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.

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 My Bookie’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 My Bookie 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

Odds on the Washington Football Team’s new name

Tuesday, 28 July 2020 12:35 EST

Washington Redhawks helmetWhat’s even more exciting than the recent announcement that ownership and management of the NFL’s Washington D.C. franchise would finally be changing its frankly embarrassing team name and logo? The opportunity to bet on the new name, of course! And since the release of the team’s mascot will take up to a mind-boggling 18 months, we’ve got lots of time to watch these odds.

Luckily, in the “New Name for the Washington NFL Team” proposition bet reportedly available at Bet Online, even the favorites start at 3/1, so this prop offers some good value bets. Below runs a breakdown of the *most realistic* possibilities on offer in the prop.

Note: NFLbets has eliminated from consideration a few of the offerings, including the Washington Memorials (10/1) and Washington Roosevelts (12/1) so as to avoid some serious sucker bets.  NFL bettors may also throw out Washington Kings (12/1) for sheer silliness as well as redundancy with the Sacramento NBA and Los Angeles NHL franchises.

Odds: New Name for the Washington NFL Team

Washington Redtails, 3/1. “Redtails” makes a lot of sense: It’s original and the word fits into the fight song, any monogrammed items and the color scheme. This choice makes so much sense that NFLbets can’t believe Snyder and his team of marketers won’t fuck this up.

Washington Presidents, 3/1. Even as recently as two years ago, NFLbets would have been all over this bet. Now? Hell, it is becoming pointedly obvious that by 2024, every president since Ronald Reagan will be collectively historically accepted fact. And not long after that, ever POTUS since FDR’ll get a big red FAIL stamped over their legacy. Then again, Snyder did dump $1 million into Trump’s inauguration gala, so maybe…

NFLbets guesses that Snyder’s shipping with the president is keeping the odds on Washington Generals (4/1) short. After all, the last time a professional football team wore the “Generals” moniker, You Know Who steinbrennered the franchise and took the league with them. Beyond this, there’s already a team named the Washington Generals.

Lincoln in a LincolnWashington Lincolns, 6/1. Yeah, sure. And the mascot will be the two prezzes driving around in a big-ass Continental, right? Wait a minute, that’s not so crazy after all…

Washington Veterans (8/1) isn’t bad, but Washington Monuments (10/1) is probably a better bet. “Washington Memorial” is an extant compound noun that’s fairly well-known. On the minus side, the Memorials would likely have one fantastically phallic mascot – but what would the Veterans’ be like…?

The obvious choice from many perspectives is the Washington Americans (10/1). The symbolism in the change itself would garner kudos from diehards and casual fans alike, and paraphernalia sales would likely be phenomenal. Who but the most ardent of racist football fans would not prefer a snappy red, white and blue logo to the dustbinned shameful old one? Again, however, this is Dan Snyder plus too many marketers; it’s won’t be “Americans.”

The Washington Redhawks (15/1) is easily the best choice on this list: It’s original, retains the “red” and is straight-up dope as fuck. The problem? This name enjoyed a brief spell of popularity in late 2017 when the Native American advocacy group Rising Hearts pulled off a prank which temporarily had some believing Snyder et al had announced the switch to the Redhawks name. Team executives were forced to publicly deny the change and to double down on the R******.

Since the prank, the “official website” of the Washington Redhawks has gone offline, but the Redhawks have enjoyed a second round of popularity this month, with many trying their hand at Washington Redhawks logo designs that well incoporate elements from the now-defunct logo. Naturally, not a chance in the universe exists that, after decades of fending off criticism about his team’s name, Snyder will allow his perceived enemies to “win” again.



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