Posts by Brad Gagnon

NFL Wild Card Weekend: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys

Total: 42.5

Just 34 percent of games involving the Seahawks or Cowboys fell short of the total this season, and Saturday’s over/under of 42.5 indicates we’re still under-estimating both teams’ ability to score points.

The Cowboys put up 63 points in their final two games of the regular season and averaged 25.0 points per game at home this season, while Seattle scored 65 points in its last two games and averaged 26.8 points per game overall.

That made the Seahawks offense the sixth-highest-scoring unit in football, thanks partly to the league’s highest-ranked running game and a suddenly-respectable offensive line. Plus, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett have been crushing it in that receiving corps,

Meanwhile Amari Cooper has teamed up with Ezekiel Elliott to give Dallas one of the most dangerous offenses in the game. The Cowboys scored at least 27 points in five of their last eight games with Cooper, and Elliott once again gained steam during the second half of the season.

That doesn’t bode well for a Seahawks run defense that surrendered 4.9 yards per carry during the regular season, especially as the Dallas offensive line gets healthier.

Predicted score: Cowboys 26, Seahawks 23

Under of the week: Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens

Total: 42

I can’t comprehend why this total is above 40. After all, the Los Angeles Chargers offense has gone a little cold, scoring just 33 points in their last two regular-season games. Just 10 of those points came in Week 16 against these Ravens, who scored just 16 offensive points of their own in that prime-time matchup.

Baltimore’s top-rated defense surrendered just 17.9 points per game during the regular season, while the Chargers ranked in the top 10 with just 20.6 points per game allowed.

Look for Baltimore’s D — which has been known to rise to occasions in the playoffs — to be just as strong at home as it was in that road victory over the Chargers. And look for L.A. to do an even better job at limiting the Ravens’ unique rushing attack, now that it has more tape and experience to work from.

It’s a lot easier to trust these defenses than these offenses, especially considering the Chargers’ history with big-game duds and L.A.’s turnover-filled final few games of the 2018 regular season.

Predicted score: Ravens 20, Chargers 17

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 0-2
2018 season: 19-14-1

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 17: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

Total: 40

The Minnesota offense has exploded for 68 points in its first two games under interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. The Vikings also play extremely well in Sunday matinees at home, and they’re fighting to keep their season alive in this case.

Against a Bears team that may go into auto-pilot mode as soon as it becomes obvious that a win won’t help them, look for Minnesota to light up the scoreboard with 30-plus points all on its own.

The Chicago defense is stellar, but it has surrendered 30-plus on the road twice this season. That’ll likely happen a third time, meaning the Bears just need an early score or two out of their regular offense, maybe a garbage-time score or two for good measure.

Regardless, this one should be closer to 50 than 40.

Predicted score: Vikings 31, Bears 17

Under of the week: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Total: 41

Baker Mayfield is on fire and the Browns offense has become legitimately good, which might explain why the total for Sunday’s matchup between the Browns and the Baltimore Ravens is up above the 40 mark.

But that’s an overreaction. These teams combined for just 21 points when they met earlier this year, the Baltimore defense is the best in the NFL, and Mayfield and the Browns offense haven’t been the same on the road.

Mayfield has more interceptions (four) than touchdown passes (three) and a mere 78.9 passer rating on the road this month (and the Browns have averaged just 15.0 points per game), compared to four touchdowns and no interceptions and a 125.1 rating at home (where the Browns have averaged 26.0 points per game).

The Cleveland defense has also performed well and should have the playmaking ability to limit mistake-prone Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.The Browns have an AFC-high 30 takeaways (Jackson has fumbled 10 times), and they recently shut down mobile quarterbacks Cam Newton and Jeff Driskel on the ground (Jackson sorta likes to run).

Predicted score: Ravens 16, Browns 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 0-2
2018 season: 19-12-1

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 16: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals

Total: 46.5

Not going to lie — it wasn’t easy to find a clear-cut over this week. Far too many offenses are shorthanded or struggling and far too many defenses have emerged.

But it was still surprising to see the Rams and Cardinals with a sub-47 total for their matchup Sunday in Glendale, simply because Los Angeles has made a habit of crushing weak opponents this season.

Look for the Rams, frustrated following a shocking home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, to bounce back with a strong offensive performance against an opponent that gave up 40 points to the previously-sleeping Atlanta Falcons in Week 15.

Los Angeles should easily generate more than 30 points on its own here, while Arizona should at least have a touchdown or two in it. After all, the Cards might want to avoid embarrassment in their home finale, and the Rams have surrendered a season-high 30.8 points per game over the course of the last eight weeks.

Predicted score: Rams 38, Cardinals 17

Under of the week: New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts

Total: 46.5

The Colts offense has really bounced back with Andrew Luck under center this season, but three consecutive Indianapolis games have fallen short of the Las Vegas total. And I think Vegas is once again too high with an over/under of 46.5 for Indy’s Week 16 matchup with the New York Giants.

This Colts defense is for real. It has surrendered 10 or fewer points in three of the team’s last five games and is giving up an AFC-low 12.2 points per game during that stretch.

Darius Leonard might be the defensive rookie of the year, Margus Hunt has been a revelation, and Anthony Walker, Jabaal Sheard and Quincy Wilson have also shined under the tutelage of Matt Eberflus.

Now they’re going up against a Giants team that was shut out on Sunday by the Tennessee Titans and has given up just 33 points total the last two weeks.

Saquon Barkley went cold against Tennessee and now faces an even better run defense, and Odell Beckham Jr. is dealing with a pesky quad injury. But the Indy offense also hasn’t been as crisp as it was earlier this season, so New York might hang around with a strong defensive effort from Olivier Vernon, Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill and Janoris Jenkins, all of whom are playing well.

Predicted score: Colts 20, Giants 17

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-1
2018 season: 19-10-1

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 15: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Tennessee Titans at New York Giants

Total: 43.5

The Titans and Giants don’t scream OFFENSE, which is why this total remains below the season average. But look closely.

The Titans have scored 56 points in their last two games, and they’re well-rested following a Thursday Night Football romp in Week 14. Those two high-scoring performances came at home, but if we’re considering sites it should be noted that Tennessee has also allowed 72 points on defense in its last two road games.

Meanwhile, the Giants offense has exploded since their Week 9 bye. Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. have often been unstoppable for a team that has averaged 31.4 points per game dating back to Week 10. Sure, they surrendered just 16 points last Sunday in Washington, but that was more about the Redskins’ problems than New York’s defensive prowess. The Giants have still allowed 25.1 points per game during that post-bye run.

And they scored 40 in D.C. despite not having Beckham, who should be good to return from a quad injury on Sunday.

Look for both teams to easily hit the 20-point mark in Week 15.

Predicted score: Giants 30, Titans 27

Under of the week: Dallas Cowboys at Indianapolis Colts

Total: 47

Why in the world do oddsmakers think the Cowboys and Colts will combine for 47 points Sunday in Indianapolis? Both defenses have been stout, while both offenses have lacked consistency.

The Dallas D hasn’t surrendered more than 23 points in five consecutive weeks, and that’s a stretch that includes matchups with talented offenses like Philadelphia, New Orleans and Atlanta.

Meanwhile, the Colts D has allowed just 17.1 points per game in their last seven outings, with Jabaal Sheard, Darius Leonard and Margus Hunt killing it.

It’s true that both offenses have the ability to explode at any moment, but this doesn’t look like the time or place. Both teams should be tight for an important game, the Colts are two weeks removed from a zero-point performance in Jacksonville, and the Cowboys’ bread-and-butter offensive line is dealing with multiple injuries to key players.

This should be a tense, low-scoring battle.

Predicted score: Colts 20, Cowboys 17

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-1
2018 season: 18-9-1

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 14: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

Total: 38

The Bills have played a lot of low-scoring games this season, mainly because they’ve dealt with issues at quarterback and running back while battling weak opponents in a weak division.

