Posts by Brad Gagnon

NFL Week 3: Over and Under Best Bets

 

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over of the week: Indianapolis Colts

 

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over of the week: Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles

Total: 47.5

This total is well below 50 because the Indianapolis defense is coming off a shockingly strong performance against the Washington Redskins, while the Eagles have yet to score more than 21 points this season. But the reality is the Colts defense is much more like the unit that surrendered 34 points on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1, and the Philadelphia offense is due for a breakout performance. 

Look for an angry Eagles team to bounce back from a tough loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a big number in quarterback Carson Wentz’s return to action. And on the other side of the ball, look for Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton and Co. to exploit a Philly D that struggled immensely in Tampa. 

There’s a chance the Eagles run away with this at home, but even that would probably enable Indy to rack up some garbage-time points.

Philly should hit the 30 mark, while the Colts should be able to score at least 20 points here.

Predicted score: Eagles 34, Colts 21

Under of the week: Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams

Total: 48

It’s not as though both of these offenses aren’t capable of scoring 30-plus points Sunday in the Battle of L.A., but it’s that both the Chargers and Rams look fantastic on the defensive side of the ball. 

A little too fantastic for that total of 48. 

With Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh dominating up front, the new-look Rams defense hasn’t surrendered a point in the last six quarters. Meanwhile, it’s obvious the Chargers can now be forgiven for surrendered 38 points to the out-of-control Kansas City Chiefs in their opener, because they smothered the Buffalo Bills offense on the road in Week 2, holding them to just 13 points before garbage time. 

The Bolts might still give up 24 here, but that strong secondary won’t be embarrassed again. They’ll stick around on offense, but they aren’t likely finding the end zone more than three times against Donald, Suh and Co. 

Predicted score: Rams 24, Chargers 18

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-1
2018 season: 2-2

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 2: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over of the week: Cleveland Browns at

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over of the week: Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints

Total: 49

The Saints defense was a mess in Week 1, and that might not be a complete coincidence despite the fact that unit put up strong numbers in 2017. The New Orleans D also started slowly in 2017, surrendering 65 points in the first two weeks of the regular season. 

I don’t think they’ll give up 48 again like they did against the Tampa Buccaneers on Sunday, but this’ll be a much easier task for a Browns offense that is still meshing. If Cleveland can score 21 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it should be able to exceed that total in New Orleans. 

Even if we conservatively give the Browns 24 points, the Saints merely need to win for this to go over the total of 49. New Orleans is a huge favorite after scoring 40 points in its home opener and should be in for another stellar offensive performance. 

In an attempt to redeem themselves, the angry Saints will probably be aggressive early. That probably means a big first half from a team that has scored 30-plus points in seven of their last 12 games. And if it doesn’t, it could mean more turnovers leading to shorter fields and easier points for Cleveland. 

Predicted score: Saints 37, Browns 24

Under of the week: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

Total: 44

This total is probably inflated by the Jets scoring 48 points on the road in their opener, but Gang Green looks destined to come back to earth in that respect in Week 2. New York benefited from five Lions turnovers, a special-teams touchdown and another score on defense in Detroit. And it helped that the Lions couldn’t get pressure on rookie Jets quarterback Sam Darnold

Darnold is likely to come back to earth a little bit now that Adam Gase and Matt Burke have had plenty of time to review tape from his first regular-season NFL game. 

The reality is the most sustainable aspect of that Jets’ performance in Detroit was their play on defense. Don’t expect more pick-sixes or another five-takeaway showing, but do expect them to hold them to fewer than the 20 points they scored in their home opener against the Tennessee Titans (the other seven came on a kick return). 

Neither offense is overly reliable, and both defenses have more talent than most of us realize.

Predicted score: Jets 17, Dolphins 10

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-1
2018 season: 1-1

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 1: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we'll offer up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over of the week: Seattle Seahawks at Denver

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’ll offer up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over of the week: Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos

Total: 43

Neither defense is what it used to be, and I think this total has yet to account for that — especially with Seattle. The Legion of Boom is no more, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are gone and star safety Earl Thomas is nowhere to be seen. Von Miller is still Von Miller on the other side of the ball, but the Broncos and Seahawks will be relying on a lot of unproven players, especially in the secondary. And it’s not as though either unit fared great last season anyway.

Meanwhile, the Broncos offense should be much better with new quarterback/running back duo Case Keenum and Royce Freeman. The former was the league’s seventh-rated passer last season, the latter looks like an offensive rookie of the year candidate. And while Seattle has fewer weapons on that side of the ball, that offense looks to be more balanced with Chris Carson crushing it in the backfield this summer. 

