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NFL – Super Bowl LII Futures Odds and Best Value Pick

AFL/AFC(25 Wins) @ NFL/NFC(26 Wins)

  • Where: U.S. Bank Stadium. Minneapolis, MN
  • When: February 4, 2018 6:25 pm EST
  • Moneyline: New England (+375), Green Bay (+750), Dallas (+1200), Seattle (+1200), Oakland (+1200), Pittsburgh (+1200), Atlanta (+1200),

The New England Patriots are under-appreciated in many respects, which may seem like an odd thing to say about a team dominating the NFL (and the 2017-18 futures board) and widely hailed as one of the greatest of all time. But the Pats have been so great for so long, fans forget how they used to win.

During the Bledsoe-Brady transition and subsequent few seasons, the Patriots played indomitable defense and found ways to win low-scoring games in the 4th quarter. It is only during their amazing run-to-date of three AFC Championships and two Lombardi trophies in six years in which Brady is known for leading an aerial circus like no other.

But as much praise as MSB will deservedly lavish on the Pats, we’re afraid that there’s a fatal short-coming in the defending Super Bowl champs’ odds-value this season. Under no circumstances should the bettor place a futures wager on the New England Patriots before the NFL slate begins.

Why? You’ll just have to read further and find out, of course. But we promise, it’s a valid tip.

Meanwhile the Super Bowl LII board is filled with other surprises – the Oakland Raiders getting 12/1 odds compared to Denver’s 22/1 line, the Atlanta Falcons getting longer odds than Seattle or Pittsburgh, and the Houston Texans getting some surprisingly hot action at (+2200).

There is betting value to be had. But it’s not with the Patriots.

Avoid the inevitable

The Patriots may very well win their third Super Bowl in four years in February 2018. But odds set at half as long as the nearest fellow favorite (Green Bay at +750) fail to recognize one historical factor.

Hall of Fame HC-QB duos like Bill Belichick and Tom Brady eventually reach a point of diminishing returns. For that matter, all coaches and teams eventually do. No matter how brilliant the scheme or special the relationship, all things must pass.

It happened to George Halas, it happened to Paul Brown. Bill Walsh eventually failed to get pristine performances out of Joe Montana and Steve Young. Tom Landry came apart at the seams. Bill Parcells went from Super Bowl kingpin to journeyman coach-for-hire. In 1980, who would have thought Chuck Noll’s world champion Pittsburgh Steelers would miss the playoffs two years in a row?

These are the dynasties against which New England must be judged. Any legendary team is a house of cards – Rob Gronkowski must stay healthy to catch passes from Brady, who is kept healthy by a well-disciplined OL. The defense must continue to play well against the run, a key to keeping the ball in #12’s hands as often as possible.

All that is predicated on Belichick’s skills as a motivator, and the roster’s ability to respond to him year after year. Sure, there is no reason to believe the inevitable down-turn will begin now – but at some point, it must. Given at least a 10% or 15% chance that the Pats – and their aging QB – will finally start looking careworn on the field in 2017, 3/1 or 4/1 odds simply don’t add up to any value.

The play(s)

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Most of the other favorites on the board are problematic in macro-analysis. The Raiders defense is yet-unproven at a championship level. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are excellent in the clutch but prone to short slumps. The Seahawks seem ginger in their play-calling for a less-than-100%-durable Russell Wilson, and Big Ben can’t play schoolyard ball into his 40s for Pittsburgh.

MSB sees value in two plays – Dallas (12/1) and Atlanta (16/1). Stop and imagine the 2017-18 season happening 12 to 16 times and either of those two teams only making the Super Bowl once…and losing it. You can’t.

The Cowboys are a marvel of fundamentals and power, nearly going to Super Bowl LI with an all-rookie offensive backfield. RB Ezekiel Elliott is being compared to Eric Dickerson going into his second season. Dak Prescott will pass with poise and rumble for first downs. The Silver Star ranked #1 in run defense in 2016, and there are three perennial Pro Bowlers on the OL. That’s a recipe for continued success.

Meanwhile, the Falcons’ longer odds are slightly mystifying. 19 out of 22 starters return for the Dirty Birds, who look forward to a healthy Julio Jones catching passes in Week 1. New OC Steve Sarkisian is a creative coach who will help keep Matty Ice comfortable, and the defense did all it could to impress the world in early ’17 until that snake-bitten 4th quarter in Houston. There’s no rational reason to place Atlanta so low on the board. They’re a value bet.

Just picking one wager? Then it’s down to philosophy. Cowboys = power. Falcons = finesse. Pocket-passing purists can put their money down on Atlanta, but Jerryworld will be a circus of home-run carries this season.

The long-shot

Don’t laugh – the Cleveland Browns are actually a value underdog future, though of course it’s unlikely that they will play in February. But (+20000) odds at the bottom of the board overlook the fact that in a few short months, GM Sashi Brown has rebuilt the Cleveland OL and hired a tall rocket-armed QB (Brock Osweiler) who didn’t quite fit in other systems…to go along with a swift and talented RB corps. That’s exactly what the St. Louis Rams did in spring/summer 1999, before going from worst to first. The Browns could conceivably shock the globe, and are worth a small offhand bet with a bonanza payoff.

But for a solid cash-play on a contender, pick the Cowboys or the Falcons to ultimately prevail in the Twin Cities.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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