2021 Super Bowl Predictions
The NFL offseason is basically broken down into four components that influence the odds to win the Super Bowl and set the perceptions and expectations for teams in the coming year. The first is free agency. The second is the release of the schedule. The third is the draft. And the fourth is injuries that occur during the May mini-camps or during the summer.
The schedule is expected to be released next week, but two of our four key components are already in the books with free agency and the draft dominating the NFL headlines for the past two months. So now it is time to take a look at the teams who have seen their 2020 odds to win the Super Bowl increase or decrease the most as a result of their actions.
Here is the list of the biggest “Winners” so far this offseason and some Super Bowl predictions, based on the movement of their Super Bowl odds:
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Analysis: Tom Brady’s signing in Tampa Bay was the biggest story of the offseason. The fact that he brought along Rob Gronkowski adds to the massive hype surrounding this intriguing team. I don’t think that Brady is a great fit into Bruce Arians’ offense. However, they are loaded with talent on that side of the ball. Adding first round pick Tristan Wirfs and second round pick Antoine Winfield Jr. both shored up areas of need, and those players may be able to contribute immediately. If this team can show defensive improvement, then they could be able to make the postseason for the first time since 2007.
Analysis: I’ve already talked about how the Buffalo Bills are winning the NFL offseason. And despite not having a first round pick (which they dealt for Stefon Diggs), the Bills still hauled in some talent over the course of the draft, adding A.J. Epensa and Zack Moss, both of whom should contribute in niche roles right away. If Josh Allen continues to progress, I think that Bills are in the mix of teams just a tick below Kansas City and Baltimore in the AFC. And now their odds reflect that.
Analysis: These are the type of tidbits that are useful to a handicapper. Arizona isn’t winning the Super Bowl. But the fact that their odds have changed so dramatically gives me some insight into how the sportsbooks and oddsmakers are going to approach this team and how they view their trajectory. I still think these odds are short, and these guys are going to be even better than the books are giving them credit for. Isaiah Simmons was one of the top players in the draft, and they were able to get fantastic value while addressing the offensive line with prospect Josh Jones in Round 3. If the Cardinals were a stock, my recommendation would be to buy.
Analysis: I actually don’t love what the Colts managed to do in the draft. That is until you consider that DeForest Buckner was acquired with their first round pick. Michael Pittman Jr. should also pay some immediate dividends as a No. 3 receiver. That said, I think the Colts have had one of the best offseasons in the NFL. They signed Philip Rivers and Xavier Rhodes while also adding nice depth pieces like Trey Burton. Indianapolis has also benefitted from Houston’s mismanagement and Jacksonville’s rebuild, both of which help pave the way for a return to the postseason.
Analysis: I am not buying the newfound optimism surrounding the Broncos for this season. They signed Melvin Gordon (despite already having Philip Lindsay) and Jurrell Casey and were able to add two young receiving prospects, including Jerry Jeudy, in the draft. This team is exceptionally young on offense. That might pay dividends in the long haul. In the short term, however, it just means that they will likely be an erratic offense in an unforgiving division.
Here is the list of the biggest “Losers” so far this offseason, based on the movement of their Super Bowl odds:
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Analysis: I am never in a rush to bet against Bill Belichick. However, it is difficult to look at this offseason and not be pessimistic about the Patriots. Besides Brady leaving, the Patriots lost four defensive starters and a former Pro Bowl special teams player. New England’s offensive talent is thin, and they really didn’t make any daring or splashy moves to replenish things during the draft weekend. This odds movement reflects the direction in which this franchise appears to be trending.
Analysis: This is what happens when you have a subpar coach moonlighting as a brain dead general manager. Bill O’Brien’s DeAndre Hopkins trade was the most shocking – and comically bad – move of the offseason. But that’s not all the Texans did, overpaying for guys like Eric Murray and Randall Cobb while losing guys like D.J. Reader and Jonathan Joseph. They added only one player through the draft that will likely crack their two-deep. And right now the odds reflect exactly what the public – and anyone that knows anything about football – thinks of Houston’s offseason.
Analysis: I feel like the Steelers’ odds to win a championship should be at least on par with New England’s right now. The Steelers have a better roster. And with Ben Roethlisberger coming back, they at least have something under center (as opposed to New England). I think Roethlisberger is going to be bad this year. However, I’m in the minority with that opinion. And even if he is just mediocre, that’s still probably better than what they got out of that position last year. The Steelers were quiet during the draft and grabbed some low-level prospects. They haven’t been very active in free agency, either, and they seem content with the roster they have.
Analysis: The Bears are one of several teams that have seen this type of drop in their Super Bowl odds. But I wanted to single them out to point out just how far they have dropped in the matter of about eight months. Last September the Bears were right around 12-to-1 or 15-to-1 to win the Super Bowl. And they have been tracking backwards ever since.
Analysis: It’s strange to think that a team with one of the six or seven best quarterbacks in the league – who is still operating in his prime – would have odds this long to win a championship. Especially when you consider that the Falcons won the NFC just three years ago! But here we are. Atlanta made noise about doing something bold during the draft. Instead, they had a rather nondescript weekend, settling for a rookie corner (A.J. Terrell) and a backup defensive tackle (Marlon Davidson). Compare that with the moves Tampa Bay has made, and you can see that the Falcons are being left in the dust.
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