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Super Bowl 51 Odds like Steelers, Patriots over Bengals in AFC

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Even in their best years under Marvin Lewis, the Bengals have rarely been viewed as anything more than the third or fourth-best team in the AFC, and that's not changing heading into the 2016 season.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl 50 has come and gone, which means the 2015 NFL season is now officially over.

That also means we can begin look ahead to the 2016 season and the early favorites to make it to Super Bowl 51. The Cincinnati Bengals finished 2015 tied for the third-best record in the league, not to mention the same record as the champion Denver Broncos. You could make a good argument for Cincinnati being the AFC's best team if Andy Dalton is healthy, but the oddsmakers don't quite see it that way heading into next year.

The early set of odds released for the favorite to win the next Super Bowl are out, and the Bengals come in at 14-1 odds, according to the Westgate in Las Vegas. Those are tied with Denver for the third-best odds in the AFC, behind the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

That's probably fair in terms of how the rosters look right now. The Bengals currently have their No. 1 corner (Adam Jones), both starting safeties (Reggie Nelson and George Iloka), their starting right tackle (Andre Smith) and two key linebackers (Vincent Rey and Emmanuel Lamur) set to hit free agency.

Still, I'm not sure the Steelers deserve to be that much more of a favorite at 8-1 odds, nearly double the Bengals, let alone tied with New England and Seattle for the best odds to win next year's Super Bowl. Then again, it's hard to have too much faith in the Bengals until they end their postseason drought, something they almost certainly would have done this past season if Dalton was healthy.

Alas, this gives the Bengals more motivation for the offseason as they see they're not viewed as the team to beat in the AFC, let alone their own division. If we've learned anything about these Bengals, it's that they're best when they are the hunters, not the hunted.

Here are the current Super Bowl 51 odds, courtesy of the Westgate in Las Vegas.