The Ravens have the inside track on next year’s game, as the reigning champions always should, but the loss of defensive captain Ray Lewis as well as a few other key components — Anquan Boldin and Ed Reed are both questionable to return — could make that a tougher task than expected. So, while the Ravens regroup, who is more likely to be favored than the team they beat in the AFC Championship Game?
The early lines out of Las Vegas for next year’s Super Bowl XLVIII on Monday seemed to indicate that the New England Patriots, along with the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers depending on the sports book you’re using, are the favorites to wear next year’s crown.
The 49ers came within five yards and some terrible Jim Harbaugh play-calling from winning Super Bowl XLVII. The Broncos finished the regular season with the best record in the NFL at 13-3, and came up just short on a few Joe Flacco deep balls in the playoffs. And the Patriots were in position to make a repeat trip to the big game, but again the Ravens’ resiliency got the better of them. So, it makes sense for all of these teams to be considered Super Bowl contenders yet again.
The Patriots may be in the best position of any team to find their way to East Rutherford, N.J., for the big game next February. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick immediately give the Pats an advantage over the rest of the competition, and a healthy Rob Gronkowski, a developed Chandler Jones and maybe a few new additions (Ed Reed, anyone?) will help.
Football is never settled by the prognosticators, and it never will be thanks to all the variables that come along with the on-field product. But the lines are usually a good indicator as to who will be around come the final weekend of the season.
Things can always change, and in the NFL they usually do, but the Patriots and 49ers are the early favorites for a reason. Don’t be surprised if that’s the product out on the field at MetLife Stadium next Super Bowl Sunday.
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