NFL Matchup Predictions

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, Jsoh 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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Super Bowl LIV prop bets: Alternatives to betting San Francisco 49ers +2

Thursday, 23 January 2020 23:21 EST

One of the great things about Super Bowl betting (and, oh, are there many) is the vast array of odds and proposition bets readily available to the everyday NFL bettor. With so much in the offering and enough time to really research the teams beforehand – not to mention absorb the hype – it’s hardly mindblowing that Super Bowl betting accounts for the majority of some Las Vegas sportsbooks *for the year*.

NFLbets today begins our series on Super Bowl LIV proposition betting. Like any good red-blooded American football bettor, we love spreading the money around on ’Bowl Sunday; often these bets can save our bacon, a well-place longshot bet making for a fair number of losing tickets. In Super Bowl LIII, to cite example, betting heavily on the under and throwing proportionate moneys at Julian Edelman in the “To Win Super Bowl MVP” prop turned us a profit. And for Super Bowl 50, a bet on Von Miller plus a 4-1 mark on cross-sport props won us big.

The multiplicity of props also provides some nice potentially lucrative opportunities to game the system a bit. Consider the (current) point spread for Super Bowl LIV:

San Francisco 49ers +2 vs Kansas City Chiefs

Early money has been flowing on both sides in this game. This spread opened at Kansas City Chiefs -2½, came down to “pick ’em” at some sportsbooks, and then drove back up to its present Chiefs -2.

So let’s say you’re one of those liking the San Francisco 49ers to keep the game close. Still, a mere +2 essentially reduces the ’spread to a “pick ’em” anyway, and taking the 49ers ML currently gets odds of +105 whereas 49ers +2 is at just -115 at My Bookie (though to be fair this bet should get a -110 payout at all Las Vegas sportsbooks and some online bookmakers).

On top of this, there’s Super Bowl betting history. Six Super Bowls to date have kicked off with point spreads of under 3 points and the Seahawks-Patriots Bowl at game time was a “pick ’em.” The favorite is 5-1 SU/ATS. Exactly one game has been decided by 3 or fewer points: The classic Super Bowl XXV; hell, had Scott Norwood converted, that would have been a 2-point Buffalo Bills win instead of a 1-point upset by the New York Giants.

In other words, if you’re liking San Francisco +2, you’re liking them to win outright – but we can even better that +105 on the 49ers ML.

Consider the offerings on...

49ers vs Chiefs – Game result

At My Bookie, the “49ers vs Chiefs – Game result” prop has three offerings on which to bet:

• 49ers by 6 or more points +160
• Chiefs by 6 or more points +140
• Any other result: +220

The choice is obvious: If you think the game will be close or even end regulation time in a tie (for only the second time in Super Bowl history), you’ve got to bet “Any other result” in the “49ers vs Chiefs – Game result” prop for double the payout. Even more superior payouts may be found in the prop bet…

49ers vs Chiefs – Margin of victory

Here, the top (and thus more reasonable) bit of the proposition bet table looks as follows:

• 49ers win by 1-6 points: +370
• 49ers win by 7-12 points: +570
• 49ers win by 13-18 points: +850

• Chiefs win by 1-6 points: +350
• Chiefs win by 7-12 points: +520
• Chiefs win by 13-18 points: +800

You can probably guess where this one is heading, but first a historical look. The margin of victory in 53 Super Bowls breaks down as 16 games decided by 1-6 points; 12 by 7-12; 16 by 13-18; and nine ’Bowls were decided by 19 points or more. Crucial to understanding this, though, is realizing that just two of the past 18 Super Bowls have seen a margin of victory greater than 14 points. (And NFLbets is thinking that these 49ers won’t be losing by more than two touchdowns.)

So, if confident in a San Francisco win, the play is clearly to cover “49ers win by 1-6 points” and “…7-12 points”, which would pay out at either +270 or +470. If already playing the “49ers vs Chiefs – Game result” prop as described above, simply cover “49ers win by 7-12 points” here.

This prop even allows the 49ers bettor to hedge: Covering “Chiefs win by 7-12 points” or “…13-18 points” in addition to “Any other result” nets +120, +420 or +700.

NFLbets is still thinking on this prop, as well as all Super Bowl betting, for a little while yet and we’ll reveal our betting for the big game a bit later. You can be sure with a matchup and lines like this that some prop bets as mentioned above will garner some of our bankroll.

–written by Os Davis

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Last-minute bets for week 9: Looking for Lions, Dolphins to surprise

Friday, 01 November 2019 09:23 EST

At NFLbets, we’ve always thought that playing “pick ‘em pools” or participating in any contest which requires one to pick every game on the NFL slate every week is folly. However, maybe you’ve been suckered into an office pool or you’re looking for a third, fourth, fifth or sixth team to go along with NFLbets’ Picks of the Week or Best Bets for week 9 – so check out these not-necessarily-recommendations when considering how to fill that ticket.