But the Buffalo offense has turned a corner since getting rookie quarterback Josh Allen back from a midseason injury. They scored just 17 points last week in Miami, but they had 415 yards of total offense in that game, and that was a week from removed from a two-game stretch in which they scored a combined 65 points with zero turnovers and 778 net yards.

With running back LeSean McCoy also coming around, don’t be surprised if that offense finally explodes Sunday at home against a Jets D that has just one takeaway since Week 6 and has surrendered at least 26 points in five of their last seven games.

Buffalo could cover this total on its own, just as it did when the Bills hammered the Jets 41-10 on the road last month.

Predicted score: Bills 41, Jets 16

Under of the week: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers

Total: 49

It’s time to give up on both of these offenses. The Falcons have been held to fewer than 20 points in four consecutive games, while the Packers have been limited to 17 or fewer in three of their last five.

Sure, neither team is great defensively either, but Green Bay has given up just 15.5 points per game in their last four outings at Lambeau Field.

It’s possible Matt Ryan and Co. could suddenly explode, and it’s just as possible a fire has been lit under Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense following Mike McCarthy’s firing. But it’s unlikely that both of those developments have taken place for two teams that are out of contention and playing out the string.

This one might not hit 40, and almost certainly won’t hit 50.

Predicted score: Packers 24, Falcons 17

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 17-8-1

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 13: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Total: 51

It’s not as though 51 isn’t a high number, but I wonder if the total for Sunday night’s Chargers-Steelers game would be significantly higher if the Bolts weren’t without star running back Melvin Gordon.

If indeed the total has fallen as a result of Gordon’s injury, that could be a mistake. Because Gordon’s backup, Austin Ekeler, has been fantastic. The versatile second-year back is averaging 5.8 yards per carry (more than half a yard better than Gordon) and he’s coming off a 10-catch performance in a blowout victory over the Cardinals.

The Chargers might not score 45 points in Pittsburgh like they did against Arizona, but they should be good for at least 24. They have a better offense than Denver, and the Broncos put up 24 on the Steelers a week ago.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh offense will be hungry to bounce back following a tough road loss to the Broncos. The Steelers are averaging 36.0 points per game at home this season, and they should make a run at that number in what is a huge prime-time game.

Predicted score: Steelers 34, Broncos 26

Under of the week: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Total: 56.5

Carolina and Tampa Bay combined for 70 points when they met last month, which explains why the total is up above 56 for their meeting Sunday in Florida. But expect a correction in this matchup, especially now that…

1. The Bucs defense has straightened out at home, surrendering just 16.0 points per game in their last three outings at Raymond James Stadium.

2. Jameis Winston looks to be back on track at quarterback for the Bucs, which could mean fewer turnovers and thus fewer short fields for Tampa’s opponent.

3. The Carolina offense has come back to earth after a hot streak and is averaging a so-so 22.3 points per game in the last three weeks.

4. The Panthers haven’t scored more than 24 points in a road game this season.

This one might not even come close.

Predicted score: Panthers 27, Buccaneers 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-0-1
2018 season: 15-8-1

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 12: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

Total: 47

The Seahawks offense has come alive with 27 or more points in five of its last six games, while a still-vulnerable defense has surrendered 85 points in the last three weeks.

Sunday in Carolina, Russell Wilson and Co. should have plenty of opportunities to roast a Panthers defense that earlier this month allowed 28 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 52 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, while a run defense that has struggled could have trouble with Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton.

We might still be getting used to the reality that both of these teams are offensively driven, which could also explain why the total for Sunday’s potential shootout is only 47.

The key here is that both teams should have plenty of opportunities to move the ball down the field. The Seahawks haven’t registered a takeaway since October, while the Panthers have gone back-to-back games since causing a turnover.

Predicted score: Panthers 30, Seahawks 27

Under of the week: Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts

Total: 51

Indianapolis Colts games have been going over like crazy as Indy’s offense has broken out in recent weeks, but a total of 51 is still too high for a matchup between the Colts and Miami Dolphins.

After all, the Dolphins have been held to 13 or fewer points in back-to-back games and quarterback Ryan Tannehill remains a question mark with a shoulder injury. That could make things extremely difficult on the road against a young and emerging Indianapolis defense that has surrendered 10 or fewer points in two of its last three home games.

Could a toothless Miami defense be in trouble against the red-hot Andrew Luck? Sure, but the Dolphins are only a couple games removed from a superb performance on D against the New York Jets, and Indy’s offense could be due for a down week with center Ryan Kelly now dealing with a knee injury.

The Colts might need well over 35 points to get this game over the total, and that’s simply unlikely.

Predicted score: Colts 27, Dolphins 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 0-2
2018 season: 14-8

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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Breaking down the historically high total for Chiefs-Rams

The total for Monday night's highly-touted matchup between the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs and the 9-1 Los Angeles Rams is making history as a result of its astronomically high total. 

https://twitter.com/RJinVegas/status/1061994554788732928

The over/under has even moved to 64 in some spots, and it's entirely possible it'll move higher as hype builds and folks continue to

The total for Monday night’s highly-touted matchup between the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs and the 9-1 Los Angeles Rams is making history as a result of its astronomically high total. 

The over/under has even moved to 64 in some spots, and it’s entirely possible it’ll move higher as hype builds and folks continue to take the over regardless of where sportsbooks set it. 

For what it’s worth, it’s hard to imagine this game won’t contain at least 30 points per side. After all, the Chiefs and Rams are averaging a combined 68.8 points per game this season. Eight of Kansas City’s 10 games have contained at least 50 points, while four of L.A.’s 10 outings have contained at least 64. 

Also for what it’s worth, Pro Football Reference’s super-awesome database indicates that all five games this century with totals north of 58 have gone over. 

My primary note on this one? The Rams defense has been particularly vulnerable against strong NFC foes this season. In five matchups with the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, they’ve surrendered an average of 33.0 points per game. Considering that this game is now back in Los Angeles and the Rams have scored at least 29 points in every home game they’ve played this year, it’s easy to wonder if a 63.5-point total is actually a little low for this one.

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 11: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions

Total: 51

The main rationale behind this over is that I don’t believe the desperate Detroit Lions will go down without a fight in a must-win home game, while the Carolina Panthers are likely to bounce back on extra rest after a poor performance in Pittsburgh.

Basically, Detroit and Carolina are due for strong performances, and this should be a close game between two teams with star quarterbacks.

The Lions scored 26 points against the New England Patriots at home and then put up 31 on the Green Bay Packers two weeks later. They have it in them, but they’ve also given up at least 24 points in three consecutive games.

The Panthers defense has surrendered 28-plus points in back-to-back weeks, while the offense has averaged 33 points per game the last three weeks.

Don’t be surprised if both teams hit the 30-mark Sunday at Ford Field.

Predicted score: Panthers 35, Lions 30

Under of the week: Houston Texans at Washington Redskins

Total: 42.5

I was shocked to see Houston and Washington generating a total above 40. Four of Houston’s last five games have contained 36 or fewer points, while four of Washington’s last five games have contained 40 or fewer points. Why should we expect them to combine for more than that Sunday in Washington?

Both defenses rank in the top seven in terms of points allowed per game. And while the Houston offense has shown some signs of life, this’ll be a challenge on the road. Meanwhile, the Redskins’ offensive line is in shambles, which is why they’ve scored just 30 total points the last two weeks against awful defenses (Atlanta and Tampa Bay).

I don’t think either team will score 20 points in this one.

Predicted score: Texans 17, Redskins 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 14-6

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 10: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams

Total: 51.5

In their last meeting, the Seahawks and Rams combined for 64 points. Seattle has since scored 55 points in two road games, while Los Angeles is coming off a 45-35 loss to the New Orleans Saints. 

These teams should push the 60-point plateau when they meet Sunday in L.A.

