Welcome to Week 1 of the NFL, where clichés about new seasons and new beginnings abound. It’s that happy moment when we, the collective of football fans, try to make ourselves believe that any team, from the Chiefs and Eagles to the Cardinals and Texans, has a chance to win it all.
Fans often feel deep in their souls the need to predict their team’s success, even when all the evidence points to failure. For those who want to put their money where their heart is, or for math-conscious skeptics trying to base their predictions on reality, Super Bowl futures are a common bet.
Super Bowl futures are a high risk, high reward situation for bettors. Beyond the fact that there are 32 teams vying for the Lombardi Trophy (meaning if all things were equal there would be a little over 3% chance of winning it all), other factors may impede. Key injuries, contract situations and team performance issues stand in the way of the next garish championship ring.
The payoff, however, is a big win where even the most favored team, Kansas City, pays out six times the original bet. A dark horse, like the New Orleans Saints, can fetch even more.
Futures also give us insight into how teams are performing throughout the season. Many sportsbooks have been offering championship odds since the end of the Super Bowl last year. The odds are updated regularly to reflect what bettors consider the likelihood of a team winning the big game, creating a sort of NFL power ranking.
Each week this season, we’ll be looking at how the odds have changed following the action of the previous weekend. With a lack of truly meaningful games so far, this week we’ll focus on one thing we can be certain of: quarterbacks are the kingmakers of the league.
Super Bowl preseason favorites built on elite quarterbacks
Of the nine teams with odds above +2300, eight feature a QB1 who either started a Super Bowl or was named to the Pro Bowl at least twice. Only five other starting quarterbacks from the rest of the league meet the criteria.
So what happens if one of those eight gets hurt? Johnny Avello, director of racing and sports operations at DraftKings, says the impact can be significant.
“It’s a great success,” says Avello. “I helped a guy who explained what the difference was between starting quarterback and second string. It’s a drop for some teams. You take a team like the Chiefs, it’s nine or ten points down by In some teams there are a few guys who are even, so it’s not that big of a drop.
“Teams need to go from being competitors to those who are practically excluded.”
The exception among the favorites with an elite flagger is the San Francisco 49ers. The 2022 “Mr. Irrelevant” Brock Purdy is back as a starter after a season that featured three different players in starting position and ended one game away from the Super Bowl.
Avello attributes San Francisco’s success to coach Kyle Shanahan’s contact with the quarterbacks.
“It’s above all a matter of coaching,” says Avello. “I’m not sure Brock Purdy would even be in the league if he hadn’t been with the 49ers. He would have been a second-tier player, he might never have had a chance and might have being knocked out at some point. But being in this system, it seems like it works for everyone.”
Maybe by the end of the year, we’ll all have a different take on Purdy or another yet-to-be-discovered NFL hero. Tom Brady, after all, was an unsung sixth-round replacement for Drew Bledsoe when he led the Patriots to their first championship. Kurt Warner went from storekeeper to Super Bowl MVP. Even Joe Montana wasn’t taken until ’82sd choice of draft.
A reminder, even for a math-conscious skeptic, that anything is possible.
Week 1 odds: Super Bowl LVIII winner
The odds below were taken from sportsbooks on Thursday, September 7 before noon.
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