Minnesota Vikings -2½ at Kansas City Chiefs
With Patrick Mahomes almost certain to miss this contest, the Chiefs look like a team that will losing its fourth straight at Arrowhead. It’s that simple, NFL betting enthusiasts… Take the Minnesota Vikings -2½ at Kansas City.

Tennessee Titans +3½ at Carolina Panthers
The 49ers made second-year signal-caller Kyle Allen look awful last weekend, but Tennessee isn’t nearly as good as ’Frisco, which is why i like the Panthers to take care of business in this one as Christian McCaffrey stars. Take the Carolina Panthers -3½ vs Tennessee.

New York Jets -5½ at Miami Dolphins
Miami might be winless, but i’m feeling like karma is going to rear its ugly head when former ’Fins head coach Adam Gase and the lowly Jets hit South Beach this weekend. When it comes to Week 9 NFL odds, take the Miami Dolphins +5½ vs the New York Jets, and, for a fun extra wager cuz NFLbets’s been winning lately, take the Dolphins ML at +150 or so.

Washington +9½ at Buffalo Bills
. Look: The Bills may lose to every decent opponent they face this season, but they’re hardly incompetent. Washington is certainly near such. Take the Buffalo Bills -9½ vs Washington.

Detroit Lions +2 at (Las Vegas/)Oakland Raiders
When it comes to the NFL lines for this Week 9 inter-conference clash, i say take the over on an O/U of 50½ points, seeing as how the Lions and Raiders combine to allow 52.3 points per game defensively. As for the outcome of the game, we’re saying take the Detroit Lions +2 at Oakland and thus also take the Lions on the ML at +105.

Cleveland Browns -2½ at Denver Broncos
It might just be wishful thinking, but here’s to hoping Von Miller and the rest of Denver’s stout defense pounds Baker Mayfield into the dirt – like, repeatedly. Take the Denver Broncos +2½ vs Cleveland.

New England Patriots -3½ at Baltimore Ravens
You heard it here first, NFL gambling faithful: Lamar Jackson leads the Ravens to a confidence-boosting win at home against Tom Brady and the unbeaten defending Super Bowl champions. Take the Baltimore Ravens +3½ vs New England, and take the Ravens ML at +140.

Dallas Cowboys -7 at New York Giants
The Cowboys would appear to have gotten their act together, but I don’t trust Jason Garrett. After losing to the Jets a couple of weeks ago, I’m thinking Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones lead the G-Men to an ATS cover at the very least – but hey, let’s get ballsy: Take the New York Giants +7 vs Dallas and also play the Dallas Cowboys ML at -350. Since no sportsbook – online, in Las Vegas or elsewhere – will offer a parlay with that particular combination (too bad, because such a bet would pay out at +150 or so), play them both separately, and parlay the Cowboys with, likesay, the Colts, Packers and Seahawks

–written by Ben Rapstrew

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NFL playoffs betting: Faltering Chargers, Patriots offenses scream "TAKE THE UNDER!"

Thursday, 10 January 2019 10:41 EST

Damn, do the bookmakers want us to bet the underdogs this weekend – or maybe the oddsmakers are collectively in disbelief at favorites’ inability to cover point spreads. Since the New England Patriots covered 3 points against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, underdogs are a ridiculous 13-2 ATS. Heck, the last time a favorite won ATS was when the Minnesota Vikings covered 3½ points on the last f*#*#*ing play against the New Orleans Saints in last year’s 2017 divisional game.

In fact, since we’re talking

Los Angeles Chargers -4 at New England Patriots, over/under 47½ points

There’s this. Last year, the Patriots went 1-2 ATS, covering only against the Tennessee Titans, who arguably should not have been allowed into the playoffs for aesthetic considerations. A general changing of the guard currently going on in the NFL – i.e. the Broncos, Steelers, Packers and yes, the Patriots are in at least short-term decline, while the Chiefs, Colts, Rams and the like rise – apparently leads to unpredictability. After all, it’s not just Foles (and last year Blake Bortles; ’member Blake Bortles?); these “unforeseen” upsets are happening all over the place.

The latest perpetrator of such ATS wins are the “Los Angeles” Chargers, who, in addition to “upsetting” the Baltimore Ravens in the wild card game, have run up some insane numbers this season. Said numbers, which NFLbets has run before and are now updated, look like so:

• The Chargers are just 4-3 SU (3-4 ATS) in true home games;

• in week 7, they beat the Tennessee Titans in London, but did not cover the spread;

• the Chargers are 8-1 SU/ATS in away games, with the sole loss at the Rams in week 3;

• therefore, in games outside of Los Angeles, the Chargers are an incredible 9-0 SU (8-1 ATS);

• finally, in these 9 games, the Chargers averaged 26.9 points – about ½ point *more* per game than in L.A.-based games.

