On Thursday, the National Football League will kickoff their second century of football, their 101st season, their 55th season that concludes with a Super Bowl. This year, Qoxhi will celebrate their 40th season in business and today we release our 40th preseason Super Bowl selection.
Seven times we have tabbed the Super Bowl winner before the season began, and all but one of those selections, the 1994 San Francisco 49ers, have carried double-digit odds. Given so much can happen during the course of the 20 weeks of action leading up to the Super Bowl, we find picking teams that fall in the sweet spot, those that have payoffs between 10 and 25 to one, are the best to equal bottom line profits.
For example, picking the New England Patriots over the past 20 years, while they have offered single digit payoffs after they won their first Super Bowl to complete the 2001 season, makes little economic sense to us. Making a season-long bet that pays 4 to 1, with all that can happen during the course of a season, just doesn’t add up.
Now, we also avoid the real longshots, willing to forego taking a team like the San Francisco 49ers last year that had odds as high as 30 to 1 on the eve of the 2019 season, or the Arizona Cardinals who were 75 to 1 to win it all in before the 2008 campaign began. Both teams advanced to the Super Bowl and held fourth quarter leads … but neither won the Vince Lombardi Trophy or preseason Super Bowl bet.
We have a number of criteria that need to come together to isolate a team that is not expected to win it all, but has the talent to surprise and a motivational season-to-season flow that favors their chances.
Most Super Bowl winners have the combination of a coach and quarterback that have worked together for at least three seasons. They are also teams that have been under the radar because their strength is more pinned to defense than offense. Finally, we are looking for a team that did not overachieve the prior year.
Three teams this year have odds in single digits. Last year’s champs, the Kansas City Chiefs, are favored to win it again at 5-1. The Baltimore Ravens are 6-1 and last year’s Super Bowl loser, the San Francisco 49ers, are 9-1. The next three teams most likely to win by pure odds have odds lower than 20-1. They are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 10-1, New Orleans Saints at 11-1 and Dallas Cowboys currently posted at 17-1.
Any of those most likely teams could win it all, although I would dismiss the 49ers based on the lack of success of teams that lost the prior year winning a Super Bowl in the next season. When the New England Patriots, who downed the Los Angeles Rams two years ago, bounced off a Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles the season before, they became the first team to go from a Super Bowl loss to a win since the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
To think that Tom Brady is going to transform the Buccaneers from a non postseason competitor to the squad standing in a hail of confetti in their team colors next February, is by my estimation a longer shot than the 10 to 1 odds.
In fact, the team I like the best to win it all from the squads with the best odds are the Dallas Cowboys. They underachieved last year and have all the elements to win … except I’m not a first-year head coach kind of guy. Mike McCarthy, who guided the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl win to complete the 2010 season, could get it done in Dallas, but I’m not betting on that happening in his first year with Jerry Jones’ organization.
I am very intrigued by a team that is posted at 22-1, a number we won with when we picked the New Orleans Saints to win it all before the 2009 season. The Indianapolis Colts are that team, and they are guided by Head Coach Frank Reich, who begins his third season in Indianapolis. Reich is well liked by his players and gets their maximum effort and this season he adds to the mix another franchise quarterback. The Colts are known for great quarterbacks. This was once the home for Johnny Unitas, when the team played in Baltimore, and more recently they have had stars behind center with Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck.
On the eve of the 2019 campaign, the Colts suffered their biggest loss of the season when injuries forced the retirement of Luck. Now, they add longtime San Diego and Los Angeles Chargers signal caller Philip Rivers. While Dan Marino may be the best quarterback in league history to not win a Super Bowl, Rivers is likely the best one that has never played in a Super Bowl.
But, to expect him to win it all in his first season with the Colts, is not where we want to lay our money.
Nope, we look to cash a 25 to 1 shot in February with the Buffalo Bills.
They meet all our criteria. They are anchored by a top flight defense and have a quarterback and coach working together for a third season. Sean McDermott has the respect of his team and quarterback Josh Allen has shown improvement in each of his first two professional seasons.
Last year, the Bills advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 1999, and while that would normally throw caution to a young team, Buffalo did not overachieve in reaching the postseason. And, the fact that they built a 16-0 lead over the Houston Texans before dropping their Wild Card game last January, adds motivation to this year’s squad to take it to the next step.
This is a franchise that advanced to four straight Super Bowls from 1990 to 1993, but lost all four contests in search of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
They also have a huge advantage in 2020, given their division isn’t likely to be dominated by the New England Patriots now that Brady has moved south to Florida.
A Lot of factors are aligned in the Bills favor before the 2020 season begins, and I’m betting more fortuitous events are to follow before they celebrate on February 7th.
Qoxhi Picks: Buffalo Bills (25 to 1) to win Super Bowl LV