The NFL season is over and the new league season doesn’t officially start until March 14, when free agency also commences.
Don’t let that stop you, though, from already thinking about the 2018 season. Sure, a lot will change between now and the first kickoff in September thanks to what figures to be an interesting offseason. But for now, we can at least get a sense from one source about how 2018 is projected to unfold.
Bovada released its Super Bowl 53 odds mere hours after the Eagles defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl 52. Not surprisingly, both teams are high on the list for next season: The Patriots have the strongest odds of winning next year’s Super Bowl at 5 to 1, while the Eagles are tied for second at 9 to 1.
Interestingly, the Packers are also tied for second at 9 to 1, while the Vikings check in next at 12 to 1. Rounding out the top 10: Steelers (14-1) and the Cowboys, Rams, Saints, Falcons and 49ers all at 18 to 1.
The odds — which will change as the offseason progresses — are at least somewhat interesting as initial markers for a few reasons.
*Bovada puts Green Bay right back at the top of the NFC pecking order with the Eagles, showing a tremendous amount of faith in what Aaron Rodgers’ expected return to full health means to the conference race. While the Vikings are still painted as one of the top challengers, their uncertain QB situation entering the offseason combined with skepticism, perhaps, over how they’ll fare against a healthy Rodgers in 2018 has them below their border rival.
*Big-picture, those odds underscore (again) how many tough games the Vikings have on their schedule. Seven of their 16 games are against the other nine teams that are at 18 to 1 odds or better to win the Super Bowl: New England, Green Bay (twice), Philadelphia, New Orleans, L.A. Rams and 49ers. They have road games against the three teams with the best Super Bowl odds (Patriots, Eagles and Packers).
*The inclusion of San Francisco in the top 10 is interesting, as is the drop for some recent perennial contenders. The Seahawks are at 25 to 1 and the Ravens are down at 40 to 1, among others.
The Vikings will have their work cut out for them next season, which is all the more reason for them to succeed with their two most important (and looming) decisions: hiring an offensive coordinator and deciding which quarterback is best for that new OC’s system. We talked about that and more on this week’s Access Vikings podcast.