The NFL playoffs are finally here, which means it’s time to take a closer look at each team’s chances to win the Super Bowl. Below you’ll find each playoff team, and their current Super Bowl odds via DraftKings Sportsbook, along with a brief discussion on each team’s most likely path to a championship.
The Chiefs are the AFC’s No. 1 seed, which gives them two enormous advantages. The first is they can only face the Bills or the Bengals, there is no scenario where they have to face both teams. The second is Andy Reid is well-known for his success coming off a bye. I’d peg the Chargers as being the Chiefs’ most dangerous Divisional Round opponent, followed by the Ravens if Lamar Jackson is back.
The Chiefs have been the AFC’s measuring stick the last few years, and they have the most manageable path through an AFC loaded with young, premium quarterbacks.
Buffalo will face the Dolphins for the third time this season in the Wild Card round. Buffalo lost to the Dolphins 21-19 back in Week 3. The Bills then beat Miami 32-29 under the lights, and in the snow, in Buffalo in Week 15. The big difference in this third matchup is Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s status is very much in question for this game. If Tagovailoa plays, Miami is a dangerous opponent. If he doesn’t, well, Buffalo opened as a 10-point favorite for a reason.
Long-term, I’m going to repeat a sentiment I’ve been saying since the offseason about Buffalo. Outside of Stefon Diggs, Josh Allen’s supporting cast on offense is average. If you’re betting on Buffalo to win it all, you are primarily betting on Allen to carry his offense past elite quarterbacks like Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes, that have better supporting casts. To be clear, Allen is capable of doing that, but I’d argue more is on his shoulders than any other quarterback in the playoffs.
The 49ers lost by three points to the Rams in the NFC Championship last season, they have a complete roster that can win games in multiple styles, and Brock Purdy has been fantastic since taking over for Jimmy Garoppolo. I didn’t even mention Kyle Shanahan provides San Francisco with a strategic edge against most opponents.
We can count on the 49ers in all phases, but ultimately, Purdy will determine how far this team goes. San Francisco’s most likely path to the big dance involves home games against the Seahawks and Vikings before a trip to Philadelphia to determine who wins the NFC.
The Eagles were a juggernaut this year until the final three games of the season. Jalen Hurts missed two of those contests, which the Eagles lost. He returned against the Giants’ backups in the regular season finale, and the Eagles won. At full strength, the Eagles have the best roster in the league with elite lines on both sides of the ball, but they played their worst football of the year down the stretch.
The bye week will help Philadelphia, especially since their regular season bye came early in Week 7. In a best-case scenario for Philly, the week off allows stud right tackle Lane Johnson to return.
The Eagles will most likely face the winner of the Buccaneers and Cowboys in the Divisional Round before hosting the winner of the 49ers and Vikings in the NFC Championship. There is a chance the Eagles host the Giants in the Divisional Round.
The Eagles’ most difficult path to the Super Bowl would be the Cowboys in the Divisional Round, followed by the 49ers in the NFC Championship. The Eagles’ biggest obstacle to representing the NFC in the Super Bowl is themselves.
Burrow said on Sunday, “The window is my whole career,” when referencing the Bengals Super Bowl window. Burrow is not exaggerating when he says that. The Bengals have a difficult path to the Super Bowl, where they’ll have to beat the Ravens, then likely the Bills and Chiefs, to get to the big dance for the second time in as many years.
While the path is tougher for Cincinnati than for Buffalo or Kansas City, I view the Chiefs, Bills and Bengals as relative equals. If I were an oddsmaker, I would have the Bengals Super Bowl odds listed at +500.
Dallas was a more dangerous team last season, but there is less competition in the NFC this year. Their opening game with Tampa Bay is an interesting contest. Both teams have a real shot against Philadelphia, considering their recent struggles. I don’t have a lot of faith in Dak Prescott in big games, not to mention his ability to win four of those in a row.
However, the Cowboys can win on the ground with their defense, and Prescott is an above-average quarterback. The Eagles are the only other team in the NFC that can make all three of those claims. The most likely path for a Dallas Super Bowl run would start with a win in Tampa, followed by a trip to Philadelphia, with a road matchup against the 49ers or Vikings to decide the NFC.
I can’t recommend any kind of Chargers Super Bowl bet right now because weeks ago, I suggested the Chargers as a 40:1 bet to win the AFC. That said, my stance hasn’t changed at all. Of all the Wild Card teams, the Chargers are the most dangerous. Not only do you get a premium quarterback in Justin Herbert, but the Chargers also have a high-end skill group, and Joey Bosa is back.
Bosa’s return means if the Chargers have a late-game lead against one of the many premium AFC quarterbacks, they have an elite edge duo to shut down a late-game drive. That’s something the Chiefs, Bills and Bengals don’t have. The Chargers’ most likely path to the big dance is a win in Jacksonville, followed by a trip to Kansas City with an AFC Championship matchup against the Bills or Bengals.
If the Buccaneers offense that hung 30 points on the Panthers two weeks ago is what we’re going to get over the next month, Tom Brady’s Bucs are dangerous. If Tampa Bay’s offense from the first 16 weeks of the season shows up against Dallas, they might not win a playoff game, not to mention three or four.