So yeah, in setting the line at Patriots -4, oddsmakers are begging you to bet on the Chargers, even if it’s below freezing and/or snowing in Massachusetts (as of this writing on Thursday, high temps are expected to be 28°). Secretly, however, Vegas et al are believing at least three of the four favorites are winning ATS this weekend.

Okay, NFLbets’ll call the bookies’ bluff. We believe that the Chargers do in fact cover the 4 points in this game. Why? Because the safest bet in this game is for the score to go under 47½ points.

Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is getting kudos everywhere in football land for last week’s clever game plan, which featured some 58 plays run with seven in the secondary. With safeties playing anywhere and much of the filed blanketed by a zone when four CBs dropped back into coverage, the Chargers D constantly gave Lamar Jackson bad to no looks. Think they’ll try the same or similar this week? Here’s a hint: Bill Belichick ain’t playing Madden 2019 out there.

On the other hand, history has shown that you can’t bring a pass rush against Tom Brady, and this version of his offensive line is certainly solid. In their four wins against playoff teams this season – their only four games against playoff teams, and all prior to week 8 – the Patriots OL allowed just four sacks. And in the past six games (albeit against lesser competition), just five sacks total have been registered on Brady.

The point: Brady doesn’t exactly have a lot of weaponry on this offense, playing as he is with the Patriots’ worst offensive supporting cast since the days of Reche Caldwell, but this has been (ho hum) doing enough to win all season. In fact, NFLbets’d guess that the Pats’ template for this game will be a lot more week 16 (in which three New England RBs and Cordarelle Paterson combined for 256 yards rushing and three TDs as the Pats posted 35+ minutes of ToP) than, likesay, week 14 (when Brady went 27-of-43 for 358 yards and three TDs in a losing effort at Miami).

As for the Chargers offense, well, there’s that thing about Belichick taking away the opposition’s favorite weapon. So on Los Angeles that would be … Philip Rivers, NFL supposes, but has anyone watched Rivers lately? Sure, he can take a hit and get back up, but the dude has thrown for over 300 yards just three times this season (including week 1) and just once in the second half of the year. He’s thrown for 160 yards or fewer in the past three games and in week 14 managed just 203 on 19-of-29 passing against the crippled Cincinnati Bengals.

Belichick will take a run-heavy attack all day. The Patriots defense is pretty damn mediocre against either run or pass (they’re ranked no. 19 and no. 14, respectively, in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric), but also as opportunistic as ever at no. 3 in turnovers created, no. 2 in rushing TDs allowed and no. 7 in scoring allowed overall. Atop this is a general decline in Chargers rushing production: In four of the past six games, they’ve been under 90 yards and the offense has given up 8 turnovers. Purely empirically speaking, Melvin Gordon hasn’t looked good since an injury this season and, excepting a surprise 14-yard gain, he managed just 26 yards on 16 carries against the Ravens last week.

Between the weather, generally more conservative play calling in the postseason and a recent decline in these offenses says firstly that we’re saying take the under on an O/U of 47½ points, and we’re making this the Official NFLbets Pick of the Week this week.

Additionally, this may be wacky of us, but we’re covering both sides on this game, figuring for a real grueling, grind-it-out squeaker. We say take the Chargers +4 at New England, but also take the Patriots ML at -200 – not a great return, but doesn’t a Patriots advancement feel inevitable…?

NFLbets Picks of the Week record in 2018-19: 8-5-1.
NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018-19: 36-29-2.

L.A. Rams at Chicago Bears: Y’know, even in 2018, defense still matters. A lot.

Sunday, 09 December 2018 09:13 EST

Come on, now, just because the rulebook is ever tilted in favor of the quarterback and his point-scoring offense, do we all need to lose our collective minds? Contrary to what ESPN’s talking heads pushing the party line that defense “has been legislated out of the game,” we’ve seen some tremendous individual and team performances throughout the season. While the casual fan goes nuts over Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes, those paying attention are gawping at the play of Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack.

If you are, like NFLbets, a bigger fan of the defensive game, you’re going to love betting on this week’s Sunday Night Football matchup…

Los Angeles Rams -3 at Chicago Bears, over/under 51 points

NFLbets don’t know about you, but the Los Angeles Rams’ 30-16 thumping of the Detroit Lions last week symbolized more than an ordinary beatdown of a mediocre team, but rather the resurrection of the high-quality defense the team played in 2017. Was the return of Aqib Talib all it took to ascend the Rams D from general badassery to the cusp of legendary? It sure appeared so last Sunday.

