Pete Carroll’s Seahawks are favored to meet Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
From Lambeau Field to Las Vegas, cheeseheads, Aaron Rodgers aficionados and, perhaps most importantly, the oddsmakers, took note of Rodgers’ return to form in the regular-season finale, rallying the Packers to a last-minute victory in Chicago. He pulled it off in snowy conditions and altogether put the rest of the league on notice that the Packers were in pursuit of the Lombardi Trophy once again.
Prior to the game, William Hill’s betting line had the Pack at 30-1 odds to leave MetLife Stadium with the Tiffany trophy on Feb. 2. Now, following the dramatics, the Packers are 16-1, back to the exact same odds that they faced last February, immediately after the Baltimore Ravens flew out of the Superdome with the championship win over the 49ers.
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— Panthers begin season as 66-1 shots to win big game, but are 10-1 now. — Chiefs and Eagles begin as 50-1 shots and rise as season progesses. — Chargers were left for dead entering final month of regular season, being given 125-1 odds on Dec. 1 to win at MetLife.
Across the NFL, injuries, arrests, signings, trades, coaching changes, missed calls and any number of Eli Manning interceptions have all occurred since the initial odds were offered regarding the 2014 Super Bowl.
Now, in the midst of wild-card weekend, here is how the board looks, with all bets on another unpredictable playoff course that will lead to a Super Bowl set up across the parking lot from a race track. All betting windows are open:
Vegas oddsmakers have been in love with consistency of Tom Brady and Patriots.
The road to East Rutherford runs through two Western cities with a rest stop in Vegas to collect on any side or prop bets along the way.
Bovada lists the most likely Super Bowl matchup as the Seattle Seahawks versus the Denver Broncos, pitting the top seeds against each other, but the Broncos remember the steep fall against the Ravens in last season’s divisional round all too well to rest on those odds. Seattle, meanwhile, was less of a sure thing at season’s start. Pete Carroll’s bunch was given 16-1 odds last February, but continued to earn the oddsmakers’ trust as the regular season wore on.
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Playmaker Jamaal Charles and Chiefs surprise many entering wild-card weekend.
DON’T IGNORE TOM & BILL
Forever a favorite of Vegas due to the consistency offered by the balance of quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots were given 7-1 odds last February. That was before tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with first-degree murder and favorite Brady target Rob Gronkowski was lost to injury. Still, the machine continued to mow down the AFC competition.
How consistent is the organization? Vegas assigned another 7-1 listing to the Patriots this past week as they watch the opening round from frostbitten Foxborough with a bye. Now, the Patriots are in pursuit of a fourth Super Bowl in 13 seasons. The worry for bettors is whether the Patriots will be able to plow their way into MetLife or get buried in a divisional or championship game.
REMEMBER THE TEXANS?
For all the spot-on forecasts made by the oddsmakers, there were also the mistakes. The Texans, who were 14-1 in the offseason, flopped out of contention early and never rallied. The Ravens, playing with a revamped roster at several positions, followed suit, failing to make the playoffs in their hangover year. The Falcons, given 18-1 on the heels of battling the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, fell apart. And then there were the Redskins, billed as a team that could challenge for supremacy if Robert Griffin III could bounce back from knee surgery. They were 30-1, and the odds were just about right as Washington could never inspire confidence all season. The Giants (20-1) did not measure up, naturally, and the Jets essentially exceeded expectations as they were marked 50-1. The Carolina Panthers were given the same odds as the Jets and turned that into a No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Nate Silver, the statistician best known for his ability to accurately predict the election results for American Presidents before ballots are even cast, went with the Niners last winter when choosing his Super Bowl champion. His numbers added up to support the “defense wins championships” theory. Twists and turns awaited everyone on game day, though. There was a blackout, a Ravens kickoff return and any number of complaints made by Niners coach John Harbaugh on the sideline. Silver took the loss, then changed teams in the offseason, moving from The Times to ESPN.
As Silver said last year, “There’s always uncertainty in any metric.”