The new NFL season starts later this evening, with the defending Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Dallas Cowboys.
It’s always difficult how teams will start a new season as they adjust to new personnel, so it must be reassuring for veteran quarterback Tom Brady to have seasoned campaigner Rob Gronkowski lining up alongside him. With rain expected tonight, the imposing presence of Gronk is likely to catch Brady’s eye, and the 4/1 on offer that the tight end sores a touchdown seems a steal.
As far as the whole season is concerned, the defeated Super Bowl finalist Kansas City Chiefs have invested wisely on a solid offensive line to protect star QB Patrick Mahomes without sacrificing their main attacking talent. This must give them a good chance of winning the main event, but a price of 5/1 still seems tight. We’ll keep a watching brief.
Instead, we’ll look at a couple of other markets for season-long bets.
Turning to the top rusher title, Derrick Henry did us a favour in this two years ago at a big price and followed up with a legendary 2000 yards last year. He’s rightly the warm favourite, but the Titans need a more diverse offence and may not overload him like they did last season when those rushing record numbers beckoned. Dalvin Cook was second last year, but again the Vikings need more of an all round offence.
Jonathan Taylor was third last year – admittedly 900 yards behind Henry – but the detail tells a key story. He was the star rookie having been drafted by the Indianapolis Colts off the back of startling college numbers, but he took a few weeks to grab the starting job and a few more to get into the swing. He averaged just 45 yards per game through week 10, but then averaged more like 125 yards a game the 7 games from week 11, including one playoff game.
He is likely to be the focal point of the Colts offence, and can be expected to get plenty of work in his second season.
The final bet is the highest scoring team, and we’re going to side with the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills only play three of the top 12 in the betting for the Superbowl all season long. Take out away trips to the Chiefs and the Buccs and the rest is very winnable, including home and away games against weak divisional opposition and the dream schedule match-ups of the AFC South and the wretched NFC East.
A free scoring offence last season they could run riot through this regular season line-up and look huge value.
Buccs/Cowboys – Gronkowski to score a touchdown anytime, 1 pt, at 4/1, William Hill
Top rusher – Jonathan Taylor (Colts), 1 pt, at 12/1, William Hill
Highest scoring team – Buffalo Bills, 1 pt, at 11/1, Unibet