Sports Picks For Sale - AAA Sports

Hot Streaks and Achievements

  • 14-5 (+$8,500) ALL SOCCER IN 2024!
  • 939-787 (+$77,000) LIFETIME NBA SIDES!
  • 571-487 (+$38,000) LIFETIME w/ 10* NFL!

Biography

AAA Sports has dominated virtually every North American sport since bursting upon the scene in 2012.

Active since:  2012

Location:  Saanichton, BC, Canada 

Since its founding in the Summer of 2012, AAA Sports has finished with numerous No. 1, Top 5 and Top 10 placements in almost all of the major North American sports.  2019 was one of AAA's very best seasons.  AAA finished up over $10,000 in the NFL, and also continued its NBA domination, as its 2-year run in Pro Hoops has garnered a profit of $28,576.  But AAA’s success is nothing new.  In 2012, AAA finished among the nation’s leaders in the NFL.  The stars would also align for AAA in 2013-14 as it would finish among the most decorated handicapping services in the industry that year.  AAA earned three Top 5 placements in three different sports in the same wagering season, including two No. 1’s (NCAAF and NBA) and finished No. 2 in the NHL.  The 2016 NFL playoffs saw AAA go 11-3 (79%), while more recent achievements include going 20-6 (77%) in the 2019 NCAA Tournament and then delivering an additional $11,236 profit in the 2019-20 season.

Clients can expect A LOT of plays on a daily/weekly/monthly basis from AAA, as it plays almost every single "weeknight" Football game (both the NFL and College), as well as 5 to 7-game football cards on Saturday and Sunday.  Clients can also expect large NBA, NHL and College Basketball cards each and every day possible.  MLB cards are released very early so that one always has time to shop around for the best lines.  AAA didn't put together its amazing life-time records by playing passively!

AAA does not subscribe to any single handicapping methodology.  Instead AAA believes that being flexible is the best way to secure profits over the long term.  Sometimes, AAA keeps it simple, while other times it will take into account numerous different factors, like motivation, scheduling and significant injuries.  AAA especially likes to take advantage of classic "spot bets" (i.e., the "look-ahead" spot, the "letdown" spot, and the "trap" game).

All of that being said, AAA primarily considers itself a “stat based” handicapping service.  One set of criteria which AAA always uses when making his decisions are Against The Spread (ATS) statistics.

AAA's biggest plays receive its 10* ranking.  Nearly all of its point spread plays fall in the 8* to 10* range, as AAA has confidence in all of its selections and doesn't believe in significant variances in wager sizes.  Money line selections will sometimes be rated lower than an 8* if it's a big favorite.

AAA cordially invites everyone to hop on board as it looks forward to another winning year. 

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SOCCER - Moneyline - Sat, Apr 27

10* MLS GAME OF WEEK - 14-5 (+$8.5K) SOCCER!

AAA Sports' WHITE HOT Soccer run is now 14-5 (+$8,500) in 2024 across ALL leagues! Good news! AAA Sports is back on t...

$30

NBA - Over / Under - Wed, Apr 24

10* NBA TOTAL ASSASSIN - MUST PLAY ALERT!

Time to LOWER THE BOOM on the books on Wednesday night, as AAA Sports KICKS IT UP ANOTHER NOTCH with their NBA Playof...

$30

NBA - Over / Under - Thu, Apr 25

10* Denver/Lakers TOP PLAY WINNER (BLOWOUT!)

Renowned for their ability to produce INCREDIBLE all-sports win streaks, there's STILL time to get involved with this...

$30

NBA - Point Spread - Thu, Apr 25

10* Cavs/Magic Game 3 BLOCKBUSTER - +$77K RUN

AAA Sports' long-term NBA numbers remain among THE BEST OF THE BEST. In particular, it has been their UNCANNY "side" ...

$30

NHL - Over / Under - Thu, Apr 25

10* Panthers/Bolts GAME 3 TOP PLAY - BLOWOUT!

AAA Sports is going TOP SHELF on the bookmakers on Thursday night, stepping out with a number of top-rated releases a...

$30

NHL - Puck Line - Thu, Apr 25

NHL PLAYOFF CUSTOMER APPRECIATION PLAY!

AAA Sports is planning a MAJOR MONEY MOVE on Thursday night, stepping out with several top-rated Playoff picks in bot...

$25

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NBA Round 1 Preview

Saturday, Apr 20, 2024

EASTERN CONFERENCEMiami vs. BostonSeries odds – Celtics -8000, Heat +2000Here we go again. Miami’s dominance over the Bulls, especially minus injured Jimmy Butler, certainly gives the Celtics something to think about. This iteration of the Tatum/Brown Celtics won 64 games but still has to shake its rep as playoff underachievers, especially after losing to the Heat in the EC finals a year ago. The Heat’s zone defense confused the Celtics last year, but Kristaps Porzingis may be able to neutralize that with his inside/outside game.Milwaukee vs. IndianapolisSeries odds – Pacers -122, Bucks +100Will the Bucks be toes up by the time Giannis Antetokounmpo returns from that nasty calf strain? Basically, Milwaukee’s chances depend on whether the answer to that question is yes or no. With trigger man Tyrese Halliburton (he led the league is assists) running the show, Indy will push the pace as much as possible to wear out Damien Lillard and Milwaukee’s porous perimeter defense.Orlando vs. ClevelandSeries odds – Cavaliers -195 Magic +165Cleveland tested the karma gods by its less-than-intense effort in the season finale – a loss which gave them a matchup with Orlando instead of the Pacers in Round 1. We’ll see how the NBA gods respond. The Magic have plenty of bulletin board material after that snub, and one thing if for sure – Orlando will muck it up and toss an elbow here or there. The teams split four games this season, but so many players were out and injured that there’s not much to be gleaned from that.Philadelphia vs. New YorkSeries odds – 76ers -110, Knicks -110Joel Embiid looked more than decent in the Play In win over Miami, but he tends to fade late in series. A blowout either way early in the series would give Philly a chance to keep his minutes down, but oddsmakers seem to think this is a coin flip matchup that could go seven. With Julius Randle out, Philly figures to bang relentlessly on Jalen Brunson – even as the Knicks use the same strategy against Embiid. Both will have to pick themselves off the floor quite a bit.WESTERN CONFERENCENew Orleans vs. Oklahoma CitySeries odds – Thunder -650, Pelicans +440Playing with pace becomes a lot more difficult when the regular season ends and playoffs begin, but OKC will give it a go. The Thunder will have had a week off when they take on the Pelicans, closing out the season with a 5-game winning streak as they probably would have preferred to take advantage of young legs. Without its jackhammer, Zion Williamson, for the series (he’s out two more weeks), the Pels will have to adjust on the fly.Los Angeles Lakers vs. DenverSeries odds – Nuggets -420, Lakers +310Here we go again. LA’s improbable playoff run ended in Denver’s WC finals sweep last season, and oddsmakers figure something similar will happen again. The Lakers are the biggest WC underdogs but have flipped on the light switch since the All-Star Game. Nicola Jokic is waiting for official word on another MVP award, and LeBron James gets at least another four games to add to his legacy. Is any big in the league playing better than Anthony Davis right now? Phoenix vs. MinnesotaSeries odds – Suns -140, Timberwolves +114Injuries robbed us from seeing exactly how good the Suns could be, with stars Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal playing the equivalent of only 18 full games together. But Phoenix did finish strong, avoided the Play In and defeated Minnesota twice in the last 10 games. The T-Wolves get after it on defense with an enormous front line of Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and Jaden McDaniels -- along with MVP candidate Anthony Edwards.       Dallas vs. Los Angeles ClippersSeries odds – Mavericks -118, Clippers -104Another 4/5 series with a razor thin margin. Dallas is a slight favorite in this one, befitting its white-hot finish to the season. Things could go off the rails any time with Kyrie Irving, but this year he has been both on the court and effective. And speaking of actually playing, Kawhi Leonard appeared in 68 games this year, more than in any season since 2016-17 with San Antonio. The Clips would love a long playoff run to juice their move to their own arena next season.

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Breaking Down The Play In

Monday, Apr 15, 2024

This year’s NBA Play In tournament features plenty of star power – LeBron James, Steph Curry, MVP Joel Embiid, Zion Williamson. And the potential exists for four marquee franchises (Lakers, Warriors, Heat, 76ers) to make it into the playoff proper in what looks like a wide-open post-season for the Association. A look at the Play In:WESTLos Angeles Lakers (8) at New Orleans (7)Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ETPelicans -1The only thing that prevented a Lakers-Warriors elimination game was Sacramento’s late-season slump – 6 losses in their final 10 games dropped them to the 9 seed in the West. LA has been forced to play LeBron James big minutes in the last week, and that will continue for one (or two) Play In games. But that’s a must if the Lakers are going to make another long playoff run. Had the Pelicans been able to take care of business against lowly San Antonio (111-109 loss) a few weeks ago, they would have been the 6 seed and avoided this play-in business. And getting spanked by the Lakers at home after four straight wins has to make them question things.Golden State (10) at Sacramento (9)Tuesday, 10 p.m. ETWarriors -1.5One last bite of the apple for the NBA’s most recent dynasty? It’s probably too much to expect Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to turn back the clock through the Play In and two or three 7-game series. But for one game, sure. Especially since Sacramento seems to be treading water at best. The teams have seen a lot of each other in the post-season. They met last year in the first round, with Golden State winning in seven. Sacramento, which seems to be on the receiving end of tough officials calls in big games, will no doubt be wary of bad whistles in this one.EASTMiami (8) at Philadelphia (7)Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET76ers -4.5Catching a Sixers team with a returning (from injury) Joel Embiid was a nightmare for several Eastern Conference teams, and the Heat have drawn the short straw. Embiid will have had four days of rest when he attempts to wreak havoc on Miami’s front line. The winner gets the 7 seed and some rest before facing New York in the first round. Philly has plenty of momentum, winning 8 of its last 10, and Embiid has only 39 regular season games on his legs entering the post-season. Whether he has the wind to play 35 minutes a game in the playoffs is the question, as he has been gassed late in playoff games in the recent past. As for Miami, can the Heat make a second straight run to the Finals after embarrassing Boston in the Eastern finals a year ago? And will we see Playoff Jimmy Butler again, at age 34?Atlanta (10) at Chicago (9)Wednesday, 9 p.m. ETBulls -3.5Chicago started the season 5-14 and was left for dead before rallying somewhat and settling into the No. 9 spot in the East, which is where they’ve been since mid-January. The most notable thing about the Bulls’ season was the injury to Zach Lavine, which made it impossible to trade him and his contract. Other than that, few highlights. This is Trae Young’s third straight trip to the Play In, and could be his second straight first-round battle against the Celtics. Last year Atlanta played Boston tough in a 6-game first-round series, which no doubt affected the Celtics when they lost to Miami in the EC finals. The loser of this game is no doubt headed for a rebuild.

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The NBA's Home Stretch

Tuesday, Mar 26, 2024

There are still a few weeks to go in the NBA regular season and no one knows how things are going to shake down, but the league is starting to confront the possibility that one or two of its legacy franchises could be knocked out before even getting to a 7-game series or – horrors – not even qualify for the Play-In Tournament.At this writing, the Lakers and Warriors are squeezed into the Western Conference 9 and 10 spots, respectively, and if the playoffs started tonight they would play a one-and-done NCAA Tourney-type game in Los Angeles for the right to play another team and get to the actual first round.And as if contemplating the playoffs without LeBron James or Steph Curry isn’t stomach-turning enough for the league and its TV partners, a red-hot Houston Rockets team has come out of nowhere with nine wins in its last 10 games, and could replace the Lakers or Warriors before the post-season even gets rolling.For Warriors fans, who are not used to living on the verge of the lottery, the odds are a bit numbing. Basketball Reference’s Playoff Possibility Report gives GS a 25 percent chance of getting to the playoffs proper (88 percent to get to the Play-In).As for the Lakers, more than a few eyebrows were raised on Sunday night when LA lived at the free throw line (43 FTs) and put a 150 spot in a must-have win over the Pacers (16 FTs). James & Co. start a 6-game road trip Tuesday night and have only three more games at home, including an April 9 battle against Golden State that looks like it will have playoff implications.Houston, meanwhile, seems undervalued with just a 6.3 percent chance of getting to the Final 8 in the West.---Caleb Williams appears locked in as the overall No. 1 pick in next month’s draft, but there might be a curveball at No. 2. For a few months the Mocks have had Washington taking Jaden Daniels or Drake Maye, but there are reports that the Commanders came away impressed with J.J. McCarthy after his pro day. The Patriots, drafting at 3, were believed to be turning aside all trade offers, but new coach Jerrod Mayo was quoted as saying that they would consider moving down. If Washington does taking McCarthy second, that might allow the Pats to move down in the first round and STILL get Daniels or Maye. Or not. For the record, FanDuel still has Daniels at -180 going to Washington.---What did Shohei Ohtani know and when did he know it? That’s the big question in MLB these days. Was he ripped off by his interpreter or (yikes) was the interpreter laying bets for Ohtani? The player claims it’s the former and that he never bet on sports, and that his interpreter was taking money – which raises the question as to how his former BFF got access to Ohtani’s ample bank account. Seems like there’s more to this than is now public. But none of this seems to have affected Ohtani’s MVP odds, which opened at +1000 and now rest in the +750 range in most books.---Joe Biden is back on top – barely – in wagering at the Predictit.org website, with the numbers pretty much reflecting a rash of recent polls that show him narrowly ahead of Donald Trump. There has been minimal movement at Predictit, and the only interesting aspect is that California Gov. Gavin Newsom is even with gadfly candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. in a distant tie for third.

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Ohtani “Has a Lot of ‘Splaining to Do.”

Friday, Mar 22, 2024

The old gambling joke goes like this:“Hey, you look awful. What’s going on?“I just lost $1,000 betting on basketball.”“Maybe you should bet on football instead.”“That’s even worse. I lost $2,000 on the NFL.”“How about hockey?”“Hockey???!!!??? I don’t know ANYTHING about hockey.”-So it goes with one Ippei Mizuhara, who in one fell swoop has just pissed away perhaps the best job in the world and may have made himself persona non grata in two countries because, as he says, “I’m not a very good gambler.”As the longtime interpreter, confidante, and apparent BFF of the No. 1 baseball player in the world, new Dodger Shohei Ohtani, Mizuhara got to travel the world and hang with Ohtani. Just be a human English-to-Japanese dictionary (and vice versa) a few times a day, and cash team checks that amounted to a reported $500,000 a year.But what Mizuhara apparently did with a lot of that money, plus a substantial chunk of change that he didn’t have, is what reportedly dragged him into a pile of mud that is also getting Ohtani dirty. Details aren’t confirmed, but reports indicate that some $4.5 million from Ohtani’s bank account was withdrawn to cover Mizuhara’s financial obligations to an illegal (sports betting is not legal in California) gambling outfit.From there things get foggy. Ohtani’s lawyers say the cash was stolen but don’t say by whom or how. And it doesn’t help that both Ohtani and Mizuhara have changed their stories – first saying that Ohtani was aware of the huge gambling debt and then retracting those statements. This raises the question of why an illegal book would extend that much credit to someone like Mizuhara who was clearly not a whale – unless it had collateral. Did we mention that Ohtani’s new contract with the Dodgers will earn him $70 million a year through 2033?Then there’s this – Ohtani, a notoriously private person, picked this past week – just before the sh*t hit the fan regarding his interpreters’ gambling ineptness -- to announce that he has just gotten married. What the blushing bride’s connection to all of this is is uncertain, but one thing IS certain: Spouses cannot be compelled to testify against their husband or wife, so there’s that.As of now there is no evidence that Mizuhara placed bets on baseball, so the suits at MLB can breathe easy for the time being. But what will they do if he did wager on MLB games, and Ohtani’s hands are not that clean? Is Rob Manfred ready to play Bart Giamatti to Ohtani’s Pete Rose, and ban the superstar for life? And if not, why not? You have to wonder if DraftKings will place odds on THAT happening.So many questions, so many conflicting answers, most notably what was Ohtani’s involvement – if any – in his interpreter’s activities? Was Mizuhara a place-holder for Ohtani and now ready to take the fall for the player who was set to become the face of Major League Baseball? Will the Dodgers circle the wagons around their new superstar? How much do the feds care about an activity that may at some point in the not-too-distant future be legal in California? Did Mizuhara steal from Ohtani? How? Will Mizuhara and Ohtani change their story a second time, or stick with what they have?The boiling cauldron will no doubt heat up even more as the Dodger plane sets down in Los Angeles after the team’s two-game season-opening series in South Korea. As Ricky told Lucy, Ohtani “Has a lot of ‘splaining to do.”

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The NBA's Home Stretch

Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024

ARE WE HEADED FOR A LAKERS-WARRIORS ELIMINATION GAME?Two teams who view themselves as championship contenders appear looks like they’ll have to slum it this season in the Play-In Tournament. Worse yet, they might be the 9-10 teams in the Western Conference, which would be the equivalent of a Taylor Swift concert in the local high school gym. There are a couple of dozen games left in the regular season, and as of this writing, the Lakers and Warriors are four games behind the No. 8 Mavericks. Just when they would need to start thinking about getting Steph Curry and LeBron James rest for the playoffs, they’ll have to play them big minutes to avoid falling out of the playoffs completely. Both teams are now at about +4000 to win the title, but even those odds seem generous considering the mountain they would have to climb just to make it to the playoffs proper.WHAT’S HAPPENING AT THE TOP OF THE WEST?Down the stretch they come, and everything points to a photo finish among the top four teams. Neither Minnesota nor Oklahoma City are showing any signs of slowing down, but Denver and the Clippers each have far more experience. Oddsmakers still like the defending-champ Nuggets to come out of the West (+190), with the Thunder (+800) getting little respect for a team that has both an MVP candidate in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a Rookie of the Year possible in Chet Holmgren, plus young legs up and down the rotation. The Clippers were the best team in the league just prior to the All-Star Game, but have faded just a bit.SPEAKING OF MVPs, WHO’S IN THE MIX?With injured Joel Embiid out of the running, it’s time to round up the usual suspects. MVP talk now begins and ends with Nikola Jokic, who is now a solid if not prohibitive favorite at -160. In any game the Nuggets play, everything offensively and defensively seems to revolve around Jokic. He is the man, and it’s hard to envision Gilgeous-Alexander, Luka Doncic, or Giannis Antetokounmpo doing anything about it in the last month of the season.CAN THE CELTICS FINALLY GET IT DONE?They have the most talented starting five in the league, by a large margin, and they’re on pace to win 65 games. They’ll have a home-court advantage in every series they play. Oddsmakers like their chances to win it all (+250). They have two all-NBA players in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Yet they carry the weight of the Finals loss to Golden State two years ago and the embarrassment of losing to the Play-In Heat last year. They are a 3-point-shooting team with a coach (Joe Mazzulla) who says weird things, loves analytics, and thinks 40-plus 3s is not enough from behind the line. So there are doubts that will persist until they hang championship banner 18.IF BOSTON FALTERS, WHO COMES OUT OF THE EAST?Who knows? Everyone else in the East has issues. Boston may take too many 3s, but the Cavaliers worry that they’re taking too few. What should be a great backcourt (Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland) struggle at times when they are on the court together. Milwaukee has had problems defensively all season after emptying the cupboard for Damien Lillard. The Knicks are plenty deep – but only when injured starters O.J. Anunoby, Julius Randle and Donovan Mitchell get back, and no one knows when that will be. And then there’s Miami, which plays 82 games only to comply with NBA rules and then turns it on in the postseason.

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In Depth Look At The Milwaukee Bucks

Monday, Feb 19, 2024

The phrase “Careful what you ask for” is believed to have originated in the 1890s, and it appears that perennial MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo is not familiar with the adage. Antetokounmpo had this to say at the All-Star Game this past weekend when asked about the Bucks’ struggles this season:“This is my fourth coach in the span of six months," Antetokounmpo said. "Different philosophy, different game plan. It’s hard. It’s draining."Left unsaid was any role that Antetokounmpo himself had to play in jettisoning the three coaches (Mike Budenholzer, Adrian Griffin, and interim Joe Prunty) before Doc Rivers came aboard a few weeks ago. NBA teams operate these days at the pleasure of their superstars, who get guaranteed money but can cause panic in the team offices at the slightest hint that they might want out if the clubs don’t make moves that lead to immediate title contention (see James, LeBron.)A disgruntled Antetokounmpo in the Age of Player Empowerment is the last thing that Bucks management wanted. After getting ousted in the playoffs by Miami, they had tossed away part of the future by loading some draft picks and defensive stopper Jrue Holiday in a moving van and brought in more offense in Damian Lillard.The result? The Bucks, one of the favorites to come out of the East and win another championship, never generated much mojo out of the gate. Defense has been a huge issue, and new boss Doc Rivers has produced even worse results than Griffin did. Milwaukee limps into the final third of the season with 7 losses in their last 10 (all under Rivers).Despite their travails, the Bucks haven’t been completely abandoned by oddsmakers. They list anywhere from +375 to +450 to win the title, with the numbers guys apparently not yet convinced that Cleveland and New York have the weaponry to best challenge the Celtics in the East.There is plenty of schadenfreude to go around in Milwaukee. Rivers, who has become an itinerant HC since walking away from the Celtics when Boston was ready to pull the plug on the Pierce-Garnett Era and start a rebuild, wasn’t able to get things done after being given ready-made teams in Los Angeles (Clippers) and Philadelphia.Now he tries again and has two generational talents at his disposal – Antetokounmpo, who has been making noises about the team having to play harder; and Lillard, who must wonder what he got himself into after shooting his way out of Portland and not getting his preferred South Beach destination.Milwaukee starts the home stretch 9 games back of Boston in the loss column, and with 29 games left in the regular season, catching the Celtics is out of the question. But if Cleveland cools down and the Knicks don’t go nuts, second place in the East is attainable and that would enable the Bucks to avoid Boston until the EC finals.A strong finish will require much greater attention to detail, and a focus that Rivers knows has been missing. After the final game before the All-Star break, a soul-crushing loss to the lowly Grizzlies, Rivers summed up the players’ mindset with this: “We had some guys in Cabo.”MVP ODDSMilwaukee’s problems have had an effect on Antetokounmpo’s chances of winning a third MVP award, which with the injury to Joel Embiid has become a two-player race between Denver’s Nikola Jokic (+200) and OKC’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+350). Antetokounmpo follows at +1000, followed by Luka Doncic of Dallas at +1100.

