Latest NFL insider articles

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

Friday, 18 June 2021 15:08 EST

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

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

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

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati: 50/1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–written by Os Davis

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

Thursday, 17 June 2021 11:23 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Considering the 2021 Chicago Bears schedule

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

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

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

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

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


Betting reportedly heavy on New England Patriots starting QB prop; are you people all insane?

Sunday, 13 June 2021 20:37 EST

Can NFLbets blame any amount of NFL bettors’ insanity on Covid-19? Because trends in this repeatedly reported upon proposition bet “New England Patriots Starting Quarterback in Week 1” can otherwise only be explained by our worst, most weak-minded tendencies.

According to a story posted at the official website of NESN, the New England Sports Network:

 “[New England rookie quarterback Mac] Jones is dominating the bet count at one American sportsbook that is taking wagers on which quarterback will start for Bill Belichick in the Patriots’ season opener against the Miami Dolphins.

“FanDuel is reporting that 75% of its bets in the Pats QB market (sic) have been placed on Jones. The former Alabama signal caller is going off at +160 right now, so a $100 wager would win $160 and pay out $260 at the current price.”

The NESN goes on to note that 7 of 10 bettors playing the “Starting Patriots QB for Week 1” prop are covering Jones, and that the odds in the offering ran:

Cam Newton: -190

Mac Jones: +160

Jarrett Stidham: +900

Brian Hoyer: Not worth mentioning, apparently

Money has indeed apparently been flowing in on Jones in this prop.

On May 4 at DraftKings, Jones was fetching +500 while Newton drew an awful -400 and Stridham an even worse +600.  Three weeks later, Jones was down to +275 payouts, Newton was up to -278 and Stidham had gone to a still unbettable +900.

The recent steep action on Jones (and in this proposition bet at all) can probably be attributed to the news that presumptive starter Cam Newton had injured his hand in OTAs five days ago.

The NFLbets hot take: None of these bets have any value. Kneejerk responses to clickbait headlines are all well and good in your free time, but in no fucking instance should you be betting without reading the lede paragraph. Better yet, wait a day or two before participating in any frivolous player prop bet like this.

Within 24 hours, Belichick had been quoted on Newton’s situation as unserious and that the quarterback “be all right.” With two days after reportage of the injury, not Jones but Stidham was taking the majority of snaps in practice sessions.

Now perhaps this is a fiendishly clever smokescreen by the EEEEevil genius Belichick, perhaps the man’s being stoic and would prefer the next injury to befall someone other than Jones, or perhaps a dozen other possibilities – but nothing thus far is indicates the rookie is the week 1 starter.

Geez, just on a very basic level, can we figure that maybe Belichick is calculating for a 17-game, i.e. long, schedule? Why wouldn’t the Patriots take a game or three to iron out kinks are let the more familiar QB run the offense? Why wouldn’t the Pats brain trust plan in advance with seven AFC teams making the playoffs?

As far as NFLbets is concerned, all signs continue pointing to Newton. If you insist on playing this bet, you’re playing a waiting game, asking yourself “Can the odds on Cam get even better…?” The line of -190 is a terrible payout, but can there be enough reality-deniers to continuing pushing this line to 1/1?

Folks, let’s be rational. That is your money out there, after all.

--written by Os Davis


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

Friday, 11 June 2021 18:27 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Considering the 2021 Tennessee Titans schedule

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

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

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

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

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

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

--written by Os Davis

Betting over/under proposition bets, part 5: Cleveland Browns, 10 wins

Wednesday, 09 June 2021 18:58 EST

Covering the Cleveland Browns in the over/under wins proposition bet is the true mark of the rational NFL bettor – at least that’s what NFLbets tell ourselves as we get back up on the same damn orange-tinted horse.

Two years ago, the masses bought into the superteam myth, as the Browns rose to near-AFC favorites mostly by dint of shucking off Hue Jackson and thereafter interim HC/sociopathic barnacle Gregg Williams. Going into 2019, Cleveland brought quite promising-to-extremely promising young players like Miles Garrett, Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield; Denzel Ward was picked up in the draft, while Odell Beckham signed to pair with Jarvis Landry. As it turned out, however, as a head coach Freddy Kitchens made a slightly-above-average WRs coach, the Browns finished 6-10 and speculative bettors lost tons.

For 2020, the Browns brought in Kevin Stefanski as head coach – hey, at least he had one year of OC experience – and used their inevitable high first-round draft pick on Crimson Tide tackle Jedrick Wills. With Mayfield’s stock among bettors dropping in inverse proportion to amount of his appearances in television commercials, the ’20 Browns weren’t even among the top-10 shortest odds in preseason “To Win Super Bowl LV” props, drawing a 30/1 line along with other disappointments of the season prior, the Raiders, Vikings and Rams, while forecasting by sportsbooks for a measly 8 wins.

