With the regular season yet to be settled, a number of teams still have their playoff hopes alive, while others continue to battle for position. However, the principle players for the 2016 Super Bowl have long been set. Bettors can posture all they want, but the truth is only a handful of teams can compete for a Super Bowl, and after 15 weeks of NFL football we already know who they are. In the NFC, the list consists of the undefeated Carolina Panthers, the red-hot Arizona Cardinals, the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.
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Over the in AFC, the list is even shorter with New England, Pittsburgh and Denver being considered as the only legit contenders in the conference (Andy Dalton's hand injury all but eliminated a solid Cincinnati Bengals team). Since most sportsbooks already have lines up dealing with possible Super Bowl matchups, let's take a closer look at go over the Top 10 options.
No. 10 to 5 : No. 10: Denver vs Arizona +2500; No. 9: Denver vs Arizona+2000; No. 8: Green Bay vs Pittsburgh +1900; No. 7: New England vs Green Bay +1400; No. 6: Pittsburgh vs Arizona: +1000; No. 5: Pittsburgh vs Arizona +900.
The biggest matchup that can comes from this list is a New England versus Green Bay with a Tom Brady versus Aaron Rodgers showdown. The two best quarterbacks in the league facing off could turn into the biggest Super Bowl in decades. The Packers have a difficult path out of the NFC, while the Patriots are still missing a few offensive players that make life for Brady much easier. But if you had to pick from these options, a New England and Green Bay matchup at +1400 odds does provide a bit of long-shot value.
No. 4: New England Vs Seattle : +750: New England may have the easiest path to the Super Bowl of any contender. With a possible first-round bye and potential matchups against injured squads in Denver and Cincinnati, the only real opponent standing in New England's way is Pittsburgh. Seattle, on the other hand, is looking to enter the playoffs from the first wild-card spot and would have to make a deep playoff run without a home game. But if there is any wild-card team with great long-shot value, it will be Seattle. Both these squads will end up as the most experienced teams in the playoffs, and wagering on this matchup at +750 is an enticing option.
No. 3 Pittsburgh Vs Carolina: +750: Carolina may end up being the most underrated squad in NFL history. This matchup isn't the "sexy" pairing that would drive ratings into the stratosphere, yet a potential meeting between Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton could be electric. The problem is that Pittsburgh still hasn't even locked up a playoff spot yet as the team is still in a tight race with the New York Jets with 9-5 records, respectively. This matchup does have a certain value, but with the Steelers not even in the playoffs yet, skipping this option is probably the best play.
No. 2 New England Vs Arizona: +650; No. 1 New England Vs Carolina : +500: New England versus either of the top two teams in the NFC seems to be the consensus pick among experts, fans and bettors alike. At this point both sets of odds provide solid value at 5/1 and 6.5/1, and the only question is which team you prefer. Arizona has been a contender for three straight seasons, but untimely injuries have ruined their playoff chances. Carolina may have the softest 14-0 schedule in recent memory, and the team won't answer any questions until it wins a playoff matchup. There seems to be very little precedent or reason to take the Panthers as they could end up being underdogs against both Seattle and Arizona. The strongest pick may be the Patriots vs. the Cardinals.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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