During the off-season, when most football fans, TV pundits and ex-players were making their predictions for the 2021/22 campaign, the general feeling was we were all set for one of the most competitive years in living memory. With the sport and country edging slowly back towards normality following the destruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was believed players would be going all out to get back with a bang, shooting for their place in the history books after a lost year.
A strong case could be made for five or six contenders breezing through the regular season before going on to hit top gear in the playoffs and challenge for the Super Bowl. The clues were all there on paper, but, of course, football matches and Super Bowls aren’t won on paper. This is an emotional sport, a no guts, no glory situation. American Football at the highest level is an unpredictable business where anything can and will happen.
Traders at the leading NFL betting apps made it clear that they didn’t buy into the romance of all-out war for the trophy, with teams pushing hard in 2021 and into the early months of 2022. The oddsmakers stuck to their gut feeling and told anyone who would listen that we were in for a two-horse race and only a pair of teams had a genuine chance of winning the Super Bowl in February. Those teams were the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The battle lines are drawn
Major sportsbook betting sites refused to listen to any arguments to the contrary and were happy to offer up big odds to anyone that disagreed with their theory. They stuck hard to the Bills and Buccaneers in their Super Bowl winner betting, writing off the chances of the other runners. That caught the attention of the value hunters, bettors who make their profits by backing good teams who have been written off too easily and looked overpriced.
The money came flooding in for the likes of the Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs. These are teams with talented pools of players and the ambition to go all the way, but if they were to win the Super Bowl at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, it would rate as a huge upset.
Both bookies and bettors stuck to their guns, believing they were right, and the other side was sticking stubbornly to their original thoughts. The battle lines were drawn but now that we are deep into the season and less than three months away from the Super Bowl LVI, who is looking to be right? Are the Bills and Bucks playing like two teams that will meet in the final, or is there a dark horse quickly emerging from the pack, looking to turn the betting on its head with a late dash to the line?
Buffalo and Tampa Bay living up to expectations
It’s a case of so far, so good for the bookies who are looking good on the favourites Buffalo and Tampa Bay. Both teams have exploded out of the traps in the early rounds, forcing their way to the head of their groups. The Bills are in pole position in the AFC East with six wins and three defeats, scoring 280 points while conceding 135. They are miles clear of the chasing pack, with New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets all choking in their dust. Tampa Bay Buccaneers are head of the NFC South, also showing six wins and three defeats. Bucks have racked up 279 points for and 212 against, showing they are just as ferocious as Buffalo in offence but have lacked the discipline and organisation of their main rivals in defence.
The best team to be on for followers of the underdogs is the Green Bay Packers, who sit on top of the NFC North with a stunning eight wins against two defeats. They have scored 216 points, conceding 180 and are coming for the big boys. The traders may have written them off, but the Packers are showing no side effects that suggest they let that cast doubt in their minds. They are a talented team, available at strong odds and are good enough to be celebrating Super Bowl glory in 2022.