The entire NFL landscape keeps waiting for the New England Patriots dynasty to run dry – but this Brady Riesling somehow keeps getting better with age. Teams across the league have found out that they can no longer wait for New England to come down to their level, instead, they must be proactive in finding their own 'Patriot Way.'
Each NFL season is unique but the 2017/18 rundown will feel a bit different thanks to a couple relocated (or soon-to-be) teams. For those who still call them the St. Louis Rams much like you sign your checks with the wrong date well into the new year – the L.A Chargers will now add to your confusion. Soon the Vegas Raiders will be doing the same.
Of course, the NFL isn't about where you play, it's how you play. The bookies over at Bovada Sports have released their Super Bowl futures and it's usually a good predictor of which teams are the cliched contenders, pretenders, and habitual offenders. Here's a look at some of the early value that can be had with those odds.
Not a Bad Investment
This is probably the best time of the year to bet on the Patriots winning another Super Bowl. You can take the chance that New England falters early in the 2017 season and thus gives you better odds than the current 4/1 listed but the Patriots started off 3-1 last year...without Tom Brady.
Dallas is the second highest favorite at 11/1. Part of that has to do with them being “America's Team” and thus a consistent draw for Super Bowl futures. The other is because they're actually really good. With Tony Romo now gone to the booth to call games, it's officially Dak Prescott's team (without a true fallback QB option it should be noted).
The Falcons, Packers, and Seahawks round out some of the NFC's other best investments all at the 12/1 odds. The Texans, Broncos, and Steelers have the best chances of upending the Patriots according to the oddsmakers. Of those, the Steelers are probably the best play at 18/1 unless the Texans and Broncos figure out their QB situations.
The Value Plays
While the 2017/18 NFL season feels very top-heavy, there are a few second tier teams that have improved their chances of joining the company of the elite. Of the next wave of squads, the Raiders have to be one of the most intriguing picks at 20/1 odds. Who knows what the Raiders could have done in the postseason last year if QB Derek Carr hadn't gotten hurt. They've got a tough young defense to go with that high-powered offense but what will be the reaction and emotions during the swan song in Oakland?
Two of the other best bets for off-the-pace teams are for bounce backs. Both Carolina and Arizona had uncharacteristic down years in 2016 but could offer real 2018 Super Bowl Value at 30/1 odds.
A few other teams in this category are always seemingly 'just there.' Kansas City is one such example at 25/1 odds for the championship. The Chiefs consistently roll through the regular season and look like a formidable postseason presence only to lose a typical 16-9 playoff game. Do the Chiefs and Andy Reid learn from these experiences, or does it become mental and a part of history they're doomed to repeat.
The Minnesota Vikings could be an interesting wager at 30/1 as they've officially moved on from the Adrian Peterson era. Not only that, the 2018 Super Bowl is in Minneapolis and it would be a great story line if the Vikings could be the first team to play the championship game in their home stadium.
Some of the other 'just there' teams include the Giants (20/1), Colts (30/1), and Ravens (40/1). Could any of these teams conceivably make it to the Super Bowl? Probably. Does anybody really think they will? Not really.
Good Bets or Wasted Money?
Looking at the 2017 Super Bowl Futures odds there are some really tantalizing numbers on the sheet. Take the Cincinnati Bengals for example. Sure they missed the postseason last year but 55/1 for a team that had made the playoffs 6 of 7 years prior seems a bit high. Then again maybe the fact that they lost in the Wild Card round in each of those appearances has something to do with the odds.
The Saints are another team that could be a very lucrative futures bet at 70/1. The Saints have the firepower to beat any team in the league – they have just never been able to stop anybody. The defense should be improved via the draft this season and 70/1 offers a great ROI.
Both the Bengals and the Saints could be an example of betting on the past. Instead, the key to wagering is being ahead of the curve. Two teams that are poised to make big steps in 2017/18 are the Dolphins and Buccaneers.
Miami offers very eye-catching odds at 60/1, especially for a team that made the playoffs a year ago and could have won their Wild Card game if starting QB Ryan Tannehill hadn't been injured towards the end of the year. Factor in the 2nd year of Adam Gase's system and Miami could be knocking on New England's door in the AFC East.
Tampa Bay is another intriguing Super Bowl bet at 40/1. They've added another playmaker in Desean Jackson to pair with Mike Evans and couple with Jameis Winston heading into his corner-turning 3rd NFL season.
The Game Changers
The bottom feeders of the NFL futures list are usually nothing more than burnt money if wagered upon. Cleveland and San Fran are both improved heading into 2017/18 (hard not to be) and are worth a small throwaway bet at 300/1 odds. There is one team down this list that has the chance to be game changing – the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The career underachieving Jaguars are in a now or never situation for the franchise. They've added veteran NFL mind Tom Coughlin to run the football operations and almost immediately reaped the benefits with the additions of DT Calais Campbell and veteran safety Barry Church. They join a defense that already features proven starters Paul Posluszny, Telvin Smith, and Malik Jackson as well as promising youngsters Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, and Dante Fowler, Jr. With that defense Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson and the rest of the Jaguars “O” only has to be 'good enough.' Factor in even more hands on deck coming with the #4 pick in the NFL draft and Jacksonville is a great pick at 100/1 odds.