How Prop Payouts Work

Prop betting is a growing product feature of the NFL betting menu. Prop bets can make up as much as 15-20% of overall NFL handle for online and mobile sportsbooks with a higher hold (profit) than side and total bets.

“Usually on a typical weekend we’ll have props on the Thursday, Sunday, & Monday night games,” said Jay Kornegay, Vice President of Race and Sports Operations at Westgate. “At times, we’ll have props posted on other marquee matchups. Each game will have 10-20 props. Most are on individual players and team props. A small percentage is head to head.”

Interactive Prop Odds Table
The interactive table below will enable quicker digestion of the risk and reward that comes with prop betting.

For example, a -200 line that means for every $200 you wager, you’ll win $100 (plus your $200 original bet amount). While the “plus money” side of the bet means for every $100 you wager, you’ll win $170 (plus your $100 original bet amount). This difference between wager amount on the favorite $200 (-200) and winning amount $170 (+170)on the underdog is called a 30 cent line.

  • Use the drop-down menu to navigate between .20 to .30 to .40 lines.
  • Hover to the Fav (favorite) and Dog (underdog) lines that match your props.
  • Get the Fav and Dog percentage of happening, based on the odds 
  • View the Overround, the estimated profit of the sportsbook and a key measurement in profitability.

Learn more about the technical nature of the Overround here.

Martin is a data analyst that has been applauded for his ability to make the complex simple. He grew up on a farm in northern Vermont and spent his summers helping his mom lead llama treks at Smugglers’ Notch Resort.

Martin graduated from University of Vermont with a degree in Mathematics. After graduation he left Vermont to work for an educational nonprofit called City Year for two years, and followed that up by attending the data science immersive program at Galvanize in Denver. He is an avid Green Bay Packer fan, and spends his free time playing football and soccer.

What To Look For – Divisional Playoffs



LOWER SEED SUCCESS: The INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-6) and PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-7) both earned victories on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed in their respective conferences.​

The Colts, who travel to Kansas City on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC), and the Eagles, who



LOWER SEED SUCCESS: The INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-6) and PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-7) both earned victories on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed in their respective conferences.​

The Colts, who travel to Kansas City on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC), and the Eagles, who play at New Orleans on Sunday (4:40 PM ET, FOX), look to become the first No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since 2010, when both the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets accomplished the feat.​​​​

The No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990:






Green Bay


Won Super Bowl XLV


New York Jets


Conference Championship




Conference Championship




Conference Championship




Won Super Bowl XL














In the AFC, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (13-4, No. 5 seed), who face New England on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS), and the sixth-seeded Colts are both still alive. With victories by both teams in the Divisional Playoffs, it would mark the first Conference Championship game featuring a No. 5 and No. 6 seed since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990.


WINNING WAYS: The DALLAS COWBOYS, who defeated Seattle 24-22 on Wild Card Weekend, and the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who had a bye last week, will each be playing in the Divisional Playoffs.

Dallas, who plays at the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, FOX), has 35 playoff wins and can tie the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (36) for the most postseason victories all-time. New England, who hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS), has 34 postseason victories and can surpass the GREEN BAY PACKERS (34) for the third-most playoff wins all-time.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:
















Green Bay





New England





San Francisco






TOUCHDOWN LEADERS: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES and the Chiefs are s​et to face off against Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK and the Colts in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC).

Mahomes, who led the NFL with 50 touchdown passes, and Luck, who ranked second with 39 touchdown passes in 2018, have the most combined regular-season passing touchdowns (89) among any opposing quarterbacks in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era.

With Mahomes and Luck ranking first and second in regular-season touchdown passes, Saturday will mark the fifth time since 2002 that the top two passing touchdown leaders from the regular season will face off in the postseason.

The postseason games between the top two regular-season passing touchdown leaders since 2002:








Aaron Rodgers (GB)


Matt Ryan (Atl.)


NFC Championship


Andrew Luck (Ind.)


Peyton Manning (Den.)


AFC Divisional


Drew Brees (NO)


Peyton Manning (Ind.)


Super Bowl XLIV


Drew Brees (NO)


Brett Favre^ (Min.)


NFC Championship








Patrick Mahomes (KC)


Andrew Luck (Ind.)


AFC Divisional

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Tied for 2nd


AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: New England quarterback TOM BRADY and the Patriots welcome quarterback PHILIP RIVERS and the Los Angeles Chargers to Gillette Stadium on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS).

Brady, who will be 41 years and 163 days old on Sunday, and Rivers, at 37 years and 36 days old, combine for a total of 28,688 days old, the oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history.

The oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history:








Tom Brady

New England

Philip Rivers

Los Angeles Chargers



Peyton Manning


Tom Brady

New England



John Elway^


Dan Marino^




Warren Moon^

Houston Oilers

Joe Montana^

Kansas City



Tom Brady

New England

Ben Roethlisberger



^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Total days as of Sunday, January 13



RATED WELL: Philadelphia quarterback NICK FOLES and the Eagles head to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday (4:40 PM ET, FOX) to face New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES and the Saints.

Foles, who has the highest postseason passer rating (105.2) in NFL history, and Brees, who ranks fifth with a 100.7 passer rating, are two of five quarterbacks to have a passer rating of 100 or higher in the postseason (minimum 150 attempts).

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason passer rating (minimum 150 attempts):








Nick Foles







Bart Starr^







Kurt Warner^







Matt Ryan







Drew Brees







^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Foles (69.8 percent) has the highest postseason completion percentage in league annals (minimum 150 attempts) and Brees (65.9 percent) ranks fifth.

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason completion percentage (minimum 150 attempts):





Nick Foles




Matt Ryan




Kurt Warner^




Ken Anderson




^Pro Football Hall of Famer


SHOWDOWN IN SO CAL: Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT and the Cowboys head to Southern California to take on defensive tackle AARON DONALD and the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, FOX).

Elliott, who led the NFL with 1,434 rushing yards in 2018, rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown in Dallas’ Wild Card Weekend victory over Seattle. Elliott has recorded at least 125 rushing yards in each of his first two playoff appearances and can become the fourth player in NFL history to record three consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards.

The players with the most consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards in NFL history:





Terrell Davis^




Arian Foster




John Riggins^








Ezekiel Elliott




^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Active Streak



Donald, who led the league with 20.5 sacks and earned the 2018 Deacon Jones Award as the NFL’s sack leader, became the 11th different player since 1982 to record at least 20 sacks in a single season.

With a Rams win on Saturday, Donald would join Pro Football Hall of Famer LAWRENCE TAYLOR (1986) as the only players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982.

