The NFL offseason is in full swing, and we are less than two months away from the start of the preseason.
Now that the NFL Draft is over and most big name free agents have been signed, teams have started organized team activities (OTAs), the precursor to training camps.
When the regular season begins, the New England Patriots, who recently received their Super Bowl rings in a private ceremony last week, will kick their title defense off against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Last season, the Patriots were favored to win the Super Bowl despite not having Tom Brady, who was suspended for the first four games of the season. This time around, the Brady will be available for all 16 games, barring injury, and the Patriots are the overwhelming favorites to win the Super Bowl once again.
Last year, the Patriots had a loaded roster that allowed them to win the Super Bowl without the services of Rob Gronkowski, the team’s most dangerous offensive weapon. The Patriots also had veteran free agents like Chris Long and Martellus Bennet, who played big roles on the team’s run to the championship.
This year’s team is just as stacked as last year’s, if not deeper, with the return of Gronkowski to the lineup and the additions of players like Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore. New England also locked up Dont’a Hightower to a contract extension, keeping most of their stout defense from last year together.
Despite the additions, the Patriots decided to move on from running back LeGarrete Blount, who led the league in rushing touchdowns.
The move was surprising yet understandable considering Blount averaged less than four yards per carry, however, his success on short distance runs made a significant impact on offense for the team and it will be interesting how the team’s remaining running backs respond to the extra playing time that will result from Blount’s absence.
The team also lost Long, who decided to continue his career in Philadelphia, after winning his first Super Bowl with the Patriots.
Even though the Patriots look like the team to beat again this year, the team can’t be overconfident especially since they needed the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history to win it all last year.
In the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons have been licking their chops since losing to Tom Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and are expected to once again be one of the top contenders in the conference.
The Dallas Cowboys, who were led by rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot last year, are expected to be even better than they were last year because of the experience the rookies gained last year.
The New York Giants, who finally have a good defense, are a capable running back away from being one of the most complete teams in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who lost to Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game, are also going to be one of the favorites to come out of the NFC, as are the Seattle Seahawks, who have been to two of the last four Super Bowls.
In the AFC, the Patriots still have to contend with the young Oakland Raiders, who were expected to be their top competition before quarterback Derek Carr suffered a season ending injury before the start of the playoffs.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers are another contender that could derail New England’s plan, thanks to one of the most potent offenses in the league.
“In two plates, the New England Patriots are overwhelming NFL betting favorites heading to the 2017-18 season. They not only have the best odds to win the AFC East, the Conference Title and Super Bowl LII, but they are also are to win 75-80% of the games in their schedule. The Pats are the most consistent team in the league, and in my opinion, they will finish the season over the projected total of 12-wins” says David Strauss, line manager at MyBookie.ag online sportsbook.