Best Bets of the week


Feel the Bern 2.0: Tremendous odds on a Sanders win in Election 2020 – if the Democrats don’t f*##*&$# it up

Wednesday, 20 February 2019 13:09 EST

Bernie Sanders and/or Larry DavidYesterday, Larry David Bernie Sanders formally declared his intention to run for the Democratic Party’s primary for the U.S. presidential election of 2020. Within eight hours, his campaign had drawn over $1 million in small donations but, more importantly for our purposes, rose to 10/1 odds in the proposition bet “US Presidential Election 2020 – Odds to Win.”  

For the dispassionate NFL bettor, i.e. he/she who can look at this election objectively with all political belief and personal repulsion put aside, Sanders would seem to make a great investment at the aforementioned 10/1, particularly since two of the four candidates with shorter odds have yet to declare intentions to run.

Already polling at 19% among likely Iowa caucus voters and as high as 30% among all Democratic primary voters, Bernie’s odds will likely not get lower until he is all but mathematically eliminated from the race. A bet on Sanders at 10/1 would seem to be a terrific long-term investment, especially when parleyed with something like the New England Patriots or Kansas City Chiefs in a “To Win Division” prop.

But then there are the Democrats – a perpetual fusterluck of a party which still (still!) has mostly existed since the days of Martin Van Buren as an exemplar of a Will Rogers witticism of a century ago: “I belong to no organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

We’ll get back to The Democratic Party’s awesome (not) success in presidential elections shortly, but we’ll first consider the odds for some top non-Bernie candidates listed for betting in the “US Presidential Election 2020 – Odds to Win” prop.

Democratic Party: The 2020 field, odds
Kamala Harris (5/1) is a self-described "top cop" who was pretty spectacular as a state attorney in keeping Clinton Administration Era corporate prisons well stocked with peoples of color. And when faced with criticism on said record openly, she simply waves away these folks with memories as “Russian bots.” Will Kamala Harris get the votes Barack Obama did? Not all of ’em, that’s for sure.

Elizabeth Warren (22/1), a.k.a. the Rachel Donezal of the Senate, is adored by mainstream media outlets left of Fox and will get lots of free press coverage. This could be a minus for Warren, however, whose ugly use of race falsification plus her clearly staged crap about drinking beer will only hurt. Can you imagine President Elizabeth Warren? Me neither.

Tulsi Gabbert (25/1) brings one of the Seante’s most liberal voting records and represents a state on the front line of climate change, but for some reason won’t be covered with a 10-foot pole by CNN or anyone – she’s the Bizarro Warren!

•  Amy Klobuchar (15/1) is proud to claim to be a moderate, pooh-poohing the radical ideas of free college tuition and the Green New Deal., but we’re thinking the progressive elements of the party are going to drive the Democrats this election, and a moderate won’t make it for them.

•  The super-progressive Cory Booker (35/1) has long been touted by some in the party as their next presidential candidate, but despite announcing his candidacy on February 1, nearly three weeks later, has taken one legal or bureaucratic step forward to actually, likesay, officially getting in the race. We’re thinking this is because the man’s a serious Bernie acolyte who was waiting to see if Sanders entered. Booker is already feeling like more of a VP candidate.

•  See the odds on Julian Castro (66/1)? There’s a reason for that: His experience as an elected official measures exactly four years as mayor of San Antonio. This guy also seems like a vice-presidential candidate in 2020, but prez? Hard to buy.

•  The most ridiculous odds on the whole board have got to be on Beto O'Rourke (8/1), though. O’Rourke campaign gladly took the second-most money in campaign contributions from Big Oil of any Senate candidate and still lost to Ted Cruz. If political analysis website Fivethirtyeight described Bernie as “a famous, successful loser,” then Beto may be called the “unknown, unsuccessful loser,” thus making him actually an ideal candidate for the Democrats, come to think of it…

•  Joe Biden (8/1) looks like a classic Democratic Party failure in the mold of Al Gore. Veep to a popular president, lots of relevant experience … heck, they were both even also-rans in primaries a couple of times. So why wouldn’t the Dems put up another milquetoast old with guy playing a “centrist” for “nationwide” appeal? Because if Biden even tries to run in the primaries, he’ll get MeToo'ed so fast, you'll think his name is Weinstein.

So … the Democrats can’t f*#^^#& up this one, can they? To paraphrase their last above-average presidential campaign, “Yes, They Can.”

Consider: In 1960, John F. Kennedy needed up to 100,000 dead people to vote for him in Chicago to beat the miscreant Dick Nixon. In ’64, Lyndon Johnson won against a extremist so far right he alienated 70% of Americans with a single word. In ’76, Jimmy Carter snuck into the White House by beating the party of Watergate by 2.1% of the vote.

In 1992 and ’96, Bill Clinton won elections without a majority of the popular vote either time, making him the only president ever to do so. In 2000, Al Gore couldn’t even win his home state, leaving Democrats to feebly blame Green Party candidate Ralph Nader for their woes. Fair enough, the Democrats finally got a legitimate presidential election win in ’08 with Barack Obama – and all it took was a near-collapse of the entire global economy.

And then, in 2016, the coup de grace. Having already committed to throw the party’s nomination to their biggest loser of ’o8 and screw what the voters thought. With the incredibly unlikeable Hillary Clinton steering the ship, the USS Democrat wrecked itself on an orange-haired iceberg.

