Best NFL weekly picks


No matter what you call it – Pick of the Week, Lock of the Week, Best Bet, etc., a regular column delineating the one must-bet wager weekly is a staple of any NFL prognosticator in any medium. On this page we present only the cream of the crop, *the* bet you’ll want to make in a given week. In addition, we promise complete transparency: We’ll leave up our past picks, win, lose or push so you can judge for yourself whether or not to take NFLbets’ advice (but we think you will).

As we’ve stated elsewhere, a primary rule within the NFLbets dogma is this: Don’t force your bets. There is absolutely no requirement to make a minimum number of wagers weekly. Heck, the ideal situation would be to throw down as much money as possible on those three to five occasions in any given NFL season when the outcome is crystal-clear obvious days beforehand. But where’s the fun in that? After all, one or two bets are always worth making.

NFLbets’ “Pick of the week” is primarily for the conservative NFL bettor, because the truth is that in gambling, conservatism is the way to go. We stake our reputation on our best bets, so let’s enjoy making some money this year!


At 40/1 for MVP, Baker Mayfield is attracting bettors; here are four better bets

Friday, 18 June 2021 15:08 EST

Look, NFLbets likes the 2021 Cleveland Browns’ chances as much as anyone, but this is ridiculous:

The primary arguments for throwing money on Baker Mayfield in the “2021 NFL Most valuable Player” offering are twofold: 1) The Browns are primed for a deep run, and 2) gee, 40/1 is great value. After scoping the top of the table from a representative online sportsbook which currently has the odds on Mayfield at 35/1, however, the NFL bettor can certainly find lots more great value:

NFL MVP: Best odds, bettingPatrick Mahomes, Kansas City: 4/1
Aaron Rodgers, unknown: 10/1
Josh Allen, Buffalo: 10/1
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay: 12/1
Matthew Stafford, L.A. Rams: 16/1
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore: 16/1
Russell Wilson, Seattle: 16/1
Dak Prescott, Dallas: 17/1
Kyler Murray, Arizona: 20/1
Justin Herbert, Chargers, 20/1
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee, 30/1
Carson Wentz, Indianapolis: 40/1
Matt Ryan, Atlanta: 50/1

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati: 50/1

Christian McCaffrey (Carolina) and Derrick Henry ( are the non-QBs with shortest odds, both fetching 50/1.

Perhaps you’ll agree that Mayfield, even at 40/1, ain’t that great a deal…?

After all, in ol’ Baker’s ostensible breakout season of 2021, the only noticeable statistical improvement was in interceptions surrendered, as the QB went from 35 in his first 30 games to just 9 in 18 regular- and postseason games last year. Otherwise, Baker Year 3 looked numerically a lot like Baker Year 1 in completion percentage, yardage, average yards per attempt and per catch, etc. The kneejerk reaction might be to blame the slight decline on stud WR Odell Beckham’s absence after week 7 to injury, but the truth is that Mayfield and the Brown passing offense was ultimately superior statistically post-Becks. Through the first seven games, the Browns were good for 207.4 yards per game and 9 total turnovers; in the final 11, the average jumped to 223.9 ypg with another 9 TOs.

The reasons for Mayfield’s good – not great, mind you; *good* --  hardly requires genius, just acknowledgement of more than one way to play football offense – even in 2021. Despite the trends and despite the awesome Beckham-Landry duo there, *the Cleveland Browns are a running team first.* With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt having their way on the ground like no one this side of Lamar Jackson, Mayfield’s potential heroics are destined for limitation.

Even at 40/1, then, Mayfield for MVP is still too rich for NFLbets’ blood. Of course, that’s money better invested than in, likesay, the still team-less Aaron Rodgers, who after giving Green Bay the James Harden treatment, Rodgers could get the Houston Texans to 15-2 and not get a vote in this race. Backers of Jackson, Prescott and Murray, meanwhile, had better be graced with nerves of steel (not to mention sufficiently deep pockets) after mostly wildly inconsistent results from each of the trio.

So where does NFLbets see value instead? We’d suggest looking toward the following.

• Matthew Stafford, L.A. Rams: 16/1
Even if we go with conventional wisdom, which suggests that all four NFC West teams will be playoff contenders, the rest of the NFC – and thus wide swathes of the Rams’ schedule – looks generally shockingly weak. On top of this, new Rams QB will certainly receive tons of good press for success after running up ridiculous stats for mostly hapless Detroit Lions teams; head coach Sean McVey will be thrilled to employ a quarterback who can function under pressure. Already a fantasy darling, Stafford could run up some seriously gaudy numbers and lots of wins in 2021.

• Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City: 4/1
Uninspired this may be, but how can an NFL bettor not take advantage of the relatively massive 4/1 offered on the best athlete in the game? Hell, we need not even fear any sort of Giannisesque “voter fatigue” after Rodgers snuck off with the trophy last season. Call this bet a hedge: Wager 3 units on Mahomes and 1 each on NFLbets’ three other recommendations, and you’re guaranteed a payout of at least 2/1 with a win.

