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 Playoff Odds: Stacking Up Final Eight Teams In Divisional Round

Round two of the NFL Playoffs will include underdogs like the Cleveland Browns and LA Rams still playing for a Super Bowl opportunity.

Bring on the NFL Playoffs round two.

While the Philadelphia Eagles’ season is over and fans debate Monday’s firing of head coach Doug Pederson, New Jersey online sports bettors await a stellar second NFL Playoff weekend.

Can the ‘dogs bark again?

NFL Wild Card Weekend  featured a strong performance for the underdogs.  They went 3-2-1 and captured two games outright.

Who shouts loudest this week, when the NFL’s final eight teams go to the divisional round?

Here are the matchups:

Let’s look at each conference and our weekly Odds 5.

Rams preparing for Green Bay + Rodgers

The Los Angeles Rams, who produced a 30-20 road upset over the Seattle Seahawks, invade the top-seeded Green Bay Packers as a decided dog. But when the spread opened at Green Bay -7, Rams betting made the first line move go down to Green Bay -6.5 on Tuesday morning.

The Rams showed the effect of a smothering defense against the Seahawks.

They scored off a sloppy pass by quarterback Russell Wilson and never looked back after the Pick 6 put them ahead 13-3.

Wilson looked overmatched by the big Rams offensive linemen and could not extend drives by scrambling.

Can the Rams put the same pressure on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers?  That’s a major question, but at least the Rams can ask it.

The Packers finished the regular season 13-3 and secured the NFC bye.

Green Bay features Rodgers, the runaway MVP quarterback, star receiver Davante Adams, and a stellar offensive line. The line may indeed be the big story, enabling Rodgers to float throughout the pocket and find receivers who break off their routes and get open.

Rodgers notched a nearly-unheard of 48 touchdowns versus only five interceptions this season. It is one of the finest, and most efficient campaigns a quarterback has ever put together.

It is the highest number of touchdowns passes Rodgers has ever thrown. He also surpassed 4,000 yards for the third straight year. His yardage and touchdown-pass totals will be prime betting targets.

The Rams cannot outgun the Packers. This comes down to whether they can win the battle of ball control.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff did well enough to manage the game in relief last week while Cam Akers supplied a spark in the backfield.

Rams coach Sean McVay improved to 37-0 when his team leads at halftime.

Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees, round 3

The New Orleans Saints  dominated the two earlier matchups against the Tampa Bay Bucs and offseason acquisition Tom Brady. However, this is the one that counts and the NFL betting line was on early gridlock.

It was stuck on New Orleans -3.

If it goes to -2.5, the Saints backers will be all over it. Should it drift to -3.5, here comes Tampa Bay money. Bettors can also buy the line they want, but it’s cheaper if the line goes there in the first place.

The talk is always about how hard it is to beat a team three times in one year. We’ll find out.

Brady was lured from New England to Tampa Bay in order to transform a team that had talent. The Bucs have won their last five.

The Bucs invade the Saints, who waged a close-to-the-vest type of game against the Chicago Bears. It was what the Saints defense prevented, rather than what its offense accomplished, in the 21-9 triumph. But the Saints had receiver Michael Thomas back, and he scored. Quarterback Drew Brees did just enough and running back Alvin Kamara had a good second half.

Brees, Kamara, and Thomas will attract prop betting attention, along with Brady, Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown. The Brady-Brown connection is percolating.

NFC extra points: Pederson is out

The Eagles make the hot-stove circuit. There are no NFC playoff matchups involving them, but the Pederson news dominated Monday headlines.
It had looked as though Pederson would be given one more year after Philadelphia’s 4-11-1 season, but his meetings with team owner Jeffrey Lurie appeared to convey no long-term vision.

There was also a clash of ideas regarding Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. The Eagles have a long-term commitment with Wentz.

Ravens are one hot NFL Playoff team

Look out for the Baltimore Ravens, now winners of six straight. Their crushing ground game was expected in Sunday’s 20-13 triumph over the host Tennessee Titans.

