Seven months. It has been seven long months since we have seen a meaningful NFL game. But finally those horrendously boring Sundays spent at the in-laws are coming to an end. No longer will you have to spend your weekends hiking, or going to an outdoor yoga class with the girl you’re chasing. You’re ticket out of all things that don’t involve a couch, a big-screen TV, and some combination of beer, wings, and nachos has finally returned. Football is back!
The NFL season will kickoff tomorrow night when the Kansas City Chiefs attend the New England Patriots’ banner-revealing party at Gillette Stadium. If your focus remains solely on that game and the 14 other Week 1 matchups — the Buccaneers-Dolphins game has been postponed — you’ll want to check out our Week 1 ATS picks. Here we can’t contain our excitement to just one week, and will be discussing the 2017 season as a whole.
Which teams have the best odds to win the Super Bowl? Which players are likely to be taking home some hardware at the end of the year? And which coaches will find themselves out of a job? We’ll address all those questions and more below.
Odds to win Super Bowl LII
- New England Patriots: 13/2
- Green Bay Packers: 10/1
- Seattle Seahawks: 11/1
- Pittsburgh Steelers: 14/1
- Atlanta Falcons: 29/2
- Dallas Cowboys: 16/1
- Oakland Raiders: 16/1
- New York Giants: 19/1
- Kansas City Chiefs: 25/1
- Denver Broncos: 28/1
- Carolina Panthers: 33/1
- Minnesota Vikings: 33/1
- Arizona Cardinals: 35/1
- Houston Texans: 40/1
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 40/1
- Tennessee Titans: 45/1
- Philadelphia Eagles: 50/1
- New Orleans Saints: 55/1
- Los Angeles Chargers: 66/1
- Indianapolis Colts: 75/1
- Detroit Lions: 80/1
- Washington: 80/1
- Baltimore Ravens: 99/1
- Cincinnati Bengals: 99/1
- Miami Dolphins: 99/1
- Jacksonville Jaguars: 125/1
- Los Angeles Rams: 125/1
- Buffalo Bills: 150/1
- Chicago Bears: 150/1
- Cleveland Browns: 150/1
- San Francisco 49ers: 200/1
- New York Jets: 250/1
If you’re surprised to see the Patriots as heavy favorites, I hope your significant other appreciates how much of the NFL offseason you sacrificed for them. Even at 40 years old, Tom Brady still appears to be in his prime. The five-time Super Bowl champion has an improved arsenal in 2017, and is still coached by the greatest the NFL has ever seen. Repeating as Super Bowl champs is no easy task, but neither is erasing a 28-3 lead in the big game.
If there is a team in the AFC that can prevent the Pats from going back to the Super Bowl, it’s either Pittsburgh or Oakland. The former has not fared well against the Brady-led Patriots, losing eight of their last ten meetings. But if the Killer Bs can finally all stay on the field, they pose the greatest threat to the reigning champs. The Raiders possess an equally explosive offense as the Steelers, but still have too many holes on the defensive side of the ball. While Khalil Mack is a dominant edge-rusher, he’ll need some help to slow Brady and the Pats come playoff time.
The NFC offers a more level playing field, with the Packers and Seahawks leading the way. Aaron Rodgers is capable of scoring 30 points on just about any defense in the league when he’s on. Whereas the Seahawks possess a consistently dominant defense, which just added former Pro Bowl defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson from the Jets.
Prior to Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension, the Cowboys were the NFC favorites. Although Zeke is going to play Week 1, the suspension could still be coming. Last year’s rushing champ was the dynamic play-maker who put the Dallas offense over the top. If he’s forced to miss six weeks, Darren McFadden will not be nearly as effective carrying the rock. Dak Prescott is not ready to shoulder an offense for an extended period of time, great rookie season aside.
Odds any team goes 16-0: 35/1
If not the Patriots, then who? No one. That’s who. Apart from the 2007 Pats, no team has ever gone 16-0 in the regular season. That “perfect” Miami Dolphins team from ’72 only played 14 regular-season games. There are too many injuries, too little incentive, and much parity in this salary-cap era.
Odds Patriots go 16-0: 51/1
Vegas puts the Patriots around 20/1 to go undefeated. That’s just under a 5% implied probability. That’s preposterous. Do not take that bet. The real number is much longer. I’ll use last year to illustrate why.
If you erase the Week 1 game — where Jimmy Garoppolo was starting against an Arizona team everyone thought was good, and the Cardinals were nine-point favorites — the Patriots were, on average, a 7.6-point favorite last year (including playoffs). That puts their weekly win probability at 78-percent (again, on average). The chances of winning 16 straight games when your win probability for each game is 78-percent amounts to less than 2-percent.
On average, the Patriots will likely be about seven or eight-point favorites each week in 2017. So, again, you’re looking at less than a 2-percent chance they go 16-0.
