Tue, Aug 7, 9:21am by Staff Writer
The 2018 NFL season began with the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio last Friday, with the full pre-season commencing this weekend.
Last season’s Super Bowl teams the New England Patriots ($6) and the Philadelphia Eagles ($10) are leading the markets to win the top prize this season at Sportsbet.
The Patriots welcome back 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady, winner of five Super Bowl rings, four Super Bowl MVP’s and a 3 time NFL most valuable player.
Brady remains one of the sharpest quarterbacks in the NFL and after steering the Patriots to a 13-3 regular season in 2017 before a 41-33 loss in the Super Bowl, he is certain to be eager to atone for last season.
The Eagles broke their near 50-year Super Bowl drought as Doug Pederson’s team won Super Bowl 52 in Minnesota.
After a 13-3 regular season where quarterback Carson Wentz went down with an ACL injury in week 15, all seemed lost for Philadelphia.
Back-up quarterback Nick Foles performed superbly in the playoffs under extreme pressure and was awarded the Super Bowl MVP. Despite his heroics, Foles will remain as back-up this season according to coach Pederson.
In the NFC East, the Eagles are short-priced favourites to win the division at $1.62, ahead of the Dallas Cowboys at $4.50 and the New York Giants at $6.
The Giants will be coached by Pat Shurmur, former Cleveland Browns coach, with Eli Manning expected to start at quarterback.
The Eagles and Vikings met in a lop-sided NFC Championship game last season which was won 38-7 by the Eagles. The Vikings are $6.50 to win the NFC Championship this season and are third favourites at $11 to win the Super Bowl.
The Vikings are favourites to progress through the NFC North at $2.10, with Aaron Rodgers primed for a big season after missing the playoffs in 2017 with a poor 7-9 record.
Former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was hired as the new Lions coach replacing Jim Calwell and despite Matt Stafford remaining under certain for the Lions, they are predicted to struggle again this season. They are $8 to win the NFC North and $51 to win the Super Bowl.
The Rams should have no problem winning the NFC West as $1.62 favourites ahead of the San Francisco 49ers at $4.
The 49ers are $26 to win the Super Bowl in their second season under coach Kyle Shanahan.
A 6-10 season in 2017 was largely due to the acquisition of former Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo who reinvigorated the 49ers fan base after a couple of lean seasons.
Garoppolo signed a five-year extension with the team and will be their starting quarterback.
The NFC South is the closest of any division in the NFL, with three teams featuring in last season’s playoffs.
The New Orleans Saints ($2.60) are narrow division favourites ahead of the Atlanta Falcons ($2.63) and Carolina Panthers ($4).
All three squad’s possession powerful offensive weapons, but Carolina’s defence figures to be slightly between than their rivals.
The Saints are $17 to win the Super Bowl, with the Falcons priced at $19 and the Panthers at $34.
In the AFC, it is a race-in-two between the Patriots and the Steelers for the AFC Championship.
The Patriots are priced at $3, with the Steelers at $5.
Pittsburgh lost last season’s AFC divisional playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars 45-42 in a high-scoring match at Heinz Field.
The result was a shock to many after a 13-3 regular season, but they are expected to bounce back this season and are $1.30 to win the AFC North, with the Baltimore Ravens ($5) the next best priced.
This season of HBO’s famed series Hard Knocks chronicles the Cleveland Brown’s pre-season and with the team using the 2017 number one pick to acquire Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, the future could be bright for long-suffering Browns fans.
They are $13 to win the AFC North and $101 to win the Super Bowl.
New England is expected to run away with the AFC East, priced at an astonishingly low $1.08. The Bills ($11), Dolphins ($11) and Jets ($18) are all priced in double figures to win the division.
The Los Angeles Chargers are narrow $2.40 favourites to win the AFC West ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs, who won the division by a game last season. The Chiefs are priced at $3.25 to repeat their feats of 2017.
The Oakland Raiders are potentially playing in their final season at the Coliseum and will be headed by coach Jon Gruden. Jon joins his brother Jay, coach of the Washington Redskins, back in the NFL. The Silver and Black are $4.33 to win the AFC West and $34 to win the Super Bowl.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will be hoping to impress once again this season under quarterback Blake Bortles and are $2.75 to win the AFC South, ahead of the Houston Texans at $2.88.
Intrigue surrounds the Indianapolis Colts given star Andrew Luck has been out for more than a year with a shoulder injury. They are priced at $6 to win the division.
Super Bowl 53 Odds – Sportsbet
New England Patriots $6
Philadelphia Eagles $10
Minnesota Vikings $11
Pittsburgh Steelers $11
LA Rams $13
Green Bay Packers $13
New Orleans Saints $17
Jacksonville Jaguars $19
Atlanta Falcons $19
LA Chargers $21
Houston Texans $21
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