California Dreamin’: Will a CA Team Win Super Bowl 53?
By Keith Allen, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
California is a state that always tries to separate itself and do things its own way. For the upcoming NFL season, Intertops is offering a prop bet playing the California teams against those located outside of the California border. Bet $100 to win $500 (+500) that a California team will win the 2019 Super Bowl or bet $700 (-700) to win $100 that a team outside of the Golden State will win SB53. All 4 of the California teams have a path to the promise land but none are at the top of anyone’s list. Let’s take a look if packaging these 4 teams together is the right play.
The 4 teams we are betting on and their current best odds:
To give some perspective to this prop, the Patriots are the current favorites at +500. There are 4 other teams favored ahead of the Rams and there are 14 teams below the Raiders.
Looking at these teams individually, the Rams are the team that has the best chance to plant the California state flag next to the Lombardi Trophy. The Rams won 11 games last year but appeared over-matched in the playoffs while losing at home to the Falcons 26-13. The Rams have gone all in to get over the playoff hump this year. They have added Ndomukong Suh, Aquib Talib and Marcus Peters on the defensive side of the ball. Combining these players with the league’s best defensive player Aaron Donald means the defense is significantly better in ’18 than the ’17 team that finished 12th in points allowed and was 18th in yards per play. The new corners average a combined 10 interceptions per year and with Donald leading the pass rush opposing QBs will be looking to get rid of the ball and provide opportunities for picks. Brandin Cooks joins the receiving corps and is an upgrade over Sammy Watkins but Jared Goff is the key to the Rams offense taking the next step. Goff exceeded all expectations and the Rams led the league in points scored in ‘17 but Goff was not at his best in the big games. Either Goff has to take another big step or the rest of the team has to be able to carry him in the big games.
The 49ers are a hot pick to compete for a super bowl in 2018 after Jimmy Garoppolo took the league by storm and led the Niners to 5 straight wins to close out the year. Kyle Shanahan is a coach everyone expects to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at some point, so why not this year. For the 49ers to win the super bowl after winning only 8 games over the last 2 years, their defense would have to improve exponentially or Jimmy G would have to play at a Tom Brady level. The front office did not fortify the defensive talent from outside of the organization in the off-season. There are some promising young players on the D that can step forward, but it’s a stretch to see this unit that was 25th in points allowed in 2017 being a top defense in 2018. Garoppolo’s skill players are weaker than the Patriots, Steelers, Eagles, Saints and we could name a lot more teams. To compensate for weaker skill players Jimmy G will have to outplay these team’s quarterbacks for the 49ers to play at a super bowl level. All things considered, it’s too early to expect the 49ers to help in this prop bet.
One advantage of taking the Yes on this prop is that there is a very good chance one of the above teams wins the NFC West and gets in the playoffs. The problem is the NFC is loaded, and the 3 playoff opponents (2 for the teams with a bye) to get to the super bowl would be very strong. The Rams were 1-3 in games played against NFC playoff teams last year and the Niners were 0-2 (not including the Rams). 7 of the 9 teams with the best odds to win SB53 are from the NFC, so getting to Atlanta is a difficult challenge by itself for either the Rams or Niners.
The Chargers could be the team that cashes Yes tickets in this prop. They won 9 of their final 12 games last year after new coach Anthony Lynn got his sea legs, finishing 13th in points scored and 3rd in points allowed. Philip Rivers can play at a super bowl level and has a solid group of receivers including one of the game’s best in Keenan Allen. Melvin Gordon is a top 10 running back giving the Bolts a balanced attack on the offensive side of the ball. The D boasts possibly the best pass rushing combo in the league in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. The 2 combined for 23 sacks last year. The secondary is also one of the elite groups in the league and managed 18 interceptions last year. This defense should continue to shut down opposing passing offenses and playing at an elite level. The Chargers traditionally struggle to put it all together and continually shoot themselves in the foot but this is a roster that has the talent to make a super bowl run.
The Raiders provide very little support for this prop. Jon Gruden has swooped in to save the day for the Raiders, but the Silver and Black defense is not very good. They were 20th in points allowed and 26th in yards per play against. Gruden brought in Paul Gunther to coordinate the D which may help but with no talent infusion joining the 2018 roster, the defense is a huge liability. The offense may improve with a healthier Derek Carr and Gruden calling the shots. Jordy Nelson joins the receiving corps this year looking to resurrect his career but it’s unlikely he is a difference maker. There may be some incremental improvement in Oakland this year, and Gruden may eventually lead the Raiders to the promise land, but probably not in 2018.
The good news in the AFC is the playoffs are a slightly easier proposition than the NFC. The AFC doesn’t have the depth of the NFC as shown last year when the Bills and Titans made it to the AFC side of the bracket. The bad news is that you have to get past the Patriots and Steelers. The Chargers have lost their last 4 games against the Patriots and are 1-1 against the Steelers in the last 6 years with the win coming in 2012. Carr has not beat either of these teams since becoming the Raider QB.
The play on this prop is taking the 28 non-California teams at -700. The 49ers are trending in the right direction and the Raiders may turn it around with Gruden but these teams do not have super bowl rosters in 2018. The Rams and Chargers are favorites to win their respective divisions but if they do the playoffs are stacked against them. It’s not worth the +500 payout to wager that the California Dream becomes a reality this year. If your preference is to play for the big payday and you really want to invest in the Golden State, the recommendation would be to navigate through betting sites‘ NFL Futures pages to find the best payout odds. Play ½ units each on the Rams, currently highest odds are +1300, and the Chargers at +3300 to win the big game on their own.