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September 05 2017, 18:30
After profits of more than 66 points last season, NFL expert David John reveals his picks for Super Bowl LII in Minnesota.
I am not quite sure what Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will do for an encore after February’s dramatic Super Bowl victory over Atlanta but they start the new campaign as clear favourites to defend their title.
You have to go back to 2004 and 2005 for the last team to repeat the trick – you guessed it, New England – as Brady and head coach Bill Belichick attempt to put a seal on creating the greatest football dynasty of the modern era with a sixth Lombardi Trophy.
The time will come when Brady’s powers do start to dwindle so the trick for punters is trying to pre-empt that fateful day – and will it be this time around?
He turned 40 at the start of August but some fresh faces added over the summer should keep opposing defences on their toes, while a healthy Rob Gronkowski and blossoming relationship with wide receiver Chris Hogan can help negate the untimely loss through injury of Julian Edelman.
The defense relies more on efficient coaching than a rash of expensive free agents being paid big money but a couple of times last season they were seriously victimised through the air.
There is no evidence yet to suggest Brady does not retain the ability to keep on top of a situation and their long-term prospects rest very much on his shoulders – although holding on to classy back-up Jimmy Garropolo was a smart move just in case.
Miami improved enough to make it to the post-season but New England’s route to the play-offs has perennially been assisted by a weary AFC East and only twice since 2001 have they failed to come out on top in the division.
Buffalo and the New York Jets don’t seemingly pose much of a threat so the path looks relatively clear once more, hence a prohibitive quote of 1/10 - once New England hit January, they know the way to the Super Bowl from that point.
The journey remains long and arduous and though something like a 3-0 opening would see their odds collapse further, a general 4/1 quote is a pretty limited starting point even for a team with their pedigree.
Atlanta are four times the price to go one better after last season’s heartbreak and for three quarters of the Super Bowl they had the Patriots on toast.
In the immediate aftermath, I had the feeling that sort of implosion would be extremely tough to recover from but seven months is a long time to lick your wounds and more importantly, prepare as a team to go again.
The Falcons have retained the vast majority of their star names and a vibrant, hungry collection of players look well capable of another strong push for glory.
However, the recent record for Super Bowl runners-up is pretty dismal, while a consistently turbulent NFC South will be no pushover with a stronger challenge expected from Carolina and Tampa Bay.
The latter are one of my fancies to make a return to the post-season – more on that later – but the duo I like at the prices for outright glory are Seattle and the New York Giants.
It is fair to assume the Seahawks were not at their best in 2016 but a 10-5-1 record was good enough for top place in the NFC West and a berth in the play-offs.
They comfortably negotiated the first hurdle against Detroit but were then no match for Atlanta on the road and readily brushed aside 36-20 in Georgia.
That night in January saw all Seattle’s shortcomings ruthlessly exposed with quarterback Russell Wilson unable to give anymore having battled knee and ankle injuries all season, while the absence of Earl Thomas saw their secondary constantly sliced and diced by Matt Ryan.
Wilson is fully healthy once more so expect to see further death-defying acts of escapology in the pocket while Thomas is enjoying a new lease of life back on the football field having even considered quitting the game during his lengthy rehab from a broken leg.
His welcome return means a rebirth for the ‘Legion of Boom’ as one facet of a suffocating defense - which now has former New York Jet Sheldon Richardson in the ranks - on which they can lay the foundations for another title assault.
There remain question marks over the line in front of Wilson but head coach Pete Carroll has been happy enough with progress in pre-season.
That is not exactly a ringing endorsement but they are growing as a group and Wilson’s increased mobility to dodge the pass rush should see sack numbers drop from an unacceptable total of 42 last season.
Rather like New England, Seattle’s division is very winnable with them priced up at a best of 4/9 with Arizona still their closest rivals as the LA Rams and San Francisco go through a rebuilding phase.
The hostility of Seattle’s CenturyLink Field home towards visiting opposition arguably remains worth a touchdown at least so I like them to gut out a tough-looking regular season schedule in traditional Seahawks fashion and be alive and very much kicking moving into the new year.
I am putting my faith in the defensive side of the ball as well when it comes to the Giants.
The franchise spent big in the summer of 2016 to bring in a handful of high-quality free agents and the unit really started to come together in the final month of the campaign.
It all went a bit pear-shaped against Green Bay in the play-offs but this looks a tremendously dynamic group of players containing the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins to name just three.
"We have been ready to go since week one of pre-season," said Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins as he and his colleagues fired a warning shot by generating 16 points in the week three warm-up against the Jets.
Offensively, quarterback Eli Manning might still have a few years on Brady but won’t have too many more chances to add a third Super Bowl ring to his collection, while Brandon Marshall is a strong addition to the passing game opposite the unique talents of Odell Beckham Jr.
Manning still mixes big plays with howling errors and will need to seriously cut down on the latter but hopefully an improvement in the running game will help with a youthful Paul Perkins capable of a breakout season.
Betting on the Super Bowl at this stage never gets any easier with all the twists and turns ahead and plenty of scenarios eventually playing out in a totally unexpected manner.
So having referenced the Buccaneers earlier in the preview, I can see both them and Tennessee definitely moving in a positive direction and suggest backing them to make the play-offs rather than swell the outright Super Bowl staking plan.
Tampa Bay should certainly benefit from being in the second year of head coach Dirk Koetter’s system and have enough playmakers on the team headed by Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and Lavonte David to make serious strides in the NFC South.
The Titans are in a similar situation with decent claims of shaking up their division following back-to-back wins for Houston.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota is approaching his peak and has shown no signs of any lingering issue from a broken leg suffered late last season so his game should move to the next level with some extra quality in Nashville added to the passing game.
That has been the case too for the pass defense after a summer overhaul with Logan Ryan a fascinating recruit from New England to hopefully help set a stronger tone in an area that struggled in 2016.
Those more daring among you might want to roll the dice on the duo at bigger prices for the Super Bowl itself but that lack of recent post-season experience might ultimately see them gobbled up at some point in January.Recommended bets: Super Bowl
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THE Conference Championships are completed and we now have our Super Bowl 50 teams. In what is sure to be an enthralling game, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers will take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos in a clash of the young and old.
26-year-old Cam Newton led the Panthers to an overwhelming victory over the Arizona Cardinals and bookmakers have been quick to respond, installing them as the red-hot favorites for the Super Bowl on February 7.
WilliamHill.com have the Panthers as -225 favorites to win at Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, which is a touch short for a team lacking in big-game experience. The value could be with the Broncos at +188 which is a good price for a Super Bowl.
This will likely be Peyton Manning’s last game in the NFL and he will want to make it a winning one. The 39-year-old has had his fair share of injuries throughout his career, this season included, but he looks fit and well for the Super Bowl and bettors of the Broncos couldn’t believe the odds available.
In terms of injuries, both teams have fared quite well this season. Carolina have two defensive players in doubt for the Super Bowl and both are questionable to play, and Denver have only one player questionable.
Thomas Davis (Linebacker) – Underwent surgery to repair a broken right arm on Monday morning. Questionable for the Super Bowl.
Roman Harper (Strong Safety) – Harper (eye) expects to be ready for the Super Bowl.
Denver Bronco Darian Stewart sprained his MCL, but he reported that won’t keep him out of the Super Bowl.
The Denver Broncos are getting a +5.0 point start with bookmakers and punters should be expecting a close game, but they have to put the Carolina Panthers big win against the Cardinals out of their minds.
Carolina have a very potent offense, but they are coming up against the best defense in the NFL, and the Broncos are making a case for the best defense we’ve ever seen play american football.
If the defense shows up, and it should, the under 45 points at -110 is a good option to bet on. Both teams will have Super Bowl nerves and it could make for a tight game. Another positive aspect for betting this option is that Denver like to sustain long drives which can take up an entire quarter. This is a tactic they will try to slow down the Panthers offense with.Super Bowl MVP betting
Cam Newton is the overwhelming favorite to win the MVP title. The Panthers quarterback is paying -175 to take the honors and if the Panthers are to win Super Bowl 50, Newton would be the logical choice.
Opposing quarterback Peyton Manning is +350 which is good money considering it could be his last game. The voting committee might be swayed by this so if the Broncos win and Manning has a good game, he should secure the title.
Von Miller had a wow of a game against the Patriots and a repeat performance would see him winning the title. The defensive star is +2500 which is definitely worth a stab at that value.
Peyton Manning +350
Jonathan Stewart +2000
Luke Kuechly +2500
CJ Anderson +2800
Demaryius Thomas +2800
Emmanuel Sanders +2800
Greg Olsen +2800
Josh Norman +4000
DeMarcus Ware +5000
Corey Brown +6600
Ronnie Hillman +6600
Derek Wolfe +10000
Devin Funchess +10000
Kawaan Short +10000
Aqib Talib +15000
Bradley Roby +15000
For a full MVP market, head to WilliamHill.comWinning margin market and tips
Plenty of money can be made from betting winning margin markets. It is a more difficult option, but the pay outs are worth the risk.
Broncos 7-12 +750
Broncos 13-18 +1100
Broncos 19-24 +2000
Broncos 25-30 +3000
Broncos 31+ +4000
If you think the Broncos are going to win, taking both Broncos 1-6 and 7-12 could be worth a go. Punters will double their money if they win by less than six, but will win substantial amounts if the Broncos can win between 7 to 12 points.
Panthers 1-6 +320
Panthers 7-12 +450
Panthers 19-24 +850
Panthers 25-30 +1200
Panthers 31+ +1400
The Carolina Panthers are capable of a blowout. We don’t think the Super Bowl against a touch defense is where it will happen, but if they can get on top early they could put up a big number.
Taking Panthers 13-18 and 19-24 isn’t the worst way to go for exotic players. The odds make it well worth the risk.First touchdown scorer market
A favorite prop bet of all NFL punters. The first touchdown scorer bet gives bettors a chance at winning big very early in the game.
Any player on the field can score first and that’s what makes this option so exciting. It can be one of the favored players, or it could be a defensive player scoring off a fumble of intercept.
Super Bowl LI MVP Odds: Atlanta vs New England
Looking for the 2017 Super Bowl LI MVP Odds? This year there are some interesting choices on the board to pick from. Obviously, the leading candidates will be Matt Ryan and Tom Brady who lead high octane offenses. Here’s the full list of Bovada Super Bowl LI Props.
However, given the type of defense the Atlanta Falcons employ and the type of flexibility the New England Patriots have on the offensive end, there are some other options to explore, so let’s go through the list of possible Super Bowl MVP candidates.Super Bowl LI Prediction – Falcons vs Patriots
Venue: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
ATS Betting Lines: Patriots -3
NFL Moneyline Odds: New England -150, Atlanta +1302017 Super Bowl LI MVP Odds – Tom Brady -115
If you think the Patriots win, then this is the safest bet on the board. The Patriots don’t have that one dominate receiver that I could see winning the MVP.
Brady will more than likely just facilitate the ball around to Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman, and Martellus Bennett. That’s about it for Brady, you know what you are getting with the two-time Super Bowl MVP.2017 Super Bowl LI MVP Odds – Matt Ryan +175
If you think the Falcons win, then this is the safest bet on the board. There are a couple of ways the Patriots might play this Falcons offense. One: They use Malcolm Butler to shadow Julio Jones. Or they they put Butler on Mohamed Sanu and use a safety over the top exclusively on Jones.
They’ll probably employ both as the game progresses, but wither way, there are so many weapons on this team that Ryan doesn’t have to just go to Jones. Taylor Gabriel will have his moments to pop the top off the secondary.
Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman are two terrific pass catchers out of the backfield. Austin Hooper at tight end will have his moments to split the seams. What I’m getting at is not one specific player may end up dominating in this game.
Ryan may end up throwing three touchdowns to three different players and throwing for 300 yards.2017 Super Bowl LI MVP Odds – Dion Lewis +1800/LaGarrett Blount +2000
The Patriots have the ability to run the ball and defensively the Falcons struggle to stop the run. I go back to how the Patriots-Seahawks game from earlier this season.
The Seahawks held Brady to zero touchdowns. How the Patriots scored was from LaGarrett Blount from at the goal line. Blount was able to pound it in three times in that game.
The Falcons employ that same sort of defensive mentality; limit the big play, don’t get beat deep, and make the opposition earn every yard. If the Falcons do that then Brady might not put up the gaudy stats.
Instead, it might be Blount or Dion Lewis getting the touchdowns and nabbing the MVP if the Patriots win.
However, will it be Blount or will it be Lewis getting the yards and touchdowns? Blount was the workhorse for the entire regular season, but things have shifted since Lewis has gotten healthy.
He has been getting his fair share of carries and, of course, his targets out of the backfield. I’d look to get a package deal on both to cover your end.2017 Super Bowl LI MVP Odds – Vic Beasley +5000
If you think the Falcons will win and you want some value on the board, I’d look at Vic Beasley. Beasley is a dominate pass rusher in the same vain as last year’s Super Bowl MVP Von Miller.
It’ll be a tough task going up against Marcus Cannon, but if Beasley does hit Brady time and time again and gets a couple of sacks and possibly a forced fumble, as well, Beasley would be a strong candidate to win MVP honors and at 50/1 that’s a ton of value right there.Here are the complete 2017 Super Bowl LI MVP Odds
If you’re looking for more NFL picks like this New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons matchup we’ll be providing 4* free NFL predictions on the blog all season long, and check out our Experts for guaranteed premium & free NFL Football picks!
Bettors didn't think much about the Dallas Cowboys before the season.
After its upset of defending champion Seattle, Dallas is now 12-1 to win the Super Bowl at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. Only the Seahawks and Green Bay Packers have better odds in the NFC.