I’m expecting Keenum, Freeman, Carson and Russell Wilson to put on an offensive exhibition in Colorado. 

Predicted score: Broncos 27, Seahawks 24 

Under of the week: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints 

Total: 49.5

With Ryan Fitzpatrick as their primary passer, the Bucs scored just 10 points on their last trip to New Orleans. The Saints defense has since gotten better on paper, and Fitzpatrick will once again start for the suspended Jameis Winston in this tilt. 

Watch for the Bucs defense to show some improvement too. New Orleans can light up the scoreboard, especially at home, but Tampa Bay has a newly-stacked defensive front that resembles Philadelphia’s famous line. That unit could put together a respectable performance against a New Orleans offense that actually started rather slow last season (they scored more than 20 points just once in the first four weeks). 

Throw in that the Saints won’t be at full power without suspended running back Mark Ingram and 49.5 feels far too high. 

Predicted score: Saints 24, Buccaneers 14 

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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An Early Look at Week One Totals (Best Bets)

Now that we’re one week removed from the start of the 2018 NFL regular season, it’s finally time to start breaking down specific games from a betting perspective. This year, we’re making a point to analyze often-neglected totals, so here some initial over/unders to size up for Week 1. To see how the

Now that we’re one week removed from the start of the 2018 NFL regular season, it’s finally time to start breaking down specific games from a betting perspective. This year, we’re making a point to analyze often-neglected totals, so here some initial over/unders to size up for Week 1. To see how the total began and for some tips on wagers, check out our history of the total

Let’s go game-by-game from high to low.

51 — Houston Texans at New England Patriots: It feels as though this one will come down a little between now and game day. The Pats have been known to start slow and will be far from comfortable on offense, while it’s tough to tell how Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will look in his return from a major knee injury. Both defenses struggled at times last year, but Houston has J.J. Watt back and New England always has Bill Belichick. Only 17 games had totals of 51 or higher last season, and only six of those went over. Stats say: Bet the under. 

 

49.5 — Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints: This was in the 50s earlier in the offseason and still has room to come down. The Saints defense is underrated, the Bucs will be using a backup quarterback and New Orleans will also be without a key offensive weapon in Mark Ingram. When these teams met in New Orleans last November, they combined for 40 points.

 

49.5 — Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders: You should probably wait for clarity on both Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack before pulling the trigger here, but the under would be a no-brainer at 49.5 if both play. There’s a very good chance these offenses fail to live up to the hype out of the gates.

 

47.5 — Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers: These teams scored a grand total of 77 points in their two meetings last season, and now the Chiefs have a less proven quarterback. Buying this line is buying Patrick Mahomes, and I’m not ready to do that yet.

 

47.5 — Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers: This looks like one of the least bettable totals of the week, just because we don’t know what to expect from a new-look Chicago offense. I’d wait a week or two before putting big money on or against the Bears under Matt Nagy. Wouldn’t touch this unless it dropped dramatically, and the under seems risky considering the firepower both teams possess.

 

46.5 — Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns: Nobody knows what to make of the new-look Browns, and let’s remember that Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh offense started slowly after Bell’s holdout last year. The last five matchups between the Steelers and Browns that have involved regular starters have all contained 41 points or fewer.

 

46 — San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings: This might be inflated by the fact there’s hype surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers scored 78 points in their last two games in 2017. The Vikings have one of the best defenses in the league, and they’ve had months to study Garoppolo and the San Francisco offense. Thinking this should be in the low-40s.  

 

46 — Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts: So much has changed with the Colts that you’d be better off waiting here, especially since this total is basically in toss-up territory and the Bengals are pretty erratic.

 

45.5 — Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles: Last year’s season opener was one of the highest-scoring games of the year, but I’m digging the under here. The Eagles have questions at quarterback regardless of who starts, the Falcons offense hasn’t been right since 2016 and both teams are stellar on defense. I’m expecting big things from a young and fast Atlanta D in 2018, and that could start here.  

 

45 — Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins: Miami is going to be really bad this season and the Tennessee offense still has a lot to prove. This total should be lower.

 

44 — Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals: Alex Smith and Sam Bradford can light it up when they’re right, and both are healthy entering the regular season. Neither defense looks great, so it wouldn’t be shocking if this were a shootout.

 

44 — New York Jets at Detroit Lions: Too many variables with the Jets for this to be predictable, which is why the total is basically the NFL average. The median and average total last season was 44.

 

43.5 — Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants: Both of these offenses have the ability to explode this season, but both teams are stronger on the other side of the ball. This isn’t the week to get cocky regarding Eli Manning or Blake Bortles.

 

43.5 — Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers: I get why this is a bit low because both defenses look as though they’ll be strong and there are questions regarding both offenses. Still, this is a game with Ezekiel Elliott, Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey. You might want to take advantage of the fact Vegas hasn’t shaded the over in a game involving America’s Team.

 

42 — Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos: I don’t think Vegas has accounted for how much worse the Seahawks defense has become and how much better the Denver offense has become. The Seahawks also look strong (and balanced for once) on the offensive side of the ball, so I’m expecting 45-50 points here. If you want to bet an over, this is a good game.

 

41 — Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens: Vegas rightly went low here. This is a Ravens team that surrendered just 10 points in the first two games of the 2017 season, and the Bills have a strong defense and a questionable offense. I don’t see this going over 41 unless there’s a bunch of scoring on D or the Baltimore offense goes off. Would prefer a slightly higher total for an under bet, but I think this one is still higher than it should be.

 

To recap: With each new year, hope springs eternal as we have all offseason to talk ourselves into new offenses. So do oddsmakers. 10 of these games are over the average and median total of 44 last season. While the over is always bettors favorite, in Week One, smart money will find the unders.

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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How the Total Began and Other Interesting Facts About Betting the O/U

Now that millions of Americans will have a chance to legally bet on NFL football for the first time, you’re likely going to see a lot more sports betting analysis, here and elsewhere. And while the lion’s share of that analysis will probably continue to focus on point spreads, we have to make

Now that millions of Americans will have a chance to legally bet on NFL football for the first time, you’re likely going to see a lot more sports betting analysis, here and elsewhere. And while the lion’s share of that analysis will probably continue to focus on point spreads, we have to make an effort to pay more attention to the spread’s less popular little brother, the total.

On a weekly basis throughout the 2018 NFL season, National Football Post will be covering and breaking down totals by identifying overs and unders that appear to be potential moneymakers. But first, a primer on that second, less-heralded number you see listed on betting cards…

Totals aren’t as old as point spreads.

Spreads have been a fixture in the world of sports betting since the 1940s, but the first total bet wasn’t taken until the late Bill Dark got crafty at the Del Mar Sports and Race Book in 1964.

“In April of 1964 Dark accepted a wager from a customer who wanted to bet that a game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Dodgers would result in a shutout,” explained Richard O. Davies and Richard G. Abram in their book “Betting the Line: Sports Wagering in American Life.” “Dark reframed the bet by offering to accept a wager on whether the total runs scored in the game would be over or under 3.5.”

Dark’s book lost the bet when the Dodgers beat the Reds 3-0, but the idea slowly spread. Not quite fast enough for there to be a total for the first Super Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs in January of 1967, but fast enough that Super Bowl II had the first-ever football total (Green Bay and the Oakland Raiders went over the total of 43 in a 33-14 game), and NFL totals really took off when they started being offered on parlay cards in the 1980s.

Now, sportsbooks provide totals for every pro and college football game. Most games even have first-half totals for even more action. Here are some interesting facts about totals:

Sportsbooks typically fare worse with totals than they do with point spreads. US Bookmaking sportsbook director Robert Walker tells us that professional bettors usually perform better with totals than point spreads and that totals are more volatile.

But totals still aren’t nearly as popular as point spreads. Walker figures about 15-20 percent of the bets his book receives are on totals. But it can be tough to gauge the popularity of totals because they are often tacked onto a parlay bet.

Totals are particularly popular on Sunday and Monday night because that’s often the only option for a parlay when the rest of the league is idle.

You can’t bet as much on totals as you can on point spreads. When Walker ran the MGM Grand Mirage Race and Sports Book, they’d take bets as high as $50,000 against the spread, but the limit was usually $10,000 on the total.

“The limits are lower on totals,” said Walker, “because historically we don’t do as well.”

The under isn’t as fun, but it’s often a better bet. “There’s inherent value going with the underdog and going with the under,” Walker said. “Most people would rather bet the over. You wanna see a high-scoring game, you wanna see a lot of action. So because of that we shade favorites and overs a little bit.”

In other words, early totals are inflated.

“We want to put the total up as high as we can before the pros bet it,” Walker added, “because we know most of the public is going to be on the overs.”

Since the start of 2016, 50 percent of NFL games have gone over and 50 percent have gone under. More specifically, 252 games have gone over, 257 games have gone under and three have pushed.

So while Walker admits that some professionals get the best of the sportsbooks on totals, I wouldn’t recommend spending your life savings on overs and/or unders in 2018. We’re still talking about at least a semi-crapshoot. Also this is another testament for just how good oddsmakers are at their jobs.

Don’t jump on the under just because it’s cold, snowy or rainy. Books aren’t going to overlook that stuff, dude.

“Weather is more or less adjusted these days,” Vegas bookmaking legend Roxy Roxborough told us this week. “It used to be a big issue but the way they do the stadiums now and with the heating under the field, it’s not anymore.”

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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The Most Overrated and Underrated Offenses In 2018

Over/unders are often overlooked in the point-spread-obsessed world of football betting. But throughout the 2018 NFL regular season, we’ll be breaking down totals and making predictions regarding which games are most likely to go over or under on a weekly basis.  

With that in mind, it might make sense to

Over/unders are often overlooked in the point-spread-obsessed world of football betting. But throughout the 2018 NFL regular season, we’ll be breaking down totals and making predictions regarding which games are most likely to go over or under on a weekly basis.  

With that in mind, it might make sense to establish a feel for which offenses are overrated and underrated heading into 2018. Oddsmakers and the betting public will eventually catch on, but information like this could theoretically be valuable early on.

Overrated: San Francisco 49ers: There’s a lot of hype here, but that’s dangerous. Even if you’re buying Jimmy Garoppolo just seven starts into his career (and you’re certainly allowed to have your doubts about him), it’s fair to question his supporting cast. The receiving corps lacks depth and overall talent, top back Jerick McKinnon averaged just 3.6 yards per carry the last two years in Minnesota and they lack a proven starting tight end. The offensive line isn’t bad, but there’s also a chance the rest of the league will solve Jimmy and Co. out in 2018.

Underrated: Detroit Lions: It doesn’t feel as though a lot of folks view Detroit’s offense as an elite unit, but only six teams outscored the Lions last season and quarterback Matthew Stafford is entering his prime coming off the best season of his career. They’ve slowly been building up their line in recent years, the receiving corps is deep and talented and rookie back Kerryon Johnson has the ability to make them a lot more balanced than in recent years. This could be a top-five offense in 2018.

Overrated: New England Patriots: The Pats had the highest-scoring offense in the AFC last season, but you do have to wonder if Father Time will eventually get the best of Tom Brady. And while we’ll probably regret going out on this limb because Brady might not be human, this could be the year the Patriots come back to earth on that side of the ball. There are major questions on Brady’s blind side following the loss of stalwart left tackle Nate Solder, Julian Edelman is facing a four-game suspension and Dion Lewis, Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola are all gone. New England’s offense should still be good, but it might not be as elite as it was in years past.

Underrated: Chicago Bears: Did you see what new Bears head coach Matt Nagy did with Alex Smith in Kansas City? Now Nagy will get his hands on intriguing second-year No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky under center, and both Nagy and Trubisky will have plenty of weapons with the accomplished Allen Robinson, the speedy Taylor Gabriel and the high-potential Trey Burton joining the fray. Chicago had the fourth-lowest-scoring offense in the NFL last season, but don’t be surprised if the Bears wind up in some shootouts in 2018.

Overrated: Philadelphia Eagles: Eagles head coach Doug Pederson told NBC’s Peter King this week that he sees “a little hesitation” in Philly franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, which is at least mildly concerning considering that the 2017 MVP candidate is coming off a major knee injury. Sure, backup Nick Foles shined while leading the team to a championship in place of Wentz last year, but Foles is streaky and his receiving corps isn’t deep beyond Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Watch for last year’s third-highest-scoring offense to regress a little closer to the mean in 2018.

Underrated: Atlanta Falcons: Let’s not hold last season’s Super Bowl hangover against the Falcons, who led the league in scoring in 2016 but fell to the middle of the pack in 2017. That was also their first year in offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s system, and it’s pretty common for offenses to struggle under those circumstances. Matt Ryan is still a former MVP and Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in the game. Look for the team to do a better job utilizing Jones in what should be a bounce-back season offensively in Atlanta.

Overrated: Jacksonville Jaguars: There’s naturally a lot of hype surrounding the Jaguars after their breakout 2017 season, but that’s all about the defense. Running back Leonard Fournette struggled as a rookie (his numbers were inflated by a few long-distance runaway touchdowns), the offensive line is still somewhat of a work in progress, the receiving corps is shallow and they’re still putting all of their eggs in Blake Bortles’ basket at quarterback. Bortles made some progress last season but still hasn’t put together a solid NFL season. There’s a chance this won’t be a top-five scoring offense again in 2018.

