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.


Odds on which NFL team will sign Colin Kaepernick

Thursday, 18 June 2020 12:58 EST

Colin Kaepernick shirtless, looking for teamFrom the strange ethereal world that is NFL football in 2020 came a statement from commissioner Roger Goodell encouraging the league’s 32 franchises to sign once-blacklisted QB Coline Kaepernick. The odds in Kaepernick-related props were adjusted accordingly but with online sportsbooks essentially figuring that Kaep’s NFL career is kaput, the offering “Which team will sign Colin Kaepernick?” is as yet non-existent.

So hey, if NFLbets can’t wager on such a proposition bet, we’ll simply envision the prop, publish the plan online and wish it into being. (Hey, it works for the POTUS…)

In five seasons, Kaepernick played in 66 regular-season games plus six more in the postseason; his average line for this span is 189.3 yards passing to go with 1.1 TDs against 0.5 interceptions plus another 32.7 yards per game rushing.

The problem, as we were told between the kneeldowns and the collusion lawsuit brough against the NFL, was that the former Super Bowl quarterback had been away from the game too long. Hell, in week 8 of the 2017 season, Houston Texans QB DeShaun Watson went out for the season and rumor briefly had the Texans giving Kaepernick a shot. Yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre. When asked, then-head coach Bill O’Brien stated that Kaep was a “good football player,” he “hasn’t played football in a while.”

And that was when Kaepernick was half a season removed from the game. (For the record, the Texans went 1-8 without Watson the rest of the way. His replacements as starting QB that season, Tom Savage and T.J. Yates, never played another down in the NFL again.)

O’Brien’s attitude was apparently little more than the NFL party line, as Kaepernick’s lawsuit (and subsequent out-of-court settlement, to be completely honest) showed – but as loath as NFLbets is to admit it, three seasons out of football is likely too much of a handicap for Kaep to slide in to even the most desperate circumstances (helloooooo, Denver Broncos!) as a starter.

On the plus side, if Kaepernick does decide to play, he’ll likely be willing to do so at an affordable rate, i.e. a backup QB’s salary. After Taysom Hill and Marcus Mariota (at $8.841 million and $7.5 million, respectively), the next seven highest-paid backup NFL QBs will earn between $2.25 million and $5.25 million. All things being equal, $3.75 million for 2020 is beyond reasonable, particularly given the potential to sell more paraphernalia than any backup in NFL history.

The following are odds in NFLbets’ specialty prop bet, “Which team will sign Kaepernick first for the 2020 NFL season?”

• No team: -500. Pure pragmatism here, you understand.

• Baltimore Ravens: +200. For any player, this would be a no-brainer. Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman was Kaep’s OC when he twice took the San Francisco 49ers deep into the playoffs. And what 14-2 team has ever had a thinner depth chart at the offensive skill positions than the 2019 Baltimore Ravens?

• Los Angeles Chargers: +650. The Chargers have Tyrod Taylor listed as no. 1 quarterback, have no fans, get the minimum of sports media coverage in L.A./Southern Califirnia, and will depend on the incompetence of the Broncos to stay out of the AFC West cellar. Hell, if anybody in the Chargers front office actually had a pulse, Kaepernick would have been signed by now.

• Chicago Bears: 15/1
• Denver Broncos: 15/1
. Look, if neither of these teams with their incessant follies at quarterback over the past three seasons haven’t given Kaepernick as much as a second look, Goodell’s edict still won’t wake them up (so to speak).

• Jacksonville Jaguars: 18/1. If and when play in the EFL Championship resumes, Fulham FC will have to address some paucity on the roster at forward, particularly when the loaner on Anthony Knockaert expires. On the other hand, play may not resume quickly enough for Fulham to make up a 7- and 6-point gap on Leeds United and West Brom, respectively. And since this is about as much attention as owner Shahid Khan pays to the Jaguars, it’s another year of Gardner Minshu for the team’s 27 fans.

• Washington: 100/1. No way is this going to happen in Donald Trump’s capitol city – and especially not with the great Colt McCoy already on board at the bargain price of $2.25 million (and worth every penny!). But NFLbets for one would kill to see Dan Snyder extend a contract offer to Kaepernick, only for the deal to be met with refusal until the team changes the goddamn racist name already.

–written by Os Davis


Goodell encourages NFL franchises to sign Kaepernick – but will they?

Wednesday, 17 June 2020 09:01 EST

Colin Kaepernick takes a kneeNFLbets would hardly characterize the NFL’s franchise owners as “woke”, but this week the lot are finally exhibiting a modicum of social awareness – albeit seven years too late at base minimum.

History will ultimately show that on June 5, 2020, as a thousand cities and towns throughout the U.S. rang with outrage over the brutal murder of George Floyd, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did state that “We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter. I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country.”

Justifiably, some players weren’t buying that bullshit, most notably Dallas Cowboys DE Michael Bennett. Bennett described the statement as “almost alike a slap in the face”, going on to state that Goodell “knows Black Lives Matter, because without black players, the NFL wouldn't be as lucrative as it is.”

Baltimore Ravens LB Matthew Judon was among those finding the timing convenient: “I think we should have been questioning why Roger Goodell didn’t say black lives matter when he was born, or when he became commissioner or when he was re-elected commissioner.”

But hey, this is NFLbets, where we’re concerned about making money the wagering way. Can this latest round of the league’s official vacuousness be turned to the NFL bettor’s advantage?

