Sports Picks For Sale - Vegas Writer

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Vegas Writer is a journalist/social media influencer entrenched in Southern Nevada from every aspect when it comes to sports.

Active since: 1992

Location: Las Vegas, NV

If it comes to sports in Las Vegas, the Vegas Writer is probably writing about it, whether you can bet on it or not.

From the NFL to NHL, to NBA, to WNBA, to NFR, to AHL, to MiLB - you get the picture. There isn't a day of the week the Vegas Writer is not writing something about sports. Not a week goes by without the Vegas Writer wearing a credential to an event.

Satellite radio, national and local radio spots, and the occasional TV guest appearance - the Vegas Writer is everywhere his followers need him to be when it comes to covering sporting events.

And the one area Vegas Writer has thrived in since his first radio appearance in the 1990s is sports gambling. He has been on TV and radio. He has worked as a columnist for one of the leading Las Vegas-based sports-betting media outlets. He has written freelance betting articles for many of the sites you visit every single day.

Finally, the Vegas Writer has decided it's time for you to benefit from his travels around town, as he's transitioning into the world of handicapping due to the amount of work he puts into the articles he is currently producing. He is a numbers guy, using a heavy dose of analytics for the stories he writes for his sports-gaming beat for one particular media outlet. For others, he is constantly in touch with the local teams and their opponents, so he knows these games inside and out.

And what the Vegas Writer has come to learn is that neither a sports betting beat writer, nor a handicapper is a part-time worker. It takes a full-time effort to understand the teams, the games, and the numbers.  And one of his biggest advantages is that he knows the nuances of each team.

Another important thing to understand is that, just because the Vegas Writer talks to players and coaches on the field, and is around locker rooms every day during the season, there isn't any "Inside Info" here. You're simply getting an expert sports betting opinion from a veteran writer who knows the games inside-and-out.

That's the Vegas Writer's job, and has been since 1992.

Now, let's go make some money.

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MLB - Moneyline - Thu, Mar 30


Went 1-2 on Wednesday. And while I do have THREE PLAYS OF THE MONTH bundled in one Multi-Pack for you, RIGHT HERE I'v...


MLB - n/a - Thu, Mar 30


Went 1-2 on Wednesday. I open the MLB season with THREE PLAYS OF THE MONTH, bundled in one Multi-Pack. I've got my NA...


NCAAB - n/a - Thu, Mar 30


Went 1-2 on Wednesday. Tonight we put a wrap on the NIT Tournament in Las Vegas, where North Texas and UAB tip off at...


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Sour 16: Not Everything Sweet About Regionals

Wednesday, Mar 22, 2023

We all know the upcoming games on Thursday and Friday - the regional semifinals - are labeled with sweetness for the final 16 teams.And as sweet as it is to see 11 different conferences represented, and seeds ranging from two top seeds to as high as a 15 still playing in this year's dance, it's important to recognize intangibles that work against every single team before investing in either side.Leave it to me to point out the SOUR SIXTEEN, 16 focal points for the remaining teams that you may or may not know, but definitely should factor into your wagering before Thursday and Friday.EAST REGIONAL SEMIFINALS (Thursday)Florida Atlantic vs. TennesseeFAU - In playing a defensive-minded team like Tennessee, the aggressiveness could often send the Owls to the free-throw line in this one. Problem for them is they're not a good free-throw shooting team. Florida Atlantic ranks 206th in the country in making an average of 12.4 free throws per game, while they're 202nd in the country attempting 17.4 complimentary shots per contest.TENNESSEE - The Volunteers may be known for their defense, but their offensive efficiency leaves a lot to be desired. Against a balanced team like the Owls, it's a cause for concern when the Vols rank 232nd in the nation with a 43.6% shooting clip. Tennessee's effective field-goal percentage ranks 216th at 50.2%.Michigan State vs. Kansas StateMICHIGAN ST. - There are three important areas in basketball that help teams on offense, and the Spartans rank terribly in each category. First of all, their 9.94 forced turnovers per game rank 339th in the nation. If they can't get the ball away from the opportunistic Wildcats, it'll pose problems. They also struggle on the offensive glass, ranking 261st with 8.91 per game. Second-chance opportunities are a must by this point in the tournament. Finally, they average 11.6 made free throws per contest, which is 272nd. KANSAS STATE - The Wildcats rank in the lower half of the country when it comes to 3-point shooting, be it attempts or made treys per game. I don't have a problem with that, because it means they don't live or die by the three. But they went from averaging 20.2 3-pointers per game through their first 24 games, but there's been an uptick to 22.3 over their last nine games - including 24.3 per contest over their last three. And, they're hitting just 24.4% from 3-point range in the tournament.WEST REGIONAL SEMIFINALS (Thursday)Arkansas vs. ConnecticutARKANSAS - The Razorbacks struggle with their long-range game, ranking 305th in the nation in 3-point percentage (31.6). And while Arkansas draws fouls at a high rate, it fails to convert at the charity stripe, ranking 282nd in free-throw percentage (69.2%). Also, Arkansas ranks 236th in assist rate (48.7%). The biggest area of concern is depth, as the Razorbacks rank 293rd in bench minutes percentage (25.9%)CONNECTICUT - This might be one of the most complete teams left in the dance, statistically, as the Huskies check the boxes all around, at both ends of the court. The one area I see being a problem since Arkansas draws a lot of fouls, is where the Huskies rank 262nd with 18.0 fouls per game. While Razorbacks may not convert their free-throw opportunities well, the last thing UConn needs to do is give them so many chances.Gonzaga vs. UCLAGONZAGA - Is this the matchup where the Bulldogs' propensity for being lax on defense hurts them? The Zags’ defense is currently ranked the worst since 2006, as it's sometimes been rather soft, mainly because it answers the bell at the other end. If they don't defend the perimeter better, the Dogs will become vulnerable against a team like the Bruins, who can hit from long-range when given space.UCLA - The Bruins aren't aggressive enough on the defensive glass, and they cannot afford to give Gonzaga second-chance opportunities. It's one thing to rely on 15.67 turnovers forced per game (23rd nationally), and a +1.44 assist-to-turnover ratio (18th), but when you're snatching 24.17 defensive boards per game (233rd), a team like Gonzaga will hurt you. Guys like Timme and Strawther don't need second chances.MIDWEST REGIONAL SEMIFINALS (Friday)Miami, Florida vs. HoustonMIAMI, FL - When you're facing a team like Houston, you better hope your defense can be as strong. The Hurricanes will need their best effort at the defensive end of the floor, and I'm not so sure the efficiency will be there. The 'Canes ranked 222nd, allowing 71.6 points per game on 44.7% shooting (244th). Sure, that offense can score some points. But this is the best defense the Hurricanes will have faced, and they'll need their best effort to slow the Cougars.HOUSTON - The Cougars are a guard-oriented team, but if they want to get to the regional final, they're going to need to get elite play in the paint. The Cougars rank 190th with their 62.4% 2-point rate against fellow D-I teams. And as defensive as this team gets, you'd think the Cougars would score more on the break, but average only 11.08 per game.Xavier vs. TexasXAVIER - This one may seem odd, but I'm going to turn to chemistry. Two Xavier players got into an on-court shouting match during a comeback win over Kennesaw State in the opening round. Guards Souley Boum and Adam Kunkel appeared to yell at each other on the court before coaches got in between the two near the bench. This is the regional semifinal, and the Longhorns are going to cause frustration. The Musketeers need to keep it together.TEXAS - The Longhorns struggle beyond the arc, ranking 171st in 3-point percentage (34.1). They also do a terrible job in drawing fouls, as they rank 166th in foul rate (31.9%). Match those with being an undersized team - the 'Horns are 268th in average height and play smaller at times - and this could be trouble against the Musketeers, who ranked 11th in the nation with 81.2 points per game.SOUTH REGIONAL SEMIFINALS (Friday)San Diego State vs. AlabamaSAN DIEGO ST - The Aztecs have always had defensive prowess. They don't back down from anyone. Then there are times they meet their match, and they don't know how to react. In facing the overall No. 1 seed in the event, the Aztecs can't afford to be bullied and pushed around. When another team instills fear first, the Aztecs have been known to wilt. This could be one of those times.ALABAMA - Off-court distractions, aka the media. There aren't many flaws with this team. But with all talks over the off-court controversy surrounding this team, it falls on coach Nate Oats to keep his troops focused on the task. There will be plenty of trash-talking, and the Tide players have to block the outside noise and play their game.Princeton vs. CreightonPRINCETON - One of the biggest surprises to this point, the Tigers have a very good chance at knocking off Creighton. They just have to be better defensively. Princeton’s greatest weakness when you delve into metrics is forcing turnovers, with a defensive turnover percentage that ranks 349th out of 363 Division I teams in the country.CREIGHTON - Defensive rebounding and creating turnovers were two issues the Blue Jays needed to address during the off-season. They're now ranked seventh in the nation with 28.66 defensive boards per game. Problem is, they rank 296th with just 8.34 offensive rebounds per contest, and still only force 9.89 turnovers per game (340th). Against a scrappy Tigers team, you need to create more second-chance opportunities, and you need to force turnovers to move in transition.