Underrated: Denver Broncos: Denver had the league’s sixth-lowest-scoring offense last season, but the Broncos’ team passer rating ranked 31st in football. With new quarterback Case Keenum on board, Denver now possessed the league’s seventh-highest-rated passer from 2017. Throw in that starting receiver Emmanuel Sanders is healthier and rookie back Royce Freeman appears ready to play a major role right away and the Broncos could score a lot more points than expected in 2018.

Overrated: New York Giants: The football world is abuzz over what Giants Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham could bring to the table as an offensive duo in 2018, and an oft-criticized offensive line should also be better with Nate Solder and Will Hernandez on board. That being said, the Giants still need quarterback Eli Manning to make his throws. Manning was the league’s eighth-lowest-qualified passer last season, and the 37-year-old hasn’t put together a solid year since 2015. Even with Barkley, Beckham, Solder and Hernandez, this might still be a mediocre offense in 2018.

Underrated: Cleveland Browns: The Browns had the lowest-scoring offense in football last season, but this is an entirely different unit entering 2018. Tyrod Taylor is the most competent and reliable quarterback they’ve had in years, Jarvis Landry is a proven receiver and Corey Coleman, Nick Chubb, David Njoku and Baker Mayfield all have a lot of potential. Throw in Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson and there’s a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball in Cleveland, for the first time in a long time

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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Five Players With Favorable Preseason Awards Odds

So we’ve got you prepared to bet on the preseason, but that’s still a couple weeks away and you’re growing impatient. All good, you can still throw some money down on NFL action right now, but even if you’re successful you won’t get paid out for those bets

So we’ve got you prepared to bet on the preseason, but that’s still a couple weeks away and you’re growing impatient. All good, you can still throw some money down on NFL action right now, but even if you’re successful you won’t get paid out for those bets until the new year.

Futures odds are available all over the internet to those who think they know how certain teams and/or players will fare in 2018. Last week, we combed through those numbers to identify five particularly enticing teams that might be worth gambling on this summer. This week, we’re looking at player awards odds.

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (+3300 to win MVP)

Merely reaching his prime at the age of 30, Stafford has played the best football of his career in the post-Calvin Johnson era. Now he’s about the same age as Matt Ryan was in Ryan’s MVP season in 2016, and Stafford is coming off the highest-rated campaign of his nine-year career.

That makes him a hell of an intriguing bet at +3300, odds that are lower than 15 other NFL quarterbacks including Jimmy Garoppolo (who has started seven NFL games), Deshaun Watson (who has started six and is coming off a torn ACL) and Andrew Luck (coming off a lost season due to a major shoulder injury).

Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley (+4000 to win MVP)

It’s a little silly that 17 quarterbacks have better MVP odds than the reigning offensive player of the year.

Gurley’s odds were never going to be high because he’s not a quarterback and quarterbacks have won MVP in 10 of the last 11 seasons. But the only non-quarterbacks to win the award this century were Shaun Alexander, LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson, all of whom — you guessed it — played running back.

And Gurley is undoubtedly the most MVP-worthy back in the league entering 2018. He’s coming off a year in which he won offensive player of the year at the age of 23, and in that stacked Rams offense he could be in a position to build on a 2,093-scrimmage-yard, 19-touchdown campaign.

Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky (+9000 to win MVP)

Obviously Trubisky is extremely unlikely to win MVP in his second season, but the 2017 No. 2 overall pick could certainly be in a position to break out with a Jared Goff-like 2018 campaign. He’s surrounded by new weapons and should benefit greatly from new head coach Matt Nagy, and there were signs he was coming around late in his quiet rookie campaign.

Considering that Jameis Winston is at +5000, Patrick Mahomes is at +5500 and Blake freakin’ Bortles is at +6600, +9000 for Trubisky is worth at least a throwaway bet this summer.

Denver Broncos RB Royce Freeman (+1800 to win offensive rookie of the year)

Running backs have actually won three of the last five offensive rookie of the year awards, and it never hurts to look beyond first-round picks in this case. Neither 2013 winner Eddie Lacy nor 2017 winner Alvin Kamara were top-60 draft picks, and 2017 runner-up Kareem Hunt was a third-round selection.

Freeman could be this year’s Kamara or Hunt. The third-rounder out of Oregon is ready to make a huge impact after serving as a four-year starter in the Pac-12, where he went over 1,300 yards on three occasions and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. He’s got the frame, the strength and the résumé, and the team’s decision to release C.J. Anderson in April indicates Freeman will have a shot at playing a substantial role right away.

Nine rookies have better OROY odds than he does.

New Orleans Saints DE Marcus Davenport (+1000 to win defensive rookie of the year)

It’s fair to wonder if Davenport is a bit of a raw project after recording a mere 8.5 sacks as a senior at Texas-San Antonio, which is why his defensive rookie of the year odds are lower than six first-year players including lower picks Tremaine Edmunds and Derwin James.

But the Saints performed magic in last year’s draft, which resulted in them becoming the first team in half a century to possess both the offensive and defensive player of the year. And they obviously believe Davenport can do big things right off the bat because they sacrificed two first-round picks for the guy.

Saints head coach Sean Payton has stated that he feels the 21-year-old can help the team “right now,” which could give him a chance to compile enough sacks opposite Cameron Jordan to make a strong run at DROY.

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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Five Teams With Favorable Futures Odds

So we’ve got you prepared to bet on the preseason, but that’s still a couple weeks away and you’re growing impatient. All good, you can still throw some money down on NFL action right now, but even if you’re successful you won’t get paid out for those bets

So we’ve got you prepared to bet on the preseason, but that’s still a couple weeks away and you’re growing impatient. All good, you can still throw some money down on NFL action right now, but even if you’re successful you won’t get paid out for those bets until the new year.

Futures odds are available all over the internet to those who think they know how certain teams will fare in 2018. We’ve combed through those numbers to identify five particularly enticing teams that might be worth gambling on this summer.

Chicago Bears (+10000 to win the Super Bowl)

Every season several previously feeble teams rise up and become contenders. Last year at this time, only a handful of teams had lower Super Bowl odds than the Los Angeles Rams, who went on to lead the league in scoring in an 11-win, division-winning campaign.

The 2018 Bears look a lot like the 2017 Rams. New high-energy head coach who is considered a quarterback guru and an offensive genius. Second-year franchise quarterback widely expected to take a big leap forward. Several shiny new offensive weapons for said quarterback. And a sneaky amount of defensive talent.

The Rams didn’t win the Super Bowl last year and the Bears are extremely unlikely to do so in 2018, but it’s rather astonishing that only two teams offer more value on the Super Bowl futures market. A $100 bet on them to make a miraculous run would yield $10,000, which might be worth a shot.

Seattle Seahawks (+6000 to win the Super Bowl, +400 to win the NFC West)

The Seahawks have suffered so many losses this offseason that their odds to win the division title have plummeted and their odds to win it all are borderline comical. Only 10 teams have worse odds to win the Super Bowl than a team that did exactly that only a few years ago, with the same head coach and same franchise quarterback.

I wouldn’t expect the Seahawks to be favored to win anything now that the Legion of Boom has essentially been dismantled, especially because the offense could still have plenty of trouble protecting and supporting quarterback Russell Wilson. That said, Wilson is still one of the best players in football and a preseason MVP contender. He and Carroll could easily overcome a tough offseason, and betting on that could be fruitful considering how oddsmakers and the public have reacted to a tough run in Seattle.

If you think a Super Bowl run isn’t going to happen in the tough NFC, at least consider those tempting division title odds. The Rams could easily come back to earth after a breakout season and the 49ers have yet to prove the team can do what it did last December for an entire season.

Los Angeles Chargers (+1000 to win the AFC championship)

The Chargers are actually favored to win the AFC West, and they certainly have the talent to beat conference favorites New England or Pittsburgh. 

The Patriots have endured a tumultuous offseason and look more vulnerable than they have in years, while the Steelers are so reliant on their three key offensive players that all it would take is one big injury to remove them from contention. With this possibly being Le’Veon Bell’s last season in Pittsburgh, the team chemistry could take a hit compared to years past.

The Texans and Jaguars both have better odds than the Chargers to win the AFC title (+800 each) but Houston is in for a boom-or-bust year based on what happens with Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt, while Jacksonville is a major wild card, as long as Blake Bortles is their quarterback.

The point is the AFC is wide freakin’ open, and the Chargers are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. They’ve got a quarterback who’s been elected to seven Pro Bowls, one of the best pass rushes in football and plenty of game-changers on both offense and defense.

That makes them a worthwhile bet at +1000, but the NFC is so much stronger than the AFC that I wouldn’t push my luck with their +2400 Super Bowl odds.

Carolina Panthers (+3500 to win the Super Bowl)

How is it that 16 teams — including the 49ers, Chiefs, Giants and Cowboys — have better Super Bowl odds than the Carolina Panthers? Carolina came close to winning the damn thing just a few years ago. Quarterback Cam Newton was the MVP that year, while head coach Ron Rivera was coach of the year for the second time in a three-season span. Outside of that Super Bowl loss to the Broncos, the Panthers lost one game all year.

