An early look at the Vegas lines for Super Bowl XL By Trent Modglin (
March 24, 2005

So there I was in Las Vegas last weekend, sitting on the edge of my seat during the NCAA tournament, watching an unnecessary foul from Bucknell with two seconds left and a missed dunk by Duke’s Sheldon Williams cost me a parlay of epic proportions, watching blackjack dealers flip over five or six cards to beat my 20 more than once, watching the random madness of Sin City all around me. Ah, good times.

And yet with all the energy everywhere I looked, the one thing I found myself drawn back to was the listing of the NFL futures lines. I guess it had something to do with where I work and how I’d been keeping up on the craze of free agency, but it’s always interesting to peruse what the number crunchers in Vegas think about the NFL compared to how I believe things will transpire.

The sheet I’m holding in my hands is from Harrah’s, and it indicates that the odds to win Super Bowl XL are current through March 14. Considering it’s the heart of March Madness and closing in on opening day in baseball, I’ll give the Vegas boys a break on the time delay. A week and a half late is good enough for me when talking pigskin prognostications.

These lines are, or course, for entertainment purposes only, unless you find yourselves foaming at the mouth at a sportsbook in Nevada.

New England — 4-to-1
How can they not be? Because they cut Ty Law? Because Tedy Bruschi has health issues? Because David Patten signed with Washington? This team finds ways and deserves to be in the lead in Vegas.

Philadelphia — 4-to-1
I guess you have to put them right there with the Pats, being as they could have beaten them if someone would have taught clock-management class in Philadelphia the week before the Super Bowl.

Indianapolis — 5-to-1
Peyton Manning has a big hump to get over. He knows what it is. We know what it is.

Pittsburgh — 7-to-1
The Steelers lost ORT Oliver Ross, LB Kendrell Bell and WR Plaxico Burress in free agency, but will they miss them?

San Diego — 10-to-1
Probably a little high here, considering they have an overachieving offensive line, a lack of pass rush and a void in the No. 1 WR department, but it shows that Vegas thinks last year’s run was a sign of things to come and not an aberration.

New York Jets — 10-to-1
Not sold just yet. Impressed last season? Yes. Sold? No. I’ll take Laveranues Coles over Santana Moss any day though, and not just because I went to Florida State.

Atlanta — 12-to-1
Seemingly a decent bet here with the way the Falcons appear to be moving forward under Jim Mora. I could easily see them representing the NFC.

Denver — 12-to-1
Solid everywhere but the D-line, where everyone has avoided them thus far in free agency (Courtney Brown still pending). But can Jake Plummer have a mistake-free game when it matters most? Mike Shanahan hasn’t won a playoff game since No. 7 called it a career.

Kansas City — 12-to-1
Their defensive improvements thus far: An injury-plagued Kendrell Bell and an aging Sammy Knight. Hmmm.

Carolina — 12-to-1
Made believers out of a lot of people last year after opening in a slump with injuries. Still a bit high though, in my mind.

Green Bay — 15-to-1
How far do you think they would’ve dropped if Brett Favre had said he was starting a career in lawn mowing and fishing in Mississippi? No available money to spend on “D” hurts their chances.

Baltimore — 15-to-1
They still have Kyle Boller, right? If Brian Billick had a chance to go back and take Trent Dilfer all over again, do you think he would? Again, too high with a punchless passing offense and their running back currently behind bars.

Buffalo — 18-to-1
I’m one of the few people who think they will be better with J.P. Losman over Drew Bledsoe. Certainly appear to be on the cusp of something big, but they’ll need it all to come together.

St. Louis — 18-to-1
Playoffs? Yes. Super Bowl run? Nah.

Minnesota — 20-to-1
Possibly the most intriguing line on the board. I like it, considering they have added S Darren Sharper, CB Fred Smoot, DT Pat Williams and LB Sam Cowart in free agency, along with MLB Napoleon Harris in the trade for Randy Moss. Oh, and the seventh overall pick as part of the Moss deal won’t hurt either. Could the departure of the overbearing Moss lift this team and its camaraderie to the next level? For 20-to-1 odds, I’d take that chance.

Jacksonville — 20-to-1
I didn’t think the Jaguars’ bandwagon would be so full at the start of last season, but I didn’t mind the company, even though they never panned out. Former Broncos DE Reggie Hayward will help a lackluster pass rush.

Dallas — 20-to-1
Not seeing it here. I guess this lumps them in with the other average NFL teams, but if Drew Bledsoe, Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn and Quincy Morgan take the Lombardi Trophy back to Big D, I’ll talk like Michael Irvin for a year straight.

Washington — 20-to-1
Again, not seeing it. Why the fascination for a second straight year? I don’t think Joe Gibbs will find the magic. They will be better, but not good enough.

Seattle — 20-to-1
Seahawks seem a little low here. If I told you they were even with Dallas, Washington and Jacksonville, you would be surprised, no? Say what you will about the annual underachievement, I’m still saying they should he higher, maybe in the 14-to-1 range.

Oakland — 20-to-1
Another interesting line if you don’t mind watching 44-41 games every week. Rob Ryan has his work cut out for him with the league’s 30th-ranked defense, especially if Charles Woodson is traded. But my, how exciting that offense should be. Go long, and I’ll hit you, says Kerry Collins.

Tampa Bay — 25-to-1
A dramatic fall from prosperity. No way, no how the Buccaneers cross the seven-win mark. They’re stuck in salary-cap hell and one step away from where the Niners are. At least they didn’t have to cut Derrick Brooks. Yet.

Cincinnati — 25-to-1
If the Bengals could stop the run better, I think this team could make a legitimate playoff push.

New York Giants — 35-to-1
Don’t touch this with a 10-foot pole. I say Eli Manning continues to get pounded in Year Two. Bold prediction there, I know. Amani Toomer had as many touchdowns as I did last year.

Detroit — 35-to-1
We could see loads of improvement from this club. Here’s hoping Charles Rogers stays healthy.

New Orleans — 35-to-1
Came out of nowhere to make a run at the playoffs last year. But can the Saints play defense for an entire season? An entire game?

Tennessee — 40-to-1
If Steve McNair retires, Drew Bennett’s jersey may be the most popular in the crowd at home games after the mass exodus this offseason. The Titans should be way longer than 40-to-1.

Miami — 40-to-1
Another shocker. The Dolphins can’t be worse than last year, but playing New England, Buffalo and the Jets six times won’t let them approach .500.

Arizona — 45-to-1
Don’t do it. These receivers need something better than a shell-shocked Kurt Warner running Denny Green’s offense. What’s Warren Moon up to? Randall Cunningham, you out there?

Houston — 45-to-1
How are the Texans below Tennessee or Miami? Someone needs to explain this to me. Quickly, before I e-mail Harrah’s to see if there was a mistake.

Chicago — 50-to-1
A good defense alone warrants them being higher. This is not the third-worst team in the league. Improved QB play is everything for Chicago.

Cleveland — 60-to-1
About right, considering the pile of garbage Romeo Crennel will have to climb out from under. Get Trent Dilfer some extra pads before August.

San Francisco — 80-to-1
Aren’t the Niners still trying to get Steve Young and Jerry Rice off the books?