The players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982:






Lawrence Taylor^

New York Giants



Won Super Bowl XXI






Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams




^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Courtesy of NFL Communications

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Super Bowl 53 Future Book Odds: Start To Finish

Wildcard weekend is out of the way and Super Bowl 53 coming up fast.  Here are the current odds for teams in the playoffs. We've also put together a visualization of the odds for teams throughout the season below. The Saints have been the consistent favorite throughout 2018, with the Chiefs following close behind.

Wildcard weekend is out of the way and Super Bowl 53 coming up fast.  Here are the current odds for teams in the playoffs. We’ve also put together a visualization of the odds for teams throughout the season below. The Saints have been the consistent favorite throughout 2018, with the Chiefs following close behind.

NFL Odds

Super Bowl LIII Line

AFC                  +3

NFC                  -3


Who will win Super Bowl LIII?

AFC Team         +130     (13/10)

NFC Team         -150     (2/3)


Odds to Win Super Bowl 53       

New Orleans Saints                                      5/2

Kansas City Chiefs                                        4/1

Los Angeles Rams                                        9/2

New England Patriots                                   6/1                   

Los Angeles Chargers                                  9/1

Indianapolis Colts                                        10/1

Dallas Cowboys                                           12/1

Philadelphia Eagles                                     12/1


Exact Super Bowl Matchups (Most likely to least likely)

New Orleans Saints vs. Kansas City Chiefs                    4/1

New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots                 5/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. Kansas City Chiefs                      6/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. New England Patriots                  8/1

New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Chargers                8/1

New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts                      10/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. Los Angeles Chargers                  12/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts                        14/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. Kansas City Chiefs                          16/1

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs                     16/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. New England Patriots                       20/1

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots                 20/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Chargers                      28/1

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Los Angeles Chargers                28/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. Indianapolis Colts                            33/1     

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts                      33/1


Here you can select a team and see what the probability of them winning the Super Bowl was throughout each week of the season.

Martin is a data analyst that has been applauded for his ability to make the complex simple. He grew up on a farm in northern Vermont and spent his summers helping his mom lead llama treks at Smugglers’ Notch Resort.

Martin graduated from University of Vermont with a degree in Mathematics. After graduation he left Vermont to work for an educational nonprofit called City Year for two years, and followed that up by attending the data science immersive program at Galvanize in Denver. He is an avid Green Bay Packer fan, and spends his free time playing football and soccer.

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Chargers RB Gordon sits out, TE Henry practices

Chargers RB Gordon sits out, TE Henry practices

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon sat

Chargers RB Gordon sits out, TE Henry practices

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon sat out practice Wednesday due to a knee injury, giving him extra rest as he hopes to play Sunday against the New England Patriots.

NFL Network reported Tuesday that Gordon is expected to play through a mild left knee sprain, which is similar to the injury on his right knee that kept him out of three games in the regular season.

“There’s not a lot of backs in the league right now that are 100 percent, to be honest with you,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn told reporters before practice Wednesday. “He’s one of those guys that he’s not 100 percent, but sometimes you don’t feel like it because of the way he competes.”

Meanwhile, tight end Hunter Henry was a full participant in his first practice since being activated off the reserve/physically unable to perform list on Monday.

Henry has practiced with the team for three weeks, but the Chargers were not obligated to list him on an injury report until he was placed on the 53-man roster. The designation suggests Henry is on track to play against the Patriots, just 7 1/2 months since he tore his anterior cruciate ligament during organized team activities.

Joining Gordon on the sideline Wednesday was center Mike Pouncey, who is battling a thumb issue. Fullback Derek Watt (shoulder) was limited, as were linebacker Kyle Wilson (concussion) and cornerback Brandon Facyson (concussion).

Lynn was not available for comment after the injury report was issued.

–Field Level Media

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Arians: Leftwich will call Bucs’ plays

Arians: Leftwich will call Bucs' plays

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians will not

Arians: Leftwich will call Bucs’ plays

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians will not call offensive plays for the team, instead handing that responsibility to offensive coordinator/pass-game coordinator Byron Leftwich.

“Obviously I’ll have a big hand in it,” Arians added Wednesday on the Rich Eisen Show, in his first public appearance since being named the Bucs’ head coach on Tuesday. He said he feels “very, very comfortable” with Leftwich calling plays.

Arians has called plays in 14 NFL seasons, including all five years of his tenure as the Arizona Cardinals’ head coach, but he clearly has faith in Leftwich, who turns 39 on Monday. In June 2017 — just a few months after Arians made Leftwich the Cardinals’ quarterbacks coach — Arians said Leftwich will be a head coach “early and fast.”

A former top-10 pick as a quarterback, Leftwich was promoted to interim offensive coordinator in Arizona midway through this season after the firing of Mike McCoy, but the Cardinals released him after the season. This year will be his third as an NFL coach, in addition to one year as a coaching intern.

Meanwhile, Arians also sounded sure that former New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles will be his defensive coordinator, despite reports Wednesday saying the addition is not a done deal yet, with the Chicago Bears also seeking Bowles’ services to run their defense after Vic Fangio’s departure to join the Denver Broncos.

“He’s like a son to me,” Arians said of Bowles. “He thought hard about [being the Bucs’ defensive coordinator]. I was doing my best sell job and this happened. We’re really excited to be back together.”

Bowles was Arizona’s defensive coordinator under Arians from 2013-14 before landing the Jets’ lead job. The Cardinals finished those years ranked seventh and fifth, respectively, in points allowed.

Arians also voiced full support in quarterback Jameis Winston, saying, “this thing will be built around him.”

“I think he can win it all,” Arians continued of Winston. “He has the intelligence, the toughness and obviously the arm ability to lead a team. Now we’ve gotta put the right pieces around him, we’ve gotta do some things defensively, but if anybody can do things defensively, Todd Bowles can do it.”

The Buccaneers officially will introduce Arians on Thursday.

–Field Level Media

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Report: AAF to follow NFL eligibility rules


After Clemson's dominant


After Clemson’s dominant victory over Alabama on Monday night in the College Football Playoff championship game, social media was flooded with fans wishing Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence could play pro football right away.


They’ll need to wait until 2021. Probably.


NBC Sports reported Tuesday that a spokesman for the upstart Alliance of American Football said the league will use the same eligibility rules as the NFL. That means a player can’t join the league until at least three years have passed since his high school class graduated.


So under that scenario, Lawrence and other players who were true freshmen in the 2018 season can’t be selected by the NFL until the 2021 draft, or join the AAF until then.


The AAF opens play in its inaugural season on Feb. 9.


The XFL, however, hasn’t committed to such a timeline. The eight-team XFL is scheduled to begin in 2020.


