The mad maelstrom of 2014 free agency moves usually effect the 2015 Super Bowl odds tremendously that most books have taken the market down until the dust settles. Huge moves like Decker to the Jets and Golden Tate to the Lions have more impact on fantasy football than they do on the betting market. That’s because teams are who they are, and it takes some one of Peyton Manning’s magnitude to really shift the needle. I’m going to illustrate my point by discussing three teams who have been busy in 2014 free agency…and have the exact same odds that they had when they started.
How Has 2014 Free Agency Effected Super Bowl Odds
DENVER BRONCOS – +600 Super Bowl Odds
There’s no doubt that the biggest mover and shaker in 2014 free agency has been the Denver Broncos, who landed T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and Demarcus Ware who became suddenly available in a shocking turn of events. Now I know that these moves seem amazing, but they’re also not as league shattering as you might expect. Two years ago, the Broncos had a great edge rusher in Elvis Dumervil, and were bolstered by some impressive play from Shaun Phillips in 2013. Ware is “better” than those guys on paper, but if anything it’s a minor upgrade in actuality.
The same can be said for the Talib move, which was only surprising because of the relationships the cornerback has with Wes Welker, another Patriots castaway in Denver. But is Talib that much of an upgrade over Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? Maybe long term but in the short term.
What I’m trying to say is that Denver is going to be no better or worse than they were last season. The 2014 free agency flurry is going to effect their Super Bowl odds because they have been a +600 favorite since last season ended. It’s been them and Seattle and it will be until the season starts. Denver could’ve returned with the same team and still be the Super Bowl favorite because no matter how much attention’s been paid to the acquisitions, the fact remains that this team only goes as far as Peyton Manning takes them.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – +1000 Super Bowl Odds
With or without Revis, these odds were going to be what they are. That’s because the Patriots are like the Broncos. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Tom Brady (no duh) and as long as he’s around, they’re going to be a 10-to-1 Super Bowl odds holder.
That being said, the addition of Revis makes them more attractive unless that means that Vince Wilfork is going to leave (which is the latest rumor). And New England has yet to attack the 2014 free agency market in their annual pursuit of receiver rentals.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – +8000 Super Bowl Odds
The other big spender in 2014 free agency has been Tampa Bay, which has pretty much been an off-season tradition for the last four years. Adding Michael Johnson, albeit at an insane price point, is a great move because this franchise is sick and tired of lacking a serious threat on the edge of the defensive line. And I love the pick-up of Verner, who is a much cheaper and stronger long term option that Darrelle Revis (who I’ll get to in a second).
The most surprising move in 2014 free agency has been Lovie Smith’s decision to back Josh McCown as his new starting quarterback. It’s not like Mike Glennon had done a lot to endear himself, but McCown is a direct acknowledgement that Tampa will not have the privilege of attaining a worthy franchise quarterback in the draft. I hope McCown does well – he deserved to start in Chicago in place of Jay Cutler down the stretch last season.
Have any of these 2014 free agency moves effected Tampa’s Super Bowl odds? Nope. Even with a better coach, a stronger defense and – hopefully – a better quarterback, you’d think Tampa would be closer to the head of the pack than farther from it. At this point last year, they were +5000. Now they’re +8000. So take that for what it means (and it’s nothing good).