NFL 2018 Preview & Recommended Bets

NFC North

1) Green Bay Packers

Everyone is ready to crown the Vikings divisional champions but i'm not completely sold. I feel like I say this every year but this is the season we finally get to see Brady vs. Rodgers in the Superbowl. If A Rod stays healthy the Packers will always be in contention, and i'm looking forward to seeing how Jimmy Graham looks with Rodgers throwing to him. They finally got rid of Dom Capers as their defensive co-ordinator who has been holding them back for years. They've got two promising young corners, Clay Matthews is still solid and Mike Daniels in an elite defensive end. As long as their defence is serviceable the Packers should be set up for a big season.

Prediction - 11/12 wins

2) Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings made the biggest splash in free agency this off-season in Kirk Cousins, making him the first player to have their contract fully guaranteed. I like Cousins as a player and i'm glad he's out of my team's division, but people seem to overlook the fact that he's only 4-19 against teams with a winning record. His offensive line is what concerns me, he has a lot of weapons in Thielen, Diggs, Rudolph, Cook, but anytime they come up against an elite pass rush he won't be standing long enough to use them. Their defence is still top 5, but i'm not sold on them being unstoppable like a lot of other people are. They'll be in the mix for the division and will make the playoffs, but as long as Rodgers stays healthy it's the Packers division to lose.

Prediction - 10/11 wins

3) Chicago Bears

I'm really looking forward to seeing how Mitch Trubisky looks with a talented offensive minded head coach and some weapons this year. A young quarterback's best friend is a run game, and they definitely have that in Howard & Cohen. They also went out and got him a legit #1 receiver in Allen Robinson who is a monster at winning those 50/50 jump balls, and Trey Burton is a solid addition at TE too. The Bears also broke the internet when they pulled off the blockbuster trade for Khalil Mack, who will now join a defence that already has Leonard Floyd, Roquan Smith and Kyle Fuller. I think the Bears will be significantly better than last year and look good for the future with a solid young core, but I think 2019 is when they'll be ready to contend.

Prediction - 7/8 wins

4) Detroit Lions

As much as I like Matt Stafford, unless the Lions give him a reliable running back and/or a viable defence he can't do much more than he's already doing. Abdullah looks like a swing and a miss, hopefully Kerryon Johnson is the answer. I like that they brought in Blount who is still an effective goal line hammer and improved their offensive line in the draft. They should still be able to keep up with high scoring teams, but outside of Ziggy Ansah and Darius Slay their defence is pretty poor. Stafford will win them a few games on his own, and you could make a case for them finishing above the Bears, but I can't see them getting more than 8 wins.

Prediction - 7/8 wins

NFC East

1) Philadelphia Eagles

The reigning champions (never thought i'd be able to say that) come into 2018 with a lot of injuries. Wentz should be back in a few weeks, although he's looked good in camp understandably they're not rushing their franchise QB back before he's 100%. Jeffery is out for at least weeks 1 & 2, Hollins is banged up, Agholor & Wallace have also missed most of the pre-season. Foles looked awful in pre-season but that was without a lot of their other starters so I wouldn't put too much stock into their performance. Their defensive line looks even better than last year, adding Michael Bennett & Haloti Ngata to a line that already has Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett & Chris Long, opposing QBs will be getting the ball out very quickly. Also looking forward to seeing Sidney Jones after a full off-season.

Prediction - 11/12 wins

2) New York Giants

I like what the Giants did in the draft short term, but long term I think they'll regret not picking Sam Darnold. Saquon Barkley looks like a generational talent and will instantly improve their offence, and the additions of Nate Solder & Will Hernandez were much needed upgrades to an awful offensive line. Eli still has a year or two left and plenty of weapons to work with, and hopefully now that Odell got paid he won't feel the need to fight anymore kicking nets. Their defence still has plenty of talent but it'll be strange seeing JPP not in a Giants uniform. Collins is a top 5 safety, Jackrabbit is an elite corner, and they still have a solid D-line. Shurmur is a decent coach and I think they'll improve a lot with him in charge.

Prediction - 9/10 wins

3) Dallas Cowboys

Now that Zeke isn't suspended the Cowboys should be getting right back to running the ball down everyone's throats. Their season could depend on how serious Fredrick's injury is at centre, doctors don't seem to know how long he could be out for indicating he should miss significant time. Centres and tackles are the key positions on the offensive line, especially with the amount of adjustments Fredrick is trusted to make at the line of scrimmage. Dak is serviceable at QB but they'll need more from their defence this year. They have a crop of young corners they seem excited about, and Gregory coming back from suspension to join Demarcus Lawrence up front so they'll have some pass rush. If Sean Lee doesn't get hurt their defence looks ready to take a step forward, but I can't see past another 8 win season for Dallas.

Prediction - 7/8 wins

4) Washington Redskins

Alex Smith won't lose you a game, but he's also not capable of carrying you enough to win a game on his own. He loves his checkdowns meaning Jordan Reed (if he can stay healthy for more than 3 games at a time) and Chris Thompson should be in line for expanded roles in their offence this year. Doctson showed flashes when he played, and Crowder is an under-rated receiver out of the slot. Their defence has some nice pieces in Kerrigan and Norman, but they need another difference maker in my opinion. Even as a fan of a rival team i'm gutted about the Guice injury, I think he's going to have a solid career in the NFL when he returns at running back.

