2018 was an amazing season in the NFL. From Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs lighting up the AFC, until they were downed by Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the New England Patriots.
No one would have predicted a 50-touchdown season for the second-year quarterback, or that Todd Gurley would decimate the NFL, charging into the end zone 17 times before only gaining 35 yards in the Super Bowl.
As always, this is a league full of surprises and going into the 100th anniversary, it’s unlikely to change.
NFL Regular Season MVP
Mahomes is 11/2 to repeat his amazing 2018 achievements and be crowned Regular Season MVP, but he’d have to go something special to score 50 touchdowns again. We are looking for a new hero and the Cleveland Browns think they have one in Baker Mayfield.
Last season the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner passed for over 3,700 yards and 27 TDs, but didn’t have the calibre of weapons in front of him which he has now. Plus, he didn’t start the season as QB1.
With Odell Beckham Jr catching his passes, this electric duo will light up the AFC and it’s hard to look past the rockstar gun-slinger at 14/1 if the former underdogs win at least 10 games.
Most Regular Season Received Yards/Towndowns
OBJ is 16/1 to pick up the most receiving touchdowns and 12/1 for the most yards. In 2015, with Eli Manning leading the Giants attack, Odell went for 1450 yards, which would have ranked him fifth last season. If he stays fit, adding another 200 yards with Baker behind him is not as outrageous as it sounds.
You can’t rule out the battle between Julio Jones and Deandre Hopkins as elite pass catchers. They finished fifth and 13th respectively, but now the Texans have upgraded their OL and are looking to win now and despite adding Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson, Hopkins is the go-to target and Watson will continue to hit him downfield.
Antonio Brown is unlikely to manage 15 again, leaving the Texan WR to only need a slight improvement to lead the league.
Jones scored eight TDs in the second half of the season. If the 30-year-old can discover red zone consistency, he’ll have no trouble finding double-figure touchdowns, but it’s still too difficult to look past OBJ.
In just 12 games last season, with Eli Manning under centre, the former LSU wideout managed 1052 yards and six touchdowns. If healthy and happy, with a pass-happy QB willing to go long, the receiver has the skill to produce one of the best receiver campaigns we’ve seen in years.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
All eyes are on Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals, so it’s no surprise to see him as the favourite for this award at 15/8, but my money is on Josh Jacobs at the Oakland Raiders.
Jon Gruden is going to lean heavily on his brand new running back and with little tread on the tyres, expect him to reach the 250 mark for rushing attempts.
Last year’s winner, Saqoun Barkley, had 261 rushing attempts for 1307 yards. The Raiders have a better OL than Giants did last season and it didn’t stop the former Penn State powerhouse winning the award.
On the defensive side, this could be a very exciting year. Nick Bosa at the 49ers is a great talent, as is Josh Allen at the stacked Jacksonville Jaguars, but the standout has to be Devin Bush.
The Pittsburgh Steelers needed to add some mobility to their defence and moved up to the 10th pick to land their man.
He landed 10 sacks over his last two seasons at the Michigan Wolverines and he could easily, with less pressure on the rookie, challenge the seven sacks the Colts Darius Leonard managed in 2018. At 5/1, he is the favourite and a smart pick.
On the same side of the ball, there has to be a big chance that Myles Garrett could lead the Browns D and pick up the Defensive Player of the Year award at 18/1.
Although under head coach Vic Fangio, the man behind the impressive Chicago Bears defence last year, we should expect a huge season from Von Miller. Going higher than the 14.5 sacks he managed last year and he is a solid pick at 9/1.
Yet, the Browns have talent all across the defensive front, meaning the opposition can no longer double team Garrett and get away with it. The 23-year-old is continuing to improve and is primed to build on the 13.5 sacks he landed during their 7-8-1 campaign.
DOUBLE CHUBB, DOUBLE ACTION
One fun bet for this season is what I am calling the ‘Double Chubb’. Browns running back Nick Chubb to score the most running touchdowns this season at 14/1 and Bradley Chubb, the second-year linebacker on the Denver Broncos defence to pick up the most regular season sacks at 22/1.
Nick started just nine games last term and scored eight TDs. He is now the clear RB1 at FirstEnergy Stadium and will go over 1000 yards for the Browns and should have no problem hitting double-digit touchdowns.
Even when Kareem Hunt makes his return around week 10 or 11, Chubb might see fewer rushing attempts, but he’ll still be the red zone man for Freddie Kitchens.
On the other side of the ball, the Broncos could be the new Bears and Bradley should surpass his tally of 12 sacks from last season. Both Chubbs are set for big seasons, so this is a fun bet to watch during the 2019 campaign.
Most Touchdown Passes
If you are in the business of printing money in 2019, you can’t look beyond Patrick Mahomes leading the NFL in passing touchdowns at 3/1.
No one is predicting he repeats the success of 50 from last year, but even in he dropped his number by 20%, he would still finish with more than any other quarterback managed in 2018/19.
Andrew Luck isn’t going to build on his 39 touchdowns, and as interesting as Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees are, they have a long way to go to match the Chiefs QB.
Regression is almost inevitable from the 2018/19 MVP, but it is going to take a phenomenal performance to stop him from being the No.1 again. He still has all his weapons. Travis Kelce is one of the elite Tight Ends who could improve his production on last year too.
One man who could challenge him is Watson. The Texans QB threw 26 last year, now, with Will Fuller back, Duke Johnson and a competent Left Tackle added, he is a great pick at 30/1 to move up to the mid-30s and is a great dark horse to pip Mahomes to the title.