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

NJ Sportsbook Giving NY Jets (Long) Odds To Draft Lawrence

At least one NJ online sportsbook is taking wagers on if the New York Jets will select Clemson University QB Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 NFL Draft.

(Author’s Note: I am a long-suffering Jets fan. No, my mother did not drop me on my head as an infant.)

Even a diehard New York Jets fan wouldn’t plunk down hard-earned cash to bet Gang Green will land quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 NFL Draft

Right?

Well, at least one NJ online sportsbook is offering (long) odds the Jets will select the Clemson University star on April 29.

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Jets: “So you’re saying there’s a chance?”

FanDuel Sportsbook is giving the long-shot scenario a 12 to 1 chance, as of Friday. At +1200, a $10 bet that the Jets select Lawrence would win $120.

The Jets currently hold the No. 2 overall pick.

FanDuel is giving the team with the first pick in the draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the best chance of taking Lawrence (-4000 as of early Tuesday afternoon).  

Rounding out the list of options FanDuel has posted as “Team to Draft Trevor Lawrence,” are:

  • Denver Broncos +2200 
  • Washington Football Team +2200
  • Atlanta Falcons +2900
  • Detroit Lions +5000

The New York Giants are +6000 (along with the Carolina PanthersDallas CowboysHouston Texans and New England Patriots).

The Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, come in at +7500. Between Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts, it seems unlikely the Birds will be looking to add another QB.

Odds-on favorite to go No. 1

Nearly every NFL mock draft projects the QB to be the No.1 overall pick.

Likewise, most NJ online sportsbooks also have Lawrence as the favorite to go No.1. DraftKings (-5000), BetMGM (-3000) and FanDuel (-6000) all have him at the top of the board.

Lawrence led the Clemson Tigers to three consecutive ACC championships. As a true freshman in 2018-19, he helped the team win a CFP National Championship. Clemson made the championship game the next season as well, but came up short of winning back-to-back titles.

Lawrence was the Heisman Trophy runner-up last season.

J-E-T…oh, what’s the point anymore?

For most of the 2020-21 NFL season, the Jets looked like a lock to go 0-16 and secure the first pick in the draft.

The pain and embarrassment of becoming only the third team in NFL history to go winless in a season was bearable because there was light at the end of the tunnel: Lawrence. Jets fans could take solace in drafting a franchise QB for the next decade.

Shame on Jets fans for having hope. You knew it was too good to be true.

In true Jets fashion, the team waited until nearly the end of the season to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Or something to that effect.

In Week 15, the Jets won a game they had no business winning against the Los Angeles Rams. To make matters worse, the Jets beat the Cleveland Browns the following week. The two wins against eventual playoff teams (seriously) all but guaranteed the No. 1 pick was out of reach.

The team (thankfully) fired head coach Adam Gase at the end of the season. The Jets hired former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as the new head coach last week.

Along with General Manager Joe Douglas, Saleh now has the unenviable task of picking second in this year’s draft after the closest thing to a sure bet is already off the board.

Good luck, Coach Saleh. Welcome to the Jets, where the odds are always against you.

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

 

Football Five: Doug Pederson’s Odds On Becoming Jets Next Coach

Since being fired as head coach of the Eagles earlier this week, Doug Pederson has become part of a futures wager at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is a now prop bet.

Only in the NJ sports betting world can a fired head coach spark betting. Pederson, canned by the Eagles one day and a futures wager  the next, headlines our weekly Football Five.

New Jersey online sports bettors love the rumor mill, especially when it is actionable.

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Who will coach the Eagles? Look at the Jets first

Where the Jets go will influence where the Eagles direct their efforts.

Following his firing, Pederson became the frontrunner (+300) for the Jets job at FanDuel Sportsbook. As of early Wednesday morning, his odds shifted to +650 as San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh moved into the top spot (+100).

Here is a look at the FanDuel odds on the next Jets head coach as of Tuesday.

If Pederson gains that position, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll (+850) and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy (+850) become available for Philadelphia. Both were the early favorites for the Jets job.

