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!

Thanksgiving Day NFL betting picks: Bears at Lions; Raiders at Cowboys; Bills at Saints

Thursday, 25 November 2021 11:59 EST

Ah, NFL football on Thanksgiving Day: second only to Super Bowl Sunday as the most tremendous day of the year for NFL betting. While the everyday fan whines about short-week low-scoring games, at least one-third of which involve the Detroit Lions, bettors luxuriate in the opportunity to take advantage of the same. You bet NFLbets is pigging out on this three-course dinner, beginning with

Chicago Bears -3 at Detroit Lions, over/under 47½ points

OK, look: This could well be the last plausible chance for the Lions to avoid the winless season until … well, this could be the last, depending on your level of relative comfort with covering the Honolulu blue-and-silver against the Green Bay second string in week 18. With the short week and Not Jared Goff at quarterback, the Lions have every hope of riding the anomalies to a win against a subpar team with a pitiably bad head coach.

And about Matt Nagy. In the most hilarious narrative for Thanksgiving football in years (except for Bears backers), rumors murmured this week that Nagy will be fired after the Lions game. While Nagy himself described the gossip as “not accurate,” such leakage (and, accuracy aside, this story was definitely leaked) has got to be seriously disconcerting. The truth is that the 2021 Detroit Lions may not be the most talented team to take an NFL field, but their gameplan looks a heckuva lot sharper than the water-treading Chicago has done all season.

Who needs stats? Take the Detroit Lions +3 vs Chicago, and consider betting the Lions ML at around +120 as well…

Las Vegas Raiders +7 at Dallas Cowboys, over/under 51 points

Having traditionally played on Thanksgiving Day since 1966, the Cowboys have racked up some 31 wins on the holiday – but what’s more impressive is their win-loss record of 31-21-1, tops among all teams with at least nine appearances on the holiday. Since 2016 when Dak Prescott came aboard, the Cowboys haven’t been especially good on Thanksgiving at just 2-3 SU/1-4 ATS.

On the other other hand, the opposition is the Raiders for whose situation the word “freefall” hardly does justice. NFLbets isn’t sure what the win-loss record for a visiting team coming off a SU loss on a short week led by an interim/former special teams coach as head coach, but we’re more than certain we probably wouldn’t bet the Raiders this Sunday regardless.

The loss of Henry Ruggs and thus the sole legitimate deep threat Vegas had has resulted in a 0-3 SU/ATS graveyard spiral which is dooming the one remaining bit of the team that famous privileged racist Jon Gruden built over four seasons, namely the passing game. In the aforementioned three games, Derek Carr has managed just 4 touchdown passes against 4 interceptions and 5 sacks taken. And in 119 attempts, the Raiders have made just two pass plays of over 30 yards. O, and scoring is down from 25.7 over the first seven games to 14.33 per.

Naturally, NFLbets prefers to fade the trends, but sometimes you just have to watch the football – and we don’t believe that the sportsbooks and bettors have quiiiiiiite caught up with the plummeting Radiers yet. They’re predicting a final score of 29-22 in this one, but it’s hard to imagine the Raiders scoring three touchdowns right now. Take the Dallas Cowboys -7 vs Las Vegas.

Buffalo Bills -6½ at New Orleans Saints, over/under 45 points

Saving the toughest for last, eh? Like the other four teams playing on Thanksgiving, both Buffalo and New Orleans come into this game off a loss. The Saints enter desperate at 5-5 SU/ATS, on an 0-3 SU/1-2 ATS “run”, and struggling to stay in the NFC playoff race; the Bills too are perceived of as sinking, though still tops in the AFC East at 6-4 SU/ATS.

But while both teams have bumbled their way through October/November, the Saints’ issues are easy to identify: fantasy football darling Michael Thomas hasn’t played all season; the first QB option (Jameis Winston) is now out, second-stringer Trevor Simian isn’t exactly a bona fide NFL starter and will play this game hurt; and Alvin Kamara has finally succumbed to knee problems and won’t play this one, either. For the Bills? Not so easy to ascertain…

Josh Allen hasn’t exactly been Allenesque by mainstream NFL media standards, but short-term memory loss has apparently resulted in the collective consciousness completely forgetting about how hot-and-cold Allen had been prior to the killer addition of Stefon Diggs for 2020. Sadly for Buffalo backers, opposition defense have apparently learned to cover Diggs: He’s gone from 7.9 catches on 10.4 targets for 95.9 yards per game to 6.0 catches on 9.2 targets for 77.3 yards.

NFLbets also notes that the Bills are a decidedly unimpressive 1-3 SU/ATS against prospective playoff teams (Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Tennessee, Indianapolis). In their six SU wins, five times were the Bills able to run up 35 or more points against bottom-10 defenses like Miami, Kansas City, Houston, Washington and the Jets; in their losses, they’re averaging 17 points per.

