Long shots

The prospect of a long shot coming in is quite exciting to NFL fans -- unless you didn't have the guts to cover David in the battle against Goliath. If only you'd had a source like NFLbets to tip you off to the longshots, those bets that seem miles away from coming in, but ended up being so obvious. See this page for stories and odds on NFL betting's long shots.

Add the 2018 Buffalo Bills in week 3 to the list of memorable longshots: This was the first team to win SU against a 17-point favorite since the early 1990s, the first to go in as a double-digit underdog and win by more than a touchdown in 50 years or so, and easily the biggest SU winner against a 17-point spread ever. Nice -- unless you bet against them.

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

Super Bowl LV player props – Super Bowl MVP odds, predictions, longshot picks

Friday, 05 February 2021 14:06 EST

Super Bowl MVP propNFLbets’ favorite Super Bowl proposition bet is certainly the good old “Super Bowl MVP” market: Winning this prop on a perceived longshot can save your Super Bowl or can recoup lotsa losses on a well-played hedge. With two ultra-hyped quarterbacks drawing most of the action, Super Bowl LV has a number of scintillating opportunities for the wagering. We’ll start with the obvious, namely…

• Patrick Mahomes, 20/23
• Tom Brady, 2/1
. At 2/1, Brady is getting longer odds in this prop than in any Super Bowl he’s played in after 2002; he’s therefore an excellent double-down bet if you’re backing Tampa Bay as well as a great loss-recouping hedge for Kansas City bettors. The danger in betting Brady for MVP is if he more closely resembles the game-managing, defense-dependent Peyton Manning of Super Bowl 50 rather than the unafraid airing-it-out Peyton manning of Super Bowl XLI – though we have the former possibility covered as well; see below.

By contrast, Mahomes at lower than 1/1 really only makes a decent hedge if you’re firmly in the Buccaneers camp. Given that the next-nearest Chief in the MVP prop opened at 10/1 odds, the sportsbooks are essentially telegraphing that a Kansas City win most likely results in a second straight Mahomes MVP title. With Chiefs -3½ at -105 and Chiefs ML at -170, if you believe in a last-second 3-point or less win by his team, the Mahomes MVP bet is a great play. Even better for Chiefs backers, though, are the other two studs K.C. is bringing…

• Tyreek Hill, 17/2 (down from 10/1)
• Travis Kelce, 21/2 (up from 10/1). Considering the stats these two have put up in the playoffs, in week 11 versus these Buccaneers in Tampa Bay, and essentially all season, these odds are well too long.

The betting reflets this take; the odds posted herein are courtesy My Bookie. Certainly not too many other sportsbooks are seeing a swing of -150, but Hill is clearly getting some love from the betting public. Hill is a decent value bet here based on his record-breaking performance in the week 11 game, but one can’t help imagine that Bruce Arians will cook up double teams and serious coverage on Tyreek, particularly in the first half so as to remove that part of the playbook for Kansas City.

But then there’s Kelce who spent the entire AFC Championship Game against Buffalo burning double- and even triple-coverages to the tune of 13 receptions, 118 yards receiving and two TDs; Hill meanwhile was good for 152 yards on 8 catches versus Buffalo. For the Super Bowl, the return of Sammy Watkins can only make things more difficult.

So if Kelce is such a great bet in the Super Bowl MVP prop, why are his odds increasing? Common wisdom seems to be that, with the Chiefs having to rejigger the offensive line somewhat for this game, Kelce will be deployed as a blocker. After his 2020 season as essentially the NFL’s most productive receiver plus Andy Reid’s point-a-minute philosophy since coaching Mahomes, this doesn’t feel like the most plausible scenario – nor does Kelce becoming the first-ever TE to win this MVP seem far-fetched at all.

• Devon White, 25/1 to 30/1
• Jason Pierre-Paul, 30/1 to 80/1
. So say Brady does throw a game akin to Peyton Manning’s in Super Bowl 50, and say the Chiefs’ stapled together offensive line succumbs to Tampa Bay’s relentless pass rush early and often. With Brady likely to divide up targets as per normal with these Bucs while Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones similarly split the bulk of the carries in a, likesay, 20-17 win, two or three key plays from a defender could win him the award.

Pierre-Paul will certainly receive much of the media’s and Kansas City OL’s attention throughout the first half in lining up against Mike Remmers, who moves from RT to LT in the wake of Eric Fisher’s injury. Early into the Bowl, we should see quite clearly the effect this matchup will have on the game’s complexion. A couple of sacks on Mahomes to go with a turnover or even a forced turnover will certainly win some MVP voters over after a low-scoring game.

