The latter part of this decade has seen the end of lengthy sports droughts for many fan bases.
In June of 2016 the Cleveland Cavaliers gave their fans the first professional sports championship since the 1964 Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship in the pre-Super Bowl era.
A few months later the Chicago Cubs ended a 108-year drought by finally winning the World Series for the first time since 1908.
And this past Sunday the Philadelphia Eagles won the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl, ending a drought that lasted nearly six decades since the Eagles won the 1960 NFL Championship.
In one of the most entertaining Super Bowls ever – one that set many records with both offenses trading points from the game’s first drive – the Eagles dethroned the defending Champion New England Patriots, 41-33, with some creative play calling, excellent execution and some late game drama that saw the Eagles rally to come from behind in the final two minutes after leading virtually the entire contest.
Out with the old and in with the new. With Super Bowl 52 in the history books attention can now be directed to the 2018 season with the odds to win Super Bowl 53 next February having been posted at most sportsbooks in Las Vegas.
Initially posted in early January, upon completion of Super Bowl 52 the Westgate posted revised odds for next season’s Super Bowl to be played in the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Feb. 3, 2019.
To the surprise of nobody the Patriots are the favorites with odds of 5-1, followed by the newly crowned Champion Eagles at 6-1. Only one other team is at single digits, Pittsburgh, at 8-1.
Before plucking down some money on the Patriots you should consider what the impact may be of having to replace the soon-to-depart offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
McDaniels is expected to be named new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts within a few days and Patricia is headed for the same position in Detroit.
It may take some time for the new coordinators to stamp their imprint on the Patriots, especially if they are brought in from outside the organization. It’s one thing to replace one coordinator but things are even more challenging when both are replaced. QB Tom Brady will be 41 at the start of next season and the defense needs to be improved.
Pittsburgh is an intriguing team to consider. There was well reported friction between QB Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley for the past few seasons. Haley was let go following this past season and that should create a better atmosphere for Big Ben and his teammates.
At 20-1 the Jacksonville Jaguars will be looking to show their success of this past season was no fluke and their elite defense will be just as good, if not better, next season. QB Blake Bortles started to show signs of maturing into a capable NFL signal caller.
Also at 20-1 is Jacksonville’s Division rival, Houston. The Texans suffered several key season-ending injuries early in the season, the most significant being rookie QB DeShaun Watson and pro bowl defender J J Watt.
The NFC figures to again be contentious with four teams in addition to the Eagles being held at less than 20-1 odds. Green Bay and Minnesota are 12-1 with New Orleans at 16-1 and Atlanta at 18-1.
Even Dallas and Seattle, each at 20-1, the Rams (25-1) and Carolina (30-1) merit consideration. That’s just how deep the NFC is compared to the AFC.
Of course the chic team to back next summer (or before) figures to be San Francisco, who enjoyed great success closing the season once the reins of the offense were handed to QB Jimmy Garoppolo, acquired in a mid-season trade with New England. He is expected to sign a long term contract with the 49ers within the next few months.
The 49ers are at 30-1 odds but it may be a bit premature to back them at that price. There will be competition within their Division from both the LA Rams and Seattle.
Green Bay and Minnesota will vie for the NFC Central title, although Minnesota has to make decisions about their QB situation while the Packers will have future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers back after missing half of this past season, which doomed their Playoff chances.
It’s tough to repeat and thus it is difficult to consider a play on the Eagles, especially at those short 6-1 odds.
New Orleans showed a much improved defense this past season and with QB Drew Brees expected to re-sign, the Saints may be worthy of consideration as well, although their Division, the NFC South, is very competitive.
The longest shots on the board are Chicago, Cleveland and the New York Jets, each of which is listed at odds of 100-1.
As you begin to think about these Super Bowl futures and look ahead to the release of the 2018 schedule and the NFL draft, let’s all hope there are more games next season that rival Super Bowl 52 for excitement and drama and in which the officials let the players play with few penalties being called.
If the league can better define what is a catch, using more common sense and less mumbo jumbo in its rules, it will make for better product, with better game flow and fewer replay reviews. This would allow for post game discussions to center more around the play calling and strategic decisions rather than about the officials and replays.
Enjoy the offseason!