So we suppose the question for would-be bettors is whether they consider New Orleans a marginal or playoff-bubble team. The Saints should certainly be playing for their lives this week, with some heavy dependence on their own defense, top-10 in yardage and points allowed.

In general, though, the trump card is the Bills inconsistency. We’ll split the difference: Cover the Bills moneyline if you like (at pretty weak odds of around -250), but definitely take the New Orleans Saints +6½ vs Buffalo.

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer than he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.

Green Bay Packers -1½ at Minnesota Vikings: Watch out for this trend

Sunday, 21 November 2021 12:45 EST

Considering the trends is essential to proper NFL betting and, as NFLbets sees it, two major types of trends exist: Those which are indicative of league-wide conditions and those which are more localized at the team, or even player, level. The former indicate something inherent to the rules and/or sport and may be permanent barring a usually radical change to the rules; the latter are usually short-term and are often continued by luck.

More importantly, the former are reasons to bet *on* the result to continue the trend; the latter are reasons to bet *against* the trending result. And in Sunday’s game of

Green Bay Packers -1½ at Minnesota Vikings

, the visiting team is riding a wave that’s destined to break soon. Very, very soon, we’re thinking.

The most compelling stats to back the Vikings in this game are easy: Green Bay is 8-1 SU/8-0-1 ATS, also on a 12-2 SU/11-1-2 ATS run in regular-season games going back to last season, which the two SU losses coming in their 2021 season opener at the New Orleans Saints and at the Kansas City Chiefs when Jordan Love started at quarterback for Green Bay.

A loss is certainly coming the Packers’ way and, with Aaron Rodgers quite possibly in a post-Covid funk – dude, that shit can do permanent damage to certain organ tissue whether homeopathically “treated” or not – there’s certainly no time like the present.

But hey, let’s not ignore the eventuality that the Vikings might win, as opposed to the Packers losing.

The Vikings are currently on the NFC playoff bubble looking in, a ½-game behind the Carolina Panthers, a full 1 back of the Saints. Though just 4-5 SU (5-4 ATS), quite a few asterisks are attached to that mark. Minnesota started out 0-2, and all five losses have been to above-average teams: At Cincinnati Bengals, at Arizona Cardinals, vs Cleveland Browns, vs Dallas Cowboys, at Baltimore Ravens. And utterly Vikingsly, they’ve lost those five games by an average of 3.6 points.

On/off the field, maddening fantasy pick Dalvin Cook has finally managed to put in two consecutive games in which he a) played and b) went for over 100 all-purpose yards. He enters this game having run up an average of 86.8 yards on 5.3 per carry and 1.2 TDs in five games against the Packers. Green Bay’s run defense has been average, and they’ve only faced the 6th-most rushing attempts and not one top-10 running offense.

NFLbets realizes that we’re asking bettors to wager on Kirk Cousins, but the numbers must balance out. This week, Minnesota is playing to stay alive in the division race and move up in the playoff hunt. We’re thinking the Packers see a diet of Cook that’s so steady, they be wishing Thanksgiving dinner was in December. Take the Minnesota Vikings -1½ at Green Bay Packers and, since this is basically a “Pick ‘Em”, take the Vikings ML at 1/1 or better.

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer an he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.

Thursday Night Football betting: Predicting red-hot Patriots -7 at Atlanta

Thursday, 18 November 2021 15:29 EST

NFL betting in 2021 has gotten seriously infuriating at times – particularly if you’re betting home favorites who are also moving up in the #PowerRankings of your choice. Basically, every team which has become the flavor-of-the-month media darling in a given week gets crushed the next, taking down all those poor suckers who were high on the hype. Examples? Sure:

•  the Los Angeles Chargers got lots of early hype by starting 4-1 SU/ATS and turning in an exciting 47-point performance in a 5-point win over the then-esteemed Cleveland Browns. Not only did the fan-free Chargers bow to the Ravens, 34-6, they soon tumbled in the standings on a 1-3 SU/ATS fall.

•  the Buffalo Bills. The second-favorite for the AFC championship in the preseason, the Bills lost to the Steelers on opening day and then whipped off a 4-0 SU/ATS streak. And then, Tennessee happened: As 6-point favorites at the Titans, the Bills lost outright, 34-31, as part of their current 2-2 SU/ATS run.

•  the Baltimore Ravens. Like the Bills, the Ravens lost on opening day at Las Vegas; Baltimore chased the L with a 5-0 SU (3-2 ATS) run that got Lamar Jackson lots of flighty buzz for MVP – the truth is that Jackson’s been otherworldly this season – and a handicap of -6½ against the Bengals in week 7. So of course the Bengals torturously smoked the Ravens in Baltimore.

•  the Cincinnati Bengals. After taking out the aforementioned Ravens in week 7, the Bengals were at no. 1 *in the AFC* and so went into New York as an 1-point favorite against the lowly Jets. Naturally, Cincinnati lost outright, and two days later were suddenly fourth *in the AFC North.*

•  the Dallas Cowboys headed into week 8 at a surprising 6-1 SU/7-0 ATS. Whereas bettors probably should have been tempered by a little regression to the mean on those numbers, the great bulk of money on Denver +10 at Dallas was coming in on the home team.

