2017 Super Bowl early line: Patriots big favorites over both NFC teams
The AFC team is favored in Houston in all four possible scenarios
There are just four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs, a delightful compendium of elite offensive talent that features four of the best quarterbacks in football -- Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger -- squaring off with a trip to Houston for Super Bowl LI on the line.
We know the odds for each team to make the Super Bowl, but how about the actual line once the teams get there. It won't be officially set until the NFC Championship and AFC Championship games are complete, but the folks at Bookmaker.eu gave us a glimpse into what the hypothetical matchups could feature in terms of a line.
Bear in mind that the consensus AFC/NFC spread is currently AFC -3 or -3.5 points, so if you believe the Patriots will beat the Steelers on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game ( you can watch it on CBS All Access) and you want to take the Pats in the Super Bowl, you might have more value getting the AFC in now.
Patriots (-9) vs. Falcons: Whew, that is a hefty spread. Atlanta has been fantastic all season long, has consistently piled up points, likely has the MVP in Matt Ryan, can beat you in 10 different ways and won't wilt if you take away Julio Jones. That being said, there is probably some major public factor here -- the public has loved the Pats for a long time and really liked them this year, with the Pats going 14-3 against the spread including the playoff win against the Texans. They've been coverhorses and people like to back Bill Belichick with two weeks to prepare. The Falcons ATS would be an easy pick for here, however.
Patriots (-9.5) vs. Packers: Another stunning spread. It feels like both these lines might be closer to 7- or 7.5-points once they actually open, but because the Patriots are so good with Brady and Belichick and because they'll have two weeks to prepare and because neither the Falcons or the Packers are good against the run, the line will be high if the Pats are in the Super Bowl. That being said, Rodgers is playing out of his mind right now and two weeks would probably give Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb time to get healthy. New England is good on defense, but it's not great. The Packers would be an easy ATS pick here as well.
Steelers (-3) vs. Falcons: And here's where your AFC -3.5 situation comes into play. If Pittsburgh gets past New England, it's expected to be a field goal favorite over Atlanta on a neutral field. It's not hard to see. The Falcons, again, are dominant offensively. But they're not great defensively and the Steelers can put up points in bunches. Roethlisberger has been much better at home, but the dome conditions would favor the trio of Ben, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown keeping the scoreboard moving. The Steelers are better defensively than people realize, with a ton of first-round talent really evolving under Keith Butler this year. Atlanta would still be my pick against the spread in this situation, mostly to take the points in a potential shootout.
Steelers (-3.5) vs. Packers: So basically the Falcons are a half point better on a neutral field than the Packers. That approximates OK to the Falcons being 4- or 5-point favorites at home in the NFC Championship Game. This would be a rematch of the last -- and only -- time Rodgers and the Packers won the Super Bowl, when they beat the Steelers after the 2010 season. That game, by the way, was played in JerryWorld, and the Packers needed to beat the Falcons in the Georgia Dome on the way there. Again, it's probably a situation where I take the points.
Maybe it's weird to love the underdog in all four of these scenarios, but it's certainly not a shot at either the Pats or Steelers. Both teams are very capable of blowing someone out in the Super Bowl and regardless of the opponent, the AFC team probably won't be facing a stiff defensive test in Atlanta or Green Bay.
But getting points with Ryan or Rodgers with two weeks to prepare and getting all the weapons healthy? That seems like a no-brainer at least from this far removed.
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