Articles

Who's the Real Bad Guy?

by Stephen Nover

Wednesday, Jan 05, 2022

The year was 1942. Ted Williams won the American League Triple Crown that season. He also led the league in runs, walks, slugging percentage and on base percentage.Obviously Williams was the unanimous choice for Most Valuable Player, right? Nope. He didn't even win the award! It went to Joe Gordon. Williams hit twice as many homers as Gordon, drove in 44 more runs and batted 33 points higher than Gordon. But certain biased voters screwed Williams because they didn't like him personally. That's just plain wrong. I bring this up because it could happen to Aaron Rodgers this season when it comes to NFL MVP voting. This isn't a no-brainer like it was in baseball for Williams. Rodgers isn't head-and-shoulders above other worthy candidates Tom Brady, Jonathan Taylor and Cooper Kupp. Brady leads the NFL in passing yards and TD throws. Taylor leads the league in rushing. He's 529 rushing yards ahead of No. 2 Joe Mixon. Kupp is having a record pass-catching season well ahead in receptions, receiving yards and TD's. Rodgers has a 35-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Yet Rodgers' strongest qualifications are related to the team. Green Bay is 13-2 in games he has played. Thanks to Rodgers, Green Bay finished as the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC and has the best record in football. No player is more important to his team than Rodgers is to the Packers. That should make Rodgers the MVP favorite. Not according to Hub Arkush, though.  Arkush said he won't vote for Rodgers because Rodgers is a horrible person for misleading people about his vaccination status. This is what Arkush said about Rodgers during a radio interview with a Chicago radio station: ''I just think that the way he's carried himself is inappropriate. I think he's a bad guy, and I don't think a bad guy can be the most valuable guy at the same time.'' Bad guy? You'd think Arkush was talking about Antonio Brown, or Henry Ruggs. Rodgers is complicated. But a bad guy? Even if Rodgers were that, it isn't a reason to disqualify him for MVP consideration. I think Arkush is a bad guy for blackballing someone out of personal feelings when he has an obligation and voting honor to act responsibly and objectively. Arkush is a long-time Chicago NFL fixture, who has done writing and announcing for the Bears. Perhaps he's jealous that the only really good quarterbacks the Bears have had during their 100 years in the NFL were Jim McMahon and Sid Luckman. 

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NFL Week 17: Top 10-Ranked Teams

by Wayne Root

Thursday, Dec 30, 2021

Handicapping is a difficult task. Making the profitable grade yearly for 36 years is daunting and has its moments. But I remain successful. At the start of this week’s handicapping, there are 230 players among the NFL Covid protocol. Many will be cleared and many will play. And some may also be added between Wednesday and Sunday’s game time. As any good professional, we will make the proper adjustments and move from five (5) games to releasing our top three (3) games. The top three is where the money has been made for my 36 year handicapping career. Here’s to no cancellations or game day changes. Thank You, WAR 10. Arizona Cardinals (10-5) Could Kliff Kingsbury actually end up back on the hot seat? The calls for Kliff Kingsbury to be fired will only get louder if the Cardinals flame out of the playoffs. Coach Cool has his issues, but firing a winning coach without a solid upgrade plan usually ends in disaster. Just ask the Lions. Furthermore, center Rodney Hudson is a player that might not be on the stats page. Hudson is Kyler Murray's eyes and ears on the line of scrimmage, helps set the protection, alerts Murray and the rest of the offense to formations and takes care of the rest of the lineman on seemingly a play-by-play basis. Whenever Hudson is out, the Cardinals struggle in some way. He has missed five games thus far this season, and Arizona has lost three of them 9. Buffalo Bills (9-6) They’ve finally realized that they need to let Josh Allen carry the offense. Dion Dawkins said it best after the Bills' win over the Patriots: "Josh [Allen] makes a quarter of a billion dollars. Josh is worth every penny." Let’s also look at their defense.  The league's No. 1 pass defense in a variety of categories is anchored by the safety duo of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. They are the only safety tandem in the NFL with at least five interceptions each this season. They are individually tied for the fourth-most interceptions in the NFL this season and have combined for 19 passes defensed (10 Hyde, 9 Poyer). That’s nice to have in the pass orientated league.  8. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) Joe Burrow has thrown for 941 yards (!) in two games against the Ravens this season. Baltimore DC Don Martindale might want to update his list of quarterbacks who deserve the "gold jacket" treatment from his defense. Cincinnati wanted an immediate playmaker when it drafted WR Ja’Marr Chase, and it certainly appears to have that in the 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner. NOW; beat the Chiefs, and everyone will be on notice about these Bengals. 7. Tennessee Titans (10-5) That win against the 49ers serves as a reminder of how dangerous this team can be. What a difference A.J. Brown makes. The star receiver dominated the 49ers' patchwork secondary and showed Tennessee can still be dangerous in January, especially if Derrick Henry returns. Chances are Jeffrey Simmons is the catalyst every time there's a big play from the Titans' defense. Simmons' ability to collapse the pocket from the interior has led to multiple interceptions by the Titans. He anchors the middle of the defensive line by routinely blowing up interior offensive linemen and stopping opposing ball carriers for a loss.  6. Indianapolis Colts (9-6) RB Jonathan Taylor's production has helped lighten quarterback Carson Wentz's load significantly, and the running back's ability to dominate on the ground helps keep a defense that has forced 31 turnovers this season fresh throughout the game. The Colts should be a threat in the AFC playoffs, but their most significant obstacle to a deep run might be COVID-19. Indianapolis has among the lowest — if not the lowest — vaccination rate in the NFL, including quarterback Carson Wentz. A dome team perhaps has the best chance of winning in the elements in the postseason. BUT, all I hear and read is that the Colts are the team nobody wants to play. Hopefully the players aren’t reading the same comments.  5. Los Angeles Rams (11-4) The dodged a bullet on the road at Minnesota. Elite teams win road games in which their quarterbacks throw three interceptions. After a winless November, the Rams swept their December schedule and now are back on top in the NFC West. Now we get to find out if Matthew Stafford is the Super Bowl-worthy quarterback many (including me) claimed he could be while wasting away in Detroit. After all, he has Cooper Kupp. Kupp is setting a new standard with more than 90 receiving yards in 11 consecutive games. With the additional 17th game, Kupp is on pace to tie the single-season receptions record and break the single-season receiving yards mark.  4. Dallas Cowboys (11-4) The slump that Dak Prescott wasn’t in is now over. The Cowboys' offense finally came alive Sunday while playing against the Football Team. When Dak is locked in, Dallas is hard to beat. Hopefully, the old adage that defense wins in playoffs is still true. LB Micah Parsons should be a lock selection for the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award and also should be one of the top contenders for the Defensive Player of the Year. Parsons leads the team in sacks, has made key plays in key moments and has dominated at the line of scrimmage and off the ball.  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) It’s hard to feel sorry for Tom Brady. as the injuries keep piling up. Can they keep winning despite them? A year after having the best injury luck in the NFL, the Bucs have been decimated as the playoffs approach. If anyone can drag a team to the Super Bowl by himself, it's old No. 12. His big problem though is that there's no way to replace what WR Chris Godwin brings.  2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) Maybe they needed to bottom out before they could start climbing again.After 16 weeks, we are right back where we started — wondering if anyone in the AFC has what it takes to knock off the Chiefs. S Tyrann Mathieu still leads the Chiefs in interceptions (with three) and fumble recoveries (also with three). He also is the locker room leader who wouldn't let the Chiefs quit on themselves after the season's rotten start. Maybe he’s the answer for those perceived defensive woes.  1. Green Bay Packers (12-3) Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones and DeVonte Adams might be the best triangle of offensive power in the NFL.Adams is arguably the best receiver in football right now, and his connection with Rodgers is unmatched. What's more, teams have been known to dedicate so much attention to him, like the Ravens did in Week 15, that his presence alone is invaluable. It’s not always pretty, but the outcome was very sweet for Green Bay as the Browns shots themselves in the foot last Sunday. The sportsbooks dodged many money line bets. 

