As we approach the midpoint of the NFL’s inaugural 18-week regular season, a half-dozen teams can make a case for being the best.
There are six teams with odds of 10-1 or less to win the Super Bowl. The Buffalo Bills are the clear betting favorites to win it all.
But the NFC is a 2-point favorite over the AFC in the early line for Super Bowl LVI — which will be played at SoFi Stadium, home of one of the top contenders in the Los Angeles Rams.
“The Bills are favored because there are no other good teams in the AFC,” Westgate SuperBook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said. “Who’s the second-best team in the AFC? Baltimore? Cincinnati just routed them.
“I would lean to whoever comes out of the NFC. But I couldn’t pick an NFC winner right now. There are just too many good teams.”
The Bills are consensus +450 favorites, followed by five NFC teams in the Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 6-1, the Dallas Cowboys at 8-1 and the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals at 10-1.
“Right now, I would put all those teams into a hat and call them equals,” Salmons said. “Those five NFC teams are so hard to separate. They’re all so close.”
Buffalo tops tight pack
Buffalo (5-2, 4-2-1 ATS) leads the league in scoring (32.7 points per game) and scoring defense (15.6 ppg allowed).
“If I had to pick a best team, I’d probably go with the Bills, then I think the Buccaneers and the Rams are probably just slightly behind them,” Circa sportsbook manager Chris Bennett said. “It’s funny. I’ve been asking (Circa oddsmaker) Jeff Davis on a weekly basis who’s better, the Cowboys or the Packers. Every week of the season, they’re about equal.
“I’d say the Cowboys and Packers are very close to the Bucs and Rams.”
The Rams, Packers and Cardinals are tied for the NFL’s best record at 7-1, followed by the Cowboys at 6-1 and Tampa Bay and Tennessee at 6-2.
“I would say right now the best teams are probably the Rams and the Buccaneers, with the Rams getting Von Miller and the play of Matt Stafford, and the consistency of the Bucs’ offense,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “Tennessee is No. 1 in the AFC but they lose Derrick Henry. Buffalo hasn’t looked great the last few weeks, although it has one of the easier schedules in football.
”On a neutral field, both the Bucs and Rams would be favored over the Bills. And you could almost put the Packers in that mix, too.”
Battle for the bye
Green Bay has won and covered seven straight since its season-opening blowout loss to the Saints. But the Packers will be without reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers (COVID-19 protocol) on Sunday at Kansas City.
“If Green Bay can get home field, I wouldn’t want to face Rodgers at Lambeau,” Salmons said. “The Rams went there in the playoffs last season and wanted no part of that. You put them in Green Bay in the winter time and it’s a completely different game.”
Salmons said the biggest key for the Rams, who lost 32-18 at Lambeau in last season’s playoffs, is staying healthy.
“If you look at Cooper Kupp’s history, he has been hurt every year of his career,” Salmons said. “They have no depth after the three receivers they have. If one gets hurt, they could be in trouble.”
Cowboys cash machine
Dallas has been a cash machine for bettors as the only NFL team with a perfect record ATS (7-0). Salmons said the Cowboys have a realistic shot to win their first Super Bowl since 1996.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Dallas is going to rack up a really good record. The Cowboys offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore, will be a head coach next year. He’s incredibly good at calling plays and devising schemes on offense.
“He makes Mike McCarthy look good.”
While the Chiefs (4-4, 2-6 ATS) have been the biggest disappointment thus far, Salmons said the Cardinals (6-2 ATS) have been the biggest surprise.
“I thought they were good. But I didn’t think they were this good,” he said. “Are the Cardinals going to win that division? Someone is going to get a bye out of this mess.”