Gameday approaches

NFL conversations around this time of year—with the preseason in wait and players gearing up for six months of grueling gamesmanship—are all about which teams, favorites and underdogs, have a shot to win the Super Bowl.

Since the 2000 season, Super Bowl-winning teams have had average preseason odds of just about +1580. That value would be the seventh-best on the board entering the 2023 campaign, which begs the question, which underdogs should sports bettors look at to win the Super Bowl next February?

Here are our favorite dark horse picks.

The dark horses

The Detroit Lions (+2200 to win the Super Bowl at FanDuel Sportsbook) have seen one of the largest jumps in preseason odds from a year ago to now coming off of a productive 9-8 campaign, but one in which they still missed the playoffs. The Lions ranked top five in scoring offense but allowed the fourth-most points and most yards in the league.  

Detroit is facing the burden of expectations for the first time in many years and will have to prove its culture can withstand that pressure.

Trevor Lawrence showed steady improvement and could enter the top-five QB conversation

The Jacksonville Jaguars (+2800) are also high on the list of Super Bowl underdogs. They won seven of their final nine games in 2022, including a 27-0 comeback in the Wild Card against the Los Angeles Chargers. Trevor Lawrence showed steady improvement and could enter the top-five QB conversation with another year of solid play.

What makes the Jags such an interesting prospect is that they have a legitimate chance to secure the number-one seed in the AFC. They play in the conference’s easiest division, the AFC South, and play all of their difficult non-divisional games at home.

The Seattle Seahawks also have great value as far as Super Bowl underdogs go. They are +3500 to hoist the Lombardi Trophy but had a top-10 offense last year and beefed up their defense by drafting corner Devon Witherspoon and bringing back standout linebacker Bobby Wagner.

The Denver Broncos at +4500 to win the whole shebang also catches the eye. They have to get past the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs in their own division but have a Super Bowl-winning head coach and QB duo (Sean Payton and Russell Wilson), along with one of the most talented defenses in the league.

Past Super Bowl underdogs

Only two times in the last ten years has the team that was favored to win the Super Bowl done so—both times, the New England Patriots were the team to pull it off.

Six times in the last ten seasons, however, the Super Bowl winner has been in the top three for odds. For reference, the three favorites entering the 2023 campaign are the Chiefs (+600), the Philadelphia Eagles (+800), and the Buffalo Bills (+900).

Bill Belichick’s defense pitched a masterclass in a 20-17 win

The largest preseason underdog that went on to win the world championship post-2000 was the 2001 New England Patriots. A little-known sixth-round pick and second-year pro named Tom Brady helped guide the Pats past the “Greatest Show on Turf,”  the St. Louis Rams, as Bill Belichick’s defense pitched a masterclass in a 20-17 win.

After that, the most unlikely Super Bowl champion was the 2017 Eagles. They surged through the regular season thanks to the MVP-level play of Carson Wentz and still managed to dominate the playoffs even after Wentz went out in Week 14 with a knee injury, and backup Nick Foles entered the fray. 

Foles played out of his mind in the playoffs and was named Super Bowl MVP as he took down Brady and the same Pats that had been massive underdogs at the start of the century.

The 2007 New York Giants (+3000), 2000 Baltimore Ravens (+2200), and 2011 Giants (+2200) are the next-biggest preseason underdogs that etched their name into NFL glory with Super Bowl wins. 

Despite these great overachievements, the last five NFL champs have had short preseason odds of +884 on average.

Source: https://www.vegasslotsonline.com/news/2023/07/22/super-bowl-winners-have-average-odds-of-1580-which-nfl-underdogs-have-a-shot-in-2024/