The 2017 Super Bowl means many things including lots of unhealthy food, new commercials, and, of course, new gambling and prediction odds for the 2018 season. With the 2018 season still to be prefaced by the 2017 NFL draft and free agency period which can greatly swing the coming season, all current predictions are too early but fun. Here are some potential teams who can make their way into the 2018 Super Bowl and who are the Las Vegas favorites for 2018.
New England Patriots
The smart money never bets against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Brady is too good a player and too competitive to underrate and he has show in 2016 that he is far from washed up. Look for the Patriots to benefit from a full year of Brady and to retool the team with some new offensive weapons in the 2017 draft to add to Gronk and Brady. The Patriots defense will continue to be stout with few free agents and the leagues stingiest defense in 2016. Don’t count out the Patriots in 2017.
New York Giants
The New York Giants were a surprise entry into the playoffs in 2016, after an abysmal few years beforehand. While the Giants surprised many 2017 predictions, their 2016 free agent pickups of Cornerback Janoris Jenkins and defensive end Oliver Vernon had standout seasons. If the Giants can retain defensive linemen Hankins and Pierre-Paul, the Giants will be able to return the same defense that dominated in 2016. Their offensive line caused many woes for the team in 2016, but a few additions in free agency or the draft as well as a further maturing of the unit can give Eli Manning and Odell Beckham more time to push this unit from being a liability to a strength in 2018. Over thirty million in cap room can turn this into a reality.
While the Falcons defense remains a liability, Matt Ryan showed that he is ready to emerge as a legitimate NFL MVP candidate. Julio Jones showcased why he was worth the massive trade up that the Falcons dished to the Cleveland Browns (who squandered those picks), and the Falcons have the leagues most dynamic offensive unit. In the error of passing that the NFL is now in, it may be that offense wins championships, so expect the Falcons to have a good chance to emerge in 2018 in a return trip to the Super Bowl.
The Cowboys continued their postseason woes in 2017 and have not won a playoff game in a dozen years. Still the 2016 season showed that they are a young team that can return to the success they had with standout rookie offensive players like quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Their offensive line unit is the real star of the team and spell continuity and future success for the team. If the Cowboys can convert ex QB Tony Romo into a defensive star player then expect the team to emerge as a 2018 Super Bowl favorite.
After winning the 2016 Super Bowl the Broncos failed to make the playoffs in 2017 due to quarterback woes after Peyton Manning retired. While Manning was washed up anyway, the Broncos have a phenomenal defense without even a pedestrian quarterback to support the team. Expect General Manager John Elway to spend all offseason to try to correct that possibly with current Cowboy Tony Romo or Redskin QB Kirk Cousins, who may be available if the Redskins don’t make a suitable offer or tag him. While Cousins may not be a classic franchise QB, he may be all the team needs to make the Super Bowl behind an already dominate defense.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers went on a late run in 2017 and knocked the Giants and Cowboys out of the playoffs, until they lost to the eventual NFC Champiom Atlanta Falcons. This run came as QB Aaron Rodgers for healthy and showed why he is the best Quarterback in the league. The Packers were an inherently flawed team on defense, after their two starting cornerbacks went down to injury, and they lost Jordy Nelson to injury in the playoff game against the Giants. If the Packers can add some pieces on defense to compliment Rodgers and their dynamic offensive unit, when healthy, they may be the 2018 Super Bowl favorite.
As noted above, there are too many factors that can still swing the 2018 Super Bowl to make accurate predictions yet, notably free agency, the draft, and any injuries. Many have observed that fifty percent of the NFL playoff teams turnover every year and with NFL parity one never knows who will be competitive from one year to the next. Like the Broncos and Carolina Panthers the likely favorites and Super Bowl participants may not even make the playoffs the very next year. However the aforementioned teams seem likely at this point to emerge as 2018 Super Bowl favorites and should be on the short list of anyone looking to make accurate predictions for the coming season.