NFLbets’ Best (early) Bets for Election 2020
NFLbets isn’t going to back down from advising bettors of the “2020 U.S. Presidential Election – Odds to Win” prop to take Bernie Sanders at 10/1 but, given the Democrats’ ridiculous performance over the past 60 years, hedging is a smart idea. Remember “hold your nose and vote for Clinton”? Well, hold your nose and take Donald Trump at 2/1.


Six good bets for Super Bowl LIII MVP – whether you’re backing the Patriots or Rams

Sunday, 03 February 2019 10:29 EST

Are your bets for Super Bowl LIII MVP all in? Looking for some hedging possibilities? Great – that justifies this relatively late column from NFLbets. We’ve got six good wagers for you to hopefully cash in on what is probably our favorite proposition bet of the year in any sport.

The obvious choices

Tom Brady, +120 to +140
Jared Goff, 2/1 to 3/1

If you’re taking the Patriots, you’ve got to be pragmatic and go with Touchdown Tom, right? And if you’ve got serious money on the Rams, Brady for MVP makes an excellent hedge to erase some of those losses. And just imagine, for hilarity’s sake, this scenario: The Rams win the Super Bowl in a 31-28 game, with scoring evenly distributed, no offensive skill player going over 100 total yards, plus combined sacks and TOs generated by the defense numbering 1. Could the Rams win and yet Brady be named MVP? Would he refuse the award?

Equally a no-brainer (and an even better hedge for the Patriots bettor) is the potentially unimaginative choice of Goff at 2/1 or up. Catching Goff at 3/1 essentially allows the Rams backer to cover three other players in the MVP prop and still get a likely push. Nice.

The really advantageous odds

Aaron Donald, 12/1 to 18/1
This line on Donald – Bovada’s giving 18/1 on him? WTF? – makes absolutely no sense to NFLbets. MGM VP of race and sports Jay Rood was quoted over at ESPN.com on various Super Bowl betting action in Las Vegas, particularly with regard to the Rams-backing Bettor X. Here’s a sample for our purposes:

MGM opened Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald at 70-1 to win Super Bowl MVP. Money flowed in on Donald, driving the price down to 15-1.

“[Donald] winning MVP is not good for us,” Rood said. “One of our biggest losing propositions ever was [Broncos OLB] Von Miller winning MVP [in Super Bowl 50].”

How could the bookmakers be so fuzzy on their history? Are they sweating more the day after Donald bagged the NFL DMVP, just as Miller did three years ago? Proponents of conspiracy theories are likely to go against Donald for MVP on precisely this basis, but NFLbets has already taken advantage of the opportunity – just like we did for 50.

(Bettors should also note that Super Bowl 50 was the sole instance of the under hitting in the past seven years…)

Julian Edelman, 12/1 to 20/1
Edelman’s XLIX numbers (9 catches for 109 yards, 1 TD, long of 23) are emblematic of Brady’s attack in 2010s Super Bowls. Since Randy Moss, the Patriots have never had a real A-list deep threat and thus has Brady gone from dink-and-dunk to stretching the field to his present-day medium-range assault – precisely where the Rams are most vulnerable.

Brady & Co. have in their past three Super Bowl appearances combined a threat out of the backfield (Shane Vereen previously, James White now), a medium-range guy (formerly Wes Welker, now Edelman) and Rob Gronkowski. The result? Of the nine players who have caught 10 or more passes in the Super Bowl – Jerry Rice and Deion Branch did so twice – four are Brady-era Patriots.

With Gronk now longer Gronk – and just last year, the guy dominated the second half with two TDs and most of his 116 yards receiving – Edelman could very well break James White’s record for receptions in this one.

The longshots

Aqib Talib, 65/1 to 90/1
So let’s say Brady in fact does target Edelman early and often. Talib will be a difference maker in helping cover the Rams’ vulnerability over the middle. The Rams have been digging on sending their nasty three- or four-man rush while essentially playing LBs and CBs in a nickel package. Suh running over David Andrews a couple of times could get Brady to launch a duck or two, as in the AFC Championship Game.

NFLbets also admits a serious attraction to betting Talib for MVP just for the glorious possibility of our Islamophobic POTUS having to congratulate a Muslim for his tremendous performance in America’s game…

Trey Flowers, 55/1 to 120/1
Let’s stretch the Talib-wins-MVP scenario a bit further: What if defense dominates both sides of the ball and instead of the 30-27 game most are expecting, we get more of a 16-9 with the sole touchdown the result of advantageous field position after a turnover?

Flowers has already played in two Super Bowls in his fledgling career and was particularly good against Atlanta, his two tackles for loss and five QB hits making him essentially the only outstanding defensive player for New England in LI. If Flowers and the other stalwarts of the Patriot defense make Goff’s life a living hell for 60 minutes, the few holders of tickets with Flowers as MVP are going to see one sweet payout indeed.


Why is a majority taking over 56½ points in Super Bowl LIII betting?

Saturday, 02 February 2019 14:24 EST

NFLbets has stated previously that our Super Bowl betting is based in backward logic, i.e. we’re starting from the premise that the Los Angeles Rams win mainly because all the good odds are on the L.A. side. Thus will it come as no surprise that we’re recommending that NFL bettors take the under on on O/U line of 56½ points.