What wasn’t forecast was the tremendous job of limiting “The Beast,” Derrick Henry, to 40 yards. Henry led the league in rushing, eclipsing 2,000 yards, but the Ravens stuffed the line of scrimmage and dared the Titans to beat them through the air.

We have mentioned Baltimore as the team nobody wants to play. They will now visit the Buffalo Bills in a great betting game from both sides. Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson as an anytime and first scorer remain popular wagering opportunities.

Baltimore’s defense has suddenly come alive and, combined with a stellar ground game, make the Ravens formidable.

The second-seeded Bills advanced to this conference semifinal, which they’ll host. This was their first playoff win since December 1995.

Buffalo showed playoff jitters in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts before building a 14-point second-half lead and barely hanging on, 27-24. Quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs are Buffalo’s major weapons

Can Browns rock again as double-digit underdog?

The Cleveland Browns visit the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs as a large, double-digit dog. The Browns obtained their first playoff victory in 26 years Sunday night, jumping to leads of 28-0 and 35-7 before coasting home, 48-37. The 28 first-quarter points is the most in an NFL playoff game, post 1970 merger.

Cleveland got its first win in Heinz Field since 2003 and secured its first-ever playoff victory over Pittsburgh. The Steelers, once 11-0, fizzled out and lost five of their last six games, including the Wild Card game.

Cleveland is rocking behind the punishing running game of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the league’s best backfield tandem.

Both players scored (Hunt twice) against Pittsburgh, rendering most of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s 500-plus passing yards against Cleveland’s defense an afterthought. The Browns intercepted Roethlisberger four times.

The Chiefs have not resembled their Super Bowl-winning form in a long time. In Week 16, they barely slipped past the Atlanta Falcons. In Week 17, the starters rested. Last week, this team was off.

Can the Chiefs suddenly turn it back on?

Patrick Mahomes has an arsenal of weapons and he usually targets Tyreek Hill early in the game for those thinking first touchdown scorer.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren



NFL Playoff Odds Boosts: Looking at the Brady Versus Smith Showdown

NFL Wild Card Weekend means there will be six, not four, games, and NJ sports betting customers have a full menu of boosts, props and promos.

There are six NFL wild card playoff games this weekend. Many New Jersey sports bettors have already found their edge — or lack of one — regarding the teams and players.

It’s a smaller schedule than the regular season and will push more NJ online sportsbook customers in the direction of boosts, props and promos.

Let’s observe the prolific betting landscape.

Fox Bet boosting Nick Chubb

Can Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns rush for more than 100 yards and score a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers? Fox Bet has boosted it to an eye-opening +400, up from +333. Chubb is certainly capable, and the Browns are a good rushing team.

Chubb accomplished this feat five times during the regular season. The latest was last week, against the Steelers. Pittsburgh, however, rested some key players.

For this realistic possibility to pay that well, the book is saying the public expects the Steelers to dominate and force Cleveland to throw more.

This bet is as much about where one thinks Cleveland will be in the game as whether Chubb can hit the number.

If the bet hits, it pays very well.

How well?

For Derrick Henry to achieve the same totals in the Tennessee Titans-Baltimore Ravens game, the odds are +100 — a staggering difference for the same achievement.

The intangible thrown into the Chubb bet is the absence of Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, who won’t be behind the bench. He’s out after testing positive for COVID-19.

Will this have an effect on the team’s organization?

The bet offers indirect insight on the game. For Chubb’s prop number to be that large, insiders don’t expect him to be a major factor. It would correlate with Pittsburgh dominating the game.

But will the bettors agree?

Tom Brady vs. Alex Smith

Here’s one from the Washington Football TeamTampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday evening game.

Can Tom Brady of Tampa Bay and Alex Smith of Washington each toss two or more touchdowns? It’s +300 for a reason.

Brady has been on a roll, picking apart defenses with 12 touchdowns against only one interception over recent games. But those performances have come against the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions.

Washington hasn’t allowed two passing touchdowns in a game since Week 13 and will be the best defense Brady has seen in several weeks.

Smith did throw two touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles in the team’s last game. Plus, Tampa does have a porous defense, so he will have a chance here. But he looks hobbled and can’t extend plays well.

