Super Bowl 53 Odds: 5 Sleeper Teams That Could Be Worth Your Money

by Kevin Roberts
on February 9, 2018
All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from BetOnline at 12:46 pm CT on 2/8/2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.

It didn’t take long for the top NFL betting sites to issue Super Bowl 53 odds, as Bovada and other sites had bettors looking ahead to 2018 immediately after Super Bowl 52 ended.

The New England Patriots opened as the clear favorites to win next year, despite losing in a shootout to the Philadelphia Eagles. Even making it to the league’s title game next year would give the Pats three consecutive Super Bowl trips, though, so it could make some sense to think outside the box.

In addition, after the Eagles rode their underdog status to the franchise’s first-ever Lombardi Trophy, it stands to reason that another sleeper team could come out of the woodwork.

That’s been a growing theme in recent years, after all. Even outside of actual title winners, teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons have risen up to produce elite seasons when the betting world really didn’t expect them to.

New England opens things up with hefty +550 odds at BetOnline, but even they offer insane value going into next year.

That has me thinking just how much value could be had elsewhere, with teams that might not necessarily be favorites right now but could eventually pay off. Here’s my favorite five:

Atlanta Falcons (+2000)

First up are the Falcons, who still look a lot like the team that nearly won their first Super Bowl two years ago.

Matt Ryan was the league MVP in 2016 en route to Atlanta’s second-ever trip to the NFL title game, but he and the Falcons took their foot off the gas after building a 28-3 lead against the New England Patriots.

That resulted in a horrific collapse and a 0-2 record in the big game, but the Falcons swallowed their pride and pieced together a respectable 2017 season. That culminated in one playoff win and a round-two exit by the hands of this year’s eventual champions.

Looking back, the Falcons went away from what worked offensively and they’d be wise to get more vertical in 2018. They may have to make a few adjustments, but this is otherwise a team that remains stacked on both sides of the ball and is also incredibly well coached.

Atlanta has the tools of a title contender, yet seemingly less talented teams like the Saints, Vikings, and Cowboys hold similar or superior odds. I see a lot of value with Atlanta, especially if you can get them at a steeper price.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+2200)

The Jaguars could be an even better option, as they offer more upside than the Falcons and are fresh off of their first AFC title game since 1999.

Jacksonville never had a rich history of championship experience, but the second Tom Coughlin entered their front office, you had the feeling they were on to something special.

That has at least been the case defensively, as the team now dubbed “Sacksonville” developed into an elite unit in terms of pass rush (2nd in sacks) and pass defense (1st). The Jaguars were still vulnerable against the run at times, but many regarded them as the league’s best defense and it was awfully hard to argue against that logic.

On the other side of the ball, stud rookie rusher Leonard Fournette paced the NFL’s very best rushing attack and there is reason to believe that area of Jacksonville’s offense could be just as good in 2018, if not (gulp) better.

I’m not sure how one “improves” upon being the best, but Fournette is dominant enough o find a way.

The only real weakness in Jacksonville is in the passing game, but Blake Bortles appeared to make strides at times and even stepped up during a three-game playoff run.

So far the Jags seem content to ride things out with their franchise quarterback, but if they were to aim high and land an upgrade (say, Kirk Cousins?), these Super Bowl 53 odds could quickly come off as a serious steal.

Carolina Panthers (+2500)

I’m not a Panthers fan, but for some reason, I tend to overrate this team every single year. That wasn’t really the case in 2017, though, as they were actually one of my favorite sleepers and they responded with a playoff appearance.

Carolina was ultimately ousted by the Saints, but before that happened they slowly unleashed a brand new offensive weapon in rookie running back Christian McCaffrey and also put a strong defense on the field.

The bread and butter for the Panthers has always been running the football and playing sound defense. They returned to that in 2017, finding a way to rank 4th in the league in rushing yards per game on offense and 3rd in the NFL against the run.