Devon White has meanwhile been on a Von Milleresque trajectory in the season’s second half and straight through three playoff games. And while statistically the Buccaneers D has been average, at this point in the season, Tampa Bay may even be considered a defense-first team. White’s main competition here in a Bucs win – even a low-scoring win – would, ironically, be Brady.

Only 10 defensive players have won the Super Bowl MVP award, and only four in the 21st century. Of these four, only one (Malcolm Smith in Super Bowl XLVIII) had a top-10 quarterback (Russell Wilson) at his team’s helm. Smith’s Seahawks turned in perhaps the most dominant performance by a defense in the ’Bowl, however, in shutting out the Denver Broncos for the game’s first 45 minutes. Figure the Chiefs will be good even on their worst Sunday for at least 9 points; after all, with Mahomes at quarterback, these Chiefs have scored fewer than 21 points just twice – and average 35.2 points per postseason game. Brady might not have to do more than throw a TD pass and make no mistakes, even in another 13-3 snoozer…

– written by Os Davis

Looking for upsets on wildest wildcard weekend ever (Part II)

Saturday, 09 January 2021 15:06 EST

Note: NFLbets is writing this up on Sunday morning and so can never complain about bad beats or chase after losses – both plusses for the bankroll, no matter how Saturday went.

As with Saturday’s games, NFLbets is attempting to scope out some upsets. Since 2000, underdogs have gone a respectable enough 32-48 SU but are an excellent 43-36-1; in a 4-game wildcard round, that translates out to about 1½ SU and 2 ATS wins per year. Theoretically, in this year’s round of six, history says we’re looking at 2½ underdogs to win SU and ATS.

Yesterday, we tapped the underdog Los Angeles Rams as a good bet SU and ATS, so one or two more mathematically seem likely for Sunday (again, writing this before Saturday’s games…) – and o yes, we’ve found some good opportunities for betting beginning at the top with…

Baltimore Ravens -3½ at Tennessee Titans, over/under 54½ points

NFL bettors and general NFL fandom alike are taking for granted that this is a guaranteed barnburner and so pound away at the over – particularly as the sportsbooks have this point spread set the shorterst by a significant margin.

So how does the under hit here at all? Mike Vrabel’s Titans have played just three games against the Ravens, with an inconclusive 2-1 SU/ATS mark going into this game. The over has hit once, in the 30-24 overtime win of week 11 this season.  

No matter: The 2019 Tennessee Titans defense, which was good to excellent most of the year and dominant in their first two playoff games, evaporated at some point in August. What’s left is a New York Jets-level D that’s bottom-5 in overall DVOA, total yards allowed, opponent time of possession, first downs and nearly any passing statistic you can think of. As a result, overs are an incredible 12-3-1 in 2020 Titans games. About the only plus the Tennessee D is getting here is that the Ravens’ game plan is seriously straightforward: After all, only one team in the league outdid the otherworldly Derrick Henry & Co.

As for Baltimore on the defensive side, begin with their having seen the third-least number of runs all season. The Ravens with their multiple run formations, ridiculous run blocking and the craftiness of Lamar Jackson don’t so much score lightning-quick as score efficiently, ranking 9th in points per possession (and 2nd in the stat in the season’s second half) and 3rd in time of possession.

Now, getting to 55 points should require at least six touchdowns along with five field goals or seven TDs and two FGs. The latter seems more likely, but even both Henry and Jackson et al romping freely through helpless defenses may not be enough for this many scoring opportunities. Many are bandying about the tidbit these are 2020’s top 2 rushing offenses, but NFLbets is focused on how both offenses are bottom 3 in attempts – even these two mighty running teams average only about 1.5 rushing touchdowns per game apiece.

NFLbets’ conclusion: If you’re betting the over here, you may as well also bet on a prop like “Game Will Go into Overtime” or “Defensive/Special Teams TD by Either Team.” But we’re going counterintuitive and pro-math: Take the under on an O/U of 54½ points.

Chicago Bears +10 at New Orleans Saints, over/under 47½ points

Before beginning, let’s get one thing straight: When the sportsbooks establish a point spread like this in the wildcard round, they’re not fucking around. Just eight wildcard games have kicked off with a point spread of 9½ or higher; such a line hasn't been seen since Miami Dolphins +11 at Pittsburgh in 2017. 

In those nine games, underdogs are 1-8 SU/ATS. The sole exception was in none other than the Beast Mode Activated game when the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks upset the seemingly Super Bowl-bound New Orleans Saints (imagine that) in a 41-36 seat-edger. Note, too, that the Seahawks’ win represented the sole instance of a double-digit home underdog in the round ever.

