As the NFL celebrates its 100 anniversary, the league welcomes the Kansas City Chiefs back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. The Chiefs, 1.5-point favorites in Super Bowl 54, won Super Bowl 4 23-7 over the Minnesota Vikings as 12-point underdogs. Their opponents, the San Francisco 49ers have won five of six Super Bowl appearances but none since a 1995 victory in Super Bowl 29.
2018 NFL Pro Bowl: Odds Say It's NFC's Turn To Be Crowned
AFC (+130) vs. NFC (-150)
Wagering on all-star games is never an exact science. There are so many variables you must take into account, such as changing formats, last-minute player withdrawals and the bottom-line issue of just how much, if any, passion will be put into the performance. That being the case, how should you approach betting on an event such as the NFL's AFC-NFC Pro Bowl game?
Well, there are still trends you can follow when making your wagering decision. There was that three-year break from tradition from 2013-15 when conference divisions were ignored and teams were drafted prior to the game by star ex-players, but in the last six AFC-NFC matchups, the two conferences have alternated victories in the NFL version of an all-star game. The AFC were 20-13 winners last season in a game that was surprisingly low-scoring for an all-star affair.
Will the NFC continue this win-one, lose-one format? Or can the AFC hold serve? Let's look at the 2018 AFC-NFL Pro Bowl based on odds provided by Bovada.
You've got to go all the way back to 2001-02 to find a case where the AFC won consecutive Pro Bowls, part of a three-year run of AFC success from 2000-02. The AFC might have an ace in the hole, though. Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin is their coach, his first Pro Bowl apperance, and Steelers coaches are 7-0 in the Pro Bowl. Bill Cowher was 4-0 and Chuck Noll went 3-0.
The two conferences have split the 44 Pro Bowl games right down the middle, each winning 22. But the AFC has lost nine of its selections this year either through injury of the fact that they play for the New England Patriots, the AFC rep in the Super Bowl. Among the missing will be NFL passing leader Tom Brady of the Patriots and NFL receiving leader Antonio Brown of the Steelers.
The NFC roster includes New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, who will be appearing in his 11th Pro Bowl, second behind Brady (13) among active players. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will also be playing in his 11th Pro Bowl. Fitzgerald was named MVP of the 2008 Pro Bowl and he holds Pro Bowl record for touchdown receptions with eight.
If you are looking for a correlation between the Pro Bowl winner and which conference will win the Super Bowl, well, you might want to take the opposite approach. In the 47 years since the AFL-NFL merger, the conference winning the Pro Bowl has also won the Super Bowl just nine times. The NFC is a solid 7-4 against the spread in the last 11 AFC-NFL Pro Bowl Games, and the underdog is 3-1 in the past five AFC-NFC meetings with the game in 2011 going off as pick 'em affair.
Dont' be swayed by last year's 20-13 AFC victory, which saw the two teams come in 47 points below the total set at 80. If there's a safe bet on the Pro Bowl it's to play the over. Bovada has set this year's total at 61, a low bar for a Pro Bowl game. The total has gone over that number in seven of the last 10 Pro Bowls, a game that resembles sandlot football more than NFL football. Prior to last season's game, the total had gone over for four straight Pro Bowls and in five of the last six games. The winner of the Pro Bowl has scored at least 30 points in 12 of the last 15 games.
Pick: NFC (-3), over (61)
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