Are the Green Bay Packers the winning Super Bowl XLIX bet? Find out as we weigh in on the strengths and weaknesses of the Packers according to the relevant and popular NFL rankings and examine the possible scenarios that could emerge for them en route to the ultimate prize.
Green Bay Packers Third Overall Betting Favorites
The Green Bay Packers enter the Divisional Round of the playoffs as the third overall favorites, joint with the Broncos, at +500 to win Super Bowl XLIX. This market stance hasn't wavered despite question marks about Aaron Rodgers' fitness.
The MVP favorite suffered a slight tear in his calf muscle a few weeks back but it didn't deter him from playing in a pivotal week 17 clash with the Detroit Lions with the NFC North title on the line. Despite being visibly hampered by his injury, Rodgers managed to throw two passing touchdowns and complete 17-of-22 passes for 226 yards in the 30-20 victory.
There's no doubt Rodgers will kick start the Packers' playoff campaign on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. What's also quite certain after the franchise delivered their midweek status report is that he'll not be 100 % fit. Of course, depending on how fit Rodgers is going to be (there's a difference between 80% and 50% fit, naturally), but for the time being odds makers haven't panicked as far as the Packers are concerned. Clearly, if on one foot, he can beat the league's second best defense (Lions finished 2nd in total defense), the 17th ranked Cowboys in total defense are a manageable obstacle on home turf, where the Packers are undefeated this season with an 8-0 SU record and a whopping 19.4-point margin of victory.
By the numbers, the Green Bay Packers are right up there across relevant ranking schemes. ESPN NFL Power Rankings updated in week 18 listed the Packers as the third best team, a sentiment Football Outsiders echoed in their DVOA rankings both Total and Weighted. We've compiled together several of these established rankings (See Table 1) NFL bettors resort to on their NFL picks, in order to serve up our own Adjusted SBR Power Rankings. According to our estimation, the Packers are the fourth best team for your NFL picks, which coincides with NFL futures betting market.
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 Packers were eliminated by the San Francisco 49ers in the wildcard round. At the time, Rodgers had missed five of the last six games down the stretch due to injury so there's an argument to be had about his lack of game toughness ahead of the playoffs.
The Packers won the ultimate prize in the 2010-2011 NFL season, beating one of the top-ranked (according to the statisticians) teams at the time, the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV. During that memorable campaign, the Packers entered the playoffs ranked ninth in ESPN Power Rankings (second to last) and fourth in Football Outsiders DVOA rankings (Total and Weighted). It goes to show, how teams can transcend regular season perceptions and evaluations (See Table 2.)
SBR Adjusted Power Rankings Table 2: 2010-2011 RANKINGS AT A GLANCE
2010-2011 No. 6 seed Green bay def. No. 2 seed Pittsburgh 31-25
Indeed, the Packers will be looking to transcend the various statistics and expert evaluations in this season's playoffs. Not to mention a losing head-to-head record with the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs that stands at 2-4 in six meetings.
What the Packers have going for them, particularly as far as the Divisional Round is concerned, is historical trends: a 70-26 record by home teams that goes back to 1990. By those historical trends, the Packers have a 73% chance of emerging at least into the NFC Championship game.
Why the Green Bay Packers Can Win Super Bowl XLIX
If the MVP favourite and the highest scoring offense in the league can maintain their seasonal form in the playoffs and carry it on the road when necessary, there's no reason to believe they won't be partying like it's 1999 in February. When the Packers turn it up a notch, they are nigh unbeatable and have more than a punter's chance against the top favourites this season. Granted they lost to the Seahawks, but that was in week 1 of NFL betting. Over four months ago now; NFL bettors and experts are bound to make allowances for that result. Best case scenario: the Panthers beat the Seahawks and the Packers host the NFC Championship game at Lambeau. (Packers beat the Panthers 38-17 at Lambeau in week 7 of NFL betting).
If the Packers reach the Super Bowl, the most likely opponent they're to face is either Denver Broncos or New England Patriots. Against the latter, they won 26-21, albeit at Lambeau in week 12. They didn't play the Broncos this season, nor last for that matter. Nevertheless, Packers' fans would fancy Aaron Rodgers' chances against the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Why the Green Bay Packers Can't Win Super Bowl XLIX
If there's one aspect of the Packers game that could let them down is defense. At times, it's played up to opponents, prompting experts to suggest they are underrated. Other times they've simply been the weak link on the field that has cost the Packers a game. It remains to be seen how well the defense holds up against the Cowboys and either the Panthers or Seahawks in the high stakes NFC Championship game, should it come down to it.
Super Bowl XLIX Betting Verdict:
Given the season Aaron Rodgers has had and the way the Packers have played all season long, it's impossible to dismiss them out of hand. Indeed, in the eyes of many, they're the notional faves for the Super Bowl, if not the odds makers' faves. Those NFL bettors that hanker after offensive shootouts, would love nothing better than a showdown between Rodgers and Brady or Manning in the Super Bowl. At +500, the Packers strike a tempting pose on the NFL odds board and are well worth considering on your NFL picks.