Nonetheless, two touchdowns apiece is not a ridiculous thing to ask.

Colts-Bills kick off Wild Card Weekend

Here’s a prop to make bettors think about where the Indianapolis Colts-Buffalo Bills game will be during the fourth quarter.

Can each team come up with at least two touchdowns and two field goals?

The yes has been boosted from +225 to +250.

It’s a respectable return, because teams are not locked into scoring in each quarter. The key is believing the game will be close enough for a field goal to matter in the fourth quarter. Both teams are not shy about bypassing field goals and going for touchdowns, even in the red zone.

But with everything on the line, they could be tempted to play more conservatively and grab sure points when possible.

The proliferation of two-point attempts has also changed the number of field goals attempted. In taking this bet, you are hoping for a more conventional style of play.

More NFL betting possibilities

Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints to score twice against the Chicago Bears has been added. It’s gone up to +300.

There are some props for Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams, but be wary. His status is uncertain versus the Seattle Seahawks.

Here’s an apples-to-apples comparison to benefit line shoppers

FanDuel Sportsbook has boosted the moneyline payout for Buffalo, Seattle and Tampa Bay to win their games from +160 to +190. This is meaningful because most other books have this one in the +160 range.

Thirty basis points is a substantial edge for the bettor.

Moneyline parlays are a good idea in the first place, especially with clear-cut favorites involved. In most instances, bettors will hit the majority of the wagers and always feel as though there’s a good chance this will hit.

The question is whether they can get that last one, and there usually is one difficult or sweat part of the wager, to make the bet pay.

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DraftKings Sportsbook luring newcomers

If you haven’t joined the parade yet, now is an excellent time.

For Wild Card Weekend, DraftKings Sportsbook is offering an easy score for first-time users.

Amid the NFL’s highest-scoring season ever, all you need is a touchdown. It’s what DraftKings likes to refer to as a no-brainer bet. The rules are simple:

  • Sign up for an account using the above link.
  • Deposit at least $5 into your DraftKings Sportsbook account.
  • Bettors will be issued one single-use odds boost (+100) to use for any team to score a touchdown during Wild Card Weekend.
  • The wager must be placed prior to the kickoff of Saturday’s Bills-Colts game.
  • You must select the boost from your betslip before placing the bet.
  • The maximum bet is $50.

There is a similar promo for existing customers, but the maximum wager is $25.

PointsBet says you drink the ‘juice’

PointsBet has an exciting slate of promotions to kick off NFL Wild Card Weekend, including the return of No Juice +100 spread lines. The max bet is $10,000.

This eliminates the vig, or the price of playing the bet, usually 10% of the wager.

The promo has particular significance on large bets. A $10,000 wager will usually result in a vig of about $1,000.

The principle applies for smaller bets, too. A $300 wager, for example, would provide a savings of roughly $30 if the vig vanishes.

William Hill + NFL Saturday playoff bonus

Here’s an if-you-win angle from William Hill. It involves all three Saturday games.

All it takes is wagering at least $50 on a pregame bet, and if you win, bonuses will kick in. Basically, you’ll receive free bet dollars for your team’s top running back’s stats. Here are a few examples:

  • $1 toward a free bet per 10 rushing yards.
  • $6 toward a free bet per rushing touchdown.
  • $6 toward a free bet per receiving touchdown.

Credits will be applied directly to accounts within five business days after the promotion period has expired. The free bet must be used within seven days after it is awarded.

AP Photo/Derik Hamilton



Football Five: NFL Playoff Odds Heading Into Wild Card Weekend

With six wild card games taking place this weekend, there are plenty of questions to consider as the NFL playoff season gets underway.

Welcome to the NFL playoffs Week 1.

Football Five, make it six, goes one step further this week. There are six playoff games and six key questions that will be answered, deciding who advances.

For the NJ sports betting crowd, action has been brisk enough to move a couple of the lines.

Here’s  a look at the playoff picture.

Can the Buffalo Bills handle the NFL playoff stage?

