One of the greatest things about the National Football League is its parity. Granted, a handful of teams are clearly better than the rest, but for the most part, any team can win on any given Sunday. As we learn time and time again, all it takes is a seat at the table — in this case the table is the NFL Playoffs — for teams to have a chance at bringing home a Super Bowl title.
At the same time, it is also highly unlikely that two long-shot teams will ever meet on the game’s biggest stage, the Super Bowl. The oddsmakers for the sportsbooks in Las Vegas made this abundantly clear when they released their odds on the most likely matchups for Super Bowl 51. That said, here are six Super Bowl 51 matchups that will mostly likely occur on February 5, 2017, according to the oddsmakers in Las Vegas.
5. (tie) Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The oddsmakers in Vegas aren’t in love with the possibility of a Super Bowl XLV — which the Packers won by a score of 31-25 — rematch this coming February. However, they aren’t totally ruling it out either. With the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, both teams have elite quarterbacks. In fact, many people could argue that Roethlisberger and Rodgers are the two best quarterbacks in the league today, which should land each team in Super Bowl contention down the stretch.
If this does happen, both teams would have to play better than they have as of late. The Packers appear to have an easier road to Super Bowl 51 through the NFC, but the Steelers have the makings of a team that will continue improving as the season goes on.
5. (tie) Arizona Cardinals vs. New England Patriots
This potential matchup would be a rematch of the Week 1 Sunday Night Football game that the Patriots won by a score of 23-21. Based on how Arizona has played as of late, we doubt they make it this far. But if they do, their defense will have to deal with four-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski. Needless to say, our guess is that the Pats would win their fifth Super Bowl if this scenario proved to be true.
3. (tie) Seattle Seahawks vs. New England Patriots
To be honest, we were a little surprised that the odds of this potential matchup — which would be a rematch of Super Bowl XLIX (the Patriots won 28-24, by the way) — weren’t higher. The Patriots look like the team to beat in the AFC, and the Seahawks have once again displayed a championship-caliber defense. If we made a prediction today, this matchup would be our pick.
3. (tie) Green Bay Packers vs. Denver Broncos
As of today, the Packers are the Vegas favorites to win the 2016 NFC championship. This is largely because they have the best quarterback in the game, Aaron Rodgers, but they are also fully healthy for the first time in a handful of years. The Broncos, on the other hand, trail only the New England Patriots on the list of the teams with the best odds to win the AFC.
For as good as Denver has played up to this point (their defense hasn’t skipped a beat), it looks like it will be extremely difficult to beat the Patriots in 2016 — especially if New England has home-field advantage in the playoffs. Still, as the Broncos showed everybody in 2015, defense wins championships.
2. Minnesota Vikings vs. New England Patriots
The Vikings are one of the biggest surprises of the 2016 season. Despite losing quarterback Teddy Bridgewatter, running back Adrian Peterson, and offensive tackle Matt Kalil, Minnesota got off to an undefeated start which includes wins over the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers. The oddsmakers in Vegas clearly took notice. As we mentioned a time or two, the Patriots are clearly the favorites to represent the AFC in Super Bowl 51 this coming February.
1. Green Bay Packers vs. New England Patriots
This potential Super Bowl 51 matchup has the best odds of actually happening, according to the oddsmakers in Las Vegas. If this scenario proves to be the case, football fans would be in for a treat. Any time two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history meet, there is sure to be fireworks — and these are also two of the most storied franchises in the league. There is a lot of football yet to occur, but as of now, the Packers and Patriots are the most likely teams we will see playing in Super Bowl 51 this coming February.