Sean Murphy Sports Picks For Sale

Hot Streaks and Achievements

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Sean Murphy’s handicapping success is renowned, and his winning advice has been featured on TV and radio shows across North America.

Active since:  2003

Location:  Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Sean Murphy made his professional debut as lead handicapper for Pat Miller Sports in 2003, continuing on with The Miller Group from 2006 through 2009.  Sean broke away to found his own sports service in September 2009 and has now delivered 12 of 17 winning NFL seasons.  Sean’s also cashed big in NCAA Football, as he’s won each of the last 3 seasons, recording 55% of his overall bets.  A key factor in Sean’s success is his knack for Over/Unders, which is no surprise given Sean’s reputation as a ‘numbers guru.’  Indeed, Sean’s knack for handling numbers is deep-rooted.  He owns a business degree, with a major in finance, and is a member of the prestigious Beta Gamma Sigma honor society for business students and scholars.  

Although Sean took a circuitous route to become a professional handicapper, sports betting has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember.  In fact, he still fondly recalls his first successful venture into sports betting – a winning three-game NFL ‘Pro-Line’ parlay (offered by the Canadian lottery) when he was just 12 years old.  Sean — along with the rest of his 7th grade class — was hooked.  His passion for sports is unmatched.  The phrase “find something you love to do and you’ll never ‘work’ a day in your life” is Murph's mantra.  Sean's love for numbers, combined with his passion for sports, makes a career in sports handicapping the perfect fit.  

After building The Miller Group from the ground up, and turning it into one of America’s most respected handicapping services, Sean has continued to prosper as an independent, thanks to an honest approach and strong belief in delivering value to the customer.  Sean’s selections are based on his extensive knowledge of the game, and his approach is both situational and statistical.  He prides himself on going against the majority and thinking outside the box, and his unique analysis keeps his clients coming back.  When you purchase one of Sean’s selections, you can always count on insightful and expert information to back it up.  Sean rates all of his plays from 8* to 10* with free plays qualifying as 8* releases, and the majority of his selections warranting a 10* designation.  As you would expect, the higher the rating, the stronger the play.

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NHL Stanley Cup Futures Bets

Thursday, Apr 15, 2021

With the NHL trade deadline in the rear-view mirror and the playoff picture beginning to take shape, now is a good time to lock in some Stanley Cup Futures bets. Here's a look at one team from each of the NHL's four divisions worthy of a wager with the playoffs less than a month away.North DivisionWinnipeg Jets 18-1While I honestly don't believe this is the year that a Canadian team hoists the cup for the first time since 1993, I will anoint the Jets as the Great White North's best hope (and best value). While the Leafs certainly possess the most talented roster, they're not settled in goal and have inexplicably proven inconsistent offensively. The Jets have an elite goaltender in Connor Hellebuyck and a roster that has remained virtually intact for a number of years. The window of opportunity is starting to close when it comes to their core of Mark Schiefele, Blake Wheeler, Nik Ehlers, etc. We've seen Winnipeg go on a deep playoff run as recently as 2018 when they reached the Western Conference Final before bowing out at the hands of a red hot Golden Knights squad. There's no team in the North Division that should intimidate the Jets and they'll be afforded a chance to fine-tune their game heading in with a playoff spot all but locked up. East Division New York Islanders 13-1Despite sitting in second place in the East Division, the Islanders actually have shorter odds to win the cup than the first-place Capitals. Rightfully so, in my opinion. The Isles have played with purpose this season and have a roster built for playoff hockey with plenty of front-line talent but also enough grit to withstand a grueling seven-game series. Head coach Barry Trotz is just a couple of seasons removed from guiding the aforementioned Caps to a Stanley Cup title. He was brought to Long Island with the sole purpose of returning the Isles to glory as well. In this topsy-turvy 2021 season, why not pick a hard-luck franchise like the Isles to hoist Lord Stanley's mug. Central Division Carolina Hurricanes 12-1I picked the Hurricanes to go on a deep playoff run in last Summer's bubble-hockey postseason tournament and that prediction looked pretty good for a series. Unfortunately Carolina was overmatched in the second round against Boston. The 'Canes made the necessary offseason moves to chart their course back to Stanley Cup contention this year and while they're fresh off ugly back-to-back losses to the lowly Red Wings as I'm writing this, I've seen enough positives to warrant them a true championship contender. Carolina has gotten healthier lately with Petr Mrazek returning to an already solid stable of goaltenders and Vincent Trocheck providing some additional scoring depth up front. Trocheck is one of those key offseason additions I mentioned and he hasn't disappointed here in 2021, chipping in with 34 points in 32 games. The Tampa Bay Lightning will prove to be a tough obstacle but as we saw two years ago when the Bolts were swept by the eight-seeded Blue Jackets in the opening round, anything can happen in the NHL Playoffs.West Division Vegas Golden Knights 8-1While the Avalanche are favorites to come out of the West Division for a reason, I'm willing to take a shot with the Golden Knights at what I consider to be a reasonable return. Vegas has proven it can go toe-to-toe with Colorado. In fact, I feel the Golden Knights even have a slight edge in terms of depth - certainly between the pipes, where the Avs are a Philip Grubauer injury away from newly-acquired journeyman Devan Dubnyk shouldering the load. Colorado has more elite talent at the top of its payroll with Nate MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen up front and phenom Cale Makar patrolling the blue line. But the Knights have proven they can win games in a variety of different ways and recently welcomed back stud offseason acquisition Alex Pietrangelo from injury. I do believe this Knights team is better than the one that reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2018 and see value backing them at the current price point. 

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NBA Weekend Shootaround: April 3-4

Friday, Apr 02, 2021

It's hard to believe we've already reached the first weekend in April and with it comes a full slate of NBA action as the regular season stretch run heats up. Here's a look at several matchups to keep your eye on as the lines are released on Saturday and Sunday.SaturdayTimberwolves at 76ers, 8 pm etWe saw the 76ers rise to the occasion in what could have been a flat spot at the end of their long road trip in Cleveland on Thursday. Of course, Philadelphia was looking to snap a two-game skid in that situation so perhaps it wasn't all that difficult for it to get up for the game, even if it was against the lowly Cavaliers. Here, the 76ers face another league bottom-dweller in the Timberwolves. It's advantage 76ers here as Minnesota plays in Memphis on Friday night. In face, this will be Minnesota's fourth game in the last six nights, in four different cities no less. Should Philadelphia jump out to an early lead Minnesota might already start packing its bags for home as it hosts the Kings in a more winnable contest (relatively speaking) on Monday. Thunder at Blazers, 10 pm etThis might be a tricky spot for the Blazers as they play the second of back-to-back nights after returning home to host the Bucks on just one day of rest following a four-game road trip on the opposite end of the continent. That's not to mention the fact that their opponent, the Thunder, aren't going to draw a great deal of motivation, noting that the Blazers already exacted revenge for an earlier-season loss at home against Oklahoma City, winning by double-digits in OKC back on February 16th. Portland rarely blows anyone out here at home - in fact, it has been outscored by 1.5 points per game on average here in the Pacific Northwest this season (entering Friday's action). Just something to keep in mind should we see a crooked number in favor of the Blazers on Saturday.SundayNets at Bulls, 3 pm etThe Bulls have been reeling lately and wrap up a disappointing road trip against the league-leading Jazz on Friday night before returning home for this matinee affair with the Nets on Sunday. This could actually serve as a sneaky-good spot to back the Bulls should they be catching enough points against a Nets squad that has been rolling. Brooklyn enters the weekend on a four-game winning streak, stringing together six consecutive quarters of incredible basketball against the Rockets and Hornets over its last couple of contests. Is this a spot where we'll see the Nets bring their 'A' game though? I'm not so sure. While the Bulls have been struggling, they're not short on talent and the new faces they brought in prior to the trade deadline have had ample time to get acclimated. You'll need to keep your eye on the injury report for both teams as James Harden has been banged-up for Brooklyn while Zach LaVine has missed time for Chicago. Magic vs. Nuggets, 10 pm etThis is a tough scheduling spot for Orlando as it plays the second of back-to-back nights, in altitude, against the Nuggets on Sunday night. We've seen some promising play from the Magic on this trip - surprising to most after their roster was gutted prior to the trade deadline. Of course, there's a chance Orlando is already satisfied enough with its performance on this five-game western swing that it checks out should it fall behind early against the superior Nuggets. Denver has been frustratingly inconsistent at times this season, especially given the talent it has on hand, but we have seen it round into form lately, reeling off four straight wins heading into the opener of a five-game homestand. You can be sure Aaron Gordon will be looking to show up and show out against his former squad. While we're likely going to be looking at a steep number in favor of the Nuggets here, it might just be warranted in a game that has true blowout potential. 

