Sep 06, 2018
Super Bowl Consensus Picks
The 2018 season begins with plenty of intrigue after the Eagles held off the Patriots to capture the first Super Bowl title in franchise history last season. To no one’s surprise, New England is listed as the favorite to win Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta next February, while Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh are among the top choices.
Also in the mix are the two Los Angeles squads as a portion of our handicappers are predicting the Rams and Chargers to go far this season. Regardless of who plays at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in February, not one of our cappers opted to take a rematch of the Patriots and Eagles in the Super Bowl as our crew went in different directions.
VegasInsider.com expert Joe Nelson believes the Rams will take that next step this season, “The Rams were the highest scoring team in the NFL last season and there is room for improvement on last season’s 11-5 campaign, going just 4-4 at home and 4-2 in the division. Los Angeles also lost 14 fumbles in the regular season last year to tie for the most in the NFL for some potential bad luck that could turn around. Jared Goff has only 22 NFL games under his belt as he could take another step forward following a strong 2017 season with 3,800 passing yards and four times as many touchdown passes as interceptions. There are valid questions surrounding some of the other expected NFC contenders and those teams appear likely to face more competition in the division races which could take a toll on the overall records, leaving the Rams with a favorable path to one of the top records in the NFC and as a viable Super Bowl threat.”
On the other side of town in Los Angeles, handicapper Matt Blunt has faith that the Chargers can break through in their second season after moving from San Diego, “The Chargers have quietly gone about their business the past few years building a legit Super Bowl contender that's ready to peak. They've got great weapons at every skill position, a defense that's made great improvements the last few years, and are in a division where the other three teams are in a bit of turmoil. Oakland just traded away their best defensive player, Kansas City is turning things over to a new QB, and Denver is still trying to find a QB. L.A has a clear path to a division crown barring they don't get bit by the injury bug like the past few years, and all it takes for a division winner to get hot at the right time to make a run to the Super Bowl.”
Preseason money leader Brian Bitler is buying into Jacksonville leaping over New England for the AFC title, “Jaguars were the surprise team in 2017 and I think Jacksonville will be and even bigger surprise in 2018. Jaguars finished 10-6 and won two playoff games and really they're team got even better going into this year adding top notch talent like A.J. Bouye and 1st round draft pick Taven Bryan. Jaguars lost two wide receivers but this team is built on defense and pounding the ball both of which will be in full supply this season. They also have two of the fastest linebackers in the game in Myles Jack and Telvin Smith. Jaguars have a moderate schedule and I see them knocking out 12 wins and a great shot at home field advantage which is key to beating New England and Pittsburgh. Invest in the Jaguars to win the Super Bowl this year.”
Expert Bruce Marshall is buying into another AFC South squad in Houston, “ACC, AFC, it didn’t seem to make much difference to QB Deshaun Watson, who was tearing apart the opposition last fall just as he did in college until a fluke knee injury suffered on the practice field on November 2 prematurely ended his season. At that point, Houston was just 3-4, but after entering the starting lineup following an opening loss to the Jaguars, Watson had put the fear of God into both New England and Seattle on the road, barely missing upset wins vs. each when the defense couldn’t hold a late lead in the final minutes, and a 42-34 shootout loss vs. Kansas City when the Chiefs were hottest team in the league. Without Watson, Houston more resembled Rice in the second half of last season, but now Deshaun is back and healthy, and so for the moment are some of his key defensive teammates who also went down for the count last season, including disruptive forces J.J. Watt and Whitney Merclius. With all hands on deck, mostly meaning Watson, this is a playoff, if not a Super Bowl, contender.
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