NFC Betting Preview

Michael Norbury brought you his AFC preview and now he has all the best bets from the NFC.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys 4/5 (Bet365)

Projection – 1st

2019 saw a talent laden Dallas roster miss out on the playoffs, a criminal underachievement which led to a change at the helm with Super Bowl winner Mike McCarthy taking over from Jason Garrett; McCarthy must be feeling pretty good about what he has inherited.

The offense is loaded, Dak Prescott is a genuine MVP candidate complimented by a quality O-Line and a receiving corps up there with the best in the NFL, Amari Cooper is elite and is backed up by a steady pair of hands in Michael Gallup and the seriously exciting first-round rookie CeeDee Lamb. The ground game in Dallas is potent as well, they have one of the league’s best at running back in Ezekiel Elliott and Prescott is one the best QBs in the league with his feet. 

Defensively the Cowboys do have a few concerns, Byron Jones departs leaving them looking a little light at cornerback and the front has been handed a double hammer blow with the departure of Robert Quinn compounded by the season ending injury suffered by Gerald McCoy. There are still reasons to be positive about this defense though, Ha Ha Clinton Dix comes in to strengthen the safety area and in the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence and Jaylon Smith they have some game breaking talent.

A new Head Coach, a frightening offense and one of the softest schedules in the NFL. 2020 should be a good year in Dallas.

Philadelphia Eagles – 27/20 (Bet365)

Projection – 2nd

The Eagles battled their way to the playoffs in 2019 in the face of endless injury problems, their 17-9 loss to Seattle summed up their woes, they finished that game with QB Carson Wentz and their main three wide receivers all side-lined through injury. Surely they can’t suffer the same bad luck in 2020?

As long as they can stay healthy the Eagles have a useful if not lights out offense, Carson Wentz is a top-10 QB, the O-Line is solid even without the side-lined Brandon Brooks and running back Miles Sanders is a revelation. The receiving corps is where Philadelphia fall short of the top units in the league, DeSean Jackson’s best days are behind him and Alshon Jeffery has a bit to prove. They need first-round rookie Jalen Reagor to explode and tight end Zach Ertz to be at his best for this corps to go to the next level.

Defense is where the Eagles look the real deal, their front is exceptional, loaded with top-tier talent in the likes of Fletcher Cox and the secondary receives a much needed boost with the additions of Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman. 

Philadelphia fans can look forward to a winning season if they can keep their roster healthy. Their defense is a potentially special unit and the fixture list looks kind, they just lack the X-Factor in offense of their rivals in Dallas and that gives the Cowboys the edge.

New York Giants – 12/1 (Bet365)

Projection – 3rd

The Giants go into the new season with more questions than answers. Is Daniel Jones the man at QB? Have they found their head coach in Joe Judge? If the answer to those questions is yes, they can look to build around them going forward.

The questions on offense don’t stop with Daniel Jones, the receiving corps looks middle of the road largely due to their failure to replace Odell Beckham. Darius Slayton is a promising prospect but doesn’t look ready to take off just yet, Sterling Shepard has shown that his ceiling isn’t all that high and Golden Tate is on the decline. Tight end Evan Engram is a useful weapon and although top running back Saquon Barkley can contribute through the air his best work remains on the ground.

The defensive unit looks one of the worst in the league and even with interesting additions in the likes of James Bradberry and Blake Martinez the Giants look desperately short on talent.

A losing season ahead for the Giants looks certain, it’s all about finding signs of hope for the future.

Washington – 18/1 (Bet365)

Projection – 4th

Much like the Giants, Washington are a work in progress and go into 2020 looking for improvement.

We might see a battle at QB in Washington as Alex Smith looks to complete his remarkable comeback from a sickening leg injury. Dwayne Haskins looks set to start after an underwhelming 2019 season, it was easy to feel sympathy for Haskins as he struggled behind a woeful offensive line and looked downfield to see a lack of weapons outside of Terry McLaurin. Unfortunately for Haskins this season looks set to be more of the same and he could find himself the scapegoat with Alex Smith waiting to step in. The picture looks similarly bleak at running back, Adrian Peterson is way past his best and Derrius Guice has been shown the door following some unsavoury off field allegations. 

Defensively, things are a little brighter in Washington. Number 2 draft pick Chase Young looks ready to come in and terrorise opposing quarterbacks and add to a front which looks okay. Kendall Fuller comes in to improve the secondary but this still looks a problem area.

A long season ahead for Washington, aside from some hopefully special work from Chase Young and a remarkable comeback from Alex Smith their fans won’t have much to shout about.

Amid uncertainty about himself and the 2020 season, Aaron Rodgers says, 'I  don't know what the future holds' | Pro football | madison.com

NFC North

Green Bay Packers – 17/10 (Bet 365)

Projection – 1st

Despite going 13-3 the consensus is that the Packers were underwhelming in 2019. It looks doubtful they can repeat such a record in 2020 but they are taken as a tentative selection over the division favourites Minnesota.

The 2020 draft looked an ideal opportunity for the Packers to bolster a receiving corps which relies too heavily on Davante Adams, instead they took the baffling decision to bring in a back up to Aaron Rodgers with their first-round pick. Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and tight end Jace Sternberger are young enough to improve, but they need to and Devin Funchess is an underwhelming recruit. Aaron Rodgers remains one of the best QBs in the league and Aaron Jones is an underrated running back who is up there with the best of them. They work behind a top class O-Line. In a nutshell, Rodgers, Adams and Jones are elite but do they have enough depth?

Defensively, the Packers almost mirror their offense in that there is serious talent but an issue with depth.  Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Kenny Clark are guns up front and they look strong here, but they have genuine issues at linebacker where they have failed to replace Blake Martinez in particular. The secondary has quality but looks vulnerable should there be any injury issues.

The key to the Packers season in 2020 may well be health, if they can keep their best players on the field they hold the key to the North, if Davante Adams goes down in week 2 it could be a year of misery for Rodgers and the Cheeseheads.

Minnesota Vikings – 6/4 (Bet365)

Projection – 2nd

After going 10-6 in 2019 and finishing 2nd in the North, the bookies make the Vikings slight favourites to go one better this season. Can they justify the faith of the odds compliers and take the North or will they fall short again?

The offense in Minnesota lost a key weapon with wide receiver Stefon Diggs heading to Buffalo, Diggs had formed a dangerous tandem with star receiver Adam Thielen and he will be missed. Unlike the Packers they have addressed the hole in their receiving corps by drafting Justin Jefferson, is he likely to be as good as Diggs? No, but he possesses the potential to be a threat in 2020. They are backed up by underrated tight end Kyle Rudolph who should produce a solid season yet again. Kirk Cousins is a good QB who is probably unfairly maligned at times and running back Dalvin Cook is a quality option. The O-Line has its problems and Cousins could suffer because of this.

The Vikings have a defense full of quality, the safety pairing of Anthony Harris and Harrison Smith might be the best in the NFL and Danielle Hunter and Eric Kendricks headline a solid front seven. The cornerback spot is hard to assess after the Vikings underwent an offseason reshuffle, out go Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander and Xavier Rhodes meaning draft recruits Jeff Gladney (first-round) and Cameron Dantzler(third-round) are likely to see plenty of action. If they can hit the ground running this could be an exceptional defense.

This Minnesota roster is solid throughout but with the loss of a game breaker in Stefon Diggs it’s hard to argue that they have improved from 2019. The genuine stars in Green Bay such as Rodgers and Adams gives the Packers the nod.

Detroit Lions – 11/2 (Bet 365)

Projection – 3rd

2019 was a write off in Detroit, Matthew Stafford got injured in week 9 and they failed to win a single game after that, falling to a 3-12-1 record. Lions fans will hope for a healthy Stafford in 2020 and a much-improved record.

Assuming Stafford can stay healthy the offense in Detroit has enough weapons to cause problems for opposing defenses. Pro bowler Kenny Golladay heads the receiving corps and is backed up by the capable duo of Marvin Jones Jr and Danny Amendola. At tight end 2019 first-round pick TJ Hockenson will hope to make 2020 his breakout year. The O-Line is solid and they have two exciting young running backs in DeAndre Swift and Kerryon Johnson. This Lions offense is not to be slept on!

