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CFL betting, week 10: Best bets & picks on point spreads, over/unders

Thursday, 16 August 2018 15:34 EST


As a hobby, our editor co-hosts a podcast on CFL football – not to mention engages in CFL betting whenever possible, i.e. weekly from June to end of November. Both of these involve speculating on next week’s lines, so here’s what Os came up with (brief, due to time constraints) to chase his push of 2-2 overall last time out.

Ottawa RedBlacks +6½ at Winnipeg Blue Bombers, over/under 53½ points. Believe in the Bombers: They're averaging 33.5 points per game, clearly getting it done on offense, while the defense is ruling the big-play board (they’re tops in the CFL in quarterback sacks and interceptions). 

On the other side, the 2018 Redblacks are getting a reputation for playing down to the level of competition, e.g. running up 601 yards of total offense yet still needing a last-minute touchdown against the league’s worst team. Here’s to thinking, however, that Ottawa can hardly keep up with the Big Blue Machine and that Trevor Harris will throw more than one pick. Take the Winnipeg Blue Bombers -6½ vs Ottawa and consider taking the over on the O/U of 53½ points. 

BC Lions -2½ at Toronto Argonauts, over/under 50.5 points. I’ll call this the “upset” special of the week. I’ve been a BC truther since the Lions blew consecutive games SU and ATS in weeks 6 and 8. Naturally, NFLbets went against biochemistry and BC last week, giving the Lions 3½ against the Edmonton Eskimos. 

Grrrrrr.

So here’s the truth on the BC Lions: They’re 3-0 at home SU and ATS, 0-4 SU and ATS away – note, too, that BC’s wins have all come in night games. So what if the Argonauts are starting a third-string quarterback? In this case, it’s the lion that’s wearing no clothes.

NFLbets believes taking the Toronto Argonauts SU at +125 against BC is a decent bet, and we’d more strenuously advise taking the Argos +2½ points.

Montreal Alouettes +16½ at Edmonton Eskimos, over/under 52½ points. Antonio Pipkin was released by the Alouettes in mid-June. Pipkin played for four years in college ball with the Tiffin University Dragons. Tiffin U. is an Ohio school of 1,600 undergraduates and plays Division II football. Why do you need to know all this? Because Antonio Pipkin of Tiffin U. is the Alouettes’ starting QB for this game in lieu of the maybe-concussed Johnny “Johnny Canadian Football” Manziel, Montreal’s fifth starting QB in the 2018 season. 

Add in the fact that three weeks ago, these teams played when Vernon Adams was getting his turn in the rotation at QB; Mike Reilly went for four TDs, Kwaku Boateng went for three sacks and his teammates contributed three more, and the Eskimos won by 21. 16½ points is still a tough bet to make even in these circumstances, particularly when the Eskimos’ offense has been underperforming a bit lately. Simpler to just take the under on the O/U of 52½ points.

Calgary Stampeders -7 at Saskatchewan Roughriders, over/under 48 points. Yes, this game is in Regina, but these Stampeders are just too good. Calgary’s already dominated the Riders once here this season, winning 34-22 (it wasn’t that close) in week 7. With Riders head coach Chris Jones certain to have at least a handful of unhappy players in the wake of the ineffable release of Duron Carter during the bye week, NFLbets can’t imagine a better result for the Green-and-White this time out. Take the Calgary Stampeders -7 at Saskatchewan.

NFLbets’ best bets for CFL betting in week 10:
•  Winnipeg Blue Bombers -6½ vs Ottawa RedBlacks
;
•  Toronto Argonauts +2½ vs BC Lions;
•  Montreal Alouettes at Edmonton Eskimos under 52½ points.; and
•  Calgary Stampeders -7 at Saskatchewan Roughriders.

NFLbets’ recommendations for CFL betting in week 10:
•  Ottawa vs Winnipeg over 53½ points
; and
•  Toronto SU vs BC Lions.


NFC North proposition bets

Tuesday, 14 August 2018 10:55 EST

The optimist would say we’re only about three weeks away from NFL Opening Day 2018. The pessimist would say the preseason has barely begun. NFLbets says the time is ripe for speculating on 2018 NFL futures and proposition bets. So today, we’re presenting part five of NFLbets’ division-by-division look at the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” NFL futures offered at online sportsbooks.

Today, we’re considering the NFC North, which in 2018 features a returning Super Bowl contender, a potentially dissolving perpetual contender, a will they/won’t they upstart and the good ol’ Detroit Lions. We’re talking the NFC North today; click on the appropriate link below for NFLbets’ takes on these proposition bets for other division

AFC EastAFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West

•••••

The NFC North should be one, let’s say, challenging division for NFL bettors in 2018. Two serious contenders for a Super Bowl LIII appearance head up the division’s odds tables: The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. But the former is uncharacteristically riddled with controversy and question marks, while the latter has a long history of tragic late-season exits (not that the proper NFL bettor should rarely, if ever, consider history as part of week-to-week calculations for betting; just sayin’). The lines in the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” prop bets are listed below.

NFC North

NFC North O/U wins to win div. (oper) to win div. (current)
Minnesota Vikings* 10 +125 +115
Green Bay Packers* 10 +125 +150
Detroit Lions 7.5 +600 +600
Chicago Bears 6.5 +700 +900

 

Note the separation between going on between the Vikings and Packers. The smart money – literally – is on the Vikings right now, and NFLbets’d guess that these odds will only get shorter as the line approaches +100 by opening day kickoff.

Does defense win championships (if you straight-up ignore Super Bowl LII)? Sure, and therefore if you’re a Minnesota Vikings fan, you’re liking your team’s chances. Dt Sheldon Richardson joins a defense that was top-3 statistically in allowing total yards, first downs, passing yards, passing TDs, net yards per pass attempt, and rushing yards. The average quarterback was reduced to a QB rating of 71.1, just 0.3 lower than Tom Savage in ’17 – against this Vikings D. With all starters and key third-down subs back aboard, the Vikings have an early claim to the best defense in the NFL; about the only argument would come from Los Angeles Rams land and two of their main studs (Ndamokung Suh and Marcus Peters) are newly acquired.

If you’re a believer in a Minnesota team newly armed with Kirk “You Like That Meme” Cousins at quarterback to at least win the division, as is NFLbets, you’ll want to cover the Minnesota Vikings to win the NFC North, preferably as part of a parlay involving an odds-on favorite (likesay, the Rams and/or New England Patriots) to beef up the potential winnings.

Minnesota going over 10 wins – three fewer than in the 2018 Vikings’ regular-season romp – might also be worth a bet. The schedule in the early going isn’t easy: The Vikings will play vs San Francisco 49ers, at Green Bay, vs Buffalo Bills, at Los Angeles Rams, at Philadelphia Eagles; a game at the New England Patriots comes in December. If you’re taking the Vikings seriously as a contender, however, then you’re figuring this group of games is worth at least a 3-3 record, and finding four more losses for Purple People Eaters 2.0 seems quite implausible. Take the Minnesota Vikings to go over 10 wins.

•••••

In Green Bay, Aaron “R-E-L-A-X” Rodgers is not chill early in the preseason over his lamely constructed receiving corps. Jordy Nelson is gone, but Rodgers’s favorite targets in 2017, Randall Cobb and Devante Adams, are still around. That was the bad news and good news, respectively. The terrible, all-too-familiar news is that the Green Bay brain trust did typically little to pump up the roster in 2018 free agency. 

