Posted 01/02/2018 at 04:18 PM
The Big Ten nearly turned in a perfect bowl season starting 7-0 before Michigan’s collapse against South Carolina. The results including three major bowl wins brings great fanfare for the conference that has certainly been the SEC’s little brother the past decade but as is typically the case when the SEC trumpets a great bowl record, the Big Ten was favored in seven of those eight games and Purdue, the lone underdog was just a small underdog. Since no Big Ten teams made the playoff every team was slotted a spot lower than usual and there were more favorable matchups. Certainly the Big Ten has made some great strides in recent years with the revival of Michigan and Penn State but winning seven bowl games (while favored by at least 6 points in half the games) isn’t an indicator of conference strength. Likewise the Pac-12 going 1-8 shouldn’t be taken to mean it was a horrible conference this season as six of those nine teams were dogged by at least three points on the closing lines and only Oregon lost as a modest favorite.
The SEC getting two teams in the College Football playoff was realized this season and now the conference has a second championship in four years of the playoff wrapped up with two SEC foes meeting for the title. That was the case in the third to last season of the BCS as well as Alabama won 21-0 vs. LSU after the 2011 season. After amazing entertainment in the title game the past two seasons this year’s game may be less compelling on a national level but the game being in Atlanta lines up incredibly for the SEC showcase with Athens about 70 miles from Atlanta and Tuscaloosa just 200 miles away. One thing is certain, tickets won’t come cheap.
With the NFL playoff field set the New England Patriots are the clear favorite to repeat with just 2-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, still needing to win three games. The path has lined up incredibly for New England getting the top seed while seeing potentially fearsome wild cards in the Ravens and Chargers failing to make the field. The Patriots won’t have to play Jacksonville in the divisional round no matter what happens this week and in a likely scenario will get to play the AFC Championship at home against the team that wins the Steelers/Jaguars matchup which could be a fierce physical battle between great defensive teams. Should the AFC favorites win this week the Chiefs and Jaguars will be underdogs in venues where they won by double-digits in the regular season for an unusual twist.
While the gap in the AFC odds goes from New England at 2-1 to Buffalo and Tennessee at 100-1 to win the Super Bowl the NFC spread is tight with Minnesota 4-1 to Carolina 30-1. The #6 seed Atlanta is at 20-1 due to a big advantage, as the #6 seed if they win they get to play the wounded Philadelphia team that looks quite vulnerable. Minnesota’s odds are also a bit inflated as the Super Bowl is in Minneapolis, theoretically giving them a better shot to win should they win two playoff games to get there as Mike Zimmer looks to reverse a miserable postseason history for the franchise. The top seeded Eagles are listed at 15-1 despite looking like the NFL’s best team most of the season as Philadelphia will be the rare top seed that could be an underdog in the divisional round. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate…