Pittsburgh Steelers’ trip to face SuperBowl XLIX winners the New England Patriots in the American Football Conference this Thursday gets a new NFL season underway, but today we’re focused on the movers and shakers in the National equivalent.
Who’s going to win it?
Seattle’s ‘Legion of Boom’ defense is expected to carry them through once more, but the Packers of Green Bay, who were beaten 28-22 by the Seahawks in an epic Championship game last time around, are our pick.
A price of 9/4 makes last season’s NFC winners favourites to retain the crown, but the 7/2-rated Cheeseheads can avenge their desperately unlucky loss in 2015.
The Seahawks have the rocket-heeled Arizona Cardinals to contend with in the NFC West and aren’t even nailed on to claim the divisional title.
Green Bay’s attacking effervescence takes some stifling and has bailed out an occasionally suspect rearguard on plenty of occasions; expect to see Aaron Rodgers and co reigning supreme this term.
Teams to watch
The Vikings from the Gopher State have forged a fearsome offence with rising star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater tossing bullets into the breadbaskets of returning running back Adrian Peterson and wide receiver Mike Wallace, who ran in 10 touchdowns for the Miami Dolphins last season and they’re not to be taken lightly.
Despite this, they rank as 6/1 third favourites just to win the NFC North title, behind their most-loathed foe Green Bay and the Detroit Lions, suggesting they’ll struggle to even make the play-offs.
Such a price is farcical and this isn’t just down to the weapons they have lining up in attack. A heavy outlay has been splurged in bolstering a backline too often dismantled by rushing opponents in 2014 (they ranked 25th across the NFL) and it’s this influx of defensive talent that’s got tongues wagging about the Vikings’ chances.
Favourite to take on
The NFC East is wide open, with odds-against prices available for the Philadelphia Eagles (11/8) and the Dallas Cowboys (6/4) to take the title.
There’s a case to be made for taking the pair on with the freakishly-sized fellas out of the Big Apple.
After going 6-10 last term, it’s fair to say the New York Giants warrant their 4/1 outsider status to claim the divisional crown, but the acquisition of Shane Vereen at running back has got the juices coursing.
It was in offense where they were found wanting last time around, but the explosive former Patriots man can reinvigorate their lacklustre frontline. His presence, alongside crafty veteran quarterback Eli Manning and 2014 Pro Bowler Odell Beckham Jr at wide receiver ensures they’ll be a more prominent threat going forward.
The jury is still out on whether Philly QB Sam Bradford is capable of sitting in the cockpit of a SuperBowl winning machine, while the Cowboys’ hopes hinge on whether they can discover the rushing formula that allowed Tony Romo to flourish last season. The Giants can upstage both.