It’s hard to believe that more than two months have passed since Super Bowl XLVIII ended and the Seattle Seahawks held the Lombardi Trophy. Most of the free agent dominoes have fallen as a smattering of NFL players remain unsigned, but a lot of the big names are off the market. Has that changed the odds for Super Bowl XLIX and what impact has it had on the perception of certain teams? Let’s take a look.
(Odds courtesy of BetOnline.ag)
ODDS TO WIN SUPER BOWL XLIX
San Francisco 49ers
New England Patriots
Green Bay Packers
New Orleans Saints
Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers
New York Giants
St. Louis Rams
New York Jets
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I took a look at the futures market back on February 7 and those thoughts can be found here. Of the 32 NFL teams, only six have lower future odds than they had two months ago at BetOnline.ag. Those six are the Broncos, 49ers, Packers, Eagles, Lions, and Dolphins.
The Broncos are now the Super Bowl favorites (4.75/1) because of the free agent signings they made on the defensive side of the ball and the positive medical report about Peyton Manning’s neck. The Broncos signed linebacker DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib, and safety TJ Ward to shore up the team’s leaky pass defense. That’s a big step forward for the defending AFC Champs because their prolific offense forces the opposition to throw a lot and the Broncos will be much more difficult to throw on. That said, there’s not much value in tying up your money for 10 months on the favorite.
Perhaps the most interesting line move on futures odds is that of the Miami Dolphins (45/1). As the New England Patriots’ core ages, the Dolphins could be poised to step right in. They signed three offensive linemen to help Ryan Tannehill, who was sacked a league-high 58 times in 2013. Tannehill proved that he was extremely competent when upright, so the Dolphins had a need and clearly addressed it.
The Dolphins also made some impact signings on defense, adding Louis Delmas and Cortland Finnigan to the secondary and improving the defensive line with the big combination of Randy Starks and Earl Mitchell to the defensive line. They were also able to retain top cornerback Brent Grimes.
In the age of fantasy football, players in the trenches are often overlooked and what the Dolphins did to improve the line of scrimmage and strengthen a solid secondary is reflected in the movement in their futures odds. Holding a 45/1 ticket if the Dolphins make the playoffs can open up a lot of hedging possibilities, so this may be one that you want to take an additional look at.
The Detroit Lions (31/1) have seen the biggest movement in their futures odds. As the only sub-.500 team on the positive side of point differential, the Lions clearly underachieved last season. The Lions were mostly quiet in free agency with the exception of signing Louis Ihedigbo. Ihedigbo comes off a season with 100 tackles for the Ravens, so he’ll fill the role of Louis Delmas.
From a purely statistical standpoint, the Lions were the only NFC North team to be on the plus side of point differential, though the Packers’ season was clearly derailed by injuries, including the broken collarbone of Aaron Rodgers. Overall, the Lions may be the biggest tease in the NFL and possibly only the San Diego Chargers can stake a claim to hold that dubious distinction.
The New Orleans Saints (18/1) remain a top bet on the futures market. It’s strange that their future odds actually went down slightly, even after the signing of safety Jairus Byrd. The team was able to retain tackle Zach Strief and used the franchise tag on matchup nightmare Jimmy Graham. Even though the Saints have some offensive line issues to tend to, the ridiculous depth of the NFL Draft this season could give them an offensive lineman at #28 to plug right in.
As the odds lower for the Cincinnati Bengals (30/1), somebody in the AFC North is going to be worth a look in the market. Somebody will have to make the playoffs from that division and if 8-8 is in play for a wild card spot again, there could be a second AFC North team to sneak in at 9-7. Consider that no matter which AFC North team makes the playoffs, they will get a first-round home game. Whoever it is will run into one of the top two seeds on the road with a first-round victory, but at 30/1 or higher on every AFC North team, there has to be some intrigue there.
As the last of the players sign and the draft picture becomes clearer, keep an eye on what happens to these futures odds as value is sure to present itself based on the rest of the offseason.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.