The New York Giants, defending Super Bowl champions, kick off their season in less than a week and while a few last minute trades and contract negotiations are still to be resolved all across the league, by now we have a reasonable idea of how each team is set for the new season. From a betting point of view, there are countless options and we’ll be looking at several of those over the coming week. However we’ll get straight into the action by looking at the race for the Super Bowl.
Two to Follow
Of the front runners, we’d definitely keep the San Francisco 49ers (14/1) and the Houston Texans (12/1) onside. Critically, these two franchises compete in the weakest divisions in the league, meaning that they are long odds on to play at home in the wild card round at the very least. Both sides have also improved over the summer. Alex Smith has been given some more artillery in the form of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, while there is plenty of depth in the backfield as well. Even Smith himself should improve for the fact that last year’s performance has finally taken away any doubt about whether or not he should hold the starter’s position. They were only a special teams play away from making the big show last season and they should should be there or thereabouts again.
The Texans haven’t changed too much but after last season’s litany of injuries to key players, simply staying healthy will help them step up a notch. They’ll walk the AFC South and their under-rated defense should help to ensure at least twelve regular season victories and home field advantage in the playoffs.
Two to Swerve
At the current prices, we wouldn’t touch either the Denver Broncos (20/1) or the Philadelphia Eagles (14/1). The Broncos have Manning – fair enough. They also have a very poor offensive line that Tim Tebow rescued on several occasions with some heads up running, and Manning won’t do that, even if he stays fit for the year. A big if.
The Eagles have a great side on paper yet again, but they still play in a division where every fixture is a grudge match and they just don’t have a winning mentality even if they do reach the business end of the season. The cult of personality is taking over their dressing room and that’s a difficult problem to address.
Two Lively Outsiders
Looking down the field and outside of the top half, the Kansas City Chiefs (50/1) and the Buffalo Bills (80/1) are two franchises that could present decent back-to-lay opportunities.
Injuries tore the heart out of the Chiefs last season but they’ll have Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry back in action this year, while Peyton Hillis will be a useful back up to Charles. Defensively, Stanford Routt is a huge addition as a covering corner, while they still have one of the best run defenses and pass rushing units in the league. In an ordinary AFC West, they should be playoff contenders.
A little bit of improvement defensively would go a long way for the Bills, and Mario Williams and Stephon Gilmore could provide that. They have a sharp offense with plenty of threats and if they could get themselves into a situation where they needed an average of 21-24 points to win games instead of 30, they could pick up a few more wins very easily. The schedule suggests that they will be favourites in nine games, so it wouldn’t take that much for them to get up to a 10-6 or maybe even 11-5 record. Put them anywhere close to the playoffs and they’ll be a lot shorter than 80/1.
Super Bowl Outright: 49ers @ 14/1, 2pt stake, Texans @ 12/1, 2pt stake, Chiefs @ 50/1, 1pt stake, Bills @ 80/1, 0.5pt stake.