Fears over the summer that the 2020 NFL season would be delayed or even cancelled altogether have been allayed, leaving fans across the US and the rest of the world excited and studying the odds. Although pre-season games were cancelled, regular season kicked off on September 10th as scheduled, with last year’s champions Kansas City Chiefs starting to defend their title at home to the Houston Texans.
The Chiefs entered the 2020 season as strong favorites to win, and the opening game left no-one in any doubt that this was a possibility. The Chiefs won with a score of 34 – 20, playing to a socially-distant crowd of 17,000, which is just 22% of capacity. While restrictions are likely to be in place for some time, the season has at least got underway and the Chiefs are off to a flying start. The odds from the sportsbooks place the Kansas City Chiefs at 9/2 – while these are good odds, the bookies are by no means convinced that the Chiefs will take home the prize.
Baltimore Ravens have been given odds of 5/1 at the start of the season, leaving them very closely placed behind the Chiefs as favorites. The Ravens had a spectacular start to the season, finishing 38 – 6 against the Cleveland Browns on September 13th, and will face the Houston Texans for their second game of the season on September 20th. While both the bookies’ favorites have started strong, they are by no means the only contenders in the race.
Both the San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints have started the 2020 season with odds of 10/1 – not as strong as the two leaders, but in with a fighting chance. Just behind them are three teams at 12/1 – the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If the bookmakers are to be believed, it will be these seven teams dominating the NFL throughout the season, with a sharp drop in odds for the teams following them.
The 2020 NFL season is unique in that it is the first in which the new 14-team playoff format is to be introduced. This format allows for an additional wild card from each division to enter the playoffs, which creates new opportunities for Super Bowl contenders. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings, all with odds of 25/1 at the start of the season, could therefore have more chance of making it than they might have had under the previous system. Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers began the season with odds of 30/1.
Winning the Super Bowl is the Holy Grail of the NFL – being able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy is the ultimate ambition of every player in the league. Over 17 weeks, all 32 teams will be battling it out to be in with a chance of making the playoffs, be that as division champions or as a wild card. Super Bowl LV will be hosted at the Raymond James Stadium on February 7th 2021 in Tampa, Florida. This will be the third Super Bowl held at this stadium, the fifth hosted in the Tampa area and the fourth time the event has been hosted in the same state for two consecutive years. Super Bowl LIV took place in Miami Gardens at the Hard Rock Stadium, where the Kansas City Chiefs were victorious over the San Francisco 49ers with a final score of 31 – 20.
Last year’s win represented only the second time in history that the Kansas City Chiefs have won the Super Bowl, with the last time being in 1969 when they beat the Miami Vikings 23 – 7. The Chiefs have previously won three AFL championships, all in the 1960s, as well as the 2019 AFC championship. Last year’s performance has left them looking solid for the coming season, although they are not quite playing with the same starting team. Both Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Damien Williams, who played starting offensive back and running back respectively, have opted out of the 2020 season. The Chiefs will next face the Los Angeles Chargers in an away game, before meeting second favorites the Baltimore Ravens on the Ravens’ home turf.
After a summer devoid of live sporting events, the NFL is not the only things sports fans are getting excited about. The much-anticipated NBA playoffs, which should have taken place back at the height of lockdown in April, finally began on August 17th and will run through until October 13th. NBA’s pace is rapid and the sportsbooks are ready, with games scheduled every other day in the “NBA Bubble” – the isolation zone created by the NBA at Walt Disney World in Florida to protect players from the pandemic. The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will host the playoffs behind closed doors, with the finals scheduled to take place from September 30th.
With two of the most-watched sports in the US re-starting almost simultaneously, fans across the country are excited once more about selecting the best odds and placing their bets for 2020.