•  the Arizona Cardinals. Kyler Murray had helped make Arizona the Super Bowl favorites for the proverbial first time in forever after getting his team off to a 7-0 SU/6-1 ATS start. Hosting Green Bay in week 8 as a 6½-point favorite, the Cardinals just couldn’t cover a 3-point gap in the fourth quarter and lost. Not an embarrassing loss, but that would come two weeks later when, as a 10½-point favorite versus Carolina – you guessed it – lost outright.

•  the Los Angeles Rams were at 7-1 SU/4-3-1 ATS even before adding Von Miller and Odell Beckham to the mix. Naturally, they’ve since gone 0-2 SU/ATS and wrecked who knows how many straight-up bets, parlays and teasers.

•  Finally, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers started 6-1 SU (though due inflated point spreads were just 3-4 ATS) and Bucs fans began to inquire about Super Bowl tickets. Since then, they’ve gone 9-point loss at New Orleans, bye, 10-point loss at Washington.

 But here’s the thing. The hottest team right now, the side that should be trending up in every power poll, is the New England Patriots. (Unless you’re buying the Cowboys, which NFLbets isn’t quiiiiiiiiite yet.) This week, those Patriots face a Thursday Night Football line of

New England Patriots -7 at Atlanta Falcons, over/under 47 points

First off, that 7 certainly isn’t making things easy. Even without the Patriots’ outrageous 45-7 blowout of the Browns aside, New England is averaging 29.75 points per game whereas the Falcons are bottom-5 at just 19.8 ppg. But on short weeks, can we depend on either side to score their typical?

Pragmatically speaking, we must factor in the absence of Cordarrelle Patterson, who’s somehow no. 1 on the Falcons in total yards. This leaves essentially Mike Davis and Kyle Pitts as the already shaky Matt Ryan’s weapons; add in Bill Belchick’s literally legendary knack for taking away the opponent’s  best piece and, well, subtract one of the two.

Speaking of Belichick, note that the Dark Emperor’s Patriots have gone 11-3 SU and 7-5-2 ATS in Thursday night games since 2000. It should be noted that Belichick’s boys have gone 0-2 SU/ATS on TNF with quarterbacks not named Tom Brady, but at least for the nonce Mac Jones looks a lot closer to ol’ TB12 than to Matt Cassell and certainly 2020 Cam Newton.

The Patriots surprisingly have the depth to cover a couple of areas on the offense currently plagued by minor injuries and high use on Suandy: Running back and tight end. Raymondre Stevenson’s breakout game of last week was utterly representative of Belichick’s RB-by-committee approach that he’s employed since taking over – hell, he more or less invented the concept for 21st century use. No 2 RB Brandon Bolden is out this week, but no. 1 guy Damien Harris is out of concussion protocol.

Meanwhile, Jonnu Smith is a question mark and certainly won’t play the full game but (almost) no matter: Hunter Henry has four TD catches in the past five games – and if you’re getting at least four TDs in five games out of the TE spot, you’re good.

All things considered then, about the sole argument keeping bettors away from Patriots -7 is that tendency for these top teams to perform very poorly once acknowledged. These Patriots, however, have been exceptional this entire century. Why not for one more game against a mediocre Atlanta team? Take the New England Patriots -7 at Atlanta.

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer than he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.

Week 9 NFL betting: Broncos at Cowboys, Browns at Bengals, Packers at Chiefs

Saturday, 06 November 2021 22:13 EST

In week 9 of the 2021 NFL season, more stayaways than bettables populate the pointspread card. However, NFLbets has three games that we’re thinking should prove quite lucrative – or at least certain trends would imply. We’ll start with

Denver Broncos +10 at Dallas Cowboys

Okay, so the 2021 Denver Broncos have hardly been an attractive bet thus far: They’re 4-4 SU/ATS, with a 4-0 SU/ATS marks against the Jets, Giants, Jaguars and Washington FT; they’re 0-4 against the Raiders, Ravens, Steelers and Browns. But if you think that’s an outlier of a half-season, the big anomaly on the Cowboys’ side, as Dallas is a ridiculous 7-0 ATS while actually legitimately getting themselves into the Super Bowl conversation at 6-1 SU.

Now in no way are we suggesting that the Broncos will win this game but, simply put, the odds of that 7-0 continuing for another week are only getting longer. With Dak Prescott returning from injury and a W that will be pretty difficult to blow, why wouldn’t the Cowboys play conservative and feed Ezekiel Elliott? NFLbets says the numbers balance; take the Denver Broncos +10 at Dallas.