So Rodgers, who’s suddenly staring at getting slapped with the “franchise player” tag in back-to-back seasons for a team he’s sick of quarterbacking, will (possibly) be throwing to some members of a rookie quartet who may have been chosen showing for memorable monikers: J'Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and DeAngelo Yancey.

Beyond this, Rodgers has got to be concerned about his offensive line – again, little improved from 2017 – which ranked a paltry 28th in pass protection last season, per the awesome Football Outsiders.

NFLbets cannot say with assurance that Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy have done more with less, as the 2018 Green Bay Packers appear to have less than at any point since probably 2008 (ironically, Nelson’s rookie season), a year in which the Pack went 6-10.  NFLbets simply cannot buy this team winning more than 10 games as constructed. Take the Green Bay Packers to win under 10 games.

•••••

When the tale of Matt Stafford’s career is written, the inferiority of the Detroit Lions will play as huge a part as it does in those of Dominic Raiola, Calvin Johnson, and of course Barry Sanders. Sure, NFLbets’d love the 2018 Lions to win over 7½, but as Os Davis’s original piece in this series indicated, bookmakers are accounting for a total of five wins more than losses league-wide, meaning that when in doubt, bet the under.

On the Lions, we’d probably bet the under, but we’re not recommending such. The Packers and especially the Bears are big question marks for this season, and the four games against these two teams are likely to determine the pendulum of this Lions team. Essentially, we’d stay clear of these Lions – at least until Stafford goes down, at which point bet the opponent minus the points all Sunday long…

•••••

The Chicago Bears for 2018 are pushing a lot of young talent and old faces on the sidelines. Someone off the playing field has apparently decided that the direction to head in for wunderkind RB Jordan Howard and rookie TE Adam Shaheen to grow and develop is to begin the season with Mike Glennon at quarterback, with the Damocles Sword of Mitch Trubisky hanging over head. Nice – for the NFL bettors.

With so much of the offense handed over to youngsters (‘Member the days of Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall?), the coaching staff is remarkably unchanged: Beyond head coach Matt Nagy, offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich is still here along with general manager Ryan Pace. One or more of these dudes thought it was a good idea to a) sign Glennon; b) draft Trubisky with little extant infrastructure; and c) both, and NFLbets believes that all three may stick around until someone else in the front office realizes little good will happen under the watch of this trio.

Since more pieces must be added to the roster (and Pace’s acumen is mostly in dispatching veterans) and sidelines, NFLbets figures these Bears are at minimum two seasons from contention. And while winning 6½ games is a fairly low bar for Vegas et al to set, we wouldn’t wish having to hope for seven wins from these guys – with five likely to be needed in the season’s second half – on any NFL bettor.

NFLbets’ best bets for NFC North betting:
•  Minnesota Vikings to win division at +115
(or anything over -150, really); and
•  Vikings to win over 10 games.

NFLbets’ recommendations for NFC North betting:
•  Green Bay Packers under 10 wins
.


AFC North proposition bets

Friday, 10 August 2018 18:09 EST

As of this writing, the first full week of NFL preseason games has been played, with each team getting at least one (fake) game in the books. NFLbets meanwhile continues our division-by-division look at the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” NFL futures offered at online sportsbooks.

Today, we’re considering the AFC North, which in 2018 features two teams easy enough to read, and two real toughies. Click on the below links to read NFLbets’ takes on these proposition bets for other divisions…

AFC EastNFC SouthNFC West

•••••

No division has been so predictable in terms of preseasons odds at the sportsbook than the AFC North. The mundane order of Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Browns in the 20th century seems as preordained as it feels inevitable. Not that such a feeling is unjustified: The Browns have finished fourth in 13 of the last 16 seasons, and but for the grace of Cleveland go the Bengals, a team who last won a playoff game in 1990 against the Houston Oilers. The Baltimore Ravens have mostly stayed competitive (aside from the freakish Super Bowl-winning season of 2012) by dint of starting at 5-1 within the North and beating down the beatdogs of the AFC annually. Finally, the big bad Pittsburgh Steelers have had the league’s top halfback and top wide receiver for five years running now.

As with the AFC East, NFLbets believes radical change may shuffle this division someday soon, but it won’t be 2018. Bookmakers too expect more of the same from these four teams in the upcoming season. The lines in the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” prop bets are listed below.

AFC North O/U wins to win div. (oper) to win div. (current)
Pittsburgh Steelers 10½ -280 -300
Baltimore Ravens 8 +450 +400
Cincinnati Bengals +900 +1000
Cleveland Browns +1100 +1200

 

First reaction: The Steelers at an over/under of 10½ games is a line based purely on reputation and getting the (literally and figuratively0 massive subset of Steelers fans who are also NFL bettors. These bros, believing their guys are good for 12 or 13 wins at least, will certainly help keep this over/under nice and artificially high for the rest. Seeking out a sportsbook offering an over/under of 11 should be worth your time as well.

Those taking the over on the Steelers who are not blind fanboys/-girls are depending on continued dominance over the division’s Ohio teams (at four “guaranteed” wins, the 2018 Steelers would already be over 35% to the target.

The first half of the season certainly looks favorable to Pittsburgh: they'll be at Cleveland, vs the Kansas City Chiefs, at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, vs Baltimore, vs the Atlanta Falcons, at Cincinnati, bye, vs Cleveland. Now the Steelers backers has delusions visions of 7-0 in this first half.

Except that Le’Veon Bell, offensive lynchpin/straw that stirs the drink in Pittsburgh, has notoriously gotten off to slow starts and brings the team down with him. Check out these stats:

•  2015, weeks 3-8, his only six games: 115.33 total yards per game, 3 TDs; Steelers record 3-3.

•  2016, weeks 4-10, after serving suspension: 115.33 total ypg, 2 TDs; Steelers 2-4.

•  2017, weeks 1-5: 102.6 total ypg, 3 TDs; Steelers 3-2.

•  All other games played in 2016-17: 159.5 ypg, 16 TDs; Steelers 15-1.

So? “Great,” figures the Steelers fan, “so they lose a couple early on and steamroll in the second half, voila! 13-3 is easy.”

Except … just look at the second half schedule. What will have been a playground for Bell and the boys becomes a treacherous pit of doom: From week 9, it’s at Baltimore, vs the Carolina Panthers, at the Jacksonville Jaguars, at the Denver Broncos, vs the Los Angeles Chargers, at the Oakland Raiders, vs the New England Patriot and at the New Orleans Saints before closing out against Cincinnati.

We suppose the Steelers could win 11 against this schedule. IF Ben Roethlisberger plays the majority of the season. IF Bell and the entire team can win the games they should in the season’s first half. IF the injury bug doesn’t hit too hard … with this season, for this season, that’s too many if’s. Take the Pittsburgh Steelers to win under 10½ games.

•••••

NFLbets admits to still hating the Baltimore Ravens for taking our money in the “Over/Under Wins” futures bet last season – which brings up some good advice: Never bet on any team or game in which an emotional response is part of the decision. Sounds simple, but admiration, fear and/or loathing have ruined many millions of bets through the centuries.

