As we approach the kickoff of the NFL season, everyone wants to know which team will win Super Bowl 53. To answer that question, The Action Network simulated the 2018 NFL season 10,000 times using player and team statistics adjusted for strength of schedule. The projections provide each team’s win total as well as its chances to make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.
On Feb. 3, 2019, two NFL teams will meet at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with the Lombardi Trophy on the line. Here is each team’s chance to reach the Super Bowl and win the title.
Last year’s Super Bowl participants are the most likely teams to represent their respective conferences in the championship game. The New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles are the only squads with better than a 10% chance of winning it all. Oddsmakers at 5Dimes also list the Patriots (+660) and Eagles (+1000) as clear favorites.
In a tier below the top contenders are the Pittsburgh Steelers (9.3%), New Orleans Saints (7.4%), Los Angeles Rams (7.4%) and Minnesota Vikings (7.0%). Combined, the six most likely champions win the Super Bowl nearly 70% of the time in our simulations.
Now that we’ve identified the most likely champions, it is time to place a few bets. By comparing our projections to available betting lines, we have found three teams worthy of a wager:
- Current odds: +1000, Implied Probability: 9.1%
- Eagles win the Super Bowl 17.2% of the time
Can the Eagles repeat? The NFL hasn’t had back-to-back champions since the Patriots in 2003-04, but Philly is well-positioned to make another title run. The Eagles expect 17 starters back from last season’s team that ranked in the top 10 in offensive and defensive DVOA.
This is a talented squad that managed to win it all without its best player. In Carson Wentz’s last nine games before tearing his ACL, he threw for 27 touchdowns and five interceptions. According to NBC Sports, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are the only other passers to toss 27 touchdowns and five or fewer picks in any nine-game stretch. The NFL MVP candidate is targeting a Week 1 return. With a healthy Wentz, the Eagles Super Bowl odds should be closer to +500, not +1000 according to our model.
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New England Patriots
- Current odds: +660, Implied Probability: 13.2%
- Patriots win the Super Bowl 20.6% of the time
Last year, the Patriots’ preseason Super Bowl odds were +275. Now you can get the Pats at +660. What has changed, really? No dynasty can last forever, but there is a lot to like about New England this season. The AFC East remains noncompetitive. The Pats are projected to win 12 games, which would be the ninth straight season the franchise has accomplished the feat. The Patriots are the most likely team to win their division and the only one with better than a 90% chance of reaching the postseason.
The +660 odds are the longest you’ll see all season as the Patriots are favored and projected to win every game until Week 15 in Pittsburgh. Grab the number before the public realizes Brady-Belichick still have it.
New Orleans Saints
- Current odds: +1775, Implied Probability: 5.3%
- Saints win the Super Bowl 7.4% of the time
A down year in passing stats (only 23 touchdowns) in 2017 might have you believing Drew Brees doesn’t have it anymore. However, the 39-year old quarterback set an NFL record for completion percentage (72.0%) and led the league in yards per attempt (8.1). The Saints no longer rely solely on the future Hall of Fame quarterback and that’s a good thing.
Easing the load for Brees are two young offensive weapons. Michael Thomas has put together consecutive 1,000 yards seasons to start his NFL career. In his rookie season, Alvin Kamara averaged more than 6.0 yards per carry, caught 81 balls and finished with 1,554 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns.
Offense has never been a problem in New Orleans. It was a defensive turnaround that propelled the Saints in 2017. With a pair of Pro Bowlers in Marshon Lattimore and Cameron Jordan, New Orleans finished with the eighth-best unit in DVOA, including top five against the pass. Every season Brees has been in New Orleans, the Saints have won at least 10 games if they’ve had an average or better defense.
All the pieces are here for a Super Bowl run, and with long odds, there is value betting Brees and the Saints to win a second championship.