Articles

2020 NHL Playoffs: Stanley Cup Futures Bets

by Sean Murphy

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

The NHL is set to return to the ice with a revamped playoff format in late-July. That means it's an excellent time to revisit some Stanley Cup futures bets that I still feel hold considerable value, even in these admittedly unusual circumstances. Here are two plays from each conference to consider (odds courtesy of BetAnySports).Eastern ConferencePittsburgh Penguins: 12-1The Penguins didn’t make any big moves on deadline day – their biggest acquisition was Jason Zucker from the Minnesota Wild two weeks prior. Zucker has proven to be an excellent fit on a line with Sidney Crosby, providing some nice secondary scoring over the month leading up to the Covid stoppage.That’s not to say the Pens didn’t tinker with their lineup a little, adding veteran forward Patrick Marleau from the San Jose Sharks while also re-acquiring Conor Sheary along with Evan Rodrigues from the Buffalo Sabres.I like the make-up of this Pens squad as it stands, particularly on the blue line where Pittsburgh has built a solid but unheralded defensive corps that matches up with most teams they’ll face come playoff time. The x-factor could be between the pipes where Pittsburgh will need Tristan Jarry and Matt Murray to round into form quickly if they're going to go on a deep run.Carolina Hurricanes: 45-1This may be my favorite Stanley Cup value play on the entire board. The Hurricanes bolstered their blue line prior to the trade deadline, acquiring Sami Vatanen from the Devils and Brady Skjei from the Rangers. Carolina, of course, gained immeasurable playoff experience during last year’s improbable run to the Eastern Conference Final, where it was ushered out by what was simply a strong Bruins squad. This year, I believe the Canes can match up with anyone in the East, noting they already took down the mighty Washington Capitals, who were then defending Stanley Cup champions, in the opening round of last year’s playoffs. The Canes young corps has only gotten stronger this season and I liked the savvy move of bringing Justin Williams back out of retirement for one more run at the Cup. It’s probably only a matter of time before head coach Rod Brind’Amour brings a cup back to Raleigh – why not this year when there may be more variance than ever?Western ConferenceVegas Golden Knights: 7-1The Knights appeared to be rounding into form at the right time as they ascended the Western Conference standings prior to the Covid stoppage. This is a roster that has only gotten stronger since going all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in the team’s NHL debut season in 2017-18. Given last year’s somewhat surprising early playoff exit, the hunger will certainly be there for the Knights to go on a deep playoff run this year. Vegas didn’t stand pat in the days leading up to the trade deadline, acquiring Stanley Cup winner Alec Martinez to strengthen their defensive corps while also adding some depth between the pipes with Robin Lehner coming over from the Blackhawks. Even Nick Cousins looks like a nice under the radar pickup to add to their depth up front. The Western Conference is wide open this Summer and I would put the Knights right up there with the Blues as one of the favorites to represent the conference in the Stanley Cup Final.Vancouver Canucks: 50-1While the Canucks won’t be a sure thing to get out of the first round, let alone go on a Stanley Cup run, I do like them at the current price point as they offer a lot of upside, albeit with a young roster that doesn’t have a great deal of playoff experience to lean on.Bringing in two-time Stanley Cup winner Tyler Toffoli from the Kings was arguably one of the biggest moves leading up to the trade deadline, and since joining the team he has proven to be a tremendous fit by all accounts. With Brock Boeser sidelined, Toffoli provides some much needed scoring punch up front.While the Canucks future is bright, I do think they’re in ‘win now’ mode as well. Once again, with the West there for the taking, this might just be the year that a Canadian team finally ends the 27-year drought and hoists Lord Stanley’s Cup. 

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NBA Restart: Western Conference #8 Seed Prediction

by Oskeim Sports

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

When the NBA resumes its 2019-20 season in late July, there will be five Western Conference teams with a realistic shot at earning the eighth and final playoff spot. Memphis currently holds the No. 8 position and four others are within four games of the Grizzlies. In my opinion, one team has a greater chance of securing the No. 8 seed than all the rest.  Before deciding whether my conclusion is sound, one must understand the format for the remainder of the season.Return to Play PlanWhen NBA commissioner Adam Silver, team owners, and the NBA players association met to determine how to complete the 2019-20 season, there was no shortage of ideas. Ultimately, the powers-at-be decided to finish the regular season, include a play-in tournament, and incorporate a postseason.When the season restarts at the end of July, the 22 teams that were invited to Orlando will each play eight regular season games. Once those games are finished, the top eight seeds in each conference can be determined.The idea of a play-in tournament received an overwhelming amount of support If the No. 9 seed finishes within four games of the No. 8 seed at the conclusion of the regular-season, the two teams will meet in a two-game play-in tournament.The No. 8 seed has to win just one game while the No. 9 seed must win two in order to claim the eighth and final playoff spot. Once the top eight teams are set, the postseason will continue as normal with seven-game series in each round to determine the NBA champion.Understanding the Return to Play Plan, bettors can find the best value bets while also finding a longshot in the mix.Playing It SafeMathematically, the remainder of the season favors the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis (32-33) checks as a modest favorite to make the postseason. The Grizzlies will earn the No. 8 seed (-190 at BetOnline) as they are seven games behind seventh-place Dallas Mavericks.  It’s difficult to imagine a scenario under which Memphis makes up seven games on the Mavericks.The Grizzlies can go 0-8 (+550 for any team to go 0-8 after restart at BetOnline) and still finish with the eighth seed if the other teams involved – New Orleans, Portland, Sacramento, and San Antonio – go 3-5 or worse. The likelihood of four teams going 3-5 or worse does not seem all that probable until you consider the opponents. The final eight games for the 22 remaining teams will be against very good teams. There will be games against the Lakers, Clippers, and Rockets, for example. When you think of it that way, four teams at the bottom of the conference going 3-5 is possible. With rookie Ja Morant at the point, it’s hard to imagine the Grizzlies losing eight straight. Morant is shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor and averaging 17.6 points and 6.9 assists for the season. Morant and New Orleans star Zion Williamson are the top two candidates for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.Memphis is worth a consideration for grabbing the No. 8 seed in the West.The LongshotOf the five teams realistically in the mix – Phoenix trails Memphis by six games and should not be a factor – one stands out as the best of the underdog bets. Portland is given +450 odds at BetOnline to make the playoffs and if you’re willing to take the risk, is worth a wager. The big reason why is the return of two Trail Blazers that will make a difference up front – Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. The Trail Blazers backcourt is outstanding with perennial All-Star Damian Lillard (28.9 ppg, 7.8 apg) and C.J. McCollum (22.5 ppg) running the offense. Portland’s issue is on defense where both Nurkic (7-feet) and Collins (6-11) can shine. All Portland has to do is maintain its hold on ninth place. Currently, Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento are tied for ninth place. They are all 3.5 games behind No. 8 Memphis. Remember, the format … if the eighth-place team is within four games, there is a play-in tournament.But, what if all three teams remain tied? Who advances? That would be Portland. Yes, the Pelicans beat the Trail Blazers in all four matchups this season, but the Trail Blazers would still get the nod to advance. The tiebreaker, in this case, is winning percentage. Heading into the remainder of the season, Portland has a .439 winning percentage. New Orleans and Sacramento are tied at .438. With Portland in ninth place at the end of the regular season, they would then have to beat Memphis twice to advance to the playoffs. In the two teams’ only meeting this season, Memphis won 111-104. However, that game was played with Nurkic and Collins. That pair makes Portland a solid bet to advance to the postseason.

