2016 NFL Super Bowl Odds: Teams to Watch After the Draft
Everyone always wants to know who their favorite team will take in the NFL Draft. Once it’s over, they want to know if it gives them a chance to make a playoff run the following season. Four weeks into the new year, they get a pretty good indication that their hopes will be dashed.
After all, just one team can win it all, and only 12 NFL teams make the league’s yearly tournament. Even a decent season can quickly be swept under the rug, and star players or sexy offenses don’t always make for NFL titles.
Of course, we can all still hope and think about what may come. And with the 2016 NFL Draft just finally wrapping up this past weekend, now is a good time to pull out some of that classic hope.
Did your team draft well? Will it have a positive impact on their 2016 Super Bowl odds? Maybe, maybe not. A look back at last year’s Super Bowl participants suggests their rookie class didn’t have a massive say in whether they did or didn’t win it all.
Denver won pretty much despite Peyton Manning, didn’t really use their running game to it’s fullest ability and ultimately relied on one of the better defenses we’ve seen in a while. Few rookies, if any, really played a huge role in their title run.
The story is much the same for the Panthers, who had some role players that were first year players, but no one that was elite or shifted momentum. In fact, rookie receiver Devin Funchess was a huge disappointment in year one, and much of the credit goes to Cam Newton and a strong defense.
But that was last year, and that certainly doesn’t mean Super Bowl odds can’t begin to shift for a few teams. Let’s take a look at the teams that could have benefited the most from a strong draft:
Green Bay Packers (+1000)
The Packers are interesting because they already boast the third best Super Bowl odds and almost made it to the NFC title game last year despite playing without star wide receiver Jordy Nelson.
Nelson will be back and Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the league, plus the Packers used their draft wisely to address some key issues. Kenny Clark helps them replace the seemingly retired B.J. Raji up from, Jason Spriggs gives them athleticism and depth on the o-line.
On top of that, Green Bay got serviceable if not stellar value options on the inside and outside at linebacker. There are still some lingering concerns in the secondary and Eddie Lacy’s off-season weight loss needs to stick, but the Packers once again look like a pretty good bet to make a deep playoff run.
Arizona Cardinals (+1400)
Arizona is right up there with Green Bay, and possibly even more so, after beating the Packers in the playoffs and making it to the NFC title game last year.
The Cards discovered their franchise running back in David Johnson and bring back Carson Palmer, so their real targets going into the draft were on defense. They also had traded for sensational pass rusher Chandler Jones months ago, so half their work seemed to be done for them.
As nicely set up as Arizona was, they didn’t hold back in the draft, as they got a sliding Robert Nkemdiche in the first round to beef up an already strong defensive line, got Patrick Peterson a potential running mate with cornerback Brandon Williams and then added depth across the board. Provided Tyrann Mathieu can return to full strength after yet another ACL tear, this could be your next NFC rep in the Super Bowl.
Denver Broncos (+1400)
While Green Bay and Arizona are inching closer to be two of the more stable Super Bowl picks, everyone is curious if last year’s champ has a shot at repeating.
Repeating is tough, so the odds are they’ll see a mild slide, but one thing we know is their defense remains elite. The Broncos did themselves a huge favor by drafting Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, effectively getting a new starting quarterback that could potentially manage a championship contender right away and be the answer for the future, as well.
Denver also added running back depth via Devontae Booker in the middle rounds, while they also did a good job adding to both lines by bringing in solid talents like Adam Gotsis and Connor McGovern. With the defense still as good as ever and a strong ground game intact, it’s all on Lynch in his first season as a pro.
Cincinnati Bengals (+1800)
With Tom Brady likely serving a 4-game ban and the Broncos possible taking a dip with their fate in the hands of a rookie passer, is there a more interesting team than the Bengals?
Cincy choked away a playoff win last year and endured some bad luck with Andy Dalton breaking his thumb in the midst of an MVP-caliber run. The Bengals retain much of the talent that made them look like a title contender, and they used this draft to get a lot better in a lot of areas.
