2019 Super Bowl odds: Chiefs rise to the best chance in simulations as Saints slip
As far as simulations are concerned, the top four seeds are the ones truly in the running
Wild Card Weekend kicks off on Saturday, as we get four games to determine who will go on the road for the divisional games. We'll have the Colts-Texans and Seahawks-Cowboys on Saturday, then on Sunday it will be the Chargers-Ravens and Eagles-Bears. It's a lot of interesting matchups with a lot of variables. Will the Chargers right their wrongs from their Week 16 game against the Ravens? Which defense will win out in Cowboys-Seahawks? Will the divisional rivalry between the Colts and Texans lead to a slugfest? And can the Eagles continue their magical run behind Nick Foles against one of the league's premier defenses?
They're all looking to advance to play one of the top two seeds from each conference. It's going to be tough, but there's not a clear runaway favorite this season. The odds, however, heavily favor one of the top seeds. The Superdome and Arrowhead Stadium are both notoriously difficult places to play, so the road to the Super Bowl for any team that isn't a No. 1 seed is a difficult one.
Here are the full odds for who will win the Super Bowl this year, along with their chances to get there.
Super Bowl LIII odds
|Kansas City Chiefs||4/1||22.9%||40.1%|
|New Orleans Saints||9/4||21.9%||41.8%|
|New England Patriots||6/1||15.5%||30.3%|
|Los Angeles Rams||5/1||15.2%||31.5%|
|Los Angeles Chargers||16/1||4%||7.5%|
Move over New Orleans, there's a new favorite in town. The Kansas City Chiefs had to fight until the last week of the season to lock up the AFC West, but behind the MVP-caliber play of Patrick Mahomes, they'll play on their home field throughout the postseason. Although the Saints have slightly better odds to actually make the Super Bowl, the Chiefs win it more frequently in simulations, giving them an edge. The pass defense will need to be stout for K.C., but it can score with any team in the league.
The x-factor is, of course, Andy Reid. Reid's playoff record is less than stellar -- just two years ago the Chiefs lost a home playoff game after going 12-4 -- but this team just feels different with Mahomes at the helm. While their ability to grind it out in a postseason game is rightfully a concern, they've beaten the Chargers and Ravens this year (though the Chargers did best them as well), while only narrowly losing to the Patriots on the road in October.
The Chiefs will look to get better in the playoffs, and that starts with the coaching. Reid has won one playoff game since joining the Chiefs in 2013. The defense also needs to step it up, as they're 24th in points allowed, the worst of any team in the playoffs.
Listen to Nick Kostos, Pete Prisco and R.J. White join Will Brinson to pick all the Wild Card Weekend games on the Pick Six Podcast:
The other contenders
The Chiefs may be favorites, but the Saints are hot on their tail. New Orleans lost a meaningless game to the Panthers in Week 17, which was worrisome insofar as Carolina's third-stringer Kyle Allen beat up on them, but for the most part the Saints have to be feeling good. However, the road the Super Bowl is tough, even if it is at home. The Saints could play the Seahawks, Cowboys or Eagles next week. The Seahawks and Cowboys play a physical brand of football that could be tough for the Saints, whereas the Eagles would have revenge on the brain. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram have to play at a high level to get the Saints through the NFC.
The Patriots are also up there, despite showing a bit of a limp late in the year. Tom Brady is the type of player you simply can't count out, but they need Rob Gronkowski to step up. This isn't the Patriots team that we're used to, but it's always hard to bet against Bill Belichick in the postseason, especially with at least one home game coming up. Brady is still a ridiculous 27-10 in the playoffs. The Patriots could have games against the Ravens, Texans or Chargers next week, all teams that could be problematic. Luckily for them, two of those three are used to either California weather or indoor conditions.
Then there are the Rams, who also took some beatings down the stretch at the hands of the Bears and Eagles. They could well end up seeing the Bears again next week. The loss of Cooper Kupp has proven to be problematic, and they locked up the No. 2 seed behind easy wins against the 49ers and Cardinals. Obviously no win should be taken for granted, but with the Rams having lost games to two of the other NFC contenders towards the end of the season (not to mention the Saints earlier on), it's easy to worry about this team.
The middle of the pack
The Ravens have become one of the scariest teams in this postseason, partially because while the rest of the league has zigged they have completely zagged. They're here behind a stubborn running game that just wears teams down, and it's been that way since Lamar Jackson took over and led them to wins in six of their last seven games. The Ravens are not a pretty team to watch, but they're the last team anyone wants to play, because they can literally give you a beating that carries into next week.
They go up against the Chargers, another team with decent odds. But the Chargers couldn't have drawn a worse opponent. The Ravens are a horrid matchup for them, as we saw in Week 16 in a 22-10 loss. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler will be big in any run the Chargers plan on making, as will their deep wide receiving corps, but they'll need to be excellent against one of football's most stout defenses.
Watch the AFC Wild Card Game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens live right here on CBSSports.com.
The Bears are like the Ravens in that they'll repeatedly punch you in the mouth. Khalil Mack is the NFL's most feared defender not named Aaron Donald. They'll need consistency out of Mitchell Trubisky if they're going to make a late run, but the Bears have proven time and time again that they're for real this season. Even if Trubisky isn't perfect, the defense can pick up some of the slack (see: Rams).
Finally, the Seahawks have been storming lately, and a huge part of that is the ever-slippery Russell Wilson. Wilson just seems impossible to tackle, and Bobby Wagner leads a defensive unit that is absolutely humming. The Seahawks have been overshadowed by the excellent play of the Rams and the terrible play of the Cardinals in the NFC West -- plus a head-scratching late-season loss to the 49ers -- but they're a team to look out for.
The long shots
All playoff teams are not created equal, according to simulations. The Philadelphia Eagles eked in after they won and the Vikings lost in Week 17, but the fact is that they're in and they're riding some serious momentum. Foles is looking for another miracle run, and he'll defy anyone to stop him. Beating the Bears is a tough ask, but the Eagles had the worst odds in the playoffs last year and look what happened there.
The Houston Texans, obviously, could only play the teams they played. But a weak schedule has a lot of people wondering how good this team is. Even on their win streak this year, there weren't a ton of standout wins. Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins may be one of the best quarterback-receiver connections in football right now, but to trust this team they'll need to get through New England in the second round. They lost to the Colts recently, so now they have an AFC South rubber match.
It's difficult to pin down the Cowboys. Dak Prescott has earned a bit of trust and Ezekiel Elliott is clearly one of the NFL's best backs. The defense shut down the Saints. But in the playoffs, coaching matters, and the Cowboys still feel like they're lacking there. This offense has been a different unit since Amari Cooper joined, to be sure. But when he's ghosted, the offense has faded too -- and putting so much faith in a streaky player can be a recipe for disaster in the NFL playoffs.
The Colts have the worst odds in the playoffs, which isn't a death knell -- it is the playoffs, after all. Weirder things have happened. But the fact it took them until Week 17 to get in likely hasn't inspired a ton of faith, and they still feel like they're a piece away from truly contending. Their road is tough, but if the line keeps protecting Andrew Luck as it has been, there's a shot for Indy to shock the world.
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