Cleveland Browns +2½ at Cincinnati Bengals

Two weeks ago, the Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens and took over the no. 1 seed in the AFC. Last week, Cincinnati lost a shocker to the otherwise pretty hapless New York Jets. Meanwhile, Cleveland has cut ties with Odell Beckham, is piling up the injuries and is playing with a one-armed quarterback. (Baker Mayfield still has access to his throwing arm, but still…) Incidentally, the Browns are also on a 1-3 SU/ATS “run” and barely managed 10 points last week against the so-so Pittsburgh Steelers.

So what gives with this line? The bigger WTF/stayaway line is Los Angeles Chargers -1½ (or 2 or 1 or whatever) at Philadelphia Eagles, so NFLbets isn’t too concerned about random juju in this one. So we’re going to get back on the Bengals bandwagon here and say take the Bengals -2½ vs Cleveland – right now, the Bengals are just the more talented, less injured team.

Green Bay Packers +7½ at Kansas City Chiefs

Can we all just please finally temper expectations for the 2021 Kanasas City Chiefs? The truth is that most of those futures involving Andy Reid’s guys are as good as null and void. For X number of reasons (NFLbets likes to begin with the crazy-bad defense and incomprehensibly discombobulated offensive line), these Chiefs are about a 9-8 team – and they’ve been overvalued by the bookmakers forever, with bettors constantly swallowing the bait.

Bettors paying the least bit of attention have probably recently heard that the Chiefs have gone 10-17 ATS in all games while running up a 20-7 SU record. Only twice in the 27 games were they underdogs: One was in game 16 of the 2019 regular season, with the second-string starting against the Chargers. The conclusion: The sportsbooks have been overvaluing the Chiefs since they won the Super Bowl.

Further, the only occasion on which the Chiefs have managed to win ATS against a team with a winning record was in last year’s AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills. The conclusion: The sportsbooks have been seriously overvaluing the Chiefs since they won the Super Bowl.

Now certainly aware of this, the bookmarkers had opened this line at Chiefs -1 or -1½ but in the meantime, Aaron Rodgers was revealed to be a prima donna dipshit have contracted Covid-19. Starting QB will be filled this week then by Jordan Love, last season’s first-round draft pick who was subsequently treated like shit by Rodgers has only accrued seven pass attempts thus far, all in the blowout opening-week loss to New Orleans this season.

The question, then, all things considered is: Do you believe the Packers are a better than .500 team with Love at quarterback? We do. Take the Green Bay Packers +7½ at Kansas City.

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer than he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.

TNF: New York Jets +10½ at Indianapolis Colts and what about that Mike White…?

Thursday, 04 November 2021 18:49 EST

NFLbets is going to say (write?) this straightaway: We’re not sure we’ll have any amazing insights into this week’s edition of Monday Night Football, as this just isn’t a very scintillating line on which to bet. However, NFLbets does have some ideas about

New York Jets +10½ at Indianapolis Colts, over/under 45 points

The mass media and internets at large are already forgetting how badly viewed the 2021 New York Jets have been thus far, not to mention appearing ready to anoint Mike White offensive rookie of the year after a ridiculous breakout start last week that helped earn the Jets a first W. The sportsbooks are a tad wiser, though, are thus a point spread indistinguishable from the typical during the Mike White Era.

Much has been made of the Jets’ abysmal record in primetime games: They’re 6-17 SU/1-13-1 ATS since 2012, but NFLbets is totally willing to throw out the history books on this team for this game. As an underdog in all seven games, New York is just 2-5 SU/ATS. All things being equal, the NFL bettor should typically look for a 2-5 ATS mark to trend to .500, but these Jets at 2-6 outright feels absolutely plausible, White Swam at the helm or no.

Awaiting the surely fired-up Jets are the Indianapolis Colts, these past few seasons one of the more infuriating teams on which to bet. 2021 is no exception in this regard, with Indy sitting at 3-5 SU but 5-3 ATS. Last week against the Tennessee Titans and on a 3-1 SU/4-0 ATS run, the Colts were favorites for the first time in ’21 – and tore up backers in spectacular fashion, first getting out to a 14-0 lead, putting together a TD after going down 31-24 in the fourth and losing outright in overtime.

Colts fans at least may be wishing they had their own Mike White option right about now. Carson Wentz, praised with Comeback Of The Year-type hype after the aforementioned four-game run, threw two terrible, throat-slitting interceptions in this game and took three sacks plus several miscellaneous vicious hits. If Wentz is to revert to his Jets levels this season, the process may have already begun.

In a vacuum, primetime Wentz is pretty impressive at 12-7 SU/ATS in his career – though it should be noted that the 2016-20 Philadelphia Eagles went 5-1 SU/4-2 ATS in primetime games *without* Wentz starting. Make of this what you will.

What NFLbets makes of it is that the Colts may win this game but – and admittedly, there’s some optimism at watching an interesting TNF – it’s no blowout. Take the New York Jets +10½ at Indianapolis and let’s believe in the Legend Of Michael White, say he gets his Jets some TDs and take the over on an O/U of 45 points.