Prediction - 6/7 wins

NFC South

1) New Orleans Saints

Kamara was impossible to stop last year and I predict more of the same in terms of the way the Saints used him last year. Brees is on the back end of a hall of fame career and will be hoping to alleviate the pressure on him by feeding his running backs more and more. Ingram is out for the first 4 games due to a suspension, so Kamara will be lining up all over the place. Their defence looked solid last year thanks to one of the most successful draft hauls in recent years finding several impact starters. They have the most complete team position by position, and if it wasn't for the miracle in Minnesota in the playoffs last year they could've won the whole thing. No-one will want to see them in the playoffs and I think they're headed for a deep run this year.

Prediction - 11/12 wins

2) Carolina Panthers

All I have heard about the Panthers training camp is how good of a connection Cam Newton has with his receivers compared to last year. Olsen is still a top TE, Torrey Smith will get plenty of chances over the top with the arm Cam has, and McCaffrey will be in line for more work now that Stewart is gone. Their defence still has the best 1-2 combo at LB in the NFL in Davis & Kuechly and a solid pass rush. Barring injuries they should be able to sneak into the playoffs.

Prediction - 10/11 wins

3) Atlanta Falcons

For some reason i'm just not sold on the Falcons. I don't trust Sarkisian at all, since he took over their offence dropped from 33.8 pts/game in 2016 to 22.1 pts/game in 2017. I know Shanahan is a great offensive coach (who they had in 2016), but that level of drop-off with pretty much the same players should be alarming. Julio, Freeman, Coleman, Ridley, Sanu, Ryan still has all the weapons he should need as long as his offensive co-ordinator doesn't hold them back again. Their defence is OK but not great. I see the Falcons falling short in a tough division this year.

Prediction - 8/9 wins

4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winston is out for a few weeks meaning Fitzpatrick will be starting, which isn't the end of the world but he doesn't have the improvisation Winston does. Jameis faces a make or break season this year IMO, the Bucs will begin to start looking for another QB if he doesn't live up to his hype this season after his suspension. He has Evans, Jackson, Brate, Howard and a few options at running back to work with, yet still no breakout season. Their defensive line will be significantly better with the additions of JPP, Vinny Curry, & Beau Allen. They have some playmakers at linebacker but their secondary still concerns me. They'll be better than last year but not good enough.

Prediction - 5/6 wins

NFC West

1) Los Angeles Rams

The Rams dominated the news early in the off-season with their splashes in free agency. Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Suh & Cooks, they should be fun to watch whether dream team 2.0 pans out or not. I'm still not sold on Goff as he is basically throwing with McVay in charge of his head, but Todd Gurley is an absolute monster. Cooks will force a safety to sit over the top so stop him getting deep, meaning a softer box for Gurley to run against, either way you're in trouble. Their defensive line is what scares me most, a happy Aaron Donald playing next to Ndamukong Suh should be illegal. Brutal pass rush leads to shorter routes which leads to Marcus Peters jumping several passes, I expect a lot of interceptions for him this year.

Prediction - 11/12 wins

2) San Francisco 49ers

Jimmy G still hasn't lost a game he's started in the NFL, that is obviously going to change but the point still stands he's legit. Breida & Morris should get the bulk of the work with McKinnon being gone for the season due to injury. As long as Goodwin lives up to his pre season billing and Kittle shows up at TE Jimmy G should be fine this year. Defensively their front 7 is very under rated it's just their secondary i'm not too high on. Just having an elite franchise QB puts you ahead of most teams, which is main reason I have the Niners finishing second in the west.

Prediction - 8/9 wins

3) Seattle Seahawks

The problem when you've had a franchise QB for a few years is you then have to pay them, causing other players to leave due to not being awarded new contracts. The Legion of boom is no more and the Seahawks defence looks very ordinary to me at the moment. Linebacker is still a strength, but their secondary is unrecognisable, and it'll be awesome to see both Griffin's playing together on the field. Offensively they are pretty much the same old story, no offensive line and next to no weapons. I think they reached for Penny in the draft, Brandon Marshall is probably done, they let Richardson walk in free agency and Baldwin will be playing through an injury most of the season. Big step back for Seattle this year, without Wilson they'd be winning only 3/4 games.

Prediction - 7/8 wins

4) Arizona Cardinals

I've always liked Sam Bradford, he just can't stay healthy. Josh Rosen will see the field at some point this year whether it's because of an injury or their season is a lost cause and they want to get him some experience. Larry Fitz is still getting it done at WR, and I loved the Kirk pick in the draft too. Johnson coming back from injury will be huge, but their offensive line is still a massive problem. Defensively no more honey badger, but they've still got Pat P and Chandler Jones, who is the most under rated defensive end in the league IMO. I think the Cardinals will be competitive in a lot of games but won't have enough to be pushing for the playoffs/division.

Prediction - 6/7 wins

Recommended Season Bets

Divisional Winners Treble

Chargers to win AFC West @ 13/10

Saints to win NFC South @ 13/10

Rams to win NFC West @ 8/11

£20 returns £182.74

Value Pick

Chargers to win AFC @ 8/1

£10 returns £90


Bills under 5.5 wins @ 10/11

£50 returns £95.45