The smart money is never sentimental.
The Baltimore Ravens have only the fifth-best odds to defend their Super Bowl championship next season at 14-1. Las Vegas oddsmakers know the recent history; repeating is nearly impossible, and even returning to the title game is rare.
So much for a Ravens dynasty.
It's time to look for the next big deal. Oddsmakers are posting New England as the 7-1 favorite to win Super Bowl XLVIII. Super Bowl loser San Francisco is the second choice along with Denver at 8-1. Green Bay is 10-1.
Baltimore and San Francisco seem like sucker bets. Seven teams won consecutive Super Bowls in the first 33 years, but only New England (2003-04) has done it since the 1999 season. The Patriots were also the only team to play in consecutive Super Bowls; the NFC has crowned 11 different teams in 12 years.
No Super Bowl loser has returned the following year since Buffalo lost four straight from the 1990 to 1993 seasons. Dallas (1971) and Miami (1972) are the only teams to win the Super Bowl after losing the previous year.
New England is the choice after it lost the AFC championship game to Baltimore. Quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick are still the benchmark of recent greatness with three Super Bowls rings even if the last was eight years ago.
Denver quarterback Peyton Manning was named NFL comeback player of the year, so the Broncos are certainly contenders after they were eliminated this season by the Ravens. They will be the sexy wise guy bet.
Green Bay seems too busy making State Farm commercials to return. The Packers won the Super Bowl two years ago but since have shown little postseason muscle.
Baltimore's title paid 20-1 for early futures backers. That odds range is where sharp bettors will look again. Playoff losers Houston (14-1), Seattle (16-1) and Atlanta (18-1) are reasonable futures plays.
New Orleans at 18-1 is intriguing. The Saints were 7-9 despite losing coach Sean Payton to suspension over Bountygate, which hung over the team all season. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Saints rebound with Payton back.
The New York Giants seem like a bad play at 20-1 to win two titles in three years.
Washington and Chicago at 30-1 are also intriguing. The Redskins' chances rely on injured quarterback Robert Griffin III healing quickly from offseason knee surgery. Chicago didn't make the playoffs despite finishing 10-6. However, five of the past 11 Super Bowl winners didn't even reach the previous postseason.
Want a real long shot? Jacksonville and Oakland are both 150-1. It might be a better bet for one of them to relocate to Los Angeles than make the Super Bowl.