Within minutes of Super Bowl LIII ending, oddsmakers quickly determined that the most likely teams to play for the NFL title in 2020 were the same ones who had just played for the championship in 2019.
The New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams were set as 6-to-1 favorites to play in the biggest football game of the year, but things have changed some since. While the Patriots are still seen as likely to return, a couple of other NFC teams are catching the eye of oddsmakers. Here are the teams most likely to make it this year’s Super Bowl, with their NFL odds of doing so listed in parenthesis.
New England Patriots (+700)
It is not much of a stretch to expect the defending champions to return to the Super Bowl, especially considering that the New England Patriots have made it to the championship game in each of the last three seasons. While there are up and comers in the AFC, this team is still the cream of the crop.
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Tom Brady returns after another spectacular season. Brady threw for 4,355 yard last season, completing 65.8% of his passes, the third straight season he has completed better than 65% of pass attempts.
The road to the playoffs is a fairly easy one by NFL standards. The New England Patriots’ toughest out of division games this season are all at home, as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and Kansas City Chiefs travel to Foxboro. The only tough non-division road game is likely to be Philadelphia, and one has to wonder what shape Carson Wentz will be in.
Because of the schedule, this should mean that New England has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. That will almost inevitably mean a return trip to the Super Bowl.
Kansas City Chiefs (+800)
The most exciting game of the season last year was that AFC championship game. It was clear that the team that won the coin toss was going to go to the Super Bowl, and that is the only reason the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t advance. This is an impressive team behind quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The NFL MVP threw for 50 touchdowns passes and 5,097 yards, completing 66.0% of pass attempts. He is a star and is likely only going to get better.
Like New England, many of their toughest games are played home this season. That includes Green Bay, Minnesota, and Baltimore coming to Arrowhead Stadium. Their toughest road games are in December, at New England, and at Chicago. It is likely going to be those two games that give New England home-field advantage.
New Orleans Saints (+900)
There are still many who believe that New Orleans was cheated out of a trip to the Super Bowl, opening the door for Los Angeles. Quarterback Drew Brees is coming off an incredible season, completing 74.4% of his passes for 3,992 yards and 32 touchdowns. He threw just five interceptions.
This is an incredibly deep offense and has a defense that is much better than many are giving credit for. The Saints have a tough schedule, as they are at the Rams, at Seattle, at Jacksonville, and at Chicago. They play Los Angeles and Seattle in back-to-back weeks, as they do Jacksonville and Chicago. It is likely they are going to lose at least two of those games, which could stand in their way of having home-field advantage.
Los Angeles Rams (+950)
It was not surprising to see the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl, as this was a team with high expectations entering the 2018 season. Much will be expected of them in 2019, as quarterback Jared Goff (4,688, 32, 64.9%) is coming off an All-Pro year and Todd Gurley was the NFL MVP before suffering an injury late in the campaign.
Los Angeles is going to score points. Their defense just needs to be good enough to hold teams to less than 25 points and Los Angeles could easily be 14-2 this season. Their two toughest road games they face are at Pittsburgh and at Dallas, which will be a true test of how good this team really is.
Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles (+1200)
These three teams are given the next best odds of reaching the Super Bowl. Of the three, Chicago looks to be the most dangerous. They lose defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, which is a big blow, but they get a second full season out of quarterback Mitch Trubisky, and this is still the best defense in the conference.
The fate of the Philadelphia Eagles is going to depend on the return of Carson Wentz. It matters how healthy he will be after sitting out much of the last two seasons. There is still a lack of a running game here, and not much in terms of weapons in the wide receiver corps.
The Cleveland Browns are the surprise team here. Much is being expected out of second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield, but the true story is how well Cleveland has been built in the off-season. They add All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham and have an outstanding defense.
It is stunning that a team that finished 7-8-1 last season would have such high expectations to reach the Super Bowl, but this is not your daddy’s Cleveland Browns. They look good under head coach Freddie Kitchens and they are prepared to take the next step should Kansas City and New England falter.