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Biography

ASA, Inc.’s Lee Kostroski and Mike Merlet have a combined 50+ years in the handicapping profession, and are known for their “Big Game” prowess.

Active since:  1987

Location:  Madison, WI

The owners of American Sports Analysts (ASA), Lee Kostroski & Mike Merlet, have a combined 50+ years in the sports betting industry.  Both started with Doc’s Enterprises — Lee in the late 80’s and Mike in the early 90’s.  After learning the handicapping trade from one of the oldest firms in the business, they started ASA, Inc. in 1997 and have been going strong ever since.  They have especially been known throughout the industry for their success on BIG GAMES, and their Top Football plays have profited 16 of 23 seasons.  ASA is located in Madison, WI and a foundation of their handicapping prowess revolves around the heart of the country – especially the Big Ten.

ASA has appeared on numerous radio shows throughout the country as special expert football guests including Tampa, New Orleans, Madison, Milwaukee, Memphis, Las Vegas, and Denver just to name a few.  They were also featured on the ESPN website with gaming writer Chad Millman during the 2011 season.

ASA’s handicapping methods have evolved over the years, with hard work and research being the anchor of their success.  Rather than implementing one specific strategy as many handicappers do, they intertwine many different philosophies when it comes to making football, basketball, hockey, and baseball selections.  They utilize their massive database that goes back over 30 years, which gives them in-depth information on any situation you can think of when it comes to handicapping.  That’s not where they stop, however.  They also research stats and film each week to evaluate the upcoming match ups on the field along with speaking with their personal contacts throughout the country (especially in the Midwest).  On top of that, they analyze each point spread (and their movements), comparing them with their own power ratings to find an edge.  Lastly, their predictive analytics or math models forecast the outcomes of games based solely on numbers and statistics that aren’t swayed by the human element.  So, as you can see, just because a game may fall into a successful system or the scheduling looks good to go against or with a certain team, that doesn’t mean that ASA automatically uses it as a selection.  It must go through their in-depth process with all things considered before they give it the ASA stamp of approval.  Looking at games from all these angles gives ASA the best of all worlds when it comes to handicapping.  Their handicapping theories have proven successful over the years which has them as one of the more tenured experts in the industry.

Lee & Mike at ASA have stood the test of time in an industry that makes it very tough to do so.  Their 50+ years of experience will give you the winning edge you need.  Sports wagering is an investment and it’s time you invest in the known commodity of ASA!

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ASA's CFB Friday Totals Titan Mem/Hou HEATER

ASA 0-1 Wed with SMU but gets PAYBACK Friday! Entered Thursday NFL on a long-term combined 17-12 run in Football incl...

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NFL Sunday Player Props

Saturday, Sep 24, 2022

Tua Tagovailoa Over .5 INTS (-115)After an insane comeback last week where Tua went nuclear for 469 yards and 6 TDs, he gets Bills Mafia coming to Hard Rock in week 3. Josh Allen looks unstoppable, giving us hopes of a righteous shootout (52.5 o/u) with some of the best WRs in football. Tua threw 2 picks last week and will likely be asked to air it out all afternoon once again. Buffalo has arguably the best safety combo in the league with Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer patrolling the deep shots. More passing volume means more opportunity for picks. Justin Fields Under 176.5 Pass Yards (-114)Fields has been terrible throwing the football so far in 2022. Yes, he has played two solid defenses in SF and GB but he has completed just 15 passes through two games. The Bears have very few weapons and they have leaned heavily on the run to keep the ball out of their QBs hands. While playing from behind against GB, Fields amounted just 11 pass attempts. In the lowest point total for Sunday (39.5), expect a slow pace with few chunk plays.  AJ Dillion Over 11.5 Rush Att (-110)Aaron Jones was the star of Sunday night last week, amassing 15 carries for 132 yards. Even so, AJ Dillion still led the back field with 18 rush attempts. Aaron Rodgers has struggled against Tampa Bay’s physical defense in the past, throwing for 160 yards and 2 INTs the last time he traveled to Raymond James Stadium. Look for the Packers to stay on schedule as much as possible and use their RBs to stay ahead of the chains. Green Bay realizes that Dillons touches may not be as explosive as Jones’ but are completely necessary to grind opposing defenses. 

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NFL Season Long Player Props

Tuesday, Sep 06, 2022

NFL Offensive Player PropsJameis Winston - Over 3750.50 Passing Yards Contrary to popular belief, Jameis has been very productive over the first years of his career. During his five years in Tampa, he surpassed 4,000 yards twice and 5,000 yards once. He sat behind Brees for a year and tore his ACL early last season after a hot start for the Saints. He has the best supporting cast of his career with a great O-line, and great receivers. New Orleans will have a powerful offense and 4,000 yards should be easy for Winston to hit if he remains healthy.  Daniel Jones - Under 3650.50 Passing Yards Jones has been a disappointment in the first three years of his NFL career. The Giants have not helped their young QB at all and have been a bad organization from roster construction to coaching changes. Jones barely eclipsed 3,000 yards in his rookie season in 2019, and has not surpassed that total the past two years. This may be the year that the wheels fall off all together.  Aaron Jones - Over 750.50 Rushing YardsThe Packers lost Davante Adams this offseason, which allows for Green Bay to become a much more run heavy team. Many may see the emergence of A.J. Dillion as bad news for Aaron Jones, but that is quite the opposite. Dillion taking more bruising runs between the tackles allows Jones to remain fresh and slice and dice to a more efficient season. With 17 games, Jones would only need about 45 rushing yards per game to hit the over, which seems very achievable.  Elijah Mitchell - Under 950.50 Rushing Yards  San Francisco has always used a bevy of running backs in years past, but Mitchell seems the clear cut number one back for 2022. The situation seems ripe for Mitchell, but the 49ers have not had a 1,000 yard rusher since Frank Gore back in 2014. Shanahan rides the hot hand with his running backs, so if Mitchell gets dinged up (like he did last year) or struggles, the coaching staff will plug in the next man up.  Drake London - Over 764.50 Receiving Yards London was the first receiver off the board in the 2022 draft with a class that was absolutely stacked at the position. Rookie receivers have excelled in recent years, and there are plenty of targets that will flow London’s way. The Falcons will be playing from behind a lot this season and the sheer volume alone will be enough to propel the former USC standout to a near 1,000 yards season.  Jaylen Waddle - Under 925.50 Receiving Yards Waddle had a great rookie year catching over 100 balls. His depth of target was extremely low however, which allowed him to narrowly reach 1,000 yards. The addition of Tyreek Hill is going to eat into Waddles target share, and the coaching change to Mike McDaniel is going to make the Dolphins a more run heavy team. We haven't seen enough from Tua yet to think he can support two 1,000 yards receivers. 

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Who Wins this Year's Heisman Trophy?

Saturday, Aug 13, 2022

Heisman Trophy Picks - 3 picks from us (one favorite, one mid range, and one long shot)Favorite- Bryce Young (+350) Alabama Young is the feature player on the most notable program in the Nation. No matter how many first round players that Alabama produces, the Tide reload each and every year. With plenty of surrounding talent, Young should only excel in his second year as a starter. Currently, it is a two man race between C.J Stroud (+200) and Young, and with better odds, it seems like a no brainer to lean in favor of the Alabama quarterback. Mid Range- D.J. Uiagalelei (+3500) ClemsonClemson and Ohio State have been the only non-SEC teams to compete for National Championships in the past seven years. In order to win the Heisman, Uiagalelei will need to return the Tigers to a CFP berth. A former five-star recruit, D.J. has the talent to carry Clemson back to the promised land, and Dabo Swinney is too good of a coach to have another year struggling in the ACC. Long Shot- KJ Jefferson (+7000) Arkansas Watching Jefferson in 2021, he had flashes of Cam Newton in his game. The ability to carve teams up with his legs is electric, but he also showed great decision making throwing for 21 TDs and only 4 INTs. This combo will give him the star power to burst onto the Hiesman watch with a couple big wins in a loaded SEC. The Arkansas QB had 326 yards and 3 TDs in a close loss to Alabama last year, showing the potential he has.  

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Who Wins This Year's NFL MVP?

Saturday, Aug 06, 2022

NFL Regular Season MVP Picks We made 3 wagers on this year's NFL MVP - 1 favorite, 1 mid range odds wager, and 1 longshotFavorite- Justin Herbert (+1000)We are in a special time this NFL season with so much talent at the quarterback position from both veterans and rising stars. Herbert is one of the young stars of this league, and at 24 he has been phenomenal in his first two seasons with the Chargers. With the pair of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams finally healthy, he threw for over 5k yards and 38 TDs last season. With one of the best WR duos in the league, a year three leap for Herbert will put him in elite company since he has already had flashes of true greatness similar to the level of Allen (+700) and Mahomes (+800). At 6’6 236, Los Angeles’ next great QB could even utilize his legs more to take the Chargers offense to new heights. Mid Range- Derek Carr (+2800)Reunited with his college roommate, Carr has every opportunity to improve his stats to the point of MVP consideration. The Raiders have had their ups and downs during Carr’s time at QB but overall he has been a good NFL player in his first eight seasons, mixing in 3 pro bowl selections. Adams, Renfrow, and Waller are all matchup nightmares for defenses, bringing an explosive passing game to Los Vegas for 2022. Carr will have possibly the best weapons in the NFL, giving him the chance to reach his true potential. Long Shot- Kirk Cousins (+5000)When taking a deeper dive into the stats, Cousins is the most underrated QB in the league over the past four seasons since arriving in Minnesota. In those four years he has averaged 31 TDs, 9 INTs, and a passer rating of 103.8. Last season Kirk and Aaron Rodgers were the only QBs to have 30+ TDs while having less than 10 INTs as well. Cousins had 7 picks to Rodgers 4, proving that he can take care of the ball at an elite level. The Vikings will have more of a pass heavy approach that is expected to allow Kirk to cook this season. 

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NFL - 3 WIN TOTALS

Tuesday, Jul 26, 2022

Packers - Over 11 winsGreen Bay has won 13 games for three straight seasons since Matt LaFleur took over head coaching duties in 2019. That regular season consistency has been met with just as much playoff inconsistency, leading to disappointing finishes each year. The lack of playoff success is a major reason why people seem to forget that the Packers still have the back to back NFL MVP. Aaron Rodgers became the starter in 2008, since then, Green Bay has won 10 or more games in 8 of 12 seasons. Obviously, the loss of Davante Adams changes the offense completely, yet LaFleur has shown the ability to scheme other players open in Adams absence. Since 2019 the Packers are actually 7-0 without the All-Pro WR. In a soft division, with a relatively easy strength of schedule (22nd), and a much improved defense, we expect Green Bay to surpass 11 wins.  Rams - Under 10.5 winsFresh off bringing a Super Bowl to Los Angeles, the Rams get rewarded with the toughest schedule in the NFL. Looking through their 2022 opponents, it is difficult to find more than five games that the Rams should clearly win. They play ATL, CAR, NO, and get SEA twice. Outside of those games, they play the entire AFC West, then mix in the Bills, Chiefs, Packers, along with four games against the Cards and 49ers. Matt Stafford and Sean McVay are one for one so far together but they sure do have their work cut out for them in 2022. GM Les Snead has been able to pull off the “going all in” mentality while still maintaining long term success and somehow remaining under the salary cap. The downside to giving up picks is a lack of depth and youth. LA will rely on veterans to play key roles throughout their 17 week trek, and could leave them susceptible to dropping a few close games.  Texans - Over 4.5 wins Houston has the lowest win total heading into the NFL season, and this is not a bad thing. When teams fail to prepare, thinking they have a free win for the week, it leads to trap games that the Texans can possibly win. The fact that they play the Jaguars twice is also a plus when trying to think how Houston can get to five wins. Davis Mills leads the offense and had a surprisingly pleasant end to his rookie campaign. A second year always helps the game slow down and there is positive buzz that he could be the longterm guy in Houston. It feels this team is trending in the right direction with a strong draft class in 2022 that will only improve from their four wins in 2021.

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AFC West Breakdown

Saturday, Jul 23, 2022

For starters, oddsmakers have three AFC West teams inside the top 8 for the current 2023 Super Bowl odds. The Chiefs are 3rd at +1000, then in 6th the Chargers are at +1400, and the Broncos sit at +1600 with the 8th highest odds. The only division that even has two teams within the top 10 is the NFC West (Rams +1100, 49ers +1600). Whether by luck or design, the NFL just keeps winning, as all AFC West teams will have to play all NFC West teams resulting in multiple primetime showdowns vs Super Bowl contenders. The Rams, 49ers, and maybe Cardinals have a chance to compete for a playoff run, but the Seahawks will not. With Seattle struggling, it may give some free wins to the others in the division, but that is not a luxury the AFC West teams will have. Even though the Raiders are picked to finish last in the West, they have the highest odds to win their division out of any current last place team’s division odds (+650 to win AFC West). Las Vegas made some massive upgrades to their roster to try and compete, adding Davante Adams and Chandler Jones. We will see if Derek Carr can rekindle his Fresno State connection with Adams, but the combination of Crosby and Jones is the real key to containing the three superstar quarterbacks in the AFC West. We will have to wait and see, but this may turn out to be a historically great division. However, it will be difficult to accurately judge because of the crossover matchup of the NFC and AFC West. The Chiefs and Raiders both will play a gauntlet in 2022 and rank in the top three for most difficult strength of schedule. Additionally, the Chargers and Broncos both rank above average in SOS, yet Denver has seemingly the easiest schedule with games against HOU, NYJ, JAX, and CAR. Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Russell Wilson, and so many other great players make up an insane talent pool for the AFC West. This is the most talented division we have ever seen, and whoever walks away with a division title will truly have to earn it. Chargers vs Raiders week 1 picks up right where last season left off and is a deserving way to begin the NFL year. Chiefs  +175Chargers +220Broncos +260Raiders +650

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2022 NBA Draft Winners and Losers

Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022

Winners  Spurs: With three first round picks, San Antonio took three freshman who all ooze talent and will benefit from some of the best coaching in the NBA. Jeremy Sochan (6’9) has the versatility that is so vital in todays game, being able to guard multiple positions while still having the offensive ability to fill up the stat sheet. Malaki Branham (6’5) at pick 20 also brings a consistent scoring option. He shined down the stretch for Ohio State, averaging 20.2 points over his last 10 conference games in a loaded Big 10 conference. The Spurs finished out their first round with Blake Wesley (6’4) at pick 25. The Notre Dame guard was 2nd team All-ACC and helped the Irish get into the NCAA tournament and win 2 games. Rockets: Jabari Smith (6’10) fell to pick number 3 and the Rockets were more than happy to capitalize. The Auburn forward could easily turn out as the best player in this draft and have Orlando and Oklahoma City regretting their decisions. Houston also added Tari Eason (6’8) with the 17th overall pick adding more much needed length and defensive prowess. These two draft picks paired with the shooting guard duo of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. is a sturdy base for the Rockets to improve quickly.    Losers Thunder: It seems like everyone has their take on Chet Holmgren, and whether he will have success in the best league in the world. Big men do not have the impact on the game that they once did, and Holmgren does not yet posses the strength to justify a number 2 overall selection. He has time to develop a bigger frame similar to the way Giannis did, but Holmgren’s skillset is much different. The Gonzaga big man will struggle to score on the inside in the NBA and we do not see him developing into an Embiid or Jokic. Oklahoma City took Ousmane Dieng with their second first round selection at 11 overall. Dieng played for the New Zealand Breakers and only averaged 8.9 ppg on 39% shooting. The Thunder then immediately reached for Jalen Williams from Santa Clara right after at the 12 spot. All three players have promise but the value of these three players as top 12 picks feels like it could have been better used.  Knicks: By trading away Kemba Walker, the number 11 pick, and multiple second round picks, it does open up plenty of cap space for future free agent. The only bad new is that New York did basically nothing to improve their current roster with so much talent available on draft night. Free agents have not flocked to the Knicks in the past and may not be enticed again this year. Jalen Brunson is a key target for them, and if that falls through, New York will remain in the depths in the East. 

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Early MLB MVP Value Plays

Thursday, Jun 09, 2022

National League  Pete Alonso (+1000) .277/14/48The Mets designated hitter is a major reason New York has jumped out to a sizable early season lead in the NL East. Alonso not only gets the attention playing in a premier market but he also has the stats to back him up. He currently leads the NL in RBIs and is second in home runs while batting .277. Having great stats in those three categories, playing in a premier market, and leading your team to first in the standings are a great formula for a MVP. CJ Cron (+2500) .298/14/40Betts, Machado, Goldschmidt, and Harper top the NL MVP odds, and for good reason. When strictly looking at their current stats, CJ Cron is the only other NL player who stacks up eerily similar in HRs (2nd), RBIs (5th), and BA (10th). Cron is a longshot and in order for a player like this to break through, he will need the Rockies to remain relevant in the stacked NL West. Colorado’s first baseman has implanted himself in the discussion with a hot start in the categories that matter for MVP.   American League Jose Ramirez (+1200) .295/13/52The AL MVP is not as top heavy as the NL, and could realistically have any of the top 20 candidates win. Both Ohtani and Trout share the spotlight, and if the Angels miss the playoffs yet again, the race for MVP opens even more. Ramirez currently leads all of MLB in RBIs. He is also right in the mix with HRs and BA. Maybe his most impressive stat is that he has only 15 strikeouts on the year which is a 7.3% strikeout rate. Only one player in the past seven years has had a lower SO rate (Tommy La Stella 2019, 5.8%). The average SO rate in MLB last season was 24%. This a testament to how well Ramirez is hitting this year, and we find great value in him at 4th best AL MVP odds currently. Rafael Devers (+2000) .338/11/27Boston’s 3rd baseman is off to a great start to his year as expected. He was the Red Sox best hitter last year while leading them with 38 HRs and 113 RBIs. Based on last season we expect Devers to continue to rake and even pick up the pace on his HR and RBI numbers. As one of the best young players in baseball, playing on one of the most notable franchises, he is firmly in the hunt to win. Boston's hitting is not the issue and Devers’ heavy lifting will hopefully be enough to keep them in contention. 

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NFL Draft Winners & Losers

Friday, May 13, 2022

Winners Jets: We won’t talk too much about the Jets because the general consensus is that they dominated the draft. Its easy to pick good players with so many choices in the 1st round but New York may have gotten the top CB, WR, DE, and RB with their first four selections. Jermaine Johnson dropped all the way to 26 and capped off one of the best 1st round drafts we have seen in years.  Chiefs: The loss of Tyreek Hill will hurt, and Kansas City was a prime candidate to take an early wide receiver. Unfortunately, the top six WRs went before their first pick. Like any well-run team, they simply capitalized on other talent available and got two elite players in Trent McDuffie (CB) and George Karlaftis (EDGE). Sky Moore (WR) in the 2nd round is a perfect fit for Andy Reid and may turn out to be just as productive as one of the top six WRs taken. Leo Channel (LB) in the 3rd is one of our favorite additions for the Chiefs as he runs 4.53, has a 40+ inch vertical, and stands 6’3 250lbs.  Packers: The Packers had an eerily similar draft to that of KC while having similar needs. With no WRs available, Green Bay loaded the defensive side of the ball and will have one of the best overall defenses in the league this year. Two of Georgia’s best players (Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt) from their historic National Championship team will boost a defense that finished 9th in yards allowed in 2021. Christian Watson (WR) is the wild card of the Packers draft. Standing 6’4, 208lbs, he can fly at 4.36 speed and made the FCS competition at NDSU look like JV players. Romeo Doubs (WR) in the 4th round will also help the back to back MVP feel comfortable without Davonte Adams.    Losers Jaguars: With lots of draft capital per usual, the Jags did not impress. It was probably a tall task to try and trade the first overall pick because of the plethora of options available this draft. Still, Devin Lloyd at the end of the 1st round did not feel like a win. With all of the offensive lineman and receiver talent still available at that spot, Jacksonville chose not to invest in Trevor Lawrence’s future. Instead, they would rather overpay average veterans Christian Kirk and Zay Jones.  Bears: What does Justin Fields have to do to get some help? Chicago invested a lot to move up for Fields last year. Many rookies struggle in year one, but to go into year two while fielding one of the worst receiving groups in the NFL is worrisome. They did add speedy (4.31) WR Velus Jones in the 3rd, however he is not a real rookie threat in that offense. Every team in the NFL seems to have put a premium on obtaining offensive weaponry, yet both the Jags and Bears failed to help out their young QBs who could see their growth stunted before given a true chance to succeed. 

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MLB - Where the Heck has the Offense Gone?

Monday, May 09, 2022

For those of you consistently playing Unders in MLB this season you’ve most likely taken home a nice profit thus far.  Prior to the games being played on May 9th the UNDERS in non-extra inning games have cashed at a rate of over 57% on the season – 197 Unders and 149 Overs (excluding ties).  As of May 9th, there are only 5 teams with an above .500 record on Overs and 22 teams with a below .500 record on Overs.  This year teams are averaging just 4.04 RPG thus far for an average run total of 8.08 per game.  We obviously are only a month into the season and things can change dramatically, however if the season did end today the 4.04 RPG per team average would be the lowest since 1981 when teams averaged only 4.00 RPG.  Along those same lines, the average hits per game and league batting average is way down as well.  The 7.64 hits per game (per team) and the league wide team batting average of .232 are BOTH on pace to be the lowest EVER dating back to 1900!  Let’s not forget the league average OPS (on base + slugging percentage) of .676 which is below the .700 mark (year-end numbers) for the first time since 1989.   The oddsmakers have made some big adjustments on their totals as the season has worn on dropping the average total set each week since the beginning of the season. WEEK 1 (Starting on Thurs, April 7 – April 10) – 49 TOTAL GAMES with an 8.75 AVERAGE TOTAL SET BY ODDSMAKERS  WEEK 2 – (April 11 – April 17) - 94 TOTAL GAMES with an 8.54 AVERAGE TOTAL SET WEEK 3 – (April 18 – April 24) – 95 TOTAL GAMES with an 8.10 AVERAGE TOTAL SET WEEK 4 (April 24 – May 1) –95 TOTAL GAMES with a 7.8 AVERAGE TOTAL SET WEEK 5 (May 2 – May 8) –91 TOTAL GAMES with a 7.6 AVERAGE TOTAL SET Why the big drop-off from MLB offenses? The pitching in the Majors is getting better with multiple hurlers on each staff hitting high 90’s and even hit triple digits on the gun which was almost unheard of not all that long ago.  There has also been talk about a “dead ball” and that’s a legitimate concern as MLB made a point in early 2021 to change the baseball moving forward in an attempt to limit home runs which were at their highest point ever in the 2019 and 2020 seasons.  That change seems to have worked with teams averaging 0.91 HR’s per game this season after averaging 1.15 or higher per game in each of the previous 6 years.  Will the low scoring, poor offense trend continue?  There is hope for those that are looking for more runs.  April has always been a poor month for offense with early season struggles and poor weather factoring in.  The good news is MLB RPG, batting average, and OPS have been at their lowest point of the season in April in each of the last 6 years so an upward trend in offense can be expected.  

