THE NFL IS BACK! ON THE SAME WEEKEND that next season’s Premiership begins, so does America’s favourite game (I know they say that of baseball but the NFL, for a foreigner, is the number one game from across the pond). and not since the 1972 Don Shula
Dolphins has any team recorded the perfect season – 19 and 0, that’s 16 games unbeaten in the regular season plus the play-offs culminating in?Superbowl glory. Well, not until now!?!
Even the unbeatable Patriots in their pomp couldn’t go unbeaten, even the Cowboys when they were America’s team couldn’t go unbeaten but this year maybe it’s the year of BALTIMORE.
Why I hear you ask?
Firstly, they are in a poor division when normally the Steelers and the Bengals are tough opponents. No longer this year. Secondly, they have America’s next big thing at quarterback in Lemar Jackson, now in his second full season. Last year they choked before the might of the defensive juggernaut that was the Tennessee Titans, but one year on and one year wiser the Ravens will go all the way. So what can you get?
Baltimore to win the AFC?North…5/13
(that won’t make you rich!).
Baltimore to win the AFC?Conference…7/2
(now that’s getting interesting!).
Baltimore to win the Superbowl…7/1
(my nap of the year!)
But there are specials this time of year, Bet365 are offering…
ANY?TEAM TO GO UNBEATEN IN THE REGULAR SEASON 20/1 AND ANY TEAM TO GO UNBEATEN AND WIN THE SUPERBOWL 33/1. Remember, that’s 32 teams originally working on your behalf and although after one week there will only be 16 teams working on your behalf, it’s still a great interest bet. Now, put this in context, no team has gone unbeaten in nigh on 30 years, so treat with caution but Baltimore to win the
Superbowl at 7/1 just has to be backed.
At this embryonic stage I always like to have a multiple Heinz on six teams to win their respective divisions and a 50p Heinz will only cost £28.50 and this year’s bet is as follows:
AFC?East Buffalo Bills 6/5
AFC?North Baltimore Ravens 5/13
NFC?East Dallas Cowboys 4/5
NFC?North Minnesota Vikings 6/4
NFC?South Tamba Bay?Buccaneers 8/5
NFC?West Seattle Seahawks 21/10
The accumulator alone to a £1 stake (admittedly pays 111/1, that’s over a grand for a tenner accumulator).
But away from the NFL, early?October sees the Prix d’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp and a mighty clash between Love, Enable and Ghaiyaarth amongst others (and the others include Stradivarius) in the greatest all-age middle distance championship race in Europe. Let me start by giving you some trainer comments…Aiden O’Brien believes LOVE is the best filly he has ever trained. Now this isn’t some journeyman or up and coming trainer making a rash comment, this is the master of Ballydoyle speaking with over 90 Group?Ones to his name. Throw into the mix that Love has won both the 1,000 Guineas and the Oaks in spectacular fashion this year and do you really need to know any more? Take the 5/2 now before it goes.
FINALLY, WHERE YOU ON? In last month’s edition I tipped up the chances of Sevilla to win the Europa Cup in Germany, and what happened they only went and won it at a massive 8/1, and while we are speaking of the NFL in last October’s edition I gave you the Kansas City?Chiefs who won the Superbowl at the then price of 11/2 and I also tipped up Bayern?Munich to win the Champions League back in 2019 at 5/1. Impressive eh?
Till next time and the soccer, good punting.
?Bernie the Book
Its back - but not as we know it.
The appetite for Premier League football looks likely to outweigh any health concerns and the interrupted season is to recommence.
So too the Championship and maybe EFL 1, in some form.
But from a gambling perspective I remain unconvinced and my appetite will only be whet after a few games. Why? Simply too many imponderables.
Whose fit? Whose up for it? Will tackles and close proximity outweigh training ground routines? Will the season restart and then shudder to a halt?
So treat all prices with caution and personally, only back teams with something to play for, eg Liverpool until they have won the league mathematically but not after, when little to play for.
AND SECONDLY, and more importantly…go for bets on higher than average goals per game (the likes of shirt numbers, goal minutes, high scoring draws which will be available with Spread companies (Sporting Index etc), I have a strong feeling that with reduced contact there will be more opportunity to score goals.
