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With the NFL playoffs upon us, let's take a look at the pretenders and the contenders, and their current odds at the worlds #1 sportsbook, sportsbook.com.
New England Patriots - We were one of the first ones to write the Pats off early in the season. Going in, we felt that players losses would finally catch up to the Pats and they would be a mediocre football team. Wrong! Here we are in January and once again, the New England Patriots are one of the best teams in pro football. They pose a threat to just about anyone they play. Experience counts this time of year. Particularly in a teams leadership roles. Namely Coach and QB. You can't do any better in that department than Belichick and Brady. They once again field one of the better defenses in the NFL and as we all know, defense wins championships. They also enter the playoffs having won three in a row and 6 of their last 7. Pinnacle currently has the Pats at +871 to win the Super bowl and +600 to win the AFC. We don't think the Pats are Super Bowl bound, however, they are definitely a contender and a dangerous opponent for anyone.
Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens are without a doubt a contender. We obviously took note of their defense early on this year. But what stands out the most with the Ravens is recent form. We stated a few weeks ago, in an article, that the teams that tend to go far in the playoffs are the teams that step up to the plate down the stretch of an NFL season. Look at any Super Bowl champs schedule down the stretch historically, or even a Super Bowl runners ups schedule, and you'll find that in most case, these teams not only win down the stretch, they dominate. They win when they have to win. The Ravens are one such team. They finished the year with 4 straight wins and only lost three times all year. They have one of the best defenses in the entire NFL and what makes them a little scary is that their offense is starting to show some signs of life. Pinnacle has the Ravens at +255 to win the AFC AND +472 to win the Super Bowl. We see the Ravens in the AFC title game, so taking a shot at +255 to win the AFC at the very least opens up some hedging opportunities.
Indianapolis Colts - Up until about 9-0, we had the Colts pegged as a contender. But it's been all down hill from there. We have to put them in the "pretender" category. As we keep saying over and over, good teams step it up down the stretch. But look at the Colts. Starting in December, they lost to the Titans, then got blown out by the Jags, beat Cinci, lost to Houston, and then barely got by the Dolphins. Of course you need to give a team that wins 12 games in the NFL credit, but the Colts simply don't have what you look for in NFL playoff contenders. Their defense is horrendous and they aren't on any kind of a momentum roll heading into the playoffs. They do have one of the top QB's in the game today in Peyton Manning, but one man alone can't get it done. Pinnacle has the Colts at +1159 to win the Super Bowl and odds of +595 to win the AFC. We don't see either happening.
San Diego Chargers - We no doubt have a contender here. They fit the mode in all the important categories. They have won 10 straight and things are clicking on both sides of the ball. The only knock we can give the Chargers is their schedule. A quick look at their schedule and we only see two games that stand out against quality teams. A 16-13 loss at Baltimore and a 20-17 win over the Seahawks. But the schedule they played isn't their fault. They did what they had to do. They won. The fact that they are on a such a roll and have the best back in football in their backfield will make them tough to beat. Pinnacle has them at +131 to win the AFC and odds of +257 to win the Super Bowl. We don't see much value in either.
Kansas City Chiefs - What? The Chiefs are in the playoffs?? How did that happen? We have to place the Chiefs in the pretender category. Have they done anything all year long that catches your attention? Nah. We think they will be lucky to get out of Indy in one piece. Pinny has KC at +5000 to win the Super Bowl and odds of +3000 to win the AFC. We don't see either happening.
New York Jets - Here's an interesting playoff team. The knock on the Jets will be that they played a weak schedule. But you have to give them credit for winning their last three games and winning 5 out of their last 7, including a win over the Patriots on the road which will give this team tons of confidence going into this weeks playoff game. The Jets would hardly seem to be a Championship team, but they are peeking at just the right time and playing with the confidence needed to make a run. While it's unlikely this team is headed to the Super Bowl, a win or two not completely out of the question. Pinnacles odds for the Jets to win the AFC are +2800 and +4700 to win the Super Bowl. The Jets are worth a look at those prices considering the hedging opportunities that would be available if they could win a game or two.
Chicago Bears - Might as well start with the front runner. The Bears are a contender without a doubt. We've watched them a bunch this year and still feel going into the playoffs that they have the best defense in the NFL. The doubters will point to their inept offense and the games they struggled in against weaker opposition. But the fact remains that they won 13 games and really only lost two all year. We won't count the last game against the Pack in which they rested everyone. The road to the Super Bowl goes thru Chicago, where the the Bears were 6-1 (throwing out the last game) and won by an average score of 31-15. Pinnacle currently has the Bears at +136 to win the NFC, so no value there. They are however, +531 to win the Super Bowl.
New Orleans Saints - The Saints have it going offensively with a backfield that has QB Drew Brees, Reggie Bush and Deuce Mcallister and look to be the 2nd best team in the NFC. But they did lose 3 times at home inclosing a 16-10 loss to the Washington Redskins which would lead one to believe that the Saints are no lock for the AFC title game. Pinnacle has the odds on the Saints to win the NFC at +265 While they are +1000 to win the Super Bowl.
Philadelphia Eagles - The Eagles have some momentum going into the playoffs. They won their last 5 and have gotten a nice boost in confidence as a result of the play of QB Jeff Garcia. They could make some noise in these playoffs for sure. Pinnacle has them at +1080 to win the Super Bowl and +547 to win the NFC.
Cowboys and Giants - We're lumping the Cowboys and the Giants together because they both fit into this write up. We refuse to give a team credit that played the way these two did down the stretch. The Giants lost 6 of 7 heading into last weeks win at Washington. To their credit, they at least won their last game to get into the playoffs. The Cowboys on the other hand, lost 3 of their last 4 and couldn't beat the worst team in the NFL when they needed a win the most. Neither the Giants or Cowboys fits the bill as a playoff team. Neither has any momentum to hang their hats on and both figure to make early exits. Pinnacle has the Giants at +2000 to win the NFC while the Cowboys are +1231. To win the Super Bowl, the Giants are +5000 while the Cowgirls are +3420. Those are some long odds and rightly so as we don't see any of the above happening.
Seattle Seahawks - Hey, at least the Seahawks were able to win their last game. A game in which they didn't need, yet promised they would win. They have the experience of having been to the Super Bowl last year and also have one of the best coaches in the game today. They figure to get by the Cowboys and if they get on a little roll, could do some damage in the playoffs. But it seems unlikely. Pinnacle has Seattle at +2499 to win the Super Bowl and +1074 to win the NFC. They might be worth a shot to win the NFC at the generous price.
To sum it all up, it should be fun this year. We see the Ravens and the Chargers in the AFC championship as both will be tough to beat at home in the playoffs. In the NFC, we see the Bears and Saints in the NFC title game, however the NFC is much more wide open. This was a year in the NFL which saw few teams in the NFC step up to the plate when they had to. So logic tells us we'll see more of the same in the playoffs. In other words, expect the unexpected!