Latest NFL insider articles


NFLbets 2021 Mock Draft, picks 1-16: Can rationality really win out?

Wednesday, 14 April 2021 16:30 EST

2021 NFL mock draftThe uncertainty is palpable. Also out of control.

Mock drafts from the NFL Network’s Peter Schrager and CBS Sports have the New England Patriots trading up to no. 4 to take a QB -- but Schrager’s got the Pats taking Justin Fields (OSU) while CBS has them drafting ... Trey Lance? (NFLbets hasn’t heard that particular rumor before, but ok…) Maurice Jones-Drew, meanwhile, has New England trading up to no. 7 to get Mac Jones, based in part on the reputed Belichick-Saban bromance.

And that’s just the Patriots. By the time the mass-consciousness has gotten to pick #4, chaos theory has already set in. A wave of Kyle Pitts-as-potential-GOAT stories crashed in and ebbed, with some figuring that the Falcons would pass on a generational talent like Pitts, not to mention immediate offensive starters WR Ja’Marr Chase, OL Penei Swell and OL Rashawn Slater for the sake of trading out of, at minimum, the top 9.

Some even figure Atlanta to be taking a quarterback -- directly after Matt Ryan restructured his contract over the next three years after racking up the NFL’s third-most passing yards in 2020.

The Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions at 5, 6 and 7, respectively, are each looking at a blue-chipper no matter which is selected where and for various reasons could flip a coin between available offensive linemen and wide receivers.

Then there come the Carolna Panthers. With Sam Darnold newly signed in no small part so that the no. 8 overall pick wouldn’t be expended on a quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater as backup, enough top WRs on the roster to eschew drafting, likesay, Devonta Smith, anything goes here. Most reckon that Carolina trades down here, but they could make certain other teams’ lives miserable by snapping up a QB or top defensive prospect LB Micah Parsons...

Looming in the middle are the Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots at no. 14 and 15, both of which go for the obscure or unexpected on draft day one.

And so it goes. Maybe it’s just NFLbets here, but mock drafts in 2021 seems particularlhy beholden to guesswork. Maybe it’s due to hype or unknowns due to covid-shortened college seasons, but every pick in the mock draft feels like a step through a minefield -- at least after nos. 1 and 2 are off the board. So here goes nothing ... or half of nothing. Below runs the Official NFLbets 2021 NFL Mock Draft, round one (part one) follows.

1. QB Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

2. QB Zach Wilson (BYU) to the New York Jets. Already well-established done deals.

3. QB Mac Jones (Alabama) to the San Francisco 49ers. For a while, NFLbets figured that the 49ers might be considering Justin Fields here, but with Jones plummeting to -175 or so in “To Be Drafted 3rd” proposition bets. NFLbets realizes that we’ll have to hedge against our earlier wager that Fields might be drafted here.

Concomitant prediction: Jimmy Garoppolo is traded on Draft Day day one with, likesay, a second-round pick for the Patriots’ no. 16. The reports out of San Francisco and New England camps that Jimmy G. trade talks are off are the real smokescreen here, designed to keep media from continuously asking about the possibility.

4. TE Kyle Pitts (Florida) to the Atlanta Falcons. The three primary TEs in the past two Super Bowls were guys anemd Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce and George Kittle. Given the exponentially increasing importance of the TE, wouldn’t you have to draft the guy who can be mentioned in the same paragraph as the three aforementioned? Of course you would.

5. OL Penei Sewell (Oregon) to the Cincinnati Bengals. Can the Bengals soberly choose the abasolute specimen to protect Joe Burrow or will they go for the Bacchanalian delight of giving their stud QB a WR toy? We’re syaing the Cincy brain trust makes the rational move, though possibly a stretch.

6. WR Ja-Marr Chase (LSU) to the Miami Dolphins. Tua Tagovailoa and his dual offensive coordinators will have no excuses after having dispatched Ryan Fitzpatrick and added the 2021 NFL Draft class’s most dynamic receiver.

7. OL Rashawn Slater (Northwestern) to the Detroit Lions. After cleaning house of front office and coaching staff, NFLbets figures the Lions are in for the long rebuild. A good start is shoring up the offensive line; those who watched Jared Goff with the Los Angeles Rams know, pass protection will be critical to Detroit’s immediate success.

8. QB Trey Lance (NDSU) to the Washington Football Team (after trade with Carolina Panthers). Okay, here’s your trade. Washington had made much noise about their admiration of Lance and with a defense like theirs, improving quite literally the NFL’s first- or second-worst offense is the only priority.

