The 2017 NFL season begins this week and the time for talking is almost at an end as all 32 teams gear up for the new campaign.
The target from every club in the league is to win the Super Bowl. Only one can stand victorious come the end of the term and the battle will be fierce over the course of the 267 matches.
The New England Patriots hold the Vince Lombardi trophy following their dramatic win over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
Bill Belichick’s men staged a 25-point comeback to snatch the crown from the Falcons, earning the club’s fifth title in the last 17 years.
The Patriots will now be aiming to become the first team since they performed the feat to win successive titles.
However, they will face stiff resistance in the AFC Conference along with the NFC Conference in the Super Bowl itself as a number of sides will make bids to challenge for the crown.
We’ll now break down the odds of the Patriots and the teams that could prevent them from notching a second title on the bounce.
The Patriots are poised for another run at the Super Bowl after strengthening their roster. The only departures from their starting line-up in Houston were Logan Ryan’s move to the Tennessee Titans and Rob Ninkovich’s retirement.
Julian Edelman’s season-ending injury could have largest impact on a potential surge for a second-straight crown. The 31-year-old is Tom Brady’s most reliable receiver and has built a strong rapport with the future Hall of Famer.
Brady has a plethora of weapons to fire his side to another crown, but none quite as dependable as Edelman. Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan and Brandin Cooks will have to rise to the occasion to replace his production.
The Patriots traded their first-round pick in the 2017 Draft to acquire Cooks from the New Orleans Saints. Brady has not always found immediate success with new receivers, and his connection with Cooks over the course of the campaign could well decide if Belichick’s men can lift the title again.
Defensively New England’s secondary improved significantly with the addition of Stephon Gilmore. The 26-year-old signed a lucrative five-year deal with the club and gives them arguably the best two starting cornerbacks in the NFL alongside Malcolm Butler.
The weakness will come in the front seven where the Patriots lack depth at pass-rusher. The retirement of Ninkovich along with the exits of part-time players Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard has left Trey Flowers as the only recognised defensive end.
Pressure on Matt Ryan was one of the main reasons for the Patriots’ triumph. That could be the Achilles’ heel come the end of the season when playing the elite teams in the NFL.
They don’t have many flaws and while Belichick and Brady remain active, the Patriots are always an excellent bet to win the Super Bowl. Therefore it’s a wise bet to back them at +400 with PaddyPower.
The Seahawks’ opportunity to forge an NFL dynasty were crushed by the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. Pete Carroll’s men were perched on the two-yard line on the verge of a match-winning score to secure their second-straight Vince Lombardi trophy.
However, Butler’s interception of Russell Wilson on the goalline handed New England the win to cap the 2014 campaign. Seattle have admittedly not recovered since that incident, suffering back-to-back defeats in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
The urgency for success has increased in the Pacific North West as key components of their vaunted defense are beginning to age. Richard Sherman was reportedly on the trade block in the off-season, while Earl Thomas is returning from a serious leg injury.
There has also been friction between members of the defense and Wilson due to the club’s inability to return to the Super Bowl. It’s a vital term for Carroll’s men and they cannot afford another season of unfulfilled potential that could cause further unrest.
The Seahawks have an abundance of talent on their roster and arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. They bolstered their ranks with the addition of Sheldon Richardson from the New York Jets.
He along with Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Frank Clark and Jarran Reed will cause havoc for opposing teams in the campaign. The formula for beating the Patriots or any quality passing team in the playoffs is generating pressure with four rushers.
With the middle of the field taken care of by Bobby Wagner and ‘The Legion of Boom’ at the back, the Seahawks have the tools to claim the title. Wilson will need to elevate his game as well, but they are as well equipped as anyone to win the Super Bowl at odds of +1200 with Bovada sportsbook.
The Packers have been frustrated in their attempts to win a second Super Bowl in the Aaron Rodgers era. The 33-year-old has been stride-for-stride with Brady as the NFL’s leading quarterback for almost a decade.
However, the Packers’ issues with consistency have denied the club further success, losing twice in the NFC Championship game. Perhaps the main problem for Mike McCarthy’s men is their ability to secure home-field advantage throughout the post-season.
They last achieved the feat in their 15-1 season in 2011, only to lose in the Divisional Round to the New York Giants. Since then they’ve been forced to play on the road at CenturyLink Field and the Georgia Dome in Championship games, with both matches resulting in defeats.
Delivering consistency on both sides of the ball will be key to get the road to the Super Bowl running through Lambeau Field in the NFC. The offense struggled out of the traps last season, with only Rodgers able to improvise saving the Packers from complete catastrophe.
The secondary then became a significant issue during the middle of the season. The club dropped to -6 before they won eight matches on the spin to reach the NFC Championship game. However, the problems with the defense re-emerged against the Falcons, culminating in their heavy defeat.
Rodgers and the offense should return to their potent selves in the 2017 season. Jordy Nelson is two years removed from his torn ACL, while Randall Cobb and Davante Adams are quality wideouts. Martellus Bennett will provide an additional threat from the tight end position following his signing.
Defensive issues will remain the crux of the issue in Green Bay as they’ve not made drastic improvements to their roster. The power of the offense alone is enough to back McCarthy’s men at odds of +1000 with Bet365 to win the Super Bowl. Although a lot will rely on their regular term form.
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