Odds any team goes 0-16: 33/1
Going 0-16 is even harder than going 16-0. Only one team — the 2008 Detroit Lions — has ever “accomplished” a perfect(ly awful) season in a 16-game slate. The odds are a little shorter (compared to going 16-0) for the league as a whole because more than one team could plausibly achieve the feat; the Jets, Bills, and Niners are more interested in the 2018 draft than the 2017 standings, while the Browns, Bears, and Jaguars will be big dogs more often than not. The Colts could also challenge for this if Andrew Luck misses significant time.
Odds Jets go 0-16: 174/1
Just like with the 16-0 prop, there is one team that stands head-and-shoulders above the rest in the 0-16 odds: the Jets have one of the most comically bad rosters in NFL history, and they just depleted the team’s only real strength (the defensive line) by shipping Sheldon Richardson to Seattle. Sure, they got WR Jermaine Kearse in return, and he immediately becomes their best receiving option, but it doesn’t matter if you have Randy Moss and Jerry Rice on the outside if your QB can’t get them the ball. That said, with home games against the similarly tanking Bills, the Bortles-led Jaguars, and the transitioning Dolphins on the schedule, the Jets will be roughly six or seven point underdogs, on average, in our estimation. They’re going to pick up a win somewhere.
Odds Browns go 0-16: 499/1
The Browns faced an average spread of just under seven points last year. With their talented young core a year more experienced and freak-of-nature Myles Garrett added to the mix, that number will move a little in Cleveland’s favor. Starting an untested second-round rookie (Deshone Kizer) at QB doesn’t inspire confidence, but just getting Brock Osweiler off your roster has to equal at least one win, right?
Odds 49ers go 0-16: 599/1
Like the Browns, the Niners’ average spread (+6.25) will trend down slightly. Kyle Shanahan brings his peerless playcalling to a San Francisco offense that actually has some serviceable players. Brian Hoyer is far from the worst QB in the league; Pierre Garcon is a legitimate target (though not a true no. 1 receiver); and Carlos Hyde has the potential to be a top-ten running back. Add that to a defensive front that features a ton of young talent (Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster) and the seemingly ageless Navorro Bowman and you have a team that could win three to five games. Get excited, San Francisco?
Odds to win NFL MVP
- Tom Brady, Patriots: 6/1
- Aaron Rodgers, Packers: 13/2
- Derek Carr, Raiders: 7/1
- Russell Wilson, Seahawks: 7/1
- Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: 9/1
- Drew Brees, Saints: 9/1
- Le’Veon Bell, Steelers: 12/1
- FIELD: 33/8
Generally, the NFL MVP is awarded to the league’s top quarterback that season: nine of the last ten winners have been pivots. This is why the six players with the best odds are all QBs.
Tom Brady leads the pack, being in the best situation in terms of system and weapons. The Patriots addition of Brandin Cooks in the offseason gives Brady that legitimate deep-threat he’s been missing since Randy Moss left town. Though losing Julian Edelman seems like a major blow, a healthy Rob Gronkowski makes New England’s passing game lethal.
Without Aaron Rodgers, there is absolutely no way the Packers make the playoffs in each of the last eight seasons. He is the most talented QB in the league and consistently bails out Green Bay’s average-at-best defense. With a healthy trio of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams, Rodgers has the potential to light up the statsheet.
If there is a player who can break the QB trend, it’s Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers RB averaged 28 touches per game last season — David Johnson only averaged 23.3 — and will likely see a very similar workload in 2017. The return of Martavis Bryant provides Pittsburgh’s offense with a scary option opposite Antonio Brown, who will continue to stretch the field for them. It’s plausible this leads to more room for Bell to work underneath. But it’ll take a whole lot of yards from scrimmage for Bell to enter the MVP discussion, probably in the neighborhood of 2,500.
Odds to win Defensive Player of the Year
- JJ Watt, Texans: 5/1
- Von Miller, Broncos: 16/3
- Khalil Mack, Raiders: 6/1
- Aaron Donald, Rams: 7/1
- Joey Bosa, Chargers: 9/1
- FIELD: 20/9
Excluding his rookie season, JJ Watt has played in all 16 games four times in his career. In three of those seasons, he has been named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. In those four seasons, Watt has totaled 69 sacks and has always been a force against the run. It’s not premature to call him one of the most dominant defensive lineman this game has ever seen.
Watt isn’t the only player who can alter a game on any given play, though. Opposing teams spend their weeks game-planning to ensure both Von Miller and Khalil Mack have two blockers in their face all game long. Yet, when Miller has played in more than nine games, he has never failed to record at least 11 sacks, while Mack has totaled 26 sacks over the last two seasons.
Odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year
- Kareem Hunt, Chiefs: 11/2
- Dalvin Cook, Vikings: 6/1
- Christian McCaffrey, Panthers: 6/1
- Leonard Fournette, Jaguars: 7/1
- Corey Davis, Titans: 9/1
- FIELD: 2/1
Immediately following the NFL Draft, Leonard Fournette was the clear favorite for OROY. But Fournette’s hype has softened due to: (a) only playing in Week 1 of the preseason, and (b) having the world see how bad Blake Bortles is. The fourth-overall pick is going to be up against a ton of stacked boxes and his production will likely be held back by Bortles’ inadequacies.