The answer to that, happily, is yes – if somewhat indirectly.

The Return of Sports – and Colin Kaepernick
History will also show that on the June 15, 2020, ESPN Sports Center special pretentiously entitled “The Return of Sports,” Goodell publicly encouraged teams to consider signing former pariah and courtroom nemesis (not to mention a favorite subject for proposition bets in the post-PASPA world) Colin Kaepernick.

At least one big online sportsbook immediately shifted the odds in their “Odds Colin Kaepernick on Active Roster for Game 1 of the 2020 NFL season” prop after offering the same lines since the conclusion of Super Bowl LIV. By this morning, YES had gone from +500 to +300, while NO went from -900 to -500. If we presume that even during a pandemic situation, such props never draw serious sums from bettors and thus the odds rarely waver much, we may conclude that this sportsbook doesn’t think much of ol’ Kaep’s chances at a comeback.

Beyond this, factor in the reticence of 32 franchise owners not exactly busted outright for collusion, but. In addition to the party line taken by these teams which was based on the narrative that Kaepernick just wasn’t that great a QB, how many of these billionaire types (and the Green Bay Packers board, who are pretty well justified in passing on high-risk QBs for a while) will be willing to roll over and surrender alpha dog status to a dude who was crushing them in court and public opinion…?

The unavoidable (if slightly depressing) conclusion is that smart money says take the NO in the Colin Kaepernick on Active Roster for 2020. But that’s no fun; what’s fun is hedging the NO by guessing which team will bet on their own PR and sign an athlete for our times…

To be continued...


Sim Chiefs, sim Packers avoid upsets, advance to Madden Madness Elite 8

Friday, 29 May 2020 12:29 EST

After the craziness in the previous day’s “Sweet 16” games in Bet Online’s Madden Madness sim tournament, normalcy prevailed in the bottom half of the bracket yesterday.

Highlight from Madden Madness sim tournamentIn the Sweet 16 round, the Kansas City Chiefs survived the Las Vegas Raiders, 38-35, after Chucky’s team went on a 21-0 run in the second to third quarters.

The Green Bay Packers really ran up the ol’ scoreboard on the Cleveland Browns by winning the baseball game, 13-6.

Philadelphia’s Madden players nicely simulated the real-life Eagles by taking the Buffalo Bills into overtime, only to blow their possession in overtime aaaaaaaaaand Bills victory, 23-20.

Finally, the South playoff between real-life rivals the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans also went into overtime, with the Titans D holding the Texans to a field goal in extra time and Tennessee advancing, 34-31.

Pointspread and over/under for the Eliter 8 games are as follows.

West: Los Angeles Rams +3½ at Kansas City Chiefs, over/under 50 points
North: Chicago Bears +3 at Green Bay Packers, over/under 43½ points
South: Carolina Panthers +3 at Tennessee Titans, over/under 43½ points
East: New York Jets +2½ at Buffalo Bills, over/under 42½ points

NFLbets could tell you that underdogs are 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight games or, better yet, that the over is 6-2 in that span. We might also point out that in the Elite 8 round of May29, all home teams were playoff teams in 2019 and none of the visitors are.

But, and we can’t emphasize this strongly enough, *this isn’t real football* and Madden has never been a reliable simulator in terms of reproducing real-life results. It doesn’t mean you can’t have fun – just be sure to adjust your bets accordingly. (There’s a reason why betting is limited to results based on the scores of the game only.)

In the spirit of fun then – and not betting very many moneys – we’d say to take the over in the Rams-Chiefs, Panthers-Titans and Jets-Bills. Why? The difficulty level for the CPU vs CPU game is set for both teams at All-Madden. We’re not sure why, but putting all players on this level has benefitted quarterbacks and edge rushers the most. Just look at some of the quarterbacks left in this competition: Mitch Trubisky, Jared Goff, Sam Darnold (who may be great someday but patently was not in 2019) … and Cam Newton is no longer hobbled or sightless.

Note, too, the low variance in pointspreads for this round. If you’re covering any underdog plus the points, you may as well take the moneyline, which pays off at much better odds. But again: wager the proverbial responsibly.

–written by Os Davis


On the future of football post-pandemic

Wednesday, 27 May 2020 17:20 EST

Strange times are these – particularly if you’re into sports on any level. Overnight an enterprise in which we’d typically invested a sizable fraction of our time and/or bankroll evaporated, leaving some to betting Madden sim games online and the seriously desperate to wager on marble racing. A revelation regarding sports may have occurred to some as well, i.e. maybe sports just aren’t that essential.

(Now don’t get NFLbets wrong here: Just because something is not essential does not mean that it’s useless; after all, the human spirit and aesthetic sense must also be nourished. The human species  would be a far sadder lot without folk song and literature and visual art, all as literally nonessential as NFL football.)

In researching for the Truly The GOATs sports history podcast, a few concepts became readily apparent to me:

•  Humans have played sports, or sports-like games, for thousands of years;

Seen any good Aztec ball games lately...?•  Complicated organized sports are created by cultures which can support them, i.e. citizens have enough leisure time and society can allow for time and/or specialization of players;

•   For much of the world, the golden age of sports is unquestionably the 20th century;

•   Not all cultures have organized sport; and

•   Teams, leagues and even entire sports die.

