The Kansas City Chiefs ended a 50-year wait to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy as they came from behind to beat the San Francisco 49ers in Miami, but can they now become only the second team to win back-to-back Super Bowls in the past couple of decades? Or could Tom Brady and his new employers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, halt a potential Chiefs’ dynasty before it truly begins.
A new era has been ushered in by the NFL following the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV success in February. Andy Reid finally shrugged off the tag of being the ‘best head coach’ never to win the league’s biggest game as superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes overcame a sloppy performance to lead his team to glory with a fourth-quarter fightback, and many are predicting that this combination could now go on to form a dynasty the rivals the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era in New England.
Is it conceivable? Yes. Will it happen? We will have to wait and see. While there is no doubting that Kansas City will be one of the frontrunners for Super Bowl glory for many years to come, it will take an extraordinary effort for them to follow in the footsteps of the Patriots, who have courted a lot of controversy during this incredible run that many believe has tainted their success.
The league’s aim for parity means teams can come out of nowhere to become contenders – just look at San Francisco in 2019 – and of course there are a whole host of already talented teams that could knock the Chiefs off the summit after some offseason retooling? 2020 promises to be a thrilling season, but when all is said and done will the Chiefs still be kings of the National Football League?
The bookmakers have wasted no time in pricing up the contenders for victory at Super Bowl LV…
1) Kansas City Chiefs @ 6/1
No surprises here. The Kansas City Chiefs are the bookmakers’ picks to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy at Raymond James Stadium next February. The Chiefs have a couple of notable players whose contracts are up but this season’s success and the potential for many more Super Bowl rings over the coming years will help their cause in trying to resign those players to deals that do not cause major salary cap issues. There are no contractual issues surrounding star man Patrick Mahomes, who will ink a mega-money contract before his rookie deal expires, and the Chiefs will bring back all of the supporting cast that have helped them on their way to success. If there is one area of the team that maybe still needs some work it is the defense, and if they can improve that unit then they will become an even more daunting prospect for their rivals in 2020.
2) Baltimore Ravens @ 7/1
Mahomes went from NFL regular season MVP to Super Bowl winner in the space of 12 months, and Baltimore will be hoping that Lamar Jackson can follow in his footsteps in 2020. Jackson silenced his pre-season critics in 2019 as he embarked on an incredible campaign personally that proved he is much more than a ‘glorified running back’ playing quarterback. Ultimately the Ravens’ quest for Super Bowl glory came up short with a shock home defeat to Tennessee, but the experience of making it to the postseason will have been huge for Jackson and he is not the first and he will certainly not be the last young player to suffer crushing disappointment in his first trip to the postseason. Baltimore will have learned a lot from the 2019 campaign and they are in a good position in terms of the salary cap, which allowed them to splash a the during free agency to bring in Calais Campbell and Michael Brockers. The Ravens will be a major threat to Kansas City in 2020 and football fans will already be salivating at the prospect of Jackson v Mahomes in next season’s AFC Championship Game.
3) San Francisco 49ers @ 8/1
Can the San Francisco 49ers overcome a potential Super Bowl hangover? The Vince Lombardi Trophy appeared to be within their grasp when Patrick Mahomes threw his second pick of Super Bowl LIV, but Kansas City managed to find another gear in the fourth quarter to come storming back to win and you have to wonder how the Niners will deal with that heartache. Over the years we have seen countless teams lose the Super Bowl and then go on to struggle the following year – just look at the Los Angeles Rams in 2019 as they looked a shadow of the team that made it all the way to the big game one year earlier. This San Francisco group could be different though, for one major reason – that defense. The 49ers have been outstanding on that side of the football and for three quarters in Super Bowl LIV they were able to make Mahomes look pretty ordinary at times. That group will make them contenders once again in 2020, but there will be some questions surrounding an offense that stalled in Miami. Jimmy Garoppolo had his moments, but he also missed some key throws that could have iced the game and had the 49ers celebrating under confetti. Will that haunt him or will it spur him on. We will see in 2020, but for not it is very understandable that the bookmakers expect the 49ers to be in the Super Bowl picture once again next season.
