This Week's Best NFL Bets

Below you'll find weekly updated NFL bets of the week. Find out what are the best NFL games to bet on today, tonight, tomorrow or this weekend.

At 40/1 for MVP, Baker Mayfield is attracting bettors; here are four better bets

Friday, 18 June 2021 15:08 EST

Look, NFLbets likes the 2021 Cleveland Browns’ chances as much as anyone, but this is ridiculous:

The primary arguments for throwing money on Baker Mayfield in the “2021 NFL Most valuable Player” offering are twofold: 1) The Browns are primed for a deep run, and 2) gee, 40/1 is great value. After scoping the top of the table from a representative online sportsbook which currently has the odds on Mayfield at 35/1, however, the NFL bettor can certainly find lots more great value:

NFL MVP: Best odds, bettingPatrick Mahomes, Kansas City: 4/1
Aaron Rodgers, unknown: 10/1
Josh Allen, Buffalo: 10/1
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay: 12/1
Matthew Stafford, L.A. Rams: 16/1
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore: 16/1
Russell Wilson, Seattle: 16/1
Dak Prescott, Dallas: 17/1
Kyler Murray, Arizona: 20/1
Justin Herbert, Chargers, 20/1
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee, 30/1
Carson Wentz, Indianapolis: 40/1
Matt Ryan, Atlanta: 50/1

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati: 50/1

Christian McCaffrey (Carolina) and Derrick Henry ( are the non-QBs with shortest odds, both fetching 50/1.

Perhaps you’ll agree that Mayfield, even at 40/1, ain’t that great a deal…?

After all, in ol’ Baker’s ostensible breakout season of 2021, the only noticeable statistical improvement was in interceptions surrendered, as the QB went from 35 in his first 30 games to just 9 in 18 regular- and postseason games last year. Otherwise, Baker Year 3 looked numerically a lot like Baker Year 1 in completion percentage, yardage, average yards per attempt and per catch, etc. The kneejerk reaction might be to blame the slight decline on stud WR Odell Beckham’s absence after week 7 to injury, but the truth is that Mayfield and the Brown passing offense was ultimately superior statistically post-Becks. Through the first seven games, the Browns were good for 207.4 yards per game and 9 total turnovers; in the final 11, the average jumped to 223.9 ypg with another 9 TOs.

The reasons for Mayfield’s good – not great, mind you; *good* --  hardly requires genius, just acknowledgement of more than one way to play football offense – even in 2021. Despite the trends and despite the awesome Beckham-Landry duo there, *the Cleveland Browns are a running team first.* With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt having their way on the ground like no one this side of Lamar Jackson, Mayfield’s potential heroics are destined for limitation.

Even at 40/1, then, Mayfield for MVP is still too rich for NFLbets’ blood. Of course, that’s money better invested than in, likesay, the still team-less Aaron Rodgers, who after giving Green Bay the James Harden treatment, Rodgers could get the Houston Texans to 15-2 and not get a vote in this race. Backers of Jackson, Prescott and Murray, meanwhile, had better be graced with nerves of steel (not to mention sufficiently deep pockets) after mostly wildly inconsistent results from each of the trio.

So where does NFLbets see value instead? We’d suggest looking toward the following.

• Matthew Stafford, L.A. Rams: 16/1
Even if we go with conventional wisdom, which suggests that all four NFC West teams will be playoff contenders, the rest of the NFC – and thus wide swathes of the Rams’ schedule – looks generally shockingly weak. On top of this, new Rams QB will certainly receive tons of good press for success after running up ridiculous stats for mostly hapless Detroit Lions teams; head coach Sean McVey will be thrilled to employ a quarterback who can function under pressure. Already a fantasy darling, Stafford could run up some seriously gaudy numbers and lots of wins in 2021.

• Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City: 4/1
Uninspired this may be, but how can an NFL bettor not take advantage of the relatively massive 4/1 offered on the best athlete in the game? Hell, we need not even fear any sort of Giannisesque “voter fatigue” after Rodgers snuck off with the trophy last season. Call this bet a hedge: Wager 3 units on Mahomes and 1 each on NFLbets’ three other recommendations, and you’re guaranteed a payout of at least 2/1 with a win.

• Josh Allen, Buffalo: 10/1
The Buffalo Bills are looking at something of a challenging schedule even before we learn just how competitive Miami and New England will be, but Allen turned into a stat machine in 2020, throwing for 295 yards or more in six of the last eight regular-season games – thanks in no small part to Stefon Diggs, clearly the second-best acquisition of offseason ’20. Diggs may be enough impetus to back Allen in this prop, but nearly every key member of the Bills’ final four squad is back and the Bills could well enjoy another 13-win season – more than enough to garner lots of MVP votes for Allen.

• Justin Herbert, Chargers, 20/1
Ironically, Herbert’s best argument for MVP come season’s end could well end up being his Chargers’ rival Chiefs. Say Kansas City and “Los Angeles” are neck-and-neck for the AFC West all season, each going 12-2 or 11-3 SU before a second meeting in week 15. Say the AFC West title comes down to a tiebreaker. Say Herbert’s stats, particularly yardage and interception/TD ratio are comparable to Mahomes’s, like within 5% to 10% – Wouldn’t voters find Herbert’s accomplishments, done without a supporting all-star cast on offense, a bit more impressive? At half as short a line as Mayfield’s, we’re liking Herbert’s chances in this prop well more.

–written by Os Davis

Betting over/under proposition bets, part 7: Chicago Bears, 9½ wins

Thursday, 17 June 2021 11:23 EST

Just as a primary failing in playing team props during the preseason is depending upon last season’s winning teams to replicate their success, so to do would-be Nostradami fall pray to expecting continued failure from the subpar.

Chicago Bears over/under bettingCase in point, this line in the “over/under win total” proposition bet:

Chicago Bears, over/under 7½ wins (+105/-125)

So let’s get this straight: For the over to pay out, the 2021 Bears would need to go 8-9 in the regular season, their exact mark in ’20 including the playoff loss at New Orleans? If you believe that the Bears have improved one whit in the offseason, betting on this prop is a no-brainer.

