2015 Super Bowl Odds Updated After the 1st Week of NFL Free Agency
The first week of the NFL's 2016 free-agency period is officially in the books. Over the past seven days, a number of notable players have changed teams, a whole lot of money has been spent, and several rosters have undergone drastic changes.
We know teams that win the offseason aren't always winners in the regular season, but make no mistake, the moves made in the last week will have a significant effect in 2016. For many teams, theses moves will even impact their chances of winning a Super Bowl.
Can the Denver Broncos really repeat without Peyton Manning or Brock Osweiler on the roster? Will spending big allow teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants to contend in 2016? How will the Cincinnati Bengals fare with two of their top receivers now playing elsewhere?
Well, we can't exactly break out the crystal ball to find an answer to these questions, but we can get an idea of what the experts in Las Vegas think of the coming season by examining the latest Super Bowl odds. This is exactly what we're going to do.
We're going to rank all 32 NFL teams from bottom to top in terms of Super Bowl odds, examine the moves they have made in free agency and discuss how the offseason impacts their Super Bowl chances.
32. Cleveland Browns
Current Odds: 150-1
It should be no surprise that the Cleveland Browns come in at the bottom of the current Super Bowl odds. They won just three games in 2015 and got measurably worse in free agency this year.
The Browns lost four starters in right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, safety Tashaun Gipson, receiver Travis Benjamin and center Alex Mack. They signed offensive lineman Alvin Bailey and linebacker Justin Tuggle.
If the Browns have a plan to get better this offseason, that plan isn't clear.
"I couldn't tell you," former Brown Gipson said, per Tom Withers of the Associated Press. "I'll be the last guy to sit here and bash the city of Cleveland. It's honestly just as confusing to me as it is to the fans and the city of Cleveland."
It is clear that if there was any excitement to be gained from the new analytics-driven front office or the hiring of head coach Hue Jackson, it hasn't extended to the Vegas experts.
It is worth noting, however, that Cleveland's odds were the same back on February 29, before the free-agent exodus took place.
31. Tennessee Titans
Current Odds: 100-1
The Tennessee Titans tied the Browns for the league's worst record in 2015, but there's a good chance this franchise is headed in the right direction.
The Titans appear to have a potential franchise quarterback in Oregon product Marcus Mariota, and the team does appear to have a few other pieces in place. Brian Orakpo, Delanie Walker and Taylor Lewan can be franchise building blocks.
Tennessee added a few more key pieces in the first week of free agency.
The Titans swung a trade to acquire running back DeMarco Murray from the Philadelphia Eagles. This should place a starting-caliber back beside Mariota in the backfield for the next several seasons. Tennessee also signed receiver Rishard Matthews and center Ben Jones in free agency.
However, it's still hard to predict how quickly the Titans can turn things around. They fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt last season and named Mike Mularkey as interim coach. He was given the job on a permanent basis after the season.
Continuity could help the Titans continue to grow. However, it's important to remember this continuity is coming from a team that has won five games over the past two seasons. The Titans are rightfully a long shot for the Super Bowl this year.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars
Current Odds: 66-1
The Jacksonville Jaguars come in at the bottom end of the current Super Bowl odds in a group that also includes the Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers. However, it really feels like the Jaguars should have a bit better odds than they do.
Jacksonville has an emerging quarterback in Blake Bortles and a pair of high-caliber receivers in Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. Last offseason, the team added veteran tight end Julius Thomas and drafted running back T.J. Yeldon to help fill out the offense.
This helped to give Jacksonville an offense that ranked 14th in the league in scoring with an average of 23.5 points per game.
Last week, the Jaguars added pieces to the defense such as safety Tashaun Gipson, cornerback Prince Amukamara and defensive end Malik Jackson. They also added veteran running back Chris Ivory to help on the other side of the ball.
"We’re trying to give our coaches every tool that we can," Jacksonville general manager Dave Caldwell said of the team's free-agency excursion, per Jarrett Bell of USA Today.
Another tool that should be coming is pass-rusher Dante Fowler Jr., who was selected in the first round of last year's draft but was lost to injury before the start of training camp. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Jacksonville also added offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum on Tuesday.
The Jaguars play in a relatively weak division, and it shouldn't be a surprise to see them compete for the AFC South title in 2016.
29. Miami Dolphins
Current Odds: 66-1
A year after being major players in early free agency, the Miami Dolphins have been a little more conservative. Last year they landed big-name prizes such as defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and tight end Jordan Cameron. This year, they swung a trade for cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins watched as defensive end Olivier Vernon and running back Lamar Miller left in free agency. To replace them, Miami signed defensive end Mario Williams to a two-year deal and Denver Broncos restricted-free-agent back C.J. Anderson to an offer sheet.
