Almost On The Clock: Philadelphia Eagles Will Use This Month’s NFL Draft To Address Many Needs

Here is a closer look at this year’s NFL Draft betting picture, including what the Philadelphia Eagles may do with the 12th overall pick. 

Psst. The NFL Draft is rapidly approaching. The first round is April 29, against the backdrop of a sweeping, industry-wide bonus.

Wagering on the draft kicks off a new, expanded season for NJ online sports bettors. The NFL launches a 17-game campaign by removing a preseason week and stretching the Super Bowl hoopla into mid-February. The Big Game will be Feb. 13, making the NFL longer and the winter shorter.

NJ online sportsbooks win and so doo bettors. And it starts soon.

Amid this euphoria, bettors hone their handicapping focus for the April 29 “season opener.”

The three-day event is taking place in Cleveland from April 29-May 1.

Here is a close look at this year’s NFL Draft betting picture, including what the Philadelphia Eagles may do with the 12th overall pick.

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NFL Draft first-round betting

DraftKings Sportsbook numbers suggest the first round will yield at least five quarterback and wide-receiver selections, along with four or five cornerbacks.

But who? And when?

The Philadelphia Eagles have dropped from the sixth spot to No. 12, but what does it mean regarding their first-round selection.

“We’ve been taking money all along, but it’s going to get very serious as we head toward that final week leading up to the draft,” Johnny Avello, the race and sportsbook director for DraftKings told NJ Gambling Sites.

“That’s also when you are going to see those mock drafts tighten up. They can afford to be looser right now, but that will change.”

Philadelphia Eagles already making headlines

The Birds have been re-configured at 6.5 wins on the over-under at DraftKings in the 17-game format.  The over is favored at -134. These numbers suggest a slight uptick from the 4 -11-1 campaign over 16 games last year but project a non-playoff team.

The Eagles also engaged in the biggest swap blockbuster of the draft.  They moved to 12th after waging an administrative flea-flicker with the Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers.

The play began with San Francisco trading up from 12 to 3 with Miami, feeding the perception that Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has become unwelcome.

The deals profoundly impacted the overall third draft pick selection, making quarterbacks the focus.

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones suddenly shot to -200 as the first player to be taken with the third pick at DraftKings.  Justin Fields (Ohio State) at +250 and Trey Lance (North Dakota State) at +300 are viable, and well-priced.

These quarterbacks emerged on the board because the Dolphins, who had no intention of drafting one due to their commitment to Tua Tagovailoa, opened the door for a team that may want one.

Miami could fill other needs at a lower draft spot and collect more draft picks.  So, they did that with the 49ers deal and then used some excess picks to trade with the Eagles.

That’s where the big play came to involve the Birds.

Here’s the swap:

Analyzing the Eagles-Dolphins deal

The Dolphins remain in a position to draft a star receiver for Tagovailoa. That list includes LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, Alabama’s DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle.

The Eagles moved down six spots in the first round, moved up 33 spots on Day 3, and picked up Miami’s first-round pick next year.

That could become the best part of the strategy.  Multiple first-round picks are an excellent way to build a team or gain leverage in pursuit of a star.

Getting a first-rounder next year becomes partial compensation for the Eagles failing to pry a first-round pick from the Indianapolis Colts in the recent Carson Wentz trade.

The move down, in exchange for picks, was an excellent one if the Eagles address a core need  — the offensive line.

Rashawn Slater of Northwestern, would plug a big hole at offensive guard or tackle with his 6-foot-4, 304-pound frame. You build a house with infrastructure, and you build an offense around good protection.

The Eagles surrendered the most sacks in the NFL last year, more than four per game, and Wentz threw the most interceptions.

Part of this decision could rest on whether the Eagles want Jalen Hurts to reduce his scrambling and perfect the pocket.

Christian Darrisaw of Virginia Tech is another strong consideration. One or both of these players is going to be available at No. 12.

I think this is the spot they should fill.

The 2020 Tampa Bay Bucs are the perfect example of how this is a great spot. They had the No. 13 pick last year  and selected Tristan Wirfs to protect Tom Brady. They won a Super Bowl and Wirfs played a part

Other NFL Draft prospects  who will be mentioned

Would Heisman Trophy-winning receiver DeVonta Smith fall this far?

