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!

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.

Five picks ATS for your NFL week 1 Point Spread Pick ‘Em card

Thursday, 09 September 2021 16:49 EST

As NFLbets has ranted before, nothing good usually comes from betting week 1 in any NFL betting season. Then we get signed up for one of these point spread pick ‘em contests in which we’re obligated to pick *five* games weekly with (usually inflated) ’spreads. Twist NFLbets’ arm, why don’tcha?

The following are the picks on NFLbets’ ticket for week 1 of Point Spread Pick ‘Em…

• Tampa Bay Buccaneers -9 vs Dallas Cowboys
NFLbets detailed our thinking on Cowboys +7½ elsewhere on this site. Suffice to say that, since posting ot that piece, the Covid reserve list of “America’s Team” has grown to include more names than at any point during the 2020 season. Nine points is well more than we’d wager in a normal situation in this game, but a double-digit win by the Bucs is certainly believable.

• Atlanta Falcons -3 vs Philadelphia Eagles
NFLbets isn’t sure whether this line is about underestimating the Falcons, overestimating the Eagles or sheer bafflement at how either team will look when hitting mid-season coherence We get the feeling that Eagles backers wil be lamenting their fortunes by early in the third quarter. After all, wouldn’t you take the established quarterback with a potential top TE over, let’s face it, a rebuilding team quarterbacked by a dude with Alabama pedigree and little more…?

• New England Patriots -3 vs Miami Dolphins
Here’s a line with about as much WTFery as that of the Eagles-Falcons game. Fair enough, the typical NFL observer does not want to face the possibility of another postseason run by the Patriots – but this is where the bettor’s emotional distance can prove profitable. And if young Mac Jones, old Bill Belichick and an apparently stellar defense are good for 11 or more wins this season, this is the sort of game that goes in the W column – and probably by more than 3 points…

• Denver Broncos -3 at New York Giants
NFLbets has zero faith in the 2021 New York Giants, one of four likely utter washouts devoted to rebuilding and about the only one who will admit it. Teddy Bridgewater may not be the most exciting switch at quarterback but is certainly skilled enough to lead the Broncos offense to a few scores in this game. And a few scores may be enough against one of the league’s worst offensive lines; the smart bet in this game is on the under…

• Los Angeles Rams -7.5 vs Chicago Bears
7½ points is a bit high – most sportsbooks have the Rams giving 6½ -- but Rams defense vs Bears offense is one of week 1’s bigger mismatches. Beyond this is Sean McVay, armed with Matt Stafford and thus about 62% more p;laybook than with Jared Goff. The Rams might score more points than any team this week and NFLbets has no fear these Bears can keep pace…

–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 Week 1 betting: Exclusive Welcome Bonus on NFLbets

Thursday, 09 September 2021 09:15 EST

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Week 1 betting: Dallas Cowboys -7½ at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tuesday, 07 September 2021 17:37 EST

NFL Opening Day 2021 bettingSo if you’re reading this, you’re probably not heeding NFLbets’ most strident warning about betting week 1, namely You Do Not Bet on Week 1 NFL Games. Too little knowledge plus too much leeway for upsets equals enough unknown variables to make betting week 1 akin to straight-up gambling.

But hey, the truth is that NFLbets can’t take this reasonable advice either. Who can stay away from wagering on real football after months of bending the mind on these preseason proposition bets? And thanks to the schedule-makers and sportsbooks, the 2021 NFL season will open with a real potential money drain, i.e.

Dallas Cowboys -7½ at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Up until a week ago, Cowboys -6½ was still available at some sportsbooks, but the Cowboys are looking at some potential holes on the offensive line. OG Zach Martin is out for the opener due to Covid protocols as is his backup Brandon Knight. OT Ty Nsekhe has been limited in practice this week.

Additionally, history says that Dallas is looking at quite the challenge in facing a defending Super Bowl champion on Opening Day Thursday. Since the now-tradition began in 2006,

  • favorites are 13-5 SU/10-4-4 ATS;
  • home teams are 15-3 SU and 11-3-4 ATS; and
  • the defending Super Bowl champion is a whopping 13-1 SU/9-2-3 ATS.

Furthermore, only twice has the home team lost both SU and ATS on NFL Opening Day: The New England Patriots against Kansas City in 2017 and the Chicago Bears against Green Bay in ’19.

So even before we get to the specifics of this year’s Opening Day game, things look dark for the Cowboys. Assuming that the Buccaneers are a reasonable facsimile of the team that closed the 2020 season on 8-0 SU (6-2 ATS) and 9-2 (8-3 ATS) runs – an as has been well hyped already, the 2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the first ever Super Bowl champion to return all 22 starters – Dallas is in some trouble.

Not only is Ezekiel Elliott vital to the Cowboys’ offensive plans and not only will the run blocking be at least wounded if not crippled, but the Bucs were the no. 1 defense against the run in 2020, not to mention top-10 in total offense, first downs allowed, turnovers generated, tackles for loss … essentially all numbers measuring the potential suffering of an underprepared offense.

