Articles

NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 2

by Sean Murphy

Tuesday, Sep 15, 2020

The 2020 NFL season is off and running following an entertaining opening week. Here’s a quick look around the league in our latest edition of ‘Stock Rising and Falling’.Stock Rising:Los Angeles RamsThe Rams were better than advertised in their So-Fi Stadium debut, dominating in the trenches in a 20-17 victory over the Cowboys. After a tough 2019 campaign, Los Angeles looked a whole lot like the team that reached the Super Bowl two years ago. Improved offensive line play keyed the victory as QB Jared Goff was given time to operate and long-tenured Rams RB Malcolm Brown was one of the breakout stars of the week. Next up is a trip to Philadelphia to face the injury-ravaged Eagles. New England PatriotsLet’s not get too excited about the Patriots opening-week victory. After all, it did come at the expense of the rebuilding Dolphins. With that being said, there were a lot of positives to take away. QB Cam Newton looked comfortable in and out of the pocket, and perhaps most importantly to Pats fans and backers, he looked healthy. There will be tougher tests ahead but the Pats defense held up well, picking off Fins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick on three occasions and limiting the Miami offense to just 278 total yards. New England will be in the national spotlight on the road against the Seahawks next Sunday night.Green Bay PackersAfter a slow start, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was able to shake off the rust and surgically pick apart the Vikings defense. Everything clicked from the second quarter on for the Green Bay offense, racking up nearly 500 total yards of offense in the 43-34 victory. The defense didn’t have to be great, but came up with enough key plays (two sacks and an interception) to hold on. The Pack will have an excellent shot at a 2-0 start as they host the reeling Lions next Sunday.Stock Falling:Philadelphia EaglesEverything looked great for a quarter-and-a-half in Washington. After that the wheels fell off on the offensive line, which is dealing with a number of key absences. QB Carson Wentz was sacked eight times and threw a pair of interceptions. Philadelphia essentially gift-wrapped the game for Washington, handing the offense short field after short field to work with. Unfortunately there’s no magic formula to cure the o-line’s woes with a scary date with Aaron Donald and the Rams coming on Sunday.Detroit LionsThe Lions played well for three quarters in their opener against the rival Bears on Sunday. Then the wheels fell off. Blowing a 17-point lead against what appeared to be an inept Chicago offense for three quarters serves as a serious gut-punch right out of the gate. Keep in mind, the Lions were already a team with fragile confidence. In a crowded NFC North division, Detroit suddenly finds itself keying up for a big road date with the Packers this coming Sunday.Carolina PanthersThe Panthers weren’t far from a victory in their season-opener but there was still plenty of cause for concern. The Carolina defense has seen an incredible amount talent walk out the door in the last couple of years and it showed against the Raiders. That was particularly true against the run as Raiders RB Josh Jacobs was afforded all the open field he could handle. On offense, it was once again the Christian McCaffrey show. The problem is one player can only do so much. If the Panthers defense doesn’t right the ship their offense will have a tough time coming out on the winning end of many shootouts. As mentioned earlier, Carolina will travel to face Tom Brady and the Bucs next.  

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL and MLB Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Sep 14, 2020

The NBA playoff doubleheader is the main attraction on the Tuesday betting card. The Eastern Conference Finals begin at 6:30 PM ET on ESPN with Game 1 of the Miami/Boston series. The Heat have won eight of their last nine games after taking care of Milwaukee in five games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. That series ended last Tuesday which gave Miami a full week off while being stuck in the Orlando bubble. Boston outlasted Toronto to defeat the reigning NBA champions winning a climactic seventh game by a 92-87 score on Friday. The Celtics received three days off before starting this series so they should not be at a disadvantage when it comes to rest. These two teams played each other three times in the regular season with Boston winning the first two contests before Miami upset them on August 4th in the bubble by a 112-106 score as a 4-point underdog. The Celtics opened as a 1.5-point favorite at BookMaker with the total set at 211.5.  The over/under has been bet down at BookMaker to 209.5. The nightcap features the unexpected but highly dramatic seventh game of the Western Conference semifinals series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets. The Clippers looked to be in command going into the weekend with a 3-1 series lead and a 9-point favorite in Game 5. Even after a 111-105 upset loss on Friday, Doc Rivers’ team still closed around a 9-point favorite for Game 6 on Sunday. Yet another second-half comeback for the Nuggets had them rally to upset the Clippers once again by a 111-98 score to force their fifth playoff Game 7 in the last two seasons. Given those circumstances, Los Angeles opened as a lower 7-point favorite with the total set at 211.5. Initial betting action pushed the Clippers up to a 7.5-point favorite with the over/under dropping to 207.5, as of this writing. ESPN will broadcast this game after the first game ends with the expected tipoff time being no earlier than 9 PM ET.The Stanley Cup playoffs continue tonight with the fifth game of the Eastern Conference Finals. Tampa Bay took a 3-1 lead in this series on Sunday when they defeated the New York Islanders by a 4-1 score. The oddsmakers responded by installing the Lightning as a -165 favorite, and it now sits at -170 at BookMaker. The total is 5o -40. The broadcast will begin at 8 PM ET on the NBC Sports Network. Major League Baseball has a full 15-game card on tap for Tuesday. Three games begin the schedule at 6:40 PM ET with Washington traveling to Tampa Bay along with Boston playing at Minnesota and Pittsburgh at Cincinnati. FS1 has the Arizona-Los Angeles Angels game which will feature a pitching matchup between Madison Bumgarner and Julio Teheran. That game starts at 9:30 PM ET.The playoffs start in the WNBA tonight as well with ESPN2 broadcasting a single-elimination doubleheader. Connecticut and Chicago tip things off at 7 PM ET with Washington and Phoenix following that up at 9 PM ET.

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NFL Thursday Night Football: Browns/Bengals Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Sep 14, 2020

The second week of the NFL season begins on Thursday with a pair of AFC North teams looking to rebound from losses on Sunday. Cincinnati has mixed emotions after suffering a 16-13 loss at home to the Los Angeles Chargers. Kicker Randy Bullock missed a chip-shot 31-yard field goal as time expired that would have forced overtime. Yet the organization has to feel very encouraged by what they saw in the debut of their franchise quarterback. Joe Burrow’s stat line was not eye-popping. He completed 23 of 36 passes for 193 yards while throwing a bad interception to Chargers’ defensive end Melvin Ingram on an ill-advised shuffle pass. However, Burrow had the chops of a wily veteran in operating the two-minute drill which began on the Bengals’ 18-yard line> He calmly marched his team to the Chargers’ 3-yard line before settling for the 31-yard field goal after an offensive pass interference call. Burrow was also impressive with an audible at the line of scrimmage that resulted in a 23-yard designed quarterback draw that resulted in the first touchdown of his professional career.There are few bright spots that Cleveland can take from their 38-6 thumping by the Ravens in Baltimore. Baker Mayfield completed only 21 of his 39 passes for only 189 yards. It was not an inspiring debut for new head coach Kevin Stefanski considering that the Freddy Kitchens-coached offense put up 40 points against the Baltimore defense on the road last September 29th when the Browns upset the Ravens by a 40-25 score. Cleveland believes they have the talent of a playoff team. An 0-2 start might be the match that lights the fire under this powder keg. The Browns ran the ball 27 times for 138 yards with Nick Chubb getting ten carries and Kareem Hunt getting another thirteen rushing attempts. Mayfield targeted Odell Beckham ten times but that resulted in only three catches for 22 yards. Mayfield reflected after the game: “Sometimes a wakeup call is pretty good for everybody — a nice punch in the mouth, and that is how we should take it." Placekicker Austin Seibert will not be getting a courtesy wake-up call with the Browns cutting him on Monday after he missed an extra point and a 40-yard field goal. He was replaced by the kicker he beat out in training camp, Cody Parker.Injuries could play a significant role when assessing this game played on short rest. The Browns are banged up in their secondary with cornerbacks Greedy Williams and Kevin Johnson out for that Ravens game before cornerback Robert Jackson departed with a finger injury. They then placed tight end David Njoku on injured reserve on Monday after he injured his knee in that game. Cincinnati is dealing with injuries on the defensive side of the ball as well with the most notable being defensive tackle Geno Atkins questionable with a shoulder. These teams split their two meetings with the Browns winning at home as a 6.5-point favorite on December 8th by a 27-19 score (going over the 43.5 total) before the Bengals exacted revenge on December 29th with their 33-23 upset victory at home as a 2.5-point closing under (going over the 44 point total). Cleveland opened at BookMaker as an 8.5-point favorite with the total set at 46 but those numbers have been bet down with the Browns laying 5.5 points as of this writing, with the over/under at 44. Kickoff is set for 8:20 PM ET on the NFL Network.

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 1

by Sean Murphy

Wednesday, Sep 09, 2020

We've made it. It feels like an eternity since Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy back in February but here we are, on the eve Week 1 of what promises to be a truly unique 2020 season. Now is a great time to take stock, so to speak, of which teams are poised to rise and fall as we kick things off this weekend.Stock Rising:Baltimore RavensIt may seem hard to believe the Ravens stock can go much higher after a phenomenal 2019 campaign that ultimately ended in playoff disappointment. I actually feel Baltimore could be even better here in 2020. There's just so much talent coming back to the fold - on both sides of the football - not to mention the coaching staff, which is somewhat unique in today's NFL. I fully expect Baltimore to pick up right where it left off last regular season and what a great starting point against a very beatable Browns squad on Sunday afternoon.Arizona CardinalsThe Cardinals are suddenly a trendy sleeper pick in the NFC West and while I'm not one to side with the masses, I tend to agree that the Cards could be in for a terrific year. QB Kyler Murray is obviously poised to take a big step forward in his sophomore year, and he'll be given every opportunity to succeed with the addition of all-world WR DeAndre Hopkins, and an underrated stable of running backs led by Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds. With that being said, Arizona's defense still has plenty of holes, so count on plenty of shootouts in games involving the Cards this season.Indianapolis ColtsThe Colts have quietly been building something positive down in Indy over the past few seasons and now they have a legitimate chance to take a leap forward with a rock solid defense and an offense that could be better than expected with a few new faces in the fold. Of course, the Colts big offseason move was acquiring a proven quarterback in Philip Rivers. While he's not going to light the AFC on fire, I do think he's a good fit in this offense. Don't sleep on rookie RB Jonathan Taylor either. He should fit in just fine running and catching behind an offensive line that returns mostly intact. Stock Falling:San Francisco 49ersHear me out on this one. The 49ers are the defending NFC champions and a popular pick to return to the Super Bowl in February. I'm expecting some regression, however, as the Niners open the campaign with a number of key absences on the defensive side of the football as well as on the offensive line. That strikes a major blow to San Francisco's identity, which is built on playing airtight defense and bludgeoning opposing defenses with a run-heavy offense. Playing in an improved NFC West doesn't help matters. Houston TexansOutside of QB DeShaun Watson, there's really not a lot to like about the Texans entering the new season. First they take away Watson's biggest weapon in WR DeAndre Hopkins. Then they do nothing to help what was a pitiful pass rush a year ago. Yes, Houston added the likes of RB David Johnson and WR Brandin Cooks but both carry plenty of baggage on the injury front (Cooks is already missing practice time). The schedule-makers did the Texans no favors giving them a rematch with the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs on opening night.Jacksonville JaguarsThere are whispers of 'tanking' in Jacksonville as the Jaguars have become a shell of their former selves. What was once a loaded young defensive corps has been left ravaged and ripe for the picking against a tough AFC South. QB Gardner Minshew brought plenty of excitement to the offense a year ago, but his weapons are few and far between. Expect the Jags defense to spend a lot of time on the field, giving the offense precious little time to inflict much damage, and without the necessary tools to do so. 

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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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