The 2023 NFL season kicked off Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium with the home team Kansas City Chiefs the bookmakers' pick to repeat a Super Bowl win this year.
Things did not go as smoothly as Chiefs fans hoped. Kansas City lost to the Detroit Lions 20-21 in the debut game of the NFL's regular season.
Despite the loss, the Chiefs are still favorites to win it all again, based on BetMGM's odds on its website — although they did drop from 6-1 to 7-1.
If the Chiefs do it again, they would become the first team to claim back-to-back titles since the New England Patriots in the 2004 and 2005 seasons. With franchise quarterback Patrick Mahomes, high expectations have become the norm in Kansas City; since he became the starter in 2018, the Chiefs have won two Super Bowls and lost one and reached the AFC championship game every season.
But before you jump on those 7-1 odds, there are some caveats. First, there’s the protracted contract holdout of defensive tackle Chris Jones, a four-time Pro Bowl selection. Jones says he’s prepared to sit out the first half of the season, potentially creating a big hole on defense for the Chiefs. There’s also the knee injury sustained this week by tight end Travis Kelce, a favorite Mahomes target and a key cog in the Chiefs’ offense. The injury appears far less serious than it could have been, but Kelce, who hasn’t missed a game because of injury in 10 years, was sidelined for Thursday's game against the Lions.
There’s also a trend working against the Chiefs: In the last 15 seasons, the preseason favorite has won the Super Bowl only twice. That was a trend that continued last season, when the preseason favorite Buffalo Bills went down to defeat in the divisional round of the playoffs.
So if the Chiefs don’t repeat, where else are bettors looking? Here are the final Super Bowl odds for the top 10 teams on Friday, Sept. 8, one day after the NFL regular season opened, from BetMGM's website:
Odds of winning Super Bowl 58
- Kansas City Chiefs — 7-1
- Philadelphia Eagles — 8-1
- Buffalo Bills — 9-1
- San Francisco 49ers — 10-1
- Cincinnati Bengals — 11-1
- Dallas Cowboys — 15-1
- Detroit Lions — 17-1
- Baltimore Ravens — 18-1
- New York Jets — 18-1
- Los Angeles Chargers — 25-1
A few things jump out here.
First, there are the Philadelphia Eagles, who are favored to win the NFC and face the Chiefs in what would be a Super Bowl rematch. A note of caution here: Only once since the AFL/NFL merger in 1966 has the Super Bowl featured a rematch of the previous season’s participants — after the 1992 and 1993 seasons, when the Dallas Cowboys beat up on the Buffalo Bills in back-to-back title games.
Beyond the Eagles, the Bills check in at 9-1 to win it all, followed by the San Francisco 49ers, where bettors might see value in their 10-1 odds. The Niners began last year with Trey Lance as their quarterback, only to lose him to a season-ending injury in Week 2. Lance’s backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, took over, only to suffer an injury of his own in December. That left the QB position in the hands of rookie Brock Purdy, who proceeded to win seven straight games as the starter and lead the team to the NFC title game against Philadelphia — only to suffer an injury of his own in the first quarter of that game, effectively ending the 49ers’ season on the spot. A healthy Purdy enters this season as the starter; if he can pick up where he left off — and steer clear of a sophomore slump — San Francisco is an obvious contender.
A few other notes on the odds:
- The Cowboys are again seen as contenders, at 15-1 to win the Super Bowl. But after having won two Super Bowls and attained dynasty status in the early ’90s, they have been a postseason underachiever, having last appeared in the NFC title game after the 1995 season.
- With Aaron Rodgers moving from the Green Bay Packers to New York, the Jets clock in at just 18-1 to grab the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The last time the odds were that low — and the expectations that high — for the Jets was in the run-up to the 2011 season, which ended in disappointment with an 8-8 record and no playoff berth. The Jets have missed the playoffs for 12 consecutive seasons, the longest current drought.
- Speaking of droughts, the Lions have won a grand total of one playoff game in the past 65 seasons; that win came after the 1991 season, when, led by running back Barry Sanders, they beat Dallas and made it to the NFC title game. But the Lions ended last year on a tear, winning seven of their final nine games, finishing with a winning record and barely missing the playoffs. Quarterback Jared Goff seemed rejuvenated, throwing no interceptions in the final nine games of the year, and Detroit fans are feeling hope and excitement like they haven’t in decades.
As mentioned above, the preseason favorite usually doesn’t win the Super Bowl. In fact, the last three winners (Kansas City last year, Tampa Bay after the 2021 season and the Chiefs after the 2020 season) all started the year with odds of at least 10-1. All told, nine of the last 15 Super Bowl winners began the year with double-digit odds. The longest shot to win the Super Bowl in the last 15 years? The Philadelphia Eagles, who entered the 2017 season at 40-1 and ended it with a Super Bowl win over New England.
CORRECTION (Sept. 8, 2023, 10:30 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated which team the Lions beat after the 1991 season. It was Dallas, not Washington.