There hasn't been back-to-back Super Bowl champions in a decade, but that isn't stopping major sportsbooks from tabbing the Seattle Seahawks as the overwhelming favorite to repeat their Super Bowl XLVIII triumph next season.
According to odds released by Bovada.lv Monday, Feb. 3, Seattle comes in at 9-2 odds, besting its division rival San Francisco 49ers (15-2) for top honors. The defending AFC champion Denver Broncos (8-1) are the only other team with odds lower than 10-1, as the upcoming draft and free-agency process has the books unwilling to make many big leaps.
Here is a look at how the remaining teams shook out:
|San Francisco 49ers||15-2|
|New England Patriots||14-1|
|Green Bay Packers||16-1|
|New Orleans Saints||18-1|
|Kansas City Chiefs||28-1|
|New York Giants||33-1|
|San Diego Chargers||33-1|
|St. Louis Rams||40-1|
|New York Jets||50-1|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||50-1|
Seattle comes in as favorites for obvious reasons. The Seahawks' 43-8 triumph over the Broncos on Sunday tied the third-highest margin of victory in Super Bowl history, was the biggest triumph in more than two decades and showed an absolute dominance rarely seen in today's parity-filled NFL. Seattle shut out Peyton Manning and the league's No. 1 offense in the first half, demoralizing a team that set a regular-season record with 606 points.
It's also not hard to find optimism when you look up and down the roster. Pete Carroll's bunch is the fifth-youngest team in history to win a Super Bowl, and a majority of the key contributors should be returning. Defensive end Michael Bennett, playing on a one-year contract in 2013, is probably the best player Seattle stands to lose this offseason as he will likely look for a long-term contract on the open market.
With a stable of other defensive linemen already waiting down the team's depth chart, Bennett's potential loss and any other perspective changes will hurt a lot less than a typical franchise. Carroll, even in victory, already has his team's sights set on another rendezvous with the Lombardi Trophy.
"We really have an eye of what's coming. We won't dwell on what just happened, and we'll take it in stride," Carroll said, via USA Today's Lindsay H. Jones. "We won't miss the fun part of it, but that doesn't mean we can't set our sights on where we want to go. We are in a very fortunate situation."
Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post noted he doesn't expect the reign to end anytime soon, either:
These Seahawks remind me a lot of the early 1990s Cowboys -- young, fast and very physical. Mini-dynasty potential here.— Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP) February 3, 2014
The Seahawks faced their most strident form of playoff resistance from the 49ers, a trend which should continue next season. San Francisco has its own roster quandaries to figure out—specifically how to get Colin Kaepernick better pass-catching options—but Jim Harbaugh's run of three straight NFC Championship Game appearances indicate he's as good a bet as any.
Denver, meanwhile, has the advantage of playing in the AFC, which looks like the weaker of the two conferences at this point. Peyton Manning indicated throughout Super Bowl week he would return if given the clearance by doctors, a refrain he repeated after Sunday's lambasting, per Sporting News' Jesse Spector.
Who is the Super Bowl XLIX favorite?
And, as always, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots quietly hang around at 14-1 odds. Brady will expect his coach/general manager to go out on the open market and get him more receiving options this offseason, as the Pro Bowl quarterback was often left stranded due to injuries in 2013. Either way, history tells us to expect them to compete.
Among the longer-shot bets, the Carolina Panthers look promising at 25-1 coming off their breakout season. Same goes for the Cincinnati Bengals (25-1), who have a Super Bowl-worthy roster if they could ever stay healthy and get consistent play from Andy Dalton.
After Super Bowl XLVIII, though, it's almost impossible to imagine any team competing with Seattle. That said, a long offseason awaits where anything can change.
Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter: