Sure bets: The closest thing to guaranteed wins, big payouts in NFL betting


A personal story first.

The first time it happened to me (legally) was at the best of all possible times: The Super Bowl. Super Bowl XXXVI, to be exact. Even as my relatively naïve self, one look at the point spread *and* the over/under – St. Louis Rams +14, 52½ points – was enough to blow my head off. Heck, I’d ridden the Patriots through a eliminator fantasy football playoff challenge; the then-plucky underdog Patriots were riding 10-1 runs ATS and SU; the gone toe-to-toe with The Greatest Show on Turf in week 10, losing 24-17; and Mike Martz’s high-flying offense dropped about 10 points per game in three years’ worth of playoff runs, only topping 23 on three of six occasions (once in a losing effort, even).

Of course, none of those numbers came to me consciously; that was to come later in a glorious run of research and rare positive example of confirmation bias. The realization was well more like a revelation of biblical proportions. I saw the lines, the universe cracked open, exposing the mathematics at the heart of everything. Numbers danced as angles sung and Ben Franklin winked at me from a $100 bill. The rest is the proverbial history and, suffice to say, I was one of many to cash in betting against the supposedly sure-thing Rams.

(And we didn’t even know anything about Spygate at that point, either…)

Of course, religious experiences like this don’t happen often, and extremely rarely for the Super Bowl since the Denver Broncos went back-to-back in the late 1990s – Heck, a previous incarnation of this very website ran a piece on betting Super Bowl LII entitled “Shut Up and Bet the Patriots”. Since the aforementioned first Patriots championship title, four times has the winner ATS differed from the SU champ and eight times – including four instances involving the Patriots and three involving Peyton Manning – has the pointspread underdog won outright.

NFLbets reckons obvious picks of the week fall into our laps about four times per season. These are the true Sure Bets in NFL Betting.

Sadly, however, NFLbets cannot run solely on these most profitable, beat-the-house games – This’d be one heckuva minimalistic website if we did. It’s also unfortunate that approximately 99.99% of the NFL betting-inclined population doesn’t have the elephantine willpower needed to make only a half-dozen bets per NFL season.

As we pick our favorites among the favorites (or underdogs), we note accordingly which are the top investments, the once-a-month bonanzas, the sure bets. NFLbets’d wish you good luck, but run with these and you won’t need it.


Hey, let’s start the 2019 NFL season by violating our primary betting rule – and then double down!

Thursday, 05 September 2019 18:44 EST

So you may have heard the 2019 NFL season kicks off tonight with an all-time classic rivalry matchup. Normally, NFLbets would be content to merely sit back and watch this one play out while staking no money; after all, our first rule of NFL betting is this: Do not bet on NFL week 1 games.

But how often have the schedule makers conspired with the football gods and bookmakers to bring us such an incredible opportunity for betting right off the kickoff? Just look at it:

Green Bay Packers +3 at Chicago Bears, over/under 46½ points

NFLbets doesn’t believe we need to belabor the point, but consider:

• In 2018, the Bears went 12-5 SU and ATS, the latter the league’s best. The widest margin of defeat was 7 points, to the eventual champion New England Patriots, and exhibited some of the worst placekicking ever seen over the course of a season. The Packers went 6-9-1 SU/ATS, including 0-7-1 SU against teams with a winning record (not to mention 0-2 against these Bears in Green Bay on opening Sunday).

• In the offseason, the Bears lost one key player – FS Adrian Amos – of a potential six from 2018’s world-beating, record-threatening, straight-up scary defense. And sure, the Bears lost Vic Fangio at defensive coordinator; Chuck Pagano, with extensive DC and head coach experience, will probably be a pretty decent replacement.

• The Packers churned their roster to the extent that fewer than half of last year’s starters are returning and brought in a new coaching staff, headed up by first-timer Matt LaFleur as coach. Why do the sportsbooks put the Packers’ over/under for wins in 2019 at 8½ when the Bears are at 9½? Interesting fact: The last coach to make his professional head coaching debut in the so-called “NFL Kickoff Game” was … no one. It’s never happened, and this game has been happening since 2002. As for debuting head coaches winning game one SU last year … well, they went 0-5.