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2020 NFL Preview: AFC Conference

by Jim Feist

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

Preparing for the NFL has been remarkably different for the 2020 season than any other in my nearly half of a century of handicapping.  I do not have to tell anybody out there how crazy the first half of 2020 has been and how the Pandemic has seen the cancelling of sports along with a devastating toll on the lives of people all around the world.  We have witnessed personal and business economies hurt or ruined in some cases and many businesses that have not survived.  This has been one of those years you just have to live through and hopefully come out the other end stronger.   We recently have seen baseball looking to start their season on or around July 24 with a 60-game season. Plus, the NHL looks to return around the same time and proceed directly to a playoff format.Still be determined is the effect this Covid-19 year will have on the NFL season. The NFL still appears on schedule for a preseason in August and a regular season week one in early September. Albeit with many new protocols in place which likely will include no fans in the stadiums. I have been doing my work and have some very in-depth analysis of each team in each division. However, for the purposes of this article, I’ll limit my analysis to an abbreviated look at the AFC divisions. AFC EAST:  You cannot mention the AFC East without talking about the team that has dominated this division for a long time now, the New England Patriots.  This will be a new Patriots team for 2020. Gone is future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, who departed for the warmer climate of Tampa Bay.  The Pats dominance of this division may be coming to an end. I am not saying they can't win the East, especially when no team might come out of the AFC East with a record much over the .500 mark. The Patriots main challenger will be the Buffalo Bills, who have that excellent defense and exceptionally good coaching. The Jets looked to have improved in the draft and the Dolphins will likely still struggle.  Pats might not have much to contend with in this division other than the Bills. AFC NORTH: The Baltimore Ravens should once again be the team to beat in the North. The Cincinnati Bengals got the number one draft choice and took QB Joe Burrow from LSU. While Burrow looks to be a great NFL prospect, I still see too many shortcomings with the Bengals for them to be any factor this season.  The Steelers welcome back QB Ben Roethlisberger, who knows how to win games.  This will automatically make the Steelers a contender again for the division.  As for the Browns, it is hard to predict a good year ever for this team. No matter how much talent they possess, the team fails to produce consistently year in and year out.  I do not expect the Ravens offense to surprise teams as they did last year with their unique offensive attack. Defensive coordinators will be prepared this year for the Ravens and that should tighten this division considerably between the Ravens and Steelers.AFC SOUTH: The AFC South has seen the Houston Texans rise to the top as the team to beat in this division. They came awfully close last year as we all remember that big playoff loss at Kansas City where they led 24-0 before the Chiefs rallied for a 20-point win. Still, they have an excellent coach in Bill O’Brien to keep moving them forward.  The Tennessee Titans just made the playoffs last year and came close to making a big impact in the post season behind an incredibly good rushing attack. They beat the Patriots and Ravens before losing to the Chiefs, 24-35. Quarterback still looks to be an issue however and that likely will hurt them once again this year. The Jacksonville Jaguars will be a dumpster fire this year and any wins they get will be surprising. The Indianapolis Colts went out and got veteran QB Phillip Rivers in the offseason. Rivers is getting old but still knows how to win and that is what this team needs, veteran leadership at quarterback. Does he have much left in the tank?  For me, the Texans are once again the team to beat here but if Rivers is anything like his old self, we will see this as a close race for the South. AFC WEST:  Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs look to defend their championship and appear to have all the pieces returning to do just that. I think their main competition in that division is going to come from the Denver Broncos.  I like what Denver did in the offseason. I do not usually give a lot of credit to John Elway, but he did a great job and they are going to be much tougher this season. If the Chiefs stumble at all, I think it can be the Broncos that derail them. The LA Chargers will be in a rebuilding mode this year as I do not expect much out of this club. The Las Vegas Raiders have a new home, but I do not see much improvement for the team. They picked up QB Marcus Mariota to challenge for the starting spot, but this club will likely remain right around the .500 mark. What I will say about the NFC is that I expect the 49ers to come right back this season and be the team to beat in that conference.  Let’s hope for a full NFL season and hopefully the return of the fans to the stadiums.