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NCAA Sweet 16 Bracketology

Friday, Mar 26, 2021

We've reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament with some expected names but also a number of 'Cinderellas' rounding out the remaining field. Here's a look at where you can still find value in the futures market, with three upset-minded teams that aren't ready to put away their dancing shoes just yet. To reach Final FourOregon (+650)The Ducks were actually my pre-tournament pick to come out of the West Region and I still like their chances even with arguably the best team in the country, Gonzaga, residing in that region as well. Just to play Devil's Advocate when it comes to the top-ranked Bulldogs, let's say Creighton gets hot from beyond the arc (as it is known to do) and stages the improbable but possible Sweet 16 upset. That would leave the Ducks with only a talented but inconsistent Blue Jays squad standing between them and a Final Four appearance - assuming Oregon can get past Pac-12 rival USC of course. The oddsmakers have certainly done their homework and Oregon is accurately priced to reach the Final Four, but I'm higher than most on the Ducks and feel now might be a favorable time to take a shot for a potential big return. Villanova (+550)The Wildcats are another team that I had pegged to reach the Final Four (even if I thought they would get a much tougher game from Winthrop in the opening round - oops) prior to the tournament tipping off last week. I've never been one to underestimate Jay Wright's 'Nova squads and even without Colin Gillespie we've seen the Wildcats cruise through two rounds, setting up a favorable Sweet 16 showdown with one-seed Baylor. The Bears have of course rounded back into form following a poor showing in the Big 12 Tournament. However, if one of the three top seeds remaining are going to make an unceremonious exit prior to the Elite Eight they might just be the team. Should the Wildcats upset Baylor on Saturday they would likely match up against a beatable Arkansas squad in the Elite Eight (unless Oral Roberts decides the slipper still fits). Either way, I see value with 'Nova at a healthy return to find its way into the Final Four, noting it is currently priced at around +240 to beat Baylor. Florida State (+300)Full disclosure, I had Alabama (currently priced at +180) coming out of the East Region prior to the tournament, which is still well within the realm of possibility. However, based on what I've seen so far in this tourney, I'd be willing to take a shot with the Seminoles priced at +300 or better. Michigan needed everything it had in the tank to get past LSU in the Round of 32 and draws an even tougher matchup against fourth-seeded Florida State in the Sweet 16. After scoring 80+ points without Isaiah Livers in their first two tournament games, I believe the Wolverines could be ripe for the upset against the 'Noles - who can hang with UM at both ends of the floor. Of course, it would by no means be a true shocker as Florida State is just a slight 2.5-point underdog at the time of writing. Alabama should get past UCLA, which would set up a reasonable matchup for the 'Noles in the Elite Eight, noting that LSU laid out a pretty good blueprint for beating the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game, even if the Tigers ultimately fell a point short. *Note that Sean's individual game selections are independent of the recommendations on futures bets above. 

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NCAA Basketball Tournament Sleeper Teams

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2021

The NCAA Tournament is set to tip off with four play-in games on Thursday night and after missing out on the Big Dance last March, we're obviously all anxiously waiting with our betting slips in hand for what will likely be the heaviest bet tournament of all-time. Here's a look at four potential tournament sleeper picks. - one from each region. While these teams aren't likely to be serenaded by 'One Shining Moment' come April, they do have the potential to bust a few brackets early on. Seeding in parentheses.St. Bonaventure (9) - East RegionThe Bonnies rode their wealth of experience to an Atlantic-10 Tournament championship on Sunday, delivering a dominant performance against a quality VCU squad. They draw a favorable opening round matchup against an LSU team that came a point short of winning the SEC Tournament championship, falling to Alabama in what was an impressive (but somewhat improbable) run. I really like St. Bonaventure's depth advantage in the early stages of the tournament. Keep in mind, LSU doesn't get much scoring at all from its bench while the Bonnies likely second-round matchup would be Michigan, which lost starting guard and team co-captain Isaiah Livers to a stress fracture in his foot and his status remains in doubt. There's definitely a path forward for the Bonnies, who open as a two-point underdog against the Tigers.Ohio (13) - West RegionThe Bobcats draw the defending national champions (from two years ago) in Virginia in their opening round matchup. Ohio doesn't get a lot of press coming out of the MAC but its resume is certainly impressive (if not all that extensive). The Bobcats gave popular bracket-winning pick Illinois all it could handle in just their second game of the season, falling by a 77-75 score as 16-point underdogs, on the road no less. They followed that up with an impressive 101-46 dismantling of eventual Horizon League champion Cleveland State. After running the table in the MAC Tournament, scoring 85, 87 and 84 points in the process, they're certainly upset-minded heading into this date with what I believe to be a vulnerable Virginia squad. Should Ohio upset Virginia it would likely draw Creighton - a team that had its own issues down the stretch and got drummed by Georgetown in the Big East Tournament championship game.North Texas (13) - South RegionThe Mean Green Eagles certainly have the look of a true Cinderella team after going on a magical run to a Sun Belt Tournament championship last weekend. North Texas loaded its early season schedule with tough matchups on the road against Arkansas, Mississippi State, West Virginia and Loyola-Chicago and while it went winless in those three games, I do think it helps eliminate any sort of intimidation factor against Purdue here in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. A win over the Boilers, while improbable, would lead the Eagles to a likely matchup with Villanova in the second round. The Wildcats obviously possess a championship pedigree but certainly aren't invincible, at least not this season. While this is probably the biggest longshot of the four teams I've highlighted, I do think UNT is worth a look early on. Syracuse (11) - Midwest RegionSyracuse battled to the final buzzer despite not making it all the way in the ACC Tournament, exiting at the hands of Virginia in a hard-fought affair. The Orange draw a quality San Diego State team in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The Aztecs are the Mountain West champions and deserving of plenty of respect but as we've seen in the last couple of weeks, the Orange are capable of getting hot and staging the minor upset here. I actually like the path forward for the winner in this game as I see some upset potential in the Morehead State-West Virginia matchup, the winner of which 'Cuse-SD State would face in the second round. Note that 2019 (the last time an NCAA Tournament was played) marked the first time since 2013 where the six-seeds won at least three games against the 11-seeds. 

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NHL Stanley Cup Dark Horses

Thursday, Mar 04, 2021

As we approach the midway point of this unique 2021 NHL regular season, it's time to give some attention to Stanley Cup futures. Here's a look at four 'dark horses' to consider as we flip the calendar page to March.St. Louis Blues 23-1I'll admit this play has a little more to do with the lofty price than the team itself. I do feel the Blues have a considerably better than 23-1 shot at hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup. While there have been some bumps in the road, St. Louis has hung in there through the first month-and-a-half of the season and should enter the playoffs in second or third spot in the West Division. It's easy to forget that this is a team that just won it all back in 2019 - which does feel like a lifetime ago. With Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester no longer in the mix, the Blues have had to change their identity but I'm confident they'll continue to find their way. Offseason acquisitions Torey Krug and Justin Faulk have helped solidify their blue line, contributing 23 points in 22 games. New York Islanders 28-1I'm quite surprised we're being offered such a generous price to back the Isles, who currently sit tied atop the East Division standings. Perhaps it's their reputation as a perennial loser over the last few decades - let's face it, the early-80's dynasty is nothing but a memory at this point. I like what they're building on Long Island though, and certainly believe in Stanley Cup-winning head coach Barry Trotz. With the solid defensive system they have in place and their wealth of talent led by budding superstar Matthew Barzal up front, this is a team that could make some noise in what I believe is a fairly wide open field. Pittsburgh Penguins 30-1As long as Sidney Crosby is around, you can't count out the Penguins. While Pittsburgh currently sits on the outside looking in as far as the playoff picture goes (by percentage points only), I believe this is a team capable of going on a solid run and overtaking the Flyers for fourth spot in the East Division. We've already seen that the Pens can handle the rival Capitals, who currently sit top the East so finishing lower in the division isn't a huge concern. While staying healthy will be paramount with a lack of scoring depth and goaltender Tristan Jarry still needs to round into form, we're being offered an exceptional price to back a team that has the pedigree to go all the way this Spring.Calgary Flames 36-1This is a 'plug you nose and bet it' type of play as the Flames are severely wounded coming off six losses in their last eight games, including a pair of ugly blowout losses to the lowly Senators over the past week. I still like the upside they offer (especially at this price), even as they sit in fifth place in the North Division. There's no question Calgary's best hockey should lie ahead given its below-.500 record. I like the veteran leadership the Flames possess and feel they have a goaltender that is capable of getting hot and leading them on a deep postseason run (assuming they sneak in) in Jakob Markstrom. 