And there’s decent cause to believe in such improvement. The Bears of 2020 were absolutely typical of the franchise with a below-average offense and above-average defense. On the offense, the better option of the two quarterbacks was Mitchell Trubisky – think about that – who went 6-4 as a starter while Nick Foles, once thought to be the future, going 2-5.

To address this problem, the Chicago brain trust went out and landed Andy Dalton in free agency and drafted Justin Fields. Dalton’s play in the postseason aside, does anyone believe this twosome isn’t several steps up from 2020?

On the concerning side, the Bears must find a way to get more production from a bottom-5 running game in terms of supporting David Montgomery – his 1,070 regular-season yards represented just about 65% of all Chicago rushing yards and 73.7% of non-QB rushing yards – but at least sixth-round draft choice Khalil Herbert is aboard, as is free-agent signing Damien Williams.

The Bears also added LB Jeremiah Attaochu and DE Angelo Blackson, a couple of defensive players who should make an immediate impact. In all, a notable net gain in the offseason.

Considering the 2021 Chicago Bears schedule

Why Chicago is currently getting odds of +350 or so, third-longest in the NFC North, in the “To Win Division” prop is beyond NFLbets. Any futures odds on the Green Bay Packers remain inflated (based again on last season’s success, including the offense powered by an MVP QB. As for lines on the Vikings, who can explain…?

In the intradivisional games, NFLbets would certainly start with a 2-0 mark against the Lions, for whom we have trouble imagining more than two Ws. We’re tempted to give Chicago a sweep against Minnesota as well – since Mike Zimmer took over as head coach in Minnesota, Chicago is 7-7 SU (9-5 ATS) against his Vikings, often with inferior teams. And with presumptive Green Bay staring QB Jordan Love a question mark, NFLbets’ll play it safe and predict the Bears to go 4-2 against the division.

Outside the NFC North, the Bears can expect more wins to come nearing season’s end. In drawing the NFC West and AFC North teams, Chicago’s first 11 games go at the L.A. Rams, vs Cincinnati, at Cleveland, vs Detroit, at Las Vegas, vs Green Bay, at Tampa Bay, vs San Francisco, at Pittsburgh, vs Baltimore: That’s four likely playoff contenders plus a November away game in Pittsburgh. If we’re figuring the Bears as roughly a .500 team, we’ll have to concede a 2-6 mark against the eight non-NFC North games here.

Four of the team’s final seven games are against division mates, with the outside competition coming n week 13 vs Arizona, week 16 at Seattle and week 17 vs the Giants. NFLbets isn’t quite sure what to do with the Cardinals, but we’ll say fans returning rejuvenates the infamous Seattle 12th Man to give the 2021 Bears 1½ wins here.

Totaling these up makes for – well, no surprise – 7½ wins. But with the over in this prop getting better than even money, NFLbets would most assuredly advise bettors to take over 7½ wins for the Chicago Bears. If they can flip just one of the rather chalky picks – the games at Minnesota, at Seattle and vs Arizona this far out are excellent possibilities – this bet cashes.


Betting over/under proposition bets, part 6: Tennessee Titans, 9½ wins

Friday, 11 June 2021 18:27 EST

Julio Jones on Tennessee Titans -- odds affectedSo you’ve certainly heard about the Tennessee Titans’ acquisition of Julio Jones for, most significantly, a second-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft. You may have additionally noticed that the Titans’ odds in the “To Win Super Bowl LVI” have gone from as high as 50/1 to as low as 25/1 in some markets – insane!

Seriously, aren’t NFL fans supposed to be obsessed with fantasy football? If so, why have Jones’s deteriorating numbers and last year’s injury gone unnoticed? Jones has been steadily getting fewer receptions nearly week to week since his last great year of 2018 – and that’s as this QB Matt Ryan’s completion stats increased for two straight seasons. How much effect can Jones have on an offense that’s already top-10 in most key offensive categories?

Plus, the way NFLbets figures things, the only way the Titans get to the postseason is as AFC South winner: We’ve penciled in two AFC East (some combination of Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots) and one AFC West (the “Los Angeles” Chargers as it stands or maybe the Las Vegas Raiders with  Aaron Rodgers).

The question, then: Can the 2021 Tennessee Titans win the AFC South? NFLbets begins with the lines in the over/under proposition bet…

Tennessee Titans, over/under 9½ wins (+110/-130)

In the Mike Vrabel era, the Titans have come to embody the classic football cliché “offense wins games, defense wins championships.” In Tennessee, a sputtering low-watt Marcus Mariota-led offense had given way to a top-10 high flyer behind the suddenly stunning Ryan Tannehill; on the other side, however, a hard-hitting top-10 defensive juggernaut has become a hapless bunch which allowed 30 points or more eight times in 2020.

Bu the Titans chased their shocking run to the AFC Championship game with an 11-5 regular season and a weak bowout to the Baltimore Ravens last year – though one should also note that the ’20 Titans had 9.1 Pythagorean Expectation (PE) wins, indicating a net positive in the are of luck.

Or perhaps that’s just the Derick Henry Effect, i.e. the dude’s worth at least two wins a season. At least thus far.

The Titans ranked second in rushing yards last season behind only the Ravens, who start a quarterback with a license to run on any snap. Henry accounted for over 75% of Tennessee’s rushing yards and just under 33% of all yards. Any would-be Titans backer will need to consider Henry’s team-carrying capabilities in light of the 681 carries accrued over the past two seasons alone.

Considering the 2021 Tennessee Titans schedule

Naturally, the no. 1 advantage the Titans enjoy – along with the presumed main rivals – are the four games scheduled against the AFC South’s bottom-feeders. Tempted to just give the Titans a 5-1 here, but playing this bet conservative, NFLbets can imagine a scenario when, likesay, the Jaguars squeak out their first win of 2021 in week 5 in Jacksonville or the Texans dodge an ignominious 0-17 regular season with a fluke W in week 18 in Houston. Call it 4½-1½ for the Titans’ AFC South intradivisional games.

