We are at the midway mark of the NFL season, and there is no shortage of surprise contenders for Super Bowl LII. But can some of these upstarts really go all the way? We look at the live long shots on the NFL futures board and give them a grade based on their Super Bowl potential. Also, make sure to check all your sportsbooks for the best football teaser odds in the next few weeks.
Houston Texans (+3,000)
The Texans look like the class of a very weak AFC South, backed behind the thrilling play of rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. He has sparked Houston’s offense since taking over as the full-time starter in Week 2, connecting on 12 touchdown passes in his last three games and boasting a 15-to-5 TD/INT count for the season.a
The Texans have lost some important pieces on defense to injury, namely defensive end J.J. Watt and linebacker Whitney Mercilus, but have a very talented roster that should be able to soften the loss of those top pass rushers. Houston is coming off a bye and heading to Seattle in Week 8 – a true test for this team. They will likely have to win the AFC South to make the postseason, as a wild card spot may be out of reach. The division is shaky enough for that to come true and once you make the playoffs, anything can happen.
Super Bowl Shocker Grade: C+
New Orleans Saints (+2,000)
The Saints are on track to snap their annual 7-9 record in 2017, heading into Week 8 at 4-2. New Orleans, much like Houston, can benefit from playing in a division that none of the other three members seem to want to win. And even beyond that, the Saints could at least sneak into a wild card spot should they maintain this pace.
New Orleans offense continues to be a force, with Drew Brees passing for more than 1,600 yards and 11 touchdowns so far. But a few other components are coming together in the Big Easy, giving the Saints added long shot value. The defense is allowing only 22.2 points per game behind an aggressive pass rush that ranks 10th in the league with 17 sacks. New Orleans is home to Chicago this Sunday and plays six of its final 10 games in the Superdome. There is still Big Game experience on this team, with the Saints winning Super Bowl XLIV in 2010.
Super Bowl Shocker Grade: B
Oakland Raiders (+6,500)
The Raiders entered the season with very high hopes and were among the top contenders – and favorites – to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LII. However, a bumpy start and a back injury to quarterback Derek Carr derailed the Silver and Black a bit. These Super Bowl odds, on the other hand, are discounting Oakland far too much and makes the Raiders a tremendous value bet to win the Big Game.
Oakland just knocked off Kansas City at home Thursday night to move to 3-4, and that may just be the spark for this team. The Raiders have back-to-back road games versus the AFC East, at Buffalo and Miami, before a bye in Week 10. Following that, they run a gauntlet against some stiff competition. But everything is still there for Oakland to turn around its record and make a run at a postseason spot. At 65/1, you’re getting a potential deal on a Raiders team that’s ready to roll.
Super Bowl Shocker Grade: A-