NFL 4-into-1: Expect the Patriots to be top of the AFC tree

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In running the rule over the NFL’s National Football Conference, we predicted the defending champion Seattle Seahawks will reach a second consecutive Super Bowl by winning the NFC crown.

With the Denver Broncos still alive in the opposing American conference, the possibility of a repeat matchup from last year’s showpiece event is still alive, but we can’t see it happening.

Peyton Manning’s Broncos are rated as the 7/4 second favourites to win the AFC and represented the conference in Arizona at Super Bowl XLIX.

Manning’s long-standing quarterback rival Tom Brady and his New England Patriots sit ahead of the Broncos in the AFC pecking order according to Ladbrokes, with the bookie going 10/11 that the Pats prevail.

Statistically over the course of the regular season, the Patriots are perhaps unjust favourites in the market considering they ranked 11th overall on offense and 13th on defense, while the Broncos were 4th and 3rd respectively in the same categories.

However it is the Patriots’ regular-season win over Manning’s men that gives them the edge here, while a triumph over Denver’s 9/1-rated next-round opponents, the Indianapolis Colts, also stands them in good stead.

Of course, there was already a rematch from last season’s Super Bowl during this campaign and the fact that the Broncos once again succumbed to the defensive might of the Seahawks suggests that even if they do reach the final match of the season again, they won’t enjoy it.

The Baltimore Ravens are the final piece of the AFC’s remaining quartet and have odds of 7/1 to win the conference.

Their defence, which plays a brutal, hard-hitting brand of football, is their main weapon but having not played many of the elite teams over the course of the regular season are something of an unknown quantity at this stage of the season, hence their price.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.