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NFL Week 16: Top-10 Ranked Teams

by Wayne Root

Thursday, Dec 23, 2021

There are so many teams still in the playoff race that the next three weeks will be the most exciting finals in years.   10. Buffalo Bills (8-6) Sean McDermott, the AFC's Mike McCarthy, is ready for another shot at the Patriots. The victory over Carolina, combined with a Patriots loss in Indy, puts destiny in Buffalo's hands. Beat the Pats on Sunday in Foxborough and take care of business against the Falcons and Jets, and this frustrating regular season will end with the desired result: a division title and home playoff contest next month. Will these Bills rise to the occasion? Be careful now as the preseason predictions are needing validation. It all comes down to Sunday at New England. 9. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6) What were they thinking? Over and over, the Chargers passed on easy points on Thursday night in favor of bold risks that didn’t pay off. Two trips inside the Kansas City 5-yard line ended with fourth-down incompletions; another trip imploded with a goal-line fumble. I guess we are in the beginning of the new analytics. The only mistake Brandon Staley made vs. the Chiefs was not going for two when the Chargers were up seven. Every other decision was sound. He believes in his team, and they’ll be dangerous in January. The coach had the final word; “ With a quarterback like ours, with an offense like ours, that’s how we’re going to play.”. Others say; “ The future is bright. The present is murky.”. 8. Indianapolis Colts (8-6) Once again, it was Jonathan Taylor to the rescue. One Jonathan Taylor run ended a decade-plus of the Colts getting outcoached, out-toughed, and outplayed by the Patriots. These Colts are contenders even with a Carson Wentz-sized weight around their ankles. Frank Reich remained committed to the run down the stretch, showing a noticeable lack of faith in Carson Wentz. The Colts have proven their bona fides as legit AFC contenders. They’ll go as far as Jonathan Taylor takes them. 7. Arizona Cardinals (10-4) There’s much to love about the final quarter of the NFL season. From a number one seed to possible wild card, in the course of six days. The Cardinals have now lost four of seven after their 7-0 start. Sunday brought the season's most disappointing moment: a 30-12 defeat to the Lions. Kyler Murray says the Cardinals aren’t about to fold down the stretch like they did last season. I’ll believe it when I see it. And this week is set to witness against a very hot opponent. A home showdown with the surging Colts should tell us a lot about Kliff Kingsbury's team. 6. Dallas Cowboys (10-4) The Cowboys lead the league with 23 interceptions and are tied for first in takeaways with 31. The D will take Big D to an NFC East title, but there's no road back to the Lombardi unless the offense finds its groove. Ugly wins are still wins, especially when other high-end NFC contenders are losing. The Cowboys have become the NFC version of what the Chiefs were in the AFC for much of this season: a team filled with high-profile stars on offense getting regularly carried by its defense. Dak Prescott hasn't looked right since he returned from injury. The Cowboys need No. 4 to get back to balling if they want to make any noise in January. 5. New England Patriots (9-5) The Hood should be in a bad mood this week at practice. The lack of energy in the first half was uncharacteristic for a  Bill Belichick team. The seven-game winning streak is a memory after multiple uncharacteristic mistakes and breakdowns in fundamentals led to a 27-17 loss to the Colts on Saturday night. The Patriots beat themselves for three quarters and still almost came back to knock off the Colts. The AFC is still there for Mac and Hoodie to take on Sunday against the Bills. 4. Los Angeles Rams (9-4) Survive and advance. After three straight losses, three straight wins. How many more will there be? The Rams worked their way through the COVID-19 week from hell, then found a way in a 20-10 win over the Seahawks. The Rams now find themselves tied with the Cardinals atop the NFC West with three games to play. This should be fun. The Rams appear to have benefitted from their game vs. the Seahawks being pushed back to Tuesday. The Seahawks are losing guys to the COVID list as the Rams get healthier. Them’s the breaks. The Offensive Player of the Year Award should come down to Cooper Kupp. 3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4) A 17-game season is a war of attrition, and the Bucs lost a huge battle on Sunday night. Brady struggled without his key playmakers, committing two turnovers in his first shutout loss in over 15 years. The Saints are Tom Brady’s Kryptonite, but the Bucs have bigger issues than a loss to the Saints as Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette all left Sunday’s game with injuries putting the team's hopes for a playoff bye in serious doubt. Mike Evans (hamstring), Chris Godwin (knee) and Leonard Fournette (hamstring) all exited leaving Tom Brady in a vulnerable and frustrating situation. As much as the coaching staff deserves blame for the implosion against the Saints, it also deserves a ton of credit for helping this team win 10 games despite being decimated in the secondary. Time for Brady to find more magic and take over this year’s destiny. 2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4) Just like that, the Chiefs are back in first place in the AFC. Same as it ever was. The Chiefs are on the verge of winning their sixth straight AFC West crown, and they control their own destiny toward winning the AFC's top playoff seed. Is Travis Kelce the teams MVP? Kelce has rarely performed like a dominant force this season, so consider the veteran's sudden re-emergence as a game-wrecker an early Christmas present for the Chiefs and their fans. Kelce lit up the Chargers for a career-high 191 yards and two touchdowns on 10 catches. Three straight Super Bowl appearances suddenly isn’t out of the question. 1. Green Bay Packers (11-3)  The Packers are 11-3 despite their special teams being dog water. They might be impossible to beat if they ever get that ironed out. Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, is now in the driver's seat for his fourth MVP award (and second in as many years). Rodgers posted three more TD passes and has been the league's best quarterback for the past month. Crunch-time performance counts in this race ... or at least it should. Can they finish the job this year?  

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Bad NFL Owners Need To Be Held Accountable