We’ll probably be avoiding the Ravens altogether in these props, mainly because 8 wins seems just about right for this team. And after the preseason, NFL bettors can be as excited about Lamar Jackson as they want, but how quickly do you think the Ravens front office will put Joe Flacco and his franchise-sucking contract on the bench? Not very is the answer here, and that’s pretty good news because the Ravens will certainly be profitable to bet against game-to-game until Joe Flacco has utterly lost his teammates’ and/or coaching staff’s backing.

•••••

One of the easiest picks in the entire NFL is the Cincinnati Bengals future bet of over/under 6½ wins. Ask yourself the following questions:

•  Is Marvin Lewis still coaching the team?

•  Did the Bengals make any significant progress toward, likesay, improvement this past offseason?

•  Who will the Bengals’ starting QB be?

So yeah. Take the Cincinnati Bengals to go under 6½ wins.

•••••

Finally, everyone’s liking the Cleveland Browns this offseason – everyone except the NFL bettors, that is. NFLbets calls this the Hard Knocks Effect. To wit, the following is the list of Hard Knocks-starring teams and the outcomes in the season following each team’s series.

•  2007 Kansas City Chiefs – 4-12

•  2008 Dallas Cowboys – 9-7

•  2009 Cincinnati Bengals – 10-6 won the AFC North

•  2010 New York Jets – 11-5 and a wild card spot

•  2012 Miami Dolphins – 7-9

•  2013 Cincinnati Bengals – 11-5 won the AFC North

•  2014 Atlanta Falcons – 6-10

•  2015 Houston Texans – 9-7 won the AFC South

•  2016 Los Angeles Rams – 4-12

•  2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 5-11

•  2018 Cleveland Browns – ???

 

NFLbets realizes there’s no room in betting for superstition, and we believe there’s a reason behind this. Firstly, let’s all come to grips with the fact that REALITY SHOWS ARE NOT REALITY (unless you’re President of the United States, that is). The narrative on the Hard Knocks teams is always the same: This goofy bunch of characters may not win the Super Bowl, but they’ll improve on last year and therefore should you watch all their games on national TV.

At this point in the show’s run, the Hard Knocks producers have the schtick down cold, doing what the Hollywood/Burbank infotainment industry has always done: glamorize and aggrandize everything. So of course Jameis Winston and Mark Sanchez and Jeff Fisher come off as great leaders of men: the producers and directors have done their job. On top of this, you’ve got certain guys thinking a Hard Knocks series can motivate teammates (as in Winston or this year’s early rah-rah guy Jarvis Landry) or concentrating more on making their locker-room speeches camera-ready (i.e. Fisher). In short, don’t be fooled by the man behind the curtain (or camera).

Yet, dare we believe the 2018 Cleveland Browns might not … suck? Or that they might even be … good?

Starting at quarterback is either Tyrod Taylor, who helped get a team fighting its own management into the playoffs last year and is set to play with a massive chip on the shoulder or the no. 1 overall the Browns may actually have gotten right in Baker Mayfield. Carlos Hyde will share touches with Duke Johnson, who showed some true flashes of greatness in the second half of last season.

The aforementioned Jarvis Landry was this team’s biggest acquisition of any sort and, along with a second re-signing in Josh Gordon, automatically improves the WR core, which may add more star power, depending on whether Dez Bryant takes up the Cleveland challenge. Given Landry’s Hard Knocks attitude, this team is already leading the league in shoulder chips with or without Dez aboard.

We’re not sure if the signing of E.J. Gaines will turn the tide or if Mles Garrett can take another step (or two, or three steps) forward in 2018, but this Browns offense should score its share of points. We would tentatively advise taking the Cleveland Browns to win over 5½ games – they’ll certainly beat Cincinnati twice, for example – but might be more useful for betting the over in the season’s first half and plus the points in the second…

NFLbets’ best bets for AFC North betting:
•  Cincinnati Beangals under 6½ wins
; and
Pittsburgh Steelers to win division at -300 (preferably in a parlay).

NFLbets’ recommendations for AFC North betting:
•  Pittsubrgh Steelers under 10½ wins
; and
•  Cleveland Browns to win over 5½ games.


CFL Betting: Best Bets and Picks for CFL week 9

Thursday, 09 August 2018 15:32 EST

CFL logoWhat does NFLbets do for betting during the NFL pre- (and even off-) season? That’s easy: We bet on CFL games!

Incredibly, the 2018 CFL season is nearly at its halfway point (or half-over, if you’re a justifiably pessimistic Alouettes fan), so sample sizes are large enough to get a decent idea on short-term results. Trust me – NFLbets editor Os Davis – is pretty hardcore into CFL football betting at this point.

The following, then, and NFLbets’ best bets and picks for the CFL in week 9.

Best Bet/s: CFL week 9

Hamilton Tiger-Cats +5 at Winnipeg Blue Bombers, over/under 58 points. Of all the possible non-proposition CFL bets in week 9, one true NFLbets Best Bet stands out: Take the over on the over/under of 58 points. You'll want to consider covering the Bombers minus-5 at home coming out of a bye week, but definitely go over.

Caveat: NFLbets wouldn’t exactly call over-58 on this bet a lock – as explained directly below, a 58-point result is an exactly 50% probability over seven games for the Bombers in 2018 – but it’s the best bet out there this week. Not to mention the most fun: Never mind the chicks, who *doesn’t* like a barnburner?

Okay, NFLbets can hear imagine what you're thinking: 58 points? For a final score of around 31-26 or 32-27? Isn't that a lot, even for CFL football? It is, but...

The rationale behind taking the over is easy: Winnipeg can score – a lot – on anyone except (maybe) Calgary, and they’re not playing Calgary this week. Only twice this season has Winnipeg been held under 30 points; both were away games, and they’re playing at home this week. The over is 5-2 in Bombers games this season, though the record against a very high over/under of 58 in all games would be – get this – 3-3-1.

Over the past four games, the Bombers defense appears to have improved in allowing 20 points or fewer in the past four games – however, these were all against BC Lions and the Toronto Argonauts, two of the CFL’s three lowest-scoring teams. And they’re playing a team that ran up 50 (including 20 from special teams) on the hapless Montreal Alouettes.

Finally, the last time these teams met in Hamilton, Winnipeg eked out a meager 17 in a 14-point SU loss. They'll be seeing end zone much more frequently against a defense just as generous as the Bombers'.

Pick/s of the week: CFL week 9

Number 9Edmonton Eskimos -3½ at BC Lions. Pragmatic biological body-clock time-zone stuff first: The BC Lions are playing at home in a night game on the West Coast: Big plusses on both counts, to be sure, and the prime reasons why the point spread is so low on this game. 

But o, so much is weighted against BC right now. Three weeks ago, former Most Outstanding Player/defensive pillar Solomon Elimimian was placed on the six-game injury list. Two weeks ago, they blew a game which in hindsight feels must-win due to losing track of he game clock; this led to rumours of “internal dissension”-type stuff, even confrontation between quarterback and head coach. Last week, the Lions went to Calgary, with the expected results. 

That’s a lot of team psychology before even considering what’s left of team chemistry.

More? The Eskimos are meanwhile riding a three-game winning streak, last week asserting their will on a night when Mike Reilly uncharacteristically threw for sub-50% accuracy. In week three, Edmonton torched BC at their last meeting, 41-22. 

