The San Francisco 49ers put together a bounce-back season last year that caught a lot of people off guard. Behind a dominant defense and special teams, and thanks in part to an uncanny ability to stay healthy, the 49ers reached the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 1997. Following last season's wild ride, the 49ers return their entire defense and special teams, as well as the potential for strong improvements on offense.
And yet, even still, history is not entirely on their side heading into 2012. In the NFC, the 2002-2004 Philadelphia Eagles were the last team to make repeat trips to the conference championship game. Prior to that, the Green Bay Packers made back-to-back appearances in 1996 and 1997, the Dallas Cowboys made it in 1992 and 1993 and the San Francisco 49ers made it in 1988 and 1989.
This is not exactly some kind of exact science, but we all know the kind of parity that has developed in the NFL in recent years. I just learned today that each of the last 16 years has seen five teams that made the playoffs one year not make it the next. I'd like to think the 49ers will not fall into that trap, but anything can happen year to year.
Once training camp gets going and rosters really start to develop, Super Bowl odds will start to swing a little bit more dramatically. The 49ers have emerged among the favorites for Super Bowl XLVII with odds ranging from 4-to-1 to 14-to-1. I wanted to get a better idea of preseason Super Bowl odds for eventual champions. Each season is different from the last, but it is still interesting to see whether any trends have developed over the years. Big thanks to Covers.com for pointing me in the right direction for historical odds information.
The folks at Sports Odds History are able to provide some useful odds over the last twelve years of football. This is not a particularly scientific approach, but I thought it was still interesting information to consider. Here is a rundown of the preseason favorite before training camp (as best we can - the last time we have updated odds from them for 2012 is May), the eventual Super Bowl champ, and what their odds were to start the season. The number in parenthesis is where the champ ranked in preseason odds.
The 2006 Indianapolis Colts were the only preseason favorite to win it all. Generally we've seen teams in the upper third of the preseason odds. The two New York Giants victories involved squads that were slightly longer shots with the 11th and 15th best odds. The New England Patriots had the longest odds when they won their first Super Bowl, sitting tied for 25th at 60-to-1.
What does that mean for the 49ers? Well, not a whole lot of much, other than to say their odds are in the "safe area" for preseason status. In May they were tied for fifth with the Baltimore Ravens at +1400 (14-to-1). Their odds have since come down and they are in the third or fourth range behind the Packers and Patriots with most oddsmakers.
Preseason (Aug 4) favorite: New England Patriots +600
Super Bowl champ: New York Giants +2200 (t-11th)
Preseason (July 26) favorite: Indianapolis Colts +800
Super Bowl champ: Green Bay Packers +1400 (t-6th)
Preseason (July 24) favorite: New England Patriots +500
Suer Bowl champ: New Orleans Saints +2000 (t-9th)
Preseason (July 15) favorite: New England Patriots +400
Super Bowl champ: Pittsburgh Steelers +2000 (t-7th)
Preseason (July 15) favorite: New England Patriots +250
Super Bowl champ: New York Giants +3000 (t-15th)
Preseason (July 15) favorite: Indianapolis Colts +600
Super Bowl champ: Indianapolis Colts
Preseason (July 15) favorite: Indianapolis Colts +500
Super Bowl champ: Pittsburgh Steelers +1200 (5th)
Preseason (July 15) favorite: Philadelphia Eagles +500
Super Bowl champ: New England Patriots +600 (2nd)
Preseason (July 15) favorite: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +800
Super Bowl champ: New England Patriots +1500 (t-8th)
Preseason (July 15) favorite: St. Louis Rams +350
Super Bowl champ: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1200 (t-5th)
Preseason (July 15) favorite: St. Louis Rams +400
Super Bowl champ: New England Patriots +6000 (t-25th)