Super Bowl Odds, Futures Picks: 5 Sleeper Teams & How They’ll Win the Lombardi Trophy
The NFL season is just around the corner, so it's time to get those Super Bowl futures in.
Nine of the last 10 Super Bowl champions had preseason Super Bowl odds at +1200 or shorter, so it's usually one of the teams at the top, but we already covered the best- and worst-case scenarios for the top-eight contenders.
Today is all about sleepers.
Everyone knows the Chiefs, Eagles and Bills have a great shot at the Super Bowl, but what about a team at +2000 or longer? Could the Lions or Browns shock everyone and win their first Super Bowl? Could the Chargers or Dolphins stay healthy and match the best teams?
Let's dig into five sleepers that can win the whole shebang in 2023-2024.
All odds via FanDuel.
Why the Lions Will Win the Super Bowl
The biggest hire of this year's coaching carousel may have been one that never happened. Despite getting interviews, OC Ben Johnson chose to stay in Detroit for at least one more season, and that's huge news for a Lions offense that finished top-5 in both passing and overall DVOA last season.
Oft-maligned QB Jared Goff had a perfect 15-0 TD-INT ratio over the final nine games of the season, bookended by a pair of wins over the Packers that knocked Green Bay out of the playoffs. That terrific Goff run coincided with Detroit getting its outstanding offensive line healthy and getting stud WR Amon-Ra St. Brown back on the field.
Now Detroit effectively adds three first-round picks, since 2022 first-rounder Jameson Williams recorded only two touches all season. Once he returns from suspension to join this year's first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs, the Lions offense should be ready for another great second-half run.
That's all on one side of the ball though, and for Detroit to do the unthinkable, it'll need the defense to step up after finishing bottom-5 in DVOA three straight seasons.
A weak division and conference should help, and last year's top pick Aidan Hutchinson could break out. The Lions splurged on ILB Jack Campbell with their extra first-round pick and also reworked the secondary in free agency.
Can this defense be great? Probably not yet. But can it be good enough that Ben Johnson turns Goff and St. Brown into Matt Stafford and Cooper Kupp for four playoff games?
Stranger things have happened.
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Why the Chargers Will Win the Super Bowl
Detroit's big move was keeping their offensive coordinator. The Chargers' big move was firing theirs.
Joe Lombardi was a blight upon this offense. Justin Herbert has one of the biggest arms the NFL has ever seen but ranked bottom-5 in completed air yards, air yards to the stick and ADOT last season, constantly dumping it off underneath to Austin Ekeler or whoever else was standing three feet from the line.
What Lombardi did to Herbert and this offense was criminal.
Enter Kellen Moore, consistently one of the top-graded play callers in the league. With Moore in tow and a healthy and reloaded Chargers receiving corps featuring Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and first-rounder Quentin Johnston, Herbert is ready to ascend to that top echelon of signal callers. In Moore's offense with all these weapons and all that physical talent, Herbert could be in MVP contention.
If the Chargers can stay healthy — admittedly always a question with this team — Los Angeles has a roster as good as any team in the league. Eight of their top-10 players suffered injuries last season, including Herbert, both receivers, studs Rashawn Slater and Corey Linsley combining for one season on the line, and defensive stars Joey Bosa and J.C. Jackson barely playing at all.
Despite those injuries, Los Angeles made the playoffs and should have at least gotten out of the Wild Card Round. Get those guys healthy, give them a real offensive system and give Brandon Staley one more year to figure out this defense and how to balance his aggression appropriately, and the Chargers have all the makings.
Then again, don't they always?
Why the Dolphins Will Win the Super Bowl
Top to bottom, Miami's roster may be as talented as any in the NFL.
The Dolphins were in no need of a change offensively. Mike McDaniel came in last year and started a revolution, and no offense in league history has looked quite like this one with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle sizzling through defenses, stretching the field for massive YAC and YPA.