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Who NOT to bet on to win the Tourney Title

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2023

Time for your Buyer Beware speech, as the dance that's big gets underway in full on Thursday.While many are on the prowl to identify the right team to invest in, the one with the right odds, and that can make a run at the title, I'm alerting you to the higher seeded teams I see bowing out sooner than expected so you don't make any financial mistakes.PURDUE (No. 1 seed, East Region)Of the No. 1 seeds in this year's event, the Boilermakers appear to be the most vulnerable, and one I don't think makes it into the national semifinals, let alone the East final. Sure, they won the Big Ten tournament, but they also were on the right side of the bracket, facing Rutgers (who lost in the first round of the NIT), sub-.500 Ohio State (which played its fourth game in as many days) and a weary Penn State team that wouldn't have been able to compete had it been rested.The draw isn't as easy in this event, with the potential opponents in Memphis and Duke or Tennessee just to get to the East final, where the likes of Kentucky, Kansas State, Michigan State, USC, and Marquette reside on the other side of the bracket.After outscoring opponents by nearly 14 points per game after a 22-1 start to the season, the Boilers closed the season and conference tourney going 7-4 and outscoring teams by just 3.3 per contest. This team won't be able to weather the storm.BAYLOR (No. 3 seed, South Region)It's amazing the difference a few years can make. From the Bears' championship run in 2020-21, to now, the depth and defense is a drastic change. Sure, the offense has been flowing with one of the best backcourts in the nation, but the Bears can't defend. And that simply won't cut it in this region, even in the opening round against Santa Barbara.If the Bears get past the Gauchos, I think they're destined to face Creighton, which has improved dramatically in the second half of the season. Second-seeded Arizona is bound to get to the South semis, and if Baylor can claw its way to the East final, sorry, but I'm guessing Alabama will be waiting, and I think the Tide can win it all.Baylor was lucky to grab a 3-seed in my eyes, after losing four of its last six games, including its regular-season home finale to Iowa State by 15, and then again in the Big 12 tournament to the same Cyclones, by six. The Bears gave up 69.0 over their first 26 games. During that final 2-4 slide, they allowed 75.5 points per contest. The Bears go into hibernation sooner than later.VIRGINIA (No. 4 seed, South Region)Another team from the same region as Baylor, I don't see how the Cavaliers make it through a rugged gauntlet when I see how they've underperformed lately. Though they won four of seven since Feb. 22, it's the lackluster offense that is alarming.This is a team that was outscoring teams by a respectable 9.0 points per game during a 21-4 start but fell off noticeably with its offense losing roughly six points per game and the scoring differential shrinking to +2.6 in that seven-game span.The Cavs tend to make life hard on themselves on the offensive end of the floor, failing to work for the easy buckets, and relying too much on the long ball. That'll be trouble at some point, as this top-four seed loses before the regional final.GONZAGA (No. 3 seed, West Region)I don't trust Mark Few, point blank. He cannot coach when things aren't going well and he's scrambling for answers. There's always too much dependence on one guy, and this year it's Drew Timme. Sure, he's not a bad choice. But when the Bulldogs run up against a team that can isolate on him, Few isn't always open to expanding his options.This affects things at both ends of the court, as the Bulldogs aren't necessarily a good defensive team in transition. So in potential opponents like UCLA, Kansas or UConn, Iona, or even West Coast-rival Saint Mary's, they may find themselves bottled up.The Bulldogs have failed to crack the Top 100 with their adjusted defensive efficiency the past month, and it's creating mass imbalance for what should be a much better team than we've seen all season. Another early exit for Few and company.CONNECTICUT (No. 4 seed, West Region)The Huskies were a four-seed in the Big East Conference. Suddenly they're a four-seed in the dance? I'm not convinced, especially when I think the team with the most potential from that league is Marquette. Connecticut won just six of 11 in true road games. Okay, these are neutral-court games, and the Huskies won four of five on neutral courts. But this team fails in key categories that are big intangibles in this tournament.The Huskies rank 124th with just 18.9 free throw attempts per game - they don't draw enough fouls. They're tied for 270th in committing 18.1 fouls per contest - they foul too much. And I'd feel better if they forced more than 13.2 turnovers per game.Some may say Connecticut is in the easiest bracket, but I wouldn't be shocked in the least if Rick Pitino and his 13th-seeded Iona Gaels win this opening-round matchup.Good luck with your choices on future wagers, just don't make any one of these five.

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Get Your Spikes Out and Head Into The Dugout

Sunday, Feb 26, 2023

The boys of summer have made it to training cap, and I couldn't be any more excited for the baseball season?From a betting standpoint, always remember it's rare you can invest in a season-long season, go 50-50 - or slightly worse for that matter - and make money. With value underdogs going daily, and age-old, fool-proof systems that produce said plus prices, I’m always excited for the six-month grind.The baseball season can be a long one, so I always suggest putting aside a bankroll for the entire campaign, and settling in with a long-term package for what can be a roller coaster ride. There isn't much in the way of a break other than the days in July for the All-Star Break. The season gets underway next month, and ends more than a month into the NFL season - and two months into College Football - with the World Series. And believe me, when late August rolls around, it becomes a battle between your mind and determination to make money.Whether you're a recreational bettor or serious investor, there is no time to think with no days off if you're going to invest in baseball.So you're prepared, my routine begins the afternoon before once the pitching matchup is listed. I immediately start making lines, and then compare to the overnights that start to trickle in. Remember that there is value in every single game, it’s a matter of finding it and applying it accordingly. Whether it's first-five sides or totals, or full-game sides and totals.And this is one of those sports certain trends are important to look at, others should be ignored. The aforementioned systems that are classic can apply to specific trends you have no choice by to apply. As the campaign approaches, I will explain further, especially in my analysis.Remember, winning and losing streaks, how a pitcher does against certain teams, and how teams do on the road across different time zones all should have something to do with your success. Weather can be a factor. Whether it’s still cold in Chicago and New York, blistering hot in Phoenix, or sticky humid in certain cities.The biggest thing to remember, if you want to win money in baseball, is you have to stick to your handicapping morals, and that takes discipline. There will be times you're asked to take a $2 underdog, and the consistency in following patterns you started betting in late March will always play in your favor with the law of averages working out. It doesn't matter the price or the dynamics of a game or pitching matchup. You follow your system, you follow your discipline, you follow your trend, you stick to your process.Proper money management begins with investing a percentage of the bankroll you start with, and increasing your wagers as your bankroll increases. That is important. You cannot go bust two months into the season because you overextended yourself while you're still growing a season-long bankroll.If you start with a $5,000 bankroll and bet one percent of it, you’re moving $50 per game. As the bankroll increases or decreases, so will your one-percent, per-game investment. You don’t change because you like a specific game more than the other. Those types of investments should come from an outside source of income - not your season-long investment.Get your spikes out and head into the dugout. It’s almost time to make money with the most profitable sport, and as we get closer, I'll spotlight sleepers and future wagers.

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Time to keep an eye on the XFL

Thursday, Feb 23, 2023

Now that the eight-team XFL has a week under its belt, it's time to start making a move on the weekly betting lines.The way I see it, this is a league that will be fueled by which the teams that can control possessions, the teams that can execute the speciality extra points, and those coaches who show aggressiveness with the 4th-and-15 onside kicks. Also keep in mind that travel shouldn't play too much into what you're thinking. The teams are centralized out of Arlington, Texas, and then fly to the cities they're playing in weekly. It'll take a few weeks to determine true homefield advantages for these teams.Truth is, there was no surprise Arlington was one of the favorites to win the league, considering the league is based there.I think after the first week, one overreaction from bettors will be that the teams are pretty evenly matches with three of the four games finishing as one-score games that could've very easily gone the opposite direction with different winners.Orlando was the only team to serve a beatdown, stomping Houston, 33-12.Favorites closed Week 1 with marks of 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS, and the average margin of victory was 7.5 points. Toss out Houston's 19-point demolition, and the average margin of victory was 3.0 points per game.I can't say whether the edge goes to the underdogs or favorites just yet, but I do like the idea of investigating every Over until the books get a better handle on the defensive units.Overs went 3-1 in Week 1, and it's the defensive units that are going to have adjust weekly to those aggressive coaches with tricks up their sleeves. After Week 1, we've seen balanced offenses that can control the clock, but that can strike quick, too.There was an average of 40.0 points per game in Week 1, with the posted totals averaging 36.125 per game.and this week only one game hits the 40-point matk, the Sunday night game between Arlington and Houston. That's two Texas teams with little to no travel, again, with the teams based out of Arlington all week.Week 2 should be a bit more interesting, and I get things underway with my XFL NORTH DIVISION GAME OF THE MONTH, as St. Louis visits Seattle. I have a free winner on the total, but my big play from the North is Thursday's side winner.