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NBA Weekend Shootaround: February 20-21

Friday, Feb 19, 2021

We went 4-1 on leans recommended inside this column last Friday so we'll try our luck again this week with a full slate of games on deck Saturday and Sunday. Here are five situations to consider as you handicap the weekend board.SaturdayPacers at RocketsThe Rockets should be thrilled to get back home following a tough road trip that saw them go winless in three games. In fact, Houston hasn't posted a victory since back on February 4th in Memphis. As much as I'd like to back the Rockets in this clear bounce-back spot at home, the matchup doesn't suggest such a play. The Pacers will undoubtedly get up for this one after scuffing their heels in their last two games, losing at home against Chicago before needing overtime to defeat the lowly T'Wolves in Minnesota. Dealing with a number of key injuries and struggling to find any consistency with the personnel they have in place, the Rockets just appear unworthy of our dollars right now. Suns at GrizzliesPhoenix recently went through a rebuilding phase of sorts similar to what Memphis is in the midst of right now. The Grizzlies have made positive strides this season, entering last night's action with a .500 record. With that being said, I see this as a tough back-to-back spot, even with the Suns in the exact same situation (except needing to travel as well after playing in New Orleans on Friday). Phoenix will be looking for revenge here after letting down their guard in a 108-104 loss in Memphis back in January. SundayT'Wolves at KnicksThis looks like a layup for the surging Knicks at home against the T'Wolves on Sunday. I'm just not convinced they take the matchup seriously enough to cover what is likely to be an inflated pointspread. New York had a wrench thrown in its schedule with Saturday's game against the Spurs postponed. The last time we saw New York play it got off to a fast start but couldn't keep it up and ultimately got squashed by 18 points in Orlando. While Minnesota still isn't winning many games, it has been competitive in virtually every contest since late January (entering Friday's action at least).Nuggets at HawksThe Hawks have played well for stretches this season but limped into their two-game set in Boston earlier in the week. Give them credit for rising to the occasion in the first of those two contests, winning on the strength of a huge night from Trae Young. I like the spot for them here, returning home to host an uneven Nuggets squad that might already have one foot on the plane, looking forward to returning home after a four-game road trip out east. Denver will host Damian Lillard and the Blazers on Tuesday night. Nets at ClippersBrooklyn is rolling along right now but most will be anticipating a letdown here after a couple of days off in La-La Land following Thursday's win over Lebron and the Lakers. I'm not sure that letdown will be in the cards against a Clippers squad that has had so many key pieces in and out of the lineup in recent games and comes off a tough two-game set against the red hot Utah Jazz. As long as Kawhi Leonard is in the lineup the Clips will undoubtedly earn the 'favorite' tag for this one but I wouldn't count out the Nets as they're finally playing a cohesive brand of basketball. 

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NHL Handicapping: Covid Concerns

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2021

We've seen a number of teams sidelined for extended periods in the early stages of this unique 2021 NHL season. We're beginning to gain a better understanding of what to expect from these teams following the long layoffs. Here's a quick breakdown.Dallas StarsThis was a unique situation as the Stars weren't able to start the season on time due to Covid protocols. Somewhat surprisingly, Dallas came roaring out of the gates, scoring 19 goals in four consecutive wins. Again, that situation was a little different as it came at the onset of the season, unlike those other squads that have had to abruptly stop playing. Carolina HurricanesThe 'Canes were able to start the season on time, going 2-1 over their first three games before postponing their next three contests. When they returned to the ice, they enjoyed success similar to that of the Stars, reeling off four straight wins, albeit scoring just 11 goals in the process. Vegas Golden KnightsThe Knights were forced to postpone three straight games in late January-early February. When they got back in action they also thrived, securing three straight wins, scoring a whopping 14 goals along the way. Buffalo SabresHere's where things look a little different but perhaps it's not difficult to understand why. The Sabres missed six straight games, sitting idle for the first two weeks of February. Not surprisingly, they've been sluggish since returning to play, dropping consecutive games against the Islanders while scoring only one goal. Colorado AvalancheThe Avs got back to game action after a five-game absence on Sunday in Las Vegas, and proceeded to drop a 1-0 decision. They did manage to follow that up with a 3-2 victory against the Knights on Tuesday.New Jersey DevilsThe jury is still out on the Devils as they've played just once following an extended six-game absence due to Covid protocols. That one game went well as they skated to a 5-2 win over the Rangers on Tuesday night. We'll see how they fare as the rest of the week unfolds as they'll play three games in four nights from Thursday-Sunday - a tough stretch at the best of times.Minnesota WildLike the Sabres, the Wild were sidelined for six consecutive games and when they returned to the ice they were blanked by a 4-0 score in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Based on the data we have to work from so far this season, the key takeaway is the longer the layoff the more difficult it is for teams to get going again - not exactly a groundbreaking discovery, but worth noting nonetheless. There have been four teams that have missed five games or more and three of them managed to score a goal or less in their first game back on the ice. Note that the Flyers have just started practicing again with their tally of games missed due to Covid protocols standing at four games and counting. 

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NBA Weekend Shootaround: February 13-14

Friday, Feb 12, 2021

Another busy weekend of NBA hoops is upon us with five games coming up on Saturday and 10 on the Sunday board. Here's a quick look at five matchups to pay attention to before the lines are released.Saturday76ers vs. SunsThe 76ers were rolling until they ran into a hot-shooting Blazers team on Thursday night. Portland made 17 three-pointers in the upset win, shooting 45% from beyond-the-arc. Now Philly's trip really toughens up with Saturday's game in Phoenix followed by a trip to Salt Lake City to face the league-leading Jazz on Monday. The Suns have shaken off a late-January slump to reel off seven wins in their last eight games, including an upset win over the Bucks on Wednesday. Well-rested and at home, Devin Booker and co. might be worth a look in this one.Rockets vs. KnicksYou'll want to keep your eye on the injury report ahead of this game as the Rockets have been dealing with a number of key absences. Houston heads to New York on the heels of four straight losses but does catch the Knicks in a favorable situation here. New York will be playing its second game in as many nights after a trip to Washington on Friday. Houston has scored 106 points or less in each of its last four contests - I don't need to tell you how bad that is by today's NBA standards. Meanwhile, the Knicks entered Friday's action ranked dead last in the league in pace rating.Nets vs. WarriorsThis is Saturday's showcase game, set to be nationally-televised in primetime on ABC. The Nets have been highly inconsistent since acquiring James Harden but perhaps a trip west will serve to galvanize this star-studded squad. The Warriors should draw plenty of support from the betting public here with Steph Curry putting on a clinic in recent games. Remember, last Saturday night Curry lit it up in a straight-up loss but ATS victory in another ABC-TV appearance against the Mavs. SundayT'Wolves vs. RaptorsThe Raptors are in the midst of a disappointing season, struggling to get back to the .500 mark following a dismal start. While this looks like a layup on paper against the lowly T'Wolves, it's worth noting that Minnesota has showed some signs of life lately, reeling off seven straight ATS victories entering Friday's game in Charlotte. Karl-Anthony Towns gave the T'Wolves a big emotional boost with his return on Wednesday, posting a double-double in a loss but ATS cover against the Clippers. The Raptors have shown a tendency to let inferior opponents hang around in "home" games in Tampa this season.Pelicans vs. PistonsWhile the Pelicans certainly have the talent to manhandle the Pistons, this is a tough spot to get up for as they play their fourth game (in four different cities) in the last six nights in Detroit...on a Sunday evening...with the stands get the picture. The Pistons are banged-up in the front-court heading into the weekend, which could certainly play a factor here with the Pelicans ranking as one of the best rebounding teams in the league. Keep an eye on the injury report but Detroit could be a sneaky play depending on the number the books decide to send out.

