NFL best bet: Top must-wager weekly

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!

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

Saturday, 27 October 2018 13:36 EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NFLbets editor/writer on vacation – so check out our Twitter feed instead! (OK, we’ll give best bets, too...)

Saturday, 20 October 2018 10:12 EST

Twitter bird bets on footballVegas, baby! Where else would NFLbets editor/writer Os Davis sojourn himself, unchained from the writing desk and let loose outside for the proverbial first time in forever. Thus is Os taking about a helf-week away from contributing to NFLbets, but dude just can’t stay away: We are proud to announce the resurrection of the NFLbets twitter feed.

Os loves Twitter and this weekend he’s bragging about posting his all-too-often non-football betting – check out El Jefe’s wild 4-team 3-way round-robin parlay bet by proxy, for example. In future, we’ll keep the feed active with lines and odds on upcoming games.

A little content on this page might be nice, though, so directly below are NFLbets’ pick of the week and best bets for week 7 in brief.

Pick of the Week

Take the Los Angeles Chargers -6½ vs the Tennessee Titans (in UK). No evidence exists to suggest that the bizarre dual-QB scheme the Volunteers – um, sorry, the Titans – are running will work any better on the other side of the Atlantic. And the returning Corey Liuget could well eliminate what little passing threat remains.

Best bets for week 7

Take the Miami Dolphins +3 vs the Detroit Lions. We’re telling you: The Miami Dolphins are the charmed overachievers of this year’s NFL. No quarterback? No problem! We’ll take Osweiler, Tannehill or whoever else as home underdogs this week – and the road to a wild-card game crushing goes on.

Take the New Orleans Saints +3 at the Baltimore Ravens. The book is probably reckoning on weather as a factor working against the dome-homed Saints, but NFLbets has three answers to this: The current weather forecast reckons the temperature in Baltimore at around 55°F with no precipitation expected; the Saints are a bona fide Super Bowl contender while the Ravens are certainly not; and New Orleans is actually 2-0-0 ATS on the road this season thus far.

Take the Atlanta Falcons -4 vs the New York Giants. Here’s another line that NFLbets just doesn’t understand. This week, stud WR Odell Beckham was dissed by his owner, QB Eli Manning got the emperor-has-no-clothes treatment from the media, and hey Saquon Barkley can only whip off so many 50-yaar runs per game – even against a bottom-3 D like Atlanta’s. How will Noodle Arm and the New York Midgets possibly keep up with a Falcons offense that has scored over 30 points in all four home games thus far? NFLbets says they can’t.

NFLbets Pick of the Week: Seattle Seahawks favoured by just 2½ in England? Jolly good!

Saturday, 13 October 2018 09:34 EST

NFL International Series bettingNFLbets digs on these “NFL International Series” games played in the U.K. Those at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City – possible Super Bowl preview there in November with the Los Angeles Rams playing the Kansas City Chiefs – are often spectacular events as well, with walls of 100,000 attendees making for a real Thunderdome effect. But the games on the British Isles? Awesome.

Seriously, what’s better than a Sunday when the first NFL game kicks off at 9:30 am ET/6:30am PT? I mean, how else are you going to lose win money while eating breakfast? Even games such as this week’s tilt at Tottenham give us the nicely surreal opportunity to watch a primetime game at 1pm ET/10am PT.

Betting on UK NFL games can be fun and lucrative if you’ve been paying attention since the International Series in its current format was kicked off, so to speak. But praise be the football gods – this week, one needs to know f$%#^%-all to bet this one, because the mass media has already shown us who the winner will be. We’re talking

Seattle Seahawks -2½ vs Oakland Raiders, over/under 48.0 points

Raiders Las VegasNFLbets is convinced that the stats ATS on NFL International Series Games are irrelevant in this particular case, we’ll run ’em here anyway, because they’re pretty incredible. Since 2014, favorites abroad are 11-4 ATS (9-4 in the UK, 2-0 in Mexico). Further, favorites against any team not named the Jacksonville Jaguars – essentially London’s surrogate home team – are on a 9-2 ATS run in UK games.

