Preseason


Browns land Odell Beckham Jr.; let's not get nuts betting them to win Super Bowl LIV just yet

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 12:47 EST

On February 10, the odds on the Cleveland Browns in the proposition bet “To Win Super Bowl LIV” were at 20/1. Two days later, the team more-than-somewhat controversially signed disgraced and waived RB Kareem Hunt; this budged the lines on the Browns little. But ink Odell Beckham Jr., one of the league’s most explosive, dynamic and beloved wide receivers? That’s shorten those odds.

Within an hour of the Cleveland-New York Giants trade announcement, the Browns’ odds to win the Super Bowl and the AFC Championship were experiencing more shrinkage than George Costanza in the pool, dropping to 14/1 in a hurry. As of this writing approximately 16 hours after the news broke, the odds on Cleveland have stabilized there but have dropped to an incredible 7/1 in the “To Win Conference” prop.

But as awesome as OBJ is, does his mere addition to a team with a looooooooooooooooooong history of mediocrity automatically better the Browns’ chances by 33%? Are the Browns really getting the *third-shortest odds* to win the AFC after the Kansas City Chiefs (now at 10/3, down from 3/1) and *freaking NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS?!?!??!???!?*

Welllllll, yes, actually. Why not? Even without Hunt – and, if this splashy trade is factored into the NFL’s consideration to return the halfback to active, Hunt and Cleveland will be united later, if ever, rather than sooner – the Browns have one serious-looking offense, with QB Baker Mayfield, RB Nick Chubb, WR Jarvis Landry and TE David Njoku awaiting OBJ’s plugging-in. The offensive line is middling at bets, but free agency and the draft have yet to go down; plenty of time to improve this area.

Despite the departure of Jabril Peppers in the OBJ trade, teh Browns defense should be just as good as last season’s top-10 passing D with the addition of Pro Bowl LB Olivier Vernon joining the likes of CB Denzel Ward, LB Jamie Collins and DE Myles Garrett (who looks scarier every game, it seems).

33 days ago, NFLbets noted: “The 2019 Cleveland Browns going over on wins? NFLbets’ll make that wager. To win the AFC North? Quite probably. To win the AFC? You miiiiiiiiight convince us. But to take the Lombardi Trophy? Come on now.

Today, we’ll update this to state that Cleveland should be a 10- or even 11-win team, so bet the over/under wins accordingly. We’ll also cover the Browns to win the AFC North, as we honestly believe that they’ll go a solid 5-1 against the North’s teams in rebuild and/or decline and should be getting three wins against the AFC East. By dint of their third-place finish in 2018, the Browns get The Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos, this far out both looking like wins.

As for those odds to win the AFC, 7/1 may be too short. The NFL may be in a period of revolution, with younger talent (and teams) taking over for the old guard, but it’s tough to depend on a team like Cleveland with so much youth at key positons plus two mercurial WRs – if anything, we’re even more bearish on the Browns in the “To Win Conference” and “To Win Super Bowl LIV” post-Beckham trade. We’d stay away from these two props.

Now, covering the Browns in a “To Win Super Bowl LV” proposition bet? *That* would be worth serious consideration.


Odds on fictional prop “To Appear As Featured Team on the 2019 Season of HBO Hard Knocks”

Friday, 15 February 2019 16:32 EST

Let’s face it: Hard Knocks is just not good tv. Even when at its best, namely the coverage of last season’s Cleveland Browns, HBO’s longest-running series (!) is little better than a train wreck watchable only if one completely gives in to one’s worst rubbernecking tendencies.

As NFLbets pointed out when reviewing an early episode of the Browns’ C-level Shakespearean shenanigans, Hard Knocks is yet another series which proves that “reality TV” is an oxymoron. What little football we are actually shown reveals next to nothing about the overall shape of the team going into the following season, but rather provides a shallow deep dive into the chosen personalities of that year’s series, quite a few who turn out to be scrubs anyway.

For NFL bettors, the most crucial bit of knowledge to be gleaned from Hard Knocks is the production’s initial decision, i.e. which team features on the show. Whereas franchises had some element of choice in the decision to allow HBO crews serious access to certain aspects of training camp when the show returned in 2007, this right was taken away for the 2012 season. Since then, the league orders a team to do Hard Knocks based on three criteria:

• A losing record the previous season;

• no turn as featured team on Hard Knocks in the previous 10 seasons; and

• a head coach in his second year or beyond with the club.

Thanks to the introduction of this criteria, betting against the Hard Knocks team has been easy and is only getting easier. The following are the featured teams in the series along with each team’s record for the given season.

2007 Kansas City Chiefs: 4-12.
2008 Dallas Cowboys: 9-7.
2009 Cincinnati Bengals: 10-6, bounced in the wild card game by the New York Jets.
2010 New York Jets: 11-5, lost in conference championship.
2012 Miami Dolphins: 7-9.
2013 Cincinnati Bengals: 11-5, beaten soundly at home in wild card game.
2014 Atlanta Falcons: 6-10.
2015 Houston Texans: 9-7, crushed 30-0 at home in wild card game.
2016 Los Angeles Rams: 4-12.
2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-11.
2018 Cleveland Browns: 7-8-1.

So there you have it: A composite record of 83-92-1 since the relaunch and 49-62-1 in the past seven seasons, representing average regular-season records of 7-8-1 and 7-9, respectively. Notable, too, is that the only Hard Knocks team ever to win a playoff game were the fluky-ass 2010 New York Jets, and they did so twice.

The advice to the NFL bettor is clear, then: Betting against the Hard Knocks team – certain to be overhyped and over-backed at sportsbooks in over/under win total props, as with each of the last three featured squads – should at least break even, and if they sneak into the playoffs, pile up the Moneys against them.

Sadly, no sportsbook offers the prop “To Appear As the Featured Team on the 2019 Season of HBO Hard Knocks”, so NFLbets just made some odds up. Collect ’em, trade ’em, bet ’em with your friends!

New York Giants +120. Eli Manning, who clearly needs more tv exposure, leads the storylines here as he presumably heads into the sunset and/or faces a challenge for the starting job from a high draft pick QB. Throw in Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley, some maniacal pass-catching genius named Odell Beckham Jr. for star power and North America’s biggest sports market and this sounds like a winner to us.

Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders +180. In any other year, this would be a no-brainer, with Jon Gruden the head inmate of the asylum – an asylum with a 10-year-old playbook, no less – in the Hue Jackson mold. However, two factors weigh against the Raiders: Gruden ain’t getting fired even if his team goes 0-16 , so there’s always 2020, the team’s inaugural season in Las Vegas; and secondly, Mark Davis et al may not even know where the team’s training camp will be by the team HBO production crew needs to start location planning.

