By now you’ve surely stumbled across that most damning of Week 2 statistics — that teams opening the season with two straight losses only wind up making it into the playoffs 12 percent of the time. This is some of that evidence that tends to translate into a fan’s ears as anecdotal, and easily dismissed, especially when their team is the one that has yet to secure a victory by Week 3.
The people behind the gambling lines know this, and they know that some teams have fan bases that are inherently more hopeful than others, which is why not all lines are created equal, and why an undefeated team might have a more outlandish line than one of the squads that have gone a win and a loss apiece in the early goings of the new season.
Using odds gathered from Bovada, let’s take a look at which NFL franchises are being given the benefit of the doubt from the sports books — either because they’ve still got safe Super Bowl odds despite a rocky start, or because they could be the real deal while still being treated like pretenders.
5. Cincinnati Bengals, 16:1
The Bengals, playing arguably the best football of the undefeated teams left in the league to this point (a list filled out by the Bills, the Texans, the Broncos, the Eagles, and the Cardinals), still find themselves outside the top five when it comes to teams that are most likely to win the Super Bowl, as reflected in the safety of their better lines.
Andy Dalton and company deserve better than this, and 16-to-one is a line that screams “we want people to think they’re relative underdogs, even though they’ll probably choke in the postseason like always,” with a dash of “this could be the year they finally do it.” This is love, because the Bengals are almost certainly going to fade out early — especially if A.J. Green stays out for an extended period of time.
4. Indianapolis Colts, 33:1
When the Colts dropped their Monday Night Football game to the Philadelphia Eagles — and it was a pretty incredible comeback from Philly, or a massive choke from Indiana, depending on how you feel — they wound up in the 0-2 bracket and saw their playoff hopes begin to evaporate. Despite that, they’re still sitting at odds that are better than some of the undefeated teams for reasons unbeknownst to most. Andrew Luck has been a very slight net negative, and the rest of the team doesn’t look to be much better.
3. Buffalo Bills, 66:1
Consider this: the Buffalo Bills are sitting undefeated as Week 3 begins, and they’re looking at significantly longer odds than the Colts, who are in that strata of NFL teams who will miss the playoffs 88 percent of the time. This is, fairly obviously, residual resistance to giving the Bills good odds to make the postseason, something the team hasn’t done since 1999, but this line is friendly, considering that anyone who was to lay a bet down on the Bills would be looking at a great payout on a team that hasn’t actually lost a game.
2. New England Patriots, 8:1
For the New England Patriots, who have been getting progressively worse since their twin-tight end attack looked to lay a new framework for the modern day NFL offense, their eight-to-one line is something you might expect out of a team that’s looking to make some noise in general. Not if everything breaks right (or, in the case of the Pats often-injured components, if nothing breaks).
1. New Orleans Saints, 18:1
Similarly to the Patriots, the New Orleans Saints are getting a nice bit of love from the sports books. Despite the fact that they’ve yet to win a game, Brees and company are being given better odds to win the Super Bowl than three quarters of the league. That’s a serious forecast of sunshine and victory coming to New Orleans on behalf of the Vegas betting gurus.