The 100th season of the NFL gets under way on Friday 6th of September with the classic match-up of the Packers visiting the Bears. The Patriots ($7.00) again open the season as favourites to lift the Lombardi trophy and who seriously can write them off? The top four teams in betting are the four team that contested the AFC/NFC Championships, with the Chiefs ($7.50), Saints ($9.00) and Rams ($10.00). The biggest shock is seeing the historically bad Cleveland Browns ($13.00) fill out the top five in betting. Can they finally give the Dawg Pound something to cheer about? The Superbowl market is wide open and you could make a case for ten or so teams, which on paper will be one of the most competitive seasons in recent memory.
The more things change the more they stay the same. The New England Patriots just continue to dominate, coming off Brady and Belichicks 6th Lombardi trophy, they will start another season as red hot favourites at $1.14 to win the AFC East for the 11th Straight year and claim 16 out of the last 17. The Jets ($7.00) and Bills ($10.00) should improve this year with key free agent signings and the expected (or hoped) improvement of 2nd Year QB’s Sam Darnold and Josh Allen, but is it too soon for them to conquer the all-conquering Patriots Dynasty? The Dolphins ($41) do not appear to be in the running, except for the number one pick, with first-year head coach Brian Flores relying on a little Fitzmagic to get his job off to a good start.
Prediction: Patriots win the Division
The AFC South is wide open this year with all 4 teams given a chance to win. Indianapolis are the $2 favourites, led by a healthy Andrew Luck after the Colts stormed into the playoffs last year and have made further improvement through free agency and the draft. The Texans are the defending champs and at $3.50, a team that has arguably the best Defensive Lineman in JJ Watt and the best WR in Deandre Hopkins always must be respected. Led by College National Championship winning QB Deshaun Watson could they go back-to-back in the South? A widely held opinion across the NFL was that the Jaguars ($5.00) have a Superbowl winning team at every position but were being held back by their QB. The organisation must have bought in to this belief as they let Florida local and former first-round pick Blake Bortles go and signed former Superbowl MVP Big D*ck Nick Foles Can he lead this team to the playoffs? Last but no mean least is the intriguing Tennessee Titans team ($6.50), a team who finished 9-7 last year and have talent on both sides of the ball. This will be a fun division to watch.
Prediction: Houston go back-to-back and the Colts get a wild card.
*Luck may have retired, I still believe there roster is good enough to compete and have faith in Jacoby Brissett to make the Wildcard. Houston just became shorter for the Division.
After years and years of misery, if you believe the odds, the dark days are over in Cleveland. Not since LeBron came back has there been this much excitement about sport in Cleveland. The Browns have a stacked roster, led by Baker Mayfield, featuring arguably the best WR tandem as college best mates OBJ and Jarvis Landry are re-united, but they are also stacked on the defence with former 1st overall pick Myles Garrett looking like a stud last year. Do Cleveland know how to win after years of disappointment and is $2.3 to win the division too short? The Division is notoriously a tough one with Pittsburgh ($2.70) and Baltimore ($3.60) always putting in solid performances. The last team in the division is the Cincinnati Bengals ($19.00) who have a new a coach for the first time in fifteen years in Zac Taylor. The division throws up a lot of questions How will Pittsburgh cope without Antonio Brown? Will Lamar Jackson cope with being a full-time QB? Do the Bengals tank and trade AJ Green to a contender? On paper Cleveland have the best roster but can they shake off the disappointment? Let’s hope so as they seem to be everyone’s 2nd favourite team.
Prediction: Cleveland put it all together and win the division.
Punters have narrowed the AFC west down to a 2 Horse race, the high-powered offence of Kansas City at $1.65, led by the 2020 Madden covered gunslinger Patrick Mahomes, and the always competitive Los Angeles Chargers at $2.7. Winning the Division has never been an issue for Andy Reid and the Chiefs, winning the big ones in January are where they seem to come up short. Is this the year the Chiefs go all the way? They currently sit high in the odds at $7.50 to win the Superbowl. The Chargers, however, just seem to find new ways to lose, led by father of nine, Phillip Rivers, they are always competitive. The Broncos ($12) and Raiders ($14) round out the division with neither team given much hope by punters but will be an interesting watch in Oakland with Jon Gruden and Antonio Brown.
Prediction: The division will come down to the wire and will be decided Week 17 when the Chargers visit Arrowhead, the winner wins the Division the loser must settle for the top wildcard.
