What to look out for ahead of the 2018 NFL Season

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The 2018 NFL season is nearly upon us as 32 teams chase the holy grail of the Vince Lombardi trophy in January.

Philadelphia Eagles will be eager to defend their title. And they begin their quest with a clash against Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Field.

But, before that, we take a look at some of the major players and key storylines ahead of another action-packed campaign.

Who’s looking hot in the AFC?

In the outright betting, beaten 2017 Super Bowl finalists New England Patriots are still the team to beat, according to our traders.

Bill Belichick’s side are 6/1 favourites to win this year’s showpiece. While Tom Brady and co. are 2/1 to win the AFC over the 4/1 Pittsburgh Steelers.

While Brady remains in the pocket, the Patriots will still be in with a huge chance. But it’ll be interesting to see how they fare without their former defensive co-ordinator, Matt Patricia.

The Steelers should be there or thereabouts with Ben Roethlisberger directing the play. But it will be very fascinating to see how the Cleveland Browns get on.

The Browns have been a losing franchise for what feels like forever. But coach Hue Jackson is building a talented side with Baker Mayfield at Quarterback, elite pass-rusher Myles Garrett, and ultra-fast corner Denzel Ward among many others.

You can get the Browns at 15/4 to finish second in the AFC North and make the post-season.

LA Chargers could also be a savvy outright pick at 9/1. The Chargers tick all the boxes in terms of an elite QB in Philip Rivers, plus a great offence and defense.

Who’s looking hot in the NFC?

The Eagles will obviously be the team to beat. Doug Pederson’s champions are 10/1 to defend their crown. And Eagles’ fans will be delighted to have maintained the spine of their team.

The returning Carson Wentz is likely to be back at QB, which means the Eagles have a Super Bowl-winning Nick Foles as back-up. It’s likely they’ll be even better this year.

But there’s plenty of teams breathing down their neck. None more so than Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers at 11/1 and 12/1, respectively.

The Vikings have significant new additions in Kirk Cousins at Quarterback and offensive coordinator in John DeFilippo. So it will be interesting to see how they fare in the NFC North.

Green Bay will be mercifully welcoming back main man Aaron Rodgers. And if new defensive coordinator in Mike Pettine can shore up a slightly leaky defence, the Packers will be a real threat.

New Orleans Saints look a very intriguing prospect this season. In fact, they were incredibly unlucky not to make the NFC Championship game last year.

However, Sean Payton has an exciting, developing team at his behest. Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore were Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year, respectively, last season.

And with a number of other young starlets developing rapidly, marshalled by Drew Brees, the Saints could well be in the mix come January.

They’re 6/4 to win the NFC South and 14/1 to go all the way at Super Bowl LIII.

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Cian Carroll

Starting life as a football columnist for his local paper in Dundalk, Cian has written for a number of media outlets with pieces published in The Birmingham Mail and Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo. A lover of football, GAA, boxing, rugby and MMA, he’s a big Aston Villa and Dundalk fan. He can be regularly spotted on various mountain tops.