There may be some reluctance for teams to grab Smith, who could be considered frail at 170 pounds. If you like the explosiveness angle, he could be reminiscent of a Tyreek Hill.

Jaycee Horn, a cornerback from South Carolina, would fill yet another hole in the defense.

New York Jets follow Eagles path

Just as the Eagles peddled Wentz, the Jets recently sent Sam Darnold, their first pick and third overall selection in 2018, to the Carolina Panthers for picks, picks, picks.

The move officially anointed the Zach Wilson era. The Jets will take him with the second selection.

Darnold yielded the Jets three picks: a sixth-rounder this year, and a second-rounder and fourth-rounder in 2022.

The Jets’ makeover included allowing Darnold’s backup Joe Flacco to sign with the Eagles as a backup to Hurts.

NFL Draft wagering nugget

It’s hard to find value with obvious picks. But a borderline consideration is Penei Sewell, the top offensive lineman who will be drafted.

DraftKings lists him at -143 for a Top 5 selection. Iffy on the odds, but he is practically cemented to No. 5 for the Cincinnati Bengals, who must protect their future, quarterback Joe Burrow. The top pick in last year’s draft played as advertised until being injured while sacked and he missed the last six games.

Some bettors will take the -150 and slam it. Others will shop for a better price. In either case, keep it on your radar.

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Tee Time: Different Ways To Bet The Masters At NJ Online Sportsbooks

Tiger Woods will be missing from The Masters, but NJ sportsbooks are ready to go with another round of excellent betting odds and props.

The early bird catches the prop and other betting axioms surround the fabled Masters Tournament at New Jersey online sportsbooks.

The assemblage of top golfers and past champions for the PGA’s first 2021 major runs Thursday-Sunday. The golf betting festival includes early-morning start times, hole-by-hole results, individual matchups, and final results.

Major sportsbooks offer a strong menu and excellent betting odds for this tournament from Augusta National Golf  Club in Georgia.

Who are the favorites to win The Masters?

At DraftKings Sportsbook, 2020 champion Dustin Johnson, is +950 to win. And, as of Tuesday morning, he is +220 for a top-five finish and +100 for the Top 10.

He set a Masters record of 20 under par in November.  Is he a Masters’ master or did he prefer the rare, COVID-19 induced fall schedule over the spring tourney?

The next four golfers range between +1100 and +1250 on the win line, pay +275 for a Top-5 and +125 for a Top-10 finish.

They include:

Bryson DeChambeau, always a victory threat at +1150.

Jordan Spieth, +1150, won last week’s tournament in Texas, rides the momentum of recent form to Augusta. Spieth would be a strong consideration to play well here.

In seven Masters appearances, Spieth has a win, two second-place finishes, and a third.

Justin Thomas (+1150) and Jon Rahm (+1200), two of the sport’s biggest names, round out the top-five favorites.

Johnny Avello, director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told NJ Gambling Sites that “this is some of the best betting value in the sport of golf.”

“Some guys will get very high prices because there is so much talent here that everybody is being bet,” said Avello.

“Where else are you going to get the favorite, at +950? Some bettors go deeper on the board and there’s Rory McIlroy in the high teens, Brooks Koepka at +2800, and players like Paul Casey (+3500) and Lee Westwood (+5000) are getting action.”

What about past champs?

The 2018 winner Patrick Reed is +3500 to win, +600 for the Top 5, and +300 for the Top 10.

Sergio Garcia, the 2017 champion, is +6000 to triumph, +1000 for Top 5, and +450 for the Top 10.

Here is how to watch the 2021 Masters:

  • Thursday and Friday: 3-7:30 p.m., ESPN 
  • Saturday: 3-7 p.m., CBS 
  • Sunday: 2-7 p.m., CBS 

Masters betting strategies

There are several ways to wager on the 2021 Masters at NJ online sportsbooks.

One is to take the possible gimme promo that DraftKings is offering new users. Basically, a $1 wager could turn into $100 by Sunday. All it takes is to bet on any golfer to make the top 10.

But in order to tee off on this promo, new users will need to create an account and make at least a $5 deposit. NJ bettors will be issued one single-use odds boost to use for any player to reach the Top 10. The bet must be placed before the Thursday morning start.

Select the boost from your bet slip before placing the wager to apply the boosted price. This bet excludes live bets, parlays, free bets, cash out bets, and voided bets.

