The movie itself wasn’t spectacular but there was surely a Hollywood ending. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos captured Super Bowl 50 on Sunday with a 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers to earn the franchise’s third Lombardi Trophy. Now that a champion has been crowned for the 2015 season, everyone’s attention has shifted towards next season.
The odds have been posted for Super Bowl 51 and at the top of the list are the Carolina Panthers (+900), who won 17 of their first 18 games this season but failed on the biggest stage. They figure to have plenty of room for improvement with a young roster that should only get better from this experience – and remember that they’ll also get star wideout Kelvin Benjamin back from injury next season.
Quarterback Cam Newton was visibly dejected in the post-game press conference but he’s just 27 years old and is in the midst of his prime.
The Panthers are joined by the annual stalwarts, the New England Patriots (+900) and Seattle Seahawks (+900), at the top of the totem pole. The Patriots were within arm’s reach of the Super Bowl this season and that was after they dealt with a slew of injuries (Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount and Jerod Mayo). As long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are running the show, they’ll be contenders.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks are still co-favorites even after Marshawn Lynch cryptically retired on Sunday. They finished the season with wins in nine of their final 12 games and had the league’s stingiest defense (17.3 PPG), so they’re expected to be in the mix.
The Green Bay Packers (+1200), Pittsburgh Steelers (+1200) and Arizona Cardinals (+1400) are all in the next tier of teams. Each has appeal as they all looked Super Bowl-caliber at times this season and are likely just a piece or two away from taking the next step.
The Denver Broncos (+1600) enter after that wave of teams as the oddsmakers don’t like their chances of repeating – at least right now. Their roster is expected to face plenty of changes – especially their top-ranked defense – as they enter the offseason with Von Miller, Antonio Smith, Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan heading towards free agency.
On the other side of the ball, most expect Manning to retire but remember that Brock Osweiler is an unrestricted free agent as well.
The Cowboys (+1600) have the same odds as the Super Bowl champs and will be a popular pick as many feel they’re talented enough to win it all if they can stay healthy. Injuries crippled their 2015 campaign but they’ll have high draft picks as a result, which could be a valuable silver lining.
The Cincinnati Bengals (+2000), who started the season 10-2 before losing quarterback Andy Dalton to a season-ending thumb injury, are joined by the Indianapolis Colts (+2500), Kansas City Chiefs (+2500), and Minnesota Vikings (+2500) as the only other teams inside of 30/1 on the Super Bowl 51 odds.