NFL Matchup Predictions


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


Saturday, May 16th, UFC Fight Night Overeem vs Harris

Friday, 15 May 2020 16:49 EST

UFC Fight Night “Harris vs. Overeem” Saturday, May 16, 2020

The UFC wraps on another successful UFC Fight Night 171 card on May 13th, 2020, the headline fight result in Glover Teixeira upsetting Anthony Smith in a brutal 5 round beat down win. Coming up this Saturday, May 16th the UFC looks to another big show down on its third event this week with UFC Fight Night 172 “Overeem vs. Harris”.  

Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville has been the fight promotion headquarters as it attempts to make up for lost time caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Heavyweight contenders Walt Harris and Alistair Overeem will meet in the main event of the UFC Fight Night card on Saturday with the prelims beginning at 6 p.m. ET.

Before locking in your selections for Fight Night: Harris vs. Overeem, check out the odds at mybookie.ag. Harris is a (-170) favourite but most of the early action we’re seeing is on the underdog Overeem at (+130). In the co-main event, Claudia Gadelha is a (-190) favourite against Angela Hill (+150).

Now, with Harris vs. Overeem fast approaching, we’ve identified some of the best value in the UFC odds and are sharing our top MMA predictions.

Overeem vs. Harris preview:

The No. 8 Heavyweight ranked Overeem (45-18-1) is one of the most accomplished mixed martial artists in heavyweight history. The 39-year-old is a former kickboxing champion who also has held the Strikeforce and DREAM heavyweight crowns.

His resume includes victories over luminaries like Brock Lesnar, Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson and Junior Dos Santos. But he was turned back in a title shot at UFC 203 in September 2016, suffering a first-round knockout to Stipe Miocic. In his last six UFC bouts half have been split with wins and half losses, with all the defeats coming by KO, TKO stoppage. In his last fight versus Jairzinho Rozenstruik was very disappointing as he was likely ahead on the scorecard only to lose the fight via knockout in the 5th round.

Harris (13-7-1), ranked No. 9, started his UFC career with a 3-4 mark after losing his debut with the promotion in January 2014. The 36-year-old Alabama native appears to be a late bloomer, as he has gone 3-0-1 in his last four bouts, with those wins coming by early stoppage.

Harris won both of his bouts in 2019, scoring knockouts of Sergey Spivak and Aleksei Oleinik. He received Performance of the Night bonuses for both showings. Harris is a predictable stand-up striker and will back his opponent into a corner and will hammer them. We expect Overeem to keep his distance and use his superior kickboxing skills to keep a distance. Hard to see this fight going more than 2 rounds with all this powerful stand-up. Overeem has an advantage in skill and experience and the dog price gets our check mark on this one. Check the UFC match up link to see how they come physically.  

 

Other UFC Fight Night predictions:


Elkins vs Landwehr
Darren Elkins, DEC
We’ll be backing veteran Darren Elkins (-115) to prevail against Nate Landwehr (-105) in a featherweight battle. Elkins is a 10-year UFC veteran who has shared the Octagon with some of the sport's biggest names, but the 35-year-old Indiana native is looking to snap a career-worst three-fight losing streak. Prior to the slump, which started against current champ Alexander Volkanovski in July 2018, he had never lost two straight fights. Landwehr, 31, built a promising resume in various promotions before making his UFC debut in January. He was stopped in the first round by Herbert Burns.

Gadelha vs. Hill
Cláudia Gadelha, DEC
Cláudia Dantas Gadelha is a Brazilian mixed martial artist who currently competes in the Women's Strawweight division. Claudia has faced much stronger opponents recently so a decision because there haven’t been too many KO stoppages in WMMA.

Barboza vs. Ige
Edson Barboza, DEC
Barboza is a very skillful mixed martial artist and former Muay Thai kickboxer from brazil. I still think the judges were wrong for his fight against Felder, if the weigh cut goes well, I don't see why he couldn't become a top contender at Featherweight.

Looking down the road, it looks more and more likely that Conor McGregor will be stepping into the Octagon before too long. In potential fights McGregor is a underdog against Khabib Nurmagomedov or Jorge Masvidal, and potentially a favorite versus Justin Gaethje, and Nate Diaz.

UFC Fight Night: Harris vs. Overeem odds

Walt Harris (-170) vs. Alistair Overeem (+130)
Claudia Gadelha (-190) vs. Angela Hill (+155)
Edson Barboza (-130) vs. Dan Ige (+110)
Krzysztof Jotko (-155) vs. Eryk Anders (+135)
Song Yadong (-185) vs. Marlon Vera (+165)
Miguel Baeza (-200) vs. Matt Brown (+180)
Kevin Holland (-115) vs. Anthony Hernandez (-105)
Mike Davis (-210) vs. Giga Chikadze (+180)
Darren Elkins (-115) vs. Nate Landwehr (-105)
Cortney Casey (-160) vs. Mara Romero Borella (+140)
Don'tale Mayes (-120) vs. Rodrigo Nascimento (+100)

UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Harris weigh-ins:

 

 


UFC 249 Justin Gaethje vs. Tony Ferguson: Odds and Predictions

Thursday, 07 May 2020 19:43 EST

How to Bet UFC 249 Justin Gaethje vs. Tony Ferguson


The UFC 249 fight card might be one of the deepest and most exciting mma events in years, certainly the most highly anticipated mma event in 2020. While the entire sporting world sits at a standstill during this global pandemic, the UFC seems intent on pushing a business as usual schedule. Perhaps that’s not entirely accurate, as UFC 249 in Jacksonville, Florida this coming Saturday (May 9th, 2020) will take place in front of no fans. Social Distancing measures will not permit fans at this time. The only possible way to proceed is as a ‘closed event’ status. With all said, fans are jumping for joy at prospect to watch the next UFC event, “it’s history in the making”!