Finally, Jeremiah Johnson returned last week against Calgary, only to go out again due to injury. 

Though taking Edmonton Eskimos -3½ at BC Lions might’ve been obvious enough to be an NFLbets Best Bet two weeks ago, after seeing that Toronto comeback against Ottawa last week, NFLbets again recalls the informal credo of the CFL: No Lead Is Safe. Go ahead, take the Esks minus the points; just bet, as they say, responsibly.

Montreal Alouettes +14 at Ottawa RedBlacks, over/under 49 points. After Johnny Manziel's nearly indescribable 11-of-20, 104-yard, four-pick debut performance for the Montreal Alouettes/in CFL regular-season play last week, the bookmakers are just begging CFL bettors to take a stand on Manziel this week with this insane 14-point spread. NFLbets is here to warn you, though: Think long and hard before taking this bait in any direction.

At the risk of boring, the real issue with betting this game is the wildly variable and inconsistent Ottawa RedBlacks. Last week, the RedBlacks rang up 41 points in Toronto and lost SU and ATS. The week prior, the Ottawa O scored zero at Hamilton but the RedBlacks won SU and ATS based on seven (!) field goals by Lewis Ward. Before *that* ... you get the idea.

Sure, the RedBlacks should win this one outright (Note that money lines are not even offered on this game at many online sportsbooks – dammit.) and taking the under on an O/U of 49 seems like a decent play – but with this Ottawa team on one side of the field, safest not to cover too much at all here, whether you dig on Johnny Canadian Football or not. 

NFLbets’ best bets for CFL betting in week 9:
•  Over 58 points (yes!) in Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

NFLbets’ recommendations for CFL betting in week 9:
•  Winnipeg -5 vs Hamilton;

•  Edmonton Eskimos -3½ at BC Lions; and
•  Montreal at Ottawa under 49 points.


AFC East proposition bets

Wednesday, 08 August 2018 11:15 EST

AFC EastWhile the preseason continues and we await the departure of wide receivers from the Green Bay island, NFLbets continues our look at NFL futures and proposition bets for 2018. As we’ve said before, we just love the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” futures/props for the upcoming season. Today, NFLbets ponders the AFC East.

Ah yes, the AFC East. Since the turn of the century, the NFL’s low-risk, low-reward division – unless Tom Brady’s injured for an entire season.Tell you this, though: The dark times are ending for, as the great Sir Charles – NFLbets swears he was the first to declare thusly publicly – Father Time is undefeated.

Nevertheless, the sportsbooks believe the Great Equalizer (no, not Denzel Washington, silly!) will be staved off for one more year, and reckon that the AFC East’s also-rans again aren’t worth the money in the “To Win Division” prop.

AFC East O/U wins to win div. (open) to win div. (current)
New England Patriots 11 -700 -700
Buffalo Bills +1200 +1100
Miami Dolphins +1200 +1100
New York Jets 6 +1000 +1600

 

This is likely to be NFLbets’ shortest of all futures/proposition bets columns, as betting on either the “To Win Division” or “Over/Under Wins” props vis-à-vis the AFC East comes down to two simple questions:

•  Is this the year Brady, Gronk et al (now including, NFLbets supposes, Eric Decker) finally fall to the time reaper’s scythe; and

•  If not the Patriots, then who?

In short, NFLbets would answer “Yes, a bit more” and “the New York Jets.” (No, really.)

The latest revolving door of an offseason for New England included the departures (and subsequent trash-talking) of former Brady fave Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell followed by the additions of Decker and Cordarrelle Patterson. Only Gronk keeps away the comparison to the days when Reche Caldwell was The Man in Patriotland. 

On the defensive side of things, DE Adrian Clayborn and CB Jason McCourty came aboard during the past offseason. Fair enough, but McCourty is just about the only recognizable name among the pool of the 17 cornerbacks and safeties admitted to Patriots training camp. Resetting what was an absolutely abysmal passing defense in 2017 – You wanna know why Malcolm Butler was cockblocked out of the Super Bowl and therefore ignored in free agency? Poor performance, bro! – seems like a decent enough idea, but can Belichick really craft a working machine from this particular lot of spare parts? 

NFLbets just simply cannot go to the overhyped well again. Take the under on the Patriots over/under 11 wins prop.

•••••

The dusk of the Belichick/Brady Patriots will not only be good news for the league’s up-and-comers but is tremendous news for NFL bettors. O, sure, the Belichick/Bardy Patriots have often been swell cash cow during the regular season: In the glory year of 2007, for example, the Pats started the season at an easy 8-0 ATS, followed by a nearly-as-agreeable 3-5 ATS in the second half as the point spreads were set ever-insanely higher. An astute NFL bettor should probably have gone about 14-2 betting on the Pats that year – and woof, until the Super Bowl, did the bookmakers lose money!

In fact, the Super Bowl is the main reason that NFL bettors will be happy to see Belichick ‘n’ Brady depart the scene, as these dudes have f#&^&#^*ed up Super Bowl bets zillions of times. Despite the Lombardi Trophies and all, the New England Patriots are 3-6-1 ATS in Super Bowls; in the Belichick Era, they’re 3-5. The Pats have pulled off the biggest ATS Super Bowl upset and were later victimized as harshly. On three occasions has the ATS outcome differed from the SU outcome in Patriots Super Bowls, and Belichick’s bunch went 13 years (and four appearances) between ATS wins in the big game.

•••••

Sadly, NFLbets would guess the glorious day of Belichick and Brady’s fall from the top is still one year away. In the AFC East, the 2017 Buffalo Bills couldn’t even tank successfully last season and must seriously be considered for the title of Worst NFL Playoff Team of All-Time. 

Over in Miami, head coach Adam Gase brought in his old buddy Jay Cutler down to South Beach to play QB, and thus did the 2017 Miami Dolphins cutler like nearly every Jay Cutlered team before them. These Dolphins were a bottom-5 team in most metrics on both offense and defense, earning Miami its 10th season of the past 12 in which the team played .500 ball or lower.

This season, Ryan Tannehill and his 37-40 career record are back at QB, and the sportsbooks apparently reckon that makes the Dolphins a half-win better than in 2017. Yeeeeeah, not really buying that. NFLbets would half-heartedly advise taking the under on even 6½ wins for these guys.

•••••

This leaves the New York Jets, who, according to the lines on these NFL futures, is about the only AFC East team that NFL bettors are *not* enthused about. But there’s a case to be made – at least for racking up more wins that most expect.

And those expectations are key. The truth is that the Jets are bringing more unknowns into 2018 than perhaps any other NFL side. They’re likely to sport the youngest roster in the league, as just three players over 29 were invited to camp (the oldest, 39-year-old Josh McCown seems unlikely to be around by week 17). By all reports, Jets brass is high – hopefully not literally – on top draft pick/future franchise QB Sam Darnold and ever the flashy add-ons the Jets made this offseason, e.g. Terrelle Pryor and Isaiah Crowell, feel like players of immediate impact.

While the offense should have the element of surprise on their side, the defense can only improve if given a bit less time on the field in 2018. The Jets were a bottom-5 team in time of possession in ’17 and were held to 10 points or fewer four times in the final seven games. Ugly. Nascent superstar Jamal Adams will look even better in his second season if his unit isn’t continually gassed, NFLbets believes.

