NFL Playoffs: Betting, odds in football postseason

Note to Michael Thomas, Saints: You’re not getting a do-over because you f#*&#*&ing lost

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 14:25 EST

NFLbets couldn’t f*&#*&@ing believe the headline over at Yahoo Sports this morning: Michael Thomas cites NFL rule book, calls on Roger Goodell for a do-over of NFC championship.

Come on, now, seriously?

For one thing, yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre. Goodell is too busy employing the best practices of How Not To Be Seen By The Media, lest he find himself having to answer for another case of domestic violence, franchise relocation or deflated balls, to address this little piddly issue. Besides, when was the last time an NFL game result was overturned? (It may or may not have involved the Pottsville Maroons…)

Secondly, you, Michael Thomas, your guys the New Orleans Saints and your coaching staff – not any member/members of an NFL officiating crew – lost the 2019 NFC Championship Game. Your team scored on its first three possessions, one of which started nearly inside the zone, dominated the first quarter completely and took an early 13-0 lead. And lost.

Your Saints defense, in two drives bookending the fateful non-call, allowed the Rams to run off 18 plays for 130 yards while notching zero tackles for a loss. Jared Goff – a guy who your coaching staff was apparently daring to lead the Rams downfield for the win; why else pass on first down with 1:58 remaining? – complete passes to five different receivers, not one of which has the ball-catching skills as you do, Michael. Goff ended up going 8-of-13 for 133 yards after the third quarter.

And what about Michael Thomas himself? Just nine days ago, pundits were tripping over themselves to label Thomas as The Greatest Wide Receiver in the Game Including Odell Beckham while NFL bettors like yours truly were trying to figure out just how the hell Marcus Peters – who has been brutally bad most of the season – and Aqib Talib were going to handle the man without letting every other Saints WR loose.

Instead, Thomas disappeared in Rams’ zone coverages and somehow became even less relevant when a nickel package was out there. Thomas’s long, a reception of 19 yards, came about 11½ minutes into the game when Drew Brees found him single-“covered” by Peters. After that catch, Thomas caught a whopping two passes.

As though an important game has never been decided on a bad call. All you righteous New Orleans fans can surely recall Robert Meachem dribbling the ball off the Superdome turf in the 2010 NFC Championship Game, yet ultimately credited with a catch that put Garrett Hartley in position to kick the game-winning field goal. Did the Saints and their fans ascribe this win to an unfair call? Of course not! They were instead far more (justifiably) likely to bring up the Vikings’ three lost fumbles, for example.

Thomas’s argument is based on NFL Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1:

“The Commissioner has the sole authority to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective measures if any club action, non-participant interference, or calamity occurs in an NFL game which he deems so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game.”

And Thomas reckons that the “appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective measures” are to replay the game at some point before Super Bowl LIII kicks off.

(Incidentally, NFLbets believes that Thomas was given the idea by way of either that morning’s Bill Simmons Podcast or ESPN’s afternoon airing of Pardon the Interruption, both of which mentioned the given rule.)

A replay would be quite the extreme measure indeed and would be utterly unprecedented in NFL history, if not all of American sports history. The closest such instance that NFLbets can recall would probably be Major League Baseball’s so-called Pine Tar Game of 1983 between the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees; but that was a regular-season game and for the “replay”, only the final out of the top half of the ninth was required for the replay.

Thomas’s case for a full-on replay seems quixotic at best, beginning with the argument that somehow *this* call in *this* game truly was The Worst Call of All-Time in an age of incessant hyperbole – Geez, what about the Dez Bryant catch/no-catch? How about the 2005 Seattle Seahawks? We can hardly imagine this complaint even getting to an official level. Soon, no one outside the greater New Orleans area will give a damn anyway, and that’s fine.

Why? NFLbets has a go-to line in situations like this, which happen incredibly often and are even more common among the NFL bettor crowd. It goes like this:

If you don’t want to lose because of a bad call by an official, don’t put the game’s outcome in the hands of the officials.

In other words, if you can’t win by two scores and/or give the opposition multiple chances to stay in the game, you should be prepared to lose a close one on a referee’s call. If you go up 13 points on your home field with a top-5 offense led by the most accurate QB of our time, yet that game can still ultimately be decided on a single play, well, you shouldn’t be surprised to lose.

And the record will forever show the New Orleans Saints lost the 2019 NFC Championship Game. Which they did.

Too bad.

(Besides, you can't just re-shoot all those “Saints fans react” clips on YouTube...

Shall we talk about the weather and/or the AFC Championship game?

Sunday, 20 January 2019 09:48 EST

Since everyone else is talking about the weather, why can’t NFLbets? We’re gonna slaughter some sacred cows about professional football here and we may not even have to resort to “Come on, we’re talking about Belichick and Brady and the New England Patriots here.”