They haven’t won a playoff game since, but they did make it back to the postseason last year and Football Outsiders ranked them as the ninth-most efficient team in football.

Christian McCaffrey should only get better, superstar linebacker Luke Kuechly appears to be healthy and Newton is Newton — one of the most uniquely talented matchup nightmares in the league.

I wouldn’t expect the Panthers to remain at +3500 for long.

New Orleans Saints (+1800 to win the Super Bowl)

Nobody in the NFC South has high futures odds because the division is so strong as a whole, but it’s still ridiculous that the Saints have lower Super Bowl odds than six other teams, and identical odds to a Texans squad that won just four games last year.

In terms of DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), the Saints were the best team in the NFL last season. Their future Hall of Fame quarterback had the highest completion percentage in NFL history while leading the conference in yards per attempt and passer rating. New Orleans also became the first team in nearly half a century to possess both the offensive and defensive rookies of the year. The Saints were just one crazy play from a berth in the NFC Championship game and if Diggs doesn’t make that play, the team’s odds would be significantly lower.

That historically kickass rookie class should only make a larger impact in 2018, and now they’ve added a first-round pass rusher (Marcus Davenport), one of the best slot corners in the game (Patrick Robinson), a steady new starting linebacker (Demario Davis) and an intriguing new receiver (Cameron Meredith) to the fray.

Regardless of what the odds say, this team is right there with the Patriots, Steelers, Eagles, Rams and Vikings.

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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A Guide to Betting on the Preseason

Tired of betting on baseball and bummed out that the World Cup is coming to an end? Don’t fret, because the NFL preseason gets underway in exactly three weeks. And yes, betting on the preseason is a thing.

A big thing.

In fact, according to US Bookmaking sportsbook director Robert Walker, sportsbooks take as many

Tired of betting on baseball and bummed out that the World Cup is coming to an end? Don’t fret, because the NFL preseason gets underway in exactly three weeks. And yes, betting on the preseason is a thing.

A big thing.

In fact, according to US Bookmaking sportsbook director Robert Walker, sportsbooks take as many bets on preseason NFL games as they do on most August regular-season Major League Baseball contests.

“I think it just speaks to how popular the NFL is,” said Walker, who added that the simplicity of the preseason schedule also makes it easier to bet when compared to the daily grind of Major League Baseball. “People love football, and it’s a long baseball season. I think by July and certainly by August they’re ready for football season.”

With that in mind, here are our rules for betting on the NFL preseason…

1. Don’t bet on preseason NFL games. If the 2016 Browns and 2008 Lions could go 4-0 in preseason before going 0-16, it’s a sign for smart money to stay away. But, if you absolutely can’t resist, rules two through nine can help you navigate these murky waters.

2. Don’t overthink the point spread. The winner quite frequently covers the spread because oddsmakers usually set low numbers for games that are largely unpredictable. In the first week of last year’s preseason, no team was favored by more than four points but half of those games were decided by double-digit margins.

3. Consider the coaches. Some are more motivated than others to put together strong team performances, while others are more concerned with evaluation during this time. Pete Carroll, John Harbaugh and Mike Zimmer don’t mess around in the preseason, while Mike Tomlin, Jason Garrett and Doug Marrone probably won’t go out of their way to earn a W. The problem is the oddsmakers are also very much aware of this, but it’s at least worth considering when you’re curious about a particular line.

“A lot of new coaches want to set a tone of winning in the locker room,” Walker said. “Or at least that’s how you handicap it. You listen to what they say, and it means more to some coaches than to others.”

4. Be on the ball. In the preseason it’s more important than ever to try to be a sharp. With less on the line, coaches are liable to let more cats out of the bag by elaborating on strategy and predicting playing time for starters. If you stay on top of what’s being said in the media in the lead-up to preseason games, you’ll have a chance to get an edge over the rest of the betting public and maybe even the oddsmakers.

“There are people who can ascertain information quicker than us,” Walker admitted. “The one thing about NFL football is the information is so available now, as opposed to 20 years ago.”

5. Don’t fall for lower-than-expected totals. Some totals will just look oddly low, even with the backup offense on the field most of the game. After all, backup defenders will be out there, too, right? But offenses are usually playing catch-up to a larger extent in August, which is why your average preseason game contains about five fewer points than your average regular-season affair.

6. Throw preconceived notions out the window. The Browns went 4-0 last preseason, outscoring their opponents 68-29. The Patriots went 1-3.