This is hardly a no-brainer, but payouts far exceed the near even-money odds on a chalk.

No Tiger Woods, but Tiger mania returns

Woods took the 2019 Masters by storm, encouraging books to offer multiple props on him. Especially his score on every hole en route to his fifth Green Jacket.

“No player is bigger than the tournament itself, but we can certainly credit Tiger Woods for the evolution of how the game is wagered upon now,” Avello said. “People tuned in to bet Tiger and watch Tiger.”

The prop bets he inspired now extend to much of the field, creating an in-game prop-betting paradise.

Most holes end in par and betting odds reflect that. The best wagering opportunities come in predicting birdies and bogeys when betting a player’s next-hole score.

There are seven holes in which birdies and bogeys were prominent in the 2020 Masters. This is where some money can be made.

Let’s first look at the best birdie chances.

Holes two, eight, and 15, all par 5s, are reachable in two shots. The second also has an opening in front of the green. There will be many eagle putts and players settling for birdie. According to 2020 statistics, these holes yielded the most Masters birdies.

But there are bogey possibilities, too.

The 11th is a long, 505-yard par 4. It has a stroke average of 4.35.

The 12th is a 155-yard par 3 with a putting surface protected by a large creek in front and a sand trap in the back.

The 17th and 18th holes, par 4s, summon pressure. They play harder than the holes look and have two of the highest bogey totals from 2020.

Birdies and bogeys? They add up to bucks.

Take a player at different odds points

Bettors readily load up on NFL games, which normally return -110 on both sides for the standard spread wager.

You’ll find a golfer listed around 40th for that price here.  It’s good odds management to take a player at those odds, giving yourself a large cushion to cash a bet. As an aside, taking that player in the Top 30, Top 20 or even Top 10 is viable, with a different-sized wager.

But in playing the percentages, it’s prudent to give yourself 40 spots. Or at least 30.

William Hill + Masters props

If you’re in the market for Masters props, William Hill is another sportsbook with excellent selections.

Will Johnson and DeChambeau both card 69 or under in the opening round?

That’s +300 if they do.

There is a category for individual winners in matchups of three. Some even come in packages of two.

So take your favorite head-to-head battle and create a tournament. Call it a tournament within a tournament for yourself.

Some bettors will likely include Spieth. He opened at 50/1 and was as high as 60/1 back in early February.

“Spieth plays well in Augusta and now he’s back in great form,” said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill US. “Obviously he’s been on fire the past two months, so it’s not a surprise to see the masses going with him here. He’s the leader in the clubhouse right now in tickets and money.”

Bet MGM + Masters margin of victory

BetMGM incorporates the competitive nature of the event.

Try predicting how much the winner prevails.

Calling it a one-stroke margin pays +240. A correct two-stroke victory call is +400 and three strokes is +600.  A playoff is +350.

But before taking this wager, look back at every Masters between 2015 and ’19.  Each of them was decided by one stroke, with the exception of ’17, which resulted in a playoff.

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

March Madness Betting Buzz Continues With Tonight’s Gonzaga Baylor Championship Game

NJ online sportsbooks are serving up an appetizing March Madness wagering menu for tonight’s showdown between Baylor and undefeated Gonzaga.

March Madness betting season will conclude tonight with Gonzaga and Baylor squaring off for the National Championship.

How can New Jersey online bettors obtain action on tonight’s 2021 NCAA Tournament finale?

Just hit the books.

Expanded NJ online sportsbook menus satisfy any wagering appetite for tonight’s game.

Gonzaga-Baylor betting line

First, the basics. At DraftKings Sportsbook, Gonzaga -4.5 is an appealing line that is drawing interest from both sides. So is the over-under point total of 159. The moneyline of Baylor +155 is playable, while the -190 for Gonzaga is not.

Here’s how DraftKings bettors viewed the game 24 hours before the tipoff:

Baylor had 54% of the spread handle, while Gonzaga sported 59% of the bets.  This means that smaller wagers went on Gonzaga and bigger slams belonged to Baylor.

The under 159.5 (as of Sunday) received 61% of the money as the public believes this will be slightly lower-scoring than many of Gonzaga’s games.

Baylor also corralled 76% of the moneyline handle, which makes sense. There is little reason to pounce on the Gonzaga moneyline.

