With the preseason about to kick off, the anticipation continues to build ahead of the 2019 NFL regular season. A lot has changed since the New England Patriots celebrated their sixth Super Bowl championship with a win over the Los Angeles Rams back in February. Based on the path each of those teams took to the biggest stage of them all, it’s no surprise that the Patriots and Rams are considered among the top championship contenders. Needless to say, they are betting favourites at the sportsbooks heading in to the new season.
The more things change throughout the league, the more they seem to stay the same.
The Patriots (+600) have represented the AFC in four of the last five Super Bowls, winning four of them. Tom Brady has defied conventional wisdom and continued to play at a high level despite the fact that he will turn 42-years-old this month. New England lost star tight end Rob Gronkowski. However, they added rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry, veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas and rookie running back Damien Harris to an already impressive offensive cast. The Patriots will also bring back the bulk of a defence that held the Rams to three points in the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, despite losing to the Patriots twice last season the Kansas City Chiefs (+800) are right there behind New England as one of the favourites to win it all. Patrick Mahomes is coming off the most outstanding season ever by a first-year starting quarterback. He will also have some of his top weapons back including wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, as well as tight end Travis Kelce.
It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the next two teams on the list of favourites are also the other two teams that reached the final four last season. The Rams (+800) beat the New Orleans Saints (+1000) in the NFC Championship game following one of the worst missed calls in NFL history. Drew Brees and company have suffered some absolutely crushing playoff losses in recent years. Will that help put them over the top entering this season? Or will it ultimately hurt them in the long run?
The Long Shots
The 2018 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles (+1600) have reloaded with the hope that they can get back to the level they performed at when they beat New England at Super Bowl 52. Will the additions of Malik Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders put them over the top?
The Los Angeles Chargers (+1600) are another team that stands out as an intriguing value pick. After all, the Chargers finished tied for the best record in the AFC a year ago when they went 12-4.
Diving a little deeper on the list of contenders, the Minnesota Vikings (+2500) should certainly be on the radar. Kirk Cousins’ first season in Minnesota didn’t go as planned. Still, the Vikings are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball and should be positioned to bounce back.
Finally, the Jacksonville Jaguars (+3300) are one team that seems to have been completely overlooked heading in to 2019 season. Jacksonville is only two years removed from being one win away from reaching the Super Bowl with Blake Bortles as its quarterback. With Nick Foles under center and a defence that has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL, the Jaguars are an intriguing long shot.