William Jackson provides depth and a potential future star at corner, Tyler Body gives them much-needed speed and upside at wide receiver and Andrew Billings may be one of the top steals of this year’s draft. The same goes for guard Christian Westerman, who should help bolster a shaky interior o-line.
Cincy was already going to be on radar as far as title contenders go, but a very strong draft puts them in serious consideration.
Minnesota Vikings (+2000)
This is where we start to poke at the fringe playoff teams and start thinking, did they do enough?
Minnesota certainly filled a need and got some upside with star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, who may lack elite deep speed but may have been the most skilled receiver in this draft class. If he can be more efficient than Mike Wallace, it’s a win. Of course, as talented and promising as he is, his development and Minny’s passing game still hinges on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s progress.
Luckily the Vikes didn’t stop there, as they beefed up their secondary with quality corner Mackenzie Alexander, added depth to their o-line with tackle Willie Beavers and shored up an already strong linebacking corps with Kentrell Brothers.
Adrian Peterson may still have one more elite season in him, Minnesota’s defense is only getting better and Treadwell could very well put the offense over the top. The question, of course, is if Bridgewater is the guy to get the job done under center.
Dallas Cowboys (+2000)
Dallas may have been a tough playoff team last year had Tony Romo been healthy, but he wasn’t and they still also had issues in the ground game. They corrected that mistake by drafting stud running back Ezekiel Elliott 4th overall, protected themselves under center with Mississippi State product Dak Prescott and ultimately get the savvy Romo back at full strength this summer.
On paper, that alone may be enough to get Cowboys Nation excited for a deep playoff run. The icing on the cake is sensational Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith in round two, and if he can actually suit up in 2016, that’d just be gravy.
Dallas still has questions with two of their best defensive ends beginning the year on suspension and their pass defense can be suspect, but they have the offensive tools to be a real problem in 2016.
Oakland Raiders (+2500)
We could already see that Oakland was a team on the rise in 2015. Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray have the Raiders a fairly explosive offense, and stud linebacker Khalil Mack directs a rising defense.
Can it rise even further in 2016? That’s very possible with the Broncos potentially taking a step back, while Oakland also helped it’s own cause by dealing a solid draft.
Oakland may have reached for safety Karl Joseph in round one, but they also may have found a starter and long-term replacement for the retired Charles Woodson. Bringing in versatile defensive lineman Jihad Ward helps the d-line, while they added Shilique Calhoun in round three and signed Bruce Irvin in free agency.
With the defense as strong as it’s been in years, it all comes down to Derek Carr and the offense in Oakland.
Buffalo Bills (+4000)
Rex Ryan’s crew disappointed overall in 2015, but it’s highly debatable they’ve taken the necessary steps to threaten the New England Patriots atop the AFC East in 2016.
After losing pass rusher Mario Williams, Ryan and co. wasted little time bringing in some help, as they drafted stud pass rusher Shaq Lawson from Clemson and proceeded to help their linebacking corps in the inside with stout Alabama product, Reggie Ragland.
If fourth round pick Cardale Jones can realize his potential and develop into their franchise passer, the Bills may have another home run on the offensive side of the ball.
Buffalo was already built like a Super Bowl champ, and a solid draft could put them over the top. From there, it’s all about whether or not quarterback Tyrod Taylor can take the next step in his maturation process at the position.
Washington Redskins (+4000)
Kirk Cousins figures to be a lame duck heading into 2016, but if his 2015 play tells us anything, the Redskins may be OK on offense again. Jay Gruden and co. made sure that was the case in the draft, finding extra help in taking stud wide receiver Josh Doctson in the first round.
With offense mostly set, the Redskins shifted their focus to defense, where they added versatile safety Su’a Cravens to a rapidly improving pass defense that recently signed stud shutdown corner, Josh Norman. The Redskins even beefed up their secondary further, bringing in the stable Kendall Fuller to provide depth and eventually challenge for a starting gig.