Despite bringing an offense that’s statistically no. 2 in the NFL and a defense that allowed 24.0 points per regular season game, the Rams began 2018 and played throughout with a reputation for a monster defense. (Remember how Aaron Donald was proclaimed to be one of the best players in a 54-51 game? Like that.) The logic would seem to dictate, then, that a great share of the 75-plus percent of money on the New England Patriots in this game would also be banging the over.

Instead, just 54% of money on Super Bowl over/under bets is reportedly on the over, implying that more than one-third of those betting on Patriots -2½/-3 are also taking the under. NFLbets isn’t sure whether that’s good or bad for our recommendation…

Those betting the Patriots cover the point spread yet the score staying under are probably betting on a couple of premises, mainly that both sides play relatively conservative ball; this is exemplified in the simple stat breathlessly done to death by the hype machines this week, i.e. The Belichick/Brady Patriots Have Only Scored 3 Points Total In Eight Super Bowls. (What, like every reasonably attentive observer of the NFL hadn’t mentally filed that number away two Super Bowls ago? Come on.)

But we believe something is missing in this deduction. After all, those Patriots teams may have gone touchdown-less in those eight games, but the over is 4-4 regardless, 3-2 in Patriots Super Bowl wins, and the Eagles-Patriots score in XXXIX went under by 2 points). Of note, too, is that the over is on a 5-1 run in Super Bowls regardless of teams playing which, to NFLbets’ mind, is another salient argument for the under in LIII via regression to the mean.

Tough betting for Patriots backers then, but for those wagering on the Rams, the choice is easy.

Firstly, by setting the line at 56½, the bookmakers are expecting a result of Patriots 29 or 30, Rams 27. This sounds relatively realistic, as the Rams surrendered some 32.1 points per game against playoff teams during the regular season. Despite keeping the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints’ scoring in the low 20s, the bookmakers clearly figure New England to exploit the Los Angeles D as the Eagles, Vikings or Seahawks (twice) in 2018.

NFLbets just doesn’t foresee either a blowout or both teams getting into the high 20s, particularly given the way most are reckoning this Super Bowl plays out. We suppose Todd Gurley could become Superman again and C.J. Anderson could even simultaneously Hulk out, with the dynamic duo combining for 150 total yards in the opening 10 minutes to get the Rams out to a 17-3. That *could* happen.

Alternatively, Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh could torment Tom Brady like the old Cowboys did Jim Kelly, inducing ol’ Touchdown Tom into a couple of fluky early turnovers – likesay, a patented Aaron Donald strip sack and an Aqib Talib interception – to lead to an early 14-0 score and forcing another great second-half comeback from Brady & Co. That’s easily imaginable; it *could* happen.

And Jared Goff, having gotten all growed up in the NFC Championship Game, could get in the zone here. He could coolly, calmly, meticulously perfectly march the Rams wire-to-wire downfield on the first two drives, divvying up key catches among Gurley, Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds, and especially ex-Patriot Brandin Cooks. Naturally, Brady could respond bang bang and with seven minutes remaining in the first half, it’s 14-14 and the under is an endangered species. That *could* happen.

All the above scenarios are certainly imaginable, but how likely are they? NFL bets would like to posit two contrasting possibilities for Super Bowl LIII that lead to the under paying out.

Why wouldn’t Belichick and McVay play this Super Bowl the way most are expecting? The truth is that the Belichick/Brady Patriots trend to conservative in the playoffs – but only just. New England scoring is well lower in Super Bowls than in the regular season. In nine seasons ending with a trip to the ’Bowl, the Patriots averaged 28.2 points per game in regular-season games, as opposed to 24.5 and 22.75, respectively in playoff games and Super bowls. Nevertheless, all three numbers hit the under on 56½ points and 2½-3 points for the Rams.

The Patriots are currently running with a three-headed monster of James White, Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead, who altogether average a decent 4.28 yards per carry but have made these ball-control loving Patriots a top-5 team in rushing attempts, yardage, TDs and, perhaps most importantly, time of possession. Another verrrrrrry interesting stat: The Patriots offense in 2018 scored fewer points than any New England squad since 2010, Brady’s “comeback” season and the sole time the team lost in the wild card round.

As for the Rams running game, Gurley and Anderson are simply put the best two players on that offense right now. Whether Gurley/Anderson more resembles Superman/Hulk than Clark Kent/Bruce Banner remains to be seen, but the Patriots D will certainly be fed a steady diet of these two for the first half at least. And that points to more running clocks, therefore more scoring.

Here’s another scenario that hits the under: Say the Patriots rattle Goff and Gurley early while the receivers all but taunt Marcus Peters and Nickell “Would-Be Brady Killer” Robey-Coleman as they fly by again and again. A Patriots blowout is quite conceivable as well, but even something like 46-10 still goes under.

So yeah, we’re liking the under 56½ for Super Bowl LIII. Go clock-killing halfbacks! Go defense!


Some wacky proposition bets to make the Super Bowl … more interesting?

Friday, 01 February 2019 14:41 EST

NFLbets tends to avoid player props and other proposition bets during the regular season, but who can resist the 20-page booklet full of fascinating offers that Las Vegas sportsbooks give out? Or the even more thorough online sportsbooks, who’ve got hundreds more wagering possibilities and may even let the bettor design his/her own props?

