NFL 2017: Three teams to follow on the road to the Super Bowl

Can Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. carry the Giants all the way?
Can Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. carry the Giants all the way?

With the start of the 2017/18 NFL season just around the corner, Betfair's Kieran O'Connor breaks down his three teams to follow on the road to the Super Bowl...

"Fortunately, the NFC East is up for grabs this year especially with Dallas losing Ezekiel Elliot to a six-game suspension, and at 7/4 the Giants look good value to win their division."

After one of the most dramatic Super Bowl's in history, the NFL season returns early on Friday morning. While current champions the New England Patriots are worthy favourites again this year, they represent little value at 4/1. So we've cherry-picked three teams that should go deep into the play-offs and look real value in the outright market.

Pittsburgh Steelers - 11/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)

Every year I'm asked who I fancy at a price for the Super Bowl. Every year I tip the Pittsburgh Steelers. I have seen their price to win it drop from 33/1 to 11/1 for this year's season. And once again I'm tipping them to finally do the business.

Led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh has the best offense in football - period. 'Big Ben' has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal with Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant on the outside, while Le'Veon Bell leads the backfield. At 36, Roethlisberger is in the twilight of his career and seems to carry knocks into every season so keeping him fit and healthy is a huge priority for Pittsburgh.

The Steelers were crushed by the Patriots in the AFC Championship game last season - this was seen by them (rightfully so) as a massive failure for the organisation. The Pats are 1/8 to win the AFC North, something they should easily achieve but Pittsburgh remains their biggest threat in the AFC. Can the Steelers beat the Patriots in January? If they can, a Super Bowl beckons.

Oakland Raiders - 18/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)

The Oakland Raiders were one of the most exciting teams to follow last year with Derek Carr having his best season since being named their starting quarterback in 2014. In 15 starts in the 2016 season, Carr recorded 3,937 passing yards on a career-high 357 completions and a career-low 560 attempts with 28 touchdowns and six interceptions.

These figures steered Oakland into the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Then his season was cruelly cut short when he suffered a broken fibula on Christmas Eve versus the Colts. The Raiders season ended when they were beaten in the first round of the playoffs, without Carr at the helm.

Marshawn Lynch has ended his retirement after just one year and the Raiders signed him to a two-year deal. Lynch, a native of Oakland, will look to improve their running game and all the signs from pre-season and the quotes coming out of the Raiders camp seem to suggest they'll be looking to run the ball on a much higher percentage of possessions this season.

On the other side of the ball, Oakland has arguably the best defensive player in the game in right outside line-backer Khalil Mack. With a strong defence and now added running ability, Oakland will again look to Amari Cooper & Michael Crabtree at WR to lead the way.

The pair managed to score 13 touchdowns last season and they'll need to repeat that at the very least with the AFC West being such a tough division to win with Kansas and Denver also playing for top spot. But Oakland at 2/1 looks a very tempting bet and a Derek Carr led Raiders side in the play-offs could surprise a few.

New York Giants - 20/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)

New York were a bit of a surprise package for many last year, they had a highly impressive season finishing 11-5 and duly made the play-offs. The main reason behind this - their extremely tight defence. The Giants spent $200 million dollars in the 2016 off-season and in turn went from worst in yards allowed in 2015 to ranked in the top 10 last season. Expect them to be high on that list again this campaign.

In truth, it's their offensive line and quarterback Eli Manning who will make or break their season, he'll definitely need to get better protection if they're to go deep in the play-offs.

If they do, he has the likes of Odell Beckham Jnr, Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard to aim at. In addition, their running game will now be lead by Paul Perkins who started last year as fourth choice but has worked his way up to become the main man in New York.

Two-time Super Bowl winner Manning is now 36 years old and much like 'Big Ben' in Pittsburgh, he's running low on seasons to add a third ring. Fortunately, the NFC East is up for grabs this year especially with Dallas losing Ezekiel Elliot to a six-game suspension, and at 7/4 they look good value to win their division. Once in the play-offs, the Giants are capable of anything - ask any Patriots fan.

Recommended Bets

Pittsburgh Steelers to win the Super Bowl @ 11/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Khalil Mack, Von Miller & JJ Watt combine for 55+ sacks @ 6/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)
New York Giants to win the NFC East @ 7/4 (Betfair Sportsbook)

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