Super Bowl LIII is nearly here, and we have plenty of handicapping to do on that front. However, that’s not going to prevent us from looking ahead to next year. Super Bowl LIV takes place on February 2, 2020 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, and the futures market is in full swing with odds to reach next year’s big game.
Kansas City Chiefs, +700
The Chiefs were oh-so-close this year, and they are expected to be one of top teams in the coming season as well. Patrick Mahomes and company will likely be lights out once again, but we do have to keep in mind that defensive coordinators now have a full year worth of tape on the phenom in their pocket. If the team can construct a better defense, they may find even more success in the postseason.
Los Angeles Rams, +800
The Rams look like a team that’s built for success for several years, so a return to the big game isn’t out of the question. A young head coach in Sean McVay and an improving signal caller in Jared Goff could be the tag-team duo that the rest of the NFC grows to hate. As the club demonstrated this past offseason, they won’t be shy about stocking the coffers even further on both sides of the ball.
New Orleans Saints, +800
The Saints were the favorites for this year’s Super Bowl for a good portion of the year. Coming up one step short – at home, mind you – has to sting pretty wickedly. We’ll patiently wait and see how the team responds, but the fact that Drew Brees is getting longer in the tooth is a concern. While he has showed no signs of hitting the wall yet, it will happen at some point.
New England Patriots, +1000
The Patriots were summarily dismissed as legitimate contenders at the start of the postseason in a whole host of circles, but here they are in the big game once again. There were plenty of signs that the dynasty was cracking this year, and we may see more next year. However, there is simply no way we can count this team out for another Super Bowl, absent them doing the unthinkable and missing the postseason.
Battling for Playoff Positions
Chicago Bears, +1400
One of this year’s most improved squads will certainly be an ‘it’ team for next year. Head coach Matt Nagy deserves a tremendous tip of the cap for the job he has done to date, but the bar has been raised. Improvement from Mitchell Trubisky is a priority, and guiding the defense to become even more ferocious won’t hurt either.
Los Angeles Chargers, +1600
Have the Chargers missed their window? This was arguably the finest squad during Philip Rivers lengthy tenure behind center. Winning a playoff game on the road is a great accomplishment, but the air came out of the balloon when they laid an egg in New England. Getting over the hump in the AFC West and leaping over the Chiefs won’t be easy.
Minnesota Vikings, +1600
The Vikings were expected to do a whole lot more last year, but the team didn’t even make it to the playoffs. It was a disappointing end to a frustrating season, and not exactly a banner start for the Kirk Cousins era. He’s a franchise-caliber signal caller, but the offense tailed off in the second half of the year. There are plenty of other fingers to be pointed as well, so we’ll see how the Vikings attack the offseason.
San Francisco 49ers, +1600
Marked improvement is expected for the 49ers, a team that was absolutely decimated by injuries. They kept fighting throughout and showed a lot, and the return of QB Jimmy Garoppolo is good for a few wins alone. That said, the NFC has a number of stout clubs, so it’s a little tough to envision the 49ers improving to the point that they take down the conference.
Green Bay Packers, +2000
New head coach Matt LaFleur is in the fold, now it’s just a matter of bolstering the talent surrounding Aaron Rodgers. Improvement is needed on both offense and defense, as the NFC North s getting even tougher with the emergence of the Bears. The team prefers to build through the draft, but Rodgers isn’t getting any younger.
Indianapolis Colts, +2000
The turnaround of the Colts over the course of 2018 was one of the more fascinating developments of the entire year. This was a team that looked like it would be drafting in the Top 5 at the beginning of the year, but they finished up as one of the hottest teams in the league. The loss to the Chiefs in the playoffs shows there’s work to be done, but the Colts look like a legitimate playoff team at worst next year.
Philadelphia Eagles, +2000
The Eagles had to scratch and claw to make the playoffs, but no one wanted to face them once they made it to the tournament. They pulled out a road upset in Chicago and came close to doing the same in New Orleans. If Carson Wentz can stay healthy for the entire year – and the team plays as well as it did with Nick Foles behind center – they could be back in the playoffs next time around.
Pittsburgh Steelers, +2000
The Steelers had far too much off-the-field drama heading into 2018, and they are headed for another eventful offseason with the Antonio Brown situation lingering in the air. Assuming he’s a goner, that means two of the best offensive players in recent years have essentially forced their way out. Will the team be better off or is this a sign that bigger changes are needed for one of the flagship franchises?