Whether or not the Jets can top six wins is all down to the schedule. The opening month is reasonable enough, going at Detroit Lions, vs Miami, at Cleveland Browns and at Jacksonville Jaguars. A 3-1 mark would hardly be unbelievable early on and the NFL bettor going over 6 wins on the Jets is already halfway home by early October. 

The rest of the Jets’ schedule is hardly easy at all, but on the plus side they’ve drawn four teams with rookie head coaches (again the element of surprise works in the Jets’ favor) and have games against X-factors such as Chicago, Indianapolis and Tennessee. Thus the six-win mark will likely come down to games against Buffalo and Miami. Last year, the Jets split these series, winning both home games and losing away twice. A mark of 3-1 against these rivals is a must; getting a fourth win within the AFC East would seemingly ice at least six wins for New York. So all signs point to taking the New York Jets to win over 6 games.

As for those 18/1 odds to win the division outright, well, that’s a fan’s bet. NFLbets may be speculative, but we aren’t freakin’ crazy...

NFLbets’ best bets for AFC East betting:
•  New York Jets over 6 wins.

NFLbets’ recommendations for NFC West betting:
•  New England Patriots under 11 wins
; and
•  New England Patriots to win division (preferably in a perlay).


NFC South proposition bets

Tuesday, 07 August 2018 16:55 EST

While the preseason goes on, NFLbets is considering betting NFL futures and proposition bets for 2018. Despite the frustrating difficulty of seeing into the future via metaphorical crystal ball, we just love the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” props for the upcoming season. Today, NFLbets ponders the NFC South.

And now, please allow the probably redundant repetition of two old essential truth about betting NFC South props such as “To Win Division” and “Over/under Regular-Season Wins”:

•  Since the NFC South itself was established with the addition of the league’s 32nd team in 2002, only twice has the defending division champion repeated as champion. Both of these instances were part of the 2013-16 threepeat run by Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers, which included both a 7-8-1 SU division-winning year and a 17-1 SU run to Super Bowl 50.

•  Only six of the 24 playoff teams from the NFC South have posted fewer than 11 wins.

Apparently neither fact disturbs the pragmatic resolve of Las Vegas bookmakers and online bookmakers, who reckon the NFC South will turn out something like this:

  O/U wins  to win division  (opening)  to win division  (current)
New Orleans Saints* +187 +180
Atlanta Falcons* 9 +180 +185
Carolina Panthers +300 +390
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +550 +600

 

Add to this NFLbets’ compilation of the sportsbooks’ projected finish for the 2018 NFL season based on over/under wins lines and current lines have the Atlanta Falcons squeaking into the playoffs as the no. 6 seed.

Heck, only in July did NFL bettors flip the lines in the “To Win Division” prop into the New Orleans Saints’ favor.

So what gives? Could this be the year when two 9-win teams from the NFC South both make the playoffs or do these lines merely reflect bookmakers’ willingness to admit the ineffability of this division?

The latter, thinks NFLbets – and we’re willing to put the real-life money where the metaphorical mouth and recommend (*not a best bet, mind you*) taking the Carolina Panthers to win the NFC South at +390. We’d also feel pretty good about plunking a few dollars on the Atlanta Falcons going under 9 wins. 

•••••

As for the Saints, hell if NFLbets knows…

Saints fans doubtlessly believe that, in spite of a quarterback turning 40 during the NFL playoffs, their team should be considered among the up-and-coming NFC teams of the future (or present). We’re talking teams combining superstars with nascent young talent like the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings.

The evidence against these Saints actually maintaining the 11-win total of 2017 for ’18 is somewhat compelling, however. In 2017, the New Orleans offense was lauded for its exciting, scoreboard-spinning nature (their 28.3 points per game average was the NFL’s fourth highest) that also produced Drew Brees’s single-season career high for completion percentage thanks to a fantastic running game of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara (plus Adrian Peterson -- not!).

Despite the accolades, though, the Saints were graced with a relatively easy schedule against which they underperformed: New Orleans was just 3-4 (ATS and SU) against playoff teams in 2017, with all three wins coming against the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons. Thus was the Saints’ playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings, bizarre ending aside, inevitable to the NFL bettor.

The most scintillating of an often-inspired 2017 New Orleans Saints defense, though, was the secondary. The Saints ended up no. 3 in total interceptions, led by NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Mashon Lattimore, 2016 draft pick Ken Crawley, Kenny Vaccaro in his prime and rookie FS Marcus Williams. Oddly enough, the biggest acquisitions the New Orleans brass made this offseason were in this area: Replacing Vaccaro are Patrick Robinson, who played well with the champion Philadelphia Eagles but got his career off to a rocky start with Sean Payton’s Saints in the early 10s; and former Carolina Panthers CB Kurt Coleman, whose best performances have come against the Saints. 

Poor against the run last season – the defense was bottom five in rushing yards allowed and yards per attempt for much of 2017 – the Saints will be no better in this area this season.

Conclusion: 11 wins seems unlikely, but 9½, well … the Saints open thusly: vs Tampa Bay, vs Cleveland Browns, at Atlanta Falcons, at New York Giants, vs. Washington, bye, at Baltimore Ravens. All things being equal and all players staying healthy, that’s 4-2 SU at least and 6-0 is hardly inconceivable. 

But with the Saints’ 2017 success so tenuous (Can Kamara really be that good again? Will the Saints really beat up their division rivals this year to balance out an 0-4 against non-divisional playoff teams? Can Brees really throw for 72% accuracy again?), NFLbets has little faith Payton et al can manage a 9-7 record, much less 10-6 or better.

Plus, there’s something about the phrase “Tom Savage is your backup” that scares money away…

•••••

As for the Atlanta Falcons, don’t make NFLbets laugh! The Falcons’ current down-trending state in the downside of a process common to North American sports. In the offseason after egregiously losing the Super Bowl, the only major personnel move the Falcons chose to make was replacing Kyle Shanahan – the dude who'd built up an offense in his second season as Atlanta offensive coordinator to average a whopping 31.875 points per game – with college coach Steve Sarkasian. 

Sarkasian turned the greatest show since the Greatest Show on Turf into a middling, ho-hum offense as the talking heads mindlessly bleated on about a “Super Bowl Hangover.” (Very mathematically sound, that.) Sarkasian is still Falcons OC for 2018; has anyone noticed…?

Beyond Sarkasian, consider that all the Falcons' offseason moves involved Atlanta on the wrong end of the deal, namely in the departures of DE Adrian Clayborn, DT Dontari Poe and WR Taylor Gabriel. All jokes, stats and history aside, this is right now a team in decline. Take the Atlanta Falcons under 9 wins. 

•••••

Normally, NFLbets would write off the 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ chances of winning the NFL South with a pithy throwaway line, but one supposes that the forecasted fourth-place team with the shortest odds should be taken at least a bit seriously and … nah. We’d say take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to go under 6½ wins, joyless as that sounds.

