As sports podcaster Dan “Big Cat” Katz loves to say, football is back. The NFL season starts this Thursday, meaning it’s time to break those piggy banks open and get out all the money you saved up at your lemonade stand to place some bets.
In a 2017 Statista survey to see which American sport is bet on most heavily by the public, 78 percent of respondents said they bet on football at least once. Since the Supreme Court ruling in May now allows states to legalize sports gambling, this is an opportunity to make a little cash by throwing some money on the upcoming season. Although California has not passed a law legalizing gambling, a bill has been introduced, so make sure you place your bets in Las Vegas to avoid legal troubles.
Who better to look to for advice than a 19-year-old college student? No worries, I’ve done a lot of research and I will lead you in the right direction. Here are my three locks for the 2018 NFL season.
The New England Patriots will play the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl 53 at 22/1, according to 247Sports.
Picking the Patriots to win the AFC is like waking up in the morning: It usually happens, but sometimes it doesn’t. Last year, they had no pass rush, a weak secondary and were within a score of winning the whole thing.
In the offseason, they signed pass rusher Adrian Clayborn and added cornerback Jason McCourty via trade, who should provide immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball. New England also has a crop of young talent that looked promising in the preseason, but we’ll have to wait until the regular season to know what they can do.
The only worrisome unit on the team is their receiving corps. They lost Danny Amendola to free agency and cut Malcolm Mitchell, Kenny Britt and Jordan Matthews this offseason. The Patriots then signed Eric Decker, but he retired last week.
We’ve seen Tom Brady make something out of nothing before, but starting Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett creates warranted worry. Julian Edelman returns in week five and they still have Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan, but if any of the three go down to injury, it might be time to panic.
However, I’m confident the Patriots will figure it out and return to the big game once again.
Minnesota might be the most talented team in football. In 2017, they ranked first in overall defense and 11th in overall offense. The Vikings signed Kirk Cousins in the offseason, who, in my opinion, is a top 10 quarterback in league. They retained the rest of their offense and are getting Dalvin Cook back, who looked electric at the beginning of last year before he tore his ACL in week four.
The Vikings also kept their entire defense intact and signed Sheldon Richardson to a one-year deal. Richardson hasn’t been selected to the Pro Bowl since 2014, but has shown flashes of his past self in every season since. I believe he will shine on the defensive unit because it can hurt opponents from every direction, which will alleviate pressure and attention for Richardson.
Picking the Vikings to dethrone the reigning champions in Philadelphia may be bold. However, I believe Minnesota’s offense will take another step foward this season while Philly takes a step back. Although the Eagles have more experience, the Vikings have more weapons and continuity. Lock it up.
The Seattle Seahawks will finish last in the NFC West
I haven’t found this bet in any sports book, but I’m going to include it anyway. I think this might be the end of the Russell Wilson/Pete Carroll era in Seattle.
The only notable members of the famous defense that led them to two Super Bowls, who are still on the roster, are Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Earl Thomas who is holding out until the Seahawks sign an extension or trade him.
Seattle’s offense looks even worse. The line is in the worst condition it’s been in since Russell Wilson was drafted, and he’s never had a good offensive line. They drafted a running back in the first round and he can’t beat out Chris Carson for the starting job.
Aside from Wilson, their only other notable offensive talent is Doug Baldwin, who suffered a knee injury late in the offseason. If he plays, he said he will never be 100 percent, according to The Seahawks Wire’s Andy Patton. That’s if he plays.
The Seahawks had a great run, but their roster is depleted and there are no signs of life on the team. I can’t see this team winning more than six games, so if you want to bet the win total under, go for it.
Keenan Allen will lead the NFL in receiving yards at 15/1, according to OddsShark.
The formula for this is fairly simple: The Los Angeles Chargers are stacked. Melvin Gordon is a good enough running back to attract attention from the defense and the rest of the Chargers receiving options are average enough to have Allen receive most of the targets.
Allen’s biggest nemesis in the NFL has been himself. He played 16 games last season for the first time in his five-year career. Since joining the league in 2013, he has suffered eight total injuries and missed 26 games due to injury.
The Chargers are the favorites to win the AFC West. If they live up to the hype, which they’re known for not doing, their success will come from offensive excellence. And who will lead the charge on that unit? Keenan Allen. Lock it up.