Luca Bercelli takes a look at some of the week one fixtures of the new NFL season and believes the San Franciso 49ers and the Green Bay Packers will produce a high-scoring encounter...
"This all leads me to the obvious play in this match which is a back of the total points (Over 45.5) at a current 1.865/6."
Okay let's get the algebra out of the way first.
AO+AD = WOW.
In case you're wondering: Awesome Offence + Awesome Defence = Week One War.
This is what we have on offer here, and what a stonking start to the NFL season on Sky Sports. Both of these teams are heavily fancied for Superbowl success (The Pack are 2nd favourites 8.07/1 and the Niners fifth favourites 15.5.) If that confidence is to be rewarded a fast start is essential.
On one side of the field you have last season's highest scoring team (Green Bay with 560 points); on the other side you have one of the league's meanest defences (San Francisco were ranked No 1 against the rush and No 4 in total defence) . Look a little closer and you'll discover that the 49ers were no mugs on offence either. In the regular season they scored a respectable 380 points, a total which only 10 teams bettered. With ace receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham added to the roster the Niners are certainly capable of racking up points.
This all leads me to the obvious play in this match which is a back of the total points (Over 45.5) at a current 1.865/6.
Green Bay's approach has always been to not stop their opponents but to outscore them, so with that in mind, strap yourselves in for another TD fest. San Francisco have the players to stop anybody and the sack-happy Smiths (Aldon and Justin) among others will be applying pressure. Green Bay's QB Aaron Rogers isn't anybody, however, he's the standout player in the league right now. His ability to escape pressure, and the formidable group of Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jermichael Finlay and Randall Cobb for him to aim at, mean it'll be nigh on impossible to keep him quiet.
The moneyline or handicap markets on this match don't tempt me, but with a gun to my head I'd have to side with Green Bay as they're playing at one of the few grounds where home advantage...is an advantage. Also, defences can sometimes take a while to find their rhythm whereas I expect Rogers and co to be in sync from the get-go.
In contrast to our other match which features two teams that are very much the finished articles; here we have an outfit that are the template for the oft-used description, 'work in progress', the Indianapolis Colts.
They exemplify the true competitive nature of the NFL, having made it to the Superbowl twice in the last six years but totally dismissed (and rightly so) in the outright market this year 230.0229/1. Could a contender in the Premiership or Champion's League ever start at those inflated odds three years after winning it? You tell me.
The Colts have been pretty awful defensively in recent seasons and, since they lost Peyton Manning... even worse on offense. That has been addressed in a big way with the capture of the number one draft pick and universally admired QB Andrew Luck. This is a rookie quarterback with seemingly no weaknesses; he'll have to be particularly strong between the ears in what, on paper at least, should turn out to be a challenging year.
He's in at the deepest of deep-ends in week one with the fearsome Bears' defence eager to ruin his big day. With Brian Urlacher and co stampeding towards him he'll have to scramble, make quick decisions and get rid of the ball mucho rapido. We'll learn a lot about the kid this weekend but I think he'll come out of it with a gold star or two even if the win column stays empty.
The Bears are a slight favourite 1.9420/21 giving away 9.5 points but I'll just side with the underdogs to small stakes in the hope that the Luckster has a few tricks up his sleeve that even the wily old Bears 'D' hasn't seen.
The other bet that I detect a bit of value from is the roughly 5.04/1 that the first scoring play will be an Indy field goal. If the Colts get the ball first it's almost a given that they'll proceed conservatively and give the new head boy a chance to acclimatise himself in the lion's den. Anywhere near kicking range and the Colts should snap up the chance to get the first points on the board. 17-year veteran Adam Vinatieri has the kicking duties and the reason he's lasted so long is that he doesn't miss field goals...not often anyway.