This is one of the most hyped seasons in memory for Syracuse football. You’d have to go back to the ’90s, the heyday of Donovan McNabb and Coach P, for the last time SU had this many optimists before the season. The 24-0 shutout of Liberty wasn’t always pretty, but the result was the most important part.
As we head into Week 1 of the NFL season, which team does SU feel similar to? We’re looking for a squad that has optimism, but isn’t supposed to be good enough to win the Super Bowl. Let’s look at the Super Bowl betting PA odds, and see where the powerhouses and favorites line up first.
Clemson, Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma are the top four in the country, all with heavy odds to make the CFB Playoff. So let’s make them the four teams from the title games last year, the Pats, Chiefs, Saints and Rams. After that, you have Ohio State, LSU and Texas, all programs that hope to win their conferences and wouldn’t be a shock to grab a playoff spot. So let’s make them the Bears, Eagles and Chargers.
Now it gets interesting. We need a team that has plenty of optimism surrounding the season, but a trip to the Super Bowl would be unlikely. That eliminates the Packers or the Steelers. Those teams have played and won championships in the recent past. They haven’t been in a down cycle for nearly as long as the Orange.
The one thing that the SU program can count on is solid coaching. We know Dino Babers track record of success, and so a team like the Browns doesn’t fit. While there’s plenty of Syracuse/Cleveland connections (like Jim Brown and Ernie Davis), no one knows if Freddie Kitchens will actually be a liability.
While Doug Marrone coached on both sidelines, the Orange aren’t the Jaguars. Jacksonville has already been the trendy pick after its AFC Title Game run two years ago, and is coming off a down year. The Cardinals aren’t a good match either. They have plenty of excitement, but no one expects them in the postseason this year.
For the best parallel to Syracuse this season we have to go out to the West Coast. (Drum roll please.) The 2019 Forty Niners are the best comp in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan is more unproven than Babers, but lots of people around the league think he’s a future star on the sideline. The QB is also somewhat unproven, but has a lot of enthusiasm around what we might see. Jimmy G. meet Tommy DeVito. The division has a beast in it to overcome, for the Niners its the Rams, for SU it’s Clemson. But if things break San Fran’s way, we could see them play in huge games down the stretch. The same can be said for SU.