The Oakland Raiders are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports, having been founded back in 1931 and making their home in the nation’s capital since 1961. They have been involved in one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history, having won six Super Bowl titles and going a perfect 14-0 in the regular season in the years following their 1971-1974 run — the only team in NFL history to accomplish that feat. They are also infamous for their never-ending quest for excellence on the field, having played in the same division as some of the greatest teams of all time. They were among the last to be placed in the league’s playoffs in 2012 before returning to the postseason the following year.
The Denver Broncos are a relatively newer addition to the NFL, having first joined the league back in 1969 and having never had a winning season. Since their founding, the Broncos have been involved in some pretty incredible upsets, having won the Super Bowl just once and notching a 43-8 record in the regular season from 1969-1976. After nearly doubling their win total the next two years, they returned to their original form, going winless from 1977-1983 before enjoying another playoff berth in 1984. Since then they have been one of the NFL’s most consistent and competitive franchises, having made the playoffs 14 out of the past 16 seasons and never reaching more than 3.5 wins on the year.
With the Raiders moving to the East and the Broncos moving to the Midwest, this year’s edition of the annual World Series of Football has altered the lines in which we normally place our bets. This article will take a quick look at whether this is just a one-off occurrence or the beginning of a new trend.
History of Favorites Moving To New Divisions
The NFL itself is a 32-team league, so to have two teams from such similar backgrounds and having both played a role in one of the greatest sports rivalries of all time (yes, even the Cubs vs. the Red Sox seem more friendly in comparison), makes for an interesting mix. One would assume that this year’s World Series of Football would be no different, as the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders have long been the types of teams which one would predict could fare well in a tournament setting. After all, it’s not like the matchups really surprise anyone.
The story, however, is a little more interesting than that. Since the turn of the century, teams which have been traditionally viewed as powerhouses have begun to see a decline in both their power and national fan base. Think about it – in the first 10 years of the new century, the Miami Dolphins had 6 winning seasons and made the playoffs 4 times. Today, they have 2 winning seasons in the last 6 years and have yet to make the postseason. They currently possess one of the worst defenses in the league and are clearly not what they used to be.
Similarly, the New England Patriots have seen a similar decline in recent years, having become quite stale. They have yet to miss the playoffs in Bill Belichick’s tenure and have posted at least 10 wins in 7 out of the last 8 seasons. It’s definitely a different world now in New England, as these 2 Super Bowl winners have both been struggling mightily on the field in recent years and haven’t really delivered the goods for their fans either. As Tom Brady ages, will this finally be the year the Patriots decline and become a boring team which never makes the postseason? Time will tell but for now, they are headed in the right direction.
The Rise Of The Underdogs
In most cases, we place our bets on the favorites. After all, it’s what the sportsbooks are hoping for. The favorite in a playoff game will typically cover the spread 59% of the time, meaning you’ll need to take that risk if you want to make money on the game.
The problem is, the favorites aren’t always the ones who turn out to be the best. In a stunning upset, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Week 17 of this season, covering the spread 45-21. Had you placed a bet on the Falcons-49ers game prior to that point, you would have lost $100, since the line opened with Atlanta as 3.5-point favorites. Fortunately, we were able to salvage some money by using a safe wager, placing our money on the underdogs San Francisco 49ers. In an upset which shocked the world, the 49ers shocked the world and advanced to the NFC Championship game. The line moved there and the point spread went the other way, now making us a winner instead of a loser.
In most cases, we don’t think about the underdogs when placing our bets, which really brings us to the next point.
Betting On Underdog Success
It’s pretty common knowledge that the underdog has an easier time winning than the favorite. After all, the favorite is presumably more skilled and experienced than the underdog, right? In actuality, it’s completely the opposite. One need only examine the playoff records of the top 5 favorites in the NFL this year to realize that the underdog is in fact the superior choice when it comes to betting on sports.
This year, the Pittsburgh Steelers are 12-point favorites over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC playoffs, which would make them the 7th-best team in the conference if they were to win. Nevertheless, the Chiefs have surprised everyone this season and made the playoffs as the second wild card team, allowing them to go against the top-seeded Steelers in the wild card round. Few people predicted this turn of events but there’s a good reason why the line has moved so heavily in the Chiefs’ favor – bettors have taken notice and are backing the team which many see as the underdog in this matchup. Just this week, the opening line for the Chiefs-Steelers game had Pittsburgh as a 6.5-point favorite but by the end of the week, bettors were laying odds of 11.5 points, as per usual with underdogs in this league. Will the Chiefs shock the world yet again and advance to the AFC Championship game or will the Steelers advance to face the New England Patriots? We’ll have to wait and see but for now, the underdog is the right choice.
Who Will Win The 2019 NFL Championship Game?
The last two weeks of the regular season featured some crazy swings in the NFL betting line, as some teams which seemed like long shots to make the playoffs rose up to the occasion and made a name for themselves. From a 7-point underdog against the New Orleans Saints to a 4-point favorite against the Philadelphia Eagles, the odds kept changing and changing and changing until we got to our final odds for the NFL Championship game.
As you may have guessed, this year’s Super Bowl participants are 2 of the biggest surprise stories of the season. Going into the season, many predicted the New England Patriots would be the best team in the league but given how poorly they have played recently, that label doesn’t seem all that accurate anymore. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles have been nothing short of sensational, coming back from a 17-point halftime deficit to stun the football world and capture our hearts, as well. It will be interesting to see if either team can maintain this surprising success in the postseason but for now, we’re going to have to go with the hot hand in this case. The betting line has the Patriots as 7.5-point underdogs which means we’ll need to bet on the Eagles to make some cash here. After all, it’s not like we have much choice when it comes to the Super Bowl – the Patriots will be represented by a star and the Eagles a crown.