Talib garnered zeroes across the stat sheet, but with the side of the field opposite Marcus Peters finally covered again, a hapless Matt Stafford and the Lions offense converted a measly 2 of 12 third down attempts. Nightmares of should-be-NFL MVP Aaron Donald will dog Stafford as the extra tenths of seconds are all Donald needs to destroy his side of the offensive line. Donald is freakin’ Superman out there, and his Justice League is filled out by the likes of John Johnson (38 tackles in the past four games) and Dante Fowler, who’s gotten past the stupid penalties and looks like one of the league’s best acquisitions of 2018.

On the other side of the field are the Chicago Bears, who you may remember brings their own hardcore defense led by another top-5 NFL player and top-5 acquisition in Khalil Mack. Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric has the Bears D at no. 1 against the run or pass, and they’ve literally been top-3 in the both stats since opening week. They’re top-5 in most straight up statistics, including no. 1 overall in turnovers generated and interceptions. In their eight SU wins in 2018, the opposition has been held to 22 or fewer points. The point: Chicago likely has the only defense that can win games in the 2018 NFL, e.g. the Thanksgiving Day game against the Detroit Lions.

And now for the weather: Temperatures in the low 20s are expected in Chicago this evening, but no precipitation is expected. Rams QB Jared Goff is 2-2 SU (and 0-4 ATS!) in games played below 40° F and looked pretty terrible against Detroit; Todd Gurley is 3-2 SU/1-4 ATS, and the Rams scored an average of 17.2 points per game in those five.

So why is how to bet this game a question at all? Take the under on an O/U of 51 points, which is way too high, and enjoy a classic defensive battle.

NFLbets’ Best Bets record in 2018: 20-16-1.

The 106th Grey Cup on (American) Thanksgiving Sunday: Last call for CFL betting in 2018!

Friday, 23 November 2018 09:52 EST

Betting on Grey Cup 2018Despite NFLbets’ so-so record and low earnings on Canadian football betting this year, we’re going to miss the CFL over the next six months badly. Regardless of how much fun the NFL in 2018 is, as the sports world’s talking heads so gushingly exhort to us, the CFL is always a breath of fresh air away from the stolid and conservative American game. This Thanksgiving weekend, NFLbets is thankful for another great season of CFL football – and that we came out ahead.

In any case, this weekend isn’t about looking back but rather looking forward to the 106th Grey Cup, a rematch of the 104th: It’s the Calgary Stampeders versus the Ottawa Redblacks, essentially the top two franchises, organizations/teams in the league in the 2010s.

Betting on the Grey Cup features not nearly as many proposition bet offerings as during the Super Bowl, but plenty of interesting proposition bets exist. NFLbets is factoring in these variables in picking wagers for this one. Keys to the game, as they say, are the following in our estimation.

• In two meetings this season, the Stampeders swept the Redblacks by a combined score of 51-7. In those games, Ottawa QB Trevor Harris was held to 4.5 yards per pass attempt while Calgary crushed the turnover battle by a margin of 10-3. True enough, these games were waaaaaaaaay back in June and July, weeks 3 and 5, but Harris did have all his primary “skill players” in the offense, including the Redblacks’ three blue chip WRs Diontae Spencer, Greg Ellingson and Brad Sinopoli.

• Last week’s West Division final saw the return of a Calgary defense whose first half represented a record setting pace but stumbled through November in allowing 26 points in a row to BC Lions, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg in games down the stretch. The Bombers who’d run up 29 on the Stamps in October were nowhere in evidence last week, as the Calgary D didn’t allow a single play to advance over 27 yards, much less into the end zone.

• Thanks to this defense, serious ball control by the offense has allowed the Stampeders to cover their most serious weakness going into this game: Namely, the shredded receiving corps. In his nearly totally unexpected return to the field after an injury three weeks ago, Eric Rogers showcased both his own skill set and the secret to success of the Calgary passing game. While the CFL headlines were splashed with exclamations describing Rogers’s three TDs – and justifiably so; heck, he outscored Winnipeg single-handedly (so to speak) – but the key stat was really his six total catches for just 61 yards. The Stamps’ longest play from scrimmage went just 29 yards and the offense took just 48 snaps, yet had the ball for nearly 32½ minutes of possession time. This team plays slo-o-o-o-o-w when needs must, like when prospective NFL QB Bo Levi Mitchell has maybe three viable WRs.

• Outside of Ottawa, the RedBlacks are 5-4 SU and 6-3 ATS in 2018.

• RedBlacks DB John Rose will play, as his appeal regarding a league-mandated suspension for this game due to his shoving of a referee in the East Divisional final is pending. Rose was the Redblacks’ second-high in tackles in the 2016 Grey Cup game, but NFLbets wonders if he won’t feel the pressure to be on his absolutely best behavior…

• Finally, the all-important weather report. As of Friday, temperatures for kickoff are expected to be in the 20s Fahrenheit, with a mere 10% of precipitation. The Stamps will certainly be pleased to hear of the latter, as a couple of weather-induced freak plays cost them the 105th Grey Cup against the Toronto Argonauts.

