The Road to Super Bowl 53 – Odds and Betting Preview
Now that Week 1 of the new National Football League season is in the books, it is worth an early look at which teams are in line to contend for Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, February 3rd, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
32 teams all still have aspirations to contend the postseason, with success and defeat not being the ultimate decision to the hopes and expectations of teams within the NFL after just one game.
Bookmakers have been chalking up their odds for Super Bowl 53 almost before the confetti was cleared following the Philadelphia Eagles’ points-fest victory over the New England Patriots back in February, and in this article, we will offer three teams from each conference and suggest those who have the strongest chances of making the trip to Atlanta for Super Bowl week at the end of January.
New England Patriots
The obvious starting point here has to be the New England Patriots, with the evergreen duo of Quarterback Tom Brady and Head Coach Bill Belichick at the helm. The Patriots have been the American Football Conference (AFC) champions for three of the last four seasons, and they are once again favourites with the bookmakers to return for Super Bowl 53.
New England are 5/2 with Ladbrokes to win the AFC for the fourth time in five years and are 6/1 with Unibet to win the Super Bowl for a sixth time.
The Patriots began their campaign with a solid, if not spectacular 27-20 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday in front of their home support. New England has gone through lots of personnel changes since their defeat to the Eagles in Super Bowl 52, with both Offensive and Defensive co-ordinators leaving, along with some roster changes that may not necessarily strengthen the team. It is a brave call to write off New England at any point, but perhaps their golden run of success may be about to reach its point of ending before too long.
The trouble with opting against New England in making yet another Super Bowl appearance is the lack of credible contenders within the AFC. However, the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the definite rivals to New England, despite star running back LeVeon Bell abstaining from duty due to his contract dispute.
The Steelers are best priced 11/2 to win the AFC and 12/1 chances (generally available) to claim the Super Bowl crown for a record seventh time in their illustrious history. On the surface of Week 1’s 21-21 draw with perennial strugglers, the Cleveland Browns, you might assume this was a woeful performance. However, Cleveland are very much on an upward curve this season in my view, and will not be the pushover everyone has expected from them in recent seasons.
Bell is expected to hold-out on his services to around Week 10 according to reports, and that could ultimately benefit the Steelers at the business end of the campaign. A fresh star running back to come in for back-up James Connor could help Pittsburgh in their play-off aspirations.
The Jags succumbed to the Patriots at the end of an enthralling AFC Championship game last season, but that experience for this emerging team could bode well for the Floridian outfit going forwards. The Jaguars can be backed at 17/2 with Ladbrokes and Coral to go one step further than last term by making Super Bowl 53, while the 18/1 on offer with Ladbrokes and Coral again is likely to shorten up quickly as the season progresses.
The strength of the Jaguars team is with their top class defensive unit. They have star names all across the board – and most have still to reach their full potential. Their main concerns are with the offense, led by quarterback, Blake Bortles and his ability to rack up points on the opposition. The Jaguars defense came to the fore against the New York Giants in Week 1, and the Jaguars look to be reasonable value at the prices to go deep into the postseason again this time around.
Firstly, what I will say is that the National Football Conference is far more competitive than its rival, with six or seven teams having strong claims on reaching Super Bowl 53. However, the Philadelphia Eagles showed admirable guts and determination at key stages of their opening night 18-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons to suggest that Doug Pederson’s men will be there or thereabouts again this season.
The Eagles are a best priced 11/1 with Black Type to win back-to-back Super Bowls and 6/1 with the same firm to win the NFC. Back-up quarterback Nick Foles was the star of the Eagles’ path to glory last season following Carson Wentz’s season-ending knee injury last year. Wentz is almost ready to take over the reins for the Eagles, and following Foles’ less than impressive efforts throughout pre-season and against the Falcons, Wentz’s return cannot come quick enough.
Philadelphia still has all of the pieces of the jigsaw required to put in a firm bid for Atlanta in early February – solid defense, good running game and fine pass catching receivers. It’s just that the record of teams winning back to back Super Bowls is not very good. The Patriots were the last team to go back to back in 2003-04 seasons.
Los Angeles Rams
One thing is for sure, the Rams are in win now mode. The franchise has been busy in the offseason securing players and tying down existing stars to enhance their chances of a return to the Super Bowl before impending relocation.
The Rams are a best-priced 13/2 chance with Ladbrokes to win the NFC Championship, but strangely, just a 10/1 chance to win Super Bowl 53 with 888Sport.
Similar to the Eagles, the Rams have a very promising young quarterback in Jared Goff. Both Wentz and Goff came from the same draft class, and the duo have proven to be more than up to the task at the professional level. The Rams have a very potent offensive unit with the likes of running back, Todd Gurley and a very strong receiving core that includes Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods.
The Rams secured star defensive player Aaron Donald to a new contract in the off season and brought in Ndamukong Suh and Sam Shields to strengthen up their rear guard even further. I really like the look of the Rams this season, and provided Goff and Gurley can stay healthy, the Rams could well bring home the bacon.
Green Bay Packers
Never underestimate Green Bay – just ask the Chicago Bears following Week 1! The Bears led the Packers 20-3 at Lambeau Field, only for quarterback Aaron Rodgers to galvanise his troops with three fourth quarter touchdowns in a 24-23 win.
Black Type, 10Bet and Sport Pesa all go 14/1 on the Packers to win Super Bowl 53, and Black Type go top price of 7/1 to claim the NFC title. As long as Rodgers is behind center, ‘the cheeseheads’ will always have a chance.
Injuries have played their part in the Packers’ demise over recent seasons, and with some luck in that department, Green Bay could well prove to be a formidable opponent for anyone this season.
My selections for Super Bowl 53 this season are the Jacksonville Jaguars to play the Los Angeles Rams, with the Rams claiming the big prize. The odds of 17/2 with Ladbrokes on the Jags to make the Super Bowl are too good to pass up in an AFC Conference devoid of real depth.
By contrast, the NFC is stacked with teams capable of winning their conference. Honourable mentions must go to the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons, who despite my indications within this article, are all more than capable of winning it themselves.
Preference is for the Los Angeles Rams to win the hugely competitive NFC at 13/2 with Ladbrokes and then go on to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy in early February at 10/1 with and 888Sport.