No one, that’s who.

The following are some interesting Super Bowl proposition bets (are there any other kind?) that NFLbets is wagering on for Super Bowl LIII.

Total accepted penalties
The shortest odds in this proposition bet are on 10 (at 7/2 odds), 11 (14/5) and 12 (14/5) penalties accepted, but NFLbets is advising to take 0-7 penalties accepted at 5/1 and take 8 penalties accepted at a surprisingly high 10/1.

We’re making some risky bets here and depending on some instilled discipline; on the other hand, Ndamukong Suh should be considered guaranteed to commit at least one roughing the passer, unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike conduct foul, and who would be shocked if two or even three key pass interference calls go the Patriots’ way as well.

Nevertheless, we’re thinking that, despite the non-call at the end of the NFC Championship Game, the referees will be more likely to stifle their whistle-blowing tendencies for the good of the viewing public and out of deference to The Greatest Coaches Of Their Respective Generation.

Longest score of the game
In this Super Bowl prop, betting on Touchdown gets odds of -130 while Field Goal (or, interestingly enough, Other) is at +110. NFLbets’ recommendations on this prop tie in nicely with a couple others involving placekickers, of which both teams may boast All-Pro level talent:

Over/under Total kicking points by Patriots (8½) and Rams (9½)
The Rams defense has been crazily inconsistent within games this season, resulting in bizarre extreme total stats: They’re top 4 in total turnovers forced, interceptions and fumble recoveries and are top-10 against the run in terms of attempts and scoring – yet are bottom 10 in total points allowed.

Sadly, the Patriots have been statistically equally weird: Also top 5 in interceptions and total turnovers, the Patriots are 21st in running yardage allowed and 22nd in passing yardage allowed, yet were ranked 7th in total points surrendered.

NFLbets said (written?) it before: These numbers indicate classic bend-don’t-break defenses. And sure, with Bill Belichick and Sean McVay calling the shots, the number of fourth-down attempts could well break the Super Bowl record (which we believe must be the four in last year’s Eagles-Patriots game), but this alone won’t get these teams into the end zone.

Additionally, we note that the Patriots allowed just 10 plays of 40 yards or more during the regular season (plus the one multi-lateral desperation return given up to the Dolphins, the likes of which we’re certain not to see in this game). The Rams weren’t nearly as impressive in 2018, having given up 15 such big plays (“topped” only by the Las Vegas Raiders), but gave up just one 40-yarder in their two playoff games; since the Chiefs game, the longest TD against Los Angeles was a 43-yard TD pass to Geroge Kittle in garbage time in week 17.

NFLbets believes that many drives will be stopped before hitting paydirt; hope you love field goals. Take Field Goal as the longest score at +110; take over-8½ on Patriots kicking points at +125; and take over-9½ on Rams kicking points at +165.

(Incidentally, don’t sweat Greg Zeuerlein’s walking boot. Firstly, it’s on the left foot; secondly, Greg the Leg only nailed the longest playoff FG of all-time with said left foot *already injured*.)

1st quarter total score: Odd or even?
No way is NFLbets playing this prop, so we’ve got no recommendation here. We just love the symmetry of this:

Odd – -120
Even – EVEN

Player to get the game’s first interception
NFLbets loves betting this prop come Super Bowl time, even though our success rate is less than exemplary. And we’ve already lost quite a bit of faith on our first advice, which was to take Aqib Talib at 15/1: As stated above, the number of long balls is probably going to be low. While Talib’s knowledge of Brady’s habits might come in handy in coverage, the Patriots have no serious deep threat and therefore no one for Talib to shadow and burn.

So we’ll also put forth two other nice bets: If you like the Rams, take John Johnson at 5/1; that’s the lowest odds for a Ram in this category, but geez he’s been good lately. In the past six games, Johnson has two interceptions and four PDs. If anyone picks off a Brady pass that goes beyond 3 yards, it’s gotta be Johnson grabbing it.

If you like the Patriots – or just want to hedge – we figure you should take Devin McCourty at 18/1 or J.C. Jackson at 8/1. All other Patriot players listed at odds of 20/1 or shorter are cornerbacks (Duron Harmon at 6/1, Jonathon Jones at 8/1, Steven Gilmore at 10/1, Jason McCourty at 20/1) and we’re guessing that Jared Goff’s first pick will come on a very obvious swing or screen attempt to Todd Gurley rather than a long bomb. “Any Other Patriot” at 8/1 is therefore quite tempting as well, but NFLbets’ moneys are already spread pretty thin…


Here’s the official NFLbets Pick of the Week for Super Bowl LIII

Thursday, 31 January 2019 17:43 EST

NFLbets will say (write?) this from the go: Our Pick of the Week for the Super Bowl and most subsequent recommendations on the game are the result of backward logic. The premise is simple: The betting opportunities on the New England Patriots just aren’t that interesting or lucrative.

Without further ado, here’s NFLbets’ Pick of the Week for Super Bowl LIII: Take the Los Angeles Rams +2½/+3/+3½ vs the Patriots.

