Thursday Night Football betting

Who the hell likes football on Thursday nights? Not coaches or players, who must fear that turnovers and injuries on a shortened week of practice. Not fans who are just as often treated to a mistake-ridden slogfest or a blowout as a watchable game. NFLbets dares say that perhaps not even the paraphernalia creators dig on the NFL Network’s TNF games as much as previously, because clearly NFL Marketing is taking a bath on the exclusive “Color Rush” jerseys. Seriously, who like those things?

The Thursday Night Football games – broadcasts, beginning in 2018, on Fox! – also have a bad reputation among NFL bettors as tough to call. One would expect more variance in these games, of course, given the aforementioned short week and the amplified issues with East Coasts-to-West Coast travel.

But are TNF games in actuality so difficult to predict? Consider the lists below, which include all Thursday night football results during the 2016 and ’17 seasons, adjusted for point spread and including prime-time games on Thanksgiving. Those in bold are games in which the favorite lost SU; those marked with an asterisk (*) are ATS results which differed from the SU results.

New York Jets 37 at Buffalo Bills 30
New England Patriots 27, Houston Texans 0
Cincinnati Bengals 14½, Miami Dolphins 7
Arizona Cardinals 29½ at San Francisco 49ers 21
San Diego Chargers 21, Denver Broncos 10
Green Bay Packers 18½, Chicago Bears 10
Tennessee Titans 33, Jacksonville Jaguars 22
Atlanta Falcons 38½ at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28
Baltimore Ravens 20½, Cleveland Browns 7
*New Orleans Saints 20, Carolina Panthers 19½
Pittsburgh Steelers 20, Indianapolis Colts 7
*Minnesota Vikings 15 at Dallas Cowboys 14
Kansas City Chiefs 17½, Oakland Raiders 13
Seattle Seahawks 9, Los Angeles Rams 3
Philadelphia Eagles 22½, New York Giants 19

Houston Texans 13 at Cincinnati Bengals 4
*San Francisco 39, Los Angeles Rams 38
Green Bay Packers 27½, Chicago Bears 14
New England Patriots 15½ at Tampa Bay 14
Philadelphia Eagles 28 at Carolina 20
Oakland Raiders 31, Kansas City Chiefs 27
Baltimore Ravens 37, Miami Dolphins 0
New York Jets 34, Buffalo Bills 18
*Seattle Seahawks 16 at Arizona Cardinals 16
Pittsburgh Steelers 33, Tennessee Titans 17
Los Angeles Chargers 27, Dallas Cowboys 6
Dallas Cowboys 38, Washington 12½
Atlanta Falcons 17½, New Orleans Saints 17
Denver Broncos 22 at Indianapolis Colts 13

Stats we can glean from the above sampling of 29 games:

•  On Thursday nights, underdogs won SU seven times of 29 for a winning percentage of just .241; that’s significantly poorer than the usual .326.

•  Favorites were 18-10-1 ATS for a .638 winning percentage, also a significant difference from the usual .550 mark.  

•  The home team is 19-10 on these Thursday nights and 20-8-1 ATS. Once again, these compare quite favorably (so to speak) to expected results SU historically, which give the home team a 57% to 60% to win SU in a typical NFL game.

So there you have it: Though a slightly small sample size historically, these two seasons should indicate that the trend in Thursday night football games is pretty much as NFLbets suspected: Take your usual safe-betting skills and apply them ever more extremely.

Not so tough after all – in theory…

Betting Thursday Night Football: Underestimate Cam Newton’s Panthers at your own peril

Thursday, 08 November 2018 16:23 EST

From the Be Careful What You Wish For Department, NFL fans are presented with a genuine beauty of a Thursday Night Football game, as the Carolina Panthers play at the Pittsburgh Steelers. Should be good viewing, but the betting isn’t exactly simple.

Carolina Panthers +3 at Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL bets Pittsburgh Steelers logoA default search for any immediate regression to the mean for these two teams reveals little: Carolina and Pittsburgh are both 5-3 ATS this season. The Steelers are 2-2 ATS at home; the Panthers are a serious outlier at home at 4-0-0 ATS (and NFLbets’ll certainly be looking at the opposition in the next Carolina home game), but are hardly unusual at 1-3 ATS (2-2 SU) on the road.

So let’s talk some offense and defense. In a year of offense, Carolina has nevertheless put together a pretty decent defense, particularly against the run: The Panthers are top 10 in most rushing categories defensively as well as no. 4 overall in interceptions.