The NFL schedule makers seemingly give the Titans a decent chance to start strong with a run of vs Arizona, at Seattle, vs Indianapolis, at the Jets, at Jacksonville, vs Buffalo and vs Kansas City – Fair enough, that first seven games includes four playoff teams of last year, but three are at home. NFLbets’ll again play this conservative as well and give Tennessee a 1-3 mark against the four non-AFC South teams here.

From week 8, Tennessee’s schedule gets dicier for both the Titans themselves and those who bet the over in this prop. Week 9 has them going to Indianapolis, followed by at the Los Angeles Rams (for Sunday Night Football), vs New Orleans, vs Houston and at New England going into the bye. NFLbets’d cover the Rams minus the points in the week 10 game right now and we’re predisposed to believing in the ’21 Patriots, so we’re assessing another two losses and a win here.

After the week 13 bye, Tennessee closes out the season with vs Jacksonville, at Pittsburgh, vs San Francisco, vs Miami and at Houston. (Imagine if that last Texans game is a make-or-breaker for the Titans. With a loss, does Vrabel get fired before he gets to the locker room or…?) NFLbets is figuring the Steelers’ season will be finished by December, but the real question this far out is what the 49ers and Dolphins will look like at this point in the season.

The truth is that figuring several of these over/under win props, one cannot account for chaos. As much as NFLbets would like to wager against, likesay, the Titans by dint of an irrational feeling that Derrick Henry can’t play at 2019-2020 levels yet again. And if you can tell us with any sort of certainty who either San Francisco or Miami will be starting on quarterback in weeks 16 and 17, well, please do. In the meantime, let’s say the Titans get the win at Pittsburgh and one of the two aforementioned.

This all would put the Titans at 8-8-1, a believable enough scenario, as is the AFC South at least temporarily assuming the mantle of weakest division in football (in competition with the NFC North, we’d figure). NFLbets thus advises that bettors take under 9½ wins for the Tennessee Titans. Then again, we may lean back on our old dogma regarding this whole damn division, namely *stay the fuck away from the AFC South altogether*…

--written by Os Davis

Betting over/under proposition bets, part 4: Seattle Seahawks, 10 wins

Saturday, 05 June 2021 20:07 EST

The goal for the Seattle Seahawks in 2021, according to the sportsbooks, is

Seattle Seahwaks over/under 10 wins (+105/-125).

Well before these lines were released or the 2021 NFL Draft went down, NFLbets was quite concerned about seeming lifetime Seahawk Russell Wilson’s hints that he wasn’t necessarily angling at a trade but on the off-chance that he were, he’d like to go to the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders, or New Orleans Saints.

The hot take, then: This complaint speaks to bigger problems, i.e. that the Seahawks front office needed to refresh the roster in the 2020 offseason. Seattle’s 12-4 SU record at face value looks impressive enough but in a season in which all three division mates had off-years, the ’Hawks were just 2-2 SU/ATS against playoff teams, including a win over the marginally playoff Washington Football Team; they closed out ’20 by going 7-5 SU in all games and earning an early exit against the Los Angeles Rams.

Statistically, the 2020 Seahawks were a bit bizarre: Despite ending up no. 3 overall in passing TDs and no. 8 in points scored, Seattle was average at best in all other areas on offense and defense. Thus, presumably, Wilson’s shoutout to some favored destinations.

We’re just not sure how happy the at-least-slightly disgruntled Seattle QB will be with his front office’s results. The biggest name signings were reups – RB Carlos Hyde and DE Carlos Dunlap – unless we talk CB Shaquill Griffin, who jumped to Jacksonville.

And in the Draft? The Seahawks started with just three picks and ended up doing second-worst in the league, per aggregation of 20 experts compiled by Football Outsiders. Summarize the FO in part:

“…graders have universally chided the reach for 24-year-old Western Michigan receiver D'Wayne Eskridge, who has never had more than 38 catches in a season. Oklahoma cornerback Tre Brown, measuring in at 5-foot-10, is atypical for the corners we so often associate with Pete Carroll and Seattle. The brightest spot of this draft class comes from the sixth round, where Florida tackle Stone Forsythe finally came off the board. Sheil Kapadia sees Forsythe as a high-upside tackle who particularly excels in pass protection, perfect for the oft-battered Russell Wilson.”

Maybe Eskridge can surprise and Kapadia is high ceiling, but as the line on the under implies, the ’Hawks are set to regress by a couple of games for starters.

Considering the 2021 Seattle Seahawks schedule

Despite landing a no. 1 finisher’s schedule, the Seahawks still landed a relatively manageable schedule – depending on those NFC West games, of course: In 2020, NFL observers were given to wondering if all four teams from the division could into the expanded postseason; similar musings are apparently echoing for ’21.

Overall, the Carroll & Wilson Seahawks have gone 30-24-1 SU/ATS (no, really: Those records are exactly the same) against teams of varying quality. NFLbets’ll call all things equal and forecast a 3-3 intradivisional record for Seattle.

Forecasting the remainder of the schedule will depend in the faith of Seattle’s homefield advantage. No longer quite as unbeatable as in the days of The Legion of Boom, the Seahawks are 21-12 SU at home – a winning percentage of .636 – since 2017. (Note that this hardly makes Seattle at home a great bet against the spread: In the aforementioned 33 games, Wilson & Co. are an absolutely mundane 15-17-1 ATS.)

Seattle home games in 2021 against non-division opponents include: vs Tennessee in week 2; vs New Orleans in week 6; vs Jacksonville in week 7; vs Chicago in week 15; and vs. Detroit in week 16. This far afield, we could easily call this 4-1 or 5-0, as NFLbets isn’t exactly bullish on the 2021 Saints. Again in the interests of conservative betting, we’ll say Chicago’s still playing scrappy in late December and give Seattle 3 wins from this bunch.

