The Case for All 32 Teams to Win Super Bowl 54
We are already getting into mid-July, which means it’s time to start thinking about football. The 2019 NFL season is just a couple of months away, and training camps will officially get underway at the end of this month.
The dust has finally settled on free agency and the draft, which means we have a pretty good idea of how teams will look once they take the field for the first time when the regular season begins in September.
While the New England Patriots have won a whopping 6 Super Bowls since 2001, it’s still fair to say that the NFL offers a bit more parity than most other American professional sports leagues. While the Pats may be in the midst of an extended dynasty, each season brings plenty of surprises when it comes to which teams will wind up contending for a playoff spot.
Let’s not forget that many were crowning the Jacksonville Jaguars at this time last year, while few were talking about teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, or Chicago Bears.
The Patriots-Rams Super Bowl matchup didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, but at this time of year, all 32 teams believe they have at least an outside shot at making a real run next season. Oddsmakers favor the Patriots yet again in 2019, which comes as no surprise.
That said, there is an awful lot of value in betting on Super Bowl 54 this early on, so I’m here to make the case for all 32 teams.
Here’s what has to happen for every team to have a viable shot at winning it all next year.
Arizona Cardinals (+8000 to Win Super Bowl 54)
The Cardinals fired head coach Steve Wilks after a 3-13 season and replaced him with former Texas Tech boss Kliff Kingsbury. If the Cardinals are to pull off one of the more shocking seasons we’ve ever seen, Arizona is going to need top overall pick Kyler Murray to be a star from day one. The Cards are going to come at teams with an up-tempo, high-octane attack led by Murray and big-play pass-catchers like Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.
In order to make the playoffs, the Cardinals are going to need some good fortune within the NFC West. The Rams’ offense is going to need to take a big step back in year 3 of the McVay/Goff tandem, while Jimmy Garoppolo is going to have to struggle coming back from an ACL tear in order for the 49ers to sink to the bottom. Seattle’s roster isn’t all that impressive, so it’s not unfathomable that the Seahawks could underwhelm in 2019.
If opposing defenses are confounded by the unique attack and if Murray emerges as a superstar as a rookie, the Cardinals can shock the world.
Atlanta Falcons (+3300)
The Falcons were well on their way in Super Bowl 51 before blowing a 28-3 lead and losing to the Patriots in overtime. Falcons fans probably don’t need that refresher. Atlanta needs an improved performance from what has been a middle-of-the-road defense. The Falcons finished just 17th in DVOA last season, and Vic Beasley has just 10 sacks over the last two seasons after finishing with 15.5 back in 2016. Getting guys like Keanu Neal and Deion Jones back from injury should fortify the D.
The offense speaks for itself. Matt Ryan has a trio of stellar wideouts in Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu, with Devonta Freeman serving as one of the best all-around backs in the league. The Falcons should have no issue putting points on the board; it’s just a matter of the defense playing up to paper.
Atlanta has a tough division, but we’ve seen this team get to the brink of a title before. The Falcons at +3300 make for a stellar value bet to win Super Bowl 54.
Baltimore Ravens (+3300)
Baltimore snuck into the playoffs last season, but Lamar Jackson struggled tremendously in the team’s wild card round loss to the Chargers. This is Jackson’s team now, and he’s going to need to show that he’s more than a running threat if the Ravens are to go all the way. Baltimore’s defense ranked sixth in DVOA last season, and there’s little reason to expect much regression there after nabbing star safety Earl Thomas in free agency.
Frankly, it all comes down to Jackson. I’m definitely not convinced that he’s a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback at this point in his career, but let’s not forget this is the same franchise that has managed to win titles with Trent Dilfer and Joe Flacco under center.
If Jackson makes massive strides, this looks like a well-rounded team on both sides of the football.
Buffalo Bills (+10000)
Remember when the Bills made the playoffs in 2017? They looked like a shell of that team last season under rookie quarterback Josh Allen. He showed some flashes in his first campaign — notably with his wheels — but his accuracy is going to have to improve for Buffalo to make some real noise.