For the sports books, it's a great year for a perennial public favorite like the Cowboys to make a run. Betting was so light on Dallas in the offseason that its odds to win the Super Bowl fell significantly. In late January, the SuperBook opened the Cowboys at 30-1 to win it all. By September, after an offseason full of ridicule, Dallas had fallen all the way back to 75-1. Only five teams -- Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Oakland and Jacksonville -- had longer odds to start the season.
Vegas gamblers also bet heavily against the Cowboys in some of the early point spreads that were released in May by the SuperBook. Dallas went from a 1.5-point home underdog to New Orleans in May to a 7-point home 'dog to the Saints in September. The Cowboys destroyed the Saints 38-17 in Week 4.
While the majority of bettors faded the Cowboys, there were still a few wise to the team's potential. The SuperBook took 13 more bets on the over on Dallas' season win total of 8 than it did on the under. And the larger bets on the Cowboys' season win total were on the over, according to SuperBook assistant manager Jeff Sherman.
Dallas was a big as a 10-point underdog to the Seahawks at the Wynn and SuperBook on Sunday. The Cowboys (5-1, 4-2 ATS) dominated with 23 first downs to Seattle's nine. It was the biggest upset of the season, point-spread-wise, and handed the sports books one of their biggest wins of the day.
"We had one of our house players make a decent size bet on the Seahawks minus-9.5," SuperBook football oddsmaker Ed Salmons. "We had a ton of moneyline action on the Seahawks as well."
This week, though, the early action is on the Cowboys, who opened as 3-point home favorites over the New York Giants, but were laying 5 at most shops as of Monday.
Denver Broncos (-9.5) 31, New York Jets 17: Approximately 95 percent of bets on the game were on the Broncos at the SuperBook and Aliante sports book. With Denver leading 24-17 with less than a minute to play, things looked extremely bleak for Broncos backers. It looked over when Jets quarterback Geno Smith was sacked in the end zone for what could have been called a safety that would have made the final margin 9, a hair short of covering the 9.5-point spread. But officials ruled Smith down at the 1-yard line. On the next play, Denver defensive back Aqib Talib intercepted Smith and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown to cover the spread.
"When it looked like they were going to call a safety, you could hear everyone in the sports book grumbling and cursing at the refs," said Jason Simbal, vice president of race and sports at CG Technology, who works out of the M Resort. "Then, they erupted when the interception occurred."
Simbal said the pick-six with 15 seconds left caused a seven-figure swing against his shop.
San Diego Chargers (-7.5) 31, Oakland Raiders 28: In addition to the Cowboys' upset of the Seahawks, the Chargers' failing to cover as big road favorites against the Raiders was one of the best results of the day for the sports book.
"The late games always produce the bigger decisions, because of the parlay liability that builds up," Salmons said. "If the Chargers wouldn't have covered, it really would have been bad."College football report
The Mississippi State Bulldogs, the new No. 1 team in the nation, will likely be an underdog two more times in the final weeks of the regular season: at Alabama on Nov. 15 and at Ole Miss on Nov. 29, in what's setting up to be the biggest Egg Bowl ever. The SuperBook currently has the Rebels listed as 3-point favorites over Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have covered the spread in their past five games as an underdog, dating back to last season.
After opening at 175-1 to win the national championship at the MGM sports book, Mississippi State is now 5-1.
"We took 29 tickets on them at 175-1," MGM vice president of race and sports Jay Rood said. "Small bets, average size is about 25 bucks."
Rood said the Bulldogs' upset of Auburn produced his shop's biggest win Saturday. Ole Miss' win over Texas A&M also was a big decision that went in favor of the books.
"We had a ton of support for A&M," Salmons said.Early Week 8 CFB action
Notre Dame at Florida State, 8 p.m. (ABC)
The Seminoles opened as high as 13.5-point favorites offshore. CG Technology opened at Florida State minus-12, and the Wynn went with minus-11.5. The line was sitting at FSU minus-11.5 at most shops Monday.
The Irish have covered the spread in their past four games as double-digit underdogs and are 10-6 against the spread as double-digit dogs under coach Brian Kelly.Odds and ends
• Auburn's dramatic win over Alabama last season has had a lasting effect on the Crimson Tide. Dating back to last season's Iron Bowl, Alabama is 1-7 ATS. The Crimson Tide squeaked by Arkansas 14-13 Saturday thanks to a blocked extra point, but failed to cover and dropped to 3-11 ATS after a straight-up loss under coach Nick Saban.
• Baylor trailed TCU 58-37 with 11:38 left in the fourth quarter Saturday. At that point, the Bears were 16-1 underdogs to win the game on live betting at the William Hill sports book. According to William Hill spokesman Michael Grodsky, the book took only one bet on Baylor to win at those odds. The Bears scored the final 24 points of the game to win 61-58.
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