NFC favored to produce next Super Bowl champion
The Wild Card Round gave us a lot of blowout victories, but it has set the stage for an epic final eight. The cream has risen to the top and the eventual victor will have earned their way through whatever gauntlet they face.
In the winning conference betting market, the NFC is favored slightly over the AFC. This is likely because the NFC has the slight favorite of all the individual teams, with the Packers at +350 to win the Super Bowl.
Odds on winning conference in Super Bowl LVI
Behind them are the Chiefs at +400 and Bills at +500, both from the AFC. The Bucs round out the top four at +550, followed by the Rams (+750), while the AFC’s top-seeded Titans are +900.
In the history of the Super Bowl, since the formation of the leagues, the NFC holds only the slightest of advantages, with 28 wins versus the AFC’s 27. This is a result of a dominant stretch from 1985 through 1997, when the NFC won 13 straight titles, largely thanks to the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, who won seven of the 13 Super Bowls in that span.
In recent years, things have been fairly even, with the AFC up three games to two, and game spreads are close in every matchup.
When looking at this year’s odds, value appears with the slightly favored NFC.
It is well-established that the quarterback position is the most important one on the football field, and so it should come as no surprise that the top remaining teams have some of the game’s best at the position.
Aaron Rodgers is the likely MVP of the league in 2021, while Tom Brady is widely considered the greatest of all time. They are both proving that even as aging veterans, they are still elite talents that can lead their teams to victory over the league’s best defenses.
Matthew Stafford is also a talented veteran that has enjoyed a resurgence in 2021 since joining the contending Rams, and with the best line play on both sides of the ball in the whole league, the Rams can’t be discounted.
In the AFC, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are young guns that have proven the game will still be in a great spot when Rodgers and Brady retire. But they also exhibit symptoms of their youth, namely more mistakes.
Rodgers finished the season with a 0.8% interception rate, improving upon his career 1.3% rate. Brady finished with a 1.7% rate, improving upon his career 1.8% rate. Mahomes and Allen finished 2% and 2.3%, respectively, for the 2021 season.
Sunday’s matchup:— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) January 17, 2022
- Allen: 308 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INT (66 rush yds) vs NE
- Mahomes: 404 yards, 5 pass TDs, 1 INT (29 rush yds) vs PIT
- 2021 Div Rd meeting will be the first playoff game in NFL history featuring 2 QBs to each throw 5+ TDs in their previous playoff game
These are incremental differences, but they speak to the care with which the two greatest quarterbacks to arguably ever play the position put into each throw. In the playoffs, when mistakes can decide outcomes as much as anything, I want to side with the decision-makers that are less likely to take an unnecessary risk that could turn the game.
The Packers are getting healthier at the right time, and the Bucs have a proven pedigree as defending champions. Each team also gets the benefit of waiting until the conference championship tilt for their potential matchup, while the two strongest contenders in the AFC will face off in the Divisional Round, thus eliminating one of those top two teams.
Advanced metrics suggest the Bills and Chiefs could be slightly favored on a neutral field against any of their NFC opponents, but reputation is part of any linemaking equation, and the intangibles of Rodgers and Brady are impossible to ignore at this point in their careers.
Take the NFC to win the Super Bowl on February 13.