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What to Watch For: NHL Week of February 8th

Monday, Feb 08, 2021

Covid has reared its ugly head already this NHL season, wreaking havoc when it comes to the schedule. The show must go on, however, and there’s a busy week of action ahead.  Here’s a look around the league at five teams to keep an eye on this week.  New York Islanders The Isles are coming off a galvanizing 4-3 win over the Penguins on Saturday. They rallied from a 3-2 third period deficit to win that game, snapping a five-game losing streak. A big week lies ahead, starting with Monday’s showdown with the rival Rangers at Madison Square Garden before hosting the Penguins and Bruins on Thursday and Saturday respectively. I see some value with the Isles right now, having won with them on Saturday and likely to see them in an underdog role in two of three games this week. St. Louis Blues In an odd but perhaps not unexpected Covid-tinged scheduling quirk, the Blues have played the Coyotes in each of their last three games and will face them three more times in the next week. They’ll look to even up a four-game set at home on Monday night after dropping back-to-back games against the ‘Yotes last Thursday and Saturday. Note that St. Louis is scheduled to play a sandwich game in Minnesota on Thursday but that’s Covid-pending with the Wild dealing with a number of absences. Edmonton Oilers The Oilers have a tricky stretch up next with a clear letdown spot to kick it off in Ottawa on Monday night after dropping a 6-4 decision in a rivalry game against the Flames on Saturday night. They’ll play again in Ottawa on Tuesday before heading to Montreal for their fourth game in six nights on Thursday. Edmonton will be a big favorite against the Senators after steamrolling them by a combined 12-7 score in consecutive wins on home ice last week. The Sens showed some signs of life in back-to-back games against the high-flying Habs and might offer a bit of value on home ice to start the week. Detroit Red Wings Detroit will have had been in Florida for a full week by the time it wraps up its four-game jaunt against the Lightning and Panthers on Tuesday. The Red Wings upset the Panthers 4-1 on Sunday afternoon but figure to be in tough on Tuesday night. A two-game swing through Florida is usually bad enough for road teams, rarely managing to sweep the trip over the years, but here with the lowly Wings having been in the Florida sun for a week and coming off a win on Sunday, I look for an obvious letdown on Tuesday night. Note that the Panthers remain an undervalued commodity, quietly putting together a 6-1-2 start to the campaign. Calgary Flames Now might be a good time to buy low with the Flames as they looked good in Saturday’s 6-4 win over the Oilers but that marked just their third win in their last eight games. Let’s chalk that win up as a potential turning point as they prepare to host the Jets on Tuesday night before four straight against the struggling Canucks. Keep in mind, the Flames opened the season with three games against the Jets and Canucks, collecting five of a possible six points along the way. Despite its uneven overall record, I do think Calgary has plenty of upside moving forward.

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NFL Divisional Round Saturday Player Props

Friday, Jan 15, 2021

We went 1-2 with our NFL Wild Card props in this piece last week so we'll be looking to get back on the winning side of the ledger this week, with two NFL Divisional Round matchups in the offing on Saturday. While player prop numbers are generally moving targets, the following two plays are widely available (lines taken from BetOnline). Rams vs. PackersPackers RB Aaron Jones over 69.5 rushing yards.Aaron Jones should be front and center in the Packers offensive gameplan on Saturday afternoon. Game script clearly plays into Jones favor with Green Bay favored by nearly a touchdown at the time of writing. Note that the Packers showed a great deal of confidence in Jones in last year's playoff run, increasing his workload after he took a backseat to Jamaal Williams at times during the regular season. Off a healthy regular season, Jones is well-positioned to take the reins and ultimately put this game away should Green Bay build a lead in this game. While the Rams do offer a tough test with a stout run defense, their biggest concern should be on pressuring QB Aaron Rodgers and clamping down on WR Davante Adams. They'll likely be content to give up chunk plays to Jones on the ground if it means limiting the Pack to 3's rather than 7's at the end of drives. I have Jones getting north of 80 yards running the football in this game. Ravens vs. BillsRavens TE Mark Andrews over 55.5 receiving yardsI absolutely love the way this play sets up after Andrews took a backseat to WR Hollywood Brown in last week's win over the Titans. Andrews caught just four passes for 41 yards in that contest but draws a mouth-watering matchup against the Bills here. Note that only one team allowed more receiving yards to tight ends than Buffalo over the course of the regular season. Even Colts veteran TE Jack Doyle was able to find plenty of open field last week as Indy tight ends abused the Bills defense. With the Ravens likely to be playing from behind for some of this game, we should see QB Lamar Jackson rely heavily on Andrews to move the sticks. While I also like Andrews to score a touchdown in this game, I'll back him to get over the very reasonable receiving yards total, banking on a 70+ yard performance. Good luck this weekend and enjoy the games!

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NFL Wild Card Saturday Player Props

Friday, Jan 08, 2021

Betting opportunities abound with an unprecedented six NFL Wild Card showdowns on tap this weekend. Here's a look at one player prop to consider from each of Saturday's three playoff contests (lines taken from BetOnline but widely available, with numbers varying, at most sportsbooks).Colts vs. BillsColts RB Jonathan Taylor over 77.5 rushing yardsWhile game script could certainly work against super rookie Taylor in this game (the Bills are favored by nearly a touchdown), I don't expect the Colts to stray away from him even if they do fall behind. Outside of Derrick Henry, few running backs were more dominant than Taylor down the stretch as he ripped off north of 130 rush yards per game over his last six contests. The strength of the Bills defense is in their secondary - they're relatively soft against the run, ranking 26th in yards per rush allowed (4.6). Also note that the Bills rank an identical 26th in opponent's rushing first down percentage. Expect Taylor to rip off enough big gains to get up and over this relatively low rushing yardage total. Rams vs. SeahawksSeahawks WR D.K. Metcalf under 62.5 receiving yardsSeattle QB Russell Wilson is likely going to have to look away from big play machine Metcalf in this one as D.K. will likely draw shadow coverage from Rams elite CB Jalen Ramsey. Note that Metcalf has surpassed 59 receiving yards just once in four career meetings with the Rams. We saw the Seahawks offense settle down as the season progressed, with far less being asked of Wilson compared to earlier in the campaign when the 'Let Russ Cook' talk reached a fever pitch. Metcalf topped out at six catches and went over 61 receiving yards just once over the regular season's final five games. Should the Seahawks build a lead as expected in a favored role at home, his likelihood of seeing a sudden increase in targets is diminished.Buccaneers vs. Washington Football TeamWashington RB J.D. McKissic over 32.5 receiving yardsIf there's one area in the Bucs defense that Washington's offense can exploit it's in the short passing game where RB McKissic was a force all season long. With Washington's two legitimate game-breakers in RB Antonio Gibson and WR Terry McLaurin both dealing with late season injuries, McKissic needs to be a part of the gameplan on Saturday night. Should WFT be playing much of this game from behind (as is expected as an eight-point underdog) it will be yielded the middle of the field by a Bucs defense that will be focused on taking away big splash plays through the air. With QB Alex Smith nursing a calf strain, he'll be looking to get the ball out quickly and McKissic should be a benefactor. 

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Camellia Bowl Notes: Marshall vs. Buffalo

Thursday, Dec 24, 2020

The Christmas Day Bowl showdown between Marshall and Buffalo may look like a terrific matchup on paper, but injuries and opt-outs have the potential to derail that notion.Marshall will be without at least three key pieces - most notably RB Brenden Knox, who has elected to sit out this game and forego his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. Knox was really one of the only things the Thundering Herd offense had going for it down the stretch with redshirt freshman QB Grant Wells struggling mightily. The Herd enter this contest off consecutive losses against Rice and UAB, scoring only 13 points in the process. Knox isn't the only notable absence, however, as Marshall will be without its top tackler and C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Tavante Beckett, who has also elected to opt-out. Buffalo has concerns of its own, with RB Jaret Patterson nursing a knee injury suffered in last week's stunning MAC Championship Game loss to Ball State. Patterson had run for a whopping 815 yards and 14 touchdowns over his last three games before last week's misstep against the Cardinals. While Patterson is expected to play in this game, he'll likely be wearing a knee brace and it remains to be seen how effective he can be, or whether he'll see a full workload. Both teams feature starting quarterbacks that showed flashes of brilliance over the course of the season but are best suited to 'game manager' roles in my opinion. Note that last week's contest marked the first time Buffalo QB Kyle Vantrease attempted more than 27 passes in a game this season, and we know how that one went for the Bulls. Marshall QB Wells has thrown more than two touchdown passes just twice in eight games against FBS opponents this season. The Bulls are currently installed as 5.5-point favorites.

