Our NFL odds analyst provides us with his opinion on the Super Bowl futures for each of the remaining four teams. Find out which are his NFL picks and why!
Arizona Cardinals (+300): The Cardinals were very fortunate to escape with a 26-20 Divisional Round home overtime win against Green Bay last Saturday. There were several positives they could take away from that huge scare. First and foremost, they advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2009. Secondly, veteran quarterback Carson Palmer finally earned his first playoff win in three tries. Palmer was a bit shaky, and I expect him to be significantly better on Sunday. Lastly, this is a Cardinals team which has won five straight games on the road, and went a terrific 7-1 in away games this season. In my professional opinion, Arizona provides the best betting value to win it all with everything being considered.
Carolina Panthers (+200): It’s kind of hard to make a case against a team that’s 16-1, and has won twelve straight home games. However, even if that home win streak continues on Sunday, they’ll be at a distinct disadvantage pertaining to experience in the Super Bowl against either remaining AFC team. They looked flawless in getting out to a 31-0 lead at the half against Seattle on Sunday. Then they proceeded to hang on for dear life in preserving a 31-24 win. I firmly believe a lack of big game experience will cost them either this week, or in the Super Bowl if they’re fortunate enough to get there.
New England (+160): Based on current NFL odds boards, New England is the favorite to win the Super Bowl at the time of this writing (1/17). New England is finally somewhat healthy on offense with Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Rob Gronkowski all being on the field for the first time in quite awhile during last Saturday’s win over Kansas City. As a matter of fact, they’ve gone a perfect 11-0 this season when Edelman plays and 2-4 when he doesn’t. It goes without saying, having a head coach the caliber of Bill Belichik, and a future “Hall of Fame” quarterback in Tom Brady at this time of year provides a huge edge against any opponent. Despite those positive factors, I’m very concerned about thgeir lack of running game, and don’t see that improving going forward. In fairness, the Patriots running back room has been hindered by losing the top two players (Dion Lewis, Lagarrette Blount) on their depth chart.
Denver (+250): The Broncos will be just the twelfth team since 1980 to be a home underdog in a conference championship game, and since 1993 those home teams have lost on six of eight occasions in which that exact scenario occurred. Denver was very fortunate to come away with a home win against Pittsburgh last Sunday. From my point of view, the Steelers were the better team for the first three quarters of that contest. I wasn’t impressed whatsoever with the performance of Peyton Manning. The Denver offense failed to expose a very suspect Pittsburgh defense, and it won’t get any easier going forward. I like the value of the other three teams on the board better than Denver. I would advise steering clear of Denver at this juncture when making one of your NFL picks regarding Super Bowl futures.