The Super Bowl is the championship for the National Football League (NFL), which is America’s superior football league. The game pits the winner of two conferences, the National Football Conference (NFC) against the American Football Conference (AFC) in the finale. This is an annual event that started in 1967 and is usually played on the first Sunday in February.
The Super Bowl is the most gambled-on sporting event in the United States. The 2021 finale will take place at Raymond James Stadium from Tampa, Florida on Feb. 7, 2021.
About half of the preseason favorites to win Super Bowl LV have fallen off the list of contenders entirely at the midway point of the season.
The San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, and Los Angeles Chargers are all at or below .500, and the Eagles are the only team that still has a good chance of making the playoffs given the lack of competition in the NFC East.
The Kansas City Chiefs have lived up to expectations and are currently favored to repeat as Super Bowl champions. New Orleans and Baltimore are seen as contenders too, but the team whose fortunes have changed the most since the preseason is Pittsburgh. The Steelers are now the oddsmakers’ second choice to win the Super Bowl behind Kansas City after being 25-1 in the preseason.
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Who will win Super Bowl 55?
by Jonathan Willis
Patrick Mahomes is clearly the best quarterback in the NFL. Mahomes is dueling with Aaron Rodgers to be named the 2020 NFL MVP at this point in the season, and his presence makes the Chiefs the favorites.
They have the top-ranked offense in the NFL per DVOA, as Mahomes has thrown 31 touchdowns against just one interception. He has completed at least 65 percent of his passes in nine of 12 games, and the only time the Chiefs are vulnerable is if Mahomes struggles with his accuracy.
The Chiefs rank 17th in total defense and 6th in scoring defense. Kansas City has a very good pass defense, but the run defense has been suspect, allowing 4.8 YPC and 132.4 YPG. Chris Jones and Frank Clark are the only two playmakers in the front seven, making them susceptible to teams that can run the ball effectively.
Home field advantage may not have the same affect as it did in previous years. The Steelers would greatly appreciate the week off that came with being the No. 1 seed in the AFC though. Their bye week was moved up from Week 7 to Week 4 as a result of Tennessee’s COVID issues, and they will be in need of a week off after such a long slog.
Pittsburgh has the second-best defense in the league per DVOA. The Steelers might have the best front seven in the league with standouts like T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward looking to be named First Team All-Pro for the second straight season, and Minkah Fitzpatrick has made this secondary elite for the first time in over a decade.
The offense has left something to be desired though as Pittsburgh is averaging just 345 YPG and 4.0 YPC. Ben Roethlisberger is much better than the Steelers’ options under center last season, but he is no longer as effective as he was two years ago.
Two victories over Tampa Bay puts the Saints in great shape to win their fourth straight NFC South title. New Orleans desperately needs home field advantage in order to make it to the Super Bowl though as Drew Brees is unlikely to fare well in the cold against Seattle or Green Bay in January. If New Orleans secures the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Saints are going to be a dangerous team.
The Saints have the inside track for the top seed in the NFC following a terrific start. (AP)
The Saints are currently the top-rated team in DVOA. Michael Thomas’ return gives Brees his best weapon back, and Alvin Kamara is the most dynamic running back in the league. Cameron Jordan and Marshon Lattimore continue to play well on defense, while Trey Hendrickson has emerged as a solid pass-rusher and Kwon Alexander was brought in to shore up the linebacking corps.
Russell Wilson is having a career year. He has never thrown more than 35 touchdowns in a single season, but he already has 32 touchdown passes through 12 games. Wilson has carried the Seahawks on his shoulders, as everything but the passing game has left a lot to be desired.
The Seahawks rank 24th in defensive DVOA, and the running game has struggled with Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde banged up. Wilson can certainly lead Seattle to a win over any team, but the Seahawks might have to win four shootouts to win Super Bowl LV considering the play of the secondary.
The Ravens were listed as the second-best team in the NFL at the start of the year. They are 6-5 with losses to Kansas City, Pittsburgh (twice), and New England, and they have blown out five of their other six opponents. Many experts are increasingly skeptical about Baltimore’s chances, especially after the Ravens’ loss to the Patriots, but some of these concerns have been taken way out of proportion.
Baltimore still has an elite defense. They are ranked fifth in defensive DVOA, and the Ravens have elite players at every level. Adding both Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue gives the Ravens a scary pass rush, and rookie Patrick Queen has been solid in the middle of the defense.
This offense might be predictable at the moment, but Lamar Jackson has a ton of tools, so John Harbaugh will adjust in order to keep defenses guessing once more. Jackson is running the ball about 10 times a game, averaging 5.9 YPC, and his agility is a nightmare for defenses.
Long Shot to Watch
Baker Mayfield has not lived up to expectations, and Odell Beckham Jr. has been lost for the year, but the Browns still have a decent chance of making a deep run in the playoffs. Cleveland is averaging 5.0 YPC and 150 YPG on the ground, and Nick Chubb is healthy once again.
Cleveland still has an elite receiver in Jarvis Landry. The tackles are playing very well too, giving Mayfield plenty of time to make the right decision with the ball. Kevin Stefanski’s system is paying off, and it should work well in winter.
The defense hasn’t been great, but Myles Garrett is one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL. If one of the young defensive backs can emerge, Cleveland can punch above its wait.
How to read Super Bowl 55 Odds
Kansas City Chiefs +600, 6/1, 7.0