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2020 MLB: National League Futures Bets

by Brian Bitler

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020

I am really looking forward to the start of Major League Baseball.  Maybe it’s the total lack of sports, or maybe this shortened 60-game season with the enhanced inter-league schedule and other facets of the game that have been streamlined. This has given tremendous values for futures bettors out there if you know what to look for in a baseball team.  In this article we will now look for value in the National League Pennant futures odds, as posted at Bovada Sportsbook.I really think this short schedule will help the younger teams, as they are the ones that typically fade as the season wears on, and we get past the all-star break. But none of that will happen this season, and each team's shortfalls will not be as pronounced.  My future World Series bet in 2018 was the Red Sox which paid out nicely for me as I got in on that one in early spring training.  I fell just short with the Houston Astros last season, as they fell to the Washington Nationals, but that was one great series for viewers.This season, I have circled a few bargains to be had at Bovada.  Let’s first start with the National League Pennant winner.  I have 3 top bets.  One is the Cincinnati Reds at 12-1.  I think Cincy's value is extremely high, as it made a lot of great moves in the offseason.  Another is the always-competitive St. Louis Cardinals at 11-1 odds.  The Cards always seem to be in contention at the end of the year but since this is a shortened season it does take away some value for me.  Last, but not least, on my NL Futures short list is the New York Mets at 9-1 odds at Bovada. The Mets are my #1 choice to win the National League overall at 9-1 odds with the key being their starting rotation.  Jacob DeGrom is a back to back Cy Young award winner and just a horse out there on the mound.  New York's #2 pitcher in this fantastic rotation is Marcus Stroman, who had a shaky first year with the Mets, but I look for him to bounce back. Rounding off their Top 3 is Rick Porcello.  Yes, he was a big-time flop in Boston but he would be a strong #2 on most pitching staffs.  I look for him and Michael Wacha to be effective at the back-end of the rotation, and keep the Mets in it all season and into the post season. I will be betting on the Mets as my BEST BET to win the National League pennant.  Good luck!

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Pandemic Puppy

by Ben Burns

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020

Ringing in 2020 in sunny Puerto Vallarta, I capped off another highly successful NFL playoffs with a 3-0 (side, total, first half) sweep in the Super Bowl. A couple weeks later, I attended my son's soccer tournament in Las Vegas. We took in a UNLV game at Thomas & Mack, knowing the Mountain West Tournament would soon be played there. The world seemed so normal. Everything changed. The pandemic has seen me go through a range of emotions. I assume the same is true for most. When Covid-19 first reared its ugly head, my oldest daughter was working overseas. By the time she decided it was time to come home, flights were getting cancelled, left, right and center. It was scary. Eventually, to everyone's great relief, she returned safely. She had a nasty cough though and was coming from a high-risk part of the globe. That led to her having to quarantine, upon arrival. I admit it. At the onset of the pandemic, I watched way too much news. I probably went a little overboard at the grocery store, too. It seemed the sensible thing to do. That led to many excellent meals and a few extra inches on my waistline. I was also one of those people who got a "pandemic puppy." I know what you're thinking. He's awesome though. After a few weeks, I decided to stop worrying about things that were out of my control. Instead, I vowed to make the most of the down time. I sent masks and continue to try and help those who need it. I also embarked on an in-depth review of all my picks from the past decade. It's something which I'd always wanted to do but never found the time for. I won't delve into the details but I really learned a lot. The reality is that I've been very fortunate. For this, I am extremely grateful. I know that this continues to be a devastating time for so many. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who are suffering. Stay safe everyone. We're all in this together and we'll get through it.

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MLB Futures Betting: 2020 World Series Prediction

by ASA, Inc.

Sunday, Jun 21, 2020

Chicago Cubs +2200 (odds found at MyBookie)We think we’re getting tremendous value with the Cubs at 22/1 to win the World Series.  After making it to the post-season 4 straight years, Chicago dropped to 3rd in the N.L. Central with an 84-78 record last year and we expect a bounce back in 2020.  They were right in the thick of the playoff race late last season but finished with only 2 wins in their last 12 games.  Poor time for a cold streak to say the least.  Their numbers last season tell us they were better than an 84 win team.  The Chicago offense was 8th in Majors in OPS and 6th in home runs.  They also averaged just over 5 RPG which put them in the top 10.  Their pitching numbers were very solid as well ranking 7th in MLB in ERA, 10th in FIP, and 8th in runs allowed.  They struggled in close games which really played a huge part in their sub par record.  The Cubs were just 43-54 in games decided by 3 runs or less and only 19-27 in one run games.  We like them to improve drastically on those numbers this season.  The Cubs had a +0.6 RPG differential which was the 8th best in all of baseball.  To put that number in perspective, Atlanta, St Louis, and Cleveland had the exact same RPG differential as the Cubs (+0.6 per game) yet won 97, 91, and 93 games respectively compared to 84 for Chicago.  The only teams that finished with a better RPG differential in 2019 were Washington, LA Dodgers, NY Yankees, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Houston, and Minnesota.  All 10 of the teams mentioned above won more than 90 games and made the playoffs.  Chicago did neither.  We have no doubt the Cubs were better than their record last season.Chicago’s line up basically returns intact with the exception of INF Addison Russell, who missed 40 games last season due to a suspension.  That could be addition by subtraction as Russell had a poor season hitting just .237 with an on base percentage of just .308.  The Cubs cut him in December and he is now playing in the Korean Baseball League.  The top of their line up with Bryant, Baez, Rizzo, Schwarber, Heyward, and Contreras is one of the best in the Majors.  Their starting rotation should be one of the best in the National League with Darvish, Hendricks, Quintana, and Lester.  We think the loss of Cole Hamels in free agency sounds bigger than it really is because of his name.  Hamels was just 7-7 last season and has a losing record over his last 3 seasons (25 wins and 31 losses).  As we stated earlier we think the value with Chicago is solid here.  Last season they were 10/1 to win the World Series entering the year and now we’re getting them north of 20/1.  We’ll take the Chicago Cubs at +2200 to win it all this year.  