So is it as simple as deducing that no Chicago player can work miracles like Marshawn Lynch and therefore bet Saints minus the points? After all, the Bears took New Orleans – including Alvin Kamara, who’s back after a week in Covid protocol – to overtime in week 6, right? And the Bears were just one of the six teams of .500 or worse record that the Saints played to within 6 points.

Additionally, NFLbets can’t be alone in bafflement at how exactly the 2020 New Orleans Saints got to 12-4 in the regular season – though their 10-1 mark against non-playoff teams certainly comprises much of this. These Saints, crippled by cap space, have been in whatever-it-takes gear most of this season; NFLbets is certainly not expecting a Bears upset, but we’ll be damned if we can guess a margin a victory. So try this: Take the New Orleans Saints to win by 13 points or less at +127.

Cleveland Browns +6½ at Pittsburgh Steelers, over/under 47½ points

Yes, the Steelers have been particular victims of the schedule-wreaking effects of Covid, at one point playing five games in 3½ weeks – but the fact that Pittsburgh’s starters have played two good quarters in the last six games is at least slightly disconcerting for would-be Steelers backers. In fact, about a month ago, this matchup would have been the vogue upset pick of this year’s first round.

But Cleveland not only played limply against the Pittsburgh second-string in week 17, the Browns are going into this game down two OL starters (not great news against a pass rush spearheaded by T.J. Watt) and a head coach; here’s Covid insanity tipped in the Steelers’ favor. As much as NFLbets distrusts the Saints, however, these Steelers are looking like the archetypical team who peaked too soon.

After starting out 11-0 SU/8-3 ATS, Pittsburgh enters the postseason on a 1-4 SU/2-3 ATS skid – fair enough, four of these games were against playoff teams, but the fifth was an ugly loss to Cincinnati in which Bengals QB Ryan Finley went for 73 yards. Asking a team with a long past of failure and a roster composed of mostly inexperienced guys to win their first playoff game without a head coach may be a big ask, but keeping things to within a touchdown when temperatures are in the low 30s? That’s probably doable. Take the Cleveland Browns +6½ at Pittsburgh and take the under on an O/U of 47½ points.

–written by Os Davis

Week 10 NFL betting: Three best bets and an upset special

Sunday, 15 November 2020 11:31 EST

For some reason, NFLbets is irrationally excited about NFL week 10 betting. On Thursday Night Football, we didn’t quite nail all our picks – the Colts scored one FG too many to hit the under – and more solid opportunities are seemingly rife in point spread betting alone. For summary’s sake, we’ve recommending three best bets and an upset special of the week, of The Year, of The Millenium and FOR ALL-TIME…

Sorry, we’re excited. Excited to cash in on…

Minnesota Vikings -3 at Chicago Bears

Before even getting into the numbers, it’s clear that the Vikings have two major advantages:

•  By dint of the in-division Bears’ 5-4 SU record, this game is a must-win for the more talented Vikings; and

•  speaking of talent, the Vikings are bringing Batman and Robin (alter egos Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattiso) in the running game, two guys who have amassed a combined 1,414 total yards and 14 touchdowns for a per-game average of 176.8 yards and more than 1½ TDs.

Fair enough, the Bears are no jokers on defense: Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric has the Chicago D ranked 4th overall and 7th against the run. Even so, Minnesota’s dynamic duo hardly need a monstrous performance with Chicago scoring just over 17 points per game since week 4. The Vikings have meanwhile scored fewer than 23 points just once this season – and it’s not like they’re sporting Joe Montana at quarterback. Take the Minnesota Vikings -3 at Chicago.

Denver Broncos +4 at Las Vegas Raiders

At a decent 3-2 SU/ATS against prospective playoff teams, Las Vegas may not quite yet be considered among the NFL’s elite but one face is certain The Raiders score points in gobs. Excepting the wind-tossed game at Cleveland, Vegas averages 28.9 points per; simply put, the low-watt Broncos offense cannot keep up despite the generosity of the Raiders D.

Simply put, the Broncos just aren’t very good in any aspect of the game. In their three SU wins, the Broncos beat the Jets, the Patriots and the Chargers shooting themselves in the foot once again. Head coach Chucky has the Raiders bucking for playoff positioning after the win in Kansas City and NFLbets believes the Broncos are hardly a speed bump. Take the Las Vegas Raiders -4 vs Denver.

Buffalo Bills +3 at Arizona Cardinals

This one can be played by the simplest of numbers: win-loss record. The Bills are 7-2 SU and have played a good, challenging schedule despite three games against the Jets and Patriots. And while the defense has garnered much praise in 2020, the truth is that four times have the Bills been torched for 400 yards passing; sure, two of those QBs were Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson, but the other two were Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jared Goff.

