Keenan Slusher

Texans free agent signings boost Super Bowl odds at Sportsbooks

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The Houston Texans made a splash in the NFL free agent market this week, inking quarterback Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller to rich contracts. Those moves lifted their odds to win Super Bowl 51 to 20/1 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Houston opened the offseason at a distant 50/1 despite claiming the AFC South divisional crown with a 9-7 record last year, posting seven straight-up wins in their final nine outings, including a trio of defensive gems down the stretch in which they surrendered less than eight points per game.

However, the Texans ranked in the bottom half of the league in most offensive categories this past season, an issue the club hopes it has addressed with this week’s signings.

The New York Giants have also been rewarded at the sportsbooks following a busy start to the NFL free agent frenzy, climbing from 40/1 to 33/1 on the odds at the sportsbooks. It was a lost season for New York in 2015, as the club finished at a disappointing 6-10 while surrendering a league-worst 420.3 total yards per game.

The Giants took steps to shore up their woeful defense this week, adding lineman Damon Harrison, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and defensive end Olivier Vernon, and re-signing DE Jason Pierre-Paul.

Both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans were active this week after once again producing losing seasons, but have yet to see any impact on their distant Super Bowl odds.

The Jaguars added DE Malik Johnson from the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos along with rusher Chris Ivory, who toiled for the New York Jets last season, but continue to lag in Super Bowl 51 betting with 66/1 odds.

The Titans have added center Ben Jones, receiver Rishard Matthews, and veteran pivot Matt Cassel, and re-signed tight end Craig Stevens, but have a number of defensive holes to fill, leaving them near the bottom of the NFL futures at 100/1 odds.

The top of the Super Bowl odds remains unchanged with the New England Patriots leading the way at 15/2.

Despite the current uncertainty surrounding who will be under center for the club next season, the Broncos maintain strong 10/1 odds, alongside the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, and Arizona Cardinals, followed by the Dallas Cowboys, who join the Texans at 20/1, and the Cincinnati Bengals, deadlocked with the Minnesota Vikings at 22/1.

The Indianapolis Colts have dipped to 25/1 following Houston’s surge up the odds, while the Oakland Raiders have seen their Super Bowl line rocket to 33/1 after opening back at 66/1.

Caught on camera: Bill Belichick flashes genuine smile

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Bill Belichick is a man of few words and even fewer smiles.

The notorious curmudgeon is famed for keeping his comments and opinions close to the vest during press conferences in front of the media.

But take him out of the football realm and put him on a golf course and it’s a different story entirely.

Below is a shot of Belichick with his girlfriend, Linda Holliday, along with former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and his wife, author and business journalist, Suzy.

Maybe if Belichick made more time on the links he’d be a lot less surly during the season. Although, probably not.

Panthers Super Bowl LI betting favorites despite defeat

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Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers came up short in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday despite being the clear betting favorites for the contest at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Panthers, however, are expected to be contenders for the title once again next season, as they opened among the favorites on the odds to win Super Bowl LI at the sportsbooks.

Carolina fell 24-10 to Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Santa Clara on Sunday, with Newton completing just 18 of his 41 pass attempts for 265 yards against the smothering Denver defense with no touchdowns and one interception. Newton also ran for 45 yards on six carries, while Jonathan Stewart ran for 29 yards and scored the team’s lone touchdown.

The Panthers had the best record in the NFL during the regular season at 15-1, and completed their campaign at 17-2 straight up and 13-6 against the spread. So despite their stumble at Super Bowl 50 the Panthers still opened as +900 co-favorites on the odds to win Super Bowl 51 – putting them tied with the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.

The Patriots were edged 20-18 by the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, after slipping in the final weeks of the regular season and ceding home-field advantage in the AFC side of the playoff bracket to their rivals. The Seahawks ran up against the Panthers in the second round of the playoffs, falling 31-24 at Bank of America Stadium. Seattle finished 10-6 during the regular season last year, while New England was 12-4.

The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers are both set at +1200 on the early odds to win Super Bowl 51, with Green Bay falling to the Arizona Cardinals in the second round of the playoffs and Pittsburgh losing to Denver in the second round. Both the Packers and the Steelers suffered key injuries in the past season and will be looking to be healthier in 2016.

The Cardinals then are set at +1400 on the odds to win Super Bowl 51, after they were crushed 49-15 by the Panthers in the NFC Championship Game. Arizona was 13-3 in 2015.

And the Broncos are then tied with the Dallas Cowboys at +1600 on the opening Super Bowl 51 odds, with Denver’s quarterback situation in flux as Manning decides on his retirement plans. Despite a sub-par and injury-filled year from Manning in 2015 the Broncos still claimed the top seed in the AFC on tiebreakers at 12-4; Brock Osweiler played a chunk of that slate.

Dallas will be hoping a full season out of quarterback Tony Romo gets them back into the mix.

Rounding out the top contenders on the early Super Bowl 51 odds, the Cincinnati Bengals are at +2000, with the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, and Minnesota Vikings at +2500.