Thanks to a certain block-jawed quarterback, Florida is relevant in Super Bowl discussions again.
Oddsmakers have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the most likely Florida team to win the big game. Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins are among the teams with the longest odds of winning the Super Bowl.
Florida does not offer legal sports betting; Mississippi is the nearest state that offers it. However, the dichotomy of a ridiculously talented Bucs team and its little-brother counterparts in Jacksonville and Miami makes an interesting story.
The front-runner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have not made the playoffs since Jon Gruden was the team’s head coach.
Gruden led the Bucs to the playoffs three of the eight years he was at the helm (2002, 2005, 2007). In 2002, Gruden led the team to its only Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
Thirteen years removed from the playoffs, Bucs fans are looking forward to the most interesting season in decades. And that excitement is grounded in the team’s offseason moves on offense.
The franchise signed quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back LeSean McCoy.
The teams’ front office focused on offense in the draft, too, picking up the following three players in the first four rounds:
- Offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs
- Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn
- Wide receiver Tyler Johnson
All these moves add to an already talented offense that includes star wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.
All that momentum has oddsmakers optimistic about Tampa Bay’s chances at winning the Super Bowl. FanDuel, which runs online sportsbooks in multiple states including Las Vegas, puts the Bucs’ chances at +1,500, the fifth-best odds in the league.
The underdog: Miami Dolphins
Tampa Bay does not have a monopoly on renewed optimism, though. Fans in Miami are gearing up for a new season that will likely see rookie sensation Tua Tagovailoa start at quarterback.
The Dolphins’ top draft pick overcame a serious hip injury to be the second QB taken in the 2020 draft.
The former Alabama star could bring stability to an offense that’s seen three different starting quarterbacks in the past three years: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill and Jay Cutler.
While there are no doubt thousands of fans prepping for a #TuaSZN, oddsmakers are realistic. FanDuel has the Dolphins at +8,000 along with the New York Giants and ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals, the Washington NFL team and Jags.
The Dolphins offense is largely a mystery. The team brought in a pair of running backs (Jordan Howard, Matt Breida), DeVante Parker is the team’s best receiver and young pass-catchers Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki are still developing.
The doormat: Jacksonville Jaguars
FanDuel puts the Jags at +20,000, adding insult to the injury that the franchise has been since its 2017 AFC Championship loss to Tom Brady’s New England Patriots.
The Jags have the dubious distinction of being one of only three teams with odds longer than +15,000 (Washington and the Bengals are the others).
While the team’s fanbase likely won’t argue the Jags’ infinitesimally small chances of making the big game, there is optimism.
The Jags shored up their defense in the draft, acquiring cornerback C.J. Henderson and edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson. The team picked up wide receiver Laviska Shenault in the second round, too.
Quarterback Gardner Minshew leads an offense that has weapons. Receiver D.J. Chark and running back Leonard Fournette were among the best at their position earlier in the season last year.
However, question marks on defense and skepticism regarding Minshew’s ability to succeed for a full season have the Jags trudging among the cobwebs of the oddsmakers’ basement.