Should You Bet on a No. 1 Seed to Win the Super Bowl?

06 January 2021

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The end goal of every team in the NFL is to play in and win the Super Bowl. But, along the way, there are other goals teams like to reach. There is the division title for one, but more importantly, there is the No. 1 seed in their respective conference.

Why? Well, there are a few reasons.

As the No. 1 seed, you do not have to play in the wildcard round. Instead, you get a week off, which can be crucial for a team’s chances of making a run. There is home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, as well.

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That will not mean as much this year with few, if any, fans in the stands. Anyone who must travel to Green Bay will wish they were the No. 1 seed and not the Packers.      

But there is more to it than just a week off and not having to travel. History, especially recent history, has smiled on the No. 1 seeds in the postseason. Since 1975, there have been 24 No. 1 seed teams from the AFC that made it to the Super Bowl.

Of those 24, nine of them went on to win the big game. As for the NFC, there have been 26 No. 1 seed teams that have made it to the Super Bowl. Of them, 16 went on to become Super Bowl champions.

So, does this mean you should go ahead and put your money down on this year’s No. 1 seeds, the Kansas City Chiefs or Green Bay Packers?  

History Has Been Kind to The No. 1 Seed

Theoretically, the No. 1 seed from each conference should represent the conference in the Super Bowl. To earn the No. 1 seed, they had to have the best record in the conference, which means they had to win more games than everyone else.

If you win the most games, you should be the best team—right?

That very well may be true, but that does not mean a 1-seed is a lock to win the Super Bowl. Over the last 45-years, 40 of the 90 No. 1 seeds between both conferences were eliminated before the Super Bowl.

Of those 50 who made it to the Super Bowl, 25 of them won the big game. So—what does this tell us? Over half of No. 1 seeds do make the Super Bowl, and they tend to win the big game over half of the time.

While the No. 1 seeds have not fared too well the last two years, the previous five Super Bowl winners were all the No. 1 seed in their conference.

This kind of makes it sound like betting on either the Chiefs or Packers is going to be easy money, right?

So – How Should You Bet?

To answer that question, it will help to look at the likely path both No. 1 seeds will have to take to get there.

Kansas City will face the lowest remaining seed in the divisional round, probably either the Baltimore Ravens or Tennessee Titans. Both teams can give the Chiefs a run for their money, but Kansas City should beat either of them.

With the way Buffalo has been playing, it would be a little shocking if the Bills failed to make it to the AFC Championship game. During their regular-season matchup, the final score was relatively close (26-17). But the Chiefs were firmly in control for most of the game.  

As for the Packers, their road to the Super Bowl looks a little more challenging. Chances are good they will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional round. The Buccaneers dominated the Packers earlier in the season (38-10).

Then their opponent in the title game (if they make it) could be either the Saints or Seahawks. When they played the Saints back in Week Three, Green Bay went on to win a competitive game, 37-30.

Kansas City should make it to the AFC Championship game, but it is hard to say with any certainty that they will beat the Buffalo Bills. As for the Packers, they could make it to the NFC title game, but they are far from a lock to do so.

Consequently, it is hard to say either will make it to and win the Super Bowl.

Betting Play: At +225 (odds via DraftKings), there is not much value in betting on the Chiefs right now. As for the Packers, there is more value in their odds (+450), but they have a pretty tough road just to get to the NFC title game.

It may be smarter to pass on both of the No. 1 seeds this year and take the No. 2 seeds instead (Bills +700; Saints +750).  

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