The 2019 NFL season kicks off on Thursday night as the Green Bay Packers travel to face bitter NFL North rivals the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. It is a fitting game to begin the season – though there is something to be said for Packers vs. Bears game in the Arctic chill of December – as the 32 NFL teams will all begin their quest this weekend for a place in Super Bowl LIV in Miami, Florida on the first Sunday in February.
The 17 weeks of the NFL season, plus an additional month of playoffs, tend to fly by. It is one of the shortest seasons on the professional sporting calendar, but it is a season where one or two key injuries could easily doom a team’s prospects. Here are some bets to consider for the 2019 NFL season.
The New England Patriots are the heavy favourites to win this division for a reason. Tom Brady still looks as good as he did three or four years ago even as he enters his fifth decade on the planet and the skill positions are always full enough for him to play at a high level. The Pats will dominate this division again, purely because no one else in the AFC East is very good.
This is one of the more interesting divisions in the league. The Cleveland Browns have finally put a team together with the potential to win their first division title since 1989, so long ago that the team went defunct and got reinstated in the interim. Baker Mayfield to Odell Beckham Jr. is going to be exciting to watch.
You can never count out Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers, however, and a case can be made that the Baltimore Ravens (2.30 at BetXChange) are also good enough to win the division. We like the Browns at 1.40 here though.
The Kansas City Chiefs (0.60) look like the best team in the AFC West. Their offense has the ability to blow away any team in the league, and it might need to given that their defense has lost some major parts of a unit that wasn’t great anyway. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes won the NFL MVP award as a second-year player last season and big things are expected of him once again.
The South is a bit of a mess of a division. The Houston Texans are favourites for the crown (1.30) but they are far from a powerhouse team. The Jacksonville Jaguars (2.45) and Tennessee Titans (3.40) both have their strengths but are far from complete teams. The most interesting story in the division is the Indianapolis Colts (4.75), whose season now rests on the shoulders of quarterback Jacoby Brissett after the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck last week.
The Philadelphia Eagles (0.70) are the favourites in the NFL East, a classic division full of historic teams. After paying Carson Wentz the Eagles really need him to stay healthy now that Nick Foles is playing in Jacksonville. Their defense will be outstanding, but the offense could slow down a touch with a transition in the backfield.
That could open up the door for the Dallas Cowboys (1.65) to take the division for the second year in a row. Ezekiel Elliott is back in the fold, though his season may start slowly after missing all of camp. Look for Dallas to be strong late and nip the Eagles to the crown.
The tightest division in the NFC features three teams who look like a threat to win the crown. The Chicago Bears (1.65), Green Bay Packers (1.90), and Minnesota Vikings (2.10) all have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, but only if they can get out of the division. Spare a thought for the Detriot Lions (11.75) who are in a tough division for a rebuild this season. We like the Packers here.
The Los Angeles Rams (0.50) have won this division twice in a row and they are favourites again for the crown on the back of their electric offense. A couple of big-name defenders in Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews have signed to improve a defense that was 20th in points per game allowed last season.
Their biggest contender here will be the Seattle Seahawks (2.95). The Legion of Boom defense may be long gone in the Emerald City, but will Russell Wilson under center they are a team that can never be counted out.
It is hard to look past the New Orleans Saints (0.55) in the NFC South. The Atlanta Falcons (3.60) and the Carolina Panthers (5.25) could both challenge New Orleans for a stretch, but it will take a huge effort for either of those teams to knock Drew Brees’ franchise from the top spot. The Louisiana team was one bad call from making the Super Bowl last season and they could be a big factor in the playoffs again this year.
Super Bowl Champion
The New England Patriots (6.75) are the favourites for Super Bowl LIV, but it is worth noting there hasn’t been a repeat Super Bowl winner since the Patriots themselves went back to back in 2003 and 2004. The Kansas City Chiefs (7.25) are second-favorites and they might be worth a punt given that their offense is just so high powered.
Anyone looking for a dark horse to come out of the pack could do worse than looking at Green Bay (18.75) who have an elite quarterback or Dallas (21.00) who will be trending up at the end of the season.