Sure, both teams still have a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, but Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is hungry and should pounce on a still-vulnerable defense when backed into somewhat of a corner in Week 10. Meanwhile, the Rams have scored at least 29 points in eight of their nine games this season. 

Seattle is beatable on the ground. The Rams have Todd Gurley. L.A. is struggling in pass defense. Seattle has Wilson. It’s simply a bad matchup for those riding the under. 

Predicted score: Rams 33, Seahawks 30

Under of the week: Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders

Total: 50.5

The Raiders have allowed 76 points to the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers in the last two weeks, which might explain why this total is above 50. But I’d expect somewhat of a correction with Oakland hosting a more familiar opponent Sunday. 

The Chargers managed “just” 26 points in a home victory over the Raiders earlier this season. They may be a little more tired for this road matchup after a big Week 10 victory in Seattle, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they scored 26 or fewer again here. 

But even if that doesn’t happen, is there any reason to think the Raiders can suddenly score points? They’ve been held to 10 or fewer in three of their last four games, and this Los Angeles defense is a lot stronger than the Colts D on which they scored 28 a couple weeks ago. 

This might not even hit 40, let alone 50. 

Predicted score: Chargers 26, Raiders 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 12-6

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 9: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

Total: 54

The Carolina Panthers are rolling offensively. One week after putting up 21 fourth-quarter points on the Philadelphia Eagles, they scored 36 on the league’s top-rated scoring defense in a home victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

Little reason to believe they won’t push the 40 mark on Sunday against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers D that ranks dead-last in the league with 33.3 points per game allowed, especially in the comfy confines of their home stadium. The Panthers have scored at least 30 points in their last three home games, so look for another explosion against Tampa Bay.

And the Bucs shouldn’t have too much trouble scoring either. They’ve put up at least 27 points in all but one game this season and are in better shape with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback instead of Jameis Winston.

Even if Carolina pulls away, there’s a good chance we’ll see garbage-time points from a loaded Bucs offense, which should make it easy to push 60 here.

Predicted score: Panthers 38, Buccaneers 35

Under of the week: Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots

Total: 57

This number might be inflated by the fact it’s a high-profile game between two high-profile teams involving two high-profile quarterbacks in prime time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up with a relatively low-scoring tilt Sunday night.

The Green Bay defense hasn’t been good this year, but it still ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of points allowed and is coming off a strong showing against the league’s most potent offense in Los Angeles. Jaire Alexander, Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels are playing superb football, and I don’t think that’ll change against a New England offense that wasn’t clicking in Week 8.

One thing that was clicking for the Patriots Monday night in Buffalo? The defense, which allowed seven or fewer points for the second time in five weeks. Trey Flowers is grooving up front, and you wonder if they’re going to start stringing strong performances together. After all, Bill Belichick is Bill Belichick.

I don’t expect New England to shut down the Packers the way it shut down the Bills, but I don’t think either team is coming close to the 30-point mark in what should be a closely contested Sunday nighter.

Predicted score: Patriots 24, Packers 23

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-1
2018 season: 10-6

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 8: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

Total: 44

I think it’s easy to pile on the Bills because they struggled to do much of anything on offense with Derek Anderson at quarterback in Indianapolis. But that was Anderson’s first start in two years and he had been on the roster just a couple weeks. Look for him to be more acclimated in a home game against another vulnerable defense when Buffalo hosts the Patriots in Week 8. 

That’s not to say the Bills will put up 30 points, but even double digits should be enough to push this one over. The Patriots have scored at least 38 points in four consecutive games. They’re almost certain to hit the 30 mark against a team that surrendered 37 to the Colts and gave up 31 at home against the Los Angeles Chargers earlier this season.

This one should sail into the 50s. 

Predicted score: Patriots 37, Bills 17

Under of the week: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

Total: 55.5

The Chiefs might be the highest-scoring team in football, but there’s some evidence that bookmakers are overdoing it with their totals. Kansas City games have gone over in only four of the team’s seven games, which has us thinking 55.5 is far too high for a Week 8 divisional matchup with the Broncos. 

These teams combined for “only” 50 when they met in Denver a few weeks ago, but the Broncos played extremely well defensively that night and they’ve since gained momentum on that side of the ball (they’ve surrendered just 33 points combined in their last two games). 

The Broncos might also be destined to come back to earth offensively after scoring 45 points against a mess of an Arizona Cardinals team in Week 7. That result could be inflating this total, but it was probably an anomaly. Throw in that the Chiefs have started to play decent defense (they’ve given up just 24 points total in their last two home games) and this is a no-brainer. 

Predicted score: Chiefs 27, Broncos 17

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 9-5

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 7: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: New England Patriots at Chicago Bears

Total: 49.5

New England has scored 38-plus points in three straight games, and more than 60 points were scored in each of their last two affairs. Meanwhile, the Chicago offense has really made strides, with Mitchell Trubisky and Co. combining for 76 points in their last two games.

Throw in that the Chicago defense looked extremely vulnerable against the Miami Dolphins in Week 6 and that the New England D has surrendered 57 points in two road games and this looks and feels like an obvious 55-plus point game.

The total might be below 50 because the Bears still rate well on defense and there might be concerns about the consistency of the Chicago offense, but nobody is stopping the Pats right now and it’s time to start believing in that loaded Bears attack.

This thing should hit the 50s with plenty of room to spare.

Predicted score: Patriots 33, Bears 30

Under of the week: Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Total: 43

Both the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars rank in the bottom 12 offensively and the top 12 defensively, and the Texans managed just 14 points in two games against the Jaguars last year.

So why do sportsbooks believe these two will combine for 43 on Sunday?

It could have to do with the fact the vaunted Jags defense has suddenly given up 70 points the last two weeks. But those games came on the road. At home this year, Jacksonville has surrendered just 13.7 points per game. They should bounce back from a tough stretch against a Texans offense that has been held to 22 or fewer points in five of six games.

It’s still hard to trust Blake Bortles and a depleted Jags offense, but that unit might not need more than 20 against Houston.

Predicted score: Jaguars 23, Texans 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 7-5

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 6: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets

Total: 45

Just in their last two games, the Colts have scored 58 points and allowed 75. Meanwhile, the Jets have scored at 34 or more points in two of their first five games and are one week removed from surrendering 31 points to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Don’t be surprised if both teams hit the 30 plateau when they meet Sunday in New Jersey.

The Colts have finally been letting it rip more offensively with Andrew Luck under center, and Luck might have a healthier supporting cast than he did against the New England Patriots in Week 5. It also helps that the New England game took place on a Thursday night, giving that banged-up unit extra time to rest and recover.

The Jets are feeling it offensively after lighting up a good Denver Broncos defense in Week 5, and there’s no reason to expect Sam Darnold, Robby Anderson and Isaiah Crowell to slow down against a Colts D that ranks in the bottom five in terms of points allowed per game.

I’m guessing this total is a lower than the league median because the books don’t totally trust either team and they’re both quite unpredictable, but it’s hard to imagine these offenses failing to combine for 50 or more points.

Predicted score: Colts 30, Jets 27

Under of the week: Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans

Total: 41

The Chiefs are due for a dud. It happens to every offense, and there were indications it was happening to red-hot

The Ravens were held to just nine points last week and have held opponents to fewer than 15 in four of their first five outings. Meanwhile, two of Tennessee’s last three affairs have contained 25 or fewer points.

Despite high preseason expectations for both offenses (and a strong start from Joe Flacco and Co.) both teams have experienced more unders than overs this season. And while Vegas has reacted by setting a low total of 41 for their Sunday meeting in Nashville, it’s not low enough.

This game has “16-13” written all over it. Baltimore’s D is stout and consistent, and Flacco and the offense have come back to earth. Tennessee has the league’s top-rated red-zone defense, while the Ravens also rank in the top 10 in that category.

The books have been reluctant to drop totals below 40 during the highest-scoring season in NFL history, but this is one of those situations in which they couldn’t go low enough. This one might fall short of the 30 mark.

