Sports Picks For Sale - Sean Murphy

Hot Streaks and Achievements

  • 45-25 CFB totals run/8-1 CFB sides run
  • 59-34 NFL big ticket run
  • 16-5 (+$9.2K) NHL moneyline run

Biography

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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NCAAF - Point Spread - Sat, Nov 27

EARLY 10* CFB GAME OF THE WEEK [8-1 RUN]

After cashing BOTH of his CFB sides yesterday, Sean's RED HOT 8-1 CFB sides run rolls on with his 10* CFB Game of the...

$30

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NHL Off the Post: November 10th

Wednesday, Nov 10, 2021

As I do each and every week, I'm taking a look around the NHL to uncover some current trends and angles that you need to be aware of.With over a month of data to work with, this is the time of year when we can really exploit some weaknesses in the hockey betting marketplace. Here are four situations to keep an eye on in the days ahead. Sleepless (away from) SeattleThe Kraken got their inaugural campaign off to a competitive start by collecting at least a point in two of their first three road games. Since then, the bloom has come off the rose, so to speak, as they've now dropped six straight games away from home, failing to manage even a point in their last five road tilts. The good news is, Seattle will be back in the Emerald City for its next six games before heading back on the road at the end of the month. The Kraken are hemorrhaging goals right now, having given up a whopping 16 in their last four contests. Not surprisingly, the 'over' has cashed in each of their last four contests heading into Thursday's home date with Anaheim.Quack, QuackFew expected much of the Anaheim Ducks heading into the season with most projecting them to hold down one of the bottom three spots in the Pacific Division. A much different story has unfolded so far as Anaheim sports a 7-4-3 record, having won each of its last five contests following Tuesday's overtime win in Vancouver. With that being said, the Ducks will face the Kraken in Seattle on Thursday having gone a miserable 4-22 in their last 26 games following a one-goal victory over the last two-plus seasons, outscored by 1.5 goals on average in that situation. Of the Ducks last five victories, only one came away from home. Return to Glory?It's been a number of years since the Detroit Red Wings were relevant. A picture of consistency in the 90's and early-00's, the Winged Wheel has fallen on hard times. This season has been different, though, at least in the early going. Detroit has won each of its last three games and has surprisingly won more games than it has lost 13 contests into the campaign. Perhaps the Wings youth movement is finally paying off. Rookie Lucas Raymond looks like the real deal and is an early front-runner in the Rookie of the Year race. If captain Dylan Larkin can stay healthy (that's been a knock on him throughout his career) there's reason to believe that Detroit can sustain something positive for a change. The Red Wings will get two more home games against Washington and Montreal before heading on the road for a tough four-game western road trip. Baby, it's a Wild WorldSave for a brief 1-3 lull in late October, the Minnesota Wild have gotten off to a flying start this season. Heading into Wednesday's matchup with the lowly Coyotes in Arizona they've reeled off three straight wins, scoring a whopping 15 goals in the process. Perhaps we should pump the breaks a little, however, noting that Minnesota has been winning in spite of its goaltending tandem rather than because of it. Cam Talbot has posted a .904 save percentage while handing the lion's share of the action with nine starts in 11 games. Backup Kaapo Kahkonen had a miserable preseason and has picked up right where he left off during the regular season, recording a .860 save percentage while allowing seven goals in only two games. While the offense is more than capable of shouldering the load, there's no question the Wild are operating with a rather thin margin of error given their inability to keep pucks out of their own net. Keep an eye on the back-to-back set on Wednesday-Thursday this week as Kahkonen is likely to be in goal for one of those games. 

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NHL Off the Post: Week of November 1st

Tuesday, Nov 02, 2021

In a new weekly column I'll be taking a look around the NHL at some current angles and trends you can use in your daily hockey handicapping. Here's a quick look at some interesting tidbits from around the league as we flip the calendar page over to November. Shooting (blanks) StarsThe Dallas Stars have been an 'under' bettors' dream so far this season. Eight games, eight 'under' results. We've seen the Stars score more than two goals just twice in those eight games and they head into Tuesday's matchup in Winnipeg having found the back of the net only four times in their last three games combined. We have to anticipate some regression to the mean from a totals perspective moving forward, especially when you consider Dallas boasts what I would consider a below-average goaltending tandem that features veterans Braden Holtby and Anton Khudobin (at least until Ben Bishop gets healthy). It's not as if the Stars talent cupboard is bare, particularly up front, and they enter the new week as healthy as any team in the league outside of Bishop.Fly-ing high in PhillyThe Philadelphia Flyers return home off consecutive 'under' results in Western Canada after their first five games this season had all totaled six goals or more (4-0-1 o/u record in those games). They'll host the reeling Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday, noting that Flyers home games have totaled 9, 7, 9 and 6 goals this season. Perhaps their recent low-scoring results are factoring into Tuesday's total, however, as it sits at a reasonable 5.5. In games involving Philadelphia totaled at 5.5 goals this season, the 'over' has gone a perfect 2-0. Arizona checks in sporting a 17-7 o/u record the last 24 times it has come off five or more consecutive losses, as is the case now as it sits 0-9 on the season.Mile high expectationsIt wasn't the start they had hoped for, but the Colorado Avalanche have rounded back into form as they head into Wednesday's home game against Columbus off back-to-back victories over the Blues and Wild. Of course, injuries and quarantines played a role in the Avs slow start as Nathan MacKinnon started the season on the shelf while Gabriel Landeskog (suspension) and Mikko Rantanen (injury) have missed time as well. Interestingly, Colorado has yet to close as a favorite -200 or higher this season. That could be short-lived as we're likely to see the Avs laying a steep price at home against the Blue Jackets on Wednesday night. Note that the Avs check into that game sporting a 29-5 record the last 34 times they've come off a home win by two goals or more.A devil of a timeThe spooky season may be in the rear-view mirror but the New Jersey Devils are still dealing with some demons of their own. Since opening the season with back-to-back victories they haven't been able to string together a winning streak since, going 2-3 over their last five contests. I'm more interested in playing New Jersey 'overs' rather than backing or fading it at this point, as it remains a struggle between the pipes until MacKenzie Blackwood can get back in the crease. The Devils have already used three goaltenders this season. Only veteran Jonathan Bernier has enjoyed much success but we're talking about a small sample size of three games as he's dealt with an injury as well. On a positive note, even with former first overall draft pick Jack Hughes sidelined since game two, New Jersey has managed to score three or more goals in five of seven contests this season. Not surprisingly, the 'over' is 4-2-1 in the Devils seven games and next up is a date with the Anaheim Ducks, who have seen the 'over' cash in seven consecutive games, on Tuesday night. 

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 8

Friday, Oct 29, 2021

It's hard to believe but we're nearing the halfway point of the 2021 NFL season. With only 13 teams having posted above .500 records to date the stakes are especially high entering Sunday's action. Here's a quick look around the league at two teams that are on the rise and two that are on their way down in this week's edition of 'Stock Rising and Falling'.Stock risingAtlanta FalconsI'm hesitant to include the Falcons in this category as their last two wins have come against the likes of the Jets and Dolphins. However, the runway is clear for Atlanta to keep rolling as hosts the reeling Panthers this week. We've finally seen veteran QB Matt Ryan find some chemistry with much-hyped rookie TE Kyle Pitts and it should only be a matter of time before WR Calvin Ridley rounds back into form. Ridley has found it tough sledding in the post-Julio Jones era but I would anticipate Ryan force-feeding him a little more in the weeks to come. Defensively, the Falcons haven't had to be great but the good news is, they won't face a truly elite offensive opponent until Week 10 when they travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys.Indianapolis ColtsThe Colts got off to a slow start this season but that was to be expected as they faced a brutal early schedule that included games against the (then healthy) Seahawks, Rams, Titans and Ravens in the first four weeks. They've turned the corner since, posting consecutive wins over the Texans and 49ers and now comes a true statement game against the division-rival Titans on Sunday in Indy. I've never been all that high on QB Carson Wentz but there's no denying he's put the team on his back lately, throwing eight touchdown passes while running for another without tossing a single interception in the last four games. He gets another mouth-watering matchup against the Titans defense this week and I would anticipate head coach Frank Reich coming up with an aggressive offensive gameplan to take advantage of that unit being on a bit of a heater.Stock fallingMiami DolphinsI question what type of spot the Dolphins are in mentally after last Sunday's demoralizing last-second loss against the Falcons. Credit Miami for battling back and taking the lead late in that game, but it couldn't make it stand up as its defense once again dropped the proverbial ball. Of course, defense was supposed to be the strength of the Fins but that simply hasn't been the case. Now Miami faces the unenviable task of traveling to Buffalo to face a Bills squad that will be in a foul mood following a Monday night loss against the Titans (which was followed by a bye week). The good news is that relief should come in the form of five of Miami's next six games coming against the Texans, Jets (twice), Panthers and Giants. San Francisco 49ersIs it another lost season in Santa Clara? It certainly appears headed that way after the 49ers fell in a rain-soaked primetime game against the Colts last Sunday. Rookie QB Trey Lance is still banged-up while Jimmy Garroppolo looks like anything but the answer under center. While injuries have certainly played a role in the 49ers struggles this season, there are other issues lying beneath the surface. We've seen the wide receiving corps fail to make plays at key points while the running backs just haven't been afforded nearly the time and space we've seen them enjoy in recent years. San Fran's defense is healthier than it was during a disastrous 2020 campaign but it hasn't made much of a different as opponents are routinely marching up and down the field on them. Maybe the Niners right the ship in a favored role in Chicago this Sunday but sitting at 2-4 the path to the playoffs is anything but clear. 