When looking through the International Series games, NFLbets figures that two factors come into play for would-be successful bettors:

•  Recent experience in the UK. Altogether teams are 8-5 SU/ATS when on a return visit to the British Isles; without Miami Dolphins games figured in, that mark goes to 7-3 SU/ATS.

•  Game preparation. NFL International Series games can readily turn into blowouts quick when the difference in coaching talent is on the sidelines, because in England games teams battle time as much as one another. The unprepared team can expect lotsa three-and-outs at best, a gift package of multiple turnover to the opposition at worst.

Seattle Seahawks alternate betting logoSo here’s how Jon Gruden convinced NFLbets to <strong>take the Seattle Seahawks -2½ vs the Raiders</strong> at Tottenham Stadium. Chucky, who’s never coached an NFL game abroad, explained his plan with Trumpian eloquence: “The length of the flight, probably get over there ... and mostly just recover with the players. Get them to stretch. Get them a little something to eat. Get their blood pumping. Get a walkthrough. Then Saturday, the day before the game, a lot of review...”

If it’s not clear by now that Gruden is this team's Jeff Fisher-like anesthesiologist in the operation to morph the Oakland Raiders into the Las Vegas Raiders, a “plan” like that certainly blows the fog away. Pete Carroll had his Seahawks take an overnight flight on Wednesday and go through the next day normally, like a sane person seeking to avoid the short-term effects of jetlag. They’re planning full practices on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. At a glance, whose game prep is better?

Now don’t get NFLbets wrong here: The Seahawks are bringing a little to the table here on their own. Seattle is just 1-1-1 ATS against apparent non-playoff contenders (like Oakland) this season thus far, though played well enough in the post-Earl Thomas middle finger game against the Los Angeles Rams last week to get the ATS win. And while hardly mistaken for a dominant Super Bowl-going force, the Seahawks D nevertheless ranks in the top 10 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and DAVE metrics; Oakland’s ranks bottom five.

(Hey, didn’t they used to have Khalil Mack?)

The offense is lacking much of anything beyond Russell Wilson, who looks better and better as his team slowly – and in the case of the offensive line, literally – disintegrates around him weekly. Thanks to the defense keeping scores low, generally stopping anything coming their way not named Todd Gurley, Wilson has almost single-handedly kept Seattle in every game this season: Margins of victory in 2018 Seahawks games has been 3, 7, 11, 3 and 2. Indeed, that must be the reason the line in this game is so low.

To make it official, then. NFLbets Pick of the Week for NFL week 6 is to take the Seahawks -2½. You’ll also want to take the under on an O/U of 48 points. Here’s to thinking Merry Olde England won’t be so jolly good to the Raiders…

CFL betting, week 18: What’s up with Riders as underdogs and Eskimos as favorites?

Thursday, 11 October 2018 13:35 EST

CFL retro betting logoSometimes a second opinion can give you insight. Thanks to the Rouge White & Blue CFL Podcast, yours truly got some salient advice from co-host Joe Pritchard that helped solidify yours truly’s convictions about a couple of bettable lines in CFL week 18 – and a couple unbettables.

Let’s talk Hamilton Tiger-Cats -7½ at Toronto Argonauts and the over/under of 53 points. The Ticats ran up 42 and 36 on the Argos in a home-and-home series earlier in the season, they’ve averaging 35.6 points per game in the second half thus far, and they’re coming off a bye. Hamilton *will* score points this weekend. But can the Argonauts keep up?

NFLbets is (now) saying yes. While only terminal disconnection with reality would allow one to call the Argos’ offense “high-flying,” they’ve managed to put together 22 or more points in 8 of the past 9. Last week’s mathematical elimination from the 2018 CFL playoffs does not eliminate the sense of urgency for Toronto to play well in front of a certainly sparse crowd. On the contrary: Disappointing free-agency pickup James Franklin will be playing for his job in ’19 going down the stretch; luckily for him and ironically for Argos backers, his receiving corps is more well-stocked then at any point during the season thus far, with Duron Carter, S.J. Green, Armanti Edwards, Myles White and Malcolm Williams all active.

