We’re now a full two weeks removed from the Super Bowl, and we’ve already seen the title market for next year’s NFL season come into sharper focus as we head into March. And while some teams have already seen early action, others haven’t seen enough.
While the best time to bet on long shots is usually right after the opening odds are released, there are still a handful of teams priced far too conservatively ahead of next month’s free agency and the subsequent rookie draft. Here are three long shots we’re buying ahead of the NFL offseason:
2024 NFL Super Bowl odds, long shot picks
Panthers (55/1, FanDuel)
For years, the Panthers have felt like sleeping giants in the NFC South with a roster that looked better than their record. Now, with Matt Rhule out the door and a new quarterback on the horizon, could this finally be the year?
Carolina nearly won the division last year despite 5-6 starts each from Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker — all of whom completed fewer than 60 percent of their passes. We’ll definitely see a fresh face under center next year, whether it comes via free agency or the Panthers’ top-10 pick in April’s draft.
Pair that quarterback with an All-Star coaching staff led by new hire Frank Reich and a young defense littered with talent, and you can see the pieces coming together as soon as this season. This is a long shot for a reason, but with the NFC South so wide open, it’s one worth betting.
Bears (60/1, FanDuel)
It wasn’t long ago that you could get the Bears at 80/1 or better at some shops, but the market is already catching up to arguably the biggest sleeper in the market. And you should, too.
Yes, Chicago finished with the NFL’s worst record last year, but it still enjoyed flashes of brilliance from quarterback Justin Fields, who is already the hottest bet in the NFL MVP market for 2023. There’s a good reason for that: he finished ninth in MVP voting last year despite playing with one of the most depleted rosters in the entire league.
Now the Bears enter this season with roughly $100 million in cap space and the No. 1 pick in the draft — which will likely either net an elite defensive playmaker or a boatload of picks via trade to retool the roster. This team won’t look anything like it does now once the season starts, which makes this an attractive play at such long odds.
Betting on the NFL?
Seahawks (66/1, BetMGM)
Look, I know nobody thinks of this team and envisions a title ceiling. But are we completely dismissing what we saw a season ago from a team that will be largely running it back in 2023?
The Seahawks finished 10th in DVOA last year behind one of the best offenses in the league, thanks to Geno Smith’s career resurgence that briefly had his name thrown around in MVP discussions. His play tapered off late in the year, but I’ve seen enough from the Pro Bowl passer to expect another solid season, assuming he re-signs in Seattle as expected.
Consider, too, that this defense should be much improved with a healthy Jamal Adams and another year of experience for the myriad youngsters who broke out in a big way in 2022. Add in elite draft capital and some legitimate cap space to work with, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Seahawks make some noise next year in the face of paltry expectations.
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