On the bright side, this division is lacking in a big way once you get past New England, so it’s not unfeasible to think that big improvement from Allen could lead to a wild card berth.
Buffalo’s defense regressed in a big way last season, finishing just 28th in DVOA. Ed Oliver’s arrival should boost the pass rush, while Star Lotulelei is a nice get as a replacement for the retired Kyle Williams on the interior of the D-line. The Bills appear to have nailed their picks after Oliver, too, and if the rookies can contribute right away, then Buffalo may raise some eyebrows in 2019. If the Patriots’ team bus falls into a crater, there’s a chance Buffalo could sneak its way to an AFC East title!
At +10000, it doesn’t take a huge bet for this one to pay off.
Carolina Panthers (+5000)
Carolina collapsed following a 6-2 start thanks to Cam Newton’s injury. Now that his shoulder appears to be fully healed, the Panthers are hopeful that they can make a run. Christian McCaffrey emerged as one of the best all-around backs in the game last season, and D.J. Moore looks poised to step into the No. 1 wide receiver spot. McCaffrey totaled nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage last season, which answered the questions about whether his body can hold up under a full workload.
Carolina will be shifting to a 3-4 defense with the hopes of recapturing their magic from a few seasons ago. Bruce Irvin and Brian Burns are a couple of new pass rushers that should help a defensive front that finished just 20th in pass-rush efficiency last season. That should also take some pressure off of Kawann Short, who has quietly emerged as one of the best all-around D-linemen in the game. Gerald McCoy also came over from Tampa Bay in free agency, which was a huge move that largely flew under the radar. With Luke Kuechly patrolling the middle of the field, this unit looks downright fearsome on paper.
Carolina is an awesome bet at +5000 to win Super Bowl 54. The NFC South is tough, but the Panthers have the talent to pay off this bet at favorable odds.
Chicago Bears (+1400)
The Bears nearly made it to the NFC Championship Game last season thanks to a massively improved defense. The trade for Khalil Mack transformed what had been a largely underwhelming group the season before, while Matt Nagy looked like the real deal in his first year as head coach. Mack and Nagy helped turn the Bears from a 5-11 team into a 12-4 squad in their first year, and they’ll be looking to build on that in 2019.
Chicago’s defense ranked first in DVOA, though defensive coordinator Vic Fangio did leave to coach the Broncos this offseason. Former Colts boss Chuck Pagano takes over hoping to recreate Fangio’s magic.
If Mitchell Trubisky can continue to develop, there’s no reason to think Chicago can’t keep trending in the right direction. My main hang-up here is the odds. The Bears at +1400 make for a tough sell, especially considering they’re still sharing a division with the Vikings and Packers. Factor in the depth of the NFC, and the value isn’t amazing on Chicago winning it all at +1400.
They have most of the pieces in place, but I’d wait for better value before taking the plunge with Da Bears.
Cincinnati Bengals (+12500)
The Bengals are one of the longest bets on the board at +12500. This team has one of the weakest rosters in football, but if Cincy is to win the Super Bowl, they are going to need to flatten people offensively.
Basically, Andy Dalton needs to turn into Tom Brady, and the tandem of A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd is going to have to step up in a big way.
The AFC North has all sorts of competition, especially with the Browns having emerged a season ago. The Bengals are going to need some 2016 Leicester City-style magic if they are to have any hope at all of winning Super Bowl 54.
Cleveland Browns (+1400)
The Browns have been a running joke for what feels like decades. Last year, though, they may have turned a corner. Baker Mayfield looked like a star after taking over at quarterback, and he led the team to a surprisingly passable 7-8-1 record. Cleveland added star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. in the offseason, which has helped the team become a trendy Super Bowl pick heading into next season.
