Best Bets of the week


When betting the 2019 NFL Draft, we’re forced to ask, “What Will Gruden Do?”

Thursday, 25 April 2019 13:49 EST

NFL draft bettingAll righty, here’s the NFL bettor’s first legitimate chance to wager on something other than NFL team futures: 2019 NFL Draft props! NFLbets’ El Jefe and lead writer/editor Os Davis will definitely be watching this draft with regard to a handful of teams of decent-to-good value in the “To Win Super Bowl LIV” proposition bet.

We’ll be readjusting our potential wagers on those teams (spoilers: the list includes the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs) after the draft is in the books, and today we look at some NFL props on offer at online sportsbooks.

Sadly, quite a few of these props are highly unattractive, and all the good opportunities appear to involve the Las Vegas/Oakland Raiders with the crazed Jon Gruden in the captain’s chair. After trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, then signing Antonio Brown, NFLbets won’t say Chucky’s drunk with power, but he’s certainly got a good buzz going into this draft…

To see how Gruden is fated to determine much cashflow to and fro the sportsbooks on Thursday night, let’s first consider the tables on props involving picks 1 and 2 overall.

Chucky Gruden leads RaidersPlayer to be taken first overall
Kyler Murray (Oklahoma), 2/7
Nick Bosa (Ohio State), 2/1
Quinnen Williams (Alabama), 5/1
Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), 14/1
Josh Allen (Kentucky), 25/1

Player to be taken second overall
Nick Bosa (Ohio State), 2/5
Quinnen Williams (Alabama), 3/1
Kyler Murray (Oklahoma), 4/1
Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), 12/1
Josh Allen (Kentucky), 12/1

Team to draft Kyler Murray
Arizona Cardinals, 4/11
Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders, 9/4
New York Giants, 7/1
Miami Dolphins, 8/1
Washington, 10/1
Cincinnati Bengals, 28/1
Jacksonville Jaguars, 35/1

In any other season, Nick Bosa would certainly be a legitimate bet to go no. 1 overall; however, Kyler Murray appears locked into that top spot. The Cardinals front office could not even justify going with Bosa on the basis of attempting to screw the San Francisco 49ers out of their choice at no. 2, as word has it that the Niners would certainly be good with landing Quinnen Williams in that spot.

Thus do the selections of Murray and Bosa at nos. 1 and 2 appear fairly well dead certain; if you can get a sportsbook to do so, a parlay at 2/7 and 2/5, respectively, would fetch odds of just 4/5 (-125). Hardly worth the risk.

As for the “Team to draft Kyler Murray” prop, Washington is getting outstanding odds. Apparently, free-spending, incompetent asshat team owner Daniel Snyder his (literally) bad self we’ll be doing the drafting for Washington. While reports have Snyder trading up from the no. 15 spot solely in order to grab his coveted Dwayne Haskins, who would be surprised if the chump didn’t overpay to land Murray?

(Also a good bet: In the “Team to Draft Dwayne Haskins” prop, Washington’s getting 5/2 (+250) odds while the Giants are at 11/5 (+220); here’s to thinking that Snyder will be the more desperate of the two drafters here.)

The New York Giants are tempting in this prop at 7/1. Not only do they seem likely to land the Hard Knocks gig, but with Murray, the Giants would be in the very desirable scenario of outgoing veteran/incoming rookie stud as a 1-2 QB punch that worked for Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and (slightly unorthodoxly) Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s just that … what can the Giants offer the Cards beyond the no. 6 overall pick, at which they could easily land Josh Allen (Duke)?