The Broncos, however, matched the offer sheet for Anderson.
Being conservative isn't what has Miami's odds on the low end, though—the Dolphins won just six games after last offseason's splash-fest. The problem for Miami is that the team resides in the same division as the perennial AFC powerhouse New England Patriots.
Is new head coach Adam Gase the man who will lead the Dolphins past New England in the AFC East for the first time since 2008? Gase has pieces to work with—including fifth-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. However, no team has managed to best the Patriots in the division since Miami did it.
So long as New England is on top, other AFC East teams will see their odds affected.
We'll obviously have to wait to find out if the new regime is the answer. However, judging from the Patriots' Super Bowl odds (Hint: You'll find them down the list), Miami's current odds feel about right.
28. San Francisco 49ers
Current Odds: 66-1
To be honest, these odds feel a little too good for the San Francisco 49ers, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see this team down at the bottom with the Browns.
We're talking, after all, about a team that won just five games in 2015 and fired head coach Jim Tomsula after one year at the helm. To right the proverbial ship, the 49ers hired Chip Kelly as their new head coach.
Kelly, you may remember, was fired before the 2015 season even came to a close for his part in sinking the Philadelphia Eagles.
San Francisco doesn't have a clear answer at the quarterback position. Colin Kaepernick was benched last season in favor of Blaine Gabbert and has asked for an offseason trade. The 49ers aren't exactly loaded with talent either and have been relatively quiet in free agency to this point.
"At this point, it's fair to say the 49ers have gotten worse, because they haven't done anything," former NFL linebacker Takeo Spikes said during a recent appearance on 95.7 The Game.
To be fair, the 49ers did re-sign a couple of important pieces in defensive tackle Ian Williams and kicker Phil Dawson. However, the team hasn't added to its talent pool, and while it may not have gotten significantly worse, it definitely doesn't appear better.
On top of all of the other setbacks, the 49ers must deal with the fact they reside in challenging NFC West—a division that sent two teams to the postseason and one to the NFC title game in 2015.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Current Odds: 50-1
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the first in a rather large middle-of-the-pack group of teams sitting at 50-1.
The Buccaneers took some big steps forward in 2015 behind the leadership of then-rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. Tampa managed to win six games after winning only six in the two previous seasons combined, and Winston was eventually named to the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
Of course, he was helped by running back Doug Martin, who finished second in the NFL with 1,402 yards rushing. The Buccaneers ensured Martin would be around for the foreseeable future by locking him up with a five-year, $35.75 million deal.
Re-signing Martin was probably Tampa's biggest move of the first free-agency week, though the team did add cornerback Brent Grimes, guard J.R. Sweezy and defensive end Robert Ayers. Ultimately, though, free agency only appears to have marginally improved the Buccaneers as a team.
Tampa's odds are identical to what they were at the end of February.
This should be a team on the rise in the coming years, but we don't yet know what to expect from new head coach Dirk Koetter. It doesn't feel like the Buccaneers will be vying for a league championship this season.
26. San Diego Chargers
Current Odds: 50-1
It's difficult to know what to expect from the San Diego Chargers in 2016.
Injuries to the team's receiving corps and a lackluster defense caused the team to stumble to a 4-12 record a year ago. Getting healthy should help some, but after a week of free agency, it's hard to tell if this is a team that is significantly better than it was at the start of last season.
The Chargers added some pieces like wide receiver Travis Benjamin, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and cornerback Casey Hayward. San Diego also re-signed right tackle Joe Barksdale and star tight end Antonio Gates.
However, the team also lost a couple of notable players in safety Eric Weddle and tight end Ladarius Green. Chargers fans shouldn't fret over the losses, though. Green was a good-but-not-great talent in San Diego's offense, and it never appeared as if Weddle was coming back.
The Chargers might not appear a whole lot better now, but that could change after April's draft—San Diego owns the third overall pick. It's also important to remember that quarterback Philip Rivers is talented enough to keep San Diego in most games so long as he has healthy weapons around him.
Still, the Chargers right now feel like one of those teams that can be competitive but probably won't contend for a spot in Super Bowl 51.
The Chargers' odds haven't changed since early February.
25. Los Angeles Rams
Current Odds: 50-1
It feels about right to have the Los Angeles Rams lumped in with a number of other teams expected to be long shots in 2015. This is a team that basically flew under the radar for much of 2015—with, of course, the exception of Todd Gurley's breakout rookie campaign.
The Rams did have some success last season, though, finishing with a 7-9 overall record and a 4-2 record in the brutal NFC West. Of course, much of that success was due to the emergence of Gurley and a defense that was rated seventh overall by Pro Football Focus.
A problem for the Rams right now is that a couple of key pieces from that defense are now gone. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins signed with the New York Giants, and safety Rodney McLeod signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency.