In order to live up to those expectations, Mayfield is going to have to continue to impress while cutting down on his turnovers, while Beckham will have to stay healthy. OBJ has played just 16 total games over the last two seasons, so that’s no sure thing. Mayfield and Beckham will have to develop an instant rapport, while a fearsome front-7 that includes Olivier Vernon, Myles Garrett, and Sheldon Richardson will have to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.
Like the Bears, I don’t love the value on a team like the Browns way up at +1400, but you can squint and make the case that this is a well-rounded team capable of big things in ‘19.
Dallas Cowboys (+2200)
Many expected Dallas to struggle last season, but Dak Prescott and co. exceeded expectations and advanced to the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Amari Cooper proved to be a stellar acquisition in a risky midseason trade, and Dallas will need him to continue to be that player in order to keep things headed in the right direction next season. Star center Travis Frederick will have to get back to full strength after missing last season with a rare illness, as well.
The defense looks solid with DeMarcus Lawrence’s return, but there are some questions in the secondary. Ezekiel Elliott should have no problem continuing to serve as the focal point of the offense, which takes some pressure off of Prescott’s shoulders.
This team doesn’t look all that different from last year’s, so a leap from Prescott is likely what the Cowboys will need if they have hopes of bringing the glory days back to North Texas.
Denver Broncos (+6600)
The Case Keenum experiment proved to be a failure, so John Elway decided to make a move for another veteran QB in Joe Flacco this offseason. Flacco should prove to be a better fit than Keenum, but I’m not convinced he’s a title-winning passer at this advanced stage of his career.
If Flacco falters or gets hurt, Denver’s chances are suddenly in the hands of rookie quarterback Drew Lock. Emmanuel Sanders will likely start the season on the PUP list after tearing his Achilles in December, which obviously puts a damper on Denver’s passing attack.
The Broncos won Super Bowl 50 thanks to a stout defense led by Von Miller. Bradley Chubb was electric last season as a rookie, racking up 12 sacks and looking like the team’s modern-day version of DeMarcus Ware in the process. Fangio should be able to keep the defense humming, as well.
If Denver can navigate a tough early-season schedule, and if Flacco can drink from the fountain of youth, there’s a chance this team sneaks into the AFC playoffs.
Detroit Lions (+8000)
Matthew Stafford keeps chugging along as the Lions’ starting quarterback despite the fact that the team has never enjoyed much success during his tenure. Matt Patricia was supposed to help turn the defense into a terror, but Detroit was miserable on that side of the ball in 2018. The Lions intercepted just seven passes, which tied for the second-fewest in football, and they forced 11 fumbles, which was the fifth-fewest.
Obviously, the Lions are going to have to generate more takeaways if they want to be taken seriously next season. Darius Slay is one of the best cover corners in football, but one man does not a defense make. Detroit’s defensive depth chart is littered with question marks. If some of these guys rise up and become stars, this team has a chance, but that remains to be seen. The offense will have to carry the load.
If Stafford can put up a 5,000-yard season, as he’s done in the past, perhaps the Lions will score enough points to make up for what looks to be a lackluster defense.
Green Bay Packers (+2000)
The Packers have whiffed on the playoffs in each of the last two years, which is crazy for a team with Aaron Rodgers running the show. If the Packers can keep their franchise quarterback upright, they’ll always have a chance at making a run. He’s still arguably the best player at his position in the game, and he’s made a habit of putting up gaudy numbers regardless of the weaponry at his disposal.
That’s really it for Green Bay. Rodgers putting up an MVP-caliber season will put them into the Super Bowl conversation. The division is tough, but +2000 odds are attractive.
Houston Texans (+3300)
The Bill O’Brien Texans have always been a team that tantalizes with their on-paper talent before ultimately coming up well short once the playoffs roll around. Last season was no exception, as Houston won the AFC South before bowing out at the hands of Andrew Luck and the Colts on their own field in the wild card round.
