Patriots Sit Atop Super Bowl LI Odds Despite Tom Brady Suspension

Although it seems likely that four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady will miss the first four games of the upcoming NFL campaign thanks to his reinstated suspension, New England has top odds at +700, or 7/1, to win Super Bowl LI and capture the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end of this season.
Typically, New England has needed home-field advantage in the playoffs in order to advance to the Super Bowl. Coach Bill Belichick’s team, which is likely looking at elevating third-year pro Jimmy Garoppolo into the starting role, is likely looking at a scenario of trying to break even in their first four games. New England opens with a daunting Sunday Night Football interconference game against the Arizona Cardinals, but then has home games against the Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills.
The Seattle Seahawks, whose two-year run as NFC champions ended in the divisional round of the 2015 playoffs, are the second favorite at +800, or 8/1. The Seahawks received generally strong grades for their NFL Draft haul, selecting T Germain Ifedi to fortify QB Russell Wilson’s pass protection. They could also bounce back defensively after adding DT Jarran Reed, who helped the Alabama Crimson Tide win last season’s College Football Playoff title.
With established veteran quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger, respectively, the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers are each listed at +1000.
The Packers are coming off a slight down season where they were a wild-card playoff team out of the NFC North, but Rodgers’ favorite collaborator, WR Jordy Nelson, should be back at full speed after missing the entire season due to a knee injury. The Packers invested most of their draft class on restocking their depth in the offensive line, defensive line and linebackers.
The Steelers reached the divisional round last season thanks to Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown offsetting a revolving door of running backs and a depleted defense. Pittsburgh should expect RB Le’Veon Bell to return at full strength. Defensively, the Steelers have nowhere to go but up and invested their first two picks on CB Artie Burns and FS Sean Davis. Rookie defensive backs often need a half-season to settle into the NFL game.
Neither of the Super Bowl teams, the Carolina Panthers (+1100) and Denver Broncos (+1600), are high on the boards. Cam Newton and the Panthers might get a reckoning in the form of a first-place schedule laden with playoff teams. The Broncos have also been affected by free-agency losses and an unsettled quarterback situation, with Mark Sanchez in line to try to win the starting job.