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer than he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.

Week 7 NFL Betting: Everything feels like a sucker bet

Saturday, 23 October 2021 20:05 EST

NFLbets probably shouldn’t complain about what appears to be a proliferation of sucker bets amidst the point spreads and over/unders in week 7 NFL betting. After all, one of the NFLbets Primary Rules of Betting™ is the old cliché reserviced: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. And sure enough, every time NFLbets thinks easy wagers are everywhere in a given week, that’s exactly when we’re whiffing on picks and blowing three previous weeks’ worth of wins.

So with some not-necessarily-judicious application of reverse logic (“Always do the opposite” is not among NFL Bets Primary Rules of Betting, but, hey, we’re on a cold streak), we’ve found at least three bets to make – not guaranteeing victory here, mind you…

Best bet: Philadelphia Eagles +3 at Las Vegas Raiders

Definitely the WTF line of week 7 here. Last weekend, the Raiders played liberated ball, airing grievances as freely as Derek Carr aired the ball out (18-of-27 for 341 yards and two TDs against zero interceptions) at once-feared Mile High. All the Raiders did was take care of business against the Broncos, well outscoring their last two games of the Gruden Era combined.

Racist coach or no, Las Vegas has nevertheless brought one of the league’s top offenses this season, including top ranking in turnovers surrendered and a no. 3 ranking in passing yards. This is particularly bad news for Philadelphia against whom teams have generally been moving the ball at will: The Eagles are dead last in rushing attempts allowed, 29th in pass attempts allowed and 31st in time of possession.

On top of this is the trade sending Zach Ertz to Arziona. Sure, Ertz is merely a TE who’d gotten just over 5 targets a game this season and Dallas Goedert is ready to take over the TE1 spot for the Eagles – but the Philly front office may have metaphorically chosen the wrong week to stop sniffing glue, as Goedert will miss the Raiders game “thanks” to Covid protocols. Some may be confident enough that the reasonably good Jalen Hurts playing behind a pretty terrible OL can overcome this one more minus, but NFLbets is not among them. Take the Las Vegas Raiders -3 vs Philadelphia.

Risky bet of the week: Detroit Lions -16 at Los Angeles Rams

NFLbets has had this one marked down for the betting since the release of the 2021 NFL schedule and after watching this point spread rise from Rams -14 to -16 (and likely -16½ or -17 by game time), we’ve got to admit regret on not betting this one months ago.

Because here’s the thing: Jared Goff is a bad quarterback. Whether or not it’s fair to declare the former no. 1 has always been terrible, but Goff’s devolution from the Kyle Boller Line – i.e. just competent enough to get a good team into the Super Bowl – at very least is apparent. And no one still working in the NFL knows this better than Sean McVay.

NFLbets has little reason to believe that McVay is a vindictive, vengeful sort but as evidenced by a fair amount of success, appears to be quite the clever head coach. And McVay has been admirably diplomatic in the months post-Goff trade regarding his, likesay, disappointing former starting QB. McVay stretched that diplomacy to breaking point in mid-April when, geeked by the early look at new Rams QB Matt Stafford, he told the Rich Eisen Show that with Stafford…

“You’re able to execute your play-actions, your movements, and those things, but when you get into third down and those known passing [situations] … the two-minute drills at the end of the half, end of the game… The way that [Stafford]’s able to move and manipulate the pocket … to recognize and understand coverage and make all five eligibles come alive, the way that he can create off-schedule in the pocket, out of the pocket, and just the overall competitiveness and command…”

So here’s McVay, bringing probably the NFL’s best defense against a taped-together OL protecting a quarterback *who can’t read defenses properly.* Whether or not McVay smells blood, here’s to thinking that Donald & Co. will feed. The best thing for the Lions to do in this game will be the yank Goff after the first two turnovers – but it may already be too late. Talk about the Lions’ resilience and heartbreaking losses all you want, but this one could get very ugly very quickly. Take the Los Angeles Rams -16 vs Detroit.  

Longshot: Cincinnati Bengals +6½ at Baltimore Ravens

Before this one starts, NFLbets will say “This is why they’re called ‘upsets’”…

After absolutely manhandling the Chargers last week, the Ravens for the first time looked like the AFC’s cream of the crop in 2021. Fair enough, but Baltimore still runs one seriously one-dimensional offense; mind you, this is possibly the most impressive one-dimensional offense ever with the miraculous Lamar Jackson at the helm.

The Ravens currently stand at 5-1 SU (3-3 ATS), with the sole loss coming in the increasingly fluky-looking opening week loss to Vegas. They’ve held opponents to 17 points or fewer in three of the previous four games and are playing their third consecutive in Baltimore. About the only reason to go against the Ravens in this one is to, well, bet on the upwardly mobile Bengals.

