We’re now two weeks into the 2021 NFL season, and it’s already been enthralling.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have looked every bit the part of the NFC favorite. The Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns have already dropped a game, whereas the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos are undefeated out west. The Los Angeles Rams outlasted the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium, while the San Francisco 49ers kept both the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions close en route to a 2-0 road start.
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Two weeks is still a small amount of data relative to the whole season, and the betting markets tend to reflect that sentiment. So, in this article, I’m going to go over the state of the league using some of our data in conjunction with how the wisdom of the crowds is handicapping each of the teams. Odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook but shop around if you want to bet on any of these teams.
The True Super Bowl Contenders
Kansas City (+500), Tampa Bay (+550)
There are no surprises here, other than the fact that Kansas City — who we give a 10% chance of winning their second Super Bowl in three years — is still the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl just months after losing to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl 55 and days after losing to Baltimore on Sunday Night Football.
Substantial warts have been exposed on Andy Reid’s team, from a run defense that ranks dead-last in the NFL in terms of PFF grading to tackling (21 missed tackles through two games, including nine by Daniel Sorensen alone) and the tackle position (despite the acquisition of Orlando Brown Jr).
This is not a universal market opinion, though, as Circa Sports, emerging as one of the sharpest books out there, does have the Bucs as the league’s favorite at +475 while the Chiefs are second at +550.
The Bucs have given up their fair share of points to Dallas and Atlanta over the last two weeks, but they have matched these teams score for score and then some, despite a lack of big plays. They have a test as (now) small favorites in L.A. against the Rams Sunday, after which their schedule becomes extremely friendly.
Our simulation has the Bucs winning the Super Bowl roughly 18% of the time, meaning if you can get them at the +550 price, it’s probably worth placing a bet.