Considering the many changes of a unique and challenging NFL offseason, the odds for which teams will reach Super Bowl 55 are especially difficult to pin down.
This week, for example, the Patriots’ decision to sign Cam Newton bumped up their chances across the board, even though Newton still needs to earn their starting quarterback job.
Looking at the updated Super Bowl futures for 2021, courtesy of SportsInsider.com, there are clear, unsurprising favorites on top, followed by hot rising sleepers and several playoff caliber wild cards. Then there’s the bottom quarter of the league, making up the eight real long shots.
Here’s are the best bets to consider through those tiers, based on the teams’ current values:
Best overall bet: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1200
The Bucs finished 7-9 last season with a prolific but mistake-prone passing offense, an elite run defense, a good pass rush and an improving secondary. They have immense sklll position talent around Tom Brady and a coach, Bruce Arians, used to quick turnarounds with older handpicked QBs. Brady’s old team, the Patriots (+2000) have newfound Super Bowl momentum with Newton, but after free agency and the draft as a whole, it’s arguable the Bucs have fewer concerns and more definitive answers.
The NFC is tough, starting with the Buccaneers’ foes in the South, but it’s more wide open than the AFC to give rise to a previous non-playoff team, much like the 49ers in 2019. The AFC is more top-heavy. The Saints are probably overrated with better odds in the same division as the Buccaneers, while Bills are underrated AFC East competition for the Patriots. The Bucs are less likely to settle for a wild card and more likely to rise a top-two seed in their conference.
Best favorite bet: Kansas City Chiefs +650
The NFL hasn’t seen repeat Super Bowl winners since the Patriots won back-to-back titles in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The Chiefs, thanks to the game’s top quarterback and transcedent talent Patrick Mahomes, are the most legitimate non-New England threat to do so since Russell Wilson’s Seahawks in 2014.
For some, going with the chalk might seem uninspiring. But everything that involves Mahomes is exciting and he definitely has the look of the next multiple-ring QB.
Best sleeper bet: Pittsburgh Steelers +2200
The Steelers’ defense was dominant enough and made plenty of big plays to put them on the brink of the playoffs of 8-8, despite fielding an absolute disaster at quarterback filling in for Ben Roethlisberger. Now the two-ringed Roethlisberger is back healthy and rejuvenated and can show how loaded the team is with its remixed young skill-position weapons.
Pittsburgh is in elite company against the pass and also returns the league’s best pass rush (54 sacks). That’s the profile that has helped the team win its most recent Super Bowls with Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin. The key for the Steelers will be a resurgence in their rushing offense to serve as a better complement to everything they want to do on both sides of the ball. They have more appeal than the Patriots, Eagles and Seahawks around the same odds.
Best wild-card bet: Arizona Cardinals +5000
The No. 1 overall pick QBs around Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield and Joe Burrow, have great potential to reach a Super Bowl at some point in their careers. Murray had limited help in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense but still won OROY for his confident passing and running in 2019.
Getting DeAndre Hopkins as his go-to wide receiver and rookie Josh Jones to shore up right tackle are huge for Murray to “take the next step”, now buoyed by the right feature back in Kenyan Drake. Defensively, the Cardinals have many elements, led by rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons, to be much improved.
Consider two NFC West rivals with hot-shot young offensive-minded head coaches, the 49ers and Rams, have made the past two Super Bowls, each having a shot to win it all until late in the game. File Kingsbury and Arizona under that “out of nowhere” flyer category.
Best longshot bet: Houston Texans +6600
What would have happened if Bill O’Brien’s team hadn’t blown that big early playoff lead against the Chiefs in Kansas City? There’s been a lot of negative vibes around Houston because of dealing Hopkins, but the bottom line is, it still has the dynamic Deshaun Watson lifting up the team with his arm and legs. J.J. Watt still has plenty left in the tank to help get the best out of a defense in transition, too.
BOB gets plenty of heat for his GM decisions, but he still has Watson to maximize his offense and mask some issues on both sides. Look, the Texans shouldn’t be in the top 10 of Super Bowl favorites, but they shouldn’t be in the bottom 10 of the league, either. They, unlike many teams with similar Super Bowl odds, have a superstar QB with championship pedigree and have punched easy playoff tickets in four of the past five seasons.
Super Bowl 55 odds for 2021, from best to worst
- Kansas City Chiefs +650
- Baltimore Ravens +700
- New Orleans Saints +1000
- San Francisco 49ers +1000
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1200
- Dallas Cowboys +1600
- Green Bay Packers +2000
- Indianapolis Colts +2000
- New England Patriots +2000
- Philadelphia Eagles +2000
- Pittsburgh Steelers +2200
- Seattle Seahawks +2200
- Buffalo Bills +2500
- Minnesota Vikings +2500
- Tennessee Titans +2800
- Cleveland Browns +3000
- Chicago Bears +4000
- Arizona Cardinals +5000
- Atlanta Falcons +5000
- Denver Broncos +5000
- Los Angeles Chargers +5000
- Los Angeles Rams +6000
- Detroit Lions +6600
- Houston Texans +6600
- Las Vegas Raiders +8000
- New York Giants +8000
- Miami Dolphins +10000
- New York Jets +12500
- Carolina Panthers +15000
- Cincinnati Bengals +15000
- Washington Redskins +20000
- Jacksonville Jaguars +25000