After coming out slightly low-watt (if clutch) in weeks 1-3, the Bengals offense has awoken to go for  395.0 yards per game over the second three, up from 292.3 over the first three. And thus far, the Bengals boast a top-10 rushing defense – of course, they’ve yet to face up against a force like Jackson, either. Also of note: The under has hit in 5 of 6 Cincinnati games due to the stingier-than-expected Bengals D.

But if one factors in the sole meeting Joe Burrow’s offense against Baltimore – a 27-3 drubbing in 2020 – there’s little reason to expect the unexpected – except, have you seen JaMarr Chase lately? Plus, like NFL said (wrote?): That’s why they call them “upsets.” Take the Cincinnati Bengals +6½ at Baltimore, and maybe even take the Bengals money line (ML) at +230 as well…

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer than he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.

Week 5 NFL betting: Cheerio, London, and carry on through Patriots-Texans…

Saturday, 09 October 2021 11:57 EST

The best thing about week 5 of the 2021 NFL season? The revitalization of London-based NFL games, those giving NFL bettors the opportunity to aggravatingly start losing money before the coffee’s cold start wagering earlier!

Once again, NFLbets is digging lots of opportunities for profiting this week beginning right at 9am ET/6am PT, i.e. with

New York Jets +2½ vs Atlanta Falcons

NFLbets is thinking this weekend gets off to a wacky start – OK, not that wacky. We’re advising bettors tale the Jets money line (ML) at +125 mainly because we can’t figure why the Falcons, clearly not a very good team, are the favorites here.

Or perhaps that should be “favourites,” what with this marking the first London-based NFL game since 2019. And speaking of favourites, this side has gone an impressive 20-7-1 SU/17-11 ATS since the regular fixture began in 2008. The statistics begin to flip as point spreads decrease, however: Underdogs of 3 points or fewer have gone 5-7-1 SU/6-7 ATS in England games.

Among the knock on these Jets is their status as youngest team in the NFL, but we’re thinking that, given the rigors of travel, the youthful may have the advantage in the biochemical area; add the Falcons’ already anemic pass attack playing this game without Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, Atlanta’s no. 1 and 3 WRs, the latter by dint of his five receptions in 2021. So, yeah, bet the Jets – it may be the last chance this season to viably do so.

Philadelphia Eagles +3 at Carolina Panthers

Unless this line is based solely on the premise that Christian McCaffrey will be playing hurt at best, this one feels all too easy. The Panthers have early on demonstrated continued evolution in the Matt Rhule Era (Is it too early? Is this still the post-Cam Newton Era…?), going 3-1 SU/ATS and last week played the seeming Super Bowl-contending Dallas Cowboys tough. In their three wins, the Panthers defense has held opponents to an average of 10 points per.

The Eagles, by comparison, are a mess heading in a distinctly devolutionary direction. While managing to hang 30+ points on weak Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons defenses, they’ve also given up *40+* to KC and Dallas. As underdogs in all four games thus far, Philadelphia sits at an NFC East-typical 1-3 SU/ATS. One may argue that the three losses came to playoff-bound teams, but shouldn’t the Panthers be tentatively included among that lot? Bet the football here: Take the Carolina Panthers -3 vs Philadelphia.

New England Patriots -8½ at Houston Texans

Yes, 8½ points is a lot to give when betting on a team that’s averaging 17.75 points a game thus far, but NFLbets is betting a hunch here. We’re thinking this game is when Belichick & Co. finally unleash Mac Jones; we suspect this product launch was scheduled for last week’s game against the Patriots but rain prevailed.

In reality, though, Jones might be able to go for 150 passing and the Patriots’ll win this game. In his tenure with the Patriots, Belichick’s side has gone 10-3 SU/8-5 ATS against Houston and the Texans currently look worse than they have since David Carr was QBing for them. Plus, the Patriots are sitting at 1-3 SU and they’re much better than a .250 team; we’re thinking they prove so in a romp. Take the New England Patriots -8½ at Houston.

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer than he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.

NFL betting, week 4: One Best Bet, five other excellent bets

Saturday, 02 October 2021 19:12 EST

NFLbets has no reason to be cocky this far into the season, although we can’t help thinking a lot of great picks are available in NFL betting this week. We promise we’re not chasing losses (NFLbets is still done for the year, full disclosure, yada yada) but rather because there’s just too much out there. So for week 4, we’re giving out one best bet and four picks – all the better to fill out one of those “Pick Five Poin. Let’s make this a profitable one, eh…?

Best bet: Cleveland Browns -1 at Minnesota Vikings

As the opening line as high as Cleveland -2½ continues to erode, NFLbets is more and more baffled. Does the action believe that betting against a home underdog is a yes-or-no proposition, as in “If you take the Browns -2, you must think the Vikings are a subpar team”?

