Trades, Free Agency Change 2014 Super Bowl Odds Already

Percy Harvin
The trade of Percy Harvin has already impacted the odds of both teams in terms of getting to the Super Bowl.

I’ve been telling you for the last several weeks that in order to place money on a strong pick for the 2014 Super Bowl in New York that you really need to study free agency and the NFL Draft. When players change hands, it isn’t just one team that is affected, it’s two. Already we’ve seen some odds on potential Super Bowl favorites change over the last 24 hours due to two trades. Both of these trades occurred just hours before the official start of the NFL’s calendar year.

In one case, the Minnesota Vikings sent Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks picks that included a first-rounder as part of the deal. While not every sports book moved the Seahawks off their most recent odds, some did. I saw some that listed Seattle at 7 to 1 on winning the Super Bowl and after the trade, I saw the number change to 5 to 1.

Those that chose to stay on their current odds with Seattle cited Harvin’s injury history and potential problem as a head case. This is after all why the Vikes dealt him. As I mentioned, free agency and trades don’t change one team’s fortunes, they will essentially change both. In one case, the Vikings went from 20 to 1 to win the Super Bowl to 25 to 1 after the Harvin trade.

Anquan Boldin
Boldin instantly moved the odds for San Francisco to get to the Super Bowl.

The other big move made on Monday was the Baltimore Ravens sending Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers for a 6th round draft choice. This move was simply a matter of trying to get something rather than nothing. Boldin was not going to take a pay cut and the Ravens were wise to at least get something for him. Otherwise he would have been released and Baltimore would have gotten nothing for him.

Many have suggested the 6th round in return for arguably the best player of the NFL playoffs was perhaps a ‘family discount’ between the Harbaugh brothers. I don’t see it that way though. Ravens’ GM Ozzie Newsome need something for Boldin if he wasn’t going to stay so he took the offer.

The Niners were one of the teams that moved favorably on most Vegas boards following the deal. In one particular instance, they went from 7 to 1 to 5 to 1 in terms of winning the Super Bowl. Baltimore meanwhile, dropped even though the Ravens were already considered the seventh or eighth best team before the deal. As of this writing, the Ravens have lost Boldin through the trade, Paul Kruger to the Browns and Danelle Ellerbe to the Dolphins in free agency.

Look for Miami to jump significantly now that they have not only signed Ellerbe, but signed free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace as well. With Wallace out of Pittsburgh and James Harrison released earlier this week, look for the Steelers move from their current 18 to 1 to closer to 25 to 1. I say that because Rashard Mendenhall may also sign elsewhere too.

The major issue with free agency is just how much does it really change a team’s fortunes? We’ve seen teams like Washington and Philadelphia spend like crazy on free agent acquisitions and big names but the result has been far from successful. This is why it’s so important to see not only who a team signs but what is the expectation? Is the guy a plug-in starter or is he nothing more than depth? These are questions you need answers to in order to make an informed wager.

Of course the draft coming in April will also require your due diligence in terms of viewing just where guys end up and how they impact a team’s odds on winning the Super Bowl. Don’t just throw your money at the sexy pick here people, due some work and you’ll find it can pay off.