The NFL playoffs are unique from other sports as each game is a one-game contest. There is no best of five series or best of seven where you have time to feel out your opponents and make adjustments game to game. In the NFL, if you win you move on and if you lose you are done as each week is a new game and everything that happened in the regular season doesn’t matter anymore.
With the changes that the NFL made in 2020, 14 teams qualify for the playoffs with seven teams from each conference. Each of the four division winners per conference gets home field advantage for the Wild Card round with the No. 1 seed getting a bye to the second round. From there, home field advantage goes to the highest seed in the game. With the new 18-week regular season in 2021, each team that made the playoffs has a winning record. That all is scrapped now and it comes down to whichever team can win their next three or four games depending on if they have a bye week or not.
With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at why each of the 14 teams could win Super Bowl 56. The teams are ranked based on their DraftKings Sportsbook Super Bowl odds following the close of Week 18.
Green Bay Packers: +380
The Packers hold the No. 1 seed in the NFC and they have the reigning MVP under center. Despite the weird rumor that Aaron Rodgers has said that he would boycott the Super Bowl, the Packers remain the favorites. Rodgers made a strong case in the regular season for consecutive MVP awards and even though they don’t have a plethora of playmakers on either side of the ball, they have made it work and they have made it work really well. Even with the Week 18 loss, they head to the playoffs with the best record in the regular season.
Kansas City Chiefs: +450
The Chiefs have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. They have home field advantage locked up until a potential AFC Championship game against the Tennessee Titans. Even though they started the season rocky, they also went on an eight-game win streak throughout the back half of the season. With quarterback Patrick Mahomes under center, the Chiefs can never be counted out and if their defense can hang, their offense can carry them to a title.
Buffalo Bills: +750
The Bills won the AFC east win a victory over the New York Jets. They have had an up and down season, but they are heading into the playoffs, hosting a Wild Card game and at least have some momentum. They don’t have an explosive run game, but they do have one of the best wide receivers in the league in Stefon Diggs. The Bills went to the AFC Championship game last season and they could click at the right time and be hoisting the Super Bowl trophy in a few weeks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: +800
Tom Brady. That’s why the Buccaneers could repeat as Super Bowl Champions. Brady did it in 2004 and 2005 with the New England Patriots and he could do it again this year. The Buccaneers were able to return 98% of their team snaps from that Super Bowl championship team in 2021 and even though they have some injuries, Tom Brady seems to always find ways to make it happen.
Tennessee Titans: +850
The Titans were able to lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the first round bye week without Derrick Henry. Who is slated to be able to return for the team’s Divisional round game? You guessed it, Derrick Henry. The Titans’ offense has sputtered at times, but if an extremely well-rested Henry returns, anything can happen for this team.
Los Angeles Rams: +1000
The Rams fell apart in overtime of their Week 18 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. With how good their offense and Matthew Stafford have been this year, he threw two costly picks in their game. The Rams are the No. 4 seed heading into the playoffs for the NFC, but we have seen their potential. This team can put up points and if Stafford can keep the interceptions low, they have a legitimate shot to get back to the Super Bowl and take it home.
Dallas Cowboys: +1200
Quarterback Dak Prescott has set the Cowboys franchise record for passing touchdowns in a season. A front runner for comeback player of the year, Prescott has helped to evolve the offense from having to be so run-heavy. The Cowboys' defense has the odds-on favorite for the Defensive Rookie of the Year in Micah Parsons. in a Week 18 game that they didn’t really need to win, they still decided to drop a 50-burger on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Cincinnati Bengals: +1600
The Bengals head into the playoffs with one of the most prolific offenses in the playoff field. Quarterback Joe Burrow, running back Joe Mixon, and the wide receiver trio of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd give the Bengals more depth than any other offense in the playoffs. If their defense can just allow fewer points than the offense will put up, they will be fine and competing. Also, in Week 17, they took down the No. 2 Chiefs so they certainly have the talent to compete.
San Francisco 49ers: +2000
The 49ers were down 17-3 at halftime of their Week 18 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. They weren’t out though as the versatility of wide receiver Deebo Samuel was on full display and they came away with an overtime victory that sealed their playoff hopes. They have shown that you can’t count them out and despite the weeks of film, opposing defenses haven’t been able to slow down Samuel. The 49ers are definitely a sleeper threat out of the No. 6 seed.
New England Patriots: +2200
Bill Belichick is the most experienced head coach in the league and he has led yet another team to the playoffs. This time, he did it with a rookie under center. While the offense of the Pats lacks star power, their defense has been one of the best in the league. They say that defense wins championships and the Patriots can prove that by winning the Super Bowl this year.
Arizona Cardinals: +2500
The Cardinals offense hasn’t been inspiring down the stretch of the regular season, but the team is hopeful to get wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins back for the playoffs. If so, we could see this offense return to its early form, before it was injury riddled. Don’t forget, at one point this season, Arizona was 10-2 with the best record in the NFL. If they can catch fire again, they can certainly go all the way.
Philadelphia Eagles: +6000
The Eagles are back in the playoff hunt and are likely doing so with the “why not us?” mentality. They clinched a playoff spot, but due to the San Francisco 49ers winning their Week 18 game, the Eagles have the No. 7 seed. They didn’t have the best team in the playoffs in 2018, but that didn’t stop them from whipping out the Philly Special and taking home the Super Bowl LII trophy.
Las Vegas Raiders: +6000
The Raiders went through a chaotic 2021 season off the field, but ran off a four-game win streak under interim head coach Rich Bisaccia to claim a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season. Everything about this team has been middling, ranking 21st in overall efficiency, including 19th on offense, 23rd on defense, and 24th on special teams. They open against a youthful Bengals team and if they can secure the upset, it could provide the kind of momentum an underdog can gain in the postseason. The Raiders winning the Super Bowl would be a shocker, but given how wild the past couple years have been for the NFL, what’s to stop the underdog?
Pittsburgh Steelers: +9000
Big Ben’s farewell tour is extended into the playoffs. Teammate Jerome Bettis was sent off with a Super Bowl victory so why not the veteran quarterback? TJ Watt had an unreal season on defense, and if the offensive line can hold up look for Najee Harris to show why he was a first-round pick. When the odds were stacked against them, offensive coordinator Matt Canada went with plays that were in the short route wheelhouse for Roethlisberger. It may be by dinking and dunking their way down the field, but the Steelers could shock the world and win this thing.
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