NFL Odds: Broncos Taken To Gallop To Super Bowl Glory
The 2013 NFL season gets underway on Thursday as reigning Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens, take on the pre-season favourites to win Super Bowl XLVIII, the Denver Broncos, in a matchup that should set a high benchmark for the next five months of Gridiron action.
American Football continues to power from strength to strength on British shores with the sport's popularity reflected by the two regular season games taking place over the coming months at Wembley Stadium as the Minnesota Vikings take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in late September before the San Francisco 49ers clash with the Jacksonville Jaguars at the end of October. Furthermore, with Sky Sports and Channel 4 covering all the action Stateside throughout the season, fans in the UK won't miss a single touchdown.
At this stage in proceedings, before a ball has even been kicked, thrown or run, the question on every fan's lips is 'who is going to be crowned Super Bowl champions?' As is always the case with the NFL, another competitive season looks to be on the cards and a reasonable argument can be made about no fewer than 20 of the league's 32 teams winning Super Bowl XLVIII at the Met Life Stadium in New York next February.
Whilst some teams boast more obvious claims than others on paper, there have been enough surprise winners of Superbowl in recent years to suggest that 2013 should be another intriguing season but it is the Denver Broncos who justifiably head the market to win the big prize before kickoff.
The Broncos made it to the divisional round of the Playoffs last season having won the AFC West with an impressive 13-3 record, only to narrowly go down in overtime to Baltimore. With Peyton Manning entering his second season as Quarterback having joined from the Indianapolis Colts 12 months ago, the team should improve further on offense, especially following the addition of Wes Welker from New England during the off-season. Welker, who was Tom Brady's 'go to' guy at the Patriots, joins an already talented receiving corps in Denver, which includes two of last year's top 10 wide receivers for touchdowns scored in the form of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker and the team will undoubtedly be a threat to all on comers through the air this year.
The Broncos defense benefits from the same defensive coordinator returning for a second consecutive season for the first time in eight years at the Mile High Stadium, which should only help the number two ranked defence in the entire NFL last year to improve once more.
Everything points towards the Broncos having a big year in 2013 and if they play to their potential and avoid serious injuries, they are capable of comfortably winning the AFC West with a record that should secure home advantage in the Playoffs. If that turns out to be the case, John Fox's men will be just two home wins away from a trip to New York and the current 7/1 best price to win Super Bowl with Skybet will look like excellent value. They're favourites for very good reason and are the Broncos are taken to gallop to Super Bowl glory.
Hot on the heels of Denver at the head of the betting are NFC West rivals, the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers were the beaten Super Bowl finalists last season and confidence is understandably high about a repeat performance. However, much of that late run to the big game came courtesy of the team's head coach, Jim Harbaugh, unleashing unknown Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, on to NFL for the final 10 games of the season and the playoffs. The elusive duel threat QB caused no end of trouble for opponents when arriving on the scene but whether he will have the same impact over a full 16 game season when rival coaches have had time to study and plan to counteract the 49ers and Kaerpernick's unique playbook is another question.
There's every chance San Francisco could pick up where they left off last season, especially with arguably the league's best defensive line; which will ensure they remain competitive in all games. However, with question marks surrounding the depth of receivers Kaepernick has to throw to along with the quality of backups to Running Back, Frank Gore, it could prove wise to swerve the 49ers at odds as short as 13/2.
The Seattle Seahawks are another team who, like their divisional rivals, found form in the second half of last season, winning seven of their last eight games to secure a Play-Off berth, before suffering a narrow defeat at the hands of Atlanta. A solid team on both sides of the ball, the Seahawks will prove tough opponents for anyone in 2013. Quarterback Russell Wilson will be entering his second season in the NFL and if he can build on his rookie season as expected, the team's offense will surely improve also. Although currently injured, Wide Receiver Percy Harvin is a big Off-Season acquisition from Minnesota and in Running Back Marshawn Lynch they have one of the best in the NFL. Seattle can be backed to win Super Bowl at a best price of 9/1, which is probably a bit on the skinny side but at 6/5 to win the NFC West with Paddy Power, they are taken to emerge ahead of the 49ers.