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2020 NFL Season Wins Total Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs

by Will Rogers

Tuesday, Jun 16, 2020

Kansas City has gone "over" its season win total seven years straight and it's once again favored to win the Super Bowl this time around as well. Pretty much everything has to go right to go 12-4 though (the total at BookMaker is 11.5 wins) and I think that there could be reason to believe that KC will finally take a step back this season and fail to go "over" its season win total.The Chiefs play in a "weak" division, but the AFC West is predicted to be much more competitive this season, as both Denver and Las Vegas have made plenty of moves in the off-season. The Chiefs are a heavy favorite on September 10th to open the season vs. Houston, but that's then followed by an extremely tough stretch which sees them play back to back games road games at the Chargers and Baltimore, followed by New England and Las Vegas at home. Strength of schedule is a key factor in determining season long O/U wagers and it doesn't get any easier for Kansas City after that with back-to-back road games at Buffalo and Denver. That's then followed by home games vs. the Jets and Panthers. After that it's two games on the road in Las Vegas and at Tampa Bay, followed by at home vs. Denver, at Miami, at New Orleans and then it's finished off with back-to-back home games vs. the Falcons and Chargers. One of the crucial factors that KC has had working in its favor over the years has been its "home field" advantage. But, will there even be fans in the stands this season? No matter what happens, this will be a "different" campaign for both players and fans alike and the Chiefs clear "home field advantage" could very well be negated completely this year.Considering all of the different factors I've listed above here, I definitely think that the "under" 11.5 season wins (at +108 odds at BookMaker) for the Kansas City Chiefs is worth a second look this season.

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Notes From Colonial: Welcome Back PGA

by Larry Ness

Tuesday, Jun 09, 2020

The Colonial golf tournament has been held every year since 1946, with exceptions in 1949 (flooding of the Trinity River, which orders the course) and 1975, when the club hosted the second Tournament Players Championship in August. The most noteworthy winner of the tournament is Ben Hogan; the late Fort Worth resident won five times, which earned the course the nickname "Hogan's Alley." Many may remember that Annika Sörenstam played in the 2003 tournament and became the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event in 58 years (Babe Zaharias made three cuts as an amateur in 1945). Sörenstam's participation drew HUGE media attention but she shot 71 and 74 and missed the cut by four strokes.As noted above, the Colonial golf tournament has been held every year since 1946, making it the longest running non-major tour event held at the same site. Charles Schwab & Co, a major sponsor on the PGA Tour and PGA Champions Tour, expanded its golf presence in 2019 by assuming title sponsorship of the PGA Tour’s Fort Worth Invitational at Colonial Country Club (four-year agreement, from 2019-2022). The 2020 tournament will be played June 11–14, as the first PGA Tour event staged since the interruption of the regular schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the interests of maximum health and safety, the tournament will be played with no spectators attending, which will be a PGA Tour first.While there won’t be fans on the grounds at Colonial Country Club when the PGA Tour resumes play on Thursday, 16 of the top-20 in the Official World Rankings will be participating. The Tour announced its featured groupings on Sunday and the top-three ranked players in the world—Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka—will play together. The trio played together in the first round of this year's Players Championship back on March 12, which was eventually wiped out when the tournament was canceled on Thursday night at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic (FYI...Rahm shot 69, Koepka 70 and McIlroy 72). McIlroy is the hottest player in the game with one win and five other top-5s in his last six starts (he is making his tournament debut). Rahm has played just five events in the 2019-20 season but has four top-10 finishes  His best finishes are a 2nd at the Farmers (Torrey Pines) in late January and a T-3 at the WGC-Mexico Championship, which is the last time he's played an event (ended Feb 23). Rahm has two top-5s at Colonial. Koepka, who has won FOUR majors since 2017 (two US Opens and two PGAs), will be making his sixth appearance of the current season. Believe it or not, he's had two missed cuts, had a W/D at the CJ Cup@Nine Bridges, plus owns a T-43 at the Genesis Invitational (Riviera) and a T-47 in Arrnie's tourney at Bay Hill. Koepka has played at Colonial only once, but he shot a pair of 63s to finish T-2 in 2017.Boyhood friends Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth will play with arguably the Tour's "favorite son," Rickie Fowler. Spieth turns 27 in late July and has already won 11 PGA Tour events, including THREE majors. However, Jordan's last Tour win was the 2017 British Open. He tees off Thursday at Colonial having gone SIXTY starts since winning his third major. Meanwhile, Thomas (who turned 27 in April) has caught and passed his longtime friend with 12 Tour titles (lone major came in the 2017 PGA). Two of his career wins have come in the current season and he tees off at Colonial ranked 4th in the OWR. The ever-popular Fowler, who will turn 32 in December, will tee it up for the 243rd start of his career but owns a modest FIVE wins and NO majors.Kevin Na (four career PGA wins) is the defending Schwab Challenge champion, as he won by four shots over Tony Finau in 2019. Na will be paired with Gary Woodland and Phil. Woodland, like Na, owns a modest four PGA wins (turned professional in 2007) but one of them was the 2019 US Open. Phil needs no introduction but note he turns 50 on June 16 and has dropped to No. 63 in the World Rankings with four missed cuts in his last five starts. Phil won the 2013 British Open (his fifth major) and shortly thereafter declared, "I'm playing the best golf of my career!" Phil's won 44 PGA titles (9th all-time) but since that win at The Open, he's won TWO of his 143 starts. Good luck...Larry

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NFL Teams Set to Decline in 2020

