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Super Bowl outright odds (As of March 15)
Kansas City Chiefs: 8.00
New England Patriots: 8.00
New Orleans Saints: 8.50
Los Angeles Rams: 9.50
Cleveland Browns: 14.00
Los Angeles Chargers: 14.00
For years, the Cleveland Browns had been the laughing stock of the NFL. Wait, did we say ‘years?’ Sorry, we meant decades.
Since the franchise returned to Cleveland for the 1999 season, the Browns have had two winning seasons. They’ve made it to the playoffs once since then and that was back in 2002.
Since 1999, they have endured shockingly bad season after shockingly bad season, culminating with a 0-16 campaign in 2017. But the tide appears to be changing for the lowly Browns and their fans.
Last April, they shocked football pundits by taking Baker Mayfield first overall in the NFL Draft. As a rookie quarterback, Mayfield eventually took over the starting duties from Tyrod Taylor and had an impressive first season, showing glimpses into the special player he may one day become in Cleveland.
The quarterback position had been a dumpster fire for years in Cleveland. The selection of Mayfield seems to have put that out. While Cleveland added some nice pieces to their offence last season – Jarvis Landry for example – the Browns took two major swings for the fences this week.
The biggest deal was the acquisition of star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants. Regular season props for Beckham Jr. are already available, with his Total Receiving Yards and Total Touchdowns set at 1,100.5 yards and 7.5 touchdowns, respectively.
The list of playmakers in the Browns offence is impressive: Mayfield, Beckham Jr., Landry, Nick Chubb at running back and David Njoku at tight end. Antonio Callaway is another key piece at receiver as a deep threat. Running back Kareem Hunt, signed this offseason after he was released from Kansas City, could face a lengthy suspension from the NFL. If he does make it into the Browns offence, that’s another dimension for a team already lined with talent.
In the excitement of this week’s move to land Beckham Jr., the Browns’ Super Bowl odds experienced a significant boost.
It is the middle of March and the Browns are – and no, we are not joking – among the favourites to win Super Bowl LIV with outright odds of 14.00 at PlayNow.com as of Friday morning. That is a move from odds of 26.00 less than 10 days ago, before the new season and free agency kicked off.
Mark this date down.
The Browns have been able to, over the last year, build a talented roster on both sides of the ball. They also bolstered their defensive line in the past few days with the additions of Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon. It’s a roster that, if nothing else, seems primed to improve off a 7-8-1 season a year ago in which they showed flashes of potential.
With the excitement, and the shift in odds, come greater expectations.
Getting out of the AFC, however, is not without its obstacles.
The New England Patriots remain on the throne, even when at times last regular season it looked like they were so close to falling off. The Kansas City Chiefs had one of the most dynamic offences in the league last season and are co-favourites to win the Super Bowl – alongside Tom Brady and the aforementioned Patriots. What could the L.A. Chargers or perhaps even the Indianapolis Colts be capable of in 2019-20?
Will the Browns be able to get by the Baltimore Ravens or Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North?
These are all questions that we won’t get the answers to for several months.
But out of the frenzy that is NFL free agency, the Browns have emerged on the board with other more prominent Super Bowl favourites. When was the last time you could say that?