It’s here! At last!
The 100th season of the NFL is just around the corner with the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers kicking things off on Friday at 00:20am.
What better way to start the season than a huge NFC North rivalry, with both teams carrying play-off expectations. A new look offence taking on one of the best defensive teams in the league last year. Expect fireworks.
No one envisions either side to be involved when Super Bowl LIV lands in Miami on February 02, 2020. Both are priced at 17/1 to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy – but 9/5 to win NFC North.
Personally, the value in NFC North looks to be with the Minnesota Vikings at 21/10. Running back Dalvin Cook is healthy, taking the load off Kirk Cousins. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are both in the tier just below the elite receivers and the defence is going to cause problems.
In terms of division winners, there isn’t much value in the AFC East, AFC West, NFC South and NFC West. Everyone expects the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams to dominate, and with three high-powered offences and Tom Brady, it’s hard to disagree.
Love or hate the Pats, you have to respect them. Brady is the G.O.A.T, Bill Belichick is a genius.
They are bloody dull, but they get the job done.
My rule is this: ‘Bet on the Pats until someone stops them making the Super Bowl’. Nick Foles and the Eagles showed they are human, making them bleed with the Philly Special, but regardless of how they start or who or where they play, they are the most *clutch of clutch sports teams in America. *That made me a little bit sick*
Amazingly, the reigning champs are 5/1 to finish with the best regular season record. CBS Sports revealed the team from Foxborough have the second-easiest schedule based on their opponent’s record from last season.
Playing the Dolphins, Bills and Jets twice, then the Bengals, Redskins and Giants, they could be on nine wins before they even get started against the better sides.
A play at 3/1 to win the AFC Championship looks like great value. Eventually, the House of Gillette will fall (please let it fall), but until it does, take some solace and joy from winning money off the back of Brady’s right arm.
Sticking with the AFC, the North is one of the most interesting divisional battles in football.
Everyone is expecting the Cleveland Browns to become something special and with Baker Mayfield throwing the ball to Odell Beckham Jr, I’m not going to disagree. Yet, you can’t look past the Pittsburgh Steelers @ 6/4.
They have something to prove with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell gone. Devin Bush looks like a great addition to a very dangerous defence. Juju Smith-Schuster is WR1 and primed to explode. James Conner is an excellent RB and this is an offence who know each other well and aren’t starting from scratch.
The Browns are 7/5, but don’t forget about the Baltimore Ravens at 11/4.
John Harbaugh’s team somehow went 10-6 with Joe Flacco playing as quarterback for eight games. Lamar Jackson goes into his first full season as QB1. He was only allowed to pass against seven teams during the regular season and threw for six touchdowns.
His running was a huge factor, in 147 attempts he averaged 4.7 yards per carry, which puts him ahead of Ezekiel Elliott, Mark Ingram and Chris Carson.
Even a slight improvement as a passer is going to be exciting to watch. The Ravens defence are very well-coached and they seem to be forgotten about as a contender. You can take the Ravens as an AFC Wild Card team at 4/1.
NFC Championship Contenders
Over in the NFC, away from the Saints and Rams, the Philadelphia Eagles are a strong dark horse contender.
Doug Pederson knows how to go all the way. If Carson Wentz stays fit he is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and has the likes of Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffrey and returning WR DeSean Jackson to target.
The defence remains intact, there is little doubt in my mind with fortune falling their way, at 6/1 they are a good bet for the NFC title.
With the addition of Jadeveon Clowney, the Seattle Seahawks massively upgraded their defensive without parting with much capital at all. He replaces Frank Clark who left for the Chiefs, but adding him to a unit which includes Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, Ziggy Ansah and Tre Flowers, gives the Hawks a defence to fear.
Pete Carroll has Russell Wilson at QB, and a Super Bowl ring. Tyler Lockett and Chris Carson are set breakout seasons. They might not edge out the Rams for the NFC West title, but at 4/1 I will be backing them to win a Wild Card spot – which is better value than the 5/4 you can get on them just making the playoffs and then 12/1 to win the NFC Championship.
Anything is possible in the playoffs.
One interesting pick is the 3/1 you can still get on the Indianapolis Colts to make the playoffs.
The AFC is still fairly wide open behind the Chiefs and Pats. They may have lost Andrew Luck – who would have made them Super Bowl contenders, but Jacoby Brissett isn’t as bad a QB as many would have you believe.
When he first had to cover for the injured quarterback, he had only just arrived in the AFC South, he didn’t have any time to learn a bad offence and the line in front of him was the reason Luck was missing in the first place.
Brissett has a good arm, he is mobile and is now playing in a much improved offensive system. The OL is one of the best in the league and with the speed of T.Y Hilton and two good TEs in Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron, he has the weapons.
The Colts have not become a bad team overnight. Four wins over the Titans and Jags is more than possible. They play the LA Chargers in week one, Sunday 21.05. which is maybe the best time to take on Philip Rivers. Add in the Raiders, Dolphins and Bucs and you are already at eight wins.
They’re 15/2 for an AFC Wild Card spot or 4/1 to win the AFC South – if you still don’t trust the Texans.
At 10/1 the LA Rams are worth a look to win it all. They know how to make the showpiece final and Sean McVay has rested his starters all preseason in preparation. This time they also think they know how to get a full season out of Todd Gurley.
Back to the final game of the season in Miami and if we don’t get a repeat of the 2019 Super Bowl, or if the Chiefs don’t go all the way, my dark horses to win the whole thing are the Cleveland Browns at 13/1. What a fairytale story that would be.
They have one of the best receivers in the game, they finally have protection for Deshaun Watson and one of the best defensive fronts in football. With all the picks they have given up, they almost have to win it all in the next two years and as a Titans fan, it’s my worst nightmare.
So it’s going to happen.
Dolphins in the Tank?
Before Friday, I was all set to tell you to forget about the Miami Dolphins but to bet on the Cincinnati Bengals to have the worst record in the NFL at 5/1, but then the Fins poured petrol on their campaign. It was already going to be bad, real bad, now Hard Rock Stadium should be categorised as a no-go zone. Caution to anyone who dares enter.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, picked as QB1, has the ability to pick up four or five wins without trying. GM Chris Grier has made FitzMagic’s job much tougher by trading away their exciting Left Tackle, Laremy Tunsil. The equivalent to snapping off your left wing mirror in busy traffic.
You can still get the Dolphins at 3/1. They have barely any receivers, in Keynan Drake they have an RB no one believes in and now they have no offensive line. The Bengals will still be fairly bad, but it’s going to take something special to dip below the efforts of the worst side in the AFC.
One bet worth thinking about is the 14/1 shout for someone to go 0-16. The Dolphins could be *that* bad.
*Prices correct at time of publishing