Then there are the Raiders. Jon Gruden has apparently dismissed his draft team (damn, that’s gonna be one empty war room), so we’ll have to assuming Chucky’s choosing. And we know he loves quarterbacks – though Derek Carr not so much. Now maybe the Cardinals haven’t traded away that no. 1 so as to get the biggest possible haul for the privilege of drafting Kyler, but who believes this organization is smart enough not to draft QBs in back-to-back first rounds? There’s a reason the odds on the Cardinals in this prop at 4/11, after all…

Other NFL Draft props of note
Few other interesting opportunities exist among the NFL props, most of which have to do with draft order of players who are pretty much known to be going in the top 10: Ed Oliver, Nick Bosa, etc. In fact, the one eye-catching prop involves, again, trying to figure out what Chucky’s gonna do.

In the “Josh Allen draft position” prop, the over/under is 4½, essentially making this a “Will the Raiders draft Josh Allen?” Because here’s the thing: We know how San Francisco’s going at no. 2. At no. 3, the Jets are said to be looking at Ed Oliver or trading down, though not to far as to avoid grabbing a top-quality defensive player. So let’s say the Jets don’t risk it, stand pat at no. 3, and take Oliver or even Quinnen Williams. How could Gruden pass on whichever defensive player of the two is left? (Concomitantly, could Williams really drop to no. 5 or 6?) Because he’s Jon Gruden.

A salient point to be fair, but NFLbets will guess that not even Chucky will violate the go-to method when drafting: Take the best player available. And that player in this scenario is Quinnen Williams. Take the over-4½ in the Josh Allen Draft Position prop at 7/5 (+140).


Never mind Thanos – can the Avengers beat 87.5% at Rotten Tomatoes?

Sunday, 07 April 2019 19:46 EST

NFbets content overseer and lead writer Os Davis is now on the MacGuffin Report, a weekly podcast devoted to movies, tv and streaming content (especially streaming content). This is just as much a shameless plug as a notice of qualifications to write on the “specials” proposition bet “"Opening Weekend Score on Rotten Tomatoes for Avengers: Endgame.”

The over/under on this prop is pretty much exactly what you’d expect: At 87.5%, such a Rotten Tomatoes rating would rank it 11th among the then-22 Marvel Comics Studios releases – dead center if you don’t include the 2008 Incredible Hulk, which for many reasons we shouldn’t. Said list with each movie’s Rotten Tomatoes score *to date* runs as follows:

ThanosBlack Panther (2018) – 97%
Iron Man (2008) – 93%
Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – 92%
The Avengers (2012) – 92%
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – 92%
Captain America: Civil War (2016) – 91%
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – 91%
Captain America: The Winter Solider (2014) – 90%
Doctor Strange (2016) – 89%
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) – 88%
over/under for Avengers: Endgame opening weekend – 87.5%
Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – 85%
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017) – 83%
Ant-Man (2015) - 82%
Iron Man 3 (2013) – 80%
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – 80%
Captain Marvel (2019) – 78%
Thor (2011) – 77%
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – 75%
Iron Man 2 (2010) – 73%
The Incredible Hulk (2008) – 67%
Thor: The Dark World (2013) – 66%

But what do movie fans like? Actually, NFLbets does know: They like Marvel Movies! Geez, 18 of the above score a 75% or better approval rating at ’Tomatoes. Certain other studios would certainly like to see their superhero franchises snag such nice numbers., but such high scores across the board certainly make it damn tough to forecast where the next Marvel flick might land on the Tomatometer.

• Five of the bottom seven films on the Tomatometer list were released in 2013 or earlier, but two of the top four – Iron Man, The Avengers – hit screens in 2008 and ’12, respectively. And the studio’s lastest release, Captain Marvel, also landed in the bottom third of the table.

• The first Iron Man, Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy have bettered all their sequels, but Thor, Captain America and Ant-Man were each topped by sequels; in fact, in the cases of Thor and Captain America, the *third* film in each series-within-the-series ranks best.

• As for the Avengers movies specifically, we’ve got two above the magic 87½ (the 2012 original and Captain America: Civil War, which was essentially an Avengers plus a few others not officially on that superteam) and two below (Age of Ultron and, perhaps significantly, Infinity War).

