The NFL regular season is almost here.
The reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs enter the new season as the Super Bowl favorite — that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. But who else sits among the favorites to take home the Lombardi Trophy?
Let’s break down five of the teams that rank among those with the top odds to win it all ahead of the 2023 NFL season.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (+600)
Can the Chiefs run it back?
Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are at the helm of this team, so we shouldn’t expect K.C. to be anything other than one of the NFL’s best teams.
Last year, the Chiefs rolled to their third Super Bowl appearance in the Mahomes-Reid era, going 14-3 in the regular season and then taking down the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC postseason. When Kansas City met up with the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, it proved to be a tough matchup, but the Chiefs were able to earn the 38-35 win.
There hasn’t been a back-to-back Super Bowl champion since the New England Patriots did it back in 2003-04 seasons, so the odds are certainly against K.C. in that respect. It’s hard to bet against the reigning MVP and the Chiefs, however. If there were any team to match what the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick connection accomplished, it’d be the Mahomes-Reid Chiefs.
On the flip side, the AFC is loaded. While the competition in the conference will be strong, the Chiefs are a strong favorite to win the AFC, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (+800)
Redemption is in the air for the Philadelphia Eagles — or at least they hope it is.
After what was nearly a banner season for Philadelphia came to a tough end late in the Super Bowl, the Jalen Hurts-led Eagles are ready to make another push for the crown.
This year’s Philly team might be even better than last year’s. The team kept James Bradberry and Darius Slay — their starting corners — in addition to drafting Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith to further bolster their D. And we know the offense is in good hands with Hurts.
Is there really any reason to bet against the Eagles in the weaker NFC? No, not really. Philadelphia has even shorter odds to win the NFC than the Chiefs do to win the AFC, sitting with +330 odds (compared to K.C.’s +350).
If Hurts can stay healthy, the sky is the limit for the Eagles.
The Eagles look like the NFL’s most complete team heading into the 2023 season.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (+1000)
The Cincinnati Bengals are set to be yearly contenders for a bit, and this +1000 number is enticing for a team that’s played in each of the past two AFC title games.
But Cincinnati being at +1000 speaks to the strength of the AFC as a whole as the Buffalo Bills are just ahead of Cincy at +900 odds.
It’ll be another season of Joe Burrow tossing the ball to the dynamic duo of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, but this time, Burrow will be behind what is likely the best offensive line he’s had in his NFL career. Cincinnati went and got four-time Pro Bowler Orlando Brown Jr. to help up front, setting up the entire offense to potentially take another step forward.
At +550 to win the AFC, the Bengals trail both the Chiefs (+350) and Bills (+450), and those three look to be in their own class in the conference.
Cincinnati has one of the best QBs in the league, one of the best offenses in the league, and a defense deserving of respect even after some key free-agency losses (Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell).
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (+1000)
With Brock Purdy back, the San Francisco 49ers are poised to make another deep postseason run.
If Purdy — whose mark of 8.6 adjusted yards per attempt would’ve ranked second among all passers if he had enough attempts to qualify — can play up to the standards we all saw last season, then the 49ers are in business.
San Francisco unquestionably has one of the best rosters in the NFL, and the Niners are joined by the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys in the NFC’s top tier. One huge advantage that the 49ers have over those two teams is that one of Philly or Dallas is a lock to be no better than a five seed, forcing one of them into — in all likelihood — three road games to get to the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, the 49ers are -165 to win the NFC West.
The Niners probably don’t need elite quarterback play to make a deep run, but if Purdy proves last season was for real, San Francisco will be a scary team.
NEW YORK JETS (+1800)
Let’s get crazy, shall we?
If everything can come together for the new-look New York Jets, they have what it takes to make this happen.
The move of the offseason was the acquisition of Aaron Rodgers, giving them a QB with a proven track record, something they haven’t had in a while. Rodgers and second-year wideout Garrett Wilson could be a top-notch pairing, and the two are looking the part so far.
On defense, the Jets were elite last season — second-fewest yards per play allowed (4.8) — and with Quinnen Williams and Sauce Gardner leading the way, the Jets should be a top-level D once again in 2023.
In 2022, Gang Green went 7-10 despite playing Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, Mike White and Chris Streveler under center. If Rodgers is just a league-average quarterback, he’ll be a big improvement, and we know Rodgers’ ceiling is higher than that if everything falls in place in his first year in New York.
Working against the Jets is a tough AFC East — and a difficult AFC altogether. New York is just +250 to win its division. If they can’t win the AFC East, they’ll have an arduous path to the Super Bowl. That makes the Jets’ Week 1 Monday night matchup with the Bills a big game.
The Jets are hoping that adding a veteran, accomplished quarterback to an already solid roster works out for them the way it did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that won a title in its first year with Tom Brady. The Jets have the pieces to make it work.
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Scott Edwards Jr., The Associated Press