We're just a few days away from Super Bowl 50, and we have months of draft preparation and free agency and Training Camps ahead of us before there are any more meaningful NFL games for all of the teams not named the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos.
But, bah gawd, that's not going to stop folks from looking ahead to Super Bowl 51 already, and that includes the folks from ESPN (with the help of a Las Vegas sportsbook).
According to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, the Minnesota Vikings are already a 20-to-1 shot to win Super Bowl 51. While those don't sound like great numbers or anything, they're certainly better than what they've been looking at during the past couple of offseasons.
The 20-to-1 numbers put them as the #6 team in the NFC, according to the sharps. The NFC teams that are listed ahead of them are. . .well, they're interesting. Here they are:
Seattle Seahawks (8/1)
Arizona Cardinals (10/1)
Green Bay Packers (10/1)
Carolina Panthers (12/1)
Dallas Cowboys (16/1)
To put it bluntly, not all of those teams make sense. Seattle? Sure, I can understand that. Arizona? Yeah, that makes sense. Carolina? They're the best team in the NFC this season, so sure.
Green Bay and Dallas? You've got to be hosing me.
Green Bay being listed as a better bet than Minnesota to make the Super Bowl is ridiculous. Yes, I understand that they get Jordy Nelson back next season (a 31-year old receiver coming back from an ACL tear. . .YAY!) and that Aaron Rodgers was
"injured" injured this season. Still, despite the Vikings winning a division title this year for the first time since 2009, it appears that the days of the NFC North being considered "Green Bay and everyone else" might not be over quite yet.
As far as the Cowboys. . .seriously, they won 4 games this past season. Four. Yes, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant missed big chunks of this season for Dallas. Still, they won four games in 2015. Do they have a seven-game turnaround in them in 2016? I'm not sure about that. They still managed a pretty convincing last-place finish in one of the worst divisions the NFL has seen in some time.
The numbers for the Packers and the Cowboys on this list obviously got a bump based on some players that missed time in 2015. What they don't seem to account for is the fact that the Minnesota Vikings. . .and I certainly hope you're sitting down for this. . .have a pretty good chance to actually be better in 2016 than they were in 2015. They're still a young team, they know where their issues are, and they have the coaching staff and front office in place that know how to fix them. They won 11 games against a pretty tough schedule a season before they were supposed to be "ready." What's the logic behind thinking they're going to drop off in 2016?
If your local casino and/or sportsbook of choice has the Vikings at 20-to-1 (or worse) to be holding the Lombardi Trophy at the end of Super Bowl 51, you'd be well-served to go ahead and jump on that at your earliest convenience. I wouldn't imagine that they'd stay there for very long. . .they shouldn't, anyway.