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 5

Wednesday, Oct 06, 2021

After a week that was highlighted by Tom Brady's return to Foxborough, Week 5 kicks off with an NFC West showdown between the Rams and Seahawks on Thursday night. Here's our weekly look around the league at two teams whose stock is on the rise, and two that are on the way down in this edition of NFL Stock Rising and Falling.Stock risingCleveland BrownsIt hasn't been pretty, but the Browns are off to a solid 3-1 start to the season after a surprisingly low-scoring 14-7 win over the Vikings in Minnesota last Sunday. Now comes Cleveland's toughest test since Week 1 against Kansas City as it stays on the road for a matchup against the red hot Chargers in Los Angeles. With a depleted receiving corps, the Browns would be well-suited to once again lean on their ground attack against a Los Angeles defense that has been soft against the run, allowing right around five yards per rush this season. If it wasn't clear heading into the season, it is now; the Browns have an elite defense. How they hold up against an improving Chargers offense remains to be seen. Note that Los Angeles is just 1-8 ATS after outgaining its previous opponent by 100 or more total yards over the last three seasons, as is the case here. Arizona CardinalsRiding high off an upset win over the previously undefeated Rams, the Cardinals will return home in a favored role against the 49ers this Sunday. Everything is working for the Cardinals offense right now with QB Kyler Murray looking like an MVP candidate four weeks into the season. Against a banged-up 49ers secondary we can anticipate the Cards leaning heavily on their aerial attack again this week. Defensively, Arizona has forced a whopping nine turnovers through four games. Interestingly, the Cardinals are a miserable 13-26 ATS the last 39 times they've played at home following two or more straight wins, a situation they find themselves in this week. Stock fallingDenver BroncosDespite their impressive 3-1 start to the season, I'm worried about the Broncos. They roared out of the gates with three straight wins but those came against the likes of the Giants, Jaguars and Jets. Last week, Denver received a wake-up call in the form of a blowout home loss against the Ravens. Now it heads back on the road to face what is sure to be a desperate Steelers squad that did show a bit of push-back in last week's loss in Green Bay. Few teams have been bitten as hard by the injury bug as the Broncos this season, on both sides of the football. Denver is a long-term loser after winning two of its last three games, posting a long-term 59-86 ATS record in that spot. Miami DolphinsIt's difficult to envision the Dolphins turning things around with a punchless offense that will have to wait at least another week to get QB Tua Tagovailoa back on the field. The good news is, the Fins schedule will ease up beginning next week when they travel to face the lowly Jaguars. After that comes another winnable game at home against the Falcons. Before that though, they'll go up against Brady and the Bucs in Tampa this Sunday. On a positive note, Miami has generally gotten better as the season has gone on in recent years, posting a flawless 8-0 ATS record in Weeks 5 through 9 over the last two seasons, outscoring opponents by an average margin of 6.0 points. If it's going to hang with Tampa on Sunday it will need to come up with a big bounce-back performance defensively after allowing Colts QB Carson Wentz to throw for 228 yards and two touchdowns last week. 

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 4

Tuesday, Sep 28, 2021

Another week of NFL action is in the books, providing us with a little more clarity regarding which teams are contenders and which are pretenders as we approach the quarter-pole of the season.Here's a look at two teams on the rise and two on their way down in this week's edition of 'Stock Rising and Falling'.Stock risingCincinnati BengalsThere's wasn't a lot of optimism around the Bengals entering the season with most figuring that second-year quarterback Joe Burrow would be eased back into the offense after suffering a devastating season-ending injury in the back half of 2020. Burrow has exceeded expectations, however, throwing for seven touchdown passes in guiding the Bengals to a 2-1 start. Now the schedule eases up with a Thursday night home game against the reeling Jaguars and a trip to Detroit to face the lowly Lions sandwiched around a home game against the Packers. The Cincinnati offense is going to thrive with all the young talent on hand. It's the Bengals defense that was thought to be the weak link but so far, so good having allowed just 54 points through three games. Now comes an opportunity to feast on Jags struggling rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence.Buffalo BillsThe Bills are back. Did they every really go anywhere? There were plenty of critics following an ugly season-opening home loss to the Steelers - a Steelers team that has turned out to be far worse than advertised but they've been silenced following consecutive blowout wins over the Dolphins and Washington Football team, by a combined 78-21 margin. Buffalo will get another layup at home against the Texans this Sunday before a tough primetime road game in Kansas City in Week 6. Now that Josh Allen has shaken off the rust, the sky is the limit for Buffalo's offense. The defense will simply be asked to hold serve, much like it did last Sunday against Washington. Stock fallingPittsburgh SteelersThe Steelers are in an extremely sticky situation, off to a 1-2 start with their offense appearing punchless under the guidance of possibly-washed veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The issue is, there's really no 'plan B' when it comes to the quarterback position. Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins aren't better options than Big Ben as hard as that is to believe. With a cluster of key injuries on the defensive side of the football, Pittsburgh now has to limp into Lambeau Field to face the red hot Packers. It doesn't get much easier from there as the Steelers host the currently undefeated Broncos in Week 5 before facing the Seahawks in Week 6. If they don't find a way to turn things around by then the season may already be circling the drain by the time their bye rolls around in Week 7. Philadelphia EaglesWe'll stick in the state of Pennsylvania for our other 'stock falling' team this week. Monday night's game in Dallas couldn't have gone much worse. I'm not sure the Eagles have ever been completely sold on moving forward with Jalen Hurts as their long-term answer at quarterback. The fact that they went out and acquired former Jaguars starter Gardner Minshew Jr. in August was telling in my opinion. While injuries have certainly played a role, the Eagles defense hasn't been nearly good enough. Just as we saw last year, the defense has proven to be a pass-funnel unit once again and that's simply not a winning strategy in today's pass-happy NFL. Now comes an extremely difficult home date this Sunday against a Chiefs squad that will undoubtedly be in a sour mood following rare consecutive losses. 

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 3

Monday, Sep 20, 2021

The NFL season is off and running following two entertaining weeks of action. Here’s a quick look at two teams on the rise and two on their way down in our first 2021 installment of 'NFL Stock Rising and Falling'. Stock risingDallas CowboysSo the Cowboys didn't get off to the start they had hoped for, suffering a close loss at the hands of the defending champion Bucs in Tampa back in Week 1. Undeterred, they bounced back with a gutsy road win over the Chargers on Sunday. That was a truly impressive victory when you consider Dallas was playing a second straight road game to open the season, not to mention traveling across the country to do so. Now the Cowboys have a path to 4-1 ahead of them with three consecutive home games on deck and you have to figure they'll be favored in all three as they host the Eagles, Panthers and Giants. They do have consecutive road games (with a bye week in between) in New England and Minnesota coming up in Weeks 6-8 but the schedule doesn't really get all that tough until a trip to Kansas City in Week 11. I may be getting ahead of myself but I do like what I've seen from the Cowboys so far and while their defense will almost certainly trip them up at points, I believe the offense can more than make up for it. For now, Dallas is a team to watch.Los Angeles RamsThe Rams 2-0 start isn't unexpected but there's no denying they've looked awfully strong on both sides of the football in wins over the Bears and Colts. Could QB Matt Stafford be the piece they were missing? It certainly looks that way as head coach Sean McVay finally has the engine needed to really get the offense humming. On the other side, Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey may be the two best defensive players in all of football right now. Donald has been a one-man wrecking crew through two games while Ramsey has played a role all over the field, and sealed Sunday's game with a key late fourth quarter interception that spoiled the Colts comeback chances. Now things get interesting as the Rams host Tom Brady and the red hot Buccaneers in Week 3 before opening division play with a home game against the Cardinals in Week 4. Stock fallingAtlanta FalconsThe 2021 season could get away from the Falcons in a hurry if they can't pick up a win against the hapless Giants in New Jersey on Sunday. Off to an 0-2 start and looking like a mess on both sides of the football, it's been a disastrous start for Arthur Smith's tenure in Atlanta. While a trip to Tampa was never going to be easy, the Falcons simply weren't competitive in a 23-point rout. Without any semblance of a running game, teams are simply going to drop back in coverage and erase the likes of Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. Ridley did catch a touchdown pass against the Bucs but has just 114 receiving yards through two games. Most alarming is the fact that through two games, Atlanta's longest pass completion has gone for just 24 yards. If the Falcons can't figure out a way to stretch the field on offense, they're just not going to have much success as their defense is not capable of winning games all on its own. Minnesota VikingsThe Vikings desperately needed a strong bounce-back performance after a brutal overtime loss in Cincinnati in Week 1. While they did play better, they ultimately fell just short, missing a last-second field goal that would have given them their first win of the season in Arizona. With injuries piling up on the defensive side of the football, Minnesota might have to score 30+ every week to have a shot at winning, especially when you consider its upcoming schedule. The Vikes will host Seattle this week before the Browns come to town in Week 4. After a bye in Week 7 the schedule gets downright nightmarish with consecutive games against the Cowboys, Ravens, Chargers, Packers and 49ers, with three of those five contests on the road. Consider Sunday's showdown with the Seahawks a must-win game. 