After kicking off their season in Indianapolis, Seattle gets non-divisional away games at Minnesota (week 3), at Pittsburgh (week 6, after a 10-day break), at Green Bay (week 9, after the bye), at Washington (week 11) and at Houston (week 13). Now, NFLbets isn’t calling conspiracy here, but this could turn out to be the opposite of a fearsome gamut. Excepting Washington, we expect all these teams to take a downturn – come on, does anyone believe Green Bay is the no. 1 seed in the NFC and Pittsburgh the no. 3 in the AFC this year? Come on…

And check this out: Since 2017, the Seahawks are an impressive 22-13 SU (or .629) in road games – and are more viable for betting at 17-15-3 ATS. We’ll give 3½ wins here, mainly because NFLbets has no clue which way the Packers’ and Vikings‘ seasons will go.

In total, NFLbets is thus figuring 9½ wins, right in line with the over/under in this proposition bet. It’s unfortunate that no sportsbook takes bets on Pythagorean Expectation (PE) wins, because even if the Seahawks can get to 10 wins in 2021, we figure they’ll need luck to do, beginning with Wilson somehow not missing a game in 10 seasons.

So take under 10 wins for the Seattle Seahawks and once the odds on the “Team To Start Russell Wilson in  2022” are released, take the Vegas Raiders.

– written by Os Davis



Betting over/under proposition bets, part 3: Detroit Lions, 5 wins

Thursday, 03 June 2021 19:47 EST

With the no. 3 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected All-American left tackle Joe Thomas out of Wisconsin. Thomas was thought of as a “generational player” (though the term itself was far from the vogue expression it is today) and sure enough, he was.

Immediately put into the starting lineup for Opening Day ’07, Thomas went on to start 187 consecutive games at the position and play over 10,300 consecutive snaps for the Browns, a streak stopped only by a triceps injury which ultimately led to his retirement after the ’17 season. His accolades included his naming to 10 Pro Bowls, six All-Pro teams, the NFL’s All-2010s team and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Thomas also appeared in exactly zero playoff games, having spent his entire career amid the Browns’ 17-year postseason drought. His résumé demonstrates that his pass protection was immaculate for 10 years, yet Hall of Fame skill apparently means little when the protectee is along the lines of Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden, Cody Kessler, DeShone Kizer, etc. etc.

Betting Detroit Lions under 5 wins since 1957...So what does this have to do with the line

Detroit Lions over/under 5 wins (-130/+110)


Let’s put it this way: Penei Sewell, meet Joe Thomas.

Sewell, taken at no. 7 overall by the Lions, is a monster of a man who, judging by the hype, is deemed the surest thing at left tackle since at least Jeremy Tunsil – if not Thomas himself. An all-time type of individual career may await Sewell but in the immediate-term future, well…

The firing of head coach Matt Patricia (and whoa, did that dude go down in flames like few before) has got to be considered an improvement, though the Lions managed to re-sign just nine of a possible 29 free agents in the offseason regardless. Notable pickups included DL Michael Brockers coming over in the Matthew Stafford trade and (maybe) WRs Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman. All in all, not exactly a plethora of plusses amassed there.

New head coach Dan Campbell’s professional coaching career consists mainly of serving as tight ends coach for the New Orleans Saints for the past five seasons; NFLbets isn’t sure why they didn’t go with Anthony Lynn, a reasonably successful HC with the “Los Angeles” Chargers the past four seasons, but these are the Lions and Lynn will serve as OC. One might consider Lynn a job vulture, expecting him to slowly metaphorically circle Campbell as the Lions head to another sub-.400 season, but in Detroit even the excoriated get three seasons on the sidelines.

And then there’s Jared Goff. The Detroit brain trust loosed themselves of easily the greatest Lions QB ever and who at 32 years old again went for 4,000+ passing yards – and without a top-20 wide receiver for Goff. The optimistic Lions fan (if the subspecies hasn’t become extinct by now) hopes that Goff merely needs a fresh start to resurrect a career that appeared so promising back in November 2018 when leading his Los Angeles Rams to a 54-51 MNF win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Since that game, Goff’s numbers – excepting attempts; more on this momentarily – have been in steady decline. In the 39 games since the out-of-control Monday night, Goff has managed one fourth-quarter comeback win against five such wins prior. And in the intervening period, he’s shed an average of 45 yards per game and 1.2 yards per attempt. Goff was 26 when the 2020 season ended; he’s 4-8 years ahead of the curve in terms of average decline.

Another scary truth for Detroit is that Goff will likely have less to work with than in Los Angeles. One can place quite a bit of blame for the Rams’ downturn of the past two seasons on the disappearance of a once-fearsome running game fairly enough – but the situation in Detroit is likely worse. The Lions have consistently produced a bottom-5 run game since Barry Sanders was romping; Adrian Peterson joined the team for 2020, got just over 600 yards and the Lions finished 30th in rushing yardage. If Goff goes anywhere near his league-leading 626 pass attempts of 2019, figure the Lions to a bottom-8 NFL team.

Considering the 2021 Detroit Lions schedule

Looking at the Lions schedule for 2021, NFLbets is having real trouble conjuring up more than five wins. Let’s say the Green Bay Packers don’t manage to work out the Aaron Rodgers situation and are forced to run with some ungodly combination of Jordan Love plus Blake Bortles; say it’s business as usual in Chicago and the Bears have no offense for the nth time; and say the Vikings Viking. So say the Lions break even and go 3-3 in inter-division games.

(Interesting note: Detroit plays at Green Bay in week 2, at Chicago in week 4 and at Minnesota in week 5, meaning the interdivisional teams get an indoor game late in the season. Talk about your homefield non-advantage…)

Prior to the bye in week 9, the Lions get three games against prospective playoff contenders (vs San Francisco in week 1, vs Baltimore in week 3, at the Rams in week 7) and two against teams not expected to contend (vs Cincinnati in week 6, vs Philadelphia in week 8). NFLbets admittedly likes the Bengals’ chances in ’21 more than many, but if you believe Detroit can take both these games, you’ll be playing the under on this proposition bet anyway. So we’ll say the Lions go 1-4 in the first-half non-divisional games.

