From what we saw on Saturday evening at the SCG, the Sydney Roosters have the highest ceiling of any team in the NRL.
Their best day is still the best in the competition, even accounting for the wonderful 13-game winning streak Penrith have produced and the monotonous consistency of Melbourne.
They have gone through huge chunks of the season without key players, but most of their horses are running into match fitness at the right time of year.
Victor Radley and Sam Verrills won’t be available for the finals, but everyone else should be hitting their peak at the point end of the campaign.
That feeling is widespread among NRL punters, as the Chooks have plunged to $3.10 at Sportsbet to win their third consecutive title.
That bookie has already paid out on Penrith to win the minor premiership, and we predicted many months ago that the Panthers would finish top based on their favourable schedule.
A $4 quote would be short enough for outright favouritism in most seasons, but right now Penrith must settle for sharing the second line of NRL Premiership betting with Melbourne.
Three-horse race in NRL quinella betting
If the Panthers and Roosters finish where they are expected to, it’s quite likely they will meet in the preliminary finals and not the 2020 NRL Grand Final.
What this may mean is any quinella bets for the GF could have a spanner thrown into the works.
One of Penrith, Sydney and Melbourne won’t be there on the big day, while there is also a chance that a team like Canberra or Souths could sneak into the mix.
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The Storm/Roosters and Panthers/Roosters doubles share the clubhouse lead at $4, while the $5 for a Melbourne/Penrith decider seems slightly inconceivable when you think about all the Roosters have going for them.
As wonderful as the Panthers have been all season and for all the winning experience of lower-grade finals they boast, the Roosters have triple the NRL finals experience of their western rivals.
Penrith are capable of an upset, but they would go in as underdogs in any postseason meeting with the reigning premiers.
Bulldogs unbeatable for NRL wooden spoon
The Canterbury Bulldogs have firmed into $1.20, and the bookies may as well pay out on this one.
The Dogs had one last realistic chance against Manly to get off the bottom of the table, but they blew an early lead to lose 32-20.
The Brisbane Broncos were rightly dubbed ‘Queensland’s shame’ by fans in the crowd on the Gold Coast, yet not even their club-record ninth loss in a row will be enough to give them the unwanted crown.
While they remain at $4.50 to take the ‘title’, you are dreaming if you’re relying on the Bulldogs to defeat either South Sydney or Penrith in the final two weeks of the season.
Brisbane will play Parramatta and North Queensland in their final two weeks, and they are expected to lose both of those games reasonably comfortably.
The Eels have been travelling poorly for some time, but even they will handle a mediocre Brisbane side.
While the Cowboys won’t do it with quite the same ease, it would take a disastrous performance from them to not finish the season on some kind of high.
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