If you thought Deflategate was over, think again. On Monday, an appellate court overturned a previous decision on Tom Brady and in fact allowed the NFL to suspend him for four games.
While that seems to be final – unless Brady wants to take his case to the United States Supreme Court – what isn’t clear is whether Brady’s suspension will still be four games and how the Super Bowl futures will be affected.
While most people are assuming that Brady will simply serve a four-game suspension to start 2017, former General Manager Bill Polian and current ESPN analyst suggested that the league may come down even harder on Brady now since he forced them through an expensive legal process instead of simply accepting the ban.
At the same time, it’s possible that the two sides get together and shorten the suspension. ESPN’s NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt suggested that he doesn’t feel the league really wants to impose the suspension at this point and that the odds of that happening are no more than 50/50.
At any rate, what we do know is that the Patriots’ odds to win Super Bowl LI sat at +900 as of Monday afternoon but could change as we come to learn more information.
The Seattle Seahawks lead the way on the Super Bowl LI odds at +700. They did lose a couple of key parts in left tackle Russell Okung and running back Marshawn Lynch, but the Seahawks have capable runners behind Lynch, whom they played without most of last season, and they have survived through shoddy offensive line play anyway.
With Russell Wilson leading the way backed by a stingy defense, they’re going to be among the favorites.
The Panthers are second in line at +800 despite the fact they surprisingly released star cornerback Josh Norman. However, their offense led the league in points scored last season and they will return impressive wideout Kelvin Benjamin to the fold – plus their Draft haul – so they figure to be a strong contender.
After those two teams, the Green Bay Packers (+950) are the third NFC team inside of 10/1 to win Super Bowl LI. With Aaron Rodgers in his prime, it seemingly doesn’t matter who else is around him. However, getting back a healthy Jordy Nelson and a slimmed down Eddie Lacy should be significant.
In the AFC, the Patriots are likely to still be favored but the Pittsburgh Steelers (+1100) won’t be far behind. They were active in free agency helping their offense (Ladarius Green, Ryan Harris) and they’ve set themselves up for a defense-focused draft.
The Steelers won 10 games last season – most of them without star running back Le’Veon Bell – so if they can plug a few more holes, they’re going to be in the mix.
It’s interesting to see the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos at 14/1, tied with the Cincinnati Bengals. That means there are six teams with better odds than the Broncos, indicating that few people expect them to repeat.
That’s likely because of their quarterback situation, which is quite murky as of right now. It could be Colin Kaepernick, for whom they have reportedly been trying to trade, Mark Sanchez, free agents Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh McCown, or someone via the 2016 NFL Draft.
At this point we don’t know, and that’s held the Broncos’ odds hostage. Until that situation is resolved, they’re not going to be viewed very seriously as a team that can repeat.