• So you want to put everything on Aaron Rodgeers The Savior. Fair enough, but you’re probably saying the same thing and bearing the same expectations for Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers – and all those dudes are over 37. Are we supposed to believe (and to bet real money on, no less) that each of these five will be just as good, carrying a team to a Super Bowl win pretty much solo? Come on now…

• And before the snarkiness about Mitch Trubisky and a weak-ass Chicago offense starts, let’s admit that the 2018 Bears offense was top 10 in scoring and turnovers surrendered – perhaps that’s the reason they closed out the regular season on a 9-1 run…

In short, this line appears to be based on – and holding steadily because of – sheer tradition. And not only tradition of the scary Belichick/Brady sort but rather of the historical franchise sort, which is complete nonsense to the proper NFL bettor. Almost no one on the current Green Bay roster other than Rodgers has a title to his credit and, in case no one’s mentioned so, the Packers have a new head coach, too. So … the opposition is supposed to run in fear of the big G because … the autobiography of Vince Lombardi might fall on them?

Now, sure, in the long-term the Bears may appear a bit wonky for betting purposes. The wacky schedule certainly won’t make things easy for NFL bettors with five primetime games (including this one), Thanksgiving Day in Detroit and a London game. But that’s the future – in week 1, no norms exist from which to deviate and all the offseason preparation comes to fruition.

NFLbets usually avoids betting week 1 games like betting Finnish league volleyball, but we’re willing to exploit the foolishness of mystique. We’ll even calling this our first Sure Bet for 2019: Take the Chicago Bears -3 vs Green Bay, and get this season in NFL betting started right (by doing things the wrong way, admittedly…)!


NFLbets is actually a little insulted by this “Men on Mars” proposition bet

Wednesday, 06 March 2019 09:18 EST

Men on Mars proposition betAt first, this seemed like another of those wacky sportsbook proposition bets that’s impossible to play because of ridiculously long odds, but then NFLbets started feeling insulted by certain apparent presumptions about bettors held by the given sportsbook, who shall remain nameless.

In the proposition bet “Will Humans Land on Mars by the End of Trump’s Presidency?”, the NO is getting odds of just 1/20 while YES is at 10/1.

So just another harmless piffle like “To Become the Next Pope” or “Day of the Week Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s baby is born”, albeit with preposterously short odds on both available options. And as NFLbets prepared to write up this screed advising to bet the house on NO, it occurred that this information backing up our supposition is so easily found that everyone who visits the UnnAmedBookmaker.com should load up on this prop as much as the bookie will allow.

Is the unnamed bookmaker assuming that no one will? Come on now – if the would-be bettor is looking at the online sportsbook website, he/she clearly has internet and has likely sought information by, likesay, typing a few words into Google. Barring placing a bet as a joke gift, there is absolutely no reason not to research this stuff before placing a bet.

Problem #1: Space
“Space,” as Douglas Adams once observed, “is big.” Trained in primary school to think of planetary orbits as tidy circles within a neat 2-D plane, many folks have trouble with the notion that when we speak of the solar system, an agglomeration of three-dimensional objects all moving in relation to one another mixed in with the occasional curvature of spacetime.

The end result of this is that getting a craft from Earth to Mars is less like shooting a cannon at a wide target, but instead akin to striking a basketball while it’s used in a pickup game with a glass bead: It’s possible, but for successful results, you’d better pick your spot correctly. Put another way, the stars – or, in this case, planets – must align. And much of the time, rather inconvenient obstacles, likesay the Sun, would get in the way of a Mars mission, or the distances between the blue planet and the red planet are too great for current fuel capacities of space vehicles.