Houston’s Super Bowl hopes hinge on protecting Deshaun Watson, which is a major question mark. The Texans didn’t do much to upgrade the offensive line, as they reached for Tytus Howard in the first round and signed the overrated Matt Kalil in free agency.
Watson has good weapons. DeAndre Hopkins is the game’s best receiver, while Will Fuller has tons of big-play upside and Keke Coutee looks like a player in the slot. Fuller and Coutee have injury histories, but if both can manage to stay healthy, the Texans should still be able to thrive through the air despite a sketchy O-line. Houston has kept most of its defensive core (Watt, Clowney, Mercilus), so the defense should remain stout.
The Texans are Super Bowl contenders if the offensive line can improve.
Indianapolis Colts (+1600)
The Colts were one of the NFL’s biggest surprises last season, and it had everything to do with the health of Andrew Luck. Assuming the former top overall pick is healthy again in 2019, the Colts should be right there with the Texans at the top of the division. Luck and T.Y. Hilton form one of the scariest QB-WR tandems in the NFL, and Indy’s offensive line was one of the most improved in the game a season ago.
Indianapolis’ defense surprisingly ranked 10th in DVOA last year, which was another massive improvement. Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard was a big factor in the middle. If the Colts can generate a more consistent push from the inside of the defensive line, this is a team with very few holes anywhere on the field.
Indianapolis is a real threat if Luck is able to play an entire season once again. +1600 makes them an alluring value bet.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+3300)
At least the Jaguars have cut ties with Blake Bortles. He was replaced with Nick Foles, who serves as a clear upgrade. He’s not without his warts, but Foles is a good decision-maker, and he’ll protect the football, which is something that couldn’t be said for his inconsistent predecessor.
He also brought along former Eagles offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, which means he’ll be more than familiar with his new team’s offense right away.
Leonard Fournette should be fine if healthy, but the offensive line is far from proven, and the receiving corps hasn’t shown a ton at this level. Dede Westbrook will likely be the top target heading into his second pro season, while Marqise Lee returns after missing all of last season.
The lack of a big-time pass-catcher could hurt their chances, but the presence of Foles and a stellar defense returning should mean the Jags improve upon last season’s disappointing 5-11 finish.
Kansas City Chiefs (+800)
The Chiefs were on the verge of a Super Bowl appearance last season before faltering in overtime of the AFC Championship Game against the Pats. The Chiefs will find themselves on the doorstep again next season assuming opposing defenses haven’t figured out how to properly slow down Patrick Mahomes.
That said, KC’s chances may hinge on the availability of Tyreek Hill, whose status is up in the air pending a child abuse investigation. Taking out arguably the game’s best deep threat would hinder this offense.
The primary factor in the Chiefs’ success will be the defense. KC has retooled this unit completely heading into the new season, complete with a new defensive boss in Steve Spagnuolo. Frank Clark was an elite acquisition from the Seahawks to help the edge rush, while Tyrann Mathieu was signed away from Houston to bring some physicality to the secondary. Pairing Clark with Chris Jones on one side of the defensive line could prove troublesome for opposing OLs.
If the defense can improve and if the Chiefs can make up for the potential loss of Hill, there’s no reason to believe they can’t be in the Super Bowl conversation.
Los Angeles Chargers (+1400)
The Chargers were smoked in the second round of the playoffs by New England, but this team finally capitalized on hefty expectations last season. Philip Rivers continues to do Philip Rivers things, as he finished with 32 touchdowns and 12 picks a season ago. Keenan Allen has stayed healthy, while Mike Williams looks like a much-needed red zone target. Tight end Hunter Henry, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL, should be ready to roll this time around. Melvin Gordon isn’t an explosive back, but he’s fared well with a heavy workload over the last two years.
Joey Bosa will once again lead the defensive line, while Melvin Ingram is arguably the most underrated pass-rusher in the league. The rest of the pass-rush is a question mark, though, and the team hasn’t done much to address that need this offseason. Former Panther Thomas Davis will be a welcome addition to the linebacking corps, while the defensive backfield is among the best in the game.
