The smoke has cleared in NFL free agency with only a few of the veterans still up for grabs and the casinos updated their Super Bowl odds to reflect this. It’s still very early to tell, but they are getting a much better idea as to what the opening day lines will be.
Not surprisingly, the Super Bowl bridesmaid San Francisco 49ers lead the way at 13/2. Every NFL team has question marks going into the 2013 season and the Niners are certainly no different. They have to find out if they can replace all-pro safety Dashon Goldson. The read option is also another question mark that might apply to the Niners. Will teams that run it become more successful or has an entire offseason given defensive coordinators the time to figure it out?
The next group of teams is the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots. These are two teams that share the same odds (15/2) and have been tightly linked in the offseason. The departure of Wes Welker from New England to Denver may have changed the landscape of the AFC. Denver is hoping that Tom Brady turned Welker into a Pro Bowl receiver, while the Patriots are hoping the slot position in their offense is the reason for success. Both of these teams will no doubt be playing in January, likely as the top two seeds in the AFC.
The next three teams were all disappointed NFC playoff teams last year. The Seattle Seahawks lead this group at 9/1 and look even scarier than they did at the end of the last year. Experts have said the Seahawks have had the best offseason picking up the likes of Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. The Seahawks did it last year with a makeshift receiving core and the addition of Harvin will bolster their offense. The additions on the defensive side of the ball made their pass rush even scarier (if that was possible, see the Green Bay Monday Night Game). The other two teams in this grouping are the Green Bay Packers (12/1) and the Atlanta Falcons (14/1). These two teams are picking up where they left off last year and still trying to answer the same questions. Can the Packers offensive line and defense help out Aaron Rodgers even a little bit? Can Matt Ryan win the big game?
The seventh team on the list is our Baltimore Ravens at 18/1. This is a far cry from where bookmakers had the Ravens on the second day of free agency, when some fans wondered if we would win any games this year. Don’t get me wrong there are still some holes to fill on this team, but it is nice that everyone seems positive again. Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs will be a devastating pass rush if everyone can stay healthy. Rolando McClain could be a great addition if he can stay focused. He is not the first person to not live up to expectations on the Raiders (i.e. Richard Seymour). The Ravens have been between 10 and 20/1 in the last few years, so this is not a surprise.
At this point in the offseason, you have to like the Seahawks at 9/1. Picking the third team on the list is not exactly exciting, but this team has a young, improving quarterback and some devastating weapons on offense and defense to go with it. Where would your money go?