So yeah, NFLbets is recommending taking the over on an O/U of 53 points in this one.

Saskatchewan Roughriders +3½ at Winnipeg Blue Bombers has a similar dynamic at play. We know the Bombers will score points – they’ve been running up scores fairly well all year and in the last three have put up 31, 30 and 40. Even against this vaunted Saskatchewan defense, Winnipeg was still good for 23 and 27 points in earlier meetings, albeit in losing efforts.

Why the Riders aren’t inspiring more confidence in oddsmakers is a bit of a mystery. Chris Jones’s guys are 7-1 SU (5-3 ATS, 2-2 ATS on the road) in the last eight games; the last six SU Saskatchewan wins were by 2, 8, 5, 1, 5 and 7 points. The offense has only proven viable in fits and spurts throughout this season, however, which throws out the trustworthiness of betting either side of the point spread, the over/under and even a money line bet on either. We say stay away.

Forget Ottawa Redblacks +3 at Edmonton Eskimos, too, while you’re at it. Seriously, who can tell? The Redblacks’ longest streak winning or losing SU has been *two games* this season. They’re a remarkable 5-3 SU against the West and just 3-3 SU against their East rivals. And all of Ottawa’s win-loss marks ATS are identical to their SU records; in 12 of 14 games, a Redblacks SU win meant an ATS win, while a SU loss meant an ATS loss.

Against the Redblacks are the Edmonton Eskimos, who can’t possibly be as bad as recent results might indicate. The Eskimos haven’t scored anything other than field goals in the last nine quarters of play, the culmination of 1-5 and 2-6 SU/ATS “runs”. QB Mike Reilly still has Dhaquille Williams, the league’s leader in receiving yards, receiving TDs, targets and receptions, but not much else as the “skill players” bit of the roster remains in tatters.

Well, then, is this the game when the Esks snap out of it? Who knows? Stay away.

Closing out CFL week 18 is BC Lions +10½ at Calgary Stampeders – thank the football gods for this one. The analysis here is short, sweet and simple. Last week, the Stampeders took thins easy against the hapless Montreal Alouettes, played for field position, were stung by three uncharacteristic interceptions thrown by Bo Levi Mitchell and still won with the result not in doubt.

With a win, the Stamps clinch home field throughout the playoffs and certainly won’t be playing half as passively as last week – nor are Mitchell & Co. likely to make half as many mistakes as against Montreal. Not to be forgotten is the Lions’ 1-6 (!) record SU/ATS on the road. NFLbets says the Stamps take care of business here and so should you: Take the Calgary Stampeders -10½ vs BC Lions.

NFLbets’ best bets for CFL betting in week 18:
•  Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto Argonauts, over 53 points.

NFLbets’ recommendation for CFL betting in week 18:
•nbsp; Calgary Stampeders -10½ vs BC Lions

CFL best bets record to date: 8-8.
CFL recommendations record to date: 8-8.
Overall record: 16-16.

NFL betting, week 5: That moment you realize Aaron Rodgers’ Packers won’t go 14-1-1 SU

Sunday, 07 October 2018 09:38 EST

Crazy! For the Sunday early game pitting the Green Bay Packers at the Detroit Lions, bookmakers opened Detroit as week 5’s fourth home underdog, getting 1 to 1½ points when the lines were set on Monday. Lots of action subsequently flipped that +1 to the Detroit side, making the line on this Lions -1 vs the Packers.

No matter, the NFL bettor may say, -1/+1 is essentially equivalent to a pick ’em, because the Packers certainly can’t tie twice in a single season. (Or can they…?) Great! So choose your winner and make a money line (ML) bet, right? Now you’re thinking: NFLbets’ Pick of the Week for NFL week 5 says to take the Detroit Lions to win SU vs Green Bay at +100 -- even a line of -105 or -110 would wagering on a Detroit W worth it.