When it came to battles inside the trenches, the Panthers were as good as anyone. The main thing holding them back was some vulnerability in their secondary, as well as an erratic passing game.

If the Panthers can shore up their pass defense and get a little more explosive on offense, they might be the top Super Bowl 53 sleeper to watch.

Oakland Raiders (+3300)

I’m not going to be the guy that jumps up and down over the Raiders bringing Jon Gruden back into the fold, but I certainly never thought the silver & black were destined for greatness with Jack Del Rio running the show.

The Raiders woefully under-achieved in 2017, as they teased an entire city after looking like legit Super Bowl contenders in 2016. Oakland was far too talented offensively to trudge along like they did, while Khalil Mack was wasted on an aggressive but severely flawed defense.

In the end, the Raiders didn’t win all of the close games they were able to the previous year and they simply got buried in a slowly improved AFC West. Next year could be their chance to storm the castle, however, as the Chiefs traded away Alex Smith and could be due for regression.

Even if they’re not, the Raiders brought in a coach who has won a title and even at one point got Oakland to the AFC championship game. Gruden may have some flaws and could be rusty as a decision-maker, but in theory, he gives the Raiders an upgrade at the shot-caller spot.

Elsewhere, Derek Carr headlines a still potent offense and if the Raiders can add some help around Mack on defense, they could snap back to where they were in 2016. Only one down year removed from gaudy expectations, the Raiders could truly offer staggering value at +3300 in a very winnable division.

Washington Redskins (+5000)

Your personal list of Super Bowl 53 sleepers doesn’t have to end here, but when I break down teams I think offer betting value and upside, the Redskins fit the bill.

Washington has already been hovering in or around the playoffs the last few years, as they even won the NFC East two seasons ago. The trade to land Alex Smith was a bold move, too, and one that possibly gave them a short-term upgrade while saving a little cash in the process.

It’s possible not bringing back Kirk Cousins will rub some people the wrong way, but adding Smith gives the Redskins a proven winner who also showed in 2017 that he can attack defenses down the field. Besides, a ticked off Smith probably won’t be a bad thing.

In fact, for all of his would-be flaws, Smith was regularly held back by his coaching during his time in Kansas City. There is a very valid argument that he could continue improving as a passer – even at age 34 – in Jay Gruden’s system.

The weapons should be there for him to do so, as Jordan Reed supplies him with a big, athletic tight end and Chris Thompson is an explosive receiver to utilize out of the backfield.

Offensively, the Redskins can continue to be safe, but relatively explosive, especially if they can add one key go-to wide receiver during the offseason.

The upside really lies with this team’s defense, however. Josh Norman and Ryan Kerrigan team up to head a talented and rather underrated bunch – a unit that finished 9th against the pass and tied for 7th in sacks a year ago.

Washington already has the goods to move the ball and defend and seriously could be 1-2 more big moves from staking their claim as the best team in the NFC East. That’s a tough sell with the Eagles just securing the Lombardi Trophy, but that’s also why you’re getting sweet value at +5000.

Summary

In the end, it’s tough to know for sure who will rise up and compete for the Super Bowl next year. It really might just be all about the Patriots again when it’s all said or done, or maybe Vegas has it right with another top contender.

There are still several teams with +1800 Super Bowl odds or greater than have a strong case to be seen as title threats, after all.

Minnesota and Pittsburgh both made it to their conference title games this year and the Pats have everything they need to make another title run. Beyond that, teams like the Packers and Seahawks don’t seem ready to allow their Super Bowl windows to close just yet, either.

The 32-team race starts with free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft and until things start to clear up over the next few months, it remains anyone’s game. That being said, it’s a fair guess to imagine the Pats will be somewhat involved and that the Eagles probably won’t repeat.

Beyond that, looking for value is important for bettors.

Doing it this early might not land you the winner you want already, but it does lay the foundation for potentially spotting that sneaky sleeper that nobody else saw coming.
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