Which brings us to…

Problem #2: Time
Two problems with time vis-à-vis a mission to Mars are in play here. First, there is the window of opportunity. If you believe Trump will lose in Election 2020, NASA, the Chinese Space Agency and whatever private companies who believe they can get a homo sapiens to Mars had better get their shite together quickly at this point: The next possible launch window is July to September 2020.

So let’s say you like Trump to lose in 2020. You’re essentially thereby ensured of cashing in by betting NO in the “Will Humans Land on Mars…” prop. Why? Unless NASA (or someone) invents Star Trek’s warp drive pretty damn quick, it will take 260 days for a Earth-launched spacecraft to reach the fourth planet. Mars-bound astronauts would have to launch on April 1, 2020, to touch down before Inauguration Day 2021, and that just can’t happen.

As a two-term president, Trump’s last chance to see humans land on Mars as U.S. president would come in late 2022/early 2023. This launch window begins in December ’22 and goes through February ’23; any mission launched in this time would put people on Mars before Trump is tarred, feathered and run out of Washington, D.C. leaves office in January ’25.

But you know what? In September 2007, then-NASA administrator Michael Griffin, the guy who should be more outwardly positive publicly about the chances of a Mars mission stated that yes, Americans will be going to Mars – probably in 2037.

Easiest money of the next few years at the sportsbook is this prop – we just wish it didn’t feel so insulting to the intelligence. Who in HAL’s name is betting on YES here…?

NFLbets also hopes that, when our species is technologically capable of getting to Mars, the results are a little better than this…


How to wager on the only proposition bet you’ll need for the 2019 college football season

Tuesday, 05 March 2019 13:28 EST

Betting on Clemson-Alabama againFrom a football betting perspective, you gotta love NCAA football. The BCS championship has become the most predictable in American sports, surpassing recent runs like the NBA's Warriors-Cavs or Warriors-anyone for that matter, not to mention Patriots-anyone in the NFL. And the college football playoff “tournament” has only assisted in helping out football bettors make money.

Take, for example, really the only proposition bet you’ll need this college football season: “To win the 2020 NCAA College Football Championship.” Here’s how the tables on this prop at two major sportsbooks look:

 

team sportsbook X odds sportsbook Y odds
Clemson Tigers +165 +230
Alabama Crimson Tide +200 +200

 

Aaaaand you can stop right there.

First off, under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide have lost 15 games – including three to Auburn and two to Clemson – in 11 seasons while taking five national championships. And Nick Saban ain’t going anywhere.

Dabo Swinney, meanwhile, has been Clemson head coach for just 11 losses in the past seven seasons, got the Tigers to 15-0 in 2018 and may be considered the undisputed master of the college football playoff with a career record of 5-2. And Dabo Swinney ain’t going anywhere just yet, either.

Finally, just in case anyone’s forgetting, the last four national championships have been contested between these two.

So NFLbets feels that we don’t need to know about recruiting classes or even, apparently, the starting quarterbacks for these teams to exploit some advantageous lines here. If both teams again enjoy their customary dominant seasons, any underdog hoping to sneak in will have to get past both – and rarely these days do both Clemson and Alabama take a regular-season and a playoff loss each. Obviously, you’ll want to take Alabama and Clemson to win the 2020 College Football Championship in separate bets, and can certainly leverage the opportunity.

At sportsbook #2, the path to profit is simple. Covering Alabama at +200 and Clemson at +200 for, likesay, 100 Moneys (NFLbets’ preferred form of currency) each would net a profit of M100 if/when either takes the title.

At sportsbook #1, a little number-crunching seems to imply that the best bet would be to cover Auburn and Clemson at a ratio of 5:7. For example, covering Auburn for M50 and Clemson for M70 would net M95 or M135.50, respectively, in profit on a championship win.

But the best solution here is to shop around a bit and take advantage of the variance in offerings that still exists this far out from 2019 kickoff. Even in this small sample size, the enterprising football bettor can get both Tigers and ’Tide at 2/1 or better simultaneously – nice.

