NFL Season 2018 Preview

The NFL season kicks off this Friday with the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Atlanta Falcons.

To prepare you for the new season, Betfair has worked with Champion Bets to provide you with the most comprehensive NFL Season Preview on the market.

The NFL Season Preview can also be downloaded in as an eBook.

Click HERE to do so.


The reigning AFC champions have won the last nine divisional titles. It’s hard to see the Dolphins, Bills or Jets preventing 10 straight with Belichick and Brady still at the helm.

The odds tell the story here. One team is the Super Bowl favourite and the other three divisional rivals are at the bottom of the market.

The Patriots lost some significant talent in the off-season but they return with Belichick, Brady and Josh McDaniels. If their hall of fame quarterback stays healthy, there’s no reason to look elsewhere.

The Jets, Dolphins and Bills were all active in the offseason but you can see them preparing for the post-Brady era. We’re not expecting more than six wins from any of them, and it could be worse than that for the Bills

Bet Recommendation

 BACK – The New England Patriots to win the AFC East for the 10th time in a row at $1.22

The AFC North starts with the Steelers. Having won the division for the last two years, they are the team to beat. However, there are enough question marks around Pittsburgh to seriously consider the Ravens.

Le’veon Bell’s contract talk won’t go away and we’re confident Big Ben won’t be ageing like Tom Brady. His road performances last season are cause for concern and they face nine teams projected to win more than eight games. Their defensive deficiencies look set to continue too.

For those reasons, and some improvements from their divisional opponents, we’re going to bet against the Steelers.

Baltimore had nine wins last year and we have them in for 8.58 this season. They only face seven teams that are projected to top .500 and they host Pittsburgh off a Monday night game.

That could be the difference. Plus, we’re not convinced Joe Flacco is finished, particularly with the receiving improvements.

We’re taking John Harbaugh’s men at the $5 and hope the Steelers season unravels.

Bet Recommendation

 BACK – The Baltimore Ravens to win the AFC North at $5.00

Defending divisional champions, Jacksonville, are the favourites this season. Followed closely by Houston. Tennessee, who haven’t won a division for nine years, and Indianapolis, are right in the betting too. However, we only want to back one team.

The Colts are undermanned in multiple positions, and even with a full season from Andrew Luck, we can’t see them competing for a playoff spot.

The Titans are better, but their unproven coaching staff makes it hard to see them beating .500. Particularly with off season surgeries to Derrick Morgan, Rishard Matthews and Jack Conklin.

They’d need a lot of luck, and plenty from Marcus Mariota, to win the division. $5 is unders.

Onto our two horses. Plenty of experts love the AFC South champs, Jacksonville. Except us. We see them regressing behind Blake Bortles. Their defence will make this a tough divisional fight, but our money is on the Texans.

A risk, for sure, but Houston are more dynamic than the Jags when fit. DeShaun Watson was electric in his six starts last year and they obviously get J.J. Watt back too. Plus their draw is soft. We like Houston to ride their returning players deep into the Playoffs.

Bet Recommendation

 BACK – The Houston Texans to win the AFC South at $3.00

Another competitive division with no team bigger than $5. Kansas City are the defending champs, however, the Chargers are the firm favourite. Both teams have been backed in for the Super Bowl, and so have the Broncos at big odds.

Coaching and quarterback changes throughout the division has us backing one team. The Los Angeles Chargers.
Philip Rivers’ team won nine of their last 12 and should carry that momentum into the new season.

The veteran quarterback doesn’t show signs of ageing, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in his last three seasons. Plus the Chargers have Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa causing chaos on D.

Injuries to Hunter Henry and Jason Verrett is a concern but the Chargers have too much talent, and an easy enough draw, to miss out on the playoffs again.

Bet Recommendation

 BACK – The Los Angeles Chargers to win the AFC West $2.50


AFC Championship Outlook

The AFC discussion always starts with New England and this year isn’t any different. But, you don’t need us to tell you the Patriots have a strong chance to repeat as AFC champions.

Let’s find a couple of teams who have very good chances of getting to the AFC Championship game and move on to the Super Bowl in Atlanta.

We’re looking at both the Houston Texans and Los Angeles Chargers.

Why the Texans? Houston will get back several players they lost early in the season last year in QB DeShaun Watson, DL J.J. Watt and LB Whitney Mercilus. Watson only started six games before injuring himself in practice.

In the last five games he started, his team averaged 39 points a game. Watson averaged well over 8 yards per pass in those games as well.

The Texans, in addition to getting back Watt and Mercilus have added S Tyrann Mathieu from the Arizona Cardinals and CB Aaron Colvin from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both are above average secondary players and will help to improve one of the weaknesses for the Texans last year. The Texans face only five teams projected to win more than eight games.

The Chargers are another team that could do some damage in 2018. They lost four games by three points or less last year and were our third rated team in the league. They have book ends in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III that can get after the quarterback, good pass coverage and a veteran quarterback who keeps his teams in the game.

Both the Texans and Chargers have the make up to compete with a New England team who figures to be there again this year.

However, there can only be one AFC Champion and we’re backing the Chargers.

Bet Reccomendation

 BACK – Los Angeles Chargers to win the AFC Championship at $10


No team has repeated as divisional champs since 2003-04. However, the Eagles are coming off a Super Bowl victory and rightfully enter the season as odds on favourites to win the NFC East again.

Carson Wentz return from injury will go a long way to deciding the Eagles fate this season, but with a defence that is stacked across several key positions they will be hard to top in this division.