by Power Sports

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020

Earlier, I took a long look at NFL teams whose win total should improve from last season. Here I’ll be focused on teams that will win fewer games in 2020 (compared to 2019).  Similar to my “improved list,” oddsmakers are "onto these teams" (check projected win totals below). So I would not say that there’s a ton of value in betting these numbers. However, I do think more than a few will finish UNDER their respective win totals. At the end of this article, you’ll mind my FAVORITE NFL Win total bet for 2020!The first number (listed next to the team) is how many games they won last season. The second number in () is how many they are currently projected to win this season.1. Packers 13 (9)  - Was this the worst 13-3 SU team EVER last year? Probably. The Packers had a pythagorean win expectation of only 9.8 in 2019. They only outscored opponents by 63 points, which was a smaller margin than the 10-6 Vikings (+104), 9-7 Titans (+71) and even 8-8 Cowboys (+113). Green Bay went 9-1 SU in one-score games last season. They were actually outgained on yard per play basis and were +12 in turnover margin. The only saving grace for this year’s playoff prospects is that they play in a weak NFC North.2. Patriots 12 (9)  - The loss of Tom Brady heavily factored into this number. Brady’s replacement (as of now) is Jarrett Stidham, who is a 4th round draft pick with no prior starting NFL experience. Stidham doesn’t exactly have a lot of offensive weapons at his disposal either. After posting a league best turnover margin (+21) last year (against a very easy schedule), the Pats’ defense is set to decline as well.  3. Texans 10 (7.5)  - Coach/GM Bill O’ Brien had a dismal offseason with several questionable personnel decisions. The most flagrant was trading WR DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona. The Texans were actually outscored despite winning 10 games last year. They were outgained on a per play basis as well. Among AFC South teams, both the Titans and Colts are better.4. 49ers 13 (10.5) -  The 49ers had a huge jump in wins last year (went 4-12 SU in 2018). Thus, the “plexiglass principle” kicks in. Last year’s NFC Champs should still be favored to win the West, but they won’t be going 13-3 again.5. Ravens 14 (11.5)  - Similarly, Lamar Jackson and company are not going to win 14+ games for a second straight year! No team in NFL history has ever done that. Still, the Ravens join the Chiefs as the clear top two teams in the AFC.6. Seahawks 11 (9)  - Last year’s Seahawks were the worst 11-win team, perhaps in history.  They benefited from a +12 TO margin and EVERY win was by eight points or less. (Their point differential was only +7!) Their pythagorean win expectation was only 8.2. Even with Russell Wilson, I see Seattle as a single-digit win team in 2020. The NFC West is tough. My favorite win total on the board - Here's an instance where my numbers indicate a team will decline next year and that's NOT being accounted for in the oddsmakers number! Raiders Under 7.5 (Went 7-9 last year) - This is by far my favorite win total on the board, and the odds are currently -105 at BetOnline Sportsbook. The Raiders were -106 in point differential last year. Compare that to the 5-11 Chargers (only -8) and the fellow 7-9 Broncos (-34). They were 7-3 SU in one-score games. Their pythagorean win expectation was only 5.2.  Studies show moving into a new stadium hurts home field advantage for the first two seasons. It should be a much tougher first year in Las Vegas than what’s being expected. Look for the Silver & Black to finish dead last in the AFC West this season. 

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NFL Teams Set to Improve in 2020

by Power Sports

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020

Six NFL Teams That Will Improve Their Record in 20201.    Bengals - Cincinnati had the worst record in the league last season (2-14 SU). That allowed them to take QB Joe Burrow with the #1 pick in April’s Draft. The Bengals are projected for 5.5 wins in 2020, so oddsmakers see them as likely to improve - substantially. It’s not just because of Burrow. This team wasn't actually as bad in 2019 as you might think. They led in 12 of 16 games. But they were 0-8 (straight up) in one-score affairs and also had a -14 turnover differential. Those numbers will improve this season. It’s a case of “low-hanging fruit” here, but the Bengals WILL win more games in 2020. 2.   Lions - Detroit wasn’t much better than Cincinnati last year. They finished 3-13 (SU). Unlike the Bengals, the Lions did not draft a QB of the future. They didn’t have to though. They are getting back a (hopefully) healthy Matthew Stafford, which should certainly help their 2020 prospects. A futile record in one-score games (3-8 SU) last year was another problem for the Lions, who lost only one game by more than 13 points. One reason I see the Lions being able to possibly go Over this season’s win total (6.5) is that they play in the NFC North, an “up for grabs” division that has no dominant team.3.    Chargers - The Lightning Bolts finished 5-11 SU last season, but were only outscored by eight points! They were actually favored to win nine games, so it was a clear case of underachieving. A league worst -17 turnover differential and a 2-9 SU record in one-score games did them in. Philip Rivers is gone after being a big contributory factor to that poor TO margin. But I worry about how LA is going to replace him. Veteran Tyrod Taylor will presumably begin the season as the starter, even though the team used the #6 overall draft pick on Justin Herbert. Still, I expect LA to be closer to .500 this season, which is right in line with the oddsmakers’ projection of 8 wins. Despite having (arguably) the weakest home field advantage in the league, you have to figure the Chargers will improve upon last season’s 2-6 SU home record. They also failed to win a single division game last season. Look for improvement in that area as well. 4.    Bucs - Even before acquiring Tom Brady (and Rob Gronkowski), Tampa Bay was a team likely to improve in 2020. They outscored and outgained their opponents last year (both on a per game and per play basis). Jameis Winston was the big reason the Bucs were -13 in turnover margin last season. Brady will help cut down on that number and also improve on last year’s 3-6 SU record  in one-score games. By the way, the Bucs’ defense was #5 in DVOA last year. I’m a little scared of how trendy the Bucs are this year, but the fact they could be favorites in as many as 13 games shows the oddsmakers are taking them very seriously. I do see them challenging the Saints for first place in the NFC South and they are a strong bet to win at least 10 games! 5.    Cowboys - It’s definitely fair to say that the Cowboys underachieved last year. They were favored in all but two games, finished with the league’s 6th best point differential (+113), yet ended up 8-8 and missed the playoffs. The Dak Prescott contract situation is a perceived “distraction,” but don’t let it distract you from the fact this is one of the more talented teams in the entire league, particularly on the offensive side of the football. Perhaps most important of all is that Jason Garrett was FINALLY relieved of his head coaching duties. Mike McCarthy probably wasn’t the best possible replacement for Garrett and an unprecedented offseason doesn’t exactly help a first year coach. But McCarthy did win 10 or more games EIGHT times with the Packers. Oddsmakers project his new team to win 10 games in 2020. 6.    Cardinals - I’m starting to see Arizona as a darkhorse team in the NFC West. Some of that has to do with the fact that I project the three other teams in the division (49ers, Seahawks, Rams) to all win fewer games this season compared to last. Fleecing Houston in the DeAndre Hopkins trade is another big reason why the Cardinals may fly higher than their projected win total of 7.5 in 2020. 

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Major League Baseball: NL East Preview

by ASA, Inc.