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Early Look at NFL Win Totals

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2022

This offseason has been one of the most eventful of all time. Lots of notable players will be sporting new team colors, while we still have plenty of guys not yet committed to teams for 2022. With all the movement of personnel that will still happen in the coming months, there are a few teams we feel to be over or undervalued as it stands currently.  Chiefs - Under 11 WinsKansas City seems to have gotten worse while the rest of their division has gotten significantly better. The AFC West added an unprecedented amount of talent this offseason. The Raiders brought in the best receiver in football (Davante Adams), and added Chandler Jones to combo with Maxx Crosby. The Broncos got Russell Wilson to go along with an already stacked defense. Lastly, the Chargers now have Kahlil Mack next to Joey Bosa. Each of these three teams has an elite pass rush and a slew of offensive firepower to score at will. The Chiefs had 12 wins last season while going 5-1 in their division. They now will play a first place schedule and the AFC West will be a gauntlet. What hurts even more is the loss of Tyreek Hill. For the first time in his career, Mahomes will be without two elite weapons. He now only has a 32 year old Kelce who has plenty of tread on the tires. They do not have a true number one wide receiver and Mahomes' historical contact is starting to limit the roster talent. Patriots - Over 8.5 Wins Mac Jones compiled 10 wins in his rookie campaign while leaning on a run-heavy approach. Another year of development mixed with a few additional weapons will allow Mac to handle more of the offensive burden. We expect New England to have a top 10 defense again, just as they have had for the majority of the last two decades under Bill Belichick. The Patriots have ranked 7th or higher in total points allowed in each of the last 6 seasons. Whether it is the talent or the coaching, Belichick’s track record speaks for itself. If the Pats can split their two matchups with the Bills like last season, they will be a good bet to finish over .500.Panthers - Under 6 WinsMatt Rhule is already on thin ice entering the year and the pressure to succeed is only going to be detrimental at the first signs of struggle. Carolina has zero answers in their own quarterback room and none of the potential first round QBs would be stepping into a good situation.  An injury prone Christian McCaffrey is eating up cap space and only adds to the lack of identity this team has as a whole. The only saving grace is playing the Falcons and Saints for four games in 2022.  There is a chance they make a run at Cleveland QB Mayfield but that doesn't change much in our mind.  QB is a huge question mark either way, and If the Panthers do not take a first round QB next weekend, then it will be a telltale sign that they may be looking at C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young in 2023. In that case, it would be meaningless to even try to surpass the six win mark.

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NFL Draft Preview - Quarterbacks

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2022

For the first time in years we are heading into a NFL Draft and quarterbacks are taking a back seat to the rest of the field. The combination of a weak quarterback class mixed with the lack of need for some teams makes this a rare occasion where only two quarterbacks may be taken in the first round.  There is, and always will be, teams that are just a quarterback away from making a serious run at a championship. With the league as competitive as it has ever been, teams got as aggressive as we have ever seen. The Broncos, Browns, and Colts all went out and mortgaged their futures in order to get the one piece that they think will boost them to a championship. The biggest take away is that the AFC is absolutely loaded now. Besides the Steelers, Jags, Jets, and Texans, anyone else in the AFC has a chance to win the conference.  This QB shuffle has left some other teams in total rebuild mode, but unfortunately, the QB talent is just not deep from the draft. Kenny Pickett and Malik Willis are the only two that are definitely on the first round radar. There is speculation of teams trading up for them but what team could really utilize them to win now? QB needs:Pick 2. Lions Pick 3. Texans Pick 6. Panthers Pick 8. FalconsPick 9. Seahawks Pick 20. Steelers The Lions and Texans have glaring needs besides QB and are looking at the long term picture. Neither Pickett (+750 to go in the top 5) nor Willis (+250 to go in the top 5) are worthy to go this high with so many other skillful players waiting.  However with the Lions and Texans inside the top 5, these 2 might be worth a look at plus money.  Carolina has pick #6 which could absolutely be a QB.  Matt Rhule has an argument for a first round QB in order to try and save his (possible) last season as the Panthers head coach. Kenny Pickett seems the most NFL ready and the Panthers just might be desperate to find the next chapter after playing QB roulette the past three seasons.  Pickett is currently +125 to go in the top 10 which is also worth a look if Carolina is looking for a ready now QB.  We still do not see Carolina as a playoff prospect with a new QB.  Willis is still the favorite to be the first QB drafted (-200) but Pickett has some extra value at +175 and we feel it’s a toss up between those 2 signal callers.  After that is drops all the way to +1500 for Ole Miss QB Matt Corral who is coming off a late season knee injury and UNC’s Sam Howell.   As far as teams making a move up to grab a QB, the Seahawks and Steelers both fall into that category.  Pete Carroll is not getting any younger and has no appetite for a full rebuild. The same goes for Mike Tomlin. If Pickett or Willis fall to them, both teams may be able to snag a wild card berth. Each team has loaded talent on offense allowing for a rookie QB to succeed right away. That is a best case scenario for 2022 with many teams already plotting to take C.J Stroud and Bryce Young for the 2023 draft class.

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Sweet 16 Value Plays to Win It All

Tuesday, Mar 22, 2022

Odds all as of March 22 from PointsBetWEST – Texas Tech +1200 The Red Raiders face off in the Sweet 16 vs Duke and a win there would set them up to meet either Gonzaga or Arkansas to go to the Final 4.  The Red Raiders are favored vs Duke and they are the type of team that will give the Blue Devils problems.  Tech is a veteran team with only upperclassmen receiving key minutes facing a very young Blue Devil team.  The Red Raiders are the #1 team in the country in terms of defensive efficiency and they are one of the better rebounding teams in the country which will give Duke problems.  Duke scores 54% of their points inside the arc which is 79th most nationally but Tech is fantastic defensively from 2 point range.  They allow just 42% of points against them to come from inside the arc with is the 3rd lowest percentage nationally.  If they get by Duke the Zags will be a tough draw as they would be for anyone.  However, with the physicality and defensive toughness the Red Raiders play with, they can give Gonzaga problems as well.  They’ll try and slow that game down which is not how Gonzaga likes to play.  We feel there is some value at 12/1 on Texas Tech to win it all. EAST – UCLA +1600 We had the Bruins as a long shot opportunity back in mid February and we’re surprised they are still 16/1 at this point.  They rank in the top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency per Ken Pom.  They are one of only three teams that fall into that category with the others being Houston & Gonzaga.  Starting forward Jamie Jaquez tweaked his ankle so something to watch for UCLA.  If he’s OK, the Bruins are fully healthy with PG Campbell and F Juzang back at 100% after they were banged up down the stretch of the regular season.  We love the experience with everyone back from last year’s Final 4 team and the fact this team does not turn the ball over with very solid guard play.  UCLA is favored over UNC and if they get by that they will most likely play a Purdue team that isn’t very good defensively and will struggle vs a UCLA offense that features 4 players who average between 11 PPG and 18 PPG.  On the other end of the court, UCLA’s defense is definitely good enough to frustrate the Boilers who have had a fairly easy draw thus far facing 2 ranked outside the top 100 per Ken Pom in their first 3 tourney games.  This UCLA team has a great shot at another Final 4.   SOUTH – Houston +1000 We also had the Cougars pegged as a value play to win it all back in mid February and feel that at 10/1 they are still worth a shot if you didn’t follow our lead a month ago when we suggested them at 35/1.  One of only two teams remaining that rank in the top 10 efficiency wise at Ken Pom both offensively and defensively.  The other is Gonzaga.  The Cougars are playing great basketball right now winning 11 of last 12 with 10 of those wins coming by double digits.  Their only loss during that stretch was vs a very good, athletic Memphis team and Houston got their revenge in the AAC tourney trouncing the Tigers.  They just handled Big 10 champ Illinois with ease completely suffocating the Illini offense to just 0.85 PPP and only 24% from 3 point land.  The Cougs face an Arizona team that wants to run up and down the court all day long but Houston will take them out of their comfort zone and make this a half court game.  Houston is also a great offensive rebounding team, 3rd in the nation, and Zona showed a weakness on the defensive glass over the weekend with TCU gathering 20 offensive boards on Sunday.  If Houston can upset Arizona as a 2.5-point dog,  we’d anticipated them being favored to win over Villanova or Michigan in the Elite 8.   MIDWEST – Providence +5000 The odds on the Friars provide some great value in our opinion.  50/1?  That seems out of line.  They are 7.5 point dogs vs Kansas this week and we wouldn’t be completely surprised if they pulled the upset.  The Jayhawks are a flawed #1 seed who just struggled to get by Creighton despite the Jayhawks missing 2 of their top 3 players.  Providence and Creighton split their 2 games this year and that was when the Jays had center Kalkbrenner in the line up.  The analytics guys have been pounding on Providence all year as being lucky and winning too many close games.  Much of that is true, however the fact is they know how to win the close games and they’ve done it on a regular basis.  They won the Big East regular season and have only 5 losses all season, 2 of which were down to the wire games vs a #2 seed Villanova.  The Friar defense has played fantastic in the Dance completely shutting down a South Dakota State offense that was the #1 three point shooting team in the nation.  The Jackrabbits scored just 57 points in that game, their lowest total of the season.  Following that win they faced a red hot Richmond team who had won 5 straight taking out Dayton, Davidson in the A10 tourney and Iowa in the NCAA.  Providence crushed the Spiders by 28 holding them to 51 points.  Should the Friars upset the Jayhawks, they’re Final 4 aspirations look very good with Miami or Iowa State next in line.  50/1 is definitely worth a shot here.     

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Big 10 Tournament Preview

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2022

With selection Sunday less than a week away, the Big 10 looks to have six teams locked up to join the field of 68. With so many good teams, it is sure to be a bloodbath for the Big 10 tournament championship.  BIG 10 Tournament Championship Odds: Purdue: +220 Illinois: +370Iowa: +400Wisconsin: +750Ohio State: +1000Michigan: +1200Rutgers: +1300Michigan State: +2500Indiana: +2500 Besides the top teams, Rutgers, Michigan, and Indiana are all on the bubble and need to have strong showings in the BIG 10 tourney in order to sneak in. Rutgers earned the double bye so they get a probable matchup with Iowa on Friday. Back in January, Rutgers won their only matchup with the Hawkeyes 48-46. This entire game was at a crawling pace that saw both teams shoot a combined 29% from the floor and went 56.5 points under the total (150.5). If Rutgers can just win one game in the conference tournament, they have to feel great about their chances to get into the NCAA field. Michigan and Indiana matchup as the 8 and 9 seed on Thursday in what could be an NCAA elimination game. The winner may determine who gets one of the last “at large” bids to the big dance.   With Wisconsin’s loss to Nebraska on Sunday, it allows a possible rematch of some recent games. Wisconsin could play Purdue in the semifinals and Illinois could play Iowa.  The Badgers just beat the Boilermakers for the 2nd time this season, so it does seem that Wisconsin is being undervalued by oddsmakers. Purdue has dominant big men in Edey and Williams, but lacks a true guard threat besides Jaden Ivey. Guard play wins championships and Ivey cannot do it alone. The Badgers have been snubbed by the analytics experts all season long because they have had a number of close games and won the vast majority of those games. Despite winning the Big 10 Title (tied with Illinois) they are rated as the 5th or 6th best team in the conference when it comes to the analytics people.  That’s why they have solid +750 odds to win the Big 10 tourney.  Solid value in our opinion if Johnny Davis plays which it sounds like he will.    Iowa has been blazing down the stretch and took Illinois to the wire a few days ago. Unfortunately +400 doesn’t return as much value.  Neither does +370 for the Illini.  Ohio State nearly won the tourney as a five seed last year, so look for E.J. Liddell and Malaki Branham at +1000 as a better option.  They've beaten both first place teams this season (Wisconsin & Illinois) and the Buckeyes have as good a chance as any at a seemingly unpredictable time of year.  We’d have to say OSU at +1000 is the best value in the field.   

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NCAA Tournament - A Few "Longer" Shots to Consider

Thursday, Feb 24, 2022

Looking for a few "longer" shots to win the Big Dance?  Here are a few we're looking at...UCLA +2000 (current odds at PointsBet) The Bruins are currently 20-5 on the season and 3 of their 5 losses have come by 3 points or less.  The other 2 losses were both on a neutral site vs Gonzaga (#1 team per Ken Pom) and @ Arizona (#2 team per Ken Pom).  They are one of only four teams in the nation ranked inside the top 15 in offensive and defensive efficiency on Ken Pom’s list.  The others are Gonzaga (+350), Arizona (+800), and Baylor (+1400) and each of those 3 teams have much shorter odds to win it all than this UCLA team.  They are an experienced team that returned 93% of their minutes from a team that made the Final 4 last season.  Not only did they make the Final 4, they nearly went to the National Championship game but lost to Gonzaga in OT in the semi finals.  UCLA returns all but 14 minutes from that 6 game tourney run so we’re getting a team that won’t be out of sorts once the tournament hits.  Been there, done that.  They are deep, have good size, and have very solid guard play (5th nationally in lowest turnover rate).  This team is definitely worth a strong look with their current odds sitting at 20/1. HOUSTON +3500 (current odds at PointsBet) Another team that has plenty of NCAA experience.  The Cougars were also a Final 4 team last year and were upended by eventual National Champion Baylor.  They brought back some key players from that team and added some high level transfers from Texas Tech, UConn, and Cal State Bakersfield.  Houston is 23-4 on the season and 3 of those 4 losses have come by 2 points or less including setbacks vs Wisconsin and Alabama.  They did lose 2 key players, Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark, to season ending injuries in December but they’ve had plenty of time to adapt and only lost 2 games since they went out two and a half months ago.  We spoke above of UCLA’s efficiency rankings and Houston is right there with the best in the country.  They are one of only five teams that rank inside the top 16 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.  The Cougars are winning games by an average of 17 PPG and they are stellar on the defensive end ranking 1st nationally allowing opponents to hit only 36% of their shots while allowing just 59 PPG (9th nationally).  They are led by a veteran head coach, Kelvin Sampson, who has over 600 career wins and has taken two different teams to the Final Four (Oklahoma & Houston).  We’re taking a shot with Houston at 35/1.   

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Ranking the Power 6 Conferences

Wednesday, Feb 16, 2022

Of the power 6 conferences that make up college basketball this is our current ranking of them: 1. BIG 102. BIG 12 3. PAC 124. SEC5. BIG East6. ACC For starters, the BIG 10 has five teams currently in the top 17 in the AP Poll. In 2021, nine BIG 10 teams made the NCAA tournament and we could see a similar number this year. Unfortunately, only one (Michigan) of those nine teams made it to the sweet 16 as the rest were sent home early. Even so, the depth and firepower that lies within the conference makes it an absolute gauntlet to get through. Multiple player of the year candidates include Johnny Davis, E.J. Liddell, Jaden Ivey, Zach Edey, Trevion Williams, Kofi Cockburn, and more. No other conference has talent at this depth.  The BIG 12 comes in second mainly because of their top 3 teams sit inside the AP top 10 currently. Kansas sits atop the conference with defending champs Baylor a game behind them in conference play. Texas Tech also has the experience and firepower to make another legitimate run at a championship. Chris Beard has Texas in the mix as well, making the BIG 12 dangerous come March.  The PAC 12 and SEC are very similar but both conferences lack the depth to have them ranked higher. In the PAC 12, Arizona and UCLA will both be tough outs when the tournament comes around. USC and Oregon are solid but are not quite championship caliber. In the SEC Auburn and Kentucky hold top spots with plenty of young talent for a run. After that, Tennessee and Arkansas are the only teams who have a firm ticket to the dance.  Surprisingly the BIG East has five teams currently ranked. The downside is that none are in the top 10 and only Providence, Villanova, and Marquette are in the top 20. None of these teams seem to have the talent to truly make a run with Connecticut and Xavier rounding out the unexceptional conference.  Finally, the ACC has only one team currently ranked. Duke is a title contender but beyond them the conference is lackluster. Notre Dame, UNC, Miami, Wake Forrest, and Virginia could all make the tournament but none have shown any urgency to push for a decent seed. The talent is lacking in a usually high-powered conference.   

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Is This the Most Loaded NFL Divisional Round Ever?

Thursday, Jan 20, 2022

There have been lots of great teams in the past years, but the final eight teams left in 2022 make a case for the best remaining eight in NFL history. NFL player talent has progressed over the year as it rightly should with all the advances in health, fitness, and knowledge. Along with that, coaching creativity and the need to innovate more than ever has propelled the game to new levels. The NFL has created a product that dominates TV ratings and this weekend we will be locked in on the NFL as it should be the best football that we have ever seen.  There is immense talent on each of the teams left standing in the playoff race and it starts at the quarterback position. Brady, Rodgers, Mahomes, Allen, and Stafford all seem to be playing at or close to the best football of their careers. Burrow, Tannehill, and Jimmy G are not on the elite level quite yet, but are also playing better than they have ever before. Pairing these QBs with the elite weapons that each team has is a good formula for lots of points on Saturday and Sunday. The best talent ever leads to the best teams ever. There can be a legitimate case that any of the eight teams left could win the Super Bowl. Unlike other sports (NBA and MLB) the NFL’s structure has really fostered some of the best competition both in the regular season and playoffs. There are no off weeks for NFL teams, no rest days for superstars, and no meaningless games in the middle of the season. This competitive fight for seeding all year leads to massive matchups for the quarterfinals of the NFL bracket. Every team left deserves to be here, and the spreads for this weekend show that. Each game is projected to be within one possession, so buckle up for the best football ever.  Speaking of the plethora of talented QB’s in this Divisional round, here is a prop bet we are looking at this weekend… Under 245.5 San Francisco - Jimmy Garoppolo passing yards -115 The 49ers average 244.2 passing yards per game on the season and their game plan here is to run the football. San Francisco is 5th in the league in rushing attempts per game at 29.8 and the Packers rush D gives up 4.7-yards per carry which ranks 31st in the NFL. Last week the 49ers ran it 38 times against the Cowboys and passed for 170-total yards. In the frigid conditions in Green Bay, with a bad thumb and shoulder we don’t see the Niners offense pinning their hopes on Jimmy G and the passing attack. Not to mention, the Packers strength defensively is versus the pass, ranking 9th in passing yards allowed per game at 219.

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Two Teams You Should Bet On To Win The Super Bowl

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2022

NFC - San Francisco +2500 We really like the value here with the Niners.  This line might be a bit higher than it should be based on QB Garoppolo’s injury to his hand.  However, he looked OK last week throwing for 316 yards and 9.9 yards per attempt in their win @ LA Rams.  San Fran has a yards per play differential of +0.9 which is the 2nd best of any playoff team behind Buffalo.  On top of that, since week 9 they lead the NFL in net YPP.  They are one of just 2 teams in the NFL that rank in the top 7 in both offensive DVOA and defensive DVOA per Football Outsiders (the other is Dallas).  The Niners were 5-3 SU vs playoff teams this year and faced 3 division winners and were very close to sweeping the board losing to the Packers and Titans both on last second FG’s and beating the Rams twice by a combined 24 points.  The Niners outgained their opponent both YPG and YPP in 3 of those 4 match ups vs division champs.  San Francisco is the lowest of the underdogs this weekend getting 3 at Dallas and if they can get by the Cowboys they’ll head to Green Bay.  If that happens we actually think they match up pretty good with the Packers because they have a power running game and Green Bay’s weakness on defense is vs the run (28th DVOA vs the run at Football Outsiders).  Let’s also not forget this team with Garoppolo at QB has experienced success in the playoffs making it to the Super Bowl just a few years ago.   We view 25/1 as very good value on San Francisco. AFC - Tennessee +850 We like the spot here because we’re getting a team that only needs to win 2 home games to get to the Super Bowl at almost 10/1 odds.  We understand why they might be priced as they are with neither their point differential nor YPP differential ranking anywhere near the top of the playoff board.  They’ve also won most of their close games (lucky?) which some view as a negative entering the playoffs.  But the fact is this team beat the 2 teams most consider to be the best in the AFC this year topping both the Bills and the Chiefs.  The Titans can run the ball, 5th in the NFL at 141 YPG, which we like at playoff time when potential bad weather comes into play AND it looks like RB Henry will be back for the post-season.  Not only has Henry been out for an extended period of time, but the 2 top WR’s for Tennessee, Jones and Brown, only played together in 7 games this year due to various injuries.  In those 7 games the Titans were 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS.  Both are healthy and have an extra week to rest up and get ready for the playoffs.  This is sort of a “middle of the pack” defense when it comes to overall seasonal numbers but they are better than that.  The Tennessee stop unit played very well down the stretch allowing 17 points or less in 6 of their last 8 games not allowing more than 25 in any of those games.  They are also the #1 defense in the NFL in explosive plays allowed so they very rarely give up big plays.  We like Vrabel as a head coach and his teams always seem to be well prepared.  Good value on a team that only needs to win twice at home (as we mentioned above) and they are in the Super Bowl.

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NFL Playoff Picture

Wednesday, Dec 29, 2021

Who’s getting in? First off, the AFC is an absolute mess. The Chargers, Raiders, Ravens, Steelers, Browns, and Broncos are all on the outside looking in. The good part is any of those teams have the ability to squeeze in with two wins and some help over the final weeks. The bad part is that all of those same teams seem to be trending in the wrong direction. The only teams to even win a game the past two weeks are the Raiders (2-0) and the Steelers (1-1). Miami holds the last AFC playoff spot riding a seven game win streak into the home stretch. The Dolphins do play the Titans and Pats to end the year however, so one spot will be up for grabs between seven teams.  The NFC is much cleaner due to the top heavy five teams (GB, DAL, LAR, TB, ARI) that all have 10+ wins so far. San Francisco and Philly hold the final two playoff tickets with only the Vikings looking to play spoiler. We should mention that the Falcons and Saints are somehow still hanging around at 7-8, but they reek of fraudulence.  Who could take out the favorites?  Kansas City is back to dominance and in back to back years their biggest threat remains the Bills. No other AFC quarterback is on the same level as Patrick Mahomes besides Josh Allen. The Bills are finding a rhythm on offense and you get the feeling that Josh Allen is determined to take the next step after disappointment the past two years. Buffalo also sports the number one ranking passing defense allowing just 173 yards per game to opponents. If anyone can contain the Chiefs track team, it would be Sean McDermott’s defense.  The Packers have snuck by the struggling Ravens and Browns the past two weeks and have been bailed out by their defense in both contests. Even so, Aaron Rodgers has still played like his MVP self and has a history of beating both the Rams and the Cowboys when the season is on the line. Tampa Bay will not be afraid to travel into Lambeau again and play physical press man defense. The loss of Chris Godwin (torn ACL) hurts but TB12 will be just fine with Mike Evans, Gronk, Antonio Brown, and Leonard Fournette hopefully back for the playoffs.   

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MAC Dogs Don't Bite

Friday, Dec 24, 2021

With College Football Bowl Season in full swing, it gives us games on every day of the week to gamble on. Even if you are not very familiar with the teams or players from some of the smaller schools, it still provides entertainment as well as money to be won. One conference in particular has been beaten up consistently when the calendar hits December. The MAC has proved to be a solid conference to fade over the past years. The MAC conference boasts a lifetime record of 45-77 (37%) in its bowl games. A shockingly low win percentage like that puts the MAC in the conversation of one of the worst conferences in FBS college football. It is hard to say if either they are outmatched by other FBS schools, or the MAC just plays terrible football during bowl season. Since 2004, the MAC has only had a winning record as a conference during bowl season two times.  The last 59 bowl games that MAC teams have been underdogs have gone 20-37-2 against the spread. Additionally, they are 9-50 straight up in those games. This really shows how much MAC teams have struggled and yet the odds makers don’t seem to give MAC teams enough points year after year. 2021 has been no different as the conference is already 1-4 in bowl games and 2-3 ATS.  Eight of the 12 teams in the conference qualified for bowl games, with 3 yet to play over the holidays. However, the more bowl games they play, the more they seem to lose. Northern Illinois won the conference but it was a very close season across the board. Looking at the last 3 MAC bowls in the coming days, it is risky to think any will cover. Western Michigan (-6.5) is the only team favored of the 3, but history is not on their side. 

