“$how Me the Money”: Best Super Bowl LIII Bets
By Ha Kung Wong, Joanne Kong, Scott King and Ryan Whitfield
Now that the Supreme Court has struck down a 24 year old law outlawing sports betting, opening up sportsbooks around the US, you no longer have to live near Las Vegas to put money on your favorite team.
Of course, my favorite team is the Chicago Bears, who weren’t really good since 1985. And since I don’t happen to have a time machine handy, the best I can do is place a bet on some other team. But now that I’ve eliminated one team from contention, there’s still 31 more, most with different odds. So how does one choose who to place their hard earned money on? Or at least I’m assuming it’s hard earned. I suppose you could be a trust fund kid and been given your money, in which case I know a Nigerian prince who could use your help. Just email me directly and we can work it out. But I digress.
If you’re betting on who will win Super Bowl LIII, and you’d prefer to avoid the oft used “eeney meeney miney moe” method, then it’s more than just looking at the odds or which team has the best shot at winning. It’s also considering which team has the best payoff as compared to the risk.
But talk is cheap. Let’s get down to brass tacks here. Who would WE place our hard earned money on if we were looking to get the best payout to risk ratio?
Joanne’s Pick – San Francisco 49ers
Current Vegas Odds to Win Super Bowl 53: 25-1
2017 Record: 6-10, fourth in the NFC East
In 2017, after losing their first nine games of the season, San Francisco fans had little to be excited about. Even players like running back, Carlos Hyde, and wide receivers, Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin, were unable to garner a win with quarterback Brian Hoyer, who went 0-5 to start the season, and rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard, who went 1-5 with their first win of the season against the New York Giants in week 10. It seemed like nothing could pull this team out of their tail spin as they battled the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants for the bottom of the league, and the top of the draft.
In comes Jimmy Garoppolo. On October 31, 2017, the New England Patriots traded back-up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for their 2018 2nd round draft pick. Making his debut in week 12 against the Seattle Seahawks after rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard suffered an injury, Garoppolo completed both passing attempts for 18 yards and a touchdown. Although the 49ers lost that week, Garoppolo started the next five games and went 5-0, ending the 49ers season with a respectable 6-10.
So why are the 49ers a better team in 2018?
They’ve gained stability at quarterback position. Although 49ers fans shouldn’t expect Garoppolo to finish the upcoming season undefeated, since being drafted in 2014, Garoppolo has had seven starts and never lost a game with a perfect 7-0 record. In 2017, Garoppolo had a 67.5 completion percentage, threw for 1,560 yards, 7 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. If 2017 was a preview, the 49ers are looking promising in the upcoming season.
Can Jimmy Garoppolo repeat the level of play we saw in the second half of 2017? pic.twitter.com/MU83xQFAdu
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 25, 2018
That’s not the only change the 49ers have made. With the loss of Carlos Hyde, they’ve signed former Minnesota Vikings running back, Jerick McKinnon. To round out their front line, the 49ers drafted offensive tackle Mike McGlinchy out of Notre Dame in the first round as the 9th overall pick. With a defense that finished 24th in 2017, the 49ers are looking at corner back Richard Sherman to become the game changer they need. In addition, with a full offseason working with wide receivers Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon and potential two tight end sets with Garrett Celek and George Kittle, Garoppolo should have even more options down field, priming the 49ers to take the NFC West. At 25-1, it’s a pretty enticing bet.
Ha Kung’s Pick – Houston Texans
Current Vegas Odds to Win Super Bowl 53: 20-1
2017 Record: 4-12, fourth in the AFC South
Important Losses: LB Brian Cushing
The Texans were cursed in 2017. They lost J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus turning an intimating defense into a mediocre matchup, at best. And just when Texan fans started to believe that the arrival of Deshaun Watson meant that they didn’t need their defense to win games, he went down with a torn ACL. And from that point forward, the Texans won only one more game that season on the back of poor QB play and a defense that allowed the most points per game of any team in the NFL (27.3).
Watson returned to preseason action and showed quite a bit of rust, but more importantly, showed no ill effect returning from injury, not even bothering to wear a brace on his surgically repaired knee. Paired with one of the most dynamic and productive WRs in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins, as well as Will Fuller and perhaps even help from 4th round draft pick Keke Coutee, the offense is looking to come together nicely.
DeAndre Hopkins delivered with another big year in 2017. pic.twitter.com/Qh4ithRk0B
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 29, 2018
Lamar Miller returns to the backfield and hopes to rebound with Watson returning. And the defense is back with a capital B, with Watt and Mercilus returning from injury, Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu added in free agency and stand out rookie Justin Reid vying to start. Everyone is talking about the Jags defense, but the Texans should give them a run for their money for top D in the league.
The Jags almost made the Super Bowl last year entirely on the back of their defense. So why can’t the Texans do it this year with the addition of an explosive, high octane offense? That on top of having the lowest strength of schedule in 2018 in the league, I love my chances, particularly getting 20-1 odds.
Scott’s Pick – Denver Broncos
Current Vegas Odds to Win Super Bowl 53: 33-1
2017 Record: 5-11, fourth in AFC West
Important Losses: None.
With the season right around the corner it’s time to make some predictions. I’ve already posted in my Twitter (@nflfantasy_more) my full season predictions. I’m calling for the Packers to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. However, this prediction is about who I’d put money on to win. The Pats and Packers are heavy favorites and there’s not much value in that bet. I looked at the current odds and decided that the Broncos at 33-1 was the best value.
New Broncos quarterback Case Keenum was fifth in adjusted completion percentage under pressure last season. pic.twitter.com/mhWlS8Rp8o
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 7, 2018
They finally added a QB that should be able to move that offense and their defense is still stout. I’m not sure if they have enough weapons to win, but it’s a good value bet heading into the season, particularly having the 5th lowest strength of schedule in the league.
Ryan’s Pick – Green Bay Packers
Current Vegas Odds to Win Super Bowl 53: 14-1
2017 Record: 7-9, third in NFC North.
It’s time for Aaron Rodgers to get his second ring. That’s right, I have the Packers bringing home the Lombardi in Super Bowl 53. And I have them beating the defending runner up, the Patriots. First, thanks to Scott, we all went through and picked every game from week one through the championship, and that’s how I ended up with Green Bay. The Packers offense has options at running back, they added Jimmy Graham, have one of the best receivers in the game, and of course have number 12 under center.
Career grades for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. pic.twitter.com/mIlOwBnCvt
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 30, 2018
Defensively, they now have the trio of Tramon Williams, Kevin King and my personal favorite rookie corner, Jaire Alexander. I don’t love the chances of the Patriots being the first Super Bowl loser to return to the Super Bowl since the early 90’s Bills, but the AFC is the weaker conference and it’s how it honestly worked out. In the event that’s how it goes, I don’t see them beating the much improved Packers defense and team. All that and you’re still getting 14-1 odds.
Alright, so what are you waiting for? Get those bets in! Remember, as Paul Newman said in “The Color of Money” — “A dollar won is twice as sweet as a dollar earned.” Or as Cuba Gooding Jr. said in “Jerry McGuire” — “Show me the money!” Actually, that has nothing to do with this article. I just really like Cuba Gooding Jr. At least until he did “Snow Dogs”.