Worse yet, the Bills rank a lowly 22nd in rush defense DVOA. Throw in a trip to the Pacific Time Zone for Buffalo and we figure that Kyler Murray & Co. will do some serious damage, even to potential blowout proportions. Take the Arizona Cardinals -3 at Buffalo.

Upset special: Cincinnati Bengals +7 at Pittsburgh Steelers

It may be unscientific, but sometimes the NFL bettor has to take a swing at a longshot – after all, upsets do happen, right? NFLbets is certainly not alone in loving the play of Joe Burrow, and Burrow is just as certainly glad the Alex Richmond and Bobby Hart returned to the lineup a couple games ago: Burrow took zero sacks for the first game in his rookie career vs Tennessee last week. After a bye to prepare and heal up, Burrow could made it two in a row in week 10.

More unscientific thinking: NFLbets needs to see one more convincing win from the Pittsburgh Steelers before we’re ready to believe they’re as good as their record indicates. Don’t get NFLbets wrong: WE certainly consider them the second-favorite to win the AFC right now, but they’re not going 16-0. The numbers are already catching up, as Pittsburgh is currently on a 1-2 ATS jag.

We’re looking for Burrow and Bengals to defy expectations once again (they’re among the league best ATS at 6-2): Take the Cincinnati Bengals +7 at Pittsburgh, and bet the Bengals money line (ML) at +270 – if you’re like NFLbets, you can probably use a lose makeup win…

–written by Os Davis

Week 8 NFL betting: Gotta love these outliers

Saturday, 31 October 2020 18:24 EST

NFLbets already put out some picks for week 8 in reference to the My Bookie pick-5 Super Contest, but none of those really excited like a good solid high-wager (well, relatively) single-game pick. Luckily, the Chargers and Broncos have been deemed Covid-free enough to play – and so bet on. And that 20- to 20½-point line on Jets-Chiefs is just way too tempting...

Our best bets for week 8 are therefore…

“Los Angeles” Chargers -3½ at Denver Broncos

Clearly, Vegas is done underestimating the Broncos; Denver started the season 4-1 ATS before the beatdown by the Chiefs. The sportsbooks still aren’t sure how to gauge the Chargers, either, as this 2-4 SU side is a crazy 5-1 ATS. Two pretty notable outliers playing against each other means we have to bet this one based on the football and chalk those 3½ points up to ostensible homefield advantage.

The Broncos are still playing reasonable defense this season without Von Miller, currently ranking 7th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. Everyday statistics such as points allowed and pass attempts against are more indicative of the greater problem in Devner, i.e. the offense. The Broncos passing game, whether “powered” by Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel or Brett Rypien is bottom-5 is every major meaningful statistical measure, most importantly points scored and time of possession.

Speaking of those low point totals, the Broncos have scored a single touchdown in the past two games combined, that coming when already in a 28-point hole against the Chiefs and playing against a lot of second-string defenders.  They’ve topped 21 points themselves just once in their five games – against who else but the Jets – while the opposition is averaging over 27 points per game thanks to the aforementioned handicaps saddling the defense.

The Chargers are hardly playing as bad a defense as Jacksonville’s this week, but if given the opportunities based on turnovers and 3-and-outs, exciting young gun Justin Herbert is capable of serving up not quite a Chiefs-level beatdown, but enough points to cover half a touchdown against his low-watt counterparts. Take the “Los Angeles” Chargers -3½ at Denver.

New York Jets -20½ at Kansas City Chiefs

OK, NFL bets is recommending this one based on a) a tipster contact who has been hitting just about everything this season, and NFLbets needs to bet with more often, and b) the sheer joy in cheering on the Kansas City point-scoring machine.

Some historical perspective on what you’re asking when you take the Kansas City Chiefs -20½ vs the Jets:

Since 1990, just 27 regular-season and 1 playoff games have kicked off with point spreads of 17 or more. Underdogs are an unsurprising 1-27 SU and 8-20 ATS. Naturally, the underdog’s chances of covering increase as does the point spread; favorites drop to just 3-8 ATS when giving 20 or more.

Another interesting note: The 17-point plus point spread has recently become increasingly common. Between the 2013 playoffs and the 2019 season, zero games kicked off at such a high ’spread. In 2019, four did – though three of these involved the Brady ‘n’ Belichick Patriots and two involved the Miami Dolphins.