Monday, Apr 13, 2020

2020 ATLANTA BRAVES PREVIEW2019 STATISTICSRECORD - 99 wins / 68 losses (includes playoffs)OVERALL MONEY +$1,600 (based on $100 wagered per game)RETURN ON INVESTMENT +7.1%HOME RECORD – 51 wins / 33 losses (+$510)ROAD RECORD – 48 wins / 35 losses (+$1090)RECORD AS FAVORITE – 75 wins / 43 losses (+$1220)RECORD AS UNDERDOG – 24 wins / 25 losses (+$380)OVER/UNDER RECORD – 81 Overs / 78 Unders / 8 Ties2019 OFFENSIVE STATSBATTING AVERAGE - .258 (9th in the Majors)OPS (on base + slugging) - .789 (7th)HOME RUNS – 249 (8th)RUNS PER GAME – 5.28 (7th)2019 PITCHING STATSERA – 4.20 (10th)FIP (fielding independent pitching) – 4.34 (13th)WHIP (walk + hits allowed per inning) – 1.36 (18th)STRIKEOUT to WALK RATIO – 2.54 (20th)RUNS ALLOWED PER GAME – 4.59 (12th)ATLANTA ANALYSIS – The Braves won the N.L. East last year but were bounced in the playoffs by St Louis.  Their pitching numbers were pretty average with their WHIP and FIP numbers not in line with a team that won 97 regular season games.  They brought over starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel from Houston mid-season last year and he gave them 8 wins and a 3.75 ERA.  Keuchel has moved on to the White Sox and the Braves brought in Cole Hamels from the Cubs to replace him.  They also lost starter Julio Teheran, who ate up 174 innings last year (most on the Braves), to the Angels.  Opponents hit .256 against this staff (19th in MLB) and it looks like it got weaker in the off season.  Offensively they lose starting 3B Josh Donaldson to the Twins along with his 37 home runs.  They did add outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Cards who has decent power numbers (52 HR’s over the last 2 years) so that should help.  Last year their win total was set at 86 so they outperformed expectations by a 11 games.  The total win number set on this team for this year was 90 so a regression is expected.  We would agree with that assumption.2020 MIAMI MARLINS PREVIEW2019 STATISTICSRECORD - 57 wins / 105 lossesOVERALL MONEY -$1,500 (based on $100 wagered per game)RETURN ON INVESTMENT -9.2%HOME RECORD – 30 wins / 51 losses (-$820)ROAD RECORD – 27 wins / 54 losses (-$680)RECORD AS FAVORITE – 3 wins / 2 losses (-$50)RECORD AS UNDERDOG – 52 wins / 101 losses (-$1450)OVER/UNDER RECORD – 77 Overs / 73 Unders / 12 Ties2019 OFFENSIVE STATSBATTING AVERAGE - .241 (25th in the Majors)OPS (on base + slugging) - .673 (30th)HOME RUNS – 146 (30th)RUNS PER GAME – 3.80 (29th)2019 PITCHING STATSERA – 4.74 (20th)FIP (fielding independent pitching) – 4.89 (25th)WHIP (walk + hits allowed per inning) – 1.35 (17th)STRIKEOUT to WALK RATIO – 2.24 (26th)RUNS ALLOWED PER GAME – 4.99 (19th)MIAMI ANALYSIS – Only Detroit and Baltimore had fewer wins than Miami last season.  They won 63 games in 2018 and regressed to 57 a year ago.  Their pitching wasn’t terrible as starter Sandy Alcantara has a chance to be very good despite his 6-14 record last year.  His 3.88 ERA suggests he was much better than his record and if he can slow down on his walks (81 last year) he should be their ace.  The Marlins did very little in the free agent market especially pitching wise where they will basically have the same rotation as last season.  It could be argued this was the worst offensive team in baseball last year as they finished near or right at the bottom in a number of key categories.  They have very little power hitting only 146 HR’s last year which was worst in MLB and just 128 the year prior which was also last in the Majors.  The centerfield and right centerfield wall at Marlins Park will be moved in this season which may help come but we’re not counting on it.  Hoping to help their lack of power issue Miami added Jesus Aguilar who hit 35 HR’s for Milwaukee 2 years ago (but just 12 last year) and Jonathan Villar who hit a career high 24 dingers for Baltimore in 2019.  Other than that we’re basically looking at the same team from last season.  As expected they struggled in close games (16-28 record in 1-run games) so if they can improve upon that they should top 60 wins this season.    2020 NEW YORK METS PREVIEW2019 STATISTICSRECORD - 86 wins / 76 lossesOVERALL MONEY -$640 (based on $100 wagered per game)RETURN ON INVESTMENT -2.9%HOME RECORD – 48 wins / 33 losses (-$50)ROAD RECORD – 38 wins / 43 losses (-$590)RECORD AS FAVORITE – 60 wins / 38 losses (-$120)RECORD AS UNDERDOG – 25 wins / 38 losses (-$530)OVER/UNDER RECORD – 79 Overs / 70 Unders / 13 Ties2019 OFFENSIVE STATSBATTING AVERAGE - .257 (11th in the Majors)OPS (on base + slugging) - .770 (11th)HOME RUNS – 242 (11th)RUNS PER GAME – 4.88 (13th)2019 PITCHING STATSERA – 4.24 (11th)FIP (fielding independent pitching) – 4.10 (6th)WHIP (walk + hits allowed per inning) – 1.30 (13th)STRIKEOUT to WALK RATIO – 3.04 (7th)RUNS ALLOWED PER GAME – 4.55 (10th)NEW YORK METS ANALYSIS – New manager Luis Rojas has been with the organization since 2007 and while he’s never been the head man in the Majors, he has multiple years of managerial experience in the minor leagues.  He inherits a team that should have some solid momentum coming into 2020 as they finished with a very good 46-26 record after the All Star break.  While their bullpen struggled last year, the Mets starters were outstanding last year especially at the top with Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard.  DeGrom had only 11 wins but the Mets offense and bullpen let him down often.  