Over in daily fantasy land, players are snapping up and starting Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and even Kenny Golladay this week and why not? The Lions are top-10 offense in terms of passing volume, i.e. attempts, completions and yardage. Opposite this is a Green Bay pass rush which has produced 13 sacks already, though we’d argue that Matt Stafford is more mobile and skilled at improvisation than any of the opposing QBs this suspect Packers secondary has faced thus far: Mitch Trubitsky, Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith and Josh Allen. Plus, again, Stafford is working with more talent in the receiving corps right now that those four guys combined.

So how about that Green Bay receiving corps? Well, remember how Aaron Rodgers was complaining about the younger additions to the Packers’ WR lot this past offseason? If not, please feel free to review with this pair of bombasts ranting.

Today, Rodgers is gonna have to depend on those guys. (Marquez Valdes-Scantling, I presume…?) Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison will not play, due to hamstring injury of two weeks ago and concussion from last week, respectively. Davonte Adams is questionable as of Sunday morning, but likely won’t be 100%.

Cobb, Allison and Adams have accounted for just abou 65% of all receiving yards. After this is TE Jimmy Graham, who contributes four catches per game. The position-less Ty Montgomery has 11 grabs as well. Then it’s ... um ... well, it’ll be interesting.

Sure, sure, Aaron “The Greatest Quarterback In Stephen A. Smith’s Lifetime” Rodgers is out there – and aside from his AFC counterpart Tom Brady, no quarterback in the 21st-century NFL has been able to do more with less. And he’s going against a bottom-5 passing defense in Detroit. But jokes, kidding and miracle-making aside, the truth is that these Packers just ain’t going 14-1-1 SU.

Considering the greater picture, this is a divisional game against a team that scores points in bunches despite a nigh-clueless rookie head coach. This is an away game in a dome (bit of a level playing field, so to speak). Detroit will definitely put up some points and Rodgers will find some way to keep pace, but NFLbets is thinking that the Lions will do just that wee bit more.

About last week’s CFL picks … well, here’s a makeup call: Bet the Winnipeg Blue Bombers SU

Friday, 05 October 2018 14:18 EST

Doctor Who bet badly and say iYeesh, week 16 in the CFL wasn’t great for NFLbets. Our picks and recommendations went a weak 1-3; we salvaged the bankroll with what we presumed was a throwaway couple bets on Winnipeg Blue Bombers +5½ and SU at the Edmonton Eskimos. All apologies, but we couldn’t justify advising bettors to toss money at the Blue Bombers on a giggly whim.

Winnipeg’s very impressive win – lack of offense from Edmonton or no – made for sole upset of last week and nearly singlehandedly flipped the race for the CFL playoffs’ no. 5 and 6 seeds. After finishing off the Eskimos, the Blue Bombers rose to no. 3 in the West and no. 5 overall. BC Lions fell to last in the CFL West, ½-game behind Edmonton. (This is despite the Lions going f*#@&ing 5-1 SU/4-2 ATS at f%@$#!$ing home, but don’t get me started on the 2018 BC Lions…)

With four games to go on their schedule, the Bombers would appear to have and advantage over the Eskimos, if perhaps not BC Lions. The Bombers are running at relatively full strength – Nic Demski returns to the lineup after missing last week – while the Eskimos can’t seem to keep any WRs on the field. On the other hand, starting QB Travis Lulay and defensive captain Solomon Elimimian are returning for the Lions week after next.

The knock against the Bombers is their maddeningly inconsistency; you’d have to be crazy to bet on Winnipeg in 2018, except on the over. (More on this momentarily.) Both the Bombers and this week’s opposition Ottawa Redblacks are the embodiment of clichés such as “we don’t know which team will show up” and “playing down to the level of their competition.”

But here’s the thing: The 2018 Winnipeg Blue Bombers have done one thing with incredible consistency for most of the year: Score. Through 14 games, the Bombers have scored 30.5 points per game. They’ve played in games of 50 points or more 10 times, in games of 60+ five times. Even when giving up a ridiculous 32 points’ worth of defensive and special teams scoring to the Roughriders, the Bombers still managed to ring up 27 of their own.

