When the Texans joined the NFL for the 2002 season, they were the league’s 32nd team. So the NFL added Houston to the AFC and moved Seattle to the NFC. It also realigned from three to four divisions in each conference, eliminating the Central Divisions and switching to East, North, South and West.
Since that realignment every division but the two Wests has had a Super Bowl champion. The Patriots won two for the AFC East, Pittsburgh won two and Baltimore one for the AFC North, Indianapolis one for the AFC South, the NY Giants two for the NFC East, Green Bay one for the NFC North, and Tampa Bay and New Orleans one each for the NFC South.
Consider this on your Super Bowl betting tips: If the AFC or NFC West is going to end that drought soon, February’s Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium may be the best statistical chance.
What’s The Deal?
No moneyline bet on the Super Bowl has returned a winner on a team west of the Central Time Zone since John Elway’s Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowls following the 1997 and ’98 seasons. Only four teams west of the Central have played in the Super Bowl since those titles: San Francisco lost last year 34-23 to Baltimore as a 4.5-point favorite on Super Bowl odds; Arizona lost 27-23 to Pittsburgh in SB XLIII; Seattle was beaten 21-10 by the Steelers in XL; and Oakland was routed 48-21 by Tampa Bay in XXXVII.
Obviously geography plays a role in this trend because the vast majority of teams in the NFL are east of the Mississippi River, where population is much heavier. Still, some blame has to go to the two West Divisions because they have been just average for a little more than the past decade. Regular-season travel does hamper West Coast teams – it’s easier for a team on the East Coast to play a 4 PM game out West than for a West Coast team to play a 1 PM game in the East.
75 Percent of Reign
Three of the NFL’s final four teams are West Division clubs, so it’s there for the taking. Seattle is the +190 Super Bowl online betting favorite and hosts Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against San Francisco. The Seahawks are 3-point favorites and have blown out the 49ers in their past two visits to the Pacific Northwest. However, the Niners have won eight straight games. They haven’t lost with top receiver Michael Crabtree in the lineup. San Francisco is +300 on Super Bowl betting odds.
Denver is the +210 Super Bowl second-favorite and hosts Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against New England. The Broncos are 4-point favorites for the game despite losing 34-31 in overtime at New England earlier this season. Peyton Manning is 1-2 in his playoff career against Patriots counterpart Tom Brady. New England hasn’t played a road playoff game since the AFC title game following the 2006 season, a 38-34 loss at Manning’s Colts.
A Seattle-Denver Super Bowl is the +130 favored matchup followed by San Francisco-Denver at +275. The Broncos would open as 1-point favorites on the Super Bowl point spread against Seattle and -1.5 against San Francisco. Both the Seahawks and 49ers would be 2.5-point favorites on the Super Bowl lines over New England barring any significant injuries.