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Around The Horn In The NBA

Monday, Jan 29, 2024

No one is really sure who said it first, but it’s often traced back to former Eagles/Broncos safety Brian Dawkins, who didn’t miss a lot of games in his career: “The best ability is availability.”NBA players and their enabler bosses spat on that statement in recent years, forcing the league to make it painful for teams to rest stars. The league’s new policies regarding post-season awards have gone a long way toward eliminating load management, and it just might give one of its brightest lights a chance at winning a second consecutive MVP trophy.Joel Embiid has played in 33 of Philadelphia’s 44 games heading into Monday night’s action at Portland, and one of those games was a 70-point (plus 18 rebounds) monster that helped change the betting odds. Beating even Wilt Chamberlain’s team scoring record (the Stilt’s best was 68) moved Embiid into the MVP favorite spot at +200.But  . . . there is the small matter of qualifying. Injuries and rest have caused Embiid to miss 11 games – or 25 percent of Philadelphia’s games this season. At that same rate, he would miss another nine or 10 of the remaining 38 games, which would make him ineligible for the MVP Iron.And don’t forget this. Embiid is a very large man and lugs a lot of weight up and down the court more than a hundred times every game. If the Sixers are going to make a deep playoff run, Embiid will have to play big-time minutes in April and May, times when he has run out of gas in the past. So do the Sixers put him on the court enough to keep him in the MVP hunt, or do they take a page out of Kawhi Leonard’s book and keep him locked and loaded for games in April, May, and maybe June?And now that the word is out, will the MVP voters factor in games played when they cast their votes? It’s interesting to note that Embiid’s major competition for the award (Denver stud Nikola Jokic +210), has played in all 46 of his team’s games this season.The Rookie of the Year will be either San Antonio big man Victor Wembanyama or Oklahoma City forward Chet Holmgren, with Wembanyama having the edge in most books despite the Spurs’ journey into the lottery and the Thunder’s rise to the top of the Western Conference. One outlier book, though (MGM), actually gives a slight edge to Holmgren.The Celtics remain the consensus favorite to win the NBA title, with most books having them at around +300. But lots of eyes have been opened by the Celtics’ losses to Denver and the Clippers. Boston was 20-0 at home before the Nuggets edged them by a bucket, and then last Saturday the Clippers came into Boston and dropped the hammer on the Celts (the final margin was 19 but the lead was 36 before Boston’s key players were pulled).File this one under the category of what always happens to a fool and his money. Just before Christmas, Draft Kings offered +100,000 odds that the Detroit Pistons, then buried in a 25-game losing streak, would not win a game for the rest of the season. Someone actually took a $40 flyer on that offer. Detroit lost three more games before the bettor had to tear up the ticket when the Pistons eked out a two-point victory – their third of the year – over Toronto. The Pistons are now 6-40 (.150 winning percentage, and would have to go 2-34 (.058 winning percentage) the rest of the way to break the mark for the worst record in NBA history – 9-73, set by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers.

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Where Does Bill Belichick Land?

Monday, Jan 08, 2024

Focused on him, because he's the big kahuna.Bill Belichick has (had?) always refused to tolerate what others would accept.When he needed a safety and Rodney Harrison was the best one available, Belichick picked up Harrison at Boston’s Logan Airport, and rather than wining and dining the future Hall of Famer, they went to the closest Denny’s and the HC of the NEP drew defensive schemes on a piece of paper. Harrison soon signed on.When NFL coaches met for their annual retreat, the group picture the NFL sent out to the press had 31 faces. Guess who refused to show up?And, win or lose, Belichick had little patience for press conferences of any kind. They were a waste of time. In two decades, perhaps the two quotes he is most remembered for are “It is what it is” and “We’re on to Cincinnati.”It’s always been a take-it-or-leave-it persona with Belichick, and the spec now is that Patriots owner Bob Kraft might leave it and some other NFL will take it. Where he resumes his chase of Don Shula’s career wins record next year is anyone’s guess. He’s the favorite (3/1) to take over the talented but underperforming Chargers. BetOnLine has Belichick as the +200 favorite to land in Washington if he leaves Foxboro. Atlanta? How far away from big-time winning is Jacksonville? Could he return to his Giants roots?In New England, there is mounting fan sentiment to run it back with Belichick – IF he’ll agree to a few changes, the most prominent of which is giving up 100 percent control of personnel decisions. The only good consequence of the Patriots’ AFC-worst 4-13 record this year is the third pick in the draft, and Patriotfiles worry that if Belichick keeps buying the groceries, he won’t use it on a future franchise QB and instead trade down for a bushel of 3rd- and 4th-rounders.Belichick’s post-Brady game plan – build a solid defense, get a game manager quarterback, and then win with better special teams play and superior coaching. In the last draft, Belichick spent medium draft picks on a punter and place-kicker, and they didn’t even kick the tires on then-free agent Lamar Jackson. Mac Jones tried to get it done, but the receivers couldn’t get open, the offensive line was a shambles and the offense was the worst in the league and the worst in New England since 1991.The Patriots have gone to nine Super Bowls in Belichick’s tenure – an obscene number. They won six of them. Only two ridiculous catches (one by Mario Manningham and the other by David Tyree) and Belichick’s stubbornness in punishing CB Malcolm Butler for who-knows-what prevented a possible 9-SB sweep. There was also the undefeated 2007 regular season, incredible fourth-quarter comebacks (Will the Falcons ever get over 28-3?), DeflateGate, SpyGate, and a thousand and one other things that made the Belichick Era what it was.But like many people who have been blessed with long lives, the final years under Belichick have not been the healthiest.  The highest-paid coach in the NFL would never pay a player a dime more than he figured they were worth, and because of that some dominant players – Logan Mankins, Lawyer Milloy, Richard Seymour – chose to walk. But Belichick always recovered, at least he did until Tom Brady decided that he wanted more money and a little say in how the game plan would go down. That was a bridge too far. Belichick chose principle over pragmatism, Brady left in a snit and four years without The GOAT have laid waste to coach Bill’s philosophy and produced losing records, empty seats at Gillette, and serious meetings this week in Robert Kraft’s office.Wither Bill?A quarter-century ago the Patriots refused to let HC Bill Parcells buy the groceries, and he walked away. Would Belichick endure the embarrassment of Kraft hiring someone else to run the draft and free agency, someone who would basically be Bill’s boss? And how would that play out on the field? Could Belichick embrace the new, offensive, big-play-needed NFL, or would he resist and demand to win his way -- ball control and field position?Palace intrigue will take over the management suites at Gillette this week, and other coach-needy franchises will be paying close attention.

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Big Questions Left In The NFL

Tuesday, Dec 26, 2023

Just call it Moving Week.Week 17 is the NFL’s equivalent to Saturday on the PGA Tour as teams maneuver for playoff spots, playoff home games and hope against hope that there are no major injuries heading into the playoffs.Lots of questions need to be answered.  Among them:WHO MOST NEEDS A HOME PLAYOFF GAME? Not much doubt on this. The Cowboys would give back all their presents to start the playoffs in Dallas, where they are 7-0 as opposed to 3-5 on the road. The last thing Dallas (10-5) wants is to travel to red-hot Tampa Bay, but leap-frogging the 11-4 Eagles and winning the East (and a home game) seems a bridge too far.WHO IN THE NFC HAS THE MOST MOMENTUM? Speaking of the Buccaneers, TB was left for dead after losing to Indianapolis in late November, but has won four straight and has averaged 31 in its last three games. Might be fool’s gold and a loss at home to New Orleans could put an end to the fun, but the Bucs are opening some eyes.WHO HAS THE MOST ISSUES? Just what is going on in Kansas City, where the Chiefs are angry with each other even though they are going to win the AFC West and get a home playoff game? Is it way too early to think that the Kardashians are off the hook and now there is a Taylor Swift Curse? The Chiefs’ road to the Super Bowl could now go through BOTH Miami and Baltimore.WHO IS THE TEAM NO ONE WANTS TO PLAY? Ask the 49ers, who got bent, folded, and mutilated – at home, no less – on Christmas by the Ravens. Baltimore has a top 5 offense, a top 6 defense, and is peaking at the right time. And that Lamar Jackson guy is pretty good. Remember six months ago any team could have had him for the right contract number.  Despite the loss, however, SF is still the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl at +210, with oddsmakers figuring that the loss to Baltimore was a one-off.WHO’S LEFT STANDING IN THE AFC? Five AFC teams enter Week 17 at 8-7. One of them will win the South, and one of the others from a group of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, and Houston will win at musical chairs and sneak into the final playoff spot. The insanely complicated tie-breaker rules will almost certainly be applied here, and right now the Colts seem to have the edge over several other teams.WHAT’S UP WITH BUFFALO? The Bills are in but will have to win at least one road game in the playoffs, and they have already lost at Denver, New England, and New York (Jets) this year. Still, Buffalo has won three in a row and is in a position to perhaps rest some key players this coming weekend in Foxboro and in a Week 18 matchup against Miami that is likely to be meaningless.WHICH NFL DIVISION CHAMP GETS THE BYE? San Francisco, Detroit, and Philadelphia head down the home stretch nose to nose, all at 11-4. The NFL is full of quicksand, but right now the Eagles seem to have the easier road home with games at home vs. Arizona and in New York against the Giants. San Francisco, licking wounds after the loss to Baltimore, gets to right the ship against the Commanders in Washington before closing against the Rams at home. Detroit has two nasty games – at Dallas and then at home against the Vikings.WHO’S THE MVP THIS SEASON? Heading into Week 16 it was Brock Purdy’s to lose, and he might just have done that with four interceptions in the awful loss to the Ravens. And it just so happens that the only player with a chance to catch Purdy was Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson. LJ did nothing to hurt his chances at winning his second MVP, throwing for 252 yards, two TDs, and zero interceptions while Purdy was throwing four picks. The two performances flipped the MVP odds upside down, with Jackson now -150 and Purdy now third at +600. Niners RB Christian McCaffrey is ahead of Purdy at +400.  Had Purdy’s awful performance come in Week 3 he might have been able to survive it, but recency bias will likely end his chances.

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The NBA On Christmas Day

Sunday, Dec 24, 2023

The NBA already has opened its Christmas present – the In-Season Tournament during which no stars suffered a major injury and the LeBron Lakers raising a trophy on national television – so it’s on to December 25 and the unofficial real start of the season. The 10 teams with the most hoop sex appeal will go at it in a smorgasbord of basketball before the hype machine takes a month off rather than fight the NFL playoffs, then we head into high gear again leading into the All-Star Game.To the Christmas menu:MILWAUKEE (-3.5) at NEW YORK – The Knicks will be trying to hang on while they hope against hope that C Mitchell Robinson will not be done for the season as New York continues to carve out a spot in Tier 2 of the Eastern Conference. The Bucks, meanwhile, are experiencing some major defensive problems after essentially replacing Swiss Army Knife Jrue Holiday for Damian Lillard’s offense. Win now and worry about tomorrow tomorrow is Milwaukee’s motto, but when veteran teams start to fade (cough Golden State cough), there aren’t many alternatives.INTERESTING BETTING NOTE: Bucks have been a solid over team this seasonGOLDEN STATE at DENVER (-5.5) – Klay Thompson bristles when asked about the drop in production, and he has been better as of late. It needs to continue, with Draymond Green suspended until who-knows-when and the pressure on Steph Curry building even more. It’s beyond weird to see the Warriors below .500 and staring at a possible re-visit to the lottery, but here we are. The defending-champion Nuggets, meanwhile, appear to have shaken off some early-season issues and a few uneven performances by Nikola Jokic.INTERESTING BETTING NOTE: At home, Denver is 11-2 SU and 7-6 ATSBOSTON (-4.5) at LOS ANGELES LAKERS – LeBron James may take a few games off to rest his 39-year-old legs, but this is not likely one of them. LBJ has had some epic efforts against Boston, and this looks like a message-sending game in case that the two cornerstone franchises meet again in a playoff Finals that would answer a lot of dreams in the NBA offices. The Celtics have stayed at or near the top of the NBA with a powerful Front 6 as they deal with expected injuries to Kristaps Porzingis and Holiday’s slow assimilation. Boston rains 3s – sometimes they fall, occasionally they don’t.INTERESTING BETTING NOTE: Jayson Tatum has only the 6th-best odds (+1600) to win the MVP AwardPHILADELPHIA at MIAMI (-1.5) – After escaping Toronto and getting rid of his James Harden migraine, Sixers HC Nick Nurse must feel like he’s been let out of jail. He has the 76ers on a pace to win 59 games – maybe or maybe not enough to overtake Boston but good footing heading into the playoffs. Casual fans used to seeing the ISO James Harden will be introduced to speedy Tyrese Maxey on Xmas Day. Miami’s modus operandi will remain unchanged – don’t fret too much about the regular season, get healthy for the playoffs and see if Jimmy Butler can carry them to a few series upsets.INTERESTING BETTING NOTE: Jaime Jaquez Jr. is playing huge minutes for the Heat and is behind only favorites Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama in the Rookie of the Year odds. JJJ is at +5000.DALLAS at PHOENIX (-5.5) – When having three veteran stars doesn’t move the needle, what’s the next step? Four?  To be fair to the Suns, because of injuries, we haven’t really seen what the Durant-Booker-Beal Troika can do when firing on all cylinders. But Phoenix’s sluggish start is still a disappointment, and maybe a cautionary tale to teams chasing names. After 25 games this season, Brooklyn (which dumped Durant, Harden and Kyrie Irving) and Phoenix had each won 13. The Mavericks, strangely, have been better on the road than at home.INTERESTING BETTING NOTE: Over players on the Mavericks have been able to cash regularly (18-10)

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Key NFL Games Down The Stretch

Sunday, Nov 26, 2023

Cold weather is calling, and with it comes the home stretch of the NFL season. A look at one of the key games in each of the final six weeks of the season, with each team mentioned as having a legitimate chance of getting to and winning the Super Bowl.Week 13San Francisco (8-3) at Philadelphia (10-1) – Isn’t it about time that Brock Purdy enter the MVP discussion? Purdy has completed more than 70 percent of his passes this season, including a ridiculous 75 percent during the month of November. The Niners (1.5-point favorites) have momentum (three straight wins) heading into Philadelphia, where the Eagles are undefeated this year. Philly is a solid 6-2-3 ATS this season.Consensus odds to win Super Bowl – San Francisco +450, Philadelphia +450Week 14Buffalo (6-6) at Kansas City (8-3) – Oddsmakers still like the Chiefs to make it out of the AFC, even though the offense has hit some rough patches. KC still has a top 10 offense, but this year the heavy lifting has been done by its Top 5 defense. No one is too worried about that pre-Thanksgiving loss at home to the Eagles, especially because the schedule from here on in is not all that taxing. The Bills, though, have to dig deep in what has been an up-and-down season.Consensus odds to win Super Bowl – Kansas City +45, Buffalo +2500Week 15Baltimore (9-3) at Jacksonville (8-3) – Odd home/road split for the Jaguars, who are .500 at home but undefeated on the road. Indianapolis and Houston keep knocking on the door in the AFC South, but after this one the Jags coast home with games against Tampa Bay, Carolina and Tennessee. No game is easy in the AFC North, and Baltimore has a brutal close-out in Weeks 16-18 – San Francisco, Miami and Pittsburgh.Consensus odds to win Super Bowl – Baltimore +850, Jacksonville +2000Week 16Dallas (8-3) at Miami (8-3) – The Cowboys get a chance to warm up after a Week 15 game in Buffalo. With the exception of a Week 4 brain fart in Buffalo, the Dolphins have taken care of business this year. Its losses have been against solid teams (Philadelphia and Kansas City), and the offense has been consistent enough to score more than 30 points six times. Dallas has scored nearly twice as much as its opponents and is solid both ATS (7-4) and SU.Consensus odds to win Super Bowl – Dallas +850, Miami +900Week 17Detroit (8-3) at Dallas (8-3) – Second straight toughie for the Cowboys, although some are getting down on the Lions after their Thanksgiving Day loss to the Packers. In fact, you have to go all the way back to Opening Day to find a really good team that the Lions have defeated. They should be able to get things back on track with games against the Saints and Bears, and figure to be still in control on the NFC North by the time Week 17 rolls around.Consensus odds to win Super Bowl – Dallas +850, Detroit +1200Week 18Pittsburgh (7-4) at Baltimore (8-3) – Steelers/Ravens in the last week? Makes perfect sense. The Steelers have been doing it with baling wire and duct tape all year, giving up more points than they score but somehow winning more games than they lose. This game will no doubt have playoff implications and may decide home field in the first round of the playoffs.Consensus odds to win Super Bowl – Pittsburgh +7500, Baltimore +850

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Around The Horn

Monday, Nov 20, 2023

Searching for some stability in Any Given Sunday league? Look no further than the AFC North. Maybe.The Baltimore/Cleveland/Pittsburgh/Cincinnati Combine was clearly the best division in the NFL heading into the holidays. Through Week 11 the four teams had a combined 26-14 record SU. Against out-of-division competition, they are 17-7-1 ATS. No other division comes close to either mark. But with two Pro Bowl QBs (Joe Burrow and DeShaun Watson) done for the year, the North may start to head south.A brief look:BALTIMORE – The Ravens created some separation with their Week 11 victory over Cincinnati, and seem to have more balance than anyone with a Top 10 offense and a Top 3 defense. Week 12 – at Los Angeles Chargers.CLEVELAND – The Browns have quietly assembled the best defense in the league, allowing only 243 yards a game. Can they hang on and make the playoffs after DeShaun Watson’s season-ending shoulder injury? Week 12 – at DenverPITTSBURGH – The Steelers somehow keep hanging in despite being outscored over the season by nearly 30 points. Next five games are against teams .500 or below. WEEK 11 – at CincinnatiCINCINNATI – Like Watson, Joe Burrow is cooked for the rest of the season, and with that any Super Bowl hopes are also gone. It’s all about evaluation and draft position from here on in. WEEK 12 – Pittsburgh.CAN TRAVIS KELCE BEAT THE ODDS?The way she goes through boyfriends, the anecdotal chances of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce still being America’s sweethearts when the next Super Bowl kicks off wouldn’t seem to be all that great. The betting odds say otherwise, however. BetOnline says it’s -140 that the lovebirds will still be at it through the middle of next February, and you can get +100 if you think he’ll be cast aside by then (because in reality no one dumps Swift).Kelce is the replacement for British actor Joe Alwyn, who was the replacement for actor Tom Hiddleston, who was the replacement for Scottish singer Calvin Harris, who was the replacement for singer/actor Harry Styles, who was the replacement for – guess it doesn’t matter. Those who keep count say that Swift has had 16 (somewhat) significant others since 2008.NETS HAVE BEEN A BARGAINThrough the first month of the NBA season, everything about the Brooklyn Nets screamed average. The Nets were 6-6 – 3-3- at home and 3-3 on the road. They were 5-5 in the Eastern Conference. All of which put them on a pace to barely make the play-in tournament in April. But as mundane as Brooklyn has been, the Nets have gotten the attention of bettors with a 9-2-1 record ATS. The Nets opened the season with five straight covers, pushed in a loss at home to Boston, then covered four of the next five. Philadelphia, Orlando and Oklahoma City all covered nine of their first 12.BRAVES EARLY SERIES FAVORITE FOR 2024The Braves couldn’t get it done in the post-season, but going 104-58 in regular season play and bringing back the entire gang in 2024 makes Atlanta the betting favorite (+750) to win the Series next season. The Dodgers are close behind at +800, with WS champion Texas the favorite to come out of the American League (also +800). If you have cash to burn or want to buy someone a gag Christmas present, you can get tickets on either Colorado or Oakland at +20000.LINING UP IN FOXBOROWith the loss to the Colts in Germany, the Patriots have now been beyond godawful on two continents this season, leading to increased speculation that GOAT coach Bill Belichick will not be around for OTAs next spring. If not Belichick, then who? The abysmal offense and regression of QB Mac Jones basically eliminates OC Bill O’Brien, and any on-staff hiring spec would start with LB coach and Bob Kraft favorite Jerod Mayo. Former Pats LB coach Mike Vrabel could be had if Tennessee doesn’t get it together, and Jim Harbaugh could be available if Michigan wants to dump him and help get the NCAA off its back.

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Around The Horn

Monday, Oct 30, 2023

Two months into the NFL season, and it’s about time to start talking about what coaches should be are on shaky ground. If history is a guide, just about every coach will make it to Black Monday, which this season falls on Jan. 8. Here are the first-to-be-fired favorites right now to start cleaning out their offices:RON RIVERA, Commanders (+200) – Rivera rode Cam Newton’s 2015 NFL season to contracts with Carolina and Washington, but the burden of not having a top-flight QB in today’s game is taking a toll on him. Rivera’s teams are 11 games under .500 since that season.BRANDON STALEY, Chargers (+250) – The former Rams defensive coordinator looked like a perfect fit for the Chargers when they hired him as their HC to fix a leaky defense. Instead, things have gotten worse. This year’s D is ranked 30th, and has a habit of giving up big play after big play.JOSH McDANIELS, Raiders (+400) – McDaniels’s second bite of the head coaching apple isn’t going much better than his first. If the Raiders make a change, McDaniels can look back at the Week 7 blowout loss to the lowly Bears as the straw that broke his back.MATT EBERFLUS, Bears (+600) – Five wins in two seasons doesn’t get it done, and it’s never good when you’re the HC attached to a 14-game losing streak. The Bears' defense has actually improved since giving up a combined 106 points in the first three games, but that might not be enough.MATT LaFLEUR, Packers (+900) – Will not getting it done in one bad post-Rodgers season be enough for the Packers to pull the plug on LaFleur? In a recent poll, less than 20 percent of Packer fans want to see him stay on.-Then there’s New England, where talk of owner Robert Kraft pulling the plug on GOAT HC Bill Belichick has grown louder and louder. So much so that someone in the Pats front office (or maybe even Belichick himself) leaked that grumpy Bill had signed a contract extension. That, plus NE’s stunning Week 7 win over Buffalo, had the desired effect – cooling talk that BB’s job was in danger despite six Super Bowl titles in nine appearances.MLB LONG SHOTS COME THROUGHBoth Arizona and Texas ended the weekend just three wins shy of winning the World Series, so it’s easy to forget how long the odds were of them just getting there.The Diamondbacks began the year 125-1 to get to the World Series, one of the longest of long shots ever. Most oddsmakers had their Over/Under win total for the year in the 75.5-76.5 range. Expectations for the Rangers were a little better, with a projected win total of 82.5 and 50-1 to be playing in late October.Texas’s unexpected post-season run should fatten the team’s bank account to make a run at prized free agent Shohei Ohtani this winter. The pitch-hit unicorn will be hit-only in 2024 after recent Tommy John surgery but plans to do both again in 2025. The Angels are the chalk at +145; Texas is +800. Any team needing to juice attendance might be willing to break the bank for him.PRESIDENTIAL MONEY IS STABLEBetting on the presidential race has been remarkably stable of late as bettors appear to be waiting on the outcome of Donald Trump’s myriad court cases. The PredictIt site still favors Biden (43-37) – pretty much the same range it has shown for months.The top alternative appears to be Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom (10 percent). Interestingly, the one Republican who polls show can actually beat Biden (former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley) is getting no play at all. PredictIt bettors got it right on 48 of 50 states in 2020, missing on Georgia and Arizona. Biden won the Electoral College vote by 306-232. Even if Trump had won those states, Biden would have squeaked by at 279-259.

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Every NBA Team Over Or Under?!

Monday, Oct 16, 2023

A look at each team's Over/Under number heading into the season:Atlanta Hawks 42.5 – Quinn Snyder gets a full season as HC, and Snyder’s teams have always performed well in the regular season.Boston Celtics 54.5 – Celtics looked dominating at times in pre-season, and should be able to pile up wins in a top-heavy East. Top 6 (Tatum, Brown, White, Holiday, Porzingis, Horford) is formidable.Brooklyn Nets 37.5 – Nets re-tooling around Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and (gulp) Ben Simmons. They’ll focus on defense to produce turnovers and play fast.Charlotte Hornets 31.5 – Oh boy. Getting to 32 wins might be a stretch for the Hornets. No. 2 pick Brandon Miller won’t be able to save this team.Chicago Bulls 37.5 – Fish or cut bait time in Chicago, which couldn’t get to .500 with a veteran team last season and could be ready to blow it up if it doesn’t start fast this time around.Cleveland Cavaliers 50.5 – Last year’s embarrassing playoff loss to NY led to thinking that Allen/Mobley and Mitchell/Garland combinations may not work long-term.Dallas Mavericks 43.5 – Grant Williams, who could not even get off the bench at times last year in Boston, is the Mavs’ third-best player. And . . . is it time for another Kyrie Irving issue to surface?Denver Nuggets 53.5 – Only a stacked Western Conference is keeping the number this low. The Nuggets have the best player in the league and they care about winning regular-season games.Detroit Pistons 28.5 – Pistons will be a factor when they learn how to turn their talent into actually winning games. This year will be all about maturing as a team and getting ready to take a leap in the next few years.Golden State Warriors 48.5 – Suddenly this team is old, and approaching ancient. Whether Curry, Green (already injured), Thompson and Chris Paul can stay on the court to grind out 49 wins is problematic at best.Houston Rockets 31.5 – HC Ime Udoka brings professionalism to a team that badly needs it. Adding Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks bring vet talent to the lineup. Could be a surprise team.Indiana Pacers 38.5 – Pacers don’t want a complete teardown/rebuild, so Myles Turner and Buddy Hield are still here for now. Tyrese Halliburton had better stay healthy.Los Angeles Clippers 46.5 – Clips say they’ve had it with load management and will now embrace the NBA’s new policy about not resting stars. It will be interesting to see what Kawhi Leonard has to say about that.Los Angeles Lakers 47.5 – Suddenly this team is deeper than the Mariana Trench, which will enable to (say it softly) rest LeBron James. And they can’t possibly start as slow as they did a year ago.Memphis Grizzlies 45.5 – Yes, Ja Morant is out for a while, but they seem to play better without him anyway This is another team that needed to mature, and Marcus Smart (in) and Brooks (out) will help get that done.Miami Heat 45.5 – Can the Heat somehow squeeze out a 46-win season? Ten over .500 seems a heavy lift for a group that doesn’t value the regular season all that much.Milwaukee Bucks 54.5 – Giannis’s musings about someday finding another home basically blackmailed the Bucks in getting Damian Lillard. Question is – which one gets double-teamed when they’re on the court together?Minnesota Timberwolves 44.5 – The whole just isn’t the sum of its parts in Minnesota, where the Gobert experiment failed and the Wolves try once last time to get it right – this time with Anthony Edwards driving the car.New Orleans Pelicans 44.5 – Zion Williamson is healthy and in shape, and if he stays that way and plays in say, 60 games, the Pelicans can get to 45. If not, it’s back to square one.New York Knicks 45.5 – Tom Thibodeau will keep cracking the whip and try to win EVERY game, Few changes here, and they need Immanuel Quickley or RJ Barrett to step up to maintain franchise momentum.Oklahoma City Thunder 44.5 – Lots of eyes will be on this juggernaut-in-waiting. They have a legit Top 5 player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Chet Holmgren getting his feet wet finally. Orlando Magic 36.5 – The Magic have some depth as they build around Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. Orlando actually finished over .500 (29-28) in its final 57 games last year.Philadelphia 76ers 49.5 – Say what you want about James Harden, but he’s valuable in the regular season. He may be headed to the Clips, but that will just open the door to explosive Tyrese Maxey. Oh yeah – reigning MVP Joel Embiid also plays for these guys.Phoenix Suns 51.5 – You know your offense is in good shape when Bradley Beal is your third option (behind Booker and Durant), and if HC Frank Vogel can coax them into playing a little defense, the Suns have a shot at getting out of the West.Portland Trail Blazers 28.5 – Are the Blazers 28-win bad? They added some interesting pieces in the Lillard fallout – Ayton, Robert Williams, Malcolm Brogdon. Mix in rookie Scoot Henderson with vet Jeremi Grant, and you might have something.Sacramento Kings 44.5 – Oddsmakers see a moderate drop (Kings were 48-34 last season), figuring that they won’t be overlooked again. They’ll play hard, they’ll run and if they play a little more D than they did last year, who knows?San Antonio Spurs 29.5 – Won’t take long for wunderkind Victor Wembanyama to learn about physical play. Will the Spurs be bad enough to get the No. 1 pick AGAIN? Shades of Robinson/Duncan.Toronto Raptors 36.5 – The Raps are running it back. Again. Off-season trade rumors were just that, so we’ll get another seven months of Anunoby, Siakam and Barnes. If things go right, they’re in the 7-8-9-10 Play-In range.Utah Jazz 35.5 – John Collins will finally get his shot as the Jazz build around him and Lauri Markkanen. They really need Collin Sexton to be healthy for most of the season.Washington Wizards 24.5 – A new front office produced major rosters changes. Beal and Porzingis out, and outside of Jordan Poole, not a lot coming in.

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Around The Horn

Monday, Sep 25, 2023

Each season some of the surviving members of the NFL’s last and only undefeated (including playoffs) team, the 1972 Dolphins, get together and toast each other with champagne when the final unbeaten team takes a loss. In an ironic twist, this year the Old-Timer Dolphins – Bob Griese, Mercury Morris, Marv Fleming, and the like – may be rooting for the present-day Dolphins to lose.The current iteration of the Fins is 3-0, in first place in one of the best divisions in the NFL, and is fresh off putting a 70-20 hurting on the defenseless Broncos. They have it all going as they head into Week 4’s matchup at Buffalo in what will be the most anticipated game of the first quarter of the season.Miami’s offense has been so dominant that the Dolphins scored more points in the Denver game than 17 other teams have scored in three games total this season. Tua Tagoviloa has offensive weapons everywhere he turns, and if he can stay concussion-free (no guarantee there, to be sure), the Fins could have a playoff berth banked by mid-November. Oh, BTW, Miami is also a perfect 3-0 ATS.The Bills, meanwhile, are one team that doesn’t figure to be intimidated by the Dolphins’ flashy offense and numbers. After slipping up in a Week 1 loss to the Jets, the Bills have laid the wood to Las Vegas (38-10) and Washington (37-3). They’ll be ready.Buffalo is a 3-point favorite, with the O/U set at a healthy 49.5.INDUSTRY IS HITTING IT BIGJust a few years removed from Covid lockdowns and closed casinos, the gambling industry has come roaring back in a huge way.Numbers released recently by the American Gaming Association show that commercial casinos just enjoyed their best July ever, with a fat profit of $5.4 billion. That’s not all. The industry is poised to enjoy its best year ever. The black number through seven months was $38 billion, a full 11 percent better than in 2022 and virtually assuring that the number will eclipse last year’s.Why?Two reasons are the American public which is traveling again, plus the opening of several bricks-and-mortar casinos. Increased sports betting also provided a strong wind to the industry’s back, with a mammoth 28 percent jump in revenue over the previous July. Even wagering on baseball, the poor cousin to football and basketball wagering, showed a large boost.The only states that reported declining casino revenues were Mississippi, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, and Louisiana.PENNSYLVANIA TARGETS CASINO SMOKERSIn Pennsylvania, a bill to eliminate smoking in the state’s 18 casinos is winding its way through the state legislature. Currently, a loophole in the state’s 15-year-old Clean Indoor Air Act allows patrons to light up, producing second-hand smoke levels more than five times greater than in smoke-free gambling houses. National studies show that only 11 percent of Americans still smoke.NBA CRACKS DOWN ON LOAD MANAGERSThe NBA’s new policy on load management, which will limit the amount of time teams can rest their star players, should have an interesting impact on gambling lines. Sitting stars to keep them rested for the playoffs (Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James are obvious examples) can be killers for both the oddsmakers, who set lines based on full participation; and for bettors, who cringe when they have put down cash but then see their team’s best player in street clothes. One thing is certain – the gambling industry will be demanding that teams announce well in advance if a player will be sitting. But even that might not be enough for punters to keep their sanity.NEWSOM INCHES UP A BITGavin Newsom’s increased national profile is starting to show up on the PredictIt betting market. Newsom is now getting action at 18 cents on the stock market-style website, which seems low but is a bit higher than Ron DeSantis’s 14 cents. The California governor is not a declared candidate but would vault toward the top of the Democratic list if President Joe Biden elects to not run in 2024.

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Around The Horn

Tuesday, Sep 12, 2023

Are the Jacksonville Jaguars ready to take the Big Step and join the heavy hitters in the AFC?We should find out this coming Sunday when the 1-0 Jags host the defending Super Bowl-champion Chiefs in northern Florida.J-Ville was hardly dominant and actually had to rally late to defeat the Colts in the opener, but here we are just one game into the season and the Jaguars are the only undefeated team in the weak AFC South.Now come the Chiefs, who have to be spitting bullets after looking ordinary in losing to the Lions. There is talk that Travis Kelce could return against the Jaguars, but that’s far from a sure thing. If it’s a shootout, advantage Jacksonville with an offense that includes emerging star Trevor Lawrence, plus Travis Etienne and Calvin Ridley.Bookmakers aren’t yet convinced. Jacksonville is a 3.5-point dog, with the O/U number at a healthy 51 (the highest number in Week 2).FIBA WORLD CUPThe United States was a prohibitive 3/5 favorite to win the FIBA World Cup before eventual champion Germany rained on the Americans’ parade, proving that while Warriors-style small ball can win you an NBA title, on the international stage it doesn’t hurt to have a few bigs in the lineup. Setting lines on international competition in any sport can’t be easy, given teams’ limited prep time and lack of cohesion. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of team the US assembles for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, but after the FIBA performance, there will likely be tremendous pressure on coach Steve Kerr to make major changes.ON THE POLITICAL FRONTDemocrats who are considered tossing themselves off the Empire State Building after reading polls that show President Biden neck and neck with former President Trump can take heart with some historical data. In the last two elections, Trump has failed to garner even 47 percent of the popular vote (46 percent and change each time). If Trump is the nominee again in 2024 and history repeats, it will likely result in another loss. Only once in the last eight presidential elections (George W. Bush got 50.7 in his 2004 victory over John Kerry) has the Republican candidate got as much as 47 percent of the popular vote. A recent Real Clear Politics aggregate total (Betfair, Bovada, BWin, Neds, PointsBet, PredictIt, and Sporting Bet) shows Biden with a 6-point composite edge over Trump, with the widest margin (11 points) coming from PredictIt.PRIME TIME IN THE ROCKIESSanders Mania is in full swing in Boulder now that his Colorado Buffaloes have followed up their stunning victory over TCU with a dominant take-down of Nebraska. Assuming CU takes care of business at home against Colorado State this coming Saturday (Buffaloes are 21-point favorites), they can turn the college football season completely on its head the next two Saturdays when they face ranked teams – No. 13 Oregon and (at) No. 6 USC. Colorado’s odds of winning the national championship have surged from +10000 (after Week 1) to +8000. QB Shedeur Sanders is now in the thick of the Heisman Trophy race at +2000. FINALLY . . . CHEW ON THISThere is no more sure bet than Joey Chestnut winning the July 4 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Chestnut went off at -4000 this year, and had little difficulty in grabbing yet another Mustard Belt – downing 62 dogs in 10 minutes. But before you blindingly bet on Chestnut, be aware that his digestive prowess does not appear to include other food on the competitive eating scene. Earlier this month Chestnut finished a distant second to an Australian competitor in the US Chicken Wing Eating Championship in (where else?) Buffalo. The Aussie downed 276 wings in 12 minutes to Chestnut’s 240. It marked the fifth straight year that Chestnut has not won the event. Chestnut did, however, retain his No. 1 Major League Eating world ranking heading into the Pork Roll Eating Championships in Trenton, N.J. later this month.

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Harden and the Sixers

Thursday, Aug 24, 2023

Just what the (insert your favorite word here) is going on with James Harden, and for that matter Harden’s agent, his current team (Philadelphia), his current general manager, and his future team (unknown)? The NBA would love to know, and it’s looking into the whole mess.This much is known. Harden, as his wont, has asked to be traded to a team he can bamboozle into giving him one last big contract. In fact, he demanded the same. And 76ers GM Daryl Morey might have agreed to trade Harden. Or Morey might have said something like “We’ll TRY to trade you” or “Our price will be high.”Harden might have heard “Whatever you want, James. You’ll be on the team or your choice by Independence Day.”It all brings to mind Strother Martin’s character talking to Paul Newman’s in Cool Hand Luke: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”At any rate, the 33-year-old Harden has taken to calling Morey a liar, and Morey has responded by telling Harden to sneaker up because he’ll be expected in camp lest he be ready to start forfeiting chunks of that $35.6-million contract that Harden opted into last June.Watching all of this with interest was one Kevin McHale, who got the full Harden treatment eight years ago when both were with the Rockets (McHale the HC at the time). McHale sat Harden during Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals, and Houston won that series before getting knocked out by Golden State.“The next year he came to camp, he was fat and didn’t feel like playing, and I got fired [11] games into the season,” McHale was quoted as saying. “He had a plan.”Now Morey, who has now traded twice for Harden, is getting the Full Beard Treatment. Assuming that Morey’s spine remains stiff and he keeps Harden unless some other team loses its mind and offers a swap that includes an All-Star and a few No. 1s, Harden will be in camp ready and eager to destroy any fan who has a futures ticket predicting that the Sixers will have a big season.For the record. Philly is +1600 to win the NBA title, and Harden is +11000 to win the MVP trophy. If you think that the Sixers can somehow work their way through this mess and get to 50 wins, you can make money with an over wager at 49.5.Two other big-timers are looking at the situation with both interest and chagrin.If there’s one thing the NBA likes, it’s money, and Morey cost the league a bundle last year when he Tweeted his support of Hong Kong and the Chinese went (figuratively) ballistic. Now Harden is throwing spitballs at Morey, and Silver has to sigh deeply and get involved when he hasn’t yet put out the Lillard/Miami conspiracy fire.Then there’s Joel Embiid, and you have to wonder what the reigning league MVP is thinking. Embiid needs Harden or someone whose game is similarly impactful if the 76ers are going to climb past the Miamis, Bostons, and Milwaukees which stand in their way in the East. The thinking in the association is that while Embiid was good with the initial Process, he would rather stick needles in his eyes rather than go through a Process 2.0 and another rebuild.For his part, Harden says he has checked his appointments calendar, and nothing in it says he is going to be at the 76ers training camp come early October. So there’s that, plus this Harden musing: “Every time I come here, the love is just like . . . it’s crazy. So I feel like they deserve to actually see me come play here. Love is always crazy here.”Any team interested in trading for Harden should be aware that he was talking about China.

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Are Celtics the Favorites After Record-Breaking Deal For Brown?

Sunday, Aug 06, 2023

If you had seen Jaylen Brown play in only one game this past season, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against Miami, you would have declared the Boston Celtics certifiably insane for a month later gracing Brown with the richest contract in league history -- $304 million over five years.Brown dribbled the ball as if he were a football, committing turnover after turnover as his Celtics were booed off their home court and deprived of an opportunity to get to the Finals for the second straight year and a chance to make amends for their equally awful performance in elimination Game 6 against Golden State in the 2021-22 season.But the No. 1 sin for an NBA front office is to let talent walk out the door for nothing, so for the time being Brown – who never seems to be able to bring himself to say that he actually likes being in Boston – and the Celtics are in what has been described as a marriage of convenience.Will Brown staying, at least for the time being, in Boston do much to increase the Celtics' odds at finally breaking through and winning NBA Title 18, which would be their first since the Garnett-Pierce-Allen alliance got them over the hump in 2008? Not so much. The Celtics (+450, Barstool) are in the mix along with the 2021 Champion Bucks (+700) and the defending champion Nuggets (+500) – all pretty much where they were before Brown signed his deal.As to individual props, consider this: Barstool thinks so little of Brown’s chances of winning the MVP Award that 35 players are given better odds. Nikola Jokic (+400) is a solid favorite, while Brown is at +7500 along with such luminaries as Cade Cunningham, Desmond Bane, and Mikal Bridges.Part of Brown’s problem is that for the last five years, Jayson Tatum (+900 to win MVP, behind only Jokic, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid) eats first, and then Brown. The addition of big man Kristaps Porzingis, who also can score, makes things even more problematic for Brown at the stats dinner table.Of course, Brown’s sticker-shock paychecks will be the biggest only until the next NBA player takes advantage of the NBA’s maze of rules regarding how salaries can be allocated and manipulated. And the Celtics have to be wondering if Brown will sleepwalk through a season or two and then decide that it might be fun checking out the climate in Dallas, Atlanta, or Miami. Stars merely have to say the word. (Privately, now, since Adam Silver wagged his finger at Damian Lillard’s agent for telling the world that Lillard might not give his all if he has to wear any uniform that doesn’t say Miami or Heat on the front.)Comparing the salaries of NBA players to those in baseball, football, and hockey is as Apples-to-Oranges as you can get, but just for fun here are a couple of . . .  comparisons:***Aaron Judge, in the early stages of a 9-year, $360-million contract that expires in 2030, has limped through 2023 – missing 54 of the Yankees’ first 101 games. He had two singles in 16 at-bats since returning.***Connor McDavid, the NHL’s best player, is working on an 8-year, $100-million deal with Edmonton. The Oilers got taken out of the playoffs in the second round this past season.***Then there’s Patrick Mahones, the best quarterback on the best team in the NFL. He shows game in, game out that he is worth every bit of his $45-million-a-year deal.Which road will Jaylen Brown, now the richest player in an NBA that has included the likes of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Bill Russell, take? The jury will have its verdict next spring.

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Up-And-Coming Teams In NFC 2023

Saturday, Jul 15, 2023

History tells us that several of the NFC teams that were on the outside looking in during the playoffs last year will trade places with a few other teams this coming post-season. That’s good news for the teams in the NFC North and South, which each sent only one team (Minnesota, Tampa Bay) to play in January. Here’s a look at last season’s nine also-rans, and their odds of making it to the playoffs six months from now:ARIZONA (Yes +1100, No -2000) – Everything depends on QB Kyler Murray and whether he will be fully recovered from ACL surgery. Murray is bullish on the Cardinals’ prospects after last season’s disaster (4-13 overall, one win at home), but he appears to be the only one showing optimism. Most everyone else believes Arizona will once again wilt in the desert heat.ATLANTA (Yes +105, No -125) – With Tom Brady gone, the NFC South is wide open. Can the Falcons separate themselves from a mediocre pack and replace the Buccaneers at the top? Who knows, but the arrow appears headed in the right direction. It looks like Atlanta will go with Desmond Ridder at QB, after Ridder got some last run in 2022 as the Falcons moved on from Marcus Mariotta.CAROLINA (Yes +210, No -250) – Seems like a millennium ago that the Panthers were 3-0 and creating all kinds of buzz, but a 2-12 finish in 2022 tossed cold water on all that. Now the buzz is centered around QB Bryce Young, the overall No. 1 pick. But even if Young is the real deal, getting Carolina to the 9- or 10-win mark needed for the post-season seems like a bridge too far, even in the talent-challenged NFC South.CHICAGO (Yes +160, No -190) – Perhaps no team in the NFL will experience more roster churn than the Bears, who used cap space to sign a bevy of free agents. The O-line in front of Justin Fields should be better, but the defense looks like a crapshoot. Newcomer DJ Moore gives Fields a legit WR1 to throw to, but much of the offense will still be built around Fields’s ability to scramble.DETROIT (YES -165, No +140) – The Lions were a solid 12-5 ATS last season and one win away from the playoffs, so it wouldn’t take a quantum leap this season to get to the post-season. All eyes will be on a D-Line that could be the best in the league. On offense, they will be content to let Jared Goff manage things as they grind out yards on the ground.GREEN BAY (Yes +190, No -225) – After three decades of seeing either Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers under center, the Pack will now turn to ever-patient Jordan Love. Missing the playoffs last season was a culture shock for Pack fans, and with Rodgers now in New Jersey, hopes aren’t exactly high. But there is experience and there is a good amount of talent, and the NFC North is not exactly loaded.LOS ANGELES RAMS (Yes +300, No -370) – It could get ugly early in LA. The Rams have made a concerted effort to get a lot younger, shedding veterans and bringing in a sea of newcomers just two years after winning the Super Bowl. Where they wind up in an NFC West that figures to be dominated by the talented 49 is anyone’s guess.NEW ORLEANS (Yes -180, No +155) – The Saints look like the best of a mediocre bunch in a weak NFC South, even with Derek Carr as a place-holder at QB after NO declined to break the bank for Lamar Jackson. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Saints finish first – or last – in the division. A top-10 defense would make things easier for Carr.WASHINGTON (Yes +300, No -370) – Controversial owner Dan Snyder is gone, and that’s a good thing. Plus, there is a lot of talent on the roster. But it’s NOT a good thing that Washington has the biggest QB question mark (Sam Howell) in a division in which the other three teams all made the playoffs and were a combined 20 games over .500.

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Up-And-Coming Teams In AFC 2023

Sunday, Jun 25, 2023

Eighteen teams were on the outside looking in when the NFL playoffs started last January. If the chalk prevails, six of those teams will join the party this coming season, displacing a half-dozen who had at least a theoretical chance at winning the championship.BTW, if you like numbers, to guarantee a playoff spot, 12 wins are required. Nine wins make it a 50-50 coin flip, 10 victories gives your boys a 91 percent probability, and 11 just about guarantees (99 percent) it. Here’s a look at nine AFC teams who hope to crash the party six months from now, and the odds that they will succeed:CLEVELAND (Yes +120, No -140) – Bad enough that the Browns got off to a 2-5 start last season. What really should concern the fan base is that Deshaun Watson didn’t light a fire under the franchise when he returned from suspension. Cleveland ended the year 3-3, although the D was improved.DENVER (Yes +190, No -225) – Speaking of quarterback issues, say hello to the post-Seahawks version of Russell Wilson. If Wilson – coming off the worst season of his career – doesn’t snap out of things, and fast, the front office will no doubt be on the lookout for a different QB1.HOUSTON (Yes +475, No -700) – Not good when the best game you played at home all season ended in a tie, but that’s the Texans these days. New coach DeMeco Ryans and rookie QB C.J. Stroud have their hands full. Most books have Houston winning 5 or 6 games, and even sniffing the playoffs appears a bridge too far.INDIANAPOLIS (Yes +360, No -450) – Shane Steichen parlayed his solid work as an Eagles assistant to the HC job in Indy. Whether he stays long-term depends on how athletic freak first-round draft pick Anthony Richardson adapts to the pros. The Colts will likely protect him as much as possible by pounding the ball early in the season.NEW ENGLAND (Yes +250, No -300) – At this writing free agent DeAndre Hopkins is still sniffing around Foxboro. If he’s still there after Christmas, the Pats may one of the Select Six to climb back into the playoffs. This is Year 3 for Mac Jones, and Year 2 was one everyone (especially Mac Jones) would like to forget.NEW YORK JETS (Yes -130, No +110) – Will this be the year that things FINALLY start to go right for the Jets? All the pieces seemed in place last year (except the most important one), and Aaron Rodgers seems to have filled that hole. There will be severe headwinds in the loaded AFC East, though, and it’s possible everyone goes 3-3 in the division.PITTSBURGH (Yes +130, No -150) – Kenny Pickett showed enough in his rookie year to own the job at least until he loses it, but the Steelers’ best shot at reaching the playoffs from an AFC North that features Joe Burrow, Watson and Lamar Jackson might well depend on the defense and running game. Interesting stat – it’s been 30 years since Pittsburgh finished last in its division.TENNESSEE (Yes +300, No -370) – The stink resulting from seven straight losses ending the season no doubt lingers. But how exactly will Mike Vrabel turn things around when his quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) is 35 and regressing, and bell cow RB Derrick Henry is on the bad side of 30? The defense will have to do most of the heavy lifting.