9. QB Justin Fields (OSU) to the Denver Broncos. Broncos GM George Paton stated a month ago that “if the right quarterback falls to them … they’re picking a quarterback.” NFLbets thinks nothing much has changed since then and that any of the top 5 QBs still at no. 9 will be the right quarterback.

10. CB Patrick Surtain (Alabama) to the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones is known for talking up guys whose moxie he likes. Sometimes, he’s restrained (as in not drafting Johnny Manziel) and sometimes not (as in Morris Claiborne); this time ‘round, perhaps the best Cowboys fans can hope for is that, with his current obsessions (reportedly Kyle Pitts and Trey Lance) out of reach by pick no. 10, the Dallas war room will have no choice but to just draft the best secondary player coming out of college instead.

11. LB Micah Parsons (Penn State) to the New York Giants. Since 2014, the Giants have gone, in order, WR, OT, CB, TE, RB, QB, DT, CB and OT with first round picks; they’ve drafted anywhere between no. 2 and no. 30 and always appear to simply draft the best athlete available. This has proven a decent strategy in snapping up the likes of Odell Beckham, Saquon Barkley, Dexter Lawrence and Andrew Thomas. With the same philosphy in mind, NBLbets is saying

12. WR Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are certainly now in full rebuild mode and will look to get a playmaker for the offense. Waddle is probably the top “skill player” available at this point in the draft.

13. WR Devonta Smith (Alabama) to the the “Los Angeles” Chargers. The Chargers probably would rather go for an offensive lineman, but the dropoff from Sewell and Slater to The Field is steep. Plus, the thought of Justin Herbert tossing long balls to the Heisman Trophy-winning lowest-floor receiver in the draft has got to be enticing…

14. And there is where things traditionally go insane. Jon Gruden may appear to be obsessed with offense the other 360-some odd days of the year, but during draft days has a knack for making freakishly good first-round picks from out of nowhere. Starting with his very first choice after becoming Oakland Raiders head coach in 1998, Charles Woodson at no. 4, Chucky’s first-round picks have either been solid college players (e.g. Michael Clayton, Davin Joseph and Gaines Adams) or surprisingly unorthodox and ultimately successful, especially Sebastian Janikowski (no. 17 in 2000) and Josh Jacobs (no. 24 in 2019). Cadillac Williams notwithstanding.

Making things a bit more certain is the Raiders’ general knack for picking the fastest skill player remaining: WR Henry Ruggs, no. 12 overall in 2019, is the newest examples – just one year after selecting Jacobs. So with speed to burn at RB and WR already, we’ll say it’s superquick CB Jaycee Horn (South Carolina) to the the Las Vegas Raiders.

15. Edge Jaelan Phillips (Miami) to the San Francisco 49ers (after trade with New England Patriots). In any other year, Phillips – and probably one or two other DE/OLB types – would figure to be off the board by no. 15. In 2021, though, NFLbets reckons that this is where the deluge of edge rusher draftees begins.

16. OL Christian Darrisaw (Virginia Tech) to the Arizona Cardinals. Like the Chargers and Bengals, the Cardinals should probably be choosing between a flashy, sticky-handed wide receiver and a solid offensive lineman. With the big four WR prospects off the board, NFLbets gives the Cards brass the benefit of the doubt, guessing they won’t reach for Rashod Bateman (Minnesota) or Elijah Moore (Ole Miss) and instead take the big 6’5”, 315-pounder.

–written by Os Davis


Playing positional NFL Draft Proposition Bets

Monday, 12 April 2021 19:37 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–written by Os Davis

 


NFL Draft proposition betting: WTF will the San Francisco 49ers do at no. 3…?

Friday, 09 April 2021 15:38 EST

2021 NFL draft bettingUntil it’s time to start betting on player and team props, the best wagers in preseason betting are all about the NFL Draft – and in 2021, two teams are making things verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry interesting indeed.

NFLbets is starting right at the top in “Draft Position over/unders” proposition betting – well, not at the very top, because bettors can essentially ignore overall picks no. 1 and 2: Trevor Lawrence (of LSU) is getting roughly -10,000 odds to be chosen by the Jacksonville Jaguars first, while Zach Wilson (BYU) commands -1000 or so to be drafted by the New York Jets at no. 2.

And here, thanks to the San Francisco 49ers’ trade machinations, questions about the future at their QB position and, inevitably, the will-he/won’t-he interest of Bill Belichick & Co. in Jimmy Garoppolo, is where things get interesting.