We love the possibility of a lame season by the Falcons, but that nearly 4/1 payout on the Carolina Panthers to win this division is quite the temptation indeed. 
The truth is that Cam Newton is the only starting quarterback in this division that can remotely be considered in his prime. The truth is that the Panthers may be drawing just two playoff teams (the Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers) before week 15, when they’ll get a home-and-home against the Saints and a home game against the Falcons. Newton took an injury early in the preseason and is already listed as questionable for game 1 against the Dallas Cowboys, but hey: He’s gonna play.

And what of Kelvin Benjamin, so-called superstar wide receiver? The truth is that, between 2014 and his departure to the Buffalo Bills halfway through 2017, the Panthers were 24-7 including the playoffs without him and just 18-20-1 with him active on the roster. Here’s to thinking Newton appreciated the two-year extension given to TE Greg Olsen, who’s led this team in receiving yards, receptions and targets three times.

In the unpredictable NFC South, we like the just-as-unpredictable Cam and his guys. Take the Carolina Panthers to win the NFC South at +390.

NFLbets’ best bets for NFC South betting:
•  Atlanta Falcons under 9 wins.

NFLbets’ recommendations for NFC West betting:
•  Carolina Panthers to win division
; and
•  Tampa Bay Buccaneers under 6½ wins.


NFC West proposition bets

Monday, 06 August 2018 10:31 EST

Who’s ready to start betting NFL proposition bets for 2018? During training camp, NFLbets brings you our takes on the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” props for the upcoming season. For a compilation of the sportsbooks’ projected finish for all 32 teams based on over/under wins lines, click here.

For no good reason, we’ll start with the NFC West, with some of the seemingly easier picks on offer. (Gods, are NFL bettors going to miss a world in which the Seattle Seahawks are so prominently featured yet so consistently underrated – or overrated…)

NFC WestLet’s go to the big board for some lines and odds:

NFC West O/U wins   to win division  (current)
Los Angeles Rams 10½ -120 -135
San Francisco 49ers +260 +280
Seattle Seahawks 7 +375 +400
Arizona Cardinals 7 +1100 +1500

 

Immediate observation: While maybe 2½ weeks into camps, the only team trending upward in the NFC West is the Los Angeles Rams. And why not? The Rams killed it this offseason, adding Nadmokung Suh (only the league’s scariest dude) and Marcus Peters (only the league’s best cornerback) to an already exciting, DVOA-leading, DMVP Aaron Donald-having defense. Supplementing these internet-breakers are LB Ramik Wilson plus CBs Sam Shields and Aquib Talib.

To go full dad for a moment here, defense wins championships (um, excepting last year’s Super Bowl … or really any title game involving those New England Patriots…) and thus the Rams at 29/5 to win the NFC championship and 9/1 to win Super Bowl LIII look like pretty decent bets, as is L.A. taking the NFC West at -135 or so. However, NFLbets is getting a bit more pragmatic here, and the key question is: Over or under on the 10½ wins prop? 

By dint of last year’s division-topping performance, the Rams’ 2018 dance card features a number of expected playoff teams: They’ll go vs the Los Angeles Chargers, vs the Minnesota Vikings, at Denver, vs the Green Bay Packers, at the New Orleans Saints, vs the Kansas City Chiefs, vs the Philadelphia Eagles and the home-and-home against the plucky upstarts, Jimmy and the Niners. On the other hand, every single one of the aforementioned games will be played in fair weather or a dome. Even if the Rams lose half of these more difficult games, that’s still good for a 12-4 record. NFLbets advises taking the L.A. Rams over 10½ wins.

But that’s not the best bet in the NFC West: those would be the San Francisco 49ers over/under 8½ wins and Seattle Seahawks over/under 8 wins. If ever a team had “upswing” written all over it, it’d be the 2018 49ers; and while the Seahawks are destined for a sub-.500 season, NFL bettors will happily get to exploit Seattle at the sportsbook.

Make no bones about it: NFLbets wouldn’t advise taking either of these teams to win the NFC West – though if something (or many somethings) calamitous goes down in Rams camp, the Niners will make an excellent hedge bet – but both are solid plays in the “Over/Under Regular-Season Wins” prop.

Beyond the whoa-nelly signing of Richard Sherman, San Francisco GM Mike Lynch went low profile (e.g. signing DE/OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, OL Jonathan Cooper) this past offseason after pinning down wunderkind QB Jimmy Garoppolo to a multiyear deal. Now Jimmy G. may turn the ball over a bit frequently, but the truth is that this team is 100% behind their franchise QB of the future, and that means much in the emotional game of football. This could be one high-scoring offense, enough to make the Niners at least a half-game better than .500.

Too abstract for you to bet on? Fine. Let’s look at the schedule again.

For essentially the first half of 2018, the Niners will be tested, but check out what happens in week 8: A stretch that run at Arizona Cardinals, vs. Oakland Raiders, vs. New York Giants, bye week, at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at Seattle, vs Denver Broncos, vs Seattle and vs Chicago Bears before closing at Los Angeles in what could very well be yet another meaningless (for the Rams, though not necessarily the 49ers nor the NFL bettors) week 17 contest. So yes, NFLbets says take the San Francisco 49ers over 8½ wins.

And in Seattle, a transitional period begins. By all appearances, Pete Carroll is losing his players’ devotion. The ‘Hawks have been hemorrhaging free agents since the Super Bowl XLiX loss and have never found the correct mix of “skill players” on the offense since Beast Mode was GAME OVER in Seattle. The departure of future Hall of Famer/team emotional core Richard Sherman was the final sign that, at least for the nonce, the Seahawks are a team in decline.

The over/under proposition bet line of 8 wins for the 2018 Seahawks is clearly based in reputation and gambler attraction. Isn’t it fantastic that, after making so many NFL bettors happy by twice winning the Super Bowl ATS in the 2010s, Seattle is offering any chance at big easy money? Take the Seattle Seahwaks under 8 wins.

Last and certainly least come the Arizona Cardinals. For the 2018 version of the Cards, remove “transition” and “transitional” from your vocabulary and start talking process. This team could well be Cleveland Browns-level bad in ’18, and we’re thinking a trade of David Johnson and/or Larry Fitzgerald is in the works by season’s end as Arizona enters full-on tank mode. A line of 7 in the “over/under wins” prop is ridiculous – just for starters, how can the Cardinals *not* go 0-6 against the NFC West? Take the Arizona Cardinals to go under 7 wins.

NFLbets’ best bets for NFC West betting: San Francisco 49ers over 8½ wins; Seattle Seahawks under 8 wins; Arizona Cardinals under 7 wins; Los Angeles Rams to win NFC West at -135 (preferably as part of a parlay).

NFLbets’ recommendations for NFC West betting: Los Angeles Rams over 10½ wins.


NFL Standings 2018: Final (projected)

Friday, 03 August 2018 10:03 EST

The Official NFLbets Fortune TellerSome of the trickiest, foolhardiest, most insanely difficult NFL proposition bets offered at sportsbook websites are also the most deceptive. After all, everybody with a blog or a drinking buddy makes preseason predictions for the final standings, right? So … betting over/unders should be easy, right?

Well, let NFLbets tell you about the 2017 Baltimore Ravens. We caught those purple-and-black chumps in Las Vegas at 8½ in the “Over/Under Wins” prop and reckoned this was easy money.

