New England Patriots: 2020 Season Preview

by Wayne Root

Wednesday, Sep 09, 2020

The excitement in New England understandably is high following the addition of Cam Newton, but Patriots fans might want to temper their expectations. It might be a shorter list if we wrote a paper on the Patriots weaknesses in the Revolutionary War. Today’s New England Patriots have some glaring shortcomings  But the media hype is all about new quarterback Cam Newton. Pats fans might want to temper their enthusiasm while betting fans might want to rev up their bets against the Pats. Or at least be aware of what’s at stake. SCHEDULE The most difficult schedule in the NFL belongs to New England. They have their normal difficulty at Miami. While Brady always played well at Buffalo, the Bills will be favored to win at home. The Jets should be their 2-0 sweep. But what about their non-conference games?  At Seattle, at the Chiefs, at Houston and at LA Rams. Playing Denver, San Francisco and Baltimore at home will be ultra-challenging at best.  TIGHT ENDSIt the past it was Brady to Gronk. Now it’s Newton to a tight end of the unknown variety. This weakness for the Patriots is not only an issue for this season but has been for the last few years. Their offense loves to use the tight end especially up the middle needing a long completion. But this weakness comes at the tight end spot and that position both in the passing game and in the rushing attack shows a gaping hole. This offseason, New England did draft a pair of tight ends in the NFL Draft with the selections of Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene in the middle rounds of the draft but it remains a mystery on how they factor into the offense.  WIDE RECEIVERS Many question who are the targeted wide receivers?  Although Edelman will continue to be solid as he always is and hopefully will be, that leaves little else. N'Keal Harry and others could step up even more than what they did in 2019 but that group doesn’t necessarily raise any eyebrows as being filled with talent. Who will Cam Newton look to as his favorite go-to guy? Once other teams identify him, they will game plans accordingly. Do you still like New England? LINEBACKERS Can they excel on the defensive side of the ball? Their linebacker core indicates maybe not. I think the Pats’ most troubled position is linebacker. Behind a thin defensive line, the Pats’ linebackers are greener than the Belichicks have been used to in recent years and that is not the talent needed based on the scheduled top-notch quarterbacks they have to face. Donte Hightower is among football’s best but we always worry about injuries. It may be tough to bank on the two-time Pro Bowl selection making it through a full season healthy. Young linebackers Winovich and Bentley also have their work cut out of them as their roles are expected to expand in 2020. MEDIA HYPESo the bottom line is you now see a different picture of what’s being presented to Coach Belichick and his staff. The media has led many to believe that the only void they had was to replace Tom Brady. It’s far from that.  BETTINGI would bet under 9 wins as a futures bet and additionally would be cautious on straight bets as the oddsmakers will take advantage of the love the public has for New England.  By Wayne Allyn Root 

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How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby

by Big Al Staff

Friday, Sep 04, 2020

When we're talking horse racing, we have to discuss the Kentucky Derby.  Some might know it as the “Run for the Roses,” others as the “Super Bowl of Horse Racing.”  But, regardless, it’s by far the most famous horse race in the United States.  There's so much anticipation, media attention, as well as an influx of novice sports fans.  So, it’s no surprise that the Kentucky Derby is the most-wagered-on horse race in the United States.  Thousands of people attend the race every year, and millions of people view it through television and the internet.  Sports fans, industry professionals, casual bettors, professional bettors, and bookmakers all gather at Churchill Downs to watch the contenders try their hardest to win.Not only is winning important to the ownership groups, but it’s also a big concern for those wagering their money.  Sources indicate that the total amount bet on the Kentucky Derby in 2019 was close to 165 million dollars.  That's a lot of money.  And since horse racing uses a pari-mutuel system, there's a lot of money to be made.  Unlike the conventional betting system, there's not a cap on the odds.  So, with horse racing, it seems like the sky is the limit.  It’s possible for an ordinary punter to turn a $2 wager into thousands of dollars.So you might be wondering how I make those bets, and how can I be successful at predicting which horse wins the annual Kentucky Derby?  Instead of always dreaming away at the racetrack, hoping for that big payout, we'll show you how to get started properly in horse race betting. We can't guarantee that you'll win, of course, but we can give you some proper information to make sure you feel confident when putting your money on the line. Getting started with Kentucky Derby betting In most years, the Kentucky Derby is the first jewel of the Triple Crown (with the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes following).  In 2020, however, the disruption caused by the coronavirus changed things greatly, as the Kentucky Derby became the 2nd of the three races, while the Belmont Stakes moved into the first position.  Regardless of when it’s run, it's already clear who the contenders are, and which jockeys will ride them. That means, bookmakers and sportsbooks already share the current odds for the early birds.  This is referred to as the Kentucky Derby futures wager since you're betting far into the future.  The odds for the Kentucky Derby futures change as time passes, but do come into focus within a fortnight of the race.The week of the race, the post positions are drawn, and thus the odds can change, based on whether a horse is starting on the rail, or on the outside.  The advanced wagering options will be available the night before the race starts. These are the exotic bets like the exacta bets and others. Now, before we dive into the logistics further, let's see what types of bets you can make at the Kentucky Derby. Different types of bets at the Kentucky Derby Each bettor or handicapper has his preferred bet.  You could take a conservative approach, and wager on a horse to show (finish in 3rd place or better), or you can put it all on the line and take greater risk.  There are some basic types of bets anyone should know -- these are the straight bets.  When you master the straight bets, you can then dive into the exotic bets. The exotics are more complicated, but the payouts will generally be much greater.Straight betsA straight bet is a wager on a single horse in a single race.  They are the easiest bets you can make, and a perfect way to introduce yourself to horse race betting.Win betWith a win bet, you pick the winning horse for the race.  You only win if your horse finishes in first place.  It's really hard to predict a winning horse, but that's why the payouts for a win bet are appealing.Place bet​With a place bet, you pick a horse which will be in the top-two finishers.  Thus, you only win if your chosen horse ends in first or second place.  There's a bigger chance of winning a place bet than a win bet, but the payouts can still be rewarding compared to other bets.Show betWith a show bet, you pick a horse which will be among the top-three finishers.  You only win if your chosen horse ends in first, second, or third place. The exact position doesn't matter, so long as your horse finishes among the top three.Exotic betsWhen you want to spice things up and start building up some confidence in horse race betting, it's time to explore the exotic bets. The difference between exotic and straight bets is that you're wagering on multiple horses instead of a single horse. The risks are greater, so the chance to win is smaller, but that means the rewards are higher as well.ExactaInstead of betting just a single horse, why not bet a second horse, right?  With the exacta bet, you put your faith in two horses that you believe will end up in first and second place.  The catch here, though, is that you need to pick the exact order of the two horses.  That means you only win if you select the exact horse which ends in first place, and the exact horse which ends in second. Any other outcome, and you lose your money.QuinellaThe quinella bet is slightly different from the exacta bet.  You also pick two horses that will end up as the top-two finishers, but the order does not matter.  Thus, you just pick the two horses that you believe are the best bets in the race, and you win no matter if horse A or horse B ends first, so long as the other manages to take second place.TrifectaThe trifecta name might already give you an indication of how the bet works.  You pick three horses that you believe will finish among the top three.  The catch here is that the order must be precise.  That means you must pick horse A in first place, horse B in second place, and horse C in third place.  Any other outcome, and you have a losing ticket.SuperfectaWhen you want to really take things up a notch, you go for the superfecta.  It's a really difficult ticket to cash, but the payout is very rewarding.  You win if you manage to pick the top four finishers in the exact order.  It's hard, there's a ton of risk involved, but if you win, it's all worth it!Special betsThere are some other bets you can make when you're really into horse racing.  You have the Daily Double, where you not only bet on multiple horses but also multiple races.  These types of bets can take on many different forms as you could go for a pick four and pick the winning horse in four consecutive races.  Again, the chances are really small, but the rewards are high.Triple Crown of Thoroughbred RacingSince we're talking about the Kentucky Derby all the time, we must mention the Triple Crown bet.  The highest rank a thoroughbred horse can reach is the Triple Crown winner.  This particular horse has to win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.  If a horse manages to win these three races, it has achieved the highest level a racing horse can ever achieve.  Because of this occurrence being so rare since 1919, there have been only 13 horses that became Triple Crown winners.  Some legendary horses that have attained this pinnacle include Whirlaway, Citation, Secretariat, Affirmed, and American Pharoah. How to read the Kentucky Derby odds Horse racing works with a pari-mutuel system, which means bettors bet against each other.  All the money that's wagered is collected in a giant betting pool, and eventually, the final odds come up the moment the race starts.  However, when you're an early bettor who wants to slip in some bets at the current odds, there are some opportunities. We'll share some examples of previous winners like American Pharoah to show how the odds work.In the 2015 Kentucky Derby, American Pharoah won.  The odds were +300, which means a $2 bet (this is the standard wager size in horse racing) would give you a payout of roughly $8 (including your $2 stake).  However, behind these odds, there's a whole system that we can better explain with another example.  We'll take the case of the 2019 winner, Country House.  Let's say 100,000 bettors all placed a $2 wager on a win bet.  All this money collects in a betting pool.  Afterward, Country House wins and there were 1,515 bettors who had a win bet on Country House.  Those bettors would receive their portion of the prize pool. This brings the following formula: 100,000 x $2 = $200,000 $200,000 / 1,515 = $132 As you can see, anyone who took Country House for the win walks away with $132.  After deducting the initial $2 stake, that leaves a $130 profit (or 65-1 odds). In reality, the bookmakers also take a small portion of that $132 payout to cover things like taxes, but this gives you a general overview of horse racing payouts.Where to bet the Kentucky Derby? When you want to get down to business and start wagering on the Kentucky Derby, you have a couple of options.  You could wait until the day of the Derby, and head over to the bet shop itself to place your bets.  There you can also peruse the racing form with all the past performances of the contenders.  You head over to the counter to place your wagers, and wait till the races finish.  You watch the races while adrenaline rushes through you, and hope that you can head over to the counter again to cash your tickets.  Everything is done on-site at the bet shops, or at the track, but there are also other options. Betting sites The other place to bet is where everything happens these days:  the internet.  There are hundreds of betting sites that will gladly take your Kentucky Derby bets.  These are the places where early birds can already fill in their bet slips and make Kentucky Derby futures wagers.  The beauty of betting sites is that you can sit in a country house anywhere in the world while betting, so you don't need to be present at the racetracks.  Everything happens off-track, and you can just put on the TV and watch the race on NBC or any other channel.The other bonus of betting sites is the competitive odds.  As we mentioned before, the house takes a small cut of your payout to cover their costs.  Now, that cut could be a little bit bigger at one betting site in comparison to its competition at another betting site.  We always advise to keep your options open and shop around for the best odds.  One of our favorite horse racing sites is MyBookie, whose racebook offers up to an 8% rebate on losing tickets.  And another great option is our #1-rated sportsbook, BetAnySports, which offers 10% bonus payouts on winnings at major tracks, as well as a 9% rebate on losing tickets.  Good luck at the track!