In the proposition bet “2021 NFL Draft Number 3 Overall Pick,” Draft Kings’ offered odds look like so:

QB Justin Fields (Ohio State): +125
QB Mac Jones (Alabama): +150
QB Trey Lance (North Dakota State): +200
QB Zach Wilson: 11/1
WR J’Marr Chase (LSU): 50/1
TE Kyle Pitts (Florida): 50/1
OT Penei Sewell (Oregon): 60/1

Concomitantly, sportsbooks offering the “Over/under Draft Position” prop have offerings on three suspected early picks which look like so:

QB Justin Fields over 3½: -134
QB Justin Fields under 3½: +110

TE Kyle Pitts over 5½: +122
TE Kyle Pitts under 5½: -148

QB Mac Jones over 8½: -110
QB Mac Jones under 8½: -110

A couple of weeks ago, all four of these bets seemed like no-brainers: San Francisco had clearly traded up to land Mac Jones at no. 3, while the Panthers could – barring a trade from, likesay, New England or Denver – simply lie in wait for Fields to land to them at no. 8. But then, the maneuvering, posturing and rumor-generating started:

•  First the Miami Dolphins, who had traded out of the top 10 to deal the Texans’ former no. 3 overall pick, reentered at no. 6 via a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles.

•  The Panthers, meanwhile, acquired former New York Jets first-rounder Sam Darnold to start at QB for them in 2021, while not having to surrender their no. 8 overall.

•  Two rumors emerged from Patriots camp in the meantime, mainly that the team was no longer interested in pursuing trade talks for Garoppolo, snowballing still-increasing talk that the Pats are seriously hot for Fields.

•  Also buzzing about the blogosphere are the Atlanta Falcons giddy enthusiasm at signing Pitts at no. 4. With stat pig Matt Ryan’s contract getting reupped and a serious chance to compete in the NFC South in 2021, virtually every mock draft has the Falcons snapping up the dude some are already ready to call a “future Hall of Famer.”

•  Here’s the bit that really ties NFLbets’ mind in knots, however: On Wednesday, the 49ers signed QB Nate Sudfeld. Hardly a league-shattering acquisition, to be sure, but the move means that San Francisco now carries four QBs on their roster – including Garoppolo, the guy who had these Niners in the Super Bowl two seasons ago – going into draft day.

You see what we’re getting at: The 49ers have the opportunity to ruin a serious amount of draft day prop bets. With all the hype the reportedly generational Pitts is getting, why wouldn’t Kyle Shanahan et al consider teaming the rookie with George Kittle for the best 1-2 TE punch the league has? Better yet, why not threaten the possibility and make Atlanta cough up, likesay, a third-rounder to move up one spot?

One could also imagine that the reported “no sale” attitude of the Patriots vis-à-vis Garoppolo and/or the enthusiasm evinced for Fields is merely a smokescreen for a Niners-Pats draft day trade.

Finally, there is Miami at no. 6. Having seemingly cleared the starting spot for Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins would on the face of things have little reason to draft at any position other than receiver. The question becomes: How likely would Miami management be to taking up Fields for the sheer stymying effect on New England?

Occam’s Razor would advise us to assume the 49ers are staying at no. 3, but with no indication from 49ers land as to whether Jones or Fields is the pick, we’ll play the best odds and recommend:

•  Take Justin Fields in the “2021 NFL Draft Number 3 Overall Pick” prop at +125;

•  take Kyle Pitts to go under the 5½th pick at -148; and

•  take Mac Jones to go over the 8½th pick at -110 – we think he goes to the Denver Broncos at no. 9…

–written by Os Davis


Winner in 49ers-Dolphins draft pick trade? Bill Belichick, probably…

Friday, 26 March 2021 18:16 EST

Odds on Belichick and Garoppolo?The first big trade of the 2021 NFL Draft is in as with the Miami Dolphins bagging four draft picks from the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for the no. 3 overall pick, with which the Niners are likely to draft either BYU’s Zach Wilson or Ohio State’s Justin Fields, depending on the New York Jets’ choice. Regardless of choice, the foregone conclusion is that Jimmy Garoppolo won’t be starting for San Francisco next season.

Overall, the trade represents a solidly rational decision by Miami, which apparently is set with Tua Tagovailoa as full-time starter (for reals, this time) in 2021. Likewise, San Francisco also made the correct move, with three of the top five picks at very least likely to be QBs.  So why can’t NFLbets stop thinking that the biggest winner in the deal was Bill Belichick and his New England Patriots?