DraftKings + National Championship game promos

DraftKings customers may decide to roll with the razzle-dazzle promos specifically available for the Baylor-Gonzaga game.

Don’t want to lay 4.5 points with Gonzaga?

How about getting 4.5 points with the Bulldogs. That’s part of the Underdog Flip promo with a $25 maximum bet. Remember to select the boost in your bet slip before placing the bet to apply the boosted price.

New users get their piece of the action with an odds boost of 100-1. All it takes is a $5 deposit. Here are the basic rules:

  • Click the “choose now “ button on the  DraftKings Sportsbook promos page.
  • You will be issued a single-use 100-1 odds boost to use on either Gonzaga or Baylor in the National Championship game.
  • One bet per user
  • Max bet is $1

March Madness props menu

Looking for a creative props board to enhance the wagering selection?

There are several options for DraftKings customers.

One of them is which player will score the first bucket of the game. Here are some of the odds as of Monday morning:

  • Drew Timme of Gonzaga +350
  • Jared Butler of Baylor +450
  • Jalen Suggs of Gonzaga +500
  • MaCio Teague of Baylor +500

Another option is Baylor’s over-under for the first half. The line is 36.5 points, with the over at -117 and the under at -114.

Baylor’s game total is 77.5 with the over at -120 and the under at -107.

Gonzaga’s total is 39.5 for the first half, with -118 for the over and -125 for the under.

Gonzaga’s 81.5 game total carries -118 for the over and -108 for the under.

And what about bettors who can’t decide who wins or what the total score will be?

Take odds or evens for the final game total at -110 for each side. Here’s the best part: no handicapping necessary

William Hill offers rich player props

William Hill offers a rich player-prop section. In one area, odds reflect the sentiment that Davion Mitchell and Teague, from Baylor, will control this game far less than their last.

Mitchell has an over-under for assists at 5.5 with the over at +100 and the under -130.  This after recording 11 assists in Saturday’s 78-59 blowout semifinal win over Houston. This is a nice cushion to bet into, win, lose or draw.

Teague had six assists versus Houston. His over-under of 2.5 for the championship game is +110 for the over -140 for the under.

BetMGM + March Madness props

BetMGM also has a game-props lineup that enables good betting odds beyond the final score.

However, some may temporarily disappear so keep checking.

Baylor to cover +2.5 in the first half and then cover the +4.5 for the game returns +275.

Gonzaga to score 92 points and win has a payout of +575. This is intriguing because Gonzaga has been routinely counted upon to score in the high 80’s in this tournament. The 93 points Saturday against UCLA required overtime.

Baylor to score the first points and then Gonzaga to tally more than 87? It’s +425.

If Baylor wins the first half, but Gonzaga wins the game, that’s a +250 payout.

Want action on the first points of the game? Baylor is -110, Gonzaga is -125.

But one of the most interesting, and innovative betting selections comes under the “race” section. The race concerns the first team to reach 5, 10, 15 points, for example.

This is an excellent way to enjoy the action at varied points of the game. A back-and-forth contest, for instance, will have lead changes and different teams being first to reach certain plateaus.

So if you anticipate a rout, and are correct, there are riches waiting every five points.

The Madness for the ages

The championship game completes one of the greatest March Madness tournaments ever.

It has a chalk-based conclusion, with the teams ranked No. 1 and 2 in the nation most of the year now colliding for all the marbles.

But before this game, the tournament delivered numerous upsets and underdog stories. Who wouldn’t love Oral Roberts’ two wins, almost three, from the 15 seed?

And Oregon State, a 12, nearly making the Final Four.

Could it be any better than UCLA winning five games, including the play-in encounter, before taking the nation’s top team, Gonzaga, into overtime?

And how about the shot of the tournament, a near-half court bomb by Suggs as time expired in overtime, to put Gonzaga in the finals?

Among epic tournament moments, the Suggs sink ranks with Christian Laettner’s 1992 buzzer-beater for Duke against Kentucky in 1992.  The Laettner shot is tough to top, because Duke trailed by one point and needed his turnaround shot to avoid being eliminated.

Suggs was part of a tie game when he launched his bank-shot bullseye, but it’s an instant classic anyway.

Could the tournament end any better than Gonzaga, the perennial year-long powerhouse, seeking to complete a Cinderella story?

To give college basketball its first unbeaten season since Indiana unfurled a perfect 1976 campaign? The attempt, fittingly, plays out in Indiana.