The offense in Detroit may be exciting but the defense is a worry, their front simply couldn’t get near an opposing QB in 2019 and there doesn’t look much scope for improvement. Darius Slay departs from the secondary and first-round pick Jeff Okudah is tasked with replacing him, he has bags of potential but Slay’s are big shoes to fill. Overall, the secondary in Detroit doesn’t look like a bad unit with Okudah being backed up by the likes of Duron Harmon and Desmond Trufant, they will have to be on top form as they look unlikely to get much help from the front seven.

If Stafford can stay healthy and the defensive front can find a way to function this Lions team may just surprise a few people this season, the 5/2 with SkyBet on them taking 3rd place in the North is a tempting proposition.

Chicago Bears – 21/5 (Bet365)

Projection – 4th

The Bears were fancied to have a good season in 2019 but after badly misfiring on offense they stuttered to an 8-8 record. 

QB Mitch Trubisky stuttered his way through the 2019 season and now finds himself in a battle with Nick Foles to be the man under centre. Foles comes in off the back of a disastrous spell in Jacksonville and neither option inspires much confidence. The receiving corps is a one-man band, Allen Robinson put up 1,147 receiving yards in 2019, a remarkable number considering the QB play he was lumbered with. Outside of Robinson the trio of Anthony Miller, Ted Ginn Jr and veteran tight end Jimmy Graham looks okay at best. Running back David Montgomery looks to improve on a substandard rookie season but may find it tough behind a struggling O-Line.

Chicago’s brilliant defense kept their season respectable in 2019 and the tools remain for another big year in 2020, the front seven was already among best in the league and with the addition of Robert Quinn now looks even stronger. There is a slight concern at safety with the departure of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix but Tashaun Gipson Sr is an okay replacement and on the whole the secondary looks solid. Basically, this is a top-quality unit.

It looks set to be a repeat of 2019 in the Windy City, this offense simply does not have the quality to win enough games in the NFL. If the Lions can keep Matthew Stafford on the field, they are taken to pip Chicago for 3rd place.

3 reasons Saints' Drew Brees can win his first MVP in 2020

NFC South

New Orleans Saints – 10/13 (Bet365)

Projection – 1st

After a 13-3 season in 2019 the Saints fell short in the playoffs. The Saints go into 2020 with a loaded roster and eyes firmly fixed on the Super Bowl.

Drew Brees has been one of the best QBs in the league for over a decade and despite questions about his arm strength he remains one of the league’s finest, the receiving corps isn’t bad either. Nobody had more receiving yards in 2019 than Michael Thomas and he’s firmly in the argument for the best wide receiver in the NFL, Emmanuel Sanders comes in from San Francisco and looks a shrewd piece of business, throw in tight end Jared Cook and the option of targeting Alvin Kamara and you see an enviable group of options for Brees. Kamara’s ground game didn’t quite live up to expectations last year, but he had injury concerns, if he’s fully fit in 2020 he could blow up behind an immense O-Line. On paper this offense has everything.

The Saints defense looks equally strong. Their front seven is exceptional, led by the sack heavy Cameron Jordan, who is backed up by quality in the likes of Demario Davis and Marcus Davenport. Behind the front sits a fine secondary, veteran Malcolm Jenkins joins a unit which already possesses top talent in the likes of Marcus Williams and Marshon Latimore. 

The Saints should take top spot in the South, they are coming off the back of a 13-3 season and look every bit as good if not even better. At 10/13 they look a strong selection for any multiple bets.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8/5 (Bet365)

Projection – 2nd

In case you haven’t heard, Tampa Bay have added a couple of new faces to the roster this offseason. Can they take them to the next level in 2020?

There’s a new QB in Tampa Bay, Tom Brady comes in after two decades in New England to replace the enigmatic Jameis Winston. Brady is the GOAT, that’s a given, but at 43 years of age can he really waltz in to a 7-9 team, adapt to a whole new system and take them to the top of the South? Not for my money! Wide receiver Mike Evans is outstanding and along with Chris Godwin forms arguably the best receiving duo in the league. Brady’s old partner in crime Rob Gronkowski comes out of retirement and is a difficult one to assess, if he comes back the old Gronk he might be the best tight end around, there’s no guarantee he will. The running game looks a weakness, Ronald Jones II is middle of the road and Brady offers nothing in this department.

