If you had one hundered dollars and ten teams to bet on for Super Bowl XLVII, who would you pick?
The question -- while it is a hypothetical one for a stingy man like myself -- still presents a fun scenario as I rarely turn down the opportunity to swing and miss on a prediction.
With the Super Bowl still many months away, how do you come up with a decent method to determine which teams to throw your imaginary money at? In my opinion, the best way to bet on futures is to look at the pasts, or past if you're not trying to be grammatically cute.
More specifically I scanned over the last five years and examined the Super Bowl teams and winners. What I found was a little surprising, but telling nonetheless. While it doesn't do much to help with futures betting, it's interesting to note that out of the last five Super Bowl matchups, the team with the lower futures odds has won every time.
But I'm not here to pick matchups, I'm here to burn some fake money on the future. One hundred imaginary dollars to be exact, and I'm going to spread it around ten ways.
Ten teams worth ten dollars apiece -- because that's all the play money I can afford. But first, a little peek at what the last five years tell us.
20/1: The average futures odds of the eventual Super Bowl Champion
7.3/1: The average futures odds of the eventual Super Bowl Loser
12/1 - 30/1: The range of odds of the five Super Bowl Winners
4.5/1 - 10/1: The range of odds of the five Super Bowl Losers
12/1: The best odds that won the Super Bowl (Green Bay '10)
30/1: The lowest odds that won the Super Bowl (New York '07)
13.64/1: Average odds of Super Bowl teams
Using that data, my first move is to cut down the thirty-two teams by removing anyone lower than New York's 30/1 odds. This means goodbye to the Carolina Panthers (35/1), Cincinnati Bengals (40/1), Arizona Cardinals (50/1), Buffalo Bills (50/1), Kansas City Chiefs (50/1), Miami Dolphins (50/1), Seattle Seahawks (50/1), Tennessee Titans (50/1), Washington Redskins (50/1), Oakland Raiders (65/1), St. Louis Rams (75/1), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (75/1), Indianapolis Colts (100/1), Minnesota Vikings (100/1), Cleveland Browns (150/1), and Jacksonville Jaguars (150/1).
That leaves us with sixteen teams; meaning we've got to trim the list by six squads. My next move is less of a history based move and more of a greedy all-or-nothing play. If I'm going to put some Monopoly money down -- knowing that only one team can win -- I'm going to make sure I can at least win my money back. This means it's time to trim from the top all teams with better than 10/1 odds.
Goodbye Green Bay Packers (13/2) and New England Patriots (8/1).
Alright, only four more teams to go. That means it's time for an arbitrary move of randomness. There's no way the New York Giants can repeat, right? It hasn't happened in forever and their run was practically a perfect alignment of the stars. Goodbye, New York Giants (16/1).
Next up it's time to trim a little fat from the bottom. Three teams with 25/1 odds and I can't justify dropping a whole ten bucks per team. Goodbye, Atlanta Falcons (25-1), at least until you show us you are ready to win in the playoffs.
As long as I'm on the playoffs kick, sorry Dallas Cowboys (20-1), that means it's your turn to go. Tony Romo, there's just something about your inability to lead your team to a playoff win. You're not worth my blue ten-dollar bill.
Eleven teams left. It's amazing how hard it is to just pick one team. The money isn't real, and I'm splitting hairs between some middle-of-the-pack teams.
I could eliminate someone based on past experience and playoff shortcomings (San Diego?). But we've already been there. The final filter? It is a pass-happy league driven by the quarterback, so goodbye to the team with the most questionable man at that position.
See ya later, Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles (14/1). Sorry Mike, I like the team, but I just don't see the ability of you to carry the team to a Super Bowl championship with your arm.
So who earns my hard-earned counterfeit?
The San Francisco 49ers (10/1), Denver Broncos (12/1), Houston Texans (12/1), Baltimore Ravens (16/1), New Orleans Saints (16/1), Chicago Bears (20/1), Pittsburgh Steelers (20/1), San Diego Chargers (22/1), Detroit Lions (25/1), and New York Jets (25/1).
Just one team needs to hit and I've got almost a one-in-three chance of doing it. By eliminating the scraps at the bottom I've improved my odds. I've followed the numbers and used good judgement. I've used imaginary dough so there's nothing on the line. So what if I miss.
But if I get it right that's anywhere from $100 to $250 into thin air.
Why do people do this to themselves for real? It must be torture. No wonder gambling can tear apart lives. The excitement and frustration. The ups and the downs. No way I'd ever get myself into that...
But while you're here, could I borrow $100?
Who would you put your money on (real or fake) based on the odds for Super Bowl XLVII?
Justin Mikels is a staff writer at Operation Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @long_snapper.