Attempting to stop this offense is a Redblacks D allowing a scanty 19.1 ppg (we’re removed that bizarre 42-41 game against Toronto as an outlier) coming out of the bye week and playing at home. But neither of these factors may even matter. The truth is this Redblacks offense is completely undependable (and therefore doubly so for bettors). Statistically, this unit is the league’s most variable, having three times topped 40 points scored, but five times producing two touchdowns or less – and twice exactly zero.

And that inconsistency issue mentioned earlier? Here’s a summary of their game results for the year: Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Win, Win, Loss, Win, Win, bye, Loss, Loss, Win, Win, bye.

The one result with which the skeptic may argue the case against the Bombers was that of week 10: Ottawa 44 at Winnipeg 21, a game which fired up anti-Matt Nichols sentiment in Bomberville and sent the team on a four-game skid. (To be fair, the three subsequent losses came in games against Calgary and Saskatchewan, pretty clearly the CFL’s best teams in 2018.)

Since coming out of the bye, however, the Bombers look reborn in going for 30 or more points in two consecutive weeks. They’ve given up just one turnover combined in the two games, threw in some razzle-dazzle against the Alouettes and essentially played perfect play in all three aspects against the Eskimos.

After last week, we’re convinced. NFLbets is blowing aside the skepticism and probably overcompensating for the bad karma amassed last week. We’re playing this one a bit unorthodoxly (for us, anyway) and making these bets our only CFL bets, and playing them at 1½x. Our pick of the week says to take the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to win SU at +110. To really play it safe, cover Winnipeg +1½ as well.

NFLbets’ best bets for CFL betting in week 17:
•  Winnipeg Blue Bombers SU at Ottawa Redblacks.

NFLbets’ recommendation for CFL betting in week 17:
•nbsp; Winnipage Blue Bombers +1½ at Ottawa Redblacks

CFL best bets record to date: 7-8.
CFL recommendations record to date: 7-8.
Overall record: 14-16.

NFLbets Pick of the Week: Broncos as home underdogs (Hubba hubba hubba, who do you trust?)

Sunday, 30 September 2018 12:51 EST

How about those Los Angeles Rams? On Thursday night, the L.A. Rams 2.0 overcame the absence of Aqib Talib and the playing-hurt Marcus Peters, thus Kirk Coursins’s excellent performance (36-of-50 passing for 432 yards to go with 3 TDs and zero picks, to win SU, 38-31. As for ATS, that where things got very interesting for the Rams and NFL bettors plunking money on them in last night’s game.

Those NFL bettors prescient enough to catch the early line of Rams -6½ scraped by with the magical ½-point when Dan Bailey hit his fourth-quarter field-goal attempt for the game’s final scoring. Those who took the Vikes +6½, well, you were the only ones who lost at the sportsbooks, with Rams -7/Vikings +7 making for a push. Incredibly, through four games this season, the Rams remain undefeated ATS at 3-0-1.

Which is what makes much of betting in week four such a bitch for both viewer and bettor. Aren’t we going to see some balance in the ATS standings? One would think so, but let’s play a round of “Who Do You Trust?”

Packers started at -10½, now they’re down to -9. Do you trust the Green Bay Packers? Do you trust the Buffalo Bills a week after pulling off the biggest ATS upset in a quarter-century?

The Dallas Cowboys are 3-point favorites against the Detroit Lions. As far as NFLbets knows, the Cowboys still have two weapons on offense while a single victory over a catatonic Bill Belichick doesn’t suddenly make Matt Patricia a genius. Who do you trust here?

Houston Texans (0-3-0 ATS) +1 at Indianapolis Colts sounds reasonable (or just take the money line for better odds) with Andrew Luck incapable of throwing a Nerf football 30 yards at this point, but have you seen the Texans OL so far? Yeesh.

Jacksonville Jaguars -7½ versus the New York Jets? To NFLbets, the Jaguars are up to old tricks, i.e. not certain to *score* 7½ in a given game.

