On Jan. 18, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook released its odds for Super Bowl LVI in 2022 in Inglewood, California.
The Kansas City Chiefs were favored at 6-1 odds, with Green Bay and Buffalo close behind at 10-1 and Baltimore, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay next at 12-1.
A little more than 12 hours after Tom Brady won his seventh Lombardi Trophy, thanks to the Buccaneers’ suffocating defense that stymied the Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV, the odds were updated swiftly. Kansas City is now 5-1 while defending champion Tampa Bay is alone as the second choice at 8-1.
This interesting pandemic of a season may be over, and I certainly hope we never have to endure such a thing again. So as put a wrap on things, it’s certainly never too soon to look ahead with an intriguing offseason forthcoming, be it free agency (which kicks off March 17), the NFL Draft, and suddenly before you know it, OTAs.
With close to half of the league’s 32 teams carrying storylines surrounding the arguably the most important position in any sport, I won’t waste space in my final column for Gaming Today on quarterbacks.
Don’t get me wrong, I remain intrigued on whether or not Deshaun Watson and Derek Carr will have new zip codes from a local standpoint. My opinion, unless the Raiders receive an incredible deal without losing much more than Carr, he’s staying.
Personally, I’d rather talk about the team I think is worth the hard-earned cash you made betting the Buccaneers on the moneyline after I delivered the goods for a second straight year in the Super Bowl. Sure, the Chiefs and Bucs will be there next year contending; but forget those shrunken odds.
You saw what Todd Bowles’ defense did with the Bucs, right? Well, at 8-1 odds to win the NFC, and 16-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Rams are a team carrying solid value heading into the offseason. They boast the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in Aaron Donald, who led a unit that allowed a league-low 4,511 yards in the regular season and limited opponents to scoring on 27.9% of their drives, tops in the NFL.
The Rams landed Matthew Stafford, and they have a little more than a month to do some finagling with their salary cap, something I expect them to work out before the official start of next season, March 17.
Stafford brings an entirely different package to Los Angeles’ backfield, where his physical presence has to have coach Sean McVay excited about his playmaking ability alone. Jared Goff somewhat kept the Rams limited with what they could do, which is why they ranked 13th in the league with 4,014 yards passing and scored on a dismal 34.2% of their offensive drives, eighth worst in the league.
Some perspective: Kansas City (4,854) and Tampa Bay (4,626) ranked No. 1 and 2 in passing yards and were third (47.9%) and sixth (47.8%) in drives ending in a score, respectively.
Further, Goff threw 20 touchdowns vs. 13 interceptions, while Stafford threw 26 TDs vs. 10 picks. Now imagine the roles reversed on their new teams, when you figure the Lions’ offensive line allowed a sack on a league 11th-worst 6.7% of the time a pass was attempted. The Rams allowed a sack on a league sixth-best 4.1% of the time.
Yet, the Lions averaged 256.5 yards passing per game, 10th-highest, while the Rams gained an average of 250.9 yards through the air, which ranked 13th. The teams’ quarterback rating found the Lions ranked 18th (93.3) and Los Angeles sitting 22nd (88.4).
Fact is, when you look at comparisons between Stafford and Goff, the numbers are glaring on how they performed. When you factor in team analytics and see the Lions (5-11) fared better overall with a worse team than the Rams (10-6) because of what Stafford created, it’s scary to think what he will do for Los Angeles when its stifling defense continues to provide opportunity after opportunity by stopping the opposition.
Since this is the last time we’ll be talking, and in case you’re looking for some value in next year’s Super Bowl — to be played by the way at SoFi Stadium — get yourself a little something on the Rams. After seeing the Bucs win in their partially filled stadium in this year’s Super Bowl, I can only imagine Los Angeles getting to the final Sunday next season in jam-packed SoFi.
Finally, one day shy of my two-year anniversary of writing for all of you wonderful readers, I thank you for your time each week. I hope you’ve enjoyed the insight, hope you had some fun reading about baseball, football, a little basketball here and there, some old Vegas tales mixed in, and the overall vibe editor Steve Carp, general manager Howard Barish, and owner-publisher Bill Paulos thought you’d like when bringing me aboard.
From my section in the publication I’ve known since I was a kid, then known as the Sports Form, and now scribe for in its final edition as Gaming Today, I bid you adieu and wish you best of luck at the window.
Final season record: 56-54-1