NFL nut Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) shares his expert opinion on the best bets available in the ante-post markets.
Dallas and New York tussle to be the beast in the East
The most competitive division in football. No team has managed to retain this title in 13 years. There is every chance that will become 14. Much of what this season holds for Dallas is hanging on the appeal against ‘Zeke’s six game suspension. Darren McFadden is no kind of replacement.
The Giants are very dangerous opponents. One of the best defences in football and they have added well to Eli Manning’s offensive options.
Brandon Marshall was a great catch and Evan Engram the best pass catching Tight End in the draft. I really like them to have a playoff run. They will take Dallas close.
Philadelphia has been doing some recruitment of their own. Alshon Jeffrey from Chicago adds a deep threat for Carson Wentz.
Torrey Smith will make fleeting brilliant appearances whilst Legarret Blount was let go by New England for a reason. A Jim Schwartz defence could make the NFC East the best in the game in 2017.
Washington lost four of its last six games to end 2016. Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson have moved on whilst only Terrell Pryor was brought in by a failing Front Office.
Samaje Perine could be an interesting rookie in the backfield but I see a painful year for the Redskins and that’s without mentioning the farce that is Kirk Cousins (non) contract. Hard days ahead.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to punctuate their dominance in the North
What looked like a stroll for the Vikings halfway through last season ended yet again in a Packers title. It’s not impossible to see that changing this time around but unlikely. Green Bay has the NFC’s best Quarterback and leader in Aaron Rodgers.
The addition of Martellus Bennett from New England only enhances their Red Zone threat. It won’t be easy but hard to see anything but Green Bay in the post season
Surely this must be Jim Caldwell’s last chance in Detroit. Matthew Stafford has just been handed a massive new contract but has little of substance to justify that.
I was a little shocked they made the post season in 2016 and they have a task getting past Green Bay and Minnesota this time around. A winning season for sure but a likely 9-7 probably not enough.
Minnesota could be the biggest threat to the Packers in this division. Sam Bradford does a relatively efficient job managing this offence but the Vikings will hope to have Teddy Bridgewater back sooner rather than later.
Rookie Back Dalvin Cook and ex-Raider, Latavius Murray should improve the backfield options. 10 wins? Maybe.
You have no idea how tough it is being an Arsenal AND Chicago Bears fan. I must have sinned in a previous life. I don’t really know what to say about the season ahead. Of course, I am delighted Jay Cutler has finally put us out of our misery (unlucky Dolphins fans) but Mike Glennon? Mike Who.
Maybe Glennon gets hurt early and this year’s Dak Prescott is Mitchell Turbisky. Probably not. We have just cut Victor Cruz and Kendall Wright will lead Markus Wheaton out wide. Oh god.
Atalanta to surge in their new stadium in the South
As much as I’m looking forward to the NFC East, this division is normally the most fun to watch. Atlanta dominated last year. They start 2017 in a brand new super stadium.
The defence has been beefed up and should support what was the most potent offence in football. If you back overs in Atlanta games this year you won’t go far wrong. A deep playoff run but how can anyone threaten their home field advantage in the post season?
Tampa makes everyone’s list of ‘dark horses’. You’re in good company if you’re expecting a lot from them this year.
The addition of DeSean Jackson from Washington provides Jameis Winston with a deep ball threat that can only enhance the danger of Mike Evans getting into one on one situations. Evans in single coverage equals touchdowns.
Their lack of a running game is a problem that can’t be ignored and probably stops their season going more than 17 games.
Carolina Panthers are a mirror image of head coach ‘Riverboat’ Ron Rivera. Brilliant, inconsistent, annoying, baffling. From Super Bowl runner up to 6-10. That takes some doing. Christian Mccaffrey is a potential offensive rookie of the year but that will mean little if the Panthers can’t find a way to protect Cam Newton.
The 2015 MVP started 2016 getting smashed by Linebackers and it carried on throughout the year. He did not look like a happy man towards the end of a very difficult the season. 8-8 looks almost acceptable at this point.
New Orleans Saints. The only team I would give up Red Zone for. I love watching Drew Brees. 5208 yards passing last year. Astonishing. Brandon Cooks is a big loss.
A four-game ban for Willie Snead makes life difficult It remains to be seen if Adrian Peterson can ever be Adrian Peterson again.
Mark Ingram will cover any deficit there but Nick Fairley is a massive miss on defence and last place beckons. A shame. They’ll be involved in plenty of massive scoring games.
Seahawks and Cardinals to scrap for the West
This should be as straightforward as any division in the NFL. If there is such a thing. Seattle and Arizona all the way, right? I have tried to find something to argue that but failed. Seattle is such a good football team. They really should breeze through this. The late acquisition of Sheldon Richardson only adds to a top-quality defence.
One of the best. Russell Wilson fully recovered from an ankle injury should be Russell Wilson again but that Offensive Line is a big issue for me. I toyed with them winning the conference but O Line and backfield options may be too big a problem to overcome. How big will Eddie Lacy be?
Arizona will be looking for another huge season from David Johnson. The best Running Back in the NFL went 1st in every fantasy league I am in. This week I have tweeted my favourite bet of the season found by the legend that is @gameplangavin for me.
David Johnson to have 1000 receiving and 1000 rushing yards this year. 16/1 with Paddy Power. 7/1 elsewhere. Lovely. The Cards will have another solid season but one guy is not going to win them anything.
Kyle Shanahan goes from creating the most potent offence in the NFL to the mess that is the 49ers. You can’t get much worse than a 2-14 season and I get the feeling it could be the start of a more positive time in San Francisco. It will be a slow road back and I don’t expect too much this season but a much-improved defence will help massively.
Brian Hoyer is little more than a journeyman quarterback but his best years were with Shanahan in Cleveland. Pierre Garçon is an upgrade at receiver and I can see San Fran winning five or six games.
The Los Angeles Rams are owned by Stan Kroenke. You will understand why I hope they lose and lose badly. To be fair, they are doing a fine job of that. Jared Goff is a complete bust a quarterback and Todd Gurley went backwards to the tune of 300 yards on his rookie season.
They’re generally ok on the defensive side of the ball but Sammy Watkins will need to sprout wings to offer much to this offence. Bad. So bad. Brilliant.
NFL 2017/18 – Atlanta Falcons to win the NFC (7/1 Sportingbet)
NFL 2017/18 – David Johnson to have 1000 Rushing & Receiving yards (16/1 Paddy Power)
NFL 2017/18 – Atlanta Falcons/Tampa Bay Buccaneers straight forecast (7/1 Sportingbet)
NFL 2017/18 – New England Patriots-Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl (20/1 William Hill)
NFL 2017/18 – New England Patriots-New York Giants Super Bowl (40/1 William Hill)