No one at this point truly knows anything about anything when it comes to the 2021 NFL season, but when odds and lists are involved, everyone has an opinion.
With teams on summer break in between minicamp and training camp, football content is hard to come by, so we get a lot of lists and rankings. Among those: Pro Football Focus’ ranking of the 50 best players in the NFL.
How in the world does anyone go about ranking something like professional football players when there’s a massive difference between what a quarterback and a cornerback do? Good question. For PFF, they lean heavily on their grading system, while making it clear their rankings are “a projection of what we think will happen and not necessarily a reaction to a spectacular or underwhelming 2020 season.” That’s a key point, which we’ll get back to in a bit.
They also add “Positional value is not considered here,” which admittedly complicates our own exercise, but it’s understandable. Otherwise, quarterbacks “would dominate the list if positional value was heavily factored.”
We’ll operate under the assumption the good folks at PFF know what they’re talking about, as we dig into some of the rankings and see if we can’t find some sort of interesting takeaways based on the current NFL futures odds. As mentioned, they’re trying to project, which is exactly what a bettor does when looking at futures.
So, which teams were best represented on the list, and what are their odds? Glad you asked.
|Team||PFF Top 50 selections||Super Bowl odds|
OK, so now what do we do with that information? Again, good question. And honestly, we’re not even sure how much correlation you can make. This could be a completely useless exercise. But, like we said, content void.
— How many guesses would the average NFL fan need before it was able to name the Saints as the top-represented team on the list? There are a few teams like New Orleans in the table above, which have incredibly talented rosters but quarterback question marks. Sean Payton and Co. have built a very nice roster, but the most important position, QB, is far from a given. It looks as if the Saints will go with Jameis Winston at quarterback. If he can cut down on the turnovers, the Saints will be in business, to the point that 30-1 might be some nice value on a damn good football team.
— One thing with the Chiefs worth mentioning: It’s going to be hard to bet them at just 5-1, but those odds are like that for a reason (or two). The biggest reason is Patrick Mahomes, who is the best player on the planet, at least according to everyone but PFF, which has him at No. 2 behind Aaron Donald. That’s a fine debate to have some other time, but they’re both 5-1 to win the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. The crazy thing about the Chiefs is they have two players — Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce — in the top three. KC will be good. Again. Duh.
— Don’t you just want to know what Aaron Rodgers wants? If he just can’t stand the thought of ever being a Packer again, that’s one thing. If he wants to contend for Super Bowls, he’s not going to find a realistic landing spot that will give him a better chance to win than Green Bay. The Packers have a ridiculously talented offense and a steadily improving defense. If you think he’ll be back, grab the 17-1 while you can because that number probably is gonna get worse as soon as it becomes obvious Rodgers will be under center at Lambeau this year. Then again, if they do move him, all hell breaks loose.
— The books either really respect the 49ers or are already quite exposed. Perhaps both. It does make sense. San Fran went from Super Bowl participant to also-ran in only one year, due to a rash of injuries. To see them well-represented on this list is no surprise, and with the majority of the selections being on defense, you really start to wonder just how much it would take from the offense to once again contend. The Niners are currently +185 to win the NFC West with a win total set at 10.5, albeit with juice to the under.
— Only the Chiefs have better Super Bowl odds than the reigning champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yet, only Tom Brady and Lavonte David make the list. Tampa Bay is running it back this year with nearly the same roster, but will it be good enough? Maybe. Maybe not. Good luck betting against Brady, though.
— Meanwhile, the Patriots — who are 32-1 to win the Super Bowl — landed zero players on the list.