NFLbets usually doesn’t believe in making seriously wagers this far out from season’s beginning, but I this case, the odds on either Alabama or Clemson just might not get any better before their seemingly inevitable firth straight meeting in the championship game.


NFL playoffs betting: Dallas Cowboys minus-2? Bwah ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaa!

Friday, 04 January 2019 11:29 EST

NFLbets would like to thank the sharps for balancing this line after an apparent tsunami of money from Dallas fanboys took the already laughable Cowboys +2½ down to Cowboys +1 versus the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC’s first wild card game. As this is written at approximately 9am ET on Thursday, January 4, this is back to

Seattle Seahawks +2 at Dallas Cowboys, over/under 43 points

The Seahawks money line (ML) is holding steady from Tuesday at +110. Fantastic – NFLbets is making this just our second Sure Bet of the 2018 season. (Though admittedly, we really should’ve listed the Seahawks minus whatever points against the Oakland/Las Vegas/London(?) Raiders in the U.K. as a Sure Bet.) Take the Seattle Seahawks ML (+110) at Dallas.

Come on, you’re not really fooled by the possum act Russell Wilson & Co. put on against the Arizona Cardinals in week 17 , are you? By the same token, NFLbets is sure you noticed how the Cowboys first-stringers running their standard game plan had their hands full with a New York Giants team missing Odell Beckham.

In how many ways are the Seahawks just flat-out better than these Cowboys? Let’s break it down this way.

Dallas offense vs Seattle defense
For a few weeks – weeks 10-14, to be precise – the Cowboys seemed to have a viable offense. New acquisition Amari Cooper’s incorporation into he Dallas offense finally gave Dak Prescott a proper weapon to throw to and the ’Pokes ran off a 5-0 SU/ATS which included three wins against playoff teams.

Since then, something has happened with the Prescott-Cooper-Jason Garrett triangle; maybe Amari’s not returning Dak’s calls or Garrett’s dog ate the least few remaining pages of his playbook. Whatever the cause, the Cowboys have looked bad first getting shut out by the Indianapolis Colts in week 15 before closing out the season on an 0-3 ATS run.

After snagging 10 passes for 217 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 14, Cooper has had 14 receptions combined in three games. Cooper’s 11 targets in the Giants game included two drops and two balls bounced yards in front of the receiver. Worse yet for Dallas, the Seahawks defense would likely prefer a steady diet of Ezekiel Elliott runs and Prescott doing improv anyway: Seattle’s D has been the proverbial bend-don’t-break in 2018, ranking just 30th in yards per run attempt but 4th in rushing TDs allowed and no. 1 overall in fumbles induced. Advantage: Seahawks.

Seattle offense vs Dallas defense
The Dallas defense is both flying under the radar and badass: They’re no. 9 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, including a top-five rushing defense. Fair enough, but who has been able to stop Wilson-to-Tyler Lockett in 2018? Exactly no one in 16 games, particularly the Cowboys, who in week 2 “held” Lockett to one TD on 82 total yards of offense plus 92 more on special teams returns.

Beyond Lockett, the Seattle offense isn’t exactly multi-faceted. Undrafted Cinderella story Chris Carson has been as good as the hype promises as 4.7 yards per carry for 1,151 total and 9 TDs, but his (and to some extent Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis’s) workload is due in no small part to a thin WR corps and the especially weak offensive line. At 51 sacks, the formerly more mobile Wilson has been rushed more often than anyone in the NFL except DeShaun Watson. This OL will be the Seahawks’ kryptonite in these playoffs, but not this week. Advantage: Seahawks.

Seattle vs Dallas special teams
Neither special teams unit is particularly, well, special; Football Outsiders have both on the bubble of the NFL’s bottom 10 in special-teams performance. The Seahawks do have Lockett, who as the team’s top non-QB “skill” player will likely see an increase in responsibilities in the postseason, as is Carroll’s typical wont; so call Tyler the X-factor in this game. And who are the Cowboys bringing…? Not much. Advantage: Seahawks.

