We’re getting closer, aren’t we?
Preseason is in full swing and we can almost taste Week 1. Fantasy drafts are rolling, players are getting injured as usual, the NFL is burying big stories on Friday afternoons, we’re back to normal.
And the prize that every team will be kicking off for is the Lombardi Trophy. Last year, the Patriots finally completed their ‘Kill Everyone’ tour and hoisted the trophy once again. And this year, they are pretty heavy favorites to do it again. As a matter of fact, Vegas really likes the AFC instead of the NFC. So let’s get started in the American Football Conference and see which teams Vegas is leaning toward playing in Minneapolis, according to Covers.
New England Patriots (+225)
The champs are back and favored to repeat. They did lose a few guys in the offseason but the bigger news is that they landed WR Brandin Cooks. He’ll fit beautifully into this pass-happy offense and put up numbers right away. If Tom Brady can hold off any signs of aging for one more year, they’ll be just fine.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+450)
Big Ben gave them (sort of) a retirement scare this offseason. They’ll welcome Martinis Bryant back to an extremely talented offense. Everything will depend on how well the currently holding out Le’Veon Bell comes back and performs. The offense is going to score points, the defense just needs to not get blown up every week. Their secondary remains a question mark.
Oakland Raiders (+800)
The Raaaaaaaiders! They would’ve made a lot more noise last year had Derek Carr not gotten injured. He’s healthy and ready to go along with star WR Amari Cooper and the newly acquired, recently unretired Marshawn Lynch. Khalil Mack makes that defense go and he has some bangers joining him. This will be a fun team to watch.
But you know what, someone from the NFC has to play in Minneapolis too. And the NFC is wide, wide open. Here are the top three teams that Vegas thinks can make it to The Big Game.
Seattle Seahawks (+500)
Who knows in the NFC? I would probably stay away from Seattle. It’ll likely be the same story as every other year. They don’t play in the best division, they’ll almost certainly end up in the postseason. But I’ll need to see the offensive firepower to be a true believer. They have a couple good backs, if they can stay healthy, in Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy. And expect them to unleash CJ Prosise as a do-it-all threat.
Green Bay Packers (+500)
If I had to pick, I’m probably rolling with the Packers at 5/1. Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers and he’ll have his diverse, deep offensive running mates ready to rock. The NFC North could be a brawl but there are also a couple teams in there due for regression, along with the still bad Bears. I think the Pack at 5/1 have real value.
Dallas Cowboys (+600)
How ’bout them Cowboys? Well, Zeke will be gone for awhile. Dak is probably a prime candidate for regression and they are still searching for a second receiving option after Dez Bryant. However, their defense has the potential to be really good. They’ll get All-World LB Jaylon Smith back this season and if he’s even 80% of his former self, he’s going to be a major boost to that defense.
The reigning NFC champions, Atlanta Falcons, appear next at +700. Take that for what it’s worth.
Week 1 can’t get here soon enough. We’ll check in again soon to see how much this board has shifted.