Throwing it all into the NFLbets mega-calculator, i.e. editor/lead writer Os Davis’s cerebellum, we’re liking the following bets and props.

Calgary Stampeders -4½ vs Ottawa Redblacks, over/under 53½ points

These two lines would put the final score at Calgary, 29-24 or 29-25, which feels just about dead on. (Guess the oddsmakers are pros, eh?) The Stampeders were proven quite vulnerable in the season’s second half, but in every loss this year, the opposition scored at least 27. NFLbets isn’t at all sure where four to five true scoring opportunities will come from for Ottawa, particularly if the Stamps control the clock, playing an old-school field-position battle as last week (and the first seven games of the regular season, to be honest). We’ll take the Calgary Stampeders -4½ vs Ottawa in the Grey Cup; we’re calling this our Best Bet for the Grey Cup. Additionally, we’ll cover the under on an O/U of 53½.

As is our usual wont, NFLbets will base the remainder of our wagers at least in part on this result, with perhaps a bit of hedging. All in baby! (Almost.)

Margin of victory

The more sensible, i.e. top halves, of the odds in the “Grey Cup: Margin of Victory” proposition bet look something like the following.

Calgary Stampeders win by 1-6 points: 3/1
Stampeders, 7-12: 17/4
Stampeders, 13-18: 6/1
Stampeders, 19-24: 9/1

Ottawa Redblacks win by 1-6 points: 4/1
Redblacks, 7-12: 15/2
Redblacks, 13-18: 14/1
Redblacks, 19-24: 22/1

A tricky one here, as NFLbets’ two most believable scenarios, Stamps by 1-6 or by 7-12, both bring some great value. Since we’ve already got money on Calgary -4½, we’ll recommend that bettors take the Stampeders to win by 7-12 points at 4/1. NFLbets will also be hedging a few Moneys (NFLbets’ preferred form of currency) on the Redblacks by 1-6 points at 4/1 so as not to go home empty-handed with an Ottawa upset.

Race to 10 points

Some of the (relative) troubles the Stampeders had in the second half of the 2018 season are reflected in the first-half scoring: Though in the last three games, the Stamps “won” first halves by a combined 51-12, that socre drops to just 147-134. And it’s certainly no coincidence that as Calgary got off to a 7-0 start, they outscored opponents in the first half six of those seven times.

In all 2018 games, the Stampeders would have won the “Race to 10 Points” prop 12 times in 21 games; however, just once did an East Division team beat Calgary to 10 points: the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in week 1.

As for the Redblacks, as NFLbets has noted virtually all season, they’ve certainly been among the most maddening for football bettors in 2018 – though the Tiger-Cats are right up there, too. They’re currently on a four-game win streak, but with three Ws coming against Hamilton. Far too mercurial for most bettors, the Redblacks won a game this year with nothing but field goals and lost a game in which they scored 41. Too mercurial to predict on this one, so we’ll consider them reactive to the Stamps’ game plan.

The conclusion: If you believe that the Stamps’ first-half defense of the season’s first half has returned (based on, admittedly a small sample size of three games including two against the league’s 6th and 9th best teams), like NFLbets, you’ll take the Stampeders to score 10 points first at 8/13; not fantastic odds, but it says here that low payout beats no payout.

Highest scoring half

Your choices in the “Grey Cup 2018: Highest Scoring Half” proposition bet:

First half: 8/11
Second half: 21/20
A “tie”: 25/1

The smart money suggests the first half is the best bet here, but NFLbets already has Moneys on one under-even odds bet. Bookmakers are probably figuring that, with both sides having recently played in the Grey Cup (with rosters still fairly representative of their respective Cup-playing teams), the feeling-out process that usually colors the opening 15 minutes of a championship football game will be non-existent.

The odd thing about these odds is that recently, games with either side have seen lots more points scored in the second half. Going back to week 19, second halves of Ottawa games “win” by an average “score” of 31-24; for Calgary games, it’s a big 41-21 differential. In the two meetings between the clubs early in the season, each half “won” one game.

We’re going with the odds and against the common wisdom of conservative game plans. The Stampeders may be playing their offensive schemes tight and close to the chest, but NFLbets reckons for both sides, it’ll be the defenses coming out swinging in the first half. We’re advising to take the second half as the higher scoring at 21/20 or so.

And as we bid adieu to the 2018 CFL season, we wish all bettors good luck in this final game. Damn are we going to miss this league ... #IsItJuneYet?

NFLbets’ CFL best bets record to date: 10-9.
CFL recommendations record to date: 14-11.
Overall record: 24-20.

Betting Thursday Night Football: Underestimate Cam Newton’s Panthers at your own peril

Thursday, 08 November 2018 16:23 EST

From the Be Careful What You Wish For Department, NFL fans are presented with a genuine beauty of a Thursday Night Football game, as the Carolina Panthers play at the Pittsburgh Steelers. Should be good viewing, but the betting isn’t exactly simple.