Seattle coaching vs Dallas coaching
Come on, now – you’ve got the second-best head coach in the league who evolved his team into a Super Bowl contender in what was supposed to be a rebuild year versus a dude who doesn’t play-call for offense or defense and who thrives under the perpetual low bar set by ownership.

Then again, Jason Garrett’s Cowboys are 2-4 SU (3-3 ATS, 2-1 ATS at home) against Pete Carroll’s Seahawks, so maybe … uh, no. The sick truth is that Carroll’s Seahawks are an extremely impressive 9-5 SU (10-4 ATS) in postseason games. Advantage: Seahawks.

Other numbers and trends
All the home teams are naturally favored in the first round of this year’s playoffs, but the opening line of 2½ minus the 3-5 points typical assessed for the home side implies that bookmakers would make this a “pick ‘em” or even Seahawks +1 to +1½ on a neutral field. In fact, we’re not entirely sure why the Seahawks aren’t the straight-up favorites: Home teams went just 22-18 SU (20-19-1 ATS!) in wild card games in the past 10 postseasons.

Time is literally on the Seahawks’ side here as well. One of the great mostly-untold secrets of NFL betting is that since 2001, West Coast teams have enjoyed an advantage of just over 70% ATS in primetime games *regardless of location or day of week*. This has borne out once again in 2018, as Pacific Time-based teams went 7-4-1 ATS (8-4 SU) in these games – however many, including NFLbets, wagered on the Los Angeles Rams -7 vs Minnesota in week 4, thereby resulting in a 7-3-2 (70%!) win rate for West Coasters.

On their part, the Seahawks were 3-1 ATS/SU in prime time, with the sole loss coming in week 2 to the then-utterly unheralded Bears in Chicago.

Finally, the Cowboys are a big 1-2 SU (0-3 ATS) in the playoffs since Garrett’s move up to head coach in 2010. They’re also 2-6 SU/ATS in the 21st century and 3-9 SU/ATS since Super Bowl XXX. And in this case, NFLbets’d argue that historical precedent does matter. Why? In two words: Jerry. Jones. Advantage: Seahawks.

Best bets for Seattle at Dallas wild card game
In addition to the NFLbets Sure Bet noted above (Seattle ML at +110), we’re also hedging slightly with a bet on the Seahawks +2.

We’re also advising that NFL bettors take the under on an O/U of 43 points, figuring that the Cowboys defense will allow fewer points than the those of Carolina, San Francisco, Kansas City and Arizona. (The Seahawks have averaged a neat 30.0 points per in the past eight games.) With the Seahawks and Cowboys both boasting top-8 offenses in time of possession, this won’t be a free-flying aerial experience – and if Seattle shuts down Elliott early while going up, likesay, 13-0 or 13-3 at halftime, Dallas might just go without a TD the entire game.

So how ’bout them Cowboys waitin’ until next year??!?!?!?

NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018: 1-0.


Sure bet: Kansas City Chiefs -8½ and well more at Cleveland Browns

Thursday, 01 November 2018 08:48 EST

NFLbets didn’t even need the firings of Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson and/or offensive coordinator Todd Haley to have decided about halfway through last week’s 33-18 throttling given them by the Pittsburgh Steelers that the Kansas City chiefs were set to turn this one into a blowout. Imagine our surprise when, after the dismissals of the not-so-dynamic duo and the ascension of Gregg “That’s Not the Way I Wanted It Done” Williams to top dog spot, the point spread on this game got to -8½.

Wow.

Kansas City chiefs a great betSo for just the second time in 2018 (the first was a preseason proposition bet based on Todd Guley’s touchdown total which looks like money in the bank at this point), NFLbets is proclaiming a “Sure Bet” in week 9: Take the Kansas City Chiefs -8½ at Cleveland. In fact, we be doing quite a bit more in hopes of attaining a better payout in quite an advantageous situation.

