The New England Patriots are the clear Super Bowl favorites heading into the 2017 after a slew of offseason moves made the defending champions even scarier on paper, but who could New England face next February in Super Bowl LII?
According to the Golden Nugget sports book, the most likely Super Bowl matchup is the Dallas Cowboys versus the Patriots at 7-1, followed by Patriots-Packers and Patriots-Falcons.
On Monday's episode of Undisputed, Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless reacted to the Vegas odds, and Sharpe explained why the Cowboys aren't headed to the Super Bowl.
The Cowboys' offense will be just as potent as New England's this season
“The Cowboys are going to win the NFC. Now I can’t make a case for them beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl because obviously the Patriots won the Super Bowl and then went out and won the offseason. So I can’t do that.
"But I’m going to tell you this. This Cowboy offense? I think it can be at least as explosive as Tom Brady’s offense will be adding Brandin Cooks and all the new weapons he has.”
Kirby LeeKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Cowboys had another stellar draft
“And I keep telling you, I love this Cowboys draft. It’s going to bring a new energy and a playmaking spirit to this team that it didn’t have last year. I love me some Taco [Charlton]. I want tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner next year when I’m watching my Cowboys. And I love me some [Chidobe] Awuzie and some Jourdan Lewis.
"And I love me this entire defense with what Dez is campaigning for on Twitter. Please go sign Darrelle Revis. This team needs a mentor, a guru, some wise, old rub-off factor in the secondary the way Rod Woodson gave to your Ravens.
"And I want Rod Marinelli back, because he was the MVP of the defense last year. It was top five with a bunch of no-names that you had little to no respect for.”
Matthew EmmonsMatthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Rookies will make big contributions on both sides of the ball
“And on offense, even the kids are starting to contribute. Have you checked out Noah Brown? They’re raving about him, the seventh-round pick out of Ohio State. So he could be a factor on offense, and Ryan Switzer’s going to be a factor on offense. Fresh blood, fresh energy. I love this team, and so does Vegas.”
Shannon Sharpe: “Can I ask you a question? When has an NFL team ever drafted a player and not been impressed with him in minicamp, in OTAs?”
Matthew EmmonsMatthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots are clearly primed for another championship year
“The Patriots I can see. Because if you look at the Patriots and what they did… OK, they had a bunch of guys, they’ve got small guys, and their running game is really an extension of the passing game because they throw a lot of shallow crosses. They throw a lot of short balls and have James White out of the backfield, have him make people miss. That’s really their running game.
"But Bill Belichick says, ‘You know what? I like that, but the best offense that I’ve ever assembled for Tom Brady was 2007 when we got Randy Moss, we got a deep threat. So let me see what I can do, let me pick up the phone. Sean Payton, what would it take for me to get Brandin Cooks? Done.’
"So they want to become more explosive, what do they do? They go out and get Brandin Cooks. And he says, ‘You know what, I know I don’t really turn the dogs loose and let them go after the quarterback, but I want to generate a little more pass rush without having to sacrifice my backend. What can I do?' Calls the Carolina Panthers, ‘What would it take to get Kony Ealy? Because I saw in the Super Bowl he had three sacks, forced fumble, interception. How can we get him? A second-round pick? Done.’
"So he brings in Kony Ealy. Re-signs Dont’a Hightower.
"… I can see why Vegas would say the New England Patriots.”
USA TODAY SportsDan Powers-USA TODAY Sports
The Cowboys won't have lightning strike twice with their draft class
“But now let’s come to your Dallas Cowboys. See I know what you and the Cowboys and a lot of Vegas is doing, because they think lightning’s going to strike twice. They’re trying to stand in the same spot and hope lightning will strike them again like it did with Dak and Zeke. Skip, you and I both know - you’ve covered this game for over 40 years, I played it for a long time and covered it.
"The likelihood of you finding two guys in the draft that come to your team that perform the way they did last year is next-to-none. The only time I can think of that ever happening was the ’74 Steelers, when they drafted Lynn Swann, Mike Webster, John Stallworth, Jack Lambert. All of those, we know what they became. They went to the Hall of Fame.”
Bill StreicherBill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas is counting on rookies to replace the production of veterans, which is dangerous
"They’ve got six rookies that are No. 2 on the depth chart. Now there’s a great chance that some of these guys are going to eventually be starting.
"… You lose your entire secondary. Brandon Carr is gone. Claiborne, gone. Barry Church, gone. Wilcox, gone. You’re basically asking six rookies to come in and contribute, play heavy minutes. I believe at least half of these guys will eventually end up being in the starting lineup. And why I said Dak and Zeke, what they’re hoping is lightning strikes twice. They’re hoping to get the same production this year as they got from last year’s rookie crop.”