In an interview with podcast host Brian Berger of the Sports Business Radio Road Show in December, XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said, “We’re not subject to that.”


“Theoretically we could take a player right out of high school. I doubt we’ll do that,” Luck said, taking note of the physical differences between teenagers and players in their mid-20s.


“But I wouldn’t rule it out,” he said. “Nor would I rule out taking a player who played a year of college football and let’s say isn’t eligible academically, which happens. Or a player who is two years out of college, and is transferring, and would have to sit out a year. A lot of guys don’t want to.”


–Field Level Media

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Report: ‘Good chance’ Kitchens will be Browns’ head coach

Report: 'Good chance' Kitchens will be Browns' head coach

Report: ‘Good chance’ Kitchens will be Browns’ head coach

Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens may be looking at his second promotion in less than three months, according to a report Tuesday by, which says Kitchens has “a good chance” of being named head coach of the Browns.

The report adds that several assistant coaches already have been asked to stay aboard, a sign that the Browns will stay inside the organization for the hire. NFL Network reports it doesn’t appear Cleveland has made a decision yet, but Kitchens is getting “strong consideration.”

Kitchens, 44, interviewed with the Browns on Monday, and interim head coach Gregg Williams also interviewed for the job last week.

Last week, multiple outlets reported that the Browns blocked several NFL teams from interviewing Kitchens for their offensive coordinator positions so they could keep him, either as head coach or offensive coordinator.

Kitchens was promoted from Cleveland’s running backs coach to offensive coordinator — his first time holding a coordinator position — in Week 9 of the regular season, and rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield thrived after the change. In eight games with Kitchens as OC, Mayfield threw for 2,254 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions and was sacked just five times.

–Field Level Media

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McDaniels: ‘Book is closed’ on interviews, staying with Patriots

McDaniels: ‘Book is closed’ on interviews, staying with Patriots

New England Patriots

McDaniels: ‘Book is closed’ on interviews, staying with Patriots

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday that the “book is closed” on doing any more head coaching interviews, adding, “I’ll be here moving forward.”

McDaniels made the comments during a conference call with reporters, multiple outlets reported.

It comes a day after the Green Bay Packers reached a deal with Matt LaFleur to be their next head coach, replacing Mike McCarthy. McDaniels was among several candidates interviewed by the Packers, and it was the one job McDaniels was reportedly very interested in during the current coaching cycle.

“It’s always a humbling experience,” McDaniels said Tuesday. “I’ve said before, I think I have one of the best jobs in the world.”

McDaniels previously turned down an invitation to interview with the Cincinnati Bengals, and said Tuesday that he has had “no contact” with the Cleveland Browns, contradicting reports that he had shown interest in their vacancy.

McDaniels told reporters he’s “completely focused” on the Patriots’ game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Patriots play host to the Chargers in a divisional round playoff game Sunday at 1 p.m.

McDaniels, 42, was 11-17 as the head coach of the Denver Broncos from 2009-10, and he spurned the Indianapolis Colts at the 11th hour last year after reaching an agreement with the team to replace Chuck Pagano.

McDaniels returned to the Patriots after getting fired by the Broncos. He first joined the Patriots in 2001.

–Field Level Media

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Ballin’ on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

We didn't exactly go out with a bang. If we were an NFL team, we would have been eliminated from the playoffs this weekend. It turns out as the games get tougher for the players, they get tougher for bettors too. We went 1-4 this week, our worst week of the season, but

We didn’t exactly go out with a bang. If we were an NFL team, we would have been eliminated from the playoffs this weekend. It turns out as the games get tougher for the players, they get tougher for bettors too. We went 1-4 this week, our worst week of the season, but let’s not let that distract us from the fact we picked at a 58 percent clip during the rest of the year. We’re going to recap what went wrong this week and as we put a bow on the 2018 season of this column, we’ll look at who presents the best Super Bowl value.

LOSS: Texans -1.5 vs. Colts (-105): Colts 21, Texans 7.

This was a true beatdown. I’ll be the first to admit that we underestimated just how hot the Colts were. Their offensive line looks impenetrable and Andrew Luck, as a result, looks like an elite quarterback once again. They took Houston out of the game from the jump by rushing out to a big lead. Deshaun Watson and Co. were simply never able to recover.

Watch out for Indy against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round, they match up really well against Kansas City. If K.C. isn’t able to generate a pass rush on that tough offensive line, they could be in for a long day, whether they have the league MVP playing at his best or not. Teams surprise us in the playoffs and our first surprise came thanks to Indy.

LOSS: Seahawks to beat Cowboys (-105): Cowboys 24, Seahawks 22.

If only we would have taken the spread, which was Seahawks +2.5, we would’ve had the greatest backdoor cover of all time. Boy, kicker Sebastian Janikowski getting injured in the first half really threw this game through a loop with Seattle having to go for two and having to go for it on fourth down deep inside Dallas territory. Of course, having to go for two (and succeeding) at the end of the game, pushed the final score to a two-point margin instead of four.

However, we took Seattle to win straight up, because that was the better value and Pete Carroll’s unwillingness to pass the ball in the first half bit us right where it hurts. It really doesn’t make sense to be running the ball so much when you have one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the league, but what do I know? This was a tough game to watch and an even tougher game to lose a bet on.

WIN: Chargers-Ravens UNDER 41.5 points: Chargers 23, Ravens 17.

For a while there, it seemed like we were solidly in the clear, but scoring picked up in the fourth quarter. Had Lamar Jackson led an improbable comeback drive in the final minute, it would have pushed the over. Let’s be honest, though, that would’ve been pretty cool regardless. Los Angeles held on as they continue to look like a team of destiny and they saved the over by a couple points.

This is the only game we picked correctly this week, which makes it our last correct game pick of the season on this column. Don’t be surprised if the Chargers end up knocking off the Patriots on the road next week. L.A. is now 8-1 on the road this season and is coming for a New England team, which was the only team in the league to go a perfect 8-0 at home in the regular season.

LOSS: Bears -5.5 vs. Eagles (-110): Eagles 16, Bears 15.

Writing this recap makes me physically ill, because I’m a Bears fan. I was in a fit of blind rage for about an hour after Cody Parkey’s game-winning 43-yard field goal attempt clanked off two different posts. While that field goal wouldn’t have won us this bet anyway, it doesn’t make it any easier a pill to swallow.

What we should blame this on is Matt Nagy’s vanilla play calling in the first half. It seemed like he was playing not to lose and didn’t let QB Mitch Trubisky push the ball down the field. That may have been a mistake given the fact he torched the Eagles in the second half, giving him the most overall passing yards of any QB playing on wild card weekend. It still should have been enough as he led the team down for a very makeable game-winning field goal, but a fingertip re-directed Parkey’s attempt and the play that will forever live in Chicago sports infamy was born.

