We are mere weeks away from the start of training camps across the NFL and not too long after that we'll be off to the races for the start of the 2021 regular season. While you can't beat the stretch run of legit NFL action unfolding during the season, I admittedly like the final weeks of the summer as well. Not only are there position battles to digest, but the time is filled with analyzing every team across the league and trying to predict how each will hold up throughout the year (I also love using this period to put the finishing touches on my fantasy football draft prep in what will undoubtedly be a .500 season on my part, but that's a conversation for a different day).
Trying to figure out some of these teams and their prospects for a successful season in 2021 has been one of the points of recent interest here at CBS Sports. My colleague, Cody Benjamin, recently uncovered some of the more underrated teams in the league heading into this season and it's now my job to go in the opposite direction. Yes, we'll be highlighting some of the clubs that are a tad overrated as we are on the doorstep of camps opening up. We'll be using the Over/Under win totals and Super Bowl chances along with a few more odds at William Hill Sportsbook as some of the key barometers as we take the temperature on these teams and highlight why they may be stacked a bit too high.
Super Bowl Odds: +1400
Over/Under win total: 10 (Over -150)
If everything goes right for the 49ers in 2021, they could easily win the Super Bowl. That said, when does every piece perfectly falling into place happen for any NFL team? The Niners are currently tied for the fourth-best odds to win Super Bowl LVI and are tied for the second-best odds to win the NFC.
While there is plenty of talent to like on this roster, there are some rather large questions. First, what's the deal at quarterback? San Francisco made waves this offseason by trading up to the No. 3 overall pick to eventually select North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance, signaling that he is the future under center for the franchise. Despite making that monumental move, the team still hung on to former franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo.
The common thought is that Garoppolo will at least begin the year as the 49ers' starter as Lance -- who played at the FCS level for the Bison -- will develop behind the scenes. While the ideal situation for San Francisco may be for Garoppolo to play and play well in 2021 and then hand off the starting job to Lance in 2022 after a year of seasoning, that may be too tall of an ask. When healthy, Garoppolo has shown that he can lead a team to the Super Bowl. The problem, however, is that he's never healthy. He's only played one full season in the league to this point (which just so happened to be the year San Francisco advanced to Super Bowl LIV). With that in mind, Garoppolo's durability is hardly something you can take to the bank. If he does go down, the Niners may throw Lance into the deep end a bit earlier than they may want. It's also worth noting that a rookie quarterback has never won a Super Bowl and hasn't even been able to even reach the big game. Essentially, you'd be asking Lance to make NFL history right out of the gate if he's thrust in as the starter at any point.
Finally, it's also worth pointing out that San Francisco lost defensive coordinator Robert Saleh this offseason and no longer has veteran corner Richard Sherman, who was playing at an All-Pro level during that Super Bowl run a few years ago.
Super Bowl Odds: +2500
Over/Under win total: 8.5 (Over -130)
The Broncos are a weird team to try to project. There's no better evidence pointing to that than Cody having them as an underrated team heading into 2021 while I consider them a tad overrated. They are tied for the sixth-best odds to win the title this year and that's solely dependent upon whether they are able to acquire reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers as he continues to squabble with the Packers. While it does appear that Rodgers is firm in his desire to be traded out of Green Bay and Denver has continued to be looked at as the favorite to land him, that's a pretty big if and not something I'd be willing to throw some cash at when looking at a future bet to win the Super Bowl.
Yes, the Broncos have some interesting offensive skill position players and a defense that could easily be a top 10 unit this year, but their ceiling is capped with what they currently have at the quarterback position. Right now, Denver is gearing up for a training camp battle between 2020 starter Drew Lock and veteran Teddy Bridgewater. No matter who comes out on top and wins the starter job, it doesn't really change my opinion on whether this team can be a viable threat in the AFC. Again, if Rodgers ends up at Mile High, it's a totally different ballgame. But as this roster is currently constructed -- particularly at quarterback -- it's hard to have much faith that the Broncos will be able to live up to some of these lofty odds that have been placed on them.
Super Bowl Odds: +3000
Over/Under win total: 9 (Over -150)
New England made a ton of headlines this offseason thanks largely in part due to its free agent spending spree. That has some projecting that the Patriots will be able to bounce back quite nicely from their under-.500 campaign in 2020. While all of those players are talented and much-needed additions for a Patriots squad that was lacking top-tier talent a season ago, when is the last time the team that broke the bank in free agency turned around and actually won the Super Bowl or even came close?
The addition of tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith should help New England's offense, but that unit still has a few question marks. Is Cam Newton going to improve upon a 2020 season where he struggled mightily in the passing game? If not, will first-round rookie Mac Jones be able to learn Josh McDaniels' complex offense to the point where he can start over Newton? Also, is the wide receiver group any good? The Patriots did spend at the position by adding Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, but that unit is still missing a true No. 1 option.
The defense should be improved after bringing in Matt Judon, Kyle Van Noy and Jalen Mills along with the return of Dont'a Hightower, which gives New England some hope of contending in the division. However, the Patriots will need to sort things out with star corner Stephon Gilmore, who is currently holding out due to a contract dispute. If they can lock him in and get that issue resolved, Bill Belichick's defense should be a tough out. That said, can they put up points?
Super Bowl Odds: +1400
Over/Under win total: 10.5 (Under -130)
The Rams are one of the sexy picks to win the Super Bowl this year and for good reason. They upgraded at quarterback after making the blockbuster trade for Matthew Stafford that sent Jared Goff back to Detroit. This change creates a much higher ceiling for Los Angeles, albeit possibly shortening its championship window. While I do love that trade and overall like what the team did this offseason, I do have some pause about how highly they're being talked about. I think Tom Brady's immediate success in his first year with the Buccaneers has clouded fans' minds about how difficult it can be to switch teams and instantly contend. It's not easy taking yourself out of an offense that you've known your entire 12-year NFL career and expect to be as masterful in a new one after just one summer of experience. I'm also a bit curious about how Stafford will fare in the playoffs if the Rams make a deep run. That'll be uncharted waters for the former No. 1 overall pick, who is 0-3 in his three playoff contests to this point.
Meanwhile, the Rams did lose star defensive coordinator Brandon Staley to the Chargers this offseason. Raheem Morris will replace him as the DC and I'll be interested to see if this unit continues to cruise as it has in recent years. The presence of Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey will certainly make Morris' life easier as he transitions to this role, but will he have the same impact as Staley? That remains to be seen.
Again, I'm high on the Rams and fully expect them to be a playoff team, but I'm maybe not as high as the general NFL public from a Super Bowl perspective given the big changes at key spots, which technically makes them a touch overrated.