This draft was all about value and after winning the NFC East and making the playoffs a year ago, we could be talking about the beginnings of a balanced team that is ready for a deep playoff run.
New Orleans Saints (+6600)
The Saints remain a contender for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most notable are these insanely poor odds. They could offer a sick return on an early investment, as they still boast Drew Brees and one of the league’s most explosive offenses – and that was before the draft.
After this past weekend, the Saints now have more help at wide receiver thanks to Ohio State product Michael Thomas, as well as underrated Cal running back, Daniel Lasco.
The important moves came on the defensive end, of course, where stud defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins could help revamp a lethargic pass rush and Vonn Bell could help out the pass defense as a versatile defender that can play both corner and safety.
We know New Orleans can ball on offense, but did they just do enough to make a serious jump on defense? If so, these odds are way too low to ignore.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+6600)
Jacksonville already made huge strides in 2015 in terms of talent and cohesion, as Blake Bortles got the offense back on track and Gus Bradley got the defense playing at a moderate level.
Both should look to improve going into 2016, as Bortles will only be more comfortable in his third season and the defense has continued to add premier talent that is very hard to ignore.
Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey headline this draft for the Jags, who already added talent in free agency and only got better as April drew to a close. They’re no doubt they’ll be better as a whole in 2016, but are they finally ready to challenge for the AFC South crown and/or a deep playoff run? That’s the question of the hour.
Tennessee Titans (+10000)
As exciting as the draft was for Jacksonville, the Titans are not an AFC South team to forget about. Their odds are way worse, too, so from a betting perspective, they may actually be the more attractive draw.
Marcus Mariota and co. already were making strides on offense, but Tennessee got even better on that side by trading for DeMarco Murray months ago and then going after running back Derrick Henry, offensive tackle Jack Conklin and wide receiver Tajae Sharpe in this year’s draft.
The Titans didn’t fail to improve defensively, either, as they added powerful edge rusher Kevin Dodd, defensive tackle Austin Johnson and defensive back LeShaun Sims.
Tennessee still isn’t guaranteed to even sniff the playoffs, but with a franchise passer and improved talent in the offensive backfield, they’re ready to compete more consistently on offense. The rest may hinge on a defense that has to this point been inconsistent.
Cleveland Browns (+10000)
Some argue the Browns had the best draft this year, and it’s hard to dispute it. First Cleveland shed dead weight in releasing Johnny Manzie, allowed any stars that wanted out to go free, and then they did well to use April’s draft to their full advantage.
Taking quarterback Cody Kessler was a bit random, but the offensive-minded Hue Jackson seems to know quarterbacks and the Browns do already have both Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown to work with under center for now.
Cleveland did a terrific job addressing their passing game beyond the passer, too, as they added a whopping five weapons for the passing game, ranging from a deep threat in Corey Coleman in round one, to a serviceable tight end in round four in Seth Devalve. The Browns even protected the future and the interim on the o-line, as they snagged major value in offensive tackle Shon Coleman.
For all the work they did on offense, the Browns did not forget about defense, as they drafted elite pass rusher Emmanuel Ogbah in round two and later took balanced linebacker Scooby Wright III in round seven.
It’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not Hue Jackson’s first draft will quickly turn the Browns into viable contenders (probably not), but it’s tough to deny the Browns do look to be headed in the right direction.
This isn’t to say any of these teams are going to win the Super Bowl. Heck, some may not even make the playoffs. However, since the 2015 NFL season ended, for whatever reason, these teams have made enough positive improvements to suggest they could have either done enough to make a deep run, or at least done enough to ensure they’re finally headed in the right direction.
Even with all of the new draft picks and major off-season moves, let’s still consider two additional facts: the Seahawks (+850) are the top team in terms of Super Bowl odds at the moment, and even with Brady’s early-season ban, the Pats are right up there with them (second, +900).
Got a team you think has had a better off-season that should be on this list? Let us hear it in the comments below!
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