The Super Bowl has wrapped up with the Chiefs as champions of the NFL. However, TheLines staff has already turned its attention to next season. Brett Gibbons, Eli Hershkovich and I looked over 2024 Super Bowl futures and gathered some initial thoughts on the market (see video below).
This past season, one of the co-favorites came home, making for a bit of a boring year on the Super Bowl futures front. If you could find the Chiefs longer than +1000, congratulations on hopefully cashing a nice ticket. But, they opened around +700 and spent the majority of the season getting progressively shorter during a predictably strong campaign.
No surprise those same Chiefs have emerged as Super Bowl favorites once again. However, each team member independently identified a longer shot on which he’s at least interested, even if we haven’t locked in our money quite yet. Obviously, free agency and the 2023 NFL draft can potentially change these odds significantly. But each of these teams ranks as a potential dark horse to keep in mind for Super Bowl 58 odds.
Jacksonville Jaguars ()
Eli chose to highlight the Jaguars, who has been a hot commodity in the early markets. After opening as long as +4000 in some spots, the Jaguars now find themselves squarely in the second tier of contenders.
Jacksonville has a few things going for it. First and foremost, it has a QB/coach pairing that looks like it can continue to bear fruit. Trevor Lawrence ranked top 10 in EPA/play (ninth), DVOA (sixth) and Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (seventh). The last two stats come courtesy of Football Outsiders. Only just completing his second season, he should continue to improve.
Along the aggressive and accomplished Doug Pederson, that makes for a duo with plenty of upside. The QB and coach serve as the bedrock of any organization, and the Jags are better set up there than most franchises.
And while we must all await additions to most teams, we can already identify one key add to the Jags: premium WR talent Calvin Ridley. Suspended by the NFL for gambling, the team will hope his reinstatement and re-acclimation to football goes smoothly.
As Eli noted, the main area of need for the Jags comes in the secondary. That unit got torched at times by opposing passers. They’ll also need to address potential departures of TE Evan Engram, RT Jawaan Taylor and pass rushers Arden Key and Dawuane Smoot. Key, a failed first-rounder, had a very productive year as a reclamation project but will now likely get a bigger contract than the Jags can pay.
Of course, playing in the AFC South will help the Jags’ cause greatly. Each of their opponents may be in some stage of a rebuild there.
Denver Broncos ()
From an ideal divisional scenario to the opposite. Unfortunately for the Broncos, they’ll have to operate in an AFC West featuring the perennial Super Bowl favorites Kansas City and a Chargers team that harbors hopes of contention after a brutal playoff flameout.
What the Broncos do have going for them is a presumably massive upgrade at head coach. There, they’ve replaced spectacular failure Nathaniel Hackett with proven winner Sean Payton. So long as the game hasn’t passed Payton by during his one-year sabbatical, this should improve the offense greatly.
And that unit needs improving in the most drastic way. Remember what I said about coaches and QBs forming the bedrock? The Broncos could have a solid foundation here if Russell Wilson returns to his Seahawks-level production. We haven’t seen him play at an elite level since the first half of 2020, however. The Broncos finished 29th in offense DVOA and dead last in points per game. That’s bad.
As Brett pointed out, though, Wilson performed much better in the two-game sample without Hackett after the organization showed him the door. The team doesn’t lose any high-priced free agents, with some offensive-line turnover potentially the only issue (G Dalton Risner and RT Billy Turner are free agents).
The defense was strong for the most part. So, if Payton immediately brings the offense to life, then the Broncos have some post-hype sleeper appeal. Getting WR Tim Patrick makes for a sneaky but important addition to a thin WR corps. He was quite good in 2021 before tearing his ACL prior to 2022.
Carolina Panthers ()
If you’re interested in an even longer shot, allow me to direct your attention to the Panthers.
It’s not really going to be supported by any stats, because this team did not perform particularly well in any facet of football last year.
However, I actually like the young talent base here. Opting to hold EDGE Brian Burns gives them a very solid young nucleus of high-level performers, alongside CB Jaycee Horn and DT Derrick Brown. S Jeremy Chinn has shown flashes as well. On offense, young LT Ikem Ekwonu performed at a roughly average level, a pretty big win considering he was a rookie thrust into a starting role. Top WR DJ Moore also remains in the fold.
But my biggest reason for optimism about the Panthers will stand on the sideline. Frank Reich is a good coach and I have no idea why the Colts thought he was the problem. All he has done is take the team to multiple playoff appearances despite dealing with a revolving door of QBs that topped out at average following the unexpected retirement of Andrew Luck. The Colts’ loss should be the Panthers’ gain here.
Adding Reich to the mix should boost the team immediately, and they’re in a spot much like that of the Jaguars only potentially even better, in terms of the division. Tampa Bay won the NFC South with an 8-9 record and says goodbye to their QB. Between their poor coaching and being mostly on the wrong side of the aging curve, this team could find itself in the mix for a top draft pick. The Falcons remain mired in a rebuild. The Saints are old, capped out, and searching for a QB as well.
Of course, the elephant in the room is the Panthers lack a QB themselves. They do have a premium draft pick (No. 9). Perhaps they’ll make a play for a disgruntled or released vet.
I like the Panthers to host a playoff game. In a weak NFC, anything can happen after that.
Best of luck if playing early 2024 Super Bowl futures.