Other notable rumors for the Eagles include Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, Tampa Bay Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and  Saleh, a name worth a long look.

Saleh, a defensive coordinator, has already become a finalist for the Jets job. It’s only been a question of when, not if, he becomes a head coach. The Jets may be a more natural fit for him, but the Eagles could use someone to light a fire under the entire team.

Bieniemy, the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs, is another assistant likely to land a head-coaching position. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie likes Andy Reid’s input, that’s how he got Pederson in the first place, so Bieniemy makes sense. But other teams want him as well.

Then there is Bowles. Remember him?

He had three straight losing seasons with the Jets. How crazy would it be for the Eagles to select the former Jets coach and the Jets to recycle Pederson? Can’t find a prop for that.

Bowles also was the secondary coach for the Birds in 2012.

Eagles will likely interview Duce Staley, too

There’s a common denominator with the candidates. Philadelphia’s long-term contract with quarterback Carson Wentz is a lasso around the neck of whomever takes the job. The Eagles are committed to Wentz and the new coach will experience friction if he wants to bench Wentz at some point.

The successful candidate must be on board with Wentz, who regressed badly this past season but was also left vulnerable by a weak offensive line. What the odds can’t tell you is what candidate will accept this stipulation.

Expect Duce Staley’s name to be included on the list of interview candidates. The former Eagles player served as assistant head coach and running backs coach under Pederson.

Stay tuned. Rumors, and odds, change often.

What about the NFL Divisional Playoff odds?

The NFL Playoffs resume Saturday and Sunday with the final eight teams competing in the divisional round. Here is the weekend slate:

Early splits from DraftKings Sportsbook show the public loves all four “overs,” with the Cleveland-Kansas City game getting the highest endorsement 89%, even at the highest total, 56.5.

Early betting saw the public loving Green Bay the most. Here’s the support level:

  • Green Bay 84%
  • Buffalo 61%
  • Kansas City 60%
  • Tampa Bay 59%

Rams are the NFL chameleons

They do the unexpected.

The Los Angeles Rams flopped as a 17-point favorite and became the first team the Jets beat this year. And then they toppled the Seattle Seahawks, who had beaten the Jets by 37 points, in the Wild Card round.

Just to reach the postseason they defeated the Arizona Cardinals behind backup quarterback John Wolford.

The Rams defense turned that game around with a late first-half defensive score.

And they repeated the feat against the Seahawks. A Pick 6 put Seattle up 13-3 and Jared Goff, who had to replace the injured Wolford, gutted out an efficient performance.

Can the Rams do it again?

They face Aaron Rodgers, enjoying the best year of his life with 48 touchdowns versus five interceptions. The Rams want ball control, the Packers a track meet.

Weather is always a big variable in cold-weather cities. The forecast for this game is under 30 degrees, with winds at less than 10 mph. May feel like 20 degrees. For the Rams, it could have been worse.

Bills and Ravens look good on either side

The Bills opened at -1.5 across the major NJ online sportsbooks and early Buffalo wagering pushed the line up to -2.5. This is still a nice place to bet either team. Ravens bettors may click their heels if the line hits -3. Even the move from -1.5 to -2.5 might make it worth their while to buy the extra point, taking a +3 line.

Lamar Jackson is one key to the game.

The Ravens quarterback rushed for 136 yards in the team’s opening-round triumph over the Tennessee Titans. He also helped rally the team from a 10-0 early deficit.

In avenging the playoff loss to the Titans from last year, the Ravens continued to look formidable.

Buffalo’s defense gave up 472 yards in a narrow victory over the Indianapolis Colts, who crossed the 50-yard line on nine of their 10 possessions and averaged more than six yards per play.

Baltimore’s defense, on the other hand,  has stepped up dramatically and is the biggest wild card in this matchup. How about holding the Cincinnati Bengals to three points and then putting a handcuff on Derrick Henry and the Titans? Henry was coming off a 200-plus yard game and the Ravens kept him to 40.

In this game, Buffalo’s offensive line looks to protect Josh Allen enough for him to launch downfield throws to Stefon Diggs and to scramble. Buffalo does not rely on its running game the way Tennessee did.