Those backing the Browns are hardly anti-Vikings, however. Despite going 1-2 SU (and 2-1 ATS), Minnesota clearly has enough offense to be competitive in the NFC. Call the Cardinals game a fluke loss, and you’re talking about the Vikes competing with Green Bay for the NFC North title. The truth is that they’re averaging an impressive 29.0 points per game, Dalvin Cook’s fumble in the week 1 loss is the offense’s only turnover, and Kirk Cousins is throwing with 73.9% accuracy to go with his 8 TD passes.

Fine. It’s just that … these Cleveland Browns are really, really good: by any measure a top-5 team. Sure, the Chiefs ate away at the Browns’ second-half lead in week 1, and Cleveland couldn’t cover 13½ against Houston in week 2. Since that ATS loss, though, they’ve added Odell Beckham to make one of six viable pass catchers (counting Jarvis Landry) for Baker Mayfield to choose from.

On the other side of the ball, the Browns defense has somehow not lived up to public expectcations, despite going top-10 in most statistical categories other than turnovers generated – and this despite getting 33 points rung up on ’em by the Chiefs. So what if Cousins & Co. don’t turn the ball over? These Browns ranked just 18th in turnovers in 2020 and still intimidated offenses.

So who even needs turnovers? Since 2020 when Kevin Stefanski became head coach for Cleveland, the Browns are just 10-11 ATS – but 14-7 SU, which a point spread of -1 essentially is. And factor in Stefanski’s prior experience with the Vikings, i.e. holding the position of offensive coordinator in 2019, and everything adds up to a Cleveland Browns win. So take the Cleveland Browns -1 at Minnesota.

Additionally, we’d also advise covering on…

• Dallas Cowboys -4 vs Carolina Panthers
Sure, the 2021 Panthers are good, perhaps even strong playoff contenders if fantasy football darling Christian McCaffrey can stay on the field. But just as with Cleveland at Minnesota, the favorites are just better right now. It’s another TD-sized win for the Cowboys on the way to breaking the Hard Knocks curse.

• Green Bay Packers -6 vs Pittsburgh Steelers
From the Sentiment Has No Business In Betting Department: While all but the diehardest of Roethlisberger apologists have admitted that the Steelers QB is done, the general public still appears to believe that the Mike Tomlin will work enough magic to keep the Steelers in this game against the Packers in Green Bay. But NFLbets believes that the losing by a touchdown could well represent a magical return on Tomlin’s part…

• Kansas City Chiefs -6½ at Philadelphia Eagles
NFLbets can’t decide how much of this line is an overreaction á la “O my godz, Kansas City is 1-2 SU (0-3 ATS) and in last place in the AFC West!” and how much is continued overrating of Philadelphia, who for a week had folks fooled into thinking maybe they were the above-.500 team in the NFC East. No matter: The former suggests the trends turn to a Chiefs win SU/ATS, the latter a way to exploit faulty belief.

• Baltimore Ravens -1 at Denver Broncos, under 44 points
So the Broncos are an early surprise of the 2021 season at 3-0 SU/ATS – until you consider the schedule of Giants, Jets and Jaguars, three teams against which the Broncos are now 4-1 SU/ATS since 2018; they’re a pretty bad 11-19 SU/17-13 ATS versus all others. This latter statistic might be swaying if not for the scanty 1 on offer. The Ravens have the advantage in talent in a battle of defenses first, but it probably won’t be pretty.

Further, since 2019, the under is 20-15 in all Broncos games, 20-18 in all Ravens games and 11-9 when the Ravens are playing away. NFLbets says they can’t make this line low enough…

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer than he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.

Five picks ATS for your NFL week 3 Point Spread Pick ‘Em card

Saturday, 25 September 2021 22:33 EST

All right, NFLbets promises to get the hang of the 2021 NFL season before it’s over. Enough said: We’re onto making five picks against the spread (ATS) for another round of the Point Spread Pick ’Em game that NFLbets is foolishly invested in. (We’re digging our chances in the elimination pools a lot more, anyway, and not at all sour grapes…)

• New England Patriots -3 vs New Orleans Saints
The Patriots have hardly been dominant in two games against inferior AFC East competition thus far, but have shown excellence in one key area, namely ball control. New England averaged just about 34½ minutes per in the first two games and enjoys a turnover differential of +3 on zero interceptions thrown by Mac Jones. Meanwhile, in just one game Jameis Winston confirmed Saints backers worst fears for the would-be gunslinger – and, as it turns out, the absence of Michael Thomas hurts in New Orleans…

• Baltimore Ravens -7½ at Detroit Lions
Early into 2021, away favorites giving big point spreads are killing it at 4-0 SU/3-1 ATS, with the sole ATS loss by one point when the 49ers took the foot off the pedal way too soon in Detroit in week 1. Going back to 2019, visiting favorites of 5 points or more are 87-14 SU and an OK 55-46-1 ATS. But geez, consider the specific situation: Lions QB Jared Goff showed last week his significant weakness, i.e. throwing against a pass rush; against Green Bay, Goff wasn’t even as brutal as usual when the Packers decided to start blitzing after halftime but the effect sure showed, i.e.

      first half:13-of-16 for 125 yards with two TDs against zero interceptions and 17 points for the offense
      second half: 13-of-20 for 119 with zero TD against one interception and one QB sack, zero points scored by the Lions.