• Josh Allen, Buffalo: 10/1
The Buffalo Bills are looking at something of a challenging schedule even before we learn just how competitive Miami and New England will be, but Allen turned into a stat machine in 2020, throwing for 295 yards or more in six of the last eight regular-season games – thanks in no small part to Stefon Diggs, clearly the second-best acquisition of offseason ’20. Diggs may be enough impetus to back Allen in this prop, but nearly every key member of the Bills’ final four squad is back and the Bills could well enjoy another 13-win season – more than enough to garner lots of MVP votes for Allen.

• Justin Herbert, Chargers, 20/1
Ironically, Herbert’s best argument for MVP come season’s end could well end up being his Chargers’ rival Chiefs. Say Kansas City and “Los Angeles” are neck-and-neck for the AFC West all season, each going 12-2 or 11-3 SU before a second meeting in week 15. Say the AFC West title comes down to a tiebreaker. Say Herbert’s stats, particularly yardage and interception/TD ratio are comparable to Mahomes’s, like within 5% to 10% – Wouldn’t voters find Herbert’s accomplishments, done without a supporting all-star cast on offense, a bit more impressive? At half as short a line as Mayfield’s, we’re liking Herbert’s chances in this prop well more.

–written by Os Davis


Betting over/under proposition bets, part 6: Tennessee Titans, 9½ wins

Friday, 11 June 2021 18:27 EST

Julio Jones on Tennessee Titans -- odds affectedSo you’ve certainly heard about the Tennessee Titans’ acquisition of Julio Jones for, most significantly, a second-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft. You may have additionally noticed that the Titans’ odds in the “To Win Super Bowl LVI” have gone from as high as 50/1 to as low as 25/1 in some markets – insane!

Seriously, aren’t NFL fans supposed to be obsessed with fantasy football? If so, why have Jones’s deteriorating numbers and last year’s injury gone unnoticed? Jones has been steadily getting fewer receptions nearly week to week since his last great year of 2018 – and that’s as this QB Matt Ryan’s completion stats increased for two straight seasons. How much effect can Jones have on an offense that’s already top-10 in most key offensive categories?

Plus, the way NFLbets figures things, the only way the Titans get to the postseason is as AFC South winner: We’ve penciled in two AFC East (some combination of Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots) and one AFC West (the “Los Angeles” Chargers as it stands or maybe the Las Vegas Raiders with  Aaron Rodgers).

The question, then: Can the 2021 Tennessee Titans win the AFC South? NFLbets begins with the lines in the over/under proposition bet…

Tennessee Titans, over/under 9½ wins (+110/-130)

In the Mike Vrabel era, the Titans have come to embody the classic football cliché “offense wins games, defense wins championships.” In Tennessee, a sputtering low-watt Marcus Mariota-led offense had given way to a top-10 high flyer behind the suddenly stunning Ryan Tannehill; on the other side, however, a hard-hitting top-10 defensive juggernaut has become a hapless bunch which allowed 30 points or more eight times in 2020.

Bu the Titans chased their shocking run to the AFC Championship game with an 11-5 regular season and a weak bowout to the Baltimore Ravens last year – though one should also note that the ’20 Titans had 9.1 Pythagorean Expectation (PE) wins, indicating a net positive in the are of luck.

Or perhaps that’s just the Derick Henry Effect, i.e. the dude’s worth at least two wins a season. At least thus far.

The Titans ranked second in rushing yards last season behind only the Ravens, who start a quarterback with a license to run on any snap. Henry accounted for over 75% of Tennessee’s rushing yards and just under 33% of all yards. Any would-be Titans backer will need to consider Henry’s team-carrying capabilities in light of the 681 carries accrued over the past two seasons alone.

Considering the 2021 Tennessee Titans schedule

Naturally, the no. 1 advantage the Titans enjoy – along with the presumed main rivals – are the four games scheduled against the AFC South’s bottom-feeders. Tempted to just give the Titans a 5-1 here, but playing this bet conservative, NFLbets can imagine a scenario when, likesay, the Jaguars squeak out their first win of 2021 in week 5 in Jacksonville or the Texans dodge an ignominious 0-17 regular season with a fluke W in week 18 in Houston. Call it 4½-1½ for the Titans’ AFC South intradivisional games.

The NFL schedule makers seemingly give the Titans a decent chance to start strong with a run of vs Arizona, at Seattle, vs Indianapolis, at the Jets, at Jacksonville, vs Buffalo and vs Kansas City – Fair enough, that first seven games includes four playoff teams of last year, but three are at home. NFLbets’ll again play this conservative as well and give Tennessee a 1-3 mark against the four non-AFC South teams here.

From week 8, Tennessee’s schedule gets dicier for both the Titans themselves and those who bet the over in this prop. Week 9 has them going to Indianapolis, followed by at the Los Angeles Rams (for Sunday Night Football), vs New Orleans, vs Houston and at New England going into the bye. NFLbets’d cover the Rams minus the points in the week 10 game right now and we’re predisposed to believing in the ’21 Patriots, so we’re assessing another two losses and a win here.

