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Super Bowl 52 ended with a thrilling 41-33 win by the Eagles over the dreaded New England Patriots. For the Eagles, it was their first Super Bowl win in team history, while the Patriots made their eighth appearance in the last 17 years. The Pats enter this year as the favorite at 5/1, while the Eagles are right behind them at 7/1. But taking a deeper dive, let's take a look at where to find some value...and which teams to avoid like a skunky beer.
Chargers, Jaguars, And 49ers Offer The Best Value On The Board
First on the list is the Los Angeles Chargers at 25/1. In the wide-open AFC West, this price offers real value. The Chargers began last year with a 0-4 record, but then they got their act together and won 9-3 the rest of the way. They just missed out on a playoff berth, but they are primed and ready for a big season in 2018. Los Angeles has a solid offense which features Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, and Keenan Allen. They will put up plenty of points this year, but a big reason they have a chance to win it all is their defense. The unit made great strides last year and got the potential steal of the draft in safety Derwin James. They struggled against the run, but were 3rd in the league against the pass and will be just as strong this year. James should help the run defense, and Gus Bradley’s scheme should improve as well. Los Angeles should make every one of their 25,000 fans proud this year.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are a bit disrespected at 20/1. This is a team that nearly went to the Super Bowl last year, and most of their key pieces are back in the fold. They had the top running attack in the league, which was led by Leonard Fournette. The second-year pro from LSU had a great rookie year and could be ready for something even bigger this time around. Blake Bortles wasn’t great last year, but he was still very consistent and rarely puts his team in a big hole. The offense was 6th in the league in scoring last year, but it is the defense that stands out. They ranked 2nd in the league in points allowed and 1st in pass defense. This is an offensive league, but the Jaguars could very well win it all on defense alone. Having a top 10 offense puts them over the top.
The San Francisco 49ers have had a few rough seasons in a row, but grabbing them at 18/1 looks to be a solid bet. Late in the year, the Niners picked up Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots, and he proceeded to lead them to a 5-0 record to finish the year. He gives them a good deal of talent at the quarterback spot. The Niners brought in Jerick McKinnon, a running back from Minnesota to help beef up their ground attack and he will benefit a very stout offensive line. The defense was not great last year, but the signing of Richard Sherman, plus a few solid defensive draft picks, vastly improve that unit. They still lack defensive depth, but, if they stay healthy, they may have a chance to return to their glory days.
Vikings, Texans, And Raiders Will Struggle This Year
The Minnesota Vikings let quarterback Case Keenum walk this offseason but are still are still listed at 12/1 to win it all. They're putting their faith in new signal-caller Kirk Cousins, an above-average talent with virtually no postseason success. In addition to dumping Keenum, who led them to an 11-1 record down the stretch, they also let Teddy Bridgewater go. Bridgewater, a former first-round pick, spent much of his career injured and never became the player the Vikes had hoped for. This is still a talented team, but with questions at the most important position on the field, they should not be at 12/1 to win the 2019 Super Bowl. Look for the Vikings to regress from their strong 2017 season.
The Houston Texans are next on the list at 20/1. Before being lost for the season with a knee injury, Deshaun Watson was having a stellar rookie campaign. But between coming off his first major injury and normal sophomore regression, Watson will be hard-pressed to duplicate his early success. With Tom Savage as their backup signal caller, keeping Watson healthy is absolutely critical for the Texans. The offensive line is still a mess, so that may be a problem. The defense struggled last year as they once again lost all-world defensive end JJ Watt to a season-ending injury. While Watt will once again be terrorizing opposing signal callers, the defense is still not at championship level. Adding to their wors, the Jags keep getting better after outscoring the Texans 74-14 in their two games. Just like opposing offenses, you should pass on the Texans.
Last and possibly least, are the Oakland Raiders. They are currently listed at 30/1, and that feels like a bit of a stretch. The team went 6-10 last year, and except for adding veteran wideout Jordy Nelson, they did very little to upgrade their team. Sure, they have John Gruden back as their coach, but that also makes for some growing pains as they incorporate new schemes. The Raiders have the same odds as the Chiefs, who have gone 16-2 in division play the last two years, including a 3-1 mark against the Raiders. Please tell me how that works. Gruden will have this team playing better ball, but they still look like a .500 team. Pass.
Of course, all of the picks to win still represent longshots. The Eagles are building something special, and, New England still has Hoody and Tom Terrific. But to be the best, you have to beat the best, and these three teams all have an excellent chance to do just that. Put a little scratch on one or two of our picks, and you might just be in line for a very sweet payday.