Week 11 of the NFL season will wrap up with Monday Night’s matchup between the Cardinals and 49ers in Mexico City, but as we exit the weekend, the Super Bowl field appears about as open as it was entering opening weekend.
Granted, the Chiefs and Bills, who are the DraftKings co-favorites at +450, have arguably shown the highest ceiling, but both teams are working through significant injuries as December approaches. The Super Bowl field might not quite be wide open, but with the NFC West leaders, the Seattle Seahawks, sitting 13th in DraftKings odds at +5000, it’s fair to say that more teams than usual have a shot at the Lombardi entering the stretch run.
This article will look at the best odds in each conference, but before we get into that, be sure to sign up for The Oracle’s picks today! The Oracle is putting together a huge 2022 NCAA and NFL season, and with so much good football ahead of us, The Oracle’s picks are a great way to maximize your football enjoyment!
Now, on to the AFC and NFC playoff pictures; all odds are from DraftKings.
The list of 13 contenders mentioned above is already a long one, but if you give any credence to the idea that either the Jets, Patriots, Giants, or Commanders could make a run in the NFL Playoffs, it gets even longer.
These teams are 14th-17th in DraftKings odds based on their records, but while they remain firmly in playoff contention, it’s difficult to imagine the Jets or Patriots making a run in the AFC after Sunday’s 10-3 New England victory. Fifteen years ago, we might have lauded the defensive performances of the respective teams in a game where the only touchdown came on a last-minute New England punt return, but in today’s NFL, it’s usually on the offense if a team can’t produce more than a field goal, and Sunday’s game was no exception.
The Chargers remain in the mix at +4000 despite blowing a halftime lead to the Chiefs on Sunday Night, the Titans are +3000, and the Bengals +2500, but at +1800, the Dolphins may be the most intriguing bet. Miami sits behind Kansas City, Buffalo, and Baltimore in the odds despite having wins over Buffalo and Baltimore. Throw in the fact that the Dolphins are 7-0 in games started by Tua Tagovailoa, and there’s a strong argument that Miami is the best value bet to win the AFC Title (+900) and the Super Bowl (+1800). It’s a scenario that Tagovailoa’s doubters (myself included) certainly didn’t envision before the NFL season, but Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel has dreamed up an offense perfectly tailored to Tagovailoa’s snap decision-making and pin-point accuracy, and the group is humming as well as any in the NFL.
As a comparison point, the Vikings and Buccaneers are +1800 to win the Super Bowl from the NFC side of the bracket, and while the strength of the teams at the top of the conference factors into those odds, many would argue that Miami has been the most impressive of the three teams.
A week ago, the Cowboys dropped a game to the reeling Green Bay Packers, prompting questions about whether a team with such a shaky run defense could make a championship run, and the Vikings pulled out an improbable win over the Bills on the road, which had the media fawning over them and their 8-1 record.
Sunday, the Cowboys beat the brakes off the Vikings in Minnesota, the latest reminder that there is not a consistently dominant team in the NFC. Add in the fact that the Eagles needed a furious fourth-quarter comeback against the Colts a week after they lost to the Commanders, and the NFC seems to lack anything close to a consensus favorite entering Thanksgiving Week.
The Eagles head up the NFC Super Bowl odds at +550, followed by the 49ers at +700 and the Cowboys at +900, but as impressive as all three teams have looked at times, it is difficult to back any of the favorites in such a wide-open field. Seattle’s record indicates they are a value as a +5000 bet, but their performances in a 27-7 loss to the 49ers and a 21-16 loss to the Bucs in which they trailed 21-3 raise significant concerns about their ability to compete in the latter rounds of the NFL Playoffs.
Does that leave Tampa Bay as the best value at +1800? We’ve certainly seen that movie before, and there’s plenty of talent on that roster, but given the inconsistency of their performance to date, this seems more like a situation where it is difficult to get value betting on any long-term outlooks at the top of the NFC.
One bet of interest is Washington to make the playoffs at +135, which stands out as a value relative to the team’s over 8.5 wins at -120. The Commanders play the Falcons before back-to-back matchups against the Giants (separated by a bye) before finishing with the 49ers, Browns, and Cowboys. That means that for the 6-5 Commanders to get to 9 wins, they almost certainly needed to go 3-0 against the Falcons and Giants, and if that happens, they will have the tiebreaker over the Giants, assuming New York even gets to 9 wins in that scenario, which is far from a foregone conclusion. (New York finishes with Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia, Washington, Indianapolis, Minnesota, and Philadelphia).
Of course, that only matters if you like Washington, and given their wins, that’s in the eye of the beholder. Who knows – with the way this NFL season has gone, perhaps Colt McCoy leads the Cardinals to a win over the 49ers tonight and opens up a quarterback controversy in the desert. In the 2022 NFL season, anything seems possible.
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Steven Clinton, better known as "The Professor", is a former D-1 Quality Control Assistant (Northwestern, Toledo) who holds a B.A. in Economics and M.S. in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. He maintains an end-to-end NFL game projection model and is a film junkie who breaks down the tape of every NFL game.