His numbers were superb with a 2.43 ERA and a 2.67 FIP to go along with a 5 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio.  Unfortunately they lose Syndergaard this year as he is undergoing Tommy John surgery and won’t be available until 2021 at the earliest.  They also lose Zach Wheeler (11-8 record) which will put another dent in their starting rotation.  Their relief pitching was poor as they had 32 bullpen losses (8th most in MLB) and a save percentage of 58% (24th worst in MLB).  Their only key loss offensively was 3B Todd Frazier who is now with the Rangers.  Their offense was near or in the top third in most key MLB categories so they should be fine there.  They added a few relievers via free agency and if the bullpen improves this team could be OK.  In a tough division the losses they have to overcome with their starting pitching might be too much.   2020 PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES PREVIEW2019 STATISTICSRECORD - 81 wins / 81 lossesOVERALL MONEY -$870 (based on $100 wagered per game)RETURN ON INVESTMENT -4.3%HOME RECORD – 45 wins / 36 losses (-$130)ROAD RECORD – 36 wins / 45 losses (-$750)RECORD AS FAVORITE – 58 wins / 40 losses (+$40)RECORD AS UNDERDOG – 23 wins / 41 losses (-$910)OVER/UNDER RECORD – 76 Overs / 80 Unders / 6 Ties2019 OFFENSIVE STATSBATTING AVERAGE - .246 (22nd in the Majors)OPS (on base + slugging) - .746 (17th)HOME RUNS – 215 (22nd)RUNS PER GAME – 4.78 (14th)2019 PITCHING STATSERA – 4.53 (17th)FIP (fielding independent pitching) – 4.88 (23rd)WHIP (walk + hits allowed per inning) – 1.37 (19th)STRIKEOUT to WALK RATIO – 2.55 (18th)RUNS ALLOWED PER GAME – 4.90 (18th)PHILADELPHIA ANALYSIS – New leadership takes over in Philly where Gabe Kapler was fired and Joe Girardi takes over as manager.  He’ll have some serious pressure to win right away as GM Matt Klentak expects them to win right now.  The Phillies have spent enormous amounts of money on free agents over the last 3 seasons, hello Bryce Harper, but haven’t made the playoffs since 2011.  The total set on Philadelphia back in February was 86 wins which seems a bit much for a team that hasn’t topped 81 wins since 2011.  The fact is this team was below average both offensively and defensively.  Their pitching numbers (ERA, FIP, and WHIP) were all below the league averages and their hitting numbers (OPS, on base percentage, and RPG) were also all under the league average.  Their starting rotation remains the same with one addition.  Zach Wheeler (23-15 record last 2 seasons combined) one of the top starters on the free agent market last year comes over from the division rival Mets.  Aaron Nola, who has 41 wins his last 3 seasons, remain their ace.  The Phillies are hoping CF Andrew McCutcheon comes back from ACL surgery and adding Yankee SS Didi Gregorious (.270 BA & 97 HR’s in 5 years with New York) should help.  When all is said and done, we expect this team to be right around .500 again in the tough NL East that has 3 teams that finished with 86 or more wins last season (Braves, Mets, and Nats). 2020 WASHINGTON NATIONALS PREVIEW2019 STATISTICSRECORD - 105 wins / 74 losses (includes playoffs)OVERALL MONEY -$1450 (based on $100 wagered per game)RETURN ON INVESTMENT +5.5%HOME RECORD – 54 wins / 35 losses (+$390)ROAD RECORD – 51 wins / 39 losses (+$1060)RECORD AS FAVORITE – 73 wins / 47 losses (-$20)RECORD AS UNDERDOG – 32 wins / 27 losses (+$1470)OVER/UNDER RECORD – 87 Overs / 83 Unders / 9 Ties2019 OFFENSIVE STATSBATTING AVERAGE - .265 (7th in the Majors)OPS (on base + slugging) - .796 (6th)HOME RUNS – 231 (13th)RUNS PER GAME – 5.39 (6th)2019 PITCHING STATSERA – 4.27 (13th)FIP (fielding independent pitching) – 4.14 (7th)WHIP (walk + hits allowed per inning) – 1.29 (8th)STRIKEOUT to WALK RATIO – 2.92 (9th)RUNS ALLOWED PER GAME – 4.47 (9th)WASHINGTON ANALYSIS – After a disappointing 2018 finishing just 2 games above .500, the Nationals bounced back in a big way in 2019 beating Houston as a +180 underdog in the World Series.  Amazingly this team won the crown despite facing elimination 5 different times in the playoffs.  This team won 93 regular season games in 2019 which didn’t seem likely after their 24-33 start over the first 2 months of the season.  Washington was actually tied with Miami, a team that went on to win only 57 games, for LAST place in the NL East in late May.  Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin are arguably the best top 3 starters in MLB.  However, Scherzer was limited at times last year with back & neck problems while Corbin and Strasburg both threw over 200 innings.  Because of that, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a cumulative drop off from the big 3 this season.  Offensively the Nats landed in the top 10 in most key statistics but they have to replace their top offensive player as 3B Anthony Rendon moved on to the Angels.  Rendon, who finished with a .319 batting average, 34 HR’s, and 126 RBI, had a WAR (wins above replacement) of 6.33 last season which was the 2nd highest rating on the free agent market.  They really didn’t add anyone near his ability and his loss is big to say the least.  Despite winning the World Series, their win total prior to the MLB shutdown was 89.  While we expect Washington to be very good again, we think it will be tough for them to get back to 90+ wins this season.