Such stats may be irrelevant on this given Sunday, however, as Ben Roethlisberger will throw the ball a lot regardless of opposition. James Conner may capture the mainstream media's imagination, Roethlisberger is second in the NFL in pass attempts this season and fourth in completions. And Steelers are 3-1-1 SU (3-2 ATS) in games when Ben *does* throw an interception.

Pittsburgh also brings a top-10 rushing defense statistically to face Christian McCaffrey, Cam Newton and the league's top ground attack. However, this D's impressive-looking numbers are likely heavily due to the Steelers' passing game on offense. In terms of efficiency, they're a mid-pack 14th in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric -- and below-average against the innovative Newton and oft unstoppable McCaffrey won't really cut it.

NFL bets Carolina Panthers logoAs for the potentially gnarly Pennsylvania weather, the forecast for Pittsburgh calls for lows around 36° with an 80% chance of rain, snow and/or some variant on precipitation thereof.

But in cold weather, Cam & Co. aren't nearly as bad as the average South-based team: In games played in temperatures of 45° or lower at kickoff, the Panthers are 7-3 SU/6-4 ATS going back to 2014 and are currently on a 5-1 SU/4-2 ATS run. Seemingly perpetually underrated by the sportsbook, the Panthers have won SU their last four games as an away underdog in cold weather games.

One final consideration: Are you more likely to believe in a 6-3 -- and therefore on pace for a 11-5 or 10-5-1 final regular-season record -- Panthers or Steelers team? We’re saying it’s the Panthers, and to do so, they’ll have to win this one with a tough schedule remaining. Cover the Carolina Panthers ML at +160 or so, and hedge with a bet on the Panthers +3 at Pittsburgh.

We’ll even predict next week’s storylines: Steelers welcome back Le’Veon Bell after Conner stuffed by Panthers and Is Cam Newton the NFL MVP…?

Bottom feeders on the ATS table meet for Thursday Night Football crapfest

Thursday, 01 November 2018 17:39 EST

One more time: NFLbets hates betting on Thursday Night Football. We post columns on these games for amusement purposes only – keeping the ol’ writing and analysis skill sharp and all – and therefore do not necessarily endorse NFL bettors siding with our TNF picks. The extra unknown variables riddling such games can tilt betting on Thursday night football dangerously close to gambling, and the teams in this week’s game hardly inspire confidence.

On the other hand, one obvious opportunity is out there on this game.

Oakland Raiders -1½ at San Francisco 49ers, over/under 44 points

Raiders Las Vegas!So what do we have here? The Raiders have a short week, just four days removed from a 3-TD, zero-interception performance by Derek Carr in which they still lost by 14 points. Marshawn Lynch is on the IR< Ameri Cooper is gone and Carr, for the lack of personnel, is becoming a check-down artist.

Meanwhile, head coach Chucky is apparently oblivious everything other than amassing assets and thinking about the property he’ll be buying in Las Vegas. You gotta love this quote from Gruden’s interview with Howie Long:

“I got a cell phone just like you and everybody else, and I get a lot of phone calls from people who are dying to come and play here. I’m just telling you, to have salary cap space, to have a chance to talk to the people that you really want to wear the silver and black and represent this team, that’s exciting.”

Seriously, that’s about two superlatives short of a Donald Trump quote; just to hammer home the irony, the interview was conducted for who else but the Fox network. So, yeah.

Over on the San Francisco side, well, at least they’re home. (Of course, the Raiders will have to take a short drive to the game after playing last weekend in Oakland.) This tweet should burn away the last shred of hope for the 49ers offense to keep scoring:

And in the five hours since Schefter tweeted the above, the Raiders’ handicap has gone from 3 points to 1½, while the over/under has dropped from 45 to 44 points.

If Mullens does indeed start tonight, he’ll instantly became the NFL leader among current starting QBs in TW (Times Waived) with 2 – and he left Southern Mississippi after the 2016 season. He was on the 49ers practice squad for 2017 and got the call up to the active roster after Jimmy Garoppolo was placed on IR.

SF 49ers alternate logo for bettingMullens may have the advantage of the unknown, but that’s about it. For the season, the 49ers offense ranks 25th in yards per game with 348.3; about the best NFLbets can say (write?) about this team tonight is that Matt Breida, one of this season few pleasant surprises for the 49ers, will play. We can figure he still won’t be 100%, as he hasn’t been since taking an ankle injury three games back. The truth is, if either team gets shut down on offense and therefore gets blown out, it’ll be San Francisco.

But NFLbats believes San Francisco won’t get blown out – not by the Raiders with a single overtime win over the good ol’ Cleveland Browns. We’ll admit we wouldn’t bet f*#F*& all on the outcome of the game; we can even lean on regression to the mean, with both teams among the bottom three in the league ATS: Oakland is 2-5 while San Francisco is 2-6. NFLbets advises bettors to take the under on an O/U of 44 points. Or even lower, really.