As for the Cowboys defense, the bottom-5 unit of 2020 has been rebooted but is anyone ready to suggest that Tom Brady, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette et al will be stopped by any but the top defenses this season? And does anyone believe Dallas has improved that much?

A 7½-point spread may generally be a lot to cover in any NFL game but at any other point in the season, the offering would be jumped at what with the Cowboys’ likely patchwork OL. If you must bet on the Opening Day game, take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -7½ vs Dallas.  

–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.

Kneejerk reactions to week 1 point spreads, lines, odds

Thursday, 22 July 2021 11:05 EST

NFLbets has said (written?) it before, and we’ll say (write?) it again: Betting week 1 games in the NFL is a crapshoot at best, burning money at worst. The truth is that most bettors are going into opening week in a next-to-ignorant state, armed only with memories of the previous season and speculation on the league’s rookies.

Naturally, of course, no NFL bettors worth their salt eschew betting week 1 altogether, and NFLbets has to admit to great temptation from a handful of the week 1 pointspreads, already released by most sportsbooks. So go ahead, bet at will – just be careful out there…

NFL week 1 betting: All 32 teams

Early week 1 pointspreads are as follows.

Dallas Cowboys +6½ at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFLbets realizes that the league traditionally likes to kick off a new season with the defending champs and with “America’s Team” expected to contend in 2021, Pokes vs Bucs makes a decent enough opener – except that after Hard Knocks and umpteen commercials featuring Tom Brady, this matchup will make for an unusual week 1 Overexposure Bowl…

Pittsburgh Steelers +6½ at Buffalo Bills
The Bills may have gained quite the bandwagon following during their playoff run last season (hey, NFLbets had ’em going to the Super Bowl last year, much to our chagrin) but we’re figuring the crowd is back down to the diehard Bills mafia, meaning this line will shrink – and betting on Buffalo will just look better and better…

New York Jets +4 at Carolina Panthers
If anyone doubted that NFL schedule-makers play to manufactured narratives, check out this, the Sam Darnold Revenge Game, in week 1...

Jacksonville Jaguars -2½ at Houston Texans
That goes double for this game: Urban Meyer’s first game as an NFL head coach pits his Jaguars against a stapled-together roster led by (most likely) the league’s worst starting QB. This opener should also get both teams some good national coverage for a couple teams who will be ignored for the last 17 weeks of the season.

Arizona Cardinals +3 at Tennessee Titans
Calling this one now: By season’s end, these two teams will be counted among the NFL’s most disappointing – by those who haven’t been paying attention to Kyler Murray’s baffling inconsistency and/or the steady degeneration of the Titans offense.

“Los Angeles” Chargers -1 at Washington Redtails
By contrast, Chargers at Washington could well be retroactively recognized as a matchup of a top-3 offense vs top-3 defense.

Philadelphia Eagles +3½ at Atlanta Falcons
NFL-Fostered Narratives, part II: This one’ll be marketed with a focus on the “battle” between two rookies coveted by fantasy football owners: DeVonta Smith and Kyle Pitts.

Seattle Seahawks +2½ at Indianapolis Colts
Seattle may be playing with a time-zone disadvantage, but the Seahawks have gone 5-1 SU to start each of the previous two seasons. NFLbets already likes the possibilities of giving Russell Wilson & Co. the 2½...

Minnesota Vikings -3 at Cincinnati Bengals
NFLbets recalls the disclaimer that investment firms were required to run at the end of commercials: “Past performance is not indicative of future results.” NFLbets bets that by season’s end, we’ll be wondering how the hell the Vikings were giving a touchdown while visitors against a viable playoff contender.

San Francisco 49ers -7½ at Detroit Lions
The Lions’ unintended quest for 0-17 begins here: The fact that the Niners, who went 2-6 against teams with a winning record (and 2-7 against playoff teams) and are running with the same QB in which the head coach has been profoundly disappointed, get more than a touchdown in Detroit speaks volumes.

Cleveland Browns +6 at Kansas City Chiefs
Here’s your fodder for week 1 overreactions. A double-digit Browns loss will scare away backers in droves until about week 9 or so, while a Kansas City loss of any sort will have a majority of fandom mouth-frothing about Cleveland for the Super Bowl.

Miami Dolphins +2½ at New England Patriots
This line indicates that belief in Bill Belichick remains way high, while Tua Tagovailoa believers are minority. It’s also the single least unbettable opening-week game.

Denver Broncos -1 at New York Giants
Forget the point spread in this game, and look at that 42½-point over/under line instead.

Baltimore Ravens -4 at Las Vegas Raiders
NFLbets is already penciling in a big Raiders loss in front of their first proper Sin City home crowd and guessing that the responses to a Ravens blowout will not be overdone. This should be the beginning of the end for Derek Carr as Vegas starting QB.

Chicago Bears +7 at Los Angeles Rams
If we account for the old saw of “offenses get started faster than defenses,” the path to betting this game is clearly all about the over. If Matt Stafford is one-quarter the quarterback that hyped-up head coach Sean McVay believes he is, the Rams might top 45 by themselves against Chicago.

–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.

