The draft is history, preseason training is well under way and the new NFL regular season will be upon us before we know it. The experts and pundits are already filling our screens with predictions that are closer to statements of the obvious. You know the sort of thing; the Patriots will win another Super Bowl, the Browns will be better this year, the Dolphins are going to have a disastrous season.
Any of us could say the same thing by logging on to a sportsbook’s blog page, such as https://www.unibet.eu/blog, and reading the latest views from the bookmakers. Here, we are looking to do something a little different. Sports seasons seldom go to plan. Who could have predicted last year that the Jaguars would fall apart so spectacularly or that the Ravens would make the playoffs with a rookie quarterback at the helm? Yet it is these types of bold predictions that we will seek to make for the season ahead.
The Bengals will be the surprise package of the AFC North
It’s the division that likes to throw up surprises. Last year it was all about the Ravens and this year, the world and his wife say this is the year of the Browns. Cincinnati are 20/1 outsiders to win the division and are odds on to finish last. But that’s what bold predictions are all about. Sure, the Browns look intriguing for the year ahead, but the team is still unproven against the best in the league – none of their five victories late last season came against winning teams. Pittsburgh are on the brink of self-destructing in the most public way thanks to Antonio Brown’s departure and some schoolboy Twitter shenanigans.
The Bengals, however, have new coaching staff and some top-drawer talent in both offense and defense. The question is whether they can come together into a game-winning unit. Last year, they looked full of promise in the opening weeks, till injury struck. Don’t rule them out.
David Johnson will be back with a vengeance
David who? How quickly we forget. The man who achieved 1,239 rushing yards, 879 passing yards and 20 touchdowns in 2016 was the equivalent of a man not there last year. It’s fair to say the Arizona coaching staff didn’t make the best use of Johnson, and a wrist fracture meant his opportunities were limited anyway.
This year, he’s back to full fitness and the Cardinals have a change in coaching personnel. DJ has the potential to be one of the most devastating weapons in the NFL and this could just be his season.
Patrick Mahomes will disappoint
The knives are being sharpened at those very words, as it seems almost sacrilege to be anything less than effusive about the Kansas quarterback. His talent is in no doubt, you don’t get to a championship game with a sub-par quarterback.
But here’s the thing. History shows that the last 15 quarterbacks who enjoyed a season like Mahomes suffered a drop off the following year. Part of the reason is that he will no longer have the element of surprise, and every defense in the league will have studied hours of footage. The Chiefs will still be strong this year, but don’t expect them to have it all their own way.
Here is a new bookmakers list in which you will find all the information.