With much of the sports world in limbo over the whole coronavirus scare, the NFL is conducting business as usual. Well, sort of.
The free agency period kicked in with the flipping of the NFL calendar to the 2020 season on March 18. The annual draft is still scheduled for April 23-25 in Las Vegas, although there will be no public events associated with the event.
There hasn’t been any decision as of yet on OTAs and minicamps, but it is assumed that the league will begin play in September.
With that comes speculation as to which team will win this year’s Super Bowl. Can the Kansas City Chiefs repeat? Can the 49ers get back to the Super Bowl?
Those and many other questions will take time to answer. For now, though, free agency and the COVID-19 crisis have had an impact on the odds to win the next Lombardi Trophy.
Last year’s champions, the Chiefs, are the early favorite to repeat checking in at +550. That is no surprise. Kansas City has the best quarterback in the game and a defense that improved exponentially in 2019. The current situation in the U.S. has done nothing to change the fact that Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL’s most dynamic offense.
Tight end Travis Kelce is still one of the best at his position and a healthy Tyreek Hill is still as dangerous as ever, coronavirus or not. Kansas City opened as the favorite to win this season’s Super Bowl and remains in the top spot.
Having the NFL MVP returning at quarterback and one of the league’s more stout defenses is why Baltimore remains a close second to Kansas City. The Ravens are given +600 odds to get a little further than last year when they entered the AFC playoffs as the No. 1 seed but were upset by Tennessee.
Last year’s Super Bowl loser, San Francisco, will also return the NFL’s best defense and a powerful running game that could be even better in 2020. The 49ers’ odds to win Super Bowl LV are currently +900.
When Tampa Bay announced the free-agent signing of QB Tom Brady, their Super Bowl odds increased dramatically. The Buccaneers went from +6000 to +1300 in a hurry. Brady will be surrounded by very capable skill players like wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin – both had over 1,000 yards receiving last year – and tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate.
Other big movers include the Arizona Cardinals (+8000 to +4500) and the Indianapolis Colts (+4000 to +2800). The Cardinals traded for WR DeAndre Hopkins who will pair with young quarterback Kyler Murray to make what should be one of the league’s more formidable QB-WR tandems.
In Indianapolis, the Colts signed QB Philip Rivers, who is currently sixth on the NFL’s all-time passing list. He will play behind the only offensive line in the league that started all 16 games together as a unit last year. That unit was responsible for the league’s seventh-best rushing attack.
Fall from Grace
With the announcement of the Hopkins trade to Arizona, Houston’s Super Bowl odds took a dramatic hit. The Texans opened around +3000 at most sportsbooks but now stand at as high as +8000. Hopkins is considered one of the NFL’s best wide receivers and without him, the Houston offense may struggle.
The same reaction occurred with the signing of Brady in Tampa Bay. New England, which is always near the top of the favorite list when it comes to Super Bowls, took a dive when it became official that Brady was leaving Beantown.
The Patriots opened at +1200 and are now a longshot bet at +3000 at many online sportsbooks. It’s likely that price would be higher if not for head coach Bill Belichick, who will coach for the first time in 20 years without Brady as his quarterback.
The Los Angeles Rams also took a dive when they lost two defensive starters and former NFL Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley. Head coach Sean McVay will have to deal with the loss of Dante Fowler Jr. and Cory Littleton on defense as well as Gurley on offense. There is also talk of trading veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
All of the Rams’ moves have led to sportsbooks increasing the odds of the Rams adding a Lombardi Trophy to their possessions. L.A. opened at +2500 but now is priced in the longshot market at as high as +4500.