From a dispassionate historical perspective, then, the future of NFL football is short and bleak. Indeed, we may right now be seeing the final few seasons of the league – or we will someday. In fact, the coronavirus pandemic may simply be hastening the demise of a league and an entire sport which might otherwise have been dragged out for 20 years more.

Impossible, you say? Football is an indelible part of American culture? Too big to fail, you believe? Well, acceptance of cruel fate comes late, well later than the ennui-to-panic NFL fans, bettors and officials are feeling in month three of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Warning signs already prevalent, obvious, ominous

More and more paleontologists are coming around to the idea that, before the planet-killing meteor struck planet Earth to wipe ’em out, most dinosaur species were already in precipitous decline: The extinction-level event merely completed with stark finality the process that had already begun. By analogy, we think of the NFL as the dinosaur, the Earth as the sport of football and the extinction-level event as … um, er, COVID-19 has clouded that particular bit of the metaphor.

Back to the present. Consider what NFL football looked like to the non-fan going into year 2020: Youth participation is down in schools in every state due to parental concerns about football’s long-term health effects. NCAA football is turning the corner on fairly distributing money to its players but far too slowly.

In the big league, meanwhile, it’s seemingly one scandal after another involving on-field cheating and doping, off-field crime and violence. Simultaneously, the American public has becoming evermore aware of the league’s (mostly) billionaire owners regularly fleecing the home city’s citizens to pay taxes to construct a shiny new privately-owned stadium – stadiums which host games which typically price out the average citizen.

The most recent example of this last phenomenon comes from good ol’ Los Angeles – you know, the city which had zero NFL teams for a generation and is reportedly now home to two…? The main selling point of Walmart baron/Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s plan to build a $1 billion-plus pleasure palace/home venue for the Rams and Chargers was that he’d be paying out of his own sizable coffers. The project is currently nearing $4 billion over budget, has been delayed once again “thanks” to COVID-19, with the difference certainly to be made up by the city government, with taxes to repay the unexpected expense.

And don’t get NFLbets started on the whole anthem-kneeling thing.

You can also throw away Super Bowl viewership numbers, too. Firstly, evidence suggests that these numbers peaked in 2015; second, 7 of the 9 top-rated Super Bowls – and the entire top-5 – in terms of audience included Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Neither of these awe-inspiring charismatic dudes is likely to play in another.

Precedent for the NFL’s extinction

PSFLIn 1905, meetings were held between colleges with America’s leading football programs (essentially the Ivy League schools plus a handful of others) in consideration of the question of whether football should be made illegal. You read that right: These deans, proto-ADs and such were debating whether playing the game should become a crime. Truth be told, had Teddy Roosevelt’s own son not been injured and thus inspired the POTUS himself to call for rules reforms, the 19 killed on football fields in ’05 could well have been enough to kill football before the forward pass came to full fruition.

NFLbets has suggested that, as macabre as it sounds, one on-field death in an NFL game, with tis millions of viewers weekly, would essentially guarantee the loss of up to half the audience overnight. This isn’t the 1970s, when Formula 1 drivers were killed at a rate of more than 1 per season: Today’s public is well more likely to turn off, as fatalities are no longer a norm in football or any regularly televised sport.

Unlike all other major sports, which enjoy viewership and participation across large swathes of Earth, significant interest in gridiron football is limited to exactly two countries: America and Canada. This limited talent base plus the still-great interest in college football are the primary reasons why minor/rogue leagues have proven unsustainable, with the sole exception of the AFL. The AAFC, WFL, USFL, UFL, XFL, AAF and XFL 2.0 have all been crushed under the NFL steamroller.

The AFL was a beneficiary of right-place, right-time: When the rogue league was formed in 1960, the NFL included just 13 franchises, and just three – the Rams; the San Francisco 49ers, assimilated from the AAFC; and the just-born Dallas Cowboys – played home games west of St. Louis. At that time, the U.S. population was about 180 million, meaning the ratio of Americans to a single NFL team was 13.9 million to 1; the ratio in 2020 is down to 10.33 million to 1. The AFL was fortunate to have come along when the potential talent could be absorbed into a competitive pro-level team and when many big and/or burgeoning markets (e.g. Boston, Houston, Denver) were without a home team.

Well more concerning than even the ugly AAF trainwreck and the new XFL’s death by pandemic, however, is the impending doom facing the Canadian Football League. CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie went before a Canadian House of Commons committee on May 7 to request bailout money for the league’s continued existence.

Acknowledging that “Our best-case scenario for this year is a drastically truncated season, and our most likely scenario is no season at all”, Ambrosie went on to admit the league was looking at $30 million in debt already and would need $120 million more to keep the league going in 2021 and beyond. Judging by Canadian media reportage, their federal government is none too keen on propping up a league which is weakest in the country’s three biggest markets of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Now one may argue that the problems the CFL must deal with post-pandemic are unique to that league. Interest is low in Toronto and Montreal because of the “big league” sports already in town, and the CFL draws most of its revenue from gate receipts rather than TV. Ironically, improvements in television technology surely also factor into declining attendance, particularly in the colder months of October and November.

But the financial woes are not the point. The CFL has roots going back to the origins of the game itself: The CFL’s top prize, the Grey Cup, has been awarded to Canada’s champion football team since 1909, and the Toronto Argonauts have a history spanning back to 1873, a time when rugby and gridiron football were barely distinguishable and Canada itself was just four years old. Yet none of this matters, as this national institution could be wiped out forever by July, its league officials, franchise owners, coaches and players as helpless as were those of the near-stillborn AAF.

