While sports gambling may be illegal in almost all of the United States, it is a thriving market in the home country of every reasonable football fan's club: England.
As of right now, every team at 35 points or below has a real chance to be playing in the Championship next year, and this horrifying possibility leaves many fans dreading the next five weeks. But fear not, Aston Villa fans: As of right now, the bookies think that we are safe. Here are some of the notable odds: (By the way, in case you aren't familiar with odds: you want the highest number you can, and anything above 1 means you will make less money back than you put down)
QPR: Rangers are the team that every betting company is dead set on going down, and their recent play is supporting this notion. QPR have odds as low as 1/100 (from Bet Victor), with their most favorable odd being an atrocious 1/16 from Coral. At this point, considering their away form and the bookies' skepticism, it's pretty safe to say QPR will be going down this year.
Burnley: On the back of a heartbreaking loss, the clarets are also beginning to look doomed for relegation. In a season defining moment on Saturday morning, Matty Taylor failed to put a penalty on target, and the Burnley faithful's hearts were broken just a minute later at the other end. Burnley's odds are significantly less sporadic than QPR's but equally discouraging. They range from 1/8 to 1/25, will every betting company tipping them for relegation.
Sunderland: Now it gets interesting. Dislikable Sunderland with their little Dutch manager were able to sneak away a point from Stoke over the weekend (they seem to like draws more than wins), a game in which Connor Wickham scored his annual goal. Sunderland's odds are as low as 8/15 (basically 1/2), and they are where the real discussion begins.
Leicester: Where Burnley experienced a season-defining loss on Saturday, Leicester may well have executed a season-defining win. They seem to be this year's "great escape" team, and Nigel Pearson's boys are carrying about as much momentum as anybody in the league (momentum which Chelsea will hopefully squash on Wednesday). Leicester's odds are sitting just below those of Aston Villa, ranging from 7/2 to 5.
Aston Villa: The mighty claret and blue head into Saturday's crunch clash with Everton on the back of a heartbreaking defeat at Manchester City. We looked good two weeks ago, but things are really starting to tighten up again. Villa's odds are as low as 11/2 from Paddy Power, but climb as high as 9 from Coral, who is very confident about Tim Sherwood's men.
Hull and Newcastle: The last two relevant teams both have odds of about 12, with Newcastle being slightly better regarded than Hull. Hull have just come off a 1-0 home win to Liverpool (seriously Liverpool?), and have taken 6 points that nobody predicted them to. Newcastle on the other hand are being managed John Carver (a man after Paul Lambert's heart), and are free-falling from the mid-table mediocrity that the toon faithful are yearning to experience once again.
My predictions as of April 28:
QPR, Burnley, Leicester