football

Despite Tom Brady’s latest four game suspension, his replacement Jimmy Garoppolo and the New England Patriots are still favored to take this year’s Super Bowl. The Pats have shown over the years that despite a slow start, they can still compete with the best of them. Jimmy, Brady’s backup, is no pushover and the Pats will also start the year facing Arizona, Miami, Houston and Buffalo. At the very least, New England should be able to muster at least two wins in that span before their star quarterback’s illustrious return. Ironically in 2014, the team also started the year 2-2 before winning their division, the AFC and the Super Bowl.

They are followed closely in the ranks by the Seahawks, Panthers, Steelers, Cardinals and Packers. Those five teams all have the same futures oddest (+1,000) and three of them (Seattle, Pittsburgh and Arizona) will also meet New England during the regular season. As we approach the 2016-17 preseason, Super Bowl betting experts pick the Patriots (+700) to take their seventh championship since 2003.

Their closest competitors won’t be easy to bypass though, the Seahawks have brought in a heavier veteran defensive presence in Brandon Browner and Chris Clemons. They’ll also be without the aging ‘Beast Mode’ Marshawn Lynch and focused solely on sophomore Thomas Rawls. Rawls was undoubtedly one of the best backup running backs in the league last year posting 652 yards through six starts.

Meanwhile, the Panthers have lost Josh Norman, one of their top cornerbacks from last season. He signed a massive five-year $75 million deal with the Washington Redskins. That loss will have a direct effect on their secondary considering he put up four picks, three forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns in 2015. As for Pittsburgh, they’ll be without one of their best receivers in Martavis Bryant this season, he will be serving a one-year suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

As for the Cardinals and Packers, they’ve each taken their squads up a notch. The Cardinals have bolstered their lineup heavily with the additions of G Evan Mathis, DE Chandler Jones and DL Robert Nkemdiche. The Packers have brought in some defensive help through the draft in DT Kenny Clark out of UCLA. They also added some extra support for QB Aaron Rodgers protective unit with big 6’6 T Jason Spriggs out of Indiana. Combine that with a trimmed up Eddie Lacy running the ball and they should stay competitive right through to the end.

Now with all of that said, although the Seahawks have the same odds, it looks like we could have a repeat of Super Bowl 49 on our hands between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. Either way it shakes down, the big game kicks off February 5th, 2017 from NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.