If Rivers can finally solve Brady and the Patriots, the Chargers should be among the AFC frontrunners. Taking a flier on LA at +1400 makes plenty of sense.
Los Angeles Rams (+750)
The Rams were underwhelming in the 13-3 loss to the Pats in Super Bowl 53, but there’s still plenty to like here. Sean McVay and Jared Goff have formed a beautiful partnership, and Todd Gurley has been a rock in the backfield.
Losing John Sullivan and Rodger Saffold along the offensive line could hurt, though, while Gurley is battling arthritic knees. If Gurley continues to be hampered by his knees, the Rams will have to lean awfully heavily on third-round rookie Darrell Henderson. The receiving corps of Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods remains.
Aaron Donald still leads the defense, but they lost Ndamukong Suh to free agency, and they still haven’t filled that gap at nose tackle. Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews are new acquisitions that hardly raise eyebrows at this stage of their respective careers. If they plan on getting another shot at a title, the Rams need Gurley to bounce back and those aging veterans to find some consistency.
The Rams look overvalued at +750 given their question marks, but considering they were in the Super Bowl last year, it’s not like it’s a total stretch to think they can be one of the NFC’s best teams again in ‘19.
Miami Dolphins (+12500)
Miami is right there with Cincinnati among the Super Bowl 54 long shots. The Dolphins have finally moved on from Ryan Tannehill, with Ryan Fitzpatrick in place ahead of second-year pro Josh Rosen. Rosen showed flashes with the Cardinals, but he’s going to need a lot of help. I’m not sure the Dolphins have that help for him, unfortunately. Kenyan Drake has shown big-play ability out of the backfield, but the team hasn’t been consistent about giving him chances to this point.
Frankly, the Dolphins need a meteor to strike the rest of the United States if they have any aspirations of winning Super Bowl 54.
Minnesota Vikings (+2800)
Paying Kirk Cousins tons of money was probably a mistake, but Minnesota still has a Super Bowl-caliber roster. Worse QBs have won titles in the past, so having Cousins as the QB1 isn’t exactly a bad thing for the Vikes. Minnesota used two of its first four draft picks on O-linemen to try and help keep him upright, which is a step in the right direction. The Dalvin Cook/Adam Thielen/Stefon Diggs trio at the skill positions is good enough to win it all.
The defensive talent looks an awful lot like the group we saw last year, which is good. Last year’s team endured a difficult schedule, though there were also some disappointing losses to bad teams like Buffalo and Miami. The ‘19 schedule looks a bit more favorable, and I’d expect the Vikings to look more like the team most thought we would be getting last season. +2800 is exceptional value for a squad that was among the favorites at this time last year.
If Cousins can stay protected, they’ll have a shot.
New England Patriots (+700)
They’re the Patriots. What more needs to be said? Assuming Tom Brady doesn’t suffer a dramatic age-related decline, this team will win the AFC East and likely have a first-round bye. The top of the AFC is tough, but essentially having a free pass into the second round of the playoffs is a huge advantage.
If Brady is still Brady, they’ll be fine.
New Orleans Saints (+800)
The Saints likely would’ve been in the Super Bowl last year were it not for a rather unfortunate blown call by the referees in the NFC Championship Game. Drew Brees has shown no signs of slowing down, while Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are arguably the two best young players in football at their respective positions. There isn’t a lot to love in this receiving corps beyond Thomas, but that wasn’t an issue last year.
The defense will have to show that last season’s improvement wasn’t a fluke. Sheldon Rankins tearing his Achilles in the playoffs was a huge loss, so it remains to be seen whether he can be capably replaced. Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport give them some studs on the edge of the D-line, while Marshon Lattimore is among the best corners in football.
The case for the Saints is similar to that of the Patriots. If Brees is still Brees, the Saints are viable title contenders.