And despite taking the second-most Covid optouts prior to the wacky 2020 season and losing Becks before the midway point, the Browns featured the best 1-2 running back corps in the NFL, finished 11-5 and threatened the staggering Steelers for the division title down the stretch – NFLbets guesses coaching matters, eh.

And now, going into this post-pandemic season, the Browns have added JaDaveon Clowney in free agency and harkened back to the past in drafting Greg Newsome II. Cleveland’s AFC North division mates in Pittsburgh and Baltimore seem primed for a downturn and, considering the two-decade run in which the Patriots, Buccaneers, Seahawks, Saints and to some extent the Cardinals each rid themselves of a decades-old Loser label. Argument no. 1 in betting on the 2021 Cleveland Browns is thus: Why not them?

Cleveland Browns bettingCleveland Browns, over/under 10 wins (-115/-105)

Those bettors with intestinal fortitude enough to back the seemingly perpetually disappointing Browns may join NFLbets on some speculation as to what a run to the Super Bowl (or even the AFC Championship game) might look like.

Considering the 2021 Cleveland Browns schedule

Historically, the most difficult part of forecasting the AFC North winner in any year, i.e. the hard-fought intradivisional games. Since 2010, the home team is 78-57-1 SU, but 61-70-5 ATS – and in most seasons, Cleveland and Cincinnati could both be depended upon to serve as punching bags. NFLbets is betting (literally) on Pittsburgh trending down, Baltimore holding level-ish and Cincinnati trending up; with two of these sentiments thought controversial by the bookies, let’s avoid a statistical wormhole and call the Browns’ record 3-3 in those games.

Outside the division, the schedule-makers have looked generally favorably upon the Browns – despite having to open at the defending conference champion Kansas City Chiefs. For example, beginning in week 2 it’s a run of After that, Cleveland gets a run of vs Houston, vs Chicago, at Minnesota, at the Chargers, vs Arizona and vs Denver. NFLbets projects conservatively a 5-2 mark for these seven games; note the interesting lack of AFC North games.

Hosting Arizona (posted to the schedule by dint of the Browns’ 3rd-place finish in 2020) in week 6, Denver in week 7 and Las Vegas in week 15 allows Cleveland to dodge three of four possible Mountain/Pacific Time Zone games in the schedule; the fourth is the Los Angeles game in week 5, a de facto home game with clocks set back.

The three outstanding games for the 2021 Browns are at New England in week 10, vs Detroit in 11 and at Green Bay in 16. We’ll say Bill Belichick has enough of the Patriots’ shit together by their 10th game to defend Foxborough against what could be an overconfident, overhyped 7-2 Cleveland. Conversely, the Lions will, charitably, not be very good. NFLbets are not at all believers in the Packers, a team already in decline and less likely every day to have Aaron Rodgers (or anyone remotely interesting) at QB, but humoring the masses, NFLbets’ll put the Browns’ mark at 1-2 in these games.

Interesting to note an oddity perhaps brought about by expansion to 17 games: The Browns’ week 13 bye is sandwiched by Ravens games…Totaling up the 2021 Cleveland Browns’ prospective win-loss record leaves us at … you guessed it: 10-7. This closer look has NFLbets’ sickness for the Browns growing, though; we’re believing that the damn Cleveland Browns could win 13 or 14 games this year. But hey, no need to get out of hand: Take over 10 wins for the Browns. Really.

--written by Os Davis

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

Saturday, 05 June 2021 20:07 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Considering the 2021 Seattle Seahawks schedule

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– written by Os Davis



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

Thursday, 03 June 2021 19:47 EST

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Considering the 2021 Detroit Lions schedule

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

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

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

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

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

– written by Os Davis

Considering the longest of longshots in “To Win Super Bowl LVI” prop

Monday, 31 May 2021 16:33 EST

NFLbets’ boss talks about it every summer, in between the NFL Draft and opening day – about how Trent Green was set to be teamed up with newly-acquired Marshall Faulk and #6 overall pick, WR Torry Holt of NC State, for at least an above-average St. Louis Rams offense. About how Green went out in the third preseason game, how some Arena League guy was coming in at quarterback and  The Boss caught 100-1 odds on his beloved Rams in a Super Bowl proposition bet.

And about the punchline: The Boss’s beloved Rams morphed into Greatest Show on Turf, played to an average score of 33-15, won the Super Bowl dramatically, and ka-ching, winner winner chicken dinners enough for a small island nation.

For those fans who ritualistically throw a few dollars on their favorite team to win the Super Bowl as a sort of fandom tax – looking Cleveland and Detroit’s ways here – NFLbets considers whether any longshot in the “To Win Super Bowl LVI” proposition bet has a miracle’s chance to cash in.