The player whose stock has risen the most in the preseason is Kareem Hunt. The third-round pick was having a great camp and looked very impressive, and was then helped by a season-ending injury to Spencer Ware. Hunt will now serve as the feature back in an Andy Reid offense: expect a whole lot of touches.
Odds to win Defensive Rookie of the Year
- Myles Garrett, Browns: 3/1
- Reuben Foster, 49ers: 11/2
- Jamal Adams, Jets: 7/1
- Derek Barnett, Eagles: 10/1
- TJ Watt, Steelers: 10/1
- FIELD: 5/2
I don’t care whether Myles Garrett misses a game or two to start the season. The first-overall pick from the draft is a generational talent and will make his presence felt whenever he hits the field. With the majority of other first-round edge-rushers appearing to be part-time players in 2017, Reuben Foster — potentially the steal of the draft — comes in as the favorite to take the award if Garrett does miss too much time.
Second rookie QB to start a game
- Deshaun Watson, Texans: 5/2
- Mitchell Trubisky, Bears: 3/1
- Nathan Peterman, Bills: 4/1
- Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs: 6/1
- CJ Beathard, 49ers: 9/1
- FIELD: 49/1
DeShone Kizer is set to become the first rookie QB to start this year after seizing the starting job from Brock Osweiler in the preseason.
Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky are virtually a tossup to be the second rookie starter. Watson gets the slight nod, as the Texans are under a lot of pressure to take advantage of their window of opportunity. If Tom Savage struggles early, Bill O’Brien may be forced to simplify the playbook and hope Watson learns on the job.
Trubisky was the most impressive rookie QB in the preseason — posting a 106.2 passer rating — but the Bears are still rebuilding and would like to get something out of the signal-caller they just gave a three-year, $45 million contract.
With Tyrod Taylor clearing concussion protocol, it’s likely he will be ready for Week 1, meaning Nathan Peterman won’t be called upon yet. But don’t count Peterman out with the Bills asking Taylor to throw more from the pocket.
Odds to win Coach of the Year
- Mike McCarthy, Packers: 8/1
- Pete Carroll, Seahawks: 17/2
- Mike Tomlin, Steelers: 10/1
- Bill Belichick, Patriots: 12/1
- Jack Del Rio, Raiders: 12/1
- FIELD: 13/15
The Associated Press doesn’t enjoy handing the NFL Coach of the Year award to the same person, or the perceived favorite. This is why Bill Belichick has only won it three times, and only has the fourth-best odds of receiving the honor again in the 2017. The AP likes rewarding the underdog who greatly exceeded expectations. This is why there is no heavy favorite here.
It’s worth mentioning that no coach has won the award with fewer than ten wins since Jimmy Johnson in 1990. The five coaches listed all have very good chances of hitting that mark, and Belichick is the only one who has won the award previously.
However, all of their teams enter the season with lofty expectations. A few dark-horses to watch include: Dirk Koetter (Bucs), Ben McAdoo (Giants), Mike Mularkey (Titans), Mike Zimmer (Vikings), Vance Joseph (Broncos), and even Sean McVay (Rams). None of their teams are expected to win their respective divisions, but have the talent on their roster to surprise the football world.
Odds to be the first coach fired
- Todd Bowles, Jets: 7/2
- Chuck Pagano, Colts: 9/2
- Marvin Lewis, Bengals: 5/1
- John Fox, Bears: 6/1
- Jim Caldwell, Lions: 8/1
- FIELD: 33/7
Coaches are fired midseason for two reasons: (1) their team is awful and they are scapegoated, or (2) their team is severely underachieving. Each of the five listed men could fit into one of those two categories.
Todd Bowles is working with a horrendous Jets roster. Though we do expect them to pick up a win somewhere, it’s not hard to imagine them losing games by 20-plus points per week. This kind of embarrassment has to result in someone being fired.
Onto an underachieving example: Chuck Pagano is supposed to be a defensive-minded coach. Yet, in five years as the Colts HC, his defense has only once ranked in the top-19 in total defense, and once in the top-18 in points allowed. No one is suggesting he has the same talent he did as the DC in Baltimore in 2011, but he should be able to at least field a respectable unit more often. With the Colts focusing on the defensive side of the ball in the offseason, Pagano is under pressure to get some production out of his defense.
Outside of Bill Belichick, the longest tenured coach in the NFL is Marvin Lewis — hired in 2003. But he has yet to win a single playoff game in spite of taking the Bengals to the playoffs seven times. Though it’s hard to solely put the blame on Lewis for the losses — Andy Dalton’s 57.8 passer rating in the playoffs hasn’t helped — a franchise can only handle mediocrity for so long.
O/U coaches fired before the start of the 2018 season: 3.5
There has been a lot of turnover at the head coach position in the NFL over the last few years: there are currently 15 head coaches with less than three years of experience with their current teams, including five who were just hired this season. By no means are these coaches invincible, but franchises often give a head coach at least a couple years to prove themselves. Add in a good handful of coaches whose jobs are extremely safe (Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, etc.), and you should expect fewer coaching changes this offseason.