Super Bowl 51 Predictions: A First Look at the Odds

Super Bowl 51, which will be the 47th incarnation of the game in the modern era of the NFL, might not be scheduled to take place until February 5, 2017, but the pundits are already out in force. Just a couple of months removed from the Denver Broncos’ 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers, the fans, bookmakers and analysts are already speculating on the make-up of the next super showdown.

Of course, as is customary in the world of sports predictions, the current champions are always put under the spotlight. It’s always helpful to look to the past and last season the pride of Denver were the top franchise in a number of areas in the lead up to the finale.

Having previously made seven Super Bowls, the Broncos delighted its corporate sponsor Coca-Cola by making it eight in 2016 (matching the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers) to clinch their third title. Moreover, the Broncos were the top franchise for yards allowed during the regular NFL season, which made them a top pick for many heading into the big match.

The Manning Effect


Of course, there was the counterpoint that the Panthers had won 15 regular season games. They had led in all of their games up until the Super Bowl (where they never took the lead) and 10 points was their lowest game tally all season. However, these facts appeared to mean very little to the Broncos and, of course, Peyton Manning.

The 18-season veteran was the Broncos’ main man from 2012 to 2016 and Super Bowl 50 was going to be his swansong. With 198 completion rating for passing and 2,249 yards throughout the regular season, the Manning effect was enough to put the wave of momentum behind the Broncos heading into Super Bowl 50.

Although he may not have had as much of an effect in the match as some expected (that’s not to say 13 completed passes and 141 yards is bad), the presence of a player like Manning certainly helped tip the balance in the Broncos’ favor. With that in mind, what could the Broncos hope for this season?

Well, for all the impact Manning had in 2016, he won’t be there to offer the same in 2017. Following his retirement, the Broncos will be looking for a new talisman. Unfortunately, finding someone like Manning won’t be easy. In fact, with Manning out and other franchises looking stronger than ever, the odds don’t favor the Broncos ahead of Super Bowl 51.

Odds Against the Broncos


Of course, it’s almost too early to speculate on the likely winner in 2017, but the oddsmakers are already laying down a few lines. The NFL and Super Bowl 51 odds in particular are now being studied by fans (of which there are now millions around the world) and gamblers alike.

According to the line at BetStars on April 12th, the Broncos are a 14/1 shot to win Super Bowl 51 in the post-Manning era. While those odds are far from disastrous, the franchise’s post-season demise becomes apparent when you see that their beaten opponents, the Panthers, are currently at odds of 15/2. Things become even more apparent when you realize the New England Patriots’ odds are half the Broncos at 7/1.

So how likely is it that the Patriots will usurp the current incumbents, and have the oddsmakers crunched the numbers correctly? There’s no doubt the Patriots are perennial contenders when it comes to the NFL and the Super Bowl and that doesn’t look set to change next time around.

Barring any injuries to Tom Brady, who now use sleep science to boost his performances, and Bill Belichick, the Patriots should do it again. Brady’s 36 touchdown passes and 4,770 passing yards with a 102.2 passer rating was a league best last season and that sort of form (at the age of 38!) is one of the main reasons the Patriots are tipped for success in 2017.

More than a Two-Horse Race

Image: USA Today Sports

Naturally, there’s more to Super Bowl success than a single player and if the Patriots are going to impress the event’s sponsors such as Bud Light, Accenture and Chevron, then they’ll need to beat the likes of the Seattle Seahawks (15/2), the Panthers and the Green Bay Packers (10/1). According to NFL pundit Raymond Rivard, the lack of injuries to Jordy Nelson and the addition of Aaron Rodgers to the Packers’ set-up in will make them a force to contend with as Super Bowl 51 draws closer.

What about the Seahawks? Well, thanks to partnerships with Nike, Toyota, Verizon and more, Paul Allen’s Seahawks have built up a team worth around $1.8 billion and it’s likely that quality will show on the road to Super Bowl 51. Despite going 10-6 during the regular season in 2015, the Seahawks will probably have one of the best defensive line-ups in 2016.

Assuming they can keep safety Kam Chancellor and defensive end Michael Bennett, the team will be tough to beat and may live up to the sports cliché that defensive performances win championships. Of course, as we saw last season, literally anything can happen between now and the final whistle.

While the weight of public opinion might be on the side of the Patriots at present, the Broncos proved last time out that a few star players and some flashes of brilliance can win you the Super Bowl and that could prove true this season for more than 160 million fans around the world. The Broncos may be a 14/1 shot in some oddsmakers’ books but that doesn’t mean they can’t win. Similarly, that doesn’t mean they’ll clinch the title.

Wherever your persuasions lay, there’s no doubt the race to Super Bowl 51 will be a hugely entertaining one.

John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.