NFL’s burning questions generate betting props at the sportsbooks

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The revolving door that is the Cleveland Browns quarterback job and props predicated on whether brilliant but sometimes brittle superstars Rob Gronkowski and J.J. Watt can stay healthy comprise some of the best NFL preseason betting props.

With the Browns holding what is tantamount to an open competition for their quarterback job, Cody Kessler is the -165 favorite on a prop based on who will be Cleveland’s Week 1 starter at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Kessler started eight games in 2016 before his season was cut short by a brain injury, and he’s been demoted in practice. Brock Osweiler (+130), whom the Houston Texans essentially paid the Browns to take off their hands, does have starting experience and has started so far in the preseason. Osweiler might be the safe pick for Cleveland coach Hue Jackson and bettors alike.

However, rookie DeShone Kizer (+800) out of Notre Dame offers the best value and has been splitting first-team reps at practice. But most teams are loath to start a rookie right away unless forced to by injury, like the Dallas Cowboys with Dak Prescott after Tony Romo got hurt in 2016.

Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt (+250) is the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year after an injury-shortened season that led to two back surgeries. Two other pass rushers extraordinaire, the Oakland Raiders DE Khalil Mack (+400) and Denver Broncos OLB Von Miller (+400), are also high on the board.

If Watt is able to play a full season, he’s a reasonable chalk pick, especially since he should have a lot of sack opportunities going against some weak pass blocking groups in the AFC South, as well as the NFC West, the division’s cross-over opponent.

Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald (+1200) will likely sign at some point and join what is a very strong D. While only three interior linemen have won DPOY in the last 40 years, Donald is just that good, though. No player on a losing team has won since recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Jason Taylor (2006 Miami Dolphins).

The total on how many games Gronkowski will play is 10.5, with over at -150 and the under pegged at +120. Gronkowski has played half the regular season or less twice in the last four years. The law of averages would push one toward the over; “Gronk” has never had two shortened seasons in a row.

Last but not least, the Washington Redskins’ failure to lock down QB Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal has led to oddsmakers taking bets on where Cousins will play in 2018. The San Francisco 49ers (+175) are favored, with Washington (+300) high on the board. The Miami Dolphins (+2000) might be in play as a darkhorse with starter Ryan Tannehill out for the season with a torn ACL.

The New York Jets (+2500) have the highest available price, but chances are they will look for their next QB in the 2018 draft.

NFL Thanksgiving Day betting guide: Odds, trends for trio of matchups

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Whether the Dallas Cowboys can break both their funk and a trend of failing to cover against sub-.500 teams might hinge largely on the status of one man – left tackle Tyron Smith.

The Cowboys host a pick-’em on Thursday against the Los Angeles Chargers with a 48-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The OddsShark NFL Database notes that the Cowboys are an underwhelming 4-12 against the spread in their last 16 home games against teams with losing records like Los Angeles, so having Smith (back/groin) return from a two-game absence will be paramount against a Chargers team that has one of the NFL’s best pass rushes, led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

The Chargers are 4-6 straight-up and 5-4-1 ATS, but with veteran QB Philip Rivers’ savvy they are good on short weeks, sporting a 4-1 ATS mark in their last five Thursday games. The Cowboys, who are 5-5 both SU and ATS, could impose their will on the Chargers in the rushing phase. Alfred Morris has been a bright spot with Ezekiel Elliott injured, and Dallas leads the NFL in yards per rush while Los Angeles gives up the most yards per rush.

The total has gone over in three of the Chargers’ last four games against the Cowboys. The total has gone over in seven of the Cowboys’ last nine games in the late afternoon.

Earlier on Thursday, the Minnesota Vikings are three-point road favorites against the Detroit Lions, with a 44.5 total.

The Vikings are 8-2 SU and 6-4 ATS, and bettors will have to decide whether to give more weight toward their head-to-head showing against the Lions – 0-3 SU in their last three – or a 6-0 SU streak that began after a Week 4 home loss against Detroit. The favored team is just 3-9 ATS in the last 12 games of this matchup. The Lions, who QB Matthew Stafford has led to a 6-4 SU and 5-4-1 ATS record, have shown a tendency to hit their stride in late November. They are 8-0 SU and ATS in their last eight home games in November.

The total has gone under in seven of the last eight games in this matchup.

And the Washington Redskins are set as 7.5-point favorites against the New York Giants, with a 44.5 total in the primetime matchup on Thursday.

The main question with the Giants and QB Eli Manning, who are 2-8 SU and 4-6 ATS, is whether they maintain the same urgency they had in Week 11 when they upset the Kansas City Chiefs, assuaging the pressure on head coach Ben McAdoo. The form suggests that’s unlikely, as New York is 2-7-1 ATS in its last 10 road games. The Redskins, who are 4-6 both SU and ATS, should rate a good shot at putting up a point total somewhere in the high 20s, since QB Kirk Cousins is playing well and RB Samaje Perrine looks like a ready-made replacement for the injured Chris Thompson.

The total has gone under in eight of the Giants’ last 11 games against the Redskins. Whether that trend holds will come down to the chess match between the Giants offense (30th in scoring) and Redskins defense (31st in scoring defense).

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

Eagles, Wentz Big Favorites Against Depleted Cowboys on Sunday Night

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Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles go into a road team-dominated rivalry game on Sunday night against a Dallas Cowboys opponent that struggles as a home underdog

The Eagles are listed as 4.5-point road favorites against the Cowboys with a 48-point total for the Week 11 Sunday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The visiting team is 6-2 straight-up in its last eight games in this NFC East matchup and 8-3 against the spread in the last 11. Dallas, which will not have key performers such as RB Ezekiel Elliott (suspension), LT Tryon Smith (groin, back) and LB Sean Lee (hamstring), is also an inauspicious 2-8 SU and 4-4-2 ATS in its last 10 games as the underdog at AT&T Stadium.

The first priority for the Eagles, who are 8-1 SU and 7-2 ATS, will be making sure RT Lane Johnson can contain DE Demarcus Lawrence, who already has 11.5 sacks. That’s easier said than done, but the Eagles have myriad rushing and short-passing threats they can use to slow up the Cowboys’ pass rush. Lee often shadows tight ends and running backs. If Philly’s leading receiver, TE Zach Ertz (hamstring, probable) is good to go, then the Eagles should have a well-balanced passing game.

The Cowboys give up a below-average 4.3 yards per rush and DT Maliek Collins (foot) could be missing from the interior of the front seven. Every bit of extra yardage the likes of Jay Ajayi grinds out will help Philadelphia, which is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in its last six games as a favorite of 5.0 or fewer points, avoid the obvious passing downs where Lawrence can tee off with a speed rush.

The Cowboys, who are 5-4 both SU and ATS, will need their second-year QB Dak Prescott to carry the load with his passing. Leading receiver Dez Bryant (ankle) will likely tough it out, but Philadelphia permits only 6.6 yards per pass (ninth in the NFL) and the pass coverage should get shored up by the return of CB Ronald Darby (ankle), who has been out for a month.

With no Elliott to hit the holes or Smith to open them, it’s hard to see how Dallas’ ground game will get traction against an elite Eagles defensive line fortified by DT Fletcher Cox and DE Brandon Graham. Philly allows only 3.6 yards per rush.

The total has gone over in six of the Eagles’ last eight games, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The total has gone under in nine of the Cowboys’ last 11 games as an underdog.

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.