So far, Los Angeles' big free-agent move has been re-signing outside linebacker Mark Barron with a five-year, $45 million contract. The team did add cornerback Coty Sensabaugh on Monday.
The reality is that no matter what happens in free agency, the Rams are likely to be one of those teams that hover right around .500 until a permanent solution is found for the quarterback position. Nick Foles was benched in favor for Case Keenum last year, just months after receiving a two-year extension. The plan for 2016 remains murky, though Keenum would appear to be the favorite to start—he was given a first-round tender as a restricted free agent.
If Los Angeles can sort out its quarterback situation, it could quickly develop into a surprise contender.
24. New York Jets
Current Odds: 50-1
It feels a bit odd to see the New York Jets with such long odds, but the fact the team still hasn't reached a deal with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick—or with another starting-caliber veteran, for that matter—probably has something to do with it.
Fitzpatrick passed for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns while leading the Jets to a 10-win season. Yet he and New York still can't seem to get on the same page in free agency.
New York also lost a couple of its other key contributors from this past season in free agency. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison signed with the crosstown Giants, while running back Chris Ivory landed with the Buccaneers.
The big get for the Jets during the first week of free agency was veteran back Matt Forte. The longtime Chicago Bear should add a new dynamic to the New York backfield, where the team also added Khiry Robinson and brought back Bilal Powell.
Forte seems to hope that his addition will help convince Fitzpatrick to return to the team.
"With the defense we have and how they ran the ball last year, that I felt like, with me signing and everybody else being in place it would be really enticing for him to come back as well and continue to build on what he built last year," Forte said, per Seth Walder of the New York Daily News.
If the Jets to manage to re-sign Fitzpatrick, their odds should improve. However, it's difficult to see even this strong defensive team realistically competing without an answer at quarterback.
23. Buffalo Bills
Current Odds: 50-1
The Buffalo Bills are another AFC East team with relatively long Super Bowl odds. You can probably thank the presence of the Patriots in the division for that.
Like the Jets, the Bills appear to be a team just on the edge of contention, though that breakthrough season has yet to come. Buffalo won nine games in 2015, and unlike the Jets, it does have a quarterback in place at this time.
Tyrod Taylor was given an opportunity to win the starting job in 2015 and ran with it. He finished the season with a passer rating of 99.4 and wound up in the 2016 Pro Bowl as an alternate.
There are still some questions, however. The Bills lost pass-rusher Mario Williams, cornerback Leodis McKelvin and linebacker Nigel Bradham in free agency. Running back LeSean McCoy is still under investigation for allegedly assaulting a pair of off-duty police officers.
Still, the Bills have been smart in free agency, locking up offensive front-line pieces like guard Richie Incognito and tackle Cordy Glenn. With a strong draft, Buffalo should have little trouble matching or exceeding its win total from last season.
This should be another team on the rise in 2016.
Of course, we're talking about Super Bowl odds here. Until a team in the division proves it can knock off New England, teams in the AFC East are going to continue to see long odds.
22. Chicago Bears
Current Odds: 50-1
The Chicago Bears haven't exactly made a big splash in free agency so far this year, but the team has made smart, franchise-building decisions.
The Bears brought in linebacker Danny Trevathan from the Denver Broncos. He has experience playing for Bears head coach John Fox and finished the 2015 season rated sixth overall among inside linebackers by Pro Football Focus. He should immediately upgrade the center of Chicago's defense.
The Bears also brought in offensive tackle Bobby Massie. This move should allow Kyle Long to move back to guard and help upgrade the line in front of quarterback Jay Cutler.
Retaining wide receiver Alshon Jeffery with the franchise tag was another smart move, as he most likely would have been the top receiver on the open market. Jeffery should be able to pair with receiver Kevin White—Chicago's first-round pick last year who missed the season due to injury—to give Cutler a formidable receiving duo with which to work.
Chicago also re-signed tight end Zach Miller.
The one big free-agent loss was running back Matt Forte. Yet, the loss doesn't feel huge because Jeremy Langford (537 rushing yards, 279 receiving yards) showed quite a bit of promise as a rookie last season.
The Bears might not yet be ready to compete for a Super Bowl appearance, but they do appear headed in the right direction and may emerge as a surprise competitor in the NFC North this year.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
Current Odds: 50-1
On paper, the Philadelphia Eagles have had one of the best offseasons of any team in the league so far.
The Eagles managed to bring back quarterback Sam Bradford on a two-year deal and then added Chase Daniel to help strengthen the position. Philadelphia also added starting-caliber pieces in guard Brandon Brooks, cornerback Leodis McKelvin and safety Rodney McLeod.
McLeod was a particularly big signing. The 25-year-old was rated 10th overall among safeties for the 2015 season by Pro Football Focus.