At this point, the reality should be getting quite clear, particularly to the NFL bettor: Betting against a Marvel movie is like betting against the New England Patriots. On top of this, notice that the prop covers only through opening weekend, and it seems more likely that positive reviews will be run up from the franchise’s most ardent supporters with prepaid tickets.

But, but … and NFLbets knows this is the Patriots and all, but just look at this trailer…

Dark stuff, right? Well, no kidding. After half the universe gets dusted – including many of the funnier and/or more popular characters in the Marvel Universe including Black Panther, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, most of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Wasp – by Thanos’s killer snap, things apparently get as broody as Zach Snyder’s desecration of DC Comics heroes.

And if there’s one thing that’ll dampen the general enthusiasm for any Marvel movie, it’s a dark tone. Consider the bottom of the above list again, and you’ll find the first two Thor movies, the darkest Avengers movie, the un-humorous Incredible Hulk, and the first two films featuring the ultra-earnest super-serious Captain America.

Now NFLbets knows that resurrections are certainly in store for essentially every one of the dusted characters (strictly pragmatically speaking, plans ae already in place for Guardians 3 and Black Panther 2 has got to be in pre-preproduction by now), so Avengers: Endgame may not go out on a completely bum trip. On the other other hand, old favorites like Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk *could* be killed off (at lest in their present incarnations) before the final reels – and the demise of any of those guys could be way more bummerific than seeing Henry Cavill’s Superman bite the kryptonite dust in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

We might also note that, while expectations for this film are damn high, Marvel Comics succeeds pretty much again and again (and again!) despite such weight…

The last question, then, is this: Will Endgame fare just slightly worse than Infinity War among the Tomatoes-throwers? NFLbets knows we might be betting against the Patriots, but in this case the competition is also the Patriots. We’re saying take under 87.5% in the Avengers: Endgame Opening Weekend Rotten Tomatoes Score prop.


Do you believe? Betting on the prop “Will the Cleveland Browns Win a Playoff Game?”

Sunday, 07 April 2019 14:04 EST

Making predictions for the upcoming NFL season this far out from the actual kickoff date is of course folly, but if sportsbooks are already taking bets on the flipping *CLEVELAND BROWNS* to make the playoffs, we can predict with some assurance that the 2019 NFL season is destined to be a weird one.

In the proposition bet “Will the Cleveland Browns Win a Playoff Game?”, the NO is listed at an incredibly short 1/7, while the YES is at an incredible 4/1. Thus will NFLbets immediately cut through the BS and advise NFL bettors to take the Browns to win a playoff game at 4/1 all day long.

NFLbets has been on the 2019 Cleveland Browns bandwagon since, what, Chris Jones came over from the Saskatchewan Roughriders to take a pretty damn low-level position with the team. The man is a Grey Cup winner and now he’s a mere senior defensive specialist – whatever that is – with the Browns? Nice.

After the Kareem Hunt signing, NFLbets was ready to cover the over on over/under for wins and was pretty confident about covering Cleveland winning the AFC North. After the Odell Beckham trade, we got more specific:

“…Cleveland should be a 10- or even 11-win team, so bet the over/under wins accordingly. We’ll also cover the Browns to win the AFC North, as we honestly believe that they’ll go a solid 5-1 against the North’s teams in rebuild and/or decline and should be getting three wins against the AFC East. By dint of their third-place finish in 2018, the Browns also draw the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos, this far out both looking like wins.

NFLbets’ll admit that covering Cleveland to win a playoff game is a risky proposition (so to speak), but you gotta admit there’s some solid value here. Even with opening day about four months away, NFLbets is penciling in the Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans for playoff spots. We’ll assume that the second-place finisher in the AFC South is also good for double-digit wins, so we’ll put the Colts/Texans in the no. 5 seed. As it stands, we’ve got the Browns to win the AFC North, holding off the Baltimore Ravens, enjoying Mike Tomlin’s final season in Pittsburgh and looking down the table all season at the Cincinnati Bengals.