4) New Orleans Saints @ 11/1
New Orleans have suffered postseason heartbreak at home in each of the past two seasons. The Superdome has tended to be a fortress for them over the years, but a botched call against the Los Angeles Rams cost them the NFC Championship Game in 2018-19 and one year later they fell to a shock overtime defeat when they hosted Minnesota on Wildcard Weekend. The clock is ticking down on veteran quarterback Drew Brees in his quest to win a second Super Bowl ring, but despite those two heart-breaking losses the bookmakers expect the Saints to be in the running for the Vince Lombardi Trophy once again in 2020. And who can blame them? They have been consistent postseason fixtures over the years and in Brees and head coach Sean Payton they have leaders who know how to win the big one. New Orleans will contend again, but can they avoid another massive January loss that ends their season?
5) Green Bay Packers @ 16/1
The Green Bay Packers won the NFC North and made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game last season, but many were left scratching their heads about how they managed to pull it off. They underwhelmed on offense as Aaron Rodgers endured his worst season in recent memory, and the defense got run over by opposition tailbacks. Their flaws were there for all to see as they were humiliated by San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game, but that heavy loss should not take away from the fact that head coach Matt LeFleur did a solid job in his rookie season. Despite all of the holes, LeFleur’s men were just one win away from the big game so they will really like their chances of contending again in 2020. They need to do some serious work on the roster in the offseason though, because they face a much tougher schedule in 2020 than they did in 2019 when their most notable regular season win was a victory over a Patrick Mahomes-less Kansas City team. It is this tough schedule that makes me question they are as short as they are in the Super Bowl Winner market. Yes, they made it to the NFC Championship Game. But look back at their 2019 schedule and you would be pushed to find a signature win against good opposition aside from the Wildcard Weekend when they hung to scrape past Seattle.
6) New England Patriots @ 16/1
New England continued their dominance of the AFC East as they made it to the playoffs with a strong record once again in 2019, but for many the season signalled the downturn for a franchise that has experienced incredible success over the past 20 years. The Patriots clearly benefited from a weak division and a soft schedule as they once again made it to the postseason – a belief that was only strengthened by the fact that Tennessee rolled into Gillette Stadium on Wildcard Weekend and strolled out with the ‘W’. Years ago it would have been a major shock to see New England lose at home, especially that early in the postseason, but there was no real surprise when the Titans KO’d their Super Bowl quest and that result left some major question marks hanging over the Patriots like dark clouds. The biggest one was whether or not Tom Brady would stick around and seek a seventh Super Bowl ring in New England? The answer to that question turned out to be ‘no’ as Brady departed for Tampa Bay in free agency. Replacing a serial winner at QB will be very difficult for the Patriots, so it is no surprise to see that their odds have drifted following the confirmation that TB12 will be wearing new colours for the first time in 20 years next season.
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ 16/1
And speaking of Brady, it was no shock to see Tampa Bay make a move up the outright betting after securing the services of Tom Brady on what is believed to be a two-year deal. The question is, just how much does the 42-year-old have left in the tank after an underwhelming 2019 season for New England that saw their dynasty seemingly come to an end with a home defeat to Tennessee in the playoffs? Brady will be surrounded by plenty of weapons, but have the bookmakers got a little too carried away with the decision to slash the Bucs’ odds. He will bring a winning culture to Tampa, but this is still a team that has had one winning season since 2010 and have not even won the NFC South since 2007. It would be foolish to get carried away with their chances, but a few more smart captures and a good draft could quieten some of us doubters.
8) Philadelphia Eagles @ 16/1
The Philadelphia Eagles made a late-season surge to the playoffs as they won the awful NFC East last season, and they have now made the postseason in each of the past three campaigns. They did go all the way in 2018 as backup quarterback Nick Foles led them to a seemingly improbable success against New England, but regular No. 1 Carson Wentz continues to have issues with his health at key moments. He went down injured during the playoff loss to Seattle last time around and he has now spent a considerable amount of time on the sidelines during the past three seasons. His health will be huge to the Eagles chances of winning it all in 2020 and I have to be honest, on the back of an underwhelming 9-7 season and on the back of another Wentz injury I am surprised to see the bookies making Philadelphia the second favourites out of the NFC.
9) Seattle Seahawks @ 18/1
One more inch and the 2019 season could have been very different for Seattle. That was all that separated them from a season sweep over the San Francisco 49ers that would have sent the road to Super Bowl LIV through CenturyLink Field. Instead they were forced to overcome Philadelphia on Wildcard Weekend before falling to Green Bay in the Divisional Round. So what does 2020 hold in store for them? Seattle have a huge amount of cap room to deal with and that could allow them to make a splash in free agency, but general manager John Schneider is not notorious for throwing around money like confetti during this period and that will have fans worried because the NFC West could be the most competitive division in the conference in 2020, with San Francisco set to make another run and the Los Angeles Rams expected to bounce back from a horrible 2019 season. This offseason will be huge for the Seahawks but if they get their business right then Russell Wilson & Co. will be on the hunt for the Vince Lombardi Trophy next season.
