There’s only one way to deal with the trauma of no more football – start thinking about next season. Ricky Rothstein takes a very early look and contenders and pretenders for Super Bowl XLIX!
Having won its first ever Super Bowl, Seattle is the ante-post favorite to win again next year and become the first team to repeat since the 2004-‘05 Patriots. Making the Super Bowl winners favorites for next year doesn’t always happen, as Super Bowl teams can break up under pressure of salary caps and being targeted and a host of other things. But Seattle has two things on its side as potential repeat Champions – youth, and the fact that the Seahawks defense is as dominant a Super Bowl-winning D as we’ve seen since Tampa Bay in 2002-’03, the last time the No 1 offense met the No 1 defense.
Denver fans will hope the Broncos don’t suffer the same fate as the Raiders, the team the Bucs smashed in Super Bowl XXXVII, and who haven’t been heard from since the Bucs tore them apart in San Diego. Denver’s advantage is that its front office is far more functional than the Raiders, but they are entitled to be nervous when Peyton Manning has his medical in one month’s time. Manning is the Broncos and, if he can’t continue, do they think Brock Osweiler can step up? No; neither do I. Denver is a team to fade in the very early football betting.
In a rich irony, the San Francisco 49ers are in a position to imitate their cross-bay rivals, the Raiders of the 1970s when John Madden was their coach. The Raiders always had winning records, always got to the playoffs but ended up finding new ways to get beat before they finally won Super Bowl XI. Could the same fate await the Niners? They’ll be under a lot of pressure in 2014.
The real value bets are in the middle of the pack. Indianapolis at 25/1 is a great bet. A little more weapons on offense could bring Carolina over the line. The Bears are in the (for them) alien position of having an embarrassment of riches on offense but have a defense that would struggle to stop a troop of particularly mean girl scouts who heard a rumor about some cookies in the end zone.
Can new head coaches in Detroit and Houston provide the spark those talented under-achievers need? Will Kansas City or Philadelphia be able to build on this year’s successes? Which is the team with the young talent that could come right at just the right time? With a dime to bet and a full year to wait for the result, I know where I’m going. The Buffalo Bills can shock the world and light a fire in upstate New York at the fantastic price of 66/1. You read it here first.