Patriots looking to break slump for betting favorites at Super Bowl LI

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With their vast collective edge in Super Bowl experience, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are favored against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, although that’s not always a harbinger of success.

The Patriots opened as the three-point favorite against the Falcons with a 58.5-point total in the Super Bowl LI matchup, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The NFL’s championship game will be played on February 5 at NRG Stadium in Houston, with Brady trying to become the first quarterback with five Super Bowl victories while the Falcons will try to win their first championship.

The favored team is 0-5 straight-up and against the spread in the last five Super Bowl matchups, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The Patriots are also 1-4 ATS in their last five games in the Super Bowl, although three of those matchups saw them raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The other general trend is that the designated away team is 8-2 SU in the last 10 years, and New England will be considered the away team, just as it was when it defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX two seasons ago.

The Falcons, who are 13-5 SU and 12-6 ATS, have lost and failed to cover the spread in their last four games against the Patriots. The Falcons are also 5-12 ATS in their last 17 games against the AFC. A team’s more recent body of work can have more bearing than a sample stretching beyond a decade, though, and with Ryan as the triggerman in their well-balanced offense the Falcons are 6-2 SU and 7-1 ATS in their last eight games as an underdog.

They are also 6-2 SU and ATS in their last eight games against teams with winning records.

The Patriots are 16-2 SU and 15-3 ATS on the season, including a current 7-0 ATS run. New England’s ability to peak at the right time is not overestimated either, as they are 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS over the last three postseasons. They are also 6-1 SU in their last seven playoff games as a favorite, with the loss coming last season in the AFC Championship Game on the road against the Denver Broncos, who had a historically dominant defense.

The Patriots are 13-4 SU against the NFC over the last four seasons. The opposing quarterbacks of record for the losses were Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Sam Bradford and Cam Newton.

The total has gone OVER in the Falcons’ last eight games. The total has gone OVER in six of the Patriots’ last seven games against teams with winning records. The total has gone UNDER in three of the Patriots’ last four games in the Super Bowl.

Broncos favored on road against Colts for Thursday Night Football

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In a prime-time matchup between inconsistent teams that are playing for pride, bettors might want to zone in on who could be motivated to break some negative betting trends.

The Denver Broncos are listed as a 2.5-point road favorite against the Colts with a 51.5-point total for the NFL Week 15 Thursday Night Football matchup, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

It has been more than a full 365 days since the Broncos, who are 0-8 straight-up and against the spread in their last eight road games, have won away from home. Getting a struggling Colts team on a short week would seem like a golden opportunity for the Broncos to get off the schneid, although Indianapolis is 5-2 ATS in its last seven games after consecutive losses.

The Broncos are also 0-6 SU and ATS in their last six games in Indianapolis, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, but all of those were with Peyton Manning quarterbacking one team or the other. Both teams’ identities have changed dramatically in the last two seasons, and not for the better.

The Broncos, who are 4-9 SU and 3-9-1 ATS, have a promising matchup in the passing phase for a change. Wideout Demaryius Thomas (four TDs in the last six games) is on a tear and the Colts come in allowing an NFL-worst 8.2 yards per pass and missing starting CBs Nate Hairston (concussion) and Rashaan Melvin (hand). Quarterback Trevor Siemian is also coming off a turnover-free game against the New York Jets in Week 14.

Denver has shut down RG Ron Leary (back) for the season, so it’s unclear how much one should expect from RB C.J. Anderson and the running game. Of course, Denver really only needs its offense to produce 2-3 scoring drives a game and not leave OLB Von Miller and the defense in perilous positions.

The Colts, who are 3-10 SU and 6-7 ATS, are struggling to keep pass rushers off young QB Jacoby Brissett and have allowed an NFL-worst 52 sacks. That hardly seems auspicious going into a matchup against Miller and other pass rushers such as DE Shelby Harris and OLB Shaquil Barrett.

With Chris Harris and Aqib Talib on the corners for Denver, it is hard to foresee a breakout from No. 1 WR T.Y. Hilton, whom Brissett has struggled to connect with in recent games. The outlook is much better for TE Jack Doyle against a Broncos defense that does struggle covering inside receivers, so if Indianapolis is to win, it might come through Brissett and Doyle cashing in on any and all red-zone visits. Denver tied for the league worst with 26 touchdown passes allowed.

The Colts face a tough matchup in the rushing phase. Denver allows a league-low 3.3 yards per rush, and Indianapolis will have to spot RB Frank Gore after he had 36 rushes in ankle-deep snow against Buffalo last Sunday.

One should read very little into the Broncos being 8-2 SU and ATS in their last 10 Thursday games and the Colts being an even more sterling 11-1 SU and 10-2 ATS in their last 12 Thursday contests. Both teams have tailed off considerably in the last two seasons.

The total has gone under in six of the Broncos’ last seven games against teams with losing records. The total has also gone under in nine of the Colts’ last 11 games.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com

Rams’ Whitworth rewards local students with bikes

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Los Angeles Rams’ Andrew Whitworth celebrated his 36th birthday in an unconventional way this year. Instead of receiving gifts, the offensive tackle donated nearly 600 bikes and helmets to Grape Street Elementary School in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Whitworth had 18-wheelers deliver the gifts and was in attendance to tell the children the good news.

In order to not leave any Walmart without bikes ahead of the holiday season, Whitworth went to multiple stores.

The children returned the favor by giving Whitworth a cake and singing him “Happy Birthday.”

Whitworth is in his first year in Los Angeles after signing a three-year contract with the Rams earlier this year. The 12-year veteran’s charity, the Big Whit 77 Foundation,  partners with students to challenge them to get good grades.