Can the Seahawks dig themselves out of the 0-2 hole in the NFL’s NFC West?

Seattle SeahawksOne of the biggest stories at the start of this NFL season is that the Seahawks are occupying the basement of the NFC West. The team that won the 48th Superbowl, and should have won the 49th Superbowl have given themselves an uphill struggle to reach Superbowl 50. Is the mass hysteria justified, or will the Seahawks fly back on course in and reach the playoffs?

The context to the Seahawks’ losses is certainly the most important thing to analyse before declaring them a team in meltdown. The two losses have both been on the road, to the Green Bay Packers and St Louis Rams. The Packers are a formidable force, especially at home with Aaron Rogers in the kind of mood that saw him throw 9 for 9 and 91 yards in the 4th quarter. The Rams have been the Seahawks’ bogey team and the season opening loss marks the second time in two years Seattle have lost at the death in St Louis. Both of these losses were not expected, but they were predictable. The Seahawks have got fellow 0-2 strugglers Detroit and Chicago in their next two home games, and a probable 2-2 position in two weeks time looks likely, and a lot less dreadful.

Turning an 0-2 into a positive record is one thing, but winning enough games to dispatch all of their NFC West rivals is another. One of their rivals, the 49ers, will probably be out of the playoff picture in a month judging by their cataclysmic capitulation at the hands of Pittsburgh Steelers last time out. Yes, they have Colin Kaepernick, but too many question marks surrounding him. Another rival, the Rams, started the annual “it’s going to be their year” bandwagon when beating the Seahawks. But a weak performance against a poor Washington team has threatened to derail them already. The Seahawks have enough to haul themselves back above those two, which only leads the Arizona Cardinals to deal with… The Cardinals fell short when Carson Palmer got injured last season, but now with him back and an impressive 2-0 start they are looking ominous. Larry Fitzgerald has 199 receiving yards in 2 games, and their dynamic offense looks the real deal.

The Seahawks have given a 2-win head start to the Cardinals, and that is too much for a team with an offense so frighteningly productive. The NFC West culminates with a week 17 matchup between; you guessed it, the Seahawks and Cardinals. That could well be the decider, but watch this space – one bird will be flying on top of the NFC West in January, and I think it might just be a Cardinal.

 

 

Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a UK sports journalist with a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly American football and baseball. He has previously contributed to publications including Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo.

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Top 5 NFL rookies to watch this season

NFL rookie Melvin GordonMelvin Gordon San Diego Chargers – Running back

Melvin Gordan has suffered a slow start to winning over San Diego fans – especially after a subdued debut – and none more so than his own mum, who declared she won’t be pulling on the Chargers’ jersey until Gordon’s earned it. The 2014 Heisman runner-up proved impressive enough during his college days to receive her approval and there is no doubt she’ll be donning the blue, white and gold soon. While other recent Wisconsin graduates may have struggled in previous seasons, this tightly-coiled ball of speed and nimble touch is set to excite from the off. Rapid over short distances and a quick learner, this downhill running back is seen as Ryan Matthews’ replacement starter.

Jameis Winston Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Quarterback

Doubts have crept in during pre-season over Jameis Winston’s ability to slot instantly into the demanding rigours of the NFL following a disappointing first fixture against Minnesota Vikings. Yet hidden among the match stats were signs indicating why the former Florida State quarterback was Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ No.1 draft pick. His roaring eight-yard rushing touchdown, including a dive over Jabari Price, capped off a splendid 76-yard drive, showing the power and dexterity that encouraged admirers to rate him so highly in college football. Coupled with his long-arm capabilities and on-field intelligence and there is every expectation that, much like his time with the Seminoles where he grew into the role, he will form a formidable partnership with wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans this season.

Amari Cooper Oakland Raiders – wide receiver

A record-breaking Alabama alumna, Amari Cooper is predicted to quickly provide large returns for Oakland Raiders’ eye-watering investment in him. Enjoying electric footwork and explosive running, the Biletnikoff award-winner has swiftly gone about embracing the requirements put down by coach Jack Del Rio. Cooper got a high workload early on against St Louis Rams in their preseason encounter, touching half of the Raiders’ opening eight snaps for a 25-yard total, as quarterback Derek Carr looks to form a promising partnership. If Carr can delivery the killer pass, then expect Cooper to improve Raiders’ fortunes, with 1,000 yards not beyond his maiden season prospects.

Leonard Williams New York Jets – Defensive end

There didn’t look to be an immediate route into the New York Jets side for Leonard Williams when the draft was first made, however, with team-mate Sheldon Richardson’s off-field indiscretions seeing him banned for the first four games of the regular-season, an opening has arisen. The No.6 overall pick is adamant he can impress, and has already spoken on his desire to be a playmaker. While substituting for Richardson might not suit Williams’ play entirely, under the stewardship of coach Todd Bowles there is hope that the 6-foot-5, two-time All-American will thrive performing the forceful defensive duties Bowles will likely enforce.

Maxx Williams Baltimore Ravens – tight end

Maxx Williams is well known for his hurdling ability having jumped numerous tackles in college football, but while his astounding 54-yard effort for Minnesota Gophers ended in a remarkable touchdown, it is the deft leap versus a New Orleans Saints cornerback in their preseason match that could prove the most crucial for his career. Required to make 20-yards, his innovative manoeuvre ensured the Ravens reached 22. An athletic, determined individual, Williams has wowed team-mates in practice with his safe catching and inventive style of play. Although opportunities might not come straightaway – Crockett Gilmore is predicted to be ahead currently – back Williams to take any chance he gets.


FRANCIS KELLYfrancis avatar is a sports writer who has contributed to the Independent, the Guardian and The Cricketer magazine. He can be found waxing lyrical about Norwich City on Twitter

Las Vegas sportsbooks report heavy losses over Sunday’s NFL opening

Las Vegas sportsbook image from Wikimedia Commons free media repository originally posted to Flickr by G0SUB.

Las Vegas sportsbook . G0SUB @ Flickr.

After several popular favorites covered the spread this weekend, Las Vegas sportsbooks say they’ve never had such a bad NFL opening Sunday. Sportsbooks usually do quite well on the first Sunday of the NFL regular season.  Last year in Week 1, underdogs covered the spread in 10 of 13 games.

The underdog Giants covered against the Cowboys in a 27-26 loss, which helped the books. However after the Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins both covered the day was already a loss.

The St. Louis Rams, who took the Seattle Seahawks 34-31 in overtime, were a popular pick among savvy bettors. Some books had 2.5 times more money on the Rams. Ouch!

Although the season started off a little rocky for most, Nevada sportsbooks won an all-time high of $114 million on football in 2014.  So they don’t need our sympathy!

The journey to Super Bowl 50 has begun

Rob GronkowskiNew England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski scored the first two touchdowns of the 2015 NFL season over the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Patriots beat the Steelers 28-21 and with that, the NFL regular season for 2015 and the journey to Super Bowl 50 have officially begun!

Coast-to-coast celebrations before the game featured Ellie Goulding and Train performing at the site of Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco.

Ellie Goulding

Super Bowl 50 will be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, home of the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, February 7th, 2016. Online sportsbooks like AllYouBet Sportsbook offer competitive odds on all regular season games and have already taken a huge amount of bets on who will win the coveted Vince Lombardi trophy.

When asked for their Super Bowl predictions, bookmakers say they like the Packers’ and Colts’ chances of making it to the Super Bowl this time around.  It’s early days of course, but the Eagles, Seahawks and Ravens are also considered contenders.

What deflategate? Patriots will remind everyone what really makes them famous

Tom Brady deflategateThe New England Patriots face the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight in the season opener, and crucially, Tom Brady will be taking the field. It will be fascinating to see how the deflate-gate saga will have taken it’s toll on the Patriots preparation for their week 1 match-up, and the Steelers major hope is that the Superbowl winning offence led by their main-man Brady will show patches of rust.

However, if there is one quarterback in the entire NFL who has the ability to deal with a scandal and get on with it, it’s Tom Brady. Whilst the off-season media coverage will have been a notch above Brady’s normal celebrity status, it’s tough to imagine him showing any signs of the kind of indecision that might cost the Patriots a season opening win. Brady will be on the same home-ground as he has played throughout his NFL career, reading playbooks edited by the only NFL coach he has ever played under, Bill Belichick, and looking around to find the same receivers that put his newest super-bowl ring on his finger. If anything, the Patriots may be better prepared for disaster, since backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be the most well polished backup in the entire NFL.

