Packers underdogs against the Falcons in NFC Championship game

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The best defense is an unstoppable offense, and Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons simply haven’t been stopped when they are a healthy favorite.

The Falcons are listed as five-point favorites against red-hot Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers with an eye-popping 60-point total on the NFL lines for the NFC Championship Game at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

It is the sixth time this season the Falcons have given between 3.5 and 6.0 points, and while they are 3-2 straight-up and against the spread in that scenario they scored at least 28 points every time.

While the Falcons have to turn around some negative trends – such as 1-6 SU in their last seven games against the NFC North, according to the OddsShark NFL Database – it’s doubtful any collapse would be attributable to their offense.

The Packers, who are 12-6 SU and 10-7-1 ATS, have relied on Rodgers and his stellar pass protection to shred opposing defenses during their eight-win streak. It seems the only way to contain Rodgers is to blitz him. Although OLB Vic Beasley had 15.5 sacks in the regular season, the Falcons play straight defense more frequently than the NFL average.

It’s possible the Packers could repeat the scenario of recent weeks, with Rodgers getting scads of time to wait for a receiver to get open. That is contingent on the health of those receivers. Leading receiver Jordy Nelson (ribs) is a remote shot to play while Davante Adams (ankle), Geronimo Allison (leg), Jeff Janis (quadriceps) are each banged up.

Both RB Ty Montgomery and TE Jared Cook have become reliable cogs for the Packers since their loss to the Falcons last week. Atlanta does not have an overly strong run defense.

The Falcons, who are 12-5 SU and 11-6 ATS, do have to be concerned with how many snaps WR Julio Jones (toe) will be able to play on Sunday. The true linchpins in Atlanta’s attack, though, are RB Tevin Coleman and RB Devonta Freeman, whose versatility as ball carriers and receivers has to be accounted for at all times.

The Falcons are very physical in the rushing phase and it will be interesting to see whether the Packers are up to it after so many do-or-done games, including last week’s instant classic against Dallas where they gave up 125 yards to the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott.

Jones, WR Taylor Gabriel and WR Mohamed Sanu are facing a Packers pass defense that has struggled all season. Green Bay was among the NFL leaders in sacks, but the Falcons’ continuity along the offensive line (all five starters have been intact all season) should help them with making adjustments.

The favored team is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in the last three years in conference championship games.  The total has gone over in seven of the last 10 conference championship games.

NFL Draft Betting Value Rests Beyond Browns’ No. 1 Overall Pick

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The only certainty on the morning of the 2018 NFL draft is that the Cleveland Browns, with the No. 1 and 4 overall picks, will take a quarterback – which has created a ripple effect on other betting props.

Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold is the -180 favorite to be the No. 1 overall choice in the 2018 NFL draft that takes begins in Arlington, Texas on Thursday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The other players in the No. 1 pick prop include three other quarterbacks, Wyoming’s Josh Allen (+175), Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield (+450) and UCLA’s Josh Rosen (+1800), plus Penn State running back Saquon Barkley (+600) and North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb (+4500).

Quarterbacks have been taken No. 1 in 12 of the last 17 drafts and no running back has been the top pick since 1995. Darnold’s price might reflect an expectation that his skillset is most in tune with conventional NFL thinking. If a bettor believes the Browns will buck convention, well, Allen is believed to have better physical tools and there is the Hail Mary option of Mayfield, whose competitiveness and athleticism is offset by being short for a NFL quarterback.

The quarterback-at-No. 1 argument adds values to other props. Barkley (+175) has the lowest price but is still plus money as the No. 2 overall selection on the 2018 NFL draft betting props board. The New York Giants have that pick and general manager Dave Gettleman does not have a history of trading down at the draft. The Giants haven’t indicated a focus on a QB, which seemingly rules out Darnold (+275), Allen (+350) and Rosen (+400).

The New York Jets are a lock to take a quarterback, creating a very tight No. 3 overall prop between Rosen (+140) and Mayfield (+160). The play there depends on what type of risk bettors believe the Jets want to take on: with Mayfield, the only knock is his height (a smidge about 6-foot), while Rosen battled concussions in college.

Between the Browns also holding the No. 4 choice and the Denver Broncos possibly trading down from No. 5, the +225 price on whether one of the first five picks will be traded is a very enticing proposition. The Buffalo Bills are one of the quarterback-hungry teams with two first-round picks they could ante to move up in the draft order, while speculation also has the New England Patriots looking to move up, since Tom Brady presumably will not play forever.

Position props can also be great fun. The over/under on quarterbacks selected in the first round is 5.5. Only once – the famed John Elway-Jim Kelly-Dan Marino draft in 1983 – have six QBs gone in the first round. Tying that record would require both Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph to go in the first round. The over/under on Jackson’s draft slot is 17.5

It is considered a thin year for elite wide receivers, so the -150 under on the 2.5 total seems like the percentage play. Teams have been wary of using first-rounders on running backs in recent years, but the total is only 1.5, making the -220 over a realistic hit since, after Barkley goes, only one team would have to take a chance on a back such as Louisiana State’s Derrius Guice or Georgia’s Sony Michel.

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

 

 

Best ads from Super Bowl LII

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The best Super Bowl ads made us laugh, cry, and audibly wonder how much a trip to Australia would cost.

Here are some of the best ads from Super Bowl LII:

GOAT Ad: Doritos, Mountain Dew collaboration with Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman rapping Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott

Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman in any Super Bowl commercial was going to be epic, but having them RAP (lip sync, obviously) Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott?! That was what Super Bowl commercials are made for.

Leaving on a Jet Plane: Australia Tourism

It’s cold on the East Coast right now and Australia looks nice and warm, so this ad should move Australia to the next spot on your vacation list. The ad referenced a “remake” of ‘Crocodile Dundee’ with Chris Hemsworth and Danny McBride, the incredible Australian wine, and stunning beaches.

Laugh Out Loud: NFL’s Dirty Dancing tribute ad

Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. had the time of their lives during Super Bowl LII, paying tribute to Dirty Dancing’s famous dance routine and acrobatic leap done by Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze.

You are, you’re a Superstar… commercial: Amazon

Amazon brought the star power to their Amazon Echo spot, with Gordon Ramsey, Cardi B, Leslie Jones, Rebel Wilson and Anthony Hopkins, filling in for a voiceless Amazon Alexa.

Get the tissues: Hyundai

Hyundai’s ad where car buyers meeting cancer patients that they helped by purchasing a car hit you right in the feels. It was obvious that every parent was on the edge of tears while watching the videos of patients saying thank you.

If you want to watch all of the Super Bowl ads, check them out here.