Tuesday, February 4, 2014
A closer look at 2014 Super Bowl odds
By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH -- The odds have already shifted when it comes to the winner of the 2014 Super Bowl, which is absurd considering how premature it is to be handicapping that game anyway.
A healthy Ben Roethlisberger directing a no-huddle offense could pay off big for the Steelers in their quest for a seventh Super Bowl ring.
But hey let's play along with these odds -- and the ones I use here are from Bovada Sportsbook in Las Vegas -- though I don't assess the chances of teams whose chances of winning the next Super Bowl are worse than 50/1. Sorry, I honestly don't know what argument I could make for the seven teams that have been assigned the longest of odds to win the next Super Bowl.
I will start with the Steelers and work down from the teams that have the best shot of winning the 2014, according to Bovada.
Pittsburgh Steelers (33/1) Why they will win:Ben Roethlisberger again stays healthy and thrives while running the no-huddle offense. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones develops into a pass-rushing force while Jason Worilds shines opposite Jones.
Why they won't win: The offensive line is again constantly scrambled because of injuries, and young players don't emerge in a secondary that is in transition.
Seattle Seahawks (5/1) Why they will win: A defense that can suck the oxygen out of an offense even as potent as Denver's should return largely intact, and quarterback Russell Wilson is a perfect fit for that team.
Why they won't win: It's been a decade since a team successfully defended its Super Bowl title, and if the Seahawks don't win their division in 2014 the NFL playoffs will probably run through San Francisco.
San Francisco 49ers (7/1) Why they will win: They are the one team that can match Seattle's physicality, and only a late interception in the end zone in the NFL Championship game prevented them from playing the Super Bowl -- and presumably beating up on the Broncos.
Why they won't win: Age catches up with the 49ers at a couple of positions, and they miss out on home-field advantage in playoffs to the Seahawks.
Why they will win:Peyton Manning returns for another season -- more resolute than ever -- and he actually gets help from the rest of the Broncos offense in next season's Super Bowl.
Why they won't win: The Broncos' receivers and offensive line again get bullied on one of sports' biggest stages as neither the Seahawks nor the 49ers are a good matchup for them.
New England Patriots (12/1) Why they will win: The Patriots stay relatively healthy, giving Bill Belichick and Tom Brady the pieces they need to win a fourth Super Bowl together.
Why they won't win: Even if the Patriots return to the Super Bowl there are no guarantees as they have lost the last two times they have played in the NFL's final game of the season.
Green Bay Packers (14/1) Why they will win:Aaron Rodgers stays healthy for the entire season and re-establishes himself as the best quarterback in the NFL, one who is complemented by 1,000-yard rusher Eddie Lacy.
Why they won't win: Rodgers isn't able to overcome a defense that gave up 372.3 yards per game in 2013, eighth most in the NFL.
Indianapolis Colts (20/1) Why they will win:Andrew Luck sets himself apart from the other top young quarterbacks in the NFL. Trent Richardson justifies the trade in which the Colts gave up a first-round pick for the running back.
Why they won't win: Richardson moves closer to bust territory and the defense, aside from outside linebacker Robert Mathis, is again too pedestrian.
Carolina Panthers (20/1) Why they will win:Cam Newton becomes a top-five quarterback and the defense is as nasty as ever.
Why they won't win: Newton won't have enough around him for the Panthers, one of the biggest surprises in 2013, to take the next step.
New Orleans Saints (20/1) Why they will win: The Saints notch enough victories away from the Superdome to secure home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Why they won't win: The NFC South proves to be too rugged for the Saints to win, and they aren't returning to the Super Bowl as a wild-card team.
Chicago Bears (25/1) Why they will win:Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey form the top wideout tandem in the NFL and put it all together while leading an offense that is flush with skill players.
Why they won't win: Defense is again optional in Chicago a season after the Bears surrendered just under 30 points per game in 2013.
Kansas City Chiefs (25/1) Why they will win:Jamaal Charles wins the NFL rushing title and stays healthy in the playoffs, and the defense rises from the ashes of an epic postseason collapse in Indianapolis.
Why they won't win:Alex Smith isn't good enough for the Chiefs to overtake the Broncos in the AFC West.