Betting on snow gamesNow NFLbets’ll admit it: We often get way too obsessed factoring the weather into our bets – and subsequently get burned (so to speak) by this silly tendency; admittedly, the assumption served us well for the Colts-Chiefs divisional, but not as much as Indianapolis just not showing up. as recently as the Chargers-Patriots divisional last week. Well, it never too late to turn over a new leaf and we believe we’re about to.

And so to paraphrase R.E.M., “Shall we talk about the weather?

Since 2001, the home team is 30-20-1 SU in games played at temperatures of 20° or lower – but check this out: The regular season mark for home teams in such frigid weather is an incredible *23-12-1* SU. That’s right: Home teams are 7-8 SU (and 5-10 ATS!) in the cold in the playoffs. Here are the numbers.

In these 15 games are a range of scores running from 10-9 (Seahawks at Minnesota in 2015) to 45-42 (Jaguars at Pittsburgh last year), the average score works out to right around 29-20½; an over/under of 49½ is hardly outrageously high or low at any point over the past two decades. Six of the 15 game results would have paid on a bet of over-49½, including four of the seven such games played after 2012 and therefore more indicative of modern-day rule changes.

Not exactly germane to this discussion but of interest (and what the hell, we trawled through the numbers anyway): The Belichick/Brady Patriots are 3-1 SU – but just 1-3 ATS – in such games, with the sole SU win coming in Pittsburgh in 2004; incidentally, the Patriots were favored in all four games. Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has played in one such sub-20° playoff game, winning SU/ATS against the Atlanta Falcons on the way to his only Super Bowl appearance and you know how things went there.

Factor in the case studies of the Patriots and Chiefs, tiny-ass sample sizes included, if you like, but clearly simple win-loss records SU/ATS are enough to demonstrate that cold weather has no discernible effect save to hurt the weaker team. Naturally, this becomes clear only in hindsight.

Snow? Purely empirically speaking, snow randomizes stuff but good. Recall some easy examples like the Tuck Rule Game that birthed the current New England monstrosity or the aforementioned Seahawks-Vikings wild card game or the 2017 Grey Cup. The good news is that the snow has ceased falling in Kansas City and a low probability is reported for precipitation tonight, so we don’t need to worry about this X-factor.

Snow games make NFL betting difficultOkay, so how about wind? Certainly Patrick Mahomes & Co., who favor the loooooooooooooong aerial attack to YAC (so *that’s* why they were so hot for Sammy Watkins), would be affected by craziness here?


A blogger over at studied the affects of wind in games between 2003 and ’15, turning up data that, well, you’d probably expect. The Pinnacle numbers show that “Wind would appear to be of little consequence to points totals until it reaches speeds of 15 mph and above.”

Further, “In the 50 or so such games [considered], average totals were set on the low side at 38½, but actual match totals averaged even lower at 35.3 and consequently, under bets were successful in 64.6% of games.”

In order words, blindly taking the under in games when wind speed is 15 or more does on average some 4.6% better – or a little less than one game per season – than a profit-making NFL bettor. Significant enough perhaps, but guess what: The forecast is calling for winds to top out at 10 mph today/tonight, and who’d believe that Mahomes-to-Kelce wouldn’t be good for two touchdowns in the middle of tornado?

So, nope. NFLbets ain’t buying the weather as a factor in the AFC Championship Game. After all, this here is the NFL playoffs and we’ve got two hardcore offenses ready to play. And we’re sticking with our bet on over 56 points.

NFL playoffs betting: Try not to consider history and cover Kansas City (maybe)

Saturday, 19 January 2019 15:06 EST

New England Patriots +3 at Kansas City Chiefs, over/under 56 points

The most difficult part about betting the AFC Championship Game is separating the real numbers and trends from the reputations and histories – not to mention the endless noise about the Teflon excellence of the NFL’s version of Anakin and Luke Skywalker.

And there’s good reason for obfuscation caused by history: The Patriots – and Andy Reid – have great gobs of the stuff, spread throughout the NFL record books of the 21st century. Stuff like the Belichick/Brady Patriots are a crazy 27-10 SU (22-16 ATS) in all playoff games including Super Bowls, but they’re just 3-4 SU/ATS in away playoff games (on the other hand, all four such losses came at Denver and/or Peyton Manning’s teams).

Despite all the young talent on the Chiefs, Kansas City too has playoff history. Well, Reid does, anyway, and it doesn’t look great. With the win last week – which a cynic could ascribe to the coach’s 21-4 SU record when coming out of a bye at any point in the season or post-season – Reid’s teams are now 12-13 SU in the playoffs and are on a 2-7 SU/ATS “run”.  

So how about the weather? Considering that both teams play ball in the cold and that forecasts all week have stated that no precipitation of any sort is expected, we’re calling this one neutral. The football itself gets hard and heavy when the temperature is in the 20s, you say? Mahomes has shown that he could probably chuck a cinderblock 50 yards downfield (and complete the pass!), while Brady won’t be lofting long bombs regardless and he’ll be certain to have those pigskins deflated to the exactly appropriate pressure.