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Regardless of Sunday's Results, an Epic Super Bowl Awaits

Saturday, Jan 28, 2023

Postseason emotions fuel motivation, and both work in strange ways.Regardless of sport - be it football, baseball, basketball, or hockey - it takes the players to feed off them. Whether in your favor or against your mojo, momentum is a commodity for every team participating.In Sunday's NFC Championship, we have the top two seeds battling it out, with the San Francisco 49ers visiting the Philadelphia Eagles. And it's hard to dispute the NFC's top seeds will be riding emotional highs into Sunday's 3 pm pacific kickoff.Then there's the AFC Championship, in Kansas City, where the Chiefs play host to the Bengals, who won the regular-season matchup, 27-24, in Cincinnati.I expect both games to take all four fanbases on emotional roller coasters, and no matter what happens in these conference championships, I know the Big Game on Feb. 12 will be epic.In the NFC, we're getting a pair of dominating defensive units that, per, faced two of the three easiest schedules this season. San Francisco ranks 30th and Philadelphia is dead last at 32nd, in terms of the schedule of strength.When you look at the divisions they hail from, the 49ers come out of the NFC West, which has an overall average ranking of 16.75. The Eagles rolled through the NFC East, which has an overall average ranking of 21.25.Edge to Frisco with a +4.5.So what will it mean Sunday?Both teams are eccentric on offense, with the 49ers bringing coach Kyle Shanahan's offensive gloss behind young Brock Purdy, and the Eagles' unpredictable ways keeping opposing defenses guessing.The answer to the NFC riddle is which defense will be able to limit the big plays and come up with the big stop at the right time.The Eagles had five players with at least 35 pressures, and they recorded 54 sacks when rushing four or fewer defenders. The 49ers led the NFL in total defense (300.6), scoring defense (16.3), and turnover margin (+13) while ranking second in rush defense (77.7).In the AFC, the storyline is glaring, with the Chiefs in triple-revenge since Joe Burrow entered the league.Back to, where the Bengals rank second in the strength of schedule and the Chiefs sit 13th.Again, looking at the divisions they hail from, the Bengals come out of the AFC North, which has an overall average ranking of 5.25. The Chiefs dominated the AFC West, which has an overall average ranking of 20.5.Edge to the Bengals with a +15.25.For this game, the question is whether or not Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be mobile enough to lead Kansas City's offense and keep up with a Bengals offensive unit that ranked fourth in the league with 378 yards per game.Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow has three touchdowns against no interceptions with a 100.8 rating this postseason and aims for his fourth straight playoff game with no picks. Burrow is 3-0 with nine touchdowns vs. one interception and a 121 rating in three career starts versus Kansas City.Mahomes, who led the NFL with 5,250 yards passing and 41 touchdown passes this season, has 32 touchdowns and only three interceptions with a 116.7 rating in 10 career home playoff starts, with two touchdown passes in each of his last five. Mahomes has a 90+ rating in each of four career starts versus Cincinnati, including the playoffs.One thing is for sure, no matter what happens in these conference championships, I know the Big Game on Feb. 12 will be epic.

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Final Four Quarterback Quick Hits

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2023

With the Conference Championships just four days away, here is a quick glance at the Final Four quarterbacks:San Francisco BROCK PURDY became the third rookie since 1970 (Joe Flacco & Mark Sanchez) to win two playoff games. Purdy can become the fifth rookie QB ever (Flacco, Shaun King, Ben Roethlisberger & Sanchez) to start a conference championship game. Purdy has completed 2+ touchdown passes in seven of his last eight games, tallying 16 TDs vs. just three interceptions. Of the final four quarterbacks, Purdy ranks No. 1 since Week 14 with a 116.0 passer rating, 14 TDs, and yards gained per attempt (9.0).PhiladelphiaJALEN HURTS had three touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing) vs. 0 interceptions for a 112.2 rating in the NFC Divisional game vs. the New York Giants. Hurts became the third quarterback ever with 3,500+ yards passing (3,701), 20+ TD passes (22), and 10+ rushing TDs (13) in a single season - the second-most rushing TDs by a QB in a single season in NFL history. Hurts also became the first quarterback all-time with 10+ rushing TDs in consecutive seasons. He ranked fourth among QBs with 760 yards rushing. Hurts had 272 yards (190 passing, 82 rushing) and a rushing touchdown in the last regular season meeting.CincinnatiJOE BURROW has three TDs vs. 0 interceptions with a 100.8 rating this postseason and is aiming for his fourth straight overall in the playoffs with 0 INTs. Burrow is 3-0 with nine TDs (8 passing, 1 rushing) vs. an interception and a 121 rating in three career starts vs. Kansas City, including the 2021 AFC Championship. Burrow can tie Russell Wilson (6 wins) for most playoff wins by a quarterback in his first three seasons during the Super Bowl era. Burrow ranked fifth in the NFL with 4,475 yards passing and tied for second with a career-high 35 TD passes this season.Kansas CityPATRICK MAHOMES has 32 touchdowns (28 passing, 4 rushing) vs. a mere three interceptions with a 116.7 rating in 10 career home playoff starts, with 2+ TD passes in each of his past five. Mahomes has a 90+ rating in each of his four career starts vs. Cincinnati, including the playoffs. Mahomes led the NFL with 5,250 yards passing and 41 TD passes this season, joining Drew Brees as the only players ever with two career seasons of 5,000+ yards passing and 40+ TD passes. Mahomes aims for his sixth in a row overall with 105+ rating.

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Have We Already Seen a Preview of the Super Bowl?

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2022

Ever heard someone say (or write), "a preview of the Super Bowl in a regular season game" when describing an upcoming game?During the Super Bowl era, it's happened 14 times, the last being during the 2020-21 season, when the Kansas City Chiefs won the regular season meeting 27-24 but were stymied by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 31–9 Super Bowl destruction.Prior to that, it happened during the 2011 season, when the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in both the regular season and the Super Bowl.It's only happened three times this century, with New York and New England also meeting two times in 2007, and the Rams and Patriots playing twice in 2001.It's Week 17 of the NFL season, and every team has two games left. I don't believe there is one game over the last two weeks anyone would consider a Super Bowl preview, so I took a look at my top three teams in both the AFC and NFC, peeped their schedules to date, and tried to find a potential preview they may have already played.Ironically, five of those six rank one through five with their scoring offenses: Philadelphia, Kansas City, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati. Two of them rank one and two with their scoring defenses: San Francisco and the Bills.The 49ERS and the CHIEFS met in Week 7 at Arrowhead Stadium, a game that turned out well for Kansas City in a 44-23 rout. While the Niners generated 444 yards of offense, it also committed three turnovers. Their defense allowed Kansas City to gain 529 yards, including 417 through the air. Since that game, though, the 49ers haven't allowed more than a total of 349 yards to eight different teams. To that point, Frisco had committed 12 turnovers, thrice committing three in one game. Since then, the Niners have committed only four turnovers. Kansas City has just one loss since then, at Cincinnati, a monster the Chiefs will have to solve if they face them in the AFC playoffs. The Chiefs' offense generated an average of 382.3 yards and 29.8 points per game through their first six contests; since the 49ers meeting, they've averaged a whopping 446.1 yards and 28.7 points per game.We got an early indication of just how good the COWBOYS' defense might be when they hosted the BENGALS in Week 2 and came away with a 20-17 victory. It was the second-lowest output for Cincinnati this season. It wouldn't shock me to see this reunion in February, as both have shown me something late in the season. The Bengals head into their Week 17 battle with Buffalo riding a seven-game win streak, and it's been their stifling defense that has me tuned in. That includes shutting down Kansas City's potent offense in Week 13, during a 27-24 win. If the Bengals knock off Buffalo this Sunday, I make them the favorite to win the AFC, hands down. Dallas clearly took the Jaguars for granted in Week 15, as we've seen Jacksonville emerge atop the AFC South, it's not that bad of a loss. The big win over Philadelphia spoke volumes about what that offense is capable of. The Cowboys rank third in the NFL with 28.9 points per game, behind Philly and Kansas City.The only realistic preview we've seen from the BILLS during the regular season would be a Week 10 home game against the Minnesota Vikings. Of course, I don't consider the Vikes to be a top 3 team, so I'll concentrate on what we saw in that game, and since, from the Bills. It was an epic overtime game the Vikings stole, 33-30. The Bills haven't lost since, and we'll see what they're made of this weekend in Cincinnati, where they'll face the defending conference champion Bengals. Buffalo has won six in a row behind its potent offense, averaging 28.3 points per game. But truth be told, albeit, against a rather shoddy slate, the Bills' defense has been rather impressive for the most part. The Bills allow the second-fewest points per game (17.5) while the opposition ends offensive drives with a score just 30.8% of the time, the third-lowest in the NFL. I'm not sold on Buffalo's schedule strength, so if it runs into a solid defense, things could end quickly for the Bills in the postseason.It doesn't surprise me that the odd team out is the EAGLES, who I feel have played the weakest schedule among the NFL contenders on the whole. Per, Philly has played the fourth-weakest schedule, with Frisco two spots lower at 31st. But to the 49ers' credit, they've been as high as the ninth-toughest schedule on the scale, whereas Philly has never been higher as 15th, and has been as low as 32nd.So which of the matchups mentioned do I believe makes the most sense?Cincinnati vs. Dallas on Feb. 12, 2023.See you in Glendale.