The rumors about Garoppolo starting for New England began in 2014, when Belichick & Co. snapped up the Eastern Illinois QB in the second round of the draft, representing the only notable quarterback drafted by the Pats since Tom Brady took the helm. And the rumor mill still says that Belichick would still like Jimmy G. aboard. Just three hours before the 49ers-Dolphins deal, NBC Sports online posted a piece which featured an insider claiming that a trade for Garoppolo “is still on the table.” What's that expression about smoke and fire...?

And now? As local news outlet Mass Live put it, ”Patriots now have door open to deal for 49ers QB.” What’s more, a deal for Jimmy G. now might not even include New England’s no. 15 overall pick, a pick at which many mock drafts still reckon Heisman Trophy-winning DeVonta Smith could be available. Garapppolo figures to have few suitors – if there were, a deal might have been floated already – and thus a 2021 second-rounder feels like the appropriate centerpiece in such a swap.

Additionally, the Patriots might have received help from within yet again. Tagovailoa was 6-3 as a starter last season, but his statistics were remarkably similar to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s, right down to sacks per games (2.2 for Tua, 2.0 for Fitz); in fact, Tagovailoa was slightly worse in most statistical categories except interception rate. Granted, much of Tua’s underperformance may be put on Dolphins coaching, who were clearly wishy-washy about, you know, their freakin’ *starting quarterback*, but NFLbets hardly considers the second-year man a known quantity.

This offseason, New England has captured NFL fans’ (and bettors’) imaginations with a free-agency spending splurge the likes of which Belichick et al had never remotely considered until last month. With improvements to the receiving corps, the offensive line, the defensive line, linebackers and secondary, about the only area in which the Patriots didn’t upgrade was, yes, quarterback. And while it’s quite possible that noodle-armed Cam Newton will in fact be the starter on opening day, back up to viable form, even. But NFLbets can’t help thinking how much this Patriots’ offseason has resembled that of Tampa Bay’s pre-Brady machinations.

Now, NFLbets is hardly ready to hand the Patriots the 2021 AFC title (current odds at My Bookie of 16/1, on par with the “Los Angeles” Chargers and Tennessee Titans) or even the AFC East (current odds +375, with the Buffalo Bills fetching -165) based on the possibility that they’ll acquire Garoppolo, whose stats and arm strength are fairly pedestrian and whose injury history is troublesome anyway. But we do believe in the sudden excellent value in betting the ’21 Patriots.

The 49ers, meanwhile, still face potentially the NFL’s stiffest in-division competition, depending on whether the Seattle Seahawks are as wonky as Russell Wilson evidently believes they are. Maybe Fields/Wilson plus LT Trent Williams equals a return to the Super Bowl (current odds in the “To Win NFC Championship” prop, they’re getting odd of +650, now equaling those on the Los Angeles Rams), but NFLbets wouldn’t stake it.

As for Miami (at 3/1 to win the division, 12/1 to win the AFC), NFLbets’ll wait and see – but would anyone really be shocked if this transaction somehow blew up in the Dolphins’ faces…?

–written by Os Davis


Super Bowl Odds post-FA Period: In NFC East props, why not Washington?

Thursday, 25 March 2021 18:56 EST

After yet another season as the weakest division cumulatively, the teams of the NFC East should be expected to be doing some roster shuffling and quarterback-carousel riding in offseason 2021. None of the four have made acquisitions enough to move the odds in the “To Win Super bowl LVI” and “To Win NFC East” significantly, though the two favorites are getting some action.

NFC East odds, betting, predictionsOn Super Bowl Monday and the release of first lines in the Super Bowl 2022 proposition bet, odds on the four teams read as follows.

Dallas Cowboys: 30/1
Philadelphia Eagles: 50/1
Washington Football Team: 60/1
New York Giants: 66/1

You’d think that the serious fluctuations in the lines caused by the Los Angeles Rams’ acquisition of Matthew Stafford and the Chicago Bears’ of Andy “The Red Rifle” Dalton would ripple through this division after moves bringing Ryan Fitzpatrick to Washington, Joe Flacco (no, really) to Philadelphia and Mike Glennon to the Giants – and they have, to some extent: The Cowboys’ odds to win the ’Bowl may now carry odds as low as 25/1 after the ’Pokes re-signed Dak Prescott, apparently.

But here’s the crazy thing; someone – or someones – appear to be throwing serious cash at most of these teams. Current odds in the “To Win NFC East” proposition bet, according to My Bookies, are as follows with odds in the same prop from one month ago are in parentheses.