This has been some ride. The 2021 March Madness, with all its pageantry, underscores a point to all New Jersey online sports bettors.

Boy, did we miss NCAA Tournament last year.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy



What Are The New Look New York Mets Odds Of Contending For World Series?

The New York Mets are tied with the Atlanta Braves for the fifth-best odds to win the World Series, but is it a winning bet?

Great betting expectations surround the New York Mets.

As they prepare for three season-opening road games against the Washington Nationals, the Mets have a high premium built into their wagering odds.

New Jersey online sports bettors might examine them even more closely when the Mets continue their road swing next week at the Philadelphia Phillies.

In stock-market terms, New York Mets bettors buy high.

Before the Mets take the field Thursday night (first pitch 7:09 p.m.), here is an NJ sports beting breakdown of Mets 2021 odds.

New York Mets vs. World Series Favorites

This team went 26-34, the equivalent of a 71-win full season last year. Now armed with some off-season pickups, they are expected to win 20 more. That’s a big ask.

Major sportsbooks nonetheless tout them for potential post-season honors.

At DraftKings Sportsbook, the Mets are +1000 to win the World Series, tied for fifth overall with the Atlanta Braves.

The defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers lead the way at +350.

Here are some of the other top contenders:

  • New York Yankees +550
  • San Diego Padres +800
  • Chicago White Sox+850
  • Minnesota Twins +2000

To win the National League pennant, the Mets are +525. The Dodgers are the +175 chalk

Credit this lofty forecast to playing in the nation’s biggest market. When the Mets are respectable, they are a “public team,” just as the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Lakers are to West Coast gamblers.

The World Series and pennant odds won’t change much in the near future. But some wagers must be made before the season’s first pitch.

New York Mets and total wins

This fun wager provides ramifications for every game of the season.

DraftKings has the Mets’ over-under season win totals at 90.5 with odds of -129 for the over and +103 for the under. Gamblers support the over, 75%-25%.

FanDuel Sportsbook puts the Mets number at 91 with both sides at -110. William Hill has the over-under at 90, with both sides -110.

In this wager, “over” bettors favor the William Hill prop and “under
bettors take the 91 at Fan Duel.

Mets created off-season excitement

So what changed for this team?

New owner Steve Cohen, a billionaire, spent a barrage of bucks and snared two impact players from the Cleveland Indians.

The Mets obtained Francisco Lindor, a terrific power-hitting shortstop, and their fans began salivating.  Lindor hit 103 home runs between 2017 and 2019.  Getting power numbers from a defense-first position is a monster grab.

DraftKings listed him as one of the top picks for league MVP. Lindor is +1200, while the leaders are Mookie Betts of the Dodgers and Juan Soto of the Nationals, both +750.

Who else is at +1200? Freddie Freeman of the Braves, who won the award last season.

Lindor joins a team that led the majors with a .272 average last season. The rich get richer.

Pitcher Carlos Carrasco was the other major pickup.

He has been a solid player for a decade, but does he have the stuff to be the No. 2 starter?

Before answering that question, there are some factors to consider.  He has never won 20 games nor posted an ERA below 3.00 when making 30 or more starts. Carrasco comes to the National League, which will help his numbers,  but he’s also 34 and recently hampered by a hamstring injury.

However, he seems o be heading in the right direction as the Mets get closer to opening day.

So will he boom or bust?

The answer will impact Mets wagers

Injury notes: Noah Syndergaard, another great pitcher, is expected back by the summer.  This will help.

Pistol Pete back on the board

Some additional props involve Mets mainstays.

Pete Alonso, who showed that his slugging ability was no fluke last year, is one of the favorites to lead the National League in homers. He has an attractive, price of +1100, shared with Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Braves and Millville Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. They are considered tri-favorites at DraftKings.

Alonso returns +1200 for the same prop at FanDuel.

Alonso was a surprise league home-run leader in 2019, with a whopping 53. He notched 16 in the 60-game season last year, equating to 44 in a full season.

DraftKings has an over-under prop for Alonso at 41.5 homers. The over pays +105 and the under is -130.

Jacob deGrom in a class by himself

Jacob deGrom is one of the elite arms in Major League Baseball.

DraftKings made him the +425 to win the Cy Young Award. Never mind that Trevor Bauer, now of the Dodgers, captured the crown last season.

