There have been 13 NFL teams eliminated from playoff contention, so you can no longer wager on them to win the Super Bowl.
It’s nice of the sportsbooks to do this.
Ready to potentially flush money down the drain anyway?
As a warning, be advised I’ve liked the Saints to win the Super Bowl all season and didn’t deviate from this stance even when they lost Drew Brees for over a month due to a thumb injury. It certainly helped that Teddy Bridgewater helped keep the team from slipping in the standings, but that’s when there was value on riding with New Orleans. Their championship odds were boosted from 12-1 to 20-1 and went right back to 12-1 per the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook before ultimately reaching their current position of 5-1.
That’s still a nice payday, but for the purposes of this column, the Saints don’t fit the bill. The same goes for Baltimore, now the Super Bowl favorite (5-2). We tackled the Ravens before they defeated the Patriots and liked them to win that Sunday night game outright in announcing their candidacy as a real title contender. The time to get on the Lamar Jackson train was then, not now.
What we’re examining in this edition is whether there’s anyone to really get rich on, lottery ticket-style. Who can shock the world?
The soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders are the longest of longshots, going off at 1,000-1. This would be ideal if there was an honest belief they had any shot whatsoever, but ruling out prized rookie running back Josh Jacobs just before kickoff last week contributed to a home loss to the Titans that puts them into an impossible situation.
We’re looking for a fairy-tale ending, not spinning a fairy tale.
At 500-1, the Browns can still make the playoffs, but Freddie Kitchens is too awful a head coach and Baker Mayfield too inconsistent at this point in his career to trust. Odell Beckham Jr.’s season is done and soon, Cleveland’s will be too. The Colts are 500-1 as well and realistically bowed out by losing in Tampa Bay on Sunday, missing top receiver T.Y. Hilton for one game too many.
The Bears, an NFC co-favorite when the season began, do look enticing at 100-1, especially if you like nice round numbers. Beleaguered QB Mitchell Trubisky has found a spark and a three-game winning streak that includes an upset of the Cowboys has things trending in the right direction. Unfortunately, even wins at the Packers and Vikings that would help Chicago draw closer in the North Division would require additional help, such as the Chargers beating Minnesota this weekend or Detroit taking down Green Bay in Week 17.
With no room for error, the Bears would have to beat the Chiefs on Dec. 22, too. Let’s face it, they would probably have a field goal bang off the crossbar even if they were in position to pull it all off.
No, the team that looks best-equipped to stun the football world look to be the Rams, available at 80-1 for your pipe-dream pleasures.
An upset of the 49ers would be required next weekend, but L.A. can now get to 11-5 after an impressive Week 14 rout of the Seahawks if they can win out. They’ll need the Vikings to get tripped up some, but Minnesota’s schedule isn’t easy. Given all the experience gathered during last year’s Super Bowl run, the Rams are a great value play as far as a true long shot goes. They would have the chip and the chair. L.A. is 40-1 to win the NFC, so you may as well throw what you can find under your cash cushions or in your console on that too.
Here are this week’s selections:
Jets at Ravens -14.5: Lamar Jackson is nursing a quad injury, which means you have to ask yourself whether you trust Robert Griffin III to pinch-hit on a short week in case he’s pressed into duty. The Jets also have health concerns in play given Le’Veon Bell’s uncertain status and his backup Bilal Powell potentially sidelined with an ankle injury. Jackson potentially being out means taking a spread of over two touchdowns offers great value, so our hand is forced in that direction. JETS
Seahawks -6 at Panthers: After a disappointing outing against the Rams, Seattle will look to claim its playoff spot by following Atlanta’s act in containing Christian McCaffrey while exploiting the Panthers’ brutal tackling. Ron Rivera wasn’t the problem in Charlotte. SEAHAWKS
Buccaneers -3.5 at Lions: Jameis Winston has been a turnover machine all season, but he’s been able to overcome that of late in leading Tampa Bay on an unlikely three-game winning streak. Top target Mike Evans blew out his hamstring scoring a touchdown against the Colts and is likely done, but the Bucs still have plenty of weapons to take advantage of Detroit’s terrible pass defense. Rookie David Blough hasn’t exactly been inspiring for Detroit since a great first quarter against the Bears in his Thanksgiving debut. BUCS
Jaguars at Raiders -7: The bottom has fallen out for Jacksonville, which has lost five straight games by 17 or more points. That doesn’t bode well for head coach Doug Marrone, who may find that ‘Minshew Magic’ won’t be able to mask the fact he’s lost his team. This will be the final game the Silver and Black will play in Oakland — for real this time — and that will certainly play a role. RAIDERS
Falcons at 49ers -11: Credit Atlanta for bouncing back with victories in three of its past five games post-bye. Although losing touchdown leader Calvin Ridley is a tough blow, Julio Jones remains in place and there is enough talent on both sides of the ball to expect Dan Quinn’s team to avoid a double-digit loss. After all, this a tough spot for surging San Francisco, coming back home off a taxing two weeks spent outside the Bay Area that resulted in a thrilling split against fellow top title contenders Baltimore and New Orleans.
It’s only natural that the Niners would let down their guard some. FALCONS
Rams -1 at Cowboys: I wouldn’t write a whole column mulling over L.A.’s potential only to pick them to lose to the fading Cowboys.
Fortunately for Dallas, it will still have a potential reprieve to save itself come Week 16 against the Eagles. The Rams don’t have that luxury and will play that way, continuing to ride a hot Jared Goff and a resurgent Todd Gurley. RAMS
Last week: 3-3