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Hail to the Chief: NFL Opening Night Preview

by Ben Burns

Monday, Aug 31, 2020

In order to have success in the NFL regular season, or playoffs, I've always found it important to "identify teams early." With Mahomes coming off an MVP season, the Chiefs were expected to be good last year. As a result of those expectations, I found them to be a bit overvalued, early in the regular season. In fact, I played against the Chiefs a few times, including successfully when they lost at Tennessee, 35-32, on November 10. From that point forward, however, the Chiefs were a wrecking machine. I was involved in five plays involving KC during the playoffs. In the Super Bowl, I supported the Chiefs for the game. I also won with the 'under' for both the first half and for the game. Despite winning with the Titans during the regular season, I successfully backed the Chiefs in the rematch, when it counted. Prior to that, I won with the 'over' 24 for the first half in the Chiefs/Texans game. I remember watching that game in an airport bar, waiting to catch a plane home from Mexico. (Wow, does that ever seem like a long time ago!) You may remember that one. By halftime, they already had 52 points, as Mahomes erased a 21-0 first quarter deficit, ultimately winning 51-31. The Texans and Chiefs will face each other again, on Opening Night. There are some new faces on the Houston side. While Watkins no longer has Hopkins to rely on, he does have some other weapons. Running back David Johnson and receivers Cooks and Cobb are among the new options. The Chiefs are currently laying -10 points, at most shops, with an O/U line in the mid 50s. Good luck. Stay safe and enjoy the game!Ben Burns was a PERFECT 5-0 in games involving the Chiefs in the playoffs including a DOUBLE-DIGIT WINNER with the total when they faced the Texans. Don't touch the opening night CHIEFS/TEXANS TOTAL until you've checked in with Burns first! 

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2020 NBA Playoffs: A Championship Unlike Any Other

by Larry Ness

Sunday, Aug 16, 2020

Hearing Jim Nantz say the catchphrase, "A tradition unlike any other" around the Masters each year over the last three decades has become a tradition unto itself. The saying has even been trademarked by Augusta National and now adorns tournament merchandise. However, COVID-19 has had a way of 'influencing' many traditions in the sports world in 2020. Case in point is The Masters itself, which was postponed from April 9-12 to Nov 12-15 AND will be played without patrons or guests on the grounds. Quoting Vince Lombardi, "What the hell is going on out there?"That brings me to the 2020 NBA postseason, which in many respects, will challenge its players and teams like never before. The NBA was the first professional sports league to shut down and most consider the league, led by Adam Silver, to have had the best response to the current pandemic. Twenty-two of the league's 30 teams were sent to an Orlando 'bubble,' with all 22 playing eight games to decide the final seeding order of the 16 teams which would begin the 2020 postseason. The 'experiment' has basically gone off without a hitch and fans (along with us bettors) have been treated to some entertaining games. Portland's Damian Lillard was the bubble's brightest star, averaging 36.9 PPG in the nine games the Blazers needed to clinch the West's final playoff spot, although Portland's reward is a first round matchup with the top-seeded Lakers. The most surprising team in Orlando was the Suns, who were just 26-39 when play was halted in March but then went 8-0 in "the bubble," as well as going a perfect 8-0 ATS, as well. Raise your hand if you saw that coming! However, the Suns' brilliance was all for naught, as they missed out on a spot in the West's play-in game to Memphis (both teams finished 34-39) because they lost the season series 3-1 to the Grizzlies.With the 2020 postseason tipping off on Monday (Aug 17), let me note that the NBA consists of 30 teams but just 15 have won championships since the 1976-77 merger. Only EIGHT teams have won multiple titles, with the Lakers leading the way with 10. The Lakers are followed by the Bulls (six), Spurs (five), Celtics (four), Warriors, (three), Heat (three), Pistons (three) and Rockets (two). Will the fact that all teams are playing neutral-site games make for a more wide-open postseason? I wouldn't count on it. The NBA has NOT presented us with many "surprise" champions for quite some time now.As I point out every year at this time (granted, a little later in the year here in 2020), it’s not as if the NBA playoffs typically serve up “unlikely” champs. Bird and Magic entered the NBA for the start of the 1979-80 season, rejuvenating what was a 'dying' league. Here's what a check of the history books tells us. Of the 40 championship teams since that 1979-80 season, 19 have been teams which finished the regular season with the best regular season record (or tied for the best record). Ten champs have been teams which finished with its second-best mark and six others with its third-best record.That leaves just FIVE champions from outside the top-three regular season records over the last 40 seasons (or just 12.5 percent). That 'Group of 5' includes the 2010-11 Mavericks and the 2011-12 Heat, who both finished with the fourth-best record that year. The 2005-06 Heat finished  with the league's fifth-best record that season and the 2003-04 Pistons finished with the league's sixth-best mark. However, that Detroit team deserves an asterisk, because after acquiring Rasheed Wallace during the regular season, the Pistons owned the NBA’s best record after the All Star break and by year’s end, were HARDLY considered the league’s sixth-best team. That leaves the 1994-95 Houston Rockets as the fifth team to win an NBA title these last 40 years, without finishing the regular season with at least the league’s third-best regular season record. That squad deserves a “special mention.”You may remember that following a third straight NBA title in 1992-93 with the Bulls, MJ decided to pursue a career in MLB. The tragic death of his father was said to have had something to do with MJ’s decision, although there are other theories out there. Anyway, with MJ in the minors and not on an NBA court, the 1993-94 Rockets (coached by Rudy T and led by Hakeem) won the title in a seven-game series over the Knicks, who were coached by Pat Riley and led by Patrick Ewing. The following season, the Rockets finished with a record of 47-35, tied for the 10th-best mark during the regular season. However, they beat in order, the 60-22 Jazz, the 59-23 Suns and the 62-20 Spurs (owners of the league's best record that year in David Robinson's MVP season) in the Western Conference playoffs, to reach the NBA Finals. Waiting for them were the 57-25 Magic, led by Shaq and Penny, who had eliminated the Bulls and MJ, who had returned late in that season from his MLB 'sabbatical.' The Rockets swept the Magic in four games, giving Rudy T and Hakeem back-to-back titles and giving Clyde Drexler (who was acquired from Portland during the season in a trade), the lone NBA title of his Hall-of-Fame career. Houston 'victims' that postseason had a combined record of 238-90 (.726) during the regular season. No championship team, before or since, has beaten a more impressive group of challengers on its way to an NBA title.On the eve of the 2020 playoffs, should we expect any surprises. The Milwaukee Bucks own the league's best record (56-17), followed by the defending champion Toronto Raptors (53-19). Completing the "Big Three" is the LA Lakers (52-19), the West's No. 1 seed. I'm not even a little 'sold' on the Lakers and like the chances of Bucks and Raptors, much more. It would be hard to call the LA Clippers a "dark horse" but at 49-27, they are outside of this year's "Big Three," who as noted above, have won 35 of the last 40 NBA titles (87.5%). Kawhi and George make up a dynamic combo (offense and defense) plus Wiliams and Harrell make up the NBA's best one-two 'punch' off the bench. Kawhi's already a HOF lock but what would it mean for him to add a third title to his resume, joining his championship season with the Spurs (in 2014) and his one last year with the Raptors. Kwahi was The Finals' MVP in both 2014 and 2019 and if the Clippers win it all in 2020, would anyone like to bet against him NOT being the Finals' MVP, again? I bet the playoffs game by game and series by series but a small wager on the Clippers to "win it all," is warranted.Good luck...Larry