The Cowboys lead the best of the rest in the NFC East. They’ll need to keep Ezekiel Elliot healthy and will again lean on their strong offensive line play to win them games down the stretch. However, following the departure of Dez Bryant, they have a gaping hole at receiver.

The Redskins and Giants round out one of the more entertaining divisions in the NFL. It’s hard to see either of these two teams keeping in touch with the Eagles over a 16-game season and if either are going to find a spot in the playoffs, it’ll be via a wildcard berth.

Bet Recommendation

 BACK – The Philadephia Eagles to win the NFC East at $1.75.

There’s a good chance that this division may be the strongest in the NFL this season. The Packers and Vikings both have legitimate Super Bowl credentials and while the Lions and Bears may not be there yet, both sides figure to finish up somewhere around the .500 mark

The market tells us it’s a two horse race between the Packers and Vikings here and its hard to see any other scenario playing out. Both teams strengthened over the off-season, adding some nice pieces to their existing strengths.

The week two clash between the pair at Lambeau Field will likely give us a better indication of what’s to come, but at this point its hard to look past the Vikings who are arguably the most complete team in the NFL with Kirk Cousins under centre. We’re expecting an improvement from the Bears under new head coach Matt Nagy and the Lions will undoubtably remain competitive again this season.

It’s hard to see less than one of these teams featuring in the pointy end of the season and therefore we expect the runner up in this division to claim a spot in the Playoffs via the Wildcard.

Bet Recommendation

 BACK – The Minnesota Vikings to win the NFC North at $2.24.

Another very strong division and one that typically goes down to the wire. We’re tipping the Saints to make it to the NFC Championship game, so conveniently, we’re backing them to win here. Although the Falcons and Panthers remain as serious threats.

Let’s start by ruling Tampa Bay out from the outset. They aren’t in the same league as the other three teams in this division. From there it gets far more complicated, with all three teams having a legitimate claim at the division.

The Panthers have the strongest defence following the addition of defensive linemen Dontari Poe. However, we really don’t know which Cam Newton we will get this season and for that reason we have Carolina sitting third.
We wont have the same problem with Drew Brees, who is a picture of consistency and let’s not forget Matt Ryan won the MVP two season ago. Both teams are stacked on offense and are balanced enough to grind out wins when they have too.

It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out, but we have the Saints on top. The market tends to agree as we have seen some good money for New Orleans to win the division and Super Bowl over recent weeks.

Bet Recommendation

 BACK – The New Orleans Saints to win the NFC South at $2.54.

It appears as the NFC West will be the Rams division to lose this season. The Seahawks have committed to a rebuild, the Cardinals still have a question marks at QB and while we’re projecting the 49ers to improve this season, it’s hard to see them topping the Rams.

It’s hard to argue against the 49ers stepping up in a big way this season. The were 1-10 last season before Jimmy Garoppolo took over and finished the season 6-10. With a full year of him under centre its feasible that the 49ers can make the playoffs. However, the Rams look to be in a class of their own atop this division.

Over the off-season the Rams swapped Sammy Watkins for Brandon Cooks, bolstered their already stacked defence with household names like Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib and will return 10 of their 11 starters on offence. That’s a scary prospect for the rest of the NFC, let alone the NFC West.

The 49ers are the best chance to stop the Rams from going back to back, while the declining Seahawks and Cardinals stand next to no chance of competing with our pick for the NFC Championship.

Bet Recommendation

 BACK – The Los Angeles Rams to win the NFC West at $1.75.


NFC Championship Outlook

The NFC is wide open, so let’s make it easier on ourselves by eliminating the Philadelphia Eagles. A Super Bowl champion hasn’t gone back to back since 2005.

The Rams look the team to beat, as they have added a tonne of talent to their defence in NT Ndamukong Suh, CB Marcus Peters, CB Aquib Talib. Plus WR Brandon Cooks. The Rams were also rated as our third best team from the line of scrimmage last year tying with the Chargers.

The best team from the line of scrimmage was the New Orleans Saints. The Saints improved their defense last year to an average defence, which is all they need with their great offence. They added a very good CB Patrick Robinson during the off season to improve a secondary that improved greatly last year.

It looks like it could be a LA Rams and New Orleans Saints NFC Championship come January, where we like the Rams defence to be the difference.

Bet Reccomendation

 BACK – LA Rams to win the NFC Championship at $7.40

In the Battle of Los Angeles, we’re backing the Rams to win the Super Bowl.

 BACK – Los Angeles Rams to win Super Bowl LIII at $13


MVP

The MVP traditionally goes to a quarterback. In fact, they have won this award five straight years and 17 of the last 24.

So let’s just focus on QBs and we can easily eliminate about 25 of the 32 NFL quarterbacks. Since we have four very good quarterbacks projected to get to the Championship game of their respective leagues, let’s find a winner amongst them.

It’ll take some sexy numbers to win the MVP so we need to find a quarterback who can do just that

For New Orleans to be good they need to run the ball, which will keep Drew Brees numbers a little more in check.

The Rams also like to run the ball and the Chargers will win more games with their defence, which may keep some of Philip Rivers stats in check as well.

DeShaun Watson averaged three touchdown passes a game in his six starts last year, which had him on a pace to throw 48 touchdowns last year. If he does that again this year by staying healthy he has an excellent chance to win the MVP at big odds.


Bet Recommendation

 BACK – Deshaun Watson to win the 2018 NFL MVP.


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