Pre season


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.


AFC East proposition bets

Wednesday, 08 August 2018 11:15 EST

AFC EastWhile the preseason continues and we await the departure of wide receivers from the Green Bay island, NFLbets continues our look at NFL futures and proposition bets for 2018. As we’ve said before, we just love the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” futures/props for the upcoming season. Today, NFLbets ponders the AFC East.

Ah yes, the AFC East. Since the turn of the century, the NFL’s low-risk, low-reward division – unless Tom Brady’s injured for an entire season.Tell you this, though: The dark times are ending for, as the great Sir Charles – NFLbets swears he was the first to declare thusly publicly – Father Time is undefeated.

Nevertheless, the sportsbooks believe the Great Equalizer (no, not Denzel Washington, silly!) will be staved off for one more year, and reckon that the AFC East’s also-rans again aren’t worth the money in the “To Win Division” prop.

AFC East O/U wins to win div. (open) to win div. (current)
New England Patriots 11 -700 -700
Buffalo Bills +1200 +1100
Miami Dolphins +1200 +1100
New York Jets 6 +1000 +1600

 

This is likely to be NFLbets’ shortest of all futures/proposition bets columns, as betting on either the “To Win Division” or “Over/Under Wins” props vis-à-vis the AFC East comes down to two simple questions:

•  Is this the year Brady, Gronk et al (now including, NFLbets supposes, Eric Decker) finally fall to the time reaper’s scythe; and

•  If not the Patriots, then who?

In short, NFLbets would answer “Yes, a bit more” and “the New York Jets.” (No, really.)

The latest revolving door of an offseason for New England included the departures (and subsequent trash-talking) of former Brady fave Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell followed by the additions of Decker and Cordarrelle Patterson. Only Gronk keeps away the comparison to the days when Reche Caldwell was The Man in Patriotland. 

On the defensive side of things, DE Adrian Clayborn and CB Jason McCourty came aboard during the past offseason. Fair enough, but McCourty is just about the only recognizable name among the pool of the 17 cornerbacks and safeties admitted to Patriots training camp. Resetting what was an absolutely abysmal passing defense in 2017 – You wanna know why Malcolm Butler was cockblocked out of the Super Bowl and therefore ignored in free agency? Poor performance, bro! – seems like a decent enough idea, but can Belichick really craft a working machine from this particular lot of spare parts? 

NFLbets just simply cannot go to the overhyped well again. Take the under on the Patriots over/under 11 wins prop.

•••••

The dusk of the Belichick/Brady Patriots will not only be good news for the league’s up-and-comers but is tremendous news for NFL bettors. O, sure, the Belichick/Bardy Patriots have often been swell cash cow during the regular season: In the glory year of 2007, for example, the Pats started the season at an easy 8-0 ATS, followed by a nearly-as-agreeable 3-5 ATS in the second half as the point spreads were set ever-insanely higher. An astute NFL bettor should probably have gone about 14-2 betting on the Pats that year – and woof, until the Super Bowl, did the bookmakers lose money!

In fact, the Super Bowl is the main reason that NFL bettors will be happy to see Belichick ‘n’ Brady depart the scene, as these dudes have f#&^&#^*ed up Super Bowl bets zillions of times. Despite the Lombardi Trophies and all, the New England Patriots are 3-6-1 ATS in Super Bowls; in the Belichick Era, they’re 3-5. The Pats have pulled off the biggest ATS Super Bowl upset and were later victimized as harshly. On three occasions has the ATS outcome differed from the SU outcome in Patriots Super Bowls, and Belichick’s bunch went 13 years (and four appearances) between ATS wins in the big game.

•••••

Sadly, NFLbets would guess the glorious day of Belichick and Brady’s fall from the top is still one year away. In the AFC East, the 2017 Buffalo Bills couldn’t even tank successfully last season and must seriously be considered for the title of Worst NFL Playoff Team of All-Time. 