San Francisco 49ers: 5/1. So you’ve got Jimmy Garrapolo trying to live up to his nascent superduperstardom and quite possibly of a prima donna wide receiver, gold to Hard Knocks, on the team in Antonio Brown, but … not a lot more other than a desire to fan faltering fandom in Santa Clara a bit. Any chance of, likesay, reclaiming Colin Kaepernick…?

Detroit Lions: 12/1. As much as we would love to see Matt Patricia instilling Belichick-level loathing in his players while receiving absolutely zero Belichick-level respect, the sad truth is that the Lions for some reason don’t even have the lovable-loser appeal of the Browns. Any one of the above-listed teams will be chosen before Detroit, we’re certain. In fact, the only worse choice (by far) would be…

Washington:100/1. Let’s see here … progressives are taking over Washington, Millennials are a growing faction of NFL fandom (not to mention the HBO audience) and, o yeah, *IT’S THE F*#@*^&ING 21ST CENTURY*. So HBO execs are going to greenlight a series they’ll have to subtitle with a racial slur? Yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre.


Hot(tish) takes on early Super Bowl LIV odds and long(ish) shots worth a few Moneys

Sunday, 10 February 2019 16:56 EST

Though we have to wait until at least the summer to plunk down any Moneys (NFLbets’ preferred form of currency) on Super Bowl LIV, smart NFL bettors will invest in a few teams whose odds will only get longer. We say don’t blow the bankroll, but a few of these lines are definitely worthy of consideration.

Here are NFLbets’ kneejerk reactions to the earliest lines on the prop “To Win Super Bowl LIV” as released by the standard-setting Westgate sportsbook in Las Vegas.

Kansas City Chiefs, 6/1. Nope, not while Andy Reid is head coach. NFLbets will take the over on Chiefs wins up to 13 without question, we might even back them in the AFC Championship Game, but Super Bowl champions? Nah.

Los Angeles Rams, 8/1. With the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers both certain to be better, quite possibly playoff contenders, the Rams' road to the next Super Bowl will be well rockier than was the last. This does not feel like a repeat performance year; then again, if they manage to bring Le’Veon Bell aboard…

New Orleans Saints, 8/1
New England Patriots, 8/1
. Sure, the Saints and Patriots could win their respective divisions with a video clip of Joe Namath's appearance on the Brady Bunch at quarterback, but We'll take Father Time -0.5 years against either of these teams' quarterback in 2019. Yes, even Brady.

Pittsburgh Steelers, 14/1. That thing about Father Time? We'll double down against Roethlisberger.

Los Angeles Chargers, 14/1
Chicago Bears, 14/1
. Now these are some attractive options, particularly at the odds, though at this far-off point shaky propositions indeed. The Chargers' main hurdle will be the conspiracy against keeping a team with no real home out of the Super Bowl. (Witness that massive Rams fan base at Super Bowl LIII.) The Bears at 14/1 seems like a no-brainer, which is suspicious in and of itself.

Minnesota Vikings, 16/1
Dallas Cowboys, 16/1
. NFLbets’ll see if we’re feeling either of these teams after the draft and free agency signings, but with both bringing half-offenses as currently constructed, it’s hard to imagine right now.

Green Bay Packers, 16/1. This is certainly the most nonsensical line on this board.

Philadelphia Eagles, 20/1
Indianapolis Colts, 20/1
. Also attractive options at the price. How the unproven Cowboys are getting shorter odds than a team just two years removed from a Super Bowl win with essentially the same team and the power to trade Nick Foles. Meanwhile, the Colts turn in one crummy playoff performance and game’s over? Come on. Andrew Luck, his offensive line and Indy looked sharp through two-thirds of 2018; NFLbets is certainly looking for this team to go deep into the playoffs.

Houston Texans, 20/1. NFLbets knows we’ve been beating the drum for the Texans since DeShaun Watson was drafted, but if this time can show the slightest improvement to its OL and even possibly land Bell, we’d be crazy not to throw a few Moneys (NFLbets’ preferred form of currency) at ’em.

Cleveland Browns, 20/1. The 2019 Cleveland Browns going over on wins? NFLbets’ll make that wager. To win the AFC North? Quite probably. To win the AFC? You miiiiiiiiight convince us. But to take the Lombardi Trophy? Come on now.

Baltimore Ravens, 20/1. The fact that the always overrated Ravens are getting the same odds to win Super Bowl LIV as the Cleveland Freakin’ Browns should tell you something about the viability of this bet.

Seattle Seahawks, 30/1. Quite the value for the money, NFLbets would not be one bit surprised if the 2019 Seattle Seahawks became the first no. 6 seed to win the Super Bowl since the Packers back in XLV.

Atlanta Falcons, 40/1
Jacksonville Jaguars, 40/1
New York Giants, 40/1
San Francisco 49ers, 50/1
. Of these, the only defensible longshot bet at this point would be on the 49ers, but that’s taking quite a lot for granted.

NFLbets supposes that if the Denver Broncos found, likesay, a decent quarterback who didn’t already have 75, 000 miles on him, they might be considered a contender. But what are the odds of that happening? 60/1, apparently.

Carolina Panthers, 60/1
Tennessee Titans, 60/1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 80/1
New York Jets, 80/1
Washington, 100/1
Detroit Lions, 100/1
Cincinnati Bengals, 100/1
Oakland/San Francisco/London/Reno/Las Vegas Raiders, 100/1
Arizona Cardinals, 100/1
. Wow, talk about your dregs of the league. The thought of any of these 100/1 teams even making the playoffs, especially Jon Gruden’s Raiders, puts the “laughing” into “laughingstock.”

Buffalo Bills, 100/1
Miami Dolphins, 300/1
. And this, folks, is two-thirds of a significant factor in the Patriots’ dominance. Thanks to perpetual beatdogs like these and the New York Jets, Bill Belichick gets to treat a good half of his schedule every regular season as practice sessions. Nice built-in advantage there. Figure on more of the same in 2019-20, and, um, what are the odds on New England again…?


AFC South proposition bets

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 13:23 EST

This marks the last of eight articles profiling each NFL division in terms of over/under wins lines and odds on winning the division. For each of the previous articles, please click on one of the links below.

AFC EastAFC SouthAFC NorthAFC West
NFC NorthNFC EastNFC SouthNFC West

•••••

Maybe NFLbets stalled on publishing this one because we wearing seeking clarity on any one of the four teams of the AFC South before attempting to write up the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” NFL futures proposition bets.

But … nope. Each of the AFC South quartet looks at best flawed and at worst (for the NFL bettor) a complete unknown: The Jacksonville Jaguars lack a quarterback, the Houston Texans and offensive line. The Tennessee Titans will likely have the youngest roster in the league come Opening Day plus a new young head coach and offensive coordinator. The Indianapolis Colts ostensibly have Andrew Luck, but we’ve barely seen him since he took over the Colts starting QB spot from Johnny Unitas.