Bauer is the second pick at +700.

It’s likely that Bauer’s performance against the weak NL Central, as a member of the Cincinnati Reds last season, influenced these odds.

Bauer now must face the loaded Padres, and others, as a member of the Dodgers. And he won’t begin as the staff ace, which could shave some starts.

Jacob deGrom has been lights out for the last three years.

In 2018 and 2019, he won the Cy Young Award. He posted electrifying numbers like a 1.70 ERA in 2018, 2.43 in 2019 and used 2020 to conclude three straight seasons with a WHIP (baserunners per nine innings) under 1. That’s Hall of Fame territory.

Strikeout totals from deGrom, 269 and 255 the last two seasons, leads to another prop.

And it’s a ding-dong battle of New York’s finest, at DraftKings.  deGrom and Gerrit Cole of the Yankees are +450, with Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians at +650, to lead the majors in strikeouts.

This looks like a season-long shootout between deGrom and Cole, who had an eye-popping 326 strikeouts in 2019 for the Houston Astros.

But the Yankees don’t like extending their starting pitchers past seven innings. That will impact this bet.

Here’s one more from DraftKings. If Cole leads the majors in wins, it’s +900. However, deGrom, the king of hard luck, is +1200. Good breaks are needed, but these are some nice payouts.

It’s going to be some season. It’s a betting bonanza. And besides individual props, major Mets improvement has been baked into the lines.

Will it happen?

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky





Looking At Philadelphia Phillies Odds Of Finishing 2021 Season With A Winning Record

“Bettor Up!” That’s right, the 2021 Philadelphia Phillies betting season is approaching home.

This week launches the MLB betting celebration at New Jersey online sportsbooks. There are a couple of days left for Garden State bettors to secure the best futures odds for seasonal win totals, division championship odds, and player props.

But Thursday, April 1 is the day the real sports betting in New Jersey fun begins. Call it the first pitch of the game-by-game wagering season. The Phillies are hosting the Atlanta Braves on Thursday at3:05 p.m. There will roughly 8,800 spectators allowed inside Citizens Bank Park.

Ace Aaron Nola gains his fourth straight opening day assignment for Philadelphia.

Near-term, the Phillies open the campaign with three home games against the Braves followed by a three-game series versus the New York Mets.  But there are 162 regular-season games to be played.

With that in mind, here is a long-term Phillies betting overview.

Phillies line shopping at NJ online sportsbooks

William Hill sportsbook unleashed some late love on the Fightin’ Phils. The book recently upgraded the Phillies’ over-under total to 82.5 wins. A successful over wager would accompany the Phillies’ first winning season since 2011.  It’s also the last time they finished higher than third in the National League East.

DraftKings Sportsbook has a different perception. It lists the Phillies at 80.5 for the total.

This is a nice betting window.

“Over” bettors may select the DraftKings wager, although the -143 is not a great price. That’s because 98% of the early money went on the “over”, driving the price upward, according to a pre-season report by the book.

DraftKings’ next move could be to raise the wins total if volume continues like this.

“Under” bettors will take the William Hill wager. (it’s -110 for the over or under). The two-game difference of opinion between the books is a victory for the bettors.

William Hill also unfurled an odds boost from +850 to +950 for the Phillies to win the National League East. Boosts like this coax bettors to chase the remote possibility that occasionally hits.

The book has the Mets and Braves co-favored to win the East at +140.

There’s no need to rush on the Phillies +4000 to win the World Series at DraftKings. Those odds stay locked in for a while.

 Betting on Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper is +1500 to win the National League MVP award at DraftKings. According to the operator, he has the third-highest amount of gambling money, 14%, in a field dominated by Washington star Juan Soto (+750).

Of the top performers, Harper is the one who looks to be getting more money than his odds should dictate.

Harper is +2000 to be the home-run leader, and in a league with Pete Alonso (+1100) of the Mets, that’s unlikely.

How about Harper on the dinger line?

His over-under is 36.5 (-112). The RBI prop is over-under 108.5. The beauty of this bet is its fair odds and makes Harper a bet-within-a-bet all season. Some gamblers who love this action may go heaviest on this bet, above all others.

Harper had 35 homers and 99 RBI for the Phillies in 2019. This prop would be right in that ballpark.