After the week 13 bye, Tennessee closes out the season with vs Jacksonville, at Pittsburgh, vs San Francisco, vs Miami and at Houston. (Imagine if that last Texans game is a make-or-breaker for the Titans. With a loss, does Vrabel get fired before he gets to the locker room or…?) NFLbets is figuring the Steelers’ season will be finished by December, but the real question this far out is what the 49ers and Dolphins will look like at this point in the season.

The truth is that figuring several of these over/under win props, one cannot account for chaos. As much as NFLbets would like to wager against, likesay, the Titans by dint of an irrational feeling that Derrick Henry can’t play at 2019-2020 levels yet again. And if you can tell us with any sort of certainty who either San Francisco or Miami will be starting on quarterback in weeks 16 and 17, well, please do. In the meantime, let’s say the Titans get the win at Pittsburgh and one of the two aforementioned.

This all would put the Titans at 8-8-1, a believable enough scenario, as is the AFC South at least temporarily assuming the mantle of weakest division in football (in competition with the NFC North, we’d figure). NFLbets thus advises that bettors take under 9½ wins for the Tennessee Titans. Then again, we may lean back on our old dogma regarding this whole damn division, namely *stay the fuck away from the AFC South altogether*…

--written by Os Davis


Betting over/under proposition bets, part 2: Washington FT, 8 wins

Thursday, 27 May 2021 16:43 EST

With nothing more productive to do for a couple months, NFLbets will begin filling the spacetime with closer looks at several of the over/under win total proposition bet odds. Today’s line:

Washington Football Team over/under 8 wins (-105/-115)

Another line, another team upon which bettors look with preconceived notions based entirely in last season. Sportsbooks apparently set this line at 8 wins based on bettors’ belief that

•  every team in the NFC East will remain just as pathetic as ever (as favorites to take the division, the Cowboys’ line in this prop bet is set at 9½); and

•  prospective starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will produce along the same lines as he has throughout his career, i.e. since leaving Buffalo in 2013, he’s 35-43 as a starter, which works out to 7.6 wins in a 17-game season.

Washington Football Team wins bettingNFLbets doesn’t get it.

Right off the top, let’s assume everything in the NFC East remains more or less identical by season’s end. The 2020 Washington Football Team actually accumulated 8.17 Pythagorean Expectation (PE) wins, indicating a certain amount of bad luck prevented a breakeven win-loss record.

But here’s the thing about the 2021 Team: Virtually any change on offense, particularly at that QB position, amounts to improvement. Last season, Washington managed to score 25 points or more just four times: twice against Dallas, one in week 1 against Philadelphia and at Detroit. Alex Smith started six games and managed 6 TDs against 8 interceptions; Dwayne Haskins started another six and finished 32nd of 36 qualifiers in completion percentage. Kyle Allen went for a 4:1 TD to interception ratio but this was unfortunately literal, i.e. 4 TDs and 1 pick.

Even a typical Fitzpatrick season would top the 2020 nightmare: aside from a few patently bad seasons, (e.g. 2013 with the Titans, ’16 with the Jets) throws at a 3:2 to 2:1 ratio; over 17 games, Fitz would average 23 TDs against 17 picks – hardly Bradyesque, but likely good for a win or two over .500.

And then there’s the defense which responded bigtime to the responsibility of playmaking: With an offense “good” for 30th-most total yards, the D.C. D allowed the second-least yards and closed out the regular season with seven straight games allowing two or fewer TDs. To this frankly ridiculous defense, Washington FT added first-rounder Jamin Davis of Kentucky, considered a top-2 linebacker in this draft, while a gamble was taken on William Jackson, coming over from the Bengals for up to $40.3 million plus over three years.

The Football Team’s schedule is hardly among the league’s most daunting, either, starting with four games against the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, more rightfully expected to turn in losing seasons again – and check out how Washington closes out this regular season: vs Dallas, at Philadelphia, at Dallas, vs Philadelphia, at the Giants. Seriously, isn’t that four or five wins right there?

Furthermore, after facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 10, Washington might not see another playoff team until, well, the playoffs (depending on how you feel about Dallas) with a schedule of at Carolina, vs Seattle and at Las Vegas followed by the aforementioned five straight games against the NFC East.

In the final analysis, with anything from the offense between Curtis Samuel becoming the savior and a reproduction of 2020, NFLbets doesn’t imagine Washington FT finishing with fewer than 8 wins – and probably a couple more. Take over 8 wins for the Washington Football Team.

--written by Os Davis


NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year – Early odds, picks, predictions

Wednesday, 12 May 2021 11:19 EST

The NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year is the professional analogue college football’s Heisman Trophy award. Not only are quarterbacks the default choice, but the range of players who even have a decent chance of bagging the trophy begins with “narratives” months prior to the season – kind of like a “Choose Your Own Sports Adventure” with dozens of potential paths to follow, but a limited number of possible endings.