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2021 NFL: NFC East Division Preview

Monday, Sep 06, 2021

The Dallas Cowboys are favored to win the NFC East Division but there's plenty to be decided in a division that has struggled to produce winning football teams in recent years. Here's a quick look at what to expect from all four squads entering the 2021 campaign.Odds to win (courtesy of BetOnline)Dallas Cowboys +160Washington Football Team +185New York Giants +325Philadelphia Eagles +625Dallas CowboysAll indications are that QB Dak Prescott is healthy and ready to start the season under center for the Cowboys. The sky is the limit for the Dallas offense with WR CeeDee Lamb well-positioned to ascend to superstar status this season. Of course, Lamb is only a part of an offense that is loaded at all of the skill positions but will have to deal with absences on the offensively line right out of the gate (due to injury and Covid protocols). The hope is that first round draft pick Micah Parsons can solidify a defense that has been porous at best in recent seasons. Dallas' schedule is ranked by most as the second-weakest in the entire NFL. The Cowboys will appear in at least five primetime games, including the Week 1 opener against the defending champion Bucs in Tampa. Washington Football TeamIs journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to answer for an offense that has plodded along for years now? That's the hope and there's reason to believe he can lift this offense that includes a couple of big-time playmakers in RB Antonio Gibson and WR Terry McLaurin but not much else. If TE Logan Thomas can stay healthy there's reason to believe he can be Fitzpatrick's security blanket, but that's a big if. Defensively, Washington should once again be tough with Chase Young ready to terrorize opposing quarterbacks in his sophomore season. Washington's schedule includes games against six playoff teams from last season. WFT does draw a favorable start to the campaign with consecutive (winnable) home games against the Chargers and Giants to open things up.New York GiantsThe Giants hopes ride on the legs of RB Saquon Barkley as he attempts to make it back to full strength after a devastating season-ending injury early in 2020. The offensive line remains a question mark. If they can give QB Daniel Jones enough time in the pocket, this offense could turn out to be a dynamic unit. If Jones is running for his life and Barkley struggles to find holes to run through, it could be another long season in New Jersey. The defense is mediocre at best and will have a hard time containing some of the league's better offenses. The good news is, the Giants draw the Broncos and Washington Football Team in the first two weeks of the season, giving the defense an opportunity to settle in before facing an explosive Falcons offense in Week 3. Philadelphia EaglesThe Eagles probably have the widest range of possible outcomes of any team in the NFC East. Is Jalen Hurts the answer at quarterback? Can he even hold onto the starting job with Gardner Minshew being brought in via trade in August? There are so many promising pieces in the Eagles offense but not a lot of proven talent. Philadelphia's defense just hasn't been good enough in recent years and downright awful in the secondary at times. Injuries have certainly played a factor but that's part of football and something Philadelphia needs to figure out a way to overcome. The Eagles did little in the offseason to rectify their defensive weaknesses which means it could be another long year in Philly. Both the offense and defense will need to ramp up in a hurry with a sneaky-tough season-opening matchup against the Falcons on tap in Week 1. 

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2021 NFL: AFC West Division Preview

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

We wrap up our AFC division previews with the West, where the Kansas City Chiefs are once again favored to finish in top spot. Here's a quick look at what to expect from all four teams heading into the 2021 season.Odds to win (courtesy of BetOnline)Kansas City Chiefs -250Los Angeles Chargers +500Denver Broncos +525Las Vegas Raiders +1400Kansas City ChiefsThe Chiefs begin their quest for a second Lombardi Trophy in three years as they host another top AFC contender in the Cleveland Browns in Week 1. All of the usual suspects are back for Kansas City and if the preseason is any indication, the offense appears to already be rounding into midseason form as we turn the calendar page over to September. The sight of a healthy Patrick Mahomes under center is a scary sight for Chiefs opponents after he dealt with nagging injuries late last season. The offensive line gets a boost with the acquisitions of Orlando Brown Jr. and Joe Thuney. Kansas City's defense always seems to be overshadowed by the offense but that unit is well-positioned to excel once again in 2021. Of note is the recent arrest of Frank Clark. If he's forced to miss time that could somewhat diminish the Chiefs vaunted pass rush.Los Angeles Chargers Optimism is running rampant in Chargers camp as they look to take a big step forward in QB Justin Herbert's first full season at the helm. The defense proved to be Los Angeles' achilles heel last season, largely due to injuries. With that unit healthy the sky is the limit for this Chargers squad. Remember, the Chargers also lost do-it-all RB Austin Ekeler to injury early last season. He's arguably the focal point of the offense and if he can stay healthy this year, he'll certainly help Herbert continue his ascension to superstar status. The Chargers currently have three primetime games on the schedule and open the campaign with a trip across the country to face the Washington Football Team in an early window contest in the nation's capital. Denver BroncosTeddy Bridgewater has been named the Broncos starting quarterback to open the season. He won't take as many risks as Drew Lock and should be a better fit in the offense with a host of talented wide receivers to work with. Second-round draft pick RB Javonte Williams is likely to take over for veteran Melvin Gordon before long. Of course, defense has generally been the Broncos strong suit in recent years and that unit gets a major boost with the return of elite pass rusher Von Miller this season. He and Bradley Chubb are capable of disrupting even the most elite offenses. Denver gets a soft opening to the season with matchups against the Giants, Jaguars and Jets in Weeks 1 through 3 before the schedule toughens up with a date against the Ravens in Week 3.Las Vegas RaidersThere's just not a lot for the Raiders to hang their hat on entering the 2021 season with a lack of a real identity on either side of the football. You have to wonder how long it will be before head coach Jon Gruden is on the hot seat should the Raiders get off to another poor start. There are solid pieces in place on offense with RB Josh Jacobs, TE Darren Waller and WR Henry Ruggs all capable of turning in big seasons. It does seem that QB Derek Carr continues to hold the unit back in terms of its explosiveness. Defensively, the Raiders added a quality pass rusher in Yannick Ngakoue from the Ravens but their weakness remains in the secondary, where they gave up far too many big plays last season and don't figure to improve much in 2021. With the Ravens and Steelers on tap to open the season, an 0-2 start is likely in the cards. 

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2021 NFL: AFC South Division Preview

Monday, Aug 30, 2021

We continue our series of NFL division previews with the AFC South. All four teams have questions entering the 2021 season. Here's a quick look at what to expect.Odds to win (courtesy of BetOnline)Tennessee Titans -120Indianapolis Colts +160Jacksonville Jaguars +600Houston Texans +2800Tennessee TitansThe Titans draw a bit of a tough hand, playing 12 consecutive weeks before reaching their bye in Week 13. Tennessee of course remains absolutely loaded on offense with QB Ryan Tannehill continuing his ascension and another big-time weapon to work with in WR Julio Jones. The future Hall-of-Famer is likely to play second fiddle to A.J. Brown and that should suit Jones just fine after he became used to blanket-coverage in Atlanta. Derrick Henry is in line for some regression off a 2,000 yard season but remains well-positioned to run wild behind an elite offensive line. I mentioned that every team in the division has questions to answer, and for the Titans it relates to their defense. They were involved in more shootouts than they would like a year ago but fortunately for them, they have the division's best offense by a longshot. Indianapolis ColtsThere's lots of potential in Indianapolis but the summer hasn't exactly gone as planned with Carson Wentz dealing with an injury, and now Covid protocols. Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger spent the month of August battling for the backup (and perhaps opening day) starting job. With Ehlinger going down to injury we're likely to see either Wentz (provided he can get out of Covid protocol) or Eason under center. Regardless, the focal point of the offense should be the ground attack led by sophomore starter Jonathan Taylor. With T.Y. Hilton going down to injury, the wide receiving corps is a big question mark. Can Michael Pittman Jr. rise to the occasion and enjoy a breakout campaign? Defensively, the Colts are set. They have the personnel in place to once again boast one of the league's most stout defenses. Indy won't hit the road until Week 3, when it faces Tennessee in a key division clash.Jacksonville JaguarsThe Jags finally have their quarterback in first overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence and the starting job is all his with Gardner Minshew being dealt to the Eagles in late August. While Lawrence didn't always impress in preseason action, he seemed to get better with each passing game and should have a wealth of weapons to work with in the Jags offense. That won't include rookie RB Travis Etienne as he suffered a season-ending injury during the preseason. James Robinson proved his is more than capable of shouldering the load last season, however. The aerial attack is well-positioned for success with the likes of D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault Jr. building a rapport with Lawrence. Unfortunately the Jags defense is still a year or two away from holding up its end of the bargain, or that's the hope anyway. Outside of the Titans, it's hard to say whether the Jags other AFC South rivals can take full advantage of their defensive flaws.Houston TexansThere's little reason for optimism in Houston. QB DeShaun Watson remains a big question mark as he waits for a trade while he deals with legal issues. Journeyman QB Tyrod Taylor is likely their best option under center. Oft-injured WR Will Fuller has moved on to Miami. RB David Johnson is a shell of his former self. The offensive cupboard is alarmingly bare. Meanwhile, the face of the defense for so many years, J.J. Watt, bolted for greener pastures in Arizona. This is a team that is desperately lacking an identity and most project it finishing dead last not only in the AFC South, but in the entire league. The Texans will alternate home and away games for the first six weeks of the season, beginning with a contest against the Jaguars in Week 1. Their lone primetime game comes in Week 3 at home against Carolina. 

