Not great, Bills: The history of preseason Super Bowl favorites is not a great one

·3 min read

The Buffalo Bills are the easy Super Bowl favorite in the betting market. They have been building, are coming off a heartbreaking playoff loss and have a tremendous roster. The Bills are +600 to win the Super Bowl at BetMGM.

That might not be the best news for the Bills, based on history.

The preseason Super Bowl favorite has actually won the Super Bowl at an alarmingly low rate this century. Keep that in mind before you load up on the Bills at those 6-to-1 odds.

Not many preseason Super Bowl favorites have won

Here's the year-by-year preseason Super Bowl favorite and how they fared since the 2000 season, using SportsOddsHistory.com's archive:

2021: Chiefs +450 (lost AFC championship game)

2020: Chiefs +450 (lost Super Bowl)

2019: Patriots +400 (lost wild card round)

2018: Patriots +600 (WON SUPER BOWL)

2017: Patriots +275 (lost Super Bowl)

2016: Patriots +600 (WON SUPER BOWL)

2015: Seahawks +450 (lost divisional round)

2014: Seahawks +450 (lost Super Bowl)

2013: Broncos +600 (lost Super Bowl)

2012: Packers/Patriots +600 (lost divisional round/lost AFC championship)

2011: Patriots +500 (lost Super Bowl)

2010: Colts +800 (lost wild card round)

2009: Patriots +450 (lost wild card round)

2008: Patriots +350 (missed playoffs)

2007: Patriots +250 (lost Super Bowl)

2006: Colts +600 (WON SUPER BOWL)

2005: Colts/Patriots/Eagles +500 (lost divisional round/lost divisional round/missed playoffs)

2004: Eagles +500 (lost Super Bowl)

2003: Buccaneers +800 (missed playoffs)

2002: Rams +350 (missed playoffs)

2001: Rams +400 (lost Super Bowl)

2000: Rams +300 (lost wild card round)

That's three winners in 22 seasons. Not too great.

However, the preseason Super Bowl favorite is usually a pretty good team. After a strange stretch from 2002-05 in which three preseason favorites or co-favorites missed the playoffs, only the 2008 Patriots didn't make the playoffs. That was the year Tom Brady tore his ACL in Week 1, and the Patriots still went 11-5 and missed the playoffs due to tiebreakers.

In the 22-season sample size we're using (there are 25 teams due to co-favorites in two different seasons), three preseason favorites made the Super Bowl and eight more made the Super Bowl and lost that game. That 3-8 record in Super Bowls for the preseason favorite is an oddity. Two others lost in the conference championship. That's 13 of 25 teams (52 percent) that made the final four. Since 2008, all 13 preseason Super Bowl favorites or co-favorites have made the playoffs.

Of course, bettors don't cash championship future tickets for their team coming close to winning it all. And there haven't been too many tickets cashed on those preseason favorites over the past couple decades.

Will Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills win it all this season? (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)
Will Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills win it all this season? (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

Will the Bills get a title?

It's incredibly hard to win a Super Bowl. This isn't college football, where the same few teams play in the playoffs every season and nobody else is a factor. The Bills might be favored, but plenty of NFL teams have a realistic expectation of making the Super Bowl this season.

In the playoffs, all it takes is one bad play to wreck a promising season. We saw many playoff games last season decided by a big play or two. The NFL is a competitive league. Every game is a challenge, especially when you're down to the top 14 teams in the playoffs.

The Bills are favored to win a championship, and rightfully so. They have the best roster and a fairly easy path to a division title, and perhaps a No. 1 seed. But the history of preseason Super Bowl favorites tells us that it's still pretty unlikely to happen.