The Ravens bring to Detroit one of the NFL’s best pass rushes and probably the most sack-obsessed defensive coordinator in the league in Wink Martindale. This could get ugly…

• Arizona Cardinals -7½ at Jacksonville Jaguars
Firstly, ditto all the stats on big away favorites in the Ravens game for the would-be Cardinals backer.

Secondly, forget everything you think you know about the West-to-East advantage. Since the Rams moved back to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, the teams of the NFC West are 31-25 SU and 29-26-1 ATS in early games played in the Eastern time zone. On their parts, Arizona is 5-12 SU/6-11 ATS; not a very impressive.296 winning percentage, but not that far off their 16-25 SU (or. 390) mark in all away games over the span.

The point is that, in today’s game, talent tends to win out even in the most extreme road trips the NFL doles out. One may not enjoying the emotional seesaw that is betting on Kyler Murray but most things being statistically equal, the Cardinals are an easy bet over the still hapless Jaguars.

• San Francisco 49ers -3 vs Green Bay Packers
Certain to be an unpopular pick given the low-watt performance turned in by the 49ers in a 17-11 win at Philadelphia, but here’s the way NFLbets sees it: Little doubt remains that San Francisco is a 10-win team at least this year while the Packers offense seems to mostly consist of feeding Aaron Jones and finding DaVonte Adams: The two already account for nearly 53% of all Green Bay offensive yards. Here’s to thinking the 49ers defense can handle the two-dimensionality reasonably enough…

• Dallas Cowboys -3½ vs Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles’ incredibly weak performance in week 2 neatly tamped overreactions to the week 1 blowout over (let’s face it) a not very impressive Atlanta Falcons side. With Dak Prescott as the starter, the Cowboys are an impressive 24-11 SU in Dallas but just 18-17 ATS; as the first home game for the Cowboys in 2021, however, we’ll say Dak & Co. get to balancing their 2-5 ATS run at home…

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer than he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.

Monday Night Football betting: Baltimore Ravens -4 at Las Vegas Raiders

Monday, 13 September 2021 16:58 EST

Now do you see the futility of betting in week 1? Going into Monday Night Football, underdogs in week 1 of the 2021 NFL season are 8-7 SU and 11-4 ATS. Of the *nine* games kicking off with a point spread of 3½ points or less, the so-called underdog was 7-2 ATS/SU.

And so with the huge dollop of humility now required of most NFL bettors, NFLbets considers the evil line for Monday Night Football:

Baltimore Ravens -4 at Las Vegas Raiders, over/under 51 points

As NFLbets dogma dictates, week 1 is when bettors and fans learn, what, 75% of everything they’ll know about each team by season’s end. So to bet this edition of MNF, NFLbets went to the historical record and considered the 35 MNF games played since 2001. (Remember way back when the NFL had a Monday night doubleheader in week 1? Yeah, man, ancient history…)

The most superficial of the stats are none too encouraging…

  • In the 35 Monday night games considered, home teams are 18-17 SU; and
  • the over is 18-17.

But a slightly deeper dig reveals seemingly more helpful infomraton.

  • Since 2001, home teams on Monday Night Football week 1 are 14-19-2 ATS;
  • favorites are 20-15 SU but a seriously bad 12-21-2 ATS;
  • favored visiting teams are 9-7 SU and 5-11 ATS; and
  • in games with point spreads of 2½ points or less, home underdogs are 5-1 SU/ATS.

With the unpredictably of week 1 in mind, these trends compel one to take the Raiders +4 and the Ravens on a money line (ML) bet at weak odds of -190 or so. But if you’re getting squeamish about covering the as-yet sight-unseen 2021 Las Vegas Raiders with their steadily eroding defense, you’re hardly alone – and one glaring trend backs you up nicely.

In short, we can say this: John Harbaugh – with possibly competition from Andy Reid – is probably the best NFL head coach in week 1. In his 13 seasons as head coach, Harbaugh has helped get his Ravens to a 10-3 SU/ATS rate in opening games. Gruden has won SU/ATS his last two opening day games, but in all games 1, his teams are just 5-9 SU/5-8-1 ATS.

Now fair enough, the Ravens will enter this game short RBs J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill and Gus Edwards, all going down to season-ending injuries in the past two weeks – but the 2020 Raiders had a bottom-3 defense in points allowed and turnovers generated as well as a bottom-10 run defense in virtually every statistical category.

Baltimore may hardly be world-beaters in 2021, but these particular Vegas bunch will have to prove that they can stop Lamar Jackson and Gruden that he can again coach on Harbaugh’s level in this game before NFLbets would throw money at the Raiders here. Take the Baltimore Ravens -4 at Las Vegas.

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer than he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.