NFL betting: News, information, odds shifts


NFLbets is all about how the action in America’s professional football league relates to betting and though the opportunity to get real insider information is more limited all the time, the NFL bettor must keep up-to-date on the latest news – particularly injuries. NFLbets will be focusing on news stories which involve immediate relevance to the games ahead.

We’ve all seen what results when a team loses a starting left tackle, free safety or “skill player” to injury or suspension. In addition, NFL football of the 21st century increasingly runs into another issue taking away players, namely suspensions for drug-related and/or violent activity. Again, though the window of opportunity to leverage injury and suspension information is quite brief indeed, knowing ahead of time always beats ignorance.

NFLbets also seeks to cater to fans of one of the NFL’s 32 teams, and our news stories are compiled for each NFL market within our “team pages” so that fans may follow the progress of their favorites – not to mention check our track record, win or lose. And hopefully we’ll demonstrate throughout that our only bias is toward making money. We’re cheering for the bettors against the house here, and week to week we care only that our picks come through – for the readers and us.

Finally, NFLbets pledges to keep all speculation and opinion to the “Rants” section. In this area, we’ll try to keep things purely informational (no mean feat in a “post-fact” world) – just the facts and no “fake news” here.

NFLbets wishes all bettors the best of luck; let’s all make some money out there, okay?


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

Wednesday, 05 February 2020 14:49 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– written by Os Davis

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

Monday, 03 February 2020 14:58 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Josh Shaw. On November 10 at Caesars sportsbook in Las Vegas, 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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Look at all of NFLbets wacky wagering on Super Bowl prop bets...

Sunday, 02 February 2020 08:10 EST

Yet more awesomeness about both Super Bowl betting and Las Vegas: Super Bowl betting *in* Las Vegas. Seriously, what is better in life than staying at a quality non-casino hotel, picking up a fat list of proposition bets and poring over offerings not necessarily available at online sportsbooks for hours on end in comfort and drink comps? Nothing, we daresay.

Nothing, that is, except for cashing out on a majority of those utterly enticing and totally tempting Super Bowl props. Rest assured that NFLbets is sitting here with a fat stack of betting slips which we’ll be manipulating and sorting throughout Sunday. NFLbets has detailed our recommendations for Super Bowl LIV prop betting elsewhere; running below are some last-minute wagers you can get in before game time – if you’re as wacky as we were.

San Francisco 49ers score in every quarter, +150
Kansas City Chiefs score in every quarter: +140
. NFLbets fully expects on Monday to be tweeting deliriously about how Super Bowl LIV was the Bizarro Super Bowl LIII (or perhaps vice-versa), i.e. an exciting high-flying shootout with highlights on both sides of the ball by both teams. The relatively high odds on the Chiefs in this prop are likely down to their reputation as a slow starter, but the truth is Kansas City was no. 10 in the league in first quarter scoring. The 49ers, meanwhile, are top-6 in every quarter and the Chiefs’ no. 18 rank in the fourth quarter may simply be down to their routine blowouts. NFLbets like these bets!

• Over 6½ total touchdowns in game, +110. Apparently, NFLbets is not alone in expecting a pinball machine-type speed and scoring in Super Bowl LIV: Bettors have pushed the over/under from 51 points at opening to 54½ on gameday. At 51 points, one would figure on six TDs plus three FGs as a logical outcome. And while NFLbets is ordering up a pair of 30-burgers, even a 28-21 (or, likesay, 31-28) can mean seven touchdowns…

• Successful 2-point conversion, +220. This bet is precisely why proposition betting is dangerous: NFLbets is gambling here, hoping against hope for a 2-pointer simply because 2-point conversions are awesome. The numbers say that in 256 regular-season games in 2019, 113 2-pointers were attempted, with 52 made for a 50.1% success rate and a 20.3% chance of success in any given game. If the odds were fair (yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre), the potential payout would be more like +450.

• Game goes into overtime, 8/1. Again, silly betting. No genius is required to realize that exactly one of the last 53 Super Bowls has gone into overtime (a less than 2% probability) and with Andy “Clock King” Reid on the sideline, well … nah, this bet is totally unjustifiable.

