With this crazy NFL season at the half-way point, it is time to take a look at potential trades in the Super Bowl market.
San Diego, Baltimore and New Orleans were the Racing Post’s ante-post selections. While all boast winning records and all are in good positions to reach the playoffs, that trio are still available at similar prices – and in San Diego’s case bigger – than they were before the curtain rose.
So much for that!
Is there any value elsewhere in the market?
The Green Bay Packers are the favourites. The unbeaten (7-0) Super Bowl champions are trading around 3.9 at Betdaq and have a clear advantage over Detroit (6-2) in the NFC North division. Playing at home on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in mid January does have its advantages.
It is difficult to win back-to-back Super Bowls; the last club to win twice in as many seasons was New England (2004-05) but the Packers have as good a chance as any to repeat.
Bettors should divide the NFL season into two: The regular season and the playoffs.
The strategy to pick a Super Bowl winner, particularly for trading purposes, is to look for a couple of big-priced outsiders at the start of the season who look like they will progress. They should, in theory, be a much shorter price when they make the post-season. You then have the option of trading your position and adding to the portfolio.
To that end, it is rare that New England (currently boasting a 5-2 record) will be on my initial list. They usually coast through the AFC East and their price does not dramatically drop come playoff time.
Their defence is improving and you can never rule them out, but they have been ‘one and done’ in the playoffs for the past two seasons and they don’t have the look of Super Bowl winners this time round. Their current price of 8.6 looks skinny.
They may not even win the division and the New York Jets, who have reached the AFC Championship game for the past two seasons, still look overpriced at 38.
The Jets (4-3) have key division games against (5-2) Buffalo (twice) – who are similarly over-priced at 35.0 – and New England in the next four weeks. The Jets also have to play New York Giants and Philadelphia.
Win two of those five games, plus take the ones they should take against Denver, fast-fading Washington, Kansas City and Miami, and a 10-6 record is theirs. That could be good enough for post-season play.
Plus, it is hard not to root for their head coach Rex Ryan.
He’s set to appear in Adam Sandler’s next movie – playing an over-sized New England Patriots fan!
According to Sandler, an ardent J-E-T-S fan, Rex “nailed the part”.
Colourful, bombastic and not one to take life too seriously, it is too often forgotten what a great coach Ryan is.
The Jets, whose defence is one of the best in the business, are worth adding to the portfolio, as they are too big a price for team that has been there and done it in the playoffs – and on the road.
Like the great ‘Mister Adam Sandler’, Rex has promised to close friends he’ll appear on Sesame Street if they win the Super Bowl.
It’s rumoured that he’ll do a skit where he beats Oscar The Grouch into submission for videotaping his wife’s feet.
It was always expected that it would take time for the Philadelphia Eagles to gel as a cohesive unit, having so many new parts and not long enough to bed-in a new defensive scheme thanks to the lockout.
And they have struggled early. But their impressive victory over the Dallas Cowboys last week served notice that they are one of many teams to be reckoned with in the NFC.
They currently trade at 14.5 but at 3-4, they are still two games behind the Giants (5-2), who are available at 58.0, which is an insulting price.
The Eagles still have to face the Chicago, NY Giants, New England, NY Jets, Dallas and Washington, all potential banana skins. I’d still be an Eagles seller.
The Cowboys are about to start the soft part of their schedule, with games against Seattle, Buffalo, Washington, Miami and Arizona. They have the same unprepossessing record as Philadelphia, but are available at 46.0 with Betdaq. That price will soon start to tumble and they are a back-to-lay proposition.
At least one team invariably surprises each season. While San Francisco were taken as a value pick to win the NFC West against an over-hyped St Louis Rams, who had a terribly hard early schedule, no-one could have expected the Niners to have been as impressive as they have been.
Already a winner on the east coast at Philadelphia, they travel to Washington this week and their stout defence (allowing just 15.3 points per game) should be able to take advantage of an injury-hit Redskins offense.
Rex Grossman has been left out in the cold metaphorically (and it appears physically, too, because he is suffering with pneumonia), so the Redskins rely on former Miami draft bust John Beck to lead an attack that has managed just 66 points in their last five games. It’s hard to see them scoring many points.
Niners’ quarterback Alex Smith has been extremely careful with the ball and while Washington’s defence will keep things very interesting, the visitors, who have won on four of their last six visits to the nation’s capital, look capable of covering the handicap.
Tennessee can halt the Cincinnati Bengals’ run of good form and cover a small handicap. The Bengals, looking for a fifth win in a row, were not that impressive in Seattle last week and they are not getting a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Tennessee are the best team at protecting the passer, so Matt Hasselbeck should have plenty of time to find his receivers.
While the stats indicate that the Titans are an average team, they have blown out Baltimore at home and few teams are capable of doing that.
The Bengals have had things relatively easy and have beaten just one team who boast a winning record – Buffalo – and that came in overtime.
Miami have spent the last couple of weeks blowing bigger leads than Divine Brown, but they are playing hard for coach Tony Sparano, who will likely be ousted at the end of the season.
The winless Dolphins travel to Kansas City, who are 9-2 in their last 11 games at Arrowhead Stadium, and the Phins will fancy their chances.
The Chiefs could suffer an emotional let-down after beating San Diego off a short week, although with successive games ahead against New England, Pittsburgh, Chicago, NY Jets and Green Bay, they simply have to win to have any designs on retaining their division title. It could be a tight game and a relatively high-scoring one, too.
Don’t be surprised if Miami break their duck and if they do, with Washington up next, they could find themselves on a two-game winning streak after next Sunday (then I’ll just go ahead and marry the delectable Diane Lane, win the lottery and retire to Hawai’i).
Despite facing the pop-gun attacks of Miami and Denver in the next two weeks, the final part of the Cheifs’ schedule is brutal and it may not pay to wait before taking them on in the AFC West. Perhaps now is the time to lay KC.
San Francisco -3.5
Lay Kansas City AFC West
NY Jets Super Bowl
Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl
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