Over in Miami, head coach Adam Gase brought in his old buddy Jay Cutler down to South Beach to play QB, and thus did the 2017 Miami Dolphins cutler like nearly every Jay Cutlered team before them. These Dolphins were a bottom-5 team in most metrics on both offense and defense, earning Miami its 10th season of the past 12 in which the team played .500 ball or lower.

This season, Ryan Tannehill and his 37-40 career record are back at QB, and the sportsbooks apparently reckon that makes the Dolphins a half-win better than in 2017. Yeeeeeah, not really buying that. NFLbets would half-heartedly advise taking the under on even 6½ wins for these guys.

•••••

This leaves the New York Jets, who, according to the lines on these NFL futures, is about the only AFC East team that NFL bettors are *not* enthused about. But there’s a case to be made – at least for racking up more wins that most expect.

And those expectations are key. The truth is that the Jets are bringing more unknowns into 2018 than perhaps any other NFL side. They’re likely to sport the youngest roster in the league, as just three players over 29 were invited to camp (the oldest, 39-year-old Josh McCown seems unlikely to be around by week 17). By all reports, Jets brass is high – hopefully not literally – on top draft pick/future franchise QB Sam Darnold and ever the flashy add-ons the Jets made this offseason, e.g. Terrelle Pryor and Isaiah Crowell, feel like players of immediate impact.

While the offense should have the element of surprise on their side, the defense can only improve if given a bit less time on the field in 2018. The Jets were a bottom-5 team in time of possession in ’17 and were held to 10 points or fewer four times in the final seven games. Ugly. Nascent superstar Jamal Adams will look even better in his second season if his unit isn’t continually gassed, NFLbets believes.

Whether or not the Jets can top six wins is all down to the schedule. The opening month is reasonable enough, going at Detroit Lions, vs Miami, at Cleveland Browns and at Jacksonville Jaguars. A 3-1 mark would hardly be unbelievable early on and the NFL bettor going over 6 wins on the Jets is already halfway home by early October. 

The rest of the Jets’ schedule is hardly easy at all, but on the plus side they’ve drawn four teams with rookie head coaches (again the element of surprise works in the Jets’ favor) and have games against X-factors such as Chicago, Indianapolis and Tennessee. Thus the six-win mark will likely come down to games against Buffalo and Miami. Last year, the Jets split these series, winning both home games and losing away twice. A mark of 3-1 against these rivals is a must; getting a fourth win within the AFC East would seemingly ice at least six wins for New York. So all signs point to taking the New York Jets to win over 6 games.

As for those 18/1 odds to win the division outright, well, that’s a fan’s bet. NFLbets may be speculative, but we aren’t freakin’ crazy...

NFLbets’ best bets for AFC East betting:
•  New York Jets over 6 wins.

NFLbets’ recommendations for NFC West betting:
•  New England Patriots under 11 wins
; and
•  New England Patriots to win division (preferably in a perlay).


NFC South proposition bets

Tuesday, 07 August 2018 16:55 EST

While the preseason goes on, NFLbets is considering betting NFL futures and proposition bets for 2018. Despite the frustrating difficulty of seeing into the future via metaphorical crystal ball, we just love the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” props for the upcoming season. Today, NFLbets ponders the NFC South.

And now, please allow the probably redundant repetition of two old essential truth about betting NFC South props such as “To Win Division” and “Over/under Regular-Season Wins”:

•  Since the NFC South itself was established with the addition of the league’s 32nd team in 2002, only twice has the defending division champion repeated as champion. Both of these instances were part of the 2013-16 threepeat run by Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers, which included both a 7-8-1 SU division-winning year and a 17-1 SU run to Super Bowl 50.

•  Only six of the 24 playoff teams from the NFC South have posted fewer than 11 wins.