Why they will win: Teams can't keep up with Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense and Nick Foles builds on his impressive 2013 campaign.
Why they won't win: A leaky defense that gave up almost 400 yards per game in 2013 doesn't improve enough to complement the Eagles' offense.
Atlanta Falcons (25/1) Why they will win: Quarterback Matt Ryan leads Atlanta's resurgence and his wide receivers stay healthy enough for the offense to carry the Falcons.
Why they won't win: Atlanta's defense simply won't be good enough for this team to rise to the top of the NFC even if the Falcons rebound from a 4-12 season.
Why they will win: Quarterback Andy Dalton finally steps up in the postseason and the Bengals' defense emerges as the top one in the AFC -– and one that can trade blows with some of the NFC heavyweights.
Why they won't win: Dalton has continually faltered in the playoffs, and there is no reason to think he can string together three or four postseason victories together let alone win one game.
Arizona Cardinals (33/1) Why they will win: Arizona's defense proves to be every bit the equal of the more celebrated ones in Seattle and San Francisco, and Carson Palmer cuts the 22 interceptions he threw in 2013 in half.
Why they won't win: Palmer is too turnover-prone, and the Cardinals again simply find themselves in the wrong division with the Seahawks and 49ers remaining the top two teams.
San Diego Chargers (33/1) Why they will win:Philip Rivers has another monster season, and the Chargers reel in the Broncos and Chiefs to win the AFC West.
Why they won't win: Rivers won't be enough to overcome a pedestrian defense and the Chargers are unable to make a move in the AFC West.
Why they will win: The Cowboys start playing defense again after adding reinforcements through free agency and the draft. Quarterback Tony Romo becomes synonymous with the word clutch.
Why they won't win: Romo continues to come up short at the most inopportune times, and the defense only makes modest improvement after a disastrous 2013 season.
New York Giants (33/1) Why they will win:Eli Manning bounces back in a big way and the Giants prove that last season's clunker -- a year after they won the Super Bowl -- was a fluke.
Why they won't win: Manning again hands out interceptions as if they are Halloween treats and no one emerges at running back.
Detroit Lions (33/1) Why they will win: Coach Jim Caldwell instills discipline in his new team and Matthew Stafford becomes more than just a quarterback who can put up big numbers.
Why they won't win: A leaky secondary does not improve enough for the Lions to more than tease their frustrated fans.
Houston Texans (33/1) Why they will win: New coach Bill O'Brien rights the Texans at quarterback and defensive end J.J. Watt also leads the revival in Houston.
Why they won't win: A rookie quarterback has never won the Super Bowl and O'Brien will have one or a veteran serving as a stopgap running his offense in 2014.
St. Louis Rams (40/1) Why they will win: Quarterback Sam Bradford stays healthy and finally shows why the Rams made him the first overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft. An underrated defense makes more strides.
Why they won't win: The three other teams in their division won at least 10 games in 2013, and Bradford doesn't play well enough for the Rams to make a move in the NFC West.
Why they will win: New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak gets the running game going again, and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs makes a serious run at NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Why they won't win:Ray Rice doesn't prove that 2013 was a fluke, and the defense continues to regress.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (50/1) Why they will win: Second-year man Mike Glennon shows that he is the answer at quarterback and cornerback Darrelle Revis wins the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Why they won't win: Glennon regresses after showing promise as a rookie, and the NFC South proves to be too difficult for the Buccaneers to close the gap in it.
Miami Dolphins (50/1) Why they will win: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill emerges as a star in his third season, and the Dolphins knock the Patriots from their perch atop the AFC East.
Why they won't win: The Dolphins still can't past Tom Brady and the Patriots in the AFC East, and Tannehill doesn't have enough around him to make a significant jump in 2014.
Washington Redskins: Why they will win:Robert Griffin III becomes a star after a star-crossed, injury-plagued second season -- and the Redskins cut down drastically on the 29.9 points per game they yielded in 2013.
Why they won't win: The Redskins haven't sniffed the Super Bowl during owner Daniel Snyder's tenure, and a head coaching change makes Washington a team in transition rather than a contender.