And get set to “enjoy” another low-scoring Thursday Night Football non-classic…

The numbers don't lie: We're digging the Houston Texans and DeShaun "Bruised Lung" Watson

Thursday, 25 October 2018 15:35 EST

To bet or not to betSo here we are, faced with the eternal question: To bet or not to bet? Whether ’tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – “outrageous,” definitely; “fortune,” we’ll see – and/or to suffer through another Thursday Night Football game.

Whereas NFLbets typically strongly advises against betting on Thursday night NFL games due to the far greater number of variables involved, we’ve found quite the tempting reason to bet – and even watch – TNF. On Amazon Prime Video. Again.

Miami Dolphins +7½ at Houston Texans, over/under 44 points

Betting on Dolphins alternate logoMiami Dolphins at Houston Texans in week 8 is more the kind of matchup we’ve learned to expect over the past two to three seasons – whenever the Color Rush concept was introduced, basically. As an audience, we’ve collectively settled into an uncomfortable acceptance of garish uniforms, on-field mediocrity and/or lopsided laughers: Aside from the TNF games of week 3 (Cleveland Browns 21, New York Jets 17) and week 4 (Los Angeles Rams 31, Minnesota Vikings 31), this series been nigh unwatchable again in 2018, comedy value of the clueless Arizona Cardinals last week notwithstanding.

The TNF trend toward the blowout is one reason behind this seemingly too-high point spread: After all, the Texans have one by more than 7 points just once this season: last week against zombie Blake Bortles and his downtrodden Jacksonville Jaguars.

But favorites are 6-0-1 ATS in Thursday night games this season (7-0-0 if you caught the Rams at -6½ against the Vikings) and are 7-0 SU. And in five TNF games, the final result ATS wasn’t truly close. These extreme marks are of course outliers, but favorites as well as home teams have performed well better on Thursday night than otherwise historically. Some key stats from the past 36 Thursday night games go as follows.

• On Thursday nights, underdogs have won SU just seven times of 36 for a measly winning percentage of .194; that’s significantly poorer than the usual .326.

• Favorites have gone 24-10-2 ATS for a .714 winning percentage going back to Opening Day 2016, also a significant difference from the usual .550 mark.

• On the current run, the home team is 24-12 SU and 24-10-2 ATS on Thursday night. Once again, these compare quite favorably (so to speak) to expected results SU historically, which give the home team a 57% to 60% chance to win SU in a typical NFL game.

Houston Texans AFL bettingHere’s our theory to justify the numbers: NFLbets believes that home field advantage makes up for all those aforementioned extra unknowns: Houston players are coming off an away game, but they are coming home with all the concomitant advantages therein. If you believe in these sorts of things, the nationally-televised factor will make referees far more likely to err on the side of caution, i.e. the home Texans.

More specifically speaking, Miami enters this game on a 1-3 SU/ATS run; Houston is 4-0 SU and 2-2 ATS (but 2-1-1 if you took them at -3 vs the Dallas Cowboys in week 5). The latter is not exactly a positive for betting on the Texans here, but NFLbets’ most compelling stat is the 0-3-0 mark ATS this team has managed at home thus far. Not only are they the sole team without a home ATS win, only two teams (the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers) have gone winless ATS *on the road* through seven weeks.

Now, we realize this is going to sound crazy, what with DeShaun Watson into his second week of playing with a bruised f@$&#&#*ing lung and all, but we’re recommending that NFL bettors take the Houston Texans -7½ vs Miami. Don’t believe the Texans can cover 7½? Fair enough; we’ll also recommend taking the Texans in a money line (ML) bet; at -300 or show, you’ll have to proportion accordingly to hedge the point spread bet. Finally, we’d also say grab the under on an O/U line of 44 points. This over/under opened at 45½ and may yet drop to 43½ before kickoff.

Get ready for a low-scoring, grind-it-out Thursday Night Football game. Yippee. Geez, we hate betting these things…

A song for Eli Manning (also, how to bet the New York Giants for the remainder of 2018)

Friday, 12 October 2018 10:46 EST


(Tap tap tap.)

Is this thing on?

Can you hear me back there?

Great, great. Okay, this first song is one I just wrote, and it’s dedicated to one of my all-time favorite NFL quarterbacks. I mean, not for me personally as a fan or anything. I mean, go Jets, right, heh heh.

Anyway, it’s called Giant Eli and, with all apologies to Don McLean, the tune is his “American Pie.” Speaking of which, let me make sure this stupid karaoke is ready to go here … and … okay.