Until next time.
BERNIE THE BOOK
?I have agonised as much as various european and domestic leagues as the fairest way to resolve our competition, but unlike impending legal challenges by Stevenage or Tranmere, I have come up with the most equitable decision. You will no doubt realise that the Scottish Premiership, along with EFL 2 and probably EFL 1 have decided to finish the season now, with no more games to be played, so from our personal stance, no more points to be won. This would be harsh on JORDANES for example, who are currently only three points behind our two leaders but who have Celtic and Chelsea onside versus Ross County and Brighton.You see the dilemma with all points and all season handicaps already applied.
Therefore I have decided to suspend the
competition and award the title equally between:
DEANO’S?DEVILS: Tracey Cann a hackney driver from Sidmouth, Devon.
BLUEBELL: John McGiven, a hackney driver in Falkirk.
JORDANES: Derek Gowlett, a private hire driver for Choice Taxis, Hemel Hempstead.
They each receive a prize of £50.
We will relaunch the competition next season as and when it resumes!!!
Well it is next month from March 10 but now is the time to lay down our ante-post bets for the singularly most pleasurable four days of national hunt racing in the world. And this year the bookmakers are all trying to take your money ASAP with mouth-watering prices and across most of the championship races, that superb concession NON RUNNER NO BET. And this is three to four weeks earlier for them than in previous years, but across the board there is now NRNB in the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, the Stayers Hurdle, the Ryanair and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. So let’s take advantage in the knowledge that if our selection doesn’t end up at Cheltenham, due to injury or being declared for another race, we are safe in the knowedge that we get our money back.
And so to the Gold Cup which this year has a very open feel about it. Traditionally it is very difficult for second season chasers to hit the heights of the more established stars but in lostintranslation, Colin Tizzard has a superstar on his hands. And Tizzard knows all about training a horse to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup as it was only two years a go that Native River broke the heart of Might Bite up the Cheltenham hill. And let’s not also forget that Cue Card would have probably won a £1,000,000 bonus for connections when being brought down in the previous year. The profile of LOSTINTRANSLATION is not too disimilar in that he also took the BetFair Chase at Haydock in his stride when dishing out a jumping lesson in the Haydock mud and it was the manner of his dominance that immediately plummeted him to 9/2 favourite for the March Blue Riband. His copybook was blotted when failing to fire in the King George on Boxing Day but tests later established his blood count was all wrong and now off the easy list he is a confident selection for the Gold Cup at a whopping 7/1 (Nevis is bookmaker parlance for 7/1). Sure the opposition will contain the best from Ireland and more pertinently Messrs Mullins and Elliott but with so many questions over the Irish stars this year I have no doubt that Lostintranslation can become the stellar horse for the next few years.
By the by the reference to the Minions and the colours of Tizzard superstar is no accident – the owner’s young son tragically passed and the Minions was his favourite character.
But one swallow doesn’t make a summer, so let us look at the other championship races.
In an open year with so many questions over the likely participants, it is no wonder that bookmakers are tempting us with their prices. Admittedly NRNB means anybody fancying the novices of Envoi Allen or Honeysuckle can back them safely, however I feel they won’t be running and it is just dead money. Nicky Henderson invariably has fancied horses in the Champion Hurdle and he runs the favourite Epatante, current price 11/4. I can see no reason for this price on the back of one piece of form and I would look to SHARJAH to win for the powerful combination of Ricci and Mullins. He is still relatively unexposed around Cheltenham having been brought down in last year’s Champion Hurdle and at 10/1 is fine value.
The premier two-mile chase can also go to the Ricci Mullins combo with CHACUN POUR SOI at odds of 6/1. Until turned over at very prohibitive odds over Christmas, connections were bullish about their new superstar and I can’t help keep thinking back to the exeptionally glowing comments made about this horse by the owner at the Punchestown Festival last May. With doubts over Altior (will he run? Is he still the horse he was?) and in my mind Defi Du Sueil still having an awful lot to prove at grade one level, I think Chacun is the worthy and most likely winner. Get on now!