All ‘Bs’: Brady + Brees = bets

You have to love the marquee. Tom Brady’s best work of the season has come in the last five games, in which the Tampa Bay offensive line has given him tremendous time to throw.  Brady has more receiving targets than Drew Brees does for the New Orleans Saints.

It’s been the same pregame script every time these teams met this year.  Brady was supposed to lead the Bucs over the Saints, and New Orleans beat him in the opener. Brady was rolling before the rematch and the Bucs, at -5, were never in it.

And here we go again.

Can the Saints beat the Bucs three times in one year? They will need a big game from Alvin Kamara and Brees will have to throw deep once in a while to keep  the defense honest.

Will Super Bowl champs stop the Cleveland Browns party?

It’s been great for Cleveland Browns fans, who watched their team topple the Pittsburgh Steelers twice in eight days. But now they visit the defending Super Bowl champions, who lost only one game this year.

The Browns optimist believes the team’s momentum from the Pittsburgh triumph snowballs into another upset. Cleveland backers bank on the usual stellar effort from Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The subplot will be whether Kansas City should have kept Hunt, who broke in with them.

The Chiefs backer believes they won’t commit the mistakes that brought Cleveland that early 28-0 lead against the Steelers and that the Chiefs won’t be rusty despite the offense resting in the last regular season game.

A shootout is expected and the Chiefs, on paper, have a little more ammunition in their gun.

AP Photo/Michael Perez

NFL Week 17 Odds: Eagles Have Chance To Spoil Washington’s Postseason Hopes

The eliminated Philadelphia Eagles are hosting Washington in a Week 17 Sunday Night Football showdown that will impact who wins the NFC East.

From first place in midseason to first out now, NFL Week  17 will wrap up the sad irony for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Instead of seeking the NFC East title in Week 17 against the Washington Football Team, the eliminated Eagles will crown another team as the champion, in the Sunday Night Football national spotlight, no less. That’s like contending for an Academy Award only to be asked on stage to name the winner.

We open the Odds Five with an NJ sports betting Who Needs It Week 17 list, capped by the NFC East.

NFL Week 17 must-win scenarios

Here are the teams that must show up this week:

  • Chicago Bears (vs Green Bay Packers)
  • Green Bay Packers (at Chicago)
  • Tennessee Titans (at Houston Texans)
  • Miami Dolphins (at Buffalo Bills)
  • Baltimore Ravens (at Cincinnati Bengals
  • Cleveland Browns (vs Pittsburgh Steelers)
  • Arizona Cardinals (at Los Angeles Rams)
  • Los Angeles Rams (vs Cardinals)
  • Indianapolis Colts (vs Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Everyone but the Eagles in the NFC East

They all still have something to play for this week.

The NFC East champion will be the first team in NFL history (of 342 candidates) to start a season 2-7 or worse and make the playoffs, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau.

If the host Eagles defeat Washington, the winner between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys in the afternoon enters the postseason with a home game for the first round. If Washington triumphs, the Football Team earns the NFC East.

Washington has looked abysmal offensively in two consecutive outings, losing to the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers at home. The Football Team was beaten by the four-win Panthers in Week 16 when all it had to do was win to clinch the division. Washington was never in the game, falling behind 20-0 and playing with an offensive lack of awareness. Washington’s body language and team chemistry are bad.

Alex Smith, if healthy, will start at quarterback for Washington against the Eagles. He missed the Panthers game.

Betting angles: Washington, Dallas and the New York Giants must play hard. With the Eagles, one can’t tell.

The early DraftKings Sportsbook line spoke volumes. The last-place, eliminated Eagles opened as a one-point pick against first-place Washington, which has everything to play for.

Cowboys look hungrier than anyone in NFC East

Remember the Arizona Cardinals humbling them on Monday Night Football?

Remember this team at 3-9?

The Cowboys have won three straight and suddenly look like they remember the talented receiving corps of CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, who singed the Eagles on deep patterns in Week 16’s 37-17 victory. Dallas outscored the Eagles 34-3 after falling behind early.