Detroit comes out of the bye to play at Pittsburgh and at Cleveland, followed by home games against Chicago (on Thanksgiving Day) and Minnesota, followed by a possible gauntlet of tough venues and/or desperate teams: at Denver, vs Arizona, at Atlanta, at Seattle and vs Green Bay. NFLbets is thinking the date at Pittsburgh reeks of upset (Goff is 4-1 SU/ATS lifetime out of the bye) but wouldn’t necessarily endorse that bet. But surely the Lions can pull off at least one non-divisional win in the second half of the season…?

No, they can’t. And don’t call me Shirley. Take under 5 wins for the Detroit Lions.

– written by Os Davis

Betting over/under proposition bets, part 2: Washington FT, 8 wins

Thursday, 27 May 2021 16:43 EST

With nothing more productive to do for a couple months, NFLbets will begin filling the spacetime with closer looks at several of the over/under win total proposition bet odds. Today’s line:

Washington Football Team over/under 8 wins (-105/-115)

Another line, another team upon which bettors look with preconceived notions based entirely in last season. Sportsbooks apparently set this line at 8 wins based on bettors’ belief that

•  every team in the NFC East will remain just as pathetic as ever (as favorites to take the division, the Cowboys’ line in this prop bet is set at 9½); and

•  prospective starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will produce along the same lines as he has throughout his career, i.e. since leaving Buffalo in 2013, he’s 35-43 as a starter, which works out to 7.6 wins in a 17-game season.

Washington Football Team wins bettingNFLbets doesn’t get it.

Right off the top, let’s assume everything in the NFC East remains more or less identical by season’s end. The 2020 Washington Football Team actually accumulated 8.17 Pythagorean Expectation (PE) wins, indicating a certain amount of bad luck prevented a breakeven win-loss record.

But here’s the thing about the 2021 Team: Virtually any change on offense, particularly at that QB position, amounts to improvement. Last season, Washington managed to score 25 points or more just four times: twice against Dallas, one in week 1 against Philadelphia and at Detroit. Alex Smith started six games and managed 6 TDs against 8 interceptions; Dwayne Haskins started another six and finished 32nd of 36 qualifiers in completion percentage. Kyle Allen went for a 4:1 TD to interception ratio but this was unfortunately literal, i.e. 4 TDs and 1 pick.

Even a typical Fitzpatrick season would top the 2020 nightmare: aside from a few patently bad seasons, (e.g. 2013 with the Titans, ’16 with the Jets) throws at a 3:2 to 2:1 ratio; over 17 games, Fitz would average 23 TDs against 17 picks – hardly Bradyesque, but likely good for a win or two over .500.

And then there’s the defense which responded bigtime to the responsibility of playmaking: With an offense “good” for 30th-most total yards, the D.C. D allowed the second-least yards and closed out the regular season with seven straight games allowing two or fewer TDs. To this frankly ridiculous defense, Washington FT added first-rounder Jamin Davis of Kentucky, considered a top-2 linebacker in this draft, while a gamble was taken on William Jackson, coming over from the Bengals for up to $40.3 million plus over three years.

The Football Team’s schedule is hardly among the league’s most daunting, either, starting with four games against the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, more rightfully expected to turn in losing seasons again – and check out how Washington closes out this regular season: vs Dallas, at Philadelphia, at Dallas, vs Philadelphia, at the Giants. Seriously, isn’t that four or five wins right there?

Furthermore, after facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 10, Washington might not see another playoff team until, well, the playoffs (depending on how you feel about Dallas) with a schedule of at Carolina, vs Seattle and at Las Vegas followed by the aforementioned five straight games against the NFC East.

In the final analysis, with anything from the offense between Curtis Samuel becoming the savior and a reproduction of 2020, NFLbets doesn’t imagine Washington FT finishing with fewer than 8 wins – and probably a couple more. Take over 8 wins for the Washington Football Team.

--written by Os Davis

Betting over/under win total prop bets, part 1: Pittsburgh Steelers, 8½

Wednesday, 26 May 2021 18:38 EST

With nothing more productive to do for a couple months, NFLbets will begin filling the spacetime with closer looks at several of the over/under win total proposition bet odds. Today’s line:

Pittsburgh Steelers over/under 8½ wins (+105/-125)

Pittsburgh Steelers betting -- logoNFLbets will admit the truth: We’ve been waiting for the schedule – and thus this line – to come out ever since they ignominiously closed out their 2020 season on a 2-5 SU/ATS run backward. Absolutely certain we’d see the Steelers overrated and overvalued. Sure enough, the offerings were usually set at 8½ or 9, and so we’re taking the under wholeheartedly.

Those with memory and/or attention span issues may forget that portentous backslide, might dimly recall the 11-0 opening SU win streak – and perhaps more impressively 9-2 ATS. All the historical record says that the Steelers went 12-4 SU in the regular season and finished first in a competitive AFC North. Further, since Mike Tomlin became head coach in 2007, Pittsburgh’s never finished below .500.

All very impressive. Also mostly irrelevant.

Firstly, consider the schedule. By dint of first-place finish, the Steelers draw the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans; the former could be quite a week 1 draw: Tomlin’s Steelers have gone a decent 8-5-1 SU (though just 5-8-1 ATS) in week 1 games, but four losses and the tie were away games for an overall mark of 4-4-1; the Steelers kickoff at the Buffalo Bills in week 1. Since NFLbets is figuring on a downturn for Seattle and Tennessee, let’s be generous and give Pittsburgh a 2-1 mark in these three games.

The Steelers got a break from the scheduling system in drawing the NFC North: The Lions are expect by the sportsbooks to finish as one of the worst two teams in the league, and the Green Bay Packers may be Rodgers-less and reaching deep (so to speak) for a starting quarterback. The Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears could go either way, so again say 3-1 for the Steelers.