Perhaps even more importantly, the Eagles managed to rid themselves of some of the big-money additions made last season by then-coach Chip Kelly. The team traded running back DeMarco Murray to the Titans and cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Dolphins.
This is a team that won 27 games over the past three seasons and should have the talent to compete for an NFC East title. The question here is whether the Eagles can truly rise from the ranks of the also-rans under new head coach Doug Pederson.
This is Pederson's first shot at being an NFL head coach, and he spent the past three seasons leading the not-so-high-flying offense of the Kansas City Chiefs. Until we know whether Pederson's Eagles are really better than Kelly's Eagles, skepticism is likely to remain.
20. New Orleans Saints
Current Odds: 50-1
The fact that the New Orleans Saints share 50-1 odds with a number of other teams should tell us what the experts actually think of his team's chances in 2016. The Saints have some pieces in place on offense, but the defense was a complete disaster in 2015.
New Orleans had the league's worst scoring defense, allowing an average of 29.8 points per game. In total defense, the Saints were ranked 31st, allowing an average of 413.4 yards per game. No matter how good a team's offense can be, it's difficult to see it competing for a championship with a defense like the one the Saints rolled out in 2015.
Because the Saints are lacking in cap space—around $2.5 million remaining, per Spotrac.com—they haven't been active in free agency. In fact, their only notable signing has been tight end Coby Fleener.
As long as quarterback Drew Brees is still playing at a high level, the Saints will have a window available to compete. However, that window probably doesn't include this season. The defense isn't going to be completely overhauled through one draft, and New Orleans still plays in a division with the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers.
In reality, the Saints' current odds might even be a little high.
19. Detroit Lions
Current Odds: 50-1
The Detroit Lions were a competitive team over the back half of the 2015 season—primarily after they installed Jim Bob Cooter as offensive coordinator. Detroit won six of its final eight games and has a foundation in place to build upon in 2016.
Unfortunately, the Lions are going to have to continue building without longtime star receiver Calvin Johnson, who announced his retirement just before the start of free agency.
Johnson released the following statement via the Lions' official website:
After much prayer, thought and discussion with loved ones, I have made the difficult decision to retire from the Lions and pro football. I have played my last game of football. Let me assure you that this was not an easy or hasty decision. As I stated, I, along with those closest to me, have put a lot of time, deliberation and prayer into this decision and I truly am at peace with it.
Though there's virtually no way he outright replaces Johnson, Detroit brought in Marvin Jones to help soften the blow. The Lions also added solid free agents such as safeties Rafael Bush and safety Tavon Wilson.
Equally important was the re-signing of defensive linemen Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker, as well as the re-signing of linebacker Tahir Whitehead.
For the most part, Detroit has used free agency to ensure it can continue building on the end of last season. It shouldn't be a shock to see the Lions in the playoff race late in the coming season, though actually competing for a championship likely remains a long-term goal.
18. Atlanta Falcons
Current Odds: 50-1
In a way, the Atlanta Falcons were like the opposite of the Lions in 2015, getting off to a fast flurry before sputtering down the stretch. The Falcons won six of their first seven games under new head coach Dan Quinn but then only managed two more victories the rest of the way.
Of course, Falcons fans will be happy to point out that the final win gave the rival Carolina Panthers their only loss of the regular season.
Despite the sagging finish, the 2015 season represented a strong start to the Quinn era in Atlanta. The Falcons only managed 10 wins combined over the previous two seasons.
Atlanta has plenty of pieces to build upon—Julio Jones and Matt Ryan chief among them—which is why it made sense for the team to take an aggressive approach in free agency. The Falcons signed center Alex Mack, reuniting him with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. They also added defensive end Derrick Shelby and wideout Mohamed Sanu.
Atlanta should already possess more talent than it did a season ago, and there is still this year's draft to navigate. Two more victories should be a realistic goal, and it shouldn't be surprising to see the Falcons pushing for a playoff spot in December.
Somehow, though, Atlanta's odds were actually better before the start of free agency.
17. Washington Redskins
Current Odds: 50-1
Of all the teams currently carrying 50-1 odds, the Washington Redskins might just be the most surprising. Washington managed to win nine games and claim the NFC East title last season.
The Redskins are the only team from the 2015 playoffs to carry 50-1 odds.
This is likely more of a reflection on the other teams in the division than it is a reflection on the Redskins. The Dallas Cowboys are likely to be much improved with a healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant in 2016. The New York Giants have already made a number of big offseason moves.
Washington's big move of the offseason so far has been handing the franchise tag to quarterback Kirk Cousins. He had a breakout year in 2015, starting all 16 games, passing for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns and finishing with a passer rating of 101.6.
