After a 2020 NFL season that was not even a favorite to be completed half a year ago, we now look ahead to the 2021 campaign.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won the Super Bowl as around a field-goal underdog for the second time in their history, earning quarterback Tom Brady his seventh ring and Bruce Arians his first as a head coach.
About seven months stand between us and our next real NFL game, but luckily, odds are available for next year’s Super Bowl. While it’s not the greatest idea to tie your money up for 12 months interest-free, long shots like Tampa Bay at 50/1 at this time last year are certainly fun (and eventually profitable) to have if you have the patience. As such, we go through the current odds and see if there’s any value moving forward.
Kansas City Chiefs (+550), Green Bay Packers (+900), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+900)
The Chiefs might be the favorites for the next decade, but unlike this year, there might be better times to take them in the betting market than in the preseason (for example, when they started 6-4 in 2019). The Packers have some uncertainty vis a vis Rodgers but promise to continue being a force in a very weak NFC North. The defending champion Bucs, who were this same price (9/1) just a few weeks ago for this past Super Bowl, will try to be the first team to go back-to-back since Brady's 2003-04 Patriots.
Baltimore Ravens (+1200), Buffalo Bills (+1200), Los Angeles Rams (+1200), San Francisco 49ers (+1400)
None of these payoffs is likely worth buying, and especially not the Rams, given the number of things that need to go right just for them to be competitive in the difficult NFC West. If the 49ers were to acquire Deshaun Watson, there would be a chance for the 49ers to make a Tampa Bay-like ascension in 2021, but it’s far from a lock that the 49ers will make such a move.
The Next Tier
New Orleans Saints (+1700), Cleveland Browns (+2200), Seattle Seahawks (+2200), Miami Dolphins (+2500), Indianapolis Colts (+2800), Los Angeles Chargers (+2800), Tennessee Titans (+2800)
New Orleans and Indianapolis will be breaking in new quarterbacks, so buyer beware there. Regression might be in order for Baker Mayfield, Justin Herbert and Ryan Tannehill. Can Miami’s defense repeat what they did in 2020? I don’t think anyone in this group offers the value required to tie up money for that long.
Middle of the Pack
Dallas Cowboys (+3000), New England Patriots (+3000), Pittsburgh Steelers (+3000)
So much uncertainty here, with the fate of Dak Prescott and the quarterback position the biggest question marks among this group. Could they be solved together?
Need Some Work
Minnesota Vikings (+4000), Carolina Panthers (+4500), Arizona Cardinals (+5000), Atlanta Falcons (+5000), Chicago Bears (+5000), Las Vegas Raiders (+5000), Philadelphia Eagles (+5000), Denver Broncos (+6000), Washington Football Team (+6000), Cincinnati Bengals (+6600), New York Giants (+6600), New York Jets (+6600)
This is probably where you’re going to find some value, as there’s some combination of new coaching and/or new quarterbacking with most of these teams. Can Atlanta regain their 2016 magic with Arthur Smith at the helm? Does Denver acquire a competent quarterback to pair with their elite weapons and defense? Can Washington do the same?
Jacksonville Jaguars (+8000), Detroit Lions (+10000), Houston Texans (+10000)
There’s a lot unknown about Houston, but unless Watson stays and they get a lot of luck, it’s going to be hard for them. Detroit’s division could be awful, meaning they could (for the second straight year) have some value as a longshot. Jacksonville has a great deal of young talent and a ton of draft capital.