I can’t believe that the NFL season is about to get under way again. Surely, it’s only a few weeks since the last Super Bowl but here we go again with a 17-week regular season about to kick-off followed by the play-offs before the two teams left standing do it all again in New Jersey next February.
Baltimore Ravens provided a major shock when beating the San Francisco 49ers at the Superdome in New Orleans earlier this year but are 31/1 on betfair to follow up in New Jersey. The Ravens played the big occasions better than their rivals last season but will be a big scalp this time around, which is going to make life tough. The 49ers (8/1 with Ladbrokes and William Hill) will have to battle against a stat that has seen two-thirds of the previous year’s Super Bowl runners-up fail to win even a play-off game the following season while Tom Brady hasn’t had much time to work with a raft of new receivers at New England. The Patriots look short at a best 10/1 with Paddy Power and William Hill.
Denver took a gamble on Peyton Manning last year and it almost paid off. The veteran led the Broncos to 11 consecutive victories in the regular season after a slow start and they went into the play-offs as favourites for the Super Bowl. Ultimately, they lost to the Ravens in the Divisional decider in double overtime and the dream was dashed. Manning is another year older but is surrounded by seasoned pros with no apparent weaknesses and the Broncos have been popular again with punters at 7/1 with Skybet.
Seattle Seahawks are only a best 17/2 with BetVictor but may have already lost big summer signing Percy Havin to injury and there are a lot of expectations on young shoulders including QB Russell Wilson. New Orleans Saints could bounce back from a turbulent 2012 under re-instated coach Sean Peyton and are 22/1 with BetVictor and Coral but the Green Bay Packers will probably come up short again, though they’d handle February in New Jersey better than most. The Packers are 14/1 with Ladbrokes but we’re looking at the Houston Texans giving us a run for our money at the general 16/1.
The Texans appear to have been largely overlooked but big things are expected of draft pick WR DeAndre Hopkins this season and he’ll receive plenty of guidance from experienced pair Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels. Houston appear to have little to beat again in the AFC South and should have a good season if they can emerge relatively unscathed from early meetings with Baltimore, Seattle and San Francisco.