2018 Super Bowl Predictions
And then there were four. But not necessarily the four we expected. It's mixed bag. The two favorites from last week are both still standing, and they are heavy favorites again this week. Joining them, though, are two of three biggest long shots from last week. The odds would suggest that there wouldn't be a whole lot of drama heading into this week's games. The challenge for bettors, then, is to figure out if those odds are accurate, or, if like last week, we could see an upset or two. Here's a look at the futures odds from BetOnline to see if any value can be had. Let's make some 2018 Super Bowl predictions:
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New England Patriots (+100): The Patriots looked just like you would have expected them to look given the 'challenge' that was in front of them. They faced a Tennessee team that had some issues in balance and depth on offense, so the Patriots did what they do so ruthlessly and exposed that weakness. It was as if the Titans knew that they were doomed right as soon as the game started, so they just submitted to their destiny. Tom Brady looked very efficient after several weeks of sub-par play - at least measured by his impossibly high standards. New England is ready. And they have gotten as lucky as they could have, drawing the Jaguars after the Titans when things could certainly have been tougher en route to another Super Bowl. Jacksonville is no pushover, but the Patriots won't be looking ahead to their next game like Pittsburgh sure seemed to be.
New England is playing in their seventh consecutive AFC Championship Game. Ignore for a second just how impossible that actually is and consider how much of an experience gap this team has over everyone else. Everything they will face from here to the end of their run is something they have gone through before, while none of the other teams still alive have ever won a Super Bowl. And while the other three teams are well coached to one extent or another, nobody can hold a candle to Bill Belichick and his experience and determination to win. Oh, and Tom Brady has as many Super Bowl rings as the other three remaining starting quarterbacks have playoff starts combined. So, while there are still some questions about this particular New England team, and there is no value in this price, it would be hard to argue that the Patriots are anything other than a deserving favorite.
Minnesota Vikings (+175): I said last week that the Minnesota and New Orleans game would produce the Super Bowl winner. I will stick with that because the Vikings are the team I liked most in that game. But I'm not as convinced by that as I was. The first half against the Saints was great, and the last pass was as good as any I have ever seen, but the rest was a little shakier than I would have liked. I like them handily in the NFC Championship Game, and playing the Super Bowl at home would be massive, but I am a little less convinced now that they can beat the Patriots than I was a week ago. Given those doubts I am far from crazy about this price, but they remain the (lukewarm) Super Bowl pick.
Philadelphia Eagles (+700): The Eagles got a win, but I don't give them as much credit for that as some will. There are two big reasons for that. First, a road dog in the playoffs is always going to be attractive. And second, I just had no faith at all in Steve Sarkisian and that Atlanta offense, and all he did was reinforce my distrust of, and lack of respect for, him. The Falcons had never convinced me all year, and again here they just weren't tough enough or polished enough. So, can Nick Foles match up to Case Keenum, who he has been teammates with, and come out on top? I just don't see it. They are home dogs again, which is significant, but Minnesota feels tougher, more balanced and better coached. This would be the less surprising of the two upsets, but I anticipate a pretty chalky week this week.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+900): I think the odds are too low for the Patriots, so by extension this one is probably a little too high. But it's hard to get excited about the value on offer here. Pittsburgh let the Jaguars run quite effectively, and that led to four touchdowns. The Patriots will make Blake Bortles beat them with his arm. And it's hard to believe that he will be able to do so. The Jacksonville defense deservedly gets praise, but Big Ben threw for 469 yards and five scores, so it obviously isn't perfect. And if Roethlisberger can find holes then Brady will be able to as well. The Jaguars seemed to benefit from Pittsburgh being less-than-ideally focused on the game. That clearly won't be the case here. It's been a surprisingly solid season for the Jaguars, but it ends here.
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