The timeline for the NFL offseason has been altered by coronavirus. So many things about sports and daily life have been. At least this didn’t hit during the season, when some really big decisions would have had to be made about the scheduling. Instead, we could see some alterations to the timing of the NFL Draft and NFL Free Agency, which was set to start on Wednesday March 18.
What we shouldn’t see, at least with any luck, is a pushback of the 2020 season and Super Bowl LV. With so many variables in play with free agency and the draft, it may be a little bit tough to take a look at the futures market, but there are a lot of things out there to consider. After all, we don’t have a whole lot to handicap other than the futures markets, so why not take some time to look now?
Here are the NFL futures odds for Super Bowl LV as of March 12, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. ET at 5Dimes Sportsbook:
|Kansas City Chiefs||+575|
|San Francisco 49ers||+1000|
|New Orleans Saints||+1200|
|New England Patriots||+1400|
|Green Bay Packers||+1600|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+2500|
|Los Angeles Rams||+2500|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+4000|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+5000|
|New York Giants||+8000|
|New York Jets||+8000|
The reigning champs are the favorites just shy of 6/1. Interesting, the runner-up San Francisco 49ers are the third choice behind the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens did not have a very impressive run in the AFC Playoffs, as the pseudo-bye in Week 17 and the actual bye in the Wild Card Round seemed to put the team into a bit of a tough spot. The surging Tennessee Titans kept rolling until they ran into the Kansas City Chiefs and knocked off both the New England Patriots and the Ravens.
There really isn’t a ton of equity in holding a short price for a long period of time, but with the parity that we’ve seen league-wide in terms of division winners and Wild Card teams, there don’t seem to be a lot of breathtaking options out there at big payouts anyways.
The Ravens are such an interesting team because we know that they’ll have Lamar Jackson and the core of that team. Something that often happens with championship teams is that they lose key parts. Guys that were impending free agents had that “contract year” season or simply get priced out of staying with their teams based on that postseason success.
The Ravens don’t really have the same problem as the Chiefs. It really isn’t that big of a stretch to think that the Ravens could very well be the favorites when the season starts. The Chiefs are favorites as the reigning champs and with the fact that the AFC West is weaker than the AFC North, but those two teams could very well flip.
In the NFC, you’ve got the 49ers, but you also have the New Orleans Saints hanging around at 12/1. Drew Brees will be back and the Saints were a very successful team that ran into a bad circumstance. They had to play the opening weekend and lost to the Minnesota Vikings. Brees did not look particularly good in that game and you have to wonder about him and his age going into next season.
There really do seem to be a few teams off the pace that make a lot of sense. Let’s examine some of them now:
Dallas Cowboys +2000 – The Dallas Cowboys no longer have Jason Garrett running the show. Mike McCarthy seems to have taken more of an interest in analytics since he was running the show for the Green Bay Packers. McCarthy inherits a really good team with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and a solid defense. The New York Giants and Washington Redskins are in rebuilding mode, so the biggest worry is the Philadelphia Eagles, who annually have a lot of concerns of their own.
The Cowboys managed to miss the playoffs at 8-8 last season with a +113 point differential. From a Pythagorean Win-Loss or Expected W/L standpoint, they played a lot more like an 11-5 team. Dallas could very well lose Amari Cooper and/or Byron Jones, depending on how they allocate their resources, but the division is there for the taking and the team will be able to sign some players in free agency to fill holes. There are a ton of really good defensive players and pass rushers on the market.
Atlanta Falcons +3300 – The Falcons have a tricky cap situation in a lot of ways, so it will be tough for them to make a ton of improvements to the roster, but you have to respect the 6-2 finish for this time that included wins over the Saints and the 49ers, both on the road. Matt Ryan is still a great quarterback and had a solid season reunited with Dirk Koetter.
The team rallied for Dan Quinn and Quinn did orchestrate a Super Bowl run a few years ago and was part of some nice runs for the Seahawks. Atlanta has had some major defensive injuries to contend with, as guys like Keanu Neal and Deion Jones have repeatedly gone down with long-term ailments. The Falcons have a lot to build around in the back seven and will have a draft pretty deep with pass rushers and wide receivers that they can use to plug some holes on the roster.
Obviously playing in the NFC South is tough with the Saints, but if Brees does fall back a bit and the Saints stumble as a result, do we expect the Panthers or Buccaneers to be the ones to take advantage? I wouldn’t think so.
Cleveland Browns +3300 – Okay, so I might be crazy, but the Browns were a train without a conductor last season. That devolved, as you would expect, into a trainwreck. Now Kevin Stefanski takes over and the Browns seem to have made a good hire with defensive coordinator Joe Woods from the 49ers.
This is still a team with elite weapons on offense and maybe a coach that knows how to use them. After all, it went pretty well in Minnesota with Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs when they were all healthy at the same time. The Browns have star power on defense with Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward.
The Steelers will get Ben Roethlisberger back, but who knows what they’ll get from him and then the Bengals will be breaking in Joe Burrow. By virtue of being bad, the Browns get two teams that finished in third place on their schedule to go along with their opponents in the NFC East and AFC South, drawing the Raiders and Jets.
Obviously everything will be fluid in the NFL with free agency and the NFL Draft, but we don’t have much to talk about these days, so it isn’t a bad time to start thinking about the NFL.