THE PARS’ mediocre start to the season took another backward step when they lost to Queen of the South but in a congested division, a couple of wins can put them back in contention.

Athletic currently sit four points behind Saturday’s opponents Dundee United with a game in hand and the bookmakers favour the hosts at East End Park; Dunfermline are 23/20, a draw 13/5 (Paddy Power) and Dundee United 85/40 (Betvictor). Both sides have performed below expectations thus far and it is difficult to trust either of them at present. Therefore, the draw emerges as the most probable outcome.

Prediction: Dunfermline 1 Dundee United 1.

The Scottish heavyweights have dominated the League Cup and the semi-final ties feature arguably the four leading teams in the country. Celtic, despite being unconvincing by their standards so far, are still 5/6 favourites with Bet365 and Skybet to lift the trophy. Fierce rivals Rangers are 3/1 (Betvictor/Betfred), Aberdeen 11/2 and current Premier League pacesetters Hearts 7/1 outsiders.

Due to Celtic and Rangers’ continual involvement in the Europa League both matches are to be played on Sunday, with BT Sport supplying the coverage. Celtic versus Hearts at Murrayfield is the lunchtime game (1.30pm kick-off). The Bhoys are 1/2 win inside 90 minutes, the Jambos are 13/2 (Betvictor) and it is 10/3 that extra time will be necessary. Celtic are 2/9 (Boylesports) and Hearts 17/5 (Betvictor) to qualify for the final.

Rangers play Aberdeen at Hampden Park in the late afternoon match (4.30pm) and are 5/6 (Hills/Betway) to win in normal time, a draw is 5/2 (Betvictor/Bet365) and Aberdeen 15/4 (Boylesports). The Gers are 1/2 and the Dons 19/10 (Boylesports) to make it to the final.

Celtic travel to Bundesliga upstarts and group favourites RB Leipzig for the latest Europa League instalment today (Thursday, BT Sport, 5.55pm) and are not expected to add to their points tally. Leipzig are 4/9, a draw 4/1 and Celtic 13/2 (Bet365).

Top meets bottom in Group G at Ibrox and Rangers are 5/4 to cement their position at the summit. Opponents Spartak Moscow are 23/10 (Bet365/Skybet) and a draw 13/5.

The final NFL match at Wembley this season features reigning Superbowl champions Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars, who were beaten by New England in the AFC Championship game (BBC2, Sunday, 1.30pm). However, neither team has pulled up any trees so far in this campaign, having identical 3 win 4 loss records. Victory is paramount and Philadelphia are 4/6 (Betfair Sportsbook) and Jacksonville 29/20 (Ladbrokes); while the point spread is based at -3 for the Eagles. Total points are pitched at over 41.5 (10/11 with Betvictor) or under 42.5 (20/23 with Betfred). Jacksonville in particular are struggling offensively and defences can come out on top.

Prediction: Philadelphia 16 Jacksonville 13.