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IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship Preview

Friday, Dec 11, 2020

The 2020-21 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship gets underway on Christmas Day (provided all teams can get through the Covid protocols and ice full squads prior to that), helping fill the void for hockey bettors until the NHL makes its long-awaited return in mid-January (that's been thrown around as a possible start date anyway). Group A features defending champion (and tournament host) Canada along with Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Germany. Group B has last year's tournament runner-up Russia, Sweden, USA, Czech Republic and Austria. Here's how the odds shake out entering the tournament.Canada -130USA +375Russia +500Sweden +650Finland +725Czech Republic +2000Switzerland +5000Slovakia +5500Germany +7500Austria +10000It should come as no surprise that I'm picking Canada to take home its second straight Gold Medal as it ices a 'Dream Team' - essentially the fourth time it has done so in tournament history (three times previously due to NHL labor issues). Yes, we're being asked to pay a tariff to back the tournament favorite but that price might actually look cheap as this tournament goes on.The Canadians certainly land in the softer of the two groups, with only Finland likely to pose much of a challenge. While that can sometimes hurt teams as they enter the knockout stage of the tournament, here I believe it helps Canada with most of the players having not seen real game action in months. It should give them a chance to ease into things and ultimately ramp up leading into the quarter-final round, with the game against Finland coming on the final day of the group stage on New Year's Eve. Team Canada's roster is absolutely loaded with depth and talent, particularly on the blue line where this tournament is often won and lost. Canada's top defensive pairing is likely to feature two returning players from last year's golden squad, Bowen Byram and Jamie Drysdale. Byram, a first-round pick in this year's NHL draft, could very well be the best all-around player in the tournament. Drysdale made last year's squad as a 17-year old and should take a big leap forward as a cornerstone on the blue line this year. Up front, Canada is brimming with talent. Kirby Dach will lead the group after being loaned from the Chicago Blackhawks, who he played a full season with in 2019-20. As far as forwards go, only Patrick Kane saw more ice time than Dach in the 'Hawks brief playoff run in August - a testament to just how high Chicago is on the young forward. Dylan Cozens was a big factor in Canada's Gold Medal victory last January and is primed to contend for the title of 'best forward' in this year's tournament as well. You can go up and down the list - Canada simply has no holes up front (as evidenced by the fact that it was forced to cut first-round NHL draft pick Hendrix Lapierre on Thursday). If you're looking for a potential dark horse winner I would suggest Finland at a +725 return. With Covid concerns swirling and a number of teams already missing some key players due to the protocols in place, this is certainly a tournament where anything could happen - within reason of course. Finland has excellent pedigree in this tournament, often rising up to take the Gold Medal when you least expect it (it has taken the gold on five occasions). There's no question it will be a 'tough out' and we're being offered a generous price to back it in advance of puck drop. 

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 13

Thursday, Dec 03, 2020

Having just wrapped up Week 12 in odd fashion with Wednesday afternoon football in Pittsburgh, it's time to get right back to work on the Week 13 NFL board. Here's a look at three teams on an uptick and three on the wrong side of the curve as we head down the home stretch in December.Stock RisingHouston TexansI hesitate to put the Texans in this category with the news that WR Will Fuller will miss the remainder of the season due to suspension after taking PED's. With that being said, there's no question Houston has been a different team since ridding itself of former head coach Bill O'Brien. While the Texans do draw a tough opponent in the Colts this Sunday, the fact that they're just a field goal underdog is telling. They might be catching Indy at the right time off back-to-back bruising battles with the Packers and Titans.Cleveland BrownsIs it time to start believing in the Browns? Their schedule has unquestionably done them plenty of favors to this point but now things toughen up with a trip to Tennessee on Sunday followed by a home date with the Ravens next week. There's certainly a path to the playoffs in Cleveland though, as it also has two games left against the Giants and Jets later in December. If the Browns can continue to hide an ineffective Baker Mayfield in their offensive scheme they can keep piling up victories.Seattle SeahawksI like the way the Seahawks have gone about their business in the last two weeks, successfully bouncing back from a tough stretch to deliver key wins over the Cardinals and Eagles, allowing a grand total of only 38 points in the process. Now comes the reward - consecutive games against the Giants and Jets (both at home, no less). The potential is there for Seattle to run the table from here, with its other games coming at Washington, at home against the Rams and at the 49ers.Stock FallingLas Vegas RaidersThe Raiders have shown a lot of promise this season but we'll see if that tough 35-31 loss to the Chiefs two weeks ago continues to have hangover effects moving forward. It certainly looked that way last week as Jon Gruden's squad was torched 43-6 by the lowly Falcons. A 'get right' spot awaits this Sunday as Las Vegas stays on the road to face the hapless Jets. If the Raiders can't earn a win in that game it might be time to start thinking about 2021.Denver BroncosWhile Covid protocols obviously put the Broncos in a really tough spot against the Saints last Sunday, things aren't likely to get much better this week - even with a real starting quarterback. That's because Denver is heading to Kansas City for a primetime date with the Chiefs. The last time these two AFC West rivals hooked up it was the Chiefs rolling to a 43-16 win. A similar scoreline would come as no surprise this week with Kansas City installed as a two-touchdown favorite.Arizona CardinalsWith three losses in their last four games the Cardinals have fallen on hard times at the absolute worst time. Perhaps the injury to QB Kyler Murray's shoulder has had more of an effect than the team has let on as their offense just hasn't looked the same in the last two weeks. Murray completed just 23-of-34 passes for 170 yards, no touchdowns and an interception against a beatable Patriots defense last Sunday. After a stretch that saw him throw three touchdowns in three of five games he has tossed a grand total of only three in his last three contests. With key injuries on the defensive side of the football they desperately need a lot more production out of their once-vaunted offense. 

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 12

Thursday, Nov 26, 2020

December is right around the corner but a lot of teams still haven't separated themselves from the pack in this unique 2020 NFL season. Here's our weekly look around the league at three teams on the rise and three on their way down entering Week 12.Stock RisingNew York GiantsThere's something positive happening in the Meadowlands these days - at least when it comes to one of the two NFL franchises that call New Jersey home. The G-Men are coming off their bye week, which came on the heels of consecutive wins over NFC East opponents. Shockingly enough, they're still alive and kicking in the abysmal NFC East race and this week they're afforded another favorable matchup against the Joe Burrow-less Bengals in Cincinnati. Credit the New York defense for charting a course back to contention and look for another positive performance this week.Tennessee TitansThe Titans were in desperate need of a strong bounce-back performance in a tough matchup in Baltimore last Sunday and they got exactly that. Tennessee may only go as far as RB Derrick Henry can carry them but that's not necessarily a bad thing as he's more than capable of doing the heavy lifting. After this Sunday's date with the Colts the Titans schedule lets up a bit with home games against the Browns and Lions sandwiched around a trip to Jacksonville to face the lowly Jaguars. New Orleans SaintsWhat's not to like about the Saints these days? Their defense has staged an incredible turnaround after a rough start to the season while their offense has shown no signs of slowing down, even with QB Drew Brees sidelined. Few were talking about New Orleans as a true Super Bowl contender leading into the season but that is quickly changing. This Sunday they travel to Denver to face a Broncos squad in a clear letdown spot off a rare victory last week. Stock FallingJacksonville JaguarsThe Jags stock was admittedly not all that high to begin with, but having not won a game since Week 1, and coming off a blowout defeat at the hands of the Steelers (who have a tendency to play down to their competition) we may not have seen their worst just yet. Jacksonville hosts a surging Browns squad this Sunday and will stunningly turn to third-string QB Mike Glennon (yes, he's still in the league). The Cleveland defense has to be salivating at the prospect of teeing off on the statue-like Glennon on Sunday afternoon. Chicago BearsComing off four straight losses and with no reason to believe its offense can get on track, Chicago heads to Green Bay to face what is sure to be a highly-motivated Packers squad this Sunday. The Bears haven't won a game since mid-October and while they will get some relief with a home game against the Lions next week, expect their losing streak to continue as a near double-digit underdog at Lambeau Field. New England Patriots While last Sunday's game in Houston was by no means a must-win situation, the Patriots playoff hopes are quickly diminishing in a crowded AFC field. Now things get tricky with the high-flying Cardinals visiting Foxborough this Sunday before the Pats pack their bags and head for Los Angeles for consecutive games against the Chargers and Rams (in a five-day span). The sputtering and inconsistent New England offense has been the biggest issue but last Sunday the defense just couldn't get off the field, allowing an average Texans offense to go on long, clock-churning drives. Expect more of the same against Arizona.

