning, and Osweiler has done a pretty good job of minimizing mistakes while keeping the chains moving. However, let's not put him in the Pro Bowl just yet. Football Outsiders has Osweiler performing at slightly better than league average as a passer (+2.4 percent DVOA), a notch or two below Chiefs QB Alex Smith (+6.0 percent). That doesn't even take into account Smith's quickness of foot.
We're Taking Over
The obvious risk with taking the Chiefs is that their playoff position is a lot more tenuous than Denver's. But the near future looks pretty bright for our heroes. They've got the NFL's No. 29-ranked schedule from here on in, with three home games against losing teams and a trip to play the 4-8 Baltimore Ravens in Week 15. In theory, Kansas City could catch the Broncos (No. 4-ranked schedule) for first in the AFC West by winning out, and maybe even earn a bye to the Divisional Round.
In theory. The Chiefs still have a lot of work to do, but at +2000, the payout is well worth the extra risk, in our humble opinion. Or you could walk on the wild side and take the Oakland Raiders (5-7 SU, 6-6 ATS) at +20000 and above. Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya?