Seahawks to win back-to-back titles?
Read our expert NFL preview from US Sports In-Play Trader Keith Larkin
After the Seahawks' demolition of Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, it is understandable that the Vegas bookmakers expect another strong outing from the favourite (Seattle Seahawks to win Super Bowl XLIX @ 6/1).
Back to back rings have been achieved on nine occasions since the leagues merged in 1967. With such a young group to work with, Pete Carroll may just write history in being the first coach to hit the trifecta...but let's not get ahead of ourselves!
So what makes a Seattle title defence so likely? Well let's start with their defensive line; they held opponents to a league low 231 points last season and many pundits believe they wouldn't have gone all the way without it.
The Seahawks' defence is expected to make line changes, however the fearsome secondary (also known as ‘The Legion of Boom') will retain young safeties, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, after making the outspoken Richard Sherman the highest paid corner in the game during the offseason.
You can catch one of ‘the Shermanator's' more memorable rants on the following link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PH35C7Fhq0. Great guy.
In addition to an all-pro defence, Seattle uses a hybrid offensive system that could be loosely referred to as a ‘West Coast Offense'. Bill Walsh made the original version of this offensive scheme famous as he won three Super Bowls during his time with the San Francisco 49ers, also making a Hall of Famer out of a guy named Joe Montana (you may have heard of him).
The system has evolved since, now placing even greater emphasis on the read option play, allowing the quarterback to make decisions during the count based on how the opposing team lines up.
This places great weight on young quarterback Russell Wilson but he is seen as a franchise quarterback, a true professional whom has all the attributes to succeed at the highest level.
Last season, Russell took it all in his stride and the legacy has begun, having already tied one of Peyton Manning's long standing records for most touchdown passes in a Rookie season. He now holds the record for most wins by a quarterback in his first two seasons with 24 (28 including playoffs).
If you don't fancy risking the play-offs then Seattle Seahawks to win over 10.5 games is a more conservative 4/6 poke.
On a side note:
Although I consider the NFC to be the stronger conference, I really can't see past the Seahawks (Seattle 7/2 to win the NFC), whereas in the AFC I would be willing to back against the Denver Broncos in search of a value outsider.
Whilst I am a big fan of Peyton Manning, AKA the Sheriff, the Broncos success lies solely on him staying fit and at aged 38, two years out of double neck surgery, I'd struggle to throw my hard-earned on him to see out the season.
One team stands out in the betting to me; they badly underperformed last year so this bet is for the ‘glass half-full' punter who is willing to take a risk. Houston Texans currently stand at 20/1 to win the AFC. They had the first pick of the NFL 2014 draft where they selected Jadeveon Clowney, a premier pass rusher from the University of South Carolina.
Texans had few positives from last season but JJ Watt continued to be their best player on defence, arguably in the league. He is also a defensive end and was regularly double teamed to limit his impact but this will no longer be an option for opposing teams.
They now have two threats to deal with. Opposing quarterbacks will be sleepless when this fixture appears on the schedule and I would expect that Houston will be more likely candidates for a 14-2 season opposed to last year's 2-14 record.
The National Football League has action packed games every week but with the International Series set to bring three sell-out regular season games to Wembley Stadium in 2014, it's great to see we are adopting a sport from across the pond.
The teams are now starting mini-camps to prepare their rosters for pre-season but opening day is only 8 weeks away and I cannot wait!
In-Play US Sports Trader