After the Seattle Seahawks dominated the superbowl, the 2014 season kicks off this Thursday night with the Seahawks hosting the Green Bay Packers.  Here’s a look ahead to the upcoming season and the best betting value

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To win the Superbowl

Green Bay Packers at 12-1 Each-way (1/2 1,2) Boylesports

Philadelphia Eagles at 25-1 Each-Way (1/2 1,2) Ladbrokes

Some of the main contenders to win the superbowl this year are:

Seattle Seahawks (best odds 6/1 favourites): The defending champions entered the offseason with their eyes on the future; they managed to resign their best defensive players Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman to long term contracts, while reworking the contracts of other players like Sidney Rice. They did lose their top receiver last year Golden Tate to Detroit, but will have a healthy Percy Harvin pick up the slack. After dealing with injuries to his offensive line, Russell Wilson will finally have some protection when he drops back to pass this year, and a healthy Marshawn Lynch will be leading the running attack.

Denver Broncos (best odds 13/2): AFC Conference winners last year, and got better in the offseason. They signed Emmanuel Sanders to replace Eric Decker, who signed with the New York Jets, they signed former Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware, who was released by the Dallas Cowboys, and also signed Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib to replace the departed Champ Bailey. Their new defensive acquisitions and the return of Vonn Miller from injury will make them a very dangerous unit this season.

New England Patriots (best odds 8/1): This team has always been a contender as long as Tom Brady is behind center. Last year offensively they had to deal with injuries to their receivers and Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the first few games of the year while recovering from offseason surgery, and got injured again, almost as soon as he returned to the lineup.

Despite the injuries, the Patriots were able to make it to the AFC Championship game for the third straight year. Their offense is healthy heading into the preseason, and will be very dangerous if they can stay healthy all year. Defensively, they made one of the biggest offseason splashes by signing Darrelle Revis from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; the addition of Revis solidifies the defense, and will help them contain quarterbacks like Peyton Manning.

 San Francisco 49ers (best odds 9/1): Just like the Patriots in the AFC, the 49ers have been to three straight NFC Championship games, and have made a trip to the Super Bowl in that span, but were unable to win it. They lost some starters like Donte Whitner and Carlos Rodgers through free agency, and have replaced them with Antoine Bethea through free agency, and Jimmie Ward through the draft.

They also added some depth in their backfield by drafting running back Carlos Hyde, to compliment and spell workhorse Frank Gore. They will start the season without one of their best linebackers Navarro Bowman, who suffered an ACL and MCL tear in the NFC Championship game against the Seahawks, but he will be expected to rejoin the team later in the season.

For value, away from the four at the head of the market, my idea of two teams who might be superbowl contenders are the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles. Their odds would dramatically shorten were they to win the division and not have to travel to Seattle in the play-offs. This could well be a possibility as Seattle’s division, the AFC West, looks extremely tough and it would not be a surprise to see the Seahawks tally a few less regular season wins this year.

Both of the following teams can be backed at half the odds each way two places

Green Bay Packers (12-1 Boylesports) Led by Aaron Rodgers, one of the league’s top quarterbacks with an explosive offense both on the ground and through the air. Well coached and with an influx of talent on the defense over the last few years are division favourites. Were they to have any home advantage through the play-offs, this would help tremendously as weather is a huge factor in December in Wisconsin.

Philadelphia Eagles (25-1 Ladbrokes) Under coach Chip Kelly the Eagles have one of the softer divisions this year, for which they are strong favourites. Could well have the league’s leading running back, LeSean McCoy behind one of the best offensive lines and their offensive talent is complemented by a strong defense and innovative coaching. Away from the favourites this is the best outsider bet for the superbowl this year

Division Winners:

A quick run through the divisions. Whilst there are some good favourites, bear in mind that in each year since 2003 a team bottom the year before has won the division the year after (16 teams in total in 10 years) as free agency and the draft makes the league extremely competitive

NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles worthy favourites. Washington Redskins should improve, much depends on form of Robert Griffin III. Giants are rebuilding, Dallas’ defense will prevent them reaching the play-offs

NFC North: Alongside the Packers, the Bears, Lions and Vkings make this a tough division. The Chicago Bears could make the play-offs.

NFC South: The Atlanta Falcons should rebound strongly, an outside bet to pip the powerful New Orleans Saints to the division. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a team that could turn round its fortunes quickly too. The Panthers may take a step back

NFC West: The Seattle Seahawks look like the best team, but anything can happen here as the Rams (especially) and Cardinals are far stronger than a couple of years ago and the 49ers are still in the sweet spot of a lot of talent at is peak

AFC East: Another division win for the New England Patriots, Tom Brady and Bill Belichek should be one of the safer predictions in one of the weaker divisions.

AFC North: The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals will likely fight this one out, ahead of Baltimore. Should be a close division, I’d pick the Steelers.

AFC South: The Indianapolis Colts with energing superstar quarterback Andrew Luck are prohibitive favourites. expect the Houston Texans to rebound quickly and challenge, an outside bet to win this division

AFC West: The Denver Broncos are a hot favourite here (again) but its not an easy division. The Kansas City Chiefs were the turn-around story of last year and while they may struggle to replicate the San Diego Chargers could well run the Broncos to the wire here with a powerful offense and a well above average defense

Recommendations

To win the Superbowl

Green Bay Packers at 12-1 Each-way (1/2 1,2) Boylesports

Philadelphia Eagles at 25-1 Each-Way (1/2 1,2) Ladbrokes