Apparently neither fact disturbs the pragmatic resolve of Las Vegas bookmakers and online bookmakers, who reckon the NFC South will turn out something like this:

  O/U wins  to win division  (opening)  to win division  (current)
New Orleans Saints* +187 +180
Atlanta Falcons* 9 +180 +185
Carolina Panthers +300 +390
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +550 +600

 

Add to this NFLbets’ compilation of the sportsbooks’ projected finish for the 2018 NFL season based on over/under wins lines and current lines have the Atlanta Falcons squeaking into the playoffs as the no. 6 seed.

Heck, only in July did NFL bettors flip the lines in the “To Win Division” prop into the New Orleans Saints’ favor.

So what gives? Could this be the year when two 9-win teams from the NFC South both make the playoffs or do these lines merely reflect bookmakers’ willingness to admit the ineffability of this division?

The latter, thinks NFLbets – and we’re willing to put the real-life money where the metaphorical mouth and recommend (*not a best bet, mind you*) taking the Carolina Panthers to win the NFC South at +390. We’d also feel pretty good about plunking a few dollars on the Atlanta Falcons going under 9 wins. 

•••••

As for the Saints, hell if NFLbets knows…

Saints fans doubtlessly believe that, in spite of a quarterback turning 40 during the NFL playoffs, their team should be considered among the up-and-coming NFC teams of the future (or present). We’re talking teams combining superstars with nascent young talent like the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings.

The evidence against these Saints actually maintaining the 11-win total of 2017 for ’18 is somewhat compelling, however. In 2017, the New Orleans offense was lauded for its exciting, scoreboard-spinning nature (their 28.3 points per game average was the NFL’s fourth highest) that also produced Drew Brees’s single-season career high for completion percentage thanks to a fantastic running game of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara (plus Adrian Peterson -- not!).

Despite the accolades, though, the Saints were graced with a relatively easy schedule against which they underperformed: New Orleans was just 3-4 (ATS and SU) against playoff teams in 2017, with all three wins coming against the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons. Thus was the Saints’ playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings, bizarre ending aside, inevitable to the NFL bettor.

The most scintillating of an often-inspired 2017 New Orleans Saints defense, though, was the secondary. The Saints ended up no. 3 in total interceptions, led by NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Mashon Lattimore, 2016 draft pick Ken Crawley, Kenny Vaccaro in his prime and rookie FS Marcus Williams. Oddly enough, the biggest acquisitions the New Orleans brass made this offseason were in this area: Replacing Vaccaro are Patrick Robinson, who played well with the champion Philadelphia Eagles but got his career off to a rocky start with Sean Payton’s Saints in the early 10s; and former Carolina Panthers CB Kurt Coleman, whose best performances have come against the Saints. 

Poor against the run last season – the defense was bottom five in rushing yards allowed and yards per attempt for much of 2017 – the Saints will be no better in this area this season.

Conclusion: 11 wins seems unlikely, but 9½, well … the Saints open thusly: vs Tampa Bay, vs Cleveland Browns, at Atlanta Falcons, at New York Giants, vs. Washington, bye, at Baltimore Ravens. All things being equal and all players staying healthy, that’s 4-2 SU at least and 6-0 is hardly inconceivable. 

But with the Saints’ 2017 success so tenuous (Can Kamara really be that good again? Will the Saints really beat up their division rivals this year to balance out an 0-4 against non-divisional playoff teams? Can Brees really throw for 72% accuracy again?), NFLbets has little faith Payton et al can manage a 9-7 record, much less 10-6 or better.

Plus, there’s something about the phrase “Tom Savage is your backup” that scares money away…

•••••

As for the Atlanta Falcons, don’t make NFLbets laugh! The Falcons’ current down-trending state in the downside of a process common to North American sports. In the offseason after egregiously losing the Super Bowl, the only major personnel move the Falcons chose to make was replacing Kyle Shanahan – the dude who'd built up an offense in his second season as Atlanta offensive coordinator to average a whopping 31.875 points per game – with college coach Steve Sarkasian. 

