3 Sleeper Picks to Win Super Bowl 53

The New England Patriots once again enter another NFL season as the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl.  Should Bill Belichick and company accomplish said task, it would be their third consecutive appearance in the league’s title game and their second championship in the last three seasons.  Not bad for a team supposedly swept up by inner turmoil.

While it would be easy to pick the Pats again, however, it’s fair to point out New England failed to win the Super Bowl last year and nearly lost the year before.

With the AFC getting better by the year, it’s not crazy to think New England’s dominance could weaken even further in 2018.

Beyond that, the NFL overall has been known for increased parity in recent years.  So much so, in fact, that teams like the Falcons, Panthers, Broncos, Jaguars, and (of course) the Eagles have come seemingly out of nowhere to either push for a Super Bowl bid or flat out win the title.

Odds will understandably vary on different football betting sites, but there exists a slew of teams that aren’t quite elite - yet not totally awful - that could be the next to fly up the standings.

There are always a few sleeper teams to at least consider each year, but these three in particular stand out going into the 2018 NFL season:

New York Giants (+2500)

Depending on which NFL sites you look at for Super Bowl odds, the G-Men are comparable to the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers.  You won’t run into many NFL experts that would take Big Blue over that trio of teams (among others), but that’s precisely why they make this list of sneaky Super Bowl threats.

It will be hard to find better Super Bowl odds than this for the Giants, seeing as they were utter trash a year ago and have a lot to prove yet.  Still, from a structural perspective, there is a lot to like here.

Saquon Barkley is possibly a generational talent. He comes to a Giants offense that has had no semblance of a running game, and now just like that, they could have one.

Barkley can take over games on his own, but he also opens things up for a would-be washed-up Eli Manning. Facing less pressure, Manning could revert to a more palatable form and quarterback a fairly underrated Giants passing attack.

Remember, he still has a pretty nasty trio of weapons in Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. He also doesn’t have the corpse of Brandon Marshall weighing this unit down, so there’s actually some solid potential here.

With the offense actually showing a pulse, a defense that was borderline stout in 2016 could regain its form.

Anyone would have been an upgrade over Ben McAdoo at head coach for the upcoming season, but Pat Schurmer looked like a genius last year, turning Case Keenum of all people into a god.

Overall, the Giants were a playoff team two years ago and got a heck of a lot better on paper this offseason. With that in mind, they feel like one of the top Super Bowl sleepers to keep an eye on in 2018.

Denver Broncos (+3300)

Pivoting over to the AFC, you might be able to get some good value for your money with the Broncos.

Denver snatched up the aforementioned Keenum, clearly banking on his one-year explosion as more fact than fiction.  I’m not entirely convinced, but I don’t exactly think Keenum is awful, either. I also don’t think he can be any worse than the other trash heaps the Broncos have been throwing out under center in recent years.

Keenum was responsible for breathing new life into a fairly pedestrian Minnesota offense and after experiencing a weak free agent market, he’s probably a little miffed.  That’s good news for the Broncos, as he was pretty prolific in spots for the Vikings as he led them to the NFC title game. Of course, nobody will quickly forget that magical touchdown pass against the Saints in the playoffs.

With solid receivers like Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders at his disposal, there’s a decent chance Keenum is the answer, rather than a bust.  If that’s the case, you have to take Denver seriously.

If they can throw the rock, they should be able to run it again, too.  Whether it’s Devontae Booker or Royce Freeman dominating carries, nobody should really care. The point is Denver ranked 12th in that department a year ago and they could be even better in 2018.

The core is there for Denver to be markedly better on offense and that should only help a formerly elite defense.  The Broncos admittedly took some big steps back on that side of the ball in 2017.  However, they still have one of the most dominant pass rushers in the league in Von Miller and brought in the top defensive prospect in Bradley Chubb via the 2018 NFL Draft.

The pieces are all in place for the Broncos to become one of this year's surprise teams.

Chicago Bears (+10000)

In the name of that magical one-year turnaround, I have my eye on the Bears this year.  The Eagles, Falcons, Jaguars and others have executed genius one-year plan in recent years, and everyone is looking for that next team that could shock everyone.

I can’t say for sure the Bears can put together that big spike in wins that leads to a title, but they have all the trimmings of a team capable of a huge leap.

Chicago should still lean on defense and running the football as their bread and butter, and they have a lot to work with there.

Defensively, the Bears were 11th against the run, 7th against the pass, 7th in sacks and 9th in points allowed in 2017. Pretty clearly, they were a very balanced and disciplined defense that knew when to pick their moments.

This was pretty impressive considering they spent the year with Mike Glennon and rookie Mitch Trubisky under center.

Chicago’s rushing attack was a positive, too. Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard teamed up to form the league’s 16th best rush offense, but with a hopefully improved passing game, I think they can sky up the rankings.

It all may come down to Trubisky. Much like we saw out of second-year quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Jared Goff a year ago, a huge leap could be anticipated going into 2018.

The fact that Trubisky is taking his job seriously is pretty key, but he also has a brilliant offensive mind in Matt Nagy helping him out. Allen Robinson and Trey Burton also spice up a previously lethargic passing attack.

Overall, the Bears could be exciting in 2018 and feel vastly underrated no matter where you look online.

It’s quite possible none of these teams pan out. It’s even fairly likely that no sleepers or secondary Super Bowl teams make a big run.  It could very easily come down to the Patriots (yet again) and one of the top NFC squads everyone loves already.

Even so, it never hurts to look for value in teams that may not be on the top of everyone's list, and taking a closer look at potential Super Bowl sleepers is a great way to do that.
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