Super Bowl Predictions — Fans vs Sportsbooks

It may be hard to believe sine we’re still technically in the middle of the summer but NFL training camps have opened. The first preseason NFL game will be played on August 7 and that will kick off six months plus of wall to wall football coverage. This is also the busiest time of the year for sports books around the world and the first NFL betting proposition they post every year are the odds to win the Super Bowl.


The Super Bowl futures are part art, part science reflecting a combination of public perception, prediction of how teams will fare in the coming season as well as how they fared last season. Conventional wisdom holds that teams need to ‘get to the Super Bowl’ before they can expect to win one–though the statistical data doesn’t exactly validate this theory. That’s why the Carolina Panthers have high expectations from the bookmakers of winning Super Bowl LI which will be played in Houston, Texas. The Panthers are the second favorite to win the big game at +950.

The New England Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champions and they’ll enter the preseason as the +785 favorite to win this year’s game. This is despite a four game suspension handed down to starting quarterback Tom Brady for his role in the ‘deflategate’ imbroglio. Brady had his ‘sentence’ overturned on appeal last season but since it had clearly become ‘personal’ for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell he didn’t stop there. He took the matter to an appeals court which reinstated Brady’s ‘sentence’. Brady had some legal options left to continue the process but he decided to be the ‘bigger man’ and just serve his four game suspension to put the matter to rest.


The Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks are both priced at +950 making them ‘co-second favorites’ with the Carolina Panthers. The Seahawks and Packers were both victims of an upset in the divisional round last year. Green Bay was eliminated by the upstart Arizona Cardinals while the Seahawks were ousted by the Carolina Panthers en route to their Super Bowl appearance. The rest of the top ten tens in the Super Bowl Futures countdown include the Pittsburgh Steelers (+1100), the Arizona Cardinals (+1300), the Cincinnati Bengals (+1950), the Indianapolis Colts (+2025), the Denver Broncos (+2200) and the Kansas City Chiefs (+2200). The Cleveland Browns are overwhelmingly the biggest longshot in the field at +23500 with the Tennessee Titans (+12000), San Francisco 49ers (+12000) and Los Angeles Rams (+10000) also available at long odds.

We did a survey via Facebook and asked fans in every state who they think will win Super Bowl LI. Here are the results:

Facebook Super Bowl State by State Survey


Obviously, there are significant geographical biases in this survey. Fans always think that ‘their team’ has a great shot to win the Super Bowl–at least before the season begins. The Denver Broncos, for example, are the #9 choice in the Super Bowl futures betting odds at +2200 but they’re the choice of virtually all of the Mountain Time Zone. No surprise there, since the Intermountain West adopted the Broncos as ‘their team’ years ago. There’s also a pocket of Broncos support in the deep South–Tennessee fans back Denver to win the Super Bowl which is undoubtedly the ‘hangover’ from Peyton Manning’s run as the team’s starting quarterback.

Geographically speaking, there’s not a lot of support for the New England Patriots despite their status as defending Super Bowl champions and as preseason betting favorites. There are several reasons for this–casual fans are making a bigger deal out of the Tom Brady suspension than are bookmakers and ‘sharp’ NFL bettors. The team’s New England fan base is comprised of the smallest states in the country. Most team’s fans reflexively favor their home team even if logic doesn’t validate their choice. Finally–and most significantly–the Patriots have become the biggest ‘heels’ in the National Football League and have replaced the Oakland Raiders as the team that every other team’s fanbase hates.

The Midwest is primarily Green Bay Packers’ country with one notable exception–Illinois, home of their hated rivals the Chicago Bears, can’t ‘back the Pack’. Of course, they’re also realists which explains why Illinois’s Super Bowl choice is the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers and not their own Chicago Bears who are priced at +7500 to win the big game. The Packers do have some interesting regional support in Louisiana and Alabama. Louisiana can be explained away as the home state of longtime Packers’ quarterback Brett Favre while current Packers’ running back Eddie Lacy is a product of the University of Alabama.

At one point the South was a region divided between the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. That’s no longer the case due to Carolina’s ascendancy to Super Bowl contender status and the deterioration of the Atlanta Falcons’ competitive fortunes. Even the Falcons’ home state of Georgia backs the Carolina Panthers with the Falcons given very little chance to win the Super Bowl by bookmakers at +7300. Florida is not really considered ‘part of the South’ and with three teams–none of whom are given a good shot at winning the Super Bowl–splitting the ‘vote’ they give their support to the New England Patriots.

Here’s the full rundown of Super Bowl Futures Odds:

New England Patriots +785
Carolina Panthers +950
Green Bay Packers +950
Seattle Seahawks +950
Pittsburgh Steelers +1100
Arizona Cardinals +1300
Cincinnati Bengals +1950
Indianapolis Colts +2025
Denver Broncos +2200
Kansas City Chiefs +2200
Dallas Cowboys +2450
Minnesota Vikings +2450
New York Giants +3500
Oakland Raiders +3800
Baltimore Ravens +3900
Houston Texans +4000
Washington Redskins +4700
Buffalo Bills +4800
Jacksonville Jaguars +5400
Philadelphia Eagles +6300
New York Jets +6500
Atlanta Falcons +7300
Chicago Bears +7500
Detroit Lions +7500
New Orleans Saints +8800
Miami Dolphins +9000
San Diego Chargers +9000
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +9800
Los Angeles Rams +10000
San Francisco 49ers +12000
Tennessee Titans +12000
Cleveland Browns +23500

About the Author: Jim Murphy

For more than 25 years, Jim Murphy has written extensively on sports betting as well as handicapping theory and practice. Jim Murphy has been quoted in media from the Wall Street Journal to REASON Magazine. Murphy worked as a radio and podcasting host broadcasting to an international audience that depended on his expertise and advice. Murphy is an odds making consultant for sports and 'non-sport novelty bets' focused on the entertainment business, politics, technology, financial markets and more.