Predicted score: Ravens 16, Titans 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 5-5

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 5: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers

Total: 57.5

Atlanta and Pittsburgh have gone over the total in six of their eight combined games this season, which is why the number is so high for their Week 5 meeting at Heinz Field.

But this is one of those cases in which Vegas just can’t move the total high enough.

Both Atlanta and Pittsburgh are allowing 29 or more points per game, and both are averaging at least 25 points on offense. The depleted Atlanta defense surrendered 80 points to the Saints and Bengals, so the Steelers should be good for at least 30 in a bounce-back to form after a blip against the Baltimore Ravens.

Pittsburgh is much more likely to perform the way it did on offense against the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (a combined 67 points) than it did against Baltimore, especially considering the yo-yo nature of this weird league.

Meanwhile, the Steelers defense has surrendered at least 26 points in three straight games, while the Falcons have scored at least 31 in their last three outings. This should be a shootout with a combined point total well above 60.

Predicted score: Steelers 37, Falcons 31

Under of the week: Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs

Total: 48.5

The Chiefs are due for a dud. It happens to every offense, and there were indications it was happening to red-hot Kansas City at times Monday night in Denver. Now they’re back at home, but they’re tired after a dramatic prime-time comeback and facing the league’s most talented defense.

That Jacksonville D has surrendered a league-low 14.0 points per game this season. And while Kansas City’s No. 1-rated scoring offense will be a challenge, let’s remember they had just 13 points in the fourth quarter against the Broncos.

The Jags very well could explode against a tired and banged-up defense, but this is still a road game in a tough, loud atmosphere and Jacksonville still lacks consistency on offense.

I can’t see this one pushing 50. It might have trouble getting to 40.

Predicted score: Jaguars 20, Chiefs 17

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-1
2018 season: 3-5

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 4: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons

Total: 51

Without Deion Jones, Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen and with Takkarist McKinley also hurting, the Falcons defense is a bit of a mess. That unit just surrendered 43 points at home against the New Orleans Saints. And while the Bengals’ offense isn’t as strong as New Orleans, they did scored 68 points in their first two games of the regular season. 

Look for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green to step up against a limping defense and score more points than the 21 they put up against a solid Carolina D in Week 3. 

The Panthers also scored 31 on the Bengals, and the Falcons have a lot more firepower than that. Even if Atlanta doesn’t get Devonta Freeman back, Matt Ryan is on fire and he’s got plenty of options now that rookie receiver Calvin Ridley has broken out in support of Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Tevin Coleman. 

The Falcons could put up 40 here, while the Bengals could be good for 30. Even if both fall short by about a touchdown, this goes way over that total of 51. 

Predicted score: Falcons 33, Bengals 24

Under of the week: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Total: 47.5

The Colts offense just isn’t taking any chances with Andrew Luck under center, which is why they’ve been held to 23 or fewer points in each of their first three outings. Doubt they score more than that against a Texans defense that is loaded with talent and could be on the verge of coming around following a three-sack performance from J.J. Watt in Week 3. 

Watt looks ready to take Houston’s fate into his own hands. And while it might only be a matter of time before the Texans offense finally explodes, this might not be the week. Deshaun Watson hasn’t looked himself, and now he’ll be facing a surprisingly strong young Colts defense on the road. 

With rookie second-round linebacker Darius Leonard shining, Indy has surrendered just 29 points in its last two games, both of which came on the road. Back at home against a worse offense than the two they faced (Washington and Philadelphia), it’s hard to imagine them giving up more than 20. 

Predicted score: Colts 20, Texans 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 0-2
2018 season: 2-4

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 3: Over and Under Best Bets

 

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over

 

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles

Total: 47.5

This total is well below 50 because the Indianapolis defense is coming off a shockingly strong performance against the Washington Redskins, while the Eagles have yet to score more than 21 points this season. But the reality is the Colts defense is much more like the unit that surrendered 34 points on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1, and the Philadelphia offense is due for a breakout performance. 

Look for an angry Eagles team to bounce back from a tough loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a big number in quarterback Carson Wentz’s return to action. And on the other side of the ball, look for Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton and Co. to exploit a Philly D that struggled immensely in Tampa. 

There’s a chance the Eagles run away with this at home, but even that would probably enable Indy to rack up some garbage-time points.

Philly should hit the 30 mark, while the Colts should be able to score at least 20 points here.

Predicted score: Eagles 34, Colts 21

Under of the week: Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams

Total: 48

It’s not as though both of these offenses aren’t capable of scoring 30-plus points Sunday in the Battle of L.A., but it’s that both the Chargers and Rams look fantastic on the defensive side of the ball. 

A little too fantastic for that total of 48. 

With Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh dominating up front, the new-look Rams defense hasn’t surrendered a point in the last six quarters. Meanwhile, it’s obvious the Chargers can now be forgiven for surrendered 38 points to the out-of-control Kansas City Chiefs in their opener, because they smothered the Buffalo Bills offense on the road in Week 2, holding them to just 13 points before garbage time. 

The Bolts might still give up 24 here, but that strong secondary won’t be embarrassed again. They’ll stick around on offense, but they aren’t likely finding the end zone more than three times against Donald, Suh and Co. 

Predicted score: Rams 24, Chargers 18

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-1
2018 season: 2-2

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 2: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over of the week: Cleveland Browns at

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over of the week: Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints

Total: 49

The Saints defense was a mess in Week 1, and that might not be a complete coincidence despite the fact that unit put up strong numbers in 2017. The New Orleans D also started slowly in 2017, surrendering 65 points in the first two weeks of the regular season. 

I don’t think they’ll give up 48 again like they did against the Tampa Buccaneers on Sunday, but this’ll be a much easier task for a Browns offense that is still meshing. If Cleveland can score 21 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it should be able to exceed that total in New Orleans. 

Even if we conservatively give the Browns 24 points, the Saints merely need to win for this to go over the total of 49. New Orleans is a huge favorite after scoring 40 points in its home opener and should be in for another stellar offensive performance. 

In an attempt to redeem themselves, the angry Saints will probably be aggressive early. That probably means a big first half from a team that has scored 30-plus points in seven of their last 12 games. And if it doesn’t, it could mean more turnovers leading to shorter fields and easier points for Cleveland. 

Predicted score: Saints 37, Browns 24

Under of the week: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

Total: 44

This total is probably inflated by the Jets scoring 48 points on the road in their opener, but Gang Green looks destined to come back to earth in that respect in Week 2. New York benefited from five Lions turnovers, a special-teams touchdown and another score on defense in Detroit. And it helped that the Lions couldn’t get pressure on rookie Jets quarterback Sam Darnold

Darnold is likely to come back to earth a little bit now that Adam Gase and Matt Burke have had plenty of time to review tape from his first regular-season NFL game. 

The reality is the most sustainable aspect of that Jets’ performance in Detroit was their play on defense. Don’t expect more pick-sixes or another five-takeaway showing, but do expect them to hold them to fewer than the 20 points they scored in their home opener against the Tennessee Titans (the other seven came on a kick return). 

Neither offense is overly reliable, and both defenses have more talent than most of us realize.

Predicted score: Jets 17, Dolphins 10

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-1
2018 season: 1-1

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 1: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we'll offer up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over of the week: Seattle Seahawks at Denver

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’ll offer up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over of the week: Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos

Total: 43

Neither defense is what it used to be, and I think this total has yet to account for that — especially with Seattle. The Legion of Boom is no more, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are gone and star safety Earl Thomas is nowhere to be seen. Von Miller is still Von Miller on the other side of the ball, but the Broncos and Seahawks will be relying on a lot of unproven players, especially in the secondary. And it’s not as though either unit fared great last season anyway.

Meanwhile, the Broncos offense should be much better with new quarterback/running back duo Case Keenum and Royce Freeman. The former was the league’s seventh-rated passer last season, the latter looks like an offensive rookie of the year candidate. And while Seattle has fewer weapons on that side of the ball, that offense looks to be more balanced with Chris Carson crushing it in the backfield this summer. 