Then again, a receiver won the Heisman in 2021…

NFLbets today takes a look at the early odds in the “NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year” proposition bet. Those getting odds of shorter than 40/1 includ

NFL offensive ROY oddsQB Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars: +350
QB Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers: +550
QB Justin Fields, Chicago Bears: +650
QB Mac Jones, New England Patriots: +750
WR Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals: +1000
TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons: +1000
QB Zach Wilson, New York Jets: +1000
WR DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles: +1200
RB Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers: +1200
WR Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins: +1800
QB Davis Mills, Houston Texans: +2800
RB Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos: +2800
RB Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars: +3300

The hot take: For those who don’t believe that the 2021 lot of rookie quarterbacks will have an immediate game-changing effect on the league, several quality value bets lie in wait in this prop.

The quarterbacks
But what about the chances of the quintet of QBs who so captured the imagination (as well as a few prop bets; Trey Lance, Justin Fields, we’re looking at you) on Draft Day? Firstly, Fields, Lance and reportedly Mac Jones will start the season as second-stringers; perhaps only an preseason or early-season injury to the starter will get any of these three enough stats to compete for the award.

For Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Davis Mills, good news and bad news: Of the past six O-ROY winners, three have been QBs – Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert, but we’d bet that each of these QBs’ teams is worse. Lawrence has an inside track with the forces of narrative, but the last time any Jaguars offense ranked among the top half of the league in passing offense was year 2000. Do we really believe a rookie will do so? Nah.

The running backs
With the shortest odds among RBs at 12/1, Najee Harris may be benefitting from Pittsburgh’s repuration for cranking out star “skill position” players from the jump – but the Steelers closed out 2020 by losing five out of six and by running for fewer than 95 yards in 11 of the last 12. On top of this, the Steelers have drawn a number of imposing defenses in 2021, including Cleveland and Baltimore twice each, Buffalo, Chicago and Denver. Harris’s breakout season may have to wait until 2022.

The wildcard here is Javonte Williams at 28/1: The Broncos’ 2021 season remains shrouded in mystery vis-à-vis the possibly imaginary Aaron Rodgers deal; with a competent QB at the helm, an elusive halfback like Williams would certainly benefit. Earmark Williams at these odds and keep a look out for the Big Deal.

The pass catchers
That’s right: That’s “the pass catchers.” Why? Because everyone who knows NFLbets knows the rant on this one. If a guy is getting near-universal acclaim as a “generational player” at a position whose importance is steadily growing in cruciality to the modern NFL offense, how can bettors not cover Kyle Pitts at 10/1? A tight end may not have won this award in 60 years, but not every year does a man-among-boys type enter the league, either. Matt Ryan threw the ball constantly last season to go fourth in attempts overall and with former Tennessee Titans OC Arthur Smith is the new coach, Ryan’s numbers could remain surprisingly high.

Ja’Marr Chase at 10/1 also makes for an enticing good news/bad news pick: Chase gets reunited with his college QB in Cincinnati, but will the Bengals’ offensive line show improvement over the terrycloth front that got Joe Burrow pummeled last season? Former Minnesota Vikings OT Riley Reiff was signed in free agency while drafting interesting-looking OG Jackson Carman (Clemson) in round two, OT D’Ante Smith (East Carolina) in four, and C Trey Hill (Georgia) in six. So … feeling lucky?

The pick(s)
Well, NFLbets is definitely recommending that bettors take Kyle Pitts at 10/1 in this prop. We’d also advise hedging and thus to take Ja’Marr Chase at 10/1. Finally, wait ‘n’ see on the Lance/Fields/Jones lot through the preseason to hedge on he with the best position to eke out the O-ROY. (Probably Jones…)

–written by Os Davis


Over/under NFL draft position props: Betting on Smith, Waddle, Chase, Surtain, Etienne, more

Saturday, 24 April 2021 16:17 EST

NFL Draft 2021 propsThe rumors are still rumoring, the chatters are still chattering – and nothing has really dissuaded NFLbets from our current mock draft. Particularly ridiculous among the punditry’s neverending creation and re-creation of draft boards are those imagining bold ‘n’ wacky trades into the top 10; this one from the league’s official site has the Chicago Bears trading up to no. 8 to draft Trey Lance.

This sort of speculation is clearly purely a product of the imagination. No one can say with any assurance whatsoever who the San Francisco 49ers are taking at no. 3 overall, so how can these Nostradamus types accurately forecast trades? Also this: Would seeing no Draft Day trades within the top 10 truly be a shocker? (In the past two drafts, it’s happened only once.)

The point: When betting over/under draft selection props, don’t get cute and don’t mess with chaos. Weird enough stuff will surely happen without bargaining on trades – and certainly will outside the first 13 or 14 picks.

Here’s how NFLbets is thinking on some Draft Day props…

At what number will DeVonta Smith be selected?
Over 11½: +100, under 11½: -140

When was the last time a Heisman Trophy winner was this lightly-regarded going into the NFL Draft? On the other hand, this offering indicates that the sportsbooks see DeVonta Smith as a probable mid-round pick.

Three teams might/could/will probably go for a pass-catcher: the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers. Figuring that one of these selects TE Kyle Pitts and at least one drafts one of two top-rated OTs, this would mean Smith would be at max the third WR taken, probably behind Ja'Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle.