Paisley Park looks bomb-proof but represents no value at even money. Similarly a lot of the horses at the top of the betting have questions over their participation, ability and quality. But one that has most of the boxes ticked is IF THE CAP FITS at a each-way steal of 7/1.
With so many doubts over which engagement various horses go to, betting in the Ryanair is fraught with danger. But again with NRNB, we can go for a punt. Ideally the 2.5 mile distance is a speciality distance and one which few horses excel at. One I believe can excel if he lines up is LALOR at a whopping 25/1. Definitely worth a nibble.
Away from Cheltenham and away from March let’s look at bets in February.
The Champions League returns with the round of 16 during this month and now it gets down to the nitty gritty. I always like to have an accumulator on the eight ties and my choices to qualify are…
Tottenham Even Money
Bayern Munich 1/4
Manchester City 4/9
A £10 ACCUMULATOR PAYS £139.42 ON BET365,
A SHADE UNDER 13/1.
As to the Champions League itself, as I have said on numerous occasions over the autumn, it really doesn’t get underway until mid-February and looking at the prices prior to the round of 16 I still think that PSG at 7/1 represents value despite their european self-destruct button. Readers should take note of January’s issue with my views on Spurs.
Finally, after the PDC World Darts at the Ally Pally in
Decemer the premier league returns in early February and I think a small interest should be tak-en on the bad man of darts GERWYN PRICE for both regular season winner at 15/2 and GrandFinal winner at 6/1.
The field looks particularly weak this year and I think it’s between Mighty Mike and the Iceman for top honours.
2020 is just around the corner but before that here are your 12 betting days of Christmas in the hope that Santa (in this case read Ladbrokes, Hills etc.) will fill your stockings with more than chocolate money. In last year’s selection box(es) we had four winners and three places (not bad from 12 selections)!
1: MICHAEL VAN GERWEN PDC WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Odds: 5/4 As last year, start off 2020 with a bang with a nice chunky wager on Mighty Mike to retain his world crown. In fact, he is more of a certainty this year than last as some of his fancied opponents are either past their sell buy date or recovering from injury. (General)
2: ELIZABETH WARREN DEMOCRAT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE Odds: 2/1 Always assuming Donald Trump has not dug up some skeleton in her past, Elizabeth Warren will get the ticket to challenge the Republicans for the White House later this year. PS She is also a good bet for President at 6/1. (BetFair)
3: IPSWICH EFL DIVISION ONE Odds: 5/2 With ante post favourites Sunderland in limbo and Portsmouth equally in the mire, the division has opened up for last year’s relegated Championship side Ipswich, who will now push on for the title. (Bet 365)
4: NEIL ROBERTSON WORLD SNOOKER Odds: 4/1 – 9/2 The rejuvenated ‘Thunder from Down Under’, Neil Robertson can reclaim the World Championship after a break of seven years. Now firing on all cylinders and a challenge to all. (Coral)
5: CHACUN POUR SOI CHAMPION CHASE Odds: 5/1 This horse could turn out to be Willie Mullins’ 2020 hot-pot after bursting on the scene so spectacularly at the Punchestown Festival last May. Now firmly on target for the two mile championship grade one, he could have the world at his feet. (General)
6: PSG CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Odds: 6/1 Isn’t it about time that the serial chokers but talent-laden French champions take Europe’s premier w title? To my mind they are better ithout Neymar but nevertheless they can finally achieve their owner’s dream of buying the Champions League. (BetVictor)
7: BALTIMORE RAVENS SUPERBOWL Odds: 7/1 Clearly the Patriots are still the team to beat, but they are not the team they were despite their 8-1 record. And who did they lose to? Answer: The Baltimore Ravens who are playing inspired football under their charismatic quarterback. (Ladbrokes).