The Oakland Raiders 2½-point *favorites* against the red-hot ATS Cleveland F*&#&#*ing Brows? Yeah, like we’re getting off this 3-0-0 horse. On the other hand, now would be a perfect time…

And so on.

Right, so never mind what not to bet; let’s talk about what to bet.

NFLbets says to take the Denver Broncos +4 vs the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. No, really: Try to forget momentarily the magic of Pat Mahomes and consider the cold math ‘n’ facts. Just off the top, doesn’t Denver enjoy a major home-field advantage? Like, to the tune of .706 (221-91-4) SU between 1970 and 2011 alone?

To this end, the Broncos is one a 6-2 ATS run as home underdogs. At this point, NFLbets’ argument about regression comes into question, but a 7-2 ATS mark would be just over 7% better than Denver’s aforementioned SU mark. The .777 winning percentage is a lot lower, however, than that of a 4-0-0 or 3-0-1 mark resulting from a Kansas City win ATS – not to mention miles higher (so to speak) than what would be an 0-4-0 or 0-3-1 ATS mark.

The only wrinkle? Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has been pretty damn good on Monday Night Football for bettors. Going back to 1999 (whoa) and the beginning of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, The Great Tomato is 16-10 SU and 18-8 ATS. And Reid’s teams on the road on Monday night are preposterously good: How about 7-3 SU and a whopping 8-2 ATS. Finally, Reid’s overall career marks on MNF with the Chiefs are 2-2 Su and 3-1 ATS.

But NFLbets ain’t backing down from the Broncos; not in a week with very few great games for NFL betting and even fewer compelling matchups. Simply imagine this scenario: The Chiefs tucker out a bit in the second half, Case Keenum does enough with the offense against what might be a historically bad defense (Seriously, did Reid steal the old Greatest Show on Turf’s playbook for offense *and* defense?) to tie the game late, and poor clock management in overtime leads to a nice 34-34 tie.

Believable, isn’t it…? Again, take the Broncos +4. Trust us.

Pick of the week: Houston Texans -6 vs New York Giants (NFLbets <3 Eli Manning)

Sunday, 23 September 2018 10:18 EST

Loving betting against Eli ManningWhy does NFLbets love Eli Manning so much? Start with history: Eli’s New York Giants twice defeated the EEEEvil Belichick’s Patriots in Super Bowls, shifting a chowderload of betting money from the New England area to virtually every else on planet Earth.

As a bonus, the Super Bowl XLVI win allowed NFL fans to troll followers of Eli’s even more execrable older brother by eliciting mention of the 2-1 disparity in Lombardi Trophies earned by brothers younger and older.

In the playoffs, Eli has made NFL bettors’ playoff seasons quite a bit easier as well. Aside from the playoff runs of 2007 and 2011, Eli’s Giants are 1-3 ATS/0-4 SU in playoff games. And the truth is since that last great Patriot upset, these Giants are a measly 0-1 ATS/SU in the postseason. We’d call the playoff Giants lucrative if they weren’t so insignificant.

So why does NFLbets love Eli Manning even more in 2018? Let us count the ways…

Five minutes of game footage – pick a drive, any drive – should tell even the casual observer that2018 Eli Manning is done. Even his completions are dictionary illustrations of “duck”. (By the way, that’s “duck” in the sense of “animal that flies wobbily at best” as opposed to “If you don’t catch that next pass from Garoppolo, duck because it might take your f^$%$^% head off” sesnse.)

Since throwing his league-leading 27 interceptions in 2013, Eli’s statistics have held relatively steady at a mediocre level. In the Odell Beckham Era and particularly post-Tom Laughlin firing of ’15, the Giants “brain” trust has generously decided that Eli should throw *more* often – “I mean, hey, we have a great prima donna wide receiver, right?” Each of the past four seasons are ranked in Eli’s personal top 5 passing attempts marks; his completion percentage has been in the low 60s, his interceptions in the mid-teens, but his yards per attempt have wilted from 7.2 to a pitiable 6.1.

