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September 20, 2014

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Early odds predict Seahawks-Broncos again for 2015, but don’t discount the Saints

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Seattle Seahawks’ Chris Maragos kisses the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Seahawks won 43-8. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Super Bowl 48

Seattle Seahawks' Michael Robinson tries to get past Denver Broncos' Paris Lenon during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) Launch slideshow »

If the early odds are any indication, football is in for a 2015 Super Bowl rematch that nobody but the Seattle Seahawks and their fans wants to see.

But don't bet on the Seahawks to repeat next year, even though they're the early favorites and the odds call for the Denver Broncos to be their opponent.

Would Seattle win a rematch after beating the Broncos 43-8 this year? That seems likely, but the best value bet on the LVH Superbook board right now is neither team. It's the New Orleans Saints at 18-to-1.

Here's why: The Saints have been virtually indomitable at home under coach Sean Payton and are expected to be just as tough in the Superdome this year, so much so that it won't take a whole lot of success on the road to push them into the playoffs. Under Payton, the only coach who has led the Saints to a Super Bowl, New Orleans has won 17 straight in the Superdome and gone 16-0-1 against the spread during that span. Since Payton last lost a home game, all but nine teams in the NFL have undergone a coaching change.

Granted, the Saints were 3-5 on the road in 2013. But with such a powerful home record, it doesn't take many road wins to earn a playoff berth.

Think of how close this year's Saints came. They were one victory away from clinching a bye and a home playoff game that could have changed everything.

New Orleans had three losses of less than a touchdown during the regular season — a last-second miracle by the Patriots in New England, a virtual no-show at the New York Jets and a rain-soaked fluke at Carolina. The Saints dominated the stat sheet in their season-ending loss to Seattle in the divisional round of the playoffs.

New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan finally matched his bluster with production, turning the defense into a top-10 ranked unit a year after it finished dead last according to Football Outsiders' DVOA advanced metric. With young stars as common on the roster as revelers on Bourbon Street, the defense will only improve in 2014.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro and defensive end Cameron Jordan — entering their second and third years, respectively — look like perennial Pro Bowlers. Drew Brees, at 35 years old, should have a couple of superstar seasons left, which will keep the offense potent.

There's often value available for extraction upon posting of next year's Super Bowl future odds. Last year, I pegged the Broncos at 8-to-1, the Seahawks at 12-to-1 and the Panthers at 50-to-1 as the three best bets.

Although the Saints are the most attractive option this year, two more teams to consider are the Philadelphia Eagles at 30-to-1 and the Pittsburgh Steelers at 40-to-1.

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