We’re also advising NFLbettors to take the Rams money line (ML), currently fetching from +115 to +130 and only going up before kickoff. Here’s why: Since ballooning from Rams -1 to Rams +2 on January 21, the point spread hasn’t moved since Rams +2½ in most Vegas sportsbooks as of Thursday evening before the game, and only now is Rams +3 beginning to show its face at the bigger online sportsbooks. Some 75% to 80% of the money continues to come in on the Patriots, which to NFLbets implies that the bookmakers still consider this more or less a pick ‘em, anyway.

In short, if you’re covering the Rams at +2½ or less for a -110 payout, you may as well cover that ML and put the odds on your side. (See what we meant by the lucrative and interesting bets on the Rams’ side? And by backward logic?)

So what needs to happen for the Rams to pull off the upset in Super Bowl LIII and bring things full circle back to 2002?

The Rams defensive line needs to dominate the Patriots offensive line. Tom Brady has been tormented in Super Bowls before – recall how the line on the 18-0 New England side gave up five sacks (and, essentially, the game) against the Giants in XLII – and we daresay the Patriots haven’t faced a front like that of Donald-Suh-Brockers in years, certainly not in 2018-19.

The Patriots OL has been middling this season, allowing an OK 21 sacks, but it doesn’t seem to matter to Ndamukong Suh, who loves blowing up New England lines: In eight career games against Belichick-and-Brady, Suhs destroyed the middle for nine QB hits. And Aaron Donald is Aaron Donald, the best player in this Super Bowl right now.

C.J. Anderson must continue producing – but more importantly, wearing down the middle. Recall that the Patriots have faced just one A-list running back in 2018-19: Kareem Hunt in week 6, who torched them for 185 total yards and a TD. Anderson’s unimpressive-looking 44 yards in New Orleans did not indicate the punishment he doled out on his 16 carries, mostly in the second and third quarters, that softened that Saints D enough to allow Jared Goff three lead-changing scoring drives late.

And just imagine if the Rams running game looks more like that of the divisional round game. Against the Dallas Cowboys, the combination of Todd Gurley and Anderson went for 38 carries for 238 yards and 3 TDs against a run defense that was statistically and reputedly better than the Saints’. This is the kind of attack that is indefensible, even if the opposition head coach somehow knows what’s coming.

Of course, the question of whether the Rams can win without a big day from Anderson may soon be moot; if Gurley isn’t playing or clearly can’t go, Los Angeles absolutely positively *needs* a *monster* game out of one of the great NFL late-season pickups in quite some time.

Three words for the defense: Bend, don’t break. A Belichick staple! At their best, e.g. in most of the Saints game, the Rams defense can stop anyone inside or just outside the red zone. A dude like Corey Littleton (a safety disguised as a linebacker) has the correct skills to flourish in a short field and has done so lately, and the shortcomings of Marcus Peters are greatly reduced.

Plus, just in the simplest terms, i.e. our kicker and punter are better than yours, Sean McVay would kill to turn this game into a punty-punty field position battle determined by a late long-ass field goal. We believe the longer the Rams keep a Patriots touchdown off the board, the likelier their chances to win.

And NFLbets really likes their chances: The Rams will win Super Bowl LIII.


NFL playoffs betting: Try not to consider history and cover Kansas City (maybe)

Saturday, 19 January 2019 15:06 EST

New England Patriots +3 at Kansas City Chiefs, over/under 56 points

The most difficult part about betting the AFC Championship Game is separating the real numbers and trends from the reputations and histories – not to mention the endless noise about the Teflon excellence of the NFL’s version of Anakin and Luke Skywalker.

And there’s good reason for obfuscation caused by history: The Patriots – and Andy Reid – have great gobs of the stuff, spread throughout the NFL record books of the 21st century. Stuff like the Belichick/Brady Patriots are a crazy 27-10 SU (22-16 ATS) in all playoff games including Super Bowls, but they’re just 3-4 SU/ATS in away playoff games (on the other hand, all four such losses came at Denver and/or Peyton Manning’s teams).

Despite all the young talent on the Chiefs, Kansas City too has playoff history. Well, Reid does, anyway, and it doesn’t look great. With the win last week – which a cynic could ascribe to the coach’s 21-4 SU record when coming out of a bye at any point in the season or post-season – Reid’s teams are now 12-13 SU in the playoffs and are on a 2-7 SU/ATS “run”.  

So how about the weather? Considering that both teams play ball in the cold and that forecasts all week have stated that no precipitation of any sort is expected, we’re calling this one neutral. The football itself gets hard and heavy when the temperature is in the 20s, you say? Mahomes has shown that he could probably chuck a cinderblock 50 yards downfield (and complete the pass!), while Brady won’t be lofting long bombs regardless and he’ll be certain to have those pigskins deflated to the exactly appropriate pressure.

(That’d make a great proposition bet: Over/under 12.75 ppi on the pressure of Tom Brady’s balls. Wait, that came out wrong…)

As excruciating as dogma like “You’re gonna bet against the Patriots?!?!?!?” is, two decades or so of history cannot be ignored altogether. Fine. We’ll submit this for consideration, then: On a talent level in the passing game, these Patriots are the weakest since 2006, the season prior to the Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth signings – no coincidence there. And one may argue the impressiveness of the Patriots running game recently, but the truth is that the ’06 team had Corey Dillion, arguably the greatest Pats RB ever, and he was simply stuffed in two playoff games despite a gaudy four goal-line TDs socred.