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2021 NFL: AFC North Division Preview

Friday, Aug 27, 2021

In the second installment of our series of NFL division previews, we take a look at the AFC North, which promises to be one of the most competitive divisions in football. Here's a quick look at what to expect from each division.Odds to win (courtesy of BetOnline)Baltimore Ravens +110Cleveland Browns +140Pittsburgh Steelers +370Cincinnati Bengals +2300Baltimore RavensThe hope heading into 2021 is that Baltimore can get more from its passing game with the additions of wide receivers Sammy Watkins and rookie Rashod Bateman. I'm not holding my breath. We can expect to see the Ravens continue to focus on moving the football with their dynamic ground attack with running back J.K. Dobbins primed for a big season after running for just shy of 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago. Lamar Jackson has been a monster in the regular season and there's little reason to expect anything different this year. Defensively, the Ravens lost Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue to free agency. The cupboard is by no means bare, however, and the addition of veteran Justin Houston should help keep the pass rush on track. The Ravens open the season with back-to-back primetime games.Cleveland BrownsBrowns doubters are suddenly few and far between following last year's playoff run. The roster remains relatively unchanged from last season and that's obviously not a bad thing. It does remain to be seen whether the Browns offense can reach the heights it did a year ago with Odell Beckham Jr. still dealing with a knee injury and Jarvis Landry not getting any younger. Nick Chubb will once again be asked to shoulder much of the load - a role he has proved more than capable of handling. Note that Cleveland will open the season by playing three of its first four games on the road, including a return visit to Kansas City in Week 1 - the scene of its playoff demise last January. Pittsburgh SteelersI'm fairly high on the Black and Gold entering the new season, which could serve as the 'last ride' so to speak for the combo of head coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers are brimming with talent on both sides of the football with the addition of potential Rookie of the Year candidate Najee Harris in the backfield serving as the showpiece. While the defense is set, the offense will need Big Ben to be the quarterback he was early last season rather than the one that regressed heavily down the stretch. Most have the Steelers ranked as having the most difficult schedule in the NFL this season. That schedule includes five primetime games. It all gets started with a difficult test right out of the gate as Pittsburgh heads to Buffalo to face the Bills. Cincinnati BengalsThe Bengals boast a lot of potential with Joe Burrow returning from last November's devastating season-ending injury but they're still likely a couple of years away from possibly contending for the division crown. The offense should be fine once Burrow gets re-acclimated as he has a host of weapons to work with, including highly-touted draft pick Ja'Marr Chase. All indications are that Burrow got stronger as camp went on and he'll be working behind an improved offensive line compared to a year ago. Defensively, the Bengals have plenty of holes. In fact, the Bengals may possess one of the worst defenses in football which should lead to plenty of shootouts. Cincinnati's Thursday night game against the Jaguars marks its only primetime game of the season. A three-game homestand from Week 12-14 will feature matchups with potential playoff teams - the Steelers, Chargers and 49ers.

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2021 NFL: AFC East Division Preview

Tuesday, Aug 24, 2021

Is the winner of the AFC East already a foregone conclusion? Most certainly feel that way with the Buffalo Bills installed as significant favorites. Here's a quick look at what to expect from this top-heavy division in 2021.Odds to win (courtesy BetOnline)Buffalo Bills -180New England Patriots +280Miami Dolphins +360New York Jets +2410Buffalo BillsJosh Allen is back to lead one of the AFC's top contenders this season and there's little reason to expect much of a drop-off in production on either side of the football. The Bills are obviously loaded with talent but if there's a weakness it's in the backfield, where they've done little to improve a ground game that finished in the bottom-half of the league in rush yards in 2020 and features the likes of Devin Singletary, Zack Moss and Matt Breida. Buffalo does face a tough schedule out of the gate with three of its first five games coming against playoff teams from a year ago. Key matchups include a home date against the Steelers in Week 1 and a trip to Tampa to face Tom Brady and the Buccaneers on December 12th. The Bills will be featured in four primetime matchups this season with the possibility of more to be added as a result of TV schedule flexes. New England PatriotsCam Newton has been forced into Covid protocols at the time of writing, perhaps giving rookie Mac Jones a puncher's chance at stealing the starting job in Week 1. Jones has impressed in preseason play, as has the Patriots defense, which should be improved heading into 2021. If New England can get more consistency out of the quarterback position there's reason to believe it can give the Bills a challenge atop the AFC East. That's a big 'if' of course, especially with a subpar supporting cast at the skill positions on offense. Still, it's tough to count out a Bill Bellichick-coached team - especially coming off a down year. Miami DolphinsIt's Tua-Time in Miami as the second-year man will have the starting quarterback job all to himself with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick out of the picture. The additions of wide receivers Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle should pay immediate dividends for the Fins offense which was relatively punchless a year ago. Of course, injuries are always a concern when it comes to Fuller but all indications are that he will at least be healthy to start the season. Miami will face the consensus eighth-easiest strength of schedule. It won't take long for the Fins to see where they stand in the AFC East as they open the season with a trip to New England followed by a home game against Buffalo. New York JetsZach Wilson has arguably been the league's most impressive rookie quarterback during the preseason. He's likely to encounter plenty of growing pains once the curtain drops on the regular season, however, as he operates behind what is projected to be one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL and makes do with a receiving corps that lists Corey Davis atop the depth chart. They do have an opportunity to get off to a positive start with three straight games against non-playoff teams from a year ago to open the season. New York will venture across the pond to London for a date with the Falcons on October 10th.

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CFL Injury Report: Week 2

Wednesday, Aug 11, 2021

With one week of CFL action in the books it's time to turn our attention to Week 2. Here's a look at some injury concerns to keep an eye on ahead of this week's four matchups.B.C. at Calgary - Thursday, 9:30 pm etThe Lions will give rookie QB Nathan Rourke his second consecutive start but haven't ruled out Mike Reilly seeing some snaps as well on Friday night. Both performed to mixed reviews in last week's wild 33-29 loss in Saskatchewan. Note that B.C. has ruled out prized offseason acquisition OL Ryker Matthews for this one. Calgary is expected to have the services of QB Bo Levi Mitchell after he was limited in practice earlier in the week. Veteran DB Jamar Wall has been placed on the Injured List.Toronto at Winnipeg - Friday, 8:30 pm et The Argos look a little healthier than they were a week ago when they rolled into Calgary and upset the Stampeders. Backup QB Nick Arbuckle was once again limited in practice all week and it remains up in the air whether he'll be available on Friday.Winnipeg has a number of injury concerns, particularly on the defensive side of the football. The anchor of the Bombers defense, DL Willie Jefferson, hasn't practiced this week. His pass rushing mate DL Jackson Jeffcoat did return to practice on Wednesday but was limited. Offensively, Winnipeg will likely be without the trio of RB Andrew Harris and WRs Darvin Adams and Ardarius Stewart. Montreal at Edmonton - Saturday, 7 pm etThe Als will be playing their first game of the season after being idle last week and enter the contest at virtually full strength.Edmonton WR Armanti Edwards returned as a full participant at practice on Wednesday after being limited earlier in the week. All told, the Elks came out of last Saturday's disappointing loss to the RedBlacks relatively unscathed injury-wise.Hamilton at Saskatchewan - Saturday, 10 pm etHamilton enters this one with a long list of injury concerns, but most of its banged-up players are expected to suit up on Saturday. Star WR Brandon Banks was dealing with an illness earlier in the week but was a full participant in Wednesday's practice.The Riders had only three players miss practice on Wednesday. DL Kevin Francis, OL Mattland Riley and DL Peter Robertson are all questionable to play on Saturday night. 

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2021 CFL Preview: Ottawa RedBlacks

Thursday, Aug 05, 2021

We've saved the worst for last? Few are expecting the RedBlacks to contend for a Grey Cup title in 2021 but there are also reasons for optimism in the nation's capital. Here's a quick look at what to expect from Ottawa this season.Paul LaPolice takes over head coaching duties after a successful term as offensive coordinator in Winnipeg. He'll be tasked with turning around a RedBlacks squad that lost 15 of their final 16 games in 2019. Gone are the days of an ultra-efficient RedBlacks offense led by Trevor Harris and Greg Ellingson. Veteran QB Matt Nichols hopes to provide some stability at the quarterback position. He obviously has a good rapport with new head coach LaPolice from their days together in Winnipeg. Nichols won't have all that high of a bar expectations-wise after Dominique Davis struggled mightily two years ago. Keep in mind, LaPolice was able to get a ton of production out of what was perhaps a mediocre offense, at least talent-wise, over the years in Winnipeg. No team boasts fewer household names on the offensive side of the football. The likes of RB Timothy Flanders and WRs Nate Behar and Terry Williams will be tasked with lifting the offense following a disastrous 2019 campaign. With that in mind, it's not difficult to understand why most are picking the RedBlacks to finish last in the East Division. The defense could turn out to be the strength of the team with some notable returning talent, keyed by DL Avery Ellis, but again, this is a unit lacking starpower and there are more questions than answers entering the new season. The RedBlacks will look to hit the ground running in their opener as they hit the road to face the Edmonton Elks.As I mentioned, Ottawa is a decided underdog when it comes to Grey Cup futures, currently priced around 13-1 at most books. 

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2021 CFL Preview: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Wednesday, Aug 04, 2021

In our penultimate installment of CFL team previews, let's take a look at the Tiger-Cats, who have unfinished business to take care of after falling just short of a Grey Cup title in 2019.Jeremiah Masoli will get the nod as starting quarterback to open the season but he'll likely give up some snaps to capable backup (and potential future starter) Dane Evans. There are some questions on the offensive line with Ryker Matthews no longer anchoring the left side. Remember, it was the offensive line that got dominated in that 2019 Grey Cup loss to Winnipeg. With that being said, the offense remains largely unchanged at  the skill positions. This is likely to once again be one of the league's most explosive offenses. Wide receivers Bralon Addison and Brandon Banks make up one of the best 1-2 punches at that position in the entire league. Meanwhile, RB Don Jackson was brought over from Calgary to compliment Sean Thomas-Erlington, who returns from injury. Defensively, the Ti-Cats are once again loaded after allowing the league's fewest points per game in 2019. That doesn't mean there aren't departures to deal with, however, with cornerback Delvin Breaux Sr. electing to retire and linebacker Larry Dean moving on to Saskatchewan. Simoni Lawrence will be asked to do a lot and lead this defense back to the levels it reached two years ago and he's certainly proven capable of lifting the defense in the past. This is an extremely well-coached unit that shouldn't take long to come together, even with some new faces in the mix.Special teams doesn't get talked about enough in the CFL as it's a big facet of the game, particularly up north. The Ti-Cats might just have the best special teams in the league led by coach Jeff Reinebold. With an absolutely electric return game, Hamilton is always a threat to score on punts and kickoffs. No team boasts shorter odds to win the Grey Cup than Hamilton as it checks in priced at around 4-to-1 at most books. 