The main question then becomes: Will the Lions really go for a wide receiver? If so, swooping up Waddle could well trigger the Panthers to go for Smith at no. 8, but that's a lot of falling dominoes for a bettor to count on. Take the over.

At what number will Jaylen Waddle be selected?
Over 11½: -110, under 11½: -130

Applying similar logic to Waddle that we did for Smith, NFLbets is also figuring that Waddle is generally regarded as the second-best WR in this draft. Take the under at actually reasonable odds.

At what number will Ja’Marr Chase be selected?
Over 6: +170, under 6: -250

No dummies, these bookmakers: With the Dolphins drafting at no. 6, their selection of an offensive playmaker, likesay, the best receiver in the draft. Now that they’re apparently set on Tua, the only scenarios in which NFLbets can see the Dolphins *not* taking Ja’Marr Chase is if the Cincinnati Bengals or Atlanta Falcons have already drafted him or if both teams somehow pass on Pitts – and in both cases, Chase will certainly hit this under. Take the under.

At what number will Najee Harris be selected?
Over 32½: +140, under 32½: -180

Put another way: Will Najee Harris be drafted in the first round? True enough, the 2021 draft class doesn’t appear to include an RB of the caliber of Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, Leonard Fournette, etc., and many NFL fans believe in the diminishing importance of the position itself, but since 1980 just twice – in 2013 and ’14 -- has no running back been drafted in round 1. With at least one late-round team is looking for a halfback (the Pittsburgh Steelers at no. 24) and two others who could on a best-player-available basis (the Green Bay Packers at no. 28 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at no. 32), a first-round running back will definitely enter the league in 2021.

The question that most dramatically affects this wager is this one:

At what number will Travis Etienne be selected?
Over 35½: -120, under 35½: -120

That 35½ is quite intriguing; the sportsbooks may suspect that either the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets or Atlanta Falcons will be calling Etienne’s name early on the second day. But is Harris actually the better (or more desirable) pick? NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein reported late last week that the majority of scouts don’t agree:

Now even if the Steelers brass are not among the aforementioned “majority of people,” if just one later-round team has Etienne ranked higher than Harris, that team should not really allow a talent like Etienne’s to last until round 2. Take the unders on Harris and Etienne.

At what number will Patick Surtain II be selected?
Over 10½: +110, under 10½: -150

One of the few top-16 selections that nearly every mock draft seemingly agrees upon is that the Dallas Cowboys will be the first team to select a defensive player at no. 10, while the New York Giants are also expected to go defense with the next pick. Despite Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’s reported infatuation with Kyle Pitts, most Dallas observers figure it’s down to Surtain and Jaycee Horn. Horn has a similar line in his own prop, at -150 to go under-13½th.

Of course, predicting the Cowboys’ moves on Draft Day may be the most futile endeavor for anyone not privy to the amount of influence ol’ Jonesy will have. So on this one, we’re predicting the irrational to get the better odds: Take the over.

— written by Os Davis


Playing positional NFL Draft Proposition Bets

Monday, 12 April 2021 19:37 EST

Betting 2021 NFL draft propsNow here’s a great way to bet on the NFL Draft while also reverse-engineering your mock draft: Positional NFL Draft proposition bets. Thanks to some pretty obvious-looking over/unders, one can more easily determine where borderline 1st/2nd-rounders like RB Najee Harris (of Alabama), S Trevon Moehrig (TCU) and CB Asante Samuel Jr. (FSU) will land.

With nine proposition bets offered – no one’s taking odds on a kicker or punter going on Draft Day day one, apparently – on a good six one can figure on the (heavy) favorite in the over/under winning:

Quarterbacks – Over 5.5 (+300) / Under 5.5 (-400)

The first factor to consider in betting positional NFL Draft props is the difference between the top-tier of the draft class and the second level guys. Even the most nominally interested NFL bettor can easily name the top five QBs, all of which could conceivably be off the board by pick #9: Trevor Lawrence (LSU), Zach Smith (BYU), Justin Fields (OSU), Trey Lance (NDSU) and Mac Jones (Alabama). After that quintet, it’s … Davis Millis (Stanford), maybe? Not that Mills in any slouch, but the demand for quarterback will plummet after the Patriots chose at #16. Take the under.

Running Backs – Over 0.5 (-225) / Under 0.5 (+175)

NFLbets is uncertain as to why this line was set at 0.5, when at least three likely future pros are just waiting to be overdrafted: Travis Etienne (Clemson), Najee Harris (Alabama) and Javonte Williams (UNC). Will at least one team get starry-eyed about a skill player (like the Jets at no. 23) or take a flyer on another backfield weapon (Steelers at no. 24)? Absolutely. Take the over.

Tight Ends – Over 1.5 (+325) / Under 1.5 (-450)

There are good reasons for the crazy-short line on the under here. Since 1990, just 32 TEs have been drafted in the first round. In six of those past 30 drafts, 2-3 tight ends were first-rounders the same year; this translates into zero or one TE chose in 80% of first rounds in the past three dacades. Kyle Pitts (Florida) is a shoo-in. No one else is. Take the under.