8: LOSTINTRANSLATION O H dd ELTENHAM GOLD CUP odds: 8/1 d Colin Tizzard could have Native r R ed another Cue Card or second iver in this exciting jumps li season chaser, who next su ke a stag and can be the perstar on the o chasing ladder. Look t ut for future trials in he new year. (Ladbrokes)
9: BROOKS KOEPKA THE MASTERS Odds: 9/1 Brooks Koepka only seems to get motivated in Grand Slams, which is no bad thing if you continually keep him on your side. Any time you see Brooks at these sorts of odds, you just have to take the price as it won’t last long. (General)
10: STEFANOS TSITSIPAS MEN’S AUSTRALIAN OPEN Odds: 10/1 Can any of the young bucks challenge the established order? With the FedExpress showing signs of age, Nadal only a major force on clay, maybe it is time for the next wave of tennis stars to challenge Novak? And at 10/1 Stefanos Tsitsipas poses a serious threat. (Hills)
11: NETHERLANDS EURO 2020 Odds: 11/1 There was a time when Holland and their production line of talent struck fear into the world elite. That time could now be approaching and this is the tournament where they can lay down a marker. (Coral)
12: LEICESTER CITY FA CUP Odds: 16/1 The time is right for the Foxes under Brendan Rodgers as they continue to punch above their weight, or is it that this weight is their level? With the so-called top six’s eyes focusing on other targets, no-one will relish a trip to the King Power and the general 16-1 will certainly give you a run for your money. (General)
REWIND TO JANUARY AND the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium between eventual Superbowl winners the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs, and the sense of anti-climax and injustice in Andy Reid’s maverick football team was palpable, with the Patriots going through in overtime without KCC ever getting a chance to equal Tom Brady’s achievements. Hey, but that’s football and that’s the rules. Fast forward to October and the Chief’s are riding high in the AFC West and look a shoe-in for a long run in the play-offs.
With a quarter of the regular season gone and a schedule outside their division which has one pulsating home field advantage decider in Foxboro against the Pats, KANSAS CITY are wiser, healthier and a lot more savvy this year and are my number one pick for the Superbowl at a universal 11/2.
With the Chiefs my headline nap for the AFC, what of the NFC This year the AFC looks a lot stronger in that the Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens and even the Houston Texans can be seriously considered for the ultimate prize. But only one team qualifies for the final as the Superbowl is contested between the winners of the AFC and NFC. Up until two weeks ago the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS were my headline pick and their chances still depend on the return to fitness of talismanic quarterback Drew Brees who was injured early on in their showdown at the Rams.
He is forecast to be out until week 8 and given that their schedule is not overly difficult, my belief is if the Saints can stay in contention (maybe 5-3) until early November, their current price of 20/1 cannot be overlooked. Back them now on the expectation of a returning and resurgent Saints.
My last foray is a six timer on the divisional winners. My fancies are:
Baltimore Ravens AFC North 8/11
Houston Texans AFC South Even money
Dallas Cowboys NFC East 4/7
Minnesota Vikings NFC North 23/10
New Orleans Saints NFC South 8/13
LA Rams NFC West 8/15
The sixfold pays a mouthwatering 43/1.
More immediately, the first weekend in October is the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Longchamp and Enable is attempting and unprecedented three-peat with victories in 2017 and 2018. Yes she is a superstar, yes she has the advantage of being John Gosden trained and Frankie Dettori ridden and yes she has been undefeated for what seems like all her career and boasts 11 group ones to her name but I think however you analyse her career she is no Treve or Sea Bird or Dahlia. She is odds-on and will likely to be no more than even money on the day and I just feel that her time has come and in a competitive race she will be overturned. But with what?
First port of call would be the Arc Trials, the Niel, the Vermeille and the Foy and undoubtedly the performance of SOTTSASS to my mind was exemplary. Stuck on the rails with nowhere to go, the sudden burst of acceleration put his trial to bed in a matter of strides and I think at 7/1 is undoubtedly an each-way steal and Sottass will bring the Arc back to the French this year.
My one caveat is (at time of writing) the Japanese horse DEIRDRE who was so eye-catching in the Irish Champion Stakes a couple of weekends back. Last seen at Glorious Goodwood Deirdre was an unfancied 20/1 for a group race and turned over both a Gosden hotpot and Aiden O’Brien’s 1,000 Guineas heroine. A note of caution, Deirdre might not run and decisions are being made this week but she is currently a whopping 40/1 for the Arc. You pays your money ante-post, you takes your choice, it’s a risk or reward bet.
Until next time, good punting.
Bernie the Book