Dallas Cowboys: 10/11 (10/11)
Washington Football Team: 7/2 (5/1)
Philadelphia Eagles: 7/2 (5/1)
New York Giants: 5/1 (10/1)

Brutal, eh? NFLbets supposes that taking one of the lower three listed is a decent enough value play, but even on winning will bettors kick themselves for not covering the given team sooner. As irrational as it sounds, NFLbets is considering wagering on Washington in this prop.

No, Fitzpatrick is no savior but all Washington truly needs to compete in 2021 is competence. In one of the biggest disparities since Kurt Warner’s St. Louis Rams were outscoring teams 41-37 every other week, the Washington defense ranked no. 3 (Just ahead of the Rams) in the DVOA metric, while the offense – which ran with three different starters in 2020, the first of which was released by years’s end – ranked no. 32 (just below the New York Jets).

Thus far in offseason 2021, the Football Team essentially swapped out CBs, giving up Ronald Darby (who signed with the Denver Broncos) for William Jackson (from the Cincinnati Bengals). Otherwise, every major player on the defense returns. Head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio return, bgi plusses for a fairly young D.

Naturally, offense remains a serious issue with Washington: The FT will certainly be counting on turning the no. 19 overall pick in the draft into a viable option at left tackle to fill 11-year man Trent Williams’s spot there. Fitzpatrick surely hopes so.

And speaking of Fitzpatrick, somewhere post-Washington signing the Ryan-themed meme began circulating the internet, blowing virtual minds with the fact that the QB has never yet to play a playoff game. Fitz is 59-86-1 lifetime as a starter, has played for eight teams and has a .500-or-worse win-loss record lifetime with each.

Of course, an asterisk of two could be applied to these stats. For example, in seven of the 13 of the seasons in which Fitzpatrick tallied more than 2 starts at QB, he played for either Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins or New York Jets with an AFC East lorded over by the Belichick & Brady New England Patriots – not to mention, you know, being with the Bills, Dolphins or Jets. Additionally, in 2015, his last season as a bona fide opening day starter, Fitzpatrick led the Jets to a 10-6 season and a no. 7 seed that would’ve earned a postseason bid in ’20 or ’21…

But any bettor who doubts that Fitzpatrick is a positive for Washington simply did not see enough Football Team games in 2020. If the dead-last DVOA stat doesn’t say enough, just look to the mundane statistics: starters Kyle Allen, Dwayne Haskins and Alex Smith combined for 15 TDs against 16 interceptions and a ridiculous 49 sacks taken. Kyle Dwayne Smith, then, was “good” for a 79.35 QB rating, putting hims at 21st overall in the stat, right in between Daniel “Dimes” Jones and, well, Alex Smith.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, making the playoffs for the first time in his career at the age of 39? Well, why not? This is the NFC East, where 9-7 can be considered dominant…

–written by Os Davis


Super Bowl odds, psot-FA period: Bears’ odds balloon after Dalton signing

Saturday, 20 March 2021 14:24 EST

In football, it has been observed, the quarterback has a disproportionate amount of influence on the outcome – apparently, this goes for proposition bet futures, as well. Case in point: The Chicago Bears and their spiffy new free-agent signing, Andy “The Red Rifle” Dalton.

Just as the Los Angeles Rams saw serious shrinkage in their odds in the “To Win Super Bowl LVI” prop after signing  Matt Stafford and likewise the New England Patriots for rounding up an entire receiving corps, the Bears line expanded when news of Dalton’s signing broke.

As reported at ESPN online – one can almost hear the tsk-tsking underneath the prose – “The possibility of landing a marquee quarterback this offseason had caused the Chicago Bears' Super Bowl odds to improve slightly in recent weeks. But on Tuesday, after the reported signing of veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, Caesars sportsbook dropped the Bears' odds from 40-1 back to 50-1.

One takeaway from this odds seesaw: Apparently, mere optimistic speculation about Chicago landing, likesay, Russell Wilson, betters the Bears’ chances by 20%. Even if they lost a couple starters and their immediate future on draft day:

Bears trade for Russell Wilson

Takeaway #2: The sportsbooks are trying to tell us that the Green Bay Packers will win the division in a walk, with odds in My Bookie’s “To Win NFC North” prop currently as follows.

Green Bay Packers: -275
Minnesota Vikings: 4/1
Chicago Bears: 4/1
Detroit Lions: 25/1

Note the stinginess of the last three lines. At -275 (or 4/1), the implied probability of the Packers winning the NFC North in 2021 is 73.3% – yet the Vikings and Bears are each given a 20% (giggle) chance? This should indicate clearly what a sucker bet anyone except the Packers is here.