Linebackers – Over 4.5 (+130) / Under 4.5 (-165)

Similarly to TEs, LBs in 2021 show one first-round certainty – Micah Parsons (Penn State) – followed by question marks and solid-if-not-hyperbole-inducing prospects. Jamin Brown (Kentucky) has received praise for his athleticism and smarts, but has started just 11 games thus far into his high-level football career. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame) and Nick Bolton (Houston) are on the bubble, but the mid-range drafters would mostly have to bypass a talented squad of offensive lineman for all four aforementioned LBs plus a fifth (Jabril Cox of LSU, maybe?) to crack round 1. Take the under – in fact, if you can get “under-3½” in this prop bet, you’ll want to grab a piece of that action as well…

Cornerbacks – Over 4.5 (-105) / Under 4.5 (-120)

Neither of these lines is particularly enticing but, in a gun-to-the-head situation, NFLbets takes the favored under there. Patrick Surtain (Alabama) and Greg Newsome (Northwestern) appear to be first-round locks, but with 12 or 13 (depending on the Denver Broncos) of the top 14 picks likely to be offensive, four CBs taken between picks 16 and 31 – assuming the Patriots go QB or LB while the Buccaneers are good with their re-signed CBs – seems like a stretch. Take the under.

Safeties – Over 0.5 (-250) / Under 0.5 (+190)

This one may be read as “Will Trevon Moehrig (TCU) be chosen in round 1?” Late in the first round are the New Orleans Saints (at no. 28), Green Bay Packers (no. 29) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (no. 32), all of whom could well be in a position to simply draft the best player available. Even prior to these three are the perpetually defense-minded Baltimore Ravens at no. 27. Clearly the bookmakers are having difficulty imagining at least this foursome passing on Moehrig as well. Take the over.

So far, so good – sort of. The biggest payout among NFLbets’ six chalk picks is -120 and no one’s getting rich playing odds shorter than even. With a little logic, however, the remaining four offerings – and what sportsbooks may be overlooking become apparent strictly mathematically. Assuming the previous five bets all hit by 0.5 cumulatively, this leaves 16 spots in round 1. NFLbets therefore deduces the following for the remaining four offerings in the positional prop bet.

Defensive Linemen – Over 4.5 (+105) / Under 4.5 (-125)

As stated above, the first half of round 1 looks seriously heavy on the offense with quarterbacks alone conceivably going at nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8 or 9. But as offensive-imbalanced as prospective nos. 1-14 look, day one’s remainder will be dominated by defense. NFLbets identifies five teams who could use an immediate starter at DL and whose front offices are sane enough to address the need: the Miami Dolphins (no. 18), Indianapolis Colts (no. 21), Tennessee Titans (no. 22), New York Jets (no. 23) and Pittsburgh Steelers (no. 24). If offense-obsessed Jon Gruden can draft to his Las Vegas Raiders’ needs at no. 17 with, likesay, Zaven Collins (Tulsa), this one’s a lock: Take the over.

Offensive Linemen – Over 6.5 (+110) / Under 6.5 (-137)

Always the default choice for mid- to late-round teams whose above-average quarterback requires more line protection than currently on roster. Fitting the bill are the “Los Angeles” Chargers (no. 13), the Minnesota Vikings (no. 14 and on the hook for $40 million-plus to Kirk Cousins over the next two years), Arizona Cardinals (no. 17), Chicago Bears (no. 20), Jacksonville Jaguars (no. 25) and Kansas City Chiefs (no. 31). Beyond this, the Cincinnati Bengals are set to be gifted the monstrous. Penei Sewell (Oregon) at no. 5. Together with some late-1st team looking to add the top talent remaining, NFLbets figures that’s minimum eight chances to hit seven spots. Take the over.

Wide Receivers – Over 4.5 (-160) / Under 4.5 (+125)

This is where logic and rationality may not necessarily prevail in the face of splashy hype and stats. The top tier of WRs in Draft Class 2021 numbers four and these outpace the rest: Ja'Marr Chase (LSU), Roshod Bateman (Minnesota), Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith (Alabama). Already all other than Chase feel overhyped and all are looking to be drafted within the top 15 to 16. Just one WTF could make this bet – and a few others on this proposition – go ka-blooey, but we’re riskily saying take the under.

And bingo! 32 picks, 32 players. Now NFLbets just has to figure a way to hedge against Gruden getting wacky…

–written by Os Davis

 


Super Bowl odds post-FA period: Here come (back) the Patriots…

Thursday, 18 March 2021 16:43 EST

Dollar Bill BelichickYou had to figure that the New England Patriots wouldn’t stay inferior for long, but who’d’ve guessed the domination Bill Belichick & Co. unleashed on the NFL in the opening days of free agency? The signings at wide receiver and tight end – Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Derrick Henry and Jonnu Smith – stole the headlines and with good reason: The Patriots are already looking at a roster with their best corps since 2008, their best 1-2 at tight end since Aaron Hernandez was playing, and Smith is now the highest-paid “skill player” Patriot ever.