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2021 CFL Preview: Toronto Argonauts

Wednesday, Aug 04, 2021

The last time we saw the Toronto Argonauts they were mired in a disappointing 4-14 campaign back in 2019. Here's a look at what to expect from the Argos in 2021.There's reason for optimism as far as the offense goes with two capable options at quarterback in McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Nick Arbuckle. New head coach Ryan Dinwiddie has a good rapport with Arbuckle in particular from the pair's days in Calgary. Arbuckle was of course pressed into action after Bo Levi Mitchell went down to injury in 2019. Improvement is expected from the Argos aerial attack with Eric Rogers coming over from Calgary and much-maligned but talented former NFL wide receiver Martavis Bryant in the mix as well. Running back John White was brought in to stabilize the backfield. He's coming off a 1,000-yard rushing season with the B.C. Lions in 2019 and will serve as a relief valve for whoever is under center thanks to his versatility as a pass-catcher.There are upgrades all over the field on defense, with perhaps none bigger than defensive lineman Charleston Hughes up front. The former Blue Bomber led the league with a whopping 16 sacks in 2019 and provides a veteran presence to anchor the defense. The Argos linebacking corps should be among the best in the league led by Henoc Muamba. The question is whether all of that talent and experience up front can make up for what could be a leaky secondary. With defensive back Alden Darby no longer in the mix, Toronto's pass defense could be a work in progress at least in the early stages of the season.While the Tiger-Cats are decided front-runners, the rest of the East Division is wide open with Toronto looking more than capable of settling into the second slot. Toronto is currently priced in the middle-of-the-pack at around 7-1 to win the Grey Cup. 

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2021 CFL Preview: Montreal Alouettes

Monday, Aug 02, 2021

We continue our series of CFL team previews heading into the 2021 season with the Montreal Alouettes - the league's upstart team from 2019. Here's what to expect as they try to prove their surprising run to the '19 East Division Semi-Final was no fluke.On offense the Als are relatively set. Vernon Adams Jr. is back under center and one of the most dynamic offensive players in the entire league. He has plenty of support around him as well, with RB William Stanback poised for another big season after putting in time in the NFL. Stanback is a threat both on the ground and through the air and will be critical to the team's offensive success. At wide receiver, the Als added Naaman Roosevelt to a group that already boasted a lot of potential. Rashad Ross is another name to watch as he has impressed throughout training camp and would serve as the perfect compliment to Roosevelt and Geno Lewis.Defensively, the Als need some work. They got picked apart by the league's better offenses in 2019, allowing over 27 points per game, largely due to their inability to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks (they posted a league-low 27 sacks). A new-look defensive line should help their cause with the additions of Almondo Sewell and Nick Usher, who both come over from Edmonton. Michael Wakefield joins the line from Ottawa where he was a disruptive force for three seasons. Montreal's linebacking corps could serve as the strength of the defense with plenty of returning talent and a new coach in Mickey Donovan (he formerly led the Als special teams). The Alouettes will have to wait an extra week to start their season as they kick things off on August 14th against Edmonton. The betting marketplace isn't giving Montreal much respect as the Als boast the second-longest odds to win the Grey Cup, currently priced around 10-1 at most books. 

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2021 CFL Preview: Calgary Stampeders

Friday, Jul 23, 2021

We'll wrap up our 2021 CFL West Division team previews with a perennial Grey Cup contender in the Calgary Stampeders. Here's what you can expect from the Stamps this season.The sky is the limit for Calgary after it went 12-6 and finished second in the West Division in the face of plenty of adversity in 2019. The Stamps were forced to go without QB Bo Levi Mitchell for an extended period and when he returned it was too little, too late as they fell to the eventual Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the West semi-final. Mitchell is back healthy and ready to guide an explosive, albeit new-look Stamps offense in 2021. There's reason for concern on the offensive line, which is nothing new in Calgary. With such a prized talent like Mitchell under center, the Stamps need the o-line to be better than just 'good enough' and certainly made a move to bolster that line with the acquisition of center Sean McEwen. As the anchor of the Argos o-line, McEwen played in all 18 games in each season from 2016-2019. RB Ka'Deem Carey will be tasked with taking over the backfield duties from Don Jackson who was lost to free agency. Carey had gotten off to a fine start in 2019 before breaking his arm and missing the remainder of the season. There may not be a lot of household names, but the Stampeders wide receiving corps is brimming with talent. WR Markeith Ambles will make his long-awaited return to the fold after missing the entire 2019 season due to an undisclosed injury. SB Kamar Jorden also missed the bulk of the 2019 season due to an ACL tear but did return for the playoffs. Back in 2018 he racked up 944 receiving yards and caught 10 touchdown passes. No fewer than three former Stampeders defensive starters have moved on to the NFL so there will be plenty of turnover on that side of the football entering 2021 as well. That's not to say the cupboard is bare, however - far from it, in fact. Calgary still boasts plenty of veteran talent led by the likes of SAM LB Jamar Wall, LB Cory Greenwood and DL Derek Wiggan. There are some question marks in the secondary but if the Stamps can apply as much pressure on opposing quarterbacks as we think they can, that defensive backfield should hold up just fine. Despite the roster shake-up, Calgary is being given the benefit of the doubt by most sportsbooks, currently priced around 6-1 to win the Grey Cup. 

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2021 CFL Preview: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Friday, Jul 23, 2021

In our fourth installment of 2021 CFL team previews, here's a look at what to expect from the defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers this season.Interestingly, the Blue Bombers narrowly avoided disaster in 2019, finishing the regular season 11-7 before catching fire in the playoffs and running the table on their way to an improbable Grey Cup championship.The Bombers are well positioned to challenge for the Grey Cup again this season with the nucleus from that championship team remaining intact and still under the guidance of head coach Mike O'Shea. In keeping with CFL tradition, the Bombers welcome a former starting quarterback to take over the reins as offensive coordinator with Buck Pierce getting the nod. Pierce takes over from Paul LaPolice, who is now the head coach in Ottawa. LaPolice squeezed every bit of production he could out of this dare-I-say middle of the road offense talent-wise. Can Pierce continue the offense on the same path in 2021?QB Zach Collaros and RB Andrew Harris return to the fold to lead the offense. Both do have plenty of miles on them at this point of their careers, however, and the Bombers will obviously need them to stay healthy to contend in a crowded West Division. I would suggest that Winnipeg doesn't have quite the same wealth of talent at the wide receiver position as perhaps the Lions, Riders and Stampeders possess. Defensively, the Bombers have few weaknesses, keyed by what should once again be one of the league's most-feared pass rushes. That unit is anchored by Willie Jefferson, the league's reigning Most Outstanding Defensive Player after leading the CFL in sacks and forced fumbles in 2019. A number of Bombers defensive players trained together in the offseason - you might not find a closer-knit defensive group in the league. Despite serving as defending champions, the Bombers actually enter the 2021 campaign with a chip on their shoulder thanks to some considering their 2019 Grey Cup title a 'fluke'. Of course, the truth is that their title run was anything but a fluke and this team ranks as one of the league's most complete squads heading into the new season.Winnipeg is currently priced around 6-1 to repeat as Grey Cup champions. 

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2021 CFL Preview: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Wednesday, Jul 21, 2021

As the third installment in our series of 2021 CFL team previews, here's a look at perennial West Division contenders the Saskatchewan Roughriders.The Riders topped the West Division in 2019, posting a 13-5 record on the strength of a potent offensive attack led by dual-threat QB Cody Fajardo. He remains the focal point of the offense heading into 2021 but will need to adjust to a new offensive coordinator in former Edmonton head coach Jason Maas. There's little reason to anticipate any growing pains, however, as most of the key pieces at the skill positions are back including wide receiver Shaq Evans and RB William Powell. We will see a new-look Riders offensive line but that's not necessarily a bad thing as for every departure there was a solid addition. As long as that group can mesh together in short order, this offense has the potential to find its way among the league leaders in yards per game and scoring average with an aggressive play-caller like Maas at the helm. Defensively, the Riders boast studs all over the field with cornerback Ed Gainey (who signed a new contract earlier this year) serving as the anchor. The Riders are looking to build a 'no fly zone' of sorts in the secondary as they prepare to face some of the league's best quarterbacks who happen to reside in the West Division (Bo Levi Mitchell of the Stampeders and Mike Reilly of the Lions come to mind). It will be a different looking Saskatchewan defense, however, with Solomon Elimimian retiring and Charleston Hughes bolting for Toronto. All told, the Riders lose four starters on the defensive side of the football. Changes are really nothing new for the Riders though as they welcomed a new coordinator in Jason Shivers in 2019, taking over for mastermind Chris Jones. Not only that but the Riders were also forced to replace a number of key cogs on the field that year as well. All Shivers did was shape the defense into one of the league's most dominant units and I'm confident he can do the same with the 2021 edition. The Riders are currently priced around 6-1 to win the Grey Cup, slotting in between the Tiger-Cats and Stampeders in the league's projected top three teams.