• Largest lead of game: under 15½ points, -110. All you millennial whippersnappers are spoiled rotten by 21st-century Super Bowls. You don’t remember 1980-1997, when all but three Super Bowls were uneventful slogs with the outcome decided early. Sheesh, in those days, if it wasn’t 49ers-Cincinnati Bengals, you might as well have planned to be good and drunk by halftime. No, instead, you guys get one-score games in nine of the last 12, and most of the upsets in all of Super Bowl history have taken place since ’98. And in the last 18, under-15½ has gone 15-3. So utilize your advantages, ya buncha ankle biters…

• Tyrann Matthieu to make the game’s first interception, 5/1. NFLbets is already committed to both Mahomes and Garoppolo to throw picks in this game, but clearly the latter is thought much more likely to err in this department. So we ran with this assumption and found an excellent reason to back Matthieu here. Matthieu was s led the Chiefs in 2019 in interceptions with four. And guess what? Three came in the first half, including two in the first quarter. This bet is either genius or the product of delusion, but 5/1 are some pretty good odds.

• 49ers more time of possession, +140. Right along with the “Largest Lead of Game” prop, this wager is based on the premise of a fairly close game. Particularly if the Niners get the game’s first possession – or at least the game’s first substantial possession – and score after a long drive, a one-score game means San Francisco should win the TOP battle. Note, too, that the 49ers were no. 4 in the league in the stat in 2019 and were just one of seven teams to average more than 31 minutes of TOP per game.

• Over 2½ TD passes by Patrick Mahomes, even/+100
• Over 1½ TD passes by Jimmy Garappolo, -105
. Has NFLbets mentioned we’re anticipating scoring? Forget Jimmy’s two playoff games thus far; we’re of the belief that he wasn’t called on the throw in those games, thanks to the inability of either the Minnesota Vikings or Green Bay Packers to slow the run one whit. And if 1½ touchdowns seems low for Garoppolo, we can certainly all agree that 2½ for Mahomes feels very low.

• George Kittle scores a TD, +140. This prop bet can justify the entire existence of fantasy football. Why? Because without fantasy football, we might not otherwise realize that Kansas City is a botoom-5 team against tight ends this season. And since Kittle is a, what, top-2 TE, the math is pretty simple here.

• Emmanuel Sanders over 43½ receiving yards, -110. NFLbets wrote earlier this week about Sanders’s possibilities as a longshot in the Super Bowl MVP prop at 40/1, and we convinced ourselves of his veteran presence and team-first mentality that we covered him in this prop as well, despite his recent stat-poor results and just three games of over 43½ receiving yards since joining San Francisco in week 10. This prop also comprises half of our favorite fictional parlay bet: Just pair Sanders over 43½ with Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic Party nomination for POTUS at +225 – Sanders and Sanders for a +520 payout! Nice.

– written by Os Davis

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

Saturday, 01 February 2020 13:00 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–written by Os Davis

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

Tuesday, 28 January 2020 11:39 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–written by Os Davis

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Super Bowl LIV props: Which head coach calls timeout first? (This is an easy one.)

Monday, 27 January 2020 16:28 EST

Now this is a proposition bet that NFLbets can really sink our teeth (and bankroll) into: “Team to Call First Timeout.” Both the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are getting -115 payouts in this prop at My Bookie as of Monday, January 27, with little reason to suspect much movement on either side; after all, this prop isn’t exactly going to attract the actions of, likesay, point spread betting or even the (silly-ass) coin flip prop.

At first, NFLbets figured this one would be pretty cut-and-dried, given Andy Reid’s rather checkered history with clock management – but this prop bet is actually quite a bit more difficult than it seems.

For example, the easiest way to burning that first timeous is on a losing coach’s challenge call. About two-thirds of the way through the 2019 season, the NFL’s official website released this handy chart detailing career tendencies on challenges for all 32 then-employed NFL head coaches (alas, poor Freddie).

On Reid, 16 seasons’ worth of data shows that the Kansas City head coach has amassed a 48% success rate on fewer than 0.4 challenges per game. Kyle Shanahan’s sample size is of course well smaller; in three seasons heading up the Niners, Shanahan has won 10 of 18 challenges, but began his career in 2018 winning five of his first six; his frequency rate is thus 0.36 red flags thrown per game.

So purely mathematically, Shanahan has a 16% of blowing a challenge in the Super Bowl while Reid’s at about 20.3% likely. However, the Super Bowl factor may have to be factored in: Despite what one may guess, head coaches get a lot more liberal chucking the challenge flag: In the past 20 Super Bowls, some 25 challenges have been made and all flag-throwing coaches have enjoyed a nice 56% success rate.