I’m expecting Keenum, Freeman, Carson and Russell Wilson to put on an offensive exhibition in Colorado. 

Predicted score: Broncos 27, Seahawks 24 

Under of the week: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints 

Total: 49.5

With Ryan Fitzpatrick as their primary passer, the Bucs scored just 10 points on their last trip to New Orleans. The Saints defense has since gotten better on paper, and Fitzpatrick will once again start for the suspended Jameis Winston in this tilt. 

Watch for the Bucs defense to show some improvement too. New Orleans can light up the scoreboard, especially at home, but Tampa Bay has a newly-stacked defensive front that resembles Philadelphia’s famous line. That unit could put together a respectable performance against a New Orleans offense that actually started rather slow last season (they scored more than 20 points just once in the first four weeks). 

Throw in that the Saints won’t be at full power without suspended running back Mark Ingram and 49.5 feels far too high. 

Predicted score: Saints 24, Buccaneers 14 

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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An Early Look at Week One Totals (Best Bets)

Now that we’re one week removed from the start of the 2018 NFL regular season, it’s finally time to start breaking down specific games from a betting perspective. This year, we’re making a point to analyze often-neglected totals, so here some initial over/unders to size up for Week 1. To see how the

Now that we’re one week removed from the start of the 2018 NFL regular season, it’s finally time to start breaking down specific games from a betting perspective. This year, we’re making a point to analyze often-neglected totals, so here some initial over/unders to size up for Week 1. To see how the total began and for some tips on wagers, check out our history of the total

Let’s go game-by-game from high to low.

51 — Houston Texans at New England Patriots: It feels as though this one will come down a little between now and game day. The Pats have been known to start slow and will be far from comfortable on offense, while it’s tough to tell how Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will look in his return from a major knee injury. Both defenses struggled at times last year, but Houston has J.J. Watt back and New England always has Bill Belichick. Only 17 games had totals of 51 or higher last season, and only six of those went over. Stats say: Bet the under. 

 

49.5 — Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints: This was in the 50s earlier in the offseason and still has room to come down. The Saints defense is underrated, the Bucs will be using a backup quarterback and New Orleans will also be without a key offensive weapon in Mark Ingram. When these teams met in New Orleans last November, they combined for 40 points.

 

49.5 — Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders: You should probably wait for clarity on both Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack before pulling the trigger here, but the under would be a no-brainer at 49.5 if both play. There’s a very good chance these offenses fail to live up to the hype out of the gates.

 

47.5 — Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers: These teams scored a grand total of 77 points in their two meetings last season, and now the Chiefs have a less proven quarterback. Buying this line is buying Patrick Mahomes, and I’m not ready to do that yet.

 

47.5 — Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers: This looks like one of the least bettable totals of the week, just because we don’t know what to expect from a new-look Chicago offense. I’d wait a week or two before putting big money on or against the Bears under Matt Nagy. Wouldn’t touch this unless it dropped dramatically, and the under seems risky considering the firepower both teams possess.

 

46.5 — Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns: Nobody knows what to make of the new-look Browns, and let’s remember that Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh offense started slowly after Bell’s holdout last year. The last five matchups between the Steelers and Browns that have involved regular starters have all contained 41 points or fewer.

 

46 — San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings: This might be inflated by the fact there’s hype surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers scored 78 points in their last two games in 2017. The Vikings have one of the best defenses in the league, and they’ve had months to study Garoppolo and the San Francisco offense. Thinking this should be in the low-40s.  

 

46 — Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts: So much has changed with the Colts that you’d be better off waiting here, especially since this total is basically in toss-up territory and the Bengals are pretty erratic.

 

45.5 — Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles: Last year’s season opener was one of the highest-scoring games of the year, but I’m digging the under here. The Eagles have questions at quarterback regardless of who starts, the Falcons offense hasn’t been right since 2016 and both teams are stellar on defense. I’m expecting big things from a young and fast Atlanta D in 2018, and that could start here.  

 

45 — Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins: Miami is going to be really bad this season and the Tennessee offense still has a lot to prove. This total should be lower.

 

44 — Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals: Alex Smith and Sam Bradford can light it up when they’re right, and both are healthy entering the regular season. Neither defense looks great, so it wouldn’t be shocking if this were a shootout.

 

44 — New York Jets at Detroit Lions: Too many variables with the Jets for this to be predictable, which is why the total is basically the NFL average. The median and average total last season was 44.

 

43.5 — Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants: Both of these offenses have the ability to explode this season, but both teams are stronger on the other side of the ball. This isn’t the week to get cocky regarding Eli Manning or Blake Bortles.

 

43.5 — Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers: I get why this is a bit low because both defenses look as though they’ll be strong and there are questions regarding both offenses. Still, this is a game with Ezekiel Elliott, Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey. You might want to take advantage of the fact Vegas hasn’t shaded the over in a game involving America’s Team.

 

42 — Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos: I don’t think Vegas has accounted for how much worse the Seahawks defense has become and how much better the Denver offense has become. The Seahawks also look strong (and balanced for once) on the offensive side of the ball, so I’m expecting 45-50 points here. If you want to bet an over, this is a good game.

 

41 — Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens: Vegas rightly went low here. This is a Ravens team that surrendered just 10 points in the first two games of the 2017 season, and the Bills have a strong defense and a questionable offense. I don’t see this going over 41 unless there’s a bunch of scoring on D or the Baltimore offense goes off. Would prefer a slightly higher total for an under bet, but I think this one is still higher than it should be.

 

To recap: With each new year, hope springs eternal as we have all offseason to talk ourselves into new offenses. So do oddsmakers. 10 of these games are over the average and median total of 44 last season. While the over is always bettors favorite, in Week One, smart money will find the unders.

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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How the Total Began and Other Interesting Facts About Betting the O/U

Now that millions of Americans will have a chance to legally bet on NFL football for the first time, you’re likely going to see a lot more sports betting analysis, here and elsewhere. And while the lion’s share of that analysis will probably continue to focus on point spreads, we have to make

Now that millions of Americans will have a chance to legally bet on NFL football for the first time, you’re likely going to see a lot more sports betting analysis, here and elsewhere. And while the lion’s share of that analysis will probably continue to focus on point spreads, we have to make an effort to pay more attention to the spread’s less popular little brother, the total.

On a weekly basis throughout the 2018 NFL season, National Football Post will be covering and breaking down totals by identifying overs and unders that appear to be potential moneymakers. But first, a primer on that second, less-heralded number you see listed on betting cards…

Totals aren’t as old as point spreads.

Spreads have been a fixture in the world of sports betting since the 1940s, but the first total bet wasn’t taken until the late Bill Dark got crafty at the Del Mar Sports and Race Book in 1964.

“In April of 1964 Dark accepted a wager from a customer who wanted to bet that a game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Dodgers would result in a shutout,” explained Richard O. Davies and Richard G. Abram in their book “Betting the Line: Sports Wagering in American Life.” “Dark reframed the bet by offering to accept a wager on whether the total runs scored in the game would be over or under 3.5.”

Dark’s book lost the bet when the Dodgers beat the Reds 3-0, but the idea slowly spread. Not quite fast enough for there to be a total for the first Super Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs in January of 1967, but fast enough that Super Bowl II had the first-ever football total (Green Bay and the Oakland Raiders went over the total of 43 in a 33-14 game), and NFL totals really took off when they started being offered on parlay cards in the 1980s.

Now, sportsbooks provide totals for every pro and college football game. Most games even have first-half totals for even more action. Here are some interesting facts about totals:

Sportsbooks typically fare worse with totals than they do with point spreads. US Bookmaking sportsbook director Robert Walker tells us that professional bettors usually perform better with totals than point spreads and that totals are more volatile.