(That’d make a great proposition bet: Over/under 12.75 ppi on the pressure of Tom Brady’s balls. Wait, that came out wrong…)

As excruciating as dogma like “You’re gonna bet against the Patriots?!?!?!?” is, two decades or so of history cannot be ignored altogether. Fine. We’ll submit this for consideration, then: On a talent level in the passing game, these Patriots are the weakest since 2006, the season prior to the Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth signings – no coincidence there. And one may argue the impressiveness of the Patriots running game recently, but the truth is that the ’06 team had Corey Dillion, arguably the greatest Pats RB ever, and he was simply stuffed in two playoff games despite a gaudy four goal-line TDs socred.

Andy Reid’s game-clock management “skills” are well documented enough elsewhere so that NFLbets needn’t go into the minutiae here, but if we’re talking history here, the Chiefs have a huge advantage in that future Hall of Famer Travis Kelce will be able to dominate an improved but still ho-hum Patriots secondary.

Round and round goes the logic, but everything comes back to the Patriots having some advantage or another in the abstract, whereas the hard realities favor the Chiefs. After all, consider the apparent contradiction of talking heads and fandom insisting Belichick ‘n’ Brady can’t lose, yet the line of Patriots +3 has remained stable since Sunday night; this tells NFLbets that the sharps’ money is balancing out hyped-up NFL bettors willing to bet on continuation of the Evil Empire just because we can’t imagine the other possibility.

NFLbets is therefore going to play this one a little differently. First off, we’re advising to <strong>take the over on an over/under of 56 points</strong>. That’s right: We’re not swayed by impressive defensive performances of last week, low temperatures or even windy conditions. All the best skill players are lining up against the Patriots, while the Chiefs are the most penalized and among the most porous defenses in the NFL. Points will be scored.

We’re also playing conservative and advising to <strong>take the Chiefs ML at -165</strong>, but keep the online sportsbook site open. If the Patriots get the ball first – especially if they’ve won the toss and elect to receive – click away and <strong>take the Patriots +3</strong> immediately before the odds decrease.

You know that horrible cliché, “Whichever team has the ball last is going to win this game?” It’s an insipid, meaningless observation; think about it: no matter what teams are playing or at what point in the game you declare this nonsense, you have an exactly 50% chance of being correct. Well, Belichick at some point before last week decided that the far more reasonable assertion is that “Whichever team gets the ball *first* is going to win this game.” Particularly when outgunned, first possession allows a thinking side with a veteran über-QB the potential to set the pace for the entire game and at best kill half a quarter of playing time.

Do the Dark Lord and Jedi Master have one more sequel in ’em…? This could be tense.

NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018-19: 39-32-2.

NFL Playoffs Betting: This may be crazy, but NFLbets loves Rams +3½ in NFC Championship

Thursday, 17 January 2019 15:19 EST

So thanks a lot, NFL. Go ahead and leave us with the four teams we thought would be in the conference championship games all along. Thanks to the Chiefs, Patriots, Rams and Saints as well for having terrific, point-scoring offenses which defy statistical analysis and great opposition coaching alike And thanks most of all to the bookmakers, for setting both the AFC and NFC Conference games with the Oddsmaker’s Tie, i.e. a 3-point spread favoring the home team.

Make it easy, why don’tcha.

While the fans are certainly in for some fun (or, in case of blowout, simply fascinating) games this weekend, NFLbets and NFL bettors are certainly sweating a bit over wagering on these things. But let’s see if NFLbets can’t scope out a couple of bets worth making – gods know we could use some, with our shaky performance thus far in the playoffs…

We begin with

Los Angeles Rams +3½ at New Orleans Saints, over/under 56½ points

NFLbets starts the thinking with the premise that the coaching edge will more or less cancel out. Look, few folks are in a position to estimate the relative football intelligence of a Sean Payton versus a Sean McVay, and we ain’t among them.

Beyond this, three key matchups should determine this game.

• The Saints pass rush vs the Rams OL (and Jared Goff). If the Saints can rush the too-frequently checking-down Goff like they did Nick Foles last week, Rams backers get the proverbial long day on the field. But after 17 games of the same five guys playing on nearly every single offensive snap in 2018, the L.A. OL is playing peak football at the right time, i.e. right now: In the past two games, they’ve allowed zero sacks and the offensive has committed zero turnovers in the past two games.

Keeping the Saints at bay and/or getting the ball out of Goff’s hands really quickly will be imperative for the Rams. After all, despite all the protection his line gave him last week, the L.A. QB was just 15 or 28 for 186 yards.

• Todd Gurley and (yes) C.J. Anderson vs the Saints run defense. Here’s a way for Goff to get rid of the ball: Lots of running plays! Against the Dallas Cowboys, the ratio of run to pass was 48:28, which is where NFLbets is guessing that McVay wants those numbers in New Orleans in order to control the clock and exploit the (big!) absence of DT Sheldon Rankins.

