NFL futures odds earlier this week carried an interesting quirk. Here are some sample lines that were available at multiple books:
NFC to win Super Bowl: +140
AFC to win Super Bowl: -160
Giants to win NFC: +110
Giants to win Super Bowl: +300
Panthers to win NFC: +500
Panthers to win Super Bowl: +1000
Can you spot the problem?
Certainly the perception is that the NFC is now the stronger conference for the first time in years, which is reflected in the early Super Bowl line of NFC-3 (and the -160 money line seen above). However, the lines for the Giants and Panthers--ostensibly the two favorites to advance from the NFC field--indicate that they are smaller favorites in the Super Bowl than the NFC as a whole!
Generally, books charge a higher vig on Super Bowl futures than Conferences, but even if we assume they don't, the above lines indicate the Giants are a paltry 52.5% favorite in the big game, and the Panthers 54.5%. Meanwhile, the NFC is at least a 58.3% favorite, unless you believe the +140 is a profitable bet.
Apparently some bettors have taken notice. (Okay, I was partially responsible.) The Giants are down to +270 now, and the Super Bowl money line is now +120/-140 at The Greek and +105/-125 (!) at 5Dimes. To the best of my knowledge, MGM Mirage is still offering the AFC at +135, so if you live in Vegas, there's an arbitrage opportunity for you.