The Bills haven’t hosted a playoff game in 25 years. However, they were immediately installed as a one-touchdown favorite against the Indianapolis Colts for Saturday’s opening wild card game.

But William Hill still had the line at -6.5 on Tuesday. That’s a difference maker for bettors.

The Buffalo optimism is justified.

Josh Allen has turned into that special quarterback this year, adding a nice passing touch to his well-established running credentials. Stefon Diggs gives him a great target as the league’s leading pass catcher, 127 of them. Isaiah McKenzie had a second-quarter hat trick in the team’s 56-26 season-ending triumph over the Miami Dolphins.

What further helps the implied coronation is local officials allowing roughly 7,000 people to attend the game.

The question is what happens if Buffalo finds itself in a tight game late? The Bills have been playing from ahead, way ahead, in recent games and have been able to remain loose.

Indy will try to keep this tight with a ball-controlled game, hoping Buffalo makes a key mistake.

How does Indianapolis counter?

Jonathan Taylor has become the power back this team has long needed. He brought stability to the Colts, helping minimize mistakes from quarterback Phillip Rivers. Taylor rushed for an insane 253 yards last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is the key to Indy’s chances.

The Colts also have Frank Reich, one of the top coaches in the game and a mastermind behind the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning season three years ago. Reich was a Bills quarterback in the 1990s.

Reich will try to steal a couple of possessions from Buffalo via long, sustained drives.

The line says Buffalo’s weapons are younger and a bit faster.

Did John Wolford become a veteran for the Rams?

It was John Wolford’s first game as a quarterback. He didn’t find the end zone and threw some interceptions. But Wolford settled down, and his rushing total of 56 yards helped the Rams do just enough to capture a must-win victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17.

Can he step it up one more notch against a better Seattle Seahawks team in Saturday’s middle game?

The teams split games on their own fields in the regular season. This is ground-and-pound, methodical football. The Rams will try to stay close enough to take this away from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson with a big defensive play.

The spread says bettors favor Wilson’s credentials over Wolford’s — unless Wolford’s running presents problems.

The teams scored 29 total points against each other two weeks ago. Seattle won the game, 20-9. The over-under for this one opened at 43.

Does Washington have any chance against Tampa Bay?

The line says no.

A home playoff team getting more than a touchdown is unusual. And the initial line of the Tampa Bay Bucs -7.5 did not attract Washington money. The line surged to -8.5 early in the week.

The Washington Football Team has epic problems scoring, and the Bucs figure to flush injured quarterback Alex Smith out of the pocket, where he has trouble moving, especially to his right. Tampa does not have a strong defense, but how good does it have to be here?

Washington limped to the wire but captured the NFC East with seven wins. Tampa Bay won 11, including the last four, and Tom Brady has never been better as a Buc than over the last four games. He’s got Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Mike Evans, along with a premier offensive line. The Tampa Bay mantra is winning shootouts.

The Washington defense is excellent and will make Brady battle for everything, but Brady is playing with renewed purpose now. This team has come together.

For Tampa bettors, the line is getting dicey, and many will tease it down, pay the premium and link this game into another one.

Note that the last two teams to win their divisions with sub .500 records, the 2010 Seahawks and 2014 Carolina Panthers, won their opening-round games. It’s hard to see a three-peat, though.

Who will win Ravens-Titans ground show?

The Ravens opened as slight favorites, the closest game of the first playoff week.

Don’t miss this one, opening Sunday’s schedule, especially if you love running games.

The over-under of 55 is the highest on the board this weekend. Titans running back Derrick Henry will be the subject of a prop-betting frenzy, from total yards to total touchdowns, anytime scoring and being the first touchdown scorer.

Henry surpassed 2,000 yards for the season in this past Sunday’s nail-biter over the Houston Texans. The Ravens stormed for 404 rushing yards, the first time in 20 years an NFL team did that, in crushing the Cincinnati Bengals, 38-3.

This is a Bengals team that had just beaten the Houston Texans, and then the Texans nearly defeated the Titans. That means the Ravens are scaling upward. Does that translate to an edge here?