First, a couple of stats just in case you need numbers to back up what you already suspect. In stints as head coach, assistant head coach and/or defensive coordinator with Tennessee, Buffalo, Washington, Jacksonville, New Orleans and the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, Gregg Williams has led his teams to a 5-7 SU record and 5-6-1 ATS against Andy Reid-coached team in Philadelphia and Kansas City. Of note about that ATS mark, however: four wins and the came when Williams was with Washington between 2004 and ’07.

This time, though, Williams doesn’t have the 2005 Washington team – his head coach in 2018, Gregg Williams, is a far cry from Joe Gibbs. He doesn’t have Drew Brees as did his 2010 New Orleans Saints – he’s got a quarterback who’s on his second offensive coordinator before his seventh NFL start.

And speaking of offensive coordinator, your man in Cleveland is now one Freddie Kitchens, who has been coaching in NFCAA and NFL football since 1999 … strictly as a position coach. Kitchens was promoted from within from the running backs coach spot. In 18+ seasons as a coach, he was a QBs coach for four: In 2013 through ’16 with the Arizona Cardinals, which included the ’15 team, a top-3 offense statistically.

betting against the Cleveland BrownsBut is that enough behind the likes of Gregg Williams, who’s spent most of this season up to last week apparently looking for opportunities to subvert Haley in hopes of climbing over him to get the doomed Hue’s job? We dare say that Kitchens, like ol’ Head Coach Bountygate and the rest of us, has never seen anything like this Kansas City offense before.

Even against the still-underwhelming Chiefs defense (they’re dead last against the run by Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, for example), the Baker Mayfield-led Browns offense can’t be liking their chances. This team has scored just under 17 points per game in the past four games. The Chiefs have yet to score under 27 all season.

In terms of trending, despite taking the ATS loss last week against Denver, Kanasas City still tops the ATS standings board at 6-1-1, making them the NFL’s outlier thus far. One would expect Reid’s guys to trend downward, figuring the Chiefs to lose at least four or five more games ATS in 2018. However – you guessed it – the Browns with Huey at the wheel (yikes) have performed well above expectations; Cleveland’s 2-5-1 SU record belies a more reasonable 4-4 ATS mark. Most telling of al for the NFL bettor is the 3-1 ATS at home this team has managed to stumble through into week 9.

The line seems way too good to be true, and maybe it is – but NFLbets will wait for the later clarity of hindsight. We’re bumping this line up to Chiefs -13½ or -14 to increase the payout. Sorry, Browns fans, but the misery looks to continue, at least for one more week.


NFL Player Specials: Betting on the awesomeness of Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, Le'Veon Bell

Monday, 03 September 2018 10:01 EST

Admiral Ackbar may be right on this one ... NFLbets has stumbled upon a proposition bet offering that’s way too good to true. Check out these six “NFL specials” bets – click “Show More” for dozens more of well crazier stuff that NFLbets’ll probably deep-dive into very soon – and see if anything sticks out.

• Von Miller, Joey Bosa AND JJ Watt all to have 10+ sacks in Regular Season: 1/2

• Ezekiel Elliott OR Todd Gurley II have 15+ Rushing TDs: 11/10
• Todd Gurley II OR Le'Veon Bell have 15+ Rushing TDs: 13/8
• Keenan Allen, A.J. Green AND Michael Thomas all have 8+ Receiving TDs: 7/4
• Mitchell Trubisky OR Eli Manning throw 20+ Interceptions: 15/8
• A.J. Green, T.Y. Hilton AND Michael Thomas all have 8+ Receiving TDs: 23/10

I know, right? As tempting as throwing money at the Trubisky/Manning prop so to enjoy the thrill of seeing Eli throw three a game is, the obvious bet here is on those two “Rushing TDs” props involving Todd Gurley.

Simply put: There is a reason Gurley, Bell and Elliott are, in some order, the top three fantasy football first-round draft picks, and that reason is touchdowns. (And don’t talk to me about David Johnson. First of all, if you’re playing fantasy football, you’re gambling and not properly betting anyway. Secondly, we’re thinking Johnson has too many miles on the odometer and that the Cardinals are gonna flat-out suck.)