Therefore, the odds suggest that a timeout will not be lost to a losing coaches’ challenge in the first half at all, but the 4-plus percentage point difference becomes more weighted (so to speak) against Redi and the Chiefs.

So how about the perception of Reid as mishandling timeouts? In 2018, a study undertaken by the Green Bay Packers (!) blog called Acme Packing Co. found that Chiefs were the single most effective team in plays directly following a TO called by Reid – but with Patrick Mahomes leading a point-a-minute offense, Reid called just 17 timeouts in the 2018 season, ranking the Chiefs 16th in the stat. And Reid Reided in last year’s AFC Championship game, never using one of his three TOs in the OT against the New England Patriots.

Shanahan’s 49ers, by contrast, called 20 – this may not seem significant in comparison, but only seven teams in ’18 called more TOs than Shanahan and San Francisco. Note, too, that all only one TO was called in the three games total started by Jimmy Garoppolo that season.

The point: Compared to Ried, Shanahan basically throws timeouts around. Combined with the fact that Mahomes tends to go off-book into improvisation after the first quarter and the 49ers’ interests lie in keeping the game slow and deliberate, this bet really is one of the biggest no-brainers on the Super Bowl LIV proposition bet table: Take the San Francisco 49ers in the First Team to Call a Timeout prop bet.

–written by Os Davis

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Super Bowl LIV betting: Score prediction, bets on point spread, over/under

Saturday, 25 January 2020 15:35 EST

Right, it’s time for NFLbets to take a stand on the prime betting on Super Bowl LIV, namely point spread, over/under and game outcome. Just in case a reminder is needed (yeah, surrrrrrrrrrre), we’re talking…

Super Bowl LIV: San Francisco 49ers +2 at Kansas City Chiefs, over/under 55 points

Additionally, the money lines (ML) presently read 49ers +110 and Chiefs -130. Note that all lines are courtesy My Bookie and are current as off Saturday, January 25. We can expect these numbers to stay relatively stable for about another week, as the initial rush of betting has ebbed and won’t get line-shifting active until closer to kickoff. To the analysis!

Jimmy Garoppolo may be posting Flaccovian numbers as of late, but the truth is that the 49ers bring an offense that’s no. 3 in pass yards per attempt and no. 4 in total yards. Playing further to the Kansas City defense’s weakness, the 49ers are no. 2 in rushing attempts and yardage, plus rank no. 1 in rushing TDs. Going for 144.1 ypg on the ground has got to put Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert the conversation as one of the most successful RB-by-committees we’ve ever seen. Here’s to thinking that this Cerberus gives the Kansas City defense, at no. 29 in rushing yards per attempt as well as rushing defense DVOA, fits.

Perhaps most importantly, San Francisco ranked no. 2 in scoring at 29.9 ppg, a potentially very useful quality to keep pace with the scoreboard-spinning Chiefs. What’s wild here is that the most points any opponent rang up against the Chiefs were the 31s scored in identical 31-24 losing results at home (wacky!) to the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers. Nevertheless, NFLbets believes the 49ers can keep pace if necessary.

On the flip side is a classic match of quite probably the league’s best offense and defense. While Lamar Jackson garnered the hype, highlights, all-purpose yards and records, the balance of a star-studded offense ultimately proved longer-lasting. Since returning in week 10 after an injury in week 7, Mahomes has thrown for 34.8 attempts and 266.66 yards per game plus 17 TDs against a measly four interceptions as his team scores over 33 points per game. Mahomes and his ultra-quick weapons in Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce have the Chiefs on a ridiculous 8-0 SU (7-0-1 ATS) run in which the average margin of victory is over 16 points going into Super Bowl LIV.

Suffice to say that, like most NFL teams ever, the 2019 San Francisco 49ers have not yet seen anything like Mahomes & Co. The 49ers’ defensive stats are pretty freakin’ awesome at no. 2 in points allowed, no. 3 in first downs allowed and tops overall in both overall yardage and net yards per pass. In 18 games in 2019-20, 49ers opponent are managing just 160.6 passing yards and 18.9 points per game – about 60% of what Mahomes has been doing in both categories since returning in week 10.

So the offenses in Super Bowl LIV would each appear to have the edge over the opposition defense. That being the case, what are we to make of the old adage “defense wins championships”?

Relevant Super Bowl betting history

Figuring in Jimmy Garoppolo’s 10-1 SU record when going for at least 240½ yards (his over/under in the “passing yards” prop) and the way Kansas City’s been scoring lately, most bettors are reckoning on a lot of points scored in this particular Super Bowl. The sportsbooks – no dummies they – presciently opened the over/under line at a whopping 55 points – the fourth-highest in Super Bowl history.