But hey, enough confidence-shaking. You’ve seen the Jets play, you saw what the Chiefs are capable of last week. Besides, like NFLbets said (wrote?), cheering for the point-a-minute offense is more fun than going against it…

–written by Os Davis

Week 3 NFL betting: We like Patriots to roll, Falcons to score, Bengals to surprise

Saturday, 26 September 2020 14:51 EST

NFL football and betting moneyAh yes, the hole in the clouds … NFLbets sees daylight after the traditional crapshoot of week 1 and overreactive betting of week 2. Our picks have shown the value of betting conservatively – not necessarily in terms of amount of moneys, but rather number of games wagered upon. After two, NFLbets’ picks are a nice 4-1-1.

Naturally, the temptations are great, particularly with the week 3 slate. Even accounting for stayaways such as Washington FT +7 at Cleveland and Tampa Bay Buccaneers -6 at Denver, so many good-looking picks are available, it’s gonna be hard not to self-destruct. NFLbets will be loosening up a bit on the self-restrictions, though, and taking a chance on at lest one slightly too risky proposition. The following are our Best Bet, Pick of the Week and Longshot Special.

New England Patriots -6½ vs Las Vegas Raiders

NFL bettors have clearly been hammering the Patriots minus the points – the line opened at Raiders +5½ and could hit +7 by game time, and why not? With both teams having completed an East-West-East run (the Patriots went from Foxborough to Seattle and back; the Raiders from Charlotte to Vegas to Massachusetts) and both exceeding expectations early on, wouldn’t one have to give a one-touchdown edge in coaching to Bill Belichick?

NFLbets sure would and here’s the compelling stat as to why: Following their last 25 regular-season losses dating back to 2011, Belichick’s Patriots are an awe-inspiring 23-2 SU and 20-3-2 ATS – against point spreads ranging from New England -8½ to +2½. After a loss, Bellichick’s staff seemingly immediately gets to work on shoring up the weak areas which led to the L.

We can assume that the secondary will be, likesay, encouraged to improve week-on-week for week 3, as last week’s showing against the Seattle Seahawks represented probably their worst overall in four years. Derek Carr may have had his way with the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football, but on a short week will not be prepared for some different looks from the Patriots defense.

Incidentally, Carr has faced the Patriots twice in his career thus far and his Raiders scored 9 and 8 in those games of 2014 and ’17, respectively. Take the New England Patriots -6½ vs Las Vegas.

Atlanta Falcons -3 vs Chicago Bears

The hype on the 2-0 SU/1-1 ATS Bears may be completely out of control, but NFLbets is glad it’s around. In two weeks to date, Chicago has managed to eke out a combined 44 points against the Detroit Lions and New York Giants, two bottom-10 defenses. This is actually slightly higher than the Bears’ average of just under 20.2 ppg since Mitchell Trubisky took over as quarterback in 2017.

On the other side, we may be only two games into the 2020 NFL season, but the Falcons have already demonstrated that they can still run up points on offense (gee, maybe continuity really does matter?) than the Lions even on a bad day: In their last 10 games, the Falcons have put up at least 22 points 9 times. If the Falcons get an early lead – particularly with a defensive score – this could turn into a nightmare for the Bears.

Finallly, there are the simplest numbers of all: Atlanta’s 0-2 SU, Chicago’s 2-0 SU. NFLbets thinks this very simple metric regresses to the mean this week. Take the Atlanta Falcons -3 vs Chicago.

Cincinnati Bengals +4 at Philadelphia Eagles

NFLbets knows that Joe Burrow’s 61 pass attempts – “In his second NFL game ever!!! OMFG!!!!!!” – were more of an act of desperate necessity than any mark of the young guy’s awesomess. (Though Joe Burrow indeed has awesomeness aplenty.) But Burrow’s persistence, ability to essentially manufacture plays and the pure statistical gaudiness of his performance has got to improve the Bengals on abstract levels at least.

And NFLbets knows that the Bengals’ offensive line can’t really hold a serious pass rush. Lined up against Myles Garrett et al, the Cincinnati linemen looked like they were giving up about 80 pounds on average. Nevertheless, the Bengals OL still provided Burrow enough time most plays against the Browns – and Philadelphia just doesn’t have a serious pass rush.

In fact, NFLbets isn’t even sure what the Eagles can claim to bring to the table anymore, anyway. Since the glorious Super Bowl win, the Eagles are on steady decline yearly in virtually all aspects of the game. Their competitiveness against their division mates – 9-4 SU (6-7 ATS) – is the thin thread which kept Philadelphia hanging in the postseason with diminishing returns, two weakass performances in 2020 do nothing to assuage doubts that this tendency will change.

But can we honestly believe that the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles will really start the season 0-3? Absolutely: This franchise has all the hallmarks of imminent rebuild, and this game appears an ideal situation for Burrowmania to snowball. We’re gonna take the Cincinnati Bengals Money Line (ML) at +170.

