The most high profile free agent in NFL history has made his decision, as future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning will play quarterback this season for the Denver Broncos, which alters the landscape of the AFC title chase and NFL futures odds at Bovada.
Manning, of course, missed all of last season after undergoing neck surgery, and was waived earlier this month by the Indianapolis Colts just before he was due a $28 million bonus from the team. The market for Manning seemed to take shape right away, with the Broncos, Cardinals, Titans and Dolphins jumping to the forefront. The 49ers — who played in the NFC Championship Game last season — jumped in late and made a big push as well.
But in reality, the competition for Manning came down to the Broncos and Titans. Manning starred in college at the University of Tennessee and is still a legendary figure in the state. Many experts believe Manning wanted to stay in the AFC because he didn't want to play in the same conference as his brother, Eli, the reigning Super Bowl MVP. Obviously, there could only be one Manning in the Super Bowl if both played in the NFC.
The Broncos won the AFC West last season as Tim Tebow became a cultural phenomenon. But Tebow was the lowest-rated passer in the NFL and easily the most inaccurate. So Broncos boss John Elway, a Hall of Fame quarterback himself, put the full-court press on for Manning, who told his agent on Monday to begin negotiating a deal with Denver.
Below are the odds to win the Super Bowl now that Manning has signed with the Broncos.
Green Bay Packers: 13-2
New England Patriots: 15-2
New Orleans Saints: 10-1
Denver Broncos: 12-1
Denver's odds to win Super Bowl XLVII vastly changed at the book with Monday's news. The Broncos are now 12-1 to win the title next February in New Orleans (Manning's hometown). Those odds are shorter than every team other than the Packers, Patriots and Saints.
Could the Manning brothers face off in that Super Bowl? That is a yes-only prop at the book at 50-1.
Denver also jumped to 6-1 to win the AFC Championship for the first time since Elway retired, and is now a commanding 2-3 favorite to win the AFC West again. The Colts were a lock for double-digit wins when Manning was healthy and the book now lists Denver's over/under for regular-season wins this year at 10.
However, the Broncos play the NFL's second-toughest schedule in 2012 by opponents' 2011 winning percentage. There are seven games against 2011 playoff teams: home against Pittsburgh, Houston and New Orleans and at Baltimore, Cincinnati, New England and Atlanta -– all NFL schedule dates will be announced next month.
If the Broncos do reach 10 wins, Manning likely will be an MVP candidate -– he already has won a record four NFL MVP awards. Manning to be named 2012 MVP is a yes-only prop bet at +700. And for him to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year is at even money.
Meanwhile, what does the future now hold for Tebow? Reports are that Denver will attempt to trade the former Heisman winner and two-time national champion at Florida. The Jaguars are the +150 favorites to land Tebow (prop is designated as where he suits up in Week 1 next season), as he is from that area and would help fill seats for a franchise that rarely sells out. The Dolphins also have struggled to draw fans of late, and they are at +175 to land Tebow, tied with Denver keeping the quarterback. Miami is desperate for a QB after losing out on Manning and Matt Flynn.
Would Pats coach Bill Belichick relish the chance to get his hands on Tebow and use his unique skills as a Wildcat QB or short-yardage hybrid back? New England is +700 to get him. The Cleveland Browns are the only other option on that prop at +1200.
Whether Tebow is a starter anywhere in Week 1 is at even money for yes and -140 for no.
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