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2020 NFL Division Best Bets

by Doc's Sports

Friday, Aug 07, 2020

Football is back, baby - or at least sort of. With the division odds released and a bunch of other props available including MVP, season win totals, to make the playoffs, and everything in between, there finally feels like some normalcy is back in the world. However, it doesn’t help that the Hall of Fame Game between the Cowboys and Steelers is cancelled and that the preseason is still up in the air in terms of when it will be played, if at all. But I like to live in the positive. Football will be played this season, and if you want best bets to win the divisions, you’ve come to the right place. Below are my best division bets for the 2020 NFL season. AFC East Best Bet – Buffalo Bills (+125) – The Buffalo Bills were an incompetent coaching decision and a miraculous sack-avoidance away from beating the Houston Texans in last year’s wild-card game. They come into this season with all the same pieces on offense with the inclusion of a deep threat in Stefon Diggs. The defense remains intact and should be able to dominate and lead the league once again. Their opponents – the Jets (a joke) and the Dolphins (a bigger joke) have no shot at winning the division, so that leaves those guys up in Foxboro. Did you know they lost Tom Brady in the offseason but signed Cam Newton to lead the way? Are we sure Newton is healthy? Are we sure Newton fits the Bill Belichick mold? Are we sure that the Patriots are going to have another winning season? Until I’m proven wrong, I’m taking the Bills to grab the division title.  AFC North Best Bet – Baltimore Ravens (-250) – This division bet is a no-brainer. You have the Ravens coming into the season with arguably the second most unstoppable offense in the league, and they have a chip on their shoulder because of how last season ended. Lamar Jackson is a year older and a year wiser, and the offense returns all the same parts which will only help expand the playbook and terrorize defenses. The Bengals and Browns are still going to be the laughing stalks of the AFC, and only the Steelers have a shot at dethroning the reigning AFC North Champs. However, the Steelers have issues. They are solid defensively, but if Big Ben goes down with injury again or plays like the old QB he is, the offense will once again sputter under Mason Rudolph. AFC South Best Bet – Tennessee Titans (+162) – I really believe what the Tennessee Titans did last year to end the season will continue again this year. They believe in Ryan Tannehill, and they have an offense that can work in all environments thanks to Derrick Henry running the ball from the backfield. The defense is returning. And with teams like the Texans and Colts set to take a step back, the Titans could be the beneficiary of a weak division. Let’s not forget the Jaguars, who since their loss in the AFC Championship Game, have looked like a complete dumpster fire. This is a great price we are getting on the Titans, and we believe they can get back to the playoffs again this season. AFC West Best Bet – Kansas City Chiefs (-450) – Is the Super Bowl hangover real? Well, we’ll see this upcoming season as the Chiefs look to defend their World Championship against 31 hungry teams. The Chiefs should run away with the division seeing as how nobody in the AFC West got better, and that includes the Chargers getting worse with the departure of Philip Rivers. The Chiefs return essentially their entire roster from last year’s Super Bowl-winning team. And with Patrick Mahomes another year stronger and wiser, there is no telling how great of a season he could have and in turn lead the Chiefs to more postseason glory. I know it doesn’t take much to tout a -450-division favorite, but sometimes it’s the only option. NFC East Best Bet – Philadelphia Eagles (+135) – This bet would be more of a fade on the Cowboys than a trusting of the Eagles and their offense. The Eagles will finally (knock on wood) have another healthy season from Carson Wentz, and that should up their game dramatically from what we saw last season. The Eagles essentially only have to worry about the Cowboys in the division, with the Giants and Redskins going through another year of the rebuilding process. The Cowboys seemingly have a dozen or so distractions at all times of the year, and we just are not convinced they are as good a team as everyone makes them out to be. The Eagles defense can be just as good as anyone when they are playing well, and with Wentz under center the Eagles have arguably the best quarterback in the division wearing their colors. Take the Eagles. NFC North Best Bet – Green Bay Packers (+162) – This season is going to go one of two ways for the Packers, and I don’t see any in-between. The Packers are either going to be 7-9 or 8-8, and Aaron Rodgers Is going to give up on his team and pave the way for Jordan Love. Or Rodgers is going to have an “eff-you” season and put up MVP like numbers and show the Packers brass why drafting his “replacement” so soon was a gigantic mistake. Rodgers is a prima donna, yes, but he’s got too many weapons around him and the talent required to make this a dominating season. Furthermore, The Vikings just lost one of their best receivers to Buffalo, and the defense is going to take a step back this year. And we all know how mediocre the Bears and Lions are. This is a great number we are getting on the Packers to win the division. NFC South Best Bet – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+140) - I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I think Tom Brady is going to have a great season and he’s going to lead the Bucs to the postseason. The Bucs offense may just be the best in the division, and that’s saying something with the Saints and Falcons also in the league. The Bucs are explosive at every skill position. And with a quarterback that finally has the experience and a winning mentality (sorry, Jameis), the Bucs are prime to take the next step. As for the Saints and Falcons – the other two division threats, the Saints pose a bigger threat with Drew Brees leading the way, but the defense is suspect. Atlanta consistently underachieves, so at +140, we think there is great value on the Bucs. NFC West Best Bet – San Francisco 49ers (-110) – The NFC West may be the best division in football once again this year. The Niners lead the way after their crushing Super Bowl loss, and we expect them to make some noise once again this season. The Seahawks are going to contend but have fallen short time and time again thanks to having no real offensive line. And the Rams should bounce back after a down year last year, but we still believe the 49ers are the cream of the crop. It’ll be tight, but I’m taking Jimmy G and that scary defense to grab the NFC West.

