Super Bowl 54 just ended, but we’re still talking football. Thanks to the arrival of the XFL and the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, the conversation will be going on for some time.
Part of that discussion is geared to the NFL, already looking at who the next world champion will be. The Kansas City Chiefs are the understandable favorites, while there could be some Super Bowl 55 sleepers worth betting on.
There are also some options that are bigger dice rolls. They’re not safe bets by any means, but considering we’ve seen one-year turnarounds before (hey there, 49ers), bettors need to think about the rising teams that could be surprise threats.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers first need to figure out if Jameis Winston is their guy. The beleaguered quarterback tossed 30 interceptions last year, but he also put up an insane 5,109 passing yards and 33 touchdowns through the air.
Winston can sling it, and he has nice chemistry with Tampa Bay’s top weapons. If he can cut back the turnovers, it’s not crazy to think Bruce Arians has the players in place to make a run at a title.
Getting out of the NFC South won’t be easy, but the Bucs offer upside at this +5000 price. There’s also the chance that Tampa Bay lets Winston walk in free agency and the Bucs just opt for a veteran presence to give them a steady hand under center.
Would you sleep on the Buccaneers so soundly if Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, or Tom Brady were running this potent offense? No matter which way the Bucs go, it’s clear they offer value and upside with their current Super Bowl 55 odds.
Arizona Cardinals (+6600)
Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson both blew the lid off the NFL and corralled NFL MVP wins in their second year. Could the dynamic Kyler Murray be next?
It’s not that zany to consider. Murray twice sprung big plays against a stout 49ers defense, while he got his Arizona Cardinals to five wins and a tie. Considering Arizona owned the top pick before he came to the desert (and everyone in their division finished 9-7 or better), we can’t ignore the progress.
It’s a bit of a reach, sure. But at +6600, you need to dream big. The Cardinals have talent and can put up points. Just imagine if all of that clicks in Murray’s second season.
Detroit Lions (+6600)
As you work your way down the Super Bowl 2021 odds, things naturally get a little more bleak. Hear me out on the Detroit Lions, though, as they were actually pretty competitive all year despite owning a paltry 3-12-1 record.
Detroit flashed dominant ability from day one last season. An easy win in the desert against the aforementioned Cardinals led to a collapse that culminated in a tie. The Lions bounced back with two straight wins, however, before falling in a 34-30 shootout to the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs.
Following their bye week, the Lions did all they could to take out the Packers in Green Bay. Unfortunately, the referees had other plans in what truly was a controversial loss that should never have happened.
The Lions should have been 3-1-1 after five games and in all honesty were a bad bounce or two away from being undefeated.
Detroit only won one more game from that point on, but eight of their 12 losses came by eight points or fewer. They also played the second half of the year with star quarterback Matthew Stafford (back) on the shelf.
Stud running back Kerryon Johnson missed eight games due to injury, too.
What does this all tell us? Detroit is a lot better than their awful 2019 record indicates. They actually do have the coaching and talent in place to be a factor in the NFC North.
The Lions just need to keep building and stay healthy for a change. Then maybe — just maybe — they can make the top NFL betting sites look silly for these low +6600 title odds.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+10000)
Lastly, we come to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are probably going nowhere, but let’s just play with this one a little.
Jacksonville held onto head coach Doug Marrone for continuity. It probably wasn’t the right call, but he did get the Jags to the AFC title game just three years ago. It’s not impossible to see him turning this team back into a contender.
The Jags also operate out of the AFC South, which in theory is still a winnable division. Tennessee could slide after reaching the AFC title game, Houston is never completely reliable, and Indy isn’t even sure who their quarterback will be.
Perhaps you can say the same for the Jaguars, but they paid Nick Foles to be their guy. Blessed with a slew of weapons that can make plays down the field, it’s still possible he ends up being a good signing.
Leonard Fournette can still shore up an effective rushing attack, too, while the Jags of old had a feared defense. If this team gets back to their bread and butter, they’ll terrorize quarterbacks, pound the rock, and torch defenses down the field.
That’s a perfect-world scenario, if there ever was one. But the Jags are not without talent, and Nick Foles has a very good reputation as a winner once he’s in the playoffs. Jacksonville at +10000 is at least worth a cursory glance.
I’m not here to predict these teams are for sure going to win in 2021. I’m not even telling you they’re locks to make the playoffs.
But all four of these teams have the foundation for success this coming NFL season. They all have capable (if not potent) offenses, potential on the ground with their running game, and talented defenses that could take a positive step forward.
Maybe it’s another longshot that wins next year. Maybe it’s just a different sleeper I haven’t touched on. Heck, perhaps the Chiefs are starting a new dynasty, or maybe an old one (Patriots) will rise back to the top of the league.
Nobody knows, as it’s February, and seriously projecting next year’s Super Bowl winner before the draft and free agency isn’t exactly easy. But if you want to bet on Super Bowl 55 early — and aren’t risk-averse — perhaps one of these teams is calling out to you.
A lot can happen between now and the start of the 2020 NFL season, though. For all the updates, changing NFL odds, and so much more, keep tabs at our NFL betting guide.
Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.
When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.