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NFL Week 14: Superlatives to Chew On

Sunday, Dec 11, 2022

A quick glance at what took place Sunday: - The Philadelphia Eagles and the league's second-highest scoring offense defeated the New York Giants, 48-22, improved to 12-1, and became the first team to clinch a playoff berth this season.Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts recorded 294 yards (217 passing, 77 rushing) and three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) with a 109.2 rating.Hurts, who has 3,157 passing yards with 22 touchdown passes and 10 rushing touchdowns this season, is the fourth quarterback ever with at least 3,000 passing yards, 20 touchdown passes, and 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season. - Heading into the Sunday and Monday Night Football games, there were 91 games decided by a touchdown (six points) or less, the most such games through the first 14 weeks all-time.Seven of 11 games (63.6 percent) that were completed in Week 14 had been within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter and there have been 156 games within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter this season, the most such games through the first 14 weeks in NFL history.- Comebacks told the tale in two epic showdowns, as the Dallas Cowboys registered a 98-yard game-winning touchdown drive that culminated with an Ezekiel Elliott rushing touchdown with 41 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of their 27-23 win over Houston, while the Los Angeles Rams drove 98 yards on Thursday Night Football for the game-winning touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield to Van Jefferson with 10 seconds remaining in regulation of their 17-16 win over Las Vegas.Week 14 of the 2022 season is the first week in the last 45 seasons in which there were multiple game-winning touchdown drives of at least 95 yards where the touchdown was scored inside the final two minutes of regulation.There have been 49 games this season decided by a game-winning score in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime, trailing only 2015 (50) for the most such games through the first 14 weeks of a season all-time.- Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns while tight end Travis Kelce registered 71 receiving yards in the Chiefs' 34-28 win at Denver.Mahomes recorded his 24th career game with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes, the most such games by a player in his first six seasons in NFL history.Kelce, who has recorded at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of the past seven seasons (2016-22), is the first tight end in NFL history with seven career seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards.The Chiefs improved to 10-3 on the season while head coach Andy Reid became the third head coach in NFL history to record at least 10 regular-season wins in eight consecutive seasons.- Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw for 368 yards and totaled four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) while tight end Evan Engram had 11 receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns in the Jaguars' 36-22 win at Tennessee.Lawrence became the youngest player in NFL history with at least 350 passing yards, three touchdown passes, and one rushing touchdown in a game. Engram is the sixth tight end in NFL history with at least 10 receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns in a game.- Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen had one touchdown pass and one rushing touchdown in the Bills' 20-12 win over the New York Jets. Allen has six rushing touchdowns in 2022 and is the first quarterback with at least six rushing touchdowns in five consecutive seasons in NFL history.- Cincinnati wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase had 10 receptions for 119 yards and one touchdown in the Bengals' 23-10 win over Cleveland. Chase registered his eighth career game with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown reception.- Detroit quarterback Jared Goff threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a 120.7 rating. - San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy completed 16 of 21 pass attempts (76.2%) for two touchdowns with no interceptions for a 134.0 rating and added a rushing touchdown in the 49ers' 35-7 win over Tampa Bay. Purdy became the first rookie in the Super Bowl era with at least two touchdown passes, one rushing touchdown, and a passer rating of 125 or higher in his first career start.- Minnesota wide receiver Justin Jefferson had 11 receptions for a career-high 223 receiving yards on Sunday. Jefferson has five career games with at least 175 receiving yards. Jefferson, who has 1,500 receiving yards this season, is the first player in NFL history with at least 1,400 receiving yards in each of his first three career seasons.

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Turkey Day Primer for Three NFL Games

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2022

BUFFALO (7-3) at DETROIT (4-6): Thursday’s matchup marks the third Thanksgiving Day meeting between the Bills and Lions, with Detroit winning each of the first two contests. Thursday marks the 11th regular-season meeting between the two franchises, with Buffalo holding a 6-4-1 series advantage. In their last meeting, Week 15 of the 2018 season, quarterback Josh Allen rushed for a touchdown and threw a go-ahead 42-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of the Bills’ 14-13 victory.  Week 12 will mark Buffalo’s third appearance on Thanksgiving in the past four seasons. On November 28, 2019, the Bills defeated Dallas, 26-15, with two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) from Allen. Last year on the holiday, Allen threw four touchdown passes in Buffalo’s 31-6 win at New Orleans.Buffalo will play its second straight game in Detroit after earning a 31-23 victory over Cleveland, as Allen threw his 21st touchdown pass of the season. Since entering the NFL in 2018, Allen has 159 career combined passing and rushing touchdowns (124 passing, 35 rushing), tied with Patrick Mahomes (159) for the third-most by a player in his first five seasons in NFL history.On defense, Buffalo linebacker Von Miller has six sacks in five road games this season and has 10.5 sacks in 12 career games on Thursday. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Ed Oliver had a career-high three tackles for loss last week and aims for his third in a row on Thanksgiving with at least half a sack and a pass defended. In Week 11, Detroit defeated the New York Giants, 31-18, for its third-consecutive win. Running back Jamaal Williams ran for three touchdowns and became the fourth player since 2000 with multiple rushing touchdowns in at least five of his team's first 10 games of a season.Last year on the holiday, quarterback Jared Goff completed 21 of 25 pass attempts (84%), the highest single-game completion percentage on Thanksgiving in NFL history. He has a passer rating of 100 or higher in three of his past four home starts and has two-or-more touchdown passes in eight of his past nine home games. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown led the team with seven receptions last week and has at least seven catches in six of his past seven home games.Defensively, rookie lineman Aidan Hutchinson registered an interception and fumble recovery and became the second player since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, with at least five sacks (5.5) and two interceptions (two) in his first 10 career games. Rookie safety Kerby Joseph turned in his third interception of the season and is the only rookie with at least three interceptions (three) and two forced fumbles (two). NEW YORK GIANTS (7-3) at DALLAS (7-3): The Giants and Cowboys meet for the 121st time since 1960, with Dallas holding the all-time regular-season series advantage, 72-46-2, including wins in 10 of the past 11 meetings. The two clubs haven't met on Thanksgiving since 1992 when the Cowboys won 30-3. Thursday marks the second meeting this season between the NFC East rivals after Dallas defeated New York, 23-16, in Week 3 on Monday Night Football.Last week, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones passed for a season-high 341 yards and had two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). He has a passer rating of 90 or higher in three of his past four road starts. Running back Saquon Barkley leads the NFC with 1,163 scrimmage yards this season and has three rushing touchdowns in four road games. He had 126 scrimmage yards (81 rushing, 45 receiving) and a rushing touchdown in the Week 3 meeting vs. Dallas and has at least 100 scrimmage yards in two of his three career games at Dallas.On the other side of the ball, defensive lineman Leonard Williams has at least five tackles in three of his past four on the road and has 3.5 sacks in his past three games against the Cowboys. Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence turned in his sixth game of the season with at least five tackles, tied for the most such games among defensive linemen in 2022.Dallas had the biggest blowout win last week with a 40-3 defeat of the Minnesota Vikings. The Cowboys are the only NFC team to score at least 40 points twice this season. In five career starts on Thanksgiving, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has 1,393 yards passing and nine touchdowns (seven passing, two rushing) with a 98.4 rating. He has 21 touchdowns vs. just five interceptions for a 100.1 rating in 11 career starts against the Giants.Running back Tony Pollard continues to impress as he comes in after registering a career-high 189 scrimmage yards (109 receiving, 80 rushing) and two touchdown receptions in Week 11, becoming the fourth player since 1990 with at least 75 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in a single game. Last year on Thanksgiving, Pollard recorded a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown, the third-longest touchdown ever scored on the holiday.Running back Ezekiel Elliott was also active vs. Minnesota, recording his 14th-career game with two rushing touchdowns. He has 488 scrimmage yards (97.6 per game) and four rushing touchdowns in five career Thanksgiving games. Elliott has 10 touchdowns (nine rushing, one receiving) in 11 career games against the Giants and aims for his sixth in a row against New York with a touchdown.Dallas enters this week with the league’s top-ranked scoring defense, allowing just 16.7 points per game, and leads the NFL with 42 sacks this season. The Cowboys are the only team with four players each having at least five sacks in 2022: Micah Parsons (10), Dorance Armstrong (7), DeMarcus Lawrence (6), and Dante Fowler (5). Each of the four recorded at least one sack in Week 11.NEW ENGLAND (6-4) at MINNESOTA (8-2): New England leads the all-time series against Minnesota, 9-4, including wins in five consecutive matchups. The Patriots have scored at least 45 points in each of their past two Thanksgiving appearances (2010 and 2012) and are 3-1 on the holiday under coach Bill Belichick.New England defeated the New York Jets, 10-3, in Week 11 as rookie defensive back Marcus Jones turned in a game-winning 84-yard punt-return touchdown with five seconds left in the contest.Quarterback Mac Jones completed 23 of 27 pass attempts for a career-high 85.2 completion percentage last week, and has at least one touchdown pass in seven of his past eight road starts. Jones aims for his third straight without an interception. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson ranks tied for fifth among all running backs with a career-high 41 receptions this season and needs 73 scrimmage yards for his first-career 1,000-yard season.The Patriots are the only team in the league this season to allow three points or fewer multiple times. New England enters Week 12 allowing 16.9 points per game, the fewest among all AFC teams.Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins has 691 passing yards (345.5 per game) and five touchdowns against one interception for a 110.8 rating in two career Thanksgiving starts.Linebacker Za’Darius Smith has 22 sacks in 22 career primetime games while linebacker Danielle Hunter has 6.5 sacks in six career Thursday games. Cornerback Patrick Peterson ranks third in the NFL this season with 12 passes defended. Safety Harrison Smith has a pass defended in five of his past six games and aims for his third in a row with at least six tackles.

