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France wins World Cup
Hank the Raccoon made his debut as a playful soccer prognosticator, following his gut instinct when making his picks for the FIFA World Cup before settling on England defeating France in the final.
He came oh-so-close to correctly predicting the teams for the finale, but ultimately fell short, as did England’s entry in the World Cup. This year’s tournament saw a number of pre-competition favourites eliminated early, opening the door for France to take control.
With pre-tournament odds of 7.00 at PlayNow.com to win it all, France played long-shots Croatia in the finale and defeated them 4-2, claiming the second championship for France and first in 20 years.
As for England, the ‘Football’s Coming Home’ movement that began to gather momentum early in the tournament fizzled out just as quickly in the semifinal and then dried up entirely in the bronze medal game, as England placed fourth.
The wait for them continues.
Philly Special: Eagles outlast Patriots
The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t shy away from the underdog label. They thrived under it, defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII despite being 4.5-point underdogs against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick – the faces of the unrelenting dynasty of the NFL.
The bettors certainly saw something in the Eagles. Despite a season-ending injury to franchise quarterback Carson Wentz and relying on journeyman Nick Foles the rest of the way, about 86 per cent of the money was on the Eagles to cover the spread in the last days leading up to the Super Bowl.
What transpired on that Sunday was a wild 41-33 victory for the Eagles – a victory that included the famed ‘Philly Special’ touchdown catch by Foles on a trick play in the red zone.
Will the Eagles repeat in 2019? They’re hanging on to their playoff hopes by a thread entering the final week of the season, needing a win against the Washington Redskins and a Minnesota Vikings loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Philadelphia is currently a 6.5-point road favourite at PlayNow.com – with a 6-9 record against the spread this season.
Finally! Alex Ovechkin, Capitals claim Stanley Cup
Late in the spring, we bid farewell to one of the most tired narratives in sport: Alex Ovechkin couldn’t win the big game.
The Capitals shook off a 2-0 series deficit in the opening round to Columbus, and eventually powered their way past the Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning to win the Eastern Conference. They prevailed against the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final, giving Ovechkin the first Stanley Cup of his career, and the first championship for the Capitals.
That would’ve been compelling enough.
What added even more drama to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final was a Vegas expansion team that just kept defying the odds to make it within three wins of a Stanley Cup title in its first year.
When the Stanley Cup outright market for the 2017-18 season opened in June 2017, the Golden Knights had odds of 100.00 to win it all. But they had a quick start in October, maintained it despite injuries in net, and those odds kept coming down as the playoffs neared.
The Golden Knights are currently third in the Pacific Division with odds of 26.00 at PlayNow.com to win the Stanley Cup, while the Capitals lead the Metropolitan Division in the East and have odds of 15.00 to win the Stanley Cup.
He's back! Tiger Woods roars to major favourite
From concern about whether he would play golf again, to being in contention on Sunday at the Open Championship and PGA Championship this summer, Tiger Woods roared back to contender status for major tournaments in 2018.
Only a few months after returning to action at the Hero World Challenge, Woods played his way into status as a betting favourite to win The Masters at Augusta National. Unfortunately, there was no amazing win at Augusta. Nothing worthy of a Hollywood script at the U.S. Open. But there he was on Sunday, dressed in that familiar red and black, in contention at the final two majors of the year.
By the time the 2018 season ended, Woods was second in the FedEx Cup standings. He won one tournament and had seven top-10 finishes in 18 events played.
At PlayNow.com, Woods is currently a co-favourite alongside Jordan Spieth to win the Masters with odds of 11.00. He’s among the favourites for the U.S. Open, as well. Dustin Johnson has odds of 11.00, with Tiger right behind him with odds of 12.00 to win the second major of the year.
The odds of Tiger winning exactly one major next year are 3.45 at PlayNow.com. He created headlines this year by getting back into contention. He proved once again that he moves the needle in terms of television ratings and money wagered on golf.
What should we expect from the former World No. 1 in 2019?