Borrowed time must be repaid

Borrowed time, the NFL is living onThe NFL has been living – thriving, really – on borrowed time since CTE’s effects and their relationship with football playing were exposed to the American public. In totem with the anthem-kneeling controversy, the socially conscious NFL fan must indulge in some serious doublethink to enjoy the sport at all in the 2010s. How popular would NFL football have been by 2020 if not for the all-time outlier Tom Brady and the concomitant über-success of his New England Patriots, a.k.a. the Dynasty You Love to Hate?

And then there’s that tv audience, which will almost inevitably shrink from 2019 norms and never truly return. Call it the Fitness Club Principle: You know how, if you go to the gym every day, the act becomes habit? Then you miss one day in the regular schedule and voila: The subsequent day, justification to skip again is a lot easier, and even easier the day after that and the day after that, etc. Soon you find you’re still paying gym membership, but you haven’t actually attended in a couple of months. Once one loses the rhythm of habit, it’s much harder to pick things back up.

NFLbets bets The Fitness Club Principle is coming to most professional sports in America, and the NFL could well suffer the greatest. At this point in the pro sports blackout, only the most rabid fans are truly still hurting and – pure speculation here – it’s just not an absolute certainty that football played in an empty stadium and stripped of much of its ritualistic pageantry won’t draw the expected viewership.

Our advice

Maybe the graveyard spiral of the CFL is getting to us, but such stark reality in the face is impossible to ignore. We’re playing the 20s pragmatically vis-à-vis football and thus we’re only counting on the NFL continuing for about five more years. For 2020, we’ll be attempting to learn how to adjust our traditional NFL betting ways for a new reality of fan-less stadia and diluted homefield advantage – and let’s just hope Super Bowl LV isn’t our last chance to dig on NFL football…

–written by Os Davis

 

 

 


US Presidential Election betting: Get your bets in before the polls come in

Tuesday, 10 March 2020 14:00 EST

Some may think it in bad taste to bet on elections, but NFLbets sees proposition bets like “US Presidential Election – Winning Party” as a fantastic opportunity to make the best of a bad situation, especially if you strongly suspect who you’re voting he who will ultimately lose in Election 2020.

For example, consider this prop…

US Presidential Election Winning party
Democrats: +120
Republicans: -245
Any other party: +5500

First, those 55/1 odds offered on “Any other party” are ludicrous. Look, NFLbets will give you better odds than that right now. We’ll give you 10,000/1 odds here – at least. Seriously, why burn your money in Las Vegas on what is clearly either the product of drunken logic or a gag gift for that wacky Libertarian or Green in your social circle?

In all seriousness, if a) Donald J. “The Populist King” Trump felt it necessary to go through the Republican Party to win and b) registered Democrats would rather vote for a guy who confuses texting with the internet, his wife with his sister, Iowa with New Hampshire and running for president with running for senate than a candidate who has a puncher’s chance against the MAGA machine.

And here lies the rub. The combined weight of mainstream media bias, billionaire backers and the entrenched Democratic Party establishment was enough to give former veep Joe Biden a healthy win of delegates and perhaps even a slim victory in the overall vote. The result was a big shift in the odds table for the proposition bet “Next Elected President of the United States” going into March 16 primary voting looks like so:

Donald Trump: -130
Joe Biden: +125
Bernie Sanders: 16/1

And Sanders just three weeks ago was at +275 with Biden fetching +325 at some online sportsbooks.

Pragmatically speaking – and we must speak pragmatically when dealing with real money – the simplest Election 2020 scenario plays with Trump winning handily. So covering the reelection of ol’ Cheeto Head at -130 is a freakin’ steal right now, and we mean *right now*, like before the next numbers come in. Because if the mainstream media again succeeds in convincingly portraying the results of the March 10 primaries as another resounding Biden win, he’ll seem unbeatable – for the nomination.

But consider three alternate scenarios:

• What if Sanders somehow still manages to win enough electoral votes to contest at the convention. Or even wilder, say he gets exactly 1,932. At 59 delegates short, Sanders would then almost assuredly get the support of Tulsi Gabbard’s 2 delegates and would more than likely do whatever it takes to win over Elizabeth Warren’s 57 – even give her a/the spot on the ticket so as to mollify moderates while keeping progressives happy.

• Alternatively, a contested convention puts the results up for grabs. This would be a guarantee that Sanders gets no nomination, while the unlikeliness of a Biden nomination increases greatly, paving the way for a nominee who maybe, you know, could beat Trump.

• Finally, there is the dark end of the spectrum. After all, there is a reason that people show concern over the fact that the three main contenders for the presidency are all septuagenarians. On the Democratic side, you’ve got one guy who’s already suffered a heart attack during this campaign versus a second who … how shall NFLbets put it … has been acting slightly touched lately. (And we don’t mean “touched” in Biden’s usual fashion here.)

Now, emerging as the winner out of a contested convention doesn’t exactly make one a favorite for the presidency: The last such candidate was Adlai Stevenson in 1952, who lost to Dwight Eisenhower. Hubert Humphrey was the last to get the nomination while neither the incumbent nor a participant in primaries; in 1972, he got smoked by the sitting POTUS, the charisma machine Richard Nixon.

