The NFL season starts tonight with the Green Bay Packers visiting the Chicago Bears for the season opener.
The fight for the Super Bowl looks more wide open than ever and we’ll be keeping a watching eye on proceedings before committing to a pick. That said, player performances are generally much more predictable, injuries aside, than teams, and some of the stats markets make great appeal.
Most Receiving Yards is particularly interesting with perennial contender Julio Jones a very big 11/2 with Betfair. The lanky Falcons wide-man gets to play indoors for a significant part of the season, and as the key target in trigger happy QB Matt Ryan’s offence he gets plenty of work. Second in this market in 2016 and 2017, he topped the list last year and it is hard not to see home going very close again this year.
Most bookies are win only on the stats, but Betfred offers each way terms for the top three and that offers value in the Most Rushing Yard market. Favourites Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley are opposable – the former as he may miss a few games early on, whilst the latter will be a marked man in an offence stripped of alternative threat Beckham Jnr. Step forward (or rush forward even), Derrick Henry. The thundering Titan running back was 7th in this stat in his breakthrough season last year. Playing in a weak division and with a kindly schedule, he looks set to improve on those numbers and is a healthy each way price.
Finally, whilst it’s hard to commit on a Super Bowl winning team, the New Orleans Saints look primed to be huge contenders from the NFC side of the draw. Whilst being a top seeded team is not essential in determining the regular season MVP, it certainly helps. The extraordinary Patrick Mahoney won this in his first full season last year but will do well to repeat those heroics for a Chiefs team likely to be in a season long dogfight with a capable Chargers team. Instead, a top seed romp for the Saints should pave the way for veteran QB Drew Brees to finally get an honour he must have come very close to in the past. He could challenge for Most Passing Yards, (16/1), but at a similar price for MVP we get the benefit of a more holistic assessment and a potentially sympathetic overdue vote.
Most Passing Yards: Julio Jones, 2pts win, 11/2 Betfair
Most Rushing Yards: Derrick Henry, 0.5pts each way, 16/1, Betfred
Regular Season MVP: Drew Brees, 1pt win, 14/1 Betfair
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