Then are four games against the AFC West teams: week 2 vs Las Vegas, week 5 vs Denver, week 11 at the Chargers and week 16 at Kansas City. NFLbets’d be willing to take the Chargers and Chiefs in wins in these games right now; plus, these guys coming out of the block 5-1, only to collapse is hardly unimaginable – the Steelers get at Buffalo, vs Las Vegas, vs Cincinnati, vs Denver, vs Seattle – only to flame out at season’s end. So we’ll give the Steelers a 2-2 mark for these games.

But the real trouble in the Steelers schedule comes from within their own division.

Pittsburgh has gone 11-7-1 SU/11-8 ATS in all games against the AFC North since 2018 (choosing Baker Mayfield taking over as starting QB in Cleveland as an arbitrary starting point) against the three teams of the AFC North. The caveat here is the 5-1 SU mark against the Cincinnati Bengals, who should be giving Joe Burrow more weaponry and much more OL protection this season. And at 6-6-1 against the Ravens and the Browns, the Steelers trend to the edge of average against the above-average.

Are the 2021 Browns and Ravens better than .500? NFLbets figures absolutely so. If we’re honest, we give the Steelers a 2-4 in-division mark at best.

This all totals to, naturally, a 9-8 mark, depending on how you feel about that week 6 SNF game against Seattle.

Looking specifically to these Steelers, we can first say that defense is rarely the main problem. Tomlin’s Steelers have only four times failed to finish in the top 12 in points allowed and yards allowed – and three were 2013-2015.

The Pittsburgh offense, meanwhile, just ain’t what it once was. First-round draft pick Najee Harris will be expected to immediately improve the non-existent running offense, which finished dead last season. Pittsburgh RBs were so breathtakingly efficient – topping 95 yards just once in the last 11 games – that all other 2020 Steelers statistics are warped. Maybe.

Diontae Johnson was second-high in receptions with 88, but saw his yards per catch plummet as defenses needed not fear the run. Johnson caught just 39 passes on 63 targets in the final six games. JuJu Smith-Schuster was re-signed in the offseason, but his third season was his worst statistically in most yardage areas. Chase Claypool was briefly a fantasy football darling after going for 110 yards and three TDs in week 4, but only caught five the rest of the way.

And utterly insane are a couple of numbers on Ben Roethlisberger’s stat line, namely 608 attempts for 3,303 yards; in the two previous seasons that he went for more than 600 attempts, *he led the league in passing yardage*. Roethlisberger finished 16th in the stat category in 2020, 70 yards ahead of Teddy Bridgewater and 149 behind Jared Goff.

Again, it’s impossible to separate the deleterious effect of getting next to nothing from the running game on Roethlisberger’s passing. However, throwing 600-plus passes the season after one missed due to elbow surgery surely isn’t positive in most scenarios. Plus there are these realities: Everyone (except Tom Brady) gets old, every dynasty (even Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots’) falls. Impressive winning streaks always terminate. Time always wins.

And in 2021, NFLbets that, for a little while, the Steelers’ time is up. Take under 8½ wins for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFLbets’ over/under win total standings board

Monday, 17 May 2021 17:40 EST

Soon after the schedule for the NFL season is released, so too do major sportsbooks release the odds for each team’s over/under win total, along with appropriate lines. NFLbets finds one useful exercise to undertake at this time is to compile the lines into a standings board. This not only reveals chinks in the odds’ armor, but can help keep certain over/under wins bets in perspective.

First, consider the theoretical standings. In cases of a line involving a ½-game, NFLbets awards the team a tie. For in-division ties, the team with the shorter odds on the over/longer odds on the under “won” the tiebreaker. One * denotes a division winner, two denotes a wildcard team; only two wildcard teams are listed in the AFC, because there’s no way NFLbets is undertaking logically guesstimating a four-way tie for the third and final wildcard slot in the AFC…

The table for the “Over/Under Wins” proposition bet looks as follows.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills*                                 10-6-1  

Miami Dolphins                              9-8-0

New England Patriots                     9-8-0

New York Jets                               6-11-0


AFC North

over under betting win totalsBaltimore Ravens*                       11-6-0  

Cleveland Browns**                     10-7-0

Pittsburgh Steelers                        9-8-0

Cincinnati Bengals                         6-9-1


AFC South

Indianapolis Colts*                       10-7-0 

Tennessee Titans**                          9-7-1

Jacksonville Jaguars                      6-11-0

Houston Texans                             5-12-0


AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs*                       12-5-0

“Los Angeles” Chargers                  9-8-0

Las Vegas Raiders                           8-9-0

Denver Broncos                              7-9-1


NFC East

Dallas Cowboys*                            9-7-1

Washington FT                               8-9-0

New York Giants                           7-10-0

Philadelphia Eagles                      7-10-0


NFC North

Green Bay Packers*                      11-6-0  

Minnesota Vikings                          8-8-1

Chicago Bears                                 7-9-1

Detroit Lions                                 5-12-0


NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers*               11-5-1

New Orleans Saints**                     9-7-1

Carolina Panthers                           7-9-1

Atlanta Falcons                             7-10-0


NFC West

Los Angeles Rams*                       10-6-1  

San Francisco 49ers**                   10-7-0

Seattle Seahawks**                       10-7-0  

Arizona Cardinals                            8-9-0  


Firstly, we may observe the fundamental weakness of preseason predictions of all sorts. Without benefit of time travel or magical powers of prognostication, the only solid information we have to go on for the upcoming season is … the prior season – despite the fact that this never happens.

Just look at the NFC side of this table: Sire. the sportsbooks reckon that the 49ers and Cowboys will make the playoffs rather than the Bears and Football Team, but everything else stays the same. As though the Saints will be running with the same quarterback. As though the NFC East teams will once again be struggling to play .500 ball. As though Russell Wilson’s listing of teams he might want to go to just in case weren’t a red flag. As though no key injuries will happen. Et cetera.

Some immediate thoughts from this table:

•  Totaling up the totals shows that 9 more wins than losses are rewarded, meaning that under will be the better bet in most cases.