Once again, punters have got this division down to two, the 2017 Superbowl Champs Philadelphia Eagles at $1.85 and the most valuable team in sport, the Dallas Cowboys, at$2.35. The Eagles, coming off a Superbowl hangover in 2018, are favoured to bounce back this year. if Carson Wentz can stay healthy it’ll be a tight fight with the Cowboys. The Cowboys are struggling with players wanting more money, the big 3 of Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliot and Amari Cooper all want to get paid. If they can keep them all happy and well paid then they should be winning this division, with stars everywhere on defence. The most exciting part of the Giants ($12) season will be seeing when Daniel Jones takes over from Eli Manning, with Saquon being a QB’s best friend I think they make the move quickly. The Redskins ($11) will be competing for the number 1 draft pick.
Prediction: The Cowboys win the Division. I still can’t trust Wentz to stay healthy and at $1.85, the odds are too short. I don’t think Philly make the playoffs.
An exciting, high powered offensive division, with all 4 teams possessing game changing talent on offence, but the punters have settled on New Orleans as the favourites at $1.55, and rightfully so,. After being robbed of a trip to the Superbowl by what has gone down as one of the worst refereeing decisions in sport since Maradona’s hand of god in 1986. Led by Drew Brees, who is on track to smash every passing stat in NFL History, they will be extremely tough to beat at home. The Atalanta Falcons ($4.00) will always be dangerous with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, but they must still be feeling the effects of the Superbowl choke. The Carolina Panthers ($6.5) have one of the hottest young talents on offence in Christian McCaffery but not even him and Cam Newton will be able to help their season. Tampa Bay ($10) somehow convinced Bruce Arians out of retirement and this is a make or break year for Jameis Winston. I think the Bucs are a good chance to make the playoffs.
Prediction: Saints win the Division easily, the Buccaneers shock and come 2nd but miss out on a wild card.
This will the best division in the NFL, with 3 teams that are absolutely stacked, really don’t like each other and have had fantastic, historic rivalries. There are 3 teams with 40 cents separating them for the division. The Chicago bears are slightly favoured at $2.7 and they showed their intent last year by acquiring one of the most dominant players in the NFL in Khalil Mack to join an already stellar defence. A name to look out for in your fantasy drafts is David Montgomery, picked up by the Bears in the 3rd round of the draft, has looked the goods in the preseason and will help take some pressure of Mitch Trubisky. The Green Bay Packers are at $2.8 and led by Aaron Rodgers you can never count them out. The Packers went down a smart avenue this offseason by drafting mainly defensive players and building a potentially league leading defence to go with Rodgers’ unbelievable QB ability. Minnesota might have been favourites in four other divisions but in this one they sit on the 3rd line of betting at $3.1. Always competitive on both sides of the ball, can Kirk Cousins shake his poor record against winning teams and lead the Vikings to the playoffs? You must feel for the Detriot Lions ($11) who are by no means a bad football team but with six games in this division, it is tough to see them challenging.
Prediction: Bears win the division but Packers and Vikings get the NFC wildcards.
Finally, the NFC west. The first division won last year as the LA Rams absolutely smoked ‘em. The punters think the same will happen again with the Rams at $1.5. Can they regather themselves after losing the Superbowl? With Sean McVay coaching you would think they would still be as explosive on offence and with Aaron Donald on defence who would argue they won’t go one better? You can never really count out the Seattle Seahawks ($3.8) and they seem to have rebuilt their team quickly, led by Russell Wilson they are always competitive and have added the freakish combination of size and talent in DK Metcalf to replace the unfortunate retirement of Doug Baldwin. They will always be competitive at home, but the Rams should prove too good. The 49ers ($6.00) are an interesting team with some young talent on offence led by the returning (and lets be honest, gorgeous) Jimmy Garoppolo. Can they spring a surprise and realise their potential? And then there is the Arizona Cardinals ($26) with everybody’s favourite player who isn’t on their own team Larry Fitzgerald, who remarkably has more tackles as a WR than drops. It will be interesting to see how 1st overall pick Kyler Murray goes in the NFL.
Prediction: Rams win the division again.
Chiefs beat the Patriots
Bears beat the Rams
Bears vs Chiefs. The saying goes “Defence wins championships”, meaning Chicago win it all.
Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) Who saw luck retiring coming?
Aaron Rodgers ( Green Bay)
Offensive Rookie of the Year
David Montgomery (Chicago Bears)
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Quinnen Williams (New York Jets) Due to the form in Preseason I have changed my Prediction to Josh Allen (Jacksonville Jaguars)