by Stephen Nover

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2021

The names invoke horror. No, not Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf Man. But Adam Gase, Matt Patricia, Hue Jackson and Marty Mornhinweg. What do these four former coaches all share in common besides a combined losing record of 30-115-2 during their head coaching stints with the Jets, Lions, Browns and Lions?  None of them lasted more than 2 1/2 years as a head coach with their respective team before the plug was mercifully pulled on their incompetence. A bad coach gets fired. A bad player gets cut. If an owner is bad, nothing. That should change. Owners should be held to the same standards. If they aren't good they should be out, too.Want to know why Washington has just six winning seasons and only two playoff victories during the last 22 years while being the most toxic place to work? Look no further than Daniel Snyder. Washington has dropped from being No. 2 in attendance in 2009 to now being among the bottom eight. It's a damning indictment on the gutlessness of Roger Goddell to let Snyder remain as an NFL owner. Want to know why Jacksonville is 41-117 during the last 10 years? Take a bow Shad Khan. It's no coincidence that's how long Khan has owned the Jaguars. If it's possible to look even worse than a 2-12 team, the Jaguars are it. Urban Meyer was a disaster of biblical proportions. Yet it took Khan 13 games to finally show Meyer the door. Want to know why Houston is 3-16 in its last 19 games? Hello Cal McNair, the nincompoop who inherited the Texans following his father's death in November of 2018. McNair somehow gave general manager powers to then coach Bill O'Brien. The power hungry O'Brien proceeded to dismantle the Texans, a playoff team just two seasons ago, with a series of mind-blowing horrific trades while also surrendering huge draft capital. If Bavaria ever needs another mad king, I would recommend O'Brien. Meanwhile, the poor Texans are in for a deep rebuild.  Want to know why Las Vegas is 62-96 since 2012? Introducing Mark Davis, son of the late Al Davis, who died in October of 2011. Al Davis had many great Raiders teams banded together under his famous slogan: ''Commitment to Excellence.'' The Raiders under Mark Davis could have the motto: ''Commitment to Excrement.'' Mark Davis tossed an absurd 10-year, $100 million contract to Jon Gruden, who hadn't coached in 10 years. Davis apparently also didn't do his due diligence vetting Gruden. Davis had no choice but to can Gruden following Gruden's brutal racist, sexist, anti-gay emails he traded with Bruce Allen, who at the time was Snyder's right-hand man and team president of Washington's football team. Hope Mark Davis was happy with the 22-31 record he received from Gruden along with a ton of bad press for his $100 million. Washington, the Jaguars, Texans and Raiders can look forward to the draft all they want, but they will never achieve a consistent winning environment until they get rid of their owners. 

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NFL Week 15: Top 10-Ranked Teams

by Wayne Root

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2021

The NFL is widening and separating the cream of the crop from the rest. This group should all plan on a trip to the post-season. However, going cold with an 0-4 finish or someone knocking on the top 10 elite and posting a perfect 4-0 finish could make the playoffs very interesting.  10. Indianapolis Colts (7-6) They’ll be the toughest out in the AFC playoff field. And the pestiest underdog in the playoffs. The Colts enjoyed the advantage of a late bye and now have everything in front of them, with back-to-back matchups against the Patriots and Cardinals. The Colts jumped from ninth in the AFC to sixth Sunday. Not a bad way to spend a bye week. Much has been made about the Colts' poor record against quality opponents, but their last three losses -- to the Ravens, Titans and Bucs -- were all games in which Indy led or was tied in the fourth quarter. If the Colts learn how to close out games, there is no ceiling on their season.  9. Tennessee Titans (8-4) If they get Derrick Henry back for the playoffs, they’ll be a problem and he’s on track for week 18. Mike Vrabel crushed Urban Meyer’s soul (if he has one) Sunday. That’s the rare Ohio State on Ohio State crime you rarely see. Finally, and most importantly, the Titans won a football game for the first time in nearly a month. The tape from a 20-0 shutout of the lowly Jaguars is unlikely to be shipped to Canton, but the victory was absolutely necessary as Mike Vrabel's team looks to navigate through its injury quagmire to lock up another AFC South title and make a push for the No. 1 seed. 8. Los Angeles Chargers (8-5) If they can get consistent, they can get deep into January. But do they ever?Justin Herbert is a freakin’ cyborg. Herbert delivered another excellent performance, hooking up on a highlight-reel touchdown connection with Jalen Guyton for the second straight week while becoming the first QB in NFL history to reach 30 touchdown passes in each of his first two seasons. The Chargers welcome the Chiefs to SoFi Stadium on Thursday night with a golden opportunity to make the AFC West very interesting. These Herbert vs Mahomes affairs should get prime-time billing every season.  Especially with Wayne Root sitting at 25-10 in Primetime games this years (71%).   7. Dallas Cowboys (9-4) The Cowboys' defense was a big-play machine in Sunday's win over the Washington Football Team. Defensive end Randy Gregory returned to the lineup and made two huge plays, an acrobatic interception that led to a Dallas touchdown and the strip-sack of Kyle Allen that sealed the win in the fourth quarter. Micah Parsons also continued to build on his outrageous rookie season with a sack-fumble that produced a touchdown. Micah Parsons should win every defensive award this season. Hell, we might need to create a new award for him. Micah Parsons should play offense, too. 6. Los Angeles Rams (9-4) Desperation always is the difference maker. So much for the talk that Sean McVay's team was "too soft" to hold its own with the NFL elite. It got a little scary at the end, but the Rams were the better group in a 30-23 win over the Cardinals, a game that could swing not just the NFC West but the balance of power in the conference as the playoffs inch closer. Matthew Stafford just got his first ever career win against a team that was five or more games above .500. Playing in Detroit isn't for the faint of heart, kids.  5. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4) They’re back, even if no one wants to accept it. During their six-game winning streak, the Chiefs have scored 89 points against the Raiders and 74 points in the other four wins. The offense played its most efficient game of the season against Las Vegas, winning the battle up front and avoiding its two biggest issues: turnovers and drops. The final score is perhaps a bit misleading for a team that managed a comparatively pedestrian total of 372 yards of offense.  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3) Four straight wins and a final stretch with favorable matchups could mean that the road to this year’s Super Bowl will go through the place where last year’s Super Bowl was played. Tom Brady’s 700th touchdown pass of his career was a perfectly placed spiral to a wide-open Breshad Perriman, who motored untouched into the end zone for the 58-yard game-winner. Brady is now 107-1 in games in which his team leads by 21 or more at any point, and the Bucs remain just a step behind the Packers in the race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Brady is playing his best football at age 44. Just absurd stuff we’re witnessing.  3. New England Patriots (9-4) New England has the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense (allowing just 15.4 points per game) and the No. 3 total defense (310.0 yards per game allowed). The numbers are even better during the team's seven-game winning streak: Opponents have averaged just over 10 points per game, with the Pats forcing at least one turnover in every one of those contests. This ends in a Bucs-Pats Super Bowl and the world exploding, doesn’t it? The No. 1 seed is within their grasp. It’ll be a disappointment at this point if they don’t get it. 2. Arizona Cardinals (10-3) Do they have the experience and maturity to win high-stakes games? The Cardinals look like a contender, but the self-inflicted wounds in prime time are a concern.  In a game where Los Angeles' best players stepped up to cover for the loss of Jalen Ramsey, several of Arizona's top stars weren't up for the challenge. Kyler Murray made physical and mental errors, DeAndre Hopkins had a crucial fourth-down drop and was largely neutralized in coverage, and no one on the Cardinals' defense stepped up to make any game-changing plays.  1. Green Bay Packers (10-3) Did you hear that Aaron Rodgers has a broken pinkie toe? Aaron Rodgers is the star, but Matt LaFleur doesn’t get enough credit for his in-game coaching adjustments. The magic he worked Sunday to get Davante Adams open in the second half allowed Rodgers to keep owning the Bears. The reigning MVP delivered a masterful performance on Sunday night against the Bears and has thrown 10 touchdown passes against zero interceptions with a completion percentage just shy of 70 percent since Week 11. When you combine this version of the offense with a top-10 defense, it adds up to the best, most complete team in the NFL.