The main card promises to be an absolute beauty, so we are going to do out best to break it down, complete with UFC 249 odds and predictions.

MMA UFC 249 Full Card Odds

Greg Hardy (-215)Vs Yorgan De Castro (+175)

The main card kicks off with a Heavyweight battle between a pair of fighters who have paid their dues in the Contender Series before jumping to the UFC proper. Hardy is perhaps best known for his time in the NFL, but his high profile has seen him land on several cards thus far, albeit with a mixed bag of results. You never really know what you are going to get from Hardy, as he goes from looking great to looking terrible from one fight to the next. De Castro has power in spades, so the chances of this fight going the distance seems slim. Slight nod to Hardy here or you can take the dog value in betting Yorgan De Castro (+175).

Jeremy Stephens (+200) Vs Calvin Kattar (-255)

Next up on the main card is a Featherweight bout that should deliver some serious action. Stephens is one of those fighters who has been around for about a decade or so now, and while never really scaling the heights of the division, he is a fighter who will go head to head with anyone, compiling a 28-17 record along the way. Kattar is a fighter on the rise and one that we should probably be keeping an eye on. I think he continues to move up the ranks with a win here.

Francis Ngannou (-270) vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+210)

Originally slated for 5 rounds, this one has been moved back to a 3-rounder, but given the power that both of these men possess, shaving off a couple of rounds probably isn’t really going to matter. Ngannou has, after a loss at UFC 226, rebounded with a trio of wins via KO that he delivered in a combined time of just over 2 minutes. Rozenstruik has won each of his 10 bouts and loudly campaigned for a fight with Ngannou, which may well come back to haunt him, as I think he is in a little over his head in this one. Ngannou was at -300 earlier this week until some solid action came in on Rozenstruik to move the line down to -270. This fight is also the favourite to end the fastest on Saturday at +100.

Henry Cejudo (-235) Vs Dominick Cruz (+195)

This bantamweight bout is a bit of a strange one in that it’s a little tougher to know what to expect. Cejudo, the reigning champion, is coming into this bout on a 5-fight winning streak and looks like a good bet against a fighter who has not set foot in the Octagon since December 2016. Do not let that fool you, though, as Cruz has all the tools to come out and win this one. I just think that he might need a fight or two under his bet before he is back at his best, so I am on Cejudo to win. The champ opened as a -270 favourite, but action on Cruz has dropped that number to Cejudo -210 with the challenger at +160.

Tony Ferguson (-173) Vs Justin Gaethje (+143)

The event will be headlined by Justin Gaethje battling Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight championship, with the winner likely facing champion Khabib Nurmagomedov down the road. Ferguson opened as a -185 favourite before moving up to -200 with Gaethje coming in as a +150 underdog. The Ferguson side is seeing most of the action, but bettors also like Gaethje to score the upset by knockout or TKO at +170. Gaethje does have the power, but does he have the defense to last 5 rounds with Ferguson on a scorecard?
Ferguson’s been so efficient, he’s on a 12-fight win streak. Many fans would like him to see that continue to lucky number 13 in a row.

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (+120) and Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (-150)

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, line is moving down from a +125 to +120 underdog in his matchup with Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (-150). I do see this one getting closer to even but in MMA there always has to be a dog price. Cowboy says he wasn’t ready for his last match a lose versus Conor McGregor. Anthony Pettis is coming off 2 straight tough loses but as the younger, quicker guy he should be ready for a good showing vs Cowboy. Although, I might lean towards a split decision in Cowboy’s favor the smart angle here is to jump this Mybookie freebet promotion.


Basically it’s a win/win with no risk on this Cerrone vs Pettis fight. What’s a free bet? It’s one you can’t lose. If you bet on Cowboy at +120 and Cowboy wins you win. If Cowboy loses then you get your first wager refunded up to $49. Either way you can’t lose. Take the dog pricing and max out on your risk of at least $49 on this fight.
**Note the only bet that qualifies is the pre-match fight winner. Must be a straight bet. Must be a cash bet.**

As you can see from some of the movement on the odds board, there are a lot of underdogs that bettors like in this card. There are also some betting options for the entire card. You can bet over/under the number of total Decision victories (5.5 over +150), KO/TKO victories (5.5 under -130), and Submission victories (1.5 over -130) or take a swing at a piñata prop that is paying +2500 for the total number of rounds in UFC 249. You can also bet on the UFC SIM events which are being streamed on twitch and you can even parlay the SIM events with the real UFC card for some crazy parlay payout odds. This is going to be a very crazy mix.

 


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

Monday, 03 February 2020 14:58 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–written by Os Davis

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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…?