The point: Odds on “Other” in a “To Win U.S. Presidential Election” prop must be pretty enticing right now at an absolute minimum of 20/1 and probably more on the order of 35/1. As a flyer, throw a few dollars at any decent odds you can find on this; its one hell of a better bet than an insane “Third Party Wins” bet.

(So how about hat offering, My Bookie…?)

– written by Os Davis

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Earliest Super Bowl LV odds: Chances of Baltimore Ravens, 31 other teams to win in 2021

Wednesday, 05 February 2020 14:49 EST

Sure, it’s seriously waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too early to be betting on Super Bowl LV – even if you were among the reported great majority who lost on Super Bowl betting this year thanks to some underwhelming offensive performances – but it’s never too early to make snarky comments and goggle at some frankly weird lines. So let’s have at; the top spot on My Bookie's odds table is naturally held by the…

• Kansas City Chiefs: 4/1. So if Kansas City managed to go back-to-back titles by managing not lose winning Super Bowl LV, they’d be the first since the 2003-04 New England Patriots? Yeah, NFLbets isn’t ready to make that sort of commitment yet.

• Baltimore Ravens: 13/2. We’re thinking this line is only going to get shorter as the season progresses; there’s no way the Ravens front office can avoid improving Lamar Jackson’s WR corps this offseason. Ravens fans are certainly already jumping on this one.

• San Francisco 49ers: 15/2. Given that 9 of the last 19 Super Bowl-losing teams have missed the playoffs altogether the following season (7 of 15 if excluding Patriots teams) and that Kyle Shanahan has inexplicably demonstrated little confidence in Jimmy Garoppolo, what gives with this line? As for NFLbets, we’ll most likely be taking the under on 49ers wins in 2020.

• New England Patriots: 8/1. You can’t ever write off these Patriots, so – no, wait. Yes, you can write off the Patriots in 2020.

• New Orleans Saints: 15/1
• Pittsburgh Steelers: 18/1
. Even with killer offseasons, the willingness to continue running with QBs so far past their prime will eliminate the Saints and Steelers from contention again.

• Dallas Cowboys: 20/1. Sure, the Cowboys should be well improved under Mike McCarthy. We can easily imagine them winning a weak-ass NFC East, sneaking through the playoffs and finally getting smoked in the Super Bowl. What a lucrative, glorious dream…

• Green Bay Packers, “Los Angeles” Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks: 25/1. NFLbets always seems to throw a few moneys at Seattle prior to the season, and the Seahawks typically exceed expectations. Given a decent offseason, the Packers would appear to be a decent bet here as well.

• Cleveland Browns, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings: 30/1. Call this bunch the “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” Group. Or the Led by Once-Overblown Quarterbacks Bunch.

• Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans: 35/1
• Jacksonville Jaguars: 100/1
. Apparently, the AFC South winner and interdivisional games will be as preposterously difficult to predict in 2020 as in ’19…

• Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears: 40/1. NFLbets is a bit surprised that the Buffalo Bills, after two straight playoff appearances and showing real improvement in the 2019 season. Maybe it’s all in the marketing.

• Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 45/1
• Denver Broncos: 50/1
• Carolina Panthers, New York Giants: 66/1
• New York Jets: 70/1
• Detroit Lions: 80/1
. The Rebuilding Level, we’d call this quintet – except we’re not sure what to call what the Broncos front office has been doing since signing decrepit Peyton Manning.

• Arizona Cardinals: 85/1. NFLbets hopes the Cardinals go into the 2020 season as underrated as these early odds indicate. Again, it’s way early, but we’ve got a feeling about Kyler Murray & Co...

• Cincinnati Bengals: 100/1
• Miami Dolphins: 125/1
• Washington: 150/1
. Prediction: At least 75% betting on any of these three teams in any “To Win Super Bowl LV” prop will continue to deny reality for one more season.

– written by Os Davis

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The top 5 Biggest Losers in NFL betting, 2019-20

Monday, 03 February 2020 14:58 EST

So no matter which side you backed in Super Bowl LIV, you probably lost money in prop betting or an the over/under, thanks to underwhelming statistical performances all around and an outcome few expected – just repeat the mantra “that’s why they call it gambling” and get back on the horse. (Assuming you didn’t put the horse on San Francisco 49ers +1½…)

In the meantime, under the proviso that “misery loves company,” NFLbets’ll attempt to cheer you up with a list of folks who lost bigger and harder than you did. Following our first annual Top 5 Losers in NFL Betting list. Happy schadenfreude!

Honorable mention. Howard Ratner. The protagonist of Uncut Gems, essentially the sports bettor’s Trainspotting, cannot technically be included in this list because ol’ Howie’s poison was NBA betting and because he’s, likesay, fictional. However, this character’s status as a big-time loser cannot be underestimated. Even when hitting an incredibly stupid three-bet parlay for upward of $1 million, he still manages to lose his shop and (SPOILERS!) his life right there on Netflix in front of everyone. Combine with the Academy’s snub of Adam Sandler for an Oscar nomination – to be fair, a very strong five make up the nominees in this category this year – and it adds up to a big L.