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NFL Week 14: Top 10-Ranked Teams

by Wayne Root

Friday, Dec 10, 2021

The top and bottom of the rankings are becoming clearer by the week, but both the NFC and AFC playoff pictures are a disgusting blob of mediocre teams. Some teams have a quarterbacking issue. Others are going through a rash of bad injury luck. These teams can step on the gas and make a deep playoff run, but things must start falling into place.   10. LA Chargers (7-5) Last weeks game at Cincinnati is not meant to dissolve the Chargers of their … Chargering. They turned the ball over 3 times and blew a 22-point lead. I didn’t know who this team was before this game, and I’m still not sure if I do. I love their offensive potential. I even love their offense as it is, with coordinator Joe Lombardi taking some of the firepower away from Justin Herbert. But LA’s defense is still struggling. They don’t defend the run, and they don’t really have the talent to consistently see good results against the pass. The Chargers have a ton of potential, but I’m not sure if they’re ready to truly compete in the AFC even they’re only one game out of the AFC West. They need to play a good game this week against the Giants to give everyone some confidence moving forward.  9. Buffalo Bills (7-5) The Bills have been wildly inconsistent on offense all season. Things could have been different for the Bills against the Patriots had it been a normal game day. Ridiculous wind gusts made things anything but that, however, in a 14-10 loss, Buffalo clearly did not have good play in the trenches which is going to hurt them in the long run. The Monday NightFootball game against the Patriots had awful weather and shouldn’t be used for or against either team in an argument about who’s better. Now for the real test as they play Brady and the Bucs.  8. Indianapolis Colts (7-6) Since October 1, the Colts are 7-3. Their bye week comes at a fantastic time, as they’ll come out of it facing the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals. After a loss to the Bucs, a close one at that, the Colts got back to winning ways and thrived on both sides of the ball. The Texans stood little chance, getting blown out and shutout, 31-0 as Indy RB Jonathan Taylor had two TDs. An overarching theme for this team is running the ball well and having Carson Wentz avoid unnecessary mistakes. Defensively, they’re full of high-variance playmakers. That could come in handy in the playoffs, as they may be outmatched on paper in the Wild Card round. 7. Dallas Cowboys (8-4) The Cowboys handled the Saints on Thursday, 27-17. The win came as Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn had to step in for Mike McCarthy as acting head coach due to COVID-19. The Cowboys had some big plays on offense while their defense had four interceptions. Their defense has performed as a top-five unit in the league this season. Dallas’ offense has immense talents everywhere you look, yet they don’t currently seem to have much firepower on that side of the ball. They’re probably one of the more well-rounded teams in the NFL, but they’re not playing like it. The Cowboys haven’t run the ball well in what feels like a lifetime, and the passing attack looks stale in comparison to its early-season output. The offense must figure it out before the playoffs sneak up. 6. Los Angeles Rams (8-4) The Rams and Matthew Stafford needed a get-right game, and there are few better options than this Monday night playing Arizona. The Rams finally got right against the Jags, taking a huge 37-7 victory. As the score indicates, Los Angeles was in control. WRs Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham Jr. caught touchdown passes from QB Matthew Stafford. The Rams defense forced two turnovers as well. But that was against Jacksonville. This week is for all the marbles in the NFC West. The Rams travel to Arizona to try and get revenge on their divisional opponents for handing them an emphatic 17-point loss in Week 4. Maybe the Rams can get respectable with a win as the Rams’ offensive line looked better than it has in weeks.  5. New England Patriots (9-4) No team has played better over the past month, but I still wonder about the Patriots’ ceiling. They had a particularly difficult matchup on Monday Night Football – they weren’t just facing the Buffalo Bills, but the weather as well. The Patriots essentially gave the Bills their playbook and said we are going to run it every play. They still won. New England took a big step toward locking up the AFC East, but the conference is far from settled. 4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) I believe the Chiefs are most dangerous team in the NFL aside from a Tampa Bay squad getting healthy and a Cardinals club that’s been the most consistent in the league. Since Week 8, Kansas City’s defense ranks third in the NFL in EPA/play against, which is almost inconceivable after watching their start to the season. The Chiefs kept their AFC West lead with a 22-9 win over the Broncos. Was it ever in doubt? KC coach Andy Reid is now 20-3 coming off of a bye. This one wasn’t your typical Kansas City win, though. The defense took center stage as the offense wasn’t anything special. That included S Daniel Sorensen’s 75-yard pick-six interception to put it away. If the defense can continue at the pace they’re on, no team is more terrifying once the playoffs roll around. 3. Green Bay Packers (9-3) The Packers needed a bye week. They’ve lost integral pieces to their offensive line, and Green Bay must decide how they’ll best combat that. The bye also gets them one week closer to hopefully seeing David Bakhtiari back on the field. Yet, the offense hasn’t necessarily struggled, despite the losses on the front line. Their schedule is not too difficult after the bye, giving them a shot at the top seed in the NFC, with the ability to get key pieces back for a playoff run. 2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3) There are three constants in this life: Death, taxes, and Tom Brady throwing touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski. Is the Tom Brady-Gronk combination back? Sure looks like it in Tampa. The QB and TE connected for two scores while Brady was 39-for-51 passing with four total scores in a 30-17 win over the Falcons. The Bucs might’ve gotten a little cute at the end of the half, but showed they weren’t messing around the rest of the way. It was a bit surprising to see the Falcons have some success on the ground against the Buccaneers, but that isn’t something that should be a worry moving forward. Tampa Bay’s game against the Bills next week might decide whether they can usurp the Cardinals for the top seed in the NFC. 1. Arizona Cardinals (10-2) The Cardinals came in and took care of business against an inferior team, and they didn’t have to press themselves at all throughout. Playing the Bears allowed Kyler Murray to slowly work his way back into the game after missing four weeks and three games. QB Kyler Murray looks more than back. In his return from injury, Murray had four total touchdowns… but that wasn’t the only four for the Cards. Arizona’s defense came to play as well, notching four interceptions against the Bears in a 33-22 final. This Cardinals team looks for real. The Cardinals have a real game this weekend against their division rival; LA Rams. 

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Nover's View: How to Beat NFL Props

