Best Super Bowl 52 Dark Horse Bets
Panthers Among Best Dark Horse Super Bowl Bets
|Super Bowl LII Outright|
Carolina Panthers +2500
Cam Newton’s career skyrocketed around the same time dabbing became popular. As the dab faded from social media, so did Cam and the Carolina Panthers.
Social media had nothing to do with the rapid decline of the Panthers, who crashed from a near-perfect 15-1 season to a 6-10 nightmare in 2016.
The Panthers had a terrible campaign, but they still have plenty of the talent that brought them frustratingly close to a Super Bowl win. Last year, they lost six games by a field goal or less, which means they were closer to enjoying a decent season than the 6-10 record implies.
Carolina hung in despite injuries to Newton and defensive lynchpin Luke Kuechly, both of whom will need good health for the Panthers to compete. Drafting Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel potentially diversifies the offence, while providing Newton with additional protection. Veteran Julius Peppers will be a welcome addition who bolsters the defense. Injury-free, a return to the Super Bowl is possible, even in a deep NFC South division.
Houston Texans +2500
The Houston Texans have been scouring the earth in search of a quarterback who will give the squad enough punch for their elite defense to matter.
This year, first-round pick Deshaun Watson battles vet Tom Savage for the QB position. Most believed that Savage would begin the regular season as a starter, but Deshaun appears ahead of the curve compared to other rookie quarterbacks.
Watson was a winner in college, leading Clemson to a victory in the National Championship Game. Texans fans should be excited about the fact that he orchestrated the game winning drive with calm precision, including accurate passes to narrow targets.
Houston’s a dark horse only because they don’t know if their offense will fall short again. Consistent contribution from either QB will lead Houston into the postseason. If Watson’s game translates well to the NFL, the Texans will challenge the Patriots more than any other team in the AFC.
New York Giants +2200
After the Tom Coughlin era ended with a whimper, the New York Giants performed an admirable refresh. In 2016, the Giants paid big money for defense, catapulting New York’s D from the bottom to the top of the NFL. As a result, they earned their first postseason appearance since winning the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the offense regressed almost as much as the defense improved last year, leading to a 38-13 wild card rout at the hands of the Green Bay Packers.
Sure, the Giants expensive defense could have ceded fewer points, but the lack of possession allowed Aaron Rodgers to find his rhythm early in the second quarter while grinding down the secondary. The Giants signed wide receiver Brandon Marshall, giving Eli Manning another reliable playmaker other than Odell Beckham Jr. Drafting tight end Evan Engram in the first round should be an upgrade over Will Tye, providing a solid, mid-field target.
Disregarding the ever-present threat of injury, the offense should improve while the defense remains top five-ish in the league. The Giants are primed for a deep playoff run, and a generous moneyline will probably become stingier as the season progresses.
Denver Broncos +2500
Defense is the only reason the Denver Broncos have a chance.
They still have the same Super Bowl winning defenders that dragged a barely functioning Payton Manning to a fairytale finish. Broncos defenders have been so good that they nearly made it to the playoffs with a subpar season from Trevor Siemian.
This year, it appears Paxton Lynch will be given the reigns. He’s a towering six-foot seven-inch pivot with abundant potential. Lynch has sufficient height to maintain superb field vision during pass rushes, and shows the ability to string passes during drives. Weighing in at 244 pounds, he could also learn to be tough to stop in short yard situations.
Will Lynch provide more offense than the surgically-reconstructed Manning? Probably not, but an average season from Paxton is all the Broncos need to contend.
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