5. Patrick Mahomes bettors. Those expecting big returns from Kansas City Chiefs QB Pat Mahomes in Super Bowl LIV proposition bets got burned all over the place, as Mahomes passed for less than 300 yards, had zero TD passes and threw and interception. But at least until the 4th quarter, he had crept over the 33½ to 36½ yards to cover on most “Pat Mahomes rushing yards” props; then came three successive kneeldowns to subtract 15 yards and bam went all those bets as well. Mahomes’s performance was pretty negative for those wagering on him, but those kneeldowns finished ’em off: At least four major US sportsbooks reported that between 66% and 75% of bets in this prop had been put on the over.

4. Jade Roper Tolbert. Kicking off year 2020 was the sordid tale of former Bachelor in Paradise stars who may or may not have cheated at online fantasy football and thus were denied a $1 million grand prize won during a wild-card weekend contest hosted by Draft Kings. Tanner and Jade both entered their max 150 entries in the contest, but after Jade was congratulated for her first-place finish, an investigation by DK revealed that every one of Jade’s and husband Tanner’s entries were unique – quite a coincidence. Naturally, Tanner took to Twitter to cry sexism; no matter: Citing the zillions-to-1 odds required for 300 unique entries to be filed honestly, DK ultimately rescinded the $1 million. Just goes to show: DFS is pure gambling.  

3. Mattress Mack. Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale is the embodiment of the gambler with far more money than brain. Like Howard Ratner, Mattress Mack’s main area of betting is outside football; however, McIngvale’s story should be a lot more directly useful to the average NFL bettor than does Ranter’s. As an unabashed fan of the Houston Astros, McIngvale lost some $13 million alone in bets on the Astros to win the World Series – before losing to the Washington Nationals. As it turns out, McIngvale had offered a refund for the full price of a mattress from any of his Texas furniture stores if the Astros won the World Series and $13 million would have covered that promise financially with a profit. The lesson for football bettors: Hedging doesn’t pay.

2. Josh Shaw. On November 10 at Caesars sportsbook in Las Vegas, Josh Shaw placed at least one odd parlay involving three second-half point spreads and lost. Happens every Sunday during NFL season, right? Yes, but. As it turns out, Shaw was under contract with the Arizona Cardinals and, when the illicit wager was discovered, earned himself an open-ended suspension from the league. Worse yet, one of the ends of the parlay had the Cardinals on the losing side. Still worse yet, the Cardinals covered the second-half spread, but lost SU and busted Shaw’s parlay. Dude, it was the Buccaneers – you should’ve taken the over…

1. Anybody who bet on the Cleveland Browns at season’s beginning. NFLbets is not counted among the lot who figured a team which blew its last realistic shot at a Super Bowl in 1988 and was two seasons removed from an 0-16 finish – and so could harangue with impunity, but we’ll spare you. After all, the embarrassment of throwing good money at a team led by a QBs coach, “powered” by a guy who seemed to have dropped football awareness from his retinue altogether, featuring a helmet-swinging psychopath and a prima donna WR who taught teammates only to jokingly ask for trades to other teams should be enough. How the hell were these guys getting better odds than the Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers in the preseason? 2019 may have put NFL bettors off the Browns permanently. (Now watch the 2020 Cleveland Browns win Super Bowl LV starting the eason at 80/1. We may already have an early entry for next year’s list...)

–written by Os Davis

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NFLbets’ favorite Super Bowl proposition bet? MVP and it’s not even close

Saturday, 01 February 2020 13:00 EST

NFLbets is generally not a fan of proposition betting prior to the Super Bowl, when hundreds of props hit the market and we get two weeks to analyze the probabilities. And as we always say, the best bacon-saving bet you can make is Super Bowl MVP. Sure, most NFL bettors will (justifiably) cover the starting QB(s) of any team with a chance to win straight up – but the winnings on a hedge bet of a Julian Edelman (12/1), Von Miller (15/1) or Malcolm Smith (20/1) covers a lot of bad beats and bad bets.

Unfortunately, offerings on the “To Win Super Bowl MVP” prop bet aren’t great this year if you’re backing the Kansas City Chiefs. Right off the top, QBs have won 9 of the last 13 MVP awards, including two each by Tom Brady and Eli Manning; they’ve also taken 29 of 53 MVPs thus far, but note that for six years no QB won the award – in Super Bowls VII through XII. Yeah, the 1970s.

Patrick Mahomes (even odds/+100) overshadows everything on the Kansas City side of this prop – with good reason, as all the history is on his side. Going back to Kurt Warner in XXXVI, the MVP award has been won by a quarterback appearing in his first Super Bowl eight times of 17.

Additionally, there’s this: In how many scenarios do the Chiefs win but Mahomes doesn’t get the MVP? Considering that My Bookie has opened up a “Will Patrick Mahomes win Super Bowl MVP” prop (“yes” at +100, “no” at -135), a proposition combining “no” with the Kansas City money line (ML) at -125 would fetch better than 2/1 or +225 if going Kansas City -1½. Now think before you bet that, pilgrim – even if you can get someone to take the bet.

No need to overcomplicate things, though. The more you believe in a Chiefs win, the more you should be betting on Mahomes for MVP. And those covering the San Francisco 49ers plus points or ML can essentially hedge that bet with a few moneys on Mahomes here.

Now on the San Francisco side of this proposition bet, things get more interesting. NFLbets believes in covering several offerings in this prop and lots of great value exists among 49ers, starting with QB Jimmy Garoppolo (5/2). Poor Jimmy G. has been hacked on like no Super Bowl quarterback in recent history, based on the Niners run-first offense and the mere eight pass attempts in the Green Bay Packers game.