AFC South props, futuresClear as Mississippi mud, eh? NFLbets reckons we’re gonna have to go “first thought, best thought” on a much of this division, though surely at least one of these teams will hit some roadblocks along the way. The table on these prop bets looks like so.

AFC South O/U wins to win div. (oper) to win div. (current)
Jacksonville Jaguars 9 +180 +185
Houston Texans +180 +180
Tennessee Titans 8 +400 +350
Indianapolis Colts +400 +550

Interesting to see that the NFL’s betting masses aren’t necessarily buying the sportsbooks’ BS on this one. Note the wide variance – despite a relative paucity of news – between the shifts in the “To Win Division” payouts on the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts. Beginning the season with the same odds, the Titans have excited (well, a little bit anyway) NFL bettors with the prospect of what Mike Vrabel might do in his first-ever head coaching job with his new team. Meanwhile, clearly would-be wagerers reckon that even if Andrew Luck is instantly back at franchise QB levels, nothing is enough to help a team that was bottom-3 in points scored, points allowed, yardage gained and yardage allowed.

So putting the Colts’ win total over/under at 6½ is sheer evil – also not bettable unless your particular bookie lets you watch Luck’s opening game performance with a solemn promise not to move the line. In a seemingly balanced AFC South division, 7-9 is easily imaginable.

As for the Titans, the sportsbooks are starting these guys at 8. As a competitor in this division, I’d be quite concerned with the amount of knowledge of the competition Vrabel will bring, having served as defensive line and later defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans over three seasons. Armed with a pretty easy schedule outside of home games against the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, Vrabel could simply crank it up against the South, go 6-0 against the division and bag an inside track to the AFC South title. NFLbets would say take the Titans to win over 8 games and even consider betting the Titans to take the AFC South at +350 – or anything comparable.

•••••

And now we come to hard part. What to do about the league’s top defense combined with a low-watt offense “powered” by a worst-5 NFL QB? What to do about a similarly badass D counterbalanced with the most exciting QB to hit the league since Cam Newton protected by tissue paper?

Look, NFLbets loves the 2018 Houston Texans – mostly. Their 20/1 odds to win the Super Bowl have been calling our credit cards direct for months. But that line…

Pro Football Focus captured the imaginations of talking heads and the internets alike by proclaiming the Texans to have the worst OL in football at the start of training camp. Not too surprising, considering that the Texans ranked 20th in run protection and a dismal 30th in pass protection by Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. (By comparison, the statistically as brutal Colts OL was 18th and 32nd, respectively, in these categories.)

Worse yet, the single significant addition the Texas brain trust added to the roster this past offseason, third-round draft pick Martinas Rankin, a 2017 All-SEC lineman from Mississippi State, was listed as PUP from Draft Day through to August 20. We’ll have to figure that the Texans’ line can come together around Rankin by season’s end in order for this bet to pay out, but NFLbets is sticking with our first thought and wishing on DeShaun Watson’s potential utter dominance: Take the Houston Texans to win over 8½ games and take Houston to win the AFC South at anything over +100 as well.

•••••

When betting, one cannot figure for luck but, wow, did the Jaguars get the benefit of the karma in 2017. The Pythagorean Expectation (PE) stat demonstrates clearly how this team flew in the face of logic, ultimately producing the aesthetic monstrosity of a Blake Bortles-led offense in the AFC Championship Game. The Jags registered a whopping +3.03 in PE during the *16-game* regular season, nearly a full half-game better than the also inordinately lucky Los Angeles Chargers. With merely the regular bad breaks, the Jags are transformed from their 10-6 to 8-8 and Bortles is backing up Tannehill in Miami right now.

Yes, this defense is scary and yeah, defense wins championships yadda yadda yadda. Yet with the Tians and Texans both looking to improve in real terms on the 2017 outcomes, Jacksonville and their division-winning schedule feels like just around a .500 team to us. NFLbets says take the Jaguars to win under 9½ games.

NFLbets’ best bets for AFC South betting:
•  Tennessee Titans over 8 wins
; and
•  Houston Texans over 8½ wins.

NFLbets’ recommendations for AFC South betting:
•  Jacksonville Jaguars to win under 9 games
; and
•  the Texans and the Titans to win the division -- hedge accordingly.


We Cannot Sufficiently Explain How Much Fun Betting on Mitch Trubisky, Eli Manning to Throw Interceptions Will Be

Tuesday, 04 September 2018 18:16 EST

NFLbets thanks the football gods for this gift, this amusing diversion against the thousands of more serious proposition bets we’re considering early on in the 2018 season. What gift is that? Why, this NFL Player Prop offering:

Mitchell Trubisky OR Eli Manning throws 20+ Interceptions: 15/8

Seriously? 15/8? That’s definitely doable as a nice little throwaway bet that just might come in. The bookmakers are no dummies, of course, so this is hardly as easy a win as it looks. But hot damn, is it gonna be fun to watch.

The case for Mitch Trubisky to throw 20 interceptions

With Trubisky, we’ve got very small sample sizes to deal with, but NFLbets’ll give it a shot. In 12 games last season, Trubisky in an average game went 18 for 28 for 183 yards -- and threw just 7 TDs against 7 picks. This works out to 9.4 interceptions over 16 games.

Double Mitch's decent 2.1% interception rate of 2018 and now you're just under 19 picks in a productive season. Alternatively, increase Trubisky’s attempts by 4.0 per game and his interception percentage by half to 3.2%; that starts him at 16.1 picks. Imagine one disastrous game and you’re there.

Definitely doable.

Tell you what, too: If I told a Chicago Bears fan a week ago that the team’d Trubisky would start all 16 games and throw 20 interceptions *but* one-man wrecking crew Kahlil Mack would be signed up for the next several years to play defense, they’d be ecstatic. Matt Nagy, let him throw, let him throw!

The case for Eli Manning to not throw 20 interceptions

Eli Manning has played every single game in the last 13 years (except one, in 2017) for the New York Giants. In those years, he has averaged 16.85 interceptions per season and has gone for 20 or more picks. Eli hasn’t pitched a 20-waffle since taking 27 in the nightmare season of ’13. (Poor Eli got sacked some 39 times that year as well.)

On top of this, Manning threw just 13 interceptions last year, his lowest total since 2008 and he’s expected to be throwing less often now that the Giants are armed with an actual halfback in Offensive Rookie Of The Year favorite Saquon Barkley.

But who cares? NFLbets says . We note here that the following videos amount to little more than propaganda to take this bet, so if you’re overly susceptible to not-so-subconscious suggestion, please visit another page.

