The Seattle Seahawks may have the longest shot of any playoff team in National Football League history to win the Super Bowl, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers.
The NFL’s postseason begins this weekend with the New England Patriots 6-5 favorites to win their fourth league championship in 10 years. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the second choice among the 12 teams at 9-2, followed by the Atlanta Falcons at 5-1.
The Seahawks have 250-1 Super Bowl odds after becoming the first NFL team with a losing record (7-9) to qualify for the playoffs in a non-strike season. Jeff Sherman, the assistant manager at the Las Vegas Hilton’s Race and Sports Book, said he can’t remember a playoff team with longer odds in more than 20 years of setting betting lines.
“You get to this juncture and these teams are supposed to be competitive enough if they’re at home,” Sherman said in a telephone interview. “It says a lot to be getting double digits at home in a playoff situation.”
The Seahawks, champions of the National Football Conference West, are 10-point underdogs in their Jan. 8 postseason opener against New Orleans even though they’re at home and the Saints have never won a road playoff game.
Seattle lost to the defending Super Bowl champions 34-19 in New Orleans on Nov. 21. The Seahawks would have to beat the Saints and then win two more games on the road as underdogs to reach the NFL’s championship game, which is scheduled for Feb. 6 at Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas.
As a result, the Seahawks’ chances of winning the Super Bowl are longer now than at the beginning of the season, when they were 50-1. RJ Bell, president of Las Vegas-based handicapping information website Pregame.com, said the city’s sports books generally have been reluctant to offer high future odds for the NFL since the 1999 St. Louis Rams won the Super Bowl after having 200-1 odds at the start of the season.
“The fact that Vegas is now putting higher odds on a playoff team speaks volumes about how historically futile they consider Seattle’s chances,” Bell said in an e-mail.
The Kansas City Chiefs have the next-longest Super Bowl odds at 40-1, followed by the New York Jets at 25-1, according to Las Vegas Sports Consultants, which helps Nevada’s sports books establish betting lines.
Seattle has been overmatched in more than half its games, with all nine losses coming by at least 15 points. For the season, the Seahawks were outscored by almost 100 points and beat only two teams with winning records.
The only way the Seahawks can finish with a winning record is by taking the Super Bowl title.
“It doesn’t matter what’s happened before,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said yesterday at a news conference. “It matters what’s coming up next. We’re in and what matters now is, will we rise up again this week?”
Dan O’Brien, a senior oddsmaker at Las Vegas Sports Consultants, said he doubts that any NFL playoff team has had longer Super Bowl odds than the Seahawks.
“It’s tough to imagine,” O’Brien said. “You’d have to go back to a team having to beat the dominant (Chicago) Bears or dominant San Francisco) 49ers back in the 1980s. Even then you’re talking about only two layers (of playoffs), not that third game. That’s another multiplier as well.”
The Patriots, who started the season as the No. 5 pick to win the Super Bowl at 9-1, are the favorites after rolling to an NFL-best 14-2 regular-season record.
They scored a league-leading 518 points, earned a bye during the first round of the playoffs and have the chance to play two postseason games at home, where quarterback Tom Brady has lost once since the start of the 2007 season.
The Jets have the third-longest odds because they would have to win three road games to reach the Super Bowl, starting with a Jan. 8 meeting with the Indianapolis Colts, the preseason favorites at 13-2. New York is about a 3-point underdog. A win would send the Jets to a second-round game in New England, where a 45-3 loss last month was their worst since 1986.
“If that game comes to fruition, a lot of people are going to say, ‘I’ve already seen this game,’” Sherman said. “And that’s not going to be a 3-point spread like this week.”
Jets coach Rex Ryan predicted a Super Bowl victory before the season and isn’t backing down, even if the odds are against his team.
“We’re going to give it a shot,” Ryan said during a news conference. “We believe we’re going to get it done.”
================================ TEAM ODDS ================================ New England Patriots 6-5 Pittsburgh Steelers 9-2 Atlanta Falcons 5-1 Philadelphia Eagles 8-1 Chicago Bears 10-1 New Orleans Saints 10-1 Baltimore Ravens 11-1 Green Bay Packers 12-1 Indianapolis Colts 14-1 New York Jets 25-1 Kansas City Chiefs 40-1 Seattle Seahawks 250-1 ================================ Courtesy of Las Vegas Sports Consultants
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