The Steelers are unlikely to offer much resistance, either. Make no mistake, they are not a poor team, and with Big Ben Roethlisberger and star receiver Antonio Brown powering a productive offense they have the ability to hurt the Patriots. However, they will be missing the 1,361 regular season yards provided by running back Le’Veon Bell last season due to suspension. Even though many of the running success of the Steelers last season could be attributed to a much-improved offensive line, without Bell they are unlikely to be as productive on the ground as they were last season. They are also missing promising number 2 receiver Martavis Bryant through suspension and potentially key linebacker Lawrence Timmons through injury. This team will be a threat as the season progresses, but add to the suspensions a worrying propensity to concede passing yards in pre-season, and the Steelers are unlikely to be at their best for week one.

After Thursday, deflate-gate will be a distant memory. Brady will produce the kind of polished performance that has become his trademark and star receivers Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski will pick up some serious yards against a helpless Pittsburgh defense that is very much in a period of transition. The Patriots biggest worry will be that the ball boy pumps the footballs up to the regulation pressure…

_______________________________

Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a young sports journalist from the UK with a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly American football and Baseball. He has previously contributed to publications including Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo

 

NFL bets on RGIII and PAT seeing pre-season sportsbook action

RGIII Robert GriffinThe 2015 NFL season begins tomorrow when the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots play the Week 1 opener.  American football has seen a lot of action at online sportsbooks where they’ve taken thousands of bets on pre-season predictions. One of the most popular NFL bets has been “RGIII: Team for the 2016 season”.

“Robert Griffin III wasn’t picked as the starting QB for the Redskins this season – the spot was given to Kevin Cousins –  after Griffin suffered a concussion in Week 2 of the preseason,” noted an Intertops bookmaker.  “When RGIII was drafted in 2012, he was one of the most anticipated Rookies in the NFL, but several injuries led to today’s situation and to some experts saying that he should make a move to get his career back on track.”

Another bets that’s been active is “Regular Season PAT Success Rate – Over/Under 95.5%” following a recent NFL rule change that moves the ball for the extra point field goal or “PAT” (Point after Touchdown) from the two yard line to the fifteen yard line.

Wager on the NFL during regular season and you’ll qualify for $500 extra for the playoffs.

Until September 13th, get a 20% Kick Off Bonus when you deposit (up to $100). To claim this NFL bonus, give bonus code NFL20 to a live chat agent when you’re topping up your account.

Intertops Sportsbook has recently been completely redesigned with more wagers and attractive new parlay options. It’s also completely mobile-friendly sportsbook now.

The NFL Isn’t going to like Will Smith’s new movie, Concussion

NFL won't like Concussion movie with Will SmithThe NFL isn’t going to like the new movie Concussion starring Will Smith that opens in December.  The trailer shows that Dr. Bennet Omalu is portrayed as a brave pathologist and that the NFL is shown as the looming corporate power that will do anything to stop him from revealing the truth.

It’s rumoured that the studio wanted the movie softened to avoid complaints from the NFL.

Director and script writer Peter Landesman maintains that they did not cower to the NFL but did remove scenes that the NFL may have attacked them for.

The NFL is accused of knowingly allowing players to be repeatedly injured, sustaining debilitating brain damage.  This movie, with a star like Will Smith, will give voice to the doctor that brought the situation to public attention.

NFL Betting Tips

NFL American football betting tipsWith the beginning of the NFL season just a couple of weeks away it’s time for those who bet on sports to come up with a strategy for the season.  CasinoCity published the first part of a three part article on the subject today. Their “Top Ten tips for Degenerate NFL Bettors” includes “Don’t bet on Andy Dalton at #9 and, my personal favorite (at number 3 on the list): Don’t blow your whole bank roll in week one!

For more NFL betting tips read Dan Podheiser’s full NFL Betting Preview.

Check back here next week when our own NFL blogger, Francis Kelly, looks at NFL rookies to watch this season.

 

Can Gronkowski steer the Patriots to Super Bowl glory?