But back to Dalton: Is the pessimism of The Red Rifle’s viability as a starting quarterback warranted? (NFLbets excludes Bears fans here; any cynicism felt toward essentially any QB not named Russell Wilson is warranted for nearly 75 years of dead arms.) The short answer, based on stats, is yes. Bears backers, you have been given notice to skip the next several paragraphs.

In 10 years with the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys, Dalton went 74-66-2 as a starter, for an average season of 8-7-1. His personal stats include a 62.2% completion percentage, an average season of 22 TDs against 12½ interceptions and an average AV rating of 10.3.

Meanwhile, from the 2011-2020 span during which the Chicago QB was mostly Jay Culter or Mitch Trubisky, the Bears have managed an average win-loss record of slightly better than 7-9, based on a cumulative 73-87. Altogether, Chicago QBs threw a yearly average 24 TDs against 13½ TDs and completed more than 62.2% in six of the 10 years.

And then there’s this: Chicago is 0-2  in playoff games since the 2011 season, while Dalton is 0-5 and hasn’t seen a postseason since 2015 – NFLbets isn’t sure whether that makes matters even worse or should we just blame Marvin Lewis…

In other words, then, Andy Dalton is exactly the prototypical quarterback that the Bears have been rolling with since at the 1980s, if not the 1950s. As they say then, more bad news for the Bears.

– written by Os Davis


Super Bowl odds post-FA period: Here come (back) the Patriots…

Thursday, 18 March 2021 16:43 EST

Dollar Bill BelichickYou had to figure that the New England Patriots wouldn’t stay inferior for long, but who’d’ve guessed the domination Bill Belichick & Co. unleashed on the NFL in the opening days of free agency? The signings at wide receiver and tight end – Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Derrick Henry and Jonnu Smith – stole the headlines and with good reason: The Patriots are already looking at a roster with their best corps since 2008, their best 1-2 at tight end since Aaron Hernandez was playing, and Smith is now the highest-paid “skill player” Patriot ever.

Beyond this big four, New England also added DLs Davon Godchaux, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Henry Anderson; LBs Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy; and safter Jalen Mills, and acquired OT Trent Brown in a trade. Incidentally the Pats also re-signed Cam Newton; New England wasn’t even counted among the offerings in a previously offered “Team to Sign Cam Newton” proposition bet, but hold your tickets (if you were foolhardy enough to play the prop), as the conditions of the bet call for Cam to be listed onan Opening Day roster.

As a result of the moves, those ready to take a Buffalo Bills repeat division win for granted have been suddenly forced to rethink things.

Super Bowl odds have also been adjusted accordingly:  On February 8, the New England Patriots were getting 55/1 odds to win the Super Bowl (and by inference about 25/1 to 28/1 to win the ARC). By Thursday morning this week, they were at 25/1 on My Bookie and listed at 30/1 on the Sports Betting Dime aggregator.

With the additions made already – not to mention the heretofore not undertaken acquisition of a viable starting QB – the 7-9 Patriots are suddenly among the best value bets in the AFC. And despite the rise of upstarts like the Bills, Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns as well as the two-time defending conference champion Kansas City Chiefs. 12/1 to 15/1 to win the AFC no longer feels unreasonable at all. Remember, too, that these odds will only get shorter should the Pats indeed manage to bring over Jimmy Garappolo, long-rumored source of envy for Belichick.

Even more intriguing is the strong possibility that the AFC East will be highly competitive in 2021 – at least among the top 3 teams. Post-Patriots feeding frenzy, odds in the “To Win AFC East” prop bet read as follows.

Buffalo Bills: 4/5
Miami Dolphins: 14/5
New England Patriots: 4/1
New York Jets: 20/1

Using implied probability, the Dolphins, Patriots and Jets have a combined 50.1% chance of winning the division, thus betting “The Field” versus the Buffalo Bills should be worth 1/1 odds – quite an intriguing wager right now, if you can find a sportsbook with the offer. Alternatively, covering both the Dolphins and the Patriots would be worth a win paying out at either +140 or +200 – and again, that second figure will only decrease after a quarterback better than 2020 Cam Newton is aboard in Foxborough.

All in all, the Patriot spending spree should be seriously lucrative for NFL bettors. We think.