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 11

Thursday, Nov 19, 2020

We're coming off another winning Sunday in NFL action and back to take our weekly look around the NFL at three teams on the rise and three on their way down as we head into Week 11.Stock RisingNew England PatriotsPerhaps their come-from-behind win over the hapless Jets in New Jersey two weeks ago will serve as the Pats unlikely turning points, as long as they can build off of last Sunday's impressive primetime win over the Ravens. QB Cam Newton looks healthy again and that's bad news for a rag-tag Texans defense that will try to slow him down on Sunday afternoon in Houston. New England is currently laying less than a field goal.Indianapolis ColtsThe Colts have won three of their last four contests and find themselves in a spotlight non-conference game against the Packers this Sunday They'll have the benefit of a long week of preparation having not played since last Thursday's key win over the division-rival Titans. The Packers are back on track following consecutive wins but neither victory was all that impressive (coming against the injury-ravaged 49ers and lowly Jaguars). Kansas City ChiefsOf course, we could install the Chiefs at the top of this article virtually every week, but here we'll make a point to include them as they've scored a whopping 111 points over their last three games. Kansas City's lone loss this season came in stunning fashion at home against the Raiders back in early October so you can be sure it will be up for this revenge matchup in Las Vegas on Sunday. While the Chiefs are undefeated on the road this season, two of their four wins have come by single-digit margins.Stock FallingCincinnati BengalsI'm not going to knock the Bengals for last week's tough road loss against the undefeated Steelers but the fact is, they've had a miserable time trying to find the win column since their schedule toughened up in October. Cincinnati checks in having won just once in its last five games and while it does draw a favorable matchup against the Washington Football Team this Sunday, it's a tough spot from a motivational standpoint coming off that big measuring-stick division showdown with Pittsburgh.Philadelphia EaglesThe Eagles had a fine opportunity to take control of the NFC East with a victory over the Giants last Sunday but ultimately fell short. They've been sputtering all season, playing a maddeningly inconsistent brand of football - par for the course in the NFC 'Least'. This Sunday's game in Cleveland is winnable but it's getting awfully tough to predict when the Philadelphia offense in particular will finally get it together, if at all this season.Baltimore RavensThere's sure to be somewhat of an overreaction in the betting marketplace to the Ravens losing that rain-soaked game in New England last Sunday night. With that being said, there's no question Baltimore is having a difficult time reaching the heights that it saw last season. Sitting at 6-3 it is in desperate need of a strong bounce-back performance at home against the Titans on Sunday as a very difficult road game against the Steelers looms next week. QB Lamar Jackson looks like a quarterback that might be putting a little too much pressure on himself.

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 10

Thursday, Nov 12, 2020

We're rolling following a perfect 5-0 premium NFL card in Week 9. Now our attention shifts to Week 10 as we take a look at three teams on the rise and three teams on the decline entering Sunday's action.Stock RisingHouston TexansSurprisingly enough, there's a lot to like when it comes to the Texans right now. Since the firing of head coach Bill O'Brien they've shown some signs of life, particularly on the offensive side of the football where QB DeShaun Watson looks a whole lot more comfortable. Houston's schedule remains fairly soft the rest of the month, with a trip to Cleveland this week followed by a home date with the Patriots and a road game against Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.New York GiantsDon't look now but the Giants might actually be building something positive under Joe Judge. They followed up a nice effort in a close loss to the Bucs on Monday Night Football with a come-from-behind win in Washington last Sunday. The New York defense in particular has risen to the occasion in recent weeks and draws another favorable matchup with the inconsistent Eagles at home this Sunday afternoon. If the New York offense can show a pulse, this could be a play-on team down the stretch.Las Vegas RaidersThe Raiders were a 'tough out' last season and they look like even more than that here in 2020 as they're coming off another divisional win last Sunday, improving to 5-3 in the process. Is Derek Carr a legitimate top-level NFL quarterback? That certainly appears to be the case here in 2020 as he's thrown 16 touchdowns compared to only two interceptions - a massive improvement over previous campaigns. Las Vegas draws another winnable matchup this Sunday as it hosts a reeling Denver squad.Stock FallingTampa Bay BuccaneersWhat a difference a week makes. The Bucs got their doors blown off in front of a national audience on Sunday Night Football, falling to 0-2 against the division-rival Saints. The good news is, they draw a favorable bounce-back matchup with the Panthers this Sunday. However, it remains to be seen whether QB Tom Brady can get back in sync with his offense, which perhaps had its chemistry shaken up with the arrival of WR Antonio Brown last week.San Francisco 49ersThe injury bug took hold of the 49ers prior to the start of the season and really hasn't let go. It is quickly becoming a lost season for the Niners and this doesn't look like the week to turn things around with a trip to New Orleans to face the surging Saints. They won't get another home game until December 7th, when they host the Bills.Chicago BearsI think most bettors already knew the Bears were a fraudulent 5-1 team earlier this season but now we've seen it play out on the field as they've dropped three straight games, scoring a pitiful 50 points in the process. The fact that they're the underdog in this Monday's home date with the 3-5 Vikings says a lot. Until Chicago can figure out how to move the football consistently on offense, it will continue to struggle mightily to find its way into the win column. 

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 9

Thursday, Nov 05, 2020

We've blazed past the midway point of the NFL regular season and while COVID outbreaks are seemingly around every corner, the show must go on. Here's a look at three teams rising and three teams falling as we enter Week 9.Stock RisingIndianapolis ColtsWhile I'm still not certain QB Philip Rivers is the right man to lead the offense, there's no question he's been getting the job done lately. Last Sunday looked like a smash spot for RB Jonathan Taylor but instead it was Rivers (and the Colts) defense that stole the show in Detroit. Now comes a tough matchup back home against what is sure to be a highly-motivated Ravens squad.Arizona CardinalsIt's easy to forget about the Cardinals after their bye week. They return to the field with a favorable matchup against the Tua-led Dolphins this Sunday. Everything was clicking for Arizona prior to the break, particularly on the offensive side of the football. Now we'll see if the Cards can avoid reading their own press and go out and take care of business to move to 6-2 on the season.New Orleans SaintsThe Saints continued their march to the top of the NFC South last Sunday, slipping past the Bears in overtime. News of Drew Brees' demise was apparently premature as he has been on point in recent contests. New Orleans will face its toughest challenge of the season to date this Sunday night as it travels to Tampa to face the red hot Buccaneers. Stock FallingCarolina PanthersThings look pretty bleak in Carolina following three straight losses, including a truly disappointing setback against the Falcons last week. After thriving early in the season, the Panthers offense has struggled, scoring a grand total of 57 points over their last three games. In stark contrast, this week's opponent - Kansas City - has scored 104 points over that same stretch. RB Christian McCaffrey is close to returning but outside of that, it's mostly doom and gloom.Los Angeles ChargersThe Chargers could have been returning home on the heels of two straight victories were it not for a complete collapse against the division-rival Broncos last Sunday. While Los Angeles' defense has been missing a number of key cogs all season, there's really no excuse for Sunday's dismal fourth quarter performance against a very average offense. The Bolts do get a solid bounce-back spot this week as they welcome a Raiders squad that will be traveling back across the country following a sloppy win in Cleveland last Sunday.Detroit LionsAs if things couldn't get any worse, Lions QB Matthew Stafford has landed on the COVID reserve list. Detroit did enjoy consecutive wins at the end of October but those were really fool's gold as they came against the Jaguars and Falcons - two of the league's weakest squads. The Lions will play two of their next three games away from home, starting with a trip to Minnesota to face the suddenly-hot Vikings offense this Sunday. If Stafford can't go they'll obviously be hard-pressed to pick themselves up off the mat.

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 8

Thursday, Oct 29, 2020

We're seeing the NFL pretty well right now off a 4-1 Sunday and Monday card last week. As we approach the midway point of the season it's a great time to take stock of where a number of teams stand entering the first Sunday in November.Stock RisingBaltimore RavensThe Ravens find themselves in a huge statement spot this Sunday as they host the undefeated division-rival Steelers. Baltimore's bandwagon seemed to clear entirely following that ugly loss to the Chiefs on Monday Night Football last month. Since then, the Ravens have gone a perfect 3-0, but they've beaten the likes of Washington, Cincinnati and Philadelphia - not exactly a who's who of the league's best teams. I do think we see Baltimore's best this Sunday but will it be enough against the streaking Steelers?Los Angeles ChargersI'm of the mind that the Chargers are far better than their 2-4 record indicates. They followed up a season-opening victory with four straight losses, but three of those setbacks came against three of the league's best teams in Kansas City, Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Last week we saw the Bolts get back on track with a 39-29 win over the Jaguars. QB Justin Herbert appears to be getting more comfortable running the offense with each passing week and now he has a chance to really get the team rolling with the next four games coming against the Broncos, Raiders, Dolphins and Jets.New Orleans SaintsAll of the Drew Brees critics have gone silent in recent weeks as the veteran quarterback has guided the Saints to three straight victories, throwing for well over 800 yards and five touchdown passes in the process. New Orleans' schedule admittedly starts to toughen up in November as it travels to face Chicago and Tampa Bay in the next two games. With that being said, it does look like Sean Payton's squad has regained its identity and appears well-positioned to challenge atop the NFC South.Stock FallingChicago BearsWe cashed a ticket fading the Bears on Monday Night Football as they not surprisingly proved to be a fraudulent 5-1 team in an ugly loss to the Rams. Chicago's offense remains unimaginative and the question remains whether it's Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky that should be running it. A return home may not be enough to cure their woes, noting that the Bears have scored a grand total of just 48 points in three games at Soldier Field this season.Cleveland BrownsIt may seem odd to find the Browns in our 'stock falling' category this week. After all they're 5-2 on the season and coming off a thrilling win in Cincinnati last Sunday. There are plenty of concerns. First of all, Cleveland has been shredded for 62 points over its last two games. In fact, the Browns have allowed at least 30 points in five of seven contests this season. Now their offense is hamstrung as well with WR Odell Beckham Jr. done for the season and QB Baker Mayfield showing plenty of inconsistency. Look for them to go even more run-heavy than usual moving forward.New England PatriotsWe'll put the Patriots in this category again this week as they try to pick up the pieces following their worst performance of the season in a blowout home loss to the 49ers last week. I'm not sure any team misses having its fans in the stadium than the Pats. But that's obviously no excuse for the team's performance on the field over the last few games. Perhaps head coach Bill Bellichick has never faced a challenge like the one he is up against this year. We'll see how the Pats respond this Sunday in Buffalo. 

