Sunday Night Football: Large spread favors Seahawks over Panthers

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Based on each team’s history with large lines, Russell Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks and Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers might be in for a tight game. The Seahawks opened as a 6.5-point favorite against the visiting Panthers for the Sunday night matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Seattle is 7-2 straight-up and 6-3 against the spread in their last nine games as a favorite of 6.5 points or more, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, and all three ATS losses have come in the past 12 months. By the same token, Carolina is 2-5-1 SU but 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight outings where oddsmakers spotted them 6.5 or more points.

Carolina, at 4-7 SU and 3-6-2 SU, is having a post-Super Bowl malaise. The convenient narrative that their offensive line was exposed during the Super Bowl 50 defeat against the Denver Broncos is backed up statistically, as Newton has been sacked 27 times.

The Seahawks, with their combo of DE Cliff Avril and DE Michael Bennett, should be able to exert some edge pressure. While WR Kelvin Benjamin can expect to have CB Richard Sherman in his face, Seattle FS Earl Thomas (hamstring) and CB DeShawn Shead (hamstring) are nearing a return to the lineup.

The playmaking of Newton, along with creative use of slippery WR Ted Ginn, are wild cards for Carolina, which is 3-0-1 ATS on the NFL betting lines in its last four games against Seattle. Jonathan Stewart, along with Newton, gives Carolina stable rushing output.

Seattle is 7-3-1 SU and 5-5-1 ATS as it vies to regain the NFC West title. Carolina is third in the NFL in sacks, thanks in large part to OLB Thomas Davis, DE Mario Addison and DT Star Lotulelei, so they stand a good chance of containing Wilson. The Panthers’ chances will also improve if MLB Luke Kuechly and SS Kurt Coleman each complete concussion protocol and return to solidify the second level of their defense.

The Seahawks offense is inconsistent but certainly not wanting for weapons in the passing phase, as WR Doug Baldwin and TE Jimmy Graham are facing the NFL’s 29th-ranked pass defense. The Seahawks are almost as bad (27th) at running the ball; Thomas Rawls is the starter mostly by default with promising C.J. Prosise (scapula) injured.

The total has gone OVER in nine of the Panthers’ last 10 games as road underdogs. The total has gone OVER in the Panthers’ last three games against the Seahawks

Drew Brees, Le’Veon Bell Favorites in NFL Season Leader Props

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When it comes to betting props on NFL individual leaders, the tried-and-true works for picking a passing yards leader while rushing and receiving leaders are a little more random.

With training camps set to open in a matter of days, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a +300 favorite to lead the NFL in passing yards at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Brees has led (or co-led) the NFL in aerial yards five times in the last six seasons, with the lone exception coming in 2013 when Peyton Manning complied a NFL-record 5,477.

Brees will still have Willie Snead and Michael Thomas as outlets for his passes and, assuming the Saints’ defense stays near the bottom of the league, will have the opportunity to get into a few offensive shootouts.

The Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan (+400) and New England Patriots’ Tom Brady (+500) are the next two on the board. Ryan and the Falcons are likely to face a tougher schedule than what it turned out they had in 2016. Brady has only led the NFL in yards once, in 2007, and would be the oldest player to do so if he succeeds this season.

Based on 2016 won-loss records, the Indianapolis Colts and QB Andrew Luck (+1400) have the easiest schedule in the league, which could lead to Luck putting up some big numbers against softer competition. Another valid darkhorse play is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston (+1600), since he will have a 1-2 punch at receiver with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson and a team that still relies on being pass-heavy.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell (+300) and Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott (+350) are tightly bunched atop the NFL rushing champion futures board. Bell will no doubt be among the leaders in yards from scrimmage per game, but he’s only played 16 games once in four seasons. While there hasn’t been a back-to-back rushing leader in 10 years, Elliott will be running behind an excellent Dallas offensive line.

The Los Angeles Rams’ third-year workhorse Todd Gurley (+2000) will be in a new offensive system and, hopefully for the Rams, will be better complemented by second-year QB Jared Goff in the passing phase. That would give Gurley a fairer shot at breaking big runs on the regular.

Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (+400) and Atlanta’s Julio Jones (+400) are co-favorites on the odds to tally the most receiving yards, with the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham (+500) also coming in highly touted. Brown had two fewer targets per game in 2016 than in ’15, meaning he might be a less high-volume receiver now that he is 29. Jones has a receiving title from 2015, but last season the Falcons were most efficient when they spread the ball around.

Last year, the Indianapolis Colts’ T.Y. Hilton (+1200 this year) led the league in yards after being listed at +3300 in the preseason. Among the potential 2017 replicants are New England’s Brandin Cooks (+3300), who is expected to be the field-stretching target the Patriots have managed to do without since the Randy Moss days a decade ago. The aforementioned Mike Evans (+1200) is also close to a sure thing to get 11-12 targets per game in Tampa Bay and the continued development of Winston could make him a 1,500-yard receiver.

The last 12 league leaders in receiving yardage have been less than 30 years old at the start of the season. That trend has been consistent dating to the mid-1990s, with 19 of the last 21 receiving leaders being players who were no older than 29 at the start of the season.

Internet reacts to O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing

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In case you weren’t aware, O.J. Simpson was granted parole and the internet went crazy.

Cue hilarious tweets.