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Good Teams Win, Great Teams Cover!

Monday, Nov 29, 2021

Every week in the NFL it seems like at least one top team is losing a game they should not. The Titans have lost to the Jets and the Texans. The Bills lost to the Jags. The Bucs even dropped a dud against the Football Team. Seeing this along with many other similar games makes people wonder who is actually legit out of the top teams? The gambling answer: Good teams win, great teams cover.  Top records ATS through week 12: Green Bay           10-2-0   Arizona                 8-3-0Dallas                    8-3-0      New England      8-4-0Detroit                  7-4-0Buffalo                 6-4-1Indianapolis        7-5-0      Tennessee          7-5-0       Essentially this tells us which teams have over performed their expectations. It shows team’s ability to keep games close against quality opponents while not playing down to the level of bad teams. The Packers, Cardinals, and Cowboys top the list and have proven to be the most consistent teams in the NFL against the spread. Other quality teams have struggled with consistency like the Buccaneers (5-6-0) and the Rams (4-7-0).  In 2020, 3 of the teams that made it to conference championship weekend finished with top 5 records ATS during the regular season (Chiefs were the one team not to). Similarly, in 2019, both Super Bowl teams finished in the top 5 which gives a good indicator that being able to cover the spread consistently proves that you are an elite team.  There is still plenty of time for these teams to shift around but currently the Packers and Cardinals seem to be in Control in the NFC while New England and Buffalo control the AFC. This matches both the eye test as well as the ATS rankings. All 4 of those teams rank top 5 in total defensive points allowed and have shown the ability to get big stops when needed.  The Bills and Patriots meet twice in the next four weeks and will determine who wins the AFC East and gains control in the conference. The Titans need to go back to the drawing board during their bye week and figure out what to do without King Henry. Currently both conferences are open for the taking but watch ATS records for a bit deeper look at who is playing better than expected. 

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NFL Midway MVP Thoughts

Wednesday, Nov 10, 2021

Coming off one of the most bizarre weeks in the NFL we find ourselves about halfway through the 2021 season. Tom Brady and Josh Allen are dead even atop most of the MVP odds. Brady fresh off a bye week and Allen trying to figure out how Urban Meyer’s Jags held his offense to 6 points. If either regress (similar to Russell Wilson in 2020) or have injury trouble, there is value in a few other names. Josh Allen                            +325Tom Brady                          +325Kyler Murray                      +700Matthew Stafford            +750Lamar Jackson                   +1000Aaron Rodgers                  +1200Dak Prescott                      +1200  Buy: Mathew Stafford had one of his worst games of the season in a surprising loss to the Titans. Two “Carson Wentz” like picks left a bad impression for viewers on Sunday night, yet Stafford still has 23 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions. This puts him on pace to finish with 43 TDs and 11 INTs. Those numbers would be good enough to win previous MVP’s depending on what year you look back at. Brady in 2017 threw for 32 TDs and 8 INTs. Lamar in 2019 threw for 36 and 6. If Stafford can keep the interceptions to a minimum, the Rams will be in prime contention come playoff time. Big touchdown numbers and a high seed are a great formula for MVP.  Buy: Dak Prescott is in a very similar situation in a loaded NFC. Dak missed a game and already has his bye week behind him putting him on pace for 41 TDs and 12 INTs. We are going to chalk up the Bronco’s loss to the week 9 craziness that happened all around the league. It may all come down to who wins out in the NFC with Brady, Murray, Stafford, Rodgers, and Prescott all very much alive to claim the top seed.  Sell: Kyler Murray is banged up and struggled mightily last year when not fully healthy, while Rodgers may be in the media doghouse for the year, maybe life. Lamar currently has 13 TDs with 7 picks so it is hard to see him making a push no matter how much he runs for. A small dip in production, or a few games out due to injury open the door wide open for Stafford and Prescott. 

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Early Season Look at NBA Futures

Thursday, Oct 28, 2021

This article will be contrarian to what you normally read regarding a Future prediction as we aren’t going to give you teams to bet on, but instead, teams to avoid in your betting strategies. It’s early in the NBA season but some things have become all-to-clear in our eyes and we’ll go on record with the following speculations. NBA TEAMS “NOT” TO PUT ON YOUR FUTURES TICKET Los Angeles Lakers +550 We had our thoughts on this Lakers team going into the season but wanted to see the team’s chemistry in the first few games before coming to this conclusion. The Lakers won’t play in the Finals this season and will not have the opportunity to win it all in 2022. This team had the best overall defensive efficiency numbers in the NBA a year ago allowing just 1.071-Points Per Possession. The offense was another matter ranking 24th in terms of Offensive Efficiency. LeBron forced the Lakers hand in the offseason and rebuilt this aging roster to his liking and it doesn’t look good. How have the Lakers gotten better offensively or defensively? Russell Westbrook is a triple-threat machine when he dominates the basketball but that doesn’t fit the Lakers style and LeBron. Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo are well past their prime and not the complimentary pieces James and Anthony need. We are only a few games in, and the Lakers offensive numbers have improved slightly over last year’s, but their defensive efficiency has dipped to 25th allowing 1.120-Points Per Possession. Don’t be surprised if this roster gets shook up before the All-Star break when LeBron and the Lakers get desperate to make a playoff run. RUNNER UP – WHO NOT TO BET Golden State Warriors +900 The Warriors should not be the 4th highest bet team to win the NBA Finals. The West is loaded at the top with Utah, Denver, Phoenix and even the Clippers, Blazers and Mavericks. The Warriors lofty numbers here are swayed by the eventual return of Klay Thompson and evolution of James Wiseman. If we combine the East and West, our model currently has the Warriors as the 10th best team in the NBA. The Warriors had a .542 winning percentage a year ago and the 14th best average Margin of Victory of +0.9PPG. Golden State was 24-10 SU last season against teams ranked 17th or worse in the NBA and 15-25 SU against teams ranked 16th or better. It’s tough to get through the Playoffs when you can’t beat the league's best teams. 

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NBA Win Totals - Some Solid Value

Friday, Oct 15, 2021

If you are a sports fan, this is the absolute best time of year. For the next few weeks there will probably be too much to watch and no shortage of bets to hit on. The sweet spot where football season is in full swing, playoff baseball is on almost every night, the NHL just kicked off, and the NBA starts on Tuesday. Some of the best NBA season long bets we like look at the win totals of 3 teams that hold good value. Timberwolves over 34.5 winsMinnesota won 23 games last year in a shortened season of only 72 games. They were also gutted by injuries with their 4 leading scorers each missing an average of 22 games. A core of Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, and Malik Beasley is quite solid compared to the bottom teams in the West. All 4 of those players averaged over 19ppg last year and if they can simply stay healthy, over 34.5 seems easily reachable. Suns Under 51.5The Suns are coming off a magical run last season but we expect a bit of a Finals hangover. It is widely talked about how taxing a deep run to the Finals can be, adding an extra 3 months to the season that other teams use to rest. Phoenix still has a great mix of young talent (Booker, Ayton, Bridges, Johnson) along with veteran presence. Unfortunately, Chris Paul has had injury trouble before, and he is not getting any younger. The Jazz, Nuggets, Lakers, Warriors, Clippers will all have had longer off seasons and make up a loaded Western Conference. Rockets Under 27.5 This roster is terrible and they are in the middle of a full rebuild. Houston may even ship more assets mid-season in order to acquire picks moving forward. The Christian Wood led Rockets went 17-55 last year. Jalen Green will be the future here but will have plenty of growing pains in what will surely be an inefficient rookie season. Ranking 27th in both offensive and defensive efficiency a year ago, the 2021-2022 season will not be a fun once for Rockets fans.  Watch for all the NBA action daily from ASA here and good luck this season.

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ASA's NFL Notes - In Case You Missed It

Wednesday, Sep 15, 2021

ASA's NFL NOTES  NFL – Underdogs went 12-4 the first week of the season – 9 of those dogs won outright!  The average point total for week 1 of the NFL was 47.8.  Last year games averaged 49.6 total points which was the highest mark ever.  Four games last week reached at least 60 points and one game topped 70 points (SF vs Detroit).  RAVENS – QB Lamar Jackson has not thrown for more than 250 yards in 17 straight games.  Their loss @ Las Vegas as a favorite was the first time the Ravens have lost a season opener in 5 years.  They are now a +3.5 home dog this week vs KC.  Last year they were a -3.5 home favorite vs Chiefs.  Dating back to 2015, Baltimore is 4-1 both SU & ATS as a home underdog.  SAINTS – A few of their offensive coaches have tested positive for Covid.  Something to watch as this week progresses.  Jameis Winston didn’t have huge numbers yardage wise in the Saints 38-3 win over the Packers (148 yards passing) but he did throw for 5 TD’s.  He did so on just 20 attempts so every 4th pass attempt for Winston was a TD.  Even more importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over.  In his 72 previous games as a starter Winston turned the ball over 119 times by HIMSELF.  If he protects the ball, he can be very good.  FALCONS – Atlanta was expected to be very solid offensively under new HC Smith who was the OC at Tennessee last year.  They looked OK to start the game last week kicking FG’s on their first two drives vs Philadelphia.  However, the Falcons gained only 77 total yards on their final 9 offensive possessions after getting 6 points on the board.  STEELERS – Pittsburgh went into Buffalo and won outright as a 6.5 point dog last week.  They are now 99-75-4 ATS as a road underdog since 1980 (57%).  The Steelers were outgained by 120 yards in their win @ Buffalo but they also ran 24 fewer offensive snaps so the YPP numbers were about dead even.  LIONS – Detroit was down 41-17 at home vs San Francisco on Sunday.  The final score?  41-33!  Detroit scored 16 points in the final 1:53 of the game AND had the ball at the Niner 24-yard line to end the game.  The Lions gained 191 of their 430 total yards on their final 3 possessions.  Detroit was +7.5 for much of the week but moved to +9.5 on gameday so those final 16 points were big for a number of bettors, win or lose.  TITANS – Tennessee scored just 13 points and averaged only 3.9 YPP in their season opening blowout loss at home to Arizona.  This from an offense that averaged 29.6 PPG on 6.1 YPP a year ago.  Their OC from last year (Smith) is now the head coach at Atlanta and the new OC Downing was the Titans TE’s coach last year and has only 1 year of experience as a NFL OC (Raiders in 2017).  Something to keep an eye on.  SEAHAWKS – Seattle ran 18 fewer offensive snaps on Sunday and still controlled the game beating Indianapolis 28-16 on the road.  The Seahawks averaged a whopping 7.2 YPP to just 4.7 YPP for the Colts.  Impressive stats vs an Indy defense that allowed 5.4 YPP a year ago.  Great debut for new OC Waldron who came over from the LA Rams where he was the passing game coordinator.  WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM – Well the exciting off-season acquisition of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to jumpstart the offense when by the wayside quickly on Sunday.  Fitzpatrick left with a hip injury in the 2nd quarter after leading Washington to 2 FG’s in their first 3 drives.  He is now likely out for a few months.  Taylor Heinicke, who has 2 career starts, will now take over at QB.  BROWNS – Cleveland’s offense looked great on Sunday putting up 457 yards on a ridiculous 8.2 YPP and LOST.  Turnovers were the difference as they are in many NFL games.  The Browns had a fumble which led to a 23 yard FG drive for KC, the punter dropped a snap which led to a 15 yard KC TD drive, and QB Mayfield threw an interception on the final drive of the game which basically ended the game giving the Chiefs a 33-29 win.  KC’s first and only lead came with 7:00 minutes to go in the game. 

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NFL Super Bowl Futures: Teams to Avoid

Wednesday, Sep 08, 2021

The best weekend of the year is finally upon us, and from now until February 7th we will have NFL games three days out of the week. This may be the most loaded that the league has ever been in terms of pure talent and the number of competitive teams. Because of this, the margin of error between the good vs the great teams will be extremely small.  NFL SB ODDS:+450 KC Chiefs +700 TB Buccaneers +1100 BUF Bills+1200 LA Rams+1400 BAL Ravens +1400 GB Packers.+1400 SF 49ers TEAMS TO AVOID WHEN LOOKING FOR SUPER BOWL CONTENDERS BillsJosh Allen carried Buffalo last season and was a true MVP candidate. Unfortunately, he may have to have an even better performance this season. The Bills defense ranked 16th in points allowed last year and are not expected to be drastically improved. The run game is an even more worrisome aspect after finishing 20th in yards per game, while leaning heavily on Allen in the red zone. The AFC East will be no cakewalk either with Bill Belichick and Brian Flores looking to play defense and run the rock. A couple of close divisional losses could bump the Bills back to the wild card ranks.  RamsWith Matthew Stafford anointed the saviors of the Ram’s offense they seem to be in the clear. That is until you look at the rest of the NFC West. San Francisco may be a more physical team on both sides of the ball. Seattle has the weapons to score with anyone and hopes to feed Chris Carson all he can handle. Lastly, the Cardinals offense finished 6th in total yards in 2020 and is a beast of a 4th place team for a division. If Stafford struggles in year one with Sean McVay, or if they become one dimensional without Cam Ackers, it is easy to see the Rams in 3rd in the NFC West.   Ravens Injuries are already pilling up for Baltimore. J.K. Dobbins is a huge loss in the run game, Rashod Bateman is banged up, and the other weapons of Hollywood Brown and Sammy Watkins are the epitome of injury prone. Lamar Jackson has handled a massive workload for a QB over the past 2 seasons but has remained healthy, for now. Another concern is again, the division they play in. A one dimension offense is not what you want when competing with the Steelers and Browns. Cleveland’s odds have been on the rise this offseason, and they may enter 2021 the best team in the AFC North. 

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NFL Players to Avoid on Your NFL MVP Tickets

Tuesday, Aug 24, 2021

It is inevitable that a few studs get hurt each year in the preseason, or early on in the regular season, and go on to miss a significant portion of the year. Tom Brady in 2008, Jordy Nelson in 2015, or even Christian McCaffrey last season are prime examples of the injuries mishaps that can occur early in a NFL season. Accurately predicting these injuries is very difficult, but the best way to try is to look at a player’s usage and volume. Here are three players to watch in 2021 and avoid betting to win the MVP, including 2 longer shot RB's. Ezekiel Elliott +15000The former Ohio State Buckeye has been a workhorse since he entered the league in 2016. He has been in the top 2 in rushing attempts 3 of his 5 years and has accumulated over 1400 carries in total. Not many players at the running back position have had stretches of volume quite like that. With an average of 283 carries a year it may be time for the Cowboys to put Zeke on the carries diet. Reports on Elliott have been good out of camp, but his slimmer stature does not mix well with another 280+ carry season that he might see. Recent names like Adrian Peterson, Jamal Charles, and LeSean McCoy come to mind and are a reminder of how quickly running backs can be discarded for the next.Derrick Henry +5000 Henry's usage has been ridiculous the last 2 seasons.  He has carried the ball almost 800 times.  Last season he had 378 carries (827 total touches) which was almost 70 more carries than the next highest RB.  That's the equivalent of almost 3.5 more "games" of carries if he averages 20 carries per game.  His 378 carries was the 19th most in a season in the history of the NFL and the most since 2014.  Each of the 18 RB's who had more than 378 carries in a season saw their production drop the following season and most fairly significantly.  Stay away from Henry as an MVP longshot. Lamar Jackson +1800The 2019 MVP has taken the league by storm in recent years and taken the Ravens to new heights. His crazy athleticism and immense rushing volume have helped this. Jackson broke Bill Shepard’s single season rushing attempt record (143 attempts) that had stood since 1935. Lamar did this in his rookie year (147 attempts) while only starting 7 games. He has continued the past 2 seasons with 176 and 159 rushing attempts. Quarterbacks are not meant to see that much usage on the ground and even a massive human like Cam Newton has been battered over the years. Lamar will likely see 140 rushing attempts again and that should give Ravens fans anxiety each time he leaves the pocket. 

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2021 NFL: Best and Worst Preseason QB Rotations

Friday, Aug 06, 2021

It’s widely known that when handicapping the NFL pre-season, QB rotations are extremely important.  Is there a big drop off after the starter plays a series or two (or not at all) or does the back up and even 3rd stringer have some experience?  Answering those questions can go a long way in being successful at handicapping the NFL before the regular season begins.  There are obviously many other factors that come into play but QB rotations are at or near the top of the list.  Here are a few of our our best & worst QB rotations as we get ready to hit the pre-season with a full slate starting on Thursday, August 12th. ASA’s BEST NFL QB ROTATIONS SAN FRANCISCO – The Niners rotation looks very solid for the pre-season.  We like the fact that rookie Lance is pushing Garoppolo and from all reports Jimmy has responded nicely.  Below those two there is some experience as well including former 1st rounder Josh Rosen.  (Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance, Nate Sudfeld, Josh Rosen).   CHICAGO – Now the Bears don’t have any top tier QB’s as of now, but their depth for the meaningless games in August is very good.  Dalton & Foles are veterans who’ve combined to attempt almost 7,000 career passe attempts while Fields is a huge talent as a rookie.  (Andy Dalton, Justin Fields, Nick Foles).  DENVER – Similar to Chicago, no great QB’s here but a very solid rotation for pre-season purposes.  On top of that, Lock & Bridgewater are battling for the starting job so we should get their best effort each time out.  Rypien isn’t a bad 3rd string option as he actually started and won a game for the Broncos last year.  (Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater, Brett Rypien).  LAS VEGAS – Solid at all 3 QB spots.  Derek Carr had one of his best seasons last year and his back up Mariota might be the top 2nd stringer in the league.  After that Peterman is at least a decent 3rd option with a few NFL starts under his belt.  (Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Nathan Peterman).   ASA’s WORST NFL QB ROTATIONS GREEN BAY – Well we know the starter is here and we’d be surprised if he got many snaps in the pre-season.  The Packers know what he can do and they now have the offensive system down in his 3rd year with head coach LaFleur.  So that leaves Love & Benkert to pick up the majority of the snaps.  Word is Love has improved but still has a ways to go which is why GB had no intentions on trading Rodgers and Benkert has never played in a NFL game.  (Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love, Kurt Benkert).  TENNESSEE – Similar to GB, Tannehill is the proven starter and won’t need many reps in NFLX.  After that the Titans are left with Matt Barkley who has a terrible career completion percentage and has thrown twice as many interceptions (22) as TD’s (11) and Woodside who has 3 career pass attempts.  (Ryan Tannehill, Matt Barkley, Logan Woodside).  MINNESOTA – This one is pretty simple.  After Kirk Cousins the Vikings are stuck with 3 players who have never taken a snap in the NFL.  Not much more needs to be said.  (Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond, Nate Stanley, Jake Browning).  NY JETS – We like the potential of projected starter Zach Wilson, but the 1st year player from BYU has never taken a snap in the league.  He’s not the only inexperience signal caller on this team as 3 of their 4 QB’s have never played in an NFL game.  Their 4th, Josh Johnson, was out of the league for 4 years before coming back to play a few games with Washington in 2018.  He hasn’t played since then.  (Zach Wilson, James Morgan, Mike White, Josh Johnson).    

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NFL Futures Wager: Seattle Seahawks Season Wins

Friday, Jul 30, 2021

NFC WEST TOTAL WINS BEST BET – Over 9.5 Seattle Seahawks No matter what the circumstances entering the season, Seattle always seems to get to at least 10 wins.  In fact, since Russell Wilson took over at QB in 2012, the Seahawks have failed to win 10 games just ONCE and that was a 9-7 season in 2017.  They have averaged 10.9 wins per season during Wilson’s 9-year run as starting QB.  Seattle won the tough NFC West last year with a 12-4 record and it was no fluke as they led the division in point differential at +88.  The offense will be very good again with Wilson and his playmakers on the outside (Metcalfe & Lockett) who are among the best in the NFC.  They have the ability to outscore teams when the defense comes up short which it did a lot early last season.  The Seahawks scored 30 or more points in 6 of their first 8 games when the defense was playing poorly.  Despite the defense, they were 6-2 in those games.  The defense improved by leaps and bounds in the 2nd half of the season allowing just 15.8 PPG after giving up an average of 30.3 PPG over their first 8 games.  If the defense can pick up where they left off, this team will be very good.  We have them currently favored in 10 games this season and their underdog roles will all be small numbers (most +3 or less).  All of their road games are winnable and the Hawks face 3 of the worst teams in the NFL in non-division play (Jags, Lions, and Texans).  As we mentioned, Seattle and double digit wins have been the norm for almost a decade.  Now with an extra game added in the regular season, we see no reason this team doesn’t get to at last 10 wins again in 2021.    

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Who Will be the Worst NFL Team in 2021? One Team Might Surprise You!

Sunday, Jul 04, 2021

It is always hard to win in the NFL but some teams are already doomed going into the 2021 season. Sitting at the bottom of the NFL win total odds are the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans. Detroit’s win total is set at 5 games while Houston’s is at 4.5 games. Both of these teams are in obvious rebuild mode with new head coaches along with horrid quarterback issues.  The Lions were at least able to bring in some help during the draft and seem to be heading in the right direction. Penei Sewell fell to them in the draft and they followed him by going DT in the second round and DT, CB in the third. Suring up the trenches is never a bad option when rebuilding with a defensive minded head coach in Dan Campbell. They do play the 6th toughest schedule which is a big reason why they could still finish dead last in the NFL.  Meanwhile Bill O’Brien should still be locked up for what he did to the Texans future. After a 4-12 year in 2020, Houston did not have a first or second round pick in this year’s draft. Desean Watson looks to be out for the foreseeable future, and even if he did get cleared to play the roster looks like something Shane Falco couldn’t even win with. The only saving grace is that MAYBE they can get a win against the Jaguars who they play twice, or the Jets in week 12. However, the NFL is a crazy league and there is a reason even bad teams suit up week in and week out. The Eagles, Jets, Bengals, and Jaguars will all struggle in 2021 and could contend for the league’s worst record.  However, Philadelphia does have the easiest strength of schedule in the whole league while the others at least all have promising young quarterbacks to turn to.  So who is the surprise team that might fall toward the bottom of the league in 2021?  We feel that team could be the Las Vegas Raiders. That may catch some off guard with Vegas coming off an 8-8 record.  However, they ranked 30th in points allowed last season and despite their .500 record Las Vegas was just 11th in the AFC in point differential.  The defensive struggles didn’t end there as they allowed 6.0 YPP and their opponents converted on nearly 49% of their 3rd down attempts which ranked them 30th in the NFL.  They appear to be running in place under Jon Gruden who has not produced a winning record during his 3 years in Vegas. In a difficult division it is not hard to see the wheels falling off all together. With only 1 winning record since 2002 the Raiders don’t be surprised if they sit near or at the bottom of the league when all is said and done.

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Which NFL Team Will Take a Step Back in 2021?

