Surprises aplenty to start NFL season

Super Bowl LIII odds (As of Sept. 19):

Los Angeles Rams: 7.50
New England Patriots: 8.00
Minnesota Vikings: 10.00
Green Bay Packers: 10.00
Jacksonville Jaguars: 11.00


The NFL season is into its third week, with plenty of surprises already.

From the Pittsburgh Steelers reeling with off-field issues and going 0-1-1, to the Jacksonville Jaguars exacting revenge on the New England Patriots, to the rapid ascension of Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City, there is plenty to dissect heading into this Sunday.

One item up for discussion that really isn't much of a surprise: The Seahawks run game - and by extension, the entire offence - remains a huge question mark while Seattle's squad is off to a rather uninspired 0-2 start.

Let's, um, start there.

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Seattle Seahawks

Super Bowl odds: 150.00

Seattle Seahawks

Overall, it's not a good sign when a rookie punter garners so much excitement.

Tough times for the 0-2 Seahawks, and questions remain about their offence, particularly their running game, which is nothing new. Chris

Carson entered the season as the slight favourite to lead the Seahawks in rushing this season with odds of 1.70 at PlayNow.com, over rookie running back and first-round pick Rashaad Penny.

Carson, the second-year running back, currently leads the team in rushing with 75 yards on 13 carries, an average of 5.8 yards per carry. Compare that to the 38 yards Penny has put together on 17 attempts rushing the ball.

This prompted some controversy earlier in the week because Carson had only six carries in Monday's loss to Chicago to close out Week Two - putting up an average of four yards per carry.

The Seahawks invested a first-round pick on Penny, so it stands to reason he'll get his share of opportunities at the primary role. Carson, however, has so far done more with fewer opportunities, albeit in a small sample size.

The Seahawks host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, with plenty to work through heading into their home opener. As of Thursday, Seattle was a two-point home favourite.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl odds: 16.00


It's not just that the Steelers are without a win through the first two weeks of the season.

It's about how they arrived at this point. It's about any and all distractions brought on by the Le'Veon Bell holdout - which continued this week. It's about the most recent distraction of Antonio Brown's cryptic "Trade me" tweet on Monday, following a loss to Kansas City in which the Steelers gave up 42 points.

The Steelers had a 14-point lead over Cleveland in the fourth quarter of Week One and couldn't hold on; in fact they were perilously close to potentially losing that game in the last seconds of overtime.

So, to recap the Steelers season to date: Off-field distractions involving two of their best players; a blown lead in Cleveland; and their defence was shredded by the Chiefs in a Week Two home loss.

That's a tough start to the season for a team that was among the favourites to win the Super Bowl when Week One kicked off. The Steelers' Super Bowl odds went from 11.00 on Sept. 6 to 16.00 as of Wednesday.

The Week Three Monday Night game features the Steelers as 1.5-point road favourites against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, another team off to a surprising start with a 2-0 record and Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing for 819 yards and eight touchdowns.

Kansas City Chiefs

Super Bowl odds: 16.00

Kansas City Chiefs

Wow, talk about a perfect transition.

Yes, the Chiefs are off to a 2-0 start in the AFC West, alongside the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs lead the league with 80 points for, knocking off the Chargers and Steelers in back-to-back weeks.

When their season started, the Chiefs had odds of 35.00 to win the Super Bowl, but their offence has taken the league by storm with this hot start and those outright odds have shifted to 16.00.

The Chiefs have come flying out of the gate, led by first-year starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who tossed six - SIX - touchdown passes against Pittsburgh and has thrown for 10 majors in two games, all at the age of 23 years old. His ascension is reflected in his regular season MVP odds at PlayNow.com.

On May 20, those odds were 80.00 - what you might expect for a young player about to enter his first full season as a starting QB. On Sept. 10, those odds were 60.00. As of Thursday, those MVP odds had gone up all the way to 10.00.

That puts Mahomes among the betting favourites for the award, and in elite company with the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady all at the top of that list, as well.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars

Super Bowl odds: 10.00


If the Jaguars were out for revenge against the New England Patriots following last season's AFC Championship game, they got it.

The Jaguars beat Tom Brady and the Patriots by 11 points in Week Two. If that wasn't enough, Blake Bortles did his best Brady impersonation, throwing for 376 yards and four touchdowns, while Jacksonville was without injured running back Leonard Fournette.

The Jaguars came into the season with plenty of confidence that they were indeed Super Bowl contenders after getting one win away from the big game last season. That opportunity obviously slipped away, but they're off to a 2-0 start in 2018 and knocking off the reigning AFC titleholders in Week Two should garner some added attention.

The Jaguars entered the year with odds at PlayNow.com of 20.00 to win the Super Bowl. Just two weeks and two victories later, those odds now stand at 10.00, alongside the NFC North's Minnesota Vikings, and behind only the Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.

Jacksonville will look to improve to 3-0 when they host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Jaguars were, as of Thursday, nine-point favourites.

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