If Cousins and the rest of the Redskins roster can repeat their 2015 performances, this should be a team that can compete in the NFC East—even if the Cowboys and Giants aren't the messes they were a year ago.
This is why it's a bit surprising to see Washington lumped in with a large group of teams that missed the postseason entirely last year.
16. Oakland Raiders
Current Odds: 40-1
Unlike Washington, the Oakland Raiders failed to make the postseason in 2015. However, it isn't surprising to see the Raiders with better Super Bowl odds, especially after their big first week of free agency.
The Raiders already had core pieces in place like quarterback Derek Carr, pass-rusher Khalil Mack and wide receiver Amari Cooper. This core was good enough to help lead Oakland to a seven-win season in 2015.
The Raiders also have an experienced and respected head coach in Jack Del Rio.
Oakland made some significant moves during the opening week of free agency to help supplement the building blocks already in place. The list of new additions includes offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, cornerback Sean Smith and pass-rusher Bruce Irvin.
The influx of talent has increased the Raiders' odds to 40-1 from the 50-1 odds the team owned back on February 29.
"Nice couple of days for the Raiders," CBS Sports' Pete Prisco tweeted last week of Oakland's jump into free agency. "Building something there."
Oakland definitely looks like an organization on the rise, especially now that the division-rival Denver Broncos have lost quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler. Seeing the Raiders complete for an AFC West title in the coming season would not at all come as a surprise.
15. Baltimore Ravens
Current Odds: 40-1
The Baltimore Ravens are coming off a terrible season, finishing a dismal 5-11. However, it is worth noting that a number of key players—including quarterback Joe Flacco, pass-rusher Terrell Suggs, wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. and running back Justin Forsett—suffered season-ending injuries along the way.
Last season was the first losing season the Ravens had experienced since 2007, the year before Flacco and head coach John Harbaugh came to Baltimore. Simply getting healthy should significantly increase the Ravens' chances in 2016.
Of course, they didn't just sit on their thumbs in free agency. Though the team did lose a major piece in offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, it also managed to add a couple of experienced and productive veterans.
Baltimore added tight end Benjamin Watson last week to help improve the receiving corps. On Monday, the team added safety Eric Weddle, one of the few big prizes remaining on the market after the first week. According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Weddle's new deal will pay him $26 million over the next four years.
What is a bit surprising is the fact the Ravens' odds have actually worsened since last month. Back in late February, their odds sat at 33-1.
14. New York Giants
Current Odds: 33-1
The New York Giants went on a spending spree during the initial phase of free agency, though their odds haven't made a significant jump. In late February, New York was looking at 40-1 odds.
Still, what the Giants have managed to do thus far, on paper, is rather impressive.
New York added pass-rusher Olivier Vernon, who was rated first overall among 4-3 defensive ends for the 2015 season by Pro Football Focus. He upgrades the pass rush significantly. The team also added a starting cornerback in Janoris Jenkins and a starting defensive tackle in Damon Harrison. Bringing back Jason Pierre-Paul on a one-year "prove it" deal was an underrated but smart move.
The defense should immediately be better than it was a year ago.
This is why New York could be a dark-horse playoff team in 2016. The Giants won six games with the league's worst overall defense (420.3 yards per game allowed) and should be able to improve their win total with the moves they have already made to upgrade the defense.
It's easy to forget the Giants had the NFL's No. 6 scoring offense (262 points per game) in 2015, and there should be some continuity now that former offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has become head coach. If they can continue to improve through the draft and field a team that doesn't have to win via a shootout, the Giants can be right back in the thick of the NFC race.
13. Kansas City Chiefs
Current Odds: 25-1
The Kansas City Chiefs were the NFL's hottest team from midseason all the way up until the divisional round of the playoffs.
Last season, the team felt like it was only a few pieces away from title contention, which is basically what Kansas City's current odds would indicate.
The Chiefs did lose a couple of key pieces in the first week of free agency in guard Jeff Allen and cornerback Sean Smith, but it was always going to be difficult for this team to keep everyone. Overall, general manager John Dorsey did a good job of keeping the team together.
Kansas City did manage to retain start safety Eric Berry with the franchise tag and re-sign key players such as Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Jaye Howard. The Chiefs also added right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who was rated as the league's top right tackle by Pro Football Focus for the 2015 season.
We'll have to wait to see what the Chiefs decide to do with running back Jamaal Charles, who suffered a torn ACL in 2015, but regardless, the ground game should be a strength. Kansas City was still rated third overall in rushing offense by Pro Football Focus for the season.
If the Chiefs can grab a defensive piece or two and another pass-catcher in the draft, they could realistically vie for a championship in the coming season.
12. Indianapolis Colts
Current Odds: 25-1
Honestly, it feels like the Indianapolis Colts should be facing a little longer odds than they currently are. This is, after all, a team that only won eight games last year.