LOSS: Texans-Colts OVER 48.5 (-110): Colts 21, Texans 7.

This game is really the gift that keeps on giving, huh? When one team scores just seven points, you can be pretty certain you aren’t hitting the over. I expected this to be a much closer game in the mid-20’s hence the pick. I couldn’t have anticipated Houston’s offense stalling out for most of the game. Credit to Indy for jumping out to an early lead and not giving it up, but that game flow really put us in a bind.

Since Indy went up so big so soon, Houston had to go into predictable play calls and that hindered them on offense. Up big, Indy just ran the ball and continued running out the clock. It was the perfect storm to lose us the over pretty quickly.

Okay, this bad betting week behind us, let’s jump to some Super Bowl picks. I’ll give you two Super Bowl values I really like and two I don’t like so much as you look to make a longer term bet in the coming weeks. These are all based on teams’ odds of winning the Super Bowl going into the Divisional Round.

Like: Chargers +1000. Yes, I get that the Chargers now have to take on the Patriots on the road to even advance to the AFC Championship, but this is really good value. A 10-to-1 that I really could see going all the way. Since they were a wild card team, it’s easy to forget they were tied for the best record in the AFC this season.

Saints +250. It’s weird to call the Saints a “value” pick, because they are the favorites to win it all. However, even a 2.5-to-1 payout is great for them and here’s why: they have the path of least resistance to get there. With the Bears eliminated, the NFC is now theirs for the taking and that alone, makes them a good value.

Dislike: Chiefs +400. The Chiefs are the most overrated team in football and it’s because they have the league MVP and the league’s most dynamic offense. However, in the playoffs, when games get tighter, you need a defense to win you games and K.C. has the worst defense remaining in the playoffs. They simply can’t slow down opponents in the passing game and they have a less-than-stellar match up this week with the Colts coming to town. They’re tied for the second-best odds to win it all and that’s just bad value.

Rams +400. I dislike this for many of the same reasons I dislike the value of taking the Chiefs. First of all, the team hit a rough patch in the final quarter of the season. They should beat the Cowboys at home, but that’s not a given. One thing they have over the Chiefs is a game wrecker like Aaron Donald. Even with a subpar overall defense, Donald can change a game with a big strip sack at any time. Overall, though, you just can’t convince me they’re going to march into New Orleans and beat the Saints. They, along with Kansas City, are the second-best odds behind the Saints and I just don’t see value in that.

Jacob Kornhauser is a sports reporter in Southern Oregon covering all sports, including Oregon and Oregon State athletics. He has been a national baseball writer for Bleacher Report and Rant Sports and has written two baseball books. He also specializes in sports betting analysis. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School.

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New Raiders GM Mayock: Gruden has ‘final say’ on personnel

New Raiders GM Mayock: Gruden has 'final say' on personnel

For anyone who

New Raiders GM Mayock: Gruden has ‘final say’ on personnel

For anyone who feared the Oakland Raiders’ hiring of Mike Mayock to be the general manager would create some sort of power struggle between the new guy and head coach Jon Gruden, Mayock is doing his best to alleviate that fear.

When push comes to shove, the GM is deferring to the coach.

“In all honesty, Jon’s got final say, if it ever comes to that, and I’ve got zero problems with that,” Mayock told ESPN’s Steve Levy on Monday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Mayock was attending the College Football Playoff championship game, scouting perennial NFL pipelines Alabama and Clemson.

“Now, having said that, I think we’re going to come to a consensus and I like a little yelling, a little screaming, a little fighting for what players you believe in,” Mayock continued. “But at the end of the day, I guarantee you, Jon Gruden and I are going to know what a Raider looks like and smells like. I don’t think we’re going to have any issues.”

After a brief playing career in the early 1980s, Mayock shifted his focus to the media. He has never held any sort of NFL management or coaching position, and he has worked as an analyst and draft expert for the NFL Network since 2004.

After shadowing Gruden for parts of the offseason, Mayock was named the replacement for the fired Reggie McKenzie on New Year’s Eve.

The Raiders finished the 2018 season with a 4-12 record, collecting a cadre of draft picks along the way.

Oakland had a 39-70 record, including a playoff loss, under McKenzie. He helped orchestrate trades that shipped out former first-round picks and Pro Bowl performers Khalil Mack (Bears) and Amari Cooper (Cowboys) during Gruden’s first season back on the sidelines since his “Monday Night Football” run.

In addition to the franchise’s own first-round pick, the Raiders will have first-round picks from Chicago and Dallas. The order of those selections will be determined by playoff results.

The Raiders are slated to begin playing in Las Vegas in 2020, but with their lease at the Oakland Coliseum up following the 2018 season and their new stadium in Sin City not ready until 2020, their home for the 2019 season remains uncertain.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers’ Smith-Schuster replacing Brown as Pro Bowl WR

Steelers’ Smith-Schuster replacing Brown as Pro Bowl WR

Steelers’ Smith-Schuster replacing Brown as Pro Bowl WR

Now the Pro Bowl knows what the Pittsburgh Steelers feel like.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown, who missed Pittsburgh’s regular-season finale for what was listed as a knee injury, is also out of the postseason all-star contest for apparently the same reason. The Steelers announced Monday that teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster will replace Brown on the roster for the game, set for Jan. 27 in Orlando, Fla.

Smith-Schuster was voted as the Steelers’ Most Valuable Player by his teammates after making 111 catches for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He ranked fifth in the AFC and 12th in the NFL with 1,439 yards from scrimmage.

Brown was out with a knee injury for the Steelers’ Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, per the injury report. However, it was later revealed that Brown missed the final walkthrough and was benched by head coach Mike Tomlin for missing other meetings and practices leading up to the game.

While the Steelers beat the Bengals 16-13 to finish 9-6-1, they were knocked out of playoff contention when the Baltimore Ravens held off the Cleveland Browns. Last week, NFL Network reported teammates doubted Brown’s knee injury claims.

Tomlin, who admitted there was no MRI or X-ray on the knee, said he had no reason to doubt the wide receiver was hurt. He followed that up with a completely different feeling, saying at an end-of-year news conference, “We’re talking about our darkest hour. The guy not communicating is a very real element of discussion.”

Tomlin denied Brown requested a trade, as CBS Sports reported last week.

“I talked to him prior to the game on Sunday,” Tomlin said. “I have not talked to him since then. … I’m not going to frame any expectation or conversation. I’m having conversations with a lot of people in terms of assessing what transpired. I will certainly talk to him.”

Brown led the NFL with 15 touchdown catches this season, and had 104 receptions for 1,297 yards.