So naturally the viability of this bet hinges on the New England Patriots.

Unless the New York Jets – right now a good two seasons away from actually winning the AFC East – pull off some shrewd moves and/or miracles in the draft and free agency, we’ll have to assume the Patriots (yawn) win this division again whether or not T.J. Hockensen becomes the next Rob Gronkowski. The question is just how many wins will be required; last season provided ample evidence that Bill Belichick has adopted Gregg Popovich’s foot-off-the-pedal strategy for the regular season. We’re thinking the Dark Emperor might decide that 10 (or even nine) wins is enough to take this hapless division, particularly if they go 6-0 against the division.

The conclusion seems pretty clear: The Browns will need to go into the playoffs at no. 3 (or even no. 6 if, likesay, the Ravens take the North) to get this prop cashed in. Ideally, of course, they’d want the no. 1 or no. 2 spot to get that first-round bye, but let’s not get too nuts over a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since the Clinton Administration. (Besides, if you’re a Cleveland backer, do you really want to see the Patriots, Chargers, Colts or Texans in the playoffs, even in Ohio, even after the bye?)

And full disclosure here: Taking Cleveland to win the wild-card round game is very nearly a 50/50 proposition these days. In the past 10 years’ worth of NFL playoffs, the home team is just 23-21 SU (and 19-25 ATS!) in wild card games. On the other hand, the conservative NFL bettor can simply hedge by covering the Browns’ opponent, either plus or minus the points on the ’spread.

So, yes, some risk is involved in covering the Browns in this prop – but that’s why they call it gambling, right?

Betting on the Cleveland Browns in the playoffs – What a time to be alive!


Wagering on Bill Cosby, Roseanne Barr, Donald Trump in “Death Matchups” proposition bets

Monday, 25 March 2019 13:30 EST

Betting on death matchup propsWhoa, My Bookie is getting dark. After a few years of offering a fairly straightforward slate of game lines, odds, proposition bets and futures, the folks there are finally dipping toes in to the waters of “Specials” betting. – and, as they say, things escalated rather quickly.

NFLbets admits a profound fondness for Specials are those props that usually have nothing to do with sports and are instead focused on celebrities or political elections. Most online sportsbooks will post offerings on now traditional proposition bet specials such as “Who will be the next Pope?” and “Gender of the next baby born in the British royal family.”, and some particularly controversial campaigns has helped build the notoriety and brand name of bookmakers such as Paddy Power.

It is, apparently, in the spirit of the outrageous that My Bookie has posted a series of proposition bets entitled “Death Matchups.” We’re not sure how to further lead into these props without just posting ‘n’ analyzing, so here goes. For all of the following, the proposition bet is entitled “Who Will Die First?” unless otherwise noted.

Betty White (5/13) vs Carol Burnett (2/1)

Now right from the start, isn’t this some bad juju? Likesay, isn’t it the law that Americans must adore Betty White as a national treasure? Besides this, Carol Burnett turns 86 in April 2019 – and she’s still playing comedy clubs. No bet here.

Charlie Sheen (1/2) vs Magic Johnson (8/5)

Los Angeles Lakers fans will likely be driving both sides of this prop, with younger Laker backers who never saw Magic play silently, malevolently cover Johnson here in hopes of dislodging him from the general manager position after one of L.A.’s most nightmarish seasons of basketball ever. The smart money here has got to be on Sheen though – why else that crazy -150 line? – as both TMZ and South Park have revealed that Magic has discovered the cure for HIV.

Regis Philbin (20/21) vs Bob Barker (20/21)

Well, this bookmaker ain’t appealing to Millennials here, that’s for sure. Barker turns 96 in 2019 and hasn’t appeared regularly on TV since 2007; Philbin is 88 in ’19 and last did morning TV in ’11. I guess the sheer numbers say to bet on Bob, but -105 ain’t a great payout.