The offense may be difficult to assess in Tampa but the defense is set in stone. Reigning sack leader Shaquil Barrett is joined in a fearsome front seven by elite performers such as Lavonte David and Jason Pierre-Paul and they can cause problems for any offense. The secondary is steady, lacking any real stand out stars but also not possessing any weaknesses. Look out for rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr, who could be a contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Tampa Bay are not a 7-9 team with Brady under centre and they should have a winning season, toppling this New Orleans Saints team looks a bridge too far.

Atlanta Falcons – 7/1 (Bet365)

Projection – 3rd

2020 looks a make or break year for Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn, he narrowly kept his job last season following a 1-7 start, the Falcons got their act together with a late season rally to finish the season 7-9 overall. Another losing season may not be tolerated.

The offense in Atlanta has serious potential, they have a former MVP under centre in Matt Ryan, he dropped below that level in 2019 and needs to bounce back. The receiving corps is headed by the best wide receiver in the NFL in Julio Jones and he is backed up by the promising Calvin Ridley. Hayden Hurst looks an interesting acquisition at tight end, the 2018 first-rounder showed flashes in Baltimore and this could be a breakout year. Todd Gurley comes in looking to bounce back from a disappointing season with the Rams, if he does then he’s a top tier running back. There is potential in the O-Line after a turgid season, the hope is pinned on the expected improvement of their two 2019 first-round picks Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary

Defensively, the Falcons are a mixed bag. Their front seven is loaded, led by the outstanding Grady Jarrett alongside solid options in the likes of Dante Fowler and Deion Jones, the secondary however is a serious issue. First-round rookie A.J. Terrell is an exciting addition but merely balances out the loss of Desmond Trufant. Terrell’s supporting cast does little to inspire and opposition offenses could see plenty of success targeting this area.

This Falcons team has some serious talent, with a step forward in the O-Line and secondary they could outperform their odds and compete with Tampa Bay this season.

Carolina Panthers – 22/1 (Bet365)

Projection – 4th

A season of transition lies ahead for Carolina, Cam Newton departs along with top linebacker Luke Kuechly, and with a new head coach in place it’s all about progress and acknowledging where they need to improve. 

Teddy Bridgewater comes in under centre and while nobody could argue he’s as good as a peak Cam Newton, the hope is that unlike Newton, he can stay healthy and they can begin to build around a consistent presence at QB, Christian McCaffrey might be the best running back in the league so there are no issues there. The receiving corps is okay, DJ Moore has bags of potential and it will be interesting to see how he goes with Bridgewater under centre, Curtis Samuel and Robby Anderson rate as a solid supporting cast. 

Defensively the Panthers could struggle, Carolina invested their entire draft capital on the defensive side of the ball and although this bodes well for the future but they may not be ready to fire just yet, especially without Kuechly’s leadership. In short there’s not much in the way of established top-quality talent anywhere in this defense, the rookies will have to learn quickly.

I don’t see winning season in Carolina, it’s a new era and patience is required. That being said, there is enough intrigue in this offense to think they might just have their moments this season and put a few wins together. 

More than ever, Seahawks need to ride on Russell Wilson's healthy shoulders  | The Seattle Times

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks – 21/10 (Bet365)

Projection – 1st

The Seahawks enter 2020 off the back of an 11-5 season, they lost Chris Carson before the playoffs, and with that their whole running game went up in smoke after a rather desperate gamble in bringing back Marshawn Lynch failed to pay off. They’ll hope to go further this year.

The offense is led by a genius in QB Russell Wilson and he has two top class targets in Tyler Lockett and last season’s rookie phenomenon DK Metcalf, the tight end pairing of Will Dissly and veteran Greg Olsen can also play a part in what looks a well-rounded receiving corps. Chris Carson offers plenty in the running game and should go 1000+ yards for the third consecutive season. The concern lies in the O-Line which looks one of the weaker units in the NFL.

The Seahawks gave up a lot to the Jets in the trade for Jamal Adams, possibly a little too much, but what he can do out on the field is unquestionable. His addition leaves this Seahawks secondary looking seriously good. The front however is cause for concern, Jadaveon Clowney looks a huge loss and aside from Bobby Wagner there isn’t much to write home about. 