April presents a big test for Phillies

After Nola’s game and an off-day Friday, Zack Wheeler gets the ball Saturday (4:05 p.m.) and Zach Eflin Sunday 1:05 p.m.). Matt Moore and Chase Anderson presumably open against the Mets.

The first week is followed by three games in Atlanta and four in New York. Thirteen games to open the campaign against the two favored NL East teams. Not an easy task.

There are then seven games against the St. Louis Cardinals and one more versus the Mets, in April.

This first month will determine a lot about the season.

Phils’ bullpen can produce an upgrade

The Phillies had one of the worst bullpens of all time last season. It yielded more than seven runs every nine innings.

But there is some promise.  Hector Neris has been joined by Archie Bradley, Brandon Kintzler, and Jose Alvarado, who have all been closers in recent years.

Who wants the ball?

Bradley had 18 saves two years ago for the Arizona Diamondbacks and six in the abbreviated 2020 campaign. He is considered the Phillies’ closer, for now.

Kintzler was second in the entire National League in saves last season, with 12. He was not overpowering, but effective enough, with a 2.22 earned-run average. Kintzler had to fight to make this roster and did.

Alvarado is the only left-handed reliever to make the cut.

This could mean he’ll be used in key eighth-inning matchups to get one batter or even close in the ninth against a team with left-handed batters. He routinely hit 100 mph with his fastball and got some big outs in spring training.

In 2018, Alvarado struck out 80 and walked only 29 in 64 innings. He had eight saves and tied for the league lead in holds. Can he get back to that?.

Connor Brogdon is the name discussed least, but he did strike out the side against the New York Yankees on Sunday.

How important is this bullpen?

Just two years, the Phillies had an over-under of 89.5 season wins at most books.  And they were 11 games over .500 a third of the way through the season before collapsing.

The Phillies ought to be improved in this area, perhaps vastly.

Philadelphia needs to maintain its offense

One higher production level from Harper would be helpful. His stats from last year would equate to35 homers and 89 RBI in a full season. There is room for him to uptick in power and improve on his non-stellar .268 average.

The Phillies may need that because Didi Gregorious was a terrific acquisition in 2020. But the shortstop led the Phillies with 40 RBI, which would mean 108 this year. Nice, but you wouldn’t count on that again.

J.T. Realmuto’s numbers from last year would mean 30 homers and 87 RBI this year. High expectations from a catcher, but reachable.

And the Phillies need Alec Bohm, who had such an eye-opening .338 average last year, to deliver over a full season.

Now it’s just a matter of seeing how the different pieces come together once the regular season gets underway.

AP Photo/Chris Szagola








Villanova Still In The March Madness Mix, With No. 1 Baylor Up Next

March Madness betting action picks back up this weekend with some surprise teams still in the hunt for a Final Four spot.

March Madness betting resumes on Saturday with the Sweet 16. And the field includes a 15. a 12 along with a pair of 11s.

And the New Jersey online dog bettors who rode those teams last weekend look for a March Madness encore.

When the NCAA Tournament action picks back up this weekend the field will have the highest number of seeds [of the remaining teams] — 94  — in tournament history. The action runs Saturday and Sunday for the next round, with the Elite Eight following Monday and Tuesday.

And then the 2021 Final Four will be set.

Villanova Wildcats are still dancing

Garden State gamblers were surprised to see Villanova shake off injuries to defeat Winthrop and North Texas. Bettors wagered heavily against the Wildcats, whose season had looked to be over when they failed to win the first round of the Big East tournament.

But now, presto, Villanova faces No. 1  Baylor and gains sizable points.

Villanova’s two victories also propelled the Wildcats from +10000 (100-1) to +4000 (40-1) for the championships futures at William Hill NJ.

 The rise of Villanova, once the nation’s third-ranked team, was partially logical.

March Madness shock value

Oral Roberts, the No. 15 seed that knocked off Ohio State at +15.5 and Florida at +8.5 at most NJ online sportsbooks, opened as a double-digit underdog versus Arkansas.  

Oregon State, the No. 12 seed in the Midwest Region, buried Tennessee and Oklahoma State. The Beavers are a dog against Loyola of Chicago, which beat Georgia Tech and then top-seeded Illinois.

How many points is Divine Inspiration worth to Loyola? Sister Jean, its celebrated 101-year-old team chaplain, issued a pre-game prayer that went viral before the second game.  She prayed that Loyola would outrebound Illinois, noting layup and three-point percentages.