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Close Games Continue to Highlight NFL Campaign

Monday, Nov 21, 2022

More and more we're seeing one-score games this season, as it happened once again on Sunday.Ten of the first 13 games completed in Week 11 (excluding Monday's contest) were within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter.There have been a total of 126 games within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter this season - the most such games through the first 11 weeks in NFL history.There have been 71 games decided by a touchdown (six points) or less, tied with 2016 (71) for the most such games through the first 11 weeks all-time.It's an interesting observation as we head into one of the most popular weeks in an NFL season, as Thanksgiving approaches.There are 11 games on the Week 12 card that carry a point spread of 7 or less. Add in the Saints-49ers gme, and there are 12 games at 8 or less.There have been 35 games in which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win or tie this season, the most such games through the first 11 weeks of a season all-time.There have been 38 games this season decided by a game-winning score in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime, trailing only 2015 (39) and 2003 (39) for the most such games through the first 11 weeks of a season all-time.In terms of the point spread, there have been 142 games where the point spread fell between -1 and -8, and the underdog is 75-62-5 (via StatHead) in those games.

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Will the Bills/Chiefs Game be an Offensive Showcase?

Friday, Oct 14, 2022

As the Kansas City Chiefs are set to host the Buffalo Bills - a matchup of 4-1 teams and a rematch of last season’s divisional playoff clash - we have the top two scoring offenses in the league.Kansas City is averaging 31.8 points per game while Buffalo is averaging 30.4.But does that mean the offensive fireworks are bound to flare? The Bills come into Week 6 tied for the top-scoring defense in the league, allowing just 12.2 points allowed per game.Sure, this is the fifth time Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes will face one another as opposing starting quarterbacks, including the postseason. And yes, Kansas City has won four of the first five meetings, during which Allen has totaled 12 touchdowns (11 passing, one rushing) and a 105.1 passer rating, while Mahomes has recorded 11 touchdowns (10 passing, one rushing) and a 108.1 passer rating.But we've seen other defensive units slow the Chiefs, and again, the Bills have the personnel to do the same.Kansas City's best chance to win this game is to step up defensively, not by getting into a shootout when Buffalo's stop unit thrives on the big play.Remember that Buffalo has stayed under in four of its last five, and Kansas City rolls in on a 6-2 under run in Week 6 of the season.Be wary when playing the side and total in this one, as there's more to seeing two explosive offenses.

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NFL Surprises Provide Intriguing Matchups for Week 5

Friday, Oct 07, 2022

We've hit the quarter pole of the NFL season, per se, with everyone outside of the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos four games into their campaign.The Colts (2-2-1) beat the Broncos (2-3) 12-9 on Thursday in arguably the most boring and unimpressive game of the season.And everyone had the lone undefeated team the Philadelphia Eagles (4-0), right?The vaunted AFC West, we all knew it would be a combined 8-8 through four weeks, right along with the NFC West, correct?How about the New York Giants? We all knew they'd be 3-1, easy.The surprises have been plentiful, for sure, and a bigger picture is being painted with some crucial matchups in store for Week 5.As mentioned, the week officially started in Denver, blah. A better matchup kicks off Sunday in London, where the Giants face the Green Bay Packers, who are also 3-1. The Packers and Giants’ combined winning percentage of .750 (6-2) is the highest by two teams entering an international game in Week 4 or later all-time.Amazingly, we're talking about a Giants team (19.0) that is scoring more per game, albeit by fractions, than the Packers (18.8). Green Bay has the edge on defense, allowing 17.3 points per contest, while the Giants give up half a point more, at 17.8.But it's the Red Zone percentage I'm most intrigued by, as the Giants rank No. 2 after allowing just five touchdowns to opponents who made 14 trips inside the 20-yard line (35.7%).The Packers are laying -8 to the Giants, who have covered seven of their last 10 October-played games.The Las Vegas Raiders earned their first win of the season and can move out of the AFC West cellar with a win in Kansas City on Monday night. Easy, yeah? They'll need to slow reigning AFC Offensive Player of the Week Patrick Mahomes, who leads the NFL with 32 games with at least 300 passing yards since taking over as the Chiefs' full-time starter in 2018. Mahomes threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns in Kansas City’s win last week.Kansas City is -7 against the Raiders, who have failed to cover five of their last six in Kansas City.There's no arguing everyone knew the Buffalo Bills (3-1) would be in first place in the AFC East, although there may be some dispute with those who saw them being 4-0. This week they host the downtrodden Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3), as the Kenny Pickett era begins in Steeltown.Pickett may be ready in coach Mike Tomlin's eyes, but he'll have a tall task in matching the talents of Buffalo QB Josh Allen, who ranks second in the NFL with 12 combined passing and rushing touchdowns (10 passing, two rushing) this season and has 146 combined passing and rushing touchdowns since entering the NFL in 2018, fourth-most among all players over that span.The Bills are -14 at home against Pittsburgh, which has covered in Week 5 the last four seasons.In a huge road game in the NFC, the Eagles put their undefeated mark on the line in Glendale, where they'll visit the Arizona Cardinals (2-2).The Cards are 2-2 and Kyler Murray has shown better play the past few weeks. He just recorded his 10th career game with at least two touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown, the second-most such games by a quarterback since he entered the NFL in 2019. Since the 2020 season, Murray leads all quarterbacks with 18 rushing touchdowns, while Philly quarterback Jalen Hurts is tied for second with 17.The Eagles, who have covered seven of their last 10 in Week 5, are -5 in Arizona.Also from the NFC, there's a showdown in Inglewood brewing, as the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams (2-2) host the Dallas Cowboys (3-1).The Cowboys, who have allowed the fourth-fewest yards (537) to wide receivers, have their hands full against L.A.'s Cooper Kupp, who leads the NFL with 42 receptions this season. Kupp, who registered a career-high 14 receptions in Week 4, has recorded at least 10 receptions in three of his first four games this season and has 11 career games with 10-or-more receptions since entering the NFL in 2017.The Rams are laying -5 to Dallas on Sunday, and it's the home team that boasts a 7-2 ATS streak the last nine meetings.I'm on a 7-3 run in the NFL, including my NFC East Game of the Year on the Cowboys last Sunday, and my Thursday Night AFC Total of the Year on the Colts-Broncos under.I'll have my fourth straight NFL Total Winner going Sunday and another Division Game of the Year.

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Thursday Night Football Primer

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022

Intriguing Thursday night battle between the AFC's last undefeated team and the defending conference champion, as the Miami Dolphins (3-0) visit the Cincinnati Bengals (1-2).And it's Miami - which leads the all-time regular-season series (17-7) while the home team has won each of the past five meetings - that is catching the points from Cincy.The Bengals are -4 with a total of 47 points.Miami arrives after beating Buffalo, 21-19, in Week 3 to advance to 3-0 for the first time since 2018 and looks for its first 4-0 start to a season since 1995. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw for 296 yards with one touchdown in the teams' last meeting against Cincinnati. Tagovailoa comes in ranked second in the NFL this season in passing yards (925) and tied for third in touchdown passes (eight). Now he aims for his third straight start with a completion percentage of 70 or higher and a passer rating of 120 or higher.His targets have done a good job in making this passing attack dangerous, as wide receivers Jaylen Waddle (342 receiving yards) and Tyreek Hill (317) rank second and third, respectively, in receiving yards this season. Last week, Waddle hauled in four passes and his third-career game with at least 100 receiving yards. He has 123 receptions in 19 career games, second-most by a player in his first 20 career games in league history. Hill had seven receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown the last time he faced the Bengals, which was the 2021 AFC Championship while he was with Kansas City, and happens to have a receiving touchdown in six of his seven career games on Thursday Night Football.On the other side of the ball, linebacker Melvin Ingram had two sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery last week, and registered a sack the last time he played Cincinnati, also in the 2021 AFC Championship when he was K.C. Ingram has 4 1/2 sacks and seven tackles for loss in eight career Thursday games.Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard had two pass defenses on Sunday and will gun for his sixth straight with a pass defensed. He hauled in an interception in the teams' last meeting and has 27 interceptions since 2016, the most among all players. Also from the secondary, safety Jevon Holland set career highs in tackles (10) and sacks (1.5) and added two passes defensed and his first career forced fumble.The defending AFC champion Bengals got their first win of the season last Sunday when quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 275 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 114.9 rating. Burrow has 4,467 passing yards (319.1 per game) and 30 total touchdowns (26 passing, four rushing) in 14 career home starts and will aim to become the first quarterback since Drew Brees with at least 300 passing yards and two touchdown passes in five consecutive home games. Burrow is also looking for his third straight on Thursday Night Football with at least 300 passing yards and two touchdown passes.From the same backfield, running back Joe Mixon has 13 touchdowns (11 rushing, two receiving) in his past 12 home games and tallied 115 scrimmage yards (93 rushing, 22 receiving) and a touchdown catch the last time he played at home against the Dolphins. Burrow's top target, wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, recorded his 15th-career touchdown reception last week, tying for the second-most among all players since entering the league last season. Fellow wideout Tyler Boyd led the team with 105 receiving yards. Boyd registered a 72-yard touchdown reception the last time these teams played and he's gunning for his third in a row against Miami with a touchdown.From the stop unit, Miami defensive end Trey Hendrickson registered his first 2 1/2 sacks of the season and a career-high two forced fumbles against the Bills on Sunday. He is one of three AFC players - joining pretty good company in Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt - with at least 16 sacks (16 1/2) since 2021. Linebacker Logan Wilson has been a menace as he recorded his seventh-career interception last week, the most among linebackers since he entered the NFL in 2020. Safety Jessie Bates will be a ball hawk to watch after he registered his 11th-career interception against the Bills and recorded an interception against Miami in the teams’ last home game in Cincinnati/ Since 2018, Bates is one of two defensive backs with at least 400 tackles (414) and 10 interceptions (11).From a betting perspective:Miami has covered four straight since last season, and have also covered four in a row in the month of September.The Dolphins are on an 8-2 ATS win streak after notching a straight-up win. Be aware, however, Miami has stumbled at the window in Week 4 the past 17 years with a 3-14 ATS mark.The Bengals - who are on a 9-2 ATS roll since last season, including a cover in the Super Bowl - have covered seven in a row against winning teams, and are on an 8-1 ATS run against AFC foes.Unlike the Fins, the Bengals have found their footing in the fourth week of the campaign, having covered five of seven in Week 4.Miami has stayed Under in eight of 11 against AFC foes, and is on a 9-3 Under run in its last 12 September contests.The Bengals have stayed Under in six straight against AFC foes, and are on an 8-0 overall run in staying south of the total.These two have stayed under in five straight meetings in Cincinnati.