by Stephen Nover

Tuesday, Dec 07, 2021

Many bettors say they beat the NFL. Most don't unable to overcome numbers devoid of line value especially on game day. There is a softer NFL market, however, one that can be beat by understanding key factors. These are proposition wagers commonly referred to as props. These special games within a game are beatable. When making props, the bookmaker/oddsmaker crunches numbers and arrives at a figure. Those who intensely study players - hardcore fantasy football owners, for instance - hold an edge because they have more player knowledge and are putting extra time into these specific areas. Their projections could differ greatly from the available number due to many factors. They are not just statistic-driven based. Here's a position breakdown on the extensive thought process used to beat NFL props besides just using statistics. Quarterbacks: Game script. Does this particular matchup lend itself to a heavier, or lighter, passing attack than normal? Offensive line: Is it in good shape? How many sacks has it been giving up lately? Injuries: What is the status of the wide receivers? The Titans, for example, went into their Week 13 bye having been without A.J. Brown, Julio Jones and Marcus Johnson. That's a killer for Ryan Tanneheill. During his last four games from Weeks 9-12, Tannehill averaged 193 yards passing yards and threw only four TD passes. He was a go-against. Matt Ryan has been another fade lately minus Calvin Ridley and missing Cordarrelle Patterson for a couple of games. Ryan's passing numbers for his last four games going into Week 14 are 189.2 passing yards and only one TD throw during this span. Running backs:Game flow: Does this particular matchup ensure a lot of running opportunities? Finding a pertinent coaches' quote can help. Bengals coach Zac Taylor made a commitment to getting his offense more balanced. That meant more carries for Joe Mixon and less passing for Joe Burrow. Mixon averaged 25.6 carries during Weeks 11-13 scoring five TD's and averaging 114 yards rushing during this time frame. Consequently, Burrow didn't throw for more than one TD in any of these three games while averaging 212.6 yards passing compared to averaging 309.6 passing yards in his previous six games.  Opposing defenses: Jonathan Taylor has been the best running back in the NFL. But when he went up against the Buccaneers, who had the top run defense at the time back in Week 12, Taylor was held to 83 yards rushing. That was his second-lowest rushing total in an eight-week span. Gamescript also worked against Taylor in that game because the Colts went to a heavy passing attack in order to try to keep up with Tampa Bay's high-octane offense. Competition: Ronald Jones was the NFL's 12th-leading rusher last season with 978 yards. That was only one yard fewer than Ezekiel Elliott gained on the ground. However, Jones has totally lost favor in Tampa Bay where Leonard Fournette has become the top dog in the Buccaneers' running attack. Jones has just 19 carries in his last four games entering Week 14. Jones has become a total fade yet some sports books still put up props on him even though he's become a non-factor. Talent-wise, Nick Chubb is a top-five runner. Yet he always has to be downgraded when Kareem Hunt is healthy. Some books were slow to do this when Hunt came off the injured list. Myles Gaskin is the opposite of this. He's a mediocre back averaging a puny 3.4 yards a carry. Yet he has 154 attempts because he doesn't have much competition playing for the Dolphins. Only nine players have carried more times than Gaskin this season entering Week 14. Update injury information: Always monitor this looking for key bits of information. Doing this helped me win my largest prop bet of the year. It unfolded this way: David Montgomery, the Bears' bellcow running back, suffered a knee injury in Week 4 against the Lions. The injury was serious enough that Montgomery had to go on the injured list with his return date uncertain. Montgomery ended up missing the next four games. Khalil Herbert did a good job replacing him. It appeared Montgomery was going to miss Week 9, too. One prominent Las Vegas sports book put out a Week 9 prop on Herbert rushing for Over/Under 72 1/2 yards. But word started to come out that Montgomery was targeting that week to return. If true Herbert's rushing load would be drastically reduced. Following that information, I wagered heavily on Under Herbert's rushing total. The sports book lowered Herbert's number and then pulled the prop once the Montgomery return news became mainstream. Too late. My bet had been placed. Herbert finished that Week 9 game against the Steelers carrying the ball four times for 13 yards. Montgomery had 13 carries for 63 yards. Receivers:Target share and routes run: The oddsmaker isn't delving that far when making an Over/Under on receiving yards. But by knowing how many times a receiver was targeted you can be on the right side of an overdue factor. The Steelers are just an average passing team because Ben Roethlisberger is well past his prime. He's not the feared downfield passer he once was. The oddsmaker skews Pittsburgh's receivers because of that. Due to target share, though, Diontae Johnson is bulletproof. He's been targeted 51 times during Weeks 10-13. The result is an average of 7.7 receptions, an average of 96 receiving yards and three TD's during this span. Johnson is a consistent prop casher with these numbers. Opposing cornerbacks. If the opposition has a shutdown cornerback such as Jalen Ramsey or Jaire Alexander, it's important to find out who that cornerback primarily will be covering. Will he be on the No. 1 wide receiver, slot receiver, or be moving around? Tight ends: Knowing your tight ends is important. Some are heavily featured. Some teams go with a two-tight end system. Deebo Samuel has been the 49ers' No. 1 receiving target this season. Samuel didn't play in Week 13, though. So the 49ers made George Kittle their featured receiver. This was easy to surmise. The oddsmaker failed to adjust for this despite Kittle being an upper tier tight end. They set an Over/Under of 55 1/2 yards for Kittle's receiving yardage against the Seahawks in Week 13. Kittle caught nine passes for 181 yards on 12 targets and scored two TD's. It was a rocking chair winner on a line that was way off, something you never would see on a point spread or total.

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NFL Week 13: Top 10-Ranked Teams

by Wayne Root

Saturday, Dec 04, 2021

10. Buffalo Bills (7-4): The Bills feasted on the Saints on Thanksgiving and lost star cornerback Tre’Davious White in the process. We’ll find out if the Bills have righted the ship next Monday against the Patriots. If the Bills are going to win the division, they’re going to have to earn it with a couple of games coming up against the Patriots. The AFC East title will be on the line in two meetings with the Patriots over the next four games, beginning Monday in Buffalo. The season-ending knee injury suffered by CB Tre’Davious White is a major loss. 9. Los Angeles Rams (7-4): If the Rams can just add a few more big-name players, maybe they can play their way out of the playoffs entirely. The Greatest Show-Offs on Turf may be shown the door early in the 2021 postseason, if they even get there. OBJ’s dad is probably already firing up Final Cut Pro to make another independent film of a QB throwing uncatchable balls to his son. Anyway, their Super Bowl-or-bust season is trending decidedly toward bust.  8. Dallas Cowboys (7-4):  The Cowboys have lost three of their last four games, and Jerry Jones is complaining about the officials.They can complain all they want about the officiating during the Thanksgiving defeat to the Raiders. But if they had played better, it wouldn’t have mattered. Things might be starting to wobble in Big D, but a Thursday night date with the skidding Saints should help them get back on track. Since beating the Vikings with Cooper Rush, the Cowboys are 1-3 but the Cowboys have made the NFC East race at least mildly interesting again  7. Baltimore Ravens (8-3):  Only a great team can overcome four interceptions by its quarterback and win. The Ravens are incredibly flawed, but as long as they have Lamar Jackson they have a chance. They will need Jackson to play better, but they’re right in the mix among the top AFC contenders, and now all that matters is which one of those teams can raise its level most down the stretch. 6. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4):  After an off-week, Cincinnati has cobbled together back-to-back wins and seems to have found its early-season form again. The Bengals may be the best overall team in the AFC North. In a “changing of the guard” moment, the Bengals humiliated the Steelers on Sunday and now can truly set their sights on an AFC North title and a playoff berth. If Mixon can remain a factor to complement the passing-game exploits of QB Joe Burrow and WR Ja’Marr Chase, this is a dangerous offensive team. It’s a new day in The Jungle. 5. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4):  They have played much more like themselves lately, with wins in four straight and five of six. The post-bye schedule begins with three straight AFC West games. Can they have the same kind of post-bye surge that the Bucs enjoyed a year ago? The Chiefs exit the bye to face the Broncos, Raiders, and Chargers in the span of 11 days. They can put the AFC West away in quick order if they are indeed back.  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3):  Another Sunday, another game-winning drive for Tom Brady. Expect anything different? A year after Bruce Arians gave Leonard Fournette an ultimatum, Fournette has given Tampa Bay a critical road win. However, it still doesn’t appear QB Tom Brady and the Buccaneers have kicked it into high gear, at least not the way they did down the stretch last season.  3. New England Patriots (8-4):  The Patriots ran their winning streak to six with Sunday’s convincing triumph over the Titans. The Titans rushed for 270 yards but still left Foxboro with their tail between their legs after getting blown out. It would have seemed inconceivable even just a few weeks ago that the Patriots would be in the mix for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Yeah, I’m thinking Bill Belichick is back. So, who will they play in the Super Bowl? 2. Green Bay Packers (9-3):  At 9-3 heading into their bye, the Packers should only get better from here on out with Za’Darius Smith, Jaire Alexander, and David Bakhtiari all working their way back. Broken toe, COVID toe.  None of those are going to slow down Aaron Rodgers. Just keep that toe immunized from the pain. As long as he remains able to play at this level, the Packers’ chances are as good as anyone’s to emerge from the jumble of leading NFC contenders. 1. Arizona Cardinals (9-2):  The Cardinals return from their bye with the prospect of having QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins back in the lineup soon. Their biggest concern during the bye week is whether their coach will bid farewell and return to the Big 12. Lincoln Riley going to USC was a quick and easy way for Kliff Kingsbury’s agent to secure a raise for his client. You don’t actually think the guy with a 9-2 record and a generational QB is going to leave the NFL to go to Norman, do you?