Offensively, the teams have parity. Ryan Tannehill is an excellent, intelligent quarterback for the Titans. Henry is called “The Beast” for a reason. He has led the league in rushing the last two years. A.J. Brown is a bona fide deep threat for the Titans.

One intangible: The Ravens have been playing good defense, in part because their offense chews up a lot of time. Tennessee has one of the worst playoff defenses.

The defensive edge goes to the Ravens.

The second intangible, however, is the past.

The Titans stunned the Ravens, knocking them from the playoffs last year after Baltimore had compiled a 14-2 record. And earlier this season, the Titans beat the Ravens in overtime.

Do the Titans have the Ravens’ number, or is this Baltimore’s bounce back?

Great game coming.

Is there any NFL playoff love for Da Bears?

According to the odds, no.

The New Orleans Saints are the NFC’s No. 2  seed, which is represented by the opening week’s most lopsided line against the Chicago Bears, the last team to reach the playoffs.

Before bowing to the Green Bay Packers 35-16 last week, the Bears had scored 30 points or more in four straight weeks, a feat they had not accomplished since the 1960s. This is an overmatched Bears team but not a bad one, and the spread is huge.

The Saints should win, but it will be tempting for bettors to tease the line down.

Why is the Browns-Steelers line moving again?

Last week, the Cleveland Browns were -9 when they faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in a must-win situation. They did.

On Tuesday, they were +6 for the rematch, a swing of a whopping 15 points in two days.

What happened?

Pittsburgh had been an underdog for what became Sunday’s 24-22 loss to the Browns because it rested key players like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Even with that, the Steelers nearly pulled it out and opened for the rematch at -4.5.

But that line moved Tuesday once news broke that head coach Kevin Stefanski won’t coach on Sunday. He tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t be available to lead the team. That’s bound to have some effect, especially regarding communication on the field during the game. Some players also tested positive, but none, as of Tuesday afternoon, were overly significant.

Steelers bettors who jumped on the 4.5 relish that early decision.

Historically, the Steelers have owned the Browns at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh crushed Cleveland there 38-7 midway through the year.

How’s this matchup overall?

The Browns have a better running game; the Steelers own a better passing game and defense. And they have been here before, often. This is Cleveland’s first postseason appearance since 2002.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar



DraftKings Offering No-Brainer Bet For NFL Wild Card Weekend

DraftKings is offering new and existing users a chance double their money if any team scores a touchdown during Wild Card Weekend.

DraftKings Sportsbook is making sure every player walks away a winner this weekend when the NFL playoffs kick off.

For wild card games Saturday and Sunday, DraftKings is offering a no-brainer bet: double your money if any team scores a touchdown.

The promo is available to new and existing users. The max wager is $25.

Free money is a no-brainer, every time

This is not the first time DraftKings has offered a no-brainer bet.

In September, bettors had the opportunity to wager on a +101 point spread for the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the season opener against Houston Texans.

Last season, the no-brainer bet was whether the Philadelphia Eagles would score a touchdown in Week 1.

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How to take advantage of DraftKings’ promo

Getting a piece of the latest DraftKings no-brainer action is simple. Existing users need to log in and click on the promo link at the top of the page. 

New users can create an account by clicking the above link. You will need to deposit funds to cover the wager. 

Here are additional terms to the DraftKings no-brainer:

  • Offer applies to NFL Wild Card Weekend. 
  • Opt-in is required.
  • Bettors will be issued one single-use odds boost to use for “any team to score a touchdown.”
  • Boosted price is +100.
  • Bet must be placed prior to kickoff on Jan. 9 at 1:05 p.m. EST.
  • User must select the boost from their bet slip before placing a wager.
  • One qualifying bet per user.
  • Excludes live bets, parlays, free bets, cash-out bets and voided bets.

Wild NFL weekend on tap

There are six games on the NFL schedule this weekend. All times listed are Eastern Standard.


