Super Bowl Picks: Betting Value Heading into Wildcard Weekend

Nikki Adams

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 1:35 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014 1:35 PM UTC

Review the NFL futures betting board and examine how odds makers depict the NFL betting landscape in this sudden death round of the NFL postseason en route to the coveted.

Defending Champions Lead Futures Betting Markets
After rounding into form down the stretch, the Seattle Seahawks are back in the proverbial good books, headlining the betting market to win outright as favourites at +220 NFL odds.

After ten rounds of the NFL 2014-2015 season and a 6-4 SU mark, it was rather grim reading for the Seattle Seahawks and their playoff prospects. At the time, they trailed the Cardinals are were in the thick of a battle with the Niners in the NFC West division. On the heels of a 24-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on the road brought out the doomsday prognosticators in full force, so eagerly did they serve up their ominous predictions. Tale told, the Seahawks brushed aside the loss and reeled off six straight wins, the longest active winning streak ahead of the playoffs, to emerge as not only the NFC West champions but also the top seed in the NFC Conference thereby assuring home field advantage throughout.

New England Patriots were hardly on anybody's radar after being routed 41-14 by the Chiefs (ironically) in week 4 NFL betting. Ominous predictions were rolled out at the time for the then 2-2 SU Patriots, to the extreme some were calling for the end of the Tom Brady era at New England. How laughable does that seem with the Patriots finishing the season 12-4 SU, top of the AFC Conference pile and in favour at +275 NFL odds to win outright the coveted .

With these two teams leading the  charge it comes as no surprise the NFC has the slight edge over the AFC in winning conference betting. As it stands, the NFC is matched at -120 while the AFC is matched at +100.


The Contenders
Predictably, with byes in the first round of the playoffs the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers are the contenders in betting markets, co-third favourites at +550 NFL odds. The Broncos are  runners-up from last season, which could make them the value NFL pick in certain betting circles. On the flipside of the coin, the Packers could capitalise on a rather strange NFC field that includes the 7-8-1 SU Panthers and the injury-stricken Cardinals. The softness of the NFC could make the Packers the value NFL pick to spot as well.

Last season, the Broncos beat the Colts (43-22) and Patriots (26-16) en route to the , a scenario that could emerge once again this season. The only difference this season is they are the No.2 seed in the AFC and not the No.1 seed as they were last season with home field advantage throughout.

Broncos would take on the highest seed remaining after the wildcard round concludes, which would be the No.3 Steelers, No. 4 Colts or No.5 Bengals. Sixth seed Ravens as the lowest seed remaining after the wild card round if they beat the Steelers would earn  a tough date at the Foxboro with Tom Brady and Company.

Green Bay Packers have a similar scenario in the NFC Conference once the wildcard division is done and dusted, but as far as the NFC Conference is concerned, it's rather lopsided with third seed Cowboys and sixth seed Lions arguably looming more dangerous than any other potential seeds. The best-case scenario: the Lions with an upset over the Cowboys would head to Seattle for the divisional round, leaving the Packers to deal with the winner of the Cardinals vs. Panthers clash.  

As it stands, Packers are set to take the highest seed remaining, which could by any of the following No.3 Cowboys,  No.4 Panthers or No.5 Cardinals. Last season, the Packers were eliminated in the wildcard round by the San Francisco 49ers 23-20 at Lambeau.


The Pretenders
Naturally, the wildcard field makes up the pretenders category in NFL betting market, although a couple of the pretenders appear to be so in name and not form. Most notably, the Cowboys are riding a four-game winning streak into the playoffs and strike a tempting pose as the +1100 underdogs to win the coveted .

After the Cowboys, the NFL odds take a huge leap before landing on +2200 alongside the Steelers. This market outlook has more to do with the tough road the Steelers would face rather than a true evaluation of their merit. If the Steelers advance into the divisional round, they'd come up against the Broncos on the road and  then, most likely, the Patriots in the Conference final.

Similarly, the Colts are priced large at +2800 to win outright. In their case it's a combination of Andrew Luck's limited experience at this level and success against established heavyweights and the treacherous path in the AFC Conference.


The Long Shots
The Ravens and the Bengals are the long shots of the AFC, priced at +3300 and +4000 respectively. The Ravens are 2012  champions, so they're not a team to be underestimated. When they won two years ago, they systematically defied the NFL odds in almost each and every game. Some NFL bettors might fancy the Ravens as their sleeper NFL pick in this season's instalment of the playoffs. The Bengals, however, have a lot to prove at this stage having struck out in their last three appearances, choking each and every time.

Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals are all tied on +4000 NFL future odds to win outright. That shouldn't surprise anybody really. Put against Seattle or Green Bay, the top two favourites of the NFC, they are found wanting in just about every aspect. There are serious question marks hanging over each team, making neither a solid choice for your NFL picks at this early vantage point.

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