And for no good reason, here’s a completely gratuitous clip of Eli from 2018; even when they get positive yardage, this offense still fails…

This season, we’re loving Eli more than ever. True, he’s thrown but one interception when NFLbets is wagering he’ll throw 20. Other than that, Eli’s gotten the Giants off to a strong 0-2 start ATS with his wonderful mediocrity. The again-brutal offensive line has also been fantastic for wagering, allowing 8 sacks through the first two games (high even for a QB that’s steadily taken 1.7 per game since entering the league). In addition, the Giants OL is doing their best to stifle the nearly limitless potential of Saquon Barkley by providing literally the NFL’s worst run protection.

Great for NFL bettors, too, is this week’s matchup featuring Eli’s so-called Giants against the Houston Texans. Sadly bereft of an offensive line himself (the Texans OL ranks a weak 26th in pass protection, two spots lower than the Giants), DeShaun Watson is not washed up and is certainly hungry to produce a big game. True, Janoris Jenkins has proven a nice add for the Giants, the truth is the New York D is bottom-3 against the run thus far and couldn’t contain Dak Prescott and his single-weapon offense las week – If Prescott can throw for just 100 yards and beat these guys, what are Watson & Co. capable of?

Though J.J. Watt is spending 2018 not-so-slowly fading from superstardom, he remains part of a still quite effective defense that’s thus far top-3 against the run. (Poor Saquon…) This version of the Texans D has so far managed just three turnovers, but Houston will likely not need turnovers against a side remarkably effective at producing three-and-outs. At 30 third-down attempts, the Giants rank no. 4 in the NFL and are converting at just a 40% rate.

So, yeah, all signs point in one direction: NFLbets’ Pick of the Week for week 3 is to take the Houston Texans -6 vs the New York Giants. And we’ll call betting the under on an O/U of 42½ points. The only one who could destroy this latter wager is Beckham, but what’s the point of having a fleet receiver who can catch in double coverage when your quarterback can’t even reach the dude with the ball?

Gods, we love Eli Manning…

Our Picks of the Week take advantage of early hype, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (with special guest Flavor Flav)

Friday, 14 September 2018 14:08 EST

DonOverreaction week? You bet! Thanks to outlier performances in week 1, NFLbets counted about a half-dozen teams as overrated based on a single win: Most importantly for our purposes were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but also the Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Washington and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Admittedly, yours truly took the Bengals for chumps and Cincy instead made NFLbets the chumps on F@^%@^%ing Thursday Night Football. But we’d dare to suggest that not one of the aforementioned teams will be making the playoffs except Cincinnati, who are pretty clearly playing in the league’s worst division this season.

Not only this, but of the teams between by the aforementioned six in week 1 (the New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts) perhaps one – the Saints from the wacky NFC South; we’ll see what they do against the Cleveland Browns this week – is a serious playoff contender.

In short, let us say that the 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers just aren’t that good. NFLbets’d go so far as to say that the current line of Philadelphia Eagles -3½ at Tampa Bay is bulletin board material for the Eagles. (Why ae the sportsbooks trolling the defending champs so much? They collectively must like Nick Foles even less than NFLbets does…)

Who are these Buccaneers?

One of *the* headline stories of week 1 was the masterful 417-yard, 4-touchdown show put on by Ryan Fitzpatrick against the New Orleans defense which appeared to have reverted to 2016/early 2017 form. A closer look at Fitzpatrick shows no one you’ll be wanting to wager on when facing an above-average side.


Last season, “Fitzmagic” was 2-1 SU/ATS in starts, with ATS wins against the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. For the Jets in 2016, he was just 3-8 SU/ATS in starts, winning ATS at the Jets, at Buffalo and against the ultimately 8-8 Ravens. Even in 2015, his last full season as a starter, Fitzpatrick's 10-6 SU record falls to 7-7-2 ATS, with just a 1-1-1 mark ATS against playoff teams that year. Yikes.

Setting Fitzpatrick aside, as the Buccaneers are likely to do in favor of the flawed Jameis Winston, a consideration of the Tampa Bay offense doesn’t exactly wow despite the 42 points last week.