Carolina Panthers +3 at Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL bets Pittsburgh Steelers logoA default search for any immediate regression to the mean for these two teams reveals little: Carolina and Pittsburgh are both 5-3 ATS this season. The Steelers are 2-2 ATS at home; the Panthers are a serious outlier at home at 4-0-0 ATS (and NFLbets’ll certainly be looking at the opposition in the next Carolina home game), but are hardly unusual at 1-3 ATS (2-2 SU) on the road.

So let’s talk some offense and defense. In a year of offense, Carolina has nevertheless put together a pretty decent defense, particularly against the run: The Panthers are top 10 in most rushing categories defensively as well as no. 4 overall in interceptions.

Such stats may be irrelevant on this given Sunday, however, as Ben Roethlisberger will throw the ball a lot regardless of opposition. James Conner may capture the mainstream media's imagination, Roethlisberger is second in the NFL in pass attempts this season and fourth in completions. And Steelers are 3-1-1 SU (3-2 ATS) in games when Ben *does* throw an interception.

Pittsburgh also brings a top-10 rushing defense statistically to face Christian McCaffrey, Cam Newton and the league's top ground attack. However, this D's impressive-looking numbers are likely heavily due to the Steelers' passing game on offense. In terms of efficiency, they're a mid-pack 14th in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric -- and below-average against the innovative Newton and oft unstoppable McCaffrey won't really cut it.

NFL bets Carolina Panthers logoAs for the potentially gnarly Pennsylvania weather, the forecast for Pittsburgh calls for lows around 36° with an 80% chance of rain, snow and/or some variant on precipitation thereof.

But in cold weather, Cam & Co. aren't nearly as bad as the average South-based team: In games played in temperatures of 45° or lower at kickoff, the Panthers are 7-3 SU/6-4 ATS going back to 2014 and are currently on a 5-1 SU/4-2 ATS run. Seemingly perpetually underrated by the sportsbook, the Panthers have won SU their last four games as an away underdog in cold weather games.

One final consideration: Are you more likely to believe in a 6-3 -- and therefore on pace for a 11-5 or 10-5-1 final regular-season record -- Panthers or Steelers team? We’re saying it’s the Panthers, and to do so, they’ll have to win this one with a tough schedule remaining. Cover the Carolina Panthers ML at +160 or so, and hedge with a bet on the Panthers +3 at Pittsburgh.

We’ll even predict next week’s storylines: Steelers welcome back Le’Veon Bell after Conner stuffed by Panthers and Is Cam Newton the NFL MVP…?

Sure bet: Kansas City Chiefs -8½ and well more at Cleveland Browns

Thursday, 01 November 2018 08:48 EST

NFLbets didn’t even need the firings of Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson and/or offensive coordinator Todd Haley to have decided about halfway through last week’s 33-18 throttling given them by the Pittsburgh Steelers that the Kansas City chiefs were set to turn this one into a blowout. Imagine our surprise when, after the dismissals of the not-so-dynamic duo and the ascension of Gregg “That’s Not the Way I Wanted It Done” Williams to top dog spot, the point spread on this game got to -8½.


Kansas City chiefs a great betSo for just the second time in 2018 (the first was a preseason proposition bet based on Todd Guley’s touchdown total which looks like money in the bank at this point), NFLbets is proclaiming a “Sure Bet” in week 9: Take the Kansas City Chiefs -8½ at Cleveland. In fact, we be doing quite a bit more in hopes of attaining a better payout in quite an advantageous situation.

First, a couple of stats just in case you need numbers to back up what you already suspect. In stints as head coach, assistant head coach and/or defensive coordinator with Tennessee, Buffalo, Washington, Jacksonville, New Orleans and the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, Gregg Williams has led his teams to a 5-7 SU record and 5-6-1 ATS against Andy Reid-coached team in Philadelphia and Kansas City. Of note about that ATS mark, however: four wins and the came when Williams was with Washington between 2004 and ’07.

This time, though, Williams doesn’t have the 2005 Washington team – his head coach in 2018, Gregg Williams, is a far cry from Joe Gibbs. He doesn’t have Drew Brees as did his 2010 New Orleans Saints – he’s got a quarterback who’s on his second offensive coordinator before his seventh NFL start.

And speaking of offensive coordinator, your man in Cleveland is now one Freddie Kitchens, who has been coaching in NFCAA and NFL football since 1999 … strictly as a position coach. Kitchens was promoted from within from the running backs coach spot. In 18+ seasons as a coach, he was a QBs coach for four: In 2013 through ’16 with the Arizona Cardinals, which included the ’15 team, a top-3 offense statistically.

betting against the Cleveland BrownsBut is that enough behind the likes of Gregg Williams, who’s spent most of this season up to last week apparently looking for opportunities to subvert Haley in hopes of climbing over him to get the doomed Hue’s job? We dare say that Kitchens, like ol’ Head Coach Bountygate and the rest of us, has never seen anything like this Kansas City offense before.