Thursday, Jun 17, 2021

The Tennessee Titans finished last season with an 11-5 overall record winning the AFC South.  However, we feel they might just be a .500 type team in 2021.  Despite finishing with 11 wins in the regular season, the Titans point differential was just +52 which ranked them 7th in the AFC and 12th in the NFL.  Over half of their wins last year (6) were by 3 points or less or in overtime.  Tennessee was -13 YPG last season and right around dead even in their yards per play differential (+0.1 YPP differential).   The defense is not championship caliber as they allowed nearly 28 PPG last season and ranked 29th in YPG allowed and 25th in YPP allowed.  Offensively they were very good but can we expect QB Ryan Tannehill to duplicate his 33 TD performance from last season?  His previous high was 27 TD’s back in 2014.  He also threw just 7 picks in 2020 after averaging 11.5 interceptions through his first 7 seasons.  He did add WR Julio Jones to his weaponry, however, Jones has been in the league 10+ seasons and missed 7 games last year in Atlanta.  He may not make as big of an impact as some might think.  They obviously rely heavily on RB Derrick Henry but will his heavy workload (almost 700 carries the last 2 seasons) start wearing on him?  It’s highly possible.  On top of that, 7 of Tennessee’s 16 regular season games they will be facing a defense that finished in the top 10 last year in yards per carry allowed.      Their schedule is tough with 5 games vs division winners this season (KC, Seattle, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, & New Orleans).  That doesn’t include their 2 games vs AFC South rival Indianapolis who tied the Titans for the division title last year but lost the tie breaker.  Much can change as the season progresses, however with the full season lines already posted, the Titans are slated to be favored in only half of their games this year.  We think this team struggles to get to double digit wins in 2021.

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What has happened to MLB offenses this season?

Sunday, May 23, 2021

What’s up with MLB offenses this season?  Do we have an influx of below average hitters or has the pitching become that dominant?  The average team BA as of May 23rd is just .237.  To put how poor that is in perspective, the last time the league average was lower than .237 was NEVER!  And those numbers go back to 1871.  Are you kidding me?  MLB did hit for an average of exactly .237 back in 1968 but never lower than that.  Even through the so called “dead ball ERA” in the early 1900’s the league batting average never dipped below .239.  Now we realize it’s still early and things can improve but the offenses have been poor so far this season to say the least. Let’s did a little deeper.  Teams are averaging less than 8 hits per game on the season which is also historically bad.  Since the 1910 season, only ONCE has the league averaged less than 8 hits per game and that also was in 1968.  The average number of at bats per team is 33 and the average strike outs per game is just over 9.  So nearly 30% of the time players are walking to the plate and getting sent back to the dugout with a K!  The league has never averaged more than 9 strike outs per game which is some more perspective on just how poor it has been early on in 2021.  The MLB OPS (on base percentage + slugging percentage) is at .709 which is the 2nd lowest number since 1992.  The average RPG scored per team is 4.39 which is the lowest since 2015.  We could go on and on but we all get the point that MLB offenses have been far from stellar this season but why?  Is it dominant pitching?  Maybe defensive positioning with more shifts to take away hitter’s strengths?  Simply a run of hitter’s that might just be below what this league is used to?  It’s tough to pinpoint one main reason and is most likely a combination of all of the above plus other factors. How has this affected Totals this year?  It hasn’t necessarily created a market where the Unders are cashing regularly.  In fact our numbers show the Overs have actually come in a bit more often this season with a record of 662-648-44 as of Sunday, May 23rd.  Even in Divisional match ups where we might expect the Unders to be a bit stronger the Overs have a very slight advantage at 312-309-20.  The oddsmakers have obviously adjusted as we’re seeing 7, 7.5, and 8 as common totals nowadays.  Offensive numbers are way down this season but blindly betting Unders because of that hasn’t been a profit maker.       

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Fantasy Football Rookies with Perfect Landing Spots

Thursday, May 06, 2021

With the NFL draft wrapped up from this past weekend, we can finally get a look at which rookies have been blessed with ideal situations to succeed. NFL rookies are always tough to gauge where they should be drafted in fantasy football because of the multitude of question marks. Talent alone doesn’t translate to fantasy production but instead it’s a combination of coaching, opportunity, and scheme. This is why a player like Justin Jefferson was able to dominate the rookie wide receiver ranks even though he was the fourth WR off the board in the 2020 draft.   Which undervalued WR and RB are setup for fantasy gold this season? Rashod Bateman (Ravens pick 27 WR5) is a player who reminds me a lot of Jefferson from last year. Both are very technical route runners and both can simply WIN against man coverage. Bateman is landing with the Ravens who have needed to get Lamar Jackson help for a couple years now. Hollywood Brown has struggled to stay on the field and is very boom or bust when he does play. Lamar had a down year in 2020 but he did lead the NFL in touchdown passes in his 2019 MVP campaign. Expect Jackson to bounce back and to develop his passing even more this season, allowing Bateman to be the number one WR on a top 10 scoring offense.  Michael Carter (Jets pick 107 RB5) is in a great situation to make an immediate impact in New York. Adam Gase and his insistence on giving Frank Gore 10+ touches a game are no longer going to hold this offense back. New coach Robert Saleh will prefer to lean on his defense and play a run-first zone scheme. Carter will be the beneficiary as long as he can win the job in training camp (he should). The Jets added Corey Davis and also drafted speedster Elijah Moore to help open up the field. First round rookie offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker will help as well as Zach Wilson of course. The Jets may still be a bad team this year, but Carter could produce numbers similar to what James Robinson did last season. A talented runner who can contribute in the passing game, all he needs is to win Saleh’s trust and the production will follow. 

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Early American League MVP Darkhorse

Wednesday, Apr 21, 2021

The MLB season is still extremely fresh and there is a long way to go before we start to see percentages play out and teams pull away from the pack. That being said, some players have gotten off to hot starts and are offering great return on investment if they can continue to produce. The MVP voting often takes into account the best player stats but also the success of the team they play for. In the past six years, 9 of the 12 MVPs have come from teams that finish with a winning record. Only Mike Trout (twice) and Giancarlo Stanton have won MVPs with losing teams.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are already red hot in the National League and will likely produce a MVP at the end of the season. The American League is a bit more up for grabs and the Red Sox have impressed by starting with the best record in the AL and 2nd most wins on the Majors through the first few weeks.  Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts are the young guns for Boston, but don’t forget about JD Martinez who has six homers already and is leading MLB in in RBI’s. With +4000 odds to win AL MVP he would provide a great return on even a small wager and it is not too farfetched.  The Red Sox were picked to finish behind the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rays in the AL East by most people, but that is why they play the games. Boston has the talent to win their division and JD Martinez would be a major contributor if they do so. He has hit over .300 in each of his last seven season besides last year’s shortened season. Martinez also drove in the 130 and 105 runs in the two years prior to Covid. He is 33 years old but is showing no ill effects, and let’s not forget Freddie Freeman won MVP last season at 31 years old. With a 40/1 current return on investment, he is off to a great start this season and his odds will climb if the Red Sox can stay hot.  

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NFL - How Adding an Extra Game May Change History

Sunday, Apr 04, 2021

With the NFL Draft less than a month away, we take a look at the NFL's decision to add an extra regular season game beginning next year.  With the addition of an extra regular season game this year (and no extra bye week), we are in for some big changes moving forward in 2021. One extra game may not seem like it would have a big impact, but the statistical metrics, record books, and the way we view players will all be different from ever before. Milestones like 1,000 rushing or receiving yards will not mean as much since it would take less than 59 yards per game to now reach. Single season records will surely be in jeopardy and some of the game’s greatest players and seasons will not hold the place in history that they should.  Records that will broken: Receiving yards: Calvin Johnson 1,964 Receiving TDs: Randy Moss 23 Rushing Yards: Eric Dickerson 2,105 Passing TDs: Peyton Manning 55  The validity of anyone that breaks these records will now be questioned. The league is only getting more talented by the year, which means that these records will eventually fall sooner than they should. There will be an asterisk in the history books to mark whether a historic season had 16 or 17 games in it. Players have a hard enough time making it through 16 games already, and a 17th feels like a money grab by the already rich NFL owners.  Alvin Kamara along with others have already voiced their displeasure with the additional game. The change in the season does hurt one position group more than others. Running Back. Maybe the hardest position to remain healthy, running backs will only be used more heavily and have an even shorter shelf life. Due to the 4 year rookie contacts that most players get out of college, many running backs are easy to replace by the time they reach their second deal. This is for good reason when looking at players like Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Ezekiel Elliott who all are on massive running back contracts yet struggled to return value to their teams this season. In a few years players should see the benefit of larger contacts and an increased salary cap, unfortunately for some current players this might be too late. Tainted records and player safety will be under close watch to see how much the 17-game season affects them.  

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Big 12 Dark Horse to Win the National Title

Friday, Mar 12, 2021

In 1985 the NCAA expanded its basketball tournament to allow 64 teams into the field. Since then, no team higher than an 8 seed has won the championship and over half of the winners came from number 1 seeds. That is not surprising considering again this year that any of the top 10 teams in the nation feel like they have a legitimate chance to make it all the way. Any team outside the top 25 historically has almost no chance to win the tournament, so a team that could have great return on investment is Texas Tech (+4500) found at BookMaker. The Red Raiders were runners-up the last time the tournament took place so coach Chris Beard knows what buttons to push to get his guys playing their best. Back court play is critical in the big dance and Texas Tech has three guards averaging double figures on the season. Terrance Shannon and Kyler Edwards can fill it up but Mac McClung leads the way averaging 16 ppg. His energy and emotion are what drive this team and make them must-watch TV. Mac mania could pave the way for another Texas Tech Final Four run and set the college basketball world on fire.     Big 12 Teams in National Rankings + National Championship Odds (BookMaker) 2. Baylor +42510. West Virginia +260011. Kansas +360012. Oklahoma St +4300 13. Texas +400020. Texas Tech +450025. Oklahoma +8500 The Big 12 was an absolute gauntlet this season, and it has five teams ranked ahead of Texas Tech. The Big 12 tournament will had some great matchups and Tech lost 67-66 opener vs Texas despite holding a 10 point lead in the 2nd half.  Now they rest up and get ready for the Big Dance.  For +4500 return on investment the former runners-up pose some of the best odds for a team we feel has a legitimate shot to get to the 2nd weekend and potential the Final 4.  And, at 45/1, the opportunity to hedge if the Red Raiders get into the Elite 8 will be fantastic.     

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DAME TIME - All Star Starter in our Book!

Monday, Mar 01, 2021

For years Steph Curry has been the best point guard in the league and single handedly changed the game with his three point barrages in front of a raucous Bay Area crowds. His record breaking number of attempts over the years have not even been the crazy part, it’s been his efficiency. Again this year he leads the league in three point attempts yet he’s shooting over 42%. There is a reason he is considered the best point guard in the league, but it is time to start including someone else in the conversation.   Damian Lillard was snubbed from the All-Star starters after leading the Blazers to fifth in the West almost single handedly. Steph getting a starting spot is understandable but we could make the case for Dame starting over Luka Doncic. Luka is shooting 33% from three point range and turning it over at a higher clip than both Steph and Dame. Doncic may have better overall raw numbers than both Curry and Lillard but his +/- differential is lower than both and the Mavs are just .500. Missing CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers have relied heavily on Lillard to carry the offensive load, and he has delivered. They own a better record than both the Warriors and Mavericks, yet Dame still seems to be underrated. Steph and Dame are in very similar situations this season and are producing very similar numbers. They are both averaging just under 30 ppg but Lillard is dishing out almost 2 more assists per game and pulls down 4.4 rebounds per game to Steph’s 5.4 rpg. He also has more game winning buzzer beaters (3) since he entered the league in 2012 according to basketball reference. Big shots at the end of games are hard to track based on the situations but there are very few players as cold blooded as Dame when it comes to winning time. Steph has three rings in his great career but zero finals MVP’s. This year will be a true test to see how far Curry can carry the Warriors. If he falls short, maybe he will then know what Dame has felt like his entire career. Either way, the two best point guards in the league both deserve to be mentioned in the same conversation moving forward. If you are looking for a betting angle with Lillard and the Blazers look no further than their road games. Portland is 12-6 ATS (67%) away from home and 8-4 ATS (67%) as a road dog as of this writing. Led by Dame Time, the Blazers have the 6th best overall 3-point shooting percentage in the league which has also helped the Over cash in 10 of eighteen road games.  Their road games have averaged 230 total points this season.  

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Is Mahomes a Hall of Famer Right Now?

Wednesday, Feb 03, 2021

Patrick Mahomes: Youngest Hall of Famer Ever?  With a win this coming Sunday, Patrick Mahomes will vault himself into elite company with two Super Bowl wins. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Big Ben are the only recent QBs to have two or more SB wins. Mahomes has arguably put together three of the best years by a quarterback in NFL history. He recently passed Aaron Rodgers for the all-time lead in passer rating as well as TD/INT ratio. He simply needed to accumulate enough pass attempts to finally qualify this season.   If Mahomes won the Super Bowl and then for some reason walked away from the game after this season, would he have had a Hall of Fame career? He already holds numerous records for efficiency along with having a league MVP. The stats are terrific but the eye test would make it even more obvious for anyone on the fence. Mahomes has made some of the most ridiculous throws in the history of the NFL. On the move, fading away, throwing across his body, and into tight coverage is something the Chiefs quarterback has made his living doing. The only comparable players to him are Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers (Maybe Josh Allen). Favre was a true gunslinger and ended with 336 INTs in his career and Mahomes has proven more efficient than Rodgers so far in his career. If Mahomes walked away after this season (hypothetically) he would already have one of the craziest highlight tapes ever. No offense to the GOAT but very few people have probably said “Throw on some Tom Brady highlights.” The one argument against Mahomes is that he has had elite weapons in all three of his seasons so far. Having offensive genius Andy Reid doesn’t hurt either. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce have been fantastic and deserve credit, but maybe Mahomes has just made them look good. The Chiefs have made the most of having a great QB on a rookie contract, but will surely have to sacrifice some key pieces moving forward since Mahomes is due half a billion dollars over the next 10 seasons. Either way, Mahomes has set the stage to be a Hall of Famer whenever he retires, even if it is after a Super Bowl win this season. 

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Who's the Best Super Bowl Longshot Remaining?

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021

With Kansas City and Green Bay holding down the best odds to win the Super Bowl we need to find an underdog that could yield a better return on investment. The Bills and Ravens are on serious hot streaks but a team that is even more intriguing is the Buccaneers. The road to the Super Bowl seems to be easier in the NFC than in the AFC this year. Tampa Bay has won five in a row and Tom Brady has begun to find his rhythm with Bruce Arians.    SB Odds KC +200GB +380NO +550BUF +600BAL +800TB +850LAR +1600CLE +2500 Either the Ravens or Bills will be eliminated this weekend, and the winner gets a date with the defending champs in the AFC Championship Game. That alone is a tall task, while the Buccaneers have arguably an easier path to yield more money.  This Sunday will be a major hurdle for the Bucs, however, the Saints have had major struggles of their own come playoff time in recent years. Brady has only been hit 16 times in their last 8 games and protecting him will be the absolute key to winning in New Orleans. Washington’s defensive front could not get consistent pressure last week which was surprising considering they were 6th in sacks during the year. Antonio Brown has mixed in nicely and will be tough to account for now that all of Tampa Bay’s weapons are up to speed.  If they can win this weekend a matchup at Lambeau for the NFC Championship Game would be likely. Brady is used to playing in the cold and the lack of crowd noise makes road games less intimidating. Looking deeper, Tampa owns the 5th best defensive efficiency rating or DVOA according to Football Outsiders. They also are 3rd in offensive DVOA only behind the Chiefs and Packers.  After slaughtering the Packers in week six it is not hard to imagine Brady winning the NFC Championship and getting a shot at his seventh Super Bowl ring. For the biggest return on investment the Bucs would be the best bet and are led by a QB who has been there plenty of times before. 

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2021 NCAA Football Championship Preview

Monday, Jan 04, 2021

OHIO STATE (7-0 / 4-3 ATS) vs ALABAMA (12-0 / 8-4 ATS) - @ Hard Rock Stadium, Miami FL  ODDS AT BETNOW.EU LINE – Alabama -7.5MONEY LINE – Alabama -280 / OSU +240TOTAL – 75  OSU PASS DEFENSE vs ALABAMA PASS OFFENSE – While the Buckeyes rolled through their shortened Big 10 winning 5 of their 6 games by double digits, their pass defense was not good.  That’s actually an understatement as OSU finished dead last in the conference in pass defense despite not facing a single QB ranked inside the top 50 in passing efficiency.  The best passing QB the Buckeyes faced was Indiana’s Michael Penix and he lit them up for 491 yards passing and 5 TD’s.  Now they face Bama’s Mac Jones who ranks as the #1 pass efficiency QB in the nation along with the deepest set of WR’s they’ve seen by far.  Despite last week’s loss, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence did complete 69% of his passes for 400 yards vs this pass defense.  HUGE EDGE TO BAMA  OSU RUSH DEFENSE vs ALABAMA RUSH OFFENSE – The Bucks rush defense was extremely impressive last week.  They completely shut down the Tigers running attack allowing only 44 yards on 22 carries.  Clemson star RB Etienne was held to 32 yards on the ground with a long of just 8 yards.  The Buckeyes are now ranked 2nd nationally defending the run allowing only 89 YPG.  The Crimson Tide faced a Notre Dame defense last week that ranks 17th vs the run and put up 140 yards rushing.  The three top 20 rush defenses that Alabama faced this season (ND, Georgia & Texas A&M) held them to 140, 147, and 109 on the ground this year on 4.1 YPC.  That’s a full 1 YPC under their season average.  EDGE OHIO STATE    OSU PASS OFFENSE vs ALABAMA PASS DEFENSE – Justin Fields was lights out vs Clemson throwing for 385 yards and 13.8 yards per attempt.  He also threw for 6 TD’s and had a QBR of 99.  His 13.8 yards per attempt and 99 QBR were by far the best numbers the Clemson defense has allowed this season.  We’ll have to keep a close eye on the info coming out of Columbus this week as Fields sustained a rib injury vs the Tigers and while he continued to play, he did say it was very painful and affected his throwing motion.  Bama limited Irish QB Ian Book to 229 yards passing and a QBR of 72.  For comparison’s sake, Book passes for 219 yards with a QBR of 60 just 2 weeks earlier.  That’s the same Clemson pass defense that was shredded by Fields.  The Tide faced 2 other QB’s this year ranked in the top 10 in efficiency, Florida’s Kyle Trask and Mississippi’s Matt Corral.  Trask went for 408 yards on 10.2 yards per attempt with 3 TD’s and QBR of 91.6.  Corral put up 365 yards passing on 13.0 yards per attempt with 2 TD’s and a QBR of 96.  EDGE OHIO STATE IF FIELDS IS HEALTHY  OSU RUSH OFFENSE vs ALABAMA RUSH DEFENSE – OSU’s rushing attack has really kicked it into high gear over their 2 games.  In the Big 10 Championship game vs Northwestern they ran the ball for 399 yards on over 9.0 YPC.  They followed that up by hitting Clemson for 254 yards rushing on nearly 6.0 YPC.  Those efforts were against two very solid defenses as Northwestern has allowed 4.4 YPC on the year and Clemson just 3.0 YPC.  Starting RB Trey Sermon has done most of the damage with 524 yards rushing in those 2 games.  His backup Master Teague is injured and did not play vs Clemson.  The Buckeyes rush offense now ranks 5th nationally.  They take on a Bama defense that allows just 110 YPG on the ground ranking them 13th.  Last week they allowed Notre Dame to gain 139 YPG on the ground, well below their season average of 211 YPG.  The Irish rank 24th in rushing and they were the best running team the Tide have faced this season.  The 2 best SEC running teams they faced were Texas A&M (27th nationally) and Ole Miss (26th) and the Bama defense has mixed results in those games.  They held the Aggies to just over 100 yards rushing but the Rebels gashed them for 268.  That game vs Ole Miss was early in the season and Alabama’s defense has improved drastically since them.  EDGE EVEN  CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY – It’s been a mix of close calls & blowouts in the CFP National Championship game.  There have been 6 championship games played since the CFP started with three of those games being decided by 5 points or less and the other three decided by 17 or more.  Alabama has won 2 of those National Championship games in 2016 & 2018 while Ohio State won the inaugural game in 2015.  Bama comes in as the #1 seed and OSU is the #3 seed.  Only one top seed has won the title and that was last season when LSU topped Clemson 42-25.  No #3 seed has ever won the National Championship.  AGAINST THE SPREAD – Last year was the first time the favorite (LSU) covered in the National Championship game.  The dog is 5-1 ATS.  It’s also been a high scoring game with the OVER going 5-1 with the average total points scored at 65.  The teams combined to score at least 60 points in 5 of the 6 championship games with the highest scoring game being 85 (Clemson 45, Bama 40) and the lowest being 49 (Bama 26, Georgia 23).  The current total on this game is 75 which is the highest ever set in the National Championship game.

