Only in the NRL can a team who were beaten by 52 points in their final regular season be just $3.75 at Sportsbet.com.au to win the premiership.
Nobody has won the flag after losing a game by more than 50 points during the season, but how can you dismiss the Sydney Roosters?
As bad as round 20 was for them, the Chooks are still the defending back-to-back champions.
Not even Trent Robinson would know why his team were made to look like school kids against South Sydney, but what he does know is how to mentally prepare his players to peak for big games.
They get a crack at the Penrith Panthers, who have been the best team all year but are just slightly behind the Storm at the $3.60 price.
The Roosters have triple the amount of finals experience that Penrith do, which does count for a lot in games with huge implications.
Penrith have the slight edge in favouritism at $1.80, while the Roosters are great value any time they are paying $2 in the head-to-head market.
The Tricolours have a lot going for them despite their stinker last week, so the $3.10 price for them at the 1-12 margin shouldn’t scare punters off.
You only have to look back to 2015 when the Roosters themselves came in on a 12-game winning streak and were upset in week one by the Storm, who were $3.50 outsiders.
In 2016 Canberra came into the finals on the back of a 10-game winning streak, only to be taken down by a Cronulla team who were without Paul Gallen and hooked Chad Townsend in the second half.
In 2004 the Bulldogs came into the postseason having won 12 of their last 13 matches in the regular season, only to be upset by the Cinderella North Queensland Cowboys in week one also.
The reason we bring these instances up is to show there is a precedent for teams on long winning runs to come up short in the first week of finals, so don’t be shocked to see plenty of money on the Roosters to win.
Why are the Storm premiership favourites?
Considering they haven’t played in Victoria for more than three months, it’s nothing short of remarkable that the Melbourne Storm are the $3.50 premiership favourites heading into the 2020 NRL Finals.
With Cameron Smith playing as well as ever at 37 years old and Craig Bellamy still pulling the strings, having the greatest player/coach combination in the game plays a huge role in why they have favouritism over a young Penrith team and a Roosters outfit who just got spanked by 52 points.
Having home ground advantage at Suncorp Stadium is also an enormous factor for the Storm, who have won seven in a row at the venue as well as 19 of 23 in their history.
Just for good measure, they played Parramatta there in 2019 and flogged them 64-10, so you know that result will be spoken about in the build up.
In the 14 games they’ve played since relocating to the Sunshine Coast, their only two losses came when the entire core of their team was missing, and their reserves gave both Parramatta and the Dragons all they could handle.
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If they didn’t have injury concerns, there is no doubt they would be coming into the finals on a 14-game winning streak.
It would have been the only time in Australian rugby league history that two teams entered the business end on double-digit win streaks, which is wild to think about.
For all of these reasons, it’s easy to see why Melbourne are $1.20 to beat the Eels this week and progress to the preliminary finals.
And should they face the Roosters in week three, they will hold the advantage given the two teams’ disparate records in Brisbane.
Who will win in NRL Finals Week 1?
A four-leg multi of all the favourites will only get you odds of $3.49, which isn’t bad, but there is always one upset in the first week of the finals.
For $5.27 you could get the Raiders 13+ into the Panthers 1-12, which is a fantastic price that only relies on two outcomes.
Adding the Knights 1-12 to that mix gets you the unreal price of $22.13, and picking Newcastle is not as silly as it sounds.
In 2020 they have been one of the better teams in bouncing back after poor performances, so it isn’t crazy to suggest they can upset the Bunnies.
Souths loom large in NRL Grand Final betting
The $4.50 for the Raiders to make the 2020 NRL Grand Final looks a tough ask, especially from fifth place.
While they will handle Cronulla in week one, taking on either the Roosters or Penrith in week two is an enormous task, so it might be wiser to look at the South Sydney Rabbitohs at $6.
They’ve had back-to-back preliminary final losses, but all bets are off if they reach the last four once again.
The Bunnies will feel confident of knocking off the Knights, which would almost certainly put them up against Parramatta in week two.
The Eels have underwhelmed for a long time and did just enough to make the top four, so they are a prime candidate to go out in straight sets.
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