Super Bowl 50 ended just a few weeks ago but oddsmakers already determined who they think will represent each conference in Super Bowl LI. Which potential matchups offer value for your NFL picks?
The oddsmakers at BetDSI looked at all the potential matchups for Super Bowl LI and determined that a Carolina Panthers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game is the favorite at +2000 NFL odds. Three other potential games are all at +2500 odds, including Carolina Panthers vs. New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks vs. New England Patriots in a rematch from Super Bowl XLIX and Seattle Seahawks vs. Pittsburgh Steelers.
Why Panthers vs. Steelers Is Possible?
The Carolina Panthers dominated the NFC last season, going 15-1 while beating the Seahawks and Cardinals in the playoffs before losing 24-10 to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Carolina has enough reasons to be motivated despite a tough setback against Denver but they know that winning the NFC again won't be easy.
Sure, the Panthers are in good position, as most of the team's core players are under contract and they're 'not in horrible shape under next season's NFL salary cap, but history is not on their side, as the last team to lose a Super Bowl and return the next year was the Buffalo Bills, who did it three teams in the early 1990s. To make matters more complicated, the last team to lose a Super Bowl, come back the next year and win it was the Miami Dolphins in 1973.
Going 15-1 in the regular season, reaching the Super Bowl and finishing the year 17-2 was very impressive, but this team's goal will be to get refocused and make up for their Super Bowl 50 loss.
Carolina does have a few question marks. First, they have to decide if they want to re-sign free agent cornerback Josh Norman or use the franchise tag on him and they also have to determine if releasing defensive ends Charles Johnson and Jared Allen are smart moves or not, considering that letting them go would free up over $19 million in salary cap space.
As for the Pittsburg Steelers, injuries prevented them from having a better regular season record, securing home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs and reaching Super Bowl 50, but it can't be denied that their playoff run was admirable and fun to watch, which made many fans of other teams root for them and back them with their NFL picks, myself included.
Just thinking about a 100 percent healthy Pittsburgh team next season, with Antonio Brown, DeAngelo Williams and Le'Veon Bell all year is simply scary, combined with an underrated defense that can get better in the NFL Draft. The retirement of tight end Heath Miller is a tough blow, no question, but this team's mentality has always been that the next in line to replace someone has to be ready, and we witnessed that in last year's playoffs.
In my opinion, the Steelers are ready to return to a Super Bowl for the first time since the 2010 game against Green Bay. Last year, the problems they had offensively were because of injuries, not lack of talent, and as long as their running backs and Ben Roethlisberger stay healthy and their offensive line remains intact, Pittsburgh will reach Super Bowl LI next season.