Last year I learnt my lesson the hard way, a great defense will trumps a great offense. I had backed the Denver Broncos to beat the Seattle Seahawks, and like a lot of people thought my money was safe. That year the Broncos were statistically the number 1 NFL offense of all time, setting the record for most touchdowns in a season with 76. The Seahawks were a good team, but Peyton was having far and away the best year of his career, it just seemed like such a sure thing. We all saw how that game played out, from the first play of the game, a botched snap resulting in a safety, it was clear that the Broncos didn’t have their mojo and the Seahawks had come to play.

 

Super Bowl XLIX Betting Odds:

New England Patriots -1115

Seattle Seahawks -105

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

So after learning my lesson last year you’d expect me to back the Seahawks defense, right? Well there is the little issue of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. As someone who has read the writing of Bill Simmons for a few years I’ve picked up a few gambling lessons from him. One of those is to never bet heavily against Brady and Belichick. I know plenty of people who made money on the last two Super Bowls which this pair featured in, but I have to ask myself the question, could Tom Brady lose 3 Super Bowls in a row?

Brady is currently in a critical moment of his career, where he can end countless debates arguing who the best quarterback of all time is and make the decision a unanimous one. The consequences for Sunday’s game are so huge for the legacy of Brady. Win his fourth Super Bowl ring and he cements himself as the best quarterback of all time. Lose his third Super Bowl in a row and the whole myth of Tom Brady alters; there is no way he avoids being labelled a “choker”, the most humiliating word an NFL quarterback can be associated with.

 

I just can’t imagine living in a world where Tom Brady is branded a choke artist, and I don’t think Tom Brady can either. Looking at the odds, betting outright on the Patriots isn’t something that will offer a favourable return. So instead I would take a Patriots win coupled with Gronkowski scoring a touchdown. Despite the quality of the Seahawks secondary, they have been susceptible to tight ends this year, and it is seemingly impossible to shutdown Gronkowski who has had a touchdown in each of his last 5 games (including playoffs). The Patriots leading wide receiver seems to alternate weekly between Edelman and Lafell, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable betting on either of those guys, but Gronkowski is guaranteed to get targets from Brady in the Super Bowl.

Although if you don’t see Tom Brady’s fairytale career culminating in a fourth Super Bowl ring and are backing the Seahawks, then the safest bet is to go with a Seahawks victory and Marshawn Lynch to score a touchdown. Lynch, like Gronkowski, is the focal point of his offense, and ended his season hot, having scored a touchdown in 5 of his last 6 games. In a game which appears so close on paper it is hard to feel confident about anything, but Gronkowski and Lynch have been the two superstars of their team all season long and whichever team wins will do so because of the impact of their star player.

 

Betting Instinct tip – AllYouBet.ag is offering odds on which of Gronkowski and Lynch will score a touchdown first. Gronk to score a touchdown before Beast Mode is -105.

mattm MATT MCGRATH writes about American football, be it college or NCAA (because betting on unpaid student athletes is fun and definitely ethically correct). Follow him on Twitter.

Could Marshawn Lynch score the opening Super Bowl touchdown again?

Everyone remembers the first touchdown scorer at the Super Bowl, and this is reflected in one of Intertops Sportsbook‘s most popular prop markets. For all the bluster and build-up ahead of the game it’s often that moment when one of the stars of the biggest sporting event of the year truly announces himself.

Last year Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch took the honors, forcing his way into the endzone early in the second quarter. ‘Beast Mode’ is the pregame favourite to do it again, but only just.


Super Bowl XLIX – First Touchdown Scorer Odds

Marshawn Lynch +550
Rob Gronkowski +650
Julian Edelman +1000
LaGarrette Blount +1000

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate
as of today and subject to change)


Lynch found the endzone an incredible 17 times in the regular season, ahead of Gronk’s 12, and while the Patriots might be one-point favorites to bring Tom Brady his fourth ring, they will face a tough task against a Seattle Seahawks side looking for back-to-back Super Bowl victories.

In addition to the first touchdown market, you can back Lynch (-167) or Gronkowski (-143) in the anytime touchdown stakes, with Blount (+120) and Edelman (+140) not far behind. Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin both contributed touchdowns in Seattle’s victory last year, and the pair are +175 to repeat the feat in 2015.


Super Bowl bets at Intertops SportsbookBet in-play on Super Bowl XLIX at Intertops Sportsbook
$100 free matched bet available

One Super Bowl bettor will win a trip to Super Bowl 50!