Even against the still-underwhelming Chiefs defense (they’re dead last against the run by Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, for example), the Baker Mayfield-led Browns offense can’t be liking their chances. This team has scored just under 17 points per game in the past four games. The Chiefs have yet to score under 27 all season.

In terms of trending, despite taking the ATS loss last week against Denver, Kanasas City still tops the ATS standings board at 6-1-1, making them the NFL’s outlier thus far. One would expect Reid’s guys to trend downward, figuring the Chiefs to lose at least four or five more games ATS in 2018. However – you guessed it – the Browns with Huey at the wheel (yikes) have performed well above expectations; Cleveland’s 2-5-1 SU record belies a more reasonable 4-4 ATS mark. Most telling of al for the NFL bettor is the 3-1 ATS at home this team has managed to stumble through into week 9.

The line seems way too good to be true, and maybe it is – but NFLbets will wait for the later clarity of hindsight. We’re bumping this line up to Chiefs -13½ or -14 to increase the payout. Sorry, Browns fans, but the misery looks to continue, at least for one more week.

Carolina Panthers +3 vs the Baltimore Ravens? Damn straight that’s NFLbets’ Pick of the Week!

Saturday, 27 October 2018 13:36 EST

NFLbets knows we should stay away from Baltimore Ravens games (statistics to back this up below), but this week’s line on the Ravens at Carolina game is simply irresistible. In fact, this is such an inexplicable point spread that we’re going to have to simply place bets so as to srop grinding mental wheels over exactly why this line looks like this:

Baltimore Ravens -3 at Carolina Panthers, over/under 44 points

Baltimore Ravens alternate logo for NFL betsEven more ineffably, this line was -2 on Monday and by the Saturday before kickoff, the enterprising NFL bettor can even find Ravens -3 at some sportsbooks. Why, folks, why? Why is a prospective playoff team entering this game a home underdog against a side that’s a whopping 1-2 SU/ATS against quality opponents in 2018? (The answer is probably the same as that to the more-than-reasonable question of last week, “How was this team giving 2½ points to the Saints?”, but damned if we know it.)

Consider that going back to 2014, Ravens are 14-22 SU in away games; if they’d spotted all opponents 3, as they are this week, that mark drops to 12-23-1 SU. With a winning percentage right at 33.3%, the first of NFLbets’ best bets for Sunday is to take the Carolina Panthers ML at +120 or so.

Why not take the Panthers plus the points as well? Again, NFLbets is baffled by this line, with the sole rational explanation based simply in regression to the mean: the Panthers are 2-0 ATS at home thus far into the 2018 season. But that’s it. What do the bookmakers know that we don’t…?

Sure, Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense looked decent against the New Orleans Saints in last week’s losing effort, but have we been blinded to the fact that the Saints D has the capacity to look like a shabby bottom-5 unit on any given Sunday? New Orleans brought next to no pass rush against a mediocre offensive line and thus sacked Flacco zero times. This week, not only will the Panthers play more aggressively than the Saints (how could they not?), the Panthers OL is minus starters LG Alex Lewis and RT James Hurst.

Indeed, typically the Baltimore offense has had to play near perfectly to even have a shot at a win: In games when the Ravens accumulated just *two* or more turnovers, they’re 12-20 SU since 2014 regardless of TO differential. The Carolina defense has produced 10 turnovers per game in ’18 for a 1.66 average.

Speaking (writing?) of defense, the Ravens D has been one serious Jekyll-and-Hyde unit this season. Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric has Baltimore at no. 3 in the NFL in defensive efficiency, but paradoxically lists the Ravens at no. 26 in the FO variance metric measuring consistency of performance week to week – this is a nice stat that neatly mathematically quantifies how a defense can, likesay, hold the Buffalo Bills or Tennessee Titans to single digits but allow the Cincinnati Bengals to run up 34.

This defense did perform fairly well against stud RB Alvin Kamara last week, limiting him to 3.7 yards per carry, but still allowed over 100 yards rushing for the fourth time in six games. Kamara and the Saints represent the first opponent with a true running game (no, we’re not including the LeVeon Bell-less Pittsburgh Steelers, who managed a pitiful 19 yards in week 4), but the combination of Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey is certain to present unique challenges to a side which hasn’t faced Newton since 2014 and has never played McCaffrey.

NFL betting Carolina Panthers logoIn terms of running, Newton’s production is down from past fireworks-inducing seasons but remains respectable at 42.8 yards per game and an impressive 4.9 yards per carry, only bolstered by his nifty 21-yard scurry last week. McCaffrey, meanwhile, has been putting together some fantastic stats with a smidge under 20 touches per game, 4.8 yards per carry, 7.2 yards per reception, 111.1 total yards per game. Oddly, McCaffrey can claim just one TD in 2018, thus far but we wouldn’t be surprised if he finally broke through to the end zone on a nice run this week.