Yet these guys, 27th in overall yardage and 29th in passing yardage, somehow got to 9-and-freaking-7 SU thanks to two games against the hapless Cleveland Browns, an eked-out win over the DeShaun Watson-less Houston Texans and a gift from the already 3-11 Indianapolis Colts in week f*#*&#ing 16 – Lemme tell ya, you remember every single bad loss (or win, in this case) when you cover a team like the g&@^@^#mn Ravens in this prop.

The only upside – if one can call anything about losing a proposition bet an upside – to the “Over/Under Wins” bet is that the outcome is often obvious pretty early on, so that the NFL bettor may hedge. As heshe will inevitably do.

Nevertheless, NFLbets just can’t stay away. Look, as long as you’re sane about this thing, you won’t lose *too* much money, right?

The following is the NFL standings for 2018 (final), as projected by the “Over/Under Wins” prop for the upcoming season. Ties indicate those ½-point addenda that make this sort of proposition bet even more impossible fun! Since official statisticians somehow figure a tie as a half-win, as though any such concept is sensical, NFLbets does so here to project the winning percentage of the given team you’ll be betting to top or drop.

*An asterisk indicates a playoff bid with the bookmakers’ projected win/loss total.

NFC East proj record
Philadelphia Eagles* 10-5-1
Dallas Cowboys 8-7-1
New York Giants 7-9-0
Washington football team 7-9-0

 

NFC North proj record
Green Bay Packers* 10-6-0
Minnesota Vikings* 10-6-0
Detroit Lions 7-8-1
Chicago Bears 6-9-1

 

NFC South proj record
New Orleans Saints* 9-6-1
Atlanta Falcons* 9-7-0
Carolina Panthers 8-7-1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-9-1

 

NFC West proj record
Los Angeles Rams* 10-6-0
San Francisco 49ers 8-7-1
Seattle Seahawks 8-8-0
Washington 5-10-1

 

AFC East proj record
New England Patriots* 11=5=0
Buffalo Bills 6-9-1
Miami Dolphins 6-9-1
New York Jets 6-10-0

 

AFC North proj record
Pittsburgh Steelers* 10-5-1
Baltimore Ravens 8-8-0
Cincinnati Bengals 6-9-1
Cleveland Browns 5-10-1

 

AFC South proj record
Jacksonville Jaguars* 9-7-0
Houston Texans* 8-7-1
Tennessee Titans 8-8-0
Indianpolis Colts 6-9-1

 

AFC West proj record
Los Angeles Chargers* 9-6-1
Kansas City Chiefs* 8-7-1
Oakland Raiders 8-8-0
Danver Broncos 7-9-1

 

Now, these standings are the result of a bet of Schrodinger’s Odd Table: Though the win/loss totals are team-by-team are accurate enough renderings of expectation, the standings board itself is wildly bizarre. In the end, mathematics breaks down due to attractiveness: As with all standardized bets and lines, a given team may be over- or undervalued so as to induce more NFL bettors to take chances.

The total records for NFLbets’ projected final standings for 2018 add up to 249-244-19, thereby giving out five more wins than was necessary; this would imply good money may be won betting on unders – and hoo boy, could NFLbets cherry-pick about four or five right now. An odd number of total ties is of course impossible unless teams are going back to scheduling non-league games.

Other kneejerk reactions lead NFLbets to believe that the bookmakers are dead wrong on much of the AFC South. Easy money might also be had in the in AFC South, AFC East and possibly the NFC West and AFC West. 

Also, probably everybody’s going to be wrong about the NFC South.

During the preseason, we’ll be breaking down over/under win totals for each division in the NFL, expanding on some of the above-listed teasers. And we’ll probably dither on that Oakland Raiders at 8 until, likesay, week 1 Monday Night Football kickoff in L.A. (But we’ll be taking the Rams minus the points for sure.)  


Super Bowl LIII: Four teams not to bet

Saturday, 21 July 2018 07:19 EST

Yesterday, NFLbets gave you four NFL teams to bet in the proposition bets “To Win Super Bowl LIII” and “To Win 2018-19 Conference Championship.” Because half of wagering is knowing what *not* to bet and because the process of elimination is quite useful when dealing with a limited field of possible outcomes, today we’ve got four teams not to bet when wagering on NFL futures this year.

Let’s begin this round with the slaughtering of a big fat sacred cow, followed by a few easy ones.

New England Patriots – 4/1 to win Super Bowl; 7/5 to win the AFC Championship
sad Tom BradyLike Tom Brady’s official status week to week since 2004, these lines are questionable. That 7/5 to even get to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII would be considered close to collective insanity were this any other team – Seriously, they’re going off at even odds? Are NFL bettors so convinced that a history-making four Bowl appearances within five years (only those Buffalo Bills of the 1990s have done so) that they’re throwing their money at such a rate? Hell, it’s only late July: By opening day, the Patriots could be 10/11 to take the AFC.

Clever NFL bettors, however, realize a key fact or two. Even beyond the simple mathematics of Tom Brady’s age and the rumored dissonance with Patriot land, the truth is that this roster has seen quite the makeover from a Super Bowl loss in which all Brady & Co. did was help set the record for biggest offensive game ever. All Belichickian magic aside, we’ll see how newcomers Jordan Matthews and Cordarrelle Patterson mesh in the receiving corps, if they play at all: All the late-season signing of high-profile Kenny Britt got New England last year was two catches on five targets. NFLbets’ feeling here is that this is the thinnest WR corps since Reche Caldwell was the go-to guy.

But hey, the Patriots still have Rob Gronkowski, best TE in the NFL, right? Sure – except the dude hasn’t played an injury-free season since 2011, has now undergone three major surgeries and was contemplating retirement this past offseason. For Gronk, like the rest of the Pats, the writing may be on the wall here.

Then there’s the defense, now officially without Malcolm Butler, are heading to camp with some 17 CBs and DBs, with perhaps the only reasonably recognizable name that of Devin McCourty. The overwhelming majority of the remainder is comprised by dudes possibly generated by Madden Football, e.g. J.C. Jackson, Duke Dawson, Damarius Travis, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner ... the Patriots secondary will likely be demonstrably worse than one which surrendered 538 yards and 41 points to a Nick Foles-led offense in Super Bowl LII.

Now, what’s the argument for the 2018 New England Patriots? Brady? NFL bettors appearing to be suffering en masse from willful self-deception on ol’ Touchdown Tom. To place Tom on a pedestal is to ignore quite an impressive bunch of youngsters in the rearview mirror: We’re talking DeShaun Watson, Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston, Patriots castoff Jimmy Garoppolo, and even Jared Goff here, many of whom will be leading Super Bowl contenders in ’18.

Face it: The times are changing. But change is good – for the prescient NFL bettor.

Philadelphia Eagles -- 15/2 to win Super Bowl; 4/1 to win NFC Championship
Sad Eagles fansHere’s an understatement we can all agree on: Winning the Super Bowl is difficult. Winning back-to-back ’Bowls has been done eight times before, all by all-time great teams led by Hall of Fame coaches. The list runs as follows.

