The Super Bowl XLV odds are out for the Jets and Giants, and the bottom line is that the Jets are viewed to have about a 6-percent chance to win next season's Super Bowl in Jerry World. The Giants are given a 3-percent chance.
Here's how the divisions stack up:
We should seek simplicity in life, and it's pretty clear when you look at the NFL odds that teams are slotted based almost solely on the strength of their quarterback. For example, the Steelers are 10-to-1 and tied with the Patriots for fourth best. Pittsburgh's defense is getting old and looked average last year. Yes, Troy Polamalu will be back, but the rest of the defense will be even older. And who knows if Polamalu will regain his pre-knee-injury range? So the Steelers are viewed as one of the four favorites mainly because of Ben Roethlisberger. I fully support this but must note it because analysts always try to cleverly deny the obvious that, in the NFL, the team with the better quarterback play wins about 80 percent of the time.
Let's further test this by looking at all the favorites.
That's Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre (for now), Tony Romo and Donovan McNabb. Are we ranking teams or quarterbacks?
Will Brett Favre retire? If so, the Vikings odds will tailspin. Currently, odds are 10-to-11 (implied 52 percent chance) that Favre will retire and 10-to-13 (implied 56 percent chance) that he won't.
Yes, that doesn't add up. And, yes, that's how the house always wins.
Are either the Jets or Giants a bargain at the current market price?
That depends on what you think of Mark Sanchez and Eli Manning. If Sanchez is the 90-plus quarterback rating guy we saw on the road against the best teams in January, then the Jets should be at least even with New England at 10-1. Because then the expectation would be that Sanchez will have a 100-ish rating. With Rex Ryan and the Jets' defense along with the strength of the offensive line and running game, the floor would be 12 wins and the expectation would be for one or two more.
But does the sample of those three January games wipe out the many flaws and overall careless play we saw for large stretches during Sanchez's rookie year? It's hard for me to stipulate that you can get lucky in road NFL playoff games over a three-game sample. I do realize he didn't have great numbers in San Diego, though he certainly did show flashes of superior play. While I hope for better and do expect that Sanchez will end up being a very good-to-great player, I'd lower the expectation in 2010 to about an 85 rating, which puts the Jets in the 10-to-12 win range and thus makes those odds fair.
The Giants, though, are a bargain. Eli Manning showed explosive growth last year in the most important NFL category -- yards per pass attempt, which was better for him than it was for Peyton and Brady. His rating was hurt by his 14 interceptions, very meaningful, and his completion rate, almost meaningless when you already calculate YPA.
The Giants' pitiful defense put too much pressure on Eli to make plays and thus elevated that pick total by at least three or four. I'm pretty confident that Manning's rating next year will be closer to 100 than 90 and that he'll be somewhere in the top 10. So, if you expect like I do that the Giants defense last year was a perfect storm of awfulness that is certain to soon pass, the Giants 2011 Super Bowl odds are significantly better.
In fact, the only other team with a quarterback who was in the top 10 in rating or likely to be in the top 10 in 2010 with worse odds than the Giants is Houston at 40-1. Matt Schaub last year was seventh in rating and eighth in YPA. But the Texans are being punished for being in the AFC South, where the Colts have won 12 or more games every year since 2003.