10 NFL games that we already can't wait to bet in 2021

Monday, 28 June 2021 18:06 EST

CanCertain games you just have to make the calendar for…

While it’s folly to assume a matchup in, likesay, week 4 can be predicted with any accuracy three months before the season starts, it’s definitely worth earmarking some dates now so as to drown out the dogmatic din from mass media that many games will elicit later.

Prevailing conditions matter, e.g. a key injury or two can flip expectations in a hurry (ask the 2020 Dallas Cowboys or, for that matter, the 1999 St. Louis Rams). Here are around 10 games that NFLbets has earmarked for some significant investment in 2021. Probably.

week 2: New York Giants at Washington Football Team

NFLbets always tries to avoid betting week 1 games, so as the Thursday Night Football game in week 2, this is theoretically the first NFL game we’ll play in 2021. (Yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre.) This particular NFC East game is particularly intriguing anyway. We’ll see how good the Washington run defense is in going up against Saquon Barkley, who returns after all of 19 attempts for 34 yards in weeks 1 and 2 of ’20, but how much more high-watt can these Giants be over last year’s team? We’d like to take Washington FT minus the points and the under for the game.

week 4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots

Assuming Tom Brady’s still standing, this will certainly be the most hyped match of the year. And while this far out, NFLbets can’t imagine the pointspread, we’re betting the chess match between Patriots HC Bill Belichick and the GOAT QB results in well fewer passing yards and points than the sportsbooks’ll be thinking. We’re thinking the under on points, on Patriots points and on Buccaneers points. Going over on Leonard Fournette’s rushing yards might sucker a few bettors, but the returning Don’t’a Hightower may have something to say about that…

week 5: Cleveland Browns at “Los Angeles” Chargers

Remember that Kansas City Chiefs-Los Angeles Rams 105-point Monday Night Football game? NFLbets sees the potential for this game as the 2021 version. We’re thinking the scoreboard will be spinning here.

week 6: Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Football Team

In a matchup of what could well be this season’s best offense vs the best defense, we’ll take the under.

week 7: Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Rams

Ever since his team (and let’s face it, his coaching staff) produced one of the most embarrassing offense performances the Super Bowl has ever seen, Rams HC Sean McVay was certainly prone to fantasies about coaching an NFL team with any quarterback other than Jared Goff.  

When asked by ESPN reporters about how he enjoyed having new QB Matt Stafford in mini-camp, McVay coached his answer in the attitude of a just-divorced man: “Everybody says, ‘Man, you just seem like you’re in a better mood this offseason,’ and I said, ‘You’re damn right I am…’”

We’re thinking this game brings out the ugly, likesay, divorce lawyer-backed ugly. That’s probably bad for Goff, but great for bettors: NFLbets can’t wait to take the Lions under, the Rams minus all the points and as many alternate lines as possible on this one.

week 10: Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers

Here’s NFLbets’ upset special of the year. Earlier, NFLbets thought long and hard on the question of just how the Lions might avoid taking an ofer in the first NFL 17-game season. Their week 10 matchup at Pittsburgh comes after the Lions’ bye week and, quite frankly, we’d be surprised in the Steelers were better than 4-5 going into this matchup. Nevertheless, the fan favorite will likely be favored by well too much.

week 13: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

This far out, NFLbets is figuring on two possibilities for this game. One, Russell Wilson will be out for the season, in which case bettors will be ponying up mortgages to cover the Seahawks’ opposition everywhere. Or two, the Seahawks will be up to their usual standards: In the Carroll-Wilson Era, Seattle is 19-10 SU at home against NFC West teams, though “just” 14-9 in such games in the season’s second half. Either way, the betting should be solid for this one.

week 14: Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

By week 14, the Raiders may be ripe for playoff elimination and could be in for quite a shredding in this game. The ’spread is certain to be lower than one might objectively expect due to the Gruden’s Raiders’ relative success against Reid’s Chiefs in 2020, with an 8-point win and a 4-point loss. NFLbets isn’t buying that BS in 2021…

week 15: Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills

The NFL is clearly expecting nice things from the Panthers in 2021, as this week 15 game is flexible. Should this one get flexed into prime time, football fans may know it’s worth a watch; for bettors, however, the salient point is that this game in Buffalo around December 19th will represent likely the *only* cold-weather game the NFC South team plays all year. And by cold, we may mean “really fucking freezing.”

week 19: NFC no. 2 seed vs NFC no. 7 seed

Most everyone forecasting the 2021 NFL season agrees that the NFC has at least three top-notch contenders: Tampa Bay, Los Angeles and a variable no. 3 (NFLbets likes Washington FT). After that, well…

On top of this, factor in that, with six playoffs teams, the NFC managed to seed two non-winning teams in the 8-8 Chicago Bears and the 7-9 NFC East winning/not-losing Football Team. Even if you believe that several NFC teams have improved year-on-year, two near-.500 NFC playoff teams seem inevitable; meanwhile, either of the top two finishers in the conference are proper Super Bowl contenders. So the Rams or Buccaneers defending home field against the likes of the Cardinals, Cowboys or Panthers? Give NFLbets the homers minus a couple touchdowns right now.

 –written by Os Davis

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