As she sat in a wheelchair, Sister Jean’s prayer was answered.

Gamblers want to know if she thinks Loyola can cover 6.5 now. And whatever happens, if Sister Jean’s team plays Oral Roberts? Does religious influence cancel out?

No. 11 Syracuse, which throttled San Diego State and West Virginia, gets a handful of points against  No. 2 Houston.

No. 11 UCLA, which needed a First-Four game rally to upend Michigan State, parlayed the comeback to wins over BYU and Abilene Christian.  The Bruins, playing with house money, battle favored  Alabama, No. 2.

Otherwise, top-seeded Gonzaga remains a prominent favorite over Creighton

Top-seeded Michigan gives points to Florida State

No. 7 Oregon and No. 6 USC meet in the closest thing to a tossup.

March Madness bettors ready to load up

Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told NJ Gambling Sites that more money is going to be wagered in the next round. 

“With less games, four per night in the next round, there will be more sizable wagers,” said Avello.  “People will be trying to do more parlays, etc., with either one team or one game. This has been a crazy tournament so far.”

Some results appear typical. Three of the four No. 1 seeds,  Michigan, Baylor, and Gonzaga, advanced to the Sweet 16. Illinois was throttled by Loyola.

What’s different is the absence of  No. 2 and 3 seeds. Second-seeded Ohio State and Iowa were vanquished. So were third-seeded West Virginia, Kansas, and Texas

That brings betting money to an unusual area.

“As a result, you still have some futures wagering being written,” said Avello. “We still have Oral Roberts at 100-1 and there has been some play.

“You could even take an Oregon State at 50-1, maybe a Creighton at 40-1. Michigan is still at +750, and it was only +800 for the start of the tournament, so the team hasn’t dropped off much.

“Even Gonzaga, the big favorite, is still +155.”

DraftKings gains split of big results

Loyola stopping top-seeded Illinois helped all books.

But Oral Roberts performed oral surgery on the DraftKing Sportsbook’s bottom line once bettors doubled down on the team’s unlikely second-round victory.

DraftKings had enticed gamblers with an odds boost of Oral Roberts to +500 for the second game. For a 15 seed, it may have seemed like a safe move.

Did bettors pounce on the +500?

“Oh yes they did” Avello said.

“In that game, we lost a ton. Gamblers were betting them on the moneyline the night before, even on Sunday. Players always look for a good dog to play. When you look back at Oral Roberts, it had played teams like Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma,” said Avello.

“They hadn’t been buried by those teams, they usually lost by about 10. Then they won several games in a row and I think the players picked up on that.”

William Hill NCAA Tournament trends

Willian Hill had the same big winning game as DraftKings, but a different big loser.

“The biggest win for the house was Illinois-Loyola Chicago for sure,” said Nick Bogdanovich, Director of Trading for William Hill US. “The biggest loser was either USC-Kansas or Gonzaga-Oklahoma. USC-Kansas was the late game and Pac-12 had been rolling, so there was a ton of support on the short line come game time.” 

For the Sweet 16, Bogdanovich noted that Arkansas and Oral Roberts are a combined 4-0 against the spread, including three outright victories as underdogs. 

These contests also feature the two highest Sweet 16 totals, with Arkansas vs. Oral Roberts at 159.5 and Gonzaga vs. Creighton at 158.5.

“Gonzaga has covered both their games, people love Gonzaga,” he said.  “They want to see a mid-major finally get it done. We’ll need Creighton for sure in that game. Then I actually think it helps Oral Roberts that they’re running into a team that also plays fast. It’ll come down to how many threes they can hit against Arkansas.”

 Bogdanovich considers Syracuse “the public dog” against Houston, who the book will need to win.

Big bets at BetMGM

Over at BetMGM sportsbook, some big bets already poured in.

One bettor wagered $100K to win $150K on Gonzaga at +150. 

Here are some notable Sweet 16 bets:

  • $451,000 to win $410,000 on Alabama -6
  • $367,200 to win $306,000 on Oregon +3
  • $306,000 to win $255,000 on Loyola-Chicago -6
  • $222,200 to win $202,000 on Florida State +3

Most bettors will gamble less and feel less pressure. But either way, we’re just getting warmed up.

AP Photo/Darron Cummings