We’re yet to even find out who’ll be playing in Super Bowl LIV in Miami on Feb. 2. But, with just four teams left in the running, a look at some 2020 NFL wagering opportunities is arguably already overdue.
After all, it’s already been two-plus weeks since the last full slate of regular-season games. That’s an eternity in “bettors’ time”.
SuperBook USA has the cure for what ails bettors. The Nevada-based purveyors of the famed SuperContest have already released futures bets on the 2021 Super Bowl winner.
The Kansas City Chiefs, the favored AFC representative to reach this year’s Big Game, currently tops the list at +700. The San Francisco 49ers, the favorite to face them, are right behind at +800, odds they share with the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore’s ouster in the divisional round notwithstanding, they unsurprisingly carry significantly elevated expectations for 2020.
2021 Super Bowl opening odds
|Kansas City Chiefs||+700||12-4|
|San Francisco 49ers||+800||13-3|
|New Orleans Saints||+1000||13-3|
|New England Patriots||+1200||12-4|
|Green Bay Packers||+2000||13-3|
|Los Angeles Rams||+3000||9-7|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+3000||5-11|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+4000||7-9|
|New York Jets||+6000||7-9|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+6000||7-9|
|New York Giants||+8000||4-12|
There’s always a potential edge to be had when placing an early wager. That’s particularly true when that wager comes a full eight months ahead of a new season, and before the draft and free agency.
At first glance, there are some odds on this list that certainly merit further consideration early in the offseason, before numbers fluctuate based on forthcoming transactions and other factors. As such, here are some of the more eye-catching scenarios from the initial list of 2021 futures odds.
Solid value opportunities
Pittsburgh Steelers (+1200)
Estimated Cap Room to Start Offseason: $978K
All signs point to a well-rested and fully healthy Ben Roethlisberger making his 2020 return. The two-time Super Bowl champ will walk back into a receiving corps that features explosive sophomore target Diontae Johnson, who looks ready to explode, and what should be a rejuvenated JuJu Smith-Schuster. Both players endured significant handicaps in 2019.
Johnson was stuck with the erratic quarterback play of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges and still managed to forge a 59-680-5 line that offers just a glimpse of what he might be capable of with a full 16 games now under his belt and his first true NFL offseason. Meanwhile, Smith-Schuster battled a nagging knee injury and a concussion while also enduring spotty play under center. Both should be exponentially more productive in 2020, as should James Conner, who was also constantly hampered by the injury bug.
Then, Pittsburgh found itself another pair of viable backs in Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell, Jr. that could make the Steelers’ ground attack one of the best in the league. Add in a ferocious defense that already appeared to be Super Bowl-caliber this past season and you could certainly have a squad that will give the Ravens and Chiefs everything they can handle in the AFC.
The one albatross saddling Pittsburgh could well be precious little financial flexibility, as the cap room cited above implies.
Dallas Cowboys (+1600)
Estimated Cap Room to Start Offseason: $81.9 million
Mike McCarthy will represent the first new head coaching voice in Dallas in a decade, and he’s busy assembling an All-Star cast of assistants whose efforts could certainly help generate at least a couple of extra wins over the underachieving 2019 squad’s eight victories. A major contract question looms in the form of Amari Cooper, who’ll head into unrestricted free agency at the start of the new league year in March absent a new contract.
If Dallas can get Cooper back in the fold – and cap room shouldn’t necessarily be a problem — while also having Dak Prescott return under the franchise tag at minimum, a more diverse offensive system and potential reinforcements via the draft and free agency could make a world of difference in the club’s first season under a coach with Super Bowl skins on the wall.
Philadelphia Eagles (+2000)
Estimated Cap Room to Start Offseason: $42.5 million
The only title the Eagles took home in 2019 was Most Disappointing NFC Team. However, the outlook for 2020 should be much brighter. The injury bug arguably did as much or more of a number on Philadelphia in terms of skill-position players than any other team. By year’s end, it had essentially wiped out its original receiving corps and left top tight end Zach Ertz trying to play through fractured ribs. And to top matters off in fitting fashion, it also claimed starting quarterback Carson Wentz (concussion) early in the first quarter of the season-ending loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the wild-card round.
Alshon Jeffery (foot), Nelson Agholor (knee) and DeSean Jackson (abdomen) should all be back to full health well before next training camp. Agholor is a pending unrestricted free agent. However, the highly intriguing possibility of strengthening an area of need with a player entering his prime while at the same time significantly weakening a division rival exists with Amari Cooper if he indeed hits the open market.
