Koepka follow through

Super Bowl outright odds (As of Sept. 5)

New England Patriots: 7.50
Kansas City Chiefs: 8.50
New Orleans Saints: 9.50
Los Angeles Rams: 11.00
Philadelphia Eagles: 13.00
Cleveland Browns: 14.00


What a time to be a football fan. The NFL season starts this week, and the Cleveland Browns will begin the new campaign among the Super Bowl favourites.

Prior to kickoff between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears to open the new season on Thursday, the Browns’ odds to win the Super Bowl stood at 14.00 at PlayNow.com, behind only five teams – all of which made the playoffs last season, including the four teams to play in the respective conference championships.

It’s a big leap for the Browns. A huge leap. They haven’t had a winning season since 2007 and had been mired in embarrassment for years prior to the selection of quarterback Baker Mayfield first overall in 2018.

There has been a resurgence in Cleveland, however, with the Browns bolstering their roster with numerous big-name acquisitions on offence – Odell Beckham Jr. – to give Mayfield a star prime target in the pass game. They also added to their defence. That flurry of activity put Cleveland with the fifth best odds to win the Super Bowl earlier in the spring.

Prior to acquiring Beckham Jr., the Browns’ outright odds for Super Bowl LIV were around 26.00 at PlayNow.com. Since bringing Beckham Jr. to Cleveland, the Browns’ odds dropped down to 14.00. They have fluctuated here and there, but nothing of any real massive impact like a few months ago.

When it comes to the outright market, bettors have been bullish on the usual suspects – the New England Patriots (defending champs), Kansas City Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes), New Orleans Saints (NFC runner-ups) and Los Angeles Rams (NFC champs). But over the course of the last few weeks, as we slogged through training camp and preseason, there has been an uptick in the percentage of money bet on the Browns to take the championship.

When camp opened, about five per cent of money wagered was on the Browns to win the Super Bowl. That has bumped up to 6.3 per cent – the fifth highest rate of money wagered on a team for that market.

The Browns enter the year with massive expectations.

They finished 7-8-1 last year and showed glimpses that this was a team nearing a window of opportunity to compete in the AFC North.

While the Browns have taken steps forward, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers will likely pose an interesting challenge.

The Ravens, led by Lamar Jackson at quarterback, made it to the AFC Wild Card game a year ago only to lose by six points. How will Jackson fare in his second NFL season and first season as the opening-day No. 1 QB?

Baltimore currently has odds of 30.00 to win the Super Bowl, and 3.80 to win the AFC North Division – third among the four teams in that division. The Browns are the favourites in the AFC North with odds of 2.45, followed closely by the Pittsburgh Steelers at 2.50 at PlayNow.com.

The Steelers seem to have flown under the radar going into this season.

In year’s past, drama between the Steelers and running back Le’Veon Bell and later the Steelers and Antonio Brown dominated headlines. In the end, this was a nucleus that likely should’ve had more success in Pittsburgh than it did, before Bell and Brown went elsewhere in the league.

This year? They have James Conner as their starting running back. JuJu Smith-Schuster has emerged as the clear No. 1 receiver and is primed for a big year (Total Receiving Yards set at 1,330.5 with odds of 1.85 for both Over and Under).

The Steelers’ Super Bowl odds dropped as low as 22.00 at PlayNow.com in late April, but have risen again to 17.00 as of Thursday.

The sudden retirement of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has certainly impacted the outright odds, with the exception of those top four teams (New England, Kansas City, New Orleans and Los Angeles Rams), which has meant a shift in the Steelers outright odds going into the season.

Only 0.7 per cent of money wagered on the outright market, however, is on Pittsburgh to win the Super Bowl.

Heading into the season, the AFC North promises to be one of the more intriguing divisions in football.

Meanwhile, the Patriots, led by Tom Brady, remain the Super Bowl favourites with outright odds of 7.50 at PlayNow.com.

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