Elsewhere in the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons represent value at 18/1 with Paddy Power to finally win Super Bowl after reaching the Playoffs for the past three years only to come up short. This looks like their best team during that period with the addition of Steven Jackson at Running Back from St Louis to compliment a potent aerial attack led by QB Matt Ryan and receivers Juilo Jones and Roddy White. The arrival of Defensive End, Osi Umenyiora, from the New York Giants is another boost and the 31 year old will add some valuable experience on defence. As such, the 9/1 about the Falcons going one better than last year and winning the NFC to reach Super Bowl makes plenty of appeal.
A case can be made for the likes of the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints having big seasons from those in the NFC and the same can be said for the Dallas Cowboys who are always a match for anyone but have unlucky with injuries in recent seasons and whilst a Super Bowl win may be a little optimistic at 33/1, their 'pass happy' offense coupled with an improved defence should see the Cowboys capable of finishing top of the competitive NFC East, for which they are 13/5 with Coral to do so.
As far as teams in the AFC are concerned, Baltimore can be backed at best odds of 25/1 to become the first team to win back-to-back Superbowls' since the Patriots in 2005. The Ravens ruffled a few feathers to emerge victorious last season and whilst the team will enter 2013 full of confidence, they have lost two instrumental players on defence in the form of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, who both leave very big shoes to fill both in terms of ability and experience. It would be no surprise to see the Ravens compete deep in to the Playoffs once again but other teams are preferred.
With Denver setting the clear standard for the whole league, it could be the Houston Texans who give them most to think about in the race to win the AFC. The Texans have won the AFC South for the past two years and look on course to do so again in 2013. They should be capable of challenging for the best record in the AFC and home advantage in the Playoffs and whilst there's a lot to like about the Texans, including offensive weapons such as Arian Foster and Andre Johnson and the arrival of Ed Reed from Baltimore on defence, they do have a tougher schedule than the Broncos and should the two meet in the Playoffs, Denver are preferred at this stage.
Perennial Powerhouse of the AFC, the New England Patriots, have had a turbulent offseason after Tight End, Aaron Hernandez, was charged with murder. Add to this the loss of Wes Welker, Tom Brady's number one receiving target in recent years and there is no way that a confident case can be made about the Patriots ending their nine year wait for a Super Bowl win.
The Cincinnati Bengals have improved each season for the past couple of years and should be a reasonable force in 2013 and the 2/1 to win the AFC North looks a good bet. Indianapolis were another team who improved tremendously in 2012 and whilst the Colts will have their work cut out to topple Houston in the AFC South; led by hugely exciting Andrew Luck at Quarterback, they are a definite team for the future and should reach the Playoffs as a Wildcard.
Looking towards the individual player markets for the new season, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson was the runaway winner for most rushing yards last year but Washington's Alfred Morris saw a lot of carries for a rookie to finish second behind Peterson with 1,613 yards. With a season's experience behind him, the 24 year old looks a good bet to bridge that gap with Peterson who is unlikely to have a repeat of his record breaking campaign of 12 months ago and the 10/1 about Morris to lead the NFL in rushing yards with Ladbrokes, William Hill or Bet Victor looks a solid bet.
2013 NFL Season Tips
Tip #1: Denver to win Super Bowl @ 7/1 with Skybet
Tip #2: Atlanta Falcons to win the NFC @ 9/1 with Betfred or Bet Victor
Tip #3: Denver to meet Atlanta in the Super Bowl @ 33/1 with Skybet
Tip #4: Alfred Morris to lead the NFL in regular season rushing yards @ 10/1 with Ladbrokes, William Hill or Bet Victor
Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC East
Cincinnati Bengals to win the AFC North
Seattle Seahawks to win the NFC West
Atlanta Falcons to win the NFC South
Denver Broncos to win the AFC West
Houston Texans to win the AFC South
All to win pays 94/1 with Betfred
Super Bowl XLVIII Odds
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