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NCAA Football Handicapping: Game 2 Hangover

by Tom Stryker

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2020

Season openers in college football are never easy to handicap.  Unlike the NFL, there are no exhibition games.Some analysts will argue that the second game of the year is even more difficult.  There is a tendency to either overreact or underreact to a teams’ performance in their opener.  Personally, I believe college teams are never as good (or as bad) as they’ve looked in their first game and their true ability to play likely rests somewhere in between.It would be difficult to argue the point that conference games in a season opener take on a greater level of importance.  Losing your first game of the season would be tough.  Dropping that battle to a conference foe would make the beating even worse.Wondering if there was any value in taking (or fading) a team coming off a conference war in their season opener, I turned to the Team Stryker Database  and found an excellent wagering situation that is worth noting.  Here it is:  Since 1980, PLAY AGAINST any college football home underdog or favorite of -19 or less in their second game of the year provided they opened against a conference foe and their opponent is competing in their second game.39 Year ATS Record = 64-37 ATS for 63.3 percentIt makes perfect sense.  Off an emotional battle against a conference foe in their season opener, our host struggles to match that intensity in their second game of the year.  There are a couple of parameters that can be added to this technical situation that really make it pop.  If our “play against” home team is NOT going into revenge and is facing a foe that is NOT off a blowout win of seven points or more, this system drops to a shocking 9-30 ATS.  Good luck, as always,Tom Stryker

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2020 UEFA Champions League: Betting Schedule and Preview

by Team Del Genio

Sunday, Jul 19, 2020

With the Spanish La Liga concluding their 2019-20 campaign and the English Premier in their final week of play, the attention of the soccer world begins to turn to the resumption of the European Champions League in August. The opening round of sixteen elimination stage was in-progress when COVID-19 stopped sports in its tracks in March. PSG, Real Madrid, Atalanta, and RB Leipzig had already completed the two-legs of the matches to advance to the quarterfinals but the final four matches still have second-legs to complete. UEFA has decided that these second legs will take place at the empty home stadiums of the teams that were on the road for the opening leg. The quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals will then take place in a single-elimination knockout tournament on a neutral field in Lisbon, Portugal with all matches taking place as stand-alone daily events at 3 PM ET. CBS Sports Network owns the broadcasting rights in the United States.The competition returns on August 7th with two matches. Lyon travels to Juventus with the french team holding a 1-0 aggregate score lead over the Italian powers. Real Madrid also travels to Manchester City for the second-leg of their match which the newly crowned La Liga champions trailing by a 2-1 score to the recently dethroned two-time English Premier League champions. On August 8th, Chelsea travels to Bayern Munich in a big hole trailing by a 3-0 aggregate score to the Bundesliga champion. Napoli also travels to Barcelona with that aggregate score deadlocked at 1-1. If the aggregate scores after two matches are tied, the first tie-breaker is determined by which team scored the most goals on the road. The quarterfinals begin on Wednesday, August 12th with La Ligue powerhouse Paris-Saint-Germain facing a red hot Atalanta team from the Italian Serie A. The next day, the Bundesliga runner-ups in RB Leipzig will face the third-place team out of La Liga in Atletico Madrid. On Friday, the winner of the Barcelona/Napoli showdown will face the team that advances between Bayern Munich and Chelsea. Then on Saturday, August 15th, the survivor of Manchester City/Real Madrid will face the winner of Lyon/Juventus. The first semifinal match will take place on Tuesday, August 18th between the winners of the Wednesday/Thursday matches. The winners of the Friday/Saturday games will play the next day. Those two winners will precede to play for the UEFA Champions League championship on Sunday, August 23rd in the final match in Lisbon. With the reigning UEFA Champions League title-holder in Liverpool already eliminated from this competition, Europe will crown a new champion on this day.