New York Giants (+6600)
Saquon Barkley looks like the second coming of Barry Sanders, which is really the Giants’ entire Super Bowl case. Barkley looked like everything the Giants could’ve hoped for during his rookie season, but Odell Beckham Jr. is gone, and Eli Manning isn’t getting any younger. The Giants will likely turn to rookie QB Daniel Jones at some point, and this should be Eli’s last year with the team.
If Barkley is able to spring every run for an 80-yard touchdown, the Giants will be tough to beat. I wouldn’t bank on that happening, but he at least gives people a reason to watch the Giants.
New York Jets (+8000)
Sam Darnold showed some signs as a rookie, and the Jets made some splashes with the offseason acquisitions of Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley. With Mosley in tow, a defense featuring Jamal Adams, Trumaine Johnson, and rookie Quinnen Williams has a chance to be among the most improved in football next season. The Jets also play in that awful AFC East, so a second-place finish in the division isn’t too unreachable a goal.
If Darnold looks like the generational talent the Jets think he can be, New York can surprise some people next season. Bell should be fresh after taking last season off, so taking some pressure off of Darnold’s shoulders should help the offense hum along. I think a wild card berth is a reasonable accomplishment, and anything can happen in the playoffs.
The Jets aren’t the worst long-shot bet in the world at +8000 to win Super Bowl 54.
Oakland Raiders (+6600)
The Raiders picked up the Steelers’ other castoff, Antonio Brown. Brown instantly upgrades what was a lackluster receiving corps for Derek Carr, but we’ll see how transformative one player can be for an offense that underwhelmed a season ago. Carr does have a decent shot at a bounce-back season with Brown in the fold, and Jon Gruden’s pass-happy offense could prove to be more dynamic than originally thought.
The Raiders will try to leave the Oakland faithful happy in their last season before shipping out to Las Vegas. Brown and Tyrell Williams give Carr some viable deep threats, while Alabama rookie Josh Jacobs should be an upgrade over the recently re-retired Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. Last year’s Khalil Mack trade obviously put a massive dent in the defense.
I certainly expect them to be more competitive than they were a season ago, but a daunting early-season schedule and a tough AFC West could make things difficult. That said, if Carr and Brown develop a consistent rapport, contending isn’t impossible.
Philadelphia Eagles (+1400)
The Eagles weren’t on anyone’s radar prior to winning Super Bowl 52. That isn’t the case this year, but all eyes will be on the health of Carson Wentz. Wentz struggled a bit last season after tearing his ACL in December of 2017, but if he can return to his MVP-caliber form, there’s little reason to believe Philly won’t be among the NFC’s contenders.
If Wentz is the player he was pre-injury, the Eagles make a lot of sense as a Super Bowl bet at +1400 odds.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+2000)
Ben Roethlisberger is still here, but Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are not. JuJu Smith-Schuster looks ready to take over for Brown, while Pittsburgh nabbed Diontae Johnson out of Toledo to take over as the team’s No. 2 option on the outside. Big Ben led the league in passing last season, and he’s going to need to carry an inexperienced offense if the Steelers want to get back to the playoffs.
The AFC North is one of the most volatile divisions in the league. Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson struggling wouldn’t be all that surprising, while the Bengals look like a doormat.
The Steelers may well back their way into a division title. If they do that, Big Ben’s playoff experience could be more than enough to carry them to another Lombardi Trophy.
San Francisco 49ers (+3300)
The Niners’ big hopes were dashed early last season when Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3. Jimmy G should be back and ready to roll, though, which means San Francisco will once again be dreaming big. The injury afforded them the chance to nab Nick Bosa with the second overall pick this past spring, and if he can make a similar impact to what his brother has done with the Chargers, the 49ers are in business.
Garoppolo has a couple of high-upside young pass catchers in George Kittle and Dante Pettis at his disposal. Tevin Coleman was also a nice get in the backfield, while Matt Breida and Jerick McKinnon give the team good depth.
