The Longshot: Chance to take a punt on the NFL

The Longshot: Chance to take a punt on the NFL

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes looks to pass during the NFC divisional round game against the Buffalo Bills last January. The two teams may be meeting in the playoffs again this season.

NOW that the All-Ireland finals finish in the midsummer, it’s difficult to know which sporting events should be our signal for shorter evenings and the onset of winter.

Perhaps the beginning of the NFL season across the ocean can take the mantle. It won’t be long now til fans of Gridiron will get to see large lads in tight pants and big helmets pumped up on godknowswhat running at each other in a swirl of snowflakes.

It all began in the early hours of this morning with Super Bowl champs the Los Angeles Rams hosting the pre-season favourites the Buffalo Bills.

We favoured the Rams in our preview on Tuesday, but the way things have been going with our other recommendations there is a good chance we will have our head in our hands by the time you are reading this.

This could be a position I find myself watching the action throughout the long season ahead as my beloved Bears of Chicago are unlikely to be racking up many Ws.

In the early evening of this Sunday they face another team whose greatest years were also in the 1980s, the San Francisco 49ers.

The Californian side (who last appeared in a Super Bowl in 2020) are given a 16/1 chance to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy come next February, while the Illinois side are deemed almost 10 times less likely at 150/1.

The Niners were pipped to a Super Bowl appearance by the Rams last year and will prove too strong for the Bears in the Windy City, which probably won’t get windy enough to wobble superior visitors for a few weeks yet. They are 1/3 to win, the Bears 5/2.

Who will win the whole thing?

Fingers crossed here it is not the Bears’ main rivals, the Green Bay Packers and their insufferable, if supremely talented Aaron Rodgers, the MVP for the past two seasons. They meet the only team located north of them in the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings, on Sunday night. The bookies are unable to separate them in match betting and both are quoted at 1/1. The Packers are 12/1 to win outright, while their near enough neighbours are 40/1.

The past two Super Bowls have been won by a quarterback who was in his first year with a new team (Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford) so that might point to Russell Wilson pulling off something with his new side the Denver Broncos (16/1). Brady, who retired for 10 minutes earlier in the year and is now aged 45, is 15/2 to win his eighth ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The team the Rams beat in the decider last year, the Cincinatti Bengals, are notable for being a best-priced 22/1. Joe Burrow is an outstanding talent at quarterback and another year with his team means that high price is worth nibbling.

But on the subject of talent with the football in his hands, the most supreme these past few years, and still, is Patrick Mahomes. The Kansas City Chiefs have lost wide receiving speedster Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins, but Mahomes orchestrated the departure of the Bills in the last two seasons in the play-offs and they are probably on a collision course again in the AFC side of the draw.

Andy Reid on the sideline always comes up with off-kilter special plays to bamboozle the opposition too when Mahomes is struggling and they look like they have the most in their locker again this season.

Take Ten

WHEN Washington’s American Football side decided to rename after the ‘Redskins’ was deemed unsuitable, they ran through many options earlier this year, including: Aviators, Wild Hogs, Presidents, Capital City Football Club, Ambassadors, Monarchs, Riders, Redwolves, Wayfarers, Griffins, Warriors, Armada, Rising, Swifts, Pilots, Rubies and Renegades, before finally settling on the Commanders.

It set us to thinking of the American Football franchises that don’t exist, but which we wish did:

1. Tampa Bay Invigilators 2. Cleveland Ground Beans 3. Jacksonville Jambons 4. New York Pretzels 5. Denver Defribrillators 6. Houston Cosmonauts 7. San Jose Subeditors 8. St Louis Caramels 9. Phoenix Canyaneros 10. Pittsburgh Pangolins.

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