Ironically, Dallas was the preseason favorite to secure this division and could still get it.

The Giants fought hard in a 27-13 setback to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16, losing the game they were supposed to lose. Yet despite dropping three straight games by a combined total of 73-26, the Giants have a road to the playoffs with a win over Dallas and an Eagles triumph.

It would seem fitting in this division that both Week 17 games end in a tie.

Miami Dolphins gain late Christmas gift

If the Miami Dolphins reach the playoffs, they will credit the most bizarre stroke of luck in last Saturday’s 26-25 triumph over the Las Vegas Raiders.

Miami fell behind 25-23 on a Daniel Carlson field goal Saturday night with just 19 seconds remaining. Should be game over.

But on the ensuing possession, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed a long pass AND the Raiders were called for a bonehead face mask penalty.

That made the difference as Jason Sanders drilled the game-winning field goal with one second remaining.  The Dolphins are guaranteed a playoff berth if they can defeat the host Buffalo Bills in the season finale.

Miami will be playing for something in Week 17 at Buffalo.

Lessons from the Dolphins-Raiders game: The Raiders remain an undisciplined team, although they covered the +2.5 here.

Dolphins bettors got a bad break when the go-ahead TD Las Vegas scored with 3:37 left was followed by a missed extra point. That took any possibility of overtime, and a chance to win by a field goal, out of play.

Bettors of the under got burned by 22 points being scored in the last four minutes.

Dolphins coaches hopefully learned a lesson by bringing Fitzpatrick into the game. He engineered 13 fourth-quarter points in relief of Tua Tagovailoa, who is too green for this kind of pressure.

A quarterback has to look pretty lost to make the Raiders look like a good defensive team. Fitzpatrick ought to be starting the rest of the way.

Ravens enter Week 17 in playoff position

The Baltimore Ravens, denied leapfrogging into a playoff spot when Miami stole the game from the Raiders, did manage the feat Sunday with the Pittsburgh Steelers rallying from 24-7 down to beat the Indianapolis Colts, 28-24. And the Cleveland Browns losing to the New York Jets also helped the cause.

Baltimore took care of business against the New York Giants and will likely get to 11-5 after its Week 17 matchup against the host Cincinnati Bengals. Win and you’re in. The Ravens have won four straight and have hit their best stride of the second half.

The Arizona Cardinals, fresh off good-looking victories over the Giants and the Eagles, fell flat as a pancake in losing to the San Francisco 49ers. Now they must defeat the Los Angeles Rams on the road to guarantee a playoff spot.

Betting note: Rams quarterback Jared Goff suffered a broken thumb and will likely miss the game.

And who woke up Da Bears?

Arizona’s loss opened the door for Chicago, which stormed through with its third straight triumph, ripping the Jacksonville Jaguars 41-17. “Da Bears,” who looked rudderless a month ago, have scored more than 30 points in four consecutive games (hope you had the over).

When is the last time they did that? Not since the Gale Sayers era, in 1965. Chicago can guarantee a playoff berth by beating Green Bay or the Rams beating Arizona.

Browns still fighting for a playoff spot

The Browns look to rebound from their self-inflicted wounds, finishing against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who finally managed to clinch the division with Sunday’s come-from-behind 28-24 triumph over the Indianapolis Colts.

The Browns lost their top receivers because of positive COVID-19 tests. That’s why they flopped and got beaten by the suddenly live New York Jets, who won their second game in a row.

Now the Browns must defeat the Steelers at home to guarantee a playoff spot. And while Pittsburgh may not need the game, this is a bitter rivalry, and the Steelers could play harder than expected. The Browns are heavily favored.

NFL Week 17 around the league

The Kansas City Chiefs have wrapped up the AFC home field throughout the playoffs. They don’t need to win this week.

The Packers need a win or Seattle Seahawks loss to wrap up the No. 1 NFC position.

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

 

 

 

Football Five Week 16: Jets And Bengals Capture That Winning Feeling

One of the hot NFL betting topics heading into Week 16 is how the Jets and Bengals pulled off two of the biggest upsets of the 2020 season.