10) Pittsburgh Steelers @ 18/1
2019 will not be a year forgotten by Pittsburgh fans anytime soon. The Steelers finally ditched star running back LeVeon Bell following his long holdout and then parted company with talented wide receiver Antonio Brown, whose career quickly went into meltdown when he walked out of Heinz Field. Starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was then lost to a season-ending injury early on and Pittsburgh would go on to start a third-string QB several weeks later as that position appeared to become cursed. But in the face of all of this they still managed to finish 8-8 and were firmly in the postseason mix until they lost three straight games to finish the regular season. Had Roethlisberger stayed healthy then it would not be unrealistic to say that a couple of those losses could have easily been turned into wins, so I am not shocked to see the bookmakers showing some faith in the Steelers here. They will need to recruit smartly during free agency and in the NFL Draft to sure up some key positions, but if they can do that then the Steelers could be headed back to the postseason and could serve as dark horses in the AFC.
11) Dallas Cowboys @ 20/1
The Dallas Cowboys fell apart during the second half of last season to hand the NFC East title to Philadelphia – a slump that ultimately cost Jason Garrett his job his head coach. The Cowboys turned to Mike McCarthy as they look to bounce back in 2020 and the former Green Bay Packers coach was given free rein to overhaul the coaching staff in Arlington as he looks to get the franchise heading in the right direction again. But can he do just that? While Dak Prescott will return in 2020, both he and the Cowboys remained apart in contract talks and that meant Dallas had to use the franchise tag to keep hold onto their quarterback. There will be major question marks about where his head is at, and that is the last thing Dallas need because they have major holes to fill on defense and ample time and effort will be needed to fix that unit. Just like Green Bay, I cannot help but feel like Dallas are one of the top 10 in the minds of the bookmakers simply because they always are. There are sizeable question marks surrounding the franchise at this time – ones that need to be answered before the summer.
12) Minnesota Vikings @ 20/1
Minnesota made waves in the playoffs as they shocked the Saints in New Orleans on Wildcard Weekend, but they were brought crashing back down to Earth one week later as they were manhandled in a loss to San Francisco which was far more one-sided than the final score suggested. So can the Vikings top that this time around? Kirk Cousins has finally managed to win a ‘big’ game and while there will be continued discussion about whether or not he is worth the big-money deal that Minnesota gave him to lure him away from Washington, he is a quarterback that can lead his team into the postseason with the right gameplan and right weapons around him. He has those. He also had the help of an excellent defense in 2019, but salary cap issues mean they could lose a couple of key pieces this offseason and that would be a major blow for them. Vikings fans have every reason to be confident about their team doing well in 2020, especially with Gary Kubiak now play-calling on offense, but can they go all the way to win the Super Bowl for the first time? The bookies are not brimming with confidence when it comes to Minnesota, but they are not writing them off.
The Buffalo Bills have seen their odds clipped to 22/1 following Tom Brady’s departure from the AFC East and that is understandable – the Patriots have dominated the division for almost two decades and unless they have a masterplan, they have been weakened by the change at QB. The Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears were two of the biggest disappointments of 2019, failing to make the postseason after going into the campaign as contenders. Both teams will be looking to bounce back in 2020 and are 25/1 and 33/1 respectively to do that by winning the Super Bowl, while 2019’s surprise package, the Tennessee Titans, are 25/1 to go all the way after coming up short in a fairytale run to last season’s AFC Championship Game. The Buffalo Bills, who could challenge New England in the AFC East are considered 28/1 shots, while the Cleveland Browns are 33/1 to put an underwhelming 2019 season firmly behind them by winning the big one next February. The Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers are also 33s, with the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all out at 50/1. At 66/1 the bookies are not expecting much from the New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets, while they clearly see little joy in the future for the 80/1 Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars, or the 100/1 Cincinnati Bengals. And while the Washington Redskins have made a smart hiring in new head coach Ron Riviera, odds of 125/1 show just how big of a challenge he has in trying to turn things around in the nation’s capital. The same size challenge that Brian Flores is facing as head coach of the 125/1 Miami Dolphins.