The case for Todd Gurley scoring 15 TDs

Todd Gurley rushing TD propsGreat things are expected from the Rams this season, and much of the excitement around its new/old fandom centers on Gurley. Brandin Cooks’s signing and Sammy Watkins’s departure aside, the offensive side of the roster underwent few groundbreaking changes in the offseason. However, this side of the ball is all about continued evolution. The offensive line consists of dudes drafted back in the days of Jeff Fisher’s St. Louis team (Rodger Saffold, Rob Havenstein) plus acquisitions (John Sullivan, Andrew Whitworth). Last year, the Rams OL ranked third in run blocking and should again supplement Gurley’s beastly abilities.

In 2017, Todd Gurley led the league with 13 rushing touchdowns in 15 games played.

The case for Le’Veon Bell scoring 15 TDs

Finally, expectations are at usual, i.e. Super Bowl-contending, levels for Le’Veon Bell’s Pittsburgh Steelers. Bookmakers and NFL bettors alike like the Steelers to tromp all over the NFC North again on the way to an AFC Championship appearance. (The same sportsbook website linked above also offers the NFL Team Specials prop bet “New England Patriots OR Pittsburgh Steelers Win the AFC Conference” at 10/11. Ridiculous.) 

LeNFLbets ain’t buying all the hype on this Pittsburgh team right now but would certainly back a lotta proposition bets involving individual “skill player” Steelers. We reckon these Steelers will have to be scoreboard spinners to compete in ’18, a natural for this team’s three statmasters, Bell chief among them. 

Despite Bell’s monster reputation in fantasy football, however, he’s never scored more than 9 touchdowns on the ground. That season of nine came last year, when Bell was handed the ball an NFL-leading 321 times, an indication that the Steelers’ Saints-like progression to a more run-heavy game plan as their quarterback ages continues. Of the top three seasons the Steelers have enjoyed since Ben Roethlisberger took over as quarterback, all have come in the past four years. 

Much to Steelers fans and fantasy players’ delight, we’ll be getting even more Bell in 2018. Whether or not he can stay on the field is another question altogether, but Le’Veon Bell will certainly get his chances to live up to his end of this particular prop bet.

The case for Ezekiel Elliott scoring 15 TDs

Ezekiel Elliott rushing TD propsExpectations are well lower for the Dallas Cowboys, with their own aging offensive line and what could well be the worst WR in the league. (“Come back, Dez! All is forgiven!”) Once fandom sees how feeble the Dallas “attack” beyond the legs of Elliott and improvisation of Dak Prescott is, NFLbets fully expects Cowboys fans to be reduced to a two-word vocabulary during games: “Feed Zeke. Feed Zeke.”

In 2017, the Dallas Cowboys ranked no. 2 in rushing TDs and rushing yardage, no. 5 in attempts. Elliott went for 928 yards – 45% of the team’s total rushing output – on 242 carries for 7 touchdowns in 10 games played. Over a 16-game season, Elliott’s TDs for 2017 would have been just 11, though that’s not necessarily a fair projection either for last season or this: Zeke lead the Cowboys in touchdowns despite his interrupted season, and no. 3 scorer/Hard Knocks cameo artist Dez Bryant is gone. Feed Zeke.

Bet these NFL player futures!

Bell may be the weakest link among the three RBs involved in these props, but the case for Elliott and especially Gurley is quite strong indeed. And even if Gurley goes down short of the goal, hedging on the Zeke/Gurley prop still gets you back up to exactly zero, covering the vigorish on both bets.

NFLbets says bet on the “Ezekiel Elliott OR Todd Gurley II to have 15+ Rushing TDs” and “Todd Gurley II OR Le'Veon Bell to have 15+ Rushing TDs: 13/8 at equal stakes. And repeat: “Feed Zeke/Gurley/Le’Veon!”


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.