NFLbtes isn’t sure why talking heads and internet buzz alike are ignoring the very probable likelihood that passing simply wasn’t necessary with Raheem Mostert (6/1) destroying the Packers D, but we’re not. If backing the 49ers, you’re betting Garappolo in the Super Bowl MVP prop. Chiefs bettors may consider hedging with some moneys on Jimmy G. as well.

As for Mostert, his 6/1 odds would appear to be good value; the dude has literally improved week to week through 2019-20, culminating in the four-TD blowup in the NFC Championship. But how can the proper NFL bettor believe in any member of a RB-by-committee winning this award? Upward trajectory aside, Mostert accounted for just over 35% of the team’s total running yards in 2019; even if Tevin Coleman’s injury keeps him limited, the big over/under of 55 points implies lots of passing and quick scores.

Speaking of this eventuality, NFLbets is loving the current vogue pick in this prop, WR Deebo Samuel, currently at 22/1 after opening at 25/1. Historically speaking, wide receivers are only second to QBs in winning this award, with seven WR MVPs in Super Bowl history, and four in the past 14 years. Betting on Samuel represents outstanding value and since the rookie has few truly outstanding games on the résumé thus far, well, Jimmy hasn’t been throwing much lately. If you’re thinking San Francisco wins and the over hits, Samuel would be getting a good 10 targets at least and you’re covering this.

Tempting, too, are the 13/1 odds that TE George Kittle’s getting in this prop. While no tight end has ever won the Super Bowl MVP, the game’s evolution suggests that such an eventuality is not far off. Hell, Rob Gronkowski might’ve taken the trophy in LII had his Patriots not blown the game to the Philadelphia Eagles. Kittle is a pretty decent pick here, but we like the far less risky “yes” in the “Will George Kittle score a Touchdown” prop bet at +130 well more.

So let’s say you believe the 49ers defense gets to Mahomes, who’s sacked frequently enough – likesay, three times – to significantly alter the game. Look no further than Nick Bosa, currently at 17/1. Bosa has had an All-Pro season and has garnered much hype as the best player on the league’s best defense. In an emphatic win by San Francisco in which individual stats are spread thin among many Niners, Bosa’s a no-brainer.

If you’re thinking about longshots, first stop is Emmanuel Sanders (40/1). In 12 games with the 2019 49ers, Sanders has gotten 56 targets total, or 5.66 per, and in two playoff games has caught just two passes on three targets, called upon mostly for run blocking. Any such bet here is based on Sanders’s veteran experience – he’s already played three Super Bowls, while the great majority of the team outside of Richard Sherman has yet to appear in one – and is predicated on, again, at least a highish-scoring game with lots of passing from Garoppolo.

Finally, for a real miracle win, look at FS Jimmy Ward at 100/1. My Bookie currently lists some 25 players other than Ward – so nearly one-quarter of the total number of players on active rosters for this game – in their “To Win Super Bowl MVP” offerings and yet “the field” is somehow going off at 16/1. Ward was a late addition to MB’s board, so at least one or two significant bets have been placed on him, and the appeal of this pick beyond the outstanding value is that the formula for a Ward MVP is simple.

The only time a safety has won MVP honors in this game was when Jake Scott did so for the Miami Dolphins waaaaaay back in Super Bowl VII to cap the Fins’ perfect season. Scott simply picked two passes while his quarterback threw for just 88 yards in the victory of a 1-point (!) favorite. Grabbing two interceptions against Patrick Mahomes, who’s thrown just five interceptions in 16 games this season? Yeah, that’d probably get Ward the MVP trophy…

–written by Os Davis

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Proposition betting: We’re guessing the first play of Super Bowl LIV is…

Tuesday, 28 January 2020 11:39 EST

NFLbets has no sense of humor about most special props offered on the Super Bowl; what exactly the public fascination with losing money on the coin flip, national anthem performance or color of Gatorade dumped on the winning head coach is, we have no clue – but rest assured that the bookmakers won’t be taking our money on these inanities this year or ever.

It’s like, you know Barnum’s old aphorism, “there’s a sucker born ever minute”? You know the expression “sucker’s bet”? Yeah, well, that’s what those kinda BS props are.

Having said (written?) that, NFLbets admits that our bet in the prop “49ers vs Chiefs – First offensive play from scrimmage” is based purely in instinct and a favorable line. “Run play” is currently listed on My Bookie at odds of -145, while “pass play” is paying out at +115. That’s right: NFLbets is advising that Super Bowl bettors take Pass Play in the First Offensive Play From Scrimmage prop at those nice odds.

Can we possibly justify making what resembles a serious throwaway bet at all? Let’s try.

On the Kanasas City Chiefs sideline is Andy Reid, and we suppose you may have heard that Reid is probably the greatest NFL head coach never to win the Super Bowl yada yada yada. More importantly, the dude is armed (so to speak) with a QB who’s the most athletically gifted we’ve seen in the ’Bowl in years, if not ever. In 16 starts this season, Patrick Mahomes has begun the game with a pass seven times and in the AFC Championship game against the Tennessee Titans, the first play call was an option which had Mahomes on the run.

What’s truly amazing in that on the aforementioned 16 games, the Kansas City offense’s *second* play from scrimmage has been a pass 15 times. The Chiefs game plan for the opening series of the first quarter is, half the time, have Damien Williams or LeSean McCoy hit the line for a yard or two, followed by Mahomes throwing again. If you can get a prop on KC’s second play, that’s a no-brainer.