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Big 10 Championship Game Preview

Friday, Dec 18, 2020

BIG 10 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME Ohio State vs Northwestern – Saturday @ Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis CURRENT ODDS – Ohio State -20.5 / TOTAL 57  OHIO STATE (5-0 SU / 3-2 ATS) - The Buckeyes picked up another unplanned bye week when their rivalry game vs Michigan was cancelled.  It’s their 3rd week off this season.  The Big 10 originally decided that in order for a team to be eligible for the Championship game, they must play at least 6 games.  The schools revisited that plan last week and tweaked it so Ohio State, who is 5-0, can play on Saturday.  In their most recent game the Bucks were hit hard by the conference covid protocol as they had 20+ players out @ Michigan State, including 3 starting offensive linemen.  It didn’t matter as they crushed the Spartans 52-12.  Despite starting 3 freshmen back ups on the offensive line, OSU was able to rush for 322 yards on 6.7 YPC.  The only time OSU was really threatened this year was their home game vs Indiana.  They won that game 42-35 but led 28-7 at half and let the Hoosiers back in it.  Their other relatively close game was a 12 point win over Rutgers.  Same scenario in that game with the Bucks leading 35-3 at half, pulling their foot off the gas, and letting Rutgers cut into the lead.  The Buckeyes were 3-2 ATS this year and those were the 2 games they did not cover even though it looked like they may at halftime.  How dominant were the Buckeyes this year?  Their total minutes played this year was 300 (5 games) and they trailed for a grand total of 5 minutes this season.  That was the first game of the season vs Nebraska when the Huskers scored on their opening drive to take a 7-0 lead.  The offense is arguably the best in the nation.  They rank 1st in the Big 10 in total offense (6th nationally) and 1st in the conference in scoring (4th nationally).  Their defensive weakness is vs the pass.  They rank dead last in the Big 10 in pass defense and 111th nationally.  The Buckeyes caught a nice break on their week off when Florida lost to LSU.  That loss most likely puts OSU in College Football’s Final 4 with a win here.  It sounds like the Bucks will have most if not all of the players back who missed the MSU game because of their covid situation.  Something we’ll have to keep an eye on as the week progresses.    NORTHWESTERN (6-1 SU / 5-1-1 ATS) – While Ohio State had last week off, Northwestern was playing their year end rivalry game vs Illinois.  The Cats closed out the regular season with one of their best offensive performances of the season rolling up 493 total yards in their 28-10 win and cover.  The excitement of a big offensive day may need to be tempered a bit as Illinois now ranks dead last in the Big 10 in total defense.  QB Ramsey completed only 7 passes the entire game but the Wildcats ran for 411 yards on 58 carries.  It was the first time in 17 years they rushed for more than 400 yards in a single game.  That’s been Northwestern’s game plan for much of the season.  Run the ball, eat clock, and let their defense and special teams win games for them.  They’ve done that well this season as the 6-1 Wildcats have scored 21 point or less in half of their wins this season (3).  The defense has allowed 20 points or less in 5 of their 6 games this year.  They rank 12th in the Big 10 in total offense and 3rd in total defense (#1 in scoring defense).  They’ve run the ball more often than any other team in the conference averaging 44 carries per game.  The problem is, they aren’t great at running the ball.  They average just 3.9 YPC and that’s with their huge effort on Saturday vs the Illini.  Prior to that game they were averaging only 3.1 YPC on the season.  The Wildcats will more than likely have to change their offensive game plan entering Saturday’s game vs OSU.  The Bucks allow just 95 YPG on the ground but can be taken advantage of through the air as we mentioned above.  It they are able to pull the upset here, much of it will probably fall on QB Ramsey’s shoulders.  He’s rarely been asked to light it up through the air as the Cats average just 180 YPG passing which is 13th in the conference and 106th nationally.  While NW hasn’t asked him to be the main cog in the offense, Ramsey has proven he can carry the load in the past as he threw for 6,500 yards and 42 TD’s in his 3 years @ Indiana prior to coming to Northwestern.   OHIO STATE BIG 10 STATS (conference ranking in parentheses) Scoring Offense 46.6 (1st) / Defense 23.3 (5th)Total Offense 532.4 (1st) / Defense 363.8 (6th)Yards Per Play Offense 7.3 (1st) / Defense 5.6 (10th)Rush Offense 251 (1st) / Defense 95 (2nd)Rushing YP Carry Offense 5.5 (1st) / Defense 3.4 (3rd)Pass Offense 281.4 (2nd) / Defense 268.8 (14th)Pass YP Attempt Offense 10.3 (1st) / Defense 7.2 (8th)  NORTHWESTERN BIG 10 STATS (conference ranking in parentheses) Scoring Offense 25.3 (9th) / Defense 14.6 (1st)Total Offense 351.4 (12th) / Defense 313.9 (3rd)Yards Per Play Offense 4.7 (13th) / Defense 4.5 (2nd)Rush Offense 170.6 (7th) / Defense 121.9 (4th)Rushing YP Carry 3.9 (9th) / Defense 3.8 (6th)Pass Offense 180.9 (13th) / 192 Defense (2nd)Pass YP Attempt Offense 6.0 (13th) / Defense 5.0 (1st)  STATS vs COMMON OPPONENTS – 2 common opponents this season Ohio State (-21.5) vs Michigan State – 52-12 Win / +260 total yard advantage / +241 rushing advantage / +19 passing advantage / -1 turnover margin Northwestern (-13.5) vs Michigan State – 20-29 Loss / -77 total yard disadvantage / -132 rushing disadvantage / +55 passing advantage / +0 turnover margin Ohio State (-28) vs Nebraska – 52-17 Win / +121 total yard advantage / +5 rushing advantage / +116 passing advantage / -1 turnover margin Northwestern (-4) vs Nebraska – 21-13 Win / -125 total yard disadvantage / -76 rushing disadvantage / -49 passing disadvantage / -2 turnover margin  THE 5 MOST RECENT MEETINGS 2019 - Ohio State 52, Northwestern 3 (OSU +281 total yard advantage)2018 – BT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - Ohio State 45, Northwestern 24 (OSU +189 total yard advantage)2016 – Ohio State 24, Northwestern 20 (OSU +25 total yard advantage)2013 – Ohio State 40, Northwestern 30 (OSU +14 total yard advantage)2008 – Ohio State 45, Northwestern 10 (OSU +147 total yard advantage)  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – These 2 Big Ten foes have faced off 27 times since 1980.  The Buckeyes are 26-1 SU & 17-9 ATS in those games including covering 7 of the last 8 meetings.  OSU has scored at least 40 points in 16 of those 27 meetings including 7 of the last 8.  These two have met 7 times since 2006 and the OVER has cashed in 6 of those games with an average of 60.2 total points scored.    

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Potential Nightmare Playoff Match Ups for NFL Top Seeds

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2020

Currently the top four seeds in the NFL playoff picture are pretty distinguished with the Chiefs and Steelers in the AFC mirrored by the Packers and Saints in the NFC.  With four games left in the NFL regular season there is still plenty of time for seeds to move and teams to sneak into playoff contention. Only one first round bye is available this year and depending on who can secure it means that any of the top 4 teams could get pushed into a nightmare matchup in the Wild Card round.  Current Playoff Seeding:  AFC 1. Chiefs, 12-1 (1st Round Bye) 2. Steelers, 11-2 3. Bills, 10-34. Titans, 9-4 5. Browns, 9-4 6. Colts, 9-47. Dolphins, 8-5  NFC 1. Packers, 10-3 (1st Round Bye)2. Saints, 10-33. Rams, 9-4 4. Redskins, 6-75. Seahawks, 9-46. Buccaneers, 8-57. Cardinals, 7-6    Chiefs (SB Odds +180): The Chiefs are widely considered the best team in the NFL and seem to be utterly unstoppable on offense. They have a very intriguing match up with the Saints this weekend.  Losing that game could prove costly with a number factors still in play in regards to a tie breaker for the top seed.    Nightmare Matchup: Titans If the Colts win the AFC South, we could see Chiefs vs Titans in the first round if KC loses the #1 seed. Tennessee causes problems because their ability to put points on the board while chewing the clock at the same time. They have quietly surged into a top 3 scoring offense this season, only one place behind Kansas City.   Steelers (SB Odds +1200): With their loss @ Buffalo on Sunday, the Steelers drop to the #2 seed in the AFC for the time being. Their remaining schedule is tough with the Colts and Browns still on the docket.   After losing to the Washington Football team and Buffalo in back to back weeks, they have currently lost their first round bye. Nightmare matchup: DolphinsPittsburg’s inability to run the football is a major issue. The Dolphins have an outstanding secondary with Byron Jones and Xavien Howard to handle Big Ben and the Steelers one dimensional offense.   Packers (SB Odds +700): The Packers have jumped the Saints to the #1 seed in the NFC.  If they finish with the same record as the Saints, the Packers will win the tiebreaker because of their head to head matchup. That win in week 3 is arguably Green Bay’s only impressive victory on the year. They finish out favored in all their games and only the Titans in week 16 might give them trouble. Nightmare Matchup: RamsIt seems unlikely they meet based on the standings right now, but if it does happen the Packers are in trouble. An elite pass rush with Jalen Ramsey shadowing Davante Adams could spell trouble in Lambeau and lead to an early exit for the Packers.   Saints (SB Odds +775): New Orleans has turned up the heat in the second half of the year and made life for opposing quarterbacks dreadful. They host the Chiefs on Sunday and a loss their probably takes them completely out of the #1 seed conversation.  Losing to the Eagles last Sunday is probably going to come back to haunt this team. Nightmare Matchup: Vikings – if they get inNo matter how good of a season the Saints have, the Vikings always seem to be their kryptonite come playoff time. Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook will not be a welcome sight to Sean Payton as he tries not to remember past heartbreak.   If they Vikings get in and match up with New Orleans, watch out Saints **Super Bowl odds are from BetOnline**

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Big 10 Football Report - Week 8

Friday, Dec 11, 2020

WISCONSIN @ IOWA (-3 OPEN to +2 CURRENT) – Saturday, December 5th  WISCONSIN – The Badgers offense is struggling and that’s an understatement.  They aren’t necessarily having problems moving the ball, they just are not putting points on the board.  With their 14-6 loss at home vs Indiana last week, Wisconsin has now scored a grand total of 13 points over their last 8 quarters of football.  This from an offense that scored 94 points in their first 2 games this season.  For the 2nd consecutive game, they outplayed their opponent rather drastically on the stat sheet but lost the game.  Versus Indiana the Badgers were +125 total yards, +53 rushing yards, and +10:00 minute time of possession.  Wisconsin had 9 offensive possessions in the game, crossed midfield into Indiana territory on 7 of those possessions, and scored 6 points.  The last 2 games they’ve been in their opponent’s territory 15 times and they have 1 TD and 2 FG’s to show for it.  They continue to be extremely thin at WR which is causing problems in the passing game, especially the big play.  They haven’t had any.  QB Mertz completed only 2 passes of more than 20 yards the entire game and averaged just 5.9 yards per attempt.  They were without starting WR Davis once again (he’s out for this game as well) but the other starter Pryor returned for this game.  However, Pryor left the game in the 2nd half with an injury so his status is up in the air for Saturday.  The defense was great.  They held IU to just 217 total yards in just 4.0 YPP.  They have now held their last 2 opponents to 480 total combined yards and 31 combined points and lost both games.  IOWA – Iowa just keeps rolling.  In what we considered a dangerous game for them @ Illinois with Wisconsin on deck, the Hawkeyes were shaky early.  Iowa (-13.5) was down 14-0 midway through the 2nd quarter but then scored 35 unanswered points to take the 35-21 win.  They have now won 5 consecutive games after starting the season 0-2.  It was the first time the offense topped 400 yards since their game vs Michigan State back on November 7th.  Over the last 4 games Iowa has averaged 35 PPG and topped 400 yards once.  The Hawks are now 2nd in the Big 10 in scoring at 32 PPG behind only OSU despite ranking 9th in the league in total offense.  That speaks to their efficiency on offense and the turnovers they’ve created which have really been key during this winning streak.  They are now +9 TO margin on the season.  They have had a plus TO margin in all 5 of their wins this season.  Because of those takeaways, Iowa has been put in very favorable situations on offense with 14 of their 27 TD’s this season coming on drives of 52 yards or less.  The defense was a little sluggish early on, as was the offense, allowing 148 yards and 2 TD’s on the first 3 Illni possessions.  After that the Hawkeyes clamped down allowing only 125 total yards and 0 TD’s on Illinois next 7 possessions before giving up a late meaningless TD with 24 seconds remaining in the game on their final possession.        MOST RECENT MEETING – Last year Iowa traveled to Wisconsin as a 7.5 point underdog and nearly pulled the upset losing 24-22.  Iowa was down 8 points late in the 4th and scored a TD but the 2-point conversion failed giving them the 2 point loss.    POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Wisconsin has won 7 of the last 8 meetings with rival Iowa – Badgers are 5-3 ATS in those games.  The total on this game was set quite low at 44 (has dropped even further due to potential bad weather).  Not surprising as this has been a low scoring series with only 3 of the last 16 meetings topping 50 points.  MICHIGAN STATE @ PENN STATE (-14.5 OPEN to -14.5 CURRENT) – Saturday, December 5th  MICHIGAN STATE – MSU had the privilege of hosting back to back top 10 teams the last 2 weeks.  The first game went very well as they pulled off a 29-20 win over Northwestern as a 13.5 point underdog.  Last week the Spartans weren’t so fortunate as they were blasted by Ohio State 52-12.  The Buckeyes opened as a 24 point favorite and the number dropped to 22 when OSU announced they had 20+ players out due to covid protocol, including 3 starting offensive lineman.  It didn’t matter as the Spartans, who held Northwestern to 68 yards rushing the previous week, were shredded for 322 yards by the OSU running game.  Sparty trailed 28-0 at half and simply couldn’t get anything going offensively early on.  In fact, 6 of their first 7 possessions were 3 & outs and their other possession during that stretch lasted 4 plays.  Starting QB Lombardi threw a pick 6 in the 2nd quarter and was injured late in the first half.  He had only completed 5 passes at that point and was averaging only 3.0 yards per pass attempt.  His replacement Payton Thorne looked a little better leading MSU to 10 points in the 2nd half.  After the game HC Tucker was furious with his team’s undisciplined, sloppy play as they turned the ball over 4 times and had over 100 yards in penalties.  The up & down season for Michigan State continues this weekend @ Penn State.      PENN STATE – PSU lost their first 5 games of the season and we knew they were much better than that.  The eye test told us that along with the stats they were putting up in their losses.  After beating Michigan on the road last week, they went to Rutgers last Saturday and picked up their 2nd consecutive win 23-7 covering the 11 point spread.  It was a dominating performance vs an up and coming Rutgers team.  PSU controlled the stat sheet with +11 first downs, +176 total yards, and +165 yards on the ground.  HC Franklin is still rotating his QB’s Clifford and Levis, however the latter has been used strictly as a runner the last 2 games.  Levis, playing from the QB position, has run the ball 23 times for a combined 90 yards the last 2 games.   He hasn’t attempted a pass in the last 10 quarters.  Clifford has been throwing the ball but hasn’t put up huge numbers with just 163 & 133 yards passing the last two weeks.  However, he has limited his turnovers to just 1 in those 2 contests.  That’s a huge improvement from his 10 turnovers in the first 5 games.  PSU held a 17-0 halftime lead and the defense was stellar holding Rutgers off the scoreboard with a total of just 36 yards in the first half.  The Knights lone score came on a 36-yard drive for a TD following a PSU interception.  After last Saturday’s performance, the Nittany Lions now rank 2nd in the Big 10 in total offense and 2nd and total defense.  As we said, they are much better than a 2-5 team.     MOST RECENT MEETING – PSU was a 5.5 point favorite @ Michigan State last year and rolled to an easy 28-7 win and cover.  The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 28-0 lead early in the third quarter and neither team scored a point in the 4th quarter.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – The favorite has covered 7 of the last 9 in this Big 10 series.  Penn State is just 3-8 ATS the last 11 times they’ve been a home favorite of 14 or more (dating back to November of 2017).    ILLINOIS @ NORTHWESTERN (-14 OPEN to -14 CURRENT) – Saturday, December 5th  ILLINOIS – The Illini jumped out to a 14-0 lead on Iowa last Saturday and it looked like they were on their way to a potential upset and a 3rd consecutive win.  They scored TD’s on 2 of their first 3 possessions and they were long drives of 75 & 70 yards.  After their 2nd TD they went 3 & out on 3 straight possessions and Iowa was able to cut the lead to 1 by halftime.  Iowa controlled the 2nd half scoring TD’s on 3 of their first 4 possessions on their way to a 35-21 win.  Starting QB Peters was great to start the game completing his first 7 passes while leading them to the 14-0 lead.  After that, Peters completed only 3 passes on his next 6 possessions with the Illini going scoreless and gaining only 47 yards on those 6 drives.  Peters was then pulled for back up QB Williams, a freshman, who actually led Illinois to a win at Rutgers when Peters was injured earlier in the season.  Williams wasn’t much better completing only 7 of his 16 pass attempts but he did run for 38 yards and led them to their final TD of the game.  The Illinois defense has been shaky all year ranking 13th in the league in total defense and 13th in YPP allowed.  They looked great early holding the Hawkeyes to just 45 yards over their first 4 drives.  After that, it went south quickly with Iowa gaining a whopping 380 yards over their final 7 possessions on 7.4 YPP.  The Illini are banged up on defense especially at linebacker where they finished the game with only 3 scholarship players after a few players went down during the game.  NORTHWESTERN – The Cats had their game with Minnesota cancelled last week due to Gopher covid issues.  They may have needed an extra week off after their previous performance which was a 29-20 loss @ Michigan State as a 13.5 point favorite.  Northwestern entered that game in East Lansing with a perfect 5-0 record and had the inside track to the Big 10 West title.  MSU jumped on them early and led 17-6 at halftime.  A normally stout Wildcat defense allowed MSU, the worst rushing team in the conference, to run for 195 yards on 47 carries.  They rallied for a 20-17 lead early in the 4th quarter, however after the TD that gave them the lead, Northwestern had negative 17 yards on their final 5 possessions on the way to their 1st loss of the season.  That’s the same MSU team that lost 52-12 vs OSU, 24-0 vs Indiana, and 49-7 vs Iowa, three of the other better teams in the conference.  After watching film on the loss, HC Pat Fitzgerald made it clear that his team “didn’t take our fundamental brand of football at the line of scrimmage with us to East Lansing” and it cost them the win.  He made it a point to stress that during their unplanned bye week.  The Wildcats have a lot to play for because their game vs Illinois is a big time rivalry.  However, they have already locked up the Big 10 West crown so win or lose, Northwestern will be playing in the Big 10 Championship game the following week completing their worst to first journey after finishing in last place in 2019.    MOST RECENT MEETING – Northwestern entered last season’s finale @ Illinois with just a 2-9 record.  The Cats were a 6.5 point underdog and topped the Illini 29-10.  NW outrushed Illinois 378 to 14 in the win.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Since 2000, Northwestern has covered 70% of their meetings with Illinois (14-6 ATS).  The Cats are just 7-13 ATS (35%) in all games as a double digit favorite since September of 2013.   RUTGERS @ MARYLAND (-8 OPEN to -7.5 CURRENT) – Saturday, December 5th  RUTGERS – After their big come from behind win @ Purdue the previous Saturday, Rutgers crashed back down to earth with a 23-7 home loss at the hands of Penn State.  It was the 14th straight time the Scarlet Knights have lost to the Nittany Lions.  HC Schiano was aggressive right from the get go in this one going for it on 4th and 1 from their own 45 yard line on Rutgers opening possession.  They were stuffed on that attempt and PSU scored to take a 7-0 lead 5 plays later.  That set the tone for the first half as Rutgers had just 12 yards in the first half following that opening possession and they were down 17-0 at the break.  They did get starting QB Vedral back for this one after he missed the Purdue game with an injury.  It didn’t make much difference as the Knights were outgained 381 to 205 and Vedral had just 113 yards passing on 30 attempts for only 3.8 yards per attempt.  After rushing for 176 yards on 52 carries vs Purdue, the Knights were shut down vs Penn State with just 83 yards on 32 carries.  The offense couldn’t get anything going against the Nittany Lions with only one drive of more than 36 yards the entire day.  It was the first time this season that Rutgers was held under 20 points and they were averaging over 30 PPG entering Saturday’s contest.        MARYLAND – Maryland just wants to play a damn game.  With last week’s cancellation of their game @ Michigan, the Terps have played a grand total of ONE game since November 7th with 3 of their last 4 games getting cancelled.  Their most recent game was a 29-11 loss @ Indiana on November 28th.   The Terps came into that rolling offensively scoring 80 points and tallying over 1,000 yards in the previous 2 games combined vs Penn State & Minnesota.  However, due to covid issues they had a 21 day break between games and it showed.  They only scored 11 points on 300 total yards (4.9 YPP) in their loss @ Indiana on November 28th with their lone TD coming with just 1:30 remaining in the game.  The Terps now have an 0-24 record vs Big 10 ranked opponents since joining the league in 2014.  Starting QB Tagovailo came in having thrown 6 TD’s and just 1 interception his previous 2 games but really struggled vs IU completing only 47% of his attempts and was intercepted 3 times.  The defense played arguably the best game of the year.  Before IU QB Penix exited late in the 3rd quarter due to an injury they had limited him to just 6 completions.  After allowing 988 total yards in their first 2 games of the season, the Terp defense seems to have settled in giving up just 340 to Penn State and 349 to Indiana over their last 2 contests.  Not only did Maryland have a long layoff, but they had 23 players unavailable vs Indiana including 4 starters on offense and 2 key players in their defensive backfield.  One positive is they should be rested and healthy for this game.  However, how do they perform having played only 1 game in the last 35 days!       MOST RECENT MEETING – Maryland was a 14 point chalk @ Rutgers last year and crushed the Scarlet Knights 48-7.  The Terps scored 3 TD’s of 80 yards or more in the win.   POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Maryland has won and covered 4 of the last 5 meetings between these two.  Rutgers has actually pulled 2 upsets this year as an underdog beating Michigan State and Purdue outright.  Prior to this season they had only one upset (outright win) as an underdog the last 24 times they were getting points.  MINNESOTA @ NEBRASKA (-8.5 OPEN to -10.5 CURRENT) – Saturday, December 5th  MINNESOTA – The Gophers had to cancel their last 2 games, November 28th @ Wisconsin and Dec 5th vs Northwestern.  Because of a covid outbreak, they paused team activities on November 24th and did not resume to a normal practice schedule until Sunday, Dec 7th.  Sunday was their first padded practice since their win over Purdue way back on November 20th.  The team did some conditioning last week leading up to their first full practice.  Even though it looks like they’ll be able to play on Saturday, they will have 20+ players out for this game that are within the 21 day minimum the Big 10 put in place for players that have tested positive.  One player we know will be out the remainder of the year is Minnesota’s top WR Bateman who opted out during their 2 week break to concentrate on preparing for the NFL.  The Gophs step into this one with a 2-3 overall record with wins over Purdue & Illinois and losses vs Michigan, Maryland, and Iowa.  The offense ranks 3rd in the conference at 405 YPG and 4th in scoring putting up 30 PPG.  The offense hasn’t been the problem.  The defense ranks dead last in the conference in total defense, YPP allowed, scoring defense, 13th in rush defense, and 13th in sacks.  The most telling defensive stat is their 7.7 YPP allowed.  Every time the opponent snaps the ball, they are averaging almost 8 yards vs this defense.  That’s insane.  They rank dead last nationally in that category behind the likes of Akron, UMass, UNLV, and Vanderbilt.  They also rank last in the nation in yards per rush allowed at 6.8.  Only 6 teams in the entire country allow more than 6 YPC and those teams are Bowling Green, Kent, UNLV, UMass, and Arizona along with the Gophers.      NEBRASKA – The Huskers went into Purdue last week and pulled off a 37-27 win as a 2 point underdog.  They jumped quickly on the Boilers and pushed out to a 17-3 lead at the end of the 1st quarter and 27-13 at halftime.  Purdue did cut the lead to just early in the 4th but the Cornhuskers were able to hold on for their 2nd win of the season.  Starting QB Martinez played his best game of the season throwing for 242 yards while completing 76% of his passes (23 of 30).  He also ran for 45 yards.  Since getting benched in the Illinois game a few weeks ago, Martinez has completed 41 of his 50 pass attempts over his last 2 games vs Iowa & Purdue.  He got some help in the run game this week as RB Mills rushed for 80 yards.  While that may not seem like a big deal, Nebraska 2 leading rushers on the season are their back up QB McCaffrey (364 yards) and starting QB Martinez (268 yards) so anything they can get from their running backs they’ll take.  Saturday marks just the 2nd time in 7 games that Nebraska is a favorite.  The first didn’t go very well as they were a 17 point chalk vs Illinois and lost outright 41-24.  They laid an egg in that game after beating Penn State a week earlier.  The coaches have been stressing that situation this week to make sure they don’t let down again after upsetting Purdue last Saturday.  However, the Huskers haven’t been great at putting together 2 game win streaks in conference play.  The last time they won back to back Big 10 games was November of 2018.  Prior to that it was September of 2017.      MOST RECENT MEETING – Minnesota was favored by 7.5 points at home last year and embarrassed Nebraska 34-7.  It was actually worse than the final score indicated as the Gophers were up 34-0 at the end of the 3rd quarter and took their foot off the gas after rushing for 274 yards in the first 3 quarters alone (322 for the game).  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – The Huskers are just 2-7 ATS as a favorite since the start of last season.  If this line stays at -10 or higher, Nebraska is just 3-10 ATS their last 13 games as a double digit favorite.  Since joining the league in 2011, Nebraska is 6-11 ATS as a double digit favorite in Big 10 games.