But totals still aren’t nearly as popular as point spreads. Walker figures about 15-20 percent of the bets his book receives are on totals. But it can be tough to gauge the popularity of totals because they are often tacked onto a parlay bet.

Totals are particularly popular on Sunday and Monday night because that’s often the only option for a parlay when the rest of the league is idle.

You can’t bet as much on totals as you can on point spreads. When Walker ran the MGM Grand Mirage Race and Sports Book, they’d take bets as high as $50,000 against the spread, but the limit was usually $10,000 on the total.

“The limits are lower on totals,” said Walker, “because historically we don’t do as well.”

The under isn’t as fun, but it’s often a better bet. “There’s inherent value going with the underdog and going with the under,” Walker said. “Most people would rather bet the over. You wanna see a high-scoring game, you wanna see a lot of action. So because of that we shade favorites and overs a little bit.”

In other words, early totals are inflated.

“We want to put the total up as high as we can before the pros bet it,” Walker added, “because we know most of the public is going to be on the overs.”

Since the start of 2016, 50 percent of NFL games have gone over and 50 percent have gone under. More specifically, 252 games have gone over, 257 games have gone under and three have pushed.

So while Walker admits that some professionals get the best of the sportsbooks on totals, I wouldn’t recommend spending your life savings on overs and/or unders in 2018. We’re still talking about at least a semi-crapshoot. Also this is another testament for just how good oddsmakers are at their jobs.

Don’t jump on the under just because it’s cold, snowy or rainy. Books aren’t going to overlook that stuff, dude.

“Weather is more or less adjusted these days,” Vegas bookmaking legend Roxy Roxborough told us this week. “It used to be a big issue but the way they do the stadiums now and with the heating under the field, it’s not anymore.”

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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The Most Overrated and Underrated Offenses In 2018

Over/unders are often overlooked in the point-spread-obsessed world of football betting. But throughout the 2018 NFL regular season, we’ll be breaking down totals and making predictions regarding which games are most likely to go over or under on a weekly basis.  

With that in mind, it might make sense to

Over/unders are often overlooked in the point-spread-obsessed world of football betting. But throughout the 2018 NFL regular season, we’ll be breaking down totals and making predictions regarding which games are most likely to go over or under on a weekly basis.  

With that in mind, it might make sense to establish a feel for which offenses are overrated and underrated heading into 2018. Oddsmakers and the betting public will eventually catch on, but information like this could theoretically be valuable early on.

Overrated: San Francisco 49ers: There’s a lot of hype here, but that’s dangerous. Even if you’re buying Jimmy Garoppolo just seven starts into his career (and you’re certainly allowed to have your doubts about him), it’s fair to question his supporting cast. The receiving corps lacks depth and overall talent, top back Jerick McKinnon averaged just 3.6 yards per carry the last two years in Minnesota and they lack a proven starting tight end. The offensive line isn’t bad, but there’s also a chance the rest of the league will solve Jimmy and Co. out in 2018.

Underrated: Detroit Lions: It doesn’t feel as though a lot of folks view Detroit’s offense as an elite unit, but only six teams outscored the Lions last season and quarterback Matthew Stafford is entering his prime coming off the best season of his career. They’ve slowly been building up their line in recent years, the receiving corps is deep and talented and rookie back Kerryon Johnson has the ability to make them a lot more balanced than in recent years. This could be a top-five offense in 2018.

Overrated: New England Patriots: The Pats had the highest-scoring offense in the AFC last season, but you do have to wonder if Father Time will eventually get the best of Tom Brady. And while we’ll probably regret going out on this limb because Brady might not be human, this could be the year the Patriots come back to earth on that side of the ball. There are major questions on Brady’s blind side following the loss of stalwart left tackle Nate Solder, Julian Edelman is facing a four-game suspension and Dion Lewis, Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola are all gone. New England’s offense should still be good, but it might not be as elite as it was in years past.

Underrated: Chicago Bears: Did you see what new Bears head coach Matt Nagy did with Alex Smith in Kansas City? Now Nagy will get his hands on intriguing second-year No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky under center, and both Nagy and Trubisky will have plenty of weapons with the accomplished Allen Robinson, the speedy Taylor Gabriel and the high-potential Trey Burton joining the fray. Chicago had the fourth-lowest-scoring offense in the NFL last season, but don’t be surprised if the Bears wind up in some shootouts in 2018.

Overrated: Philadelphia Eagles: Eagles head coach Doug Pederson told NBC’s Peter King this week that he sees “a little hesitation” in Philly franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, which is at least mildly concerning considering that the 2017 MVP candidate is coming off a major knee injury. Sure, backup Nick Foles shined while leading the team to a championship in place of Wentz last year, but Foles is streaky and his receiving corps isn’t deep beyond Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Watch for last year’s third-highest-scoring offense to regress a little closer to the mean in 2018.

Underrated: Atlanta Falcons: Let’s not hold last season’s Super Bowl hangover against the Falcons, who led the league in scoring in 2016 but fell to the middle of the pack in 2017. That was also their first year in offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s system, and it’s pretty common for offenses to struggle under those circumstances. Matt Ryan is still a former MVP and Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in the game. Look for the team to do a better job utilizing Jones in what should be a bounce-back season offensively in Atlanta.

Overrated: Jacksonville Jaguars: There’s naturally a lot of hype surrounding the Jaguars after their breakout 2017 season, but that’s all about the defense. Running back Leonard Fournette struggled as a rookie (his numbers were inflated by a few long-distance runaway touchdowns), the offensive line is still somewhat of a work in progress, the receiving corps is shallow and they’re still putting all of their eggs in Blake Bortles’ basket at quarterback. Bortles made some progress last season but still hasn’t put together a solid NFL season. There’s a chance this won’t be a top-five scoring offense again in 2018.

Underrated: Denver Broncos: Denver had the league’s sixth-lowest-scoring offense last season, but the Broncos’ team passer rating ranked 31st in football. With new quarterback Case Keenum on board, Denver now possessed the league’s seventh-highest-rated passer from 2017. Throw in that starting receiver Emmanuel Sanders is healthier and rookie back Royce Freeman appears ready to play a major role right away and the Broncos could score a lot more points than expected in 2018.

Overrated: New York Giants: The football world is abuzz over what Giants Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham could bring to the table as an offensive duo in 2018, and an oft-criticized offensive line should also be better with Nate Solder and Will Hernandez on board. That being said, the Giants still need quarterback Eli Manning to make his throws. Manning was the league’s eighth-lowest-qualified passer last season, and the 37-year-old hasn’t put together a solid year since 2015. Even with Barkley, Beckham, Solder and Hernandez, this might still be a mediocre offense in 2018.

Underrated: Cleveland Browns: The Browns had the lowest-scoring offense in football last season, but this is an entirely different unit entering 2018. Tyrod Taylor is the most competent and reliable quarterback they’ve had in years, Jarvis Landry is a proven receiver and Corey Coleman, Nick Chubb, David Njoku and Baker Mayfield all have a lot of potential. Throw in Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson and there’s a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball in Cleveland, for the first time in a long time

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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Five Players With Favorable Preseason Awards Odds

So we’ve got you prepared to bet on the preseason, but that’s still a couple weeks away and you’re growing impatient. All good, you can still throw some money down on NFL action right now, but even if you’re successful you won’t get paid out for those bets

So we’ve got you prepared to bet on the preseason, but that’s still a couple weeks away and you’re growing impatient. All good, you can still throw some money down on NFL action right now, but even if you’re successful you won’t get paid out for those bets until the new year.

Futures odds are available all over the internet to those who think they know how certain teams and/or players will fare in 2018. Last week, we combed through those numbers to identify five particularly enticing teams that might be worth gambling on this summer. This week, we’re looking at player awards odds.

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (+3300 to win MVP)

Merely reaching his prime at the age of 30, Stafford has played the best football of his career in the post-Calvin Johnson era. Now he’s about the same age as Matt Ryan was in Ryan’s MVP season in 2016, and Stafford is coming off the highest-rated campaign of his nine-year career.