•  With the Dolphins switching full-time to a QB who went 6-3 last season and arming him with a favored college receiver plus You Know Who’s moves for the Patriots this offseason, the extent of your belief on how much of Buffalo's 2020 was lightning in a bottle will determine your personal feasibility of covering hte Bills in '21.

•  The most ridiculous bet on this board has got to be the Packers at over/under 11 wins. This is happening at the same time that the Broncos have become a top-8 favorite to win the Super Bowl based on a rumor that the Green Bay QB is going there? Come on…

•  Also tremendous bets in any season: Taking the under on any team you feel is the worst in the league. Very rarely do bettors see a 4½ or lower in this prop, and this season presents two delicious opportunities in the Lions and Texans. A weak division and fresh coaching staff might help the Lions after a reportedly toxic and obviously brutal 2020, but just look at the schedule and try to find five wins. And the Texans? That under’s basically a best bet; Houston management is probably already scouting for the #1 pick in the 2022 draft.

–written by Os Davis  

Over/under NFL draft position props: Betting on Smith, Waddle, Chase, Surtain, Etienne, more

Saturday, 24 April 2021 16:17 EST

NFL Draft 2021 propsThe rumors are still rumoring, the chatters are still chattering – and nothing has really dissuaded NFLbets from our current mock draft. Particularly ridiculous among the punditry’s neverending creation and re-creation of draft boards are those imagining bold ‘n’ wacky trades into the top 10; this one from the league’s official site has the Chicago Bears trading up to no. 8 to draft Trey Lance.

This sort of speculation is clearly purely a product of the imagination. No one can say with any assurance whatsoever who the San Francisco 49ers are taking at no. 3 overall, so how can these Nostradamus types accurately forecast trades? Also this: Would seeing no Draft Day trades within the top 10 truly be a shocker? (In the past two drafts, it’s happened only once.)

The point: When betting over/under draft selection props, don’t get cute and don’t mess with chaos. Weird enough stuff will surely happen without bargaining on trades – and certainly will outside the first 13 or 14 picks.

Here’s how NFLbets is thinking on some Draft Day props…

At what number will DeVonta Smith be selected?
Over 11½: +100, under 11½: -140

When was the last time a Heisman Trophy winner was this lightly-regarded going into the NFL Draft? On the other hand, this offering indicates that the sportsbooks see DeVonta Smith as a probable mid-round pick.

Three teams might/could/will probably go for a pass-catcher: the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers. Figuring that one of these selects TE Kyle Pitts and at least one drafts one of two top-rated OTs, this would mean Smith would be at max the third WR taken, probably behind Ja'Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle.

The main question then becomes: Will the Lions really go for a wide receiver? If so, swooping up Waddle could well trigger the Panthers to go for Smith at no. 8, but that's a lot of falling dominoes for a bettor to count on. Take the over.

At what number will Jaylen Waddle be selected?
Over 11½: -110, under 11½: -130

Applying similar logic to Waddle that we did for Smith, NFLbets is also figuring that Waddle is generally regarded as the second-best WR in this draft. Take the under at actually reasonable odds.

At what number will Ja’Marr Chase be selected?
Over 6: +170, under 6: -250

No dummies, these bookmakers: With the Dolphins drafting at no. 6, their selection of an offensive playmaker, likesay, the best receiver in the draft. Now that they’re apparently set on Tua, the only scenarios in which NFLbets can see the Dolphins *not* taking Ja’Marr Chase is if the Cincinnati Bengals or Atlanta Falcons have already drafted him or if both teams somehow pass on Pitts – and in both cases, Chase will certainly hit this under. Take the under.

At what number will Najee Harris be selected?
Over 32½: +140, under 32½: -180

Put another way: Will Najee Harris be drafted in the first round? True enough, the 2021 draft class doesn’t appear to include an RB of the caliber of Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, Leonard Fournette, etc., and many NFL fans believe in the diminishing importance of the position itself, but since 1980 just twice – in 2013 and ’14 -- has no running back been drafted in round 1. With at least one late-round team is looking for a halfback (the Pittsburgh Steelers at no. 24) and two others who could on a best-player-available basis (the Green Bay Packers at no. 28 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at no. 32), a first-round running back will definitely enter the league in 2021.

The question that most dramatically affects this wager is this one:

At what number will Travis Etienne be selected?
Over 35½: -120, under 35½: -120

That 35½ is quite intriguing; the sportsbooks may suspect that either the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets or Atlanta Falcons will be calling Etienne’s name early on the second day. But is Harris actually the better (or more desirable) pick? draft analyst Lance Zierlein reported late last week that the majority of scouts don’t agree:

Now even if the Steelers brass are not among the aforementioned “majority of people,” if just one later-round team has Etienne ranked higher than Harris, that team should not really allow a talent like Etienne’s to last until round 2. Take the unders on Harris and Etienne.

At what number will Patick Surtain II be selected?
Over 10½: +110, under 10½: -150

One of the few top-16 selections that nearly every mock draft seemingly agrees upon is that the Dallas Cowboys will be the first team to select a defensive player at no. 10, while the New York Giants are also expected to go defense with the next pick. Despite Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’s reported infatuation with Kyle Pitts, most Dallas observers figure it’s down to Surtain and Jaycee Horn. Horn has a similar line in his own prop, at -150 to go under-13½th.

Of course, predicting the Cowboys’ moves on Draft Day may be the most futile endeavor for anyone not privy to the amount of influence ol’ Jonesy will have. So on this one, we’re predicting the irrational to get the better odds: Take the over.

— written by Os Davis

Playing positional NFL Draft Proposition Bets

Monday, 12 April 2021 19:37 EST

Betting 2021 NFL draft propsNow here’s a great way to bet on the NFL Draft while also reverse-engineering your mock draft: Positional NFL Draft proposition bets. Thanks to some pretty obvious-looking over/unders, one can more easily determine where borderline 1st/2nd-rounders like RB Najee Harris (of Alabama), S Trevon Moehrig (TCU) and CB Asante Samuel Jr. (FSU) will land.