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Big 10 Football Report - Week 7

Friday, Dec 04, 2020

INDIANA @ WISCONSIN (OPEN -11 to CURRENT -14) – Saturday, December 5th  INDIANA – The Hoosiers were in a tough spot on Saturday taking on Maryland at home just a week after their biggest game of the season @ Ohio State.  They came out lethargic as was expected and led Maryland 7-3 at half.  The Hoosiers punted on 6 of their 7 first half possessions which was the same number of punts they had the entire game vs Ohio State.  They regrouped and played much better in the 2nd half with 209 of their 349 total yards and 20 of their 27 points coming after the break.  The 27-11 win and cover moved the Hoosiers to 5-1 SU on the season and a perfect 6-0 ATS and they have covered those 6 games by an average of 11.5 points per game.  The big news here is IU QB Penix injury last week.  He left late in the 3rd quarter with a leg injury and it has since been determined he tore his ACL and is out for the season.  Huge loss for IU who have very little experience behind him.  That is why this line jumped from -11 to -14 after the announcement he was out.  His back up is Jack Tuttle who has attempted 16 passes in his career, 5 of those coming last week in relief of Penix.  Offensively HC Tom Allen made an interesting move and decided to lean on his running game and he may have to continue with that.  It had been non-existent coming into the game (76 YPG rushing before last week).  After rushing for just 380 total yards in their first 5 games, Indiana put up 234 yards on 48 carries Saturday.  They only attempted 24 passes just one week after Penix threw for a career high vs OSU.  On defense they picked up 3 more takeaways and now rank 5th nationally with 18.  IU’s turnover margin on the season is +9 which is leads the Big 10 and is 2nd nationally.  INDIANA NEXT UP – Home vs Purdue  WISCONSIN – Wisconsin’s home game vs Minnesota last week was cancelled due to Covid issues in the Gopher program.  That means the Badgers have now had 3 games cancelled and they no longer qualify for the Big 10 Championship game as they will only play a maximum of 5 regular season games if all are played (need 6 to qualify).  The Badgers went into their most recent game @ Northwestern really short handed at the WR position.  Both starters (Davis & Pryor) were out so Wisconsin relied on a true freshman and 2 walk on seniors for most of the game at the WR position.  Northwestern is not the defense you want to face if your offense is not at full strength.  UW really struggled to throw the ball and freshman QB Mertz was not in synch with his new receivers.  He barely completed 50% of his passes and was under constant pressure from the NW defense.  Mertz threw 3 interceptions and had a fumble accounting for 4 of Wisconsin’s 5 turnovers.  The Badgers actually did outgain Northwestern by nearly 100 yards but were only able to find the endzone one time.  The 7 points scored was just the 2nd time since October of 2016 that the Badgers were held to single digits on the scoreboard.  The defense was outstanding once again limiting the Wildcats to less than 4.0 YPP and only 1.0 YPC on the ground.  Trailing 14-7 at half, the UW defense forced the Cats to 5 straight 3 & outs to start the 2nd half but the Badger offense could not take advantage.  After 3 games the defense now ranks #1 nationally in total defense, #3 in scoring defense, rush defense, and pass defense.    WISCONSIN NEXT UP - @ Iowa  MOST RECENT MEETING – These 2 have only met twice since the end of the 2012 season.  The most recent meeting was back in 2017 when the Badgers rolled over Indiana 45-17 as 10.5 point favorites.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – These 2 haven’t faced off many times recently (just twice since 2012) but when they have, Wisconsin has dominated.  The Badgers have won 10 in a row vs IU with 9 of those wins coming by at least 17 points.  Wisconsin is also 8-1 ATS their last 9 meetings with the Hoosiers.   PENN STATE (-9.5 OPEN to -11 CURRENT) @ RUTGERS – Saturday, December 5th  PENN STATE – We thought last Saturday might definitely be a flat spot for PSU.  They were coming off a 20-point home loss vs Iowa and we felt after starting 0-5 if they were ever going to rally and pick up a win it would be home.  We stayed off the game completely but they proved our initial thoughts wrong with a 27-17 win @ Michigan.  The Nittany Lions dominated the stat sheet and never trailed in the game.  So what was the difference for PSU this week?  No turnovers!  We mentioned in last week’s report that if they could avoid the giveaways they have a chance to be a decent team.  They had been outgaining their opponents on the year but entered their game vs Michigan with 13 turnovers already this season.  That changed on Saturday and they picked up their first win.  They also had a huge edge on 3rd down converting 50% of the time to just 33% for Michigan and that allowed PSU to run 24 more offensive snaps in the game.  The defense was helped out by Michigan QB McNamara injuring his shoulder early in the game (he continued to play) but was solid holding the Wolverines to 286 total yards.  Despite their 1-5 record, the Nittany Lions rank 3rd in the Big 10 in total offense and 4th in total defense.  PENN STATE NEXT UP – Home vs Michigan State  RUTGERS – We were on Purdue last week at home vs Rutgers and felt it was a fantastic spot to play on the Boilers at home and against the Knights coming off a 3 OT loss a week earlier.  There were a number of other factors involved in our decision as well and it looked great at halftime with Purdue (-11) up 23-13.  The turning point in the 2nd half was after Purdue scored a TD to go up 30-20 and Rutgers then proceeded to return the kickoff 100 yards for a TD to cut the lead to 3.  There was still over 9:00 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter at that point and Rutgers dominated from that point on winning 37-30.  After the big kickoff return, Rutgers outscored Purdue 10-0 and outgained them 123 to 50 and outrushed them 117 to 12 (minus kneel downs at end of game) to close out the game.  HC Schiano had a great offensive game plan coming in.  Starting QB Vedral did not play (we heard he was banged up but felt he’d play) and that final decision was made in warm ups.  Schiano then decided to rotate his back up QB’s with Sitkowski (the better passer) and Langan (the better runner) keeping Purdue’s defense off balance for much of the 2nd half.  The Rutgers defense struggled in the first half allowing 23 points on 290 yards to the Boilermakers.  They came out with much better energy in the 2nd half limiting Purdue to just 1 TD on 122 total yards.  One thing we know is this team has no quit.  If they were going to have a letdown, this was the spot and battling back from 10 points down at half speaks volumes about what Schiano has done with this program in a very short time.    RUTGERS NEXT UP – @ Maryland  MOST RECENT MEETING – Another huge point spread swing.  Last year PSU was a 38.5 point favorite at home vs Rutgers and now they are only -11 on the road.  Penn State won last year’s game 27-6 but they were actually outgained by 50 yards by a bad Rutgers offense.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – PSU is 6-0 SU in this series but Rutgers has covered 4 of those games.  The Nittany Lions are 14-7-1 ATS as a road favorite of more than 7 points dating back to October of 1999.  IOWA (-12 OPEN to -13.5 CURRENT) @ ILLINOIS – Saturday, December 5th  IOWA – We felt Iowa might have been a bit overvalued coming into last week’s match up with Nebraska.  They had won 3 straight games in blowout fashion, however the offense wasn’t putting up impressive yardage.  The Hawkeyes were +7 in TO margin in those 3 wins which was a big reason they were winning comfortably.  Last Friday they had another so-so game offensive as far as yardage goes (322 total yards) and nipped Nebraska 26-20.  With the game tied 13-13 at half the Huskers (+13) used an up tempo offense and scored a TD on their opening drive of the 2nd half to take a 20-13 lead.  It was the first Iowa deficit in this game and just the 2nd time in the last 4 games (including this match up) the Hawkeyes had been behind on the scoreboard.  In fact, the previous 3 games prior to Saturday Iowa had trailed for a grand total of 2 minutes and 50 seconds.  The Iowa defense was playing very well coming in allowing only 35 total points in their previous 3 games and they came up big late in this one.  With Iowa leading 26-20 and Nebraska driving in Iowa territory with 2:00 minutes remaining, the defense came up with a big sack, fumble recovery on Nebraska QB Martinez to solidify the win.  After the game Nebraska HC Frost called out the Iowa sidelines for clapping during the game which he felt threw off his offense at the line of scrimmage.  Iowa HC Kirk Ferentz shot back basically saying it was a ridiculous claim.  Something to remember when these 2 face off next season.      IOWA NEXT UP – Home vs Wisconsin  ILLINOIS – The Illini, as have many other Big 10 team this season, had an unscheduled bye last week when their home game vs OSU was cancelled due to a covid outbreak with the Buckeyes.  The week prior to that Illinois pulled a big upset topping Nebraska 41-23 as a 17-point underdog.  The Illini finally got starting QB Peters back in that game after he had missed 3 straight games due to Covid.  He stepped in and didn’t miss a beat throwing for 205 yards while rushing for another 36 in Illinois’ upset win at Nebraska.  It was the 3rd time already this year that a Big 10 underdog of 17 points or more won the game outright!  It was the 2nd huge upset for the Illini in the span of year as they beat Wisconsin last season as a 29-point dog.  Prior to last year’s win over Wisconsin and this year’s win over Nebraska, the Illini had been an underdog of 17 points or more 55 times since 1980 winning just TWO of those games outright.  Illinois has some momentum entering this game with 2 straight wins after starting the season 0-3.  They’ve outgained each of their last 2 opponents and they’ve really started to lean on their running game with 623 yards on the ground the last 2 weeks, including gashing the Huskers for 385 rushing.  They may have to look toward the passing game a bit more here facing an Iowa defense that allows only 2.8 YPC, the best mark in the Big 10.     ILLINOIS NEXT UP – @ Northwestern  MOST RECENT MEETING – Last year Iowa was a 15 point home favorite in this rivalry and won 19-10.  The yardage was close to even in the game that featured only 2 TD’s and 5 FG’s.    POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Iowa has dominated this series winning 11 of the last 12 meetings (7-4 ATS).  This is the 4th time already this season Iowa has been tabbed a road favorite (2-1 ATS).  They are now 19-5 ATS the last 24 times they’ve been favored on the road dating back to late 2011.    NEBRASKA @ PURDUE (-1 OPEN to -2 CURRENT) – Saturday, December 5th  NEBRASKA – The Huskers have been a tough team to predict this season.  They’ve been up and down to say the least.  Three weeks ago they were up, playing Northwestern to the wire (21-13 loss) and outgaining the Cats by 125 yards.  Two weeks ago they were down, getting rolled 41-23 by Illinois as a 17 point favorite.  Last week, they were up again despite their 26-20 loss @ Iowa.  The offense outgained Iowa by 16 yards despite running 12 fewer plays.  However, as the old football cliché goes, if you have 2 QB’s you have no QB, may apply here.  HC Scott Frost went back to Adrian Martinez under center this week to start the game after Luke McCaffrey started the prior week vs Illinois.  While Martinez got the start and played pretty well completing 18 of his 20 passes, Frost also rotated McCaffrey in for 18 snaps, 5 of which were designed QB runs.  He had 42 yards rushing on those 5 attempts.  Even though not a great passer, Martinez gives them the much better throwing option while being able to run as well.  We would anticipate Martinez to be the starter while sprinkling in McCaffrey from time to time.  One thing we do know is, the RB’s for Nebraska have been almost non-existent.  Starting RB Mills has been out the last few games which hasn’t helped.  As a whole the RB’s have carried the ball 65 times for 205 yards (3.1 YPC) this season.  Meanwhile the QB’s have combined for 583 rushing yards on 101 carries (5.7 YPC).  They need to get more production out of their RB’s to take some pressure off the QB’s.    NEBRASKA NEXT UP – Home vs Minnesota  PURDUE – Purdue was in a great spot at halftime last week leading Rutgers 23-13 but proceeded to get outscored 24-7 in the second half in their 37-30 home loss.  It was a disappointing loss for us as well as we backed Purdue as an 11-point favorite.  Thought it was a great spot for them and we were wrong.  We overestimated the Boilers and definitely underestimated Rutgers.  Purdue came in with a decent run defense but not a great pass defense which we felt matched up well in this game.  However, in the 2nd half Rutgers made a decision to pound the ball on the ground and Purdue couldn’t stop them.  The Knights ran the ball 28 times after halftime while attempting only 8 passes.  Back up QB Langan basically ran the read option the entire time he was in and even though everyone knew what was coming, Purdue allowed him to rush for 95 yards.  On their final possession, Rutgers took over with 5:26 remaining in the game and ran out the entire clock not passing the ball once.  The Purdue defense couldn’t get off the field allowing Rutgers to convert on 11 of their 20 third/fourth downs in the game (55%).  Rutgers entered the game converting only 36% of their third/fourth down attempts on the season.  Because of the dominance on the ground for Rutgers, the Purdue offense only ran 23 plays the entire 2nd half after running 45 snaps in the first half.  Thus, the Boilermaker offense that looked very good in the first half just didn’t have many opportunities to eventually pull away in this game when they did have the 10 point lead. NOTE – After this was written, Purdue had some players opt out for the rest of the season.  That happened on Thursday of this week.  Not a great sign.  Need to find out who they are.    PURDUE NEXT UP - @ Indiana  MOST RECENT MEETING – Purdue was a 4 point underdog at home in this game last year and pulled off the 31-27 upset.  The Boilers were -2 on the TO margin in that game but still were able to win outgaining Nebraska by 75 yards.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Purdue has covered 5 of the last 6 in this Big 10 series.  The Huskers are 0-1 ATS this year and 2-7 ATS since 2011 in the 2nd game of back to back road contests.  Since 1985, Nebraska has been an underdog of 3 points or less 23 times.  They are 7-15-1 ATS in those games.  OHIO STATE (-23 OPEN to -23.5 CURRENT) @ MICHIGAN STATE – Saturday, December 5th  OHIO STATE – The Buckeyes have played just 1 game since November 7th with last week’s contest @ Illinois getting cancelled due to a covid outbreak at OSU.  This game was in doubt earlier in the week as the Buckeyes were waiting on more testing and conducting contact tracing.  Head coach Ryan Day will not be at this game as he hasn’t been cleared after contracting covid.  Not much room for error any more for the Bucks as they can’t miss another game and remain eligible for a spot in the Big 10 Championship.  Although, the Big 10 AD’s have now been mentioning tweaking their original rules (must play at least 6 games) so that the Buckeyes wouldn’t be left out of the Final 4 if they run the table.  There will be a number of players out for this game as they are still involved in the 21 day waiting period implemented by the Big 10.  Finding out who they are is always difficult as the teams are not required to release that information.  The OSU offense is obviously fantastic.  They’ve score at least 38 points in every game and they are averaging 45 PPG (7th nationally).  The defense is down this year.  Especially vs the pass.  In their most recent game IU QB Penix, who is now out for the year with an ACL injury, threw for nearly 500 yards which was the 4th highest total in history vs the Buckeye defense.   The OSU pass defense now ranks dead last in the Big 10 and 117th nationally allowing 291 YPG.  Maybe not a big deal as they close out the season vs MSU & Michigan who don’t have top notch QB’s, but something to watch when the competition ramps up if OSU makes the College Football Playoff.  OHIO STATE NEXT UP – Home vs Michigan  MICHIGAN STATE – This MSU team has been all over the map this season.  They lost at home vs Rutgers to open the season partly due to 7 Sparty turnovers in that one.  The beat rival Michigan on the road the following week, got smoked by Iowa & Indiana in back to back weeks, then beat undefeated Northwestern last week as a 13 point underdog last Saturday.  We were on the Spartan on the first half line (+7) as we felt Northwestern would come out flat after their big win over Wisconsin and MSU would be energized following a bye.  Sparty jumped out to a 17-0 lead and easily covered the first half on their way to a 29-20 win.  The Cats played by far their worst game of the season with just 63 yards rushing and 4 turnovers which led to 16 of MSU’s 29 points.  Speaking of running the ball, Michigan State entered the game averaging just 73 YPG on the ground and HC Tucker had a game plan to try and run the ball against one of the top defensive teams in the nation.  They did just that with 195 yards on 47 carries.  QB Lombardi attempted just 27 passes which was a significant drop from his first 3 starts where he put the ball in the air an average of 37 times (he was benched in game 4).  Lombardi threw just 1 pick last Saturday after throwing 8 prior to last week.  Northwestern finally took their first lead of the game 20-17 just 1:00 minute into the 4th quarter.  MSU didn’t fold, which they could have at that point, with the defense really stepping up limiting NW to just 13 offensive snaps over their final 5 possessions while creating 3 turnovers during that stretch setting the offense up to win the game.     MICHIGAN STATE NEXT UP - @ Penn State  MOST RECENT MEETING – OSU was favored by 20.5 at home last year and pulled out a cover winning 34-10.  The score was 27-10 at the break and the Buckeyes held MSU scoreless from that point on.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – This is just the 2nd time in series history that OSU has been favored by more than 21 points.  The first was in 1998 when the Buckeyes were favored by 27.5 points and LOST OUTRIGHT 28-24.  Beyond that loss, OSU has been very successful on the road as a large chalk.  When favored by 21 or more away from home, the Buckeyes are 21-12 ATS dating back to 1980. 

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Why is Tom Brady (the GOAT) Struggling?

Wednesday, Dec 02, 2020

Many of the great quarterbacks have switched teams late in their career like Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and even Joe Montana. Tom Brady attempted that feat this season and joined a loaded Buccaneers team led by a Bruce Arians downfield passing scheme. Everyone was curious how he would fit in a new system and how the most decorated quarterback ever would play with weapons like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski. Brady, for the most part, has been a bit underwhelming with his performance.  A brand new system, shortened off season, or the fact Brady is a ripe 43 years of age could all play a part here. One of the main issues that he has struggled with is holding onto the ball longer than he is used to. In his years with New England he focused on getting the ball out early and on time. Now Bruce Arians has asked him to push the ball down the field. However, it takes time for receivers to get downfield and the pass protection has not held up against some of the elite pass rushes (Saints, Rams, Bears). In Brady’s 5 losses he has been sacked a total 11 times while only 5 times in his 7 victories.  Overall, Brady’s stats are on par with the rest of his career as he’s on pace for 39 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He has only thrown for 39+ touchdowns once in his career, but the 14 picks would tie his career high. What has made Brady so good over the past 20 years has been his ability to simply WIN. During the last 19 seasons, only twice did someone other than the Patriots win the AFC East. Going further, only 3 times in that span did a team (besides the Pats) win over 10 games.  The Buccaneers defense has also been to blame as they rank 13th in points allowed this season.  They have solid total defense numbers, however they’ve struggled against Top 10 total offense teams (Chiefs, Chargers, Rams, and throw in the Saints just outside the top 10).  Comparing that to Brady’s 19 years in NE where he had an average defense of 7th in points allowed is a change we are not accustomed to. Only 3 of Tom’s seasons in NE did he not have a top 10 defense in terms of points allowed.  Following their bye this weekend, Brady and the Bucs have 4 very winnable games in coming weeks and they should be favored in each.  The face the the Vikings, Lions, and mix in the Falcons twice. All 3 of those teams are ranked 21st or lower in sack percentage so Brady could be in line for some big games down the stretch.  The Bucs are in a good position to snag a wild card spot and if they can protect Tom, he always has a chance to do what he is best at, WIN. 

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Big 10 Conference Football Report - Week 6

