Special to Outkick The Coverage from OddsShark.com
The Carolina Panthers are coming off a disappointing finish to their season with a 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, but they are one of three co-favorites to win Super Bowl 51 next year.
Carolina has 9/1 betting odds to take home its first Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2017 along with the previous year’s Super Bowl finalists, the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots, who won it in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
The Panthers went 15-1 during the 2015 regular season but saw Denver’s top-ranked defense stop quarterback Cam Newton and their offense in the big game. The good news is they will get top wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin back from a torn ACL after he missed the entire year.
Their top offseason priority will be re-signing All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman, who may get the franchise tag if a long-term contract does not get done.
The Broncos are 16/1 on the odds to win Super Bowl 51 and will wait for future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning’s decision on retirement before proceeding with their offseason plans.
Manning is expected to retire following his second Super Bowl victory, which gave him a 14-13 career mark in the postseason. That could open the door for Brock Osweiler to take over for him again if he is re-signed.
Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller is also a free agent and figures to draw the franchise tag if a deal is not reached.
The Seahawks and Patriots both lost to the NFC and AFC champs in the playoffs, and neither of them need to make many changes to challenge for those titles again next season.
Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch is expected to retire, but promising rookie Thomas Rawls should be fully recovered from a fractured ankle and ready to break out in his second year.
New England’s poor finish to the regular season may have enabled Denver to steal home-field advantage in 2015. However, the Patriots have won 12 games or more six straight years with seven consecutive AFC East titles. As long as quarterback Tom Brady is healthy, the Pats will have a shot to win their fifth Super Bowl.