Ahead of the new NFL season, our US Sports columnist Mike Carlson gives his thoughts on the Superbowl LVI betting, plus Coach of the Year and various player awards...
"If you liked the New England odds, Bill Belichick for Coach of the Year at 18/1 would be good to pair with the Pats."
I suggested in my AFC and NFC previews that a repeat Super Bowl with the same two teams seems more possible than any year I can remember. But the plexiglass principle always applies: when you go all the way, a lot of things have to go right.
You need injury luck, you need the ball to bounce the right way a few times (we call it fumble luck), you need a few calls going in your favour and you need luck.
Those kind of things tend to bounce back the following year, toward the middle or the mean depending on how scientific you want to be about it, which means, although the Chiefs and Bucs are legitimately favourites, the odds realistically could be a bit longer.
Bills and Seahawks can contend to win Super Bowl LVI
So if you dislike short-odds, you could always get 10/1 on a Chiefs/Bucs Super Bowl and then pick the winner of that game in February (note I had the Chiefs in the season preview for 2019 and got the Bucs last year in the Super Bowl preview), then take my second-favourite Bills in the AFC at 10/1 (11/2 to win AFC) and a dark-horse like the Seahawks to fight out of the NFC West at 18/1 (10/1 to win NFC).
From the AFC, New England are at 33/1, which is a bet I would have taken a week ago (my own feeling had them at 20-25/1) but I have a little less faith in them with Mac Jones starting from week one; the learning curve is huge for any rookie QB, even one who fits the system as well as he does, and with Stephon Gilmore out at least for the first six games; his shut-down ability is crucial to their D.
Belichick and Shanahan considered for Coach of the Year
If you liked the New England odds, Bill Belichick for Coach of the Year at 18/1 would be good to pair with the Pats. Andy Reid is 25/1 for coach of the year, and that's because favourites rarely see their coaches rewarded, although Reid and Belichick are also their teams' de facto general managers, and both would deserve huge credit for rebuilding on the fly.
Kevin Stefanski of the Browns at 15/1 is a safer bet. I also fancy Baltimore as a long-shot; they probably deserve to be slightly longer odds than 15/1 and if they win John Harbaugh, who, like the franchise, is a model of consistency (though his is more manic) is good value at 20/1, which is what Baltimore really ought to be.
I like Seattle as a dark horse but they have the Niners, Rams and Cardinals to deal with. On the one hand, I think the Rams are over-valued at 14/1 and the Niners might be a good shot at the same odds. The Cardinals might be considered a decent dark horse if you think they are good enough to at least split their season series with the rest of the division, and then do better with their slightly easier schedule?
But I think you could take an NFC West division finish of 49ers/Seahawks/Rams/Cardinals at 17/2 as a decent flutter. If the Niners do make a Super Bowl run, whether their QBs are splitting time or not, Kyle Shanahan at 16/1 for coach of the year makes sense.
Allen heads player awards picks
NFL Regular Season MVP: Josh Allen at 11/1. Mahomes is short odds for a reason, but a Buffalo run deep into the playoffs and another year's improvement would make Allen appealing.
NFL Defensive Player of the Year: Chase Young at 9/1. Young is poised for a second season breakout, the danger man in a gangeroud team D.
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: It's likely to be whichever of the five round one rookies plays best, or whose team does better than expected. Try Mac Jones at 9/2.
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kwity Paye at 9/1. Payne is likely to be the edge rush rookie kikely to be put in position for the most sacks, and most sacks wins DROY more often than not.
NFL Comeback Player of the Year: Nick Bosa at 14/1. We forget how dominant Bosa was in 2019. He may be back to that level this year.
For more tips & insight from Mike, listen to the NFL...Only Bettor season preview podcast, also featuring John Balfe and Kieran O'Connor
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