From 32 teams to 12, the NFL Playoffs are ready to kickoff with the Wild Card weekend. It is survival of the fitness from now on in the NFL.
Sports books have made their minds up on who they believe will win Super Bowl LII. Of course, it is Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Although the reigning Super Bowl winners didn’t go undefeated through the regular season like was predicted, the team is still expected to take home the Vince Lombardi trophy. Will New England lift the trophy again or will someone else beat the Patriots to it?
New England Patriots (+210)
The Patriots concluded another successful regular season with a 26-6 win over the New York Jets. Brady may have had a slightly off game, but running back Dion Lewis picked up the slack with 93 rushing yards and a touchdown. While overall the Patriots have been a dominating side, the team has slipped up a few times this season. Brady and company started the year 2-2 and lost to the hapless Miami Dolphins in early December. Although the team has home-field advantage, the AFC West winning Kansas City Chiefs went to Foxborough and won in week 1. The Patriots are the favorites, but they can be beaten.
Minnesota Vikings (+375)
The Minnesota Vikings have surprised a lot of people this year. Quarterback Case Keenum has been a revelation throwing 22 touchdowns and compiling more than 3,500 yard through the air. While Keenum was awesome, it was the Vikings defense that was the heart and soul of the team. Minnesota gave up the fewest yards per game in the NFL (275.9) and the fewest points per game (15.8). The old cliche is defense wins titles. If Minnesota makes it to the Super Bowl, it will be the first time the host team plays in the big game.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+525)
There is a lot to love about the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team has Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Antonio Brown is one of the best, if not the best, wide receivers in the NFL. The run game is solid with Le’Veon Bell, who rushed for nearly 1,300 yards this season. But the Steelers already lost to the Patriots once this year. The Super Bowl goes through Foxborough and Roethlisberger will have to play his best game of the season to get by the Pats.
New Orleans Saints (+750)
The New Orleans Saints took their eyes of the prize in week 17. The team suffered a shock loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-24. The Saints still won the NFC South, however, as the Carolina Panthers lost on the final weekend, too. Drew Brees will lead the Saints against the Panthers at the Super Dome in week 1 of the NFL Playoffs. It will be a tough order as the South was the best overall division in 2017. Brees hasn’t had a typical season by his standards. Can he conjure the ghosts of old in the NFL Playoffs?
Los Angeles Rams (+900)
The Los Angeles Rams finished the regular season averaging the most points per game in the NFL. Behind the arm of Jared Goff and the legs of Todd Gurley, the Rams looked like the team of yesteryear, when Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk led the Rams to glory. At 11-5, the Rams had their best year in some time. The good news for the Rams is the team defeated fellow playoff team New Orleans in week 12, so it can beat playoff quality opponents. However, when the Rams went up against better defensive teams, it struggled. Los Angeles lost to Minnesota in week 11, putting up a measly seven points. The Rams also lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in a shootout, 43-35, in week 14.
NFL Futures: The rest of the pack
Philadelphia Eagles (+1200)
Kansas City Chiefs (+1800)
Jacksonville Jaguars (+2200)
Carolina Panthers (+2500)
Atlanta Falcons (+2500)
Tennessee Titans (+7500)
Buffalo Bills (+7500)
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