Sure, the Colts play in a relatively weak division and were without quarterback Andrew Luck for nine games in 2015. However, it wasn't like Luck, or the Colts, were playing particularly well before his season-ending injury.
Luck completed just 55.3 percent of his passes, had 13 turnovers to go with 15 touchdown passes and finished with a passer rating of just 74.9. We should expect him to rebound in 2016, but while that might be enough to put Indianapolis back in the AFC South race, it doesn't automatically make the team a legitimate contender.
As a team, the Colts were rated just 24th overall by Pro Football Focus for the 2015 season.
We'll have to see what Indianapolis does in the draft to see how it can improve in 2016, because the Colts haven't done much in free agency so far. The team re-signed tight end Dwayne Allen and kicker Adam Vinatieri while letting tight end Coby Fleener walk and pulling the plug on the Andre Johnson experiment.
On Tuesday, the team added running back Robert Turbin.
Indianapolis was in the AFC Championship Game a couple of years ago, so perhaps it shouldn't be a total shock to see it back there in 2016. Yet, the team we saw on the field last season sure felt a long way from being a true title contender.
11. Minnesota Vikings
Current Odds: 22-1
The Minnesota Vikings took a big step forward in 2015, winning the NFC North for the first time since 2009 and nearly knocking off the Seattle Seahawks in the opening round of the postseason.
That big step came thanks to continued growth under head coach Mike Zimmer and the return of superstar running back Adrian Peterson. Neither guy is going anywhere, so it should be fair to expect some more growth from the Vikings in 2016.
Will the Vikings' growth be enough to land them in title contention? A lot is going to depend on the development that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater can make heading into his third professional season. He was rated 15th overall among quarterbacks by Pro Football Focus for 2015 and continues to be a middle-of-the-pack, game manager type of quarterback.
If Bridgewater can have a breakthrough season, this roster has the talent to do damage in the NFC playoffs.
As far as free agency goes, the Vikings didn't make huge waves, but they did make some solid moves. The addition of guard Alex Boone should immediately enhance the offensive line, while the signings of safety Michael Griffin and linebacker Emmanuel Lamur add depth to a rising defense.
Expect Minnesota to be right back in the NFC North title race and to potentially get deeper into the postseason.
10. Cincinnati Bengals
Current Odds: 22-1
The Cincinnati Bengals might have possessed the talent to make an appearance in Super Bowl 50, if starting quarterback Andy Dalton had not suffered a significant thumb injury late in the season.
As a team, Cincinnati was rated fifth overall by Pro Football Focus for the 2015 season.
After the first week of free agency, it's clear the Bengals will begin their quest for Super Bowl 51 without some of the talent—or at least the names—the team enjoyed a year ago.
No. 2 receiver Marvin Jones has signed with the Lions, while No. 3 wideout Mohamed Sanu has landed with the Falcons. Linebacker Emmanuel Lamur is with the Vikings. Guys like cornerback Leon Hall, safety Reggie Nelson and right tackle Andre Smith are currently exploring the market and looking for a deal. There's a chance none of them return.
Still, Cincinnati did a solid job of making sure not everyone left in free agency. The team managed to re-sign safety George Iloka, linebacker Vincent Rey and cornerback Leon Hall.
With a strong draft—potentially a receiver-focused one—the Bengals could easily go into 2016 with little drop-off in overall performance. Perhaps this is why the team's odds have only fallen from 20-1 since the start of free agency, despite it losing a couple of big-name players.
The Bengals should be right back in the AFC North race in 2016, though we'd like to see them finally win a playoff game before touting them as true title contenders.
9. Houston Texans
Current Odds: 20-1
The Houston Texans have seen their Super Bowl odds dramatically increase since the start of free agency—the team's odds were 50-1 before the market opened.
When you look at the two big moves that Houston made at the opening of free agency, it's easy to rationalize the odds boost. The Texans kicked off their foray into the market by signing quarterback Brock Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million contract. The Texans also signed former Dolphins starting running back Lamar Miller to lead their backfield.
Is the combination of Osweiler and Miller really enough to make the Texans a contender? No one can know for sure, but the experts seem to believe the moves make the team a whole heck of a lot better.
If the offense in Houston does have a new, productive identity, then perhaps this could be a Super Bowl-caliber team. Led by star pass-rusher J.J. Watt, the Texans defense was good enough to carry the team to an AFC South title in 2015.
That defense was rated fifth overall by Pro Football Focus for the year.
Houston should easily be the favorite in the division this season. If Osweiler proves to be the real deal, the team could also be going a bit further than the opening round of the playoffs.
