Last week the Bengals were on a bye, yet their Super Bowl odds slightly dropped. To the average NFL fan this may be shocking. You might be thinking how can a team's odds to win the Super Bowl decrease when they don't even set foot on the field? Well, many things a factor into a team's Super Bowl odds. Some of those things include other teams in their division, other teams in their conference, the ease of the path to the Super Bowl, and the amount of money that is placed on a team in Vegas to actually win the Super Bowl.
With the Bengals on the bye week the Patriots went out and beat a very capable, and Wild Card contending, New York Jets team. This is the main reason I think the Bengals' odds dropped, it's not that the Patriots won the game, it's how they won the game. The Patriots beat the Jets who have one of the better defenses in the NFL without any running game to speak of. Tom Brady led their team in rushing, and unless you've been living under a rock, you know that he's actually the Patriots quarterback. This caused both the Bengals and the Broncos Super Bowl odds to slightly drop, because now the Patriots are seen as a more difficult team to beat, especially in the playoffs. With their remaining schedule, it's very likely that they will get home field throughout the playoffs. There are other teams that we all know and the national media knows are capable of beating the New England Patriots, however their remaining schedule is the easiest because they're playing the AFC South and the NFC East this year. That makes them more likely to get home field throughout the playoffs, making them a more formidable opponent for any team that would want to make it to the Super Bowl from the AFC.
The Arizona Cardinals saw their Super Bowl odds increase, even though they barely beat a mediocre Baltimore Ravens team. You might be curious on why this is, but it has to do with this same reason the Bengals odds were reduced in the AFC. Even though the Cardinals barely won, they are now in the driver's seat to win the NFC West and they are the second favorite in the NFC behind the Packers.
Because teams like Seattle and Dallas haven't been the teams that Vegas initially thought they would be before the season started, it has allowed other teams to improve their odds pretty substantially. The Carolina Panthers' odds also increased and that was because of their win in Seattle and the comeback fashion of which they did it. The reason why the Cardinals have better odds to win the Super Bowl than the Bengals is because they will have the easier route to get to the Super Bowl and as they say, you have to get to the dance to take home the prom queen. Right now New England is the odds on favorite to win it all, therefore all the other teams in the AFC will have lower odds to win the Super Bowl seeing that getting to the Super Bowl requires beating the Patriots.
The area where I think we will see the most movement after this week is in the AFC conference odds and especially the AFC North divisional odds. As well as the Bengals have played, Vegas hasn't seen a huge influx and money on them or they would have lower odds. They currently have a three loss lead on the division, meaning the Steelers have three losses and the Bengals have none, but the Steelers haven't had their bye week yet. Usually in a scenario like that, the team would be more favored to win the division than the Bengals are, but the Steelers' past history of playoff success and winning the AFC North have bettor's laying a lot of money on the Steelers right now.
Most people outside of Cincinnati, and probably even some inside the city, are waiting for the other shoe to drop on this Bengals team. With that in mind they are laying money on the Steelers and hoping the Bengals collapse, so they can cash in. This Sunday's game will really flip the script on these odds, if the Bengals lose I would suspect that the Bengals and Steelers will have similar odds to win the division and the Steelers will actually become bigger favorites to win the AFC, even though the Bengals will still have a substantial lead on the division. Perception is reality when it comes to Vegas and the money that is placed on teams.
The casual fan placing money on NFL futures doesn't get the inside scoop on every team, so they bet a lot on teams like the Steelers, Cowboys, Packers and Patriots always having worse odds than they may actually deserve. If the Bengals win I would suspect they will actually break even money, meaning you'll have to bet more than one dollar to win one dollar, if the Bengals win the division and will slightly improve their odds to win the AFC and make the Super Bowl.
Next week, we'll discuss the odds for offensive rookie of the year, defensive rookie of the year, MVP, and some other personal player odds. If there any odds you specifically want us to cover and explain let us know in the comments section.