Well ladies and gentlemen, the week we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. After months of build up, the 2021 NFL season gets underway this Thursday night when the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, host the Dallas Cowboys.
Here at Pickswise, we’ve been posting all kinds of futures content to make sure you’re as informed as possible before laying down your bets for the season. But the question everyone wants answered is who is going to be lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy high above their heads on Sunday, February 13, 2022? We’ve asked six of our top NFL experts that very question, including Jared Smith, John Hyslop, and PropBetGuy, and here are their picks for who wins Super Bowl 56.
Jared Smith: San Francisco 49ers +1400
I love the additions John Lynch made in the offseason, adding 6-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack and two rookie guards to the offensive line, making a clear commitment to protecting Jimmy Garoppolo. Kyle Shanahan is 24-9 with Jimmy G under center and 7-27 without, so keeping him healthy is the key to San Fran’s success. Rookie QB Trey Lance should also factor into the equation in some way, and could be utilized as a change-of-pace early on before he gets acclimated. Lance is also valuable insurance in case Jimmy G gets hurt.
Things went south for the Niners last year but some of it was bad luck and I see a lot of positive regression in 2021. Nick Bosa’s return from injury should be a huge boost for the front seven and I’m expecting a big year from second-year wideout Brandon Ayuik. Also don’t sleep on rookie Trey Sermon contributing in the backfield alongside playoff hero Raheem Mostert. We haven’t had a repeat winner in the NFL since the Patriots in 2004 and 2005, so I feel good about ruling out the Bucs despite Tampa Bay bringing back their entire starting lineup. Green Bay was also a contender here but I just don’t think they have enough depth around Aaron Rodgers to win it all.
Picking a champion this early in the proceedings is very difficult in the volatile world of NFL betting and I’m trying to keep an open mind as long as possible this season before I shove my chips into the middle, so for now I’ll ride with the team I think has the deepest roster.
John Hyslop: Buffalo Bills +1200
The Buffalo Bills can win the Super Bowl this season. It feels crazy to say that but it’s true. First of all, at +1200, it’s a steal.
They have one of the best head coaches in the NFL in Sean McDermott. He has unlocked the way to use Josh Allen in a way that I don’t think other head coaches could have done. Remember when everybody thought Josh Allen was a bad pick? That wasn’t long ago.
Their offense was aggressive in the preseason and it will remain so in the regular season, but they can win the whole thing because of their defense this season.
Obviously they will need points to get by the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game, but this season they will have the pass rush to ensure they don’t need so many points this time. They spent their first and second round picks on defensive linemen because they know the value of getting pressure from the front four.
Last season 18 of their 38 sacks came from linebackers and secondary players. That can’t beat the Chiefs like that and they know it. This year, they won’t have to because pressure will be coming from up front. They are winning the Super Bowl this season.
PropBetGuy: Kansas City Chiefs +500
The last time we saw Patrick Mahomes, he was running for his life from the Tampa Bay pass rush. After steamrolling through the season and postseason to that point, injuries and ineffectiveness across the offensive line caught up with the Chiefs.
So what did they do this offseason? They beefed up. They traded for Orlando Brown, coaxed Kyle Long out of retirement, signed Joe Thuney, and drafted Creed Humphrey.
So what we’re looking at here is a team that’s 25-2 in their last 27 games quarterbacked by Mahomes, that addressed their biggest weakness.
Besides the offensive line, the crux of the Chiefs’ offensive and defensive units are returning. On offense, I’m looking for progression from both Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Mecole Hardman, while Tyrann Mathieu and Chris Jones anchor an underrated defensive unit.
Overall, I don’t see enough competition in the conference to dethrone the two-time reigning AFC champions.
The Bills possess a high-powered offense but, as the Buccaneers showed, you need to slow down the Chiefs offense, rather than try to outpace them. I have the Chiefs returning to football supremacy, defeating the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl LVI.
Don’t forget to read PropBetGuy’s best player prop bet for Cowboys vs Buccaneers!
Andrew Ortenberg: Minnesota Vikings +5000
Call me crazy, but I’m all over the Vikings at 50/1 to win the Super Bowl. You can have your misgivings about Kirk Cousins, but the team around him is as solid as can be. With Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen, he’s got a truly elite crop of skill-position talent at his disposal.
The offense was actually great last year, it was the defense that weighed Minnesota down. Mike Zimmer’s side of the ball should be much better in 2021, as star pass-rusher Danielle Hunter will return after missing the entire 2020 season. Starting linebacker Anthony Barr will also return after playing just a couple of games.
A secondary that was ridiculously young last year has now added Patrick Peterson and Bashaud Breeland to the mix in free agency. Plus all the young guys will be a lot better and more mature. I’m not expecting much from the Lions or Bears, and the Packers seem ripe for regression with David Bakhtiari’s knee clearly not being ready and the Aaron Rodgers drama looming large, so the NFC North is Minnesota’s for the taking.
The Cousins hate is always overblown, and it’s created some serious value with an otherwise stacked roster.
Ricky Dimon: Kansas City Chiefs +500
There are plenty of good teams in the NFL, but to win the Super Bowl you have to be great. And I see only two truly great teams — the same ones who played for the Lombardi Trophy last season. Of the two, I’ll lean toward the Kansas City Chiefs this time around.
It’s not rocket science, but to win the Super Bowl you have to make it there first. Coming out of the AFC, the Chiefs are far more likely to do so than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the NFC. Tampa Bay still has the Green Bay Packers to contend with in addition to a host of talented teams in the NFC West.
Plus, I’m not betting against Patrick Mahomes. Sure, he lost Super Bowl LV, but Kansas City was banged up in a big way. That was an aberration. Mahomes and the Chiefs’ performance in Super Bowl LIV was the rule. And they can rule again.
Pickswise Model Projection: Green Bay Packers +1400
The Pickswise data science team has built a robust predictive machine learning model that makes use of a proprietary dynamic rating system to simulate the upcoming season. As well as analyzing in-house derived metrics, the model also adapts to situational factors such as rest weeks, home advantage, and time-zone differentials. After simulating this season 10,000 times and comparing outcomes probabilities to current consensus market prices, the model has selected the Green Bay Packers as the best value pick to win the Super Bowl.
Of course, the model does not take into account certain emotional factors that could potentially impact the Packers’ success this season. However, right now the model projects a 9.93% probability of the Pack winning it all, while their current odds imply a 6-7% chance. That difference means a potential edge of around 3-4%, which is the most significant on the board.
Interestingly, the Pickswise model indicates that the worst value play right now is Kansas City, whose current odds imply around a 14-16% chance of winning the Super Bowl. Our projections indicate closer to 9% probability for the Chiefs, which signals that it’s too short of a price to lock in right now, especially with matchups against the Browns, Ravens, and Chargers slated for Weeks 1-3.
Check back all season to see regularly updated rest-of-season projections, plus individual game projections, derived every week from the Pickswise Model simulations.
Make sure you check out our full game preview for Dallas Cowboys vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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