1. The last six Super Bowl champions came from the middle of the pack by Las Vegas standards, listed somewhere between 12-to-1 and 25-to-1 in future odds before the season began. Seven teams are within that range at the LVH Superbook this year: Texans (12-to-1), Falcons (16-to-1), Saints (18-to-1), Steelers (20-to-1), Giants (25-to-1), Bears (25-to-1) and Bengals (25-to-1).
2. Which of those choices looks most attractive? Maybe the Bengals. They’ve made the playoffs two years in a row with a dominant player on each side of the ball (receiver A.J. Green and defensive tackle Geno Atkins) and one of the league’s youngest cores that should continue to improve.
3. Indianapolis is another up-and-coming team creeping into that group, and they’re currently 30-to-1 to win the Super Bowl. But unlike the Bengals, the Colts are a clear bet-against this season. They made the postseason in a fluke last year—getting outscored by 30 points on the season but going 9-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less—earning a better reputation than they deserve.
4. Don’t just take my word on the bet-on and bet-against teams. Let’s glance at what the betting market thinks through the lens of future bets, win totals and early game lines. Here are four teams the smart money likes: Saints, Panthers, Eagles and Chiefs. And four they don’t: Falcons, Vikings, Raiders and Ravens.
5. The most profitable team to wager on over the past six seasons has been Green Bay. The Packers are the only NFL franchise to cover in more than 60 percent of their games in that span, going 65-38 against the spread.
6. The least profitable? America’s Team. The Cowboys have gone 43-55 against the spread since 2007, posting three straight losing marks. They’re only 12-21 versus the number inside the $1.4 billion stadium owner Jerry Jones built.
7. On to the advice. Let’s start with an important one: Always shop for the best line before placing a bet. Never take a team favored by 3, for example, when there’s a minus-2.5 available down the street. Those half-points represent more value than they seem, and not taking advantage is a surefire way to go broke in the long run.
8. Don’t read too much into injuries. Every year, there are a few games throughout the season where sports books clobber public bettors after an overreaction to one player missing time. NFL teams, for the most part, are equipped and prepared to deal with the inevitability of injuries, and oddsmakers know it.
9. Avoid ties-lose parlay cards. Some advocate skipping parlays altogether, but that’s unrealistic—the appeal of turning a small bet into a large payout will always fascinate gamblers. Still, sacrificing the chance for a push to keep the card alive greatly diminishes both the success rate and expected return.
10. Never pay for picks—ever. Those ads claiming an 80 or 90 percent success rate are a scam; the best handicappers in the world don’t exceed 60 percent over the long term. It’s difficult enough carving out a profit when the casino takes 10 cents of juice out of every dollar wagered. Paying an even higher vig to a third party is bankroll suicide.