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 7

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2020

The gap between the NFL's best and worst teams continues to grow wider but this week's slate features eight games with pointspreads of 3.5 points or less. Here's a look at three teams on the rise and three on the decline as we head into Week 7.Stock RisingTampa Bay BuccaneersThe Bucs Super Bowl stock has never been higher after a rout of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last Sunday. Tom Brady and co. find themselves in a bit of a tricky spot this Sunday, however, as they pack their bags and head across the country to face the Raiders in Las Vegas. Once considered a potential suitor for Brady, the Raiders will be eager to show Tom Terrific that he chose wrong heading to sunny Florida over the bright lights of Vegas. Pittsburgh SteelersThe emergence of rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool has given Big Ben another big-time weapon to work with on offense while the Steelers defense continues to play lights out on the other side of the football. Interestingly, Pittsburgh will be hitting the road this week for the first time since it traveled to face the lowly Giants way back in Week 1. The Steelers will head to Tennessee where it will be an unstoppable force vs. immovable object type of battle between Titans running back Derrick Henry and Pittsburgh's stout run defense.Arizona CardinalsThe Cards are fresh off an absolute annihilation of the Cowboys on Monday Night Football but things will get a whole lot tougher this Sunday as they return home to host the Seahawks. Arizona's defense has really stepped up but let's not lose sight of the fact that it has faced the likes of San Francisco, Washington, Detroit, Carolina, New York (Jets) and Dallas (without Dak Prescott) this season. This will be the Cards defense's biggest test to date.Stock FallingBuffalo BillsThe fact that they play in the AFC East is the Bills only saving grace following back-to-back losses at the hands of the Titans and Chiefs. Perhaps we should give them a pass as those two losses did come at the expense of two legitimate Super Bowl contenders, but still, the Bills haven't looked sharp at all - particularly on the defensive side of the football. The good news is, Buffalo finds itself in a true blowup spot against the lowly Jets in New Jersey this Sunday.New England Patriots Any positive momentum the Patriots had been building early in the season seemed to get derailed by Cam Newton's COVID diagnosis. Now the Pats check in having scored a pitiful 22 points over their last two games - both losses against the Chiefs and Broncos. Another likely low-scoring affair awaits this Sunday as they stay in Foxborough to host the 49ers. Newton will need to be in attack mode against an injury-depleted San Francisco defense if New England is going to snap its skid.Jacksonville JaguarsAre the Jaguars back in 'tank mode'? It would certainly appear that way as they haven't posted a victory since Week 1 and have been absolutely ripped to shreds on the defensive side of the football, allowing 30 plus points in each of their last five losses. The good news is they face an up and down Chargers offense this Sunday - perhaps an opportunity to put that streak of futility to rest. The jury is still out as to whether Gardner Minshew can rally the offense to keep pace for four quarters and cover the lofty spread let alone win outright. 

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 5

Thursday, Oct 08, 2020

With COVID concerns running rampant across the league there's plenty of uncertainty in the NFL entering Week 5. It's as good a time as ever to make sense of it all with this week's 'Stock Rising and Falling'.Stock RisingCarolina PanthersAre the Panthers actually for real? That certainly appears to be the case following impressive back-to-back wins over the Chargers and Cardinals. QB Teddy Bridgewater has been a really nice story and he gets a chance to keep it rolling against a very beatable opponent in the winless Falcons this week. Keep in mind, Atlanta will be playing on a short week after getting blown out in Green Bay on Monday night. The Panthers check in as short underdogs.Houston TexansCall me crazy, but I like the Texans a whole lot more now that Bill O'Brien has been relieved of his duties. There's no question O'Brien was holding this squad back in many regards and I look for Houston to play much looser in his absence. The Texans get a nice bounce-back spot on Sunday as they host the Jaguars who come in licking their chops following three straight losses. Seattle SeahawksThe Seahawks have a tremendous opportunity to keep their perfect record intact with a primetime home game against the 1-3 Vikings on Sunday. While Seattle's defense is obviously a problem, it did show some signs of life on that side of the football last week, essentially wrapping up the victory with a late turnover. They'll need to key on Vikes RB Dalvin Cook this week as he's looked outstanding over the last few weeks. Seattle QB Russell Wilson is obviously firing on all cylinders right now and should face little resistance against the Vikes undermanned defense.Stock FallingLas Vegas RaidersThe schedule-makers haven't been overly kind to the Raiders and there certainly isn't a break in sight this week as they head to Kansas City to take on the red hot Chiefs. The Raiders simply aren't built to play from behind as it takes their best offensive piece, RB Josh Jacobs, largely out of the offensive gameplan and puts far too much pressure on below average QB Derek Carr. Las Vegas needs to step up and at least play competitive football to slow the bleeding on Sunday afternoon. Miami DolphinsThe Fins went back in the tank with a loss to the Seahawks last Sunday and there's little reason for much excitement in South Florida - at least until Tua Tagovailoa takes over under center. This week Miami has to travel across the country to face what is sure to be an extremely motivated 49ers squad coming off an ugly home loss to the Eagles last Sunday night. This could very well be QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's last stand before it's Tua-Time.Dallas Cowboys To say that this Sunday's home game is a 'must-win' for the Cowboys would be an understatement. Their reeling thanks to a non-existent defense but catch a break with the lowly Giants coming to Jerry World on Sunday afternoon. QB Dak Prescott simply can't be relied upon to throw for over 500 yards every week, even if he does have an incredible supporting cast at his disposal. At some point the Dallas defense needs to get it together. We'll see if that happens this Sunday.

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 4

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

Playing on Sean's NFL 'stock rising' teams and against his 'stock falling' squads would have netted you a 4-2 ATS result last week and now he's back with six more teams to keep an eye on heading into Week 4.Stock RisingChicago BearsWith the Bears off to a surprising (and some believe fraudulent) 3-0 start, it would be easy to assume the value is now gone. I'm not sure that's the case as they were given a big shot in the arm with Nick Foles taking over at quarterback. There's reason to believe value is still on Chicago's side, at least for one more week, as it prepares to host 2-1 Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon.Cleveland BrownsIs it time to start buying what the Browns are selling? The jury is certainly still out after they posted back-to-back wins over two non-contenders in rebuild mode in the Bengals and Washington Football Team. Cleveland faces a much tougher test with a trip to Jerry World to face the 1-2 Cowboys this week. The matchup may not be all that bad, however, as evidenced by the reasonably short pointspread being hung out by the books.Kansas City ChiefsFollowing a close call on the road against the division-rival Chargers, the Chiefs went out and made a major statement with a lopsided win over the Ravens on Monday Night Football. Now comes another opportunity to silence any remaining doubters with a home date against Bill Bellichick's Patriots on Sunday afternoon. I'm still not certain the Chiefs have an elite defense but their offense can more than make up for any blemishes on that side of the football.Stock FallingNew Orleans SaintsMaybe the Saints deserve some credit for at least sticking around in an entertaining Sunday night affair against the red hot Packers but that was essentially a one-man show with RB Alvin Kamara going off. Teams are obviously going to scheme up their defenses to slow Kamara as he's New Orleans' lone offensive threat at the moment. I'm more concerned about the Saints defense, which simply hasn't held up well at all through the first three weeks of the season. A trip to Detroit as a road favorite awaits this week.Minnesota VikingsThe Vikings are completely lost right now and fresh off another demoralizing home loss last Sunday, it's tough to envision them picking themselves up off the mat. The good news is they draw a winnable game against the Texans this Sunday but after that they'll play two of their next three contests against the Seahawks and Packers - both on the road. Mike Zimmer's archaic gameplanning simply isn't going to lead to many 'W's, especially with an injury-ravaged defense - once the strength of the team.New York GiantsAfter getting blown out by an undermanned 49ers squad last week, the Giants will pack up and head to the west coast to face what will be a highly-motivated Rams team on Sunday afternoon. Without RB Saquon Barkley there's really not much for sophomore QB Daniel Jones to lean on in this offense. Defensively, this is a team lacking an identity after allowing 49ers backup QB Nick Mullens to complete 25-of-36 passes for 343 yards and a touchdown last week. 