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2021 CFL Preview: Edmonton Elks

Tuesday, Jul 20, 2021

It's the start of a new era in Edmonton as the franchise formerly known as the Eskimos becomes the Elks. After managing only eight wins in 2019, they'll be looking to make their presence known in a crowded West Division this season. Here's a look at what to expect.Of course, the big change for the Elks comes on the sidelines with Jamie Elizondo replacing Jason Maas as head coach. Elizondo will also serve as the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach as he looks to reignite an offense led by veteran QB Trevor Harris. Elizondo already has a good relationship with Harris from their years together in Ottawa. The Elks offense is well-positioned to put up big numbers this season with one of the league's best wide receiving corps' featuring Derel Walker, Greg Ellingson and Armanti Edwards, with the latter coming over from the Argos to add another level to this passing game. Replacing C.J. Gable at running back will be no easy feat but James Wilder is an experienced back capable of shouldering the load. He'll only be asked to do enough to keep opposing defenses honest and relieve some of the pressure on Harris. I certainly don't expect the Elks ground game to be among the league's best. Defensively, the Elks will have a new man in charge in coordinator Noel Thorpe. Again, there's plenty of continuity there as Thorpe worked with Elizondo the last two seasons in Ottawa. Standout defensive tackle Almando Sewell will need to replaced after he bolted for Montreal. There's plenty of returning talent, however, and pass-rusher Kwaku Boateng is a star in the making after serving as Edmonton's nominee for most outstanding defensive player in 2019. Edmonton has just one returning starter in the secondary, but that's not necessarily a bad thing as it brought in a number of key free agent acquisitions to bolster its pass defense. All indications are that the new-look secondary has been making life extremely difficult on the offense during training camp. If the new faces on defense can mesh in short order, the Elks could turn out to be one of the league's biggest surprises in 2021. Most books have the Elks priced around 9-1 to win the Grey Cup. 

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2021 CFL Preview: B.C. Lions

Monday, Jul 19, 2021

I'll be previewing all eight CFL teams in the lead-up to the long-awaited 2021 season. First up is the B.C. Lions, who will be looking to climb out of the West Division basement. The Leos are coming off a disastrous 2019 campaign that saw them win just five games and finish in last place in the West Division. That outcome was even more disappointing when you consider the splash the Lions made prior to that season, acquiring star quarterback Mike Reilly. Unfortunately the Lions couldn't keep Reilly upright with an offensive line that served as nothing more than a swinging door. The good news is B.C. made a concerted effort to upgrade its o-line this offseason, acquiring Ryker Mathews from the defending champion Tiger-Cats. Reilly is back under center with a new contract and has an opportunity for a 'do-over' of sorts after the 2020 campaign was wiped out by Covid-19.The pieces are in place for the Lions offense to take a big step forward with the addition of RB Shaq Cooper, who will be given the chance to take on a more substantial role in an offense after departing Edmonton, not to mention the presence of elite WR Bryan Burnham, who racked up career-highs in both receiving yards (1,492) and touchdowns (11) back in 2019. Burnham leads a talented group of wide receivers that didn't reach their full potential due to Reilly's inability to find time in the pocket two years ago. Keep an eye on the Lions special teams early in the season as that unit should make its presence known with Lucky Whitehead back to anchor a group that was among the league's best in 2019. Special teams is one area that I feel is rarely properly factored in when it comes to CFL odds. Kick return touchdowns became commonplace in the 2019 season and I would anticipate more of the same here in 2021. Defensively, B.C. needs some work but has the potential to be better should 2020 first overall draft pick Jordan Williams turn out to be the player (and leader) the Lions expect him to be. Unfortunately the Lions 'D' won't have the benefit of time as it tries to come together and contend with the likes of the Stampeders and Roughriders - two of the league's most potent offensive squads - which both reside in the West Division. The Lions are a longshot to win the Grey Cup, priced around 10-1 at most books. 

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MLB World Series Futures Picks

Thursday, Jul 08, 2021

With the MLB All-Star break just days away, now is an ideal time to consider locking in some MLB World Series futures as we've had ample time to dissect the 2021 season. Here's a look at one longshot (relatively speaking) pick from each league as the dog days of Summer approach.(Odds courtesy BetOnline)American LeagueToronto Blue Jays +2500This is one of the most generous prices I've seen for the Blue Jays who despite all of their young talent, go largely overlooked by most in the futures market (perhaps apart from those of us that reside here in the Great White North). It's easy to forget that the young Jays actually gained some valuable postseason experience, albeit in a unique 2020 Covid-tinged format. We've already seen that the Jays are buyers leading up to the trade deadline and a couple of savvy moves could very well put this team over the top and back into serious contention in the A.L. East. While the management team is different, this is the same club that went 'all in' back in 2015 when it acquired the likes of David Price and Troy Tulowitzki prior to the trade deadline and fell just short of a World Series berth, succumbing to the eventual champion Royals that year. Having already made a couple of minor tweaks with the addition of Corey Dickerson and Trevor Richards, bigger moves could be on the way post-All Star break. Toronto's offense is without question among the best in baseball with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. putting it all together in his third season to anchor the lineup. If George Springer can stay healthy and perhaps with the addition of one more bat, the Jays order should strike fear in any American League pitching staff. It's on the mound where there are questions and the prime reason we're being offered such a healthy return to back the Birds to win it all. I believe it's all worth the risk right now.National LeagueSan Francisco Giants +1400The Giants of course have the pesky Dodgers to deal with in the N.L. West but they currently own a 1.5-game edge and should at the very least earn a Wild Card spot to punch their ticket to October. I like the make-up of this Giants club. I think there are actually a lot of similarities to the World Champion Giants teams from earlier this decade. There's not a lot of star-power but plenty of talent. In contrast to the Blue Jays, the Giants don't have the most potent lineup but do possess a rock solid pitching staff with an A+ starting rotation and bullpen. The emergence of Kevin Gausman and Anthony DeSclafani as true rotation anchors this season has been a real difference-maker in San Fran. Outside of the Dodgers, no other National League team really has much of an intimidation factor. For the Giants, it will likely come down to whether they can make a couple of key moves to perhaps bolster their offense and give them a real shot at hanging with the likes of L.A. in a seven-game series. Right now, that's a question mark as the Dodgers have taken six of nine meetings so far this season. Nevertheless, I don't see the Giants fading any time soon and this is likely as good as it gets price-wise. 

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Revisiting April NHL Stanley Cup Futures Bets

Friday, Jun 11, 2021

Back in mid-April, I posted an article recommending one Stanley Cup futures bet from each NHL division. Now with three of the four division titles wrapped up and just one semi-final spot left to be decided, let's take a look back and see how those bets are shaping up.April's breakdowns in italics.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. Well, at least they upset the Oilers in an improbable first round sweep. Things didn't go well from the outset of the Jets second round series against Montreal as an ill-advised hit by Mark Scheifele late in Game 1 loomed large after he was suspended for the rest of the series. The window of opportunity may be closing on this era of Jets hockey. You have to wonder whether Paul Maurice's days are numbered behind the bench although management seems to indicate otherwise. At 18-1 I would still make this bet again as the North Division was wide open, as the Canadiens can attest.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. I'm more than happy to hold this ticket even as the Islanders face a tall task in the form of a revenge date with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the semi-final round. New York didn't prove to be much more than a speedbump on Tampa's way to the title last year. I do think the Isles have caught lightning in a bottle (no pun intended) offensively in these playoffs and could give the Bolts a more legitimate run this year. We know all about their defensive prowess under the guidance of head coach Barry Trotz but if they can keep an attacking mindset like they did against the Bruins they could prove to be a tough out.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.Another year, another bitter playoff disappointment for the Canes. At 12-1 they were certainly worth a shot, rolling the dice that the Lightning might get upset in the opening round. There's no real shame in losing to the defending Stanley Cup champs although the disappearing act pulled by the Canes offense on home ice was something to behold. Carolina is likely still a piece of two away from becoming a true championship contender, perhaps between the pipes where the duo of Mrazek and Ndeljkovic disappointed. 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. The Knights are currently one win away from securing a mouth-watering semi-final matchup against the upstart Canadiens. Whoever wins the Knights-Avalanche series will be heavy favorites against the Habs. If it's the Knights, that potential 8-1 return would look awfully good. After a slow start to the postseason, Vegas has rounded into form at both ends of the rink against the juggernaut Avs and in my opinion could go toe-to-toe with any of the other three remaining teams.

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2021 NBA Playoffs: Milwaukee Bucks/Brooklyn Nets Series Preview, Odds and Prediction

Friday, Jun 04, 2021

In one of the most anticipated series' of the second round, the Bucks and Nets will renew acquaintances beginning on Saturday night in Brooklyn.Here's a quick look at the tale of the tape entering this marquee NBA playoff showdown.Season seriesThe Bucks dropped the first meeting between these two teams during the regular season by a narrow 125-123 margin in Brooklyn in mid-January but answered back with consecutive victories in a two-game set played in Milwaukee in early May. Note that the Bucks were favored in all three regular season matchups, although never by more than 3.5 points. They're currently a four-point underdog in advance of Saturday's Game 1 tilt in Brooklyn. The 'under' cashed in two of three meetings during the regular season with all three totals closing at 240 points or higher. Saturday's total currently sits at, you guessed it, 240 points.   For the series, BetAnySports lists Brooklyn as a -190 favorite, with Milwaukee's odds at +175.First round recapNeither team faced much resistance in the opening round with the Bucks sweeping aside what appeared to be a disinterested Heat squad and the Nets crushing an under-performing, injury-plagued Celtics team in five games. Give the Bucks a slight advantage in terms of rest as they wrapped their series with Miami last Saturday while the Nets didn't finish off the Celtics until Tuesday night. Stopping the Big ThreeMilwaukee will be hard-pressed to stop or even slow down the Nets vaunted 'Big Three' with KD, Kyrie and the Beard having gone off against the Celtics in what at times looked like playground basketball in the opening round. The Bucks may be better served to focus on the other end of the floor, where they're certainly capable of exposing a bottom-tier Nets defense that ranked 22nd in the league in defensive efficiency during the regular season and quietly allowed 117 points per game in the final four games against Boston last round. The Bucks check in averaging 120 points per game on better than 48% shooting this season. Playing small ballThe Nets went with a smaller lineup for much of their opening round series, something that might not work so well against a Bucks squad that crashes the boards relentlessly led by the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Nets are essentially void of any true rim defenders and could have a tough time preventing the Bucks from generating a boatload of second-chance scoring opportunities in this series. Brooklyn is at its best when it can get out in transition. Floor space just isn't going to be nearly as plentiful against Milwaukee as it was against Boston. Final verdictThe Nets are the favorites to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy for a reason. While the Bucks got over a major hump by ousting at Heat squad that owned them in the bubble last summer, they face a much different challenge in round two. This is usually where we see Milwaukee start to wilt and while I don't believe we're in for a short series, I'm with the majority in thinking that the 'Big Three' will simply be too much over the course of a potential six or seven-game battle. Pick: Brooklyn in six. 