Also of note: Ravens starting CB Marlon Humphrey will not play in this ball game, an advantage neutralized by the absence of Torrey Smith, who’s also out. In this situation, Devin Funchess will be getting the downfield opportunities, but we’re looking for the Panthers to grind it out on the ground in this one.

Again, we simply cannot find any reason not to take the Carolina Panthers +3 vs Baltimore; we’ll now officially call this the NFLbets Pick of the Week for week 8. The over/under of 44 points is a bit too low to cover, but the must-choose choice would be on the under. The sportsbooks are projecting a final score of 24-20 or 24-21 and this certainly seems reasonable as a max score in a showdown of top-10 defenses.

Los Angeles Rams -7 vs Minnesota Vikings: Easy money? The math says different

Wednesday, 26 September 2018 21:18 EST

To the everyday fan – not to mention the overreacting hype machine of mainstream sports media churning out those “narratives” – betting on week 4’s Thursday Night Football game should be easy, right?

You've got the Los Angeles Rams, as good as advertised and looking all the world like an 0-16 team, at home. Coming to the West Coast are the Minnesota Vikings, chasing a gut-wrenching huge-ass loss to the 31st-"best" team in football and entering this game an underachieving 1-1-1 SU early. This is an easy one, reckons John Q. Sportsbar!

Except when the seasoned gambler looks this game a little more closely, he/she finds … this Thursday Night Football game should be easy.

Aside from their generally unstoppable awesomeness, the Rams also have the following going for them in terms of betting the spread…

• A 3-0 SU record comprised of nothing but double-digit wins, along with a 3-0 ATS record in 2018.

• A home game in L.A., where they’re on a 5-1 SU/ATS run in meaningful games dating back to last season, where “meaningful games” does not include last year’s week 17 game for which basically all Rams starters sat.

• Not only is this a West Coast game, it’s a primetime game. West Coast teams in primetime between 2012 and ’17 won ATS over 70% of the time.

• Favorites on Thursday night are up to 21-10-1 ATS for a .672 winning percentage going back to opening week 2016, way up from the usual .550 mark by favorites on Sundays and Mondays.

And yet, all this suggests that the smart money is on the Minnesota Vikings +7 at Los Angeles. Why? Simple mathematics…

Gregg Easterbrook’s Theorem at the Sportsbook

Gregg Easterbrook, the longtime columnist of the oft-traveled Tuesday Morning Quarterback column, released a very simple formula for predicting SU winners for the weekly office pool. The theorem went like so: Team with better record wins, if records equal, home team wins. This formula allows one to pick the winners without knowing anything about the teams playing at just over a 60% clip.

But check this out: If we just slap in the “ATS” after “better rcord” and “wins” in Easterbrook’s theorem, the reverse ends up true. This year “better record ATS/home team wins ATS” is, through three weeks 24-23-1. “Home team wins ATS”, meanwhile is 28-19-1. Obviously this is a) a small sample size and b) a pretty extreme one at that, but the trends bear out going back through 2016, when “better record/home team wins ATS” is just as barely over .500 at 283-275-18.

Further, considering that home dogs win ATS at about 55%, a sizable percentage of those winners ATS were comprised of home teams in equal-record games to the point where plain ol’ “team with better record ATS wins ATS” works as infrequently as 45% of the time.

As to why this seemingly counterintuitive math works, think about the nature of the point spread. Whereas in a given NFL season, you’ll likely have one team at 14 wins; between 8 and 11 teams of 10 wins or more; between one-third to one-half of the teams with records between 9-7 and 7-9; and one team with two wins or fewer. However, when considering win-loss records ATS, the opposite happens because the goal of the sportsbooks is to apply an evening effect. Only in the extremest of extreme cases does the house win almost all the money; likewise, the players.

Going back to 2014, just one team has finished better than 12-4 (the 2017 New England Patriots, wouldn’tcha know?) and no team has finished worse than 4-12 – to think what Cleveland Browns fans might have done to reach the lofty heights of 4-12 SU at some point in those years…

The tl;dr version and NFLbets' recommendation

The “tl;dr” version: Regression to the mean, the numbers gotta balance out, and this is one hell of an imbalanced matchup statistically. And if you need to justify betting Vikings +7, just remember that L.A.’s stud CBs Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib will be playing hurt at best on a short week. Of course, the question as to whether Kirk Cousins can take advantage of this handicap in the literal face of a ridiculous pass rush remains.

But it’s also a Thursday night game, and NFLbets hates betting TNF games. Plus, these Rams look real good. Like, sportsbook-breaking good. We’d recommend that NFL bettors stary away from this one.