Rosie O'Donnell (4/6) vs Roseanne Barr (11/10)

Now this one was definitely designed with politics in mind, but we’re really stumped as to why the odds on O’Donnell are so unfavorable; she’s just 57 in 2019 and has had no recent reported health issues. By contrast, have you seen Roseanne since her ejection from her own sitcom? She’s *taken up* smoking cigarettes, has little impetus to keep up her health with her career essentially over and is 9½ years older than Rosie. Call this a medium-term investment and back Roseanne Barr at 11/10.

Prince Phillip (5/7) vs Queen Elizabeth (1/1)

Look, yours truly has been losing bets on the death of queen Elizabeth since the late 1990s. We don’t care if she is 92, we’re not touching this one with a 20-imperial foot pole.

Jay Leno (6/5) vs David Letterman (5/8)

Jay Leno has blissfully been off the air for forever, while Letterman may or may not be on Netflix occasionally. These guys are basically both already in the talk show host’s afterlife anyway, right?

Donald Trump (10/11) vs Vladimir Putin (10/13)

Now these odds make no sense, either. Trump is six years older than his Russian BFF and prefers a diet of fast food. One look at the lean Putin shows that this is not at all the case, and Putin often makes a show of public displays of exercise and sport. Can you imagine Trump publicly participating in any form of exercise? This guy probably thinks a pushup is what must be done to the couch so as to get a better view of Fox News.

On top of this is Russian medical technology. Gods only know what the doctors have over there, but if they kept Leonid Brezhnev and Boris Yeltsin alive into their mid-70s despite basketball-sized livers, the well healthier Putin must be good to go for another, what, 25 years or so? Take Trump at 10/11 odds.

Rae Carruth (3/1) vs Ray Lewis (20/1) vs O.J. Simpson (1/10)

Wait a minute, is My Bookie taking some kind of shot at the American criminal justice system? After all, two of these three former NFL players were found “not guilty” in courts of law…

Will Bill Cosby die in prison?

Eighteen months ago, NFLbets would’ve been all over the NO at 5/2 in this proposition bet, but ol’ Dr. Huxtable (remember, ladies, he’s not a real doctor!) was indeed actually sentenced to a bona fide prison for a term beginning in September 2018 – but we’re not rushing to wager on YES at 2/9, either. After all, said prison term could be as short as three years, with Cosby scot free (until the next trial) in late 2021. Do you have enough confidence in the American incarceration system to believe that Coz will serve his full term in prison? If so, consider the names (and current residential status) involved in the above three-way prop.

Free for all: The sex criminals and deviants

Take a look at this lineup:

Jerry Lee Lewis (6/4)
Bill Cosby (1/1)
Woody Allen (5/2)
Roman Polanski (5/2)
Jerry Sandusky (6/1)
Harvey Weinstein (8/1)
Subway Jared (10/1)

Now that’s an interesting field. The best value bet may be Sandusky at age 75, though his current incarceration in a minimum-security jail rather eliminates the possibility of proper prison justice for this child molester. Speaking of child molestation, Jared Fogle might make a great bet here; he’ll likely spend the rest of his life in prison and has already been assaulted once by a fellow inmate. Unfortunately, Fogle is now in a minimal-security federal prison.

Cosby is the most compelling name on this list, as he’s the only one clearly seeing action. Coz had been equal with pervy film directors Woody Allen and Roman Polanski at 5/2 when My Bookie opened this prop. Some of this might be related to the fact that Polanski (86 years old in August 2019) and Jerry Lee Lewis (84 in September) have been culturally irrelevant for essentially the entire 21st century thus far. And on this entire list, Allen (84 in December) is the only one still actively working.

In the final analysis, NFLbets is going to go with the majority on this one: Take Bill Cosby at 1/1 in this death prop, and you won’t even have to feel bad about winning.


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.