Let’s begin the NFL Week 16 Football Five with a salute to the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals, two basement teams who restored faith in the NFL’s competitive balance.

They turned the tables on the week’s two largest imminent blowouts, turning them into the year’s largest upsets.

Bravo to them and the sliver of Week 15 bettors. And that group was an extremely small one at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Only 11% of the money was on the Jets to win straight up against the Los Angeles Rams.

And only 9% of the money was on the Bengals to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Both teams were in the vicinity of +1000 across the establishments favored by NJ sports betting customers.

Newfound respect for Jets and Bengals

Will the Jets come out with a chip on their shoulder after an only-in-New-York media reaction to their victory?

They were knocked for now not being the league’s worst team and thus not likely to draft quarterback Trevor Lawrence from Clemson as the top pick in the next NFL draft.

Imagine being Sam Darnold, the Jets’ current quarterback, and hearing that.

The Jets, now with one victory, will be looked at differently when they host the Cleveland Browns this week. And the Bengals have their third win, the first without Joe Burrow, before playing the Houston Texans.

The Jets, a whopping +17 against the Los Angeles Rams, have been awarded a full touchdown more on the opening line against the Browns at DraftKings Sportsbook.

FanDuel’s early line of Cincinnati +8.5 shows some respect for a team that bounced back to life Monday night as a 14.5-point dog.

The Jets and Bengals also stirred the playoff-ramifications pot throughout the league.

Say hello to the new No. 2 seed in the AFC East, the Buffalo Bills. They have additional incentive to defeat the New England Patriots in the next Monday Night Football game.  The sizzling hot 11-3 Bills look more likely to host a first-round playoff game when the postseason begins during the second weekend in January.

The Rams, who have played volleyball with the Seattle Seahawks for the NFC West lead, now trail by one game before this weekend’s critical matchup on the road.

And the Steelers? Look at these offensive numbers in the last four games: 19, 17, 15 and 17.

Since leading the Washington Football Team 14-0 in the second quarter of their Dec. 7 game, they are being outscored 76-35. Shocking numbers for an 11-3 team.

That’s how life changes in the NFL.

Giants’ playoff chances are fizzling

Two dull home losses, 26-7 to the Arizona Cardinals and 20-6 to the Cleveland Browns, snapped a four-game winning streak and laid the New York Giants bare in front of the bettors. They are a slow, deliberate, grind-it-out offense just before the worst matchup possible.

New York plays the high-flying, explosive Baltimore Ravens, who have topped 40 points two weeks in a row.

Falling behind early would be a disaster against the Ravens.

But Big Blue’s defense is stout, evidenced by goal-line stands against the Cardinals and Browns. This included limiting Cleveland to 20 points after the Browns had scored 42 against the Ravens.

The Giants have lost control of their own destiny, however. Much of it now rests in the hands of the four-win Carolina Panthers, who must defeat the Washington Football Team in order for Big Blue to retain realistic playoff games.

Basically, the season is coming down to the IF game. So if:

  • Carolina upsets Washington;
  • The Giants defeat the Ravens as a big dog; and
  • The Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Dallas Cowboys,

then, and only then, the Giants would be in first place heading into the last week of the season.

But there are other ifs that would end the Giants’ postseason hopes.

A Washington win combined with a Giants loss will earn the Football Team the NFC Was crown.

In a similar vein, the Eagles, who trail the Giants, need Carolina to defeat Washington or it’s over for them. It’s the same for second-place Dallas. This is a significant betting consideration.

The Eagles-Cowboys will have huge NFC implications, or none, based on the Washington game, which is played earlier.

 Vikings, Saints under the Christmas tree

Whether it’s COVID-19 necessitated or a future consideration, the NFL has a Friday game, the New Orleans Saints hosting the Minnesota Vikings.

And it happens to fall on Christmas Day.

There is a unique undercurrent to this game. The Vikings are going nowhere, and in fact propelled the Chicago Bears into the fringes of the NFC playoff picture with Sunday’s loss, but they knocked the Saints out of the playoffs last year — in New Orleans, where this game will be played.

