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Sunday NFL playoff odds: Patriots, Saints listed as favorites

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The matchup involves the New England Patriots and Tom Brady, at home, in January, with the prospect of nasty northeast weather – but then there’s also their opponent’s sterling record as an underdog.

The Patriots are 4-point betting favorites on the NFL odds against the Los Angeles Chargers with a 47.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com for their Divisional Playoff matchup at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Patriots are 15-0 straight-up and 12-3 against the spread in their last 15 games as home favorites, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, and are also 7-3 ATS in their last 10 playoff games. However, the Chargers are 5-0 SU in their last five games on the East Coast, and are also 7-1 SU and ATS in their last eight games as an underdog of 4.5 or fewer points.

The Chargers, who are 13-4 SU and 10-7 ATS, did not need a great show of offensive proficiency to advance out of Wild Card Weekend, but quarterback Philip Rivers is one of the NFL’s best at the chunk play – passes thrown more than 20 yards downfield – and the Patriots, at least in the regular season, showed some vulnerability in their deep coverage.

The Chargers’ leading rusher, Melvin Gordon, is expected to be healthy to face a run defense that was 29th in opponents’ yards per carry (4.9).

How the Patriots, who were 11-5 SU and 9-7 ATS, go about their business barely needs introducing – they give Brady a tightly insulated pocket and work in a bruising running game. New England allowed just 21 sacks in the regular season but the Chargers have strong edge pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

The Chargers boast a stout pass defense (7.1 yards per attempt) that particularly excels at taking away tight ends, so Rob Gronkowski could be limited, forcing Brady to find outside targets such as Julian Edelman. New England’s losses this season have come when their ground game was stifled, and the Chargers have an adequate run defense.

Weather could be a factor, and the total has gone UNDER in five of the Chargers’ last six games against the Patriots, with a combined score of 40.5 points. The total has also gone UNDER in eight of the Patriots’ last nine games, with an average combined score of 40.89 points.

Also Sunday, the New Orleans Saints are 8-point betting favorites against the Philadelphia Eagles with a 51.5-point total in their Divisional Playoff matchup. The Saints are 14-2 SU in their last 16 games at home, but just 2-8 ATS in their last 10 playoff games as the favorite. The Eagles are 1-4 SU and ATS in their last five games against the Saints.

The Eagles, who are 10-7 SU and 7-9-1 ATS after eking out a Wild Card Weekend win at Chicago, seem to be a changed team from the one that lost 48-7 against the Saints eight weeks ago. Quarterback Nick Foles has a matchup against a defense that was in the lower third of the league in stopping the pass, so the playoff-seasoned Eagles might be able to extend a trend of being 6-2 ATS in their last eight games in the playoffs on the road.

The Eagles’ by-committee backfield gets different conditions indoors at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome than at Chicago’s Soldier Field, but the Saints have the league’s No. 2-ranked run defense.

The Saints, 13-3 SU and 10-6 ATS, clearly rate the edge at quarterback since Drew Brees has been unstoppable in his climate-controlled home. While the Eagles seem sounder physically and schematically than they were in that Week 11 shellacking, Brees just has too many weapons – Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, just to name two – and an offensive line that allowed just 20 sacks should limit the Eagles’ capability of getting pressure with a four-man rush.

One reason why the Saints might not cover the touchdown-plus point spread, though, is that their rushing game has regressed while the Eagles have improved in this phase, which could mean the Saints end up being somewhat one-dimensional.

The total has gone UNDER in three of the Eagles’ last four games against the Saints, with an average combined score of 50.5 points. The total has gone UNDER in five of the Saints’ last seven games, with an average combined score of 42.14 points.

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

Daytona 500 Odds: Betting Preview for Great American Race

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Winning the Great American Race once might generate confidence with bettors, but recent history shows that it means little once the race begins.

Joey Logano, one of the eight past champions in the field, is the +800 co-favorite on the Daytona 500 odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Brad Keselowski (+800) and Kevin Harvick (+850) join Logano at the top of the board.