Other Steelers scheduled to play in the Pro Bowl are running back James Conner, defensive lineman Cameron Heyward and offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Alejandro Villanueva.

–Field Level Media

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Bears K Parkey: ‘Thought I hit a good ball’

Bears K Parkey: 'Thought I hit a good ball'

Bears K Parkey: ‘Thought I hit a good ball’

A distraught Cody Parkey was at a loss to explain his miss of a potential game-winning field goal at the end of Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, which knocked the Chicago Bears from the playoffs.

“I feel terrible,” Parkey told reporters after the 16-15 loss. “There’s really no answer to it. I thought I hit a good ball.”

Parkey’s 43-yard attempt hit the left upright, caromed down, went off the crossbar and then back into the end zone, preventing Chicago from reaching the divisional playoffs. Slow-motion replays appeared to show Eagles defensive tackle Treyvon Hester getting a finger on the ball with his left hand, and Eagles teammates confirmed afterward that Hester tipped it.

It was Parkey’s sixth kick this season that hit an upright and missed.

Fans booed the kicker heavily as he left the field.

“It’s one of the worst feelings in the world to let your team down,” Parkey said. “I feel terrible. Continue to put things into perspective, continue to just put my best foot forward and just sleep at night knowing that I did everything in my power this week to make that kick, and for whatever reason it hit the crossbar and the upright.”

Moments before the miss, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson had used a timeout to ice Parkey just before the Bears snapped the ball, and Parkey made the meaningless attempt as whistles blew. He had also hit each of his first three field-goal attempts of the game, though none was from further than 36 yards.

Parkey, who turns 26 in February, spent the first two years of his career with the Eagles, reaching the Pro Bowl in 2014 as a rookie.

Former teammate and Eagles left tackle Jason Peters told NFL Network after the game he knew Parkey’s second attempt — after Pederson called a timeout — would miss.

“I told him thank you after the game,” Peters said.

Parkey joined the Bears on a four-year, $15 million deal in free agency in March, but he made just 23 of 30 field-goal attempts (76.7 percent) and missed three extra points in the regular season.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles survive Bears on bizarre missed FG

Eagles survive Bears on bizarre missed FG

Eagles survive Bears on bizarre missed FG

Nick Foles found Golden Tate for a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal with 56 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Philadelphia Eagles held on for a 16-15 win over the host Chicago Bears on Sunday in the NFC divisional playoffs.

The Eagles were stuffed on three plays from the 2-yard line before Tate hauled in the pass just beyond the goal line with the season at stake. The defending Super Bowl champions will travel south to face the top-seeded New Orleans Saints next week.

Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed a 43-yard field goal in the final seconds for Chicago as teammates watched in disbelief from the sideline. Parkey’s kick hit the left upright and then hit the crossbar before bouncing back into the end zone. It was the sixth time he hit the upright this season.

Foles completed 25 of 40 passes for 266 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Tate and Dallas Goedert each had a touchdown catch.

Mitchell Trubisky completed 26 of 43 passes for 303 yards and one touchdown in his playoff debut. His top target was Allen Robinson, who finished with 10 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown.

Robinson hauled in a 22-yard score along the right sideline to give Chicago a 15-10 lead with 9:04 remaining in the fourth quarter. Taylor Gabriel was stuffed in front of the goal line on a rushing attempt for a failed two-point conversion.

The Eagles grabbed a 10-6 lead with 5:20 to go in the third quarter. Foles looked to his left and connected with Goedert on a slant route toward the end zone for a 10-yard score. The completion — which came with only 10 Bears on the field — capped a seven-play, 83-yard scoring drive.

Chicago pulled within 10-9 with 14:13 remaining in the fourth quarter. Parkey made a 34-yard field goal for his third strike of the game.

Philadelphia opened the scoring on the first possession of the game with a 43-yard field goal from Jake Elliott.

The Bears’ offense had back-to-back punts before Parkey evened the score at 3 with a 36-yard field goal with 9:38 to play in the second quarter. An interception by Bears linebacker Roquan Smith on the previous drive helped to set up the score.

Chicago took a 6-3 lead as time expired in the half on Parkey’s 29-yarder.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Steelers want to trade Brown despite cap hit

Report: Steelers want to trade Brown despite cap hit

Report: Steelers want to trade Brown despite cap hit

The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to trade Antonio Brown in the next several weeks, despite the salary cap hit the team would take, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Sunday morning.

That comes after Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged Wednesday that a time could be near when Brown is more of a distraction than he’s worth in Pittsburgh after a week of discord in advance of their regular-season finale.

“The reason why it’s a high — I call it a high probability, and we have until March 13 new league year to see this come to fruition, he’s due a $2.5 million roster bonus five days after that date,” Mortensen said. “The Steelers, certainly because of what happened this week but what’s been festering behind the scenes even a couple of years beyond that, they will move him in a trade.”

If they deal Brown, the Steelers will face $21 million in dead salary cap space — about 8 to 10 percent of their total cap space. Mortensen said the Steelers expect to have $14 million in salary credit from running back Le’Veon Bell and plan to restructure quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s contract to clear cap space.

NFL Network reported the asking price for Brown likely would be a first-round draft pick or multiple high picks.

Brown had 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in 2018. The 30-year-old is a four-time, First Team All-Pro.

–Field Level Media

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49ers S Exum fined $53K for hit on Robert Woods

49ers S Exum fined $53K for hit on Robert Woods

49ers S Exum fined $53K for hit on Robert Woods

The NFL on Saturday fined San Francisco 49ers safety Antone Exum Jr. $53,482 for a hit he put on Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods last Sunday.

This fine marks the third time Exum has been penalized this season for a hit.

Exum was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play against Woods, which took place in the third quarter of the Rams’ 48-32 victory over the 49ers. Exum hit Woods in the midsection after breaking up a long pass attempt.

Exum was also fined $53,472 for a hit on Denver WR DaeSean Hamilton in Week 14 and $26,739 for one on Kansas City WR Sammy Watkins in Week 3, though that one was reduced to $5,000 after an appeal.

Other players who were hit with fines from Week 17 games:

The Rams’ Samson Ebukam $26,739 for unnecessary roughness.

Miami’s Kiko Alonso and Robert Quinn $10,026 for unnecessary roughness.

Buffalo’s Jordan Mills $13,369 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Dolphins safety Minkah Fitzpatrick $10,026 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Chicago punter Pat O’Donnell $15,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct after the side judge tripped over him.

Bears safety Deon Bush $10,026 for a face mask penalty against Minnesota.

Cincinnati’s Alex Redmond $26,739 for unnecessary roughness.

Indianapolis’ George Odum $20,054 for unnecessary roughness.

