The Buffalo Bills enter the NFL season as absolute betting favorites for the first time since 1991, as the franchise continues to chase its first Super Bowl title.
The Bills are listed at +600 at Caesars Sportsbook heading into their season opener Thursday night against the defending champion Los Angeles Rams.
“We really think the Bills are the most powerful team, but it’s just as important where they play,” SuperBook executive director and bettor John Murray told ESPN. “The philosophy is that the AFC West teams are going to battle it out and that will put the Bills in a favorable position for the AFC Championship Game to go to Buffalo.”
Caesars Sportsbook vice president of trading Craig Mucklow told ESPN: “With a rebuild of the AFC East, the Bills are almost certain to have a playoff lock and the clear favorite for the field at home in January, which will make them difficult for any visiting team.”
After the Bills, the AFC West represents the next three teams in the conference with the shortest Super Bowl odds: the Kansas City Chiefs (11-1), Los Angeles Chargers (14-1) and Broncos of Denver (16-1). Along with the Las Vegas Raiders (30-1), all four AFC West teams rank in the top seven for most Super Bowl bets, by ticket volume, at Caesars. No other division has even three teams in the top 15.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at +750, are the No. 2 Super Bowl seed, followed by the Rams (11-1) and Green Bay Packers (12-1) in the NFC. A big reason for this is the high betting volume they attracted during Tom Brady’s brief retirement at 40 to 1 and their overall popularity in the betting window.
“They’re a team that takes money all year round,” DraftKings sports betting director Johnny Avello told ESPN, sharing that he’d rate Tampa Bay 10-1 in a vacuum if not for the heavy action he received all offseason.
The Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles have also received particular attention. This week, the Eagles (+130) overtook the Dallas Cowboys (+135) as NFC East favorites in most sportsbooks. Mucklow attributed it to “very sharp money” over the weekend, although Avello noted that the Eagles’ support came from both “sophisticated and unsophisticated” bettors.
“The big surprise so far is the love we have for the Raiders nationwide and not just in Las Vegas,” Mucklow said. “They are our biggest handicap at the start of the season, and their 4-0 pre-season has given the betting public even more reason to bet on silver and black.”
The Raiders have made significant changes this offseason, hiring coach Josh McDaniels and overhauling the front office. On the court, Vegas added five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams and two-time All-Pro defensive end Chandler Jones, among others.
“Any time a team makes a splash in any sport, it gets a lot of people. The Raiders have added some hot names and people want to talk about it,” Murray said. “But the problem is that AFC West looks like the best division ever. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but I don’t think it is.”
The Cincinnati Bengals entered last season with a 125-1 record and reached the Super Bowl. The longest odds of a Super Bowl champion in the past 22 years are the 2001 New England Patriots (60-1) and the 2007 New York Giants (30-1), and bettors don’t predict not another race like Cincinnati.