Tampa Bay’s most likely path to the Super Bowl will require a win against Dallas, followed by a trip to Philadelphia, and then a trip to either San Francisco or Minnesota in the NFC Championship. That is more likely since the Buccaneers’ offense showed some ceiling against the Panthers. I had Tampa Bay’s chances at making a Super Bowl slightly above zero before that offensive output. They have the raw materials to go on a run, but they have been extraordinarily inconsistent this season.
I’m higher than most on Minnesota thanks to their talented, well-rounded offense with a fringe top-10 pass rush on defense. They should win their Wild Card game at home but likely lose on the road in the Divisional Round. The Giants took the Vikings to overtime a few weeks ago, so New York will be a popular underdog in the opening round.
If the Vikings win, they most likely head to San Francisco in the Divisional Round. If they escape the 49ers, Minnesota will then likely have a date in Philadelphia in the NFC Championship.
Minnesota is an interesting mid-level longshot to come out of the NFC if they open around +1200, but I’d have limited confidence in their ability to knock off one of the AFC’s heavyweights in the big game. If the Vikings open at 12:1 to win the NFC, that’s a good price for a third seed. Overall, Minnesota, Dallas and Tampa Bay should all be in a fairly tight cluster to win the NFC, especially considering the Cowboys and Buccaneers play each other in the first round.
The Ravens would’ve been in the previous tier but Lamar Jackson hasn’t played since Dec. 4. If Jackson is a full go against the Bengals, Baltimore has a real shot of knocking off Cincinnati in the Wild Card round.
Even if that happens, I would be surprised if the Ravens went on a three-game run where they’d likely need to knock off the Bengals, Chiefs, and Bills in a row. Jackson and the Ravens’ defense would have to carry them since Jackson’s supporting cast on offense is limited.
Trevor Lawrence and his Jaguars are going to be the team to beat in the AFC South for the foreseeable future, but they might have the most difficult path to a Super Bowl this season. The Jaguars drew the Chargers in the Wild Card round, who Jacksonville beat 38-10 in Los Angeles back in Week 2.
The Chargers are a slight 1.5-point road favorite in this matchup. The Jaguars’ most likely path to a Super Bowl would involve this game against Herbert, a Divisional Round game against Mahomes and an AFC Championship bout with either Allen or Burrow. That’s a tall order for this young Jaguars team.
Geno Smith was shockingly outstanding in the first half of the season, but the Seahawks have been gradually coming back to reality throughout the second half. Seattle is 3-4 since their Week 11 bye, with two of those wins coming by one score against the Rams.
In the first round, Seattle will face a 49ers team that’s already beaten them twice this season. Even if the Seahawks win that game, they’ll go to Philadelphia in the Divisional Round. Seattle has some ceiling on offense, but they have the most unlikely path to a Super Bowl victory among this year’s playoff teams.
The Giants have been getting hyped to the heavens since blowing out the Colts in Week 17. To put that output into some perspective, the Colts lost at home to the Texans 32-31 in the regular season finale. It was a game that cost Houston the first overall pick. New York is 3-5-1 since their Week 9 bye, and they’ve beaten two winning teams this season, the Ravens and Jaguars in Weeks 6 and 7. Most of New York’s success came early in the year, and it’s been primarily driven by their defense.
That said, the Giants took the Vikings to overtime in Week 16, so they’ve already shown they can hang with Minnesota in their building. If the Giants beat the Vikings, they will then face the Eagles for the third time this season in the Divisional Round.
The Eagles destroyed New York 48-22 in their first meeting and then won the regular season finale 22-16. The regular season finale was a strange game. The Eagles were never in danger of losing to the Giants’ backups, but the Eagles’ second-half performance in that contest was far from reassuring. If the Giants get through those two games, they’d likely head to San Francisco in the NFC Championship.
The Dolphins were on a five-game losing streak until they beat the Jets in the regular season finale. That hardly tells the whole story, as three of those losses came in one-score road games against the Bills, Patriots and Chargers, while the fourth came at home against the Packers.
Miami’s record fell off a cliff down the stretch, but they remained highly competitive. Now, the real issue for the Dolphins entering the playoffs is Tagovailoa’s availability. The opening line has the Dolphins as 10-point underdogs, which indicates betting markets don’t think Tagovailoa will play since the Dolphins were 7-point underdogs in Buffalo just a few weeks ago.
With Tagovailoa, I have my doubts the Dolphins can go on a three-game run against high-caliber opponents, but they are far from an automatic out. Without Tagovailoa, I’d be stunned if the Bills lost to Miami.
AFC -140 NFC +120
This type of betting option allows you to bet on any team from the whole conference to win the Super Bowl.
From a disciplinary standpoint, I can’t remember the last time I bet on anything at -140. I’d rather not lock in a notable portion of my bankroll for a month at that number, but this option at least warrants discussion.
If I were to list the six most dangerous teams in this year’s playoffs, they would be the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, Eagles, 49ers and Chargers. On top of that, the NFC team would likely be the underdog against the Chiefs, Bills, and Bengals while being a slight favorite against the Chargers in a Super Bowl matchup. If I could find the AFC -120 sometime this week, I would consider a bet at those odds.