(Man, does Eli Manning have his detractors on YouTube…)

Here’s a visual record of Eli Manning’s 12 interceptions thrown in 2017:

And here’s Eli tossing 17 in 2016:

Here’s his first pass of the 2013 season. If you don’t remember this beauty, you can probably guess how this one’ll go…

Here’s Eli’s 25 picks in 2010:

And just to really hammer home the final nail, here’s a compilation of every Eli pick-six from 2011 to ’17:

C’mon, admit it: You want some of this action…


AFC West proposition bets

Sunday, 02 September 2018 11:09 EST

Yes, NFLbets knows about the delay on these last two divisional proposition bet previews. However, Os Davis has ended his holdout, having been signed to a three-year multi-million money contract and thus avoiding having the franchise tag slapped on. “Who wants to play in the preseason?” Davis asked rhetorically. “It is kind of a bummer in one respect, since I had actually bet on my being traded to the Chicago Bears…”

AFC West bettingIn fact, now that the long wait is over on fellow holdout Khalil Mack plus certain other signals have been made by Jon Gruden and the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders brain trust, NFLbets can get to looking at the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” futures/props for the AFC West teams in 2018.

With the exception of the moribund Oakland Raiders, this could be fun – and with few exceptions, quite lucrative for the NFL bettor. Here’s the table:

AFC West O/U wins to win div. (oper) to win div. (current)
Los Angeles Chargers +175 +175
Kansas City Chiefs +325 +275
Oakland Raiders 8 +275 +275
Denver Broncos +300 +400

 

We’ll start with this: Take the Oakland Raiders to go under 8 wins. Period. Lock it in for at least three reasons:

• The trading of Mack, one of the NFL’s top two defensive players, to Chicago was not only a brutal move in terms of, likesay, talent, but helped bring morale of the veterans back down to 2010 levels as several wondering aloud publicly just WTF management was doing to the team’s well-liked franchise player.

• About the same time the Bears were informing Mr. Mack that he stood to make $141 million through 2023, the Raiders made another under-the-radar move in trading for quarterback A.J. McCarron. Sure, Derek Carr needs a competent backup (or even McCarron – o, burn!), but doesn’t this transaction reek of preparation to deal Carr and play the Wiley Veteran Who Gruden Respects?

• Stud WR Amari Cooper – really Carr/McCarron’s only weapon left – has been all praise for Gruden this offseason, but his contract comes up after the 2018 season, and the smart money says he’ll be looking to bag a $70-plus million deal. Will cash-strapped club owner Mark Davis make that investment after drawing under 10,000 to games this season?

• And then there’s that long contract given to Chucky – NFLbets doesn’t care if that’s a dated reference; Chucky Gruden f@#%$#ing ruled! As a media darling, Gruden makes possible the selling of any number of outrageous moves, including a now-traditional stripping of assets in preparation for franchise relocation.

All this spells out in great Las Vegas-esque flashing neon letters REBUILDING YEAR. Anyone remember the last couple seasons of the St. Louis Rams? That’s your 2018 (and probably ’19) Oakland Raiders.

•••••

Much hype this offseason has been sent the Kansas City Chiefs’ way, and why not? Based on Andy Reid alone, this team should easily top a laughably low 8½-win mark the sportsbooks have established. Reid may not know how to clock-manage worth a damn come playoff time, but here are his regular-season win totals since getting with the Chiefs: 11, 9, 11, 12, 10.

Quarterback Pat Mahomes is running up the kudos this preseason as well. In what should be a model for rookie quarterbacks (when the given team has the resources, that is) , Mahomes sat down nearly every game in 2017, only to earn the starting job pretty much immediately after the season concludes. Like DeShaun Watson, Mahomes can throw the ball a mile and has won over his offensive teammates.

Mahomes & Co. will have to run up the score in 2018, because the Kansas City defense will certainly need help. A bottom-10 passing defense in ’17 minus Marcus Peters? Yeesh. Tell you what: NFLbets will be taking the over in many a Kansas City Chiefs game this season…

What will slow down the Chiefs in terms of win is the insanely daunting-looking schedule with which they open: at Los Angeles Chargers, at Pittsburgh Steelers, vs San Francisco 49ers, at Denver Broncos, vs Jacksonville Jaguars, at New England Patriots. After this stretch, we can easily imagine the Chiefs taking eight of the last 10, so just a 1-5 record over this ridiculous first month and a half would be enough to put Kansas City over that 8½. We’ll say they can do so. Take the Kansas City Chiefs to go over 8½ wins. Take a flyer as well and take the Chiefs to win the AFC West at +275, which is way too high.

•••••

Just as the relatively short odds on the Raiders to post a winning record and win the AFC West reflect the massive interest in the team in Las Vegas, so too do the unwavering lines on these futures for the Los Angeles Chargers show the widespread apathy regarding this team.

But +175 or so to win the division? NFLbets doesn’t see it.

The Chargers start with no homefield advantage – other than the temperate clime of Southern California, we suppose – and could face two “home” crowds with more opposition fans when facing the 49ers and Raiders in weeks four and five. They also get a London game this season.

All young talent and Philip Rivers aside, the injuries and early issues have arisen right on cure during the preseason for the Chargers. At present, the checklist includes TE Hunter Henry and CB Jason Verrett out for the season; CB Casey Hayward, TCB revor Williams and WR Tyrell Williams all already questionable for the opener; DE Joey Bosa likely to start the season injured; and DT Corey Liuget suspended for the first four games.

Can this team win 10 games? Maybe. Can they win the division? Possibly. But NFLbets isn’t betting on either.

•••••

And then there are the Denver Broncos, armed with the NFL’s scariest pass-rushing duo in former NFL defensive MVP Von Miller and first-round draft pick wunderkind Bradley Chubb. One look at the schedule and this Denver D must already be salivating at the thought of getting at weak-ass offensive lines like those of the Raiders, Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals.

So defense alone should be enough to net the Broncos four or five wins; going over 7½ wins should be easy for Denver, right?

Wellllllllllllllllllllll … there is that offense. Certainly ever a source of frustration for Broncos GM John Elway has got to be his frustration with quarterbacks guru John Elway. Brock Osweiler was barely serviceable and scammed several mil out of the club. As a draft pick, Paxton Lynch was Paxton Whiff. Trevor Simian started 24 games despite a sub-60% completion percentage.

For 2018, it’s Case Keenum at the helm. Keenum looked great as a starter for the Minnesota Vikings in ’17, going 11-3 as a starter after starting his career with a 9-15 mark over four seasons. Last year, Keenum played behind an offensive line which ranked sixth-best in pass protection; the Broncos ranked 29th.

So yeah, NFLbets isn’t touching the Broncos in these props, but will be looking to bet a lot of unders against shaky OLs.

NFLbets’ best bets for AFC West betting:
•  Oakland Raiders under 8 wins
; and
•  Kansas City Chiefs over 8½ wins.

NFLbets’ recommendations for AFC West betting:
•  Kansas City Chiefs to win division
– at anything better than +110.


Hard Knocks episode 3 review

Friday, 24 August 2018 12:46 EST

Hard Knocks with Cleveland BrownsA rant about Hard Knocks.

