The exciting part about this exercise is that we can follow the ups and downs of our beloved Saints throughout the regular season via the variations of their odds not only to make it to the Super Bowl, but first to even make it to the playoffs, win the NFC South, or earn a first round bye in the playoffs.
My favorite website to look at Super Bowl odds throughout the regular season is Five Thirty Eight (FTE). They use the well-oiled Elo rating system. The system was invented by physicist Arpad Elo, and originally designed to rate players in zero-sum games, like chess. The system assigns a gain value to the winner and a loss value to the loser such that the sum of the winner’s gain and the loser’s loss is equal to zero.
Who rose? Who fell? Let’s look at the standings:
The Top 10
With the highest odds of winning the Super Bowl this week, the Bills replaced the Tampa Bay Bucs, who stumbled from first to fourth following their 36-27 loss against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Dropping out of the top 10 are the Cincinnati Bengals, after the giant ostrich egg they laid against the New York Jets. They are replaced by the Las Vegas Raiders who at 5-2 are the least talked-about contender in the AFC. Despite their impressive win over the Bucs on Sunday, the Saints did not crack the top 10, instead they lost ground. Take a look in the next section.
The Muddled Middle
The Saints were 11th last week and atop the muddled middle and find themselves dropping two spots down to 13th this week. They are supplanted by the Kansas City Chiefs after their narrow win over the New York Giants, and the Bengals drop from 10th to 12th after their loss to the Jets. In the encouraging news department, the Saints have a 76% chance to make the playoffs, the highest of all the teams in the muddled middle. Plenty of perennial good teams can be found in this tier so far this season, with the likes of the Patriots, Steelers and Seahawks all coming in behind New Orleans.
The Bottom 10
At the back of the classroom with all the troublemakers, the NFC South is well represented, with the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons showing up at the 23rd and 24th positions respectively. At 3-4, the Falcons’ chances of making the playoffs are in single digits and with a trip to New Orleans next week, Atlanta is likely to play with desperation to keep their season alive. The Panthers snapped a four-game losing streak on Sunday by defeating the Falcons in Atlanta, which saw them jump four spots from 27th to 23rd in odds of winning the Super Bowl in February 2022.
We are now almost midway through the season, and contenders are starting to separate themselves from the pretenders. The Saints play the Falcons next week in the Caesars Superdome and have a chance to further bury Atlanta down the pretenders’ hole, while rising closer and closer to the top 10. In the immortal words of ESPN’s Chris Berman: we’ve only just begun.
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