The 2023 NFL season kicks off Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs, who happen to be the bookies’ pick of repeat.
The Chiefs are the 6-1 favorites to win it all again, according to Bet MGM’s final preseason odds. If they do, they will become the first team to win back-to-back titles since the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005. With franchise quarterback Patrick Mahomes, high expectations have become the norm in Kansas City. Since becoming a starter in 2018, the Chiefs have won two Super Bowls, lost one, and reached the AFC Championship Game each season.
But before you jump on these 6-1 odds, there are some caveats. First, there’s contract-extending defensive tackle Chris Jones, a four-time Pro Bowl selection. Jones says he’s ready to sit out the first half of the season, creating a potentially big hole in the Chiefs defence. There is also a knee injury suffered this week by Travis Kelsey, Mahomes’ favorite target and a key player in the Chiefs attack. The injury looks a lot less serious than it could have been, and Kelsey hasn’t missed a game due to injury in 10 years, but he could miss the opening game against the Detroit Lions.
There’s also a trend working against the Chiefs: In the last 15 seasons, the preseason favorite has only won the Super Bowl twice. This was a trend that continued last season when preseason favorites Buffalo Bills lost in the playoffs round.
So, if the chiefs don’t repeat, where else are the bettors looking? Here are the final pre-season Super Bowl odds for each team, again per BetMGM:
Some things are jumping around here.
First, there’s the Philadelphia Eagles, favorites to win the NFC and face the Chiefs in a Super Bowl rematch. A note of caution here: Only once since the AFL/NFL merger in 1966 has a Super Bowl featured a rematch of the previous season’s entrants—the 1992 and 1993 seasons, when the Dallas Cowboys beat the Bills back-to-back. title games.
Outside of the Eagles, the Bills are at 9-1 to win it all, followed by the San Francisco 49ers, where bettors may see value in 10-1 odds. The Niners started last year with Trey Lance as the starting quarterback, but lost it to a season-ending injury in Week 2. Lance’s back-up Jimmy Garoppolo then took over but picked up an injury of his own in December. That left the QB position in the hands of rookie Brock Purdy, who proceeded to win seven straight games as a starter and lead the team to the NFC title game against Philadelphia — but suffered an injury of his own in the first quarter of that game. , effectively ending the 49ers’ season immediately. A healthy Birdie enters the season as a starter; If he can pick up where he left off — and ride out a sophomore slump — San Francisco will be an obvious contender.
Some other notes about the possibilities:
- The Cowboys are once again seen as contenders, going 15-1 to win the Super Bowl. But after winning two Super Bowls and clinching dynasty status in the early 1990s, they’ve been a less accomplished postseason, last appearing in the NFC title game in the 1995 season.
- With Aaron Rodgers moving from the Green Bay Packers to New York, the Jets went 18-1 only to claim the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The last time the odds were low — and expectations high — for the Jets was in the run-up to the 2011 season, which ended in disappointment with an 8-8 record and no playoff berth. The Jets have now missed the playoffs for 12 consecutive seasons, the current longest drought.
- Speaking of droughts, the Lions have won *one* playoff game in the past 65 seasons; That win came in the 1991-92 season, when they, led by running back Barry Sanders, beat Washington and reached the NFC title game. But the Lions finished last year on a tear, winning seven of their last nine games, finishing with a winning record and barely missing the playoffs. Quarterback Jared Goff looked rejuvenated, handling no interceptions in the last nine games of the year, and Detroit fans are feeling hopeful and excited like they haven’t been in decades.
As mentioned above, the preseason favorite usually does not win the Super Bowl. In fact, the final three winners (Kansas City last year, Tampa Bay in the 2021 season, and the Chiefs in 2020) started the year with odds of at least 10-1. Finally, nine of the last 15 Super Bowl winners started the year with double odds, and the longest chance of winning a Super Bowl title in the last 15 years: the Philadelphia Eagles, who entered the 2017 season at 40-1 and finished with a Super Bowl victory over New England.