And there was that Minneapolis Miracle a couple of years earlier when the Vikings eliminated the Saints from the playoffs with a long TD on the final play.

Are the Saints jinxed against the Vikings, or is this the game in which they remove the hex?

Minnesota has an excellent offense with Kirk Cousins and running back Dalvin Cook, whereas New Orleans has a revenge motive from last year.

The Saints are resting injured star Michael Thomas until the playoffs, and their offense improved after a sputtering start with the return of Drew Brees against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Week 16 Saturday games matter

The sportsbooks love isolated opportunities like Friday’s one-gamer and the Saturday trio of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Detroit Lions, the Miami Dolphins visiting the Las Vegas Raiders and the Arizona Cardinals sharing a home game with the San Francisco 49ers. Betting action pours in on these games and, fortunately for the NFL, Tampa Bay, Miami and Arizona need the games.

The league never knows how much these games will matter when it draws up the schedule well before the season.

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Another way to interpret the lines

The Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers have the week’s highest over-under projection of 56 at DraftKings. The Tampa Bay-Detroit contest, 53.5, and the Atlanta Falcons-Kansas City Chiefs matchup, 54, are close behind.

Point totals convey a secondary angle, prop mania.

Watch the yardage and touchdown-tossing props in all of these games as they approach, and if you want to take a stab, consider some of the following payouts reported from Week 15 by DraftKings:

Austin Hooper of the Cleveland Browns returned +1600 as the first touchdown scorer in the Giants-Browns game.

Derrick Henry of the Titans paid +350, hitting paydirt against the Detroit Lions.

Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs returned +510, scoring against the Saints.

But how about Russell Gage of the Atlanta Falcons? He returned a hefty +3500 as the first to hit paydirt in the game against Tampa Bay.

Like most props, these contain the intellectual component of selecting likely recipients and the good fortune of hitting the right individual. Hooper is a tight end. Bettors had to survive two goal-to-goal runs before he was found on a TD toss. Hill and Henry are usually good anytime scorers, but for them to be first scorer in the entire game limits the player to a couple of possessions.

These bets are proving to be more popular because they can provide a lot of bang for a little buck.

Photo by Associated Press

 

NFL Week 16 Odds: Jets Finally Win Their First Game Of 2020 Season

The New York Jets’ odds of winning another game are iffy heading into Week 16, but they shocked the NJ sports betting world with a victory over the Rams.

NFL Week 16 arrives with the NJ sports betting world still in a state of shock.

The New York Jets, shaking up the NFL by stunning the Los Angeles Rams as a whopping 17-point road underdog, headline our Week 16 Odds Five.

New York Jets win, but are still 1-13

The Jets, who obtained their first victory of the season, retained the NFL’s penchant for surprising fans and rewarding a few savvy New Jersey online sportsbook gamblers.

Their 23-20 triumph over the sleepwalking Los Angeles Rams, who entered with nine wins, became the largest upset of the year.

The Jets burned an avalanche of moneyline parlay tickets but also rewarded a few sharp bettors. A tip of the hat to the 5% of SugarHouse sportsbook patrons who went against the grain, taking the Jets odds on the moneyline at +1000.

As they return to MetLife Stadium to oppose the 10-4 Cleveland Browns in Week 16, the Jets sport a satisfying achievement. This was the same team that took a 40-3 shellacking from the Seattle Seahawks one week earlier.

But it was also the same Jets team that scored on its opening drive for the eighth straight game. Plus, they actually held a lead for the sixth consecutive game, indicating they should have won three or four previous games.

No home field advantage at MetLife Stadium

The Browns, methodically proficient in Sunday’s 20-6 triumph over the suddenly lifeless New York Giants, are looking for the MetLife Parlay in Week 16.

Facing the Jets, they’ll try to match the San Francisco 49ers, who swept the Giants and Jets handily on this field in Weeks 2 and 3.

Here is some irony. Who has the most wins at MetLife Stadium, the combined home of the Jets and Giants, this season?