–written by Os Davis


Team to sign Cam Newton proposition betting, odds, prediction

Wednesday, 10 March 2021 16:53 EST

With no football going on and the draft a good seven weeks away, the proposition bets and futures offerings are definitely limited. NFLbets isn’t getting quite desperate enough to throw some money away down, though, as evidenced by our reticence to bet in the proposition bet…

Team to sign Cam Newton

*Cam Newton must be on the active roster for Week 1 of the 2021 Season for action

Cam Newton props  Baltimore Ravens: 3/1
  Jacksonville Jaguars: 4/1
  “Los Angeles” Chargers: 4/1
  Denver Broncos: 6/1
  Las Vegas Raiders: 6/1
  Atlanta Falcons: 7/1
  Philadelphia Eagles: 7/1
  New York Jets: 8/1
  Los Angeles Rams: 10/1
  San Francisco 49ers: 10/1

A few good betting opportunities exist here, as essentially a list of teams desperate for a dependable second-stringer. Considering the depth charts and cap space, NFLbets would first go with … ah, for fuck’s sake. We can’t do this. Without exaggeration, this may be the worst, most toxic, most money-draining preseason proposition bet this side of “Detroit Lions to Win Super Bowl LVI.”

The single best bet, i.e. “No Team”, isn’t listed – and given the odds on this table, NFL bettors’d be lucky to get 1/1. (Not a bad investment there, come to think of it…)

The New England Patriots signed Newton for the minimum in July, nearly three months after free agency opened, after essentially every other unretired breathing NFL QB except Blake Bortles had been. With good reason, as it turns out: Newton’s 177.1 passing yards per game ranked 35th of 35 quarterbacks qualifying in the statistic. And his 8 passing TDs was better than only Washington Football Team QBs Alex Smith and Dwayne Smith, each of whom played in half as many games as did Newton.

And while one may point out that Newton can score by running the ball, well, sure enough was Newton good for 12 rushing TDs – but that combined 20 was only 19th best in the statistic, behind Jared Goff and in the area of Carson Wentz, Mitchell Trubisky and Gardner Minshew.

Belichick & Co. took on the Newton reclamation project due in no small part to their paucity of talent at the position going into 2020. The Patriots were looking at starting jarrett Stidham, who remains mostly an unknown in terms of potential, but there’s the list of presumed first-stringers for each of the listed teams ostensibly in the running for Mr. Bouncy Pass: Lemar Jackson, no. 2 overall pick, Justin Herbert, Drew Lock, Derek Carr, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, no. 1 overall pick, Matt Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo. Here’s to thinking each of the aforementioned front offices are more comfortable with their no. 1 than the Pats were with Stidham.

NFLbets just doesn’t see Newton with any of My Bookie’s 10 offerings or any team, realistically. Then again, there are the Houston Texans…

–written by Os Davis

 


Plot thickens, odds shrink in NFC West after Stafford, Watt acquisitions

Friday, 05 March 2021 13:41 EST

First, the disclaimer: Yes, NFLbets is well aware it’s too early to be making serious wagers on the “To Win Super Bowl LVI” proposition bet, but that’s not stopping the speculation nor the concomitant shifting of odds is response. And after a second big name-player transaction, the teams of the NFC West are seeing some action months before the NFL draft, even.

Odds on the four NFC West teams to win Super Bowl LVI are as follows, with the current line running first followed by the lines posted directly after the conclusion of LV:

Los Angeles Rams: 12/1, 15/1
San Francisco 49ers: 16/1, 14/1
Seattle Seahawks: 25/1, 22/1
Arizona Cardinals: 28/1, 40/1

Odds in the “To Win the NFC West” prop are:

Los Angeles Rams: +190
San Francisco 49ers: +200
Seattle Seahawks: +300
Arizona Cardinals: +475

Now NFLbets admits that we threw a few moneys at the Rams in the Super Bowl prop on the Monday following the Tampa Bay championship win, with the calculus that the team as is plus a better-than-Goff quarterback could well be enough to handle both the aging and the upstarts of the NFC. Within 48 hours, McVey ditched Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford and the prop-bet line underwent the appropriate shrinkage.

Then the Cardinals went and snagged J.J. Watt, who probably eschewed potentially better competitive situations in Cleveland and Buffalo to stay in warmer climes. And speaking of heading south, so too did Arizona’s odds, with bettors clearly crediting Watt with an outsized contribution in advance.

NFLbets realizes that over the past 10 seasons, J.J. has been the NFL’s top pass rusher statistically but pragmatically speaking, he’d’ve been hard pressed to find a division with better OLs top to bottom: A season-ending article at Pro Football Focus ranked all four NFC West lines between 3rd (the Rams) and 14th (Seattle). And since 2015, Watt’s played just two full seasons (2018 and 2020) with stats nowhere near his All-Pro levels in the first half of the 10s; he’s managed to top 7 points in the approximate value (AV) metric just once in the past five seasons.

