It’s that time of the year again. It’s late winter, the NBA season is at that midpoint lull commonly referred to as the All-Star game, and the Mid-Winter Classic, known to most as the Super Bowl, is done and dusted. Sure, the Daytona 500 is this weekend but even that hits a rough patch between Lap 100 and 400. So what to do? Engage in some wild speculation about who will win the Super Bowl next year, of course. (Why not, right?)
For the time being, let’s say that the favorites to win are the Los Angeles Rams. They probably “Run it back” though because repeating in the NFL has been pretty hard lately. The last time someone won back to back championships was in 2004 and 2005 when the New England Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles respectively. However, as the Nature Boy Ric Flair says, in order to be the man you gotta beat the man. So long as their formidable defensive line stays intact they will always have a puncher’s chance. The jury is still out on whether Matthew Stafford’s Super Bowl run was an outlier or a harbinger of great things to come. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to fight that Detroit Lions stink.
According to our modeling data, the Buffalo Bills are best positioned to dethrone the Kings of L.A. They’ve got a gamer in their quarterback Joshua Patrick Allen and they were a pass away from beating the Kansas City Chiefs. Watching his performance, it is hard to imagine him not pulling the Bills to the Super Bowl, kicking and screaming if need be. His magical link with Stefon Diggs should continue to bear very substantial fruit.
Right behind them, the Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49ers, and Kansas City Chiefs are next in line and running about even. Sure, Joe “Baby Brady” Burrow showed considerable poise and short-pass precision in the run up to the Big Game, but his final performance exposed a tendency to hold onto the ball a little too long, opening him up to getting drilled by blitzing defenders. He was sacked 70 times total (regular season + playoffs) and that is a lot. Sooner or later his body is bound to break down. You gotta wonder how much more abuse he’ll be able to absorb before he develops some serious PTSD. The Bengals’ paper-thin offensive line remains a serious handicap and until that gets fixed, it’s hard to see them making it to the Promised Land.
The Niners were impressive in that they were able to make it within a heartbeat of the Super Bowl with an erratic QB in Jimmy Garoppolo. Sooner or later, Trey Lance will be getting the bulk of the playing time and that will likely be an upgrade. Add Deebo Samuel and his 1,405 receiving yards to the mix and you can see how San Francisco might just be able to make a serious run again. They have one of the best defenses in the league and that will carry over into next season.
And the Kansas City Chiefs? What can you say other than the one-time Super Bowl favorites are now just one of many favorites. Patrick Mahomes remains the most talented and creative QB on the gridiron. The problem is that teams have figured out that if you consistently make him uncomfortable, his decision making gets more erratic than a teenager on speed. The Chiefs loss to the Bengals also put head coach Andy Reid’s strategic inflexibility on full display. To be fair, the shine has come off the Chiefs considerably. Still, you can’t completely discount them. That oddsmakers sure don’t.
According to the latest odds put out by SportsBettingDime.com, the Chiefs are actually the favorites to win the 2023 Super Bowl. Here are the top five contenders as of mid-February:
Kansas City Chiefs +650
Buffalo Bills +700
Los Angeles Rams +1000
Cincinnati Bengals +1200
San Francisco 49ers +1400
It being mid-February, there’s a lot that can happen between now and September that can completely make the list obsolete. What if the Niners coax the Goat out of retirement? What if Aaron Rodgers ends up leaving Wisconsin for the Mile High Denver Broncos? It’s all speculation at this point, but that’s what makes it fun.
IMAGE CREDIT: NFL.