Well, this is it. The week we’ve both been waiting impatiently for and one we feared wouldn’t actually come to fruition. The Kansas City Chiefs open the NFL season on Thursday night against the Houston Texans and we welcome it with open arms.
It’s a long season – and it’ll be getting longer from next year on, but the joy of that is the ante-post positions you can take up and laugh at your mates when the Super Bowl comes around. Here are some gridiron gambles we think will last the distance and hopefully you’ll be the first down (heh heh) the pub to celebrate all this with your mates on the first Sunday of February.
Don’t even start me. We need two things to go very right here for the Bills. The first is Josh Allen needs to improve, and secondly, we need a safety to step up to Pro Bowl level. I would suggest the first is probable and Micah Hyde went to a Pro Bowl in 2017, so I’m hopeful of that.
The reason Buffalo were such a laughing stock for so long was because they could probably win 10 games and not make the playoffs. Now, free of Tom Brady, they’re the favourites to win the AFC East for the first time in 20 years and rightly so.
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To be a terrific team, you need some boxes checked. First: a versatile quarterback with a good arm. You need a drilled slot receiver and an emerging talent in that position to play opposite a true #1. You need two well-drilled tackles; interior and edge pass rush; someone capable of running with tight ends; a true shutdown corner – and a clever pair of coordinators.
Josh Allen; Cole Beasley; Isaiah Hodgins; Stefon Diggs; Cody Ford and Dion Dawkins; Ed Oliver and AJ Epenesa; Tremaine Edmunds; Tre’Davious White; Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier.
The blueprint is there and the price is insulting.
First of all – Matt Stafford is a Pro Bowl talent whose impact will be directly magnified week in, week out. That alone puts him in the top three in the betting for me. Secondly, the injury that kept him out has been completely green-lighted by doctors, which isn’t always the case in these situations.
Ben Roethlisberger has missed too much time and is 39 in March. Alex Smith won’t play this year. Rob Gronkowski might well be the biggest threat to this selection, but he’s going to be splitting receptions with what is effectively a younger, faster, stronger version of himself in O.J. Howard.
As for Cam? People like to forget the fact he was putrid in his last season with Carolina, and the one prior. He’s starting quality, but just about.
Javon Kinlaw was the best pass rusher in this class not named Chase Young, but with the lack of talent in Washington, it’s hard to see him making an immediate impact as he can easily be schemed out of action on first and second down.
Instead, we switch coasts and look at the toolsy Kinlaw who will be the only member of that Niners defensive line to receive single blocking assignments on a consistent basis. Bosa will be screaming off the edge with tight ends coming in to leverage him away. Armstead anchors the centre and with D.J. Jones or Solomon Thomas probably playing one-tech, that should see Kinlaw given space to erupt.
The price, again, is mammoth.
There’s a whole host of contenders for this – far more so than on the opposite side of the ball, but Courtland Sutton is the key to this bet because he’ll demand safety attention overtop and will be doubled in all likelihood.
If Jeudy is to start as the Y receiver as touted, then I believe Denver will come out in a lot of trips looks to confuse defences about just how to handle his route running, Sutton’s hands and fellow rookie KJ Hamler’s speed.
Jeudy is the closest thing to Keenan Allen to come from the collegiate level in a while, and if he’s anywhere near that savvy on his breaks, he’s a great price here.