Beyond this big four, New England also added DLs Davon Godchaux, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Henry Anderson; LBs Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy; and safter Jalen Mills, and acquired OT Trent Brown in a trade. Incidentally the Pats also re-signed Cam Newton; New England wasn’t even counted among the offerings in a previously offered “Team to Sign Cam Newton” proposition bet, but hold your tickets (if you were foolhardy enough to play the prop), as the conditions of the bet call for Cam to be listed onan Opening Day roster.

As a result of the moves, those ready to take a Buffalo Bills repeat division win for granted have been suddenly forced to rethink things.

Super Bowl odds have also been adjusted accordingly:  On February 8, the New England Patriots were getting 55/1 odds to win the Super Bowl (and by inference about 25/1 to 28/1 to win the ARC). By Thursday morning this week, they were at 25/1 on My Bookie and listed at 30/1 on the Sports Betting Dime aggregator.

With the additions made already – not to mention the heretofore not undertaken acquisition of a viable starting QB – the 7-9 Patriots are suddenly among the best value bets in the AFC. And despite the rise of upstarts like the Bills, Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns as well as the two-time defending conference champion Kansas City Chiefs. 12/1 to 15/1 to win the AFC no longer feels unreasonable at all. Remember, too, that these odds will only get shorter should the Pats indeed manage to bring over Jimmy Garappolo, long-rumored source of envy for Belichick.

Even more intriguing is the strong possibility that the AFC East will be highly competitive in 2021 – at least among the top 3 teams. Post-Patriots feeding frenzy, odds in the “To Win AFC East” prop bet read as follows.

Buffalo Bills: 4/5
Miami Dolphins: 14/5
New England Patriots: 4/1
New York Jets: 20/1

Using implied probability, the Dolphins, Patriots and Jets have a combined 50.1% chance of winning the division, thus betting “The Field” versus the Buffalo Bills should be worth 1/1 odds – quite an intriguing wager right now, if you can find a sportsbook with the offer. Alternatively, covering both the Dolphins and the Patriots would be worth a win paying out at either +140 or +200 – and again, that second figure will only decrease after a quarterback better than 2020 Cam Newton is aboard in Foxborough.

All in all, the Patriot spending spree should be seriously lucrative for NFL bettors. We think.

–written by Os Davis


Super Bowl LV betting – Buccaneers +3 vs Chiefs – Final score, pointspread prediction

Saturday, 06 February 2021 16:33 EST

Prediction: Super Bowl LVHere’s the thing: Sentimentality and winning money in NFL betting are essentially mutually exclusive. NFLbets can say (write?) with confidence that no bettor ever became prosperous wagering on feelings and hunches. The proper bettor must place the emphasis on the numbers, the trends, the facts and information.

Yet for this Super Bowl, virtually every pregame show, ESPN gabfest or gambling-centered podcast since the conference championship games, the would-be Nostradami are pleased to inform that LV will be a great game, a close game and the Buccaneers might just win because Tom Brady. Get caught up in too much of the noise and the mantra of “Brady the GOAT, Brady the GOAT, Brady the GOAT” threatens to obfuscate rational thought about the point spread, which on Bowl Eve still reads

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3 at Kansas City Chiefs

NFLbets implores bettors to stay sane, particularly as regards a certain player wearing the number 12 jersey. When considering how to bet the actual outcome of Super Bowl LV, we’d advise trying to strip away the names and labels. Consider:

•  In getting to the final game, Kansas City first ran up a 19-3 lead against Cleveland before holding on for a win with a perennial backup at QB; they then smoked the Buffalo Bills, who had been looking like the AFC’s hottest team. Tampa Bay meanwhile let the 7-9 Washington FT stay within a score in the wild-card round, took care of business against a crippled New Orleans side and got past Green Bay because Matt LaFleur forgot how math works.

•  In the NFC championship, Aaron Jones fumbled early in the 3rd quarter to allow the Bucs to earn a 28-10 lead after a single 8-yard TD pass. Thereafter, the Buccaneers starting quarterback went 6 for 13 for 70 yards – 29 yards of which came on a single reception to a guy considered the greatest TE ever to play the game – and 3 interceptions.

•  The Chiefs are currently on a 31-6 SU (21-15-1 ATS) run since kickoff 2019; they’re also on a 25-2 SU run, with one of the two losses coming with second-stringers starting in week 17 of this season; the closest comparison in recent NFL history would be the 2003-04 New England Patriots’ mark of 34-4 SU (28-8-2 ATS). Further, in this two-year span, the Chiefs are 6-1 SU (5-2 ATS) when favored by 3½ points or less and are 28-4 SU (19-13-1 ATS) in all games when favored.

•  And from the What Happened to this Statistic Department: For his career, Andy Reid-coached teams are now a ridiculous 24-4 SU after a bye week and 16-13 SU/18-11 ATS in the postseason. With the Chiefs, he’s 6-2 SU (5-3 ATS) including 5-0 SU/4-1 ATS since 2019..