The answer would be the Giants and Niners, with two apiece. And the Browns can tie them this week.

The Giants, meanwhile, were too tricky for their own good in the first half against the Browns on Sunday night. Three red zone trips, three points after a fake field goal and a 4th-and-short run into the line from the six-yard line produced no results.

There’s a reason teams don’t make the playoffs.

Two ugly home losses to the combined tune of 46-13 have kept the Giants out of first place.

Will the Eagles-Cowboys game matter?

In the NFC East, the now last-place Philadelphia Eagles and second-place Dallas Cowboys sport a unique, two-tiered perspective to their heated rivalry Sunday.

Both teams will be rooting for the Carolina Panthers to defeat the host Washington Football Team in the early-afternoon game. If that doesn’t happen, both teams will be eliminated from the postseason before they even take the field for the late-afternoon contest.

If Carolina scores the mild upset, Dallas and Philadelphia will then fight for the right to eliminate one another. Now that would be the Eagles and Cowboys.

If the game means something, betting will pick up briskly just before kickoff. And if a Carolina win is matched by the Baltimore Ravens’ expected victory over the New York Giants, Philly or Dallas could take a significant leap.

A Washington victory, however, coupled with a Baltimore victory gives the Football Team the division outright on Sunday.

There are many chances here.

Washington is a slight favorite to defeat the four-win Panthers at home, but Carolina sports a mobile quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, who could give Washington problems.

Washington sits in the rarified air of 6-8, good for the top spot.

Jalen Hurts still Eagles starting QB

The Eagles did not win against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, but they have found a quarterback. Jalen Hurts provided leadership via three touchdown passes thrown and one rushing touchdown in Philadelphia’s gut-wrenching 33-26 loss.

It was the best game the Eagles have played in several weeks, but they failed to capitalize on the earlier loss by the Washington Football Team to the Seattle Seahawks.

Hurts provided mobility and leadership. He had three touchdown passes in the first half. His predecessor Carson Wentz did not have a three-TD game this year. The biggest difference between quarterbacks is Hurts’ ability to extend plays, either by scampering for a first down or moving out of the pocket to find receivers.

Bills have championship potential

Josh Allen had a terrific game for the Buffalo Bills against the Denver Broncos, accounting for four touchdowns, two rushing and two passing. Cole Beasley found all kinds of room to operate as a receiver, looking as formidable as Julian Edelman did when complementing Tom Brady during the Patriots’ championship runs.

The Buffalo defense also scored a touchdown in the 48-19 road romp.

In winning their first AFC East title since 1995, the Bills are knocking on the door of the No. 2 seed. They only trail the Pittsburgh Steelers by one game and would capture the tiebreaker if it came into play.

Buffalo plays the now-eliminated New England Patriots on Monday night.

No Brady and no Patriots playoff run

It was an anticlimactic bow-out for the New England Patriots, who had made 11 straight playoff appearances before their hopes ended with Sunday’s 22-12 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

New England simply doesn’t have the weapons, quarterback Cam Newton can’t throw a deep ball and the team is not built to come from behind.

In the meantime, former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady finally looks comfortable in Tampa Bay. The Bucs obtained a character-building victory in Atlanta. They rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to defeat the host Falcons, 31-27.

Brady stepped nicely into throws, receivers ran good patterns and the team displayed a rhythm it had not shown in several weeks. Granted, this was the Falcons, not a playoff team, but Tampa Bay needed it.

The 9-5 Bucs are right in the playoff chase before visiting the Detroit Lions on Saturday.

NFL Week 16 around the league

There is a Christmas game in Week 16, featuring the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. It marks the first time in NFL history that the league has played a game on every day of the week.

It includes three Saturday games:

  • Tampa Bay at Detroit, 1 p.m.
  • San Francisco at Arizona, 4:30 p.m.
  • Dolphins at Raiders, 8:15 p.m.

Tampa Bay, Arizona and Miami all need their games, making the competition interesting.

Sunday’s key games include the Rams and Seahawks for the NFC West lead and the Tennessee Titans versus the Green Bay Packers.

Photo by Associated Press