New Zealand (-2500) vs. Ireland (+1000), Draw (+4500)
Since the dawn of rugby, Ireland has never managed to win a single game against New Zealand. The two nations have faced off 28 times prior, and apart from a draw in 1973, the All Blacks have come out on top every time.
So it’s no surprise that the odds are heavily in New Zealand’s favor for their next clash, which takes place on November 5th at Soldier Field, Chicago. The game will mark the first of the 2016 Autumn Internationals for both sides.
To further complicate things for the unlucky Irish, they will also have to contend with the absence of two crucial players, Iain Henderson (injured) and Keith Earls (suspended). The Irish will be sending over a relatively inexperienced squad, with six uncapped players in their lineup.
That’s music to the ears of the current World Champions, who are looking to end 2016 undefeated. The Kiwis are riding high after last week’s crushing of Australia (37-10) in the Bledisloe Cup, which marked their record-breaking 18th consecutive win.
The All Blacks will be missing a few key players, too, though. Fly-half Dan Carter and prop Tony Woodcock will both be out of the lineup. That shouldn’t be too big of a problem. This year, the All Blacks have shown that even with a battered squad, they can still take wins.
Already, there have been comparisons between the current All Blacks squad and The Invincibles of 1924/25. There is an expectation that this generation of the All Blacks, who have won the last two world cups, two Tri-Nations series, and fourteen Bledisloe Cups, will go down as one of the great teams in rugby history.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a team, and the All Blacks will arrive in Chicago with ever-growing expectations. They’ll have to be careful not to overlook the historically overmatched Irish. After all, in their last encounter, New Zealand only just managed to edge out a victory in the final minute (24-22). If Ireland can put up a fight like they did back in 2013, they’re definitely in with a shot. Albeit a long shot.
Pick: New Zealand (-2500)
Photo credit: Natural Heart (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.