Thursday, Nov 26, 2020

NEBRASKA @ IOWA (-14 OPEN to -13.5 CURRENT) – Friday, November 27th  NEBRASKA – The Huskers looked like they had some momentum after playing Northwestern very tough on the road 3 weeks ago (outgained Wildcats by 130 yards in loss) and then they topped Penn State at home following that game.  With that supposed momentum heading into last weekend, Nebraska went off as a 17 point chalk at home vs Illinois and proceeded to get thumped 41-23.  No fluke here as the Illinois outgained Nebraska by 98 yards and put up 285 yards rushing on the blackshirts.  Speaking of blackshirts, the Huskers donned their all black uniforms on Saturday in an effort to perhaps intimidate Illinois or maybe to round up some extra energy for themselves.  Well they can put those uniforms back where they came from as the Illinois offense ripped them for almost 500 yards and scored 4 TD’s on their first 5 possessions of the game.  The Illini welcomed back starting QB Peters and scored 5 total TD’s after managing only 6 offensive TD’s in their first 3 games.  On offense the Huskers coughed up 5 turnovers including 4 from new starting QB McCaffrey (3 interceptions & 1 fumble).  Nebraska now ranks 118th in TO margin, 121st in 3rd down defense, and 111th in 3rd down offense.  Not a winning combination.  McCaffrey was replaced by former starter Adrian Martinez for Nebraska’s final possession and he led them to a TD.  Both can run the ball but neither has been great through the air as they’ve combined for just 707 yards passing with 2 TD’s and 6 interceptions.  We have another full blown QB controversy in Lincoln heading into Friday’s rivalry game vs Iowa.     NEBRASKA NEXT UP – @ Purdue  IOWA – You could argue the Hawkeyes are playing as well as anyone in the Big 10 right.  After their 41-21 trouncing of Penn State last Saturday, their first win in Happy Valley since 2009, they have now outscored their last 3 opponents 125-35.  An offense that looked fairly pedestrian has taken advantage of their opponent’s turnovers over the last 3 games.  Iowa has a +7 TO margin (9 takeaways & 2 giveaways) in just the last 3 games and they’ve turned those 9 opponent turnovers into 45 points (6 TD’s & 1 FG).  They’ve had 8 TD drives of 55 yards or less in those 3 wins.  In their win last week @ PSU, 24 of their 41 points came directly off 4 Nittany Lion turnovers.  Over their last 3 games, Iowa is averaging 42 PPG on just 370 YPG of offense.  That equates to 1 point for every 8.8 yards gained.  That’s extremely efficient and the takeaways have played a big part in that.  If the offense can keep up that efficiency rate, we don’t think they will, this team should be set because the defense is very good.  The Hawkeye defense now ranks 3rd in the Big Ten in total defense, 3rd in scoring defense, 4th in rush defense, 3rd in pass defense, and 2nd in sacks.  On top of that their 4.3 YPP allowed ranks 1st in the league.  IOWA NEXT UP – @ Illinois   MOST RECENT MEETING – Iowa went to Nebraska as a 4-point favorite last year and won 27-24 with the Huskers getting the close cover.  The Hawkeyes won the game on a 48 yard field goal as time expired.    POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Iowa has won 5 straight in this series with a 3-2 ATS mark in those games.  5 of the last 8 meetings in this series have been decided by one score (8 points or less).  The Hawkeyes are 1-0 ATS as a home favorite this year but leading into the 2020 season, they were just 5-13 ATS their last 18 in that role. PENN STATE @ MICHIGAN (-4 OPEN to -2 CURRENT) - Saturday, November 28th  PENN STATE – We thought the Nittany Lions were in a good spot to pick up their first win last Saturday.  They had been outgaining their opponents on the year despite their 0-4 mark entering last week.  They  showed some fight @ Nebraska after getting down 27-6 and if they could avoid the turnover bug, we felt they had a decent shot at home vs Iowa.  Well they turned the ball over 4 times and dropped to 0-5 for the first time in their history getting smoked 41-21.  They now have 13 turnovers in 5 games and just 4 takeaways.  Not going to win many, or any, games with those TO margin numbers.  Will Levis got the start at QB, as we expected, after almost rallying PSU @ Nebraska a week earlier.  He led the Lions to just 1 first half TD vs Iowa and was yanked for previous starter Sean Clifford after the first 2 second half possessions led to nothing.  With Iowa up 31-7, Clifford and PSU made a run cutting the lead to 31-21 to start the 4th quarter as his first 2 passing attempts were TD’s.  The comeback ended when Clifford threw his 7th and 8th interceptions of the season in the 4th quarter, one returned for an Iowa TD.  Both QB’s, Levis & Clifford, led Penn State in rushing and their RB’s had only 16 combined yards rushing.  Does this team keep fighting with 2 road games on deck or are they too far beat down emotionally to care at this point?     PENN STATE NEXT UP – @ Rutgers  MICHIGAN – Did we ever think we’d see Michigan players storm the field after a 48-42 OT win vs Rutgers?  That is where we are in this crazy 2020 Big 10 season.  Michigan looked like they might do the unthinkable and lose to Rutgers as they got down 17-0 midway through the 2nd quarter.  Joe Milton got the start at QB again for Michigan, but he was replaced by Cade McNamara after the Wolverines got down by 17.  After McNamara took over, he led Michigan to 5 TD’s in his 7 offensive possessions.  They took an 8-point lead with 5:00 minutes remaining but Rutgers sent the game to OT with just 27 seconds remaining with a TD and 2-point conversion.  To put the Rutgers 42 point effort into perspective, Michigan had held the Knights to just 37 total points in their previous 5 meetings.  The Wolverines pass defense continues to get shredded every week.  Rutgers QB Vedral threw for a career high 381 yards and 3 TD’s.  Vedral had 6 career TD passes entering the game.  It was the THIRD quarterback already this season to throw for career high yardage in a game vs Michigan.  The 1,370 yards passing the Wolverines have given up this year is the most in the Big 10 and the 12 TD passes allowed is 13th most ahead of only Rutgers.  On top of that the 180 points allowed this year by Michigan is better than only Rutgers as well.  This program is used to playing stifling defense and it’s not happening this season.    MICHIGAN NEXT UP – Home vs Maryland   MOST RECENT MEETING – These two met last season @ PSU with the Nittany Lions laying 7.5 points.  PSU won the game 28-21 with Michigan getting the half point cover.  Despite the loss Michigan dominated the stat sheet with 419 total yards to just 293 for Penn State.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – The home team has won 7 of the last 8 meetings outright (6-2 ATS).  Michigan has won 8 of the last 9 meetings SU in Ann Arbor (6-3 ATS) OHIO STATE (-29 OPEN to -28 CURRENT) @ ILLINOIS – Saturday, November 28th  OHIO STATE – OSU looked like they were going to cruise to an easy win last week leading 28-7 at half vs Indiana.  They easily covered the first half line of -11 and they actually had the game spread of -20.5 covered at half.  The Buckeyes added another TD just 3:00 minutes into the 2nd half for a 35-7 lead.  What looked like another OSU home blowout turned into a battle with IU scoring TD’s on 4 of their next 5 possessions.  The Hoosiers cut the lead to 42-35 with 10:00 minutes remaining in the game but they didn’t cross midfield again and OSU held on for the 7 point win.  The Buckeye offense is fantastic.  No questioning that.  They put up over 600 total yards and topped 40 points for the 3rd time in 4 games this season.  QB Fields wasn’t invincible this week as he actually threw 3 interceptions which is the same number he had thrown in his entire career at Ohio State (17 games).  The defense didn’t look great.  IU had receivers running wide open all day long.  Indiana QB Penix threw for 491 yards and 5 TD’s.  The 491 yards through the air was the 4th most EVER allowed by Ohio State in a single game.  The big plays allowed were very concerning to head coach Ryan Day as Indiana had at least one pass of 25 or more yards in all 5 of their TD drives.  The OSU pass defense now ranks dead last in the Big 10 and 115th nationally allowing 291 YPG.  Another concern?  OSU was outscored 28-14 in the 2nd half which marked the 3rd consecutive game they’ve been outscored after halftime.     OHIO STATE NEXT UP – @ Michigan State  ILLINOIS – The Illini finally got starting QB Peters back after he had missed 3 straight games due to Covid.  He stepped in and didn’t miss a beat throwing for 205 yards while rushing for another 36 in Illinois’ upset win at Nebraska.  They entered the game as 17-point underdogs and won easily 41-23.  It was the 3rd time already this year that a Big 10 underdog of 17 points or more won the game outright!  It was the 2nd huge upset for the Illini in the span of year as they beat Wisconsin last season as a 29-point dog.  Prior to last year’s win over Wisconsin and this year’s win over Nebraska, the Illini had been an underdog of 17 points or more 55 times since 1980 winning just TWO of those games outright.  Well they have another shot this weekend as a huge dog at home vs OSU.  Illinois has some momentum entering this game with 2 straight wins after starting the season 0-3.  They’ve outgained each of their last 2 opponents and they’ve really started to lean on their running game with 623 yards on the ground the last 2 weeks, including gashing the Huskers for 385 rushing.  Peters may have to do more through the air this week as OSU’s defensive strength is vs the run (98 YPG allowed).  The Illini are now near full strength for the first time in nearly a month and they’ll definitely need to find a way to keep up on the scoreboard here as their defense will have a tough time slowing the Buckeyes down.  ILLINOIS NEXT UP – @ Illinois   MOST RECENT MEETING – OSU was a huge 41 point favorite at home in this match up last year and won 52-14.  They outgained the Illini by 440 yards in the game and held them to just 105 total yards.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – OSU has won the last 9 meetings outright by an average score of 39-14.  The Buckeyes are 6-3 ATS in those games.  Historically however, the Illini have been the money maker here with a 22-13 spread record since 1980.  NORTHWESTERN (-11 OPEN to -13.5 CURRENT) @ MICHIGAN STATE - Saturday, November 28th  NORTHWESTERN – After starting 4-0, Northwestern had their biggest game of the season last week vs Wisconsin.  A game that would most likely decide the Big 10 West.  The Cats came out on top 17-7 despite being -103 total yards, -5 first downs, and -15:00 time of possession.  Northwestern averaged just 3.8 YPP and rushed the ball 23 times for 24 yards.  So how do you win with stats like that?  Win the turnover battle decisively which they did.  They forced the Badgers into 5 turnovers and they had a +4 TO margin on the day.  In a game that saw these two teams combine for 17 punts, 9 in the 3rd quarter alone, it was all about field position and defense.  Speaking of field position, there was a stretch in the 2nd half where Wisconsin, down 14-7 at the time, started 4 consecutive possessions at their own 38, 42, 47, and 48 yard line.  The Wildcat defense came up huge during that stretch limiting 3 of those 4 possessions to 4 plays or fewer followed by a punt as they were protecting their tight lead.  While they didn’t completely shut down Wisconsin on a yardage basis (363 yards) they came up big when they had to.  They put constant pressure on QB Mertz with 3 sacks, 7 TFL’s and 7 QB hurries.  The Badgers crossed midfield 8 times in the game and came away with only 7 points.  That’s what Northwestern does.  They play great defense, don’t beat themselves (+8 TO margin on the season), and play the field position game.  Let this one simmer.  The Cats are 5-0 and have punted more than any team in the Big 10 with 30.  The next highest is 26 punts by Rutgers.  They know who they are and they find ways to win.  Now they are sitting pretty.  With the Minnesota – Wisconsin game getting cancelled this weekend all but eliminating the Badgers, the Cats look like they are heading to the Big 10 Championship game for the 2nd time in 3 years.    NORTHWESTERN NEXT UP – @ Minnesota  MICHIGAN STATE – MSU had a bye week to get ready for this match up with Northwestern.  They technically picked up 3 or 4 extra days to prepare as their originally scheduled game @ Maryland wasn’t cancelled until last Thursday.  They used last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to revisit the fundamentals they’ve been lacking and began the game planning for NW on Monday.  In their most recent game vs Indiana, the Spartans were atrocious.  It seemed to be a great spot for them catching IU off a huge win over Michigan with Ohio State on deck.  Sparty was also coming off an embarrassing effort @ Iowa so it looked like a good spot for MSU to rebound and play well.  Nope.  They were shut out 24-0 by the Hoosiers, had only 9 first downs and 191 total yards.  They also turned the ball over 4 times which led directly to 17 of Indiana’s 24 points.  They were missing 3 starters in the defensive backfield in that game so a number of inexperience players were thrust into action.  It showed with IU QB Penix throwing for 320 yards which actually doesn’t look so bad when you consider what he did to OSU’s defense last Saturday.  On offense they benched starting QB Lombardi, who now has more interceptions than TD passes, after throwing 2 picks in the first 20 minutes of the game.  Redshirt freshman Thorne took over and was just OK.  Thorne led the Spartans to 150 yards on their final 8 possessions and didn’t score a point so it wasn’t as if he sparked the offense.  The running game continues to be non-existent as MSU has score 1 rushing TD this season and averages 73 YPG on just 2.2 YPC, all Big 10 worsts.  MICHIGAN STATE NEXT UP – Home vs Ohio State   MOST RECENT MEETING – Big swing in the number this year as MSU was favored by -7.5 @ Northwestern last year and now the Cats are favored by 11 @ MSU.  The Spartans won last year’s match up easily 31-10.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – The Wildcats have covered the last 8 meetings in East Lansing and the road team in general has been a big money maker in this series covering 14 of the last 16.  The totals in this series have been set very low as of late with the last 4 being set at 35, 43, 41.5, and 41 points.  All 4 went over the total.  Saturday’s opening total came out at 41.5.  RUTGERS @ PURDUE (-11 OPEN to -12 CURRENT) - Saturday, November 28th  RUTGERS – How does Rutgers bounce back off a devastating home loss to Michigan?  They jumped out to a 17-0 lead, blew the lead, had to come back and score a TD + 2 point conversion to push the game to OT, and then lost in OT.  The Scarlet Knights missed a FG in the first overtime that would have won the game making this loss even more difficult.  The 48-42 loss while tough to swallow, was quite the improvement considering the last 2 times Michigan paid a visit to Piscataway they left with 42-7 and 78-0 wins.  Rutgers definitely hung with Michigan statistically as well and actually outgained the Wolverines on a YPP basis 5.8 to 5.4.  QB Vedral, who transferred to Rutgers from Nebraska, threw for a career high 381 yards and 3 TD’s.  The 42 points scored was the most by a Rutgers team in conference play since the 2015 season.  The offense is averaging 29.6 PPG and has scored at least 20 points in all 5 of their games (1-4 record).  While that may not seem like a huge deal, let’s remember this team averaged 5.6 PPG in conference play last year, scored a total of 51 points in 9 games.  They were shutout 4 times.  Drastic improvement to say the least.  As we’ve mentioned before, HC Greg Schiano has them heading in the right direction.    RUTGERS NEXT UP – Home vs Penn State  PURDUE – Speaking of how Rutgers will respond after a crushing defeat, how about Purdue?  They are in a similar situation as they seemingly scored the winning TD last week at Minnesota with under 1:00 minute remaining after never leading the entire game.  The infamous phantom offensive pass interference call on the Boilers took away the TD and they proceeded to throw an interception on the next play in their 34-31 loss.  In an unprecedented move, multiple betting sites actually decided to refund Purdue bettors because of the terrible call.  Starting QB O’Connell was unable to go making way for sophomore Jack Plummer to get the start.  Plummer actually gave O’Connell a neck and neck battle for the starting QB this year and started 7 games a year ago so we were not expecting a drop off.  If anything, Plummer made a case to continue as the starting QB throwing for 367 yards and 3 TD’s while completing 82% of his attempts.  Plummer will get the start this Saturday as it looks like O’Connell will be sidelined again.  The offense was also sparked by the return of WR Moore, who is their top weapon and had yet to play in a game this season.  He didn’t disappoint putting up 136 total yards on 18 touches.  The defense wasn’t great as they allowed the Gophers to average nearly 6.3 YPP and convert on 8 of their 13 third & fourth down attempts.  They did stiffen up and get much better vs the Minnesota running attack as the game wore on.  The Gophs had 108 yards on the ground on their first 5 possessions but just 23 yards on their final 3 possessions.    PURDUE NEXT UP – Home vs Nebraska   MOST RECENT MEETING – These two have met just one time since Rutgers joined the Big 10.  That was back in 2017 and the Scarlet Knights upset the Boilers 14-12 as a 9.5 point home underdog.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Since November of 2013, the Boilermakers are a money making 30-15-1 ATS (67%) when coming off a SU loss.  Rutgers is 2-0 ATS this year as a double digit underdog covering vs OSU & Michigan.  Can they pull the upset here?  The last time Rutgers won a game outright as a dog of 10 or more was back in 1999.  They are 0-82 SU in that role since that win.  MARYLAND @ INDIANA (-14 OPEN to -11.5 CURRENT) - Saturday, November 28th  MARYLAND – The Terps haven’t played a game since November 7th when they upset Penn State 35-19 in Happy Valley.  They’ve been dealing with Covid issues on the team & staff and they haven’t been able to practice.  That changed on Monday when Maryland was able to run a normal practice for the first time in a few weeks as they prepare for their game @ Indiana.  The Terps originally had 23 players test positive for Covid, however there were no new positive cases since last week.  The challenge in handicapping this one is the 21 day Big 10 rule.  They will still have a fairly large number of players out because of that, but who are they?  Teams across the country have been very tight lipped on this for much of the season and it’s difficult to get that information.  Until we know that info, it’s a game we’ll just take a pass on.  We’ll see what we find out as the week continues.  It’s unfortunate for Maryland as they were playing very well entering this situation with back to back wins over Minnesota & Penn State.  The offense rolled up over 1,000 yards and 80 points in those 2 wins.  QB Tagovailoa was really starting to play well after a disastrous first start @ Northwestern in their season opener.  Head coach Mike Locksley tested positive as well and will be at practice virtually this week.  He will be able to travel with the team on Saturday as the Big Ten coaches 10 day window will be over for him.     MARYLAND NEXT UP – @ Michigan  INDIANA – As we stated in last week’s report, we weren’t so sure on what to think of Indiana.  They looked solid in their 3 most recent games vs Rutgers, Michigan, and Michigan State entering Saturday’s game @ OSU, however consider the competition.  We were impressed by this team’s resolve on Saturday after they fell behind 35-7 early in the 2nd half.  They made a huge comeback and cut the lead to 42-35 with still over 10 minutes remaining.  Their final 2 possessions resulted in a total of 18 yards and the Hoosiers were not able to pull off the huge upset.  They showed they do belong this year among the top 3 or 4 teams in the conference.  QB Penix, who beat out Peyton Ramsey (now at Northwestern) for the starting spot last year, was injured for much of 2019.  This year he has been fantastic.  He threw for almost 500 yards on OSU and he now leads the Big 10 averaging 312 YPG through the air.  He’s thrown more passes (201) and has thrown more TD’s (14) than any other QB in the league.  WR Fryfogle leads the Big 10 averaging 128 YPG receiving and has 18 catches for 418 yards his last 2 games alone.  If they can ever get their running game going to take some pressure off Penix shoulders watch out.  On Saturday they had 16 rush attempts for -1 yard and IU now ranks 13th in the league averaging just 76 YPG on 2.4 YPC.  The defense was shredded by OSU.  No big deal there as the Buckeyes tend to do that to everyone.  We were impressed by the pressure they put on QB Fields with 5 sacks and forcing 3 interceptions from a normally mistake free QB.  This team is good and they’ll be favored in 2 of their last 3 regular season games.  IU has a real shot at 7-1 if they can upset Wisconsin on the road.  If they can win 2 of their last 3 and finish at least 6-2 it would be their most conference wins since the 1994 season.  INDIANA NEXT UP – @ Wisconsin   MOST RECENT MEETING – Indiana was a 6.5 point favorite @ Maryland last year and squeaked by with a 34-28 win giving the Terps a half point cover.    POINTSPREAD NUGGET – This has been a high scoring series as of late with each of the last 5 meetings going Over the total.  The teams have combined for an average of 72.5 points in those 5 meetings.  The total in this game opened 60 and has been pushed up to 63 as of Wednesday afternoon.

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2020 NFL: Is There a Home Field Advantage This Season?

Thursday, Nov 19, 2020

With limited or no fans allowed at NFL games this season, does it make playing on the road easier? Teams are allowed to pump in sound for games to make it more realistic, but the noise levels do not come close to what 60,000 plus fans can produce. There are other factors that come with playing on the road such as the long travel days or the unfamiliar weather, but the fan noise seems to make it most difficult. Over the past 10 seasons home teams have had a distinct advantage. For this reason oddsmakers have usually given points to home teams, but with no fans this season, home teams don’t have their customary advantage.  Home Records 2010-2019 2019 - 132-1232018 - 153-1012017 - 145-1112016 - 147-1072015 - 138-1182014 - 145-1102013 - 153-1032012 - 146-1092011 - 145-1112010 - 143-113Overall 1447-1106 (56.7%) After 145 games this season, home teams are 76-69 (51.7%) straight up. This even includes last week where home teams went 11-3. A 5% change between this year and the past 10 seasons would suggest road games are easier in 2020. That’s not a monumental change but it might quantify the impact that the fans noise and energy can bring to a home team. It’s hard to definitively say that home field advantage is not real this season, but it appears that it is not as beneficial as it usually is.  On a pure numbers basis, the home teams this season have a positive point differential of +64 this season.  Divide that by the 147 games played this year and the straight numbers home field advantage is +0.43 so less than a half point per game. The real question is, are oddsmakers accounting for this? In 2020 home teams are 68-77-1 against the spread. At only 46.5% it seems like they are not, but when compared to previous seasons it actually is on par. In 2018 home teams ATS covered 49% of the time, while only 44% in 2019. Overall, it appears in recent years that oddmakers are giving too many points to home teams, including 2020. 