You can see how NFLbets – or even those merely considering these general trends – would favor Kansas City in this game. Of course, there is the actual football to take into account. Putting aside the mystique of Touchdown Tom, the real advantage(s) Tampa Bay has in Super Bowl LV is all in the trenches.

The truth is that the Chiefs defense ranks 31st against the run by the DVOA metric and dead last in the red zone; not exactly the stats you want when facing the twosome of Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones, guys who have been damaging unprepared run Ds all 2020.

And then there’s the well-publicized shuffling of the K.C. offensive line, beginning with left tackle where Mike Remmers moves from RT in the wake of Eric Fisher’s injury and affecting four of the five spots. Center Austin Reiter is the sole starter in the same position from last year’s Super Bowl win. But recall that a) the Chiefs get a bye week, b) Reid himself played on the BYU OL, and c) Chiefs line coach Andy Heck is an 8-year veteran of the Chiefs and considered one of the NFL’s best. NFLbets believes Kansas City has time to formulate a plan, even one that entails stopping Jason Pierre-Paul and compadres.

But hey, forget the facts if you must. You want a compelling narrative? Try this: In Super Bowl LV, we’ve got a generational matchup of Hall of Fame-level quarterbacks that might only be compared to Namath vs. Unitas, Bradshaw vs. Staubach, Manning vs. Wilson – now recall whose team won those matchups. This very game may be the flashpoint moment, the turning point, the changing of the guard from the Brady/Roethlisberger/Rodgers lot (and peers like the Mannings, Brees and Rivers already gone) eclipsed by a surprisingly massive wave of exciting young QBs starting with two-time Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and including Josh Allen, DeShaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, etc.

And with a win, the fledgling would-be GOAT will have led his team to this first Super Bowl championship repeat since who else but those 2003-04 Patriots. Who, except for maybe Gisele Bundchen, not appreciate such a narrative? Take the Kansas City Chiefs -3 vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and enjoy the history of the moment.

–written by Os Davis


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

Friday, 05 February 2021 14:06 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– written by Os Davis


AFC Championship – Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs – preview, predictions, bets

Friday, 22 January 2021 15:32 EST

Betting on the NFL playoffs can prove quite profitable – if one can recognize the truth among a forest of blaring narrative pumped out by media outlets. This is the time of year when we have the opportunity to realize that historical performance is not necessarily indicative of future results; postseason play may differ significantly from that of the regular season, but mathematics and certain realities never really change.

To this end, the recommendations that NFLbets is making for the AFC and NFC Championship Games go against the grain of common wisdom – but we’re confident that we’ll be banking moneys as the mean happily regresses in the late game…

Buffalo Bills +3 at Kansas City Chiefs, over/under 53 points

NFLbets hears the arguments for covering the Chiefs minus the points in this game: Patrick Mahomes is a freakish, generational talent; Andy Reid has been in this spot oodles of times; they haven’t been blowing opponents in the season’s second half (they’re on a 9-0 SU/1-8 ATS run) but doing just enough to win; and of course the current 24-1 SU (13-11-1 ATS) run.

But here’s a theory I’ve been expounding upon to anyone who will listen: Repeating as conference champions is difficult. In this century, the only team not named the New England Patriots to do so is the 2003-2004 Seattle Seahawks, and NFLbets dares say that team had a defense substantially superior to what the 2020 Kansas City Chiefs are bringing.

Meanwhile, all the Bills have been doing since their week 6 loss to K.C. is winning in any conditions, by any means necessary. They’ve won at day and at night, at home and away, in Pacific and Eastern Time Zones.  In the wildcard game against the Indianapolis Colts, Josh Allen produced 376 total yards, two passing TDs, a running TD and zero turnovers to overcome 450 yards of total offense from Philip Rivers & Co. Last week, it was the defense battening down the hatches, limiting the NFL’s leading rushing game to 150 yards and nearly pitching the shutout.

Add to the Chiefs’ disadvantages in this game the dinged-up state of at least three “skill players” on the offense: Mahomes will be going in at less than 100% with both foot and head/neck injuries. Sammy Watkins and Clyde Edwards-Helaire will both be returning from injuries as well. All three have been limited or non-existent at practices through Friday.

Finally, consider the Bills performance in 2020 thus far: Against playoff teams, Buffalo has now gone 5-2 SU/4-3 ATS, but hasn’t lost SU since the aforementioned week 6 match against Kansas City. The quarterback has made the proverbial Leap, flipping from near the bottom to near the top of the completion percentage charts during an MVP-type season. Stefon Diggs proved a perfect superstar addition and, with the Patriots fading, a changing of the guard in the AFC East is happening. Looking back on this team, we may realize the inevitability of the “upset” looking to take place on Sunday night.

So, yeah, NFLbets is saying take the Buffalo Bills +3 at Kansas City. Furthermore, we’re going out on a serious limb and throwing a few moneys on Bills to win by 14 or more points at 5/1; we’ll look like goddamn geniuses for cashing that one…

For NFLbets’ predictions and betting recommendations on Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3½ at Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, click here.

–written by Os Davis