By Micheal Nagle and Lee Dover
Fresh from our Dallas Cowboys ‘lock’ on Wednesday night the Paddy Power Blog team previews the opening weekend’s action from the NFL and the obligatory clip of some cheerleaders in action. Adrenaline-pumping action, top tips and pretty girls. What more do you want?
The New York Giants opened their defence of the Vince Lombardi trophy with a tough 24-17 loss against their NFC East bitter rivals Dallas Cowboys in what was a tasty starter for NFL fans. The main course will be dished up this Sunday with 13 games up for decision followed by two sweet games on Monday night which will complete a mouth-watering opening weekend of NFL action.
Luckily for you, we have swotted up on our American Football big hitters and weak links to give you a shot of winning big on the opening weekend of the new season.
NFL game of the weekend
The Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers are live on Sky Sports 2 HD at 9.15pm Sunday night in what is the potential tie of the weekend.
The teams have nine Super Bowl victories between them – five for the 49ers and four for the Packers – and are often fighting it out in the NFL play-offs.
Last season the 49ers topped the NFC West table having won 13 games in the regular season – only faltering on three occasions.
The Packers had an even better time in the NFC North rankings, when they recorded 15 victories and fell to only one defeat in last year’s regular season when most of their starters were rested.
However, both teams were brought back down to earth in the play-offs at the hands of the Giants, who shocked the Packers in the Divisional Playoffs before bulldozing their way past the 49ers in the Conference Championships.
San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh is one of the most talented young coaches in the game and during the off-season has added considerably to his already talented roster. Having somehow managed to hold onto the starting 11 of the best defence in the league, the 49ers have added considerable talent on the other side of the ball.
On offence they traded for wide receiver Mario Manningham and running back Brandon Jacobs from the Super Bowl champs. They’ll also be concentrating on giving quarter-back Alex Smith more weapons in the draft picking up talented wide receiver A.J. Jenkins in the first round and the electrifying running back LaMichael James out of Oregon.
The Packers on the other hand have been relatively quiet during the summer months with a notable exception the acquisition of veteran running back Cedric Benson who will give some beef to their ground attack. In Aaron Rodgers they have the best quarter-back in the league and if the Pack can get their act together on defence they could very well justify their price as 6/1 joint favourites for Super Bowl XLVII in Paddy Power’s online betting.
This game is a tricky one to call from a betting perspective but home advantage at Lambeau Field should give the Packers a slight advantage. The handicap mark of San Francisco (+5.0) points at 10/11 looks about right having moved from an opening (+5.5) earlier in the week.
Although I think the 49ers should stay within five points of the Packers, the bet for me is the points total of Over (46.5) at 20/23.
The 49ers have impressive attacking talent to choose from this year and at home the Packers continue to put up big scores. I expect the game to go over this mark and be a week one classic.
Best of the rest
Meanwhile, in the first game UK & Ireland NFL fans will get to see on Sky Sports the Chicago Bears are favoured by 10 points to see off the Indianapolis Colts on their home turf on Sunday at 5.30pm.
The Colts finished with the worst record in the NFL last season (2-14) and as a result picked up the number 1 spot in this year’s draft. With that pick they selected quarter back Andrew Luck from Stanford who looks like an NFL star in the making.
The Bears have their own quarter back Jay Cutler back from injury and acquired an old Denver Broncos team mate in 6’5″ wide receiver Brandon Marshall during the summer break.
Last season the Bears averaged 26.8 points per game (ppg) when Jay Cutler started and 14.2 ppg when he was absent.
I expect the Bears to race off to an early lead in this game and with the Colts chasing, Andrew Luck will start to take some chances and air the ball out. For that reason the bet to take in this game and my ‘Lock of the Week’ is Over 43.5 points in this game at 20/23.
So get your bets on, then rip open those potato chips and savour the start of another exciting NFL season.
Super Bowl XLVI finalists the New England Patriots will be hoping to go one better this seasonand are 6/1 joint favourites with Green Bay to win Super Bowl XLVII in Paddy Power’s online betting.
New England are (-5.5) 20/21 on the road in their clash with the Tennessee Titans and many will expect them to open this year’s campaign with a comprehensive win.
However, that is not to say that the win is already in the bag for Bill Belichick’s men. The Titans were just one victory off making the play-offs last season and having recently named Jake Locker as starting quarter back for this season. They’ll be hoping to make a play-off run of their own.
If Titans running back Chris Johnson can run straight and hard at the Patriots defence he will cause problems and the Titans (+5.5) at 20/23 is the bet to take in this game for me.
There is also a rematch of last season’s wildcard weekend bout between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos on Monday night live on Channel 4 to look forward to.
The Broncos progressed to the Divisional playoffs last term by seeing off a determined Steelers outfit 29-23, and are 10/13 to do it again in their backyard.
Odds of 11/10 are up for grabs if fans feel that the Steelers will beat the Broncos and gain some revenge on the Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The big story of this game and one of the big stories of the opening weekend is the return of quarter back Peyton Manning after missing all of last season due to neck surgery. The Broncos traded fan favourite Tim Tebow to the New York Jets during the summer and decided to take a gamble on future hall of famer Manning.
Uncertainty remains over the state of Manning’s recovery, but word from training camp is that he has been showing some of the trademark zip on his passes to Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. All that considered it would be hard not to side with Manning and the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s late game.
- Betting: San Fran 49ers v Green Bay Packers
- Betting: Chicago Bears v Indianapolis Colts
- Betting: NFL coupon
- Betting: Video Paddy Power Sports Network tips