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Big Ten Report: Week 1

Thursday, Oct 22, 2020

ILLINOIS @ WISCONSIN (-18.5 OPEN to -19.5 CURRENT) – Friday, Oct 23rd  ILLINOIS LAST YEAR – The Illini finished with a 6-6 regular season record in 2019 (4-5 in the Big Ten) and went to their first bowl game since the 2014 season (8-5 ATS).  They did lose last year’s bowl game getting beat 35-20 by California in the Red Box Bowl.  They return 14 starters this season including 9 on offense.  QB Brandon Peters returns who threw for 1800 yards and 18 TD’s last year.  They do lose 75% of their rushing yards from last year with RB’s Corbin, Brown & Bonner all moving on.  On defense they finished in the middle of the pack in Big 10 play in both PPG allowed (26) and YPG allowed (408).  The Illini have some key players back on LB and in the defensive backfield but lost some contributors up front.  Their 4 projected starting defensive linemen for this season had only 20 tackles combined last year.        ILLINOIS NEXT UP – Home vs Purdue   WISCONSIN LAST YEAR – The Badgers won the Big 10 West a year ago and lost 34-21 to Ohio State in the conference championship game.  Wisconsin then went on to lose to Oregon 28-27 in the Rose Bowl finishing with a 10-4 record overall (including bowl game) with a 7-2 regular season Big 10 mark.  They lose pretty much all of their key skill players offensively with starting QB Coan out with a broken foot, RB Taylor (now with the Colts), and WR Cephus (now with the Lions).  The new starting QB will be redshirt freshman Mertz who was one of the top rated QB’s in HS two years ago.  He played in 4 games last year and threw 10 passes.  Defensively Wisconsin should be very good again.  They finished 4th nationally in total defense and return 15 of their top 18 tacklers.  WISCONSIN NEXT UP – @ Nebraska   MOST RECENT MEETING – The Illini upset Wisconsin in Champaign last year as 30-point underdogs!  Illinois was 0-3 in league play entering the game and pulled the shocker winning 24-23 on a last second FG.  Wisconsin, however, outgained Illinois 420 to 315 in the loss but had 3 turnovers.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – The Illini are 13-7 ATS (65%) the last 20 times they’ve been a dog of 20 or more dating back to 2006.   PENN STATE (-7 OPEN to -6.5 CURRENT) @ INDIANA – Saturday, Oct 24th  PENN STATE LAST YEAR – The Nittany Lions finished with a very good 10-2 regular season record last year with their 2 setbacks coming @ Minnesota 31-26 and @ Ohio State 28-17.  That landed them in 2nd place in the Big 10 East and they went on to roll over Memphis 53-39 in the Cotton Bowl.  Starting QB Clifford is back under center after finishing 4th in the league in pass efficiency with 23 TDs and 7 interceptions.  He led an offense that averaged 36 PPG which was good for 2nd in the Big 10 and 15th nationally.  PSU also returns their top 3 RB’s who combined for over 1,600 yards on the ground (one of those players, RB Brown, now may miss the season).  WR Hamler is the biggest loss on offense (900 yards receiving).  They also will be working under a new OC who came over from Minnesota.  Defensively they allowed 16 PPG last year but lost their best player on that side of the ball LB Parsons who has opted out this season and is getting ready for the NFL draft.  The also lose their top 3 tacklers overall and 6 starters on defense have departed.          PENN STATE NEXT UP – Home vs Ohio State   INDIANA LAST YEAR – The Hoosiers 8 wins last season (8-4 in the regular season) was their most since the 1993 season and it was their first winning record since 2007.  That record allowed them the opportunity to face Tennessee in the Gator Bowl, a 23-22 IU loss.  They return the 2nd most starters in the Big 10 with 17 regulars back.  QB Penix was the starter to begin the 2019 season and is back this season.  Injuries derailed his effectiveness last season and he wound up playing in only 6 games.  His replacement was Peyton Ramsey who transferred to Northwestern and is slated to start for the Wildcats.  The Hoosiers return their top rusher (Smith – 845 yards), top WR (Philyor – 1,002 yards), and most of their offensive line.  Much is expected of this unit that finished 3rd in the Big 10 in total offense.  Defensively they held opponents to 24.4 PPG which was their best effort since 1993.  They return 9 starters on that side of the ball.  INDIANA NEXT UP – @ Rutgers   MOST RECENT MEETING – Penn State topped IU 34-27 last season in Happy Valley.  The Nits failed to cover as 15-point favorites and the Hoosiers actually had more first downs, a time of possession edge, and outgained PSU by nearly 100 yards.   POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Penn State is 20-12-1 ATS (62.5%) their last 33 games when tabbed a road favorite dating back to the start of the 2008 season.  RUTGERS @ MICHIGAN STATE (-15.5 OPEN to -13 CURRENT) – Saturday, Oct 24th  RUTGERS LAST YEAR – The good news is Rutgers returns 17 starters which is tied for the 2nd most in the Big Ten behind Northwestern.  The bad news is they stunk with those starters in the line up last season.  They were just 2-10 on the season with their only wins coming vs Liberty and UMass.  All of their 9 Big Ten losses (0-9 in conference play) came by at least 21 points.  QB Langan returns after starting the final 8 games last year and is not a good passer (50% completions with 4 TD’s and 9 interceptions) but brings a running threat to the position.  QB Sitkowski is also back and he started a few games last year and is the much better passer.  Noah Vedral, a grad transfer from Nebraska, will also get a shot to be the regular signal caller.  The Knights scored a TOTAL of 51 points in Big 10 play (5.6 PPG) with those 2 running the show last season.  Greg Schiano returns as the head coach after departing Rutgers back in 2012 to take his shot in the NFL as the head coach of Tampa Bay.  His final season at Rutgers in 2011 he led them to a 9-4 overall record.  They have had one winning season since Schiano left.  RUTGERS NEXT UP – Home vs Indiana   MICHIGAN STATE LAST YEAR – Long time head coach Mark Dantonio and MSU have parted ways despite his 114-57 record in his 13 years leading the Spartan program.  Melvin Tucker takes over after just one year as head coach @ Colorado where he finished with a 5-7 record.  He’s got some inexperience on his roster as MSU returns just 10 starters, the least in the Big 10.  QB is a big question as back up Rocky Lombardi returns but was ineffective when he did get a chance (33% completion rate with 0 TD’s and 2 interceptions).  The other 2 hopefuls at QB are freshman Thorne (never played in a college game) and sophomore Thorne (3 career pass attempts).  One would hope with severe inexperience at QB that MSU could take the pressure off by running the ball but they finished 13th in the Big 10 in that category last year.  The defense was always very good under Dantonio but they must replace most of their front 7 this season including 3 starters on the defensive line who all were regulars the last 3 seasons.   MICHIGAN STATE NEXT UP – @ Michigan   MOST RECENT MEETING – The Spartans traveled to Rutgers last season and shut out the Knights 27-0 as 22-point favorites.  MSU’s defense held Rutgers to 83 yards rushing and 57 yards passing in the game.   POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Since the beginning of the 2018 season, MSU has been a favorite of -14 or more 10 times.  They are 2-8 ATS in those games.   NEBRASKA @ OHIO STATE (-24 OPEN to -26.5 CURRENT) – Saturday, Oct 24th  NEBRASKA LAST YEAR – Believe it or not, the Huskers have had just ONE winning season since 2014.  That’s it.  Last year was not that winning season as they finished 5-7 and failed to make a bowl appearance.  Head coach Scott Frost was brought in from UCF to be this program’s savior and thus far he has a 9-15 record in 2 seasons.  His predecessor, Mike Riley, was fired after 3 seasons with a 19-19 record which doesn’t look so bad right now.  Adrian Martinez is back at QB for the third season.  After his freshman year there was talk about him being the next great QB at Nebraska.  Last year he took a step back with a lower completion percentage, fewer yards passing, fewer TD’s, and more interceptions when comparing it to his freshman year.  He returns with 10 starters on an offense that averaged 415 YPG last season but lost his top WR Spielman who transferred to TCU.  The Husker rush defense has been a major problem the last three seasons as they allowed 215, 195, and 188 YPG on the ground.  They lose 3 starting defensive lineman who have been starters and major contributors over the last few seasons.  The defensive backfield looks to be a strength with all upperclassmen in the starting line up.  NEBRASKA NEXT UP – Home vs Wisconsin   OHIO STATE LAST YEAR – OSU was a perfect 13-0 last season before losing to Clemson in the National Semi Final game.  A game they led 16-0 midway through the 2nd quarter.  The Buckeyes have the 2nd fewest starters returning in the Big 10 with 11 although that never seems to matter as they just reload with superior talent.  One player the does return is QB Fields who is currently one of the favorites to win the Heisman (+250 to +600 range) despite not playing a game this season.  Fields threw for over 3,000 yards last year with 41 TD’s and only 3 interceptions.  They lose all everything RB Dobbins, who had over 2,000 yards rushing last season, but they pick up Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon (over 2,000 yards rushing in 3 years with Sooners) and last year’s back up RB Teague had 800 yards on the ground.  The WR’s are young but 3 deep at each spot and the offensive line should be very good.  The defense, which led the nation in YPG and YPP allowed, will potentially start 10 upperclassmen including first round talent DB Wade who opted back in to play this season after opting out during the COVID uncertainty.         OHIO STATE NEXT UP – @ Penn State   MOST RECENT MEETING – OSU blasted Nebraska in Lincoln last year as a 17.5 point favorite.  The 48-7 final score was no fluke as the Bucks outgained the Huskers by 350 yards and scored points in each of their first 8 possessions.  OSU has won 5 straight in this series by an average score of 53-19!  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Nebraska has been an underdog of 24 points or more just 3 times in their HISTORY!  They are 2-1 ATS in those games.  Their only spread loss in that situation was against this OSU team in 2017 where the Buckeyes covered the 24 points spread by blasting the Huskers 56-14.  IOWA (-4 OPEN to -3.5 CURRENT) @ PURDUE – Saturday, Oct 24th  IOWA LAST YEAR – Iowa finished the 2019 season with a 10-3 record which included a blowout win over USC in the Holiday Bowl.  The Hawkeyes 3 losses to Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin came by a combined 10 points.  The offense returns their top RB (Goodson) and top WR (Smith-Marsette), however who will be running the show at QB is the biggest question mark.  Nate Stanley threw for over 8,000 yards and 68 TD’s as a 3-year starter for Iowa.  The Hawkeyes had a 25-11 record with Stanley as their starter.  Stepping in for Stanley will be sophomore QB Petras who was highly regarded coming out of HS but has attempted just 10 passes in his career.  On defense Iowa loses nearly everyone along the defensive line and their top LB Colbert, who was their 4th leading tackler last year, is opting out of this season due to COVID concerns.  The defense, which finished 12th nationally in YPG & 14th in YPP allowed last season, must replace more than half of their starters (6).  IOWA NEXT UP – Home vs Northwestern   PURDUE LAST YEAR – Head coach Jeff Brohm enters his 4th year as head coach at Purdue.  After raising the excitement level in West Lafayette his first 2 seasons, making a bowl game in each, his Boilers dropped back to 4-8 last year.  Word is that Brohm has tested positive for COVID and may not be on the sidelines for this game.  Although we know that can change (see Nick Saban!).  Many of their problems on offense last year stemmed from injuries at QB (they had 3 different starters throughout the season) and an injury to their top offensive threat WR Moore.  He had 344 yards receiving in their first 2 games alone but played in only 4 games total last year due to an injury.  Moore is back this year and will play after opting out a few months ago.  His QB will be either Plummer or O’Connell, both who played a lot last season and each had over 1,000 yards passing.  The defense was one of the worst in the league last year allowing 31 PPG (12th in the Big 10) and 436 YPG (13th in the conference).  The Boilers do have a lot of experience returning with 17 starters back from a year ago.  They closed out 2019 on a sour note allowing 40+ points to Wisconsin & Indiana – both losses.   PURDUE NEXT UP – @ Illinois   MOST RECENT MEETING – These 2 met last season in Iowa City with Purdue as a 17.5 point underdog.  The Boilers hung tough and picked up the cover but lost 26-20.  Iowa held Purdue to just 33 yards rushing on 18 carries.  The Boilers were -3 turnovers in the game.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Since 2013, Iowa has been a road favorite 21 times.  They are in impressive 17-4 ATS in those games.  MICHIGAN (-3 OPEN & CURRENT) @ MINNESOTA – Saturday, October 24th  MICHIGAN LAST YEAR – The Wolverines finished last regular season with a 9-3 record with losses to Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State.  They were then beaten badly by Alabama in the Citrus Bowl.  So when all was said and done, the Wolverines won the games they were supposed to win (won all games as a favorite) and lost the 4 games in which they were underdogs.  You’ll be seeing lots of new faces on the Michigan offensive side of the ball this year as they lost many key players, including QB Shea Patterson.  His replacement is still up in the air according to head coach Jim Harbaugh, however it looks like junior Joe Milton will get the nod as he’s been running with the #1’s in practice for the most part.  He’s attempted 11 passes in his career at Michigan.  He’ll be operating behind an offensive line that lost 4 of 5 starters and his top WR, Nico Collins (730 yards receiving last year), reportedly signed with an agent last month and is no longer no the team.  The offense will be a work in progress.  On defense they should be very good again this season.  They finished 11th in total defense nationally last season and held 6 of their 9 Big Ten opponents to 14 points or less.  Michigan does lose their top 3 tacklers from last season and has 2 new CB’s starting, but many of the other replacements have decent experience.    MICHIGAN NEXT UP – Home vs Michigan State   MINNESOTA LAST YEAR – The Gophers ended last season ranked in the top 10 after winning 11 games for the first time since 1904.  Their only losses came at the hands of Wisconsin & Iowa and they topped Auburn in the Outback Bowl to complete a great season.  The offense should be very good in 2020.  Last year they averaged 34 PPG which was their best production since the 2005 season.  They return QB Morgan, who led the conference with 250 YPG through the air and was the 2nd most efficient signal caller in the league, and he will operate behind an offensive line that returns all 5 starters.  His top WR target, Bateman, opted out during the COVID uncertainty, but has now decided to play this season.  The Gophs did lose their offensive coordinator to Penn State but replaced him with Mike Sanford who has been the OC Notre Dame, Utah State, and head coach Western Kentucky.  Defensively this team was top notch last season ranking 10th nationally in total defense but they did lose 4 key players to the NFL.  They bring back just 4 starters on the defensive side of the ball and lost both LB’s and their top pass rushers up front.  This will be an inexperienced defense that we won’t know a lot about early in the season.  MINNESOTA NEXT UP – @ Maryland   MOST RECENT MEETING – These 2 haven’t met since the 2017 season.  Michigan played host to the Gophers that year and blasted them 33-10 as 16.5 point favorites.  The Wolverine defense held Minnesota to just 164 total yards on that day.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Since 2007 Minnesota has been a home underdog 36 times.  They are 23-13 ATS in those games.  MARYLAND @ NORTHWESTERN (-10.5 OPEN to -11 CURRENT) – Saturday, October 24th  MARYLAND LAST YEAR – The Terps started last year OK winning 3 of their first 5 games vs marginal competition.  However, they followed that up by losing their final 7 games to finish 3-9 on the season.  Their wins were against Howard, Syracuse & Rutgers who finished last season with a combined 9-27 record.  Head coach Mike Locksley, who took over prior to last season, has his work cut out for him with a program that has a 14-34 record since joining the Big 10.  The offense returns 7 starters but lost top RB McFarland who now plays for the Steelers.  There is some buzz on that side of the ball as Alabama transfer Tagovailoa (yes Tua’s brother) will be the starter at QB to begin the season.  Redshirt freshman Legendre, who saw action in 3 games last season, will also get a shot at QB.  On the other side of the ball Maryland finished dead last in the conference and 109th nationally in total defense.  They were also last in the conference and 116th nationally in pass defense.  They lost 3 key regulars from their defensive backfield, however their top DB Richardson returns after missing last year with an injury.       MARYLAND NEXT UP – Home vs Minnesota   NORTHWESTERN LAST YEAR – Believe it or not, the Cats won the Big 10 West back in 2018 in the season with an 8-1 regular season conference record.  They reversed those numbers last season finishing 1-8 in Big 10 play and 3-9 overall.  There is hope for Northwestern this year as they return the most starters in the conference (19) and add a new QB and offensive coordinator in hopes of reviving their stagnant scoring numbers.  Last year they finished 13th in the league in total offense and scoring.  Through their first 6 Big 10 games last season, the Wildcats averaged only 6.8 PPG but improved late in the year.  Transfer QB Ramsey was the starter @ Indiana last year and should drastically improve their passing game.  New OC Bajakian come over from Boston College (was with Tampa Bay Bucs prior to BC) where the run heavy Eagles offense averaged 250 YPG rushing in 2019.  Defense held 8 of 12 opponents to 24 points or less and only won 3 games which tells you how bad their offense was.  They return most of the back 7 but have some holes to fill up front.  Top pass rusher Ernest Brown is back and healthy after an injury filled 2019.     NORTHWESTERN NEXT UP – @ Iowa   MOST RECENT MEETING – These 2 haven’t met since the 2017 season when Northwestern went to Maryland as a 2.5 point road favorite and came away with a 37-21 win.  That’s the only meeting between these two programs since the Terps joined the Big 10 in 2014.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Northwestern has been a terrible double digit home favorite throughout the years with a 14-29 ATS record in that situation dating back to 1980.  More recently, they are 4-11 ATS in that spot since early 2013.

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NFC East Division: NFL's Worst Division in 2020

Saturday, Oct 17, 2020

For years the NFC East was considered a well-rounded division with the Eagles and Giants both winning Super Bowls in recent memory. The Cowboys always have high expectations but cannot get over the hump in the playoffs when the pressure is on. Even the Washington Football Team has been a contender multiple times in past years. Unfortunately, that has all changed and now the NFC East is the worst division in the NFL and might make a push to finish as the worst division in the history of football.  Current NFC East Odds by Bovada:Cowboys          -120Eagles              +135Washington     +1000Giants              +2500The Cowboys did just squeeze by the Giants on Sunday afternoon but lost a major piece in Dak Prescott to a gruesome ankle injury. It was comparable to Gordon Hayward's ankle injury, so he will surely miss the remainder of the year. That leaves Andy Dalton to step into an offense with arguably the best weapons in football. Dallas does sit at the top of the NFC East at 2-3 yet the overall division has a horrid record of 4-15-1.The good news is that there are still 10 total division games to be played within the NFC East. That leaves 10 wins up for grabs that must stay within the division. Theoretically the worst the NFC East could finish would be 14-49-1. That would by far be the worst division record in modern NFL history. In 2014 the NFC South went 22-41-1 and the Panthers snuck into the playoffs with a record of 7-8-1. Last year the NFC East finished a total 24-40 and the Eagles were gifted a playoff spot in week 17 with a 9-7 record. Inevitably, the NFC East will pick up a few wins along the way outside of the division but all 4 teams are in serious personnel trouble moving forward. Dwayne Haskins was just benched in Washington, throwing Alex Smith into the fire fresh off his return. The Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants have all lost key contributors on offense. The good news for the Giants is that they have the best scoring defense in the division, currently ranked 19th in the NFL. That tells you all you need to know about how the NFC East plays defense. 

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Aaron Rodgers: NFL MVP Futures Wager

Monday, Oct 12, 2020

There is no question the Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur relationship has taken a step in the right direction this season. The Packers have scored the most points in the NFL so far over the first four games and Rodgers seems to be back to his old self. Even without Davante Adams for 7 quarters this season Rodgers has had no trouble finding open targets. LaFleur’s offensive scheme has been able to get players like Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan open this season, when it struggled to do so at times last year. Rock-solid offensive line play has also provided time for Rodgers to stretch the field and showcase his usual arm strength and pinpoint accuracy.   Through 4 games, Rodgers is on pace for 4,856 yards and 52 Touchdowns with an astounding 0 interceptions. Current BetOnline Odds for MVP: Russell Wilson +125 Aaron Rodgers +375 Patrick Mahomes +650 Josh Allen +900 Lamar Jackson +1200   If Rodgers puts up numbers like that it is hard to see him not walking away with the MVP. That is of course unless Russell Wilson keeps his current pace that would put him at 5,140 yards and 64 with 8 interceptions. Those numbers do seem unfathomable and would smash the current record of 55 touchdowns in a single season. Unfortunately, 64 touchdowns is not achievable no matter how you spin it. Moving forward, Russell Wilson’s current numbers will be very hard to sustain. He has an insane touchdown rate of 11.7% this season. Never in his 8 year career has he ever had a TD rate over 8.2%. During that year in 2018 Russ threw for a career high 35 touchdowns. Those 64 touchdowns he is in on pace for will begin to drop each week to a more realistic number. Aaron Rodgers has a TD rate of 9.4%. This number is much easier to preserve as it is very similar to his 2011 MVP season. During that season he had a TD rate of 9.0%. Rodgers threw 45 touchdowns and finished with 6 interceptions as the Packers went 14-1 with him under center. Expect the MVP odds to continue to slide more toward Rodgers in the coming weeks. With a healthy Davante Adams back after the week 4 bye, Aaron Rodgers looks poised to make another run at the MVP and carry the Packers to a high seed in the NFC. A repeat of last season’s Divisional Round matchup between Rodgers and Russ would be an absolute treat in early 2021.  With the Packers sitting at 4-0 and set to be favored in all but one game moving forward, Rodgers will be a prime candidate for the MVP award barring injury.  Even though we’ve lost some value, getting nearly 4/1 odds at BetOnline is worth a look.

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MLB Futures Betting: 2020 World Series Prediction

Sunday, Jun 21, 2020

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

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Major League Baseball: NL East Preview

Monday, Apr 13, 2020

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

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NBA Futures Betting: NBA Western Conference Playoff Predictions - 2020

Thursday, Apr 09, 2020

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

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NBA Futures Betting: NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions - 2020

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

We’ve spent the last 12,045 days or 33-straight years watching, analyzing, breaking down and handicapping sports on a daily basis. We certainly miss it and can’t wait for this pandemic to subside so we can get back to what we love, sports betting! Like us we’re sure you are “jonesing” for some basketball so we’ve put together a hypothetical scenario if the NBA Playoffs started today. This is based on current records and standings as of the Covid-19 shutdown on March 11th. The rumors are the NBA will not abandon this season and will play games as soon as it’s safe to do so. Some speculations are the games will resume in June but we don’t exactly know if they will play out the regular season or just go straight to the Playoffs? We do know one thing for sure, it can’t get here soon enough!#1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. #8 Orlando MagicRegular season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)S/U ATS O/UFeb 8 Mil -8.5 @ORL W 111-95 W U 221.5Dec 28 MIL -6.5 vs. Orl W 111-100 W U 216.5Dec 9 MIL -13 vs. Orl W 110-101 L U 217.5Nov 1 Mil -4.5 @ORL W 123-91 W P 214Series Preview: The Bucks and Magic first round match up will be a quick one with the Bucks sweeping the Magic in four games much like the regular season. Milwaukee beat this team by an average of 17PPG this season and one of those wins came without Giannis suiting up for the Bucks. Milwaukee dominated the Magic on the boards with a plus +17 margin of  total rebounds per game and shot 37.2% from beyond the arc which was better than their season average of 35.6%. Orlando is one of the better defensive teams in the NBA allowing just 107.3PPG which is 4th in the NBA but the Bucks averaged just under 114PPG against them this season. The Magic have the 7th worst offensive efficiency (.983PPP) numbers in the NBA this season and will have a hard time scoring against the Bucks #1 ranked defensive efficiency unit allowed just 1.019 points per possession this season. The Bucks will be 13-point favorites at home in the opening two games and be favored by 8-points on the road. Milwaukee 4-0 and advances by double digit wins in three of 4 games. #2 Toronto Raptors vs. #7 Brooklyn NetsRegular season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)S/U ATS O/UFeb 12 Tor -4 @ BKN L 91-101 L U 224.5Feb 8 TOR -6.5 vs. Bkn W 119-118 L O 218Jan 4 Tor +1.5 @ BKN W 121-102 W O 217Dec 14 TOR -7.5 vs. Bkn W 110-102 W U 218.5Series Preview: The Raptors have quietly flown under the radar all season long and you’ll be surprised to know that last year on March 10th, with Kawhi, they stood 49-19 SU compared to 46-18 SU currently this season. Brooklyn made some changes before the stoppage with a coaching change as Jacque Vaughn took over for since departed Kenny Atkinson. The Nets are 3-1 SU their last four games with quality wins over the Celtics and Lakers which were both on the road. In the four regular season meetings the Raptors won 3 of four games, going 2-2 against the spread, but the two most recent clashes in February give us a good indication this could be a longer series than expected. The two games played in February saw the Nets win by 10-points at home and lose by just 1-point in Toronto. The overall margin of victory for the Raptors in the four games with the Nets was just +4.5PPG. The Raptors are a below average shooting team at 45.6% on the season which is 20th in the NBA but the Nets stifling defense (ranked 8th in defensive efficiency) held Toronto to 42.4% shooting this season. We predict this series will go five games with the Raptors coming out on top but it won’t be easy. Toronto will be favored by 7.5-points at home and the games in Brooklyn a pick’em. #3 Boston Celtics vs. #6 Philadelphia76ersRegular Season meetings: (Home team in CAPS) S/U ATS O/UFeb 1 BOS +1.5 vs. Phi W 116-95 W U 212Jan 9 Bos -1 @ PHI L 98-109 L U 218Dec 12 BOS -1 vs. Phi L 109-115 L O 212.5Oct 23 Bos  +5.5 @ PHI L 93-107 L U 215.5Series Preview: This could be one of the best first round matchups of the entire playoffs as this old-school rivalry is going 6 or seven games. If right, either of these two teams could come out of the East but there are some concerns, especially for the Sixers. Philly’s two superstars, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, seem to have a problem coexisting on the floor with each other and it has led to a below expectations 39-26 SU record. The Sixers road struggles of 10-24 SU with a negative differential of minus -5.2PPG is by far the worst of any playoff team, but they did win a game in Boston this season. The Celtics roster is one capable of winning it all and Jayson Taytum has certainly picked up his game of late by scoring 30+ points in 7 of their last ten games. Boston’s net average point differential per game though has dropped by -3.8-points per game since the All-Star break but a lot of that is due to recent injuries (Walker, Brown, Smart). In the four meetings this season the 76ers dominated the glass with a +12 total rebound margin in winning 3 of the four games. The winning team won by double-digits in 3 of the four with three of the spreads being less than 2-points. Based on recent trending numbers, coaching advantage and road differentials we have to side with the Celtics in this series. Since the All-Star break the Celtics are drastically better than the 76ers in both offensive and defensive efficiency numbers. In fact, the Sixers have been dreadful in both with the 28th ranked O.E.F.F and 26th D.E.F.F. Boston is 20-12 SU on the road this season with the 5th best point differential of +4.2PPG and the coaching advantage is clear with Stevens over Brown. Boston will be a slightly bigger favorite in Game 1 of the series (-6.5) and a play on team but the line will dip slightly in Game 2 (-5.5). When the series goes to Philly we will see the 76ers favored by roughly -3.5-points. We would bet on Boston in Game 1 and Philly in Game 3. #4 Miami Heat vs. #5 Indiana PacersRegular Season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)S/U ATS O/UJan 8 Mia +1.5 @ IND W 122-108 W O 210Dec 27 MIA -5 vs. Ind W 113-112 L O 211Series Preview: I was very high on the Pacers before the season started with the addition of Malcolm Brogdon and the eventual return of Victor Oladipo, but this team hasn’t been quite as good as I thought they would be. Oladipo has played in just 13 games this season and struggled with his shooting at 39% and just 13PPG. Brogdon’s scoring went up slightly and he’s averaging 4 more assists per game than he did last year, but his EFG percentage has dropped significantly. This layoff might be just what the Pacers needed to get Oladipo up to speed, and get Brogdon healthy from his hip injury.  The Pacers rely on their 7th best defensive efficiency that is allowing 1.083 points per possession. Indiana was picking up steam before the break by winning 7 of their last ten games and they have an 18-15 SU road record which is crucial in the playoffs. The Miami Heat have the veteran leadership and a proven go-to guy in Jimmy Butler along with playoff extraordinaire Andre Iguodala. The young players (Adebayo, Jones Jr and Herro) are talented but can they rise to the challenge in the postseason? Miami had the 13th best defensive efficiency numbers and the 7th best offensive efficiency along with a 28-10 SU record against the rest of the Eastern Conference. The Heat beat the Pacers twice this season by 14 in Indy and by 1-point at home but the Pacers were without Brogdon and Oladipo in both contests.  Miami was 27-5 SU at home this season and gaining the 4th spot in the East will prove to be the difference between them advancing and not moving on. We expect the Heat to be 4-point favorites at home and the Pacers favored by 3-points when they are hosting. The way to go here is the Underdogs in Games 2 and 4. The Heat in 7-games. So there you have it. If the NBA Playoffs started today we have the Bucks in a sweep over Orlando, Toronto moving on against Brooklyn, Boston narrowly over Philadelphia and the Heat in a grueling series over Indiana. We will be breaking down the Western Conference first round series next then move on to the next round predictions. 

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