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.

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

Friday, 26 March 2021 18:16 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–written by Os Davis

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

Thursday, 25 March 2021 18:56 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–written by Os Davis

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

Saturday, 20 March 2021 14:24 EST

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

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

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

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

Bears trade for Russell Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– written by Os Davis

Team to sign Cam Newton proposition betting, odds, prediction

Wednesday, 10 March 2021 16:53 EST

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

Team to sign Cam Newton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–written by Os Davis


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

Friday, 05 March 2021 13:41 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–written by Os Davis

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

Friday, 05 February 2021 14:06 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– written by Os Davis

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

Saturday, 09 January 2021 15:06 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–written by Os Davis

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

Sunday, 15 November 2020 11:31 EST

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

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

Minnesota Vikings -3 at Chicago Bears

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

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

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

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

Denver Broncos +4 at Las Vegas Raiders

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

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

Buffalo Bills +3 at Arizona Cardinals

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

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

Upset special: Cincinnati Bengals +7 at Pittsburgh Steelers

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

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

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

–written by Os Davis

Week 8 NFL betting: Gotta love these outliers

Saturday, 31 October 2020 18:24 EST

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

Our best bets for week 8 are therefore…

“Los Angeles” Chargers -3½ at Denver Broncos

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

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

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

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

New York Jets -20½ at Kansas City Chiefs

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

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

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

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

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

–written by Os Davis

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

Saturday, 26 September 2020 14:51 EST

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

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

New England Patriots -6½ vs Las Vegas Raiders

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

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

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

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

Atlanta Falcons -3 vs Chicago Bears

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

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

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

Cincinnati Bengals +4 at Philadelphia Eagles

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

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

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

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

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

–written by Os Davis