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NFL Week 12: Top 10-Ranked Teams

by Wayne Root

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2021

10. Indianapolis Colts (6-5): After surviving a 1-4 start, the Colts look like one of the most dangerous teams in the unpredictable AFC. But why can’t Jonathan Taylor win MVP? The Colts are 6-0 in games in which he rushed for over 100 yards. This dome team is built for the elements, which will serve them well if they get to the postseason. Bold prediction: Indy wins the AFC South.  9. Baltimore Ravens (7-3):  Lamar Jackson’s illnesses are making Ravens fans a little queasy. Ten games in, the Ravens are a 5-5 masquerading as a 7-3 outfit. But the bill is about to come due. Damn, they’re even making me queasy. The Ravens are getting by on guts right now: Marquise Brown joined Jackson as an inactive on Sunday, while 15 players are parked on injured reserve. Survive and advance. 8. Tennessee Titans (8-3):  Go figure. The Titans are the epitome of this upside-down season, winning seven games against 2020 playoff teams while also losing to the Jets and Texans. No Derrick Henry, no Julio Jones and now A.J. Brown is banged up. The Titans’ offense needs someone to save it, but Ryan Tannehill isn’t up to the task. Tennessee has shown no hints of mounting a sustainable offense since Henry went on the shelf after foot surgery three weeks ago. This all feels like terrible timing for a game against the red-hot Patriots, but Mike Vrabel's Titans have a habit of overcoming the odds.  7. Los Angeles Rams (7-3): If the Rams are the type of team that gains motivation from the doubts of others, well, last week's bye might have been a very productive week. The Greatest Show-offs on Turf need to show something at Lambeau this week or else. The Rams can tweet about going all-in-all they want. But it’s time they show they are more than just empty expectations and a roster assembled on Madden. QB Matthew Stafford heads back to Lambeau Field, where he’s 3-7 all time.  6. Dallas Cowboys (7-3):  An excellent performance by the defense should have put the team in position to make a huge statement at Arrowhead. Instead, Dallas shrunk in the spotlight, fueling speculation we're watching another Cowboys team that's more sizzle than steak. Don’t look now, but here come the Eagles. But for that to matter they need to deal with injuries and the Raiders. The good news for Dallas after its 19-9 loss to the Chiefs? The imploding Raiders are coming to town on Thanksgiving. The bad news? The Cowboys have been outscored 66-45 by the AFC West this season. Oof.  5. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4):  The Chiefs look like a team ready to restore order in the chaotic AFC. The defense is getting back to its former form. Now we’ll see if the offense eventually can do the same. Melvin Ingram’s arrival has allowed Chris Jones to move back inside and return to his position as a game wrecker. Is the defense really keeping the Chiefs in games? The Chiefs’ offense still is figuring some things out, but rumors of their demise were greatly exaggerated.  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3):  Last year, they didn’t need home-field advantage in the playoffs. This year, they do. Tom Brady saw Justin Herbert run for 90 yards Sunday night and decided to show off his wheels with a 10-yard run against the Giants. That was the most exciting moment of a Monday-nightsnooze fest. The competition jumps up a notch next Sunday with a road matchup against the red-hot Colts. 3. New England Patriots (7-4):  The Pats matched their 2020 win total by Thanksgiving and have found themselves in first place as a result. This team is one the up and up. Physical defense, bruising run game and a polished rookie quarterback who does exactly what is asked of him. Bill Belichick’s Patriots are hitting their stride and there’s no reason they can’t win an AFC filled with flawed contenders. Mac Jones reminds so many of a rookie from 2001. The Pats could end up partying like it’s 2001. Tampa Bay won the battle earlier but Coach Belichick has eyes on the War in February.  2. Green Bay Packers (8-3):  The Packers are dealing with two toe injuries. Their knicker and their quarterback. Aaron Rodgers is hurting with a toe injury but Green Bay just lost star offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins. The Packers desperately need their bye, but first, they have to deal with a Rams team looking to get right. The Packers remain in fine shape, but they'll need to grind their way to the finish line. 1. Arizona Cardinals (9-2):  The Cardinals swept their NFC West road slate by a score of 91-50 and did so with Colt McCoy starting two of those three games. Coach Cool and the Cards are for real. But, they need to avoid having to play a playoff game in Green Bay at all costs. Zona hits a perfectly timed bye week. Murray (ankle) and DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) now get two more weeks to heal up before a favorable Week 13 matchup against the Bears. McCoy, meanwhile, probably bought himself another three years of lucrative backup work through his performance this month. Good gig.

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NFL Top 10 Rankings - Week #10

