How 2011 NFL Schedule Affects Super Bowl Futures Odds
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 4/29/2011
The release of the NFL schedule is a highlight of the year for most sports fans who can instantly start clearing out their fall and winter weekends and plan their sick days at work around their team's Monday Night Football games. It is also a chance to take a closer look at NFL futures odds, as some teams are dealt easier hands by the NFL schedule makers than others.
Here is a breakdown of NFL teams that have their Super Bowl futures odds impacted the greatest by the schedule makers, with odds to win Super Bowl XLVI in parentheses courtesy of Bodog.
Green Bay Packers (7/1)
No favors were done for the defending Super Bowl champions. The Packers will become the first team in NFL history to play on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. That really does not impact things too much, but it is interesting. In terms of the layout of the Green Bay Packers schedule, it will be really hard for the Packers to earn a top seed in the NFC. They play three games in 11 days between Week 10 and 12 against the Vikings, Buccaneers and Lions. They close the season by playing five consecutive games where the temperature should be well below freezing (Kansas City, New York Giants and three games at home). Based on opponent's 2010 record, the Packers schedule ranks 13th in the league but it is the layout of it that makes it even tougher. There is hardly any value on betting on a repeat Super Bowl champion, especially with a schedule like that.
New England Patriots (7/1)
The regular season never seems to bother Tom Brady and the Patriots, it’s the postseason where the trouble lies but now it looks like the regular season could pose some problems. New England starts its season with three of its first four games on the road. Their early home games against the Chargers and Jets are no gimmes either. The Patriots better hope they do not dig themselves an early-season hole because from Week 8 to Week 13 they play pretty much the 2010 postseason field. That stretch includes games against the Steelers, Jets, Chiefs, Eagles and Colts. The only team they play during that stretch that didn’t reach the playoffs was the Giants, and they probably should have been in the playoffs last season. The Patriots have the 15th hardest schedule based on 2010 opponent records, but with so many talented teams bunched together, the New England Patriots schedule will have them tested early and often.
Pittsburgh Steelers (11/1)
The Steelers have a nice path to return to the postseason thanks to a schedule that ranks fourth-easiest in the league. This was a given considering they will play the Browns and Bengals twice and that the AFC North is matched up with the awful NFC West this season. You could basically chalk up eight wins for Pittsburgh right there. And the Steelers will need those wins because they start the season with three of four games on the road, including trips to Baltimore in a season-opening showdown and a primetime trip to Indianapolis. A Week 11 bye should help the Steelers if your thinking long term.
Baltimore Ravens (14/1)
A playoff rematch could be in store between the Steelers and Ravens with the way their schedules work out. Only the Cardinals have an easier schedule than Baltimore. The Ravens 2011 opponents went a combined 117-139 in 2010. If not for a second-half meltdown at Heinz Field, the Ravens could easily have been in the Super Bowl. The easy Baltimore Ravens schedule makes those 14/1 odds look even more attractive.
Carolina Panthers (125/1)
Not that this was a team with postseason aspirations in the first place, but come on NFL, how can you give the worst team in the league the hardest 2011 NFL schedule? The Carolina Panthers schedule has them play opponents with a combined 2010 record of 142-114. Good luck Cam Newton.
Buffalo Bills (100/1)
It is no coincidence that the Bills and Panthers have the worst Super Bowl odds and the two hardest schedules. The 2011 Buffalo Bills schedule is the second hardest in the league, their opponents went 137-119 last season, that is a .535 winning percentage. Forget any talk of being a dark horse.
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