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2020 MLB Futures Bet: Los Angeles Dodgers to Win World Series

by Al McMordie

Thursday, Jul 16, 2020

Last season, we continued our great run with our futures wagers, as we hit the Washington Nationals (at 18-1 odds) to win the World Series.  And that followed closely on the heels of our 2019 College Basketball futures wager on Virginia (at 22-1 odds) to win the NCAA Basketball Championship.  And, of course, we also cashed the Houston Astros (at 10-1 odds) to win the 2017 World Series.  So, which team is our pick for 2020?  We're going to go with my hometown club, the Los Angeles Dodgers (currently at +400 at BetOnline Sportsbook).   Nothing has gone according to plan for the Dodgers over the last few seasons.  Indeed, last year, they entered the Playoffs as the prohibitive National League favorite, but succumbed in seven games to the Nationals in the NLCS.  Los Angeles hasn't won Baseball's top prize since 1988 but the shortened (60 game) season could be just what the doctor ordered for the Boys in Blue.  The Dodgers usually look like world beaters through most of the 162 games of a normal regular season, only to fade in the Autumn months.  They've won the NL West division the last seven seasons and made the World Series in two of the last three only to come home empty-handed.So, why do I believe this year will be different?  First, the Dodgers pulled off the biggest trade of the off-season when they acquired OF Mookie Betts and LHP David Price from the Red Sox in exchange for some prospects.  It's true that Price has opted out of the season due to the risk from COVID.  But that will do very little to hurt the Dodgers' chances.  That's because this pitching squad is deep -- with uber-prospect Dustin May ready to step in for Price, and others (like Josiah Gray and Tony Gonsolin) waiting in the wings if needed.  And if the pitching staff is deep, then the offense is the Grand Canyon.  No team is loaded with more young hitting and fielding talent than the Dodgers, which is why they could afford to part ways with Jeter Downs and Alex Verdugo in the swap with Boston.The experienced players on this club -- guys like Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, AJ Pollock, and Corey Seager -- will appreciate the short season.  Sixty games won't take its toll on this talented -- but often brittle -- cast of veterans which should should set them up for a deep run in the post-season and a third trip to the World Series in the last four years.  Look for the Dodgers to seal the deal this time.  Take L.A. at +400 to win the World Series.  As always, good luck...Al McMordie.

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Soccer Handicapping Analytics: Expected Goals (xG)