So … this is the song. O, and it’s called “Giant Eli”

It was not long ago
He can still remember how
The Giants won those Super Bowls
And he fondly did recall the day
When he'd throw it long to OBJ
And maybe they’d stop thinking that he’s old

Bet on sad Eli ManningBut the Eagles made him shiver
With every floater he delivered
The bad news on the website
The future wasn’t so bright…

The biggest thing that we’ll regret
Is that we’ll be making fewer bets
Against the Giants money line
The day the cash cow died

Bye bye, Mr. Giant Eli
He took a look at his Lombardis
Then he broke done and cried
The boys at the ’book were feeling quite grim
Sayin’ damn I made some money off him
Damn I made some money off him…

Bye, Eli. It was fun while it lasted, but when ESPN says it’s time to go, well…

Sadly, the benching of Eli Manning will likely lose NFLbets the few Moneys (NFLbets’ preferred form of currency) we bet on the “Mitchell Trubisky or Eli Manning throws 20+ Interceptions” player prop unless Mitch takes a positively calamitous downturn the rest of the way. No matter: Prescient NFL bettors have made bank betting against and occasionally on Eli over the years. Even as serious underdogs in two Super Bowl runs, Eli’s (and, let’s face it, Tom Coughlin’s) Giants allowed bettors to win back a few rounds of losing bets in the final game.

And now it’s over.

Betting on the New York Giants in 2018

Bet on confused Eli ManningMoving forward, the kneejerk reaction on the part of the NFL bettor is likely to mentally adjust to betting heavily against the Giants the rest of the way – or at least when Alex Tanney takes the starting job.

But just, think before you bet that, pilgrim. Four big reasons stand in the way of the Giants serving as betting fodder through December:

• Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley are still around. A new QB would have to lean heavily on these two – but that’s a plus. Beckham has been open pretty much on every passing play the Gaints have run in 2018 and Eli has seemingly found him about five times. How many other teams can claim two bona fide non-QB franchise players right now?

• An unknown QB can often be a plus. How often does a quarterback step into the starting role from the bench or from another team, only to stun and amaze in the short term – such quarterbacks can be a literal X-factor. Have we already forgotten the Fitzmagic of this season? Of how Kurt Warner rode the mystery to one of the NFL’s greatest single seasons ever? Or how Jimmy Garoppolo got his career started in a couple of Brady’s suspension games? Or how Tom Brady his freakin’ self launched a damn career when put in in a pinch for Drew Bledsoe in those innocent days of 2001?

• The numbers balance out. The Giants are currently are a bad 2-4 ATS and a terrible 1-3 ATS at home. For years, the worst team in the NFL has managed five or six wins ATS in a season. Looking at double-digit point spreads the rest of the way will likely get the Giants three or four more ATS wins before this season’s over.

• They play in the NFC East. Even in their best seasons, Washington and the Dallas Cowboys inexplicably drop games to their inferior division mates. Clearly, Philadelphia won’t be easy pickings for the Giants in Wentzylvania later this season, but if you’re not taking the Giants plus the points in any games remaining against Dallas or D.C. – Eli or no – you haven’t been paying attention.

Sayonara, Manning the Younger! You will be missed. Now if you’ll excuse NFLbets, we’ve got a sudden hankering for whiskey and rye…

Thursday Night Football: Colts, Patriots defenses can't stop anybody, so take the over

Thursday, 04 October 2018 14:13 EST

Here we go again: Another Thursday Night Football game, another stay away for NFL bettors. If you insist on playing this probably weak entry in America’s least favorite primetime football show, NFLbets’ll take a swing at picking this one, namely…

Indianapolis Colts +11 at New England Patriots, over/under 50 points

Adding to the inherent difficulties of betting Thursday night football games in general is the reputation of The Belichick/Brady Dark Empire. Every September, NFL fandom and talking heads alike open week 1 trumpeting the greatness of the New England Patriots while boldly asserted that they’ll be playing in, if not winning, the AFC Championship Game and/or playing in, if not winning, the next Super Bowl.

An unimpressive performance leading to a shocking result (think the 2017 opener against the Kansas City Chiefs) or even two hastily empties the bandwagon, only for it to be refilled after a SU New England win against one of the AFC’s many also-rans. Suddenly, all the white noise buzzes that Brady and Belichick can do this forever because they are GOATs and confirmation bias is everywhere.

So here’s what NFLbets says: Take the over on an O/U of 50. Again, this recommendation is made with the caveat that NFLbets advises against betting any TNF game at all.

But this wager will be fun.