Pittsburgh’s Ramon Foster $10,026 for unnecessary roughness.

Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill and Demarcus Robinson $10,026 for taunting.

Dallas’ Antwaun Woods $10,026 for taunting.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs QB Mahomes, four rookies named All-Pro

Chiefs QB Mahomes, four rookies named All-Pro

Chiefs QB Mahomes, four rookies named All-Pro

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald headline the 2018 NFL All-Pro team announced Friday.

Mahomes entered the season as a first-time starter and helped Kansas City secure the No. 1 spot in the AFC playoffs with 5,097 yards and 50 touchdown passses.

Donald was the only unanimous selection by the 50-member Associated Press panel. The fifth-year pro had 20.5 sacks after signing the largest contract in NFL history for a defensive player.

Four rookies — including Colts teammates in guard Quenton Nelson and linebacker Darius Leonard — were first-team All-Pro picks. Chargers safety Derwin James and Seahawks punter Michael Dickson are the others.

Kansas City, with wide receiver Tyreek Hill, right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and tight end Travis Kelce — whose brother, Eagles center Jason Kelce, was also picked — joining Mahomes, and the Chicago Bears had four players named All-Pro. The picks for the Bears are linebacker Khalil Mack, cornerback Kyle Fuller, safety Eddie Jackson and punt returner Tarik Cohen.

Donald was joined by running back Todd Gurley in representing the Rams.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was second-team All-Pro and received just five first-team votes while his top target, wide receiver Michael Thomas, was a first-team pick along with DeAndre Hopkins of the Texans.



Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Running Back: Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

Flex: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

Tight End: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Wide Receivers: Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints; DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

Left Tackle: David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers

Right Tackle: Mitchell Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs

Left Guard: Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts

Right Guard: Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys

Center: Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles


Edge Rushers: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans; Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears

Interior Linemen: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams; Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles

Linebackers: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers; Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks; Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts

Cornerbacks: Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears; Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots

Safeties: Eddie Jackson, Chicago Bears; Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers

Defensive Back: Desmond King, Los Angeles Chargers


Placekicker: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens

Punter: Michael Dickson, Seattle Seahawks

Kick Returner: Andre Roberts, New York Jets

Punt Returner: Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears

Special Teamer: Adrian Phillips, Los Angeles Chargers



Quarterback: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Running Back: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

Flex: Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

Tight End: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Wide Receivers: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons; Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

Left Tackle: Duane Brown, Seattle Seahawks, and Terron Armstead, New Orleans Saints

Right Tackle: Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans Saints

Left Guard: Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns

Right Guard: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens

Center: Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers


Edge Rushers: Von Miller, Denver Broncos; Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints; Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns; Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings

Interior Linemen: Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs; J.J. Watt, Houston Texans

Linebackers: Von Miller, Denver Broncos; C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens; Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys

Cornerbacks: Byron Jones, Dallas Cowboys; Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins

Safeties: Jamal Adams, New York Jets; Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings

Defensive Back: Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers


Placekicker: Aldrick Rosas, New York Giants

Punter: Johnny Hekker, Los Angeles Rams

Kick Returner: Cordarrelle Patterson, New England Patriots

Punt Returner: Desmond King, Los Angeles Chargers

Special Teamer: Cory Littlejohn, Los Angeles Rams

–Field Level Media

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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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Take 5: Wild-card playoff keys

Take 5: Wild-card playoff keys

The playoffs have

Take 5: Wild-card playoff keys

The playoffs have arrived, and the wild-card slate is one of the more intriguing in recent memory.

Three of the four games are regular-season rematches, and none looks particularly one-sided. You could make an argument for almost any of the eight teams to make a Super Bowl run.

We’ll start by looking at both sides of the ball in a rematch from just two weeks ago.

1. Rivers gets a redo vs. Ravens

Philip Rivers almost never loses a mental battle, but that’s exactly what happened to the Los Angeles Chargers quarterback against Baltimore in Week 16.

The Ravens’ fire-zone blitzes created confusion and pressure, forcing Rivers off the spot and into inaccurate throws. Rivers even failed to see open targets downfield, most notably just before halftime.

Rivers quietly threw six interceptions in his final three games after totaling six through the first 13, and he’s looked skittish at times, struggling to see the field with clarity.

Interior pressure has been the biggest culprit. Steady for much of the season, guards Dan Feeney and Michael Schofield have imploded in pass protection, especially struggling against quickness. Baltimore’s Za’Darius Smith hounded both men in Week 16, and the Ravens’ litany of blitzes, stunts and twists also stressed them mentally.

Those issues could be exacerbated in noisy Baltimore, so Rivers must be sharper at handling them. The Chargers’ vertical routes take time to develop, requiring precise movement from Rivers to stay alive against pressure. If he can stay clean, there will be opportunities: The Ravens’ zone blitzes can leave receivers free, especially up the seams.

A low-scoring game plays right into Baltimore’s hands, allowing the Ravens to lean on the run game and take fewer risks. Rivers & Co. must rebound to get them out of their comfort zone.

2. Will Baltimore’s offense change up?

The Ravens’ offensive approach will remain run-heavy, but it’s worth wondering how much Baltimore will change given the Chargers have faced quarterback Lamar Jackson before.

Despite the 22-10 win, Baltimore’s offense struggled in L.A., scoring just 16 points (the Ravens’ defense scored six) and getting 68 of 363 total yards from just one play. That play — detailed in our Week 16 film study — was excellent, but no offense can count on a long touchdown every week.

Preparing for Jackson and Greg Roman’s complex run designs is difficult, but the Chargers allowed just 116 yards on 34 carries (3.4 average) after giving up 43 yards on the first snap. Los Angeles will be more prepared this time around, too.

Perhaps Baltimore will consider more early-down throws, giving Jackson several chances at explosive plays. L.A.’s Cover-3 tendencies would provide more predictable coverages.

If the defense dominates again, it won’t matter, but it’s hard to pin Rivers down forever. Baltimore must have alternatives if the bread and butter isn’t working.

3. Can Chicago handle Philly’s D-line?

The Eagles’ defensive resurgence is all about their front four, as the group has regained its 2017 form.

Reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Week Fletcher Cox (10.5 sacks, 34 QB hits) remains dominant, and only Aaron Donald (41) hit QBs more this year. Michael Bennett has been a terror both inside and outside, and Chris Long continues to stave off Father Time.

The Bears’ offensive line has been steady all season, even with Long’s brother, Kyle, missing extended action. Matt Nagy’s scheme helps by using concepts that slow the pass rush — including screens, play-action, run-pass options and misdirection at the line of scrimmage — and many reads are designed to get the ball out immediately.