Folks who don’t believe that McVey’ll call for Anderson to get 20-25 touches again hasn’t been paying attention – this dude with a fullback’s sensibility and halfback’s speed has been breaking down defenses, freeing Gurley up and re-enlivening the play-action. In short, the no. 2 the Rams have so sorely needed since drafting Gurley.

And that New Orleans turf surface can only help…

• Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr. vs Marcus “Gumbo” Peters and Aqib Talib. Thomas has been playing at otherworldly levels, and how can the Rams stifle this weapon? Peters has been, likesay, extremely underwhelming at best without Talib in the lineup:

          -- In all 17 Rams games: 240.5 yards per game passing
          -- In 10 games with Talib: 230.5 ypg
          -- In 7 games without Talib: 266.7 ypg
          -- In the past 6 games, i.e. since the bye: 209.9 ypg.

Note, too, that Talib’s statistics include the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in which Patrick Mahomes et al ran up 448 on Talib and Peters. Thomas may be tough to stop – even for Talib – but, just as with the offensive line and the running game, the Rams have been waiting a long time to get this aspect of their game to this level of play.

Additionally, Los Angeles may not even need Talib and Peters to play perfect ball (and Rams fans can attest to the fact that Peters has played far from perfect ball in 2018-19). Double teams have proven to be the only method of stopping Aaron Donald this season, and the Saints currently have two offensive linemen (Ryan Ramcyzk, Max Unger) listed as “questionable” on Thursday afternoon plus Andrus Peat, who will be playing with a broken hand.

NFC Championship Game: NFLbets’ Best Bets

NFLbets actually had no idea that the Rams had such a strong case to win this football game before beginning this piece. We won’t prescribe a Rams money line (ML) bet at +150, but we will be covering this. For official Best Bets for the NFC Championship Game, we’ll saying take the Los Angeles Rams +3½ at the New Orleans Saints.

We’re also betting (literally) on a run-heavy, ball-control game here. A 30-27 or 30-26 final score would imply at very least nine scores and more likely 11 or 12, which feels like way too much. Take the under on an O/U of 56½ points.

NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018-19: 39-32-2.

Super Bowl LIII: Four possibilities, four parlay bets

Monday, 14 January 2019 14:59 EST

Now that we know the NFL’s final four, what’s your choice for Super Bowl LIII? A meeting of the top two candidates for 2018 Most Valuable Player? Or how about the possible final hurrahs of two all-time great QBs? Perhaps you’d like a rematch of the insane 105-point game which had football fans of all stripes proclaiming The Death Of Defense? Or even a chess match between the consensus greatest head coach ever and the near-consensus shiny new genius?

Whichever narrative wins out, NFLbets is looking at Super Bowl matchups in terms of what else but turning wagers into profit. The potential payback on a parlay involving your two picks straight up is quite good, even if you’re running with the favorites.

Four teams, four Super Bowl LIII parlays

The few possible Super Bowl LIII matchups and their odds shake out as follows.

The All-star Bowl
New Orleans Saints (-175 ML vs Rams) vs Kansas City Chiefs (-155 ML vs Patriots): +160

This version of LIII would be touted as a Drew Brees vs. Patrick Mahomes battle, always an insipid storyline because, well, *they don’t actually face off on the f^#@^#ing field*. Here, the prospective hype is even more egregious because,l as the Chiefs and Saints got six (Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce, OT Eric Fisher, FB Anothony Sherman, LB Dee Ford) and five (Brees, WR MIchael Thomas, OT Terron Armstead, C Max Under, DE Cameron Jordan), respectively, elected to the Pro Bowl.

Note for those predicting (and betting) these two teams to advance: This is the sole Super Bowl LIII parlay pick that cannot be hedged against for profit.

The Old Guard Bowl
New Orleans Saints (-175) vs New England Patriots (+135): +300

Okay, this is crazy: Tom Brady and Drew Brees have played a combined 474 regular-season games for their current teams; Bill Belichick and Season Payton have coach 596 for theirs – yet Belichick/Brady and Payton/Brees teams have met just three times. (For the record, the Patriots are 2-1 SU/ATS.) Again, a Saints-Patriots Super Bowl is hardly about quarterbacks and head coaches alone, but these two combinations have become so inextricably linked with success that they’re likely to become synonymous with the franchises for years to come.

Also consider two relatively weak pass defenses allowing the old guys to enjoy one last spin – NFLbets thinks it’s no controversy to state that these two teams as constituted won’t see another Super Bowl again – and you might have even more of a scoreboard-spinner than Saints-Chiefs or…

The Points Aplenty Bowl
Los Angeles Rams (+155) vs Kansas City Chiefs (-155): +320

What would be more appropriate to cap the 2018 season with a rematch of the teams that gave us the insane 54-51 game midway through the season? We can’t imagine a Rams-Chiefs Super Bowl LIII would see 105 points scored again – particularly since Jared Goff seems to have used up his allotted passing statistics for the year in the week 11 game – but the battle of Andy Reid vs The Clock might be just as much fun here.