Y’know what NFLbets really hates? F^%#@^&ing reality tv! Seriously, has anything in human history ever been so unaptly named! Folks, it’s *teevee* and therefore unreal, surreal perhaps, but most definitely unreal!

Reality tv is to live television as spam is to pork: a composition of cheaper product slapped together with no nutritive value for greater culture and even individual betterment! Shows ranging from Survivor to Chopped are passed off as substance when in effect nearly every second the viewer sees is staged! It’s written for the “reality star”, re-shot and/or re-cut if necessary! There’s a reason these things aren’t done live, after all…

And yet, viewers of Chopped and Octomom and Jersey Shore and Fear Factor and whatever other mundane BS comes down the tube cheerfully believe in the promise of “reality” on “reality” tv! “Wow, it’s amazing how those bakers can make 1,000 cupcakes in one hour!” the amazed tv zombie says, or “Wow, how could the Bachelor have become such a snake?” as the lie sucks him/her in again!

And Hard Knocks is particularly egregious in the “fake news” respect! Not to mention dangerous for overly gullible NFL bettors! Already a certain sector of fandom gives waaaaaaaaaaaay too much credence to preseason outcomes! Worse yet, too many are throwing good money away betting on football while “armed” with this “information”!

In fact, sources tell NFLbets that the largest fraction of bets on the “over/under wins” futures bet are being plunked down on the Browns right now! Higher or lower! And you can’t tell me that the most forgotten team in the NFL is suddenly seeing Patriots-level action due to anything other than the massive exposure of an HBO production!

This NFL bettor, Os Davis, has seen one full season of Hard Knocks (the one starring the Los Angeles Rams 2.0) and at least one episode of most other seasons! Woof, is this show brutal, even by reality tv standards! Every season, NFLbets tries to avoid this damn program, but something keeps dragging us back!!!

In short, NFLbets can positively assert that season 13, episode 3 of Hard Knocks does the Cleveland Browns coaching staff no favors at all! Hue Jackson looks as lost in space as any NFL head coach since Art Shell, and we get another how many episodes of this?! Offensive Line coach Bob Wylie has a philosophy straight out the 1940s! His training regimen would never include stretching because soldiers in World War I and World War II didn’t stretch before hitting the beaches! It begs the question: “Wouldn’t football be an easier game with machine guns and artillery?! It would also take care of a lot of the CTE issues, too!

But worst of all is defensive coordinator Gregg Williams! If you want any proof that everything on Hard Knocks is at very least exaggerated, observe the meeting between Williams and washed-up country singer Brad Paisley! Williams doesn’t even know who the f**&#k the skinny little dude is, but nevertheless gives him a canned line! “If you're allegeric to the word ‘fuck’, you’d better get a prescription”! Ha ha!

(To be fair, that could be HBO’s slogan!)

And in the film room?!?!!! Come on! Williams comes off as a complete douche, condescending to his players! Wait until these guys see what he (and, by association, they) look like! If anything, this series is going to work against Mr. Bountygate in terms of play relations! Come to think of it, how does Williams even have a job in the NFL?!? On the other hand, Wylie’s around, and he hasn’t coached an NFL team with a winning record since 2001!

Then about halfway through this mess of a Browns brain trust, we get the denouement of staginess for this episode! It’s still-unsigned free agent Dez Bryant, wearing a T-shirt reading SPIRITUAL GANGSTER! Whatever the f*&#^&^k that means! Browns fans should be pretty depressed about this turn by Bryant, though! Why?! Because all that can be gleaned from this cameo appearance at Browns camp/on Hard Knocks was all about the photo opportunity! Dez is barely more “spiritually” committed to Cleveland than he was two weeks ago!

O yeah, and this whole thing is punctuated with snippets from one dude who won’t make the team and one dude who will make the team! Shocker! Plus Jarvis Landry continues to try and pump up these Browns! If only for more camera time!

It’s been said about the Cleveland Browns before, but NFLbets’ll say it again: What a mess!!!!! At least on camera! And you people are betting on this team one way or another?!? 

Before you bet, please consider: What evidence have you seen of either talent or coaching ability?!? What actual, tangible proof can you point to as evidence implying a winning or losing season ahead?!?

And hopefully prior to your wager, you’ll have realized that you’ve been bamboozled by lame “reality” tv again! Or, like all too many, you won’t!

Grrrrrr, f^#@*&k reality tv, f^#@*&k Hard Knocks and f^#@*&k betting on the Cleveland Browns right now!

That’s the rant.


NFC East proposition bets

Sunday, 19 August 2018 18:26 EST

A couple weeks of play and about 17 episodes of Hard Knocks into the preseason, and things are starting to happen. Sort of: A few injuries, a few comebacks from injuries, a few complaining about injuries, et cetera. Thus armed with a tad more information, NFLbets continues our division-by-division look at the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” NFL futures offered at online sportsbooks.

Today NFLbets inspects the NFC East, which in 2018 features only the still-scary defending champion Philadelphia Eagles and, to be frank, three teams who would be fine with relocating to the Island Of Misfit Toys.

•••••

If you’re like most NFL fans – and presumably most non-homer NFL bettors – you’re believing that the NFC East will be a runaway in 2018 – though the oddsmakers are clearly trying to make it appear as though it’s not the case.

Why? Because Vegas doesn’t want to pay out hundreds of thousands of bettors would can see an easy wager when it’s offered. The poorly-kept secret about how much better the Philadelphia Eagles look than the division’s remainder is fairly clear in the table featuring lines in the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” NFL futures bets below.

NFC East

NFC East O/U wins to win div. (oper) to win div. (current)
Philadelphia Eagles* 10½ -175 -175
Dallas Cowboys +325 +350
New York Giants 7 +700 +700
Washington 7 +700 +750

 

Check out the difference between first- and second-place in this division, bigger than any except the AFC East and NFC West, both expected blowouts for the prospective winner. The difference between the Eagles and Cowboys might be greater if not for the inevitable plethora of Dallas Cowboys fans (though, admittedly, gambling and even betting on football in Texas itself is damned frowned upon). keeping the Cowboys’ odds against winning the NFC East down and the total wins over/under line up.

Also of note: The preseason injury to freakin’ *Super Bowl MVP* Nick Foles and the announcement that Carson Wentz will miss at least the opening game against the Atlanta Falcons hasn’t budged the line a bit. Additionally, the variance on what sportsbooks are offering on the Eagles is currently running anywhere from -130 to -230 – quite a range there, and all reflecting the risk-adversity of the given sportsbook. Clearly, everybody figures the Eagles for shoo-ins.