The favorites for the NASCAR Cup season opener at Daytona International Speedway also include Kyle Busch (+1200), who won in 2017, as well as Ryan Blaney (+1100), Clint Bowyer (+1100), Chase Elliott (+1100) and Denny Hamlin (+1100).

A chalk pick with Logano, who will start fourth, is justifiable, but the wide-open nature of motorsports means the value is farther down on the board and higher in the grid. Ten of the last 13 champions, including the last four, have been first-time winners. Five of the last six winners have started eighth or higher on the grid.

Picking Keselowski would mean being comfortable with a racer who has failed to finish in the last four runnings at Daytona International Speedway. Elliott is a big name bettors probably should fade, based on the fact he has also fared poorly on this track. Likewise, Harvick has failed to finish in four of his last five runnings on the track, while Kyle Busch has finished outside of the top five in each of the last two years.

Aric Almirola (+1100), who had the lead in the 2018 race until he crashed with a mile to go, still holds of a lot of value as bettors try to gauge whether he has put that misfortune in this showcase event behind him or it becomes some sort of mental millstone. Jimmie Johnson (+1800), who won the rain-shortened Advance Auto Parts Clash last Sunday, is one former champion who might worth taking a flier on.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+1500) has fared well in his recent restrictor-plate races and would fit the first-time winner trend. A darkhorse whose NASCAR odds for Sunday have dropped without killing his value, though, is Daniel Suarez (+2200), who ran well during the aforementioned Clash before getting stuck behind a wreck and ultimately finishing 10th.

It is tough enough to win Daytona twice in a lifetime, let alone twice in a row, so defending champion Austin Dillon (+3000) is well down the board at online sports betting sites. No driver has won the race twice in a row since Sterling Marlin in 1994 and 1995.

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

Smith Jr., Curry, Team LeBron favorites on All-Star weekend NBA odds

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Overdoing it in the Slam Dunk Contest last year has given Dennis Smith Jr.’s odds a little more vertical, so to speak, entering NBA All-Star weekend.

Smith is the +200 favorite on the Slam Dunk Contest odds for Saturday in Charlotte at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The New York Knicks point guard was the favorite in the 2018 edition but a miss in the first round brought him back to earth, helping the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell – who’s not competing this time around – win the title.

The aesthetics of the dunk contest tend to favor players around the size of the six-foot-three Smith, who may have learned some lessons about the procedure of the event.

Miles Bridges (+225) of the host Charlotte Hornets is an explosive leaper who has the hometown advantage. The Atlanta Hawks’ John Collins (+225), as the tallest player competing, might be at a judging disadvantage.

The Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (+175) is the favorite on the Three-Point Contest odds, followed by defending champion Devin Booker (+450), Buddy Hield (+450), Seth Curry (+550), Kemba Walker (+900), Joe Harris (+900) and Damian Lillard (+900).

The fact that 10 players have won in the last 10 years highlights the randomness of the event. Beyond Stephen Curry, Booker offers excellent value in an event that is overdue for someone to win back-to-back, and Walker will be competing on his home floor, although no host-team player has won in the event’s 32-year history.

De’Aaron Fox (+250) has top odds in the Skills Challenge at betting sites, followed by Luka Doncic (+325), Trae Young (+375), Mike Conley (+550), Nikola Jokic (+600), Jayson Tatum (+600) and Kyle Kuzma (+700). International players comprise four of the last nine winners and Doncic might offer more upside than the favored Fox. The last three winners of this timed event have all been six-six or taller, so a skilled big such as the six-nine Kuzma poses a darkhorse threat.

As for the game on Sunday, Team LeBron is a 6-point betting favorite against Team Giannis. The higher value resides in the game MVP props, where superlative scorer Kevin Durant (+600) is co-favorite to win MVP with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Team LeBron is loaded with three-point threats such as Durant, James himself (+650), James Harden (+1000), Klay Thompson (+4000), Damian Lillard (+4000) and Bradley Beal (+4000). Harden’s historic streak of 30-point games makes him an intriguing pick.

On the Team Giannis side, the Greek Freak himself would seem to pose the best chance; the game MVP always comes from the winning side and he would stand to play a major role in the betting-line underdog winning on these NBA odds.

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