Additionally, this would give the NFL a great opportunity to consolidate St. Louis football fans – if any still exist – around the Chiefs. Seriously, what self-respecting former Rams fan could back the Los Angeles Screwjobs?

The Full Circle Bowl
Los Angeles Rams (+155) vs New England Patriots (+135)

From either a marketing or a poetic justice standpoint, this is the only possible choice. If the NFL’s powers-that-be really want to solidify their hold on the Los Angeles/Southern California market and ensure that Stan Kreonke’s Pleasure Palace in Inglewood actually does some business, what better way to do so than to have these Rams vanquish (perhaps for the final time this time) the league’s heavy?

Additionally, flashback to 2002 when the upstart New England Patriots, known mostly for, well, not much except for squeaking into and subsequently losing convincingly in a couple of prior Super Bowls, were installed as 14-point underdogs to the high-flying St. Louis Rams, only to go on to form a dynasty like the NFL’s never seen.

Talk about your perfect symmetry: How poetic, how wonderful, how just would it be for the dynamic and fun (well, not Ndamokung Suh; nothing amusing about that guy) Rams to bookend the history of these Patriots with a 3-point victory in Super Bowl LIII? We even got portents last week: Not only did Super Bowl XXXV hero Adam Vinatieri miss a couple of easy FGs in the Indianapolis Colts’ loss, Rams players were reportedly stealing the Cowboys’ defensive signs on Saturday.

But of course things never turn out this neatly in sports. Do they…?

NFL playoffs betting: You’ve always known it was the New Orleans Saints

Sunday, 13 January 2019 09:57 EST

See, this ain’t wild card weekend no more. After going 4-0 SU(!) last week, the much-touted Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys went down SU/ATS despite rather generous point spreads. After all, many have taken for granted the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams’ appearances in at least their prospective conference championship games.

In this divisional round, chalk is talking once again. Updating a stat from yesterday, the home team – in all cases the favorite – is on a 12-3 SU (11-4 ATS) run in conference championship games. Put it down to the weather, the continued travel (we’ll see how the Chargers look today after having gone Los Angeles to Denver to L.A. to Baltimore to L.A. to Boston) or the inherent advantages of a bye week, this is one trend NFLbets believes won’t regress yet and certainly not for

Philadelphia Eagles +8 at New Orleans Saints, over/under 52 points

Before NFLbets starts anything, we’re throwing away the concept of “Foles Magic.” Concepts which cannot be quantified have little purpose in the serious NFL bettor’s analytic tools. And even believers have got to admit that the dude have the tiniest amount of fairy dust last weekend: Sure, Foles and the Eagles offense looked solid on the game-winning fourth quarter drive, but the game wouldn’t have been on the line at all if the Jolly Blonde Reaper hadn’t been handed a TD drive by a defense who’d briefly morphed into the Jacksonville Jaguars’. (Twelve men on the field? Who gets called for that in the playoffs?)

So let’s talk the numbers, in which we may find truth.

The Saints haven't exactly been dominant lately, going a mere 1-4 ATS (3-2 SU) since Thanksgiving. NFLbets isn't going to take this too seriously, as the win over the Falcons on the holiday put New Orleans at 10-1 and essentially had all but clinched the NFC South title. The mark also includes the week 17 loss against the Panthers in which second-stringers played.

Instead let’s remember that, after the win over Atlanta, the Saints had gone 9-2 ATS and 5-1 ATS at home. Not only this, this first half of New Orleans’s season was actually more difficult and included a 3-0 SU/ATS mark against playoff teams. One of those wins was the 48-7 pasting of these same Eagles (sorry, with mere mortal Carson Wentz at QB) in week 11.

As for the Saints offense vs the Eagles defense, well, this may be a mismatch. Drew Brees has once again driven New Orleans into the top 10 in most offensive statistical categories, and this offense’s efficiency can defy measure or description for stretches. Brees brings his ridiculous 74.4% completion rate against an Eagles defense ranked 30th in completions and passing yardage.

Eagles backers may point to Philly’s run defense, which ranks no. 1 in attempts, is top-10 in most rushing stats and gets the no. 9 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. But geez, the Eagles have proven just as susceptible to stud halfbacks relying on either power or evasiveness as any other team: They gave up 100+ to Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott twice each.

While doing a decent job stuffing Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton in week 7, Saints RBs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram went for a combined 174 yards and two TDs on the ground alone in the aforementioned win over the Eagles – and certainly not even the most ardent Foles supporter could blame this on Wentz.

The truth is that Sean Payton is certain to vary up the playbook from his Saints’ last meeting with the Eagles, but by how much will he need to? The only teams which have been able to stop New Orleans scoring at will have been the Cowboys (in week 13) and the Panthers (in week 15), both superior defenses to Philadelphia’s.

As uninteresting as it sounds, go chalk to close out the weekend: Take the New Orleans Saints -8 against Philadelphia.

(Come on, we’ve known it was going to be Rams/Saints in the NFC Conference Championship Game for a while now…)

NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018-19: 38-30-2.

