How 41 Years of Preseason NFL Futures Can Help Predict Super Bowl LIII
Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
- SportsOddsHistory.com was able to track down NFL preseason Super Bowl odds dating back to 1977.
- There have been three separate time frames over the past 41 seasons where parity in the NFL was at its peak.
- With the Eagles Super Bowl win last season, these three teams -- Saints, Jaguars and Giants -- could start another era of parity in the NFL.
The chart below shows the preseason odds to win the Super Bowl for each champion from 1977 to 2017.
One issue with the data that must be mentioned is the hold percentage — the amount of juice a sport book takes out if its futures wager.
This percentage has been around 26% the last few seasons, but from 1977-1999, the average hold percentage was 38% and as high as 49% in the 1988 season.
This makes comparing the odds of past champions a little difficult. For instance, in 1982 the Washington Redskins were 35-1 to win Super Bowl XVII and had the 22nd-lowest odds among 28 teams.
Last year’s Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, were 40-1 to win the Super Bowl and had the 13th-lowest odds. Despite the higher hold percentage, there is still a trend that applies to the 2018 season.
From 1977 to 2016 there have been three brief time spans where parity was higher than usual and teams that were not considered one of the favorites ended up winning the Super Bowl.
Let’s look at these three time spans and the changing of the guard that occurred each time:
Raiders won in 1980 at 35-1; 49ers 50-1 in 1981; Redskins 35-1 in 1982
This marked the end of the Pittsburgh Steelers 1970s dynasty as they were coming off of back-to-back Super Bowl victories and would miss the playoffs after going 9-7 in 1980.
The Raiders were underdogs in each of their four playoff games and would became the first Super Bowl champion to have played in the wild-card round (added in 1978).
Rams 150-1 in 1999; Ravens 22-1 in 2000; Patriots 60-1 in 2001
No team was higher than 12-1 to win the Super Bowl from 1983-1998. The dominant teams of the 80s and 90s gave the non-contenders little chance to hold the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The 1988 Cincinnati Bengals — 40-1 in the preseason — were the only longshot during that stretch to come close to winning the Super Bowl, but lost a field-goal lead to San Francisco with just under a minute to play
The league was wide open in 1999 once John Elway announced his retirement after leading the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl victories. Denver was still listed as the top Super Bowl contender in the AFC while the Minnesota Vikings were the overall favorites following their 15-1 season in 1998.
Kurt Warner took over as quarterback for an injured Trent Green in the preseason and the Rams went on to become the NFL’s version of Leicester City.
Giants 30-1 in 2007; Steelers 18-1 in 2008; Saints 20-1 in 2009; Packers 11-1 in 2010; Giants 22-1 in 2011; Ravens 16-1 in 2012
Parity in the NFL reached its peak in this six-year stretch when five of the six champions were greater than 15-1 entering the season. The Giants started things off by shocking the heavily favored Patriots in their quest for an undefeated season.
Tom Brady tore his ACL in the opening week of the following season, and New England reached the Super Bowl once between 2008 and 2013 only to fall to the Giants again in the 2011 season.
With Philadelphia winning last season at 40-1, we believe the NFL is in store for another stretch of Super Bowl champions similar to the three periods listed above. Besides, what’s the fun in picking a team that’s less than 10-1 to win it all?
Here are three teams worth taking a flyer on for Super Bowl 53:
*Odds below are from the Westgate as of Aug. 6
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New Orleans Saints
- Odds to win Super Bowl: 16-1
- Over/under season win total: 9.5
With an improving defense, the Saints maintained their solid offense by re-signing Drew Brees to a hometown discount.
New Orleans was one “Keenum-to-Diggs miracle” away from reaching the NFC Championship Game last season and should be poised to make another deep run.
- Odds to win the Super Bowl: 16-1
- Over/under season win total: 9
The Jaguars had the top defense in the league last year, according to FootballOutsiders.com. Like the Saints, Jacksonville’s main offseason move was bringing back their starting quarterback for the 2018 season.
Say what you want about Blake Bortles, but you can’t argue with this fact:
New York Giants
- Odds to win the Super Bowl: 25-1
- Over/under season win total: 7
The Giants are the trendy longshot pick this season after opening up at 60-1 back in January.
The addition of Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite Saquon Barkley gives them the running game they have been missing — their leading rusher has averaged 728 yards per season over the past seven seasons.
Odell Beckham Jr. returns after missing most of last season with a fractured ankle and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur takes over as head coach.
Good luck this NFL season!
Follow Blake Mahowney on Twitter – @SOHistory