8. Dallas Cowboys
Current Odds: 20-1
The Dallas Cowboys were a disaster without quarterback Tony Romo and receiver Dez Bryant on the field for most of 2015. The team won just four games and finished with the league's second-worst scoring offense (17.2 points per game).
The good news is that Bryant did return late in the season, and Romo will presumably return at 100 percent in 2016. He recently had the Mumford procedure performed on his injured clavicle—essentially part of it was shaved down.
According to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports, Romo's recovery time should be six to eight weeks.
Will the return of Bryant and Romo really be enough to transform the Cowboys from a regular-season footnote into a title contender? Based on the current odds, it seems the experts are leaning toward yes.
With a strong draft, a playoff push shouldn't be out of the question. However, the Cowboys haven't made much noise in free agency. The team did manage to re-sign cornerback Morris Claiborne and linebacker Rolando McClain, though.
Dallas should have the talent to compete for an NFC East title, but let's just see what Romo looks like next year before leaping onto the Super Bowl bandwagon.
7. Arizona Cardinals
Current Odds: 16-1
The Arizona Cardinals were outclassed by the Carolina Panthers in the NFC title game, but we shouldn't forget that this was a dangerous team during the regular season.
Can the Cardinals take another step forward and reach the Super Bowl in 2016? A lot will depend on quarterback Carson Palmer. He was stellar in the regular season—4,671 yards, 35 touchdowns and a passer rating of 104.6—but awful when it counted against the Panthers.
In the NFC title game, Palmer was sacked eight times and committed six turnovers to go with just one touchdown.
If Palmer can keep playing like he did during the 2015 regular season, Arizona has the talent to go as far as it wants. In free agency, the team strengthened its secondary depth by adding safety Tyvon Branch, and it re-signed backup quarterback Drew Stanton.
On Tuesday, the team filled a major need by trading with the New England Patriots for pass-rusher Chandler Jones. According to ESPN.com, the Cardinals gave up a second-round pick and guard Jonathan Cooper to obtain him.
The addition of Jones fills a major need and should make Arizona instantly better. Despite having a successful season, the Cardinals were rated just 29th in pass rush by Pro Football Focus.
Expect the Cardinals to be right back in the title hunt come playoff time.
6. Green Bay Packers
Current Odds: 10-1
The Green Bay Packers suffered quite a bit in 2015 because of the loss of star wideout Jordy Nelson. The loss of the offense's primary deep threat had a trickle-down effect on the rest of the roster, and it became easy to forget how dominant the unit looked just a year earlier.
Still, this flawed Packers team was good enough to come within an overtime loss of the NFC title game, so there's plenty to justify its current 10-1 odds for Super Bowl 51.
Green Bay rarely spends big on external free agents these days, and this year has been no exception. The Packers re-signed linebacker Nick Perry and defensive end Mike Daniels. They also brought in defensive end Ray Drew.
Though nothing is official yet, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reports that the team is interested in tight end Jared Cook.
Cook would certainly help the Green Bay offense, but this is still a team that is going to do its improving through the draft. A couple of new pieces, however, could be enough to get the Packers right back in title contention. Of course, the return of Nelson is going to help, and it appears he is on track to be himself in 2016.
"He looks great, sometimes you wonder if he was really hurt, I'm just kidding," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said of Nelson, per Joshua Moser of Fox11Online.com.
Kidding aside, Green Bay should be a team to watch in 2016.
5. Carolina Panthers
Current Odds: 10-1
We're going to be honest here. The odds for the Carolina Panthers feel about right, but we wouldn't be surprised if they were better.
Yes, the Panthers got shown up in Super Bowl 50 by the mighty Denver defense, but this is still a team that went 15-1 in the regular season and blew through two rounds of the playoffs. This is also a team that should be even better in 2016.
The Panthers' most significant offseason move so far was to use the franchise tag on star cornerback Josh Norman. The team also brought back pass-rusher Charles Johnson and fullback Mike Tolbert in free agency. The external signings have been more for depth than anything else.
Carolina brought in backup center Gino Gradkowski and on Tuesday added veteran defensive tackle Paul Soliai.
Where this team can improve is through the draft. If the Panthers can upgrade their receiving corps and add a little backfield depth, the league's No. 1 scoring offense from 2015 (31.2 points per game) could be even better.
Let's not forget that wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who missed the entire 2015 season, will be back as well.
The odds might not reflect it at this time, but the Panthers should be considered overwhelming favorites to again win the NFC.
4. Seattle Seahawks
Current Odd: 10-1
If you watched the first half of the Seattle Seahawks' divisional-round matchup with the Panthers (it was 31-0 at halftime) in January, you might find it a little ludicrous the two teams share the same odds for Super Bowl 51. If you watched the second half, however, it might make a little more sense.
