With the evergreen caveat that odds released by sports books are designed to get people to place wagers and not perfect predictive indicators of the relative strengths or weaknesses of teams, I was nevertheless struck by the NFL futures odds from Caesars Palace.
ESPN has zeroed in on Tampa Bay having a higher over-under win total (9) than New England (8.5) — the implications, of course, being Tom Brady having moved from the Patriots to the Bucs.
My forever fixation, however, is on comparisons between the Vikings and Packers. And here we find some interesting numbers as well.
Caesars has the Vikings (like the Bucs) with an over-under win total of 9 — which seems about right, to be honest. The popular Vegas sportsbook has the Packers and Bears slightly lower at 8.5 wins (like the Patriots).
But if you look at the Super Bowl odds, you see a much different story. The Packers are 16 to 1; the Vikings are 30 to 1. The odds of reaching the Super Bowl? Packers are 7 to 1, Vikings are 14 to 1.
So the Vikings have a higher win upside, but only half the chance of making the Super Bowl?
It seems like some sort of mistake … until you consider the quarterback question. While Kirk Cousins had an above-average overall season last year and made big-time throws in the playoff win over the Saints, I would wager there aren’t many people who would take Cousins over Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. (Also, it seems Caesars sees a big regression for Green Bay after last year’s 13-3 finish).
This seems to underscore the Vikings’ QB conundrum: Until proven otherwise, Cousins is not a quarterback who provides the sort of upside needed to make the Vikings a serious Super Bowl contender in any average season.
It’s among the reasons the Vikings should seriously consider drafting a quarterback with a high-value pick (like, say, third round?) in 2020. The primary reason would be a potential low-cost upgrade at backup QB, as we discussed in the first of our five-part Access Vikings draft preview podcasts.
But what if you guess right and pick a true superstar — the kind of quarterback who makes you dangerous no matter the supporting cast?
Then you wind up on the right side of the Super Bowl odds — the only ones that really matter.