The NFL playoffs are still a few weeks away and the Super Bowl is not until February of next year, so we still have quite a bit of time before football truly gets interesting. But that time frame isn't long enough to stop us from thinking about the big game and making a few predictions. Luckily, since most bettors think alike, a few sportsbooks have already released an early set of Super Bowl lines before most teams have even clinched a playoff spot. Let's take a closer look at those early odds and figure out if we can produce any value by wagering on the Super Bowl before we know who is playing.
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Early 2016 Super Bowl Lines
An early Super Bowl line of 1.5 points is an awfully small number as seven of the last 10 games featured a closing spread of three points or higher. The most enticing thing about taking an early line is the possibility of getting the favorite at a smaller number than usual. For example, if the AFC ends up favored come February, history indicates that the eventual spread will be larger than 1.5 points. So you could end up in a situation where the AFC team gives away three or four points, but you have that number at 1.5 points. Or an even better situation would be if you wagered on the NFC now at +1.5 and the conference ends up favored by three or four in the big game. Either way, there is a chance to grab loads of value if you are on the right side of the spread.
Who Has the Advantage?
The AFC has been the glamor conference in the NFL over the last decade because of quarterbacks named Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, who have played in 10 of the last 12 Super Bowls. And not surprisingly, the conference has been favored in nine of those matchups. The question of which side has the advantage lies with who is viewed more favorably by the public and not with which side has the most talented teams.
In the AFC there are three major threats to make the Super Bowl: New England, Cincinnati and Denver. The Patriots are bound to be a betting favorite over anyone coming out of the NFC, while the Broncos and Bengals would depend on the matchups that arise. The NFC, on the other hand, has four potential Super Bowl suitors in Carolina, and Arizona, and to a lesser extent Seattle and Green Bay. The Panthers and Cardinals may be the two best teams in the league, but they simply wouldn't have enough cache with the general public to get much respect in the Super Bowl. What that amounts to is the NFC having the betting advantage because they are the most likely conference to get underrated once the big game comes around.
What's the Best Way to Wager?
Figuring out the best way to wager can be a bit tricky. But if you are leaning toward the AFC and think New England, Cincinnati or Denver will end up winning the Super Bowl, wagering on the team now is probably the best bet, because chances are you'll get a smaller spread. However, if you think the NFC will most likely come out ahead, waiting until the Super Bowl might be the best play simply because there is a chance you can get extra points. Once Carolina loses a game, the betting public will forget about them, so a potential Super Bowl appearance could see the NFC representative getting two or three points worth of action. In short, if you are looking to wager on the AFC in the big game, now is the time to do it. If you are leaning toward the NFC, wait and see if you can get some extra points.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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