It’s never too early to think about the upcoming NFL season. This week, the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino and BetOnline.AG released odds for the winner Super Bowl XLIX. Super Bowl XLVIII participants Seattle and Denver are atop the list as the favorites, with the 49ers, Patriots, and Packers rounding out the top five at LVH. The Saints and Packers have the same odds at BetOnline to finish out their top five contenders.
If you have no problem tying your money up for almost 12 months, the futures board for Super Bowl XLIX does provide some value. In looking at these teams, some of them are in better situations than others because of the salary cap, number of draft picks, and also the out-of-conference schedule for the 2014-15 NFL season.
Here’s the full list of odds courtesy of BetOnline.ag:
San Francisco 6/1
New England 7/1
Green Bay 16/1
New Orleans 16/1
Kansas City 30/1
San Diego 30/1
New York Giants 40/1
St. Louis 40/1
New York Jets 60/1
Tampa Bay 60/1
Here are three teams that offer a lot of value to win Super Bowl XLIX:
1. New Orleans (16/1) – The New Orleans Saints had a good season with the return of Sean Payton and the hire of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. A year after giving up 454 points, the Saints gave up just 304 points, the fourth-best mark in the conference. A mid-season slip-up against the Jets proved costly, as the Saints had to play their one and only playoff game in Seattle, where the Seahawks dominated the Week 13 matchup. Predictably, the Seahawks beat the Saints in their playoff matchup.
There are a lot of reasons to like the Saints entering next season. Their schedule should allow them to compete for the division title, as the Saints play the NFC North, with Green Bay at home, and the mediocre AFC North. The Saints get San Francisco at home and play Dallas on the road. Three cold weather cities (Cleveland, Chicago, Pittsburgh) are on the road schedule, but dates have not been set yet.
Tight end Jimmy Graham is the biggest free agent name for the Saints, but it’s highly unlikely that the Saints let one of Drew Brees’s favorite targets go. Free safety Malcolm Jenkins, who had 68 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a couple of interceptions, is also a free agent. The Saints may have to replace two offensive linemen, but New Orleans is an attractive destination for free agents with a chance at winning and a quarterback like Brees.
It remains to be seen if Carolina can continue to be one of the league’s top teams, but the Falcons and Buccaneers need some work to get better, so the Saints should have a great shot at winning the NFC South, which would give a bettor a strong chance at having the possibility to hedge, if not cash this 16/1 future.
2. Philadelphia (30/1) – The Eagles don’t have the benefit of a friendly schedule, as Chip Kelly’s bunch will take on the NFC West, Green Bay on the road, and Carolina at home, but they also face off against the AFC South and will play six games within their pedestrian division. The Eagles proved this past season that Chip Kelly’s offense can work at the NFL level and their 442 points scored were the second-most in the NFC. The defense was a work in progress throughout the season, but the Eagles will have room for improvement.
Entering the offseason, the Eagles have the fifth-most cap room of the 32 NFL teams. With Michael Vick coming off the books, the Eagles can focus on improving the defense through free agency. The offense was solid, led by Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy, giving the Eagles the opportunity to put most of their focus and financial resources on bettering the team’s major weakness. The Eagles have four defensive backs and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin as possible targets to retain, but expect the Eagles to spend some money this spring and summer to position themselves nicely in the NFC East.
Even with the tough out-of-conference schedule, nine wins might be all it takes to get into the playoffs in the NFC East. The relatively young Eagles got a taste of the playoffs this season and learned how to win on the road, making them a dangerous team for anybody to play against in 2014.
3. Indianapolis (20/1) – The Colts won the AFC South by default this season, the only team above .500 in the league’s worst division. Even though some of the league’s teams won with defense, the NFL remains a quarterback-driven league and there may not be a more promising driver than Andrew Luck. Luck has always had plenty of potential, but he truly started to live up to it in 2013, including his incredible comeback against the Chiefs in the Wild Card round. The Colts are projected to have plenty of money to spend this offseason, which is beneficial because they have quite a few holes.
The Colts will be able to use their cap space to address their offensive line issues and replenish a receiving corps that desperately missed Reggie Wayne and could use another option for Luck. The team has some concerns on defense, with Vontae Davis and Antoine Bethea possibly leaving through free agency, but the Colts are projected to have over $31 million in cap space to play with this offseason.
The Colts draw a favorable out-of-conference schedule, hosting the Bengals, Ravens, Patriots, Redskins and Eagles and traveling to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, New York to play the Giants, and Denver. The Colts can make up for the tough road games by, again, dominating their divisional schedule. They went 6-0 in division games with an average margin of victory of 15 points per game. The Colts won at San Francisco and beat Denver and Seattle at home. Luck and the Colts did a lot of growing up this past season, got a taste of the NFL playoffs, and have one of the game’s best players to build around this offseason.
Considering that the Colts are nearly a lock to win the AFC South, barring a serious injury to Andrew Luck, 20/1 provides tremendous value. Winning the AFC South would guarantee the Colts a home game in the playoffs and open up pretty of hedging possibilities.
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.