Are the Denver Broncos the winning Super Bowl XLIX bet? Find out as we weigh in on the strengths and weaknesses of the Broncos according to the relevant and popular NFL rankings and examine the possible scenarios that could emerge in their bid for a second straight Super Bowl appearance.
Denver Broncos Top Value NFL Pick
The Denver Broncos have been on the Super Bowl betting radar for the last three seasons, ever since the Peyton Manning Era began at Mile High. They've failed to come through for NFL bettors in two previous consecutive attempts. Is the third try the charm?
As things currently stand, the Denver Broncos enter NFL oddss as the third favorites to win it all, matched at +500 NFL future odds. They are on par with NFC hopefuls Green Bay Packers (also at +500), but a considerable distance off the top two favorites Seattle Seahawks +200 and New England Patriots +300.
Peyton Manning and the Broncos slipped up in the race for the AFC top seed in week 16 NFL betting, a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on the road conceded the honour to the New England Patriots. That slight hiccup, along with a loss to the New England Patriots at the Foxboro in week 9 NFL betting (43-21), an earlier 26-20 OT loss to the Seattle Seahawks (week 3) and a out of the ordinary loss to the struggling St. Louis Rams, has taken the shine off their estimation across established ranking schemes and, in turn, on the trading floor ahead of the playoffs.
With New England Patriots assured home field advantage as the top seed, the Broncos would have to transcend their losing ways at Gillette Stadium if the AFC Championship game comes down to the pair. At the moment, it doesn't appear to be a feat that elicits a lot of confidence. The Patriots are matched as the solid +100 favorites to win the AFC while the Broncos are tipped at +188 NFL odds.
The NFL betting stance coincides with many NFL rankings available to NFL bettors as useful tools. ESPN NFL Power Rankings list the Denver Broncos in fourth place going into the postseason while Football Outsiders have ranked them in 2nd place for Total DVOA and 4th place in Weighted DVOA. We've taken it upon us to collate these various statistics in order to generate an Adjusted SBR Power Ranking, and according to our table (See Table 1) the Denver Broncos emerge as the top NFL pick going into the divisional round.
Table 1: The table includes ESPN NFL Power Rankings from week 18, along with NFL regular season-ending rankings for total offense and total defense, and QBR rankings. As well, relevant DVOA rankings (Source: Football Outsiders) have been used to broaden the picture. These statistical rankings have been totalled and averaged to give us a simple hierarchy of the eight teams in the divisional round from top overall ranked to lowest overall ranked team, as shown by the Adjusted SBR Power Rankings column.
SBR Adjusted Power Rankings Table 1: 2014-2015 RANKINGS AT A GLANCE
Last season, the Denver Broncos entered the playoffs as one of the top favorites in NFL betting markets across most sportsbook platforms. They underscored that advantageous nod with a convincing run into the playoffs, beating the Colts and Patriots to advance into the final. The Seattle Seahawks, also favored for most of the 2013-2014 season (at one point nudging well ahead of the Broncos in on the NFL futures board) also emerged out of the NFC pile to serve up the first clash between the top seeds in each Conference this side of the decade.
Going into Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos had the slight edge over the Seahawks in midweek betting markets. They went into the final clash matched as the -130 favorites over the Seahawks at +110. What ensued nobody could have predicted, the Seahawks riding roughshod over the Broncos to a 43-8 win.
For the sake of comparison, we took the corresponding rankings ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII and put it into a similar table (See Table 2) in order to generate an Adjusted SBR Power Ranking. How would the picture have looked on our table? According to Table 2, the Seattle Seahawks emerge at the top of our Adjusted SBR Power Rankings; ergo the top NFL pick.
SBR Adjusted Power Rankings Table 2: 2013-2014 RANKINGS AT A GLANCE
2013-2014 No.1 Seattle def. No. Denver 43-8
In their third straight attempt for an enduring playoffs campaign, how will the Denver Broncos fare is the overriding question. Fans and sentimental loyalists and experts alike believe Peyton Manning needs at least one more Super Bowl ring if he's to establish a claim on being one of the best quarterbacks in the game. Despite all the stats, records and historical hurdles he's overcome, put in the balance against some of his peers Tom Brady (3 titles) and Ben Roethlisberger (2 titles), he's found wanting.
Why the Denver Broncos Can Win Super Bowl XLIX
The Denver Broncos have been knocking on the door for the last three seasons. In 2012-2013, they were upset in the divisional round by the Baltimore Ravens (eventual champions). Last year, they made it all the way to the final. Despite their lack of success in those previous attempts, one can argue there's a steady progression they've shown. Add to that some of the changes they made this season, improving defense and the emergence of a running game to become more dimensional.
There are plenty of positives the Denver Broncos have shown over the course of this season. Critics point to a fade down the stretch, suggesting it's a sign of Peyton Manning's aging, and the loss to the Chargers in week 16, a "big game" situation failing at which took the shine off their NFL odds. There's an argument to be had about their schedule though, having a bye week in week 3 meant the Broncos have played 13-games in a row. That's a lot of football in one breath.
On the contrary, the Broncos look to be in better shape than they were last year. Importantly, they've shown they can win without relying entirely on Manning throwing touchdown passes. Their defense improved from 19th total defense (Table 2) to 3rd total defense (Table 1) and C. J. Anderson's emergence means they have a rushing game, something they didn't previously.
Why the Denver Broncos Can't Win Super Bowl XLIX
The popular opinion here is that Manning is an aging force, largely spent if the last few weeks of the regular season were any indication. Another source of concern is their grit. If they come up against the Seahawks in the final, how will they measure up this time?
Super Bowl XLIX Betting Verdict: If there were a time for the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl, now would be their best chance. More often than not, what happens in the regular season is of little consequence in the playoffs. That the Broncos aren't top of the established NFL rankings or one of the top two favorites on the NFL betting board this season might actually work in their favor; certainly, it'll take the pressure off them a bit. For our money, they are our top NFL pick at +500.