Wait, we’re taking the Bengals? Was what that thing at the beginning about playing conservative…?

–written by Os Davis

Coaching moves (probably) did not help these NFL teams

Tuesday, 25 August 2020 15:05 EST

Mike VrabelNFLbets previously considered three NFL teams who likely helped their chances for success in 2020 by means of coaching changes. This time around, we’re considering seven teams whose sideline switches may not do any good – or even make matters worse. Adjust bets accordingly. (Odds listed are those currently posted in MyBookie’s “To Win Super Bowl 55” proposition bet.)

From the Your Guess Is As Good As Ours Department are the Tennessee Titans (30/1) and Carolina Panthers (100/1). Incidentally, Titans backers for the 2020 season, in which anything could happen up to and including Ryan Tannehill winning Super Bowl MVP, have got to be loving those odds.

In Carolina, the front office has shifted into fourth gear of rebuilding. At the top are three rookies to the NFL coaching game: Head coach is Matt Rhule of Baylor, who brings with him his Bears DC Phil Snow as well as some 10 others. At offensive coordinator is Joe Brady, who takes a big step up from Florida Gators WRs coach.

Whether or not these mostly young new guns can enjoy immediate success in 2020 is questionable, but two things are certain about these Panthers: a coaching staff from the college ranks will certainly be useful for the NFL draft after a year of no college football, and Christian McCaffrey will be the no. 1 in fantasy football stats in ’20.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, the Titans are still without a defensive coordinator, which they’ve been since Dean Pees retired in January. The Tennessee D declined some from its showing in 2018., but the ’19 team generally had a better showing under head coach Mike Vrabel. Should we presume that Vrabel will take over the defense playcalling as well? NFLbets doesn’t trust that enough to label it an “improvement.” Vrabel’s mentor Darth Belichick got away with that, sure – *after he won the Super Bowl already*.

Same goes but even more so for the Los Angeles Rams (55/1). With Wade Phillips retiring out of the defensive coordinator spot, the Rams took on Brandon Staley, the former Denver Broncos LBs coach and seemingly a decent enough hire. For OC, in comes Kevin O’Connell, former offensive coordinator and QBs coach in Washington, who last year headed up the offense dead last in points scored and passing yards.

But good (?) news! Sean “Wunderkind No Longer” McVay will be handling the offensive playcalling with an offense “powered” by his preferred QB Jared Goff (Goff’s got pictures on him, obviously) and with no Todd Gurley, who sadly will ultimately go down as having atrophied for his two years under Jeff Fisher. Hell, O’Connell might even fail right up into that head coaching job by the end of this season as the Rams settle into last place in the NFC West…

Taking over as Chicago Bears (40/1) offensive coordinator is Bill Lazor, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals, and … wait a minute, the Bears have an offense?

You know those guys who make terrible head coaches but notably good coordinators? You know, like Wade Phillips. NFLbets would put Pat Shurmur and Jay Gruden, new OCs for the Denver Broncos (40/1) and Jacksonville Jaguars (175/1), respectively, in that group. However, neither has proven himself a miracle worker and the past, and these two offenses might require a team of Jesuses in 2020… will get to prove they’re among that lot in 2020.

And finally, there are the New York Giants (100/1). Former New England Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge is now head coach, becoming the first NFL head coach to make that leap into the position since John Harbaugh in 2009. Among his new staffers are Jason Garrett as OC and Freddie Kitchens, who has been returned to his level as a TEs coach. So maybe Judge is Harbaugh 2.0, but, likesay, NFLbets doubts it.

–written by Os Davis

Defining homefield advantage (if any) for NFL betting in '20

Tuesday, 11 August 2020 13:36 EST

Betting NFL 2020: homefield advantage?As NFLbets has bemoaned recently, a sharp learning curve will make betting on the NFL in 2020 quite a bit trickier during at very least the first quarter to third of the season. In an attempt to read the tea leaves on what should prove the oddest football season since 1987, NFLbets is again testing out some factors which might(…?) help bettors in ’20.

Since the biggest contast between the no-crowds model of Major League Baseball and the NFL versus  the bubble model of the NBA and NBA is travel, aspects of home field are especially worthy of attention in the upcoming season. (All odds noted are those listed in MyBookie’s “Super Bowl 55 – To Win” proposition bet.)

Consider if you will the effets of…

•  No home crowds. MLB and NBA games may run with an undercurrent of piped-in fan noise overlaid with business-as-usual incidental music, but no apparent difference is made to the players. Whether or not home crowds make a difference, the “Los Angeles” Chargers (40/1) stand to benefit. With maybe (maybe!) a handful of fans at every contest in L.A., the Chargers offense has to resort to tactics like the silent count at home, as was the case in week 15 against the Minnesota Vikings last season. (For the record, the 1-point underdog Chargers were smoked SU/ATS by the Vikes, 39-10.)

