The NFL and its betting markets have grown in global coverage over the past decade, giving punters more in the way of betting interest and ammunition when it comes to placing value bets. With the 2017/18 NFL season kicking off on 7 September, now's the time to tackle the the big questions.
Questions like whether the New England Patriots are backable favourites – and if not – who are the value selections to win Super Bowl LII in Minnesota on 4 February 2018? Who are the best bookmakers to make NFL wagers with and who has the best odds? All that and more you'll find below!
The 2017/18 Super Bowl is the 52nd running of the competition and the 48th in the modern era of the National Football League championship. As predicted, last season's champions the New England Patriots are clear 7/2 favourites to scoop the title again, but it really could swing either way.
Since 2000, New England have featured in seven of the 17 Superbowl finals, winning five of them. They carry real pedigree, having performed the rare feat of winning back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005. Only the New York Giants have won more than one Superbowl since 2000, with two titles. This season Bill Belichick and veteran star Tom Brady will be keen to cement a legacy by winning an epic sixth Lombardi Trophy.
New England's path to the latter stages of the competition are seemingly aided by a relatively weak AFC East; they've only failed to win the division twice since 2001. Their odds of 7/2 to win the Superbowl with Bet365 could start to crumble if they get off to a flier. They look a complete banker to get through the group, priced accordingly at 1/3 to win AFC East.
Winning back-to-back Superbowls isn't easy and in truth the stats are against teams doing so! To illustrate the challenge, no team since 2004/05 has managed to perform the feat, though it did happen to be the New England Patriots that last sealed the deal. The next question regards Brady and whether fatherhood will catch up with him.
Today's NFL athletes can be in supreme condition at Brady's age, but every player eventually loses the edge for one reason or another. And it's worth noting that last season Brady carried the side at times, compensating for a weak defensive line that ended up shipping 380 yards on average per game and languished in position 30.
Any glitches in Brady's game could easily leave New England exposed to emerging teams at value odds. Ultimately the odds of 7/2 for the New England Patriots seems to be priced about right, but that leaves little in the way of value for backers, hence our lack of enthusiasm for the New England powerhouse.
While there are cases to be made for backing New England, the negatives illustrated above mean it could be wise to look for better value among the online bookies' odds. There's certainly scope to take some pretty big odds about one or more of the darker horses in this season's NFL.
With an increasing number of online bookmakers also offering cashout options, a good start to the season will also see the odds tumble on value sides getting off to a red hot start in the opening three to four games. Here are three teams who could rip the title from New England:
Many people supported Atlanta in last season's Superbowl, a game that saw them ultimately lose 34-28 to the New England Patriots. It was an agonising defeat, with them having looked the likely winners for much of the game. The bad news for the Falcons is that losing finalists have really struggled when it comes to lifting the trophy the following season.
And it's quite obvious the loss must have been hard to take. William Hill has 16/1 on the Atlanta Falcons to win the Superbowl, which looks like decent value. Having managed to hold the squad together over the break, there's reason to think last year's exploits stand the side in good stead for another big season.
In fact, given their performance against New England, they must be confident of beating anyone in their path. The risk is the NFC South, which is one of the toughest leagues to emerge from with some of the best teams composing it, but their price of 13/8 to win the division shows how respected they are.
Atlanta can't afford a sloppy beginning and will need to have last season's Superbowl defeat well and truly put to bed when things kick off. If the Falcons get off to a solid start and make it to the playoffs, backers could be onto a winning slip. Considering the potential firepower of Atlanta, this is pretty likely.
The New York Giants have featured in five Superbowl finals, winning the championship four times in their history (in 1987, 1991, 2008 and 2012). They're therefore a team with real NFL pedigree, which is always worth considering. The interesting point about the Giants, is the big money they spent rebuilding in 2016 with free signings.
The recruits included Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Brandon Marshall and Janoris Jenkins, adding to the experience of quarterback Eli Manning and exciting talent of the brilliant Odell Beckham Jr and the emerging Paul Perkins and Rhett Ellison, two unexpected contributors.
Forget last season's ultimate disappointment against the Green Bay Packers, because this is a side that having gelled could easily reward NFL bettors with a big play for the Superbowl. Their impressive pre-season performances have only added to the expectations and 2/1 on them winning NFC East is tempting.
The Seattle Seahawks have displayed some eye-catching NFL aptitude in recent times, having won the Superbowl in 2014 against Denver in a 43-8 rout. Having lost a hard-fought 28-24 battle against New England in 2015, they look interesting to have a big season this time around, priced at 9/1 with William Hill.
Last season's 36-20 second round playoff defeat against Atlanta was a disappointment, but it wasn't disgraceful given the exploits of the latter in the Superbowl. And there were mitigating circumstances for the defeat – notably an injury ravaged season for quarterback Russell Wilson and a missing key in Earl Thomas with a broken leg.
Both players are fit and healthy and new recruits have given the side more ammunition. They have a very winnable division, illustrated by odds of 1/3 to be NFC West winners, plus a cauldron when it comes to home support. Betting on the NFL season before the big kickoff is a tricky game, but it also rewards the smart bettor.
While the New England Patriots are the rightful favourites for Superbowl 52, there are enough question marks at the price. You can take them on with one or more of the darker horses, available at attractive odds with online bookies. Visit bet365 today for a punt and a generous Free Bet to enjoy!