The Atlanta Falcons have made some improvements since their dramatic collapse in Super Bowl 51 last year, but that may not be enough to return to the big game, let alone win the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The Falcons find themselves as the +1600 (bet $100 to win $1600) seventh choice to win Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis next February behind three AFC teams and three NFC teams that could finish ahead of them.
Atlanta signed defensive tackle Dontari Poe away from the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent and will also see the return of star cornerback Desmond Trufant this season after he played just nine games and missed the playoffs a year ago. With those additions, the Falcons should be improved defensively and make another run at another NFC South title, which has been won by just two teams (the Carolina Panthers are the other) over the past five years.
Then again, the Panthers should be better as well and are +2200 to win the Super Bowl after making their second appearance two seasons ago.
Atlanta and Carolina have had the last two NFL MVPs on their teams in quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Cam Newton, respectively. Both came up losers in the Super Bowl, and three of the last four NFL MVPs have lost the big game. The last MVP to win the Super Bowl in the same year was Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams in 1999. This year’s MVP favorite Tom Brady of the New England Patriots will have added pressure on him in leading the defending Super Bowl champions, who are the +375 favorites to repeat this season.
The Patriots are the last team to accomplish that feat following the 2003 and 2004 campaigns with Brady under center.
New England is expected to get competition from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders in the AFC. Both the Steelers and Raiders are listed at +1200 to win the Super Bowl, with the Patriots defeating the former 36-17 in last year’s AFC Championship Game. Oakland could be dangerous with MVP candidate Derek Carr back from a broken leg that kept him from competing in his first-ever postseason opportunity. With the Raiders heading to Las Vegas by 2020, they are hoping to give Oakland another title before their departure and added running back Marshawn Lynch this offseason.
In the NFC, the other top contenders looking to challenge the defending conference champion Falcons are the Green Bay Packers (+750), Dallas Cowboys (+1200) and Seattle Seahawks (+1200). The Seahawks have played in two of the previous three Super Bowls while the Packers will be trying to make their second appearance in the big game with Aaron Rodgers. Seattle visits Green Bay in Week 1 of the regular season, and that matchup may eventually determine home-field advantage.
The Cowboys are the defending NFC East champions and are led by a pair of second-year players in quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. However, the same team has not won consecutive NFC East titles since the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004, which is the same year New England repeated as Super Bowl champs.