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Islanders-Bruins Round 2 Playoff Preview

Friday, May 28, 2021

The Islanders and Bruins will drop the puck on their East Division Final series on Saturday night in Boston.If you're a fan of old-school playoff hockey, you should be in for a treat as these two teams have built up some considerable animosity over the course of eight meetings this season.Tale of the tapeThe Bruins finished just two points ahead of the Islanders for third place in the East Division and held a slight four-goal advantage in terms of goal differential. After dropping the first five meetings in the series during the regular season, the Bruins answered back with three consecutive victories over the Isles in April. We saw plenty of 5's in terms of the posted totals and I would anticipate more of the same as this series goes on. Key acquisitionWith surprisingly minimal fanfare, the Bruins brought in polarizing forward Taylor Hall prior to the trade deadline and he's certainly made a positive impact. In 16 regular season games with the B's, Hall contributed 14 points. He picked up right where he left off against the Capitals in round one, adding three points in five games. The B's have been desperate for secondary scoring beyond the 'Perfection Line' for years and now they seem to have it with Hall. Super stoppersThe big difference in the Islanders opening round series victory was between the pipes where rookie Ilya Sorokin stole the show against the Penguins supposedly high-powered offense. He brings a 1.95 GAA and .943 save percentage into round two after posting a 2.17 GAA and .918 SV% during the regular season. Sorokin isn't likely to upstage Bruins vet Tuukka Rask the way he did Tristan Jarry of the Pens, however. Rask was terrific during the regular season, recording a 15-5-4 record to go along with a 2.28 GAA and .913 SV%. He owned the Caps in round one, posting a 1.81 GAA and .941 SV%. Rask gave up just three goals on 47 shots in his last three appearances against New York during the regular season.Seeing starsThe Bruins top line didn't have to shoulder the entire offensive load in round one but still contributed 13 points in five games. The Islanders have had a knack for shutting down opponents' top scoring threats but that's certainly tough with the B's three-headed monster in Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak. The Isles inexplicably got just three assists from Mat Barzal in round one. He'll obviously need to pick up the pace offensively if New York is going to hang with Boston in this seires. J.G. Pageau and Brock Nelson combined for 13 points against the Penguins and can be difference-makers again in this series. Who has the edge?This has the makings of a long, heated series with Boston playing its best hockey of the season (16-6 last 22 games) and the Isles employing a gritty style and feeding off the energy of the small-but-boisterous crowed at the historic Nassau Coliseum. I'll give the B's the edge as they have the look of a true Stanley Cup contender and just enough scoring depth to outlast the Isles. Pick: Bruins in seven. 

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WNBA Early Season Shootaround

Friday, May 21, 2021

We're one week into the 2021 WNBA season and we've already seen plenty of surprises across the league. Here's a quick look at some key situations to keep an eye on heading into the second weekend of the season.Minny-slumpThe Minnesota Lynx are off to an improbable 0-3 start after a complete fourth quarter collapse against the Seattle Storm on Thursday. While the schedule-makers haven't been overly kind to the Lynx in the early going with two of their three games coming against title contenders in the Mercury and Storm, both of those games came at home and they also had a winnable road game against the Liberty which they lost 86-75. The good news is, reinforcements are on their way with two-way star in the making Napheesa Collier set to return from Covid quarantine. Note that the Lynx are in for an extended layoff as they won't take the court again until next Friday when they head to Seattle for a rematch with the Storm. Aces are wildWhile the Las Vegas Aces only managed to earn a split in a two-game season-opening set in Seattle, they still managed to put on quite a show, scoring 179 points led by 42 points from A'ja Wilson. Going back to the brief preseason, the Aces rank second in the WNBA in pace rating but they've been anything but careless, also checking in second in the league in fewest turnovers per game. Off Tuesday's blowout win over the Storm, the Aces have the opportunity to go on a run with four of their next five games coming at home, beginning with a date with the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday night. It's early but the Aces certainly look the part of a title contender - this time with a big chip on their shoulder after last year's Finals disappointment.Unpleasant Dream?The Atlanta Dream started the season completely out of sorts after head coach Nicki Collen surprisingly bolted for Baylor just weeks before the 2021 campaign began. They're off to a winless start through two games, checking in 10th in the league in defensive rating and 11th in offensive rating. Things don't figure to get a whole lot easier as they'll play their next two games on the road. The good news is Friday's opponent, the Indiana Fever, are in complete disarray having dropped their first three games this season. Dream first round draft pick Aari McDonald has yet to find her way, contributing just a single point in 27 minutes of action so far. Atlanta does have high hopes for a potential backcourt duo of McDonald and Chennedy Carter. For her part, Carter has accounted for nearly a quarter of the Dream's scoring output through two games. Mercury risingPhoenix is going to be a problem for many opponents this season with an explosive starting five that has seen all five players score in double-figures in two of three games so far (with four reaching the mark in the other). Having Brittney Griner back in the fold is obviously a major plus and she already appears to be in midseason form, contributing 47 points while grabbing 26 rebounds through three games. Along with Sue Bird of the Storm, Diana Taurasi is an ageless wonder, pouring in 50 points in her first three contests this season. Phoenix's tough early season schedule continues with consecutive home games against the undefeated Connecticut Sun and Las Vegas Aces up next.

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NHL First Round Playoff Preview

Friday, May 14, 2021

The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us with the action getting underway with Game 1 between the Bruins and Capitals on Saturday evening.Here's a quick preview of each opening round series.(Odds courtesy BetOnline)North DivisionMaple Leafs (-280) vs. Canadiens (+235)For the first time in 42 years the Leafs and Canadiens will renew their storied rivalry in the playoffs, this time as the 1 vs. 4 matchup in the North Division. The Leafs took seven of nine regular season meetings and enter the series as heavy favorites. You would be hard-pressed to find an advantage for the Habs in this series but perhaps goaltending could be the great equalizer? Canadiens goaltender Carey Price has proven he can steal a series in the past but let's face it, he had a disastrous regular season and was outperformed by backup Jake Allen, who could very well earn the Game 1 start in this series. Jack Campbell took over the Leafs starting job after Frederik Andersen got hurt and while Andersen is back, he's unlikely to wrestle back the number one role. For things to go Montreal's way it will need to get elite production from its forward group that has only been good in fits and starts this season. Keeping pace with the Leafs vaunted offense will be a tall task indeed and I ultimately expect the Habs to fall short. Prediction: Leafs in six. Oilers (-200) vs. Jets (+170)This would have been an intriguing matchup a few weeks ago but with the Jets going in the tank down the stretch, excitement has waned a bit. The Oilers didn't let up an ounce in the closing weeks of the regular season and are well-positioned to outgun a Jets squad that has sorely missed the production of Nik Ehlers since he went down with a season-ending injury. Winnipeg does have the talent and experience to go on a deep playoff run but it's going to be difficult for them to take flight (pun intended) from a standing start. Note that the Jets entered Friday's regular season finale against Toronto having won just twice since April 17th, scoring fewer than three goals in nine of their last 11 contests. The Oilers are hungry for an elusive playoff series win and have the personnel in place to end their drought here in 2021. In the face of an army of doubters, goaltender Mike Smith has proven to be Edmonton's unsung hero this season and should help them advance past the down-trodden Jets in relatively short order. Prediction: Oilers in five.Central DivisionHurricanes (-255) vs. Predators (+215)Carolina not surprisingly dominated the regular season series between these two teams, taking six of eight meetings. A true Stanley Cup contender, the 'Canes will be looking to erase the memory of an early playoff exit (in unceremonious fashion) at the hands of the Bruins last year. While the Predators have one of the most underrated goaltenders in hockey in Juuse Saros, I'm not convinced they have enough offensive firepower to keep pace with the deep Carolina offense. Home ice will mean something in this series as the 'Canes went 20-8 in Raleigh during the regular season, outscoring opponents by an average margin of 1.3 goals per game. While the Preds went 18-10 at home, they check in 13-15 in a visitors role. Prediction: Hurricanes in five.Lightning (-150) vs. Panthers (+130)It looks like it will be all hands on deck for the Lightning as they welcome back Nikita Kucherov and Steve Stamkos from injury in round one against the in-state rival Panthers. Victor Hedman will require offseason surgery but all indications are that he'll be back on the ice for the series-opener as well. The Panthers did take five of eight regular season meetings between these two teams and while they have the offense to keep up with the Bolts, I'm not sure Sergei Bobrovsky can match saves with all-world counterpart Andrei Vasilevskiy. This is also a series where Florida missed defensive anchor Aaron Ekblad and key secondary scorer Vincent Trocheck, who now skates with the Hurricanes. This has the makings of a long series but I'll give the slight edge to the defending champions. Prediction: Lightning in seven. East DivisionPenguins (-145) vs. Islanders (+125)Pittsburgh had its way with New York during the regular season, taking six of eight meetings. The stretch run was a disaster for the Islanders as they dropped seven of their last 10 games to set up this difficult opening round date. With that being said, the Isles core remains intact from the team that staged a 4-0 sweep over the favored Penguins two years ago. I wouldn't be quick to dismiss a Barry Trotz-coached squad that defends well and also has two top-rate goaltenders at its disposal. The issue is up front where someone other than Mat Barzal will need to step up and contribute - something we just didn't see much of during the regular season. I may sound like a broken record but scoring depth is paramount at this time of year and the Pens have it. Prediction: Penguins in six. Capitals (+145) vs. Bruins (-165)The Bruins are favored in this series despite finishing behind the Capitals in the East Division standings. In fact, Boston is the favorite to come out of the East Division. I would have had this series priced a little tighter but can understand the logic behind the B's being favored in spite of the 4-4 regular season split between these two. While Boston's top line of Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak has been firing on all cylinders, the Caps have been struggling to even ice a healthy roster with key cogs such as Ovechkin, Carlson and Kuznetsov in and out of the lineup. Washington's 19-9 road record is certainly a feather in its cap entering this series as is the fact that it managed to go 12-5 down the stretch despite being undermanned. Perhaps the Caps spat with the Rangers will be looked back on as a galvanizing turning point. Prediction: Bruins in seven.West DivisionAvalanche (-400) vs. Blues (+320)Colorado won its way into top spot in the West Division thanks to sweeping a two-game set against the Kings at the end of the regular season. It did so without the services of Nathan MacKinnon but I would count on him to be back on the ice for the start of this series. St. Louis dropped five of the first six meetings in this series during the regular season before answering with a couple of victories on home ice in late April. It will be hard-pressed to steal more than a game, if that, against the Stanley Cup favorites here, however. We saw a glimpse of Colorado's incredible depth as it scored 11 goals - without MacKinnon - in consecutive wins over the Kings earlier this week. The Avs defense is the real undervalued commodity here though, noting that they've allowed just 2.4 goals per game overall and 1.9 goals per game on home ice this season. The Blues don't have the goaltending or consistency up front to keep pace. Prediction: Colorado in four.Golden Knights (-240) vs. Wild (+200)This has the makings of an incredible series between the veteran-laden Knights and the upstart Wild. Vegas led the West Division for much of the season - deservedly so - but a late season loss to the Avs cost them the top seed. Few teams displayed the consistency of the Knights over the course of the season as they went 21-7 at home and 19-9 on the road. It is worth noting that the Wild have managed to take four of the last seven meetings in Las Vegas. Minnesota seemed to find its identity this year, somewhat surprisingly as a high-octane offensive squad. If you haven't seen much of the Wild this season you're in for a treat. Rookie standout Kirill Kaprizov is cut from the same mold as superstar Artemi Panarin, breaking into the league as a 24-year old this season and pacing the Wild offense. Minnesota checks in averaging 3.4 goals per game compared to Vegas' 3.2. Prediction: Vegas in seven. 