by Hollywood Sports

Tuesday, Jul 14, 2020

Analytics can be a powerful tool in the handicapper toolbox when assessing potential value versus bookmaker odds. While statistical analysis has existed with sports since someone started keeping score, the analytics movement examines data to foster a better understanding of the sports we study and follow rather than relying solely on traditional statistics. Often this data can be more predictive of future activity and results than the conventional statistics. This offers exciting possibilities for sports bettors with the opportunity to deploy more accurate predictive data that a majority of the bettors in the market are not using. In baseball, the two most prevalent statistics associated with starting pitchers are Win-Loss record and Earned Runs Average. A statistical analysis of Win-Loss record determined that those numbers had little predictive value for that starting pitcher’s future performance. Data analysis went even deeper to discover that Fielding Independent Performance data such as strikeouts, walks, and batted ball activity offer a more accurate perspective of how a starting pitcher will perform in the future. Statistics such as FIP, xFIP, and SIERA are attempts to provide more accurate descriptive and predictive measurements of how many runs a pitcher allows. In soccer, the idea of expected goals serves a similar vision. Goals scored and goals allowed may be definitive in determining a final score but that does not mean that those numbers are the most predictive regarding future scores. What are other statistics that are important in scoring goals? Most goals are scored by shooting at the net in open play (with exceptions being penalty kicks and opponents scoring own goals which do not appear to be reliable events that can be created without luck and the random behavior of an opponent). The more shots a team takes at the net, the more likely they will score. And the better quality of these shots, the more likely they will get past a keeper. Expected goals is a metric that determines a statistical probability on every scoring chance a team generates in a match. In this adventure of quantitative analysis, similar scoring situations are logged to determine a scoring probability from a deep data set in a way similar to measurements that predict the accuracy of an NBA shooter attempting a 22-foot corner 3-pointer. Shot attempts that have an empirical success rate of 35% or higher have been categorized as Big Chances. By reassessing a soccer match from the expected goals (xG) and expected goals allowed (xGA) given the activity and nature of all the shot attempts in a match. If xG analysis offers a better evaluation regarding how a team is playing, then it could provide a more precise way to measure subsequent action. For example, Southampton entered match week 32 of the 2019-20 English Premier League season with 38 goals scored. However, their xG of 44.20 suggested that they should have scored at least six more goals on the season given the average likelihood of events regarding their scoring opportunities. Bettors that decided that this information was evidence of the Saints covering the goal-line spread with their match at Watford or that the final score would finish over the 2.5 total were rewarded with Southampton’s 3-1 victory. Armed with expected goals and expected goals allowed data for both teams in an upcoming match can offer handicappers a powerful weapon in exposing the hidden value against the posted side and totals numbers of the bookmaker. But these potential strengths of using expected goals data do come with some caveats. There are some disadvantages to relying on expected goals data exclusively. For starters, one should not consider this objective data. At the beginning of the statistical endeavor, there is a human being assessing and categorizing shot attempts (even if eventually this analysis is then replicated by artificial intelligence). The mathematical formulas are all creations by human beings that are deployed in the quantitative analysis. As long as we live in a pre-Singularity world, this phenomenon is inevitable. And it is ok! Just remember that with the human eye and the touch comes the possibility of human error. There are competing expected goals systems in the marketplace. While ERA and field goal percentage are agreed upon statistics, xG remains a proprietary activity with different agents developing and propagating their numbers. Second, the concept of overachieving or underachieving can be misused. Expected goals attempt to determine the most likely outcomes. But not all outcomes are created equal. Lionel Messi is going to score more goals than Glenn Murray dribbling up the left-wing and talking a shot from 30 yards out. Ederson is more likely to make a spectacular save in that situation than Tom Heaton. While xG attempts to minimize outlier efforts, some players have earned their outlier status on both ends of the equation. Betting against Real Madrid (or taking more Unders) because their number of goals scored seems to be overachieving their expected goals may be foolhardy because they have Lionel Freaking Messi! Similarly, banking on bad teams to start playing closer to their expected points calculation (xPTS — a formula attempting to incorporate xG and xGA to reproduce their expected points for the season) may be foolhardy because that team may truly embody the outlier bad xG and xGA numbers. Third, be careful to not confuse recent results as overachievement (or underachievement) when what may be going on is the in-season improvement (or decline) of a team’s quality of play. Teams do get better (or worse) as the season moves forward. Coaching matters. Players improve. Injuries sometimes have disproportionate impacts. Teams can suffer from a loss of morale. An assumption in analytics that attempts to describe past results for predictive value moving forward is that those past results remain a credible assessment of the team’s quality. Yet team quality can be fluid. Fourth, regression to the mean is a long-term expectation so finding discrepancies between current results with expected goals results may not immediately produce dividends. Be patient. And remember what John Maynard Keynes said about the long-run (to paraphrase, we are all dead). Waiting for what may seem to be inevitable regression can be Fool’s Gold. Last, keep in mind that because the margins are thinner in soccer, the impact of expected goals is smaller. In basketball, identifying discrepancies between an expected score and a projected score using Points-Per-Possession analytics can be more fruitful since a college basketball game averages around 130 combined points per game with an NBA averaging over 200 combined points per game. Because soccer generally sees one zero to six combined goals scored per match, there are fewer scoring opportunities for which the discrepancies exposed via expected goals analysis translates into an actual difference in score. Your team can dominate their opponent on the pitch but still settle for a 1-1 draw. Because there are more scoring opportunities in basketball, the expected value identified from Points-Per-Possession analysis has more opportunities to demonstrate itself. These caveats aside, expected goals is a valuable tool to help the handicapping of soccer. Despite Liverpool winning the 2019-20 English Premier League championship, the xPTS analysis still projects Manchester City to be the better team this season. Those of us that used that information to help to conclude side with Man City in their July 2nd meeting were rewarded with a 4-0 victory. Relying on expected goals analysis alone will probably not be profitable. However, adding expected goals into the array of angles from which to determine value relative to the numbers that the bookmakers have posted should make successful soccer handicapping even more lucrative. Best of luck for us — Frank.

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2020 NFL Futures: Will the Pittsburgh Steelers Make the Playoffs?

by Jack Banks

Monday, Jul 13, 2020

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be bolstered by the return of Ben Roethlisberger and I expect it to be enough to propel the team back into the postseason following a two-year absence. Pittsburgh got off to an 8-5 SU start last season despite not having Big Ben available, only to lose their final three games. Defensively, the Steelers are talented and in fact, finished last season with one of the best stop-units in the league in the metrics we care about the most. The 2020 home schedule shows a solid chance at a 7-1 or even an 8-0 SU mark. I have them losing four to five road games and expect a 10-6 season at the very least as long as Big Ben stays healthy.  The tools on both sides of the line of scrimmage are in place and we expect a return to the playoffs in 2020. - Jack Banks.

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Football Handicapping: Five Factors