NFL playoffs betting: In Colts-Chiefs AFC Divisional, we’re picking the Snow Miser

Saturday, 12 January 2019 10:08 EST

Well, at least this one’s easy:

Indianapolis Colts +5 at Kansas City Chiefs, over/under 56½ points

The clever NFL bettor is already investing in this game and might be throwing in more as the time ticks down to kickoff. Much hand-wringing is happening over Colts-Chiefs, all the contradictions and what-ifs boggling minds everywhere. Seriously?

Off the top of NFLbets’ head, the following are some of the apparent bafflers.

• The Colts are on a 10-1 SU – though just 6-4-1 ATS – run.

• Underdogs have covered the spread in seven consecutive playoff games and are on an overall 13-2 ATS run – but the home team is on a 12-3 SU (11-4 ATS) run in conference championship games.

• Among the aforementioned 11 games were just two against playoff teams – Indy played admirably, crushing the Dallas Cowboys 23-0 in week 15 and dominating the Houston Texans last week.

• And the Colts certainly did seem to dominate last week – but didn’t score or truly even threaten to over the game’s last 35 minutes.

• The Colts have a top 10 defense statistically – but have played the league’s easiest schedule.

• Patrick Mahomes is 21st-Century Football God – but he’s never played in a playoff game.

• Andy Reid is 20-4 SU lifetime when coming off a bye week – but just 11-13 lifetime in the playoffs and on a 1-7 SU/ATS “run.”

Whatever. has the only statistics NFLbets needs to place some wagers on Colts *at* Chiefs:

Weather for Colts-Chiefs game bets

Weather for Colts-Chiefs game betting

Combine this with the obvious choice from Frank Reich, i.e. attempt to keep Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and that ridiculous passing offense off the field for as much of the game as possible, the good bet is clear: Take the under on an O/U of 56½ points.

We’re also liking the possibility of any big game by Marlon Mack, so we’d load up on the appropriate player props. The over/under in the “Total Rush Yards” proposition bet is a very nice 191½ yards. Unfortunately, the over at most sportsbooks is paying under the usual -110, instead at -120 or -125.

Very tempting are the “First Score” and “Last Score” props, on which Mack is getting 8/1 odds; the former especially might be worth a few Moneys…


NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018-19: 36-29-2.

NFL playoffs betting: Gurley, Anderson, bye week enough for emphatic L.A. Rams win

Friday, 11 January 2019 11:37 EST

So Bill Simmons tells us on a recent podcast that in round 2 of the NFL playoffs, every underdog is drawing more than half the wagered cash. Like NFLbets posted yesterday: The oddsmakers are just begging u to take the ’dogs this week, and NFL bettors are responding like Pavlov’s dogs – except that Pavlov’s dogs didn’t get badly burned on wild card weekend.

Though some bettors are superstitious enough to blindly go against a tide of betting, the lack of logic is a real turnoff for NFLbets. We’ll probably be covering two underdogs in these playoffs, but

Dallas Cowboys +7 at Los Angeles Rams, over/under 47½ points

is not one of them. That’s right, NFLbets is saying to take the L.A. Rams -7 vs Dallas and we’ll probably get the push.

Forget the presence of tens of thousands of Cowboys fans in the Coliseum, forget how good Dak Prescott performed last week, forget the Dallas pass rush (not permanently, because we’ll get back to that), even forget the coaching disparity on the sideline of this game. The key to Cowboys-Rams is simple: Despite Dallas boasting the no. 1 defense against the run, they’re an incredible 28th-“best” against play action. The Rams run more play action than any team in the league, and Jared Goff has taken an NFL-leading 70-plus percent of snaps under center.

By week 14 of the regular season, teams could adjust to the Rams’ offensive game plan. Without WR Cooper Kupp at his disposal, the long bomb has disappeared from Goff’s arsenal. In week 14 at Chicago and 15 against Philadelphia, the defenses lined up as though against the Jeff Fisher-coached Rams, i.e. stacking the box with eight defenders. Dinged up and/or deemed useless by Sean McVey, Gurley went for a mere 76 yards on 23 carries in the two games. Against the Eagles, Gurley caught 10 passes for 76 yards (weird that) but took enough punishment so as to be benched for the season’s remainder.

But Goff, McVay and the Rams got help in a hurry from a surprising source: Two-time castoff C.J. Anderson came in off the street and cruised to 299 yards on 43 carries (a 6.95 ypc average!) and two TDs. Now, NFLbets isn’t about to lose our s*#&#& over a couple games against the Arizona and San Francisco defenses, but those nice in-game reps plus a bye week will have gotten Anderson prepped to bring a two-tiered attack out of the backfield that L.A. has needed all season.

An ideal Rams game plan for the divisional game would unlock an even scarier Todd Gurley should Anderson get going. The Seahawks last week attempted to wear down the Dallas front seven by consisting hitting the middle with halfbacks; the Rams with Anderson and Gurley appear far more prepared physically for that scheme than did the Seattle collective of Chris Carson, Rashard Penny and Mike Davis. With complimentary backs in the game, Goff will be able to get rid of the ball more quickly than Dallas’s hyperquick pass rush is upon him – and that pass rush will break the Rams’ middling-at-best OL.

