HomeThe ShuffleThe NFL Countdown Begins

The NFL Countdown Begins

There are plenty of compelling storylines to consider before betting on the NFL 2020-21 season. Some historic rivalries and old grudge matches will make this season even more fun.

We can officially start the countdown: It’s just about 60 days to the September 10 NFL season opener. That means it’s time to toss out some NFL nuggets for midsummer consideration.

The season opens with Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs in a rematch of their thrilling AFC semifinal. Remember that one? The Texans led 24-0 and still got squashed 51-31. Crazy stuff, and the only time a team trailed and led by more than 20 points in one game.

Kansas City is -10. 5 against Houston that week at most major sportsbooks.

It promises to be a good season, with the defending champion Chiefs in good form, and off-season moves involving the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

New England will have a new quarterback in Cam Newton and opens at home against the Miami Dolphins, who beat them in the season finale last year. That’s when Tom Brady was the New England QB. How will Newton, the former Carolina Panther, like the change of scenery?

It’s time to watch a rivalry. Brady made the biggest off-season news, heading to Tampa Bay along with his favorite target, Rob Gronkowski, who was coaxed out of retirement by the Bucs. The team went from 50-1 Super Bowl picks to 14-1 in some places. New England is 20-1 or higher. New England-Tampa Bay is a season-long side show.

And so’s the opening game. Tampa Bay is getting 4 points at New Orleans, for the moment. It’s Brady versus Drew Brees.

And how about this? The line already moved. It was 4.5 points earlier. Only in the NFL, in the midst of the pandemic, can bettors wager heavily enough to move the line on a single game two months out.

Oh, the Irony!

Jameis Winston, who became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 touchdowns and interceptions in the same year, left Tampa Bay after the Bucs signed Brady. Guess where he ended up? With the New Orleans Saints, as Brees’ backup. Can you picture a scenario where Brees gets banged up and Winston is brought in for the fourth quarter, trying to rally his new team past his old one?

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Meanwhile, Jon Gruden is back as coach of the Raiders, although they’re now in Las Vegas, not Oakland. He visits New England to go against Patriots Coach Bill Belichick on Sept. 27. This is a rematch of coaches involved in the famous “tuck rule “game in 2002. The Raiders were absolutely robbed when a game-deciding strip-sack of Brady was overturned. That let New England keep the ball, down 13-10, with under two minutes to go. The Patriots rallied in the snow, won in overtime and then began their string of Super Bowl championships.

The Raiders were good enough to win it all that year, but went home.

The colorful Gruden is still bitter about it, and that’s what will make the matchup compelling.

Sure, it’s only July. There are camps, preseason games and virus-related issues to work out before the first game. There may not even be fans.

But there are betting lines. And there are storylines.

Bring it on.

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Betting Super Bowl Futures?

Here are the current odds, per William Hill:

  • Kansas City Chiefs +500
  • Baltimore Ravens +650
  • San Francisco 49ers +700
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1200
  • New Orleans Saints +1200

Dallas Cowboys +1500

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Dave Bontempo, a multiple award-winning writer and broadcaster, has covered sports for the Associated Press, ESPN, HBO and Showtime and called boxing matches on every major network. Dave is a winner of the Sam Taub Award for broadcast excellence given by the Boxing Writers Association of America, and is a member of both the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the Atlantic City International Boxing Hall of Fame. He writes regularly for sportsquare.com and Global Gaming Business magazine.

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