Super Bowl Futures 2018: Will The New England Patriots Win Again?
Will The Patriots Be Undefeated In 2017?
Most experts believe that Belichick’s squad improved during the offseason, resigning key personnel and trading picks to boost the depth of their lineup. Some NFL pundits are even comfortable predicting a perfect season from the New England Patriots, partly based on the lack of competition they face during their regular season schedule.
Patriots Odds In The AFC East
|2017 AFC East Outright|
After Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill hit the turf with a knee injury during a preseason practice, the only potential threat to the Patriots reign over the AFC East vaporized into mist. Tannehill opted to avoid offseason surgery to stabilize a previous ACL and MCL knee injury, but now faces the prospect of ending his season before it begins to surgically repair torn ligaments.
The Buffalo Bills haven’t made the playoffs since the turn of the millennium, and continue to be longshots to earn a spot in the post season. Somehow, the New York Jets have gotten worse than the Bills in recent years. The 2017 Jets have a genuine chance to become one of the worst teams in NFL history and run the table with losses.
Some may point to Miami’s acquisition of Jay Cutler as a positive, because he’s only a couple of seasons removed from the best quarterback rating of his career.
On the other hand, Cutler suffered a labrum shoulder injury last season, and retired after being released by the Chicago Bears. Certainly, Cutler will be an improvement over a second string QB, but Jay and the Dolphins still fall short of New England’s elite lineup.
New England has finished on top of the AFC East for eight consecutive seasons, winning 14 division championships since 2000. Barring divine intervention, it’s tough to imagine a scenario without the Patriots on top of the division.
Patriots Odds To Win The AFC
|2017 AFC Outright|
New England has dominated the AFC since the Drew Bledsoe injury in 2001, earning seven conference championships during the Brady-Belichick era. In 2017, New England will need to stay sharp to outpace AFC rivals. Nonetheless, the Patriots remain overwhelming favorites to represent the conference in the Super Bowl.
The Oakland Raiders represent one of the most intriguing challengers to the reigning champs. Marshawn Lynch cut his retirement short and signed with his hometown team, instantly boosting the running game. Derek Carr should be able to shake his injury and continue to build on his superb 2016 regular season. Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, and a stellar offensive line promise to fuel one of the most potent attacks in the league.
If the team improves on defense, they will challenge New England.
The Patriots will keep an eye on the Pittsburgh Steelers, a traditional AFC rival. Fortunately for New England, the Steelers pass defense hasn’t proven to be entirely reliable, and Ben Roethlisberger continues to be a terrible QB on the road. If Pittsburgh doesn’t address these issues, they’ll cede their status as second-best AFC squad to the Raiders.
Those with an outside chance to win the conference include the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans and Denver Broncos, who feature outstanding defenses with noticeable holes on offense. If these teams figure out how to consistently score in 2017, they will end up challenging the Patriots, Raiders and Steelers for AFC supremacy.
Patriots Super Bowl Odds
|Super Bowl LII Outright|
Over the last eleven seasons, the New England Patriots were listed as championship favorites seven times. In 2017, the Patriots are overwhelming favorites to win their second straight Super Bowl. The next most likely team to win, the Green Bay Packers, more than double the odds of New England. Sportsbooks consider the Raiders a greater threat than top NFC competitors, including the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys.
Frankly, quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the only reason Green Bay’s considered a threat to the Patriots. As evidenced by last season’s postseason performance, Rodgers might be the only QB in the league who can truly take over a game against any team and singlehandedly win. Dallas impressed last year, but the team’s already dealing with Ezekiel Elliot’s drama, and Dak Prescott has yet to prove himself in the post season. Seattle’s been fading over the past couple of seasons, and Russell Wilson needs to bounce back from a career-worst QB rating.
Historically, winning two consecutive Super Bowls represents a challenge that most teams can’t pull off, but the Patriots have already been there, done that. The NFL’s considered an example of parity in major professional sports leagues, but this season feels preordained, similar to the Warriors and Cavaliers dominating the NBA for the last three years.
The Patriots will be able to sleepwalk to a divisional championship, but the difficulty level will rise sharply once the playoffs begin. With a bit of good fortune, the Raiders and the Steelers could upset New England. Green Bay and Seattle could rise above expectations, which would create an unexpected challenge in the Super Bowl.
Betting against the Patriots is always a risky proposition. However, the inflated odds given to top challengers create a solid payout for those who choose the team that topples New England’s dynasty in 2017. Which side are you on?
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