That makes him a hell of an intriguing bet at +3300, odds that are lower than 15 other NFL quarterbacks including Jimmy Garoppolo (who has started seven NFL games), Deshaun Watson (who has started six and is coming off a torn ACL) and Andrew Luck (coming off a lost season due to a major shoulder injury).

Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley (+4000 to win MVP)

It’s a little silly that 17 quarterbacks have better MVP odds than the reigning offensive player of the year.

Gurley’s odds were never going to be high because he’s not a quarterback and quarterbacks have won MVP in 10 of the last 11 seasons. But the only non-quarterbacks to win the award this century were Shaun Alexander, LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson, all of whom — you guessed it — played running back.

And Gurley is undoubtedly the most MVP-worthy back in the league entering 2018. He’s coming off a year in which he won offensive player of the year at the age of 23, and in that stacked Rams offense he could be in a position to build on a 2,093-scrimmage-yard, 19-touchdown campaign.

Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky (+9000 to win MVP)

Obviously Trubisky is extremely unlikely to win MVP in his second season, but the 2017 No. 2 overall pick could certainly be in a position to break out with a Jared Goff-like 2018 campaign. He’s surrounded by new weapons and should benefit greatly from new head coach Matt Nagy, and there were signs he was coming around late in his quiet rookie campaign.

Considering that Jameis Winston is at +5000, Patrick Mahomes is at +5500 and Blake freakin’ Bortles is at +6600, +9000 for Trubisky is worth at least a throwaway bet this summer.

Denver Broncos RB Royce Freeman (+1800 to win offensive rookie of the year)

Running backs have actually won three of the last five offensive rookie of the year awards, and it never hurts to look beyond first-round picks in this case. Neither 2013 winner Eddie Lacy nor 2017 winner Alvin Kamara were top-60 draft picks, and 2017 runner-up Kareem Hunt was a third-round selection.

Freeman could be this year’s Kamara or Hunt. The third-rounder out of Oregon is ready to make a huge impact after serving as a four-year starter in the Pac-12, where he went over 1,300 yards on three occasions and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. He’s got the frame, the strength and the résumé, and the team’s decision to release C.J. Anderson in April indicates Freeman will have a shot at playing a substantial role right away.

Nine rookies have better OROY odds than he does.

New Orleans Saints DE Marcus Davenport (+1000 to win defensive rookie of the year)

It’s fair to wonder if Davenport is a bit of a raw project after recording a mere 8.5 sacks as a senior at Texas-San Antonio, which is why his defensive rookie of the year odds are lower than six first-year players including lower picks Tremaine Edmunds and Derwin James.

But the Saints performed magic in last year’s draft, which resulted in them becoming the first team in half a century to possess both the offensive and defensive player of the year. And they obviously believe Davenport can do big things right off the bat because they sacrificed two first-round picks for the guy.

Saints head coach Sean Payton has stated that he feels the 21-year-old can help the team “right now,” which could give him a chance to compile enough sacks opposite Cameron Jordan to make a strong run at DROY.

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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Five Teams With Favorable Futures Odds

So we’ve got you prepared to bet on the preseason, but that’s still a couple weeks away and you’re growing impatient. All good, you can still throw some money down on NFL action right now, but even if you’re successful you won’t get paid out for those bets

So we’ve got you prepared to bet on the preseason, but that’s still a couple weeks away and you’re growing impatient. All good, you can still throw some money down on NFL action right now, but even if you’re successful you won’t get paid out for those bets until the new year.

Futures odds are available all over the internet to those who think they know how certain teams will fare in 2018. We’ve combed through those numbers to identify five particularly enticing teams that might be worth gambling on this summer.

Chicago Bears (+10000 to win the Super Bowl)

Every season several previously feeble teams rise up and become contenders. Last year at this time, only a handful of teams had lower Super Bowl odds than the Los Angeles Rams, who went on to lead the league in scoring in an 11-win, division-winning campaign.

The 2018 Bears look a lot like the 2017 Rams. New high-energy head coach who is considered a quarterback guru and an offensive genius. Second-year franchise quarterback widely expected to take a big leap forward. Several shiny new offensive weapons for said quarterback. And a sneaky amount of defensive talent.

The Rams didn’t win the Super Bowl last year and the Bears are extremely unlikely to do so in 2018, but it’s rather astonishing that only two teams offer more value on the Super Bowl futures market. A $100 bet on them to make a miraculous run would yield $10,000, which might be worth a shot.

Seattle Seahawks (+6000 to win the Super Bowl, +400 to win the NFC West)

The Seahawks have suffered so many losses this offseason that their odds to win the division title have plummeted and their odds to win it all are borderline comical. Only 10 teams have worse odds to win the Super Bowl than a team that did exactly that only a few years ago, with the same head coach and same franchise quarterback.

I wouldn’t expect the Seahawks to be favored to win anything now that the Legion of Boom has essentially been dismantled, especially because the offense could still have plenty of trouble protecting and supporting quarterback Russell Wilson. That said, Wilson is still one of the best players in football and a preseason MVP contender. He and Carroll could easily overcome a tough offseason, and betting on that could be fruitful considering how oddsmakers and the public have reacted to a tough run in Seattle.

If you think a Super Bowl run isn’t going to happen in the tough NFC, at least consider those tempting division title odds. The Rams could easily come back to earth after a breakout season and the 49ers have yet to prove the team can do what it did last December for an entire season.

Los Angeles Chargers (+1000 to win the AFC championship)

The Chargers are actually favored to win the AFC West, and they certainly have the talent to beat conference favorites New England or Pittsburgh. 

The Patriots have endured a tumultuous offseason and look more vulnerable than they have in years, while the Steelers are so reliant on their three key offensive players that all it would take is one big injury to remove them from contention. With this possibly being Le’Veon Bell’s last season in Pittsburgh, the team chemistry could take a hit compared to years past.

The Texans and Jaguars both have better odds than the Chargers to win the AFC title (+800 each) but Houston is in for a boom-or-bust year based on what happens with Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt, while Jacksonville is a major wild card, as long as Blake Bortles is their quarterback.

The point is the AFC is wide freakin’ open, and the Chargers are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. They’ve got a quarterback who’s been elected to seven Pro Bowls, one of the best pass rushes in football and plenty of game-changers on both offense and defense.

That makes them a worthwhile bet at +1000, but the NFC is so much stronger than the AFC that I wouldn’t push my luck with their +2400 Super Bowl odds.

Carolina Panthers (+3500 to win the Super Bowl)

How is it that 16 teams — including the 49ers, Chiefs, Giants and Cowboys — have better Super Bowl odds than the Carolina Panthers? Carolina came close to winning the damn thing just a few years ago. Quarterback Cam Newton was the MVP that year, while head coach Ron Rivera was coach of the year for the second time in a three-season span. Outside of that Super Bowl loss to the Broncos, the Panthers lost one game all year.

They haven’t won a playoff game since, but they did make it back to the postseason last year and Football Outsiders ranked them as the ninth-most efficient team in football.

Christian McCaffrey should only get better, superstar linebacker Luke Kuechly appears to be healthy and Newton is Newton — one of the most uniquely talented matchup nightmares in the league.

I wouldn’t expect the Panthers to remain at +3500 for long.

New Orleans Saints (+1800 to win the Super Bowl)

Nobody in the NFC South has high futures odds because the division is so strong as a whole, but it’s still ridiculous that the Saints have lower Super Bowl odds than six other teams, and identical odds to a Texans squad that won just four games last year.

In terms of DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), the Saints were the best team in the NFL last season. Their future Hall of Fame quarterback had the highest completion percentage in NFL history while leading the conference in yards per attempt and passer rating. New Orleans also became the first team in nearly half a century to possess both the offensive and defensive rookies of the year. The Saints were just one crazy play from a berth in the NFC Championship game and if Diggs doesn’t make that play, the team’s odds would be significantly lower.