Using quick throws, regular double-teams and occasional triple-teams, Chicago quieted Donald in Week 14, but it won’t be that simple against Philadelphia. Devoting that much attention to Cox risks letting Bennett run wild. Likewise, Long and Brandon Graham will exploit single-blocking if given enough opportunities.

Game flow will be critical. The Bears’ offense has scored a disproportionate number of points early in games on scripted plays before bogging down late. If the Eagles can weather the early storm, Mitchell Trubisky eventually will be forced into more obvious passing situations, giving Philly’s D-line a chance to tee off.

4. Seahawks’ front must bounce back vs. Zeke

In a battle of two very similar, run-based teams, the Cowboys’ ground game carries the greatest burden.

That’s because Dallas’ passing game remains a week-to-week proposition. Despite big games, receiver Amari Cooper still disappears for stretches, and the Cowboys rarely scheme to get him involved. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott remains inconsistent at hitting his downfield opportunities, an issue Seattle QB Russell Wilson hasn’t had much this season.

Thus, the Cowboys’ best avenue to success remains running back Ezekiel Elliott, who hounded the Seahawks for 7.9 yards per carry — despite a long run of just 26 yards — in Week 3 but had only three carries in the final 20 minutes as Dallas fought a deficit. After averaging 29 touches per game from Week 10 to Week 16, Elliott got the regular-season finale off to get fresh, as did Pro Bowl linemen Tyron Smith and Zack Martin.

Despite the Week 3 issues, Seattle’s front can match Dallas’ run game. The Seahawks’ scheme helps, with an extra safety usually in the box and one heavy defensive end (291-pound Quinton Jefferson) alongside two defensive tackles. Jefferson has been steady, while the tackles have really impressed.

Jarran Reed garnered attention with 10.5 sacks, but he entered the NFL as a run-stuffer first and foremost, which shows in his discipline and ability to anchor. Shamar Stephen is rarely moved out of his gap easily, and Seattle also found a gem in Poona Ford. The undrafted rookie has more than earned his recent boost in snaps, showing tremendous effort and using his limited stature (5-foot-11, 310 pounds) as an advantage by playing low.

Ford didn’t play in the teams’ Week 3 meeting, but the former Longhorn could be critical in the rematch in Dallas.

5. Can Houston contain Hines?

Behind Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Eric Ebron, fourth-round rookie back Nyheim Hines has become a quiet weapon in the passing game, especially late in the season (30 targets, 23 catches for 177 yards since Week 13).

With a rare combination of short-area quickness and long speed (he was a track star at North Carolina State), Hines has drawn comparisons to Darren Sproles. His inside running is far from Sproles’ level, but he has shown early refinement as a receiver.

Hines is comfortable splitting out and running a broader route tree, and the Colts often deploy him on the weak side to create more room. His hands are reliable amid tight coverage and heavy hits, and he also is a vertical threat. In Week 4 against Houston, he beat Tyrann Mathieu on an out-and-up from the slot in the red zone, and in Week 16, he caught a 28-yard, back-shoulder fade. Both were extremely uncommon routes for a back, but Hines looked comfortable winning the ball in the air.

Hines had just three catches for 16 yards in Week 14 at Houston, but he hit career highs with nine grabs for 63 yards and two scores in the teams’ first meeting.

The Colts will try to get Hines on Benardrick McKinney, a hulking ‘backer with good speed but questionable lateral agility. Against Houston’s preferred Cover-4, two-man-route combinations could isolate McKinney on Hines in de facto man coverage. Two years ago, the Patriots did exactly that with Dion Lewis and James White for two touchdowns in a divisional playoff win.

–David DeChant, Field Level Media

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Ballin’ on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Picks

We made it through 17 weeks of the NFL season and as an added bonus, we're going to give you one more week of picks. Wild Card weekend tends to provide the most interesting matchups of any playoff round, because it often matches up a really hot team with a team that is

We made it through 17 weeks of the NFL season and as an added bonus, we’re going to give you one more week of picks. Wild Card weekend tends to provide the most interesting matchups of any playoff round, because it often matches up a really hot team with a team that is better on paper. The reason for that is simple. Think about it. Whoever gets the No. 6 seed in either conference had to beat out a handful of other teams and has been in playoff mode for weeks. That’s why the Bears and Texans could have their hands full with the Eagles and Colts respectively. Anyway, let’s get to our picks.

Texans -1.5 vs. Colts (-105)

Bettors are loving the Colts, who snuck into the playoffs by beating the Titans in Week 17. There’s plenty of reason to believe in this team, whose offense looks to finally be humming entering the playoffs. I alluded to the fact that a hot No. 6 seed often can go on a deep playoff run, but there are a few reasons I don’t think this is happening this week. First of all, the Texans offense has plenty of weapons (ones the Titans didn’t have in Week 17) to outscore the Colts.

Second of all, the Texans have a very stout defense, which should give Indy some trouble. The same could have been said about the Titans, but their defensive efforts week to week were much less consistent than Houston’s. Let’s not forget the Texans were a win against the Eagles away from having home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They’ve been one of the best teams in the AFC all season long and this one just doesn’t scream upset to me. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.80.

Seahawks to beat the Cowboys (-105)

This game is essentially a pick ’em as the line is only one point and there are negative odds for picking each to win (Seattle at -105, Dallas at -110). I get that this game is on the road and the Seahawks play differently away from home, but they also have a ton of playoff experience. The x-factor here is really Russell Wilson. In what should be a close game, I trust him 10 times more than I trust Dak Prescott in a pressure situation.

Sometimes, in these games, you have to trust the players who have been there, done that and are better equipped to handle the pressure. This is a dangerous game as each team has shown some flaws in recent weeks, but between these two imperfect teams, there is still a ton of talent. Expect a lot of big plays and an exciting finish. If it comes down to the fourth quarter, as playoff games usually do, the edge has to be given to Russ and Co. who have proven they can get it done in crunch time before. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.80.

Chargers-Ravens UNDER 41.5 (-110)

I just can’t bring myself to pick this game against the spread. The Chargers and Ravens are such different teams and this is a toss up for me. Los Angeles is 7-1 on the road this season, but Baltimore runs the exact type of offense that bleeds the clock and keeps opposing teams off the field that the Chargers hate. It gets them out of their rhythm and that could put them in some real trouble if they don’t stop Lamar Jackson.

Again, I can’t for the life of me decide who I think is going to win this game, but I do think we’re going to see a low-scoring game that comes down to the wire. 21-17 or something along those lines certainly isn’t out of the question and that would get us the under. There isn’t a ton of confidence in any bet involved in this game, but to make sure this one was covered, we’ll take the under as the most confident bet associated with it. $3 for total payout of $5.70.

