In looking at today's Vegas odds for next year's Super Bowl champion, I'm a little surprised. The New England Patriots are coming in at the top of the list at 8/1 odds. That sounds about right two years removed from an undefeated regular season and with Brady likely to return. They have plenty of holes on the defense but ight be able to restock some talent through the draft, especially if they trade Cassell.
The number two pick is a tie between the Pittsburgh Steeler and Dallas Cowboys at 9/1. While that sounds about right for the Steelers, the Cowboys seem to be way overvalued. It isn't that they don't have plenty of talent. They do. But, they have a lousy head coach and have written the book on bad locker room chemistry. They won one Super Bowl with a subpar coach in Barry Switzer, but that team was so loaded with talent that it didn't matter. I can't seem them going on a deep playoff run with a split locker room and coaching authority issues. And, I don't see the locker room situation improving much with Terrell Owens in the fold. The hot rumor is that Ray Lewis may be heading to Dallas. That might help. Then again, it might make things worse. Plus, they play in a tough division. Seems like a sucker bet at those odds.
The one that I can't figure out is the Cardinals, which today sits at 30/1 odds which gives them the same odds as the Bears and Buccaneers. For me, it doesn't take a great leap of imagination to believe that the Cardinals can get back to the Super Bowl next year. They have a decent salary cap situation, aren't likely to lose any key free agents, an explosive offense with the best wide receiving corps in the league, and an improving and young defense which seemed to gain confidence with each playoff win. Plus, their division is likely to be down again next year.
Are they being penalized for their history or does Vegas really think they are equivalent to the Bears and worse than the Atlanta Falcons?
They will have to replace both coordinators which will be challenging. But, if they can find a good defensive coordinator, they'll be on track since they already have two great coaches in Ken Whisenhunt an Russ Grimm.
Historically, the Super Bowl losing team has not done well the next season, especially when it is an NFC team. The Cardinals might be the team to break that trend and at 30/1 odds, look like the best risk versus reward bet.