• 1966-67 Green Bay Packers
• 1972-73 Miami Dolphins
• 1974-75 Pittsburgh Steelers
• 1978-79 Pittsburgh Steelers
• 1988-89 San Francisco 49ers
• 1992-93 Dallas Cowboys
• 1997-98 Denver Broncos
• 2003-04 New England Patriots

Admittedly, NFLbets is no more psychic or time-traveling than any of our readers. And perhaps Carson Wentz is the 21st-century Steve Young, Jalen Mills is the 2020s’ Deion Sanders and/or Doug Pederson is the new Bill Belichick – but, completely stoically, we wouldn’t bet on it.

Minnesota Vikings – 10/1 to win Super Bowl; 29/5 to win NFC Championship
Superstition and “historical” mumbo-jumbo have no place in the proper NFL bettor’s philosophy, so we’ll try to ignore the Vikings’ absolutely pitiful mark ATS in the playoffs since, well, forever, really. (Since 1977, the Vikes are 0-5 SU in NFC Championship games and 1-4 ATS, with the sole ATS win by ½ point in a 3-point loss to the eventual champion New Orleans Saints.)

For 2018, the Vikings Sad Vikings fanshave been saddled with one seriously grueling schedule which includes away games at Green Bay, Los Angeles (to play the Rams), Philadelphia, New York (to play the Jets, NFLbets' current top pick for biggest surprise of the 2018 season), New England and Seattle, plus home games versus the 49ers, Saints and Packers – That’s eight games against presumed playoff contenders at least, including five of the top six odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl.

In fact, the Vikings get just two three-week stretches in which they may avoid the NFL’s top teams (weeks 9-11, which includes the bye; and 15-17) and both of these include games against the divisional rival Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears.

All in all, the Vikings have drawn a schedule which will make getting to 10-6 an impressive feat, never mind ascending to the NFC Championship game…

Cleveland Browns – 66/1 (at least) to win Super Bowl; 33/1 to win AFC Championship
Somewhere out there is a guy who’s thrown $20 on the Browns winning the NFL title annually. If Cleveland takes the Lombardi Trophy within the next 10 years, he’ll still come out ahead lifetime (not adjusted for inflation) at odds of 66/1. Here’s to thinking he’s kissing Andrew Jackson goodbye for this season, however.


Super Bowl LIII: Three teams to bet on

Friday, 20 July 2018 08:03 EST

Super Bowl LIII alternate logoAll right, before we get started, let’s agree to accept a couple of facts: Almost always will preseason predictions from “experts”, pundits or your best buddy online are simply based in the past rather than the future. Year after year, NFL predictions are cookie-cutter rubber stamps of the previous season’s results. O sure, some prognosticators are sharp enough to account for teams trending upward (for 2018, the poster boys for these phenomenon are the San Francisco 49ers and superstar QB heir apparent Jimmy Garropolo), but generally speaking most would-be Nostradami mindlessly reproduce last year’s results in their envisioning of the next season.

And yet, at the end of every NFL regular season, the same old statistical narratives are told. Stuff like only eight defending champions have repeated as Super Bowl winners; that in the last 25 seasons, 10 Super Bowl losers failed to return to the playoffs, and another four lost in the wild-card round; that only twice in its 16 years of existence has the NFC South had a repeat champion (both times the Carolina Panthers, including the 7-8-1 season of 2014); and so on.

But while the everyday punter ignores such larger trends, the sportsbooks cannot afford to. Though naturally to some extent appealing to the masses – How else to explain the New England Patriots’ freakin’ 4/1 odds to win Super Bowl LIII? – sportsbooks can hardly afford to not account for change.

NFLbets is even more fearless. We don’t mind putting our money on what many bettors would call stretches, for great money may be made with just a little open-mindedness.

Herewith, then, are three teams NFLbets is considering for investment in the proposition bets “To Win Super Bowl LIII” and “To Win Conference Championship.” We’ll wait until camps are over/the odds get nicely longer (whichever come first) to finalize these prop bets, but we’re pretty settled on the following four good picks and four bad picks.

Houston Texans – 20/1 to win Super Bowl; 8/1 to win AFC Championship
Houston Texans vs PackersIn his seven games at QB last season, DeShaun Watson tossed for over 242 yards per game and threw 19 TDs versus just eight interceptions. Proportioned over a full season, Watson would have led the NFL in 2017 in TD passes and, given his averages of 266.67 and 3 TDs per start, would have finished fifth in yardage and might have run up 14 more TD strikes than real-life #1 Russell Wilson.

As though the return of the former NCAA National Championship MVP for Texans Opening Day 2018 weren’t enough, consider that J.J. Watt is back again and Sammie Coates was signed for another weapon in the receiver corps. On top of all this, Houston is graced with a third-place schedule in ’18 on top of two games against the NFL’s worst non-Ohio team, the Indianapolis Colts. Heck, after game one at the New England Patriots, the Texans won’t face a truly serious contender until *week 16* when they visit defending champion Philadelphia – and by then, they’ll certainly have a playoff bid clinched.

Think we’re talking out our butts? The Texans are the third-favorite to win the AFC at most sportsbooks, behind the perpetual chalk favorites in New England and Pittsburgh. NFLbets believes.

Green Bay Packers – 15/2 to win Super Bowl; 4/1 to win NFC Championship
Quick: How long has it been since Aaron Rodgers got “Titletown” its only Lombardi Trophy of the 21st century? If you said “seven,” you’re correct; time flies, particularly when your team is perpetually in contention. Indeed, until 2017, the Pack had enjoyed nine consecutive seasons with a playoff bid.

In response to the team’s 7-9 bid of 2017 combined with Rodgers’s, um, concerns with his roster, the Packers’ front office this offseason did … well, the typical little. Rodgers’s favorite target Jordy Nelson is out, Jimmy Graham is in. So why should we take these Packers seriously? We’re thinking “window of opportunity” here. Truth is, most NFC teams are in a state of flux: We’re expecting less from the still-ascendant Philadelphia Eagles and winding-down Atlanta Falcons. Who knows what the hell’s going on with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants; no dominant team appears to be coming out of the South; and the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams could still be vulnerable in the playoffs, particularly the Pack’s division-rival in Minny.

One can easily imagine the Packers going 10-6, grabbing a wild-card spot and tromping through the NFC playoffs. We’re thinking 4/1 on Green Bay to take the conference is a good hedge against more speculative wagers, such as betting on the…

Los Angeles Rams – 9/1 to win Super Bowl; 29/5 to win NFC Championship
Ndamokung SuhNFLbets knows that the Rams are the vogue pick for Super Bowl LIII and also that vogue picks make may NFL bettors squeamish. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to bet against an overall surprisingly young team returning the NFL’s Coach of the Year, Offensive Play of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year; on top of this one may add the acquisition of the NFL’s scariest natural phenomenon in Ndamukong Suh.

Sure, the road to the Super Bowl will certainly not be easy for the Rams, whose roster is still mostly comprised of dudes who are a collective 0-1 in the playoffs thanks to last season’s near no-show in the wild-card game against the Atlanta Falcons. Before the Rams even think about the playoffs, they’ll have to deal with the upstart San Francisco 49ers and still somewhat dangerous Seattle Seahawks, plus a schedule which includes the Vikings, Eagles, Packers and the Broncos in Denver.

It may not be an easy ride for the Rams in 2018, but it says here that this is one solid squad whose odds are well worth a few bucks. Meanwhile, those in the Los Angeles/Southern California market can look forward to all those Lebron James/Todd Gurley commercials we’ll soon be seeing…