Make this bet, and you’ll be cheering for the forces of good (and snowboarding). After consecutive games throwing for under 200 yards passing, Andrew Luck broke 400 in last week’s overtime game against the Tennessee Titans. Betting on the over would necessitate the Colts putting together about three TDs per the point spread (at Colts +11, the sportsbooks forecast a final score of Patriots 31-20). They’ll have to do most of that through the air, however, because it ain’t coming from the running game: Indy’s two lead RBs – and the pairing has been different every game in 2018 thus far – has averaged a *combined* 67.75 yards per game and one TD total.

While the Patriots statistically bring a better defense than is popularly perceived – they’re currently ranked 16th in overall DVOA and 18th against the pass, per Football Outsiders – but numbers don’t describe how good the dinking-dunking Blake Bortles and the mad-bombing Matthew Stafford looked against them. And purely by eye test does NFLbets draw the conclusion that this edition of the Patriots D isn’t played with the proverbial sense of urgency. Wrapping up the ball carrier in the middle of the field, so often previously a strength of Belichick’s Patriots, is fundamentally lacking in 2018.

Right, so Luck and the Colts can score. Can the Patriots?

Yes, that is a serious question.

Julian Edelman returns to the lineup after a four-game suspension and certainly scads of fantasy football players will be slotting him into lineups. Edelman is familiar with the Patriots system and playbook in a way that Josh Gordon is not, and so the longtime Patriot’s targets will likely be higher than were Gordon’s in week 4. The possibility of an Edelman/Gordon teaming is certainly cheering up Pats fans who have woken up to the reality that Rob Gronkowski no longer requires double-teaming.

The rushing game for the Patriots has been decent enough as well, with the team’s three lead backs (Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead) good for 98.0 yards per game thus far, though no one’s had a breakaway run yet, and only two 20-yard gains have been notched by New England runners.

The running game may actually prove of significance moreso than in most Patriots games: The Colts have allowed over 100 yards rushing in three games already this season and are naturally 0-3 SU (1-2 ATS) in those games. Meanwhile, the competent-if-flawed offenses of the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans each ran up 30 on Indianapolis, and the bookmakers clearly reckon New England is at least that good.

So yeah, let’s take the over on this one, and hope that TNF delivers…

Los Angeles Rams -7 vs Minnesota Vikings: Easy money? The math says different

Wednesday, 26 September 2018 21:18 EST

To the everyday fan – not to mention the overreacting hype machine of mainstream sports media churning out those “narratives” – betting on week 4’s Thursday Night Football game should be easy, right?

You've got the Los Angeles Rams, as good as advertised and looking all the world like an 0-16 team, at home. Coming to the West Coast are the Minnesota Vikings, chasing a gut-wrenching huge-ass loss to the 31st-"best" team in football and entering this game an underachieving 1-1-1 SU early. This is an easy one, reckons John Q. Sportsbar!

Except when the seasoned gambler looks this game a little more closely, he/she finds … this Thursday Night Football game should be easy.

Aside from their generally unstoppable awesomeness, the Rams also have the following going for them in terms of betting the spread…

• A 3-0 SU record comprised of nothing but double-digit wins, along with a 3-0 ATS record in 2018.

• A home game in L.A., where they’re on a 5-1 SU/ATS run in meaningful games dating back to last season, where “meaningful games” does not include last year’s week 17 game for which basically all Rams starters sat.

• Not only is this a West Coast game, it’s a primetime game. West Coast teams in primetime between 2012 and ’17 won ATS over 70% of the time.

• Favorites on Thursday night are up to 21-10-1 ATS for a .672 winning percentage going back to opening week 2016, way up from the usual .550 mark by favorites on Sundays and Mondays.

And yet, all this suggests that the smart money is on the Minnesota Vikings +7 at Los Angeles. Why? Simple mathematics…

Gregg Easterbrook’s Theorem at the Sportsbook

Gregg Easterbrook, the longtime columnist of the oft-traveled Tuesday Morning Quarterback column, released a very simple formula for predicting SU winners for the weekly office pool. The theorem went like so: Team with better record wins, if records equal, home team wins. This formula allows one to pick the winners without knowing anything about the teams playing at just over a 60% clip.

But check this out: If we just slap in the “ATS” after “better rcord” and “wins” in Easterbrook’s theorem, the reverse ends up true. This year “better record ATS/home team wins ATS” is, through three weeks 24-23-1. “Home team wins ATS”, meanwhile is 28-19-1. Obviously this is a) a small sample size and b) a pretty extreme one at that, but the trends bear out going back through 2016, when “better record/home team wins ATS” is just as barely over .500 at 283-275-18.