So if the Eagles are set to win the NFC East in 2018, what stands in the way of their topping 10 wins? The roster is deep enough at every position so as to weather the injury bug. And the first quarter of the season, when Philly is dealing with quarterback issues and perhaps incorporating a few signings into the schemes, is none too difficult for a defending champ: vs Atlanta, at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, vs the Indianapolis Colts, at the Tennessee Titans. Figure in at least five wins against the division, and that’s good for seven immediately.

 

The difference between 10 and 11 wins is often a single misstep or a surprise upset in a late-season game, so NFLbets would advise staying away from the over/under wins prop on the Eagles. That “To Win Division” bet, though. Hoo boy – just look for the most generous sportsbook and load up: Bet the Philadelphia Eagles to win the division, hopefully as part of a parlay.

 

•••••

 

Who else can contend in the NFC East? By NFLbets’ reckoning, the pickings are slim.

 

The sportsbooks like the Jerry Jones’s guys to finish second in this division, but NFLbets wouldn’t bet on the 2018 Dallas Cowboys with our worst enemy’s money. Wow, is this team wonderfully constructed to be yet another year of overrated status (starting with an over/under of 8½ wins, mind you), underwhelming results and enough drama to keep fans nauseated. Or the Cowboys might rally behind their young quarterback Making The Leap while finding that the departure of Dez Bryant was addition by subtraction and a ragtag defense finds ways to dominate in the clutch.

 

Naturally, we’re thinking the former, so we’ll consider the latter.

 

After going stunningly quiet this offseason – the Cowboys essentially signed DEs David Irving and Kony Ealy in place of DE Benson Mayowa and DT Joe Vellano. O, and Jason Witten retired. Therefore … Cowboys fans, get ready because it’s more of same in ’18!

 

Said sameness includes and offense and defense which was mediocre to bottom half of the league in most statistical categories, save for in one significant area: Rushing. The masterful Ezekiel Elliott led his RB corps to become a top-three team in rushing yardage, TDs and yards per attempt. The offensive line, though hardly still the dominant force it was in Tony Romo’s last couple of seasons, was no. 1 by Football Outsiders’ “Power Run Blocking” metric in 2017 and is still deadly at the point of attack.

 

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/ol2017

 

But Football Outsiders also shows that the OL is – you guessed it – average in pass protection, and herein lies a problem. Prescott was good for just 6.8 yards per attempt, 22nd best in the league and a mere 0.1-0.2 yards better than the likes of Andy Dalton, Mitch Trubisky and Jacoby Brissette. And yet somehow the Cowboys managed to finish no. 9 in offensive scoring for 2017. Crazy!

 

We’re figuring on another average season for the Cowboys as once again they live and die by the big play and the awesomeness of Zeke. This team could go 6-10 SU or 10-6, and if Elliott or Prescott is lost to injury, say sayonara to those yen you bet on Cowboys over 8½ wins. Do really want to be wagering money on this heart attack of a team? NFLbets thinks not.

 

•••••

 

In fact, also playing into the Cowboys’ hands for 2018 is the sheer mediocrity both New York and Washington could and almost definitely will, respectively, bring to the field.

 

NFLbets will say this: The wild cards (so to speak) in the entire NFC are the New York Giants. Since the 1990s, every Giants team to play in the Super Bowl came from out of nowhere. The playoff favorites in the conference – the Eagles, Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings – all appear to be well more poised for a ’Bowl run, but that’s why they call them upsets.

 

Such a run by the 2018 New York Giants wouldn’t require more than a 9-7 record. This team, with Odell Beckham on board from game 1 (more on Becks momentarily), went 3-13. However, the team was 0-5 SU (but 4-1 ATS, hint hint) in games decided by five points or fewer. Three extra touchdowns in games such as those – which a running back such as, likesay, Saquon Barkley might provide – gets the Giants to six wins before even considering the schedule.

 

Now if you’re thinking about taking the Giants over 7 wins, hang on to that credit card for one more moment. Consider this schedule, which hardly resembles a slate to be given a divisional fourth-place finisher: The Giants start with vs the Jacksonville Jaguars, at Dallas, at the Houston Texans, vs the New Orleans Saints, at the Carolina Panthers and vs Philadelphia. To get to at least 7-9, NFLbets figures that the Giants’ll have to better their 0-5 start of 2017, but this could easily be 0-6.

 

As for Beckham, it’s doubtful he’ll miss many games before ending his holdout (dude just doesn’t want to play preseason games, come on now) and frankly one wonders how much effect ol’ OBJ really has on this offense. Upon first glance, the answer seems obvious: Since debuting in 2014, the Giants are 21-26 in games in which Beckham catches at least one pass; they’re 5-12 in games in which he doesn’t. However, considering that half of the Beckham-catch wins came in 2016 and Odell’s other three years as a pro have seen his team no more than six wins in a season.

 

In the final analysis, if you want to throw a few bucks at a longshot, back the New York Giants to win the NFC East. The smartest move might be to stay away from this team altogether in these props and take them plus the points as an underdog during the regular season. “New York Giants to win 7” smells like a push to NFLbets…

 

•••••

 

Well, here’s an easy one. NFLbets wishes we didn’t have to mention this franchise, its pathetic front office and its barbarically racist team name at all. But we will take great joy in taking the stand that the best bet in this entire division is to bet Washington under 7 wins. This looks to be a bottom-5 NFL team in 2018 and should bet Washington under 7 wins.

 

If you’d like to chalk this prediction up to this writer’s personal dislike for the entire franchise top to bottom, fair enough. But imagining a path for Washington to get to .500 is beyond NFLbets’ amazing abilities – doesn’t a bottom-5 finish seem loads more likely…?

 

NFLbets’ best bets for NFC East betting:
•  Philadelphia Eagles to win division at -175
, preferably in a parlay.

NFLbets’ recommendations for NFC East betting:
•  Washington to win under 7 games.


NFC North proposition bets

Tuesday, 14 August 2018 10:55 EST

The optimist would say we’re only about three weeks away from NFL Opening Day 2018. The pessimist would say the preseason has barely begun. NFLbets says the time is ripe for speculating on 2018 NFL futures and proposition bets. So today, we’re presenting part five of NFLbets’ division-by-division look at the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” NFL futures offered at online sportsbooks.

Today, we’re considering the NFC North, which in 2018 features a returning Super Bowl contender, a potentially dissolving perpetual contender, a will they/won’t they upstart and the good ol’ Detroit Lions. We’re talking the NFC North today; click on the appropriate link below for NFLbets’ takes on these proposition bets for other division

AFC EastAFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West

•••••

The NFC North should be one, let’s say, challenging division for NFL bettors in 2018. Two serious contenders for a Super Bowl LIII appearance head up the division’s odds tables: The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. But the former is uncharacteristically riddled with controversy and question marks, while the latter has a long history of tragic late-season exits (not that the proper NFL bettor should rarely, if ever, consider history as part of week-to-week calculations for betting; just sayin’). The lines in the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” prop bets are listed below.