by Wayne Root

Saturday, Jul 11, 2020

There are many ways to handicap football games when broken down to the basics. Here are 5 of the most important factors to share from 35 years of beating the Vegas number. In most match-ups, a combination of all factors weighs into the final outcome. However, many handicappers choose to rely on one of the following methods more than another. It is the “identify” of that handicapper. As any CEO in the business world can do, handicapping "numbers" is very similar to crunching the numbers of a financial report. Let's review the 5 most popular methods I've used during my 35 year career as “America's Oddsmaker” and “The King of Vegas Sports Gambling.”1) TECHNICALThere are more "technicals" available for each game than any other method. For example, when one hears that team A is 9-1 versus team B over the last 10 years- that is a technical. There are teams that are 9-2 at home and 2-9 on the road. Night games vs. day games and grass vs. turf are common examples of "techs". One has to consider how teams play within their division, as opposed to outside their division. A team like the Oakland Raiders was once labeled as "unbeatable" on Monday Night Football. That technical trend is no longer applicable. Trends must be updated often. One can go back into the history of numbers and find all these "stats and trends". Many trends follow patterns that don’t change for the way teams play. West coast teams traveling to play on the east coast with that early 1:00 start had always favored the east coast teams. The time change and travel took its toll. But the oddsmakers have offset that by adding more points to the east coast team adjusting the spread. This is not an automatic bet any longer. Another one (the NFL is trying to avoid) is playing three consecutive games on the road. It used to be another automatic play going against the road team on that third road game. The oddsmakers have adjusted their point spreads but the average gambler has not. These are the type of technical points of reference to be careful. 2) EMOTIONALOne has to watch certain games where emotional factors are involved. This is especially true in college where emotions can run especially high (due to youth and bitter long-term rivalries). Revenge is good for "an emotional outlook" of playing a game. An embarrassing loss from the previous year also needs to be considered. There are certain rivalry games where all stats can be thrown out and the underdog will play like the World Champions. In the NFL, what you watched last week may be a huge change of play this week. A team that looked embarrassing and pathetic in week four might come out in week five and play completely opposite from the previous week. The oddsmakers are guaranteed to have made the line adjustments to trick the bettors. Beware and check with Wayne Root. There's usually at least one game each week which this applies. 3) SITUATIONALThis is a combination of technical and emotional scenarios. There could be a "key" injury that is "situational" to that game. The weather could become a major factor in analyzing the game. Be careful of placing too much emphasis on injuries, as the team with the injured star often rises to the occasion for that situation. And when it comes to weather, wind is the number 1 factor- far ahead of rain or snow. This factor and by me usually betting live underdogs are the reasons to bet these games as close to kickoff as you can. There’s rarely an instance where betting a Sunday game on Friday is paramount. 4) FUNDAMENTALHandicapping by using "fundamentals" is simply looking at basic fundamental “X and O” football stats. When team A is ranked number 1 in passing versus the number 27 passing defense, one has to look at betting team A. There are teams- due to age and lack of speed- that have trouble on turf. Make sure the fundamentals are in place in terms of statistics when doing the analysis. The playoff teams that rush the ball the most seem to win more often. Be sure to check rushing stats versus "against the rush" stats before placing a wager in this method of handicapping. And separate regular season versus Playoff stats- it's a whole new season.5) BETTING AGAINST THE PUBLICWayne Allyn Root used to notice that most of his friends and fans lost nonstop in sports wagering. So a light bulb went off in his head over 30 years ago AND still applies to this day. Wayne began studying public opinion- and betting against it. He simply calls it "going against the public.” Experts might call it “Contrarian Betting Strategy.” His thinking is 90% "contrarian" to the public. And he has been the most successful handicapper in America for 35 years- starting with his days as co host with Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder on Financial News Network (now CNBC). Wayne's track record for over three (3) decades has been the source of the media declaring him "America's Oddsmaker,” “The Face of Las Vegas Gaming” and “The King of Vegas.” It is the reason that Wayne was awarded a star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars- alongside Elvis, Liberace, Wayne Newton, Bobby Darin and Siegfried & Roy. He is the only professional sports handicapper ever honored (and the youngest recipient ever). All these years later, Wayne's focus remains on betting against the public. The public has a difficult time betting underdogs- so WAR bets on the underdogs. That's where the point spread value is found. When the point spread is rapidly escalating because of a "key" injury, WAR bets on the injured team. WAR loves to bet against popular “public teams” and wager on what he calls “orphans” (teams the betting public ignores or believes has virtually no chance of winning). 

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2020 NFL Futures Odds: New England Patriots Unchanged

by AAA Sports

Saturday, Jul 04, 2020

Signing QB Cam Newton hasn’t really impacted the Patriots betting odds for the 2020 NFL Season … yet.  The Pats remain pegged for 9.0 wins at BookMaker, although that’s a heavily juiced number and other sportsbooks have moved to 9.5. Their odds of making the playoffs are -230 at Bovada, which isn’t much different from where they were at (across the board) before signing Newton.New England has enjoyed a historic run of dominance in the AFC East. Tom Brady took over as the starting QB for the franchise in 2001. Since then, the Patriots have won their division all but two seasons. One of those two seasons was 2008 when Brady basically missed the entire season (team still went 11-5 SU). The other was 2002, his first full year as the starter. That’s 17 division championships in 19 seasons, if you’re keeping score at home.The last time that the Patriots won fewer than nine games in a season was the year 2000, Bill Belichick’s first on the job. They almost certainly will experience a drop in wins from last year (when they won 12 games). But are oddsmakers too pessimistic towards the 2020 Patriots?New England’s only competition (in the AFC East) this season figures to be the Buffalo Bills. Ironically, the Bills have not won the division (or a playoff game) since 1995 -- when Cam Newton was just six years old. The Bills have made the playoffs in two of the last three seasons and improved their roster this offseason. BookMaker has them projected for 9.0 wins this year as well and they are “favored” to make the playoffs at Bovada. It’s not that the Bills are without question marks entering 2020. Quarterback is probably the biggest one as Josh Allen isn’t an accurate passer. The Bills seem to have a better overall roster (right now) compared to the Patriots, but I hardly love them to go Over the win projection of 9.0 either.For the record, don’t expect much from either the New York Jets or Miami Dolphins in 2020. I expect both of those teams to finish with 10 or more losses. If you’re a firm believer in Belichick and like the Newton signing, then by all means bet the Patriots to go Over the season win total. It’s a two-horse race in the AFC East this season. 

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