Super Bowl betting odds (As of July 24):
New England Patriots: 6.00
Philadelphia Eagles: 10.00
Pittsburgh Steelers: 11.00
Minnesota Vikings: 11.00
Green Bay Packers: 13.00
Seattle Seahawks: 35.00
Another summer is passing by way too quickly, but don't worry! The final full week of July brings about a welcomed reunion with an old friend.
Training camp for all 32 NFL teams will get into full swing this week, before the 2018-19 season officially gets underway with a Thursday Night match-up between the Atlanta Falcons and defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 6.
In the spirit of the NFL returning, let's break down the pre-season favourites and contenders for Super Bowl LIII. (The Seattle Seahawks aren't favourites or contenders, but they're local - kind of. . .)
NFL Betting Breakdown:
New England Patriots
Super Bowl LIII odds: 6.00
Tom Brady missing a potential touchdown catch by mere inches will be one of the lasting memories from Super Bowl LII. (Same with Nick Foles catching a TD pass on the famed 'Philly Special' play.)
While the Patriots fell short of yet another championship, they enter training camp as the current favourites to win Super Bowl LIII, and while he's not the fleetest of foot, a 40-year-old Brady once again showed last season why he's considered the GOAT by so many, throwing for 4,000-plus yards for the ninth time in his career.
New England's offseason has been a dramatic one. A little odd given any time there's even a sniff of controversy, this team does as Bill Belichick so enthusiastically commands and moves on to the task ahead of them the following week.
The reigning AFC champs have undergone some key offseason moves, with the departures of Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
That said, one usually doubts the Patriots at his/her own peril.
Super Bowl LIII odds: 10.00
The defending champion Eagles are among the Super Bowl favourites to begin camp.
The Eagles were more than happy to play the underdog last season and nothing typified that more than the Super Bowl, when they upset the Patriots.
It looked like the Eagles' championship hopes were completely grounded when quarterback Carson Wentz went down with a devastating knee injury in Week 14. Instead, they relied on defence to get them through the divisional round, before the offence under the control of back-up QB Nick Foles went off. Philadelphia put up 38 points versus the Vikings in the NFC title game and 41 points to win the championship versus New England two weeks later.
Will Wentz be able to recapture the same form he showed last season before going down to injury?
Super Bowl LIII odds: 11.00
Forget the difficulty of getting by the New England Patriots in the AFC. After a 13-3 regular season, the Steelers were eliminated in the divisional round by the (upstart?) Jacksonville Jaguars.
Another year, another opportunity missed for the Steelers.
They enter training camp with the third best odds to win the Super Bowl, although the road to the championship game, as they've seen over the years, is far from easy. Jacksonville had Pittsburgh's number twice last year and eventually sent the Steelers home in the playoffs.
Will this be Le'Veon Bell's last year in Pittsburgh? At age 36, how many years does Ben Roethlisberger have left in him? In terms of yards receiving, Antonio Brown had his third most productive season in 2017 but he's now 30 years old. Will time eventually catch up to him?
Super Bowl LIII odds: 11.00
The Vikings made it to the NFC Championship game last season, before they were gutted by the Eagles.
After going most of the 2017-18 season with Case Keenum under centre and posting a 13-3 record, the Vikings made a substantial move at the quarterback position this offseason. Keenum went to Denver. Sam Bradford is in Arizona. And the Kirk Cousins Era in Minnesota is about to begin.
After getting so close to playing in the Super Bowl in the same year Minnesota hosted the big game, there are high expectations on the Vikings to once again contend for the NFC - this time with Cousins leading the way. Last season, the 29-year-old Cousins became only the 11th quarterback in league history to throw for 4,000-plus yards in three consecutive seasons, and he joins an offence with noted playmakers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, as well as sophomore running back Dalvin Cook.
Cook was dynamic through four games as a rookie last year, before tearing his ACL. How will he come back from injury in 2018?
Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl LIII odds: 13.00
The Green Bay Packers were off to a 4-1 start when quarterback Aaron Rodgers injured his shoulder early in a Week 6 match-up with the Vikings. The Packers subsequently finished the season 7-9, out of the playoffs.
With Rodgers as their starting quarterback, the Packers should definitely be considered Super Bowl contenders as the season begins. That's why they're listed with the fifth best odds, and Rodgers is the current favourite to be named NFL regular season MVP.
But any significant injury to Rodgers likely means another lost opportunity for Green Bay to compete for the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl LIII odds: 35.00
As previously mentioned, the Seahawks aren't favourites. Will they contend in the NFC West? The Los Angeles Rams (Super Bowl odds: 13.00) seem well ahead of them on both sides of the ball, and the San Francisco 49ers could certainly be better than their 6-10 record a year ago.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks underwent massive change after missing the playoffs.
The list of players (and coaches) that moved on, or were moved out of Seattle is extensive.
Earl Thomas isn't gone, technically, but there has been trade speculation and talk of a camp holdout due to his contract for months.
The offensive line hasn't lived up to expectations in recent years. Can they do a better job of protecting Russell Wilson *and* opening up lanes for Rashaad Penny, or Chris Carson?
The Seahawks' win total is right now set at 8.0, with odds on the Over sitting at 2.00. A 9-7 record would turn that wager into a winner. But, for the Seahawks, it also wasn't good enough to make the playoffs in the NFC last season, or win the division.