All of the “skill players” who contributed more than 10 total yards in week 1 – Peyton Barber, Mike Evans, DeSeaon Jackson, O.J. Howard, Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries – are holdovers from last season, when the Bucs were 18th in points scored and 26th in turnovers surrendered. Blame as much of that as you’d like on Winston, but the truth is that Barber wasn’t enough to keep the Buccaneers rushing in the bottom five or six in most statistical categories.

As for the Tampa Bay defense, well, you saw last week’s outcome, right? A Foles-led offense will hardly score the points that Brees and his Saints are capable of, but we figure Jay Ajayi should do enough damage alone against a Buccaneers D that was dead last in yardage allowed in 2017.

It all adds up to a pragmatic choice for the NFLbets Picks of Week 2: Take the Philadelphia Eagles -3½ at Tampa Bay and, as always when low-watt offenses play in inclement weather, take the under on an O/U of 44 points.

And for those who have forgotten about letting a single game run away with sanity, we’ll put in an old classic with a salient message here. Enjoy!

Pick of the Week: NFLbets despises betting in week 1, but loves the L.A. Rams -4½ at Oakland

Monday, 10 September 2018 12:06 EST

Aaron Donlad football cardWhat do you call a gift given way too early? This week, we’re calling it “Los Angeles Rams -4½ at Oakland Raiders.” Just about the only thing keeping NFLbets from plunking down the entire bankroll on this one is – you guessed it – that it’s week 1, the most gamblingest week of the NFL season aside from the last.

But whoa, is it tough to resist this one…

Come on: You’ve got the prospective NFC Champions, including four or five add-ons who weren’t even around last year, who are acting with the swagger of expectations, the valedictorian of the school of Hard Knocks. On the other side, you’ve got a team deflated by the reality of sudden rebuilding.

On one sideline is Sean McVay, the 2017 NFL Coach of the Year, along with his sidekick (!) defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, also acknowledged as at least a top-3 guy at his job. McVay has both the cajones and confidence enough in his plans and personnel to sit his superstars through the meaningless (for the Rams, anyway) preseason. Across from this, you’ve got Chucky*, a head coach who hasn’t had a winning season since W. was POTUS and who, after years of apparently mindlessly praising Khalil Mack as an absolute force, didn’t even take a meeting with the very popular in-house franchise player.

(*NFLbets has previously noted that this is a dated reference and also that we don’t care. Chucky-era Gruden was awesome…)

The Rams offense features the 2017 Offensive POY/2018 vogue fantasy football pick in Todd Gurley, a more experienced OL and have added WR Brandin Cooks from the New England Patriots. And the defense? Well, you know. DMVP DE Aaron Donald is back after his holdout and what was perhaps the NFL’s most exciting defense in ’17 merely added Ndamokung Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Incidentally, the Rams bring perhaps the greatest punter of the 21st century, Johnny Hekker.

Chucky Gruden pokemon cardAcross from this stands a Davis with his empty pockets turned inside out. Lack of cash flow (NFLbets rule #!: Know your budget and stick to it) is rumored to have precipitated Mack’s departure and could lead to the jettisoning of Cooper soon, too. No major free agents joined the Raiders this offseason despite the “lure” of Gruden taking over a 6-10 team. As in the post-Rich Gannon (and, come to think of it, post-Gruden) days of the mid-2000s Oakland Raiders, these guys already resemble 53 dudes playing out their contracts on a roster as fluid as a Turkish basketball team’s.

Seriously, the 2018 Oakland Raiders – especially after inevitably trading Ameri Cooper – will go down as the league’s second-worst.

(The worst? Let’s just say that NFLbets didn’t need more than a couple of quarters to realize the probability of an 0-16 Buffalo Bills team is very real.)

Those who were prescient enough to take the Rams pre-Mack trade, when the line was a mere -3, are certainly patting themselves on the back and banking on a nice early win. So get in now and bet the Los Angeles Rams -4½ at Oakland. Just don’t bet the house: Remember that this is week 1, and week 1 in the NFL is evil…