We look at the 30 teams that watched Super Bowl 50 from home to determine which of them will be contenders with value for our NFL picks in 2016-17.
When talking about potential Super Bowl LI teams we can't ignore the two teams that almost reached the big game this year, the New England Patriots (+750 NFL odds to win Super Bowl LI at PaddyPower) and the Arizona Cardinals (+850). Also keep an eye on the Seattle Seahawks (+750) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (+1200).
New England Patriots
Coach Bill Belichick, star quarterback Tom Brady, wide receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski will be back next season along with a young core of talented defenders and a healthy LeGarrette Blount if the team decides to resign him. Playing in a relatively weak AFC East guarantees that New England will return to the playoffs and healthy players with plenty of talent and a lot to prove can help them forget the disappointing ending of their season and reach Super Bowl LI.
Despite a terrible 49-15 loss in the NFC title game against the Panthers, the Cardinals are still one of the most complete teams in the league, they have a high-scoring offense that complements one of the best defenses. This season, Arizona almost reached the Super Bowl despite missing two of their top defensive players, safety Tyrann Mathieu and outside linebacker Alex Okafor, so imagine how good can they be with their full team. Look for the Cardinals to be in the mix next season and consider them for your Super Bowl picks. They'll be one of the best teams in 2016-17.
The core of the Seahawks will pretty much be intact and Jimmy Graham is expected to be available all season, although there are rumors that Marshawn Lynch will retire. Franchise quarterback Russell Wilson played well last season, leading the league in passer rating and at 27 years old, he is at the peak of his career. The Seattle defense is young and it has finished first in points allowed for the last four years. The Seahawks have some issues to address, mostly with their offensive line, but they have enough talent to compete with the Cardinals in the NFC West and have another deep playoff run.
Can you imagine the damage that a 100 percent healthy Steelers team with Antonio Brown, DeAngelo Williams and Le'Veon Bell would have done in the playoffs? In my opinion, by know, they would be getting ready to play Cam Newton and the Panthers in Super Bowl 50 next Sunday. This is the closest that Pittsburgh has been to a Super Bowl since the 2010 game against Green Bay. There's room for improvement in their defense, but it is a bit underrated. Offensively, their problems were because of injuries, not lack of talent. As long as their running backs stay healthy and their line remains intact this team will get far next season.