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NBA Weekend Shootaround: May 1-2

Friday, Apr 30, 2021

There are only two weeks remaining in the NBA regular season and the sprint (or limp in some cases) to the finish is well underway.Here's a look at some easily-overlooked spots to consider before you do your weekend NBA line shopping.SaturdayDetroit at CharlotteDespite missing a number of players due to 'injury management', the Pistons got up for the Mavericks at home on Thursday and actually hung with them for three quarters before ultimately falling by 10 points. Keep in mind, Dallas was without Luka Doncic and for as well as Detroit played, shooting better than 50% from the field, it still couldn't stay within arm's reach against an undermanned opponent. The Pistons have for all intents of purposes already moved on to next season. Next up is a trip to Charlotte to face a Hornets squad that is sure to be in a foul mood after back-to-back losses against the Bucks and Celtics. The Hornets are of course still fighting for playoff positioning, entering Friday's action in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. They certainly haven't given up on the season, even if a deep playoff run is unlikely, with LaMelo Ball and Malik Monk close to returning. The Pistons should be back at full strength for this one but they'll be hard-pressed to keep pace with the Hornets. Keep an eye on the line as the Hornets could be worth a look at a reasonable price point. Indiana at Oklahoma CityThe Thunder came out flat as expected at home against the Pelicans on Thursday night, unable to build off the positive momentum gained from Tuesday's upset win in Boston - their first victory in what seemed like an eternity (it was their first since March 31st). Now the Thunder draw a more favorable matchup against an injury-riddled Pacers squad that continues to play at a break-neck pace, often to its own detriment. Despite Thursday's poor showing, Oklahoma City is actually healthier than its been in a while and well-positioned to play spoiler against the playoff-hungry Pacers on Saturday. For whatever reason the Thunder appeared disinterested in pushing the tempo against a tired Pelicans squad playing the second of back-to-backs, and shot a miserable 38% from the field, but they should bounce back in what has the potential to be a track meet on Saturday night. If Oklahoma City is catching a generous helping of points again in this spot, it may be go-time for Thunder backers. While we're likely going to see an exorbitant total, the 'over' could be worth a look as well.SundayNew York at HoustonPerhaps Knicks bettors have been lulled into a false sense of security after a wildly-successful six-game homestand that saw New York go 5-1 straight-up and against the spread. This is precisely the type of spot where a young, confident team like the Knicks could get tripped up as they travel for a sleepy Sunday night matchup in Houston (against a Rockets squad they've already defeated by 22 points this season). This trip will get much tougher for New York after Sunday's contest as it will face the Grizzlies, Nuggets, Suns, Clippers and Lakers in succession - a murderer's row of Western Conference contenders. It would be easy to overlook the Rockets, who will be in a back-to-back spot after hosting the Warriors on Saturday. While Houston's season is essentially over, it hasn't thrown in the towel just yet, as evidenced by Thursday's upset win over the Bucks here at home. Toronto at Los AngelesThis is a tough scheduling spot for the Raptors, who are simply playing out the string with no legitimate playoff hopes still worth reaching for. Toronto will be playing its third game in four nights, with two of those coming at altitude in Denver and Salt Lake City. The Lakers are rested and ready having returned home from a four-game road trip to host the Kings on Friday night. Of course, Los Angeles is gradually getting back to full strength with Anthony Davis working his way back to a full minutes load. With a tougher game against Denver on deck on Monday perhaps we see some 'load management' from the Lakers here but I'm quite honestly not sure that plays into their decision-making. Los Angeles doesn't really have the luxury of taking games off down the stretch as it enters the weekend in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference playoff picture. More help will obviously be coming with Lebron James' return imminent (at the time of writing on Friday). For now look for Los Angeles to take advantage of every winnable game on its schedule.

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UEFA Champions League Semi-Final Preview

Monday, Apr 26, 2021

The first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final round takes place this week with Chelsea traveling to Spain to face Real Madrid on Tuesday while Paris-St. Germain hosts Manchester City on Wednesday.The lead-up to the matches has been overshadowed of course by the proposed creation and immediate collapse of the European Super League. Nevertheless, we have two fantastic matchups in the offing. Here's a quick look at both (odds courtesy BetOnline).Tuesday, April 27thReal Madrid (-0.25 -109) vs. Chelsea (+0.25 -111)Los Blancos have been playing phenomenal defensive football, contributing to an incredible 17-match unbeaten streak going all the way back to a January 30th setback against Levante. Most impressive is the fact that no opponent has managed to score more than a single goal against Real Madrid over the course of that 17-game stretch.Off a disappointing 0-0 showing against Real Betis on Saturday, Real Madrid will be eager to push forward and shake out of its own scoring slump here, noting that it has failed to register a goal in three of its last four matches overall. Chelsea won't be easy to break down, noting that it has posted three consecutive clean sheets since an ugly 1-0 loss in the second leg of its Champions League quarter-final matchup with Porto. Note that Real Madrid has an excellent track record when reaching this stage of the Champions League, having gone on to win the title each of the last three times it has made it to the semi-final round. You have to wonder if the majority of the Blues focus is on the English Premier League, where they currently sit fourth in the table with a three point cushion over fifth-place West Ham. Chelsea does check in undefeated in its last 10 away fixtures. This marks its first appearance in the Champions League semi-final round since 2014 when it bowed out against Atletico Madrid. Wednesday, April 28thParis-St. Germain (+0.25 -104) vs. Manchester City (-0.25 -116)Parc des Princes will be the venue for the first leg of this intriguing semi-final showdown between PSG and Manchester City. Both clubs are looking for their first ever Champions League title.PSG will be hard-pressed to accomplish that feat if they don't have the services of international superstar Kylian Mbappe after he was forced to leave Saturday's 3-1 victory over Metz with a thigh injury. Mbappe scored twice in the victory and his status remains up in the air for Wednesday's contest. Mbappe's status notwithstanding, PSG has been rolling offensively in recent weeks, scoring at least three goals in seven of its last night matches overall. Home field advantage has meant very little as it has managed just three victories in its last eight contests here at Parc des Princes.Manchester City reached the semi-final stage thanks to consecutive thrilling 2-1 victories over a game Borussia Dortmund squad with Phil Foden securing those wins with a pair of late markers. This marks the first time Man City has reached the Champions League semis since 2016 when it lost to eventual champions Real Madrid. How fitting would it be for it to draw a rematch with Los Blancos in the final of this year's tournament? City checks in having won nine of its 10 Champions League matches to date, with its lone setback coming in the second leg of its quarter-final matchup against Porto. In those 10 previous matches, it has allowed a grand total of just three goals, which outlines the importance of PSG having super-scorer Mbappe for this match.

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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 empty...you 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 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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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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