And from the Rams backer’s perspective, the best aspect of all this is that Coach McVay is a helluva lot smarter than NFLbets, so he’ll certainly trot out one nice game plan (not to mention Todd Gurley with nearly four full weeks’ rest) for that daunted Cowboys defense to deal with. We believe in McVay. Take the Rams.

NFLbets will further double down on this narrative and advise NFL bettors to Take the 2nd Half at +100 in the “Highest Scoring Half” prop. We’re figuring both offenses come out to wear the other down, with the Cowboys working Ezekiel Elliott early in hopes of getting him past that awesome front four and onto the second level where the Rams are well more vulnerable. By the third and fourth quarters, we expect a lot more passing and longer runs.

This one could be really fun for in-game betting, too…

NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018-19: 36-29-2.

NFL playoffs betting: Faltering Chargers, Patriots offenses scream "TAKE THE UNDER!"

Thursday, 10 January 2019 10:41 EST

Damn, do the bookmakers want us to bet the underdogs this weekend – or maybe the oddsmakers are collectively in disbelief at favorites’ inability to cover point spreads. Since the New England Patriots covered 3 points against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, underdogs are a ridiculous 13-2 ATS. Heck, the last time a favorite won ATS was when the Minnesota Vikings covered 3½ points on the last f*#*#*ing play against the New Orleans Saints in last year’s 2017 divisional game.

In fact, since we’re talking

Los Angeles Chargers -4 at New England Patriots, over/under 47½ points

There’s this. Last year, the Patriots went 1-2 ATS, covering only against the Tennessee Titans, who arguably should not have been allowed into the playoffs for aesthetic considerations. A general changing of the guard currently going on in the NFL – i.e. the Broncos, Steelers, Packers and yes, the Patriots are in at least short-term decline, while the Chiefs, Colts, Rams and the like rise – apparently leads to unpredictability. After all, it’s not just Foles (and last year Blake Bortles; ’member Blake Bortles?); these “unforeseen” upsets are happening all over the place.

The latest perpetrator of such ATS wins are the “Los Angeles” Chargers, who, in addition to “upsetting” the Baltimore Ravens in the wild card game, have run up some insane numbers this season. Said numbers, which NFLbets has run before and are now updated, look like so:

• The Chargers are just 4-3 SU (3-4 ATS) in true home games;

• in week 7, they beat the Tennessee Titans in London, but did not cover the spread;

• the Chargers are 8-1 SU/ATS in away games, with the sole loss at the Rams in week 3;

• therefore, in games outside of Los Angeles, the Chargers are an incredible 9-0 SU (8-1 ATS);

• finally, in these 9 games, the Chargers averaged 26.9 points – about ½ point *more* per game than in L.A.-based games.

So yeah, in setting the line at Patriots -4, oddsmakers are begging you to bet on the Chargers, even if it’s below freezing and/or snowing in Massachusetts (as of this writing on Thursday, high temps are expected to be 28°). Secretly, however, Vegas et al are believing at least three of the four favorites are winning ATS this weekend.

Okay, NFLbets’ll call the bookies’ bluff. We believe that the Chargers do in fact cover the 4 points in this game. Why? Because the safest bet in this game is for the score to go under 47½ points.

Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is getting kudos everywhere in football land for last week’s clever game plan, which featured some 58 plays run with seven in the secondary. With safeties playing anywhere and much of the filed blanketed by a zone when four CBs dropped back into coverage, the Chargers D constantly gave Lamar Jackson bad to no looks. Think they’ll try the same or similar this week? Here’s a hint: Bill Belichick ain’t playing Madden 2019 out there.

On the other hand, history has shown that you can’t bring a pass rush against Tom Brady, and this version of his offensive line is certainly solid. In their four wins against playoff teams this season – their only four games against playoff teams, and all prior to week 8 – the Patriots OL allowed just four sacks. And in the past six games (albeit against lesser competition), just five sacks total have been registered on Brady.

The point: Brady doesn’t exactly have a lot of weaponry on this offense, playing as he is with the Patriots’ worst offensive supporting cast since the days of Reche Caldwell, but this has been (ho hum) doing enough to win all season. In fact, NFLbets’d guess that the Pats’ template for this game will be a lot more week 16 (in which three New England RBs and Cordarelle Paterson combined for 256 yards rushing and three TDs as the Pats posted 35+ minutes of ToP) than, likesay, week 14 (when Brady went 27-of-43 for 358 yards and three TDs in a losing effort at Miami).

As for the Chargers offense, well, there’s that thing about Belichick taking away the opposition’s favorite weapon. So on Los Angeles that would be … Philip Rivers, NFL supposes, but has anyone watched Rivers lately? Sure, he can take a hit and get back up, but the dude has thrown for over 300 yards just three times this season (including week 1) and just once in the second half of the year. He’s thrown for 160 yards or fewer in the past three games and in week 14 managed just 203 on 19-of-29 passing against the crippled Cincinnati Bengals.

