New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady officially gave up on fighting to overturn his four-game suspension for the 2016 regular season due to his role in the Deflategate scandal. But that had no impact on the betting odds for the Patriots, who are +600 favorites (bet $100 to win $600) to win Super Bowl LI in Houston on February 5, 2017.
Sportsbooks had already assumed Brady’s suspension would be upheld even though he could have still appealed it to the Supreme Court. Instead, Brady announced on Friday that he would serve the suspension and thanked everybody who supported him.
New England should be loaded again for another run at winning the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl, as the top competition in the AFC looks to be the Pittsburgh Steelers (+1200) along with the Cincinnati Bengals (+1800) and Denver Broncos (+1800). Pittsburgh’s fate depends on the health of its offense after seeing running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown go down with key injuries last year.
The Bengals lost to the Steelers 18-16 in the Wild Card round of the playoffs after winning the AFC North for the second time in three years. They hope to get over the hump and end a postseason drought that has seen them without a playoff win since 1990.
Pittsburgh then fell to Denver 23-16 in the divisional round without Brown and Bell and with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger battling a shoulder injury. The Broncos will be breaking in a new quarterback this year following the retirement of Peyton Manning.
In the NFC, there are five strong contenders to win Super Bowl LI, led by the Green Bay Packers at +850. With a healthy Jordy Nelson returning to the lineup, the Packers should be even more dangerous offensively and will be trying to unseat the Minnesota Vikings (+1600) as NFC North champs. The Vikings surprised Green Bay last year in winning the division title and also should be even better in the third year under head coach Mike Zimmer and with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leading the offense.
However, an even tougher division will be the NFC West with the Seattle Seahawks (+900) and Arizona Cardinals (+1200) fighting for the division title. Arizona ended Seattle’s two-year reign as NFC West champ last year, and both teams are among the most balanced in the league offensively and defensively.
The Cardinals added defensive end Chandler Jones from the Pats in an offseason trade while the Seahawks continue to re-tool on defense and should be much-improved on offense with the return of running back Thomas Rawls and tight end Jimmy Graham from injuries last year.
The Carolina Panthers are the wild card of the conference though coming off an outstanding campaign that saw them go 15-1 during the regular season before losing to the Broncos 24-10 in Super Bowl 50. Carolina is listed at +1200 to win Super Bowl LI and does have the luxury of playing in the easiest division of any of the contenders besides New England, which has won the AFC East seven straight years.