Seattle stormed back to pull within a touchdown of the eventual NFC champions, thanks to a passing offense that regularly dominated in the regular season.
Seattle was rated fifth overall in passing offense by Pro Football Focus for the 2015 season. The team was also rated third overall defensively for the year. This is why Seattle can be a complete team in 2016, provided it can beef up the offensive line and the running game through the draft.
Free agency was mostly about maintaining the status quo for the Seahawks last week, though the team did lose starting guard J.R. Sweezy and pass-rusher Bruce Irvin. Seattle managed to re-sign receiver Jermaine Kearse, cornerback Jeremy Lane and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin.
The Seahawks should be right back into the playoff mix in 2016. If the right pieces fall into place between now and then, they can be in the Super Bowl mix as well.
After all, Seattle has been in the Big Game twice in the past three seasons.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Current Odds: 10-1
Do the Pittsburgh Steelers really deserve to have the same Super Bowl odds as both of last year's Super Bowl participants?
There are legitimate reasons to believe the Steelers could have advanced to Super Bowl 50 if not for the series of significant injuries that plagued their 2015 season.
Running back Le'Veon Bell was injured early in the season and never returned. His replacement, DeAngelo Williams, was injured just before the start of the postseason. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and star receiver Antonio Brown were both injured in the team's opening playoff game against the Bengals.
Pittsburgh went into its divisional game against the Denver Broncos without Brown and with a banged-up Roethlisberger. The Steelers lost that game by a touchdown.
A fully healthy Pittsburgh might have made it past Denver in the postseason and should immediately be better in 2016. The team retained guard Ramon Foster and added pass-catching tight end Ladarius Green in free agency. On Tuesday, the Steelers added veteran tackle Ryan Harris to potentially replace departed left tackle Kelvin Beachum.
Pittsburgh will have to overcome a one-year suspension for wideout Martavis Bryant, of course. However, the Steelers should have enough weapons to address that. If Pittsburgh can use the draft to bolster its pass defense (ranked 30th with 271.9 yards per game allowed in 2015), don't be surprised to see the team right back in the title chase in 2016.
2. Denver Broncos
Current Odds: 10-1
Just how good is the defense of the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos? It's good enough that the team's odds of repeating have only gone from 8-1 to 10-1 despite the loss of Peyton Manning to retirement and Brock Osweiler to the Texans.
The Broncos don't seem worried about losing their quarterbacks, particularly Osweiler.
“We’ve stayed true to our philosophy of building a team with players who want to be Denver Broncos and want to be here," executive vice president John Elway said in a statement, via the Broncos' official website. "That’s been a successful approach for us."
Denver worked a trade to acquire veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez, so there is at least an emergency plan in place at quarterback. Still, there is some reason for concern. This is a team that is going to win with defense, and the Broncos lost a couple of key defenders in free agency.
Linebacker Danny Trevathan signed with the Bears, while defensive end Malik Jackson is now in Jacksonville.
At least Denver managed to keep running back C.J. Anderson from heading to Miami. The team matched his offer sheet on Tuesday. The Broncos also added offensive tackle Donald Stephenson to help offset the loss of Ryan Harris.
The Broncos should definitely be a playoff contender again in 2016, though whether they can again be a Super Bowl team is another question entirely. As of now, they're no longer even the favorites in the AFC.
1. New England Patriots
Current Odds: 7.5-1
The NFL team with the best odds of winning Super Bowl 51 right now is the New England Patriots. When you examine the team's recent history, how last year's playoffs unfolded and the first week of free agency, this really shouldn't be a surprise.
Over the past 10 seasons, the Patriots have been to the Super Bowl three times and have been to the AFC title game seven times. If there's a clear-cut team to beat in the AFC, it's New England.
Let's also consider that a banged-up Patriots team only lost by two points to Denver in last year's AFC Championship Game. Those Broncos then went on to embarrass the Panthers in Super Bowl 50. With Denver now facing quarterback questions, it's basically a foregone conclusion that New England is the early favorite to win the next Super Bowl.
This doesn't mean that the Patriots are in any way a lock to win Super Bowl 51, of course. Anything can happen once the regular season gets underway. It's simply too difficult to point to any one other team and say, "Yes, it can definitely knock off New England."
As is usually the case in New England, the Patriots haven't been throwing big money at external free agents this offseason—though the addition of free-agent receiver Chris Hogan could pay big dividends.
This is a team that will build through the draft, and it gained more draft ammunition by trading pass-rusher Chandler Jones on Tuesday. According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, the team then signed pass-rusher Chris Long to a one-year deal to help replace Jones.
In other words, for the short term, New England's free agency has had little impact. This is probably why New England's odds haven't budged since the end of February, when the team was still the league favorite at 7.5-1.
All odds courtesy of Odds Shark.