Further, considering that home dogs win ATS at about 55%, a sizable percentage of those winners ATS were comprised of home teams in equal-record games to the point where plain ol’ “team with better record ATS wins ATS” works as infrequently as 45% of the time.

As to why this seemingly counterintuitive math works, think about the nature of the point spread. Whereas in a given NFL season, you’ll likely have one team at 14 wins; between 8 and 11 teams of 10 wins or more; between one-third to one-half of the teams with records between 9-7 and 7-9; and one team with two wins or fewer. However, when considering win-loss records ATS, the opposite happens because the goal of the sportsbooks is to apply an evening effect. Only in the extremest of extreme cases does the house win almost all the money; likewise, the players.

Going back to 2014, just one team has finished better than 12-4 (the 2017 New England Patriots, wouldn’tcha know?) and no team has finished worse than 4-12 – to think what Cleveland Browns fans might have done to reach the lofty heights of 4-12 SU at some point in those years…

The tl;dr version and NFLbets' recommendation

The “tl;dr” version: Regression to the mean, the numbers gotta balance out, and this is one hell of an imbalanced matchup statistically. And if you need to justify betting Vikings +7, just remember that L.A.’s stud CBs Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib will be playing hurt at best on a short week. Of course, the question as to whether Kirk Cousins can take advantage of this handicap in the literal face of a ridiculous pass rush remains.

But it’s also a Thursday night game, and NFLbets hates betting TNF games. Plus, these Rams look real good. Like, sportsbook-breaking good. We’d recommend that NFL bettors stary away from this one.

The F^%#@ing Cleveland Browns won a game SU, are 3-0 ATS in 2018! But is this success sustainable?

Friday, 21 September 2018 16:51 EST

Homer Simpson bets the end is near

Before getting into this … holy crap – Baker Mayfield can play, and he can lead a team. In case you didn’t watch Thursday night, the Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets, 21-17 (SU; ATS 21-20) in a come-from-behind win led by Mayfield. Tyrod Taylor went down with a possible concussion late in the second quarter, giving way to Mayfield to start the comeback.

Mayfield completed 17 passes in 23 attempts, totaled 94.9 in quarterback rating and had 201 passing yards. By comparison, Taylor in the first half went 4 of 14 for just 19 yards, managed a 5.6 QB rating and was sacked three times. Is this the beginning of the end for the Taylor Era in Cleveland? If Tyrod’s injury is significant enough, and Mayfield can prove without a doubt he can be an NFL starter, then Tyrod’s career in Cleveland will be very short-lived.

Point spreads, Odds, and Sustainability

So far this season, the Browns are a perfect 3-0 ATS though just 1-1-1 SU. NFLbets wonders if using the Browns as a major part on your betting strategy is a wise investment. The Browns have sent a clear message so far this season: They will not be disrespected. They may lose, but these are not the embarrassing Cleveland Browns of the past. They finally have put together a team that can be competitive and keep games close enough for NFL bettors to benefit.

The main way the Browns can do so is with their defense which so far has been the catalyst for their relatively successful start to the season. Very few would have pegged Cleveland for anything but 0-3 at the start the year but with the 1-1-1 start, the Browns could potentially win anywhere from two to eight games this season. By no means is this a playoff team, but it is an NFL team. Ttook them long enough.

Myles Garrett is the best player the Browns have. Period. Three games into this season, he already has four sacks, more than half of his full season output for 2017. To go along with this, Garrett has 10 total tackles so far this year. He had 31 in all of 2017. Myles Garrett is a superstar in the NFL and is a big reason why the Browns are a sustainable bet.

At cornerback, Damarious Randall and Denzel Ward make up a lethal duo, with a combined 31 total tackles and 3 interceptions so far. They make an excellent 1-2 punch in the backfield that has been tough for teams to get anything by. The most shocking stat is that their defense has not let a team score more than 21 points so far this season, a testament to the skill level they possess defensively.

The Proof is in the Numbers

Saying that the Cleveland Browns are 3-0 ATS, so should you ride their hot streak? This team so far has only once been the favorite, which was Thursday night against the Jets. For the most part, we can guess Cleveland will be listed as underdogs. Win or lose, the Browns have shown they are good at one thing: Keeping games close. The defense will ensure that other teams do not run up the score on them, and the offense has enough weapons to keep games close enough to cover most point spreads of more than a touchdown.

It may be insane but putting it out on the line and betting on this team might just be the least crazy thing you can do.