The defense ranked just 27th in DVOA, however. DeForest Buckner and Bosa should fare well, but the Niners will need others to step up. No player other than Buckner picked up more than 5 ½ sacks a season ago, which was a massive weakness.
If Bosa helps transform the defense and Jimmy G looks like the franchise QB the Niners think he is, this team is capable of exceeding expectations in the NFC West.
Seattle Seahawks (+2800)
Many wrote the Seahawks off a season ago, so all they did was go 10-6 and secure an NFC wild card spot. The Seahawks had one of the game’s shoddiest offensive lines last season, but that didn’t slow Russell Wilson down in the least. Seattle only added Mike Iupati to the line this offseason. That’s a quality addition, but making Wilson run for his life every year may catch up with this team at some point in the near future.
Regardless, title contention is always realistic as long as Wilson is healthy. Tyler Lockett is the only proven receiver in the fold after Doug Baldwin’s retirement, so running back Chris Carson may be seeing a big workload again following his 1,100-yard season.
The Legion of Boom is completely gone now, and Frank Clark left for Kansas City this offseason. Ziggy Ansah came over in free agency, but he has injury question marks. The Seahawks’ Super Bowl hopes hinge on Russell staying healthy and whether the defense can improve despite a number of unknowns on that side of the football.
The Vikings look like a safer bet at the same +2800 odds, but you can never count Russell Wilson out.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6000)
Tampa Bay has the misfortune of playing in what appears to be a stacked NFC South. All three of Tampa’s division rivals are viable Super Bowl contenders, but oddsmakers are showing a little faith in the Bucs by listing them at +6000.
After several up-and-down years, this will likely be Jameis Winston’s last chance for this franchise. A revamped coaching staff centered around Bruce Arians is interesting, and Winston has a talented group of skill position weapons including Mike Evans and O.J. Howard. Chris Godwin emerged as an underrated talent last year, as well.
The Buccaneers’ rushing attack is lacking, however.
The Bucs had the league’s worst defense in football per DVOA last season, so there’s nowhere to go but up. Rookie Devin White should be a nice fit in the team’s new 3-4 defense, while Ndamukong Suh was signed to replace the departed Gerald McCoy. Vita Vea looks like a keeper on the interior of the line, so there should be some improvement here.
A tough division makes the Bucs a scary pick, but they’re not the craziest bet at +6000.
Tennessee Titans (+6000)
Tennessee will enter the year with less hype than their three AFC South counterparts, which could lead to some decent betting value. Marcus Mariota is also likely on thin ice entering his fifth season, but it’s easy to forget that this team quietly went 9-7 a season ago.
The Titans did upgrade Mariota’s backup by signing Ryan Tannehill, so there’s hope that if Mariota does get hurt, the team won’t be doomed. Rodger Saffold was a nice signing along the offensive line, while Derrick Henry and Corey Davis are nice young skill position options.
Losing Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan will hurt the pass rush, and Adoree’ Jackson is a question mark after undergoing foot surgery. This defense may not be as strong as it was a season ago, but they are still a better overall unit than their +6000 Super Bowl odds seem to indicate. The AFC South doesn’t have any truly proven teams, so who’s to say Tennessee can’t rise up and take advantage in 2019?
If Mariota stays healthy and finally starts to show why the team made him the No. 2 overall pick several years ago, the Titans could be players.
Washington Redskins (+8000)
Washington lost Alex Smith last year and drafted Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State to serve as his replacement. They got a steal in Haskins at No. 15 overall, though it remains to be seen whether he’s ready to start right away. Rookie quarterbacks rarely lead their teams to the playoffs, but Haskins showed good poise during his time with the Buckeyes, and the Washington offense isn’t lacking talent at key positions.
If Haskins can emerge as the best rookie in this class, perhaps Washington can make a run at glory. It’s been a long time since the Redskins were in the Super Bowl conversation, but it’s worth noting that this team is still just a couple of seasons removed from a playoff berth.