The defense, already very strong this year despite a myriad of early injuries in the secondary, could also be tweaked further this offseason. That could set the Eagles up as one of the better “comeback” stories of the conference if they also experience some positive regression on the injury front.
Buffalo Bills (+4000)
Estimated Cap Room to Start Offseason: $89 million
Much like the Steelers, it could be argued Buffalo already had a championship-worthy defense this past season. Josh Allen also made some major strides under center, even if there’s still plenty of work to do on the ball security front. John Brown and Cole Beasley were a hit as offseason additions. Rookie running back Devin Singletary looks ready to really take off in Year 2 after coming on over the latter portion of the campaign.
With the estimated fourth-highest cap space in the league heading into the offseason, there should be plenty of money to potentially check off a few key boxes in the coming months. That includes the possible addition of more of a slightly more proven No. 1 receiver (A.J. Green?) than Brown. Throw in a possible big Year 2 leap from tight end Dawson Knox, and the Buffalo offense could be as equipped as its defense to give the rest of the league fits in 2020.
Potential Brady Landing Spots?
Indianapolis Colts (+3000)
Las Vegas Raiders (+4000)
Estimated Cap Room to Start Offseason: Colts ($96.4 million)/Raiders ($62.6 million)
Both squads could make sense as Tom Brady destinations in 2020 if the future Hall of Famer doesn’t return to New England. Neither Indianapolis nor Las Vegas/Oakland is reportedly fully satisfied with its quarterback situation. Both Jacoby Brissett and Derek Carr are under contract for next season, but Brady is naturally a gargantuan X-factor that will take eithers’ job in a heartbeat if available.
The big question for either the Colts or Raiders should they nab the biggest would-be fish in the free agent pond is whether they can surround Brady with enough talent on offense to get to the promised land. Indy has question marks at receiver beyond T.Y. Hilton. At least they’ll start the offseason with more than enough resources to make some upgrades – Indy has the most estimated cap room in the league at the moment.
For its part, Oakland has no true No. 1 option at the position. An Amari Cooper reunion in free agency wouldn’t seem to make any sense after Jon Gruden just jettisoned him midway through the 2018 season. Therefore, the draft may have to yield the upgrade that would likely be necessary to make Brady’s acquisition truly worthwhile.
New Orleans Saints (+1000)
Estimated Cap Room to Start Offseason: $12.4 million
Drew Brees holds the keys to whether this is ultimately a sensible wager or not. Brees’ decision on whether to return for a 20th season will certainly shape the Saints’ outlook. A legitimate No. 2 receiver to complement All-World alpha Michael Thomas would be an ideal offseason get should Brees return, and it could be the piece that puts New Orleans over the top after their surprising exit in the wild-card round.
On the bright side, there are multiple candidates set to hit the open market that could fit the bill perfectly. Emmanuel Sanders, Robby Anderson, Phillip Dorsett and perhaps even a healthy Nelson Agholor would all arguably give Brees an upgrade over the likes of Ted Ginn, Jr. and Tre’Quan Smith. The other side of the coin is New Orleans’ meager cap room at the moment. They’re starting the offseason with the fifth-lowest amount of cap space (cited above) before factoring in any business in terms of tenders and potential re-signings.
Last But Not Least: Lovable Longshots
Miami Dolphins (+10000)
Estimated Cap Room to Start Offseason: $92.6 million
Miami not only went 5-4 over its last nine games, including an upset a Patriots team with plenty to play for at Gillette Stadium in Week 17 — they’re also primed to have some fun come spring. First, they’ll head into free-agent shopping season in mid-March with one of the highest amounts of cap room in the league. Then, they’ll follow up in late April with a whopping 12 draft picks to round out what could be a franchise-altering offseason.
New/returning offensive coordinator Chan Gailey loves to run an offense that relies on plenty of four- and five-receiver sets and a power running game. Miami will have no shortage of capital to provide him with the latter, and they could upgrade an already emerging wideout corps even further as well. Throw in the possible addition of the spread-savvy Tua Tagovailoa in the first round and the Fins could sport one of the more dynamic offenses in the league next season.
Cincinnati Bengals (+10000)
Estimated Cap Room to Start Offseason: $51.8 million
Fresh off a National Championship, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow will head to Cincinnati with the first overall pick barring one of the biggest swerves in NFL Draft history. That alone could change the entire dynamic around the Bengals overnight. Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd and John Ross are three in-house weapons that could significantly help Burrow to a soft landing in the NFL, not to mention what other additions the offseason might bring. A possible return by a healthy A.J. Green (ankle) would certainly be a very welcome bonus, and perhaps the prospect of playing with a talent the caliber of Burrows helps lure Green back to the only franchise he’s ever played for.