Well here we are again, the waiting is over. Sunday’s are no longer spent trying to get a ton at the Dean, it’s now all about the NFL. Fantasy team drafts and picks done, it’s time for the talking to stop and the hitting to start!
We kick off the new season with three cracking games. Sky’s coverage starts with a potential burn up as the Atlanta Falcons travel to New Orleans who are once again under the guidance of Sean Peyton. The later offering is another belter as the Packers travel to last year Superbowl losers the San Fransisco 49ers. The late Sunday night game which again this year will be covered by Channel 4 is an all NFC East showdown between the much talked about Cowboys and Giants in Dallas.
The best news from a TV point of view to come out in the last few days is that Monday Night Football will this year be covered by Eurosport! Now whilst we can’t comment on what the coverage will be like, at the very least this enables the option to record games on busy weeks, an option which was not available on the red button last year when the rights were held by the BBC. Let’s hope that Eurosport have recruited some knowledgeable presenters and not just some standard team members that will fumble their way through it.
Just one more note to any of you that may have missed it. Channel 4 are showing a new series called American Football Hard Knocks which follows a few teams through training camp. It is excellent and shows a side of the game that many of you in this country wouldn’t have seen before. Well worth a watch, set your Sky to record it next week and catch this weeks on 4OD.
Before we get into today’s games let’s have a brief look at the outright markets. The Superbowl market is so tight there is hardly any value to have. The Broncos are jollies at around 6/1 which is barmy short in reality. If this was a 32 runner 6f handicap we would be minimum 10/1 the field. Yes they showed what they are about against Baltimore on Thursday Night but it wasn’t all rosey. Cast your mind back to the 2nd play of the 2nd half. Manning handed the ball off to the RB for no gain…….. what ensued? BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Sorry was I watching Philly? Crowd getting edgy and booing the play calls that early? Fickle as anything. The game then turns on a 3rd down INCOMPLETE pass that amazingly Harbaugh didn’t challenge. Don’t get me wrong, Denver have a lot of weapons and they also have probably the best game manager the NFL has ever seen in Manning but offenses don’t win Superbowls. In particularly in the first half you saw how key Von Miller is to the Broncos. Without his pass rush Joe Flacco had time for a cup of earl grey, a scone and to gloat about his 120 million dollar contract before releasing the ball. Against read option teams the Broncos games could go over 90 points! I will stick my neck out here and say that the Broncos will not be champions this year. When looking for teams to back in the outright market it is always worth looking at teams that you think will make the playoffs. Then you are in a great hedging situation week by week. Also ignore bookmakers. Betfair’s prices are inflated in the season markets and again give you a wheel for trading in the post season. At this point, the playoff contenders that are big prices on Betfair are as follows:
San Fransisco 9.2 (Shouldn’t be a bigger price than Denver)
Green Bay 14.5
Potentially the biggest one of the above is obviously the Redskins. Their season and chances completely revolve around the fitness of RG3. They were ridiculously hot when he got injured in the playoff game against Seattle and the season came to a crashing end. Recovering from an ACL is never easy, but just look how effective Adrian Peterson has been since he had the same surgery. If and it is a big if, he is healthy, then in my opinion (completely unbiased) they will win the NFC East and be big players come Playoff time. I can see them trading on BF at around 10/1 within 4/5 weeks.
You can make a case for some potential improvers. The Bengals could have a good season and should be pushing for a playoff place. I also think the Bills are building a nice franchise and the 16/1 about them to pinch the AFC East is not the worst bet I’ve ever seen. The Patriots are obviously short priced favs but they have lost some key weapons this year and there is definitely an argument for taking them on. I can’t have the Dolphins (sorry Craig) so maybe the Bills at 16’s could surprise a few. They play the Pat’s in the season opener tonight and are massive on the handicap!
PLAYERS TO WATCH!
Without doubt the player I am most looking forward to seeing this year is the Rookie out of Notre Dame TYLER EIFERT. He’s looked good in pre-season and the rumblings coming out of Cincinnati are that he is a beast. He plays Tight End and should see a lot of the ball. He could be a fantasy dream.
Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints
A great season opener. The Saints will be rejuvenated by the return of head coach Sean Peyton after his year ban due to his part in the bounty scandal. He is a great play calling head coach and the Saints will surely be better than their 7-9 record last year. They lead the league in offense but the big problem was the fact that the D gave up 7042 yards, which is an NFL record. Atlanta have some key additions on both sides of the ball. Steven Jackson has signed from St Louis and British born Osi Umenyiora has joined from the New York Giants. Either way you chalk this up it looks like we are going to get a good old-fashioned slug fest and I expect a gun slinging points fest.
Over 54.5 points with BETFRED @ 10/11
Drew Brees over 326.5 Yards with Hills
Green Bay Packers @ San Fransisco 49ers
Boom. A great way to start. These two are big players in the race for the NFC Championship this year and we should get an opening cracker. The 49ers notched up a 45-31 beating in the post season match up between these two but I don’t expect a huge points fest this time around. The Packers will be delighted to have linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry back and fully fit ahead of the new season which is a huge plus. The negative comes in the secondary as they have lost Charles Woodson (lost his marbles and gone to the Raiders) and Casey Hayward is struggling with a dodgy hamstring so I expect Kaepernick to through the odd deep ball.
On offense the Packers have the major issue of no Bryan Bulaga at left tackle who is out for the year. I fear that Aaron Rogers may have more than one turf sandwich this evening. Main receiver Greg Jennings has joined rivals the Minnesota Vikings and running back DJ Harris is done with a bad knee injury. This should open the door for the potentially very exciting Eddie Lacy who basically ran Alabama to a national championship last year.
Kaepernick has issues too with both Crabtree and Manningham out for a couple of months. As a result the 49ers traded a sixth round pick for Anquan Boldin who 7 months ago, gave them the runaround in the Superbowl.
A game to watch and enjoy without too much involvement but CORAL are going 11/8 Kaepernick anytime scorer. That will do nicely.
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
The division of death (NFC East) opens up with a big rivalry. Both teams failed to make the playoffs last year with defensive issues plaguing both sides. The major change comes in Dallas where defensive co-ordinator Monty Kiffin has replaced Rob Ryan. Under Kiffin Dallas will almost certainly revert to a 4-3 defense.
There are the usual pre-season ramblings coming out of Dallas that they have improved, are hungry and are potential players this year. Yeah yeah, same we’ve heard for the last five years. A big contract extension for Tony Romo (still hope for me yet) means to me much the same. When you talk about much the same……the Giants have won in Dallas for the last four years and Dallas tonight are 4/7 on the money line! No thank you!
Should be fairly brutal and although they were poor at the back-end of last year there is not much between these two at all and whereas Manning is clutch, Romo is an interception throwing, fumbling choker.
New York Giants to win @ 13/8 is enormous.
Victor Cruz over 73.5 yards with Paddy Power @ 10/11
BET OF THE WEEK…..
That would have to be The Bills +10 at home to New England. A Barmy points line in a game that the Bills should be very competitive.
Looking forward to a 10 hour marathon! Hope you all enjoy!