Being a successful sports bettor is not about betting on the best team, but betting the best number. Scoring the optimal odds for your wager can sometimes be a race to the window – or your mobile – to get the spread or total you want before it changes. Or, sometimes it’s a waiting game until just before kickoff, projecting how the public players will manipulate the numbers.
Covers’ Senior Industry Analyst Jason Logan gives you a heads-up on the best “Bet Now/Bet Later” games on the NFL board each week.
Week 3 gives us a clearer picture of who teams really are but there’s not enough out there to point the finger with confidence. That makes getting down on the best spread and total for your opinion even more important. Here goes Week 3…
SPREAD TO BET NOW: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS -6.5
NFL bettors get a great game in the 1 pm E.T. slot in Week 3 with the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs butting heads in a battle of offenses ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in average yards, respectively. However, Baltimore’s results should be treated like a king cobra: respect what it can do, but don’t trust it.
The Ravens ransacked the boxscore in matchups with Miami and Arizona – two teams that sat at the bottom of the NFL season win totals board this summer. Baltimore’s defense could be exposed against this elite K.C. offense. The Ravens gave Arizona only 22 minutes with the football last Sunday and rookie passer Kyler Murray produced 349 yards passing and 17 points in that short frame. Baltimore is allowing 5.4 yards per play through two weeks, yet ranks second in yards allowed per game. Hmmmm.
Kansas City is in Arrowhead for the first time this season after two solid road showings. The Chiefs blasted Oakland in Week 2 after putting 40 on the Jacksonville Jaguars (who lost their starting QB in the middle of the game) in Week 1. While those opponents/circumstances are almost as soft as the Ravens’ slate, Kansas City did do so away from home and will have a sizable edge in the homer opener Sunday, especially when it comes to crowd noise versus Lamar Jackson and this wheelin’-dealin’ Baltimore attack.
If you aren’t sold on the Ravens running up the score and think the Chiefs are worth your pocket change, hit the home side under the key number of seven right now. Plenty of books have already moved to -7 so getting the fave at -6.5 could be vital in what should be a really fun game.
SPREAD TO BET LATER: MIAMI DOLPHINS +21.5
There’s a point in every bad team’s season in which the betting markets over-correct so much, it actually makes a bad bet a good one. And for a team as bad as the Dolphins, that tipping point could be as early as Week 3.
The math is simple: one team heading down, losing its first two games by a combined 92 points, and tanking like Zion Williamson is waiting on the other side. The other team is 2-0, putting up the second-most yardage in the NFL, and one of the most popular franchises (and bets) in all of sports. Mix it up in a bowl with a dash of early sharp money, and you get a spread moving from as low as -15.5 to -21.5 on the home side.
If you’re on the fence about