The over is 28-25 in all Super Bowls and (wouldn’t ya know it?) 10-10 in the past 20 years. All-time, the over is 6-7 in Super Bowls kicking off with an over/under of 50 or more points but is just 1-4 in the past 20 years. (To further obfuscate things, four of the five aforementioned involved the New England Patriots.)

Finally, since the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 35-31 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII, 55 points or more have been scored 14 times or just over one-third of all ’Bowls in that span. Sadly, not even SU winners can help us here, either: When the Super Bowl favorite wins outright, the over is 7-7; in upsets, it’s 2-3.

In the final analysis, we’re eschewing past precedent on the over/under and thus going first thought best thought here, i.e. over all the way.

Final score prediction and related bets to make

For a final score, NFLbets will go Kansas City Chiefs 35, San Francisco 49ers 30.

Therefore, we'll go ahead and advise bettors take the Kansas City Chiefs -2 in Super Bowl LIV and take the over on an O/U of 55 points. Take 61-70 points in the “Total Points Scored” prop for a nice +400 payout, and finally (for now, anyway) take the Chiefs to win by 1-6 points in the “Super Bowl Margin of Victory” prop for a +350 payout.

NFLbets’ Picks of the Week, championship game week: 3-1.
NFLbets this season, all recommended bets: 68-51-1.

–written by Os Davis

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Betting NFL in 2019: The bookmaker’s season review

Saturday, 25 January 2020 15:26 EST

One game left to play for the 2019 season means that football bettors, too, are about to head into the offseason – unless you’re foolhardy enough to try betting XFL games in week 1. We’ve got nearly five months before CFL football kicks off and college football betting doesn’t begin in earnest for another seven.

So after investing the mental energy into Super Bowl betting, proposition bets and crossover bets, the proper NFL bettor will get to work taking stock of the 2019 regular season so as to glean information for 2020 bets – first odds on the “To Win Super Bowl LV” prop will be released within an hour of the game’s final gun everywhere, you know. And after all, like the modern NFL itself, NFL betting is a 12-month sport.

Top of the ATS table: Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints

For a few minutes when the playoffs started, Ravens-Saints was a vogue pick: The Ravens at 14-2 SU looked unstoppable until we remembered the lack of “skill players” beyond Lamar Jackson; the Saints had come o-so-close the last two years and seemed solid until Drew Brees continued discernably aging badly.

Both were one-and-dones in the postseason, but won lotsa money for bettors through 2019, as both went an identical 11-5 ATS and, interestingly, 7-1 ATS in road games. Also notable was the Saints’ run of 11-3 ATS after an 0-2 start. Baltimore was even hotter before running into the upset-minded Tennessee Titans, going 9-1 ATS to close the regular season after a nearly unfathomable 2-4 start.

Once Super Bowl LIV concludes, however, the Kansas City Chiefs or San Francisco 49ers will top the overall ATS table. With an ATS win, the Chiefs would close the season at 13-6 ATS (and on a 7-0-1 run) while the 49ers would finish at 12-6-1 ATS. Bettors would do well to note that, despite high preseason expectations and increasingly steep point spreads, five of the league’s top seven teams made the playoffs – and the formerly NFC champion Los Angeles Rams somehow still went a solid 10-5-1 ATS.

Outliers of 2019: NFC South overs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers generally

Fairly early on in the season, the futility of attempting to bet NFC South interdivisional games became pretty evident to NFLbets. From the Saints going 5-0 SU/ATS with Teddy Bridgewater at QB to the Panthers closing 1-8 SU (2-7-1 ATS) after starting 4-2 SU/ATS, these teams were on the whole unpredictable as well – except for overs.

Indeed, if one included the Tampa Bay Overs as a team, they’d’ve won the ATS table at 12-4; and overs in Carolina Panthers games were 11-5. In NFC South interdivisional games, the over was 8-4 and, bizarrely, home teams were a woeful 2-10 ATS! Weirdest of all has got to be that Tampa Bay home record of 0-6-2 ATS. Nobody goes winless ATS at home. The goddamn Chargers, who played 2019 without either a proper homebase or starting quarterback, went 1-6-1 in Los Angeles. WTF?