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Thursday Night Football Primer

Wednesday, Sep 14, 2022

THE SKINNYEarly battle of AFC West powers, as the six-time defending division champion Kansas City Chiefs host the preseason favorites to dethrone them, the Los Angeles Chargers.It's a pivotal, early-season showdown that could matter down the road considering how tight the division is this season.Both teams are in after Week 1 victories, as the Chiefs went into Arizona to spank the Cardinals, 44-21, as Patrick Mahomes threw for 360 yards and five touchdowns for a 144.2 rating. It marked his sixth-career game with at least five touchdown passes. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire hauled in a career-high two touchdown passes while rookie running back Isiah Pacheco ran for his first-career touchdown.On defense, tackle Chris Jones registered his 11th-career forced fumble, and make note, he's tallied four sacks in his past two Thursday games. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap had a sack in his Chiefs debut and boasts 5.5 sacks in six career games against the Chargers. Linebacker Nick Bolton picked up where he left off in 2021, when he led all rookies with 112 tackles, by recording a team-high 10 tackles.The Chargers knocked off division -rival Las Vegas, beating the Raiders in Inglewood last week, 24-19. Quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 297 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 129.4 rating. It was his ninth career game with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions, tied with Mahomes for the most-ever by a player in his first three seasons. In four career games against Kansas City, Herbert has 13 touchdowns (10 passing, three rushing) and a 108.3 rating.On the other side of the ball, linebacker Khalil Mack led the Bolts with three sacks and had a forced fumble in his Chargers debut. Since entering the league in 2014, Mack ranks tied for second among all players with 24 forced fumbles. Linebacker Joey Bosa also registered a forced fumble against the Raiders and added 1.5 sacks. He posted a sack and forced a fumble in the Chargers' last meeting with Kansas City and aims for his fifth straight in primetime with a sack. Safety Derwin James tied for the team lead with six tackles last week, and also posted a sack. Cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. snagged his third-career interception. One of those three was in last year's Week 3 meeting in Kansas City.  The Chiefs are looking to begin 2-0 for the fifth time in the past six years, while the Chargers are aiming to win their first two games of a season for the first time since 2012.BETTING WISEChargers have failed to cover seven of their last 10 vs. AFC foes, and are mired in a 1-4 ATS skid against winning teams. That said, the road team has covered 17 of the last 22 meetings, and the Bolts have cashed seven of their last 10 against division foes.The Chargers have covered nine of their last 13 on Thursdays, and four of their last five on the road on TNF.The Bolts have covered four of their last six against AFC West foes on Thursday.Kansas City has covered six of its last seven at home, and 13 of its last 18 in the month of September. The Chiefs have shown a knack for falling flat after an offensive burst, as they're 5-12 ATS in their last 17 games after scoring more than 30 points in their last time out.The Chiefs have covered five of their last seven on Thursdays, but have split their last four at home on TNF.Kansas City has failed to cover five of their last eight against AFC West foes on Thursday.

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Sunday Observations

Monday, Sep 12, 2022

Heading into Monday night, seven NFL games have been decided by one score or less (eight points) and 10 games have been within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter.For the third time in the past four years, multiple Week 1 games went to overtime with Pittsburgh defeating Cincinnati, 23-20, and Indianapolis ending in a tie with Houston, 20-20. It was the fourth Week 1 tie since 1970.Four teams – Indianapolis (17-point deficit), New Orleans (16), the New York Giants (13) and Chicago (10) – overcame deficits of at least 10 points to win or tie in Week 1. We haven't seen more comebacks to win or tie on Week 1 in 20 years (five in 2002).Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 360 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions for a 144.2 rating and tight end Travis Kelce had eight receptions for 121 yards and one touchdown in the Chiefs' 44-21 win over Arizona. The Chiefs became the sixth team in the Super Bowl era to win eight consecutive season-opening games.Mahomes recorded his sixth career game with at least five touchdown passes. Kelce recorded his 30th career game with at least 100 receiving yards, joining Rob Gronkowski (32 games) and Tony Gonzalez (31) as the only tight ends with at least 30 such games in NFL history.Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 279 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 129.4 rating during a 24-19 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.Herbert now has 14 career games with at least three touchdown passes, surpassing Peyton Manning (13 games) and Kurt Warner (13) for the third-most such games by a player in his first three career seasons in NFL history. Herbert is chasing only Marino (18 games) and Mahomes (15). Herbert has nine career games with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions, tied for most-ever with Mahomes (nine), by a player in his first three career seasons all-time.Minnesota wide receiver Justin Jefferson recorded nine receptions for a career-high 184 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings' 23-7 win over Green Bay. Jefferson recorded his fifth career game with at least 150 receiving yards and a touchdown reception.In his 50th career start, Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson (38-12) recorded three touchdown passes in the Ravens' 24-9 win over the New York Jets. His 38 wins are tied with Tom Brady and Danny White for the third-most wins by a quarterback in his first 50 career starts since 1970. In his 20th career start, Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts tallied 333 yards (243 passing, 90 rushing) and a rushing touchdown in the Eagles' 38-35 win over Detroit. Hurts scored his 14th career rushing touchdown, tied with Josh Allen and Steve Grogan for the second-most ever by a quarterback in his first 20 career starts.Detroit wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown hauled in eight passes to become the fifth player ever to record at least eight receptions in seven consecutive games.Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett had two sacks and a forced fumble in the Browns' 26-24 win at Carolina. Garrett, who has now played in 69 career games, has 60.5 career sacks and became the fifth player since the individual sack became an official statistic (1982) with at least 60 sacks in his first 70 NFL gamesCincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 338 yards in Week 1, improving to 7,637 passing yards in 27 career games. He tied Kurt Warner as the third-fastest player to reach 7,500 career passing yards in NFL history.Indianapolis quarterback Matt Ryan passed for 352 yards with one touchdown in the Colts' 20-20 tie at Houston. Ryan ranks eighth in league history with 60,087 passing yards in 223 games. He has 74 career games with at least 300 passing yards.

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WNBA Semifinal Observations After Road Teams Win Game 1