Andy Reid’s game-clock management “skills” are well documented enough elsewhere so that NFLbets needn’t go into the minutiae here, but if we’re talking history here, the Chiefs have a huge advantage in that future Hall of Famer Travis Kelce will be able to dominate an improved but still ho-hum Patriots secondary.

Round and round goes the logic, but everything comes back to the Patriots having some advantage or another in the abstract, whereas the hard realities favor the Chiefs. After all, consider the apparent contradiction of talking heads and fandom insisting Belichick ‘n’ Brady can’t lose, yet the line of Patriots +3 has remained stable since Sunday night; this tells NFLbets that the sharps’ money is balancing out hyped-up NFL bettors willing to bet on continuation of the Evil Empire just because we can’t imagine the other possibility.

NFLbets is therefore going to play this one a little differently. First off, we’re advising to take the over on an over/under of 56 points. That’s right: We’re not swayed by impressive defensive performances of last week, low temperatures or even windy conditions. All the best skill players are lining up against the Patriots, while the Chiefs are the most penalized and among the most porous defenses in the NFL. Points will be scored.

We’re also playing conservative and advising to take the Chiefs ML at -165, but keep the online sportsbook site open. If the Patriots get the ball first – especially if they’ve won the toss and elect to receive – click away and take the Patriots +3 immediately before the odds decrease.

You know that horrible cliché, “Whichever team has the ball last is going to win this game?” It’s an insipid, meaningless observation; think about it: no matter what teams are playing or at what point in the game you declare this nonsense, you have an exactly 50% chance of being correct. Well, Belichick at some point before last week decided that the far more reasonable assertion is that “Whichever team gets the ball *first* is going to win this game.” Particularly when outgunned, first possession allows a thinking side with a veteran über-QB the potential to set the pace for the entire game and at best kill half a quarter of playing time.

Do the Dark Lord and Jedi Master have one more sequel in ’em…? This could be tense.

NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018-19: 39-32-2.


NFL Playoffs Betting: This may be crazy, but NFLbets loves Rams +3½ in NFC Championship

Thursday, 17 January 2019 15:19 EST

So thanks a lot, NFL. Go ahead and leave us with the four teams we thought would be in the conference championship games all along. Thanks to the Chiefs, Patriots, Rams and Saints as well for having terrific, point-scoring offenses which defy statistical analysis and great opposition coaching alike And thanks most of all to the bookmakers, for setting both the AFC and NFC Conference games with the Oddsmaker’s Tie, i.e. a 3-point spread favoring the home team.

Make it easy, why don’tcha.

While the fans are certainly in for some fun (or, in case of blowout, simply fascinating) games this weekend, NFLbets and NFL bettors are certainly sweating a bit over wagering on these things. But let’s see if NFLbets can’t scope out a couple of bets worth making – gods know we could use some, with our shaky performance thus far in the playoffs…

We begin with

Los Angeles Rams +3½ at New Orleans Saints, over/under 56½ points

NFLbets starts the thinking with the premise that the coaching edge will more or less cancel out. Look, few folks are in a position to estimate the relative football intelligence of a Sean Payton versus a Sean McVay, and we ain’t among them.

Beyond this, three key matchups should determine this game.

• The Saints pass rush vs the Rams OL (and Jared Goff). If the Saints can rush the too-frequently checking-down Goff like they did Nick Foles last week, Rams backers get the proverbial long day on the field. But after 17 games of the same five guys playing on nearly every single offensive snap in 2018, the L.A. OL is playing peak football at the right time, i.e. right now: In the past two games, they’ve allowed zero sacks and the offensive has committed zero turnovers in the past two games.

Keeping the Saints at bay and/or getting the ball out of Goff’s hands really quickly will be imperative for the Rams. After all, despite all the protection his line gave him last week, the L.A. QB was just 15 or 28 for 186 yards.

• Todd Gurley and (yes) C.J. Anderson vs the Saints run defense. Here’s a way for Goff to get rid of the ball: Lots of running plays! Against the Dallas Cowboys, the ratio of run to pass was 48:28, which is where NFLbets is guessing that McVay wants those numbers in New Orleans in order to control the clock and exploit the (big!) absence of DT Sheldon Rankins.

Folks who don’t believe that McVey’ll call for Anderson to get 20-25 touches again hasn’t been paying attention – this dude with a fullback’s sensibility and halfback’s speed has been breaking down defenses, freeing Gurley up and re-enlivening the play-action. In short, the no. 2 the Rams have so sorely needed since drafting Gurley.

And that New Orleans turf surface can only help…

• Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr. vs Marcus “Gumbo” Peters and Aqib Talib. Thomas has been playing at otherworldly levels, and how can the Rams stifle this weapon? Peters has been, likesay, extremely underwhelming at best without Talib in the lineup:

          -- In all 17 Rams games: 240.5 yards per game passing
          -- In 10 games with Talib: 230.5 ypg
          -- In 7 games without Talib: 266.7 ypg
          -- In the past 6 games, i.e. since the bye: 209.9 ypg.

Note, too, that Talib’s statistics include the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in which Patrick Mahomes et al ran up 448 on Talib and Peters. Thomas may be tough to stop – even for Talib – but, just as with the offensive line and the running game, the Rams have been waiting a long time to get this aspect of their game to this level of play.