With nine proposition bets offered – no one’s taking odds on a kicker or punter going on Draft Day day one, apparently – on a good six one can figure on the (heavy) favorite in the over/under winning:

Quarterbacks – Over 5.5 (+300) / Under 5.5 (-400)

The first factor to consider in betting positional NFL Draft props is the difference between the top-tier of the draft class and the second level guys. Even the most nominally interested NFL bettor can easily name the top five QBs, all of which could conceivably be off the board by pick #9: Trevor Lawrence (LSU), Zach Smith (BYU), Justin Fields (OSU), Trey Lance (NDSU) and Mac Jones (Alabama). After that quintet, it’s … Davis Millis (Stanford), maybe? Not that Mills in any slouch, but the demand for quarterback will plummet after the Patriots chose at #16. Take the under.

Running Backs – Over 0.5 (-225) / Under 0.5 (+175)

NFLbets is uncertain as to why this line was set at 0.5, when at least three likely future pros are just waiting to be overdrafted: Travis Etienne (Clemson), Najee Harris (Alabama) and Javonte Williams (UNC). Will at least one team get starry-eyed about a skill player (like the Jets at no. 23) or take a flyer on another backfield weapon (Steelers at no. 24)? Absolutely. Take the over.

Tight Ends – Over 1.5 (+325) / Under 1.5 (-450)

There are good reasons for the crazy-short line on the under here. Since 1990, just 32 TEs have been drafted in the first round. In six of those past 30 drafts, 2-3 tight ends were first-rounders the same year; this translates into zero or one TE chose in 80% of first rounds in the past three dacades. Kyle Pitts (Florida) is a shoo-in. No one else is. Take the under.

Linebackers – Over 4.5 (+130) / Under 4.5 (-165)

Similarly to TEs, LBs in 2021 show one first-round certainty – Micah Parsons (Penn State) – followed by question marks and solid-if-not-hyperbole-inducing prospects. Jamin Brown (Kentucky) has received praise for his athleticism and smarts, but has started just 11 games thus far into his high-level football career. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame) and Nick Bolton (Houston) are on the bubble, but the mid-range drafters would mostly have to bypass a talented squad of offensive lineman for all four aforementioned LBs plus a fifth (Jabril Cox of LSU, maybe?) to crack round 1. Take the under – in fact, if you can get “under-3½” in this prop bet, you’ll want to grab a piece of that action as well…

Cornerbacks – Over 4.5 (-105) / Under 4.5 (-120)

Neither of these lines is particularly enticing but, in a gun-to-the-head situation, NFLbets takes the favored under there. Patrick Surtain (Alabama) and Greg Newsome (Northwestern) appear to be first-round locks, but with 12 or 13 (depending on the Denver Broncos) of the top 14 picks likely to be offensive, four CBs taken between picks 16 and 31 – assuming the Patriots go QB or LB while the Buccaneers are good with their re-signed CBs – seems like a stretch. Take the under.

Safeties – Over 0.5 (-250) / Under 0.5 (+190)

This one may be read as “Will Trevon Moehrig (TCU) be chosen in round 1?” Late in the first round are the New Orleans Saints (at no. 28), Green Bay Packers (no. 29) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (no. 32), all of whom could well be in a position to simply draft the best player available. Even prior to these three are the perpetually defense-minded Baltimore Ravens at no. 27. Clearly the bookmakers are having difficulty imagining at least this foursome passing on Moehrig as well. Take the over.

So far, so good – sort of. The biggest payout among NFLbets’ six chalk picks is -120 and no one’s getting rich playing odds shorter than even. With a little logic, however, the remaining four offerings – and what sportsbooks may be overlooking become apparent strictly mathematically. Assuming the previous five bets all hit by 0.5 cumulatively, this leaves 16 spots in round 1. NFLbets therefore deduces the following for the remaining four offerings in the positional prop bet.

Defensive Linemen – Over 4.5 (+105) / Under 4.5 (-125)

As stated above, the first half of round 1 looks seriously heavy on the offense with quarterbacks alone conceivably going at nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8 or 9. But as offensive-imbalanced as prospective nos. 1-14 look, day one’s remainder will be dominated by defense. NFLbets identifies five teams who could use an immediate starter at DL and whose front offices are sane enough to address the need: the Miami Dolphins (no. 18), Indianapolis Colts (no. 21), Tennessee Titans (no. 22), New York Jets (no. 23) and Pittsburgh Steelers (no. 24). If offense-obsessed Jon Gruden can draft to his Las Vegas Raiders’ needs at no. 17 with, likesay, Zaven Collins (Tulsa), this one’s a lock: Take the over.

Offensive Linemen – Over 6.5 (+110) / Under 6.5 (-137)

Always the default choice for mid- to late-round teams whose above-average quarterback requires more line protection than currently on roster. Fitting the bill are the “Los Angeles” Chargers (no. 13), the Minnesota Vikings (no. 14 and on the hook for $40 million-plus to Kirk Cousins over the next two years), Arizona Cardinals (no. 17), Chicago Bears (no. 20), Jacksonville Jaguars (no. 25) and Kansas City Chiefs (no. 31). Beyond this, the Cincinnati Bengals are set to be gifted the monstrous. Penei Sewell (Oregon) at no. 5. Together with some late-1st team looking to add the top talent remaining, NFLbets figures that’s minimum eight chances to hit seven spots. Take the over.

Wide Receivers – Over 4.5 (-160) / Under 4.5 (+125)

This is where logic and rationality may not necessarily prevail in the face of splashy hype and stats. The top tier of WRs in Draft Class 2021 numbers four and these outpace the rest: Ja'Marr Chase (LSU), Roshod Bateman (Minnesota), Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith (Alabama). Already all other than Chase feel overhyped and all are looking to be drafted within the top 15 to 16. Just one WTF could make this bet – and a few others on this proposition – go ka-blooey, but we’re riskily saying take the under.

And bingo! 32 picks, 32 players. Now NFLbets just has to figure a way to hedge against Gruden getting wacky…

–written by Os Davis


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