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 3

Thursday, Sep 24, 2020

We’re onto Week 3 of the NFL season with 11 teams still undefeated through two games. Here’s a quick look around the league in our latest edition of ‘Stock Rising and Falling’.Stock Rising:Baltimore RavensWhile a perfect 2-0 start was expected, perhaps the Ravens have looked even better than most anticipated through the first two weeks of the season. As I noted at the start of the season, the Ravens are absolutely loaded on both sides of the football – no team brings more roster continuity to this unique 2020 campaign. Now comes Baltimore’s first real test in the form of the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. Pittsburgh SteelersThe Steelers are back…or at least that’s how it appears through two games. Give Pittsburgh plenty of credit; its defense has come up big in consecutive games against the Giants and Broncos and another favorable matchup awaits this Sunday as it hosts the reeling Houston Texans. Keep in mind, the Steelers offense is still rounding back into form after missing Big Ben for much of last season. There’s still plenty of upside in the Steel City as we head toward October. Dallas CowboysThe Cowboys doubters were coming out of the woodwork in droves before Dallas pulled off its incredible comeback victory against Atlanta last Sunday. Now the Cowboys look poised to go on a run but only if they can keep the momentum building in a road date with the Seahawks this week. After the trip to Seattle, the ‘Boys get a three-game homestand against the Browns, Giants and Cardinals so with a win on Sunday they could be staring down the pipe at a potential 5-1 start. Stock Falling:Denver BroncosBelieve it or not, the Broncos are actually off to a perfect 2-0 ATS start. That ATS success could be short-lived, however, as they deal with a number of key injuries and absences on both sides of the football. QB Jeff Driskel takes the reins under center after holding his own in relief of Drew Lock last week but draws a stiff challenge this Sunday as Denver hosts an underrated Tampa Bay defense. Vic Fangio will need to scheme up the Broncos defense in order to hang tough in this one. New York JetsThe Jets are a mess and perhaps their only saving grace at this point is the fact that they get to host the Broncos next week. Head coach Adam Gase appears to be on borrowed time with this group, which simply hasn’t been able to get it together offensively during his time in the Big Apple. New York heads to Indy this week to face a Colts squad that made quick work of the Vikings last Sunday. Atlanta FalconsHow in the world will the Falcons pick themselves up off the mat following that demoralizing loss in Dallas last Sunday? Atlanta’s pass-funnel defense just isn’t getting it done in spite of its very capable offense. This Sunday’s home game against the 2-0 Bears could be the last stand for head coach Dan Quinn. After Chicago comes a tough trip to Lambeau Field to face the red hot Packers. It’s put up or shut up time in the ATL this week. 

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 2

Tuesday, Sep 15, 2020

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

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 1

Wednesday, Sep 09, 2020

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

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2020 NHL Playoffs: Stanley Cup Futures Bets

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

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

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Betting NHL Playoffs Futures

Tuesday, Feb 25, 2020

The NHL trade deadline has come and gone leaving us with updated Stanley Cup futures odds. Here’s a look at two teams from each conference that offer excellent value in the wake of all the deadline deals.Eastern ConferencePittsburgh Penguins: 11-1 (at Bovada Sportsbook)The Penguins didn’t make any big moves on deadline day – their biggest move was acquiring Jason Zucker from the Minnesota Wild two weeks ago. Zucker has proven to be an excellent fit on a line with Sidney Crosby, providing some nice secondary scoring over the last couple of weeks.That’s not to say the Pens didn’t tinker with their lineup a little, adding veteran forward Patrick Marleau from the San Jose Sharks while also re-acquiring Conor Sheary along with Evan Rodrigues from the Buffalo Sabres.I like the make-up of this Pens squad as it stands, particularly on the blue line where Pittsburgh has build a solid but unheralded defensive corps that matches up with most teams they’ll face come playoff time. The x-factor could be between the pipes where Pittsburgh will need Tristan Jarry and Matt Murray to round back into form down the stretch.Carolina Hurricanes: 23-1 (at Bovada Sportsbook)This may be my favorite Stanley Cup play on the entire board. The Hurricanes bolstered their blue line prior to the trade deadline, acquiring Sami Vatanen from the Devils and Brady Skjei from the Rangers.Carolina, of course, gained immeasurable playoff experience during last year’s improbable run to the Eastern Conference Final, where it was ushered out by what was simply a strong Bruins squad. This year, I believe the Canes can match up with anyone in the East, noting they already took down the mighty Washington Capitals, who were then defending Stanley Cup champions, in the opening round of last year’s playoffs. The Canes young corps has only gotten stronger this season and I liked the savvy move of bringing Justin Williams back out of retirement for one more run at the Cup. It’s probably only a matter of time before head coach Rod Brind’Amour brings a cup to Raleigh – why not this year?Western ConferenceVegas Golden Knights: 13-1 (at Bovada Sportsbook)The Knights appear to be rounding into form at the right time as they ascend the Western Conference standings in February. This is a roster that has only gotten stronger since going all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in the team’s NHL debut season in 2017-18. Given last year’s somewhat surprising early playoff exit, the hunger will certainly be there for the Knights to go on a deep playoff run this year. Vegas didn’t stand pat in the days leading up to the trade deadline, acquiring Stanley Cup winner Alec Martinez to strengthen their defensive corps while also adding some depth between the pipes with Robin Lehner coming over from the Blackhawks. Even Nick Cousins looks like a nice under the radar pickup to add to their depth up front. The Western Conference is wide open this season and I would put the Knights right up there with the Blues as one of the favorites to represent the conference in the Stanley Cup Final.Vancouver Canucks: 21-1 (at Bovada Sportsbook)While the Canucks won’t be a sure thing to get out of the first round, let alone go on a Stanley Cup run, I do like them at the current price point as they offer a lot of upside, albeit with a young roster that doesn’t have a great deal of playoff experience to lean on.Bringing in two-time Stanley Cup winner Tyler Toffoli from the Kings was arguably one of the biggest moves leading up to the trade deadline, and since joining the team he has proven to be a tremendous fit by all accounts. With Brock Boeser sidelined, Toffoli provides some much needed scoring punch up front.While the Canucks future is bright, I do think they’re in ‘win now’ mode as well. Once again, with the West there for the taking, this might just be the year that a Canadian team finally ends the 27-year drought and hoists Lord Stanley’s Cup. 

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Betting MLB Spring Training

Tuesday, Feb 25, 2020

While we still haven’t officially entered Spring, the Boys of Summer are out in full force across Florida and Arizona as MLB Spring Training is underway.Betting the MLB exhibition schedule certainly isn’t an easy undertaking for novice bettors, with lots of different factors to consider. Here’s a quick guide of what to look if you just can’t wait for the MLB regular season to get your betting fix.LineupsStarting lineups are obviously the biggest factor when it comes to preseason baseball handicapping. These lineups are usually widely available in the hours leading up to first pitch. Mismatches are not uncommon with teams electing to field rosters of unproven talent on any given day, potentially against a true MLB lineup. Of course, when that is the case, it will quickly be factored into the moneyline prices. It’s important to shop around and act quickly if you come across a stale line. Starting pitchingConsidering the starting pitchers is important, but perhaps not as much so as it is in the regular season as the starter will often be slated to work only a couple of innings. More critical is finding information regarding a manager’s gameplan when it comes to his stable of arms on any given day. That, of course, is easier said than done but following team beat writers on Twitter is a good place to start.   WeatherThis time of year, weather is certainly a factor – particularly when it comes to Grapefruit League games, which are played across the state of Florida. Wind, humidity levels and potential afternoon rainfall are all things to look for when scouring the daily weather forecasts. With the smaller dimensions of ballparks, wind is obviously one of most important factors to consider (strength, whether it’s blowing in or out). Also keep in mind, Spring Training games can have start times anywhere between 12 noon et and 9 pm et, with the majority of games taking place in the afternoon. Games that take place in the latter stages of Spring Training are often played at the team’s true home ballpark (generally the weekend before the regular season begins).

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