More so than in any other sport, the NFL season begins with most of the league hopeful of making a championship run. But while many teams have a chance to reach the playoffs, only a few standout as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Five teams enter the season with 10/1 betting odds or better to win Super Bowl LI, while eight others are legitimate contenders with odds of 20/1 or better. Four teams are considered to have no chance with 100/1-plus odds, though longshots have reached the Super Bowl in recent seasons. The Carolina Panthers reached Super Bowl 50 after starting the season with 50/1 title odds.
All Super Bowl 2017 odds are courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook in Las Vegas as of Sept. 3.
The Favorite: New England Patriots 6/1
It wouldn’t make sense to give any other team better odds to win Super Bowl LI. New England is a virtual guarantee to win the AFC East, having done so in 12 of the last 13 years. The Patriots have reached the AFC Championship Game in five straight years, and the 2016 Patriots might be better than all of those teams.
New England has no shortage of weapons on offense, and the defense should be even better after ranking in the top 10 a year ago. Tom Brady’s four-game suspension shouldn’t do much to affect New England’s chances of winning the division, though it could hurt their Super Bowl hopes if it prevents them from finishing with the AFC’s best record. The Patriots have lost two of the last three AFC title games, having to play on the road.
Top Contenders: Seattle Seahawks 8/1, Arizona Cardinals 8/1, Green Bay Packers 8/1, Pittsburgh Steelers 10/1, Carolina Panthers 12/1
Unlike the AFC, the NFC has no clear favorite. The Seahawks are probably the best of the conference’s top teams, considering they’ve allowed the fewest points in the league for four straight seasons and Russell Wilson is coming off a year in which he had the NFL’s best passer rating. The Panthers and Cardinals met in last year’s NFC Championship Game, led by the MVP and the runner-up for the award, respectively. The Packers should be back to being in the top tier of NFC teams now that Jordy Nelson is healthy. Carolina has less competition for first place than the other three teams.
Pittsburgh appears to be the biggest threat to New England in the AFC. With Ben Roethlisberger having Antonio Browns and Le’Veon Bell at his disposal, the Steelers could have the NFL’s best offense. Staying on the field, however, has been an issue for both Roethlisberger and Bell in recent seasons, and Pittsburgh might play in the league’s toughest division.
In The Mix: Houston Texans 16/1, New York Giants 18/1,Cincinnati Bengals 20/1, Minnesota Vikings 20/1, Indianapolis Colts 20/1, Oakland Raiders 20/1, Kansas City Chiefs 20/1, Dallas Cowboys 25/1, Denver Broncos 25/1, Washington Redskins 25/1, Baltimore Ravens 30/1
It’d be misguided to discount the Broncos as they try to defend their championship. The team won Super Bowl 50 with one of the NFL’s worst quarterbacks, and their defense should be an elite unit, once again. But it’d be difficult for Denver to replicate their success from 2015, especially since Trevor Siemian is a major question mark at the most important position on the field. The Chiefs and Raiders both have a good chance to finish ahead of the Broncos in the AFC West and make the playoffs.
The Cowboys and Vikings can contend for a division title, but injuries to their starting quarterbacks will make it more difficult for them to reach the playoffs. Neither the Colts nor the Texans are good enough to win the Super Bowl, but one of them is likely to win the NFL’s worst division. The Giants are probably the best team in a mediocre NFC East, and the Redskins could take a step back after finishing in first place. Baltimore will be much improved from last year, but they are a step below the Steelers and Bengals, who might be destined for a sixth straight first-round exit.
Longshots: Jacksonville Jaguars 50/1, New York Jets 50/1, San Diego Chargers 50/1, Detroit Lions 60/1, Buffalo Bills 60/1, Miami Dolphins 80/1, Atlanta Falcons 80/1, New Orleans Saints 80/1, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 80/1, Tennessee Titans 80/1, Chicago Bears 80/1
Blake Bortles took a significant step in year No.2, and if he continues to improve at that pace, Jacksonville could up end up stealing the weakest division in the NFL. The Jets probably overachieved with 10 wins a year ago, though they might be able to compete for a wild-card spot. The Lions are basically fighting for third place in the NFC North.
The Falcons, Dolphins, Saints, Chargers and Bears are all mediocre teams, and while one or two of them can finish with a winning record if a few things break their way, none of them are winning a championship. The Buccaneers and Titans aren’t close to being Super Bowl contenders, though they could see a lot of improvement as Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota enter their second seasons in the NFL.
No Chance: Philadelphia Eagles 100/1, Los Angeles Rams 100/1, Cleveland Browns 200/1, San Francisco 49ers 200/1
It would be absolutely stunning if any of the above mentioned teams wins the Super Bowl. The Browns have made the playoffs just once since coming back into existence in 1998, and there is a significant gap between them and the rest of the AFC North. If Philadelphia’s immediate future didn’t look bleak enough, any chance the team had to be competitive in 2016 ended when Sam Bradford was traded and rookie Carson Wentz became the starting quarterback.
The Rams and 49ers are fighting for third place in the NFC West, which might feature the conference’s top two teams in the Seahawks and Cardinals. Despite L.A.’s talent on defense, they won’t make the postseason with Case Keenum at quarterback. Aside from the controversy Colin Kaepernick has started by refusing to stand for the national anthem, he isn’t good enough to start ahead of Blaine Gabbert, who is just 8-27 in his career as a starting quarterback.
Super Bowl 51 Prediction
In the AFC, the choice is easy. New England remains the best team, and Denver won’t be there to stop them from reaching the Super Bowl like they’ve done in two of the last three years. Kansas City has a chance to make a deep run in 2016, as does Pittsburgh, but the Patriots have the clear edge.
A number of teams have a chance to emerge in the NFC. With the top two quarterbacks in the conference, the Packers and Panthers have as good of a chance as any team. Minnesota was a real threat to reach the Super Bowl before Teddy Bridgewater got hurt, but it’s hard to see Sam Bradford starting for a title contender. Arizona could take a step back this year, and the safe choice might be their top competition in the NFC West. The Seahawks are guaranteed to have a top defense, and they could have their best offense since Russell Wilson was drafted in 2012.
New England over Seattle