Sarkasian turned the greatest show since the Greatest Show on Turf into a middling, ho-hum offense as the talking heads mindlessly bleated on about a “Super Bowl Hangover.” (Very mathematically sound, that.) Sarkasian is still Falcons OC for 2018; has anyone noticed…?

Beyond Sarkasian, consider that all the Falcons' offseason moves involved Atlanta on the wrong end of the deal, namely in the departures of DE Adrian Clayborn, DT Dontari Poe and WR Taylor Gabriel. All jokes, stats and history aside, this is right now a team in decline. Take the Atlanta Falcons under 9 wins. 

•••••

Normally, NFLbets would write off the 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ chances of winning the NFL South with a pithy throwaway line, but one supposes that the forecasted fourth-place team with the shortest odds should be taken at least a bit seriously and … nah. We’d say take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to go under 6½ wins, joyless as that sounds.

We love the possibility of a lame season by the Falcons, but that nearly 4/1 payout on the Carolina Panthers to win this division is quite the temptation indeed. 
The truth is that Cam Newton is the only starting quarterback in this division that can remotely be considered in his prime. The truth is that the Panthers may be drawing just two playoff teams (the Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers) before week 15, when they’ll get a home-and-home against the Saints and a home game against the Falcons. Newton took an injury early in the preseason and is already listed as questionable for game 1 against the Dallas Cowboys, but hey: He’s gonna play.

And what of Kelvin Benjamin, so-called superstar wide receiver? The truth is that, between 2014 and his departure to the Buffalo Bills halfway through 2017, the Panthers were 24-7 including the playoffs without him and just 18-20-1 with him active on the roster. Here’s to thinking Newton appreciated the two-year extension given to TE Greg Olsen, who’s led this team in receiving yards, receptions and targets three times.

In the unpredictable NFC South, we like the just-as-unpredictable Cam and his guys. Take the Carolina Panthers to win the NFC South at +390.

NFLbets’ best bets for NFC South betting:
•  Atlanta Falcons under 9 wins.

NFLbets’ recommendations for NFC West betting:
•  Carolina Panthers to win division
; and
•  Tampa Bay Buccaneers under 6½ wins.


NFC West proposition bets

Monday, 06 August 2018 10:31 EST

Who’s ready to start betting NFL proposition bets for 2018? During training camp, NFLbets brings you our takes on the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” props for the upcoming season. For a compilation of the sportsbooks’ projected finish for all 32 teams based on over/under wins lines, click here.

For no good reason, we’ll start with the NFC West, with some of the seemingly easier picks on offer. (Gods, are NFL bettors going to miss a world in which the Seattle Seahawks are so prominently featured yet so consistently underrated – or overrated…)

NFC WestLet’s go to the big board for some lines and odds:

NFC West O/U wins   to win division  (current)
Los Angeles Rams 10½ -120 -135
San Francisco 49ers +260 +280
Seattle Seahawks 7 +375 +400
Arizona Cardinals 7 +1100 +1500

 

Immediate observation: While maybe 2½ weeks into camps, the only team trending upward in the NFC West is the Los Angeles Rams. And why not? The Rams killed it this offseason, adding Nadmokung Suh (only the league’s scariest dude) and Marcus Peters (only the league’s best cornerback) to an already exciting, DVOA-leading, DMVP Aaron Donald-having defense. Supplementing these internet-breakers are LB Ramik Wilson plus CBs Sam Shields and Aquib Talib.

To go full dad for a moment here, defense wins championships (um, excepting last year’s Super Bowl … or really any title game involving those New England Patriots…) and thus the Rams at 29/5 to win the NFC championship and 9/1 to win Super Bowl LIII look like pretty decent bets, as is L.A. taking the NFC West at -135 or so. However, NFLbets is getting a bit more pragmatic here, and the key question is: Over or under on the 10½ wins prop? 