Belichick will take a run-heavy attack all day. The Patriots defense is pretty damn mediocre against either run or pass (they’re ranked no. 19 and no. 14, respectively, in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric), but also as opportunistic as ever at no. 3 in turnovers created, no. 2 in rushing TDs allowed and no. 7 in scoring allowed overall. Atop this is a general decline in Chargers rushing production: In four of the past six games, they’ve been under 90 yards and the offense has given up 8 turnovers. Purely empirically speaking, Melvin Gordon hasn’t looked good since an injury this season and, excepting a surprise 14-yard gain, he managed just 26 yards on 16 carries against the Ravens last week.

Between the weather, generally more conservative play calling in the postseason and a recent decline in these offenses says firstly that we’re saying take the under on an O/U of 47½ points, and we’re making this the Official NFLbets Pick of the Week this week.

Additionally, this may be wacky of us, but we’re covering both sides on this game, figuring for a real grueling, grind-it-out squeaker. We say take the Chargers +4 at New England, but also take the Patriots ML at -200 – not a great return, but doesn’t a Patriots advancement feel inevitable…?

NFLbets Picks of the Week record in 2018-19: 8-5-1.
NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018-19: 36-29-2.

Wild card round final results ATS (Bad Beat stories not included)

Tuesday, 08 January 2019 13:35 EST

NFLbets is certain that essentially everyone reading this knows the final scores of last weekend’s wild card games, but we’re going to list those results ATS anyway to provide a sense of closure. As in, closure of bank accounts.

Nah – in all seriousness, NFLbets didn’t do that badly, but on a weekend in which not only was 10 years’ worth of a nearly 50/50 split ATS between favorites and underdogs upheld, wild card underdogs went a perfect 4-0 ATS* in 2018. So here’s to thinking not every NFL bettor did great in week 18.

(*Depending on how many points the Seahawks were giving in any wager. NFLbets caught them at +2 and so pushed; those catching a fluctuating line at Seattle +2½ were benefactors of an amazing backdoor cover by the Janikowski-less ’Hawks.)

Below runs a complete list of results for the wild card round weekend in NFLbets’ standard format, i.e. adjusted for the point spread; all results listed in boldface indicate games – OK, just one in actuality, and you know which – in which the SU winner did not cover the spread. Comments, questionable humor and the occasional salient point courtesy NFLbets writer/editor Os Davis.

And we promise no “bad beat” stories. We’re thinking you already have a few of your own…

• Indianapolis Colts 21 at Houston Texans 5. Don’t you hate it when you’re covering a longshot in a Super Bowl proposition bet that looks more plausible going into a home playoff game and that team just doesn’t show up? Thanks, Texans.

On the other side (the side that gets to play in round two, that is) are the Colts, who insanely enough look like the best team in the AFC helmed by the best, hungriest quarterback in the NFL right now. Don’t talk to me about the Chargers – they can’t win in Los Angeles.

Seattle Seahawks 22 at Dallas Cowboys 22. Most relieved by this nail-biter of a Dallas win – other than those who caught Cowboys -1½ -- are backers of the Rams, who are looking well worse than they should at this time of year. (How hurt is Todd Gurley? Is Jared Goff actually devolving? How can a dude as big as Ndamokung Suh be so minimal in game impact? Where are the aliens who replaced Marcus Peters with an inferior cloned version?)

The earliest point spread for the divisional game was Cowboys -7 at Los Angeles, which is probably crazy too high, but no one except the homers will unquestionably put up money on the Cowboys, excellent run defense and all, even getting a touchdown against a stumbling team.

• Los Angeles Chargers 23 at Baltimore Ravens 14½. NFLbets’ hot take from this one? Since December turned, Philip Rivers, just as Drew Brees (you read that right) and Tom Brady (and that), are aging, Raiders of the Lost Ark III style, before our eyes. We’ll definitely look at the game again before wagering, but Rivers dinked, dunked and threw up the ducks more often than not, just as in the last three or four regular season games. NFLbets’ll also be considering other numbers before betting on the Chargers-Patriots divisional, but we’re guessing the Patriots ML will look better throughout the week.

• Philadelphia Eagles 16 at Chicago Bears 8½. The Chicago Bears apparently had to play nearly perfect football to win this game. And they did – except for one drive on which the defense was uncharacteristically penalized three times. Add in the robbery of a reception inside the red zone and a civilization-ending missed field goal, and the 2018 Chicago Bears may go down in history as a footnote, perhaps even a line or two a line or two in the as-yet incomplete Ballad of Nick Foles.

And speaking of Foles The Great, NFLbets will remain pragmatic. We still don’t believe in magic. Bad Bears juju maybe, but not magic.

For the 2018-19 NFL regular-season standings by ATS record (now including playoff results!), click here.