That historically kickass rookie class should only make a larger impact in 2018, and now they’ve added a first-round pass rusher (Marcus Davenport), one of the best slot corners in the game (Patrick Robinson), a steady new starting linebacker (Demario Davis) and an intriguing new receiver (Cameron Meredith) to the fray.

Regardless of what the odds say, this team is right there with the Patriots, Steelers, Eagles, Rams and Vikings.

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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A Guide to Betting on the Preseason

Tired of betting on baseball and bummed out that the World Cup is coming to an end? Don’t fret, because the NFL preseason gets underway in exactly three weeks. And yes, betting on the preseason is a thing.

A big thing.

In fact, according to US Bookmaking sportsbook director Robert Walker, sportsbooks take as many

Tired of betting on baseball and bummed out that the World Cup is coming to an end? Don’t fret, because the NFL preseason gets underway in exactly three weeks. And yes, betting on the preseason is a thing.

A big thing.

In fact, according to US Bookmaking sportsbook director Robert Walker, sportsbooks take as many bets on preseason NFL games as they do on most August regular-season Major League Baseball contests.

“I think it just speaks to how popular the NFL is,” said Walker, who added that the simplicity of the preseason schedule also makes it easier to bet when compared to the daily grind of Major League Baseball. “People love football, and it’s a long baseball season. I think by July and certainly by August they’re ready for football season.”

With that in mind, here are our rules for betting on the NFL preseason…

1. Don’t bet on preseason NFL games. If the 2016 Browns and 2008 Lions could go 4-0 in preseason before going 0-16, it’s a sign for smart money to stay away. But, if you absolutely can’t resist, rules two through nine can help you navigate these murky waters.

2. Don’t overthink the point spread. The winner quite frequently covers the spread because oddsmakers usually set low numbers for games that are largely unpredictable. In the first week of last year’s preseason, no team was favored by more than four points but half of those games were decided by double-digit margins.

3. Consider the coaches. Some are more motivated than others to put together strong team performances, while others are more concerned with evaluation during this time. Pete Carroll, John Harbaugh and Mike Zimmer don’t mess around in the preseason, while Mike Tomlin, Jason Garrett and Doug Marrone probably won’t go out of their way to earn a W. The problem is the oddsmakers are also very much aware of this, but it’s at least worth considering when you’re curious about a particular line.

“A lot of new coaches want to set a tone of winning in the locker room,” Walker said. “Or at least that’s how you handicap it. You listen to what they say, and it means more to some coaches than to others.”

4. Be on the ball. In the preseason it’s more important than ever to try to be a sharp. With less on the line, coaches are liable to let more cats out of the bag by elaborating on strategy and predicting playing time for starters. If you stay on top of what’s being said in the media in the lead-up to preseason games, you’ll have a chance to get an edge over the rest of the betting public and maybe even the oddsmakers.

“There are people who can ascertain information quicker than us,” Walker admitted. “The one thing about NFL football is the information is so available now, as opposed to 20 years ago.”

5. Don’t fall for lower-than-expected totals. Some totals will just look oddly low, even with the backup offense on the field most of the game. After all, backup defenders will be out there, too, right? But offenses are usually playing catch-up to a larger extent in August, which is why your average preseason game contains about five fewer points than your average regular-season affair.

6. Throw preconceived notions out the window. The Browns went 4-0 last preseason, outscoring their opponents 68-29. The Patriots went 1-3.

7. Consider betting half or quarter lines. That’ll make it easier to avoid bad beats stemming from the actions of third-stringers in second-half garbage time. This pertains particularly to bets on favorites.

As Walker notes, “You’ve got guys deciding the point spread who aren’t going to make the team.” Try to avoid that.

8. Consider depth, or lack thereof. You feel particularly well about a team’s backup quarterback or reserve pass-rushers? And you’re sure those players are going to get extensive playing time based on what’s being said in the media? Trust yourself and roll the dice there. But remember, you’re still basically shooting craps.

9. Have fun. Walker notes that while a huge number of bettors wager on preseason games, not a lot of money is spent on those bets. The limits are much lower because of the lack of predictability, which is also why you rarely see anyone attempt to place a big-money bet on an NFL game in August.

“At the end of the day you don’t really know if the team is trying to win the game,” said Walker, who ran the MGM Grand Mirage Race and Sports Book for 12 years. “So as long as I’ve been doing this nobody’s come up and asked to bet $50,000 on a preseason game, and if they did I’d probably call security.”

With less on the line, it might be easier to relax and have some fun with your bet.

“If I bet $10 on it then it makes it that much more enjoyable to watch,” said Walker. “I’m not actually worried. To me it’s like going to the movies. I’m going to have a good time and I’ve got a 50/50 chance of doubling my money.”

“It’s more fun to watch a game with $10 on it than with zero on it.

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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What We Can Learn From the NFL’s Overs/Unders in 2017

Now that the Supreme Court has granted states the green light to legalize sports gambling, it’ll be easier than ever for Americans to (legally) bet on NFL games come September (and August if you’re willing to throw some blindfolded darts at preseason games).

That probably means point spreads will receive more

Now that the Supreme Court has granted states the green light to legalize sports gambling, it’ll be easier than ever for Americans to (legally) bet on NFL games come September (and August if you’re willing to throw some blindfolded darts at preseason games).

That probably means point spreads will receive more attention than ever, but the reality is there’s just as much money to be made (or lost) betting on totals. Thus, National Football Post will be providing weekly insight and analysis related to overs and/or unders throughout the season.

But with preseason football still a month out, let’s reflect on 2017. Using over/under totals provided by Pro Football Reference and their wonderful team game finder, here’s a look at 13 over/under-related statistical trends and nuggets from last season.

  • Only 46 percent of the 256 games played last season went over the total (119). Under was the correct bet 54 percent of the time. This makes sense because scoring was down from 45.6 points per game in 2016 to 43.4 in 2017. It was the lowest-scoring season in the NFL since 2009. Now handicappers and oddsmakers will be forced to try to determine if that was an anomaly or the start of a new trend.
  • For what it’s worth, 53 percent of NFL games went over the total in 2016. Combine the last two seasons and you’ve got 50 percent over, 50 percent under. So yeah, the folks in Vegas are good at what they do.
  • There were no over/under pushes in 2017, but totals set by oddsmakers were within one point of the final tally 16 times (six percent of games) and within two points 40 times (16 percent of games).
  • While it’s not uncommon for games to become lower-scoring as the elements become a factor late in the season, that was especially the case in 2017 and Vegas wasn’t able to keep up. Over/under results by month (with average points per game in brackets):
    • September: 50% over, 50% under (43.7)
    • October: 52% over, 48% under (43.8)
    • November: 50% over, 50% under (45.3)
    • December: 37% over, 63% under (41.5)
  • Eighteen games had totals of 50 or higher. Only seven went over
  • Thirty-six games had totals below 40. Eighteen (exactly half) went over.
  • The median and average total was 44. Seven of the 11 games that had totals of exactly 44 went over.
  • Teams with the most overs: Packers (11), Rams (11), Lions (10).
  • Teams with the most unders: Chargers (12), Bears (12), Falcons (11), Raiders (11), Colts (10), Cowboys (10), Cardinals (10), Bills (10), Texans (10), Giants (10), Steelers (10).
  • The highest total of the season was 56.5 for a Week 7 matchup between the Patriots and Falcons. Only 30 points were scored.
  • The lowest total was 36.5 for a Week 14 tilt between the Bills and the Colts. Only 20 points were scored despite the fact that game went into overtime.
  • The highest-scoring under of the season came when the Patriots beat the Steelers 27-24 with a 52.5 total in Week 15. That was the only game with 50-plus points that didn’t go over.
  • The lowest-scoring over of the season? Green Bay 23, Chicago 16 in Week 10. The total was 37.5.

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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