Cleveland Browns, +2200
The Browns offense improved dramatically in the second half of the year, and the man behind it has been given the keys to the head coaches office. Expectations are high for Freddie Kitchens, as the Browns have plenty of young talent and what looks to be a franchise signal caller in Baker Mayfield. Well, the lengthy playoff drought in Cleveland finally come to an end?
Dallas Cowboys, +2500
Jason Garrett went from a coach on the hot seat to one who was leading one of the hottest teams in the league heading into the playoffs. The team’s defense was a revelation, and it looks like the pieces are finally in place on offense. As always, expectations will be high in Big D entering next season, but they at least deserve to be ratcheted up this time around.
Houston Texans, +2500
Perhaps the most disappointing playoff squad of the year was the Texans, a club that had its clock cleaned at home by the Colts. They’re talented enough to make another run, but something seems to be missing to get this team over the hump. Whether or not they’ll find it in the offseason remains to be seen.
Teams on the Bubble
Atlanta Falcons, +3300
The Falcons have cleaned house on the coaching staff, but head man Dan Quinn remains. We’ll see if he can get more out of the talented squad moving forward.
Baltimore Ravens, +3300
The Ravens aren’t letting John Harbaugh go anywhere, but Joe Flacco is going bye-bye as the keys are handed to Lamar Jackson. He’s a big weapon, but improvement in the passing game is paramount.
Carolina Panthers, +3300
Cam Newton has already had offseason shoulder surgery, but it’s tough to pinpoint that as the only reason for the late-season swoon. The Panthers went from looking like a playoff squad to one that couldn’t buy a win in a hurry.
Jacksonville Jaguars, +3300
The cupboards remain stocked on defense, but this team needs a serviceable offense in the worst way. Assuming they do what they need to do in the offseason, the Jaguars could be back in the playoff mix next year.
New York Giants, +4000
Are the Giants drafting a quarterback, or will they give it another shot with Eli Manning? The team improved big time over the second half of the year, so a big step forward next year isn’t out of the question once the QB decision is out of the way.
Seattle Seahawks, +4000
Not much was expected from the Seahawks last offseason, but they wound up as a playoff team. The futures market is pointing to them having a tougher go of things next year, but we’re not so sure about that.
Tennessee Titans, +5000
The Titans were close to a playoff berth, and they have the chops on defense to compete once again in an improving AFC South. We’re not so sure about the offense though.
Will Most Likely Miss Playoffs
Arizona Cardinals, +6600
New head coach Kliff Kingsbury should give the offense a pulse – until the rest of the league figures out his stuff, that is.
Buffalo Bills, +6600
Josh Allen looks like he could develop into the real deal, but the Bills need more pieces on offense to compete for a playoff berth.
Cincinnati Bengals, +6600
Zac Taylor will take over for Marvin Lewis as head coach once he’s done with his duties on the Rams staff. The jury is out on the Bengals.
Denver Broncos, +6600
Vic Fangio looks like a solid hire at head coach, but we’ll have to wait and see if that translates into improvement on the field.
Detroit Lions, +6600
It was a challenging rookie year for Matt Patricia, and the clock will be ticking if he doesn’t show he’s the right man for the gig in 2019.
New York Jets, +6600
The Jets have brought in Adam Gase as head coach and tasked Gregg Williams with running the defense. The defense should improve, but we’ll take a wait and see approach on offense.
Oakland Raiders, +6600
Jon Gruden’s first year back in Oakland couldn’t have gone much worse. We’ll assume he has a long-term plan, but what that is remains to be seen.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, +6600
Bruce Arians is in the fold, and we expect to see improvement out of the Buccaneers as a result. If he can’t get something more out of Jameis Winston, then it’s time for the franchise to go QB shopping.
Washington Redskins, +6600
Alex Smith suffered a devastating leg injury in 2018, and his status for next year is in doubt. It could be a long season in the nation’s capital, but we’ll reserve judgment until we see what they do in the offseason.
Miami Dolphins, +10000
The Dolphins have essentially acknowledged that they are ready for a lengthy rebuilding process. They are now the favorites for the #1 pick in the 2020 draft.