Best bets to win the Super Bowl
With just days before the NFL season kicks off, our betting writers pick their favorite Super Bowl bet:
Los Angeles Rams (+1400)
When I look at this team entering 2021, it's hard not to think of last year's Buccaneers. They had an efficient defense and plenty of skill-position talent, but, like the Rams, they were previously held back by an inefficient former top pick whose gaudy box-score stats couldn't overshadow their inconsistency.
Los Angeles had the NFL's best defense in 2020 and is stocked with legitimate Pro Bowl talent on offense, but Jared Goff's limitations as a field general capped the ceiling of Sean McVay's otherwise innovative offense. That changes with Matthew Stafford, who's long been a star-level talent whose gifts were wasted by poor coaching and substandard weapons.
We're also just three seasons removed from the Rams reaching the Super Bowl with Goff in McVay's second year as a head coach. He's reinvented his team's offense since then, and McVay enters this year with the best quarterback he's ever had. It's easy to talk yourself into a Bucs-like leap for this group, which has every ingredient you'd want in a Super Bowl contender and comes at a reasonable price.
- C Jackson Cowart
Minnesota Vikings (+4000)
Admittedly, Kirk Cousins' approach to protecting himself from COVID-19 isn't exactly inspiring, but you won't find another team this far down the oddsboard that can fix its biggest flaw with a 30-second trip to the trainer's room. On the field, the Vikings have all the makings of a Super Bowl contender.
Defensively, we have every reason to believe the Vikings' unit could boast a top-five ranking in 2021 after being a mess last season. Danielle Hunter and Michael Pierce return after not playing a snap last year, headlining a defensive line that could be dominant after adding Dalvin Tomlinson, Sheldon Richardson, and Everson Griffen. Linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr - who played a combined 13 games in 2020 - are healthy, while the team added veterans Patrick Peterson and Bashaud Breeland to solidify a deep group of young corners.
While the defense is busy wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook, as well as a young and improved offensive line, will make things easy on Cousins. Legitimate concerns surrounding the Packers - their offensive line, wide receiver depth, and a new defensive scheme - mean the division is Minnesota's for the taking. With a top running back and a defense that should be as good as any unit in the league, the Vikings are equipped to make a deep run.
- Alex Moretto
Pittsburgh Steelers (+4000)
The NFL is the pinnacle buy-low/sell-high league for bettors, and no team got sold more this offseason than the Steelers. A tough end to the 2020 regular season and a brutal start to their playoff loss to the Browns has everyone out on Ben Roethlisberger and what many believe is a weakened right arm. However, we thought the same of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning before they went on to win a Lombardi Trophy.
While I disagree with ever taking a runner in the first round, that doesn't mean Najee Harris and a renewed approach from Pittsburgh's offense can't make life easier on Big Ben. The defense has seen some turnover, but this unit always proves greater than the sum of its parts.
The 40-1 price is about the cutoff for teams that are capable of making the playoffs and beating the top clubs in their conference.
- Matt Russell