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Weekly Betting Perspective

Monday, Jun 05, 2023

The Miami Heat have made it a habit to erase the chalk throughout the entire NBA playoffs, and Sunday night’s victory in Denver has done nothing to alter things in what is shaping up as a weird Finals.If the Heat go on to win the title, the league might have to retire the Coach of the Year Award and just give it to Erik Spoelstra before the season even starts. Spoelstra’s Heat are three wins away from a championship despite starting three undrafted players and being without starter Tyler Herro and rotation sub-Victor Oladipo.Denver started the Finals at a solid -480 win the title, with the number soaring to -800 after a convincing win in Game 1 at home. Miami opened at +330, with the number climbing to +550 after the loss. Entering Game 3, the odds have tightened considerably, with Denver at -275 and the Heat (who now owns home court) at +220.Miami, BTW, is 15-5 ATS in the post-season (including two play-in games).--Rory McIlroy is the favorite (or co-favorite) in most books to win the British Open next month, with numbers in the +800 to +900 range. McIlroy faded late at the Memorial, dropping from a tie for the lead midway through the final round and into a T7 with three others, including Jordan Spieth.McIlroy has four major titles on his resume but hasn’t won any of the biggies since taking the PGA in 2014. He hasn’t seemed comfortable of late, though his T7 at the recent PGA should be somewhat encouraging. The back-and-forth spitball fight with Phil Mickelson over the relationship between the PGA and LIV can’t be helping too much. Speaking of LIV, Masters champ Brooks Koepka is at +1200 for Open punters, and Cameron Smith is at +2000.--Kansas City remains a healthy +600 to win the Super Bowl eight months from now, but the other recent Super Bowl winners have all fallen on hard times.The Rams (+6500), who won in 2022, have fallen off the radar and last season had more losses than any team in NFL history trying to defend its title (5-12). The key to getting back in the mix is somehow steering clear of injuries. Last year Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp all spent significant time off the field.In the kingdom the blind, the one-eyed man is king. That seemed to be the Bucs’ season as they went 8-9 while everyone else in the NFC South clocked in at 7-10. Tom Brady was out, then he was in, and after the year he was out again. So now they regroup and pay the price for going all in and winning a few years ago. TB is at +7500.And then there are the New England Patriots, Super Bowl champs in 2019 but who have fallen to the middle of the pack in the AFC and probably to the bottom in the QB-rich AFC East. No one was happy with Mac Jones’s 2022 backslide, least of all Mac Jones. NE is +6500 to re-capture some magic, but the roster is pretty much the same one that produced an 8-9 record a year ago.--The Stanley Cup Finals are a tough swallow in Boston, where the Bruins are still licking their wounds after laying waste to the NHL in the regular season before getting bounced by the Panthers in Game 7 – at home no less. Either way, they turn, the Bruins will take another arrow to the chest. If Florida wins the Cup, the Bruins will have to live down losing to the 8th-seeded Panthers at home in a Game 7. OTOH, if the Cup heads to the Vegas desert, the Bruin front office will have to take shots for firing current Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy after his reportedly being too tough on the players. After its victory in Game 1, Las Vegas was a solid -225 favorite to win the Cup, with Florida at +175 heading into Game 2.

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NBA Conference Championship Breakdown

Monday, May 15, 2023

No offense to the good folks in Miami and Denver, but at the NBA offices at 645 Fifth Ave. in New York City, the suits are quietly pulling for a ratings-bonanza Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Lakers Finals – the winner of which would take, for at least 12 months, the lead in most championships won. They each have 17 pelts, although Celtics fans dispute the five Laker titles when the team dwelled in Minneapolis and append a huge asterisk to the 2020 Bubble title.The Heat and Nuggets will each attempt to throw monkey wrenches into the league Dream Matchup, and Boston-LA is hardly a foregone conclusion. The Heat generally make life miserable for the Celtics, especially in party-central Miami, and the Nuggets were the best team in the Western Conference and a full 10 games better than strong-finishing LA.That said, to the entrants:EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALSMiami HeatTo win ECF (+400)To win title (+1400)The Heat are heavy dogs against Boston, but they don’t go into this series unarmed. Bam Adebayo always seems to play well against the Celtics, Jimmy Butler has that familiar playoff fanaticism about him, Erik Spoelstra could coach circles around Joe Mazzulla, and Miami doesn’t seem to miss injured Tyler Herro in the least. That said, the Heat caught huge breaks when the Bucks spit the bit and the Knicks turned into pumpkins. Is it possible that the East’s 8 seed can catch lightning in a bottle for a third straight series?BOSTON CELTICSTo win ECF (-550)To win title (+100)Like the blind drunk driver who somehow makes it home in one piece, the inconsistent Celtics (five losses in the first two series) are where they wanted to be when the playoffs started. Jayson Tatum has shaken off his horrendous post-All-Star Game shooting slump, the rotation has been tightened and Robert Williams’s return to the starting lineup has jump-started the defense which has been so-so all year. The Celtics have trimmed the rotation to seven but can go deeper if needed. They need Jaylen Brown to stay hot, Tatum to play like Tatum and the D be good if not great. If that happens, Boston will be heading to the Finals for the second straight season.WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALSLos Angeles LakersTo win WCF (+130)To win title (+330)No one talks anymore about trading LeBron James and/or Anthony Davis and then blowing things up and starting from scratch. The LAL are a very live dog against the Nuggets. After their glacial 2-10 start to the season, everything has seemed to go right for LA. They got used to new coach Darvin Ham, mid-season moves paid immediate dividends and they got a huge lift from the unheralded Austin Reeves. Throw it all in the pot, and it enabled the Lakers to somehow emerge from the Play-In and then take down favored defending champion Golden State in the second round. Somehow, some way they can sniff their 18th banner.Denver NuggetsTo win WCF (-145)To win title (+230)The franchise has been to the playoffs 25 times since entering the league in the 1970s, and every playoff series has ended in a loss. But they have huge advantages as they try to win their first-ever championship. For one, they have the best big (and many feel the best player, period) in Nikola Jokic. They are also nearly invincible at home – 6-0 in the playoffs and 34-7 in the regular season. And if there was any doubt that Denver is ready this time after so many playoff disappointments, look at their series domination of the star-filled Suns in the WC semifinals.

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Conference Titans: Jokic and Embiid

Monday, May 01, 2023

As the NBA playoffs grind into the conference semifinals, a lot of light will be directed on the performances of two-time reigning MVP Nicola Jokic and this year’s expected regular season MVP, Joel Embiid.They have so much in common, these massive men. They have size in a league that has gotten smaller and faster, they can dominate when it’s needed, they can shoot 3s and they are in the primes of their careers in their late-20s. If Jokic’s Nuggets or Embiid’s 76ers win the title this year, it’s a near-lock that one of them will have to be the Finals MVP. Oddsmakers placed Jokic third at +800 and Embiid a tick back of him at +900, behind only Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Kevin Durant of Phoenix.The comparisons end there, though, simply because Jokic is healthy and Embiid is not.Looking almost like a burned-out accountant bored with his job, Jokic and the Nuggets dominated the star-laden Suns in Game 1 of their series Saturday night, and can turn the vise even tighter Monday night in Denver. If the big guy is bothered by a series of Nuggets playoff flame-outs during his career, he’s not showing it. Phoenix might have Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and whatever is left of Chris Paul, but those four were a combined minus-71 on Saturday night while Jokic ho-hummed his way to a plus-19.Injuries to teammates Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray, plus Golden State’s Western Conference dominance, have kept Jokic and the Nuggets from making it out of the conference. They came closest in 2020 but were pantsed by the Lakers in the Bubble.Fast forward to today, and the Jokic-led Nuggets are +550 to win the title, with the center +950 to win the Finals MVP trophy. The latter number will certainly dwindle a bit if Denver makes it two in a row over Phoenix on Monday night, lessening the chance that Durant (+700) even gets to June.In the East, Embiid and the 76ers figure to have all sorts of problems figuring out a way to beat a healthy Celtics team four times in the next two weeks. If Embiid plays at all, he won’t be at anything near 100 percent after suffering a sprained knee in Philly’s first-round sweep of the Nets. And while the 76ers were able to take care of business in Game 4 vs. Brooklyn, no one thinks Philly has a chance against Boston if Embiid is in street clothes.Embiid being banged up in the playoffs is more than a bit ironic and discouraging because he’s coming off the two healthiest regular seasons of his career – 66 games played this year and 68 the year before. And he basically sewed up the MVP Award in early April when he torched the Celtics for 52 points. That effort produced a rare win over Boston for the 76ers, who lost to the Celtics the other three times they played this year and can’t seem to get past their rival in the Northeast.Captain Obvious could tell you that without Embiid (+900 to win the Finals MVP but a heavy favorite to win the regular season award), Philadelphia will, for the 40th consecutive season, be knocked out of the playoff at some point  -- mostly like in these Eastern Conference semifinals for the fifth straight time.Game 1 vs. Boston (Celtics -9) is Monday night and the Sixers say that Embiid is doubtful despite getting the gift of a few extra days rest when the Celtics surprisingly lost Game 5 at home to Atlanta.

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A New NBA Favorite

Monday, Apr 24, 2023

The Celtics are in the process of wrapping up their Eastern Conference series against the Hawks, and the stars appear to be aligned properly for Boston to make a second straight run to the Finals.Assuming that Atlanta proves nothing more than the minor annoyance the Hawks were expected to be, the road ahead for Boston looks much smoother than it did a few weeks ago when oddsmakers had the Bucks as the favorites to win it all.Milwaukee has its hands full with Play-In survivor Miami after Giannis Antetokounmpo went crumbling to the floor in an injury which has helped the Heat take a 2-1 edge heading into Game 4. The status of Antetokounmpo’s lower back injury will have a lot to say about the EC playoff scene.The Celtics also might have gotten a huge boost when the 76ers – trying to reach their first ECF since  Allen Iverson was carrying the team on his back in 2001 – have been forced to deal with an injury to expected MVP Joel Embiid. Embiid sat out Philly’s series-clinching win over Brooklyn last weekend, but his sprained right knee could be problematic against the Celtics.Toss in a wild Western Conference playoffs where injuries are also taking a toll, and things are lining up pretty well for the healthy Celtics. Most books have now made Boston the favorite to win the title -- +250 at FanDuel, +275 at BetMGM, +260 at Caesars. Milwaukee has been leapfrogged and is now next, followed by the +410 Suns (finally getting their act together). The 76ers are at +750.So the door appears wide open for the Celtics, if for no other reason than that SOMEBODY has to be the favorite.And Boston does have a lot of ammo. Only a late-season shooting slump that has extended into the playoffs kept Jayson Tatum from making a legit run at the MVP award, and Jaylen Brown is also capable to taking over a game and creating shots when the offense bogs down. Add in the emergence of Derrick White, the good health of shot blocker/rim runner Robert Williams and a deep bench anchored by 6th Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, and the pieces appear in place.But there are some buts.The Celtics have developed a nasty habit of pissing away large leads and not being able to seal the deal late in games, resulting in several unnecessary losses post-All-Star Game and the loss of home-court advantage in a possible ECF series against Milwaukee.There is also concern that Boston’s reliance on the 3-pointer, which served the Celtics so well during a 57-win regular season, might be the team’s undoing when things get tight later in the playoffs and opponents can game-plan.And speaking of game-planning, can Boston realistically expect to win a championship with a 34-year-old rookie head coach with no NBA HC experience? Mazzulla has raised eyebrows with some of his inconsistent and varied rotations and an unwillingness to call time-outs to break runs by opponents. Can he raise his game and at the same time convince the Celtics to keep their foot on the accelerator, hoping to avoid a crash-and-burn as they did in Games 5 and 6 last year in the Finals against the Warriors?Oddsmakers think that the Celtics will figure things out, or at least may be the last team standing when all of their injury-stained opponents haven’t had the depth to make it all the way. Every other Boston team (Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots) has won a championship since Boston raised Banner #17 in 2008. Books think that that streak is about to end.  

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NBA Playoff First Round Round-Up!

Saturday, Apr 15, 2023

EASTERN CONFERENCEMilwaukee (1) vs. Miami (8)Series odds – Bucks -1200, Heat +750Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton missed a combined total of 83 games (more than a full season) this year, but the Bucks still finished with the best record in the league. They’re Jonesing for another run to the Finals after losing in seven (without Middleton) to Boston a year ago. There doesn’t appear to be much the Heat – who will be playing with tired legs – can do about it. If this goes even six, it will be a surprise.Boston (2) vs. Atlanta (7)Series odds – Celtics -1200; Hawks +750Lots of mixed signals coming out of Boston, where the Celtics dominated the league pre-All Star Game, lost interest in March and then finished strong after falling out of first in the East. Boston’s dip (and a shooting slump) cost Jayson Tatum a legit shot at the MVP, and there are rumblings that rookie HC Joe Mazzulla might be over his head. On paper this translates to Boston in four or five, but if the 3s don’t drop – and they often don’t in the playoffs – Trae Young & Co. could make things uncomfortable. PS -- Don’t think Boston is not delighted at not having to face Miami.Philadelphia (3) vs. Brooklyn (6)Series odds – 76ers -1000; Nets +660If the Nets nail down this series, they’ll have the same number of playoff series wins as the ill-fated Irving-Durant Nets had. Ouch. The Sixers should be able to take care of business, but if Brooklyn carries this one to six or seven, it could wear down expected MVP Joel Embiid for a probable EC semifinal battle against Boston. So keep an eye on his minutes. At some point doesn’t James Harden have to be on a team that makes a long playoff run in order to validate his HoF credentials?Cleveland (4) vs. New York (5)Series odds – Cavaliers -205; Knicks +172All the attention will be focused on the backcourts with Donovan Mitchell and Jalen Brunson center stage, but the series could hinge on the health of Julius Randle’s tender injured ankle. If he’s a 100 percent go, he’ll be a PITA cover even for the Cavs’ talented front line of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. For all their size, the Cavs are just so-so defensively. Still, Mitchell is the Big Dog in a series which could go to a seventh game in Cleveland.WESTERN CONFERENCEDenver (1) vs. Minnesota (8)Series odds – Nuggets -500, Timberwolves +385Nuggets coach Mike Malone and back-to-back MVP Nicola Jokic both have a lot at stake in the playoffs and need a deep playoff run to cement their legacies. But Denver (5-5 to finish the season) is hardly roaring into the post-season, and doesn’t figure to have to spend too much first-round energy against a Timberwolves team badly in need of a psychiatrist. The Towns-Gobert Double Big Experiment has shown mixed results at best, and T-Wolves coach Chris Finch more than has his hands full keeping these guys focused for an entire series.Memphis (2) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (7)Series odds – Grizzlies -142, Lakers +120Seems like just yesterday LA was ready to turn the page on the Great AD-LBJ Experiment, fire management and start from scratch. But somehow the Lakers (16-7 since the All-Star break) are healthy again and appear ready to let the air out of the Grizzlies’ tires. The absence of Steven Adams (knee) is a killer for Memphis, which appears to have put Ja Morant’s issues at least temporarily in the rear view mirror. Totals players take note: Both of these teams play fast.Sacramento (3) vs. Golden State (6)Series odds – Kings +225; Warriors -275The longest playoff drought in NBA history (17 years) has finally ended, but the Kings’ reward is a thankless Northern California matchup with the surging Warriors. The defending champs have escaped from whatever funk they were in earlier in the season, and the only issue they have is melding Andrew Wiggins back in the lineup after missing extended time taking care of a sick family member. Taking down the defending champs will be a tall order for the Kings, especially as play slows in the playoffs. Did you know that Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis led the league in rebounding (12.3)?Phoenix (4) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (5)Series odds – Suns -500; Clippers +385Depth is less of an issue in the playoffs, and the Suns with their top-heavy talent (Durant, Booker, Paul, Ayton) are fine with that. On paper they have a huge edge over the Clippers, who don’t seem to have an idea when Paul George (injured knee) will return – if at all. That makes it Kawhi Leonard against the Suns’ Murderers Row. Phoenix is as good as anyone in the West right now, and everything seems to line up for a long playoff run after disappointments the last two seasons.

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Final Four Breakdown/Thoughts

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2023

March Madness this year has exceeded all expectations and has been nothing short of amazing. From FDU upsetting Purdue in the first round, to Virginia getting upset by Furman. It has been the Tournament for "underdogs." In fact, since 1979 when the NCAA Tournament was first seeded, there’s never been a Final Four without a #1, #2, or #3 seed; until this year. The Final Four consists of #4 UConn, #5 Miami, #5 San Diego State, and #9 FAU.I will be previewing the Final Four teams in the order which I BELIEVE have the most value based on their current odds on DraftKings.San Diego State (+400)I really like San Diego State to win this whole tournament. The biggest component of San Diego State is that its head coach, Brian Dutcher keeps them all composed and confident every minute his team is on the floor. SDSU has the highest adjD among the remaining teams and the second hardest Strength of Schedule (SOS) keeping them in very close-knit games. SOS plays a big factor here as their last 6 games have all come against teams in KenPoms Top 100, and FAU is ranked 17. Lastly, SDSU has the oldest D-1 Experienced team among these 4 teams and that experience will matter down the stretch. Miami FL +(450)I did not expect Miami to make it this far however here they are. James Larrañaga has centered his team around a group of players who never give up and put that on full display this tournament. Miami has trailed by 5+ points at Halftime in 2/4 games in March Madness and went on to win both by 7 points - at one point they were down 13 against Texas. The key to Miami’s success is its offensive ability to create something out of nothing. They are getting assists on 50% of made FGs and are grabbing 31% of their offensive rebounds. They are weak defensively however they are the second oldest D-1 Experienced team and their willingness to keep fighting in games when they down show that.FAU (+650)FAU comes into the Final Four riding the longest active win streak in College Basketball with 11 wins. This is largely due to their excellent ability to play at both ends of the court. They are ranked 24th in AdjO and 30th in adjE. They are shooting 53.9% from 2PT range and 36.5% from 3PT. The issue with FAU is outside of Johnell Davis no one on the team shoots over 79% from the FT line which can really haunt them in close games. Lastly, I believe FAU’s inexperience can play a big role in the Final Four. UConn (-125)I have UConn so low because there is little to no value in this bet at this point. However, UConn is the best team in the Final Four. They are ranked 4th in adjO and 11th in adjD. A big issue I have with UConn is that they are only averaging 66 Possessions per game and that puts them 3rd among the Final Four. Theirs no denying that UConn has an elite offense where they are shooting with an effective FG of 54% however in March Madness upsets happen - and UConn should be on HIGH ALERT.Overall, this has been an amazing March Madness that will be talked about for years to come. Above are the teams IN ORDER where I believe they have the most value to win the Tournament (outright). Best of luck and enjoy the Final Four!

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Circuit of Americas Betting Preview

Wednesday, Mar 22, 2023

The Nascar season is five races in. Chevrolet has dominated the early season, winning 4 of the first 5 races. We’ve seen super speedways, intermediate tracks, and short tracks. Circuit of the Americas will be the first road course of the season. Austin, Texas will host the first of 5 road courses this season at the famed Texas Grand Prix, better known as Echo Park Grand Prix. COTA debuted on the Nascar circuit in May of 2021. The inaugural race was a rain-shortened race won by Chase Elliott. Because of Elliott’s leg injury, he will not be participating in the race on March 26th. Last year the Echo Park Grand Prix was won by Ross Chastain. His first ever Cup victory. The rules have changed a bit this season. Road course will have a new package allowing less downforce. Nascar also removed the cautions at the end of stages. Circuit of the Americas is a 3.14-mile road course with 20 turns and elevation. This asphalt track is wide, which should help see more passing than we’ve seen in the previous races this season. This race is filled with big names including the 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button. Button has signed on for three races this season. Another former F1 world champion participating in this race is Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen raced in Watkins Glen last season with little success. Jordan Taylor will be in the 9 car for injured Chase Elliott. Taylor is a two-time INSA champion. This race will be Taylor’s first in the Cup series. Indy car driver Conor Daly who raced in the Daytona 500 this season will make another appearance at COTA. We’ll also be seeing 7-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson in this race. This will be Johnson’s second race of the season finishing P31 at the Daytona 500. These drivers may see success at COTA, but it will be a stretch to see them get the checkered flag. We don’t see the usual drivers at the top of the board on this road course like Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. Kyle Larson is the favorite this weekend. Larson has 4 road course victories in his Cup series career. His last road course win was last August at Watkins Glen. Over the past 2 seasons, Larson has a 9.8 average finish. In 6 road courses, he has 1 win with 2 top 5s. Larson has one DNF to go with that average. Kyle Larson always has a fast car and knows how to get around these types of tracks. +650 may not be the best price, but if he qualifies well on Saturday this line will move lower. Michael McDowell is a dark horse. McDowell was a top 5 road course driver last season. He had a costly penalty here last season for cutting through the course. In the past two seasons, McDowell in 6 races at road courses has 1 top 5 to pair with 4 top 10s. McDowell is looking to improve this season with his road program. I certainly think that is attainable. A top 5 for McDowell is +425, so we’re getting plenty of value here. If you aren’t comfortable taking him for Top 5 he is getting a generous line at Top 10 price at +155. Nascar betting is about finding value. Be sure to shop for the best number. Practice good bankroll management. Always bet responsibly.

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NASCAR: Pennzoil 400 Betting Primer

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2023

The Nascar season has begun. We have two races in the rearview mirror. Daytona was unpredictable, with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. taking the checkered flag. This past Sunday we saw Kyle Busch run through the field for his first victory for Richard Childress Racing. Nascar continues its west coast swing with a visit to Las Vegas Speedway for the Pennzoil 400. This is the first race of two held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Chevrolet has dominated early in the season with two wins. Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile, cookie-cutter track, with 20-degree banking. The Pennzoil 400 will be a 400-mile race, which is 267 laps. Chevrolet has won the last two Pennzoil 400 races with Alex Bowman winning last year, and Kyle Larson the victor in 2021. Las Vegas Motor Speedway has hosted Nascar since 1996. The prize is a championship belt, the only non-trophy across the Cup Series. As we’re waiting for lines to drop, we’ll look at a few drivers who have a chance to win the belt. Kyle Busch won last week in Fontana and looks to keep momentum at Las Vegas. Las Vegas is Busch’s home track. Kyle Busch will be driving in all three series this weekend. The best way to be better at a track is by getting laps in, and Busch will be doing plenty of that. In his career, Busch has won three of the last four truck races at Las Vegas. Busch has two Xfinity wins at Las Vegas (2016 and 2019), as well as a Cup victory in 2009. Kyle Busch has a Top 5 in 5 of his last 7 Pennzoil 400 races. In 23 races here, Busch has an average finish of 10.8 with one win and 14 Top 10s. It’s a rare feat to see a driver sweep all three races, but that’s what he’ll be looking to do this weekend. The move to RCR has brought life back to Busch and he’s looking to prove doubters wrong as he looks for his second win of the season. Busch has a Top 10 in both races this season and I expect him to contend for another win on Sunday.Joey Logano has had plenty of success on this track. Logano won the playoff race here last season. That win put Logano in the final four, and eventually a Cup championship. Logano is the active leader along with Brad Keselowski at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with three wins. Logano saw back-to-back wins in the Pennzoil 400 with a victory in 2019 and 2020. Logano finished second at Daytona, and tenth last week. Logano is always a threat to win a race and Las Vegas should be no different. In the last 10 races at Las Vegas, Logano has an average finish of 5.6. In those 10 races, he has one finish outside of the Top 10, which was a 14th-place finish in 2020. Look for Logano to keep the pressure on with his aggressive, yet smart driving. He’d love to get his first victory early in the season and looks primed for a championship push this season.

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ACC Regular Season Conference Winner Outlook

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2023

The ACC has not had conference standings this close-knit halfway thru February for quite a fear years. It is typically Duke, UVA, and UNC who are the top every season. We are a little less than a month till Selection Sunday and there is virtually a two-way tie for first, and 4 teams that are at least 2 games out. Louisville has just one win against the ACC, neither UNC nor Duke are ranked and there's been plenty of upsets amongst Conference foes thus far. This Conference is pretty close in terms of standings and power rankings and it presents a lot of value for the Regular Season Conference Outright Winner futures. The THREE teams that I think present the most value are as follows:Miami FL (+330 : Odds via DraftKings)I think Miami has a really good shot at winning the ACC. They are 12-4 and positioned in third place, just .5 game out due to playing one more Conference game than Pittsburgh (12-3). Miami has the most efficient Conference-only offense as they have an effective FG of 54.3% and are shooting lights out behind the arc at 37.7%. My biggest fear with Miami is that they are sometimes careless with the ball and they turn it over on 16.1% of their possessions. Their weakest link is on defense, however, they guard the 3PT shot just as well as they shoot it and are holding teams below the NCAA Average in effective FG%. They close out the season against Pittsburgh which can very well make for a thriller and the winner becoming the eventual ACC Regular Season Champions. Their next game is Saturday at home against Wake Forest.Clemson (+1200 : Odds via DraftKings)Clemson has had their fair share of time being in the Top 25 however unfortunate losses at inopportune times have taken them out. This does not mean they cannot win the Regular Season Title. Clemson is just 2 games out and has games against 2 of the teams ahead of them to close out the season. Clemson's offense is their weakest link by far. They are shooting with an effective FG of 51.8% and are ranked dead last in the ACC in Offensive Rebound %. They are however the best FT shooting team at 86%. On defense, they are second to Virginia - and not by much. Clemson is holding teams to an effective FG of only 45.9% and teams shoot the 2PT shot at even less than that against them, 44%. Clemson has a shot to win this solely because of how good their defense is and how they can score points in dead time. Their next game is Saturday on the road against Louisville.North Carolina State (+20000 : Odds via DraftKings)This is my dark horse to win the ACC in the Regular Season. Even after NC State’s loss the other night to Syracuse, I think this team is too good to have them at such steep +20000 odds. NC State has flown under the radar in this contested conference and it has had some quality wins against good teams both at home and on the road. NC State does not shoot the ball the greatest as they have an effective FG of just 49.2% however it displays EXCELLENT ball control. It has the lowest turnover percentage in the ACC at only 12.5%. This is due in part to why its averaging 89.7 FGs per 100 trips up court. On defense, NC State takes away as many second chances as possible as they are ranked 1 in offensive rebound % taking away 20% of the opposition’s boards. NC State guards the 3PT shot very well as teams are only shooting 30.5% behind the arc against them. It will not be an easy path for NC State due to that loss against Syracuse, however, this team is battle tested and it presents way too much value with these types of odds in my opinion. Its next game is Sunday at home against UNC.The ACC is wide open with most teams having just 6 games left to play and 5 teams in contention to win the Regular Season Conference Outright. These three teams present the most value given their current place in the standings. The final weekend for ACC play is the weekend of March 4th and it has games including Notre Dame @ Clemson and the biggest one of the season… Pittsburgh @ Miami.

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2023 Nascar Race Win Totals Betting Preview

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023

The roaring of the engines, the smell of exhaust, and the sounds of the crowd all say one thing: Nascar is back for a new season in 2023. The season kicks off with an exhibition race, Clash at the Coliseum (Sun, Feb 5, 2023.) The "silly" season showed a lot of action and drivers moving into different cars. A few notable offseason moves include Ryan Preece returning to the Cup Series who will be replacing Cole Custer in the 41 for Stewart-Haas. AJ Allmendinger has moved up to Cup full-time and will be racing with Kaulig in the 16-car, a rig that he is familiar with. Noah Gragson is moving up to Cup from the Xfinity Series and will be driving for Legacy Motor Club in car 42. Kevin Harvick announced that 2023 will be his final full-time season. We knew the move to 23XI was coming, but we weren't sure which car he’d acquire, we now know that Tyler Reddick will be taking over the 45 car for Kurt Busch. The biggest news of the offseason was Richard Childress Racing signing Kyle Busch who will now be driving the 8-car. The contract distractions for Busch will be gone and I expect him to have a good season. While we wait for The Clash Sunday, we can look at some futures for the upcoming season. All odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook. Martin Truex under 1.5 (+150)Truex missed the playoffs last year. Father time may be the culprit. Truex spoke of retirement last season but ultimately decided against it. Joe Gibbs Racing is going through a lot of changes. Kyle Busch has left, and Ty Dillon comes in. Denny Hamlin is getting up there in age as well. Truex’s long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex is having health issues which will have him focusing on things outside of Nascar. Truex won no races in the Next Gen car and is open about his distaste for the new one. I don’t expect him to get back to his old form. One win is attainable, but I think two wins are too much of a task. We’ll take the value on the under.Kyle Busch over 1.5 (+100)The Kyle Busch vs Joe Gibbs Racing saga was very public. Contract talks were a distraction. People were thinking Busch quit on his team at Martinsville where he was the slowest car. Busch signed with Richard Childress Racing and the contract negotiation is no longer a distraction. Busch won one race last year (Bristol Dirt Race). Kyle Busch is a two-time champion and he wants to prove to people that he is still in the prime of his career. I expect Busch to be in contention for the Cup Series Championship. From 2015-2019 Kyle Busch was dominant. He hasn’t won multiple races since 2019. The fact that he doesn’t have to worry about his future in Nascar is a huge lift off his shoulders. I expect the move to Richard Childress racing to energize Busch. He knows how to win and he’ll be motivated to prove the doubters wrong. I expect Kyle Busch to win multiple races and cash this ticket.

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Four Possible Futures Wagers to Win the Big 12

Monday, Jan 30, 2023

The Big 12 has seen one of its craziest seasons in College Basketball then we have seen in most recent years. Kansas lost 3 games in a row, Texas Tech is winless in Conference Play and Texas dismissed their head coach halfway thru the season after Domestic Assault Charges. This Conference is so close-knit it presents lots of value for the Regular Season Conference Outright Winner futures. The FOUR teams that I think present the most value are as follows:Kansas State (+400 : Odds via DraftKings)I strongly believe that Kansas State is one of the best teams coming out of the Big 12. They have an offensive-adjusted efficiency of 113.5 and a defensive-adjusted efficiency of 95.1. Their biggest issue offensively is that they turn the ball over 19.2% per 100 possessions. Per KenPom rankings they are ranked 106 or better in 3pt shooting %, 2pt shooting %, FT % and effective FG%. On defense, they are even better, holding teams to only 67 PPG. Their next game is on the road against Kansas Tuesday night. Texas (+380 Odds via DraftKings)I have been back and forth on Texas all season and especially after the firing of their head coach however, their team has shown that with or without him they are a force to be reckoned with in the Big 12. They have an adjusted offensive efficiency of 117.9 and a defensive adjusted efficiency of 95.8 - both of which are in KenPoms Top 35. My biggest fear of Tennessee is that they only shoot 33.2% from the 3pt and that ranks 208. Defensively, Texas allows 67 PPG. They have allowed 67+ in 4/7 Conference Games thus far however I look for them to toughen up down the stretch. Their next game is at home against Baylor on Monday night.Iowa State (+350 Odds via DraftKings)Iowa State has brought me by surprise this season and has put together a great squad that not many people expected to see - however they have lost 3 of their last 5 games. Iowa State has a top-ten defensive efficiency at 91.2 and an offensive efficiency of 110.8. They have a tendency to turn the ball over and do it 19.2% of their possessions. On the contrary, they force the most turnovers in College Basketball at 27.5%. They are one of the worst FT shooting teams at 66.9%. They are able to get plenty of second-chance opportunities as they have an offensive rebound % of 34.9%. If Iowa State can figure out its turnover issue they can make a deep run this season.Baylor (+650 : Odds via DraftKings)This is my dark horse team to win the Big 12 - This time of the year is all about getting hot and Baylor fits that scenario. After falling in their first 3 Conference games, they have won the next 5 straight. Baylor has the 2nd best offensive efficiency at 120.1 and has a defensive efficiency of 99.6. They have the best discipline of ball control in the Big 12 and only turn the ball over on 18.2% of possessions and have an offensive rebound percentage of 37.4% exhibiting excellent potential of maintaining the ball to score. Defensively they have some holes as teams are scoring 51.2% from 2pt however this team is hot and I see this flame igniting. Their next game is on the road against Texas on Monday night.Overall, the Big 12 is wide open with just a little over a month to play and this Conference offers bettors plenty of value on Regular Season Winner Futures. The last game of the season for Big 12 play is Saturday, March 4th with games including Kansas @ Texas, Iowa State @ Baylor and Kansas State @ West Virginia. 

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NFL Week 8 Breakdown

Tuesday, Oct 25, 2022

BEST GAME – New York Giants at Seattle (-3)New York 6-1 SU, 6-1 ATSSeattle 4-3 SU, 4-3 ATSThe football Giants had been living on the currency of their Super Bowl win over the Patriots 14 years ago, but after a lot of down years this group feels like it can make a name for itself in a powerful NFC East (NY, Philly and Dallas are a combined 17-3 SU and 15-5 ATS). The Giants appear to finally have something in QB Daniel Jones and RB Saquon Barkley (each had more than 100 yards rushing last weekend in Jacksonville). Meanwhile, in Seattle coach Pete Carroll could be a contender for coach of the year if he can somehow drag veteran journeyman QB Geno Smith and a group on nobodies into the playoffs.WORST GAME – Carolina at Atlanta (-6.5)Carolina 2-5 SU, 2-5 ATSAtlanta 3-4 SU, 6-1 ATSNot too many flat-out dog games this week as a lot of so-so teams go at each other and try to stay relevant, and the Panthers have to being feeling pretty good about themselves after taking down Tom Brady and the Bucs this past weekend. In their first game after trading Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers wore down Tampa on the ground behind D’Onta Foreman (118 yards) and Chuba Hubbard (63). Atlanta needs to bring its pass defense into the shop for major repairs after giving up 459 passing yards and 35 points in a loss to the Bengals. Good thing for the Falcons that Carolina’s passing game is among the weakest in the league.LARGEST SPREAD – Green Bay at Buffalo (-10.5)Green Bay 3-4 SU, 2-5 ATSBuffalo 5-1 SU, 4-1-1 ATSBad enough that the Packers lost to the Commanders, worse that they didn’t convert a single first down in a game for the first time in 23 years. Now reeling Green Bay has to deal with the best (ok, Philly fans, the SECOND-best) team in the league. Stranger things have happened, and the Packers were good enough to win three straight earlier this season, but this time it feels different. Buffalo was last seen putting the screws to Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City, and Buffalo goes into this one having had two full weeks to recuperate, rest and prepare. The offense should be at top speed.SMALLEST SPREAD – San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams (+1.5)San Francisco 3-4 SU, 3-4 ATSLos Angeles 3-3 SU, 2-4 ATSBoth teams look like they will live or die with their defenses – the Niners are ranked No. 3 overall this season and the Rams are right behind at No. 5. On the other side of the ball, each team has a lot of questions and not many answers. SF is turning the ball over too much, committing too many penalties and settling for too many field goals. The Rams, meanwhile, have scored 10 or fewer points in three of their six games. Hopefully, they were able to figure out a few things on their bye week.LARGEST TOTAL – Miami at Detroit (50.5)Miami 4-3 SU, 3-4 ATSDetroit 1-5 SU, 3-3 ATSTua is back, and even if he wasn’t at his best last time out, it was enough for the Fins to end a three-game losing streak (vs. SF). Now, if he can just rock and roll the way he did pre-ConcussionGate, Miami can resume its resurgence. The Lions, dead last in the league defensively and giving up 412 yards a game, might be just the team to accommodate Tagovailoa. Curiously, this is the only game on the docket with a total of 50 or higher.SMALLEST TOTAL – Tennessee at Houston (41)Tennessee 4-2 SU, 4-2 ATSHouston 1-4-1 SU, 3-2-1 ATSAny chance the Texans might have had to be a factor this season may have been cashiered this past Sunday when they blew a second-half lead and lost to the Raiders in Las Vegas. And that was coming off a bye week. Facts don’t lie – the Texans are a decent cover team but have scored more than 20 points in only one game this season.

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NFL Week 6 Breakdown

Tuesday, Oct 11, 2022

BEST GAME – Dallas at Philadelphia (-5.5)Dallas 4-1 SU, 4-1 ATSPhiladelphia 5-0 SU, 3-2 ATSJerry Jones has probably gone through a few buckets of Maalox already this week as his Boys get set for their early NFC East showdown in Philly. Two of the best teams in a pretty mediocre year for the NFL go at it Sunday night. Dallas is mum of whether QB1 Dak Prescott will be back in action (he may return to practice this week) against the league’s only unbeaten team. The Cowboys have some other health issues to deal with – notably banged-up pass rushes Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence. The Eagles, meanwhile, are perfect so far but flying dangerously close to the sun and could be 2-3 with a few contrarian bounces of the ball.WORST GAME – New England at Cleveland (-3)New England 2-3 SU, 2-2-1 ATSCleveland 2-3 SU, 2-3 ATSJust what Bill Belichick wants – a quarterback controversy. Mac Jones was supposed to be the real deal, but a sprained ankle has opened the door for unheralded and unknown Bailey Zappe – and the fans are now reminiscing about Bledsoe and Brady two decades ago. The Patriots defense shut out the Lions (the NFL’s highest-scoring team) last week, so for those who love D and are not tired of the whole Belichick/NE scene, this game might not be THAT bad. Cleveland is one missed field gal away from a winning record and being tied for first in the NFC North. Not a dog game, but slightly worse than the others.BIGGEST SPREAD – Carolina at Los Angeles Rams (-10.5)Carolina 1-4 SU, 1-4 ATSLos Angeles 2-3 SU, 1-4 ATSThe Rams have quite a few things to sort out, but Concern No. 1 is an offensive line that can’t open holes for the running game. The defending Super Bowl champs are dead last in the league (62 yards a game) running the ball, and that’s makes throwing it even more difficult. Wideout Cooper Kupp is being blanketed and averaging only 7.4 yards per target (way down from previous years). Fortunately for the Rams, the Panthers aren’t much better – they have the worst offense in the NFL. Oddsmakers like the Rams to break out of their funk this week.SMALLEST SPREAD – Washington at Chicago (-1)Washington 1-4 SU, 1-4 ATSChicago 2-3 SU, 2-2-1 ATSSpeaking of teams having trouble moving the ball on the ground, say hello to your dysfunctional Washington Commanders. HC Ron Rivera thinks he knows where the problem lies. Hint: It’s not Ron Rivera. It’s QB Carson Wentz, and when the boss is dissing his most important player, there are major problems. This tight line (Bears -1) is a bit odd considering that Chicago hasn’t been all that bad this season and also QB Justin Fields seems to be figuring things out. Fields was more than decent in last Sunday’s loss to the Vikings and finished with a 118.8 passer rating. He also rushed for 47 yards and had a 52-yard rushing TD called back by a penalty. Still, oddsmakers have listed this one as the lowest total (38.5).LARGEST TOTAL – Buffalo at Kansas City (53.5)Buffalo 4-1 SU, 3-1-1 ATSKansas City 4-1 SU, 2-3 ATSBuffalo has the NFL’s best offense, so it’s a bit counterintuitive that the Bills have covered the total only once in five games. Buffalo is actually 0-3 in games in which the total is 50 or more. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have been in four shootouts already this season and are trying to win games despite a middling pass defense that hasn’t been all that impressive. Expect a lot of over money mid-week which could drive the total even higher before kickoff.

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NFL Week 4 Break Down

Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022

Week 4BEST GAME – Kansas City at Tampa Bay (+2.5)Kansas City 2-1 SU, 1-2 ATSTampa Bay 2-1 SU, 2-1 ATSPatrick Mahomes is arguing with coaches. Tom Brady is destroying tablets. What will one of these guys do when one of them loses Sunday night and falls to .500? Light the stadium on fire? KC appears to be having all sorts of trouble after a non-existent running game and disastrous special teams play led to a loss to the Colts. Andy Reid is taking the hit for the Keystone Kops debacle, but the players have a lot of clean up. Speaking of cleaning up messes, Brady’s Bucs went nearly an entire game without a touchdown, then completely fudged up the potential 2-point conversion in a loss to the Packers. Who’s more pissed in the family – Gisele or TB12?WORST GAME – New York Jets at Pittsburgh (-3.5)New York 1-2 SU, 1-2 ATSPittsburgh 1-2 SU 1-1-1 ATSDon’t expect a lot of great quarterback play in this one. Zach Wilson might make his season debut (just waiting for doctors to clear him), and the Jets will no doubt protect him by staying on the ground as long as they can move the chains. If he can’t go, it’s another dose of Joe Flacco. In Pittsburgh, there is some pressure to bench vet Mitch Trubisky and see what they have in rookie Kenny Pickett. Mike Tomlin is not the panicking kind, but if they fall to 1-3 on Sunday, it might be time for someone else under center.BIGGEST SPREAD – New England at Green Bay (-10.5)New England 1-2 SU, 0-2-1 ATSGreen Bay 2-1 SU, 2-1 ATSThe Patriots were finally able to put some points on the board, but still were trounced at home by the Ravens. And now they travel to Green Bay with the very real possibility that Break-Glass-in-Case-of-Emergency quarterback Brian Hoyer will be starting his first game since Week 4 of the 2020 season. NE is tight-lipped about the status of QB Mac Jones (high ankle sprain, on top of a back injury suffered in Week 2), but why risk the health of the future of your franchise in a game that is probably unwinnable anyway? BTW, the last time the Pats were double-digit dogs was in the 2002 Super Bowl, when they were +14.5 and beat the Rams.SMALLEST SPREAD – Denver at Las Vegas (-1.5)Denver 2-1 SU, 1-2 ATSLas Vegas 0-3 SU, 0-3 ATSIs it too late for Josh McDaniels to return to New England? Might be able to solve problems for both franchises. McDaniels was called on the carpet by owner Mark Davis after LV went 1 for 12 on third down and could score only twice in six red zone trips in a loss to Tennessee. Yikes. The books are betting on the losing streak to end, always a dangerous strategy. What should concern McDaniels is that through three games Russell Wilson hasn’t really been Russell Wilson, and this could be the game that that happens.LARGEST TOTAL – Buffalo at Baltimore (51.5)Buffalo 2-1 SU, 2-1 ATSBaltimore 2-1 SU, 2-1 ATSRight now Lamar Jackson is the best player in the National Football League. Whoever is No. 2 is so far behind that no one really cares. Jackson had three touchdown passes and more than 100 yards rushing vs. New England, something no one else has done more than once. The Bills have too much talent and pride to play a field position game in this one, so a wide-open battle can be expected.SMALLEST TOTAL – New England at Green Bay (39.5)This one opened at 42.5, but dropped three points on the news that Mac Jones was dealing with a high ankle sprain. The Patriots won’t talk about the injury, but the entire league knows that the Patriots will try to grind this one out whether or not Jones is a go. Green Bay’s offense appears to have taken a step back as well.

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NFL Week 2 (The Best and Worst!)

Tuesday, Sep 13, 2022

BEST GAMELos Angeles Chargers at Kansas City (-3.5) (Thursday night)Los Angeles 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATSKansas City 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATSAnyone who thought that the Chiefs might be taking their foot off the accelerator pedal was dope-slapped last week when KC went into Arizona and took apart the Cardinals to the tune of 488 total yards --  and 37 points in the first three quarters. KC just looks ready to dominate, even in the tough-as-nails AFC West. The Chargers will probably have to find some kind of a running game (they had just 79 on the ground in their Week 1 win over Las Vegas) to keep this one close. The half-point is enticing, especially if history is any guide – KC started last season 2-7 ATS.WORST GAME New York Jets at Cleveland (-6.5)New York – 0-1 SU, 0-1 ATSCleveland – 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATSIf the Jets were a college team, they would be every team’s Homecoming Weekend opponent. They were out of it early in the opener against the Ravens, forcing Joe Flacco to throw 59 passes – and that’s never a good sign. If the Jets want to avert a journey on another Road to Nowhere, Cleveland would be a good place to start. The Browns are in Waiting for Watson mode, making do with Jacoby Brissette. It was enough against Carolina, but Cleveland will no doubt pound the ball on the ground for at least the first half of the season.LARGEST SPREAD Atlanta at Los Angeles Rams (-10.5)Atlanta – 0-1 SU, 1-0 ATSLos Angeles – 0-1 SU, 0-1 ATSThe Falcons proved to the world that they don’t need Matt Ryan to blow huge leads at home. A total of 416 yards of offense went dust in the wind when Atlanta blew a 16-point fourth-period lead vs. New Orleans and couldn’t get a potential game-winning field goal past the line of scrimmage. The reward for that mess is a visit to the West Coast, where the Rams – licking their own wounds after a humbling 21-point loss at home to the Bills – await. The defending champs will show no mercy if they get ahead. SMALLEST SPREAD Washington at Detroit (-1.5)Washington 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATSDetroit 0-1 SU, 1-0 ATSThe Lions got a back-door cover with 14 late unanswered points in Week 1 vs. the Eagles, and they do have a decent running game which should at least keep them competitive this season. Washington got a W against Jacksonville, but it wasn’t easy – and no one is expecting great things from Carson Wentz this season. The total – 49.5 – is a bit high for two teams that will be spending this week making defensive adjustments.LARGEST TOTAL Minnesota at Philadelphia (52.5)Minnesota 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATSPhiladelphia 1-0 SU 0-1 ATSChargers-Chiefs is actually 54.5, but that’s covered earlier, so we’ll look at this one. This total is directly linked to Philadelphia’s offense and defense. The Eagles actually showed impressive balance (216 yards rushing, 239 passing) in beating the Lions this past week, a win which no doubt has them thinking Why Not Us? in a wide-open NFC East? Jalen Hurts (18 for 32) reminded no one of Johnny Unitas, but a win is a win, and with a soft first-half schedule, beating Minnesota could enable Philly to float to the top of the division by Halloween.LOWEST TOTAL New England at Pittsburgh (40.5)New England 0-1 SU, 0-1 ATSPittsburgh 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATSThe Steelers are a slight underdog in this one, which is head-scratching considering they’re at home against a Patriots team that is walking in quicksand, has not yet shown any signs of life, and is led by a quarterback who might be nursing an injured back. Hard to figure out what the oddsmakers see here, other than the fact that New England always seems to play well in Pittsburgh. Don’t expect too many passes from Mac Jones as the Pats offense keeps trying to figure things out in the post-Cam Newton Era.

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NFL 2022/23 Preview

Sunday, Aug 28, 2022

Winning back-to-back Super Bowls is incredibly difficult, and hasn’t been accomplished since the 2003 and 2004 Patriots were laying the foundation for their dynasty. Even getting to the SB two straight times requires lots of talent and lots of breaks. This year the defending-champion Rams at least have the talent part locked down, and they have made a down payment on the luck portion as they compete in a weakened NFC and NFC West. Arizona may cause some trouble, but San Francisco hasn’t quite got its act together and for the first time in more than a decade Seattle will sit down at the table without Russell Wilson calling signals. Life would have been simpler for the Rams if Aaron Rodgers had followed through on threats to walk away and Tom Brady had extended his departure from two weeks to six months, but the Rams are – on paper – at least as strong as they were last year. Oddsmakers have listed the Rams at +1100 to win the SB for the second straight time, with an O/U win total of 10.5.---The Bills aren’t likely to win 11 straight division titles like the Patriots did between 2009 and 2019, but they have two in a row in their back pockets, and they’re heavy (-225) favorites to make it a hat trick. Buffalo just doesn’t have any obvious weaknesses on a deep roster. The O/U win total is set at 12, which will no doubt scare away some bettors. But if they cover that at 13-4, it likely will result in a home-field edge throughout the playoffs and give them a huge advantage on the road to the Super Bowl (the Bills are favored there, at +600). Such is the strength of the roster that the only concern is the loss of Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll, who is now the HC of the Giants. Strong-armed Josh Allen, an MVP candidate, will continue to lead the offense, while the defense with start five former first-round picks and again be among the best in the league.---Could there possibly be a more enticing opening day game than Bills vs. Rams in Los Angeles? Buffalo opened as a 1-point favorite, but early wagering has pushed the Bills to -2.5.---Futures bettors may be getting cold feet after watching the Packers flame out of the playoffs for two straight seasons, but come on. The Packers are still loaded, they still have Rodgers and they are among the Super Bowl favorites (+1140). Rodgers should have little trouble finding open receivers even after the trade of Pro Bowler Davante Adams, but with AR the issue always seems to be what’s happening off the field. Signing a three-year contract – even at age 37 -- may ease concerns somewhat, but with Rodgers you never know. Oddsmakers give him more than a puncher’s chance to win his third MVP, at +850 and behind Allen (+650), Patrick Mahomes (+750) and Brady (+800).---There’s a concern in New England that Year 3 of the post-Tom Brady Era won’t go any better than Years 1 or 2 – and could even be worse. The reconstructed offense has been a penalty-filled mess in the pre-season, second-year QB Mac Jones has been mediocre and no one even knows what coach is calling the plays. Patriot starters got pushed around by Raider reserve in the final exhibition, raising red flags from Maine to Connecticut. Oddsmakers have adjusted accordingly, dropping NE to +4200 to win the Super Bowl after being listed at +3500 prior to the start of training camp. The Patriots are even a slight (+160) dog to make the playoffs, with the Over/Under win total at 8.5. The Pats face the headwinds of a loaded AFC and an improved AFC East. Bill Belichick has pulled rabbits out of his hat in the past, but the fact remains that his SU coaching without Brady under center is 51-66.

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College Football 2022/23

Saturday, Aug 20, 2022

It’s college football season again, and as always it starts – alphabetically (sorry, Air Force; sorry, Akron) and in the polls and certainly in expectations – with Alabama. Who else?Whether you like the AP Poll, the Coaches Poll, Sports Illustrated’s poll, or any one of dozens of podcasts,  the Tide are No. 1. And not too many people doubt that they will be there come Jan. 9 at the championship game in Los Angeles.Just about every online sportsbook has Alabama in the +175 to +185 range to add another national championship to its disputed number. Arguments about polling put the number at between 15 and 20, and the Tide naturally claim the latter number.Oddsmakers have listed Alabama’s Over-Under number at 10.5, and the first win will be in the books after they hand visiting Utah State a fat visitors check for agreeing to take a right to the chin from Nick Saban’s juggernaut on September 3. The Tide are a modest 39-point favorite in that one.---Alabama going into the opener as a five-touchdown favorite raises the issue of huge spreads early in the season. Coaches of power programs are loath to take a loss early on, so they lure a weak opponent with a barrel of cash, grab a confidence-building victory, and hope no one gets hurt as they prep for the conference season and real games. Bettors looking at wide-spread games like to key in on the defense of the dog rather than the offense of the favorite. Another factor is the guaranteed loser’s style of play. Does the patsy have a decent running game that can go on at least one clock-killing drive that leads to winning one of the four quarters? As for the predator, does the coach get off on running up a score? All things to consider.---If you like to cash by fading bad teams, there are some interesting FBS options. New Mexico State is on everyone’s list of among the worst teams in the country, and new coach Jerry Kill (perhaps the best name ever for a coach of a bad unit) hopes to breathe some life into an independent program that is coming off two straight 10-loss seasons and has had only one winning season since 2003 (7-6 in 2017 as a member of the Sun Belt Conference). Two other prime candidates are in the big-time football desert of New England, where Connecticut faces the ultimate long-shot joke odds of 500,000-1 to win the national title, and Massachusetts opens at a 29-point dog against a Tulane team coming off a 2-10 season of its own.---Looking for a possible surprise team? Look West – specifically, look at Utah. The 8.5 O-U on the Utes seems to be undervalued for a team that has won at least nine games in each of the last three full seasons (eliminating the Covid year) and appears to be more than solid this time around. Utah is a legit 2.5-point road favorite in its opener at Florida and features plenty of star power in returning QB Cam Rising and RB Tavion Thomas. Rising has the perfect name for a QB, and a convincing win in the Swamp could get him in the early Heisman conversation. Mix in a decent defense with almost everyone returning from last season, and Utah could open some eyes.---Speaking of the Heisman, the early betting favorite is Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, who finished fourth last year and stands at +200 in most places. The No. 2-ranked Buckeyes figure to roll this season as they wait for Alabama to stumble. OSU is a two-touchdown favorite at home against No. 5 Notre Dame in the opener. There is talk that Stroud may run the ball more this season, which increases his chances of getting dinged.

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The NBA Western Conference Finals

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Is it time to bid farewell to the NBA as we once knew it?There will be a new champion, and it will come from a group of four teams that couldn’t even make it to Round 2 last season. Besides the Bucks being unable to repeat, we have said adios to Brooklyn, a team built with three stars; Phoenix, which tied its horse to aging Chris Paul but could get only so far; and Philadelphia, who appears to have hitched its wagon to a James Harden whose best days are in the rearview mirror and getting smaller by the game.With the old guard and the old way of assembling teams skating on thin ice, say hello to the Dallas Mavericks and its single-star concept. Whether by design or just Mark Cuban’s inability to add another big gun to the roster, the Mavs have ridden Luka Doncic and a plethora of role players all the way to the Western Conference finals.Dallas opens final four play Wednesday night against the Warriors, a (very) veteran team that represents the last holdout for the three-star concept. If the Mavs are able to overcome considerable odds (GS is -210, Dallas +180 in the series) and actually takes care of business, it could mean that other teams will take a long hard look before they accede to the wishes of superstars and try to load up on talent and let the rest take care of itself.Against the heavily favored Suns in the Western semis, Doncic scoffed when Phoenix took a 2-0 series lead, then put the hammer down in an astonishing Game 7. Doncic scored Dallas’s first 8 points, the Mavs had a 57-27 lead at halftime, and then spent the third quarter conducting an autopsy on the beleaguered Suns. The lead was 46 at one point, as Suns stars Paul and Devin Booker had zero answers.Dallas is hardly expecting Golden State to be as compliant as the Suns were. Steph Curry is Steph Curry, Klay Thompson is rounding into form after returning from injury, and Draymond Green is always ready to bust a vein when things go even a little bit wrong. The Warriors’ pass-and-cut offense allows the defense no rest, and even Doncic will have to work on the other end.Doncic won’t have to do it alone, but any help he gets will come from an unlikely source – because the rest of the rotation is filled with unlikely sources. Jalen Brunson is as close to Robin as there is for Doncic’s Batman, but Brunson will have his hands full running through screens and chasing Curry or Thompson.  Spencer Dinwiddie torched the Suns for 30 (9 more than Paul and Booker had, combined) but is in and out. Reggie Bullock and Dwight Powell scare no one.The Warriors, who are 5-point favorites in Wednesday’s Game 1, will no doubt game plan to tire and slow down Doncic, who was admittedly in poor shape to start the season. In Round 1 Utah made only token efforts at defense, and the Suns simply ran out of gas and lacked a coherent defensive approach. GS coach Steve Kerr will no doubt come up with something, perhaps hounding the ball-dominant Donic the same way that Boston harassed Milwaukee do-everything Giannis Antetkounmpo. Giannas had nothing left by the second half of Game 7 after dealing with multiple defenders and double-teams for two weeks. OTOH, the Bucks couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean from 3, and that’s what Golden State does best.Ask the oddsmakers, and they’ll simply count the number of stars on each team, and tell you that the Warriors will make another run at the title. They’re the betting favorite to win it all at +135, with Boston (+175) and Miami (+490) behind GS. Bringing up the rear are the Mavericks, at +565. More motivation for a team with one star aching to change the power structure and perhaps alter the way teams are built in the Association.

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The NBA Eastern Conference Finals

Monday, May 16, 2022

Remember the Boston Celtics from the first half of this NBA season? Well, you can forget them, because they don’t exist anymore. The .500 Celtics have been replaced with the playoff nightmare that has now taken down the dysfunctional Brooklyn Nets and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, and is now turning its hungry eyes southward toward Miami.The Celtics have only one day of rest before they deal with the Heat in Miami in Game 1 of what has become a fascinating Eastern Conference playoffs. That fact, plus the first two games being in South Florida, has hardly fazed oddsmakers who have already installed Boston as the favorite to escape the East and take on either Golden State or Dallas in the Finals. Bovada has the Celtics at -170 in the EC finals, and Miami at +150 – even though Miami is a consensus -2 favorite in Game 1.If the Celtics are tired from their seven-game grinder of a series against the Bucks, the momentum from their 28-point (109-81) Game 7 hammering of the Bucks should help compensate for weary bones. Plus, the Heat have only a day to figure out what to do about a Boston offense that suddenly is fat with production from unlikely sources. What kind of odds could you have gotten at the corner bar on Grant Williams outscoring Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 7? Or bottom-of-the-rotation guard Payton Pritchard getting big minutes and hit killer 3 after killer 3?This past Sunday’s domination of the Bucks (Boston outscored Milwaukee by a combined total of 38 points in Games 6 and 7) certainly raised eyebrows in South Beach, and no doubt they will try something different to contain Boston superstar-in-the-making Jayson Tatum. Tatum was “held” to 23, 6 rebounds and 8 assists on Sunday as he willingly passed up shots (something he didn’t do early on this season), but Miami knows it will most likely get the Game 6 Tatum (46, 9 and 4). How Erik Spoelstra decides to defend Tatum will be a fascinating for NBA X’s and O’s geeks. Tatum saw a wide array of double-teams when these teams met in the Bubble EC finals a few years ago, but Tatum has since become a more willing facilitator.On the other end of the court, the Heat will have different issues in trying to penetrate Boston’s best-in-the-NBA defense, the one which has gotten the better of Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant over the last three weeks. No small feat. And consider that Boston’s defensive anchor, center Robert Williams, played sparingly in the Milwaukee series due to a leg injury, and he should be good to go against the Heat.Boston coach Ime Udoka gambled, successfully, that he wouldn’t need Robert Williams in Game 7.In the Bubble EC finals the Celtics were drawn and quartered as they tried to defend Bam Adebayo with Daniel Theis. This time around Theis will be a 10-minute-a-game sub and Al Horford is back to deal with Miami’s length at the position. Toss in Robert Williams, who was a non-factor in the 2020 playoffs vs. the Heat, and the Celtics are a different team in the paint. And this time around Boston’s defense doesn’t have to compensate for opposing guards blowing by Kemba Walker and getting to the rim.In addition to Boston being favored to win this series, the Celtics are listed at +210 to +240 to win the NBA title, depending on the book. That’s after opening the season at +5000. Miami is +440 to +500, after starting the season at +3500.

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American League - Over/Under Preview

Sunday, Apr 03, 2022

A look at Over/Under win totals for each American League team (last year’s record in parentheses):AMERICAN LEAGUE EASTBALTIMORE (52-110) 2022 O/U – 62.5The endless rebuild continues in Baltimore, where the Orioles hope to improve a woeful pitching staff (5.84 ERA) by moving back the fences at Camden Yards.BOSTON (92-70)2022 O/U – 85.5The starting rotation is Scotch-taped together after losing ace Chris Sale to injury for the first part of the season. But the Red Sox always hit, and the lineup got a boost with the signing of free agent second baseman Trevor Story. Expect lots of 8-7 games.NEW YORK (92-70)2022 O/U – 91.5The Yankees were a streaky team last season as the lineup ran hot and cold, partly because of the lack of left-handed bats in the lineup. Hopefully Josh Donaldson, acquired from the Twins, helps provide some balance. Gerrit Cole (16-8 last year) leads a decent rotation.TAMPA BAY (100-62)2022 O/U – 89.5Two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber joins a starting staff that was already solid, fronting for a lineup that scored the second-most runs in the majors in 2021.  Rays have won more games than any team in the A.L. over the past three seasons.TORONTO (91-72)2022 O/U – 92.5Losing Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and second baseman Marcus Semien was tough to swallow, but the Jays still have talent on hand. Expect lots of runs from a solid lineup led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., whose 48 homers last season tied for the ML lead.AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRALCHICAGO (93-69)2022 O/U – 91.5Two straight playoff appearances – and two straight first-round losses. The White Sox are hoping for more this season, behind a deep rotation that has no real ace and an excellent lineup led by Tim Anderson and Jose Abreau.CLEVELAND (80-82)2022 O/U – 76.5Low payroll and low expectations for the Guardians. Veteran manager Terry Francona will have his work cut out with this group. Injuries kept No. 1 Shane Bieber to 16 starts last season, and if he can’t stay on the field more this season, it won’t be pretty.DETROIT (77-85)2022 O/U – 77.5Five straight losing seasons were apparently enough for management, which bumped up the payroll and brought on starter Eduardo Rodriguez and several others. Tigers are hoping Miguel Cabrera can still drive in runs at age 39.KANSAS CITY (74-88)2022 O/U – 74.5Look who’s back! Zack Greinke, who won the Cy in KC in 2009. He’ll head a young staff that showed some promise last season. All eyes will be on shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., considered the top prospect in the majors.MINNESOTA (73-89)2022 O/U – 81.5The offense should not be a problem, especially with the arrival of premier shortstop Carlos Correia. The problem is the pitching staff, which will throw to former Yankee catcher Gary Sanchez. None of the projected starting staff had an ERA under 4 last season.AMERICAN LEAGUE WESTHOUSTON (95-67)2022 O/U – 91.5Correia is gone, but plenty of talent remains from last season’s World Series losers. Justin Verlander returns from Tommy John surgery, and if he’s 80 percent of what he was, the staff will be among the best. Scoring runs won’t be a problem.OAKLAND (86-76)2022 O/U – 70.5At least the A’s are consistent. Develop players, then trade them away before you have to pay them. The post-lockout exodus (Olsen, Chapman, Bassitt) was almost immediate. A move to Las Vegas seems inevitable; only the details remain.LOS ANGELES (77-85)2022 O/U – 83.5If, if, if the Angeles stay somewhat healthy (looking at you, Mike Trout and Tony Rendon), then they’ll have a puncher’s chance at ending their 7-year playoff drought. Noah Syndergaard should bolster the starting staff and Michael Lorenzen should boost the bullpen.SEATTLE (90-72)2022 O/U – 83.5Has it really been 20 years since the Mariners made the playoffs? Yikes. That streak is in serious danger this season as Seattle progresses. Cy Young winner Robbie Ray leads the staff, and if the offense is even a little above average, the Mariners could surprise.TEXAS (60-102)2022 O/U – 74.5The Rangers are another team trying to spend their way out of the dumpster. The middle of the infield will feature Corey Seager and second baseman Marcus Semien. None of the projected starters – including free agent Jon Gray – had a winning record last year.

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National League - Over/Under Preview

Sunday, Apr 03, 2022

A look at Over/Under win totals for each National League team (last year’s record in parentheses):NATIONAL LEAGUE EASTATLANTA (88-73)2022 O/U – 90.5Matt Olson replaces fixture Freddie Freeman at first base, bit otherwise the Braves will run out the same squad that last season produced their first World Series title since 1995. Slugger Ronald Acuna played only half a season in 2021 due to injury, and he will miss maybe a month of this year. Starting pitching could be the only real problem.MIAMI (67-95)2022 O/U – 76.5The rebuild is ongoing, and the Marlins could make a run at .500. The offense was awful last season, but got a boost when Miami acquired corner outfielders Jorge Soler and Avisail Garcia – they combined for 56 home runs last season.NEW YORK (77-85)2022 O/U – 90.5Anything less than a World Series appearance will disappoint Mets fans, who saw their team add Max Scherzer and All-Star Chris Bassitt to a rotation headed by Jacob deGrom. One concern – the Mets are old, and old teams tend to accumulate a lot of injuries.PHILADELPHIA (82-80)2022 O/U – 85.5Bryce Harper won the NL MVP last season, but it was nowhere near enough for the Phillies. So they added two more bats – Nick Castellano and Kyle Schwarber – to juice the lineup. Decent health could help the Phillies make the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 team led by Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard.WASHINGTON (65-97)2022 O/U – 71.5Anything close to .500 would be a dream season for the 2019 champs, who are starting from scratch after selling off most of their top players last season. Signing face of the franchise Juan Soto is a top priority. Ace Steven Strasburg is still recovering from his second straight season-ending injury.NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRALCHICAGO (71-91)2022 O/U – 75.5Lots of question marks at Wrigley this time around. A mid-season salary dump (Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo) led to a predictable late-season dive, but opened the door for youngsters. The top of the rotation isn’t bad – Kyle Kendicks (14-7) and newcomer Marcus Stroman.CINCINNATI (83-79)2022 O/U – 74.5The Reds can score, but can they score enough to compensate for a pitching staff that is dependent on some rookies and already dealing with injuries? NL MVP Jonathan India and veteran Joey Votto anchor a solid lineup. Oddsmakers see a significant dip after last year’s +.500 season.MILWAUKEE (95-67)2022 O/U – 88.5Have to like the chances of any team with three All-Stars – Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta – in the rotation and the game’s best closer in Josh Hader. The offense went flat in the playoff loss to the Braves, but they should at minimum get to the post-season for the fifth straight year.PITTSBURGH (61-101)2022 O/U – 65.5Fans may be tired of rebuilds, but that’s life in Pittsburgh. At least the Bucs can sell the future without lying as the minor league system is littered with talent. That won’t help right now, though. One interesting newcomer is Seiya Suzuki, who hit 38 homers in Japan last season.ST. LOUIS (90-72)2022 O/U – 84.5No one is really sure why manager Mike Schildt was canned, but new field boss Oliver Marmol has a veteran team to lead. Even Card legend Albert Pujols is back for a final good-bye (as DH). Injuries in the rotation could cause some problems early, so scoring runs will be a priority.NATIONAL LEAGUE WESTARIZONA (52-110)2022 O/U – 66.5Watching the bottom line often gets you to the bottom of the division in MLB, and that’s where the Diamondbacks find themselves. They’ve added no one of significance to a team that had the fewest (tied with Baltimore) wins in the MLB a year ago. Should be interesting to see if Madison Bumgarner has anything left.COLORADO (74-87)2022 O/U – 68.5The Rockies seem cemented into fourth place in the West, and hope against hope that newcomer Kris Bryant will jolt the team toward a playoff berth. Losing Trevor Story to the Red Sox was a tough body blow. Pitching is always an issue in Colorado, and they also lost starter Jon Gray. Crossing fingers.LOS ANGELES (106-56)2022 O/U – 97.5More coal to Newcastle, as the 106-win Dodgers bulked up the lineup by buying slugger Freddie Freeman. Are there any holes on this team? Maybe not. Walker Buehler (16-4) is now the ace, but Clayton Kershaw can still get batters out, so losing Max Scherzer won’t be the end of the world.SAN DIEGO (79-83)2022 O/U – 88.5SAN FRANCISCO (107-55)2022 O/U – 85.5Injuries late last season ended the Padres’ post-season hopes, and already NL home run champ Fernando Tatis is hurt (wrist) and will miss a few months. At least the rotation looks healthy right now, with Yu Darvish and Blake Snell carrying a lot of the load.SAN FRANCISCO (107-55)2022 O/U – 85.5The Giants just refuse to go away as a contender. They won’t win 107 again, but a playoff spot is within reach. All eyes will be on top prospect Joey Bart as he replaces Buster Posey behind the plate. Offense could be a problem if long-time vets Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt start to show their age.

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Are The Boston Celtics For Real?

Thursday, Mar 24, 2022

Just what in the name of Sam Adams is happening in Boston these days?Left for dead and getting booed off their home court on a semi-regular basis through the first 50 games of the season, out of nowhere the Celtics have somehow cobbled together one of the greatest turnarounds in NBA regular-season history. Boston was a .500 team last season and .500 again through 50 games this year before going on the mother of all tears – winning 21 of 24, including a 28-point beatdown of a good Jazz team on Wednesday in a game that wasn’t anywhere near as close as the final score indicated.The early part of Boston’s current streak drew little attention as NBA eyes were focused on James Harden shooting his way off another team, Ben Simmons refusing to play at all and the Lakers being either hurt or pissed at the world (sometimes both). But as the Celtics have surged past team after team in the East, the outside world is paying attention.Boston opened the year at +4000 to win it all, a number that has melted to +1000 in some books. FWIW, Stephen A. Smith is starting to blow Boston’s horn as the team to beat, and the number-crunching basketball folks at 538.com have been saying for nearly a month that the Larry O’Brien Trophy will be heading to Beantown come June.So what gives?Offensively the Celtics have ridden the coattails of forwards Jayson Tatum (who has been a 30-ppg machine of late) and Jaylen Brown. But the real work is done on the defensive end. Boston has the NBA’s best defense, and the gap between the Celtics and No. 2 is gaping. Marcus Smart is a dog on the perimeter, and finally-healthy big Robert Williams is fast enough to guard the 3-point line and recover to defend the rim when Boston is caught in transition. The Celtics haven’t had a shot-blocker like Williams since Bill Russell.[It’s interesting to note here that the best defensive players on the best defensive team aren’t getting much love from oddsmakers in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion. Robert Wiliams (+1100) is fourth, behind heavy favorite Bam Adebayo (+115), Rudy Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Smart (+4000) is a distant eighth.]The rest of the rotation, which was tightened after mid-season trades sent rotation players Dennis Schroder and Josh Richardson out of town, includes rejuvenated veteran big Al Horford, emerging 3-point shooters Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard; and glue guard Derrick White, who came over from San Antonio at the trade deadline.For the first few months of the season rookie coach Ime Udoka (a Gregg Popovich disciple) must have wondered why he took he took the job. Tatum and Brown had continued the My Turn / Your Turn ISO play that Celtics fans had witnessed nightly since the Celtics lost to the Heat in the bubble in the Eastern Conference finals. That style of play led to a 61-61 record over the next year-plus – until everything came together in late January.Ripping through the soft underbelly of the schedule and playing against weak teams and teams dealing with Covid player absences, Boston ran off nine straight wins and then continued white hot post-All-Star break. The dismantling of the Jazz was Boston’s fifth straight, and came on the heels of a 4-0 road trip that included wins over Golden State (yes, the one in which Steph Curry got hurt) and Denver. The Celtics won those four games by an average of nearly 20 ppg.Boston’s surge, combined with periodic inconsistent play by Miami, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Chicago and Cleveland, moved the Celtics to within shouting distance (1.5 games) of first place in the East – a stunning 180 for a fan base which only a few months before had been talking about trading one, or both, of the J’s and embarking on a complete rebuild.Can Boston continue its Sherman-like march to the sea, get out of the East and possibly get that elusive championship banner No. 18, its first since the Garnett-Pierce-Allen title team of 2008? Oddsmakers still like Brooklyn to at least get to the Finals, and the Bucks, 76ers and Heat are all listed higher than the Celtics (+550) in the conference.At a minimum, though, Boston has shot its way into the conversation. And as any talking head this side of Charles Barkley will tell you, offense can come and go but defense and effort are more permanent and can take you far. Last year the Celtics were doused in five by the Nets in the first round after winning the 7-8 Play-In Game. But that was long ago, and in a galaxy far away.

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NBA Awards Odds Update

Monday, Mar 07, 2022

Homestretch in the Association, and as time runs short here’s a look at the who, what, when, where and why for the leading contenders for individual awards. Odds are current.MVPJoel Embiid -115Nikola Jokic +300Giannis Antetokounmpo +550Embiid seemed giddy after his Sixers sent out non-participant Ben Simmons and role players for James Harden, and indeed Harden’s arrival in Philadelphia may have come too late in the game to disrupt the narrative that Embiid is going to win it after carrying the team on his back in a much-stronger Eastern Conference.  What could deny Embiid the trophy is a 76er slump over the final few weeks – and the schedule appears daunting – that could drop them two or three spots in the cramped East and created doubts in the minds of the voters. Jokic’s odds seem a little skewed considering Denver has slipped to 6th in the West, chances of a repeat MVP sliding along with the team. Antetokounmpo’s brilliance could produce a third MVP, were it not for the fact that Embiid’s relatively good health and Philly’s sustained strong play in the absence of Simmons has kept the spotlight on the Philly center. Ja Morant and DeMar DeRozen could break into the top 3, but Boston’s Jayson Tatum is surging too late after mediocre play for the first two-thirds of the season.MOST IMPROVEDJa Morant  -1100Miles Bridges +900Darius Garland +1500Morant might be in the MVP discussion were it not for the fact that his Grizzlies played well even when he was out injured, but he’s had the MIP Award locked up since the holidays. As Larry Bird said at the All-Star Game 3-point contest way back when, “Which of you guys is playing for second place?” Morant’s numbers are up across the board (his scoring average jumped more than 8 points over last year), and more importantly Memphis is getting long hard looks from pundits who think that the young Grizzlies can win a few playoff rounds in a diminished Western Conference.  Bridges has been a solid contributor in his first year as a starter for Charlotte and Garland has thrived in Cleveland with Collin Sexton out, but this hardware will belong to Morant.ROOKIE OF THE YEAREvan Mobley -650Scottie Barnes +500Cade Cunningham +600Hard to see Mobley NOT becoming the third Cavalier to win the Rookie of the Year trophy (after LeBron James and Kyrie Irving). The big man can do a lot of things that today’s big men are asked to do, and he’s had a huge impact on the team’s success. Mobley had 20 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks and 4 assists this past weekend as the Cavs ended a 6-losses-in-7-games skid by beating Toronto. If Cleveland has a half-decent finish to the season and stays clear of the Play-In tournament, Mobley should have more than enough solid play in the bank to hold off Barnes. Cunningham is the future in Detroit, and he has the Pistons finishing strong, but the No. 1 overall draft pick was hurt early and struggled mid-season. If the team improves and he stays healthy, he will be a MIP candidate in 2022-23.SIXTH MAN OF THE YEARTyler Herro -2500Kelly Oubre +2500Kevin Love +2500Herro put this one to bed early on, being a 20-ppg scorer off the bench (and sometimes starter; he averages 33 minutes) and a key cog in Miami’s system of interchangeable parts. It doesn’t hurt that the Heat control the East and barring a bad run should have home-court advantage for the first three playoff rounds. Oubre (Hornets) and Love (Cavaliers) are long shots at best.DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEARRudy Gobert -150Giannis Antetokounmpo +425Jaren Jackson Jr. +900Yes, the Jazz have slipped and yes there’s probably something to the talk about discord in Salt Lake City. But the chalk right now is Gobert, and strange things would have to happen down the stretch for Gobert not to win this award for the fourth time. East big men Bam Adebayo (Miami) and Robert Williams (Boston) are laying the groundwork for runs at this award when Gobert starts to run out of gas.COACH OF THE YEARMonty Williams -300J.B. Bickerstaff +375Taylor Jenkins +650Williams clinched this award when Phoenix took complete control of the West with an 8-game winning streak in February, and the Suns can spend the rest of the year getting its Chris Paul / Devin Booker backcourt healthy for the post-season. Another Finals trip is definitely possible for Williams. Bickerstaff will get some love from the voters, for sure, but the Cavs’ struggles of late will cost him at the ballot box. Likewise with Memphis’s Jenkins. Boston’s Ime Udoka (+5000) is out the running, but the Celtics are scorching hot and talk of him being on thin ice is now off the table.

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Are The Memphis Grizzlies For Real?

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2022

The home stretch is all that remains in this odd NBA season, and out West, more and more standings watchers and hard-core bettors are starting to pay attention to the Memphis Grizzlies, who may have – under the radar – assembled what may be shaping up as the next powerhouse in the Association.Since flaming out if the Bubble a few seasons ago, the Grizzlies’ numbers are staggering. Over the last two Covid-scarred seasons, they somehow are 82-50 against the spread, including 40-20 this season. Suffice to say, that’s the best in the NBA, and it’s doubtful that any of the other decent cover teams (Oklahoma City, Chicago, Toronto) will have a better betting scorecard once the regular season finishes up in mid-April.How did the Grizz get so good, so fast? Actually, not so fast. Since bottoming out (22-60 SU) in 2017-18, Memphis has gotten steadily better each year since. And lucky. Very, very lucky. Especially on May 15, 2019, when the Ping Pong balls fell their way and the New Orleans Pelicans got the No. 1 pick and were saddled with the heaping, injured mass that now passes for Zion Williamson. The Grizz settled for a 6-foot-3 guard from mid-major Murray State named Ja Morant, and Memphis was off to the races.Like many stars, Morant has missed some time this season, and to be honest his MVP chances suffered a tad when the Grizzlies played well without him. But he’s still on the periphery of the chase, in the mix with luminaries such as Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMar DeRozan, last year’s winner Nikola Jokic and this year’s heavy favorite Joel Embiid. Morant is at +1800 and would need bad things to happen to the others to pull through, but just to be listed in the conversation speaks volumes about what he has done for the franchise.Memphis won’t be able to catch Phoenix for the top seed in the West, and likely won’t fall to fourth unless Utah goes nuts in the final eight weeks. But the Grizzlies have a legitimate shot at catching third-place Golden State for second in the West, and possibly securing home-court advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs.Speaking of the playoffs, neither Memphis’s solid season nor its 8-2 pre-All Star Game tear (that despite a trap game loss at home to Portland in the final game before the break) has impressed oddsmakers all that much. Yes, the Grizzlies have melted the odds of winning the title from +10000 pre-season to +2500 currently, but the books still think either other teams – Golden State, Phoenix, Brooklyn, Milwaukee,Philadelphia, Miami – have a better shot than does Memphis. And they even list Boston (underachiever all year) and Utah (limping of late) at +2500, the same as Memphis. As Rodney Dangerfield would say if he was still here, “How do you get any respect around here?”The final leg of the season starts Thursday night in Minnesota, where the Grizzlies will be a +2.5-point road favorite. Tough games at Chicago and Boston are also on the docket before they begin a very benign eight-game stats-fattening run against teams with losing records before the schedule toughens again over the final few weeks of the regular season.All the while, bettors need to answer a few questions as they ponder laying money down on a young-and-hungry Grizzlies team:1.      After covering two games out of every three since October, is there any meat left on the bone, or will a combination of complacency and books adjusting the spreads bring Memphis back to the pack?2.      Will the Grizzlies, who are the NBA’s No. 1 offensive team (113.8 ppg), be able to continue their success in the playoffs when opponents can game-plan and play tends to slow down?“Our goal is to win the championship, and I feel like as long as we stay locked in, continue to grow together, play together, that goal can be achieved,” Morant said at the All-Star festivities. “We just got to stay the course, take it day by day and let it play out.”

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Strange Times In The NBA

Monday, Feb 14, 2022

Welcome to the peculiar world of the NBA, where one player who refuses to shoot raised the stakes by refusing to even play, then was traded for a player who twice in 13 months has forced a trade to another team by playing by expending hardly any effort.Player empowerment, indeed.So here we are in the post-trade deadline Association, pointing toward the home stretch of the regular season and digesting the betting impact of James Harden now joining forces with Joel Embiid and forming a Super Duo in Philadelphia -- plus figuring out if Ben Simmons can get his head on straight enough to actually play for Brooklyn along with two other stars who for various reasons rack up lots of their own DNPs.The Harden-Simmons swap has certainly been a huge boost for NBA media types, but has it affected the betting world all that much? Let’s take a look:Prior to the start of the season, oddsmakers operated under the assumption that Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving just had more talent than anyone else, and their Nets were installed as heavy +230 favorites to be left standing when the Larry O’Brien Trophy was handed out in June. Then things started to go sideways, Irving was a 50 percent Covid casualty (playing only road games), Durant was hurt and for the second time in 13 months, Harden pouted his way into the trade. Two weeks before the Simmons trade, Brooklyn’s odds moved to +350.With everything that could go wrong actually going wrong, the Nets embarked on a losing streak that by the end of this past week had reached 11. Oddsmakers took notice of it all and made new-look Brooklyn a more attractive +450 to win it all.Anyone laying cash on the Nets at this point must believe that at least two of three things must happen:1.      Durant’s ailing left knee is healed and he is a reasonable facsimile of vintage Durant come playoff time.2.      The city of New York eases Covid's rules and allows Irving to be a full-time player.3.      Simmons gets over whatever is bothering him (or was faking it to force a trade) and blends in.All this assumes that Brooklyn will even qualify for the playoffs. Heading into this week’s action the Nets (21-33-2 ATS this season, BTW) were in 8th place and staring down the barrel of a play-in berth.Things are somewhat rosier in Philadelphia, where fans figure they got the better of the deal by bringing on an offensive force in Harden to pair with Embiid at the cost of a PITA who wasn’t playing for them anyway.The Sixers opened play this season at +1800, a number that made sense considering that one of their two All-Stars was refusing to even show up after botching the playoffs last spring. But Embiid avoided major injuries, not having Simmons has freed others to step up, and by late January the odds had been adjusted to +1000. With Harden on board and everyone feeling the pressure to at least win the East, Philly stands at +700.And there will be pressure. Tons of it, mostly on the shoulders of coach Doc Rivers. Philly has gone all-in,  knowing that it couldn't waste another year of Embiid’s prime and had to make life easier on the oft-injured center in what could be an MVP season. If Harden + Embiid doesn’t equal at least an Eastern Conference title, their franchise that was built on tanking will have to reassess its approach. Again.In the West, the trade-deadline silence from the Lakers camp was deafening. Devoid of available No. 1 draft picks to deal and with a roster filled with unproductive veterans hoping that LeBron James’s coattails with getting them a ring, LA was hamstrung despite being desperate for a roster upgrade.The Lakers had opened the season at +425 and the favorite to win the West, then melted to +1800 by late January amid injuries, poor play and the realization that the Russell Westbook acquisition had turned to dust. The neutered (a whopping +3000) Lakers are now 5 games under .500, in play-in territory themselves, and reduced to hoping that when (if) the post-season arrives, LeBron can somehow intimidate opponents as he once did.Strange times indeed in an NBA which seems to somehow have been turned on its head.

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Breaking Down The Confusing LA Lakers

Monday, Jan 24, 2022

If they were of a mind, and healthy enough, the Los Angeles Lakers could send out onto the court a team of five players who either are guaranteed spots in the Hall of Fame, or have a real good chance of getting there.The Lakers played in Miami this past Sunday afternoon in Miami, and the five future immortals of the game – LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard – had a combined plus-minus total of minus-51. And it was only halftime. Anthony Davis (out for more than a month with a sprained left knee) was spared the embarrassment.It wasn’t supposed to be anything like this. Bad enough that LeBron and LA were forced to endure the embarrassment of being part of the Play-In Tournament last season. This season they may have again to hustle to avoid being participants in the gimmick. Peasants are supposed to bow to royalty, not the other way around.But here they are, under .500 after the weekend’s play, with a losing record on the road, a losing record in the conference, closer to last place than to first in the West, and scoring fewer points per game than their opponents. They’re 2-5 SU and also 2-5 ATS in their last seven, and their defense is so bad that 7 of their last 9 games have gone Over.The Lakers are the oldest team in an NBA that celebrates its youth. They average out to over 30 years old per, and of late they have often appeared to be twice that, especially on the defensive end. Against the Heat, Trevor Ariza and backup center Dwight Howard had a grand total of zero points in 27 minutes. Westbrook scored 24, but much of it was after the game had been decided.Having so many vets and so little youth is no doubt a move to placate James, who himself is starting to accumulate aches and pains after so many indestructible seasons. James is actually having a solid offensive season – he’s averaging nearly 29 ppg, which if it holds would be his best offensive year since 2009-10. And that’s playing every position on the court, even center in Davis’s absence.As a franchise the Lakers are not a patient bunch, so they are a team to watch as the trade deadline nears. But what to trade? Talen Horton-Tucker might have a little value, but beyond him, the bench consists of the likes of DeAndre Jordan, Wayne Ellington, and Kent Bazemore, all of whom are just collecting checks at this point in their careers.If the roster remains pretty much intact through the Feb. 10 trade deadline, that could be bad news for coach Frank Vogel. One betting line had Vogel no better than even money to finish the season. Like several other teams battling injuries and player absences due to Covid, the front office most likely wants to see what it has when the gang is all together (Davis is due back any day). Jettisoning Vogel might keep the fan base from all-out revolt.Meanwhile, in Miami, the Heat took their foot off the accelerator late in the game but still managed to defeat the Lakers and cover the number. Getting the game to where it was winnable (LA cut the lead to four in the final minutes) cost James 40 more game minutes on his 37-year-old legs.Thirty-five more games remained on a Laker schedule that often resembles Hour 36 of a 1930s-era dance marathon. Oddsmakers had set LA’s win total at 51.5 for the season, and there’s no way they’re going to get past that number. The next stop is Brooklyn, and while the Nets have had their own share of problems, especially with Kevin Durant now out, they are nothing like what the Lakers are going through.

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The Curious Case Of The Cavaliers

Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022

They say you never go broke betting the chalk in the NBA playoffs, where one superstar player can carry a team to a title and few teams without a star ever get far enough to test that theory.Entering Stage left are your Cleveland Cavaliers, who have been left for dead twice by LeBron James yet somehow have re-tooled and gotten fat enough with talent to raise eyebrows in this most bizarre of seasons. The Cavs are suddenly in the mix in a stacked Eastern Conference.Cleveland’s success has taken both oddsmakers and the betting public by surprise. Nine over .500 straight up at 27-18, the Cavs were a league-best 29-14-2 against the spread heading into Wednesday’s game at Chicago.What in the name of Ben Poquette is going on at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse?The Cavaliers, who are enjoying perhaps their best non-LeBron season since the Mark Price-Brad Daugherty-Larry Nance crew advanced to the conference finals in 1992-93, quietly have built a solid team that plays hard every night, doesn’t generally mail in road games, and should scare the bejesus out of any playoff opponent.Eyebrows were raised on opening night when the Cavs started a double-big lineup of Jarrett Allen and rookie Evan Mobley. Double-bigs don’t usually work in an NBA which places a high premium on switchability and forwards being able to extend defensively past the 3-point line, and the 6-foot-11 Mobley didn’t quite fit that bill. But Mobley right from the get-go (17 points, 3 blocks and 5 assists on opening night) put that thought to rest, and now he’s a heavy favorite (-150) to win the Rookie of the Year Award.The Cavaliers were able to kick things into gear early on, with 10 covers in 11 games in an October-November span that kept them near the top of the East. With skittish oddsmakers still not convinced that the Cavs were for real, bettors were able to climb on a runaway train with 14 straight covers. They’ve come back to Earth a bit since then, but it was one hell of a run for the true believers along Lake Erie.There were plenty of doubters heading into this season. No one knew if the Cavs would be able to replace the scoring provided by PG Collin Sexton, but the Cavs have more than covered up a so-so (20th in the league) offense with the league’s second-best (102 ppg allowed) defense powered by Mobley and Allen.With Sexton out of the season with a knee injury suffered in early November, the backcourt focus has been on emerging star Darius Garland, who may not be a true PG but has emerged as the team’s best ball-handler while still scoring 20 a game. Garland dropped 22 and 12 on Kyrie Irving in Cleveland’s coming-out-party victory over Brooklyn earlier this week.And don’t forget about Kevin Love, whose contract the Cavs have been dreaming about dumping ever since James high-tailed it to the Lakers a few seasons back. Love remains part of the furniture in Cleveland, seems to have moved past his bizarre behavior of last year and actually is in the 6th Man Award conversation. For the first time in a long time the Cavaliers actually need Love, and he seems to want to stick around to see how far this season goes.Exactly how deep into the spring the Cavs will go is anyone’s guess. Cleveland’s +5.1 ppg mark is the best in the East, and if that continues and the Cavs aren’t ravaged by injuries, they’ll have a decent shot at home advantage in the first round of the playoffs. As far as winning a title, the oddsmakers haven’t budged much. They still like six other teams (including struggling Atlanta and Boston) better, and the Cavs are a distant +8000 to win it all.The team, meanwhile, continues to put one foot in front of the other. The pre-All Star Game schedule includes nine games against opponents with sub.-500 records – a chance to solidify its position among the elite in the East and perhaps for bettors to fatten their bankrolls before re-evaluating during the stretch run of one of the most enjoyable seasons in franchise history.

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NFL: Lucky & Unlucky

Friday, Dec 31, 2021

Not all records are how they appear. Some teams are lucky, others not so much. This is true for any sport. As we get ready to turn the calendar to 2022 and play the final two weeks of the regular season, let’s take a look at lucky - and unlucky - NFL teams. Lucky  Atlanta - The Falcons have a 7-8 won-loss record, but have been outscored by 122 points over the course of this season. That point differential is on par with the 2-12-1 Lions, whom Atlanta just defeated last week by a score of 20-16. Such a result is emblematic of how the Falcons’ season has gone. All seven wins have been by eight points or less. Six of their eight losses have been by 13 points or more. So when the Falcons win it’s close. When they lose, it’s a blowout. Having a 7-2 record in games decided by one possession is “lucky.” The Falcons’ overall record should be a lot worse than it is.  Pittsburgh - The Steelers are another team with zero wins by more than eight points. Four of their seven losses have been by double digits. So things aren’t quite as zany here as they are with the Falcons, but having a -70 point differential, Pittsburgh should feel quite “lucky” to still be in playoff contention in what is surely Ben Roethlisberger’s final season.  Las Vegas - Most bettors won’t be as lucky in Sin City as the Raiders have been in their second year residing here. The Silver and Black have the league’s best overtime mark at 3-0 and their last three wins have come by a total of eight points. Las Vegas has taken two ugly losses at the hands of the Chiefs, leaving them with the unusual distinction of being 8-7, but having a -71 point differential. It would be strange for a team that’s been outscored like that to make the playoffs. Green Bay - For the second time in three seasons, the Packers have thrived in close games. They are 6-2 when the final score is eight points or less. Two of those close wins have come in the last two weeks, though it should be pointed out they were in control most of the way in both games. But still, we think it’s worth noting how the Packers’ season point differential of +59 is vastly inferior to the other division leaders in the NFC. They also have the best turnover differential in the NFL at +16.  Tennessee - The Titans have five wins by three points or less. It must be mentioned how their point differential of +31 is drastically inferior to that of the Colts (who are +104), but Tennessee is quite likely to win the AFC South because they swept the season series. If the Titans do end up winning the division and getting a high seed, they should feel quite “lucky.” Unlucky  Seattle - The Seahawks are only 5-10 on the year, which is terribly unlucky when you consider they’ve scored 306 points and only given up 307. They have two overtime losses. The fact Seattle is being outgained by about 80 yards/game is somewhat misleading as they average more yards per play than their opponents. Philadelphia - Most people would not consider the Eagles, who are 8-7 on the year, unlucky. We do. While no one expected them to be above .500 with a shot to make the playoffs, it would be a shame if they failed to get into the postseason. Seven of their eight wins this year have come by double digits. They have a better point differential than the Packers! Philadelphia should have a better record, at least based on point differential. Denver - The Broncos have an outstanding defense. They are tied with the Patriots for fewest points allowed this season. But while New England making the playoffs is all but assured, Denver is highly unlikely to get there. This is because of a terrible offense … and some bad luck. The Broncos are just 1-3 in their last four games, despite allowing an average of just 16.0 points. The last two games were both close losses, by five to Cincinnati and by three to Las Vegas.

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NBA: Lucky & Unlucky

Friday, Dec 31, 2021

Not all records are how they appear. Some teams are lucky, others not so much. This is true for any sport. As we get ready to turn the calendar to 2022, let’s take a look at lucky - and unlucky - NBA teams. Lucky Washington - The Wizards are 6-0 in games decided by three points or less. Exactly half of those six wins (three) have been in overtime. So this is a team we don’t think will finish in the top six. Quite frankly, if their luck starts to go bad, the Wizards might not even make the play-in round. They have only five double digit wins. The only Eastern Conference teams with fewer double digit wins this season are Orlando and Detroit. The Wizards’ point differential is also third worst in the East, ahead of only those same two teams. So a case can be made, statistically, that the Wizards have been the third worst team in their conference thus far. They are lucky to currently be in eighth place at 18-17. Brooklyn - The Eastern Conference leaders are 4-0 in games decided by three points or less. Now, because they have a better overall record than the Wizards, the 23-9 Nets should still be in good shape. But if their luck turns, maybe they don’t finish first? The status of Kyrie Irving should play a significant role in how Brooklyn performs over the second half of the season.  LA Lakers - The Lakers have five overtime wins. To put that number in perspective, the rest of the Western Conference has just nine overtime wins. Only five teams in the West have a worse point differential than the Lakers. Against teams that are .500 or better, LA is just 4-10 straight up. The championship window appears closed. If the Lakers’ luck were to turn, then it’ll be a second straight season they find themselves in the play-in round.Unlucky  Charlotte - The Hornets are 0-4 in overtime games. No other team has more than two overtime losses. There are only two other teams in the NBA with multiple OT losses without at least one OT win. Despite the poor luck in OT, the Hornets still find themselves in reasonable position in the East, in seventh place. But this is not a team you should start blindly betting on, expecting luck to take a turn for the better. That’s because the Hornets are the worst defensive team in the league. Indiana - The Pacers are a team that could move up. They’ve been without their leading scorer (Brogden) for the last few games. But a bigger issue for them is a league-worst 1-8 record in games decided by three points or less. No other team has more than five losses by three points or less. The difference in home and road wins for the Pacers, currently eight, is the largest in the league. If they can start winning road games and improve their record in close games, then Indiana should get into the play-in round.  

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MLB - Teams to Bet and Teams to Fade

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021

Teams To FadeGiants - Through 79 games, San Francisco is +22.1 units. That’s way out in front of everybody else. No team has finished up that many units in three of the past four seasons. In a division with the Dodgers and Padres, the second half schedule won’t be easy. Red Sox - Boston is second at +14.5 units. We didn’t expect to see them leading the AL East entering July. They are 14-7 in one run games and 10-2 in interleague play. More importantly, they are 21-10 in division games. We don’t think any of those win percentages can be maintained.Mariners - The M’s are +13.6 units. They have a winning record. But only two American League teams have scored fewer runs. No one has been better in extra inning games (7-1), which seems to be more about luck. Team to Bet Astros - Houston has a run differential of +130. There’s only one other team with a run differential better than +100. Only three others are higher than +75. As of now, the Astros are only +2.1 units. They are likely to have a higher win percentage in the second half of the season.Team to Bet (Over)Orioles - Despite giving up 5.5 runs/game, which is the most in the American League, Baltimore has gone Over in only half their games. The pitching isn’t going to get any better. Team to Bet (Under)Pirates - This team scores less than any other in baseball (3.5 runs/game). Pitcher to Bet OnCole (NYY) - He’s -9.8 units, which is last among all starters. But he has a 2.66 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. His team start record is 8-8. He’s likely to win more than he loses moving forward. Pitcher to FadeRodriguez (BOS) - He’s +4.8 units with a 10-5 TSR. But he has a 5.83 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. Those numbers aren’t indicative of a pitcher that should be coming out ahead in two-thirds of his starts. 

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NBA Playoffs: Scoring is (Way) Down!

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

Among the four teams left in the NBA Playoffs, scoring is way down. Let’s take a look at each of them.In the regular season, Milwaukee games averaged 234.3 points/game. That was the highest average in the league. But in the playoffs, that average has declined down to 212.3. Over the course of their second round series against Brooklyn, we saw the O/U line decrease by more than 20 points. The first round series vs. Miami saw the O/U line decline by six points from the first game to the last game. A quick note that the total for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals is set to be the lowest of the entire series. The Under is 9-4 in Bucks postseason games.Speaking of the Eastern Conference Finals, Milwaukee's opponent (Atlanta) has seen its playoff games average 213.0 combined points. That’s down from 225.1 in the regular season. The Under is 10-5 in Hawks playoff games. Their regular season scoring average was 113.7. They’ve exceeded that number in just two playoff games. Both were Game 1’s. Over in the West, declines are similar. Clippers games averaged 221.8 points in the regular season. That’s down to 218.4 in the playoffs. Of the four teams left, their decline is the smallest. The Under is 9-9 in their playoff games. But the last five games, four of them against Phoenix, have averaged only 204.2 points. Suns games averaged 224.8 points in the regular season. Playoff games are down to 209.3. They have not scored more than 104 in any of their last four games. There have been four games in the playoffs where Phoenix has failed to break 100 points. Three of them have been at Staples Center, which is where they are playing their next game. The Under is 9-6 in Suns playoff games.I point all this out because oddsmakers were initially slow to react to the big decline in scoring. They seem to have now adjusted better and I’d be shocked if we see another total above 220.0 for awhile. Scoring always declines in the playoffs as defense tightens and the number of possessions decreases. But we’re reaching a point where there could soon be value in taking Overs. 

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NHL 2nd Round Preview

Monday, May 31, 2021

We’ve got four very interesting series set for the second round of the NHL Playoffs. Three are already underway with the Islanders and Bruins tied 1-1 and the Avs and Lightning both out to 1-0 leads. Montreal vs. Winnipeg, a series few saw coming in the North Division, will get underway Wednesday. The Islanders were considered big underdogs to even their series against the Bruins. But they did it, winning Game 2 in overtime by a score of 4-3. Semyon Varlamov started in goal for the Isles in the win, an interesting decision seeing as how he was the starter for both first round losses against Pittsburgh. Rookie Ilya Sorkin was 4-0 in Round 1, but also lost Game 1 in Boston in what was a poor effort. The Game 2 win also snapped the Islanders’ four game losing streak to the Bruins. What’s interesting though is that NY won each of the season’s first five matchups. Game 2 was only the second loss for Boston this postseason.Colorado couldn’t have been more dominant in its 7-1 Game 1 victory over Vegas. They outshot the Knights 37-24. The Knights were coming off a Game 7 win over Minnesota while the Avalanche had swept their first round opponent, the St. Louis Blues. So the Avs haven’t lost in the playoffs yet. They have scored 27 goals in the five wins and allowed 8. This looks like the Stanley Cup favorite right now. But keep in mind Vegas has a tremendous home ice advantage and also finished tied (with Colorado) for the most points in the regular season. Game 2 is Wednesday and the Avalanche are big favorites on the money line.Tampa Bay, the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, is the lone road team to capture Game 1 so far in the second round. They beat Central Division champ Carolina 2-1 on Sunday. They did so despite being outshot 38-30. This series is considered much more “evenly matched” than either of the two discussed previously. Game 2 is Tuesday. The Lightning are allowing 37.9 shots/game in the playoffs, which is high. But they’ve scored three or more goals in every game but two. They’ve scored four or more goals four different times. But don’t sleep on a Hurricanes team that scored three or more goals in all six first round games. Tampa Bay has won the last four times it has been a playoff underdog.The final second round series is Montreal and Winnipeg, who were both upset winners in Round 1. But those respective series couldn’t have gone any different. The Canadiens rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to stun Toronto in seven games and won Game 7 on the road. Meanwhile, the Jets swept the Oilers. However, three of the four games went to overtime. One required coming back from a three-goal deficit and the series clincher went to triple overtime. 

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2021 MLB Betting Preview

Wednesday, Mar 31, 2021

As we get ready to bid adieu to College Basketball this weekend, a new season will begin. Major League Baseball’s 2021 campaign begins Thursday and we are ready with outlooks on some of the clubs we think will perform well and others not so much.We like the Angels and the Braves to do well this season. Look for both to win their respective divisions. The Angels’ season win total is only 83.5, so bet that Over. The number opened at 83, so there’s already been some movement. The Halos are +375 to win the AL West (opened +425) and are +175 to make the playoffs. Lots of value there. Not as much value with Atlanta, who has a win total of 91.5 and is -260 to make the playoffs. But we like the Braves +140 to win the NL East (opened +155). The reason there’s value with the divisional odds is because the Mets made such a splash in the offseason. But we think the Braves are still better.We see long years for the Royals and Mariners. So do the oddsmakers. Kansas City should finish last in the AL Central and we like the Under 71.0 wins. Over in the AL West, can’t see the Mariners hitting their 73.5 win total. Perhaps they could finish above the Rangers. That win total opened 71.0, so somebody likes the M’s. But in all due respect, we do not.To win the World Series, we of course like the Dodgers to repeat, just like everybody else does. They are +350 to do so, which is not a bad value at all. Going Over 104.5 wins (opened 103.5) is probably worth it as well.If you are looking for a sleeper to make a playoff run, look no further than Toronto in the American League. The Blue Jays are -120 to make the postseason, which we like as they should finish second in the East behind the Yankees. Anything can happen once a team is in the playoffs and right now the Jays are 9/1 to win the American League.  As a reminder, new baseballs are being introduced for this season. For what it’s worth, there has been a reduction in scoring during Spring Training compared to last year. 

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The NBA’s Best & Worst ATS

Tuesday, Mar 30, 2021

The NBA’s Best & Worst ATSFour teams have covered more than 60% of their games this NBA season. This quartet includes both conference leaders (as of Tuesday, March 30th), one team that’s in second place in its conference and perhaps the biggest surprise team of all. Let’s look at the four and what they’ve done right (so far).Phoenix is 30-15 ATS through 45 games. Going back to last season’s “bubble,” the Suns are 38-15 ATS their last 53 games. That’s pretty remarkable. They are 19-6 ATS since Feb 5.  No team has fewer double digit losses this season than the Suns’ three. They are 8th in offensive efficiency and 5th in defensive efficiency. Being the least “public team” among the top four in the West, the second place Suns should continue to cover games at a fairly high rate.The team ahead of Phoenix in the West is Utah, who is 30-16 ATS. At one point, from mid-January to mid-February, they covered 19 of 21 games. Outside that one incredible stretch, the Jazz have a losing ATS record. They are third in both offensive and defensive efficiency. No team has more double digit victories than Utah’s 28. To be honest, it is not even close as the team with the next most is the Clippers (21). The Jazz have been underdogs in only two games all season. They are 17-5 ATS and +14.7 PPG at home. Philadelphia leads the East (for now), though it’s fair to say most expect Brooklyn and/or Milwaukee to catch up to them. But the 76ers have a much better ATS record than those teams. They are 27-17-2 at the betting window entering March 30th, including 9-2-1 so far this month. This team has not lost a game all season when playing with two or more days rest (7-0 SU/6-1 ATS). They are 4-0 ATS as home dogs, a situation that probably won’t arise too many more times. The Sixers are not top 10 in offensive efficiency, but are second in defensive efficiency.New York is 27-18-2 ATS and no one expected them to be challenging for a top four spot in the Eastern Conference. But by virtue of leading the NBA in points allowed, the Knicks are doing just that! Surprisingly, it’s when they are favored that they are a better bet. The chalk record is 12-4 SU/11-5 ATS. A word of caution: injuries have really begun to pile up and threaten to derail this surprising season. Mitchell Robinson just broke his right foot.Our condolences if you’ve been betting the following teams this season …Cleveland is 19-28 ATS. They aren’t good (17-30 SU) but should probably be worse off in the standings. The Cavs have the single worst point differential in the NBA, so expect high spreads and the losses to pile up. They are near the bottom of the Vegas power rankings, but oddsmakers have struggled to make the spreads large enough. Letting Andre Drummond walk certainly won’t help. Against the West, the Cavs are 5-17 ATS (-13.7 PPG).  Indiana is 18-26-1 ATS and an obvious disappointment. They have a losing SU record at home where they are 6-14 ATS. Things would be even worse if not for a league-high four overtime wins. Miami is another disappointment and they are 18-27-2 ATS. There have been six games this season where the Heat have been held to 85 points or less, which is the most in the NBA. They are 8-15-1 ATS at home, but just snapped a six-game losing streak (overall) with a win in New York on Monday night. There’s been some bad luck on South Beach as the Heat are 0-4 SU in overtime games.By far, the worst ATS team in the league is Houston (14-32 ATS). There are no words to describe the depths they have fallen to after the James Harden trade. The Rockets have lost 23 of their last 25 games and last Friday saw them become just the fourth team in NBA history to not score a single point over the final 7:30 of a game. 

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Super Bowl 55 Preview

Saturday, Jan 30, 2021

There will be a lot on the line this Sunday as Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes looks to beat the greatest QB of all time in Tom Brady. At age 25, Mahomes has already won a Super Bowl and he's looking for more. In my opinion, both teams definitely have the ability to take home the Lombardi Trophy, but at the end of the day it will come down to who wants it more between these two great QBs. Winning a 7th Super Bowl would only add to Brady's career excellence, while people may never consider Mahomes as the best QB by the time his career ends if he never beats Brady in the big one. Therefore, this will be a terrific matchup between the best against the best. Brady and the Buccaneers took care of business at Lambeau last week, taking down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in a classic. The Bucs have also beaten the Saints and Washington to get to this one. Looking at the roster, Tom has all the targets that one could imagine as well as a stellar defense behind him. Linebacker Shaq Barrett has looked incredible these playoffs, dominating the opposing teams' offensive tackles play after play. He brought down Rodgers three times last week, and it felt like even more. With Evans, Godwin, Miller, Gronkowski, Fournette, Ronald Jones and an excellent offensive line, Brady has a lot to work with and is going to be extremely hard to stop. Plus Antonio Brown is probably going to return. Although the Bucs have a stellar team, with barely any holes, I think that the Chiefs' offense is better than Tampa's. They've got Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Le'Veon Bell, Mecole Hardman and Travis Kelce with the best QB in the league (Mahomes). They may have fewer weapons, but the speed and talent of those guys I just mentioned make them better than the Buccaneers' offense. Don't forget, dating back to last season, Patrick Mahomes is now 25-1 his last 26 games as a starter as well. So if the Chiefs have the better offense, and the Bucs have the better defense, what does that mean? Well both teams are strong on both sides of the ball, but like I said before, this game is between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes and who wants it more. Expect a great Super Bowl.

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NBA Live Look-In: Eastern Conference

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

As it stands right now, the Orlando Magic are the last team in the entire NBA standing undefeated. Not many people would have predicted that, but there you have it. Other teams like the Hawks, Pacers, 76ers and Nets have all looked very strong as well. Even the Cavs are 3-1. Looking at the bad now, the Raptors have started the year with a not so good 0-3 record. The Milwaukee Bucks, last year's #1 seed has also gotten off to a losing start with a 2-3 record. Although things look good for some of those decent teams, I still believe that the Raptors and Bucks will turn it around before the season finishes. There is still plenty of time, but who knows what's going to happen.If I had to pick a winner at this moment to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, it would probably have to be the Brooklyn Nets. At 3-2, Brooklyn has looked very strong when KD and Kyrie are draining their shots. With guys like Joe Harris, Deandre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie surrounding them, it's going to be hard to slow them down come playoff time. 

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NBA Live Look In: Western Conference

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

As with the Eastern Conference, the Western Conference has some of the "weaker" teams near the top. Four playoff teams from last year see themselves outside of the playoffs with some new teams replacing them. Those include the 0-2 Rockets, the 1-3 Nuggets and Mavericks, as well as the 1-2 Thunder. Now I personally don't think that the Thunder will be good this season, with  the losses of Chris Paul, Steven Adams and Danillo Gallinari, but to see those other teams struggling early in the year is quite shocking to be honest. The Phoenix Suns have looked stellar to open the year up starting 3-1. The 4-1 Clippers have also looked good, except the one loss which was a complete destruction. Picking the Western Conference Champs at this moment would be very difficult, but I would have to side with the defending champs at the moment as Lebron and Anthony Davis are still very much look like the best duo in the NBA. 

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NBA Upcoming Season + Projections

Sunday, Nov 29, 2020

The NBA is scheduled to start up again on December 22nd 2020, right before Christmas. Originally it was supposed to begin in the early New Year, but now,  everyone is getting ready for the new start date. During the short offseason, there have been many moves, and some good FA pickups for some teams. Programs like the Hawks, Warriors, Hornets, Pelicans, Suns, TWolves and more, have all improved over the break and could possibly make a run into this seasons' playoffs. The Hawks are my sleeper team as their new projected starting lineup is: Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Galiinari, John Collins and Clint Capela.  The NBA has also confirmed that there will be a play-in tournament to finish off the season to decide the 7 and 8 seeds. The teams to finish 7-10 all have a chance this season. After the season ends, the #7 seed will host the #8 seed. The winner of that game will then secure the #7 seed in the playoffs. On the other hand, the #9 seed will play the #10 seed to be the potential #8. The winner of that game will then play the loser of the 7/8 to get the Final #8 seed going into the postseason. Therefore, I believe that teams will never let up this season, as some teams do, in order to not be one of those play-in games. And who knows what could happen. One team just has to get hot at the right time and that could possibly cause difficulties for the #1. Although Atlanta is my sleeper team, there are many teams that I wouldn't be surprised if they made a run in the playoffs this season. I believe that this year might be one of the most entertaining season's in history, as the association continues to get more and more talent into the league.  ROTW: Lamelo Ball DPOY: Anthony Davis MVP: Steph Curry Eastern Champs: Miami Heat Western Champs: LA Clippers NBA Champ: Heat in 7 games

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NFL Playoff Picture

Friday, Nov 06, 2020

NFL Playoff Picture: Well, we are officially at the halfway point in the 2020-21 NFL Season. Some teams have shocked us, and some organizations have been a disappointment. With the new format, 14 teams (7 from each conference,) will make the Playoffs. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been one of the biggest news stories of the NFL so far this season as they are the last remaining undefeated squad. Who would have thought that the 38yr old Ben Roethlisberger would be leading his team to the best record in the entire league? As it stands right now, the Steelers and the Seahawks would get the  #1 seeds in each conference. Here's a look at the playoff picture right now and our predictions. If the playoffs ended today ...  AFC: #1 Steelers, #2 Chiefs, #3 Bills, #4 Titans, #5 Ravens, #6 Colts, #7 Browns. NFC: #1 Seahawks, #2 Bucs, #3 Packers, #4 Eagles, #5 Saints, #6 Cards, #7 Rams Predictions ...  AFC: #1 Chiefs, #2 Steelers, #3 Titans, #4 Bills, #5 Ravens, #6 Colts, #7 Raiders NFC: #1 Seahawks, #2 Packers, #3 Saints, #4 Eagles, #5 Cards, #6 Bucs, #7 Bears

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Three Longshots to Win the 2021 NBA Finals

Friday, Oct 16, 2020

Three Longshots to Win the 2021 NBA Finals Portland Trail Blazers: Listed at +4000 to win the entire thing (via BetAnySports) I believe that the Blazers deliver great value to the 2021 season. Damian Lillard proved last season that he can compete with anyone in the league and showed what it was like to bring a team that wasn't the best, into the last playoff spot. Besides Lillard, they have CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony, Jusef Nurkic, Hassan Whiteside and Gary Trent Jr --  who stepped up big time in the bubble for them.  All of them are very capable of winning some playoff games. Don't count them out.New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans did not make the playoffs this past season which was a disappointment for NOLA fans. Brandon Ingram has turned into an absolute beast at scoring in the mid-range. With his length and wingspan, it's almost impossible to guard him. Zion Williamson, last year's #1 overall selection from Duke, AND Jrue Holiday a lockdown defender. Don't forget about guys like Lonzo Ball, Derrick Favors, JJ Reddick and more. I also expect Jaxon Hayes to have a bigger role this season. With Stan Van Gundy a top contender for the newest head coach, I expect the Pelicans to have a shot at the title in 2021 at +5500 (BetAnySports). Houston Rockets: Many may not consider the Houston Rockets as a "Longshot," but at +3000 (BetAnySports) they are behind 11 teams to win the whole thing. They may be getting a new coach, but it may be for the best if they can find someone who James Harden and Russell Westbrook both like. That's going to be the key factor on whether or not this team will succeed. If neither like the coach or only one does, I don't see this team going too far. But if both of them appreciate the new coach and work well with him (or her), I believe that this Rockets team is definitely a contender. Harden, Westbrook, House, Covington and Tucker is an excellent starting small ball 5, but look for them to add at least a solid big man for this upcoming season in order to have the ability to make a huge run in the playoffs of 2021.

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NBA Finals Preview

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

Why Miami will win the NBA Finals: The Miami Heat just clinched their first NBA Finals since the 2014 season. Back then, they were led by LeBron James. One of the greatest, if not the greatest NBA player to ever live. This year, they will try and take down the man that got them 2 rings. The Heat are filled with talent everywhere. Starting with Jimmy Butler, he's been a scoring machine ever since he got drafted by the Bulls in 2011. Now, he's finally found a team that he could potentially win with. Next, they have Bam Adebayo who just dominated the Celtics in Game 6 with 32pts, 14rebs, and 5 assists. They all say that he's the heart and soul of this young team with how hard he works on both sides of the ball. Then, they have two 3pt Specialists in Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. Both players can knock down shots from anywhere. With guys like Goran Dragic, Andre Iguodala, Derrick Jones Jr and Jae Crowder, I think they have a shot. Why LA will win the NBA Finals: Well, the Lakers are the big favorite coming into this NBA Finals, and I think I know why. They have LeBron James (3x Champ, 15x All Star, 4x MVP,) + Anthony "The Brow" Davis who went absolutely crazy against the Nuggets. Them combined, will be extremely hard to stop. LeBron comes into his 10th NBA Finals appearance with a 3-6 record. Although he's lost 6 of them, let's not forget that most of those were against the SuperTeam Warriors. He led the Cavs to a Championship that no one thought could happen, as they beat the best team in NBA History, according to their record. The Warriors were 73-9 that season. Incredible. He also led the Heat to two titles. Now, he will face his old Coach, Erik Spoelstra, as he looks for his 4th Ring. But this time, he's hungry, he's off a ridiculous season, he's got lots of players behind him, and he wants to prove to everyone that he is the best of all time. It's going to be a good one. What I believe: Don't get me wrong, both teams are very talented. That's why they are in the Finals, but I believe that the Heat will outwork the Lakers and take the Larry O'Brien trophy back to Miami once again. A lot of people don't think so, but this Heat team is the real deal. When the 2-3 Zone that they run with the two forwards up top, I believe that it will confuse the Lakers into some bad shots. Especially if the Heat get their shooting back from Jae Crowder, they are going to be really hard to stop, even with LeBron on the other side. 

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2020 NFL Futures Odds: New England Patriots Unchanged

Saturday, Jul 04, 2020

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

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