  • Indianapolis Colts (+6.5) at Buffalo Bills, 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
  • Los Angeles Rams (+4) at Seattle Seahawks, 4:40 p.m. (FOX)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8.5) at Washington Football Team, 8:15 p.m. (NBC)


  • Baltimore Ravens (+3.5)  at  Tennessee Titans, 1:05 p.m. (ABC/ESPN)
  • Chicago Bears (+10) at New Orleans Saints, 4:40 p.m. (CBS)
  • Cleveland Browns (+6) at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:15 p.m. (NBC)

All point spreads listed are from DraftKings as of 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

So with a total of six games and 12 teams, it’s pretty much a no-brainer that Wild Card Weekend will include plenty of TDs.

One is all it takes to cash in that bet slip.

AP Photo/Isaac Brekken


Wild Card Weekend Odds: Breaking Down NFL Playoff Field

The NFL playoff schedule will feature three games each on Saturday and Sunday starting with the Indianapolis Colts visting the Buffalo Bills.

Here come the NFL playoffs, the coveted second season for NJ sports betting operators and bettors.

Three games on Saturday and Sunday form a strong six-game Wild Card Weekend, adding two games to the first-round total of previous years.

As it prepares for the postseason, the NFL, sportsbooks, and gamblers savor a monster victory. The league completed all 256 regular season games without a single COVID-19-related cancellation.

We take a closer look at the Wild Card games in this week’s  Odds Five breakdown.

Saturday NFL playoff  games

The Buffalo Bills opened as a significant favorite over the visiting Indianapolis Colts for the weekend opener at DraftKings sportsbook.

The host Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams meet for the second time in three weeks. Favored Seattle won the last battle, 20-9.

In the evening finale, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a fat -7.5 against the host Washington Football Team. The 7-9 squad eared a home game by winning the NFC East. Hey, somebody had to do it.

Sunday NFL playoff games

The visting Baltimore Ravens opened at slightly above a field-goal favorite against the Tennessee Titans, in what could be the most entertaining matchup of the weekend. It opens the Sunday ticket.

The host New Orleans Saints are the lopsided chalk against the Chicago Bears in the middle game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, at -4, host the Cleveland Browns for the second straight week, this time with their starters, in the evening clash.

 Saturday NJ sports betting overview

Line shopping provided deals for Buffalo Bills bettors in the early trading.

While Buffalo opened at -7.5 at DraftKings, encouraging action on Indianapolis, William Hill had the line at -6.5. That’s an enticement for Bills’ bettors and indicates the sensitivity of that dreaded “7” number. Bettors will be ready to whale on either side of the Buffalo -7 line, depending on which team they prefer.

Buffalo enjoyed a monster regular-season sprint of six straight wins to the finish line. In that surge, they defeated the Steelers and then torched the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, and Miami Dolphins by scoring 142 points. That’s almost 50 a game.

Buffalo is doing the intangibles found with championship teams.

They  crushed a 10-6  Dolphins team that needed the season finale, 56-26. The Bills featured the league’s leading receiver in Stefon Diggs, a strong young quarterback in Josh Allen, a defense that picked Tua Tagovailoa three times and scored, along with a special team’s unit that delivered a punt-return score. One player, Isaiah McKenzie, scored three consecutive touchdowns, including the punt return TD.

This team is feelin it. And local officials just relaxed its COVID-19 restrictions to allow nearly 7,000 spectators into this game.

Indy has one of the game’s best coaches in Frank Reich and a good run game.

The Seahawks do just enough to win, week in and week out. They face a Rams team that gutted out a season-ending 18-7 triumph over the Arizona Cardinals without quarterback Jared Goff. The defense notched a score and quarterback John Wolford improved throughout the game.

But now he goes against Russell Wilson. In Los Angeles, there is sentiment to start Wolford, who accounted for nearly 300 combined pass and run yardage this past week against the Arizona Cardinals, even if Goff is healthy.

The Bucs, riding a similar wave of dominance, have crushed their last three foes, the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons (twice) to the tune of   122-61.

Tampa Bay has been on an offensive steamroll. In the last four games, Tom Brady has reached the level expected from him when he was lured away from the New England Patriots in the offseason.

