NFL 100: Who are the main contenders?
In less than a month, the NFL will kick off its centennial season, but which team will come out on top in such a pivotal moment in NFL history?
Last season saw the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl for the sixth time, and they now share the highest total of Super Bowl victories with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Patriots' star quarterback Tom Brady just celebrated his 42nd birthday with a two-year contract extension, and coach Bill Belichick is widely considered one of the best of all time. They return with all the key players from last season, plus the addition of Michael Bennett to replace Trey Flowers. For this reason, the Patriots are the bookie’s favourites to make it seven at 7/1 with Bet365.
Next up in the American Football Conference are the Kansas City Chiefs at 8/1 with Bet365. Patrick Mahomes II scored 50 touchdowns in his first full season as a starter, and the only way seems to be up for the young quarterback. Despite recent allegations surrounding his private life, Tyreek Hill will play without a suspension, meaning the Chiefs squad will be just as strong as last season.
At 16/1 with Sky Bet are the Indianapolis Colts. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck seemed strong in his first season back from injury and, in the absence of any more set-backs, could really get into his stride.
Last season saw the introduction of two new rookies in Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard. Both performed well and look set to improve this season. However, they may need some time to recover after last season’s playoff result, losing 13-31 to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round.
In the National Football Conference, the New Orleans Saints are the favourites at 8/1 with Paddy Power. The offensive trio of Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara is arguably the league’s best.
Saints players believe their Mercedes-Benz Superdome stadium gives them the best home-field advantage of anyone in the league, which is particularly important if they enter the play-offs as the top seeded team.
The Los Angeles Rams are priced at 15/2 with Bet365, and are another obvious choice, having only lost out to the Patriots in the Super Bowl last season.
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is considered one of the best defensive players in the league, and with Sean McVay as offensive coach, it is hard to look past them for this year’s title. However, their chances rest on the health of wide receiver Cooper Kupp and running back Todd Gurley, both vital members of the squad returning from injury.
Finally, the Philadelphia Eagles will be eager to get back to winning ways after lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy for the first time in 2018. All this rests on an injury plighted Carson Wentz returning to form, as the rest of the team hasn’t changed greatly from their victory only two seasons ago.
The Eagles join the Colts as outsiders at 16/1 with Sky Bet.
By Owain Flanders