Additionally, Los Angeles may not even need Talib and Peters to play perfect ball (and Rams fans can attest to the fact that Peters has played far from perfect ball in 2018-19). Double teams have proven to be the only method of stopping Aaron Donald this season, and the Saints currently have two offensive linemen (Ryan Ramcyzk, Max Unger) listed as “questionable” on Thursday afternoon plus Andrus Peat, who will be playing with a broken hand.

NFC Championship Game: NFLbets’ Best Bets


NFLbets actually had no idea that the Rams had such a strong case to win this football game before beginning this piece. We won’t prescribe a Rams money line (ML) bet at +150, but we will be covering this. For official Best Bets for the NFC Championship Game, we’ll saying take the Los Angeles Rams +3½ at the New Orleans Saints.

We’re also betting (literally) on a run-heavy, ball-control game here. A 30-27 or 30-26 final score would imply at very least nine scores and more likely 11 or 12, which feels like way too much. Take the under on an O/U of 56½ points.

NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018-19: 39-32-2.


NFL playoffs betting: You’ve always known it was the New Orleans Saints

Sunday, 13 January 2019 09:57 EST

See, this ain’t wild card weekend no more. After going 4-0 SU(!) last week, the much-touted Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys went down SU/ATS despite rather generous point spreads. After all, many have taken for granted the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams’ appearances in at least their prospective conference championship games.

In this divisional round, chalk is talking once again. Updating a stat from yesterday, the home team – in all cases the favorite – is on a 12-3 SU (11-4 ATS) run in conference championship games. Put it down to the weather, the continued travel (we’ll see how the Chargers look today after having gone Los Angeles to Denver to L.A. to Baltimore to L.A. to Boston) or the inherent advantages of a bye week, this is one trend NFLbets believes won’t regress yet and certainly not for

Philadelphia Eagles +8 at New Orleans Saints, over/under 52 points

Before NFLbets starts anything, we’re throwing away the concept of “Foles Magic.” Concepts which cannot be quantified have little purpose in the serious NFL bettor’s analytic tools. And even believers have got to admit that the dude have the tiniest amount of fairy dust last weekend: Sure, Foles and the Eagles offense looked solid on the game-winning fourth quarter drive, but the game wouldn’t have been on the line at all if the Jolly Blonde Reaper hadn’t been handed a TD drive by a defense who’d briefly morphed into the Jacksonville Jaguars’. (Twelve men on the field? Who gets called for that in the playoffs?)

So let’s talk the numbers, in which we may find truth.

The Saints haven't exactly been dominant lately, going a mere 1-4 ATS (3-2 SU) since Thanksgiving. NFLbets isn't going to take this too seriously, as the win over the Falcons on the holiday put New Orleans at 10-1 and essentially had all but clinched the NFC South title. The mark also includes the week 17 loss against the Panthers in which second-stringers played.

Instead let’s remember that, after the win over Atlanta, the Saints had gone 9-2 ATS and 5-1 ATS at home. Not only this, this first half of New Orleans’s season was actually more difficult and included a 3-0 SU/ATS mark against playoff teams. One of those wins was the 48-7 pasting of these same Eagles (sorry, with mere mortal Carson Wentz at QB) in week 11.

As for the Saints offense vs the Eagles defense, well, this may be a mismatch. Drew Brees has once again driven New Orleans into the top 10 in most offensive statistical categories, and this offense’s efficiency can defy measure or description for stretches. Brees brings his ridiculous 74.4% completion rate against an Eagles defense ranked 30th in completions and passing yardage.

Eagles backers may point to Philly’s run defense, which ranks no. 1 in attempts, is top-10 in most rushing stats and gets the no. 9 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. But geez, the Eagles have proven just as susceptible to stud halfbacks relying on either power or evasiveness as any other team: They gave up 100+ to Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott twice each.

While doing a decent job stuffing Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton in week 7, Saints RBs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram went for a combined 174 yards and two TDs on the ground alone in the aforementioned win over the Eagles – and certainly not even the most ardent Foles supporter could blame this on Wentz.

The truth is that Sean Payton is certain to vary up the playbook from his Saints’ last meeting with the Eagles, but by how much will he need to? The only teams which have been able to stop New Orleans scoring at will have been the Cowboys (in week 13) and the Panthers (in week 15), both superior defenses to Philadelphia’s.

As uninteresting as it sounds, go chalk to close out the weekend: Take the New Orleans Saints -8 against Philadelphia.

(Come on, we’ve known it was going to be Rams/Saints in the NFC Conference Championship Game for a while now…)

NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018-19: 38-30-2.


NFL playoffs betting: In Colts-Chiefs AFC Divisional, we’re picking the Snow Miser

Saturday, 12 January 2019 10:08 EST

Well, at least this one’s easy:

Indianapolis Colts +5 at Kansas City Chiefs, over/under 56½ points

The clever NFL bettor is already investing in this game and might be throwing in more as the time ticks down to kickoff. Much hand-wringing is happening over Colts-Chiefs, all the contradictions and what-ifs boggling minds everywhere. Seriously?

Off the top of NFLbets’ head, the following are some of the apparent bafflers.

• The Colts are on a 10-1 SU – though just 6-4-1 ATS – run.