Bears -5.5 vs. Eagles (-110)

This game scares me a lot. Full disclosure: I’m a Bears fan. I very rarely like to pick a team I root for, especially under these circumstances, so I’ll tell you why I’m doing so this week. On paper, the Bears are a much better team than the Eagles, much better. Of course, games aren’t played on paper, but we need to remember the Bears have a lot more talent and if we’re defaulting to something, it has to be that. Let’s not forget, the Bears are the first 12-win NFC team since 2014 to not get a first-round bye. Second of all, for as scared as myself and all Bears fans are for playoff Nick Foles, there is reason to believe he won’t duplicate last year’s success.

Chicago allows the lowest opponent’s quarterback rating in the entire league. Essentially, QB’s have their worst performances when they play against the pass rush and secondary of the Bears. With Pro Bowl safety, Eddie Jackson, set to return to the fold, that Bears defense looks even stronger. For the Bears to win, they need to take care of the football. If they don’t turn it over, Philly stands very little chance. Whether or not they cover comes down to Mitchell Trubisky’s performance in his first career playoff game. All they need is a touchdown margin of victory to cover and we’ll trust the Bears enough to do that. The bet: $5 for total payout of $9.50.

Texans-Colts OVER 48.5 (-110)

For as much as I talked about how Houston’s defense is going to slow the Colts down, this game could still become somewhat of a shootout. 31-24, or something along those lines isn’t out of the question. In my opinion, holding the Colts to 24 would be a victory for the Texans and would also hit the over as long as Houston won the game. Picking over/unders in the playoffs is tricky, because they’re often dictated by the pace set at the very beginning of the game. If one of these teams scores early, players and coaches start to loosen up and the field opens up. In that case, I love the over.

One thing that could hurt us here is if a few defensive stops are made early on and it becomes a field position battle. That’s entirely possible, but I think that’s the less likely of the two scenarios. Each team has offensive playmakers capable of picking up chunks of yards at a time, so as long as both team converts its red zone trips into touchdowns instead of field goals, I feel good about the over in this one. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

These are the last picks of the year, so let’s hope they’re fruitful like the entire regular season has been for us. One final time, we’ll cross our fingers and hope that we can hit on that elusive five-team parlay we’ve been so close to all year long. Based on the picks above, a $20 five-team parlay would pay out $530.16. For the final time this season, good luck, and we’ll have one more recap column to look at how our Wild Card Weekend picks panned out.

Jacob Kornhauser is a sports reporter in Southern Oregon covering all sports, including Oregon and Oregon State athletics. He has been a national baseball writer for Bleacher Report and Rant Sports and has written two baseball books. He also specializes in sports betting analysis. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School.

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NFL makes Caesars official casino sponsor

NFL makes Caesars official casino sponsor


NFL makes Caesars official casino sponsor

The NFL on Thursday announced that it had reached a deal with Caesars Entertainment to be its first-ever official casino sponsor, a move that inches the league toward betting deals.

The union, worth $30 million per year according to Bloomberg, is a multi-year sponsorship and coincides with the NFL playoffs, which begin this weekend. The NFL made it clear the partnership does not include sports betting at this time.

Caesars will have exclusive rights to NFL trademarks both in the U.S. and U.K., and the casino will be an active participant at the Super Bowl and NFL Draft, the league said. Caesars will host elements of the 2020 draft in Las Vegas, the league said.

“Combining the NFL with Caesars’ expertise in world class entertainment will provide our fans unique experiences both here in the United States and abroad,” NFL Senior Vice President Renie Anderson said in a statement.

Seven NFL clubs – Falcons, Ravens, Bears, Colts, Saints, Raiders, and Eagles – already had partnerships with Caesars, also a partner on the new Raiders stadium being built in Vegas. Other NFL teams have inked official advertising deals with myriad other casinos, too.

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks counting on run game against Cowboys

Seahawks counting on run game against Cowboys

When the

Seahawks counting on run game against Cowboys

When the Seattle Seahawks were preparing to play in their home opener against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3, they were on their way to meeting the expectations of most preseason prognosticators.

The Seahawks had dropped their first two games on the road at Denver and Chicago, with quarterback Russell Wilson sacked 12 times in the process.

Those picks of a 4-12 or 5-11 season for the Seahawks seemed increasingly likely.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer met and decided change was in order.

“He and I sat down and kind of had a little heart-to-heart,” Schottenheimer said. “There were things that he and I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page about. It wasn’t just the running game, it was he and I continuing to build our relationship and it was an awesome meeting. It probably lasted about an hour and we talked about a ton of different stuff. I know I came out of that meeting feeling really good just about the direction where we wanted to go.”

With a renewed commitment to the running game, the Seahawks defeated the Cowboys 24-13 at CenturyLink Field, sparking them as they became just the 29th team since the current NFL playoff format started in 1990 to make the playoffs after an 0-2 start.

The fifth-seeded Seahawks (10-6) earned the NFC’s top wild-card berth and will travel to Dallas to play the fourth-seeded Cowboys (10-6), the NFC East champion, on Saturday night.

Seattle ended up with league’s top ground game on the season. Chris Carson rushed for 102 yards in Week 3 and went on to become the first Seahawks player with a 1,000-yard rushing season since Marshawn Lynch in 2014.

“They were talking about it the whole (preseason) of running the ball more and being a run team,” Carson said. “They finally started getting it going against the Cowboys and it’s taken off ever since.”

The Cowboys alternated losses and wins until a 27-20 victory at the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in Week 9 sparked a last-season run. The Cowboys won six of their final seven regular-season games after that.

That meant that unlike in 2016, when rookie quarterback Dak Prescott barely played in a three-week span before losing his postseason debut, he kept firing until the end.

Even though the Cowboys already had locked up the division title, Prescott played the entire game last week in a 36-35 victory against the New York Giants. He completed 27 of 44 passes for 387 yards and a career-high four touchdowns to lead a comeback.

“We can definitely build on this,” Prescott said. “That was not meaningless to me. It wasn’t meaningless to any of the guys that played or even to the guys that didn’t play.”

The Seahawks expect to have guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) and safety Tedric Thompson (ankle) back after they missed the regular-season finale. Guard J.R. Sweezy (foot) and cornerback Shaquill Griffin (ankle) likely will be game-time decisions. Safety Delano Hill, who started for Thompson the past two weeks, was placed on injured reserve with a non-displaced fracture in his hip.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott sat out the regular-season finale for precautionary measures, but he has been a full participant in practice this week. Pro Bowl linemen Tyron Smith (neck) and Zack Martin (knee) also missed the finale but are expected back, as well as defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford (neck). Defensive end David Irving (ankle) remains out.

–Field Level Media

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