SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – It’s been a rough week for the 49ers: the team fell to 4-4 after a crushing defeat to the Rams, the rumors of Jim Harbaugh leaving persist, and now they’ve lost once-promising prospect Marcus Lattimore for good due to ongoing knee trouble. It appears Las Vegas bookies have taken note of the dark clouds currently circling Santa Clara, and they’ve made the three-time NFC Title Game contender a long shot to hoist the Lombardi Trophy this year.
The team currently sits at 25-1 to win it all, well behind familiar foes like the Patriots, Broncos, Seahawks and Packers. But what’s more troubling is that there are now 11 teams with better odds to win it all than the 49ers, some of which have long been considered lower-tier competitors than the 49ers. Are the Niners really worse than these guys? Let’s explore:
The Cowboys (actually tied with the Niners at 25/1)
Despite a ton of talent a the “skill positions” these guys were getting lumped in with the Raiders and Jaguars to start the year. It turns out that, when paired with a really solid offensive line, the Cowboys starters look like a playoff offense again, and DeMarco Murray is perhaps the best player in fantasy football. They’re gaining about 40 yards a game more than the 49ers, but they’re giving up 60 more, so the Niners may have the slight edge here.
Pittsburgh Steelers (20/1)
Yikes, this is a team that lost by three touchdowns to the Browns. Can they possibly be better than Harbaugh’s boys? Maybe. Have you watch Big Ben and company sling it lately? Antonio Brown suddenly looks like one of the best wideouts in the league and Michael Crabtree does not. The Steelers defense isn’t what it used to be and they give up a ton more yards and points than the 49ers, but which team would you pick right now to move the ball on the road in frigid playoff temps?
Detroit Lions (20/1)
Megatron has done little, Reggie Bush even less and Stafford hasn’t taken the next big step in is development. The Lions are 26th in points, so why exactly are these guys better bets to make the Super Bowl? Defense. The Lions are the only team in the NFL giving up fewer yards per game than the Niners. The star-laden D line continues to impress, but the the linebacker core overcoming injuries and the defensive backs continuing to improve make this one of the most impressive units in the league, on par with the 49ers.
Arizona Cardinals (10/1)
Once considered a longshot to squeak into the playoffs, the Cardinals are now the favorites to beat out the Seahawks and 49ers for the NFC West crown. The defense was good last year, but not this good. They’ve given up 22 fewer points than the Niners so far while also scoring 24 more points. This team isn’t flying under the radar anymore. The teams play their final regular season contest against each other on December 28th. Could playoff positioning be on the line?
Indianapolis Colts (10/1)
Andrew Luck has the Colts racking up the most yards and scoring the most points in the league. They were a playoff team last year, but with Luck’s continued development, and a strong supporting cast they appear to be the most likely on the list to make a long playoff run this year.