You’d also think that the Seattle Seahawks (18/1) would be hampered by the lack of their infamous loud-ass “12th Man” as well: The Carroll & Wilson Seahawks are an impressive 53-16 SU and a decent 38-30-1 ATS in all home games since 2012. But last season? Seattle was just 4-4 SU/2-6 ATS and didn’t even cover a spread at home until week 9. In 2020, we might put more weight on the actual travel visiting teams are making to play the ’Hawks.

•  Homefield advantage/disadvantage. With about a half-dozen games each under their belts, NBA teams are noticing a couple of trends among players: The lack of travel results in more energy, and the bubble state results in more focus. The NFL is taking a page from MLB on scheduling, i.e. not changing a thing, and thus inherent advantages for certain teams should as the Denver Broncos (40/1), who went a nice 5-3 SU/ATS at home, but 2-6 SU/4-4 ATS in away games.

•  And, inevitably, weather conditions. In the time of coronavirus, far too many self-styled experts are barging into opinionating on coronavirus; NFLbets will hardly add to the wad by predicting a timeframe for a vaccine and such. However, we should recall some remedial science. To wit: Covid-19 is an airborne virus like, say, influenza or the common cold. A person becomes more susceptible (or, in the case of the coronavirus, *even* more susceptible) to viruses when his/her immune system is tasked with other matters. Natural defenses can be lowered, for example, by exposure to colder temperatures; this is why most folks are well more likely to get a cold in the wintertime.

So in 2020, we’ll have professional athletes testing their physical limits in a high-contact sport in, likesay, Foxborough, Green Bay, Chicago, Pittsburgh or Buffalo in December with, for all we know, various spikes in cases throughout the U.S. Again, we’re no medical experts, but we’d say more exposure to extreme cold, the more positive tests the team is likely to experience.

We’d start reducing our likelihood of not only the aforementioned teams, but any who play in such climes enough times – so probably the entire AFC East and AFC North straight away. Meanwhile, the big winner in the warm-weather sweepstakes may be – would you know it? – Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+850 and falling). TB and TB play at Denver in week 1, at Chicago in week 3 and at the New York Giants in week 8 on November 2; beyond these, all Bucs games are in Tampa, south of the Mason-Dixon Line or indoors. And make of this what you will, but Brady-led teams playing outdoors in temperatures of 60⁰F or higher are 77-40 SU; not including games at Miami, that rises to 69-31 for a .690 winning percentage.

Nothing like old folks retiring to California, eh…?

Will Dwayne Johnson’s XFL complete one full season?

Tuesday, 11 August 2020 13:19 EST

Who would have thought oh-so-far back in 2018, when mainstream media first started toying with the idea of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson running for high office, that he would soon become president?

Okay, so The Rock yesterday announced his presidency of the *XFL* rather than the US, but still. For a reported $15 million did pretty much the GOAT professional wrestler together with Florida-based investment group Red Bird Capital Partners bought the XFL out of bankruptcy.

From the Can You Smell What The Rock Is Tweeting Department:

Questions arise: Should the league be referred to informally as XFL 3.0 or XFL 2020 2.0? Can The Rock pull off the Sisyphean task of succeeding where a league has twice failed, particularly at a time when major North American sports leagues are pondering their futures? And what are the odds this league actually makes it this time?

NFLbets will take these questions in reverse order. In our completely fictional proposition bet “Will Dwayne Johnson’s XFL complete one full season?”, YES is at +140 while the odds on NO stand at -300.

Now, NFLbets hates to play the pessimist – yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrre – but let’s be realistic here. Certainly will young Millennial football players be inspired to try out for a league run by a generational-level sports hero. And though coaches and fans may find enthusiasm enthralling in their athletes, that enthusiasm plus a couple hundred dollars will get you a ticket to an NFL game.

In 2019, the Alliance of American Football (AAF – ’member that one?) reportedly required a $250-plus million bailout by Carolina Hurricanes majority owner Tom Dundon after just one week of play in a league that capped player salaries at $83,333 per year.

One year later, the XFL 2020 kicked off its season in February, suspended the season on March 12 (the day after NBA officials hastily cancelled the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City Thunder game), laid off all employees in April and filed for bankruptcy soon thereafter. The cost to league owner Vince McMahon: $!00 million, and he had another $400 million ready to plunk into the league.