by Wayne Root

Wednesday, Nov 10, 2021

Is anybody any good in this league? Doesn’t seem so.  10.New England Patriots (5-4) This is the one team no one in the AFC will want to see in the postseason. Three wins in a row and the Patriots are once again a threat in the AFC East, but Mac Jones’ continued improvement will determine if they’ll be a Super Bowl factor come January. Highlighting the Pats’ defensive effort against Darnold & the Panthers was CB JC Jackson’s 88-yard pick-six interception in the 24-6 win. Not only was Darnold shutdown, the return of Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey soured as he was held to 52 yards on the ground and four catches by New England’s defense. Hosting the Browns (minus Chubb) this Sunday.  9. Los Angeles Chargers (5-3) They desperately needed a win in Philly, and they definitely need to find a way to keep winning. QB Justin Herbert had three touchdowns on the road against the Eagles after the Bolts lost to the Patriots at home the week prior. Most importantly, Herbert drove his team down the field to setup the game-winning kick… the type of game Chargers fans got used to losing late for a long time. Justin Herbert was 17-of-20 for 205 yards with a TD and rushing TD in the second half of the Chargers’ win over the Eagles. LA didn’t punt all game. When the Bolts are clicking, they are scary. Next up, Minnesota Vikings.  8. Buffalo Bills (5-3) Not long ago, they were dominant. Now, they’re in real danger of losing the division to the Patriots. Buffalo’s offense was non-existent in a stinker against the Jaguars. And just like that, the Patriots are on their heels. The Bills’ reign might be over before it even began if Josh Allen can’t right the ship fast. The Bills had what was likely their worst day on offense since QB Josh Allen’s breakout 2020 year. Bills QB Josh Allen’s ugly games are pretty darn ugly. He’s failed to reach a passer rating of 80 or better in three out of eight games this year. Buffalo fell 9-6 to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a shocker. But there was some good: the Bills’ improved defense is here to stay. Division game with the Jets; but did you see the point spread? -13.5!! 7. Dallas Cowboys (6-2) The Cowboys will be fine, but getting punked at home by a Broncos team that just traded away its best player is inexcusable if you want to be considered a legitimate Super Bowl contender. In a big difference compared to the Bills and Chiefs, the Cowboys’ loss came with nothing good. The defense was smoked early and often and Dallas didn’t close the gap on the scoreboard until this one was over (but QB Dak Prescott coming off an injury wasn’t given time to rest. Huh?). The Cowboys will probably bounce back but this bad loss might cost Dallas their shot at the No. 1 seed.Dallas plays Hotlanta this week.  6. Baltimore Ravens (6-2) The Ravens don’t always make it easy but they find a way to get the job done. Baltimore leads a very competitive AFC North. The Ravens are the comeback kids of the 2021 NFL season. QB Lamar Jackson was the centerpiece of Baltimore’s 34-31 win in overtime vs. the Vikes. The Ravens overcome a double-digit deficit for the third time this season. Sunday was the Ravens' fourth win this season when having a win probability of 15 percent or lower at some point in the second half. Lamar Jackson and the cardiac kids are hard to kill. Ravens get top billing on TNF against Miami.  5. Los Angeles Rams (7-2) After Sunday, the Rams are about to trade a 2029 first-round pick for Jeffery Simmons. In a battle of top-10 heavyweights, the Rams fell short against the Titans, 28-16. With RB Derrick Henry out, Tennessee leaned on their defense and it worked. Rams QB Matthew Stafford has costly giveaways and missteps he’ll have to cleanup. Matthew Stafford’s MVP hype took a hit with the veteran quarterback throwing one real bad interception near their own goal line (shades of Carson Wentz) and another pick to post a 71.0 passer rating in the Rams’ second loss. Missed opportunity for LA to gain ground on the push for the No. 1 seed. They get MNF against rival 49ers.  4. Tennessee Titans (7-2) Tennessee now has five straight wins, with the last four coming over BUF, KC, IND, and LAR. No gimmes in that stretch. OK, fine, the Titans are more than just Derrick Henry. Happy? No King Henry? No problem. That defensive effort was highlighted by the Titans defense forcing two interceptions by Stafford only seconds apart on back-to-back throws. The second of which was taken back for a 24-yard score. The Titans will love if Henry gets back in time for a postseason run, but Tennessee showed they can more than keep their head above water without him. There aren’t many obvious losses left on the schedule. The Saints come marching in looking for an upset.  3. Green Bay Packers (7-2) Aaron Rodgers’ selfishness knocked the Packers out of the top seed in the NFC. Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs with Jordan Love at QB could be the difference between home-field advantage and a bye in the playoffs and a first-round date with the Rams or Cardinals. What a leader. Love struggled in his first-career start which came under weird circumstances. Thanks to QB Aaron Rodgers’ off-field, COVID-19 related distractions all week, the Packers’ loss to the Chiefs was more about that than anything else. The Seahawks are in Green Bay with Wilson back at QB.  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2) The Bucs had perhaps the best bye week ever, with plenty of contenders losing. Tom Brady sat at home and watched the Saints, Cowboys, Packers and Rams all lose. That’ll do. This is the time of the year that Tom Brady looks to separate his team from the rest. t Washington Football Team Sunday.  1. Arizona Cardinals (8-1) And speaking of not having your best… Murray, Hopkins and WR AJ Green didn’t play and the depth pieces in Arizona still stood out. QB Colt McCoy and RB James Conner led a 31-17 win over the 49ers in a NFC West win. How are you supposed to not give the Cards your No. 1 spot this week? With Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt and A.J. Green in sweatpants, the Cardinals bulldozed the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Take a bow, Kliff Kingsbury. Can Carolina pull a fast one this Sunday for the upset?

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First-Half Looks At Each NFL Team

