After making the playoffs for the first time since 2002, the Oakland Raiders are one of the early darlings of the 2017 season. They made some solid moves in the offseason to build on an already talented core, and sports gamblers have taken notice. According to Bleacher Report, the Raiders are No. 1 among the five teams receiving the most bets to win the Super Bowl this season.
After the Raiders, the biggest favorites among fans are the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and Pittsburgh Steelers. But that top five doesn’t exactly match how the oddsmakers set it in Las Vegas. After all, Vegas doesn’t want people to win a lot of money, right? We took a look at the top teams according to the odds and why gamblers may or may not bet on them.
7. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons went to the Super Bowl last season following an 11-5 regular season. They jumped out to a 28-3 lead, and we forget what happened after that.
Following their loss to the New England Patriots, they also lost offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan — who became the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers — as well as the retiring Dwight Freeney, who played a part-time role in 2016 but performed admirably. On the plus side, the Falcons brought in two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe and upgraded their front seven.
Much like 2016, the Falcons aren’t a major favorite to win the Super Bowl again in 2017. They have a solid team with one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the game, Matt Ryan. In an NFC lacking a clearly dominant, unbeatable team, it’s easy to see why some may place bets on them at 14-1.
6. Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks have made the playoffs in six of the seven years under head coach Pete Carroll. They’ve made it to the Super Bowl twice and won once — although they would’ve won twice if they had run it with Marshawn Lynch.
Anyway, the Seahawks project to be good again in 2017. They were 10-5-1 last season, trouncing the Detroit Lions in the wild-card round before losing to the Falcons in the divisional round.
Seattle made a ton of moves in the offseason, losing tackle Garry Gilliam and kicker Steven Hauschka while bringing in a host of new players, including kicker Blair Walsh, running back Eddie Lacy, and former No. 3 overall draft pick Dion Jordan. The Seahawks don’t land on the list of most popular bets, but they’re still a big favorite.
5. Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders are an offseason darling thanks to their excellent 12-4 regular season in 2016 and some key additions. The high volume of bets has a lot to do with how the Raiders opened the offseason with 20-1 odds, which since fell to 12-1.
Their key loss is likely linebacker Malcolm Smith, although we could make an argument for running back Latavius Murray. The Raiders added first-round pick Gareon Conley, a cornerback, as well as tight end Jared Cook and running back Marshawn Lynch (the latter player sat out the 2016 season).
Oakland returns quarterback Derek Carr, who was injured and unable to play in the Raiders’ playoff game following their stellar season. A two-time Pro Bowler, he posted a 96.7 passer rating with 28 touchdown passes and just six interceptions last year. Wide receiver Amari Cooper and defensive end Khalil Mack are major building blocks in Oakland, as well. The AFC West will see a lot of competition this year, but still plenty of reasons to like the Raiders.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers have seen a lot of sports fans throwing down money. The team won the AFC North with an 11-5 record last year and advanced all the way to the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots. It’s easy to predict that Pittsburgh might be successful behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger again in 2017; they’ve finished with less than eight wins just once in the last 17 seasons.
The Steelers had a decent offseason, losing linebacker Lawrence Timmons to the Miami Dolphins but replacing him with first-round pick T.J. Watt — J.J.’s little brother — from Wisconsin. Martavis Bryant returns from his suspension, and the pick of JuJu Smith-Schuster helps bolster the receiving corps in a big way. The Steelers are 12-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, so it’s understandable why some might take that bet.
3. Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers started at 12-1 odds but moved down to 10-1, thanks to all the betting by gamblers. Green Bay gave quarterback Aaron Rodgers another weapon by signing tight end Martellus Bennett. But they also lost a ton of role players from their roster, including Jared Cook, T.J. Lang, Julius Peppers, Eddie Lacy, and James Starks.
The Packers have essentially just Ty Montgomery as the starter at running back, and there’s no telling how that will work out for them. But with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb as the projected wide receivers to go along with Bennett, the Pack should score a bit. Considering that there is no team in the NFC that Rodgers should be afraid of, betting on Green Bay makes some sense.
2. Dallas Cowboys
Behind rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys were the best team in the NFC in 2016 at 13-3 (their best regular-season record since 2007). Dallas added defensive end Taco Charlton in the first round of the draft, although they aren’t thrilled by his performance in the preseason.
The team also added several new faces, including former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll and five draft picks. But the Cowboys faced some significant losses in free agency, with right tackle Doug Free and cornerback duo Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr all leaving.
Add in Elliott’s pending suspension — currently tabbed at six games — and the Cowboys could be in for a tumultuous 2017 season. But Prescott is talented, and he still has wide receiver Dez Bryant, so it isn’t all bad. Our guess here is that bets on the Cowboys in Las Vegas have slowed a bit since the announcement of Elliott’s suspension.
1. New England Patriots
The Patriots and Tom Brady won the AFC East for the eighth consecutive season and made their seventh trip to the Super Bowl in the last 16 years — coming back from a 28-3 deficit to win the game. The Pats had a 14-2 record during the regular season, best in the NFL, and the outlook is good for them again in 2017.
They lost Logan Ryan, Chris Long, and Bennett, but they added former Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore and traded for wide receiver Brandin Cooks and tight end Dwayne Allen.
New England isn’t in the top five of most heavily-betted teams in Las Vegas for one simple reason; the 3-1 odds just aren’t very good. The payoff isn’t worth the risk for most gamblers, considering all the things that could prevent the Patriots from repeating as Super Bowl champions. Still, throwing out the odds completely, the Pats would probably be the favorite to win again thanks to Brady, Bill Belichick, and new additions such as Gilmore and Cooks.