New York Jets +3 at Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football starring the savior, Greg Joseph

Thursday, 20 September 2018 14:06 EST

Jesus loves football and bettingBetting on Thursday Night Football is the worst. It’s not just the “Color Rush” uniforms though, trust NFLbets, it is that as well. It’s running these things at 9pm ET (How much do we drink? And when?), it’s the games broadcasting only on the NFL Network with all that associated pompousness and cheesery, it’s the short week giving insufficient preparation time for both players and NFL bettors…

And in this particular Thursday night game, NFLbets fears that all contributions by the other 105 dudes on offense, defense, special teams and the bench in this game will be made irrelevant. All the hype, the focus, the pre-game analysis will come down to a guy who couldn’t stick with quite possibly a sub-.500 team, who was cut in favor of the competitor he outperformed, who averaged just a 70% success rate in college.

Ladies and gentlemen, our savior: Placekicker Greg Joseph!

See, all jokes, kidding and Hard Knocks references aside, the Cleveland Browns – whose surprisingly decent-looking Color Rush uniform is nearly solid brown, thereby bringing not so much a rush as a mellow buzz – are a pretty attractive favorite versus the New York Jets at home.

But that point spread of Browns -3? If NFLbets were paranoid (Who’s paranoid? We’re not paranoid!), we saw this pure trolling of the bookmakers’ parts. Seriously? You’re gonna send this assuming Florida Atlantic University alum out to the slathering media and tell him all he must do is halt a 2-42-1 “skid” and snap a 19-game winless “streak” is not to choke where so many Browns have so ingloriously, culminating with the two wins ex-Browns PK Zane Gonzalez left on the field in 2018?

Seriously, this should be a slam dunk for the NFL bettor: The Browns’ record ATS over the past three seasons isn’t nearly as bad as it is SU: Going back to 2015, they’re 15-33-1 ATS versus a pathetic 4-44-1 – and you gotta love the easy two wins ATS they’ve strung together this season.

Trends for betting on Thursday Night Football games also favor Cleveland: Going back to 2016, favorites on TNF have gone 20-10-1, over 11% better than average. Plus, the TNF home team has gone 21-10 SU and 22-8-1 ATS – a success rate of over 72.5%. Liking those odds yet…?

For the Jets, the defense seems stout after catching Matthew Stafford on a bad week and facing the low-watt Miami Dolphins and … no, forget it. Look, no matter how awesome one believes Sam Darnold is, this New York Jets team just has too many missing pieces. The number three receiver is Terrelle Pyror, who was cast aside in turn by the Oakland Raiders, Washington and Cleveland, all way too needy to be ditching a worthwhile pass-catcher.

The New York Jets are, in 2018, San Francisco 49ers East. Simply put, the Browns are better right now.

NFLbets therefore is putting all boogeymen, intangibles and superstitious stuff aside – except our currently unerring and eternal faith in Greg Joseph, long may He kick! We’re staying on this horse and advising NFLbettors to take the Cleveland Browns -3 vs the New York Jets. Just remember that this is Thursday Night Football, so please bet responsibly, i.e. less.

Thursday Night Football: In a not-so-titanic clash of already overrated teams, take the under

Thursday, 13 September 2018 16:18 EST

How’s that for an efficient headline? If only learning the outcome of what is certain to be yet another ugly – and NFLbets isn’t just talking Color Rush – example of why Thursday Night Football shouldn’t really exist.

On the other hand, what better way to make those foolishly overreacting to week 1 results suffer for their folly more quickly? In fact the only thing more fun than watching a fanbase’s delusions crumble after opening night (Raiders, Cowboys and Lions faithful know what we’re referencing here) is hearing about the aweomeness of a “surprise” team that crushes a bottom-fiver on opening day.

And so we have a classic example of overrated versus overarted in week 2: the Baltimore Ravens at the Cincinnati Bengals. Talking heads and hyperbolists are lining up on ESPN, whatever dot com and anywhere a mic virtual or otherwise is provided to tell us how this game could determine the AFC North, because, you know, everyone’s prohibitive forever-favorite merely tied the Cleveland Browns, who just a couple weeks ago were bringing Vegas big money based on freakin’ Hard Knocks.

So you may see two contenders for the NFL’s crappiest division in 2018, but all NFLbets sees is one side that whupped the prospective 0-16 Buffalo Bills against another who needed all 60 minutes to get past a team composed of a QB who hasn’t played in two years plus, um, 21 other guys. What has changed so much that these Vegas-forecasted 8- and 6½-win teams are suddenly double-digit winners? A win against the last-place finisher in the AFC East or AFC South? Come on.

Look, the truth is that the Ravens – with essentially the same offense and coaching staff as in 2017 – scored 19.3 more points last week than they averaged all season last year. The Bengals – still inexplicably coached by Marvin Lewis – scored 15,9 more than their ’17 ppg mark. If you’ve ever heard of “regression to the mean”, this week would be an ideal time to test it, in a game with two defenses well better than the offenses.