The point: Maybe you like the chances of Murray-to-Hopkins becoming a top QB-WR battery or that Watt will help shore up an inconsistent Cardinals defense, but can one defensive lineman, particularly one maybe six years past his peak, realistically increase a team’s Super Bowl chances by 12%?

NFLbets would say Cardinals backers would be better advised to simply take ’em to win the NFC West at +475: Russell Wilson has intimated his dissatisfaction with his lack of support, which we’re taking as a harbinger of an underwhelming 2020 season for the Seahawks, while the 49ers may be giving up on giving up on Jimmy Garoppolo despite the confidence he’s not inspiring in San Francisco. With this many divisional question marks, Watt could indeed be juuuuuust enough to push Arizona past L.A. for a playoff home game – depending on what Stafford has to say about things…

–written by Os Davis


What is the Kelly Criterion and does it work for NFL betting?

Friday, 12 February 2021 16:18 EST

The losses will come: NFLbets isn’t sure if this is officially a Rule Of Successful Gambling, but it certainly ought to be codified. So if you take your NFL betting seriously – and why wouldn’t you? That’s your money out there! – you look for every possible method of maximizing the wins in between the jags. To this end, NFLbets today considers the merits of the Kelly Criterion.

This mathematical formula was created by scientist John Larry (a.k.a. J.L.) Kelly Jr. in 1956 as a way to determine the correct amount of risk for long-term profit in a game of chance. Some four decades before the Kelly Criterion would be discussed anywhere beyond the mathematical intelligentsia, but today the formulae Kelly’s inspiration have spawned are used in financial speculation and, naturally, sports betting.

In its simplest possible form, the Kelly Criterion states that, on an even money bet, the percentage of the bankroll to bet is:

(Win probability x 2) - 1

So if the chance of winning on a single bet is 80%, the bettor should wager 60% of one’s bankroll. Note that if the formula is absolutely strictly applied, one would literally never make an even money bet, because the equation results in a zero when 50% as the win probability. (NFLbets knows not to bet the Super Bowl coin toss prop already, but mathematical proof backing the assertion is nice.)

Applying the Kelly Criterion to odds other than 1/1 requires a slightly more complex formula:

Kelly Criterion in betting

Both the usefulness and the limitations of the Kelly Criterion should be immediately apparent. Clearly are the formulae key to maximizing wins over the long term and if followed pragmatically can allow the bettor to cash in on upsets well more often than the average. The problem? These formulae offer nothing in terms of actual insight; the Criterion cannot determine which lines belie the hidden gem of an 80% chance to win.

However, as in the business world, the Kelly Criterion has been shown mathematically sound for betting. In a 2012 paper entitled Statistical Methodology for Profitable Sports Gambling, Fabián Enrique Moya considered various gambling strategies, with the Kelly System included as an “optimal” method of wagering – though ultimately Moya concludes that “some combination of Kelly and common sense is optimal.”

Moya’s work showed that mathematically, the Kelly Criterion is superior to other wagering systems because it virtually guarantees profit in the long term and also maximizes returns – as long as you’re winning. Like any other mathematics-derived betting formula, a few quick losses out of the gate, e.g. in the usually decidedly random-seeming NFL week 1 results, and that bankroll is busted early.

But a Kelly system can also cushion all except for the longest of losing streaks by curbing huge bets. Moya notes that “Staking plans that gamble less than the optimal fraction [as determined by Kelly Criterion] will also cause the bankroll to increase infinitely, albeit more slowly. However, gambling more than the optimal Kelly fraction will eventually led to bankruptcy.”

Moya points out that the prudent bettor can therefore adapt Kelly’s formulae, scaling back so as to not necessarily wager the entire bankroll every Sunday; he advances the increasingly popular half-Kelly method – the name speaks for itself – and NFLbets would like to put forth another spin, the Proportionate Kelly method.

The Proportionate Kelly method allows the bettor to cover as many bets as he/she would like at a time while also maximizing potential profits. Here’s how it works: add up all the optimal Kelly fractions and repropotion based on this new total rather than on 100.

For example, the bettor wants to make five bets with Kelly-based fractions of 50, 30, 30, 27 and 25, adding up to 162 “percent.” So rather than take out a loan to cover the 62% short, reproportion the percentages by dividing each number by 162. In this example, the fractions become about 31, 18, 18, 16 and 15, respectively, with 2% to spare.

In the end, you’ll still have to make the predictions yourself. But particularly in bets such as Super Bowl player props, the Kelly Criterion is quite the useful tool in shedding light on rare opportunities of disproportionate risk/reward while limiting the risk – and, of course, in maximizing wins.

–written by Os Davis