In contrast, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills

Most will consider the Buffalo Bills one of the pleasant surprises of the 2019 season, though the stretch run exposed them as a marginal playoff team that was a few players short. At 10-6 SU (9-6-1 ATS), sports media tried hard to find ways the Bills might break the New England Patriots’ stranglehold on the AFC East – but no dice. Buffalo’s 9-3 SU (7-4-1 ATS) was chased by a stumbling 1-3 SU (2-2 ATS) finish and a second-half collapse against the Houston Texans in the playoffs.

Between a stout defense ranking no. 6 overall in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric and what figured as the 31st-most difficult schedule, at least one Buffalo Bills bet could be counted on to cash in 2019: The under. The Buffalo Unders went a very nice 13-4 including the wildcard game – and two of those overs came in the Bills’ games against the Miami Dolphins, for some insane reason.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, despite a highly forgettable 8-8 SU (9-7 ATS) season, likewise did well in hitting unders for NFL bettors: Unders in Steelers games also went 12-4, including 8-1 in the second half of the seaosn. NFLbets’ way-too-early prediction on the 2020 reckons the Steelers and well-aged Ben Roethlisberger will be hitting lots of unders again, especially in the early going when the lines are likely to be unjustifiably juiced.

Hints for next season

Anyone can observe that, wow, crazy, neither conference champion fared extremely well in 2019, with the Rams beaten (and beaten out) by two teams in their own division and the Patriots limping into a wildcard game against the far readier Titans. But we’re talking betting here, and the Patriots and Rams’ difficulties pale in comparison to some other of those who exceeded expectations in 2018.

To wit, here’s the top of the table for 2019, representing all teams with 10 or more ATS wins:

Chicago Bears: 12-5
New England Patriots: 12-7
“Los Angeles” Chargers: 11-7
Cleveland Browns: 10-6
New Orleans Saints: 10-8

You see what we’re getting at here. Teams who consistently surprised bookmakers and/or fans in 2018 may have benefitted from easier schedules (as with the Bears and Patriots), floor-level expectations (Browns) or a perfect storm of veterans avoiding injury, impact rookies and peaking all-stars (Saints) and thus gain six months’ worth of hype, particularly among casual NFL bettors. Remember the great odds the Bears and Browns were getting this preseason? They finished 5-11 ATS and 4-11-1 ATS, respectively.

Meanwhile, tops on the table for 2019 going into Super Bowl LIV are:

Kansas City Chiefs: 12-6
San Francisco 49ers: 11-6-1
New Orleans Saints: 11-6
Baltimore Ravens: 11-6
Los Angeles Rams: 10-5-1
Green Bay Packers: 10-7

Now don’t get us wrong: We’re not saying the collapses of the Chiefs, Ravens and 49ers are imminent, but even this far out we’d be very suspect of betting many 49ers, Rams and Packers games ATS in 2020…

–written by Os Davis

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Super Bowl LIV props: Betting on Mahomes, Garoppolo’s performances

Friday, 24 January 2020 17:25 EST

NFLbets has been waiting on a few player props for Super Bowl LIV for quite some time, particularly those on two gunslinging quarterbacks who’ve never been to the Big Game but seem as cool as chilly cucumbers a week out. NFLbets is not buying the “fearless” line foe Kansas City Chiefs-San Francisco 49ers juuuuuuuuuuuuust yet, however. Among our more decisively made bets on Super Bowl LIV are on the following proposition bets:

Over/under 240½ total yards for Jimmy Garoppolo;
Over/under 0.5 interceptions thrown by Garoppolo; and
Over/under 0.5 interceptions thrown by Patrick Mahomes.

For the middle of the above-listed troika, NFLbets believes a device strong enough to hold us back from playing this bet does not yet exist. ’Member those Geico tv spots of two or three years ago? Well, for those game, we’re paraphrasing: If you’re Jimmy Garoppolo, you throw interceptions. It’s what you do. Jimmy G. may have been steadily evolving as a QB leader type since collecting splinters on the New England bench behind Tom Brady but can still be counted on to pull the trigger on a bad decision or two per game. Take the over on an O/U of 0.5 Garoppolo interceptions.

On the other side, perhaps by dint of having to play the pass against offenses desperately trying to keep up with Mahomes & Co., the Kansas City defense has evolved to rank no. 6 against the pass in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. To be fair, some stats speak well of Garoppolo's recent turnover control. In the past eight games, he and the Niners have faced top-10 defenses five times, in games against the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers twice. In those five games, Jimmy G tossed just three picks combined and two were against the Rams.

