DENVER — Inside New Orleans' Superdome, raining confetti made it official for the Ravens.
Let's replace that with a forecast of sunshine for fans of the Broncos:
"The Broncos, top-to-bottom, were a really strong team this season,” said Pat Morrow, the head oddsmaker for Bovada.lv, a leading online sportsbook.
"Realistically, they should take another step forward next season.”
How much further forward?
“We have the Broncos as our favorite to win the Super Bowl.”
The next Super Bowl, that is. The Super Bowl in New Jersey, a strange, cold place to host a Super Bowl. The Super Bowl on Feb. 2, 2014, at the Meadowlands.
Odds are, the Broncos will be there, playing for their third Lombardi Trophy. And I am not one to argue with men and women who anticipate these things and make money doing it.
One day after Baltimore beat San Francisco 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII, the Broncos, 49ers and Patriots became the odds-on favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII.
Denver’s odds are 7:1, according to our oddsmaker.
San Francisco is 15:2.
New England is 15:2.
“We’re not expecting much turnover in those teams from this season to next season,” Morrow said. “Then after (the three favorites), there’s a bit of a drop-off to the next tier.”
The next tier: Green Bay (10:1), Baltimore (12:1), Seattle (12:1) and Houston (14:1).
The tier after that: Atlanta (18:1), New Orleans (18:1, assuming the Saints pay their electric bill) and Pittsburgh (18:1).
Oddsmakers shed a tear, not a tier, when Baltimore upset San Francisco, a 3.5-point favorite.
“The Ravens winning was tough for us,” Morrow said.
Prop bets, some of them bizarre — Will the national anthem extend longer than 2 minutes, 15 seconds? (Alicia Keys nailed it in 2:35); Will Ray Lewis thank God at least three times? (Under); Color of the Gatorade shower? (There was none) — saved their oddsmaking bacon.
“We recouped about 90 percent of our losses (from the game) through prop bets,” Morrow said. “It is interesting to stress about the national anthem as much as the final score.”
The Broncos shed a tear after losing to the Ravens on a strange, cold day at Sports Authority Field. Denver’s early exit had very little impact on the early exit polls for 2013.
"We like Denver not just because of how good Denver is, but how bad the rest of that division is," Morrow said. "That's one reason the Patriots are such a big favorite for us, too."
The rest of the AFC West combined for 13 wins. The Broncos combined for 13 wins.
San Diego has a new coach, Mike McCoy. Kansas City has a new coach, Andy Reid. Oakland has a new ... nope, same Oakland.
“You can figure on the Broncos going at least 5-1 inside their division,” he said. “Even if they go middle-of-the-pack outside of their division, they’re a playoff team.”
A near-record watched Sunday's world championship. Odds are, some in Broncos Country were at odds on where to place their rooting interests — with the Ravens or with the 49ers.
Was it more patriotic to root against the Ravens, who beat the Broncos, or for the Ravens, to justify their defeat of the Broncos?
It is no matter now.
What matters now: Odds are, the Broncos are favored to win the next Super Bowl.
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