With the mess in America it looked throughout the summer that this moment wouldn't come, yet here we are on the edge of the 2020 NFL season, kicking off on Thursday with the reigning Superbowl champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans in front of around 16,000 fans in Arrowhead. It's going to be a strange affair in a stadium which classes itself the loudest in the world when filled to the brim but hell, who cares!? Football is back!
I've got in-depth previews on my site – www.tdtips.com – Every division covered over there although some of the player props have disappeared now
But I'll skim through some of the big ones here and lay out who I think will do what this coming season.
It's been 17 years since a team repeated a Superbowl win, unsurprisingly the Patriots in 03/04 – I've said it elsewhere but this could be the start of something huge in KC. They signed up their superb QB for a decade in a $500m deal this summer, they bring back 18 of their starters from last year, the coaching remains the same. It's what you need to do to keep at the top of this league. Gregg Rosenthal from NFL.com said recently he thinks Mahomes could be the best there's been and it's easy to see why. Obviously the odds on them winning again aren't great at a best price of 6/1 in most other places but they're probably still the bet for me personally. I honestly think the AFC is between them and the Ravens (13/2 in most)
Outside looks would be the likes from the AFC side of it; The Colts (25/1 – Hills) from the AFC South, they brought in Philip Rivers to upgrade at QB behind the best offensive line in the league, they added Jonathon Taylor to bolster their RB corps and they have the easiest schedule in the league by some way. The Steelers (25/1 Hills/888) went 8-8 last year with essentially no offense, they welcome back Big Ben, who reports say is looking good in camp.
The NFC side of the game is far tougher with up to 8 teams I think could realistically be in with a shot of the winning the NFC championship and getting to Raymond James in Tampa next February. The Superbowl hangover is very real and the 49ers (11/1 SportNation) have had a lot of injuries in camp already, the defense will regress and while Kyle Shanahan is brilliant, I still can't trust Jimmy Garoppolo at QB. The Saints (12/1 Hills, Fred) are second in the odds, always seem to make the post-season then falter and I'm not confident in Drew Brees being able to move the ball downfield effectively, although they did add Emmanuel Sanders to finally give them another half-decent WR. The Seahawks (20/1 Hills/888) picked up Jamal Adams in a mega-trade which shows they're clearly going for it and if they unleash Mr…Mr….Mr…. Unliiiiiimited (look it up) then they might be good, they do always seem to make the playoffs.
But my pick from the NFC, I think has to be the Dallas Cowboys (16/1 – 365/Hills). While I'm not entirely confident in their defense, they have one of the best offenses in the league, starting up front with one of the best offensive lines in the league. It gives Dak more than enough time to try and find his man. They added CeeDee Lamb to Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, both of whom would have had 1,000+ yards if they'd played full seasons last year. They replaced Jason Witten at TE with a younger, better version and have one of the best RBs in the league with Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield. Side note, I once compared Dak to Andy Dalton so it's nice to see them on the same roster and I'd love for Dalton to come in and have similar success should it happen.
A word of note, if you fancy something stupid like picking the exact finalists then DO NOT CHOOSE the set markets put up by the books. The odds are terrible. For example, Chiefs v Cowboys is listed at 25/1 on Ladbrokes, comes in at 35/1 by choosing AFC and NFC winner.
Always nice to put together a few division winners to get yourself an acca to give you a little bit of a sweat through the season. Not much talking in this bit.
The NFC North and West might be wish-casting a little, but they're both tough to pick, so I went with the bigger odds… to be honest the South is tough too, I'm just fading the Bucs hype. I think the Lions in the North as all the teams in that division have issues, the Packers have no pass catchers, the Vikings revamped a lot of their roster and have had very little off-season, the Bears have Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles at QB, the Lions have the best offense by some way, but probably a poor defense, so I went for scoring.
The West, any of the four teams in that division could win if the wind blows right at the right time. 49ers – hangover, Seahawks – no real reason why not, Cardinals – Brought in Nuk, 4 WR, improved as the season went on last year, probably mid-level (at best D), the Rams need their offensive line to work otherwise it'll be the same as last year.
Season Long awards
Not a market I like to bet in fairness. It's very rare that someone runs it back, the winner has usually done something remarkable and it's tough to repeat that year on year so Lamar is out, Mahomes (4/1) is too short. It was revealed early in the summer that Russell Wilson (8/1 Hills/Unibet) has somehow NEVER had an MVP vote, so I'd expect that to change this year. Dak Prescott (16/1 – Skybet) may well lead the league in passing yards this year and the Cowboys should win division, so not too bad. Kyler Murray (25/1 – Skybet/888) is in his sophomore year and improved game by game at the end of last season, they should be better on offense this year with Nuk and he runs as well which always helps. He's probably the value.