But here’s the thing: This line must also be based in part on only line, “Over/under 20½ pass attempts for Garoppolo”. Jimmy’s control this season disappears over the magic number 21. In 15 games in which Garoppolo threw 21 times or more, he threw picks in 10, and only three times in 2019-20 did he manage to throw more than 22 times and avoid an interception. Further, in six games in which the opposition scored more than 21 points, Jimmy threw a pick – think the Chiefs are good for at least 22 points? Yeah, us too.

(Incidentally, note that Garoppolo throwing picks doesn’t necessarily mean a 49ers loss in the Super Bowl; in the six games of over 21 points allowed, San Francisco nevertheless went 4-2 SU/3-3 ATS.)

So how about the studly 49ers QB going for 240 yards or more? Like Ryan Tannehill, Jimmy has been wowing NFL bettors and fans alike by leading his offense to a pair of wins while throwing the ball a very un-2019 27 times combined. The last time a team won two consecutive playoff games with 19 or fewer attempts in each was when Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens did it thrice in a row back in the 2000-01 – and in the Super Bowl blowout of the New York Giants, Flacco still went for 244 yards on 26 attempts.

On top of this, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens simply didn’t face anything like the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs on their Super Bowl run; in fact, those Ravens played form behind just once in four games that postseason, when down 7-0 after the first quarter in the divisional round. Think the Chiefs are good to force the 49ers to play from behind at least once in this ’Bowl? Yeah, us too.

The crazy thing is that unleashing Garoppolo has worked outstandingly for the 49ers in 2019: San Francisco is a whopping 10-1 SU (8-2-1 ATS) when throwing for more than 240½ yards. NFLbets has little mathematics – aside from Flacco’s precedent – to back up the following contention, but we believe that Kyle Shanahan has had Garoppolo playing possum for the past two weeks. And does anyone really believe that Raheem Mostert geos for four TDs on 29 attempts against a KC D that shut down the superhuman Derrick Henry in the AFC Championship? Take the over on an O/U of 240½ yards passing for Jimmy Garoppolo.

So let’s talk Patrick Mahomes facing off against the San Francisco defense, no. 2 by DVOA but realistically tops. (The Patriots D, who faded badly at season’s close, rank no. 1 overall for 2019.)

Mahomes is, unquestionably, a machine. Since returning in week 10 after an injury in week 7, Mahomes has thrown for 34.8 attempts and 266.66 yards per game plus 17 TDs against a measly four interceptions. Mahomes and his ultra-quick weapons in Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce have the Chiefs on a ridiculous 8-0 SU (7-0-1 ATS) run in which the average margin of victory is over 16 points. The KC QB has demonstrated amply that he can lead the Chiefs to a W either passing a lot or not, so NFLbets will have no part of the “Over/under 304½ total yards for Patrick Mahomes” Super Bowl prop.

But here’s what makes us interested in the 49ers exposing some vulnerability: The Chiefs haven’t faced a defense like the 49ers’ in a long time. Aside from the aforementioned Patriots, the top-ranked passing defenses Kanasas City has faced since that momentous week 10 game at Tennessee have been the no. 8-ranked Chicago Bears and the no. 13 Denver Broncos – and those opponents were held to 3 points apiece. In fact, the Chiefs offense ultimately ended up facing the league’s 21st most difficult schedule.

Note: None of this is to say that the Chiefs are overrated or overblown. We just need one interception to pay out at better than even odds.

This San Francisco defense, probably the best we’ve seen in the Super Bowl since Von Miller and the Broncos were making Cam Newton’s life hell for 60 minutes, could well be the unit to do it. The 49ers are no. 2 in overall and passing DVOA; no. 2 in yards allowed; tops overall in passing yards allowed and yards per attempt; no. 4 in points allowed; and an impressive 6th in turnover percentage. They haven’t faced too many QBs comparable to Mahomes in 2019-20 – so few are, after all – though notably held Lamar Jackson to 206 total yards and got a fumble out of him.

And by the plain ol’ football, NFLbets would guess that this is the one defense Kansas City didn’t want to see this season. Chiefs-49ers means a potentially instant-classic meetup of the league’s fastest offense vs the league’s fastest defense. San Francisco doesn’t bring a heavy pass rush often, but loves to drop back in coverage and seal the edges. Think the 49ers know they’ll need to ballhawk to stay in this game? Yeah, us too. Take the over on an O/U of 0.5 Garoppolo interceptions – should be good for a payout of at least +110.

–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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