7. Consider betting half or quarter lines. That’ll make it easier to avoid bad beats stemming from the actions of third-stringers in second-half garbage time. This pertains particularly to bets on favorites.

As Walker notes, “You’ve got guys deciding the point spread who aren’t going to make the team.” Try to avoid that.

8. Consider depth, or lack thereof. You feel particularly well about a team’s backup quarterback or reserve pass-rushers? And you’re sure those players are going to get extensive playing time based on what’s being said in the media? Trust yourself and roll the dice there. But remember, you’re still basically shooting craps.

9. Have fun. Walker notes that while a huge number of bettors wager on preseason games, not a lot of money is spent on those bets. The limits are much lower because of the lack of predictability, which is also why you rarely see anyone attempt to place a big-money bet on an NFL game in August.

“At the end of the day you don’t really know if the team is trying to win the game,” said Walker, who ran the MGM Grand Mirage Race and Sports Book for 12 years. “So as long as I’ve been doing this nobody’s come up and asked to bet $50,000 on a preseason game, and if they did I’d probably call security.”

With less on the line, it might be easier to relax and have some fun with your bet.

“If I bet $10 on it then it makes it that much more enjoyable to watch,” said Walker. “I’m not actually worried. To me it’s like going to the movies. I’m going to have a good time and I’ve got a 50/50 chance of doubling my money.”

“It’s more fun to watch a game with $10 on it than with zero on it.

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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What We Can Learn From the NFL’s Overs/Unders in 2017

Now that the Supreme Court has granted states the green light to legalize sports gambling, it’ll be easier than ever for Americans to (legally) bet on NFL games come September (and August if you’re willing to throw some blindfolded darts at preseason games).

That probably means point spreads will receive more

Now that the Supreme Court has granted states the green light to legalize sports gambling, it’ll be easier than ever for Americans to (legally) bet on NFL games come September (and August if you’re willing to throw some blindfolded darts at preseason games).

That probably means point spreads will receive more attention than ever, but the reality is there’s just as much money to be made (or lost) betting on totals. Thus, National Football Post will be providing weekly insight and analysis related to overs and/or unders throughout the season.

But with preseason football still a month out, let’s reflect on 2017. Using over/under totals provided by Pro Football Reference and their wonderful team game finder, here’s a look at 13 over/under-related statistical trends and nuggets from last season.

  • Only 46 percent of the 256 games played last season went over the total (119). Under was the correct bet 54 percent of the time. This makes sense because scoring was down from 45.6 points per game in 2016 to 43.4 in 2017. It was the lowest-scoring season in the NFL since 2009. Now handicappers and oddsmakers will be forced to try to determine if that was an anomaly or the start of a new trend.
  • For what it’s worth, 53 percent of NFL games went over the total in 2016. Combine the last two seasons and you’ve got 50 percent over, 50 percent under. So yeah, the folks in Vegas are good at what they do.
  • There were no over/under pushes in 2017, but totals set by oddsmakers were within one point of the final tally 16 times (six percent of games) and within two points 40 times (16 percent of games).
  • While it’s not uncommon for games to become lower-scoring as the elements become a factor late in the season, that was especially the case in 2017 and Vegas wasn’t able to keep up. Over/under results by month (with average points per game in brackets):
    • September: 50% over, 50% under (43.7)
    • October: 52% over, 48% under (43.8)
    • November: 50% over, 50% under (45.3)
    • December: 37% over, 63% under (41.5)
  • Eighteen games had totals of 50 or higher. Only seven went over
  • Thirty-six games had totals below 40. Eighteen (exactly half) went over.
  • The median and average total was 44. Seven of the 11 games that had totals of exactly 44 went over.
  • Teams with the most overs: Packers (11), Rams (11), Lions (10).
  • Teams with the most unders: Chargers (12), Bears (12), Falcons (11), Raiders (11), Colts (10), Cowboys (10), Cardinals (10), Bills (10), Texans (10), Giants (10), Steelers (10).
  • The highest total of the season was 56.5 for a Week 7 matchup between the Patriots and Falcons. Only 30 points were scored.
  • The lowest total was 36.5 for a Week 14 tilt between the Bills and the Colts. Only 20 points were scored despite the fact that game went into overtime.
  • The highest-scoring under of the season came when the Patriots beat the Steelers 27-24 with a 52.5 total in Week 15. That was the only game with 50-plus points that didn’t go over.
  • The lowest-scoring over of the season? Green Bay 23, Chicago 16 in Week 10. The total was 37.5.

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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