Hill was on pace to become the first receiver ever to break 2,000 yards in a season, and he might have done so had Tua Tagovailoa not gotten hurt. Tagovailoa was one of the MVP favorites deep into the season before another concussion sidelined his season for good.
When Tua played, Miami's offense was mostly unstoppable. And now they look ready to compete just as much on the defensive side of things.
The Dolphins brought in DC Vic Fangio to remake the defense, and Fangio's system is at the heart of what the league has done the past decade to slow explosive modern offenses. Miami also added stud corner Jalen Ramsey to Xavien Howard, while edge rushers Bradley Chubb and Jaelen Phillips will get after the quarterback.
Miami is built to win the modern game by dominating the passing game both ways. If Fangio's defense can stop opponents from generating explosive plays while McDaniel's offense racks them up, the sky is the limit.
Now they just need to make sure Tagovailoa stays on the field.
Why the Jaguars Will Win the Super Bowl
The case for Jacksonville is all about one man with long, blonde locks.
Trevor Lawrence looks like the real deal. After a lost rookie season under Urban Meyer, Lawrence found his footing early and then really broke out over the back half of the season. He graded 64 or better at PFF in every game from Week 9 forward and he already takes care of the ball like a seasoned pro, and that was all before that great playoff comeback against the Chargers.
This year, he gets a new gift under the tree named Calvin Ridley. Ridley can be that WR1 for Lawrence, and we've seen in recent years just how quickly a young quarterback's play can jump when he gets that stud receiver — think Josh Allen with Stefon Diggs, Jalen Hurts with A.J. Brown, and Tagovailoa with Tyreek Hill.
Lawrence looks poised to lead this team for a decade to come, and he could leap into MVP contention with a star receiver. Doug Pederson's offense adjusted as the year went on to highlight Lawrence's short-range accuracy right as he was taking off.
Jacksonville might have been the NFL Draft's biggest winner. The Jags have their QB, but the entire rest of the division drafted rookie signal callers. It looks like the Texans and Colts will start rookies C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson from the jump, and the Titans may turn to Will Levis soon enough, too.
While the rest of the division is looking toward the future, the Jaguars are set up to steamroll through it right now. The AFC is loaded, and you can make a case that 13 of the 16 teams think they're playing for the playoffs. Fortunately, those other three teams are the ones Jacksonville plays twice every season.
Run through the worst division in football and add four games against the terrible NFC South and the Jaguars could have a real shot at a 1-seed and a bye.
Can the offensive line and defense match Lawrence along the way?
Why the Browns Will Win the Super Bowl
It's genuinely difficult to find a weak spot on Cleveland's roster.
Nick Chubb is the best pure runner in the NFL, and he should get more carries than ever behind one of the league's best offensive lines. Elijah Moore gives the Browns a good WR2 to pair with Amari Cooper, with rookie Cedric Tillman giving them a new vertical threat.
As good as the O-line is, the defensive line might be even better.
Cleveland rebuilt its defensive front around Myles Garrett, adding star pass rusher Za'Darius Smith across from him and bringing in Dalvin Tomlinson and Shelby Harris to man the middle and improve a poor run defense. Add in Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah's playmaking and a pair of first-round corners in Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome and this defense has all the makings. With all that talent around him and a new system under DC Joe Woods, Garrett could be ready to take the final step and win his first Defensive Player of the Year Award.
The Eagles ran all the way to the Super Bowl last year behind an elite performance in the trenches with a roster setup for success. It just needed good quarterback play, and got it and then some from Jalen Hurts.
That means this is all up to Deshaun Watson.
Watson was horrible in his return late last season, but may have been shaking off the rust after missing almost two full seasons. He was PFF's No. 2-graded quarterback his last full season in 2020, and he has the talent to measure up with the league's very best at the position.
It may not be comfortable — I wouldn't exactly endorse a bet on Watson winning over MVP voters even with an elite performance — but even good QB play should be enough to push the Browns into the playoffs and give them a real shot.