Patriots’ Super Bowl odds lead the pack as NFL preseason gets underway

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The recent track record with the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl odds suggests their price today might be as high-yield as it gets, barring an unanticipated stumble.

With the NFL preseason beginning this week, the defending champion Patriots are listed at +375 on the Super Bowl 52 champion board at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Their price is half that of the nominal second favorite, the Green Bay Packers (+750), while four other teams with championship aspirations — the Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks — have a +1200 price tag.

The preseason favorites prior to the 2015 and 2016 NFL seasons had +600 odds. But New England is coming off a championship season where it upgraded both its passing game and pass defense, adding deep threat WR Brandin Cooks and Pro Bowl CB Stephen Gilmore respectively.

Last year, the Patriots were at +650 before the season and their price dropped each week as they got off to a hot start, falling to +375 after only four games. With an early schedule that has only two 2016 playoff teams in the first six games (the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 and Houston Texans in Week 3), Tom Brady and the Patriots could again shoot out of the gate quickly.

Those inclined to seek out a higher price — or opposed to picking New England, perhaps on general principle — certainly have options. The Packers are always a threat as long as they have Aaron Rodgers, who guided Green Bay to the NFC Championship Game last season without a healthy running back.

If New England is to be dethroned, the culprit might come from within the AFC, meaning either the Raiders with Derek Carr, or the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger (and Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown). It is worth noting that, based on the 2016 records of their slate of opponents, the Raiders’ schedule is rated fourth-toughest in the NFL and the Steelers’ is rated the sixth-easiest.

That might mean Pittsburgh has a better shot at the 13- or 14-win season it would take to wrestle home-field advantage throughout the playoffs away from the Patriots. It’s not as if being forced away from Foxboro in January drains the Patriots of their dominance, but it has made a difference.

It’s probably best to fade the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons (+1600), who had arguably the worst collapse in American sports history when they blew a 25-point lead against New England in the Super Bowl. Teams that blow that kind of opportunity are seldom awarded a second chance.

Eagles become Super Bowl LII betting favorites

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Although the toughest stage of their season is ahead of them, the Philadelphia Eagles seem to be worth their price tag on the Super Bowl LII champion odds.

The Eagles, led by young quarterback Carson Wentz, are now the +400 favorite on the odds to win Super Bowl 52 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The defending champion New England Patriots (+450) are the second favorite, with the Pittsburgh Steelers (+750), Kansas City Chiefs (+1100), Seattle Seahawks (+1200), Los Angeles Rams (+1400) and New Orleans Saints (+1400) also moving up the board.

Philadelphia enters Week 10 of the season with a NFL-best 8-1 record, a prolific offense led by Wentz and a defense that leads the NFL in sacks. Their remaining slate still includes two games against the Dallas Cowboys (+1600) as well as potential playoff previews against the Rams and Seahawks, but Philadelphia is in the driver’s seat to have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

That makes them a more sure commodity than most other teams, especially since having a strong rushing attack and a strong run defense could work in their favor come playoff time.

The Patriots are having their issues on defense, but the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady mystique makes it hard to write them off this early in the game. At the same time, New England is at the midpoint of the season ranked dead last in the NFL in yards allowed and passing yards allowed. It’s hard to win with substandard defense.

The value among AFC aspirants, though, probably rests more with the Steelers. Two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is no longer at his peak, but is surrounded by better skill-position talent than Brady and Pittsburgh also boasts a top-5 defense with a reliable pass rush.

Similarly, while they have cooled off, Kansas City is worth monitoring if one believes both the Patriots and Steelers are too flawed to win the conference.

In the NFC, the Seahawks are one team that can probably be singled out as a sucker bet due to the weakness of their offensive line and rushing game. If one is inclined to cast their lot with an outside shot from the NFC, it might be better to take a long look at either the Rams or Minnesota Vikings (+1600) since both are younger teams.

The Rams are exhibiting a high-octane offense built around QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley, and have pieces in place to be competitive for years. Their future might be now.  Likewise, the Vikings have had a strong enough defense to weather an ever-changing quarterback situation (Case Keenum? Teddy Bridgewater?). Both teams also have clear paths to winning their divisions.

Super Bowl LII will take place Feb. 4, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Steelers road favorites against Lions in Sunday Night Football matchup

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Picking between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions on Sunday night could simply come down to Ben Roethlisberger‘s record in primetime games compared to that of quarterback counterpart Matthew Stafford.

The Steelers are 3-point road favorites against the Lions with a 46-point total for the Week 8 Sunday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

On top of having never lost a game at Ford Field, the Steelers are 6-1 straight-up and 5-1-1 against the spread in their last seven road games as a favorite of 3.0 or fewer points. Pittsburgh is also 4-0 SU in its last four primetime games that Roethlisberger started.

The Lions are 3-13 SU in their last 16 games at night. However, they are coming off a bye and are 6-2 both SU and ATS in their last eight games after a bye week.

The Steelers, which are 5-2 SU and 4-3 ATS, have gotten away with having an oversized chunk of their offense come from RB Le'Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown. With Brown likely to be covered by CB Darius Slay most of the night, Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offensive brain trust might need to look elsewhere.

With WR Martavius Bryant (inactive) scratched, rookie JuJu Schuster-Smith will get plenty of looks as Pittsburgh tries to revive its deep passing game. Roethlisberger will also have to clean up some turnover issues against a Lions defense that is tied for third in the NFL with nine interceptions.

Up front, Pittsburgh has allowed just 10 sacks and the line’s consistent push in the rushing phase has helped Bell find daylight. While the first point of reference with the Lions defense is likely the embarrassing 52 points they allowed two weeks ago against the New Orleans Saints, they are in the top 10 of the league in yards-per-rush.

For the Lions, which are 3-3 both SU and ATS, priorities 1A and 1B for their offense during their week off were presumably first-half production (only five of their 14 offensive touchdowns are before halftime) and pass protection. The possibility of leading receiver Golden Tate (shoulder) being unable to play would definitely hurt their prospects of a fast start, but Stafford does thrive at distributing the ball among several targets.

The issue for Detroit in the passing phase is giving Stafford time to set up. Detroit allowed 17 sacks in its three games immediately prior to the bye, and now it has to stymie a Steelers pass rush that is tied for the second-most sacks with 24.

The Steelers defense is giving up 4.7 yards per carry, so this could be a game where Lions RB Ameer Abdullah sees bigger holes than he’s been accustomed to this season.

The total has gone under in 15 of the Steelers’ last 20 games after a win. The total has gone over in seven of the Lions’ last eight home games in October according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com