by Stephen Nover

Tuesday, Nov 09, 2021

Now that every team in the NFL has played at least eight games, it's time to take stock of each one.Here are my thoughts and observations of the NFL teams. AFC East Buffalo: Even with that surprising loss to the Jaguars last week, I still say the Bills are the most complete team in football. I like my 30-1 ticket on Sean McDermott to be the Coach of the Year. New England: The Patriots aren't going to the Super Bowl. But Bill Belichick is doing one of his greatest coaching jobs. The Patriots are 5-4 despite having below .500 talent. New York Jets: Their defense has played with heart, but the Jets keep losing key defenders. The latest to go down is safety Marcus Maye. That's a huge loss. I see the Jets getting completely worn down as the season progresses. The Jets need to take the training wheels off Zach Wilson. Mike White showed how capable the Jets' offense is when they play loose. Miami: The Dolphins overachieved last season. This year they are one of the biggest underachievers. Just what is their identity? Oh wait, they don't have one. AFC NorthBaltimore: This is a team that knows how to win. Just not cover margins. Of the Ravens' first six victories, four have been by a combined 12 points, including one six-point victory in overtime. They are 1-5 against the spread (ATS) the six times they've been favored this season. Pittsburgh: Mike Tomlin quietly has done an outstanding job. T.J. Watt makes the Steelers' defense good, but it's far from great. The offense is mediocre with a work-in-progress offensive line and Ben Roethilisberger in his dotage. Cleveland: Just when you think you can trust Cleveland you can't. Don't expect much and then be surprised if anything good occurs is the recommended approach with the Browns. Good move by the Browns to part with Odell Beckham Jr. I will say, Beckham was open a lot and Baker Mayfield would miss him. Mayfield is a better commercial pitchman than NFL quarterback. I count 17 quarterbacks better than Mayfield. Cincinnati: Maybe it's because of Joe Burrow and his exciting group of wide receivers, but I find myself liking the Bengals more than in past seasons. Their mediocre play in the trenches, pedigree and coaching, though, likely will doom them to another year of missing the playoffs. AFC SouthTennessee: The Titans' beating the Bills, Chiefs, Colts and Rams during the past four weeks is the most impressive streak of the year. Can't take that away from them. I'm not even sure, however, that they win the division even though they currently lead the Colts by three games. The Titans have been outgained per play, surrendered big passing games to Carson Wentz and Zach Wilson and no longer have Derrick Henry. Those are red flags.Indianapolis: Carson Wentz is having a nice bounce back season. Jonathan Taylor is living up to preseason predictions as a top-five running back. It wouldn't shock me to see the Colts launch a serious challenge to the Titans for the division. The Colts don't have that It factor, though. Making the playoffs is about their ceiling. Jacksonville: Urban Meyer survived not being the first coach fired. He's been a joke, however, as an NFL coach. Trevor Lawrence hasn't thrown multiple TD passes since Week 1. That's on Meyer. Wentz gets coached up. Lawrence gets coached down.Houston: To paraphrase the late Dennis Green: ''The Texans are who we thought they were.'' But don't crown their asses. They are at expansion team level. Much of their destruction was caused by Bill O'Brien, who should never be allowed to work in the NFL again for how he ruined this once competitive franchise. As for DeShaun Watson forget it. When 22 women accuse you of assault and sexual misconduct you're guilty. He needs to be punished before being allowed to play again. AFC WestLos Angeles Chargers: Hard team to get a handle on. Joey Bosa and Derwin James are great players. Yet the Chargers rank 23rd in scoring defense. Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen are among the best at their respective positions yet the Chargers are only 14th in scoring. The Chargers put up 47 points on the Browns, but just six points on the Ravens. I do find Brandon Staley a coaching upgrade on Anthony Lynn. It was a small bar for Staley. But special teams still hinder the Chargers. Las Vegas Raiders: Strong defensive improvement and a career year so far from Derek Carr have elevated the Raiders to a 5-3 mark. The fallout from Jon Gruden and tragedy caused by Henry Ruggs' recklessness and stupidity are going to be difficult to put in the past, though, even though both of them are off the team. Kansas City: Patrick Mahomes hasn't been playing like a God this season. I'd still take Mahomes over any other quarterback. But the Chiefs have committed an NFL-high 19 turnovers, which has made them the most disappointing team in the NFL at this juncture Denver: Despite their upset victory against the Cowboys, the Broncos aren't going anywhere. Too many key defensive injuries. Vic Fangio is an ace defensive coordinator overmatched as a head coach. I don't see the point of starting journeyman Teddy Bridgewater and giving Melvin Gordon so much work. Find out what Drew Lock can do and make Javon Williams their bellcow running back. NFC EastDallas: An explosive offense, an infusion of young defensive talent and much better defensive coaching courtesy of new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn have elevated the Cowboys into a serious NFC contender. The gap has become very wide between Dallas and the rest of the NFC East Lilliputians. Philadelphia: Nick Sirianni could prove one and done. Jalen Hurts is a far better fantasy football QB than a real one. The Eagles are 0-4 SU, 1-3 ATS during their first four home games. New York Giants: The Giants are below average in every facet. They have a dazzling array of skill position talent surrounding Daniel Jones. Unfortunately much of it has been sidelined. Only once in their first nine games have the Giants managed to score more than 25 points in regulation. They have yet to reach the 30-point barrier. Washington: The defense has been missing in action all season. That was an unexpected bad development. But Washington was setting itself up for failure opening the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting QB. Backup Taylor Heinicke's limitations become more pronounced as the season grows longer. NFC NorthGreen Bay: An upper tier offense and improved defensive coaching make the Packers a serious Super Bowl contender. The Packers do have an Achilles' heel - special teams. It has been terrible for years. Their coverage and return teams remain as bad as ever. Minnesota: I'm embarrassed to admit that I pegged the Vikings to win the division. Instead Minnesota has regressed. The Vikings' offensive line still isn't good. Kirk Cousins hasn't shaken his deserved reputation as a glorified game manager and now the defense is down because of injuries to Danielle Hunter and Patrick Peterson. Mike Zimmer is on the hot seat. Chicago: Justin Fields is an exciting talent. However, he can't overcome his inexperience, nor the bad coaching he's getting.  The Bears' defense is not the dominant unit it once was so the offense doesn't get bailed out. Detroit: Dan Campbell is a sympathetic character. Imagine having the worst wide receiving group in recent memory plus multiple injuries that have thinned out what already was a weak starting lineup. Detroit isn't bad enough, though, to go 0-17.NFC SouthTampa Bay: How remarkable is Tom Brady? He entered his bye week on pace to throw for 5,631 yards and 53 TD's. The Buccaneers have a stout run defense. Once the injuries in their secondary heal they will definitely be the team to beat again if they aren't already. New Orleans: They didn't seem to miss Drew Brees last season. They miss him this season. I don't see the Saints making a playoff run with a QB combination of Trevor Siemian/Taysom Hill throwing to below average wide receivers. Atlanta: The Falcons never fully recovered from blowing the Super Bowl to the Patriots. They are 22-34 the past four years, including 4-4 this season. Atlanta is in no-man's land. Not a bottom feeder, but not a playoff team either. Matt Ryan is 36. I don't see a quick fix working for them. Carolina: There's some outstanding young defensive talent on this team. It doesn't matter. Even if Christian McCaffrey is back to 100 percent, the Panthers aren't ever going to win this division until they find the right quarterback. Sam Darnold is injured and seeing ghosts again. He has a 4-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his last six games. NFC WestArizona: The league's biggest surprise at 8-1. I don't see the Cardinals keeping this up with Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins both banged-up. Los Angeles Rams: I like the Rams' all-in approach. Matthew Stafford finally is with the right team with the right coach. Cooper Kupp has been the league's best wide receiver so far. Aaron Donald is the No. 1 defensive lineman in the NFC if not all of football. Jalen Ramsey is in the argument for being the top cornerback. That's serious star power.Seattle: The Seahawks are poised to make a move with Russell Wilson back from his thumb injury. This is a team that never should be counted out. San Francisco: Kyle Shanahan is the most overrated coach in the league. The 49ers are 3-5 and have yet to play the Rams. San Francisco hasn't beaten an above .500 team. The 49ers' three victories occurred versus the Lions, Eagles and Bears whose combined record is 6-20. If they lose at home to the Rams on Monday it's time to begin the Trey Lance era. 

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The Reason NBA Totals Are Going Under

by Wayne Root

Thursday, Nov 04, 2021

Give us that Corporate Money! Wilson is believed to be paying between $25 million and $35 million annually for the NBA contract to supply basketballs. Chicago-based Wilson is part of Amer Sports, which was acquired in 2019 by an ownership consortium including ANTA Sports, China’s largest sportswear brand. “Certainly the NBA is extremely cognizant of the importance of China to its long-term growth,” said Jon Bogert, the editor and publisher of Sporting Goods Intelligence, a publication that tracks the industry. “ANTA has a huge retail footprint in China.  Give us that Easy Cash!Why is this news a concern to all NBA sports bettors? There are 30 NBA teams and few are scoring points as in the past few seasons so far. Of the thirty teams, only four are + 2 wins to the over. There are four other teams that are +1 to the over but with juice, the bettors are losing. Betting over the total has only been profitable to four or thirty NBA teams.  How to take Advantage The other 20 teams are all losing if you bet the over. Twelve teams have only gone over the posted total 2 times with eight teams at one or none. Betting the under on these 22 teams has huge positive results to the betting gambler. Betting game to go under the spread is making gamblers a fortune. The Reason Games are Falling Under the TotalAnd there are legitimate reasons. The grooves on these new basketballs are different. The leather is not tanned exactly the same way as Spaulding did for 37 years. The feel of the ball seems different. More teams are shooting three point shots and those shots are 100% about feel. When they don’t feel right coming off your fingers, that’s a disaster. Something that takes time to get used to change whether real or imagined.  Oddsmakers have not Currently Adjusted Lines on TotalsThe oddsmakers are still making lines based on the last two year averages which in long term ends up close to 50/50 by years end. The average owner/under set is around 220. The average final is about 210 thus far. The oddsmakers will start to trend the opening total downward but they are typical slow to change.  As from the Manufacture“The biggest thing is to get the balls broken in and get the players comfortable with the ball, and it’s the first time in 37 years that an NBA team is starting a season with new balls that they have to break in.” Additionally quoted; “So that’s been the one thing that I think everybody recognizes and acknowledges so there are no complaints about the ball, it’s more like, ‘Gosh I got to get it broken in. I got to get it broken in before it feels good.’ From Players and Teams‘The ball feels OK but it needs to get broken in.’ And on the plus side they’re saying things like, it seems to be breaking in quicker than the other guys’ did and stuff like that so some coaches are quoted as saying; “I’m cautiously optimistic and excited.” Lastly, Reminder for the FutureAs the players get used to the feel of the Wilson basketball, there will be a cross point with a rise in scoring and an adjustment to lower opening point spreads by the oddsmakers. Our charts will certainly be zoomed into that data as should yours if you do your on handicapping of NBA totals.   In Closing,We think that this tip and others like it help educate and illustrate that the professional handicappers provide winners and reason why bets win and sports gambling is profitable. 

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