By dint of last year’s division-topping performance, the Rams’ 2018 dance card features a number of expected playoff teams: They’ll go vs the Los Angeles Chargers, vs the Minnesota Vikings, at Denver, vs the Green Bay Packers, at the New Orleans Saints, vs the Kansas City Chiefs, vs the Philadelphia Eagles and the home-and-home against the plucky upstarts, Jimmy and the Niners. On the other hand, every single one of the aforementioned games will be played in fair weather or a dome. Even if the Rams lose half of these more difficult games, that’s still good for a 12-4 record. NFLbets advises taking the L.A. Rams over 10½ wins.

But that’s not the best bet in the NFC West: those would be the San Francisco 49ers over/under 8½ wins and Seattle Seahawks over/under 8 wins. If ever a team had “upswing” written all over it, it’d be the 2018 49ers; and while the Seahawks are destined for a sub-.500 season, NFL bettors will happily get to exploit Seattle at the sportsbook.

Make no bones about it: NFLbets wouldn’t advise taking either of these teams to win the NFC West – though if something (or many somethings) calamitous goes down in Rams camp, the Niners will make an excellent hedge bet – but both are solid plays in the “Over/Under Regular-Season Wins” prop.

Beyond the whoa-nelly signing of Richard Sherman, San Francisco GM Mike Lynch went low profile (e.g. signing DE/OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, OL Jonathan Cooper) this past offseason after pinning down wunderkind QB Jimmy Garoppolo to a multiyear deal. Now Jimmy G. may turn the ball over a bit frequently, but the truth is that this team is 100% behind their franchise QB of the future, and that means much in the emotional game of football. This could be one high-scoring offense, enough to make the Niners at least a half-game better than .500.

Too abstract for you to bet on? Fine. Let’s look at the schedule again.

For essentially the first half of 2018, the Niners will be tested, but check out what happens in week 8: A stretch that run at Arizona Cardinals, vs. Oakland Raiders, vs. New York Giants, bye week, at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at Seattle, vs Denver Broncos, vs Seattle and vs Chicago Bears before closing at Los Angeles in what could very well be yet another meaningless (for the Rams, though not necessarily the 49ers nor the NFL bettors) week 17 contest. So yes, NFLbets says take the San Francisco 49ers over 8½ wins.

And in Seattle, a transitional period begins. By all appearances, Pete Carroll is losing his players’ devotion. The ‘Hawks have been hemorrhaging free agents since the Super Bowl XLiX loss and have never found the correct mix of “skill players” on the offense since Beast Mode was GAME OVER in Seattle. The departure of future Hall of Famer/team emotional core Richard Sherman was the final sign that, at least for the nonce, the Seahawks are a team in decline.

The over/under proposition bet line of 8 wins for the 2018 Seahawks is clearly based in reputation and gambler attraction. Isn’t it fantastic that, after making so many NFL bettors happy by twice winning the Super Bowl ATS in the 2010s, Seattle is offering any chance at big easy money? Take the Seattle Seahwaks under 8 wins.

Last and certainly least come the Arizona Cardinals. For the 2018 version of the Cards, remove “transition” and “transitional” from your vocabulary and start talking process. This team could well be Cleveland Browns-level bad in ’18, and we’re thinking a trade of David Johnson and/or Larry Fitzgerald is in the works by season’s end as Arizona enters full-on tank mode. A line of 7 in the “over/under wins” prop is ridiculous – just for starters, how can the Cardinals *not* go 0-6 against the NFC West? Take the Arizona Cardinals to go under 7 wins.

NFLbets’ best bets for NFC West betting: San Francisco 49ers over 8½ wins; Seattle Seahawks under 8 wins; Arizona Cardinals under 7 wins; Los Angeles Rams to win NFC West at -135 (preferably as part of a parlay).

NFLbets’ recommendations for NFC West betting: Los Angeles Rams over 10½ wins.