The New England Patriots kicked off the NFL season under a shadow of doubt cast by the four-game suspension of quarterback Tom Brady, and injuries to key personnel including tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
However, following a pair of dominating performances by Brady since his reinstatement, and the return to action of both Gronkowski and Hightower, the Patriots have rocketed to the top of the Super Bowl 51 odds, pegged at +300 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Patriots have been unstoppable in the past two weeks since Brady’s return, handing the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals crushing losses by double-digit margins, powered by six Brady touchdown passes.
While New England is now entrenched atop the Super Bowl odds — and sitting with a 95.9% chance to make the playoffs according to website PredictionMachine.com — a number of teams enjoying fast starts are also on the rise at the sportsbooks, most notably the Dallas Cowboys, who now join the favorites at +1000.
The Cowboys opened the season at +2500 before quickly tumbling to +4000 after quarterback Tony Romo went down with another back injury. Romo’s injury, though, created an opportunity for rookie passer Dak Prescott, who has thrived under center, throwing seven touchdown passes against just one pick while leading the Cowboys to a 5-1 record and first place in the NFC East.
The Minnesota Vikings have also been a surprise this season, winning five straight to remain the only undefeated team in the NFL despite the loss of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and former MVP rusher Adrian Peterson to long-term injuries.
The Vikings’ torrid start has boosted their Super Bowl odds from +2500 during the preseason to +700, trailing only the Patriots at the sportsbooks.
It has been 17 years since the Buffalo Bills last played in the postseason, but after posting four straight outright victories for the first time since 2008, including a decisive 16-0 win in New England, the Bills look poised to challenge the Patriots for top spot in the AFC East.
Buffalo has made an enormous jump on the Super Bowl 51 futures since slipping to +20000 after opening with a pair of losses, but continues to sit well back of the favorites at +3300.
The Seattle Seahawks round out the front of the pack at +750, while the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers have both tumbled on the Super Bowl betting lines and are now knotted at +1200.
The Arizona Cardinals are pegged at +1400, ahead of the high-scoring Atlanta Falcons, who sit alongside the Kansas City Chiefs at +1800, while the defending champion Denver Broncos have fallen off to +2000.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images