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NBA Futures Betting: NBA Western Conference Playoff Predictions - 2020

by ASA, Inc.

Thursday, Apr 09, 2020

We’ve put together a hypothetical scenario if the NBA Playoffs started today and who we would be betting on in the first few games of each series. These predictions are based on current records and standings as of the Covid-19 shutdown on March 11th. If the NBA were to cancel the rest of the regular season and seed teams for a playoff format this is how it would look in the West. Enjoy and stay safe!#1 L.A. Lakers vs. #8 Memphis GrizzliesRegular season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)Feb 29 @ MEM           L 88-105          L -11                U 228.5Feb 21 MEM                W 117-105      W -10.5           U 234Nov 23 @ MEM           W 109-108      L -8                  U 225.5Oct 29 MEM                W 120-91        W -11.5           U 215If the Playoffs started today the Lakers would host the young Grizzlies in the opening round and make quick work of Memphis in a four-game series. The Lakers have been the second-best team in the league behind Milwaukee with the second-best player this season in LeBron James behind Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Lakers are a top 5 team in both offensive and defensive efficiency ratings, 2nd in average point differential at +7.4PPG. The Lakers beat Memphis 3 of four meetings this season by an average of +6.3PPG. L.A. won big in both home meetings by 29 (early in the season) and 12 in late February. The games in Memphis were much more interesting as the Lakers won by 1-point and lost by 17 most recently on Feb 29th. One interesting number that stands out to us is the Lakers 3-point shooting percentage which was below 30% in the season series. Memphis is a bottom 10 team in the league in 3-point percentage defense which doesn’t explain the Lakers poor perimeter shooting in the four meetings this season. Memphis has a bright future with Ja Morant and a solid young roster but a team that is in the bottom half of the league in both O.E.F.F. and D.E.F.F. is not going to win a game against this Lakers team which was red hot going into the time off with an 11-2 SU record. The Lakers will be double-digit favorites at home and potentially on the road as Memphis was just 18-15 SU at home this season with the 18th average differential at +0.6PPG. We’ll plan to bet Memphis is Game 3 if they are getting 10 or more points. #2 L.A. Clippers vs. #7 Dallas MavericksRegular season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)Jan 21 @ DAL           W 110-107      W 2.5   U 231.5Nov 26 @ DAL           W 114-99        W -1.5 U 225.5This is going to be a fun first round matchup with the young guns in Dallas of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis going up against Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. The difference is the Clippers have a long list of talent after the Big Two and the Mavericks just can’t match that depth. In my opinion the Clippers are the best team on paper in the NBA and their ability to defend the perimeter with multiple players is their greatest attribute. Size in the post could pose a problem as they advance. In any case, the Clippers will win this series, but the Mavericks are a dangerous team with a pair of young superstars in Porzingis and Doncic. Dallas is a few pieces away from being a contender in the West, but it won’t happen this year. These two teams met twice this season with the Clippers winning both games in Dallas. In breaking down the games the Clippers held the Mavs to just 28.4% shooting from beyond the arc which is significantly lower than their 36.9% season average (8th best in NBA). The Clippers are the 2nd best team in the NBA defending the 3-point line, allowing just 34.1% on the season. Los Angeles won without Paul George in the 3-point win and had him in the lineup when they won by 15. Both Luka and Porzingis played in both losses. The Clippers outrebounded the Mavs by an average of 9 per game which is a considerable margin considering the Mavs are 6th in the NBA in total rebounds (Clippers 4th). Dallas was the 3rd best team in the NBA in not turning the ball over at 12.8 TO’s per game but the Clippers forced them into an average of 16.5 per game in the two meetings this season. On a neutral court we would have the Clippers favored by -4.5-points so at home we expect L.A. to be laying an inflated number in Game #1 of -8.5-points, minus 8-points in Game #2 and then a slight favorite in Dallas in Games #3 and #4. We would back the Mavs in Game #1 as an inflated Dog and in Game #3 at home where they had the 8th best average point differential in the NBA at +6PPG. The Clippers move on in five games. #3 Denver Nuggets vs. #6 Houston RocketsRegular season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)Jan 26 HOU                W 117-110      W -2.5             O 226Jan 22 @ HOU          L 105-121        L 10.5              U 227Dec 31 @ HOU          L 104-130        L 6                   O 225Nov 20 HOU               W 105-95        W -1                U 221.5These two teams were projected by some experts to come out of the West this season, but we don’t see that happening considering they have to go through Los Angeles to get there. With that said the Rockets clearly have the star power with Harden and Westbrook and either can carry a team through a 7-round series. The Nuggets aren’t star driven but have put together a roster that is solid and deep enough to give anyone a run for their money. This shapes up to be a very good series as suggested by the regular season meetings which were split 2-2 with the home team winning all four games. The Nuggets won at home by 10 or less points in both, while the Rockets won by 16 and 26 in Houston. Each team held the other under their season scoring averages with the Rockets shooting better overall and from beyond the arc than their season average. That could be a deciding factor in this series as the Nuggets are the 8th best team in defending the 3-pointer but didn’t do it well against Houston this season. When it comes to efficiency ratings these two teams are similar with Houston averaging 1.138 points per possession offensively and allowing 1.102PPP defensively. Denver isn’t as good offensively, averaging 1.125PPP but does hold a slight advantage defensively allowing 1.095 points per possession. We project this as a 7-game series with the Rockets coming out on top as the Nuggets don’t have a game finisher or options like Houston does. Denver as a low favorite in Game #1 would be a solid option but then we’re probably betting Houston in the next two games as a dog in Game #2 and a home favorite less than 7-points in Game #3. #4 Utah Jazz vs. #5 Oklahoma City ThunderRegular season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)Dec 9  OKC   L 90-104          L -8.5               U 206.5Oct 23 OKC   W 100-95        L -9                  U 221These are two very even teams on paper and this should be a slugfest first round series with the Thunder advancing, narrowly! The two regular season meetings between these teams doesn’t tell us much as they were both played early in the season with each team winning one game apiece. The Thunder are one of the better stories of the NBA this season as not many experts felt they’d be as good as they are with the trade of Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul and draft picks. Last year on March 11th the Thunder were 41-26 SU with Triple-double machine Russell Westbrook and this year on essentially the same date they are 40-24SU. There seems to be some internal issues going on with Jazz and their All-Star players Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Since the All-Star break the Jazz have not been nearly as good defensively allowing 1.156 points per possession compared to the 1.094PPP they allow on the year. Both teams are top 11 in the league in defensive efficiency and top 14 in offensive efficiency with an average point differential of +3.1PPG (Utah) and +2.5PPG (OKC).  Looking at the series the team that moves on will be the team that wins on the road, and once again, the road statistics for both teams are very even when it comes to differentials, efficiency numbers, wins and losses. Because of the rumors we hear regarding Utah’s locker room we like Oklahoma City in a 7-game series. We predict the home teams will be favored by 4-5-points in most games and would bet the home team in the first four games of the series. So, there you have it, the first round of the NBA Playoffs if it were to happen today and who to bet in the first few games of each series. Stay tuned for our hypothetical round two synapses coming in the ensuing weeks. 

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