Who’s going to win? Who cares! You can still bank cash – if you take the under on an O/U of 43½ points, and recall what you thought of Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton just, likesay, 11 days ago…

NFL Kickoff Game: Recommendations if you really must bet (but realize you’re basically gambling)

Thursday, 06 September 2018 15:25 EST

Betting week 1 in the NFLThis is NFLbets’ NFL Betting Tip #3: Do not bet in week one. The principle goes double for the NFL Kickoff Game, on which way too many NFL bettors traditionally tend to believe that the current season will be very much like the previous (spoiler: It won’t be) and wager real money accordingly.

If you realize that there is a high (high!) element of luck involved in betting NFL Kickoff Games, fine – skip to the end of this column to consider NFLbets’ lukewarm recommendation. For everyone else, it’s ranting time…

The doublethink about preseason NFL football

A strange sort of doublethink take over the pervades the NFL bettor’s mind going into week 1. While he/she has spent the past month or two railing about he useless nature of preseason games, of watching games with never-weres that you’ll never see play again, of competition between 10 players for the 53rd spot on the roster. And even most viewers of Hard Knocks would admit that, by its very nature as “reality” tv, much of what makes the HBO-screened episodes is staged and/or exaggerated.

Yet … yet way too many will throw money based on “evidence” from the offseason. Preposterous! How can one believe that preseason games are useless but simultaneously believe real information has been gleaned? How can one freely admit that extremely little actual football comprises each episode of Hard Knocks but also insight they’ve gained insight worth squandering money on? Come on!

The X-factor in week 1 of the NFL: Only about 29 teams Think about it: How many teams will reveal far more in week 1 about the season ahead than at any point in the pre- or regular season? Answer: The great majority, if not all.

Just off the top of NFLbets’ head here … the ostensibly Super Bowl-contending Minnesota Vikings have switched quarterbacks, while the Indianapolis Colts welcome one back they haven’t seen in two years and the Houston Texans return a QB whose incredible rookie season was interrupted. How will these offenses work? How good is the revamped Cleveland Browns roster? How bad is the Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver corps? And how about those Rams? (Recall that most of L.A.’s blue-chippers played not a down in the offseason, yet they’re second-favorite at most sportsbooks to win the Lombardi in February.)

The answer to all these questions is pure conjecture – until the week 1 results are in

Vegas is much better at this than you are

Easy picks in the NFL Kickoff Game? Come on! Vegas is smarter than you are on opening night, and it’s not even close.

Sure, home teams are 12-2 SU in this game since the traditional Thursday night opener has featured the defending Super Bowl champions – but ATS, the home teams/defending Super Bowl Champions/favorites are a more realistic 7-4-4. Decreasing the sample size makes things for NFL bettors look even worse: Favorites are just 3-3-2 in the last eight and have lost the last two games ATS.

The point here: The sportsbooks probably do far better in opening week than their customers. If you insist on covering the Philadelphia Eagles minus the points tonight, they’d better be blowing out the Falcons by the end of the first, like 14-0, or you may as well throw your ticket away at halftime and enjoy the inevitable ensuing 1-point SU Eagles win.

Just don’t do it.

If you must bet, our pick

All signs in the immediate short term, likesay tonight, point in the Atlanta Falcons’ favor. WRs Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins are out due to injury; CB Deiondré Hall and LB Nigel Bradham will miss due to suspension. DE Michael Bennett as well as RBs Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement will play hurt. And of course in lieu of the still-recovering Carson Wentz is Nick Foles, who likely turned back into a pumpkin a short while after the Super Bowl limelight faded.

So NFLbets is thinking about taking the Falcons, particularly with so much action coming in on the Eagles to move this line from as high as Falcons -5½ to as low as -1 – essentially a pick ‘em – on game day, but one tiny fact remains in our collective face: WE REALLY DON'T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THIS TEAM YET. On top of this, NFLets is verrrrrrrry suspicious about all the hype being thrown this Falcons offense supposedly ready to recapture the stat-bending 2016 season.

Except Steve Sarkasian is still the offensive coordinator and, despite shaving an average of over 12 points per game from this offense’s output, should still be expected to provide competence at best, but this team ain’t spinning any scoreboards – particularly against stingy pass defenses like the Eagles’ (appears to be).

So while NFLbets is kinda thinking the Falcons SU and/or -1 might be worth a flutter, we’re thinking the better bet, with one offense hurting and the other Sarkasianed, is to take the under on an O/U of 44½ points – but you really shouldn’t be betting in week 1 at all.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you…