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Super Bowl LVIII – Contenders or Pretenders

We’re getting to the pointy end of the NFL season, so it’s time to separate the Super Bowl LVIII contenders from the pretenders.

Here, we’re looking through the Top 10 teams in the Super Bowl LVIII Winner market to determine who has a genuine chance of lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Super Bowl Rematch Headlines NFL Contenders

The Philadelphia Eagles are the current $4.60 favourites to win Super Bowl LVIII with the Kansas City Chiefs slightly trailing at $5.

This isn’t the Eagles of last season. They’re not the same dominant force this time around. However, as we saw in Week 12 and the four previous times they’ve come from behind at halftime to win already this year, Philly just knows how to win. Given time to make adjustments, they have the tools to poke holes in any defence and the talent in defence themselves to plug them in. A.J. Brown, Jalen Hurts (MVP favourite – $2.20), Jason Kelce, Darius Slay and, just this week, Jake Elliott, have all produced game-winning performances. Philly always has an answer, and it has so far translated into the best record in the NFL at 10-1.

This certainly isn’t the Chiefs of last season, either. They’re just half a game behind the Ravens for the #1 seed in the AFC. However, they’re more reliant on Patrick Mahomes than ever right now. He has been enough on his own for the Chiefs to make up for the poorly-performing and drop-heavy receiving corps. Kansas City led the league in passing yards and finished 3rd in yards per pass to score 29.2 points per game last season. In this one, they’re 8th in passing yards, 15th in yards per pass and 11th in scoring at 23.3 points per game. They’re always contenders with Mahomes on the field, but they look a lot more vulnerable this season than they did in the last.

Alongside the Chiefs at $5, the San Francisco 49ers are undoubtedly one of the best teams in the NFL. Plenty doubted them before the season. Those doubts were heightened throughout a three-game losing streak. Some still, somehow, doubt the influence of Brock Purdy at quarterback. Nonetheless, the 49ers rank 3rd in total offence, 5th in total defence, 2nd in rushing defence and concede the fewest points in the league at only 15.5 per game. They’re a juggernaut on the offensive end and can improve further if the offensive line raises their standard. By dominating with the ball and, after Week 11, at least, leading the league in conversion rate, San Francisco’s offence has made things easier for the defence who are holding up their end of the bargain.

Creeping Into Contention

The Baltimore Ravens are one of the more intriguing teams to watch this season. They made changes to the offence throughout the preseason, Lamar Jackson is finally staying healthy, and injuries don’t appear to be derailing their campaign as has been the case in previous years. Adjustments on the offensive end have produced encouraging results for the Ravens to be 7th in total offence and 1st in rushing offence. Defensively, they’re dominant. They showed as much by manhandling the LA Chargers in Week 12 and currently rank 2nd total defence, 3rd in passing defence and allow the second-fewest points at 15.6 per game. With the defence dominating and Jackson in the MVP hunt at $6.50, the Ravens are creeping into genuine contention with a spot in Super Bowl LVIII looking increasingly likely.

It all looked so good for the Miami Dolphins early into the NFL season. They put up historic numbers headlined by the 70 points put on the Denver Broncos in Week 3 and it looked as though nobody could stop them. When it all comes together, Miami’s $10 to win Super Bowl LVIII is a gift.

However, they’ve continued to struggle against the better teams in the league. While the Dolphins can put teams with a losing record to the sword to prop up their 430.5 yards per game (most in the NFL), they aren’t up to the standard of the contenders. Tua Tagovailoa isn’t playing at the level of most contending quarterbacks right now either. They can’t wait until the playoffs to start beating good teams. It’s difficult to put them among the major contenders until they do. The Cowboys, Ravens and Bills to finish the regular season will tell us a lot about the Dolphins’ Super Bowl credentials.

Don’t let the $11 odds of the Dallas Cowboys fool you. They have a strong argument for being a top-three team in the NFL right now behind only the Eagles and 49ers. It’s in needing to beat those teams in the playoffs to advance to Super Bowl LVIII that they’re on the sixth line of betting. Dallas is elite with the ball averaging a league-high 31.5 points per game. There is potential to get better given they convert only 54.3% of their red zone visits into touchdowns at the moment. Dallas is holding up without the ball to rank 3rd in total defence and 2nd in passing defence, too. But it’s the play of Dak Prescott that is the major reason for optimism. He’s currently PFF’s highest-graded quarterback and is behind the somewhat blessed Purdy to be second in EPA per dropback, completion percentage and passer rating. Prescott is in career-best form and if it extends beyond Week 18, the Cowboys will give the Eagles and 49ers a shake.

Best Bet Dallas Cowboys to win Super Bowl LVIII - $11*

Pretenders Purr

The Jacksonville Jaguars are a good football team. They’re young, exciting and have a lot of potential. But they won’t win Super Bowl LVIII ($15).

Trevor Lawrence and Calvin Ridley are good enough to win a playoff game or two and make genuine contenders nervous, but a lack of rushing game and the inconsistency they’ve displayed overall throughout the regular season is a concern. If Josh Allen can build on his 2.5 sacks in Week 12 there is hope for the defence shouldering more of the load. Still, their 13th-ranked total offence and 22nd-ranked third-down conversion rate threaten to keep them two tiers below the favourites. For this season, at least.

Similarly, the Detroit Lions hype train has taken the expected route to Pretender Town over the last month. With little to celebrate in recent years excitement and hope got the better of many for a team whose ceiling is fairly short of Super Bowl contention ($18). The Lions will make things difficult with the ball and are always a puncher’s chance of victory no matter which team they face. They’re 2nd in total offence, 3rd in passing offence and 6th in rushing offence to pile up points on a near-weekly basis. However, Jared Goff’s last fortnight of football sums up where the Lions are likely to come up short at the pointy end of the season. The 100 points and 1,100 yards allowed in the three games since a Week 9 bye sum things up further.

Not This Year…

No team will want to play Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs should they make it. He is enough on his own to win games. Allen’s 339 passing yards, 81 rushing and four total touchdowns in Week 12 would have been enough to beat any other team than the Eagles. Only a massive 59-yard field goal in terrible conditions stopped him.

Buffalo is 4th in total offence and extends drives with the best third-down rate in the NFL at 49.7%. But with the Chiefs, Cowboys, Chargers, Patriots and Dolphins to come following the Week 13 bye, it’s looking more and more likely that they won’t be in the hunt come playoff time.

While the Seattle Seahawks are on the 10th line of betting to win Super Bowl LVIII at $46, they’re not really in the mix. They’ve played out a poor last couple of weeks and their struggles on offence will catch up with them further should they reach the playoffs. Averaging only 20.8 points per game and sitting 29th in third-down conversion, they don’t offer enough offensively to compete with the top teams. C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans are the more likely team despite their $61 price.

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