For the San Francisco 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo has shown gunslinging skills and, as mentioned elsewhere on NFLbets, has lead his team to a 11-2 SU mark when throwing more than 21 passes and 4-2 SU when getting over 240 passing yards – but even when he’s not playing possum as in the first two playoff games, Jimmy G has always started slow. Just twice in 18 games has he begun the proceedings with a pass play: in weeks 14 and 16 against the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams, respectively. However, in both cases, the 49ers offense got the ball only after a clock-killing, TD-scoring drive by the opposition. This makes perfect sense when running with a ridiculously effective RB-by-committee such as the 49ers do.

But if there’s one guy that’s capable of overthinking this game, it’s Kyle Shanahan. (Chiefs backers are meanwhile concerned about Andy Reid *under*thinking things…) He’s already admitted to the “humbling” experience as an Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator in helping throw away a 25-point third-quarter lead against the Patriots through lack of adjustments in the game plan to the actual, likesay, game situation. And NFLbets is convinced that limiting Garoppolo to 27 attempts in the postseason thus far is Shanahan’s attempt at ta smokescreen covering his desire to air it out, particularly over the middle where the Chiefs pass D is weakest.

Recall Shanahan Sr., whose multiple Super Bowl appearances with the Denver Broncos always seemed to begin with John Elway launching on 50 yards or more, as well. Why wouldn’t we think that the mentally-churning Shanahan the Younger, knowing his offense is decidedly lower-watt and will inevitably be playing from behind, trying to outfox Reid with the unexpected early?

Okay, so this isn’t the strongest reasoning or the best bet that NFLbets’ll be making for Super Bowl LIV, but look at it this way: At least we’ll have this one won/lost nice and early…

–written by Os Davis

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AFC Conference Championship Betting: Derrick Henry, +7½ may be too much…

Thursday, 16 January 2020 16:21 EST

Welcome to the 2020 AFC Championship Game, an NFL bettor’s nightmare thanks to the surprise presence of Tennessee Titans and Derrick Henry, the scariest unstoppable force at RB since Bo Jackson was stomping dudes. Using numbers alone, the visitors should be getting even more points in the line…

Tennessee Titans +7½ at Kansas City Chiefs, over/under 53½ points

I mean, we’re talking the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs here, right? The Chiefs are on a 7-0 SU (6-0-1 ATS) run Including the insanity that was the Chiefs’ 51-31 win over the Texans in the divisional which incidentally has Kansas City on a 51-7 run going into this week.

Characterizing the Chiefs defense as the team’s weak point is well-mentioned enough to have become cliché, but isn’t quite100% accurate. True that in the regular season, the K.C. D surrendered 32.5 points points per game against playoff teams – including the 35-32 loss to the Titans in week 10 – but so what? The Chiefs went 4-2 SU/ATS in those games. A look at Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric should be enough to scare most NFL bettors away from taking the Chiefs minus the points: 14th overall, 6th against the pass and … 29th against the run.

And here comes Derrick “Bad” Henry.

All Bad Henry did in that week 10 matchup in Nashville was go for 2 TDs on 23 carries for 188 yards: about *8.2 yards per carry*. Remove his 68-yard breakaway and Henry was still good for 5.5 ypg against a flummoxed Chiefs front. Geez, the Baltimore Ravens were stacking the box with eight and he still tore ’em up for 195 yards on 30 totes. Henry’s performance in this game is the X-factor, the Y-factor and the rest of the alphabet-factor.

And that’s where the numbers break down. The Titans are rolling on intangibles, willpower and a QB who’s somehow 6-0 SU/ATS when he throws for less than 200 yards in the game – including, yes, the week 10 game. Further, Ryan Tannenhill and Tennessee went for less than 90 total passing yards in playoff wins against the defending champion New England Patriots and no. 1 seed 14-2 Ravens. For the entirety of 2019-20, starting QBs with 90 or fewer passing yards were 4-12 SU (though 7-9 ATS) – and one of those wins was by the Ravens in a week 17 throwaway; the other was by the Arizona Cardinals against the New York Jets. So, yeah.

The truth is, we may have to go off numbers on this one. Rarely has NFLbets enjoyed losing bets on a game as much this season as when watching the Titans handle the Ravens last week. (Whoa, was the Texans-Chiefs game brutal for those crazy enough to cover Houston in any capacity…) Mike Vrabel designed quite frankly kickass game plans and hopefully did not literally have to perform any sort of phallic mutilation to do so. The Titans OL ranks no. 4 in run blocking DVOA, and they’re certain to push around their Kansas City counterparts for Henry again.

Finally, NFLbets could just write off Henry’s recent unprecedented run – in the last three games, 32 carries for 196.0 yards per plus four touchdowns – as an outlier on borrowed time. But frankly, we’re scared of the man. We’re going to take the Tennessee Titans +7½ at Kansas City. And with the weather expected to be in the 20s but no precipitation, we’ll say take the over on an O/U of 53½ points.

(For those of you into betting longshots, NFLbets will likely throw a few moneys at the Titans ML at a nice +255, but we won’t call that a proper “Best Bet.”)

NFLbets’ Picks of the Week last week: 0-6.
NFLbets this season, all recommended bets: 65-50-1.

–written by Os Davis

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