Monday, Aug 29, 2022

The top four seeds are in the WNBA Final Four, and we're underway with the top-seeded Las Vegas Aces facing the fourth-seeded Seattle Storm, and the second-seeded and defending champion Chicago Sky taking on third-seeded Connecticut Sun.As we saw in both Game 1s, nobody is invincible at this point, as both road teams opened their series with wins.Here's a breakdown after the first game, looking at what needs to be done.No. 4 SEATTLE at No. 1 LAS VEGASSeattleBIGGEST STRENGTH: Breanna Stewart is phenomenal. It's no wonder the Associated Press made her the MVP this season, over Wilson. Her fundamentals are outstanding, and the mid-season addition of Tina Charles has helped form what might be the most formidable frontcourt left in the playoffs. Wilson is arguably the best defender in the league, but she cannot defend both Stewart and Charles. All due respect to Las Vegas' Kiah Stokes, she can't handle either Charles or Stewart for a full game.NEEDS SOME WORK: The Storm may have won on Sunday, but they did so despite their offense. The Aces held Seattle to 76 points. After Seattle opened a 26-15 lead in the first quarter, it scored just 17, 17, and 16 over the next three quarters. If it wasn't for Jewell Loyd's heroics, the Aces come back to win that game. Stewart was dominating in the first half but finished 9 of 17. Charles was just 6 of 18. Sue Bird was 1 for 6.X-FACTOR: The Storm might have the best bench left in the playoffs. Though it only provided four points on Sunday, what won't show up on the scoreboard is the defensive efforts from Briann January, Ezi Magbegor, or Epiphanny Prince. Seattle has to put its bench to work if it wants to steal Game 2.ATS FACTS: The Storm have now covered five of their last six on the road and seven of their last 10 overall. Flipside, when they play on two days rest they've failed to cover seven of their last 10. Long term, Seattle is mired in an 8-22 ATS slide against Western Conference foes. Despite a low-scoring Game 1, the Storm remain on a 7-1 over run, and have gone high in nine of their last 12 road games.Las VegasBIGGEST STRENGTH: Some would think otherwise, specifically when you have A'ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum in the lineup, but Chelsea Gray is the key component for this team. Gray is a seasoned veteran who knows how to run a championship offense. She won a title in Los Angeles, and there have been several times we've seen her close games for the Aces, with big fourth quarters whether it's scoring or dishing dimes.NEEDS SOME WORK: The first quarter doldrums. Though the Aces went 21-14-1 in the first quarter during the regular season, it's their tenacity or lack thereof, that has hindered them at times. Sunday's series opener saw the Storm smack the Aces around, both offensively and defensively. And when you're playing a championship-caliber team like the Storm, you cannot make mistakes early on and open the door.X-FACTOR: Wilson needs more touches, and coach Becky Hammon has to make adjustments when Seattle's switches leave mismatches in certain spots. At many times, Wilson was left without a lane to the paint or was defended well enough to limit her attempts. The MVP candidate took 0 shots in the first quarter and finished 3 of 10 from the field. This falls on Hammon to correct.ATS FACTS: The Aces will roll into Wednesday's second game riding a 6-1 ATS streak on two days rest, and a 4-1 ATS streak off an ATS loss. Problem for them is they've failed to cover 11 of their last 15 in Vegas. The Aces may boast the highest scoring offense in the league, but they've stayed under in 11 of their last 16.No. 3 CONNECTICUT at No. 2 CHICAGOConnecticutBIGGEST STRENGTH: Everybody raves about the starting lineup in Vegas, as they should. But let's not forget what the Sun bring to the floor for the opening tip. I mean, DeWanna Bonner, Alyssa Thomas, Courtney Williams, Jonquel Jones, Natisha Hiedeman ... right now, that's the best starting five in the playoffs. The attitude and chemistry that flow through this lineup are exactly what coach Curt Miller wants when making a run to the championship game.NEEDS SOME WORK: Miller mentioned postgame how much the Sun struggled to get Jones the ball due to how the Sky played her. Much like I said about the Hammon finding a way to get Wilson more touches and more shot attempts, the Sun would benefit greatly in Game 2, knowing Chicago will make adjustments if they find ways to free Jones for better shot attempts.X-FACTOR: Williams is a straight Dawg. One of the biggest moments in the game came with 5:13 to go when she and Chicago's Kahleah Copper received double technical fouls for refusing to let go of a called jump ball. It clearly set the tone for the rest of the game, as Williams wasn't about to be intimidated in Chicago. That 11-second tug-of-war was the key that reminded Connecticut to ride it out with a Dawg Mentality. Williams might be one of the littlest players on the Sun, but she's nasty when she's in game mode and will take you out of your game both mentally and physically.ATS FACTS: With Sunday's outright win, the Sun head into Game 2 on an 8-0 ATS run, and a 14-3 spread streak overall. It marked just their second cover in seven games against teams with a better than .500 record. Connecticut's games have run high in five of its last seven.ChicagoBIGGEST STRENGTH: Offensive efficiency is the Sky's specialty, but it seemed to be non-existent on Sunday. We saw Connecticut outscore Chicago 20-12 in the third quarter, and that might have been acceptable in the first quarter. But by the third, the most efficient offense in the league has to be better. The Sky simply couldn't find the consistency they've enjoyed all season, and they need to get back to their strengths with Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot, and Candace Parker leading the charge.NEEDS SOME WORK: If there is one thing Chicago was able to boast this season, it was balanced with the right effort on both ends of the floor. But the Sky's defense was also inconsistent, and that is troublesome when you consider they went 4-0 against the Sun during the regular season. Connecticut was able to build an eight-point first-quarter lead by scoring 11 points off six Chicago turnovers, which couples with the Sky's offensive inconsistencies. If anything coach James Wade wants his team running the floor, and moving fast-paced, rather than getting into a tussle.X-FACTOR: Vandersloot didn't have her first assist until late in the fourth quarter and finished with only two. She had several good set-up passes her teammates couldn't knock down, but she was also defended well with limited space to operate. If Chicago wants to find its efficiency, it starts with Vandersloot.ATS FACTS: The Sky have answered losses quite well, having covered four of their last five after a SU loss. But, they've also failed to cover four of their last five at home. Chicago has eclipsed the number in 12 of its last 17 at home.

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How will Juan Soto's big bat help the Padres the rest of the way?

Tuesday, Aug 02, 2022

It's about time!The Juan Soto sweepstakes landed in San Diego, as the Padres came away with the slugger, joining Fernando Tatis and Manny Machado.The interesting thing will be to see if the Padres blow another opportunity to make a deep run into the playoffs with yet another talented lineup. I mean, they still have a tough road ahead of them. They're locked into a wild-card slot and potentially won't see a home game in that wild-card series. The road goes through the likes of Atlanta, Queens, and Los Angeles.Nevertheless, the odds have dropped now that San Diego won the Soto Sweepstakes.At the Westgate in Las Vegas, the Padres were 18/1 for the World Series and 9/1 for the National League pennant before rumors began circulating about landing Soto, which dropped the odds to 14/1 and 7/1. After Tuesday's trade, the Padres have settled in at +475 to win the N.L. and 10/1 to win it all.A quick glance at what landing Soto means to the Padres, with consideration to the remaining 18 series they have, after finishing their current five-game series with the Colorado Rockies in San Diego.Of those series, 10 of them are against National League West foes, including four with the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, who landed Joey Gallo from the New York Yankees at the deadline.So what does Soto bring to the lineup, based on his history against those teams? With the Padres' current season record against each remaining opponent in parenthesis, here are some tidbits on Soto vs. those teams:N.L. WEST OPPONENTS Dodgers (2-5) - In 19 games against Los Angeles, he is hitting a mere .213 and has struck out 13 times. ... He's drawn 13 walks from L.A. pitchers, matching the number of hits he has against them. Giants (6-4) - The 16 strikeouts Soto has against Frisco are second highest among N.L. West teams. ... He strikes out once every 5.6 plate appearances against the Giants and is hitting .230 in 22 games against them. Diamondbacks (9-3) - Surprisingly, Soto has been snakebitten against Arizona. He's hitting just .187 and has struck out 11 times in 21 games against the Snakes. Rockies (4-8) - If there's one N.L. West foe he's had success against, it's Colorado. He has a career .241 batting average against the Rockies, including a .244 clip in Denver. ... Four of the six home runs he's hit against the Rockies have been in the Mile High City. OUTSIDE THE WEST Nationals (0-0) - Soto returns to D.C. for a three-game weekend set from Aug. 12-14. ... The Padres haven't faced the Nats yet, and obviously, Soto has never faced them. ... He is hitting .241 and slugging .500 at Nationals Park this season, and has slugged 11 of his 21 home runs there. ... He has a career .293 batting average in the only stadium he's called home until Tuesday's trade. Marlins (3-1) - A familiar foe from the N.L. East, he's had some success against the Fish, with a .310 batting average and .567 slugging percentage against them. He's also stroked 13 home runs against Miami pitchers. Cardinals (0-3) - Soto has had his struggles against St. Louis, too, hitting only .226 while striking out 16 times. He has only one home run against the Redbirds while striking out once every 5.1 plate appearances. INTERLEAGUE PLAY Guardians (1-1), Royals (0-0), Mariners (0-2), White Sox (0-0) - I'll wrap up the Interleague in one shot, with the Padres sporting a 4-6 mark against teams from the American League thus far. Soto has a career .293 mark against all A.L. teams while slugging .521 with 16 home runs. Of the four A.L. opponents he'll see with the Padres, he's had the most success against the Sox, with a .467 batting average and .533 slugging percentage.

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Tracking Starting Pitchers' Success During Final Stretch is Important

Tuesday, Jul 26, 2022

As we approach the final stretch of the MLB season, it's important to zero in on pitchers who can give us the best bang for our buck.I'm not a huge advocate of listing pitchers on every wager. I've always been of the opinion when specific systems leave pitchers out of the equation, you have to insist on "action only."Other times, it makes sense to list the pitchers. But who are the right ones?I researched starting pitchers during a 30-day span (June 26-July 25), honing in on starters with an ERA below 2.50 combined with an opponent's batting average less than .200, provided the pitchers have thrown a minimum of 20 innings.Chicago White Sox's Dylan Cease, Miami's Sandy Alcantara, Arizona's Merrill Kelly, Cleveland's Triston McKenzie, and Houston's Jose Urquidy have been the stingiest starting pitchers in that span, with a combined 1.64 ERA and an opponent's batting average of .170.And allow me to point out, these guys are lasting an average of 6 2/3 innings per outing, which is imperative to also apply to your handicapping when looking at these pitchers. After all, it's important to know a heavily priced team has a starting pitcher with the durability to last late into games so they can neutralize lineups.Here is a closer look at each one (L30 Days): Cease (5-1, 0.74 ERA, .182 OBA) - Forget 30 days, over his last 11 starts, the right-hander is 6-2 with a grubby 0.42 ERA, while the White Sox are 9-2 in those games. Teams are hitting a meager .179 against him and he's registered strikes with 61% of his pitches. He also has a 2.7-to-1 strikeout ratio, with 83 strikeouts vs. 30 walks. BE WARY: if he faces the Red Sox, as he's 0-1 in two starts with a 9.00 ERA against them this season. Alcantara (2-1, 1.42 ERA, .164 OBA) - The Miami right-hander has allowed more than two earned runs just twice this season and is sporting a ridiculous 1.81 ERA in 20 starts this season. Teams have a paltry .187 batting average against him, while he has a very stingy 3.6-to-1 strikeout ratio, with 133 strikeouts vs. 36 walks. BE WARY: in Interleague play, as he's 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA in two starts this season and 4-7 with a 3.33 ERA lifetime in 16 career starts. Kelly (4-0, 1.57 ERA, .175 OBA) - After rough months in May and June, the Snakes' right-hander has been lights out in July with a 4-0 mark in five starts and a 1.57 ERA. He's limiting lineups to a .175 batting average and a .214 on-base percentage. He's also done a good job of keeping the ball in the park, allowing just two home runs. BE WARY: against the Dodgers, who have beaten him in all three of his starts against them (0-3, 9.69). McKenzie (3-0, 2.20 ERA, .184 OBA) - After an atrocious June that saw the Guardians' righty hammered to the tune of a 6.44 ERA, McKenzie has allowed just one earned run in July and is 3-0 with a 0.34 ERA. He's shut down the Yankees, Royals, Tigers, and Chisox, holding them to a combined .146 batting average and allowed 0 HRs. BE WARY: when he faces the Twins, as he's 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA in three starts against them. Urquidy (3-0, 2.43 ERA, .149 OBA) - Houston's right-hander has been spotty at times, but he's durable and has a decent lineup backing him up. Since June 21, spanning his last six starts, he is 4-1 with a 2.29 ERA and has quieted hitters to a .153 batting average and .210 on-base percentage. BE WARY: when he faces the Mariners, as he's 1-3 with a 7.58 ERA against them.