At the bottom of the table at most sportsbooks are essentially this year’s seven consensus underdogs:

Super Bowl LVI betting -- longshots• New York Giants (75/1)
• Las Vegas Raiders (80/1)
• Jacksonville Jaguars (100/1)
• New York Jets (100/1)
• Cincinnati Bengals (100/1)
• Detroit Lions (150/1)
• Houston Texans (200/1)

Right off the top (bottom?), NFLbets removes the Jaguars, Jets and Lions based solely on expected starting quarterback. The truth is that no rookie QB has ever won a Super Bowl – and while this year’s draft class was quite the outlier vis-à-vis quarterback talent, we’re just playing the (long) numbers; would-be Jaguars and Jets backers should also note that no head coach has ever even gotten his team to the Super Bowl in his first season with the team, eliminating a Warner-for-Greenesque scenario as well.

The Lions enter the 2021 season with a first-year head coach as well plus Jared Goff at QB. Those who haven’t seen enough of Goff to surmise these Lions would be overrated at 500/1, consider that just two veteran quarterbacks have ever gotten to a ’Bowl in their first season with the new club: Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. And one needn’t have been a Los Angeles Rams ticketholder for the past four years to realize that Goff is no Manning or Brady.

NFLbets will go ahead and remove the Texans from competition here as well. There’s no precedent for a team amidst a multi-year rebuilding scheme with a starting quarterback facing 23 lawsuits winning a Super Bowl, but the odds against should be a lot longer than 200/1.

Our remaining longshot Super Bowl possibilities thus come down to a manageable three:

•  Cincinnati Bengals (100/1). As is typical, too many bettors will be blinded by history for several weeks of the 2021 NFL season, particularly with regard to the AFC North. The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, at 14/1 and 40/1 respectively, are already laughably short considering the real lack of offseason improvement through acquisition. By contrast, the Bengals can essentially completely reconstruct the offensive line that had Joe Burrow running for his life early and often in ’21 through adding  former Minnesota Vikings OT Riley Reiff via free agency and drafting OG Jackson Carman (Clemson) in round two, OT D’Ante Smith (East Carolina) in four, and C Trey Hill (Georgia) in six.

Add to the mix Ja’Marr Chase and you’ve got what could well be the league’s most improved team season-on-season – say from 4-11-1 to 9-8 or 10-7 – not to mention a bona fide playoff contender with seven teams in each conference’s postseason bracket.

•   Las Vegas Raiders (80/1). Putting aside the possibility of Aaron Rodgers sneaking over to the Denver Broncos (an eventuality that drops in likelihood literally daily), the Raiders will need to contend with two expected 10-win teams in the Chiefs and Chargers. Atop this, the Raiders are an unimpressive 19-29 since Gruden re-took over in Oakland/Las Vegas and, while maximizing Derek Carr’s skills (the Raiders were top-10 in passing yards and points for the only the third time since Jerry Rice was on the team), the defense has degenerated to among the league’s worst.

On the other hand, check out Gruden & Co.’s draft selections: two OLs and five defenders; this marks the first NFL Draft of the seven-round era in which the Raiders did not pick any offensive “skill players.” If ol’ Chucky somehow pulls off a Lombardi Trophy win in 2022, 19 years will have passed since the last time his team played in the Super Bowl – This would tie the mark for longest gap between ’Bowls by a head coach set by who else but Dick Vermeil of the 1980 Philadelphia Eagles and the 1999 Rams.

•  New York Giants (75/1). NFLbets knows: Daniel Jones will never be counted among the league’s elites. However, neither was two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning; on the other hand, Eli started with teams that had gone 8-8 and 10-6 in seasons previous to ’Bowl runs. As with the Bengals, the biggest plus for the Giants in 2021 could be their overrated division mates. NFLbets believes the Washington Football Team will be good for 10 wins minimum, but the Eagles are at least retooling their franchise and, really, is anyone depending on competitiveness from the Cowboys, to whom craziness always seems to cripple?

And while the offense ranked bottom-3 in points scored, overall yardage, passing yardage and first downs, the presumably still badass Saquon Barkley returns as does most of last season’s more than respectable defense.

The 2021 New York Giants winning Super Bowl LVI – Stranger things have happened in NFL football, after all. Likesay, some dude from the Arena League powering the greatest offensive season by an NFL team ever seen…

– written by Os Davis

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

Thursday, 27 May 2021 16:43 EST

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

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

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

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

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

Washington Football Team wins bettingNFLbets doesn’t get it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--written by Os Davis

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

Wednesday, 26 May 2021 18:38 EST

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

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

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

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

All very impressive. Also mostly irrelevant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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