DPOY – Defensive player of the year
I like TJ Watt at around 12/1 for this one. He's on an elite Steelers defense, he's got the name recognition, he's got the talent and he's on a public team, the American media loves the Steelers for some reason.
OROY – Offensive rookie of the year
Joe Burrow (11/4) is actually a pretty decent price for a favourite in this market. They're usually around evens. He's starting week 1, threw 60 TDs in college last year, is part of an offense which makes a lot of plays and has playmakers to throw to, I think he'll beat the rookie record for TDs which should get him the award. He's relatively high due to Clyde Edwards-Helaire (4/1 – most) starting as the RB in Kansas City meaning he'll get carries/catches and TDs in the team I think could win the most games this season. Outside of them if Jonathan Taylor (12/1) is probably my third pick but I don't think he'll start early enough in the season to rack up the stats. Antonio Gibson (16/1 – Hills) has plummeted in odds in recent weeks after several ahead of him on the roster left, but 33 carries in college makes him one to avoid for me.
DROY – Defensive rookie of the year
Chase Young (3/1 – Hills) the short favourite on a stacked Washington defensive line. He'll get the sacks and that's what get the attentions, so he's probably rightly the favourite, but I like either of the rookie linebackers. They both landed in great spots with talent around them, Patrick Queen (12/1 PP) on the Ravens fits into a good defense which will let him shine, and despite the loss of Derwin James to injury Kenneth Murray (20/1 – Hills/PP) is in a cracking defense with the Chargers in Los Angeles.
Annoyingly there aren't any books offering EW on these markets, so for me personally, I probably won't be backing any (for some reason pass TDs is EW on Ladbrokes, but seemingly nothing else)
Leading passer, I like the look of Matthew Stafford at 16/1 (Bet365/Betway) for the Detroit Lions, before injury last year he was on target for a touch under 5,000 yards which would have put him close to winning this year, still got the targets, and the defense is probably still going to be poor so they'll have to put up points. Dak Prescott at 7/1 makes sense too for the reasons I said above.
Leading receiver you've got to look to Davante Adams – 14/1 (most) with him being practically the only receiver in Green Bay this season. He would have had over 1,300 yards if he'd played all 16 games last year and I think we've got to expect more receptions this year. It's a homer pick, but if AJ Green stays healthy then 50/1 (Skybet) for him is generous with #1 pick Joe Burrow throwing the ball this year, but he's missed a lot of games over the last 2 seasons so it's by no means a guarantee that happens.
Leading rusher is a tougher one. Derrick Henry (15/2 – PP) an obvious favourite after leading the league last season. I'm just not entirely sure the Titans will be able to repeat what they did last year and there are some serious trends on regression after a 300 carry season. Nick Chubb (9/1 – Hills/PP/Fred) is a reasonable price as the Browns look like they'll be more run-heavy this year under the coaching of Kevin Stefanski, and even with Kareem Hunt playing after suspension he got the bulk of the carries still. I'm saying no to Zeke, no real reason in fairness. Saquon Barkley (11/1 – 365/Skybet) missed a lot of last season with a high ankle sprain, and was carrying it even when he returned. If he's fully fit for the season he'll be right up there. Jacobs and Cooks are both at 16/1 and in with a shot. Sorry, this didn't really. Help.
There's a few I like here;
- Cardinals o7.5 – Should improve on last year even in a tough division.
- Lions o6.5 – If Stafford stays healthy (he's only had one injury hit year) they should get this.
- Bears u7.5 – Mitchell Trubisky.
- Raiders u7.5 – Incredibly tough schedule, young team (Panthers, Saints, Pats, Bills, Chiefs, Bucs, Browns, Chargers – 1 win there?)
- Giants u6.5 – Incredibly tough schedule. (Steelers, Bears, 49ers, Rams, Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles, Bucs, Redskins, Eagles – I only see 2 wins before bye)
This turned out to be a little longer than expected! I hope it gives a little insight into my thoughts for the coming season.
My best bet from this bunch? Giants under 6.5 wins. Although – I do like a #YourOdds bet at William Hill – Something I've named “New York Pity”Giants and Jets u7.5 wins – 5/6 I can't see either of them making 0.500.
Good luck if you go on anything, thanks for reading and let's smash this season!