Jared Smith’s “Back to the Futures” NFL odds analysis: Bucs and Chiefs strengthen Super Bowl cases
With just four weeks to go in the NFL regular season, the Super Bowl favorites are rounding into form, and there continues to be tightening at the top of the market. The Bucs and Chiefs remain at the top for another week, with the Packers, Patriots, Rams and Cardinals all sitting within striking distance.
While Tampa Bay and Kansas City appear to be solid favorites, there is some debate about which team should have their nose in front. WynnBET believes the Bucs deserve the top spot for now, pending Thursday night’s game between the Chiefs and Chargers.
“I will be impressed if this defense can dominate against the Chargers on Thursday night,” said WynnBET Trader Sawyer Johnson.
TwinSpires’ Zachary Lucas would make the Chiefs a slight favorite against the Bucs on a neutral field. The Westgate SuperBook also prefers Kansas City, with slightly shorter Super Bowl odds at +450, just ahead of the Bucs at +500. This was a slight adjustment from last week, when both teams were sitting at +500.
Personally, I feel good about my current overall position on the Chiefs — which is 1 unit to win the Super Bowl at +1175 and a half-unit to win the AFC at +700. If you have no current exposure to Kansas City, your best bet is just to play them on the spread this week against the Chargers. If they lose outright, you’ll get a slight discount in the futures market next week. The risk with that strategy is if they win and don’t cover, which is only happening in about 15% of NFL games this season.
Buying low on the Buffalo Bills
The Super Bowl favorite of a few weeks ago is now 7-6 and fighting just to make the playoffs after suffering its third loss in four games. Josh Allen is officially day-to-day with a foot sprain, and his status is something to keep an eye on this week.
Despite all of that, oddsmakers believe the price drop is setting up an intriguing buy-low opportunity on Buffalo. WynnBET’s Johnson still thinks they are the “the best team in the AFC.” PointsBet’s Michael Korn agrees, adding, “if you like the Bills, now would be a great time to grab some value.”
The Bills are hovering around +1400 to win the Super Bowl and +600 to win the AFC, but it’s the division market that catches my eye this week. The AFC East race has tilted towards New England, but the schedule favors Buffalo this week as the Pats are underdogs yet again, catching nearly a field goal on the road against the Colts.
A Pats loss to Indy and Bills win Sunday over the Panthers could set up a potential odds slingshot like we saw in the AFC North last week when the Browns went from +600 to +160 overnight after beating the team directly in front of them. The Bills would then have a chance to pull ahead via a tiebreaker if they can win the following Sunday at Foxboro.
“There’s no question, now is the time to buy in,” added Johnson.
The best AFC East price I could find on Buffalo this week was +350 at Bet365.
How I’m handling the AFC North
This is the only division in the NFL with no odds-on favorite entering Week 15, meaning all four teams are plus-money to win. What a cluster. My Bengals +400 ticket from early November at UniBet is priced at +260 now, which is enough movement for me to cash out for a small profit.
“I don’t trust any team in this division,” said TwinSpires’ Lucas.
If I had to pick a horse in this race down the stretch it would be the Cleveland, who has the best defense of the group and the slightly easier schedule down the stretch. But considering how much their odds have shortened in the last month, it’s hard to make a case to invest now.
“The value train was certainly missed,” added PointsBet’s Korn. “Their odds to win the division got out to as far as +1000 after losing to the Ravens in Week 12 and stayed consistently above +400 for the majority of November.”
With all the parity in this division, I believe the prudent move here is to ring the cash register and re-invest the money elsewhere, like in the AFC East, which is a much cleaner two-team race.
This Week’s New Investments
SOLD Bengals to win AFC North +400 (1.2u total return, +0.2u net profit)
BOUGHT Bills to win AFC East +350 (1.2u* at Bet365)
*rolling over full amount from Bengals sale into Bills