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WNBA Midseason Report Numbers

Monday, Jul 11, 2022

If balance and defense win championships, the Seattle Storm should be atop everyone's list to win the WNBA title.Whether or not Sue Bird can ride off into the Pacific Northwest sunset with another ring in the final season of her illustrious career remains to be seen, but it wouldn't shock me.The Las Vegas Aces started out with guns blazing but fizzled down the stretch of the first half, and suddenly look like a defensive casualty that allows any offense to look good.They're the top two teams in the Western Conference, no bones about it, as one-half game separates the Storm from first-place Las Vegas.From the Eastern Conference, Sky's the limit for defending champion Chicago, which leads Connecticut by two games. But I wouldn't count the Sun out so easily with reigning MVP Jonquel Jones leading the charge.Then there are the wild cards from each conference.The West is suddenly clogged in the middle of the standings with Dallas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix all sitting on 10 wins, while last-place Minnesota was one of the better performing teams heading into the All-Star Break.From the East, it's Washington with the No. 1 scoring defense sitting in third place, while Atlanta could be dangerous if it gets back to the way it started the season. Since winning seven of their first 11, the Dream are 3-8. There's also hard-charging New York, which has won eight of 13 since a 1-7 start.Here is a quick glance at some ATS and O/U numbers heading into the start of the second half of the season:WESTERN CONFERENCE Las Vegas' fast start saw it win nine of its first 10 and cover eight of those games. Since then, the Aces are 6-6 SU and 2-10 ATS. They're on a 5-2-2 over run coming out of the Break.After Seattle's sluggish start to the campaign, splitting its first 10 on the hardwood and failing to cover 10 of its first 15, it has won 10 of 13 SU and six of eight at the window. Dallas opened the season by covering eight of its first 12 but is just 4-5-1 ATS since. The Wings stayed under in five of their last six. Phoenix is doing its best to keep things together and has been relying on its defense to stay close in games. Four of the Mercury's last six have stayed under. Los Angeles finished the first half competitive against some heavy competition, covering five of its last six games. Minnesota opened the season 3-13 but won five of its final seven before the Break. More importantly, the Lynx come into the second half of the season on an 8-1 ATS run. EASTERN CONFERENCE Chicago might be 16-6 on the year, and it might be proving it's not about to relinquish its title so easily, but don't be so quick to lay points with the Sky. They're 6-11 ATS as a favorite. Incidentally, the defending champs are 4-1 ATS as an underdog. Connecticut stumbled a bit to close the first half, losing four of six on the floor. The Suns also dropped five of their last six to the books. Connecticut stayed low in eight of its last 10. Washington has been the more consistent cover this season, having cashed out a WNBA best 15 of 24 games. The Mystics have also stayed under in 16 of their 24 outings. Atlanta won six of its first nine games but has lost nine of 13. The Dream tend to go over, with seven of their last 10 soaring past the number. New York opened the season 1-7 SU and 2-6 ATS; since then the Liberty have won eight of 14 while covering 10 of those contests. New York has covered eight of its last 11 as an underdog. Indiana is the worst team in the league, with a 5-19 SU mark. The Fever are 8-16 ATS on the year. When catching +7 or more, the Fever are 4-9 ATS.

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Lucrative NHL Futures attractive with four teams

Thursday, Jun 30, 2022

The Colorado Avalanche hadn't been champions of the National Hockey League for 24 hours when the conversation about next season was underway.Moments after the final horn sounded and the Avalanche polished off the two-time champion Tampa Bay Lightning, the newly crowned champs were installed as the favorite to repeat in 2023.The Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers are next in line, followed by the Lightning.None of the aforementioned were higher than 10-1 to win it, which automatically disqualifies them from my window of opportunity when talking about value.For me, no matter the league, if I'm playing a future price, I want the biggest number I can get with a team I think can get into the playoffs and challenge.But when it comes to the NHL, the team can sneak its way into the postseason, and I'll be just fine with a big futures ticket. After all, the No. 1 overall seed hasn't won the title in more than 10 years. And when it comes to hockey, it's generally about the hot team, with the right coach and the best goaltender.That's why I've assembled a quartet of teams for you to consider if you're feeling froggy about the 2023 Stanley Cup and some awfully big numbers on teams that could quite possibly sneak into the postseason next spring.NEW YORK RANGERS (20-1, courtesy DraftKings) - This is a team that got to the Eastern Conference Final under first-year coach Gerard Gallant, and left plenty on the table for them to eat next season.It really doesn't get much better than Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin, who finished the season with a league-leading 2.07 goals-against average (among goalies with a minimum of 42 starts). Shesterkin will undoubtedly come into next season with a chip on his shoulder after being outdueled by Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy in the ECF.The Rangers also boast high-end forwards Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider, a trio that combined for 254 points last season. Kreider ranked third in the league with 52 goals.Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox leads the defensive corps, while up-and-coming talent Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kaako, and K'Andre Miller are all capable of breakout seasons.VANCOUVER CANUCKS (45-1, DK) - There may not have been a more dangerous sleeper down the stretch than the Canucks, in terms of playing the spoiler against playoff-bubble teams. After firing Travis Green, the Canucks were 32-15-10 with Bruce Boudreau as bench boss. Vancouver's .649 points percentage ranked 11th in the NHL during that span, while its 2.67 goals-against average was fifth-lowest in the league. Also in that span, the Canucks had the second-best power play (26.7%) and 11th-best penalty kill (80.5%).Star forward Elias Pettersson was a point-per-game player after the coaching change. The former Calder Memorial Trophy (top rookie) winner could very easily vie for the Hart Trophy (MVP) on any given year as he continues to improve.The Canucks are expected to make personnel changes during the offseason, the biggest being J.T. Miller getting traded. Considering we're talking about a top-tier center who tied for ninth in the NHL with 76 points once Boudreau took over, Vancouver is in position to demand someone decent in return.With Thatcher Demko in goal, the Canucks have a legitimate No. 1 netminder who ranked sixth with his .918 save percentage during Boudreau's tenure.Now roll all of that into the fact Vancouver plays in arguably the worst division in the NHL, and this is most certainly a sneak-into-the-postseason squad.DALLAS STARS (45-1, DK) - There's a new bench boss in Dallas, as ousted coach Peter DeBoer leaves Las Vegas and heads to Big D with his defensive mind and tactical style of coaching.If there is one thing we can take from DeBoer's past, it's that his teams always seem to do well during his first season at the helm (see: New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights, to some extent). He's been to two Stanley Cup Finals, and he knows how to establish chemistry immediately.The Stars head into next season with a No. 1 center in Roope Hintz, who was third on the team with 72 points; a budding star in winger Jason Robertson, who was second with 79 points, including a team-high 41 goals; and an elite defenseman with Miro Heiskanen, who was fifth on the team with 31 assists and led the Stars with an average on-ice time of 24:53.In net, the Stars will have to make a decision, one that shouldn't be hard when potential franchise goalie Jake Oettinger. He played in 48 games last season and finished with a 2.53 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (60-1, DK) - There's no doubt the Flyers are rebuilding, and I'm well aware they'll do so without Claude Giroux. But incoming bench boss John Tortorella is like DeBoer, someone who can rile his players the first season and who will get the most out of his troops. Again, especially at this price, I just want to sneak them into the postseason with a big ticket and hedge my way from there.One of the biggest offseason storylines will be whether or not the Flyers can fix Carter Hart, who is a potential No. 1 goalie. Hart will have competition in camp, as I expect Felix Sandstrom to get a chance in training camp. There's also towering Ivan Fedotov, who stands 6-foot-7 and is 205 pounds, and who could push both for playing time with a strong camp.With plenty of time for rest and recovery since the season ended, and leading into training camp, I would think the Flyers will have Sean Couturier back healthy, along with possibly Ryan Ellis, too.Is there a checklist for the Flyers' offseason, to even contend in their division? Absolutely. But with a new voice on the bench, and a lively vibe in a rowdy sports town, I like the odds on Philly and believe it could be another sneak-into-the-postseason squad.

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