Brady features a sizzling 12 touchdowns against just one interception over the last four games.  He has thrown for over 390 yards twice. Brady is releasing the ball with more certainty, the offensive line is protecting him, and a talented group of receivers like Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown help make Tampa Bay one of the hottest offensive team in the NFC.

The Bucs will meet a legitimate defense for the first time in four weeks, providing a good clash for Brady. One reason for the lopsided line? The Washington offense is weak.

Sunday NJ sports betting overview

The Ravens, the team nobody wants to play in the postseason, opened as slight road favorites against the Titans, who beat them 30-24 in overtime during the regular season.

Sunday’s opener features a terrific matchup of The Beast, Titans running back Derrick Henry, against the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens, who ran for an astounding 404 yards in Sunday’s 38-3 pasting of the Cincinnati Bengals. It was the most rushing yards in an NFL game by one team since the Bengals did it in 2000. The Ravens won their last five games to finish 11-5.

The Titans come off an exhilarating last-play triumph over the Houston Texans. And it was a roller-coaster ride for the bettors.

They won on a doink. Kicker Sam Sloman’s game-ending field goal banged off the right upright and snaked across the crossbar.

The Titans were heavily favored. Many moneyline parlays contained them winning this game. The “doink” therefore resonated with gamblers.

New Orleans looked methodical in crushing the Carolina Panthers, while the Bears flirted with an upset of the Green Bay Packers before surrendering two fourth-quarter scores and losing 35-16 in the season finale.

The line for this late-afternoon game says the second-seeded Saints are playing too well and should roll the team that got the last playoff spot. We’ll see.

And then the Browns and Steelers do it again, with everything on the line for both teams.

Cleveland nearly choked on the gift it was given Sunday, when the Steelers rested quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and others for a game they didn’t need.

Cleveland, at -9, jumped to a 24-9 lead early in the fourth quarter. But the Browns gave up 13 fourth-quarter points and escaped with a 24-22 home triumph. It took the denial of a two-point conversion to ensure the Browns’ first playoff appearance since 2002.

Now they are the visiting team and Roethlisberger is back in. The first line of Pittsburgh -4 was 13 points different than the Browns -9 for the week 17 finale.

Wild Card Weekend ‘bye’ standers

You won’t see the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend.  The Packers have the NFC top seed and the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs garnered the AFC’s lone bye. Each team will face the lowest-rated survivor of the Week 1 playoff round.

Both teams have home field throughout the playoffs.

Final look at the NFC East, the division nobody wanted

Every team had at least one four-game losing streak. The eventual winners, Washington, once dropped five straight.

No team could sustain the run that put it in first place.

The Eagles once in “command” of the division at 3-4-1, finished 1-7.

The Giants took over with a pulsating triumph against the Seahawks as a massive underdog, but then lost three straight. They escaped in Week 17 against the Dallas Cowboys, who had won three straight, because Dallas fell apart inside the Giants’ 10-yard line in the final two minutes.

That put a light on Washington, which rebounded from a 1-5 start to win the division at 7-9. Its last four wins were on the road, including a strange 20-14 triumph over the Eagles on Sunday.

How strange?

Eagles coach Doug Pederson made two head-scratching moves in this game. He bypassed a chip-shot field goal that would have tied the game late in the third quarter and the Eagles did not score on fourth down. Pederson then inexplicably replaced starter Jalen Hurts, who had rushed for two touchdowns, in the fourth quarter.

Washington was on its heels and ripe to be beaten. Pederson’s move prompted derisive comments like “Tank You Very Much” by New York Giants fans, who accused the Eagles of laying down in order to preserve a better draft pick. Pederson was also second-guessed on the national broadcast.

Gamblers got burned, too. Hurts’ over-under rushing attempts was 9.5 across the major books. He was at eight and probably would have run at least twice more. When he sat, that bet lost.

On to the postseason, where history has been kind to teams in Washington’s position.

The two teams that did win their divisions with sub .500 records, the 2010 Seattle Seahawks and 2014 Carolina Panthers, both won their first-round game.

And the coach who did it in 2014?

Ron Rivera. The same Rivera that guides the 7-9 Football Team into this postseason.

AP Photo/John Munson