NFC North

NFC North O/U wins to win div. (oper) to win div. (current)
Minnesota Vikings* 10 +125 +115
Green Bay Packers* 10 +125 +150
Detroit Lions 7.5 +600 +600
Chicago Bears 6.5 +700 +900

 

Note the separation between going on between the Vikings and Packers. The smart money – literally – is on the Vikings right now, and NFLbets’d guess that these odds will only get shorter as the line approaches +100 by opening day kickoff.

Does defense win championships (if you straight-up ignore Super Bowl LII)? Sure, and therefore if you’re a Minnesota Vikings fan, you’re liking your team’s chances. Dt Sheldon Richardson joins a defense that was top-3 statistically in allowing total yards, first downs, passing yards, passing TDs, net yards per pass attempt, and rushing yards. The average quarterback was reduced to a QB rating of 71.1, just 0.3 lower than Tom Savage in ’17 – against this Vikings D. With all starters and key third-down subs back aboard, the Vikings have an early claim to the best defense in the NFL; about the only argument would come from Los Angeles Rams land and two of their main studs (Ndamokung Suh and Marcus Peters) are newly acquired.

If you’re a believer in a Minnesota team newly armed with Kirk “You Like That Meme” Cousins at quarterback to at least win the division, as is NFLbets, you’ll want to cover the Minnesota Vikings to win the NFC North, preferably as part of a parlay involving an odds-on favorite (likesay, the Rams and/or New England Patriots) to beef up the potential winnings.

Minnesota going over 10 wins – three fewer than in the 2018 Vikings’ regular-season romp – might also be worth a bet. The schedule in the early going isn’t easy: The Vikings will play vs San Francisco 49ers, at Green Bay, vs Buffalo Bills, at Los Angeles Rams, at Philadelphia Eagles; a game at the New England Patriots comes in December. If you’re taking the Vikings seriously as a contender, however, then you’re figuring this group of games is worth at least a 3-3 record, and finding four more losses for Purple People Eaters 2.0 seems quite implausible. Take the Minnesota Vikings to go over 10 wins.

•••••

In Green Bay, Aaron “R-E-L-A-X” Rodgers is not chill early in the preseason over his lamely constructed receiving corps. Jordy Nelson is gone, but Rodgers’s favorite targets in 2017, Randall Cobb and Devante Adams, are still around. That was the bad news and good news, respectively. The terrible, all-too-familiar news is that the Green Bay brain trust did typically little to pump up the roster in 2018 free agency. 

So Rodgers, who’s suddenly staring at getting slapped with the “franchise player” tag in back-to-back seasons for a team he’s sick of quarterbacking, will (possibly) be throwing to some members of a rookie quartet who may have been chosen showing for memorable monikers: J'Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and DeAngelo Yancey.

Beyond this, Rodgers has got to be concerned about his offensive line – again, little improved from 2017 – which ranked a paltry 28th in pass protection last season, per the awesome Football Outsiders.

NFLbets cannot say with assurance that Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy have done more with less, as the 2018 Green Bay Packers appear to have less than at any point since probably 2008 (ironically, Nelson’s rookie season), a year in which the Pack went 6-10.  NFLbets simply cannot buy this team winning more than 10 games as constructed. Take the Green Bay Packers to win under 10 games.

•••••

When the tale of Matt Stafford’s career is written, the inferiority of the Detroit Lions will play as huge a part as it does in those of Dominic Raiola, Calvin Johnson, and of course Barry Sanders. Sure, NFLbets’d love the 2018 Lions to win over 7½, but as Os Davis’s original piece in this series indicated, bookmakers are accounting for a total of five wins more than losses league-wide, meaning that when in doubt, bet the under.

On the Lions, we’d probably bet the under, but we’re not recommending such. The Packers and especially the Bears are big question marks for this season, and the four games against these two teams are likely to determine the pendulum of this Lions team. Essentially, we’d stay clear of these Lions – at least until Stafford goes down, at which point bet the opponent minus the points all Sunday long…

•••••

The Chicago Bears for 2018 are pushing a lot of young talent and old faces on the sidelines. Someone off the playing field has apparently decided that the direction to head in for wunderkind RB Jordan Howard and rookie TE Adam Shaheen to grow and develop is to begin the season with Mike Glennon at quarterback, with the Damocles Sword of Mitch Trubisky hanging over head. Nice – for the NFL bettors.

With so much of the offense handed over to youngsters (‘Member the days of Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall?), the coaching staff is remarkably unchanged: Beyond head coach Matt Nagy, offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich is still here along with general manager Ryan Pace. One or more of these dudes thought it was a good idea to a) sign Glennon; b) draft Trubisky with little extant infrastructure; and c) both, and NFLbets believes that all three may stick around until someone else in the front office realizes little good will happen under the watch of this trio.

Since more pieces must be added to the roster (and Pace’s acumen is mostly in dispatching veterans) and sidelines, NFLbets figures these Bears are at minimum two seasons from contention. And while winning 6½ games is a fairly low bar for Vegas et al to set, we wouldn’t wish having to hope for seven wins from these guys – with five likely to be needed in the season’s second half – on any NFL bettor.

NFLbets’ best bets for NFC North betting:
•  Minnesota Vikings to win division at +115
(or anything over -150, really); and
•  Vikings to win over 10 games.

NFLbets’ recommendations for NFC North betting:
•  Green Bay Packers under 10 wins
.


AFC North proposition bets

Friday, 10 August 2018 18:09 EST

As of this writing, the first full week of NFL preseason games has been played, with each team getting at least one (fake) game in the books. NFLbets meanwhile continues our division-by-division look at the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” NFL futures offered at online sportsbooks.

Today, we’re considering the AFC North, which in 2018 features two teams easy enough to read, and two real toughies. Click on the below links to read NFLbets’ takes on these proposition bets for other divisions…

AFC EastNFC SouthNFC West

•••••

No division has been so predictable in terms of preseasons odds at the sportsbook than the AFC North. The mundane order of Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Browns in the 20th century seems as preordained as it feels inevitable. Not that such a feeling is unjustified: The Browns have finished fourth in 13 of the last 16 seasons, and but for the grace of Cleveland go the Bengals, a team who last won a playoff game in 1990 against the Houston Oilers. The Baltimore Ravens have mostly stayed competitive (aside from the freakish Super Bowl-winning season of 2012) by dint of starting at 5-1 within the North and beating down the beatdogs of the AFC annually. Finally, the big bad Pittsburgh Steelers have had the league’s top halfback and top wide receiver for five years running now.

As with the AFC East, NFLbets believes radical change may shuffle this division someday soon, but it won’t be 2018. Bookmakers too expect more of the same from these four teams in the upcoming season. The lines in the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” prop bets are listed below.

