Broncos & Seahawks
One of the chief questions people ask after the Super Bowl is whether or not the two contestants can make it back. Some teams, like the Baltimore Ravens, fall off the map while some teams, like the San Francisco 49ers, are able to maintain.
The Seattle Seahawks have a good chance of maintaining because they are one of the youngest teams in the NFL. As a matter of fact, they tied a record for the youngest average age on a roster to win the Super Bowl. That’s why they’re the NFL odds favorite for 2015 at +500.
We can expect a lot of their players to only get better. Quarterback Russell Wilson is entering just his third season, receiver Jermaine Kearse is entering his second year while Doug Baldwin is going into his third and Golden Tate his fourth. And don’t forgot about how good this team could be with a healthy Percy Harvin and another quality crop of rookies.
As for the Denver Broncos, they’ll have some concerns. That’s why they’re +1000. Receiver Eric Decker could be gone as well as running back Knowshon Moreno. Those aren’t massive losses but are noticeable. However, as long as Peyton Manning is healthy, Ryan Clady returns to protect his blindside and Von Miller can recover for his late-season knee injury, the Broncos will again be one of the best teams in the AFC.
The San Francisco 49ers are going to be a popular choice for many people's NFL picks as they’ve been so close for three years in a row. They’re at +600. However, for a second year in a row, they enter the offseason wondering about how key players will recover from serious injuries. Last year, it was receiver Michael Crabtree. This year, it’s linebacker Novorro Bowman and guard Mike Iupati. Nobody mentions it much but quarterback Colin Kaepernick regressed a little bit in his second season. His completion percentage dipped, his interceptions and fumbles were up, and he wasn’t as much of a threat on the ground. He’ll need to improve and put an awful fourth quarter from the NFC Championship Game behind him.
The New England Patriots are at +1000 and the hope here is that they can surround quarterback Tom Brady with some better weapons. He had very little to work with in 2014 and he needs more help – especially if Julian Edelman is not retained. It’s time they got him a primetime playmaker to help out.
When you start to surf around the +2000 range, you see that there’s some good potential for finding a sleeper. Teams like the New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers are all in that range.
The Packers could be good value as they made the playoffs in 2014 despite being ravaged by injuries. We know their passing game will be lethal but through the rigors of this season, they developed a pretty reliable ground attack. That could be a dangerous one-two punch.
Are the Atlanta Falcons worth a look at +2500? After all, they were just a few plays away from being a Super Bowl team in 2013 before nose-diving this season. If they can rebuild the defense and the offense can get back to being prolific, this team could be back as an NFC contender.Speaking of rebound stories, what about the Houston Texans or Pittsburgh Steelers, both of whom are +3300? The Texans were supposed to be a Super Bowl contender in 2014 but turned out to be the worst team in the league. Can they go outhouse to penthouse just as quickly? Meanwhile, Pittsburgh simply needs to get younger on defense and they’ll be back in the mix. They’ve got a lot of good parts on offense that should lead the way in 2015.