Picking the winner in the West proved difficult, but with Wilson under centre and the weapons around him, combined with the addition of one of the finest safeties in the game they are taken to turn the tables on the 49ers this season.

San Francisco 49ers – Evens (Bet365)

Projection – 2nd

The 49ers went all the way to the Super Bowl last season largely due to the brilliance of their head coach Kyle Shanahan, they face an uphill battle just to win their division never mind go all the way to big one once again.

Despite taking San Francisco to the Super Bowl there are still doubts around the man under centre. Jimmy Garoppolo is a mid-tier QB and it was largely due to the scheming of the head coach that this team fared so well last season. This year, Garoppolo’s limitations could be exposed. The receiving corps loses a key weapon in Emmanuel Sanders, and Deebo Samuel is expected to miss some games through injury, leaving them looking thin outside of superstar tight end George Kittle. The O-Line is solid and Kittle’s brilliance as a blocker elevates the running game but they do lack a top-quality running back. This offense lacks bona fide star talent outside of Kittle, Shanahan will have to show his genius once again.

There are no questions around the defense in San Francisco and it could be the best unit in the NFL. Bosa, Ford and Armstead are immense up front and they have replaced the outgoing DeForest Buckner with a first-rounder in Javon Kinlaw. In the secondary, veteran Richard Sherman shows no signs of slowing down and there’s no hint of a weakness alongside him. There’s not much else to say, this is a proper defense!

The decision to take the Seahawks over the 49ers was a difficult one and it largely came down to the men under centre. Garoppolo has shown his ceiling and it isn’t all that high, with Sanders gone and Samuel likely to miss games, it could be an early season struggle for Jimmy G.

Arizona Cardinals – 8/1 (Bet365)

Projection – 3rd

After a 5-10-1 record in 2019 the Cardinals look to kick on in 2020, the offseason moves look bright and they are taken to do just that this season.

The Cardinals pulled off the best trade of the offseason picking up wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for a bag of nails. Hopkins is one of the league’s best receivers and is backed up by the evergreen Larry Fitzgerald who still has plenty to offer. Second season QB Kyler Murray has endless potential and he could have a huge season both through the air and on the ground. Running back Kenyan Drake looked productive in his half season with the Cardinals and can be useful in the receiving game as well. The O-Line though is a problem and needs to take a step forward in 2020.

Arizona’s defense was a mess in 2019 and they’ve taken strides in the offseason to address it. First round linebacker Isiah Simmons is highly versatile and loaded with potential, Devon Kennard is a solid acquisition and takes some pressure off Chandler Jones upfront. Patrick Peterson and Budda Baker bring quality to a secondary which looks okay. This unit can only improve on 2019’s display.

Arizona are one of the teams I’m most looking forward to in 2020, if the defense can perform to some sort of level and Murray and Hopkins can find a connection, they can produce a winning season.

LA Rams – 9/2 (Bet365)

Projection – 4th

After going to the Super Bowl in 2018, the Rams regressed in 2019, missing out on the playoffs with a 9-7 record. They go in to 2020 looking to halt the slide.

2020 is a big year for QB Jared Goff, he has his doubters and much like Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco appears to have limitations. The receiving weapons are there for Goff in Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, neither are absolute stars but they rate as two nice targets and tight end Tyler Higbee looks to follow up a productive 2019. Todd Gurley departs for the Falcons following a disappointing season, rookie Cam Akers looks set to take his place and is unlikely to match what Gurley brought to this offense at his best. Both Akers and Goff could struggle behind an unimpressive O-Line.

The Rams lost some key players on defense in the offseason, Corey Littleton, Nickell Robey-Coleman and Dante Fowler all head for the exit door and safety Eric Weddle has retired. This leaves a front with the best defender in the NFL in Aaron Donald and not much else to inspire, linebacker looks a problem area. In the secondary they are blessed with two good cornerbacks in Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill, the safety position could be an issue with John Johnson and Taylor Rapp both needing to step forward on their 2019 production.

Another season of disappointment lies in store for the Rams, Jared Goff doesn’t appear to be the man to lead this offense, and the running game which was so potent in their Super Bowl year is going to be hard to reproduce with a rookie leading the charge behind a substandard O-Line.

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