Even though starting quarterback Tom Brady is expected to miss the first four games of the 2016 NFL season as a result of the Deflategate scandal, the New England Patriots are the +700 betting favorites (bet $100 to win $700) to win their second Super Bowl in three years at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.
The future Hall of Fame quarterback will not have to contend with Peyton Manning this year following his retirement and will be hoping backup Jimmy Garoppolo can handle starting in his place—assuming he loses his appeal—against the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills.
New England can probably afford to split its first four games and still have a shot to win the AFC East for the eighth straight year and 13th time in 14 seasons. The key will be not playing worse than that and not going 0-2 against the Dolphins (+6600 to win the Super Bowl) and Bills (+5000) in divisional matchups.
Miami should be better with new head coach Adam Gase, while Buffalo will hope to take the next step in its second year under Rex Ryan, who hired brother Rob to help with the defense.
The Broncos are listed at +1800 on the odds to win Super Bowl LI and still do not know who will be replacing Manning under center between veteran Mark Sanchez and rookie Paxton Lynch, whom they drafted in the first round with the 26th overall pick.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers (+1000) look like the main competition for the Pats in the AFC this year with a healthy roster led by running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown. Neither one played in the Steelers' playoff loss at Denver last season due to injuries.
In the NFC, the usual suspects top the betting board, including the Seattle Seahawks (+800), Green Bay Packers (+1000), Carolina Panthers (+1100) and Arizona Cardinals (+1200). All made the postseason a year ago, with the Broncos exposing Cam Newton and the defending conference champion Panthers in the Super Bowl after the Cats went an NFL-best 15-1 during the regular season.
The Seahawks and Packers should be improved, and some of their best offensive players will have recovered from injuries. Seattle will see tight end Jimmy Graham and new starting running back Thomas Rawls return to the field, while Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have favorite target Jordy Nelson back.
However, the Pack’s big challenge will be dethroning the defending NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings (+2000), one of the teams with the most value heading into the season from a futures perspective.