AFC North O/U wins to win div. (oper) to win div. (current)
Pittsburgh Steelers 10½ -280 -300
Baltimore Ravens 8 +450 +400
Cincinnati Bengals +900 +1000
Cleveland Browns +1100 +1200

 

First reaction: The Steelers at an over/under of 10½ games is a line based purely on reputation and getting the (literally and figuratively0 massive subset of Steelers fans who are also NFL bettors. These bros, believing their guys are good for 12 or 13 wins at least, will certainly help keep this over/under nice and artificially high for the rest. Seeking out a sportsbook offering an over/under of 11 should be worth your time as well.

Those taking the over on the Steelers who are not blind fanboys/-girls are depending on continued dominance over the division’s Ohio teams (at four “guaranteed” wins, the 2018 Steelers would already be over 35% to the target.

The first half of the season certainly looks favorable to Pittsburgh: they'll be at Cleveland, vs the Kansas City Chiefs, at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, vs Baltimore, vs the Atlanta Falcons, at Cincinnati, bye, vs Cleveland. Now the Steelers backers has delusions visions of 7-0 in this first half.

Except that Le’Veon Bell, offensive lynchpin/straw that stirs the drink in Pittsburgh, has notoriously gotten off to slow starts and brings the team down with him. Check out these stats:

•  2015, weeks 3-8, his only six games: 115.33 total yards per game, 3 TDs; Steelers record 3-3.

•  2016, weeks 4-10, after serving suspension: 115.33 total ypg, 2 TDs; Steelers 2-4.

•  2017, weeks 1-5: 102.6 total ypg, 3 TDs; Steelers 3-2.

•  All other games played in 2016-17: 159.5 ypg, 16 TDs; Steelers 15-1.

So? “Great,” figures the Steelers fan, “so they lose a couple early on and steamroll in the second half, voila! 13-3 is easy.”

Except … just look at the second half schedule. What will have been a playground for Bell and the boys becomes a treacherous pit of doom: From week 9, it’s at Baltimore, vs the Carolina Panthers, at the Jacksonville Jaguars, at the Denver Broncos, vs the Los Angeles Chargers, at the Oakland Raiders, vs the New England Patriot and at the New Orleans Saints before closing out against Cincinnati.

We suppose the Steelers could win 11 against this schedule. IF Ben Roethlisberger plays the majority of the season. IF Bell and the entire team can win the games they should in the season’s first half. IF the injury bug doesn’t hit too hard … with this season, for this season, that’s too many if’s. Take the Pittsburgh Steelers to win under 10½ games.

•••••

NFLbets admits to still hating the Baltimore Ravens for taking our money in the “Over/Under Wins” futures bet last season – which brings up some good advice: Never bet on any team or game in which an emotional response is part of the decision. Sounds simple, but admiration, fear and/or loathing have ruined many millions of bets through the centuries.

We’ll probably be avoiding the Ravens altogether in these props, mainly because 8 wins seems just about right for this team. And after the preseason, NFL bettors can be as excited about Lamar Jackson as they want, but how quickly do you think the Ravens front office will put Joe Flacco and his franchise-sucking contract on the bench? Not very is the answer here, and that’s pretty good news because the Ravens will certainly be profitable to bet against game-to-game until Joe Flacco has utterly lost his teammates’ and/or coaching staff’s backing.

•••••

One of the easiest picks in the entire NFL is the Cincinnati Bengals future bet of over/under 6½ wins. Ask yourself the following questions:

•  Is Marvin Lewis still coaching the team?

•  Did the Bengals make any significant progress toward, likesay, improvement this past offseason?

•  Who will the Bengals’ starting QB be?

So yeah. Take the Cincinnati Bengals to go under 6½ wins.

•••••

Finally, everyone’s liking the Cleveland Browns this offseason – everyone except the NFL bettors, that is. NFLbets calls this the Hard Knocks Effect. To wit, the following is the list of Hard Knocks-starring teams and the outcomes in the season following each team’s series.

•  2007 Kansas City Chiefs – 4-12

•  2008 Dallas Cowboys – 9-7

•  2009 Cincinnati Bengals – 10-6 won the AFC North

•  2010 New York Jets – 11-5 and a wild card spot

•  2012 Miami Dolphins – 7-9

•  2013 Cincinnati Bengals – 11-5 won the AFC North

•  2014 Atlanta Falcons – 6-10

•  2015 Houston Texans – 9-7 won the AFC South

•  2016 Los Angeles Rams – 4-12

•  2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 5-11

•  2018 Cleveland Browns – ???

 

NFLbets realizes there’s no room in betting for superstition, and we believe there’s a reason behind this. Firstly, let’s all come to grips with the fact that REALITY SHOWS ARE NOT REALITY (unless you’re President of the United States, that is). The narrative on the Hard Knocks teams is always the same: This goofy bunch of characters may not win the Super Bowl, but they’ll improve on last year and therefore should you watch all their games on national TV.

At this point in the show’s run, the Hard Knocks producers have the schtick down cold, doing what the Hollywood/Burbank infotainment industry has always done: glamorize and aggrandize everything. So of course Jameis Winston and Mark Sanchez and Jeff Fisher come off as great leaders of men: the producers and directors have done their job. On top of this, you’ve got certain guys thinking a Hard Knocks series can motivate teammates (as in Winston or this year’s early rah-rah guy Jarvis Landry) or concentrating more on making their locker-room speeches camera-ready (i.e. Fisher). In short, don’t be fooled by the man behind the curtain (or camera).

Yet, dare we believe the 2018 Cleveland Browns might not … suck? Or that they might even be … good?

Starting at quarterback is either Tyrod Taylor, who helped get a team fighting its own management into the playoffs last year and is set to play with a massive chip on the shoulder or the no. 1 overall the Browns may actually have gotten right in Baker Mayfield. Carlos Hyde will share touches with Duke Johnson, who showed some true flashes of greatness in the second half of last season.

The aforementioned Jarvis Landry was this team’s biggest acquisition of any sort and, along with a second re-signing in Josh Gordon, automatically improves the WR core, which may add more star power, depending on whether Dez Bryant takes up the Cleveland challenge. Given Landry’s Hard Knocks attitude, this team is already leading the league in shoulder chips with or without Dez aboard.

We’re not sure if the signing of E.J. Gaines will turn the tide or if Mles Garrett can take another step (or two, or three steps) forward in 2018, but this Browns offense should score its share of points. We would tentatively advise taking the Cleveland Browns to win over 5½ games – they’ll certainly beat Cincinnati twice, for example – but might be more useful for betting the over in the season’s first half and plus the points in the second…

NFLbets’ best bets for AFC North betting:
•  Cincinnati Beangals under 6½ wins
; and
Pittsburgh Steelers to win division at -300 (preferably in a parlay).

NFLbets’ recommendations for AFC North betting:
•  Pittsubrgh Steelers under 10½ wins
; and
•  Cleveland Browns to win over 5½ games.