Neither league lacked for planning, infrastructure and enthusiasm but as the man said, it’s money that matters. The Rock essentially bought a concept and some intellectual property for his $15 million, a stack of right to the XFL brand. Think about it: Even under the AAF’s contract scheme, that money would pay the contracts of 180 players – that’s four 45-man teams – for one season. $15 million is chump change for a guy of the Rock’s income bracket. Hell, rumor had it that the original spotter of the $15 million would be … Vince McMahon himself.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, XFL ownerSo The Rock, likely a strong draw for players, coaches and investors, comes along looking to restart a twice-failed money pit with up to 97% of remaining expenses yet to paid for a prospective 10-game season. Just to increase the level of difficulty, it’s 2020. Officials for the Canadian Football League (CFL), the Rock’s first stop before WWE superstardom, have stated that the pandemic has exacerbated extant financial problems to the tune of a $100 million hit devastating enough to potentially *kill the entire league*.

On top of this we may stack the fans’ relative unease at again cram-packing sports stadiums, certain controversies dogging football on all levels of play and the competition that the NBA will bring in the futures. (The forward-thinking league will tip off the 2020-21 season on Xmas Day and at least one franchise owner is lobbying to make the change permanent.)

Here’s to thinking, then, that reputation and desire may be juuuuuuuuuuuust enough to keep the XFL afloat for its inaugural season in 2021 or ’22 or ’23 or whenever if ever, but any XFL incarnation making it to a season 2 kickoff? NFLbets isn’t buying it.

Finally, what to call this league? We realize that The Rock paid millions for the name “XFL”, but how about the RFL? You know, where the “R” is for “Rock”? And someday we may in fact get to elect the man to the position of ROTUS…

— written by Os Davis

66 players opt out of NFL season: Does it affect the odds?

Sunday, 09 August 2020 12:56 EST

NFL optouts and bettingPreseason predictions for the NFL – particularly those not involving Belichick ‘n’ Brady’s New England Patriots – are usually a crapshoot, but in 2020? NFL bettors might as well be reading goat entrails to get a bead on what might happen in the would-be season of coronavirus. Nevertheless, as the season appears inevitable to occur, NFLbets has got to do *some*thing in the prognosticatory area.

So with just about one month to go before the 2020 NFL season kicks off, NFLbets today considers the list of player optouts; hey, maybe it’s meaningful. All odds listed are those of MyBookie in the “Super Bowl 55 – To Win” proposition bet.

A total of 66 NFL players opted out of the 2020 season; these 66 will have their contracts deferred one year and receive compensation of $150,000. At one end of the spectrum are the post-Brady Patriots (12/1), who had a whopping eight optouts, well ahead of the Cleveland Browns (30/1) with five. While New England lost players across the board and shed enough cap space to lead to conspiracy theories, Cleveland’s name players in general stayed aboard. If you’re digging on either team, the optouts shouldn’t bettors in these cases.

And just in case NFL bettors needed more encouragement to bet on the Patriots, New England’s AFC East “rivals” are again inadvertently assisting the Dark Empire’s chances in 2020: The Miami Dolphins (70/1) and New York Jets (90/1) may have taken the most significant hits in optouts.

Miami went 5-11 with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm in 2019; for ’20, the Fins bring in Tua Tagovailoa and/or Josh Rosen to quarterback – but they’ll be doing so without WRs Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson. The Jets already enter the season with a bottom-3 offense and a reasonably good defense, but will be without C.J. Mosley, who has played a total of two games for New York since acquired in the 2019 offseason.

Meanwhile, three teams reported zero optouts: the Pittsburgh Steelers (22/1), Atlanta Falcons (33/1) and “Los Angeles” Chargers (40/1). NFLbets believes that all three team’s chances for winning Super Bowl LV are enhanced at least a sliver.

NFLbets has been liking Atlanta’s chances for some time, with the New Orleans Saints (with an over/under win total of 10½) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9½) are entering the season at least slightly overrated by sportsbooks and the general public. And the Chargers have been playing in front of hostile crowds at “home” for two seasons now, so playing in what feels like a neutral site every week can hardly hurt their chances. The Steelers are the biggest question mark of the three, with presumed stiff divisional competition and an aging QB, but if you’re betting on Pittsburgh, you’re probably an unmovable fan, anyway.

What else can be divined from these optouts? Probably not much. Consider the list of teams other than the Jets who lost three players to optout: the Kansas City Chiefs (6/1), Dallas Cowboys (14/1), Indianaplis Colts (20/1), Las Vegas Raiders (50/1), Detroit Lions (65/1), New York Giants (90/1) and Jacksonville Jaguars (175/1). Even if you were told that any of these three teams had had three starters opting out (none do), would desire be increased/decreased to cover them?

Yeah, us neither.

We think.

–written by Os Davis