• Underdogs have covered the spread in seven consecutive playoff games and are on an overall 13-2 ATS run – but the home team is on a 12-3 SU (11-4 ATS) run in conference championship games.

• Among the aforementioned 11 games were just two against playoff teams – Indy played admirably, crushing the Dallas Cowboys 23-0 in week 15 and dominating the Houston Texans last week.

• And the Colts certainly did seem to dominate last week – but didn’t score or truly even threaten to over the game’s last 35 minutes.

• The Colts have a top 10 defense statistically – but have played the league’s easiest schedule.

• Patrick Mahomes is 21st-Century Football God – but he’s never played in a playoff game.

• Andy Reid is 20-4 SU lifetime when coming off a bye week – but just 11-13 lifetime in the playoffs and on a 1-7 SU/ATS “run.”

Whatever. Wather.com has the only statistics NFLbets needs to place some wagers on Colts *at* Chiefs:

Weather for Colts-Chiefs game bets

Weather for Colts-Chiefs game betting

Combine this with the obvious choice from Frank Reich, i.e. attempt to keep Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and that ridiculous passing offense off the field for as much of the game as possible, the good bet is clear: Take the under on an O/U of 56½ points.

We’re also liking the possibility of any big game by Marlon Mack, so we’d load up on the appropriate player props. The over/under in the “Total Rush Yards” proposition bet is a very nice 191½ yards. Unfortunately, the over at most sportsbooks is paying under the usual -110, instead at -120 or -125.

Very tempting are the “First Score” and “Last Score” props, on which Mack is getting 8/1 odds; the former especially might be worth a few Moneys…

 

NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018-19: 36-29-2.


NFL playoffs betting: Gurley, Anderson, bye week enough for emphatic L.A. Rams win

Friday, 11 January 2019 11:37 EST

So Bill Simmons tells us on a recent podcast that in round 2 of the NFL playoffs, every underdog is drawing more than half the wagered cash. Like NFLbets posted yesterday: The oddsmakers are just begging u to take the ’dogs this week, and NFL bettors are responding like Pavlov’s dogs – except that Pavlov’s dogs didn’t get badly burned on wild card weekend.

Though some bettors are superstitious enough to blindly go against a tide of betting, the lack of logic is a real turnoff for NFLbets. We’ll probably be covering two underdogs in these playoffs, but

Dallas Cowboys +7 at Los Angeles Rams, over/under 47½ points

is not one of them. That’s right, NFLbets is saying to take the L.A. Rams -7 vs Dallas and we’ll probably get the push.

Forget the presence of tens of thousands of Cowboys fans in the Coliseum, forget how good Dak Prescott performed last week, forget the Dallas pass rush (not permanently, because we’ll get back to that), even forget the coaching disparity on the sideline of this game. The key to Cowboys-Rams is simple: Despite Dallas boasting the no. 1 defense against the run, they’re an incredible 28th-“best” against play action. The Rams run more play action than any team in the league, and Jared Goff has taken an NFL-leading 70-plus percent of snaps under center.

By week 14 of the regular season, teams could adjust to the Rams’ offensive game plan. Without WR Cooper Kupp at his disposal, the long bomb has disappeared from Goff’s arsenal. In week 14 at Chicago and 15 against Philadelphia, the defenses lined up as though against the Jeff Fisher-coached Rams, i.e. stacking the box with eight defenders. Dinged up and/or deemed useless by Sean McVey, Gurley went for a mere 76 yards on 23 carries in the two games. Against the Eagles, Gurley caught 10 passes for 76 yards (weird that) but took enough punishment so as to be benched for the season’s remainder.

But Goff, McVay and the Rams got help in a hurry from a surprising source: Two-time castoff C.J. Anderson came in off the street and cruised to 299 yards on 43 carries (a 6.95 ypc average!) and two TDs. Now, NFLbets isn’t about to lose our s*#&#& over a couple games against the Arizona and San Francisco defenses, but those nice in-game reps plus a bye week will have gotten Anderson prepped to bring a two-tiered attack out of the backfield that L.A. has needed all season.

An ideal Rams game plan for the divisional game would unlock an even scarier Todd Gurley should Anderson get going. The Seahawks last week attempted to wear down the Dallas front seven by consisting hitting the middle with halfbacks; the Rams with Anderson and Gurley appear far more prepared physically for that scheme than did the Seattle collective of Chris Carson, Rashard Penny and Mike Davis. With complimentary backs in the game, Goff will be able to get rid of the ball more quickly than Dallas’s hyperquick pass rush is upon him – and that pass rush will break the Rams’ middling-at-best OL.

And from the Rams backer’s perspective, the best aspect of all this is that Coach McVay is a helluva lot smarter than NFLbets, so he’ll certainly trot out one nice game plan (not to mention Todd Gurley with nearly four full weeks’ rest) for that daunted Cowboys defense to deal with. We believe in McVay. Take the Rams.

NFLbets will further double down on this narrative and advise NFL bettors to Take the 2nd Half at +100 in the “Highest Scoring Half” prop. We’re figuring both offenses come out to wear the other down, with the Cowboys working Ezekiel Elliott early in hopes of getting him past that awesome front four and onto the second level where the Rams are well more vulnerable. By the third and fourth quarters, we expect a lot more passing and longer runs.

This one could be really fun for in-game betting, too…

NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018-19: 36-29-2.