CLEVELAND — The start of the new NFL year is more than a month away and the evaluation process of the rookie class and veteran free agents is still in its infancy, but those facts have not stopped odds makers from setting early lines for Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens, Florida next February.
According to Super Book USA’s Jeff Sherman, the Cleveland Browns are tied for the 11th-best odds to win Super Bowl LIV.
The Browns are tied with the 2017 NFL Champion Philadelphia Eagles, reigning AFC North Division champion Baltimore Ravens, and two teams out of the AFC South, the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans. Of that group, only the Browns failed to make the playoffs in 2018.
The Kansas City Chiefs were given the best odds (6/1), while the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints and newly-minted champion New England Patriots came in at 8/1.
The Los Angeles Chargers, Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers were listed as 14/1, while the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys came in at 16/1.
The Miami Dolphins are considered the long shot across the NFL, as their chance to win Super Bowl LIV in their home stadium was listed as a league-worst 300/1.
New Browns coach Freddie Kitchens knows what it is like to coach in the NFL’s final game of the season, and the first time around, it did not end well, as the Arizona Cardinals fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009.
From that moment on, Kitchens has worked tirelessly to ensure he never has that kind of feeling again.
“I went to the Super Bowl. I lost the Super Bowl,” Kitchens said at his introductory press conference last month. “I never want to be in that position again. But every decision I have made since 2008 has been getting in position to do that.
“The fun is in the winning and we are going to have fun. So in an algebraic equation, if we are going to have fun and the fun is in the winning, we are going to win and we are going to have a damn good time doing it.”
The Browns were anything but a finished product when Kitchens took over the play-calling duties on Monday, October 29, hours after former coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were dismissed to clean up “internal discord” within the organization.
At 2-5-1 following a 33-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 28 and in the middle of the unprecedented midseason coaching upheaval with eight games left to play, the 2018 Browns did not look like a team capable of the greatest year-to-year turnaround in franchise history.
But a 5-3 record over the second half of the season and a three-game winning streak in December secured the Browns’ greatest turnaround in team history, as they finished plus-7.5 in victories over the winless 2017 campaign.