Well, another Super Bowl is in the books, and for a brief period we can forget about football - at least until free agency and then the draft. Before we say goodbye, though, it's always a good idea to take a look at futures odds that are available. That does two things - it lets us see if there are any crazy values out there and it gives us a starting reference for evaluating teams in the offseason. Here's a look at the number BetOnline has posted :
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New England Patriots (+500): At this point are you willing to bet against these guys? They are dialed in. They have a lot of personnel changes coming, but that is nothing new - they won with almost an entirely different team than they did just two years ago. Any veterans who care about winning more than money - the Chris Long model - would jump over themselves to play in New England. The risks get bigger every year because Tom Brady is about to turn 40 - even if he doesn't play anything like it. He doesn't look done yet, though - no signs at all of the slowing that was very obvious late in the careers of Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. I don't see a lot of value in this price, but they are the obvious and deserving favorites.
Dallas Cowboys (+800): I will be very interested to see if the two young stars on offense take big steps forward or struggle under the spotlight. I expect Tony Romo to be gone - though if I were Jerry Jones I would do everything I could to keep him around. That means Dak Prescott has to fully evolve from plucky young upstart to guy carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. It was a heck of a rookie season, but, at this price, I remain more than a little skeptical.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+1100): Big Ben wasn't Big Ben last year. Not all the time, anyway. On the road especially he was a shell of his best self. That's a concern. I don't know what the issues are, but the two obvious culprits are age and a struggle to define an offensive identity. Le'Veon Bell emerged as a mega threat. Roethlisberger is young enough that he should still have plenty in the tank, but at his size and with his injury history it's possible the decline is fully underway. I really liked this team early this past season and felt burned by them as a result. I'd need a bigger price than this to jump back on the bandwagon again so soon.
Green Bay Packers (+1100): For the second half of the season there was no better team in the league. In the first half of the season, and again in the playoffs, they were a special kind of awful. Which team is the real Packers? And are you willing to bet on that opinion at this price? I'm sure not.
Atlanta Falcons (+1200): The Panthers. That's all you have to think of when considering this price. The Panthers went to the Super Bowl, lost, and couldn't shake the funk all season last year. And they didn't suffer a fraction of the psychological blow that the Falcons did. And Atlanta will be breaking in new coordinators on both sides of the ball. There isn't a price that you could convince me was good enough to back the Falcons next year - at least not a price anywhere close to this one.
Seattle Seahawks (+1200): More than any other team, we have incomplete information that makes it impossible to judge this team. With their offensive line as it is they are truly hopeless. Fixing a line isn't easy. If they can find a way to do it, and do it well, then I have no trouble imagining them as a contender. If they can't solve their serious issues effectively, though, then 120/1 wouldn't be good enough.
Oakland Raiders (+1600): I like the team and I like the price. We are assuming, of course, that Derek Carr comes back healthy and ready. If he does then there are so many things the team did well last year, and so many of them that can be built upon this year, that the price is certainly attractive.
Kansas City Chiefs (+2000): I honestly don't know how to evaluate this team. I love the coaching, and they had a lot going for them. Alex Smith is just 1-3 in the last four playoff games, though, and I don't know if he is good enough to take it over the top. I also don't know if it is fair to blame him for what has happened. This team is, increasingly, an enigma to me. I'll pass at this price.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+4000): If I was in the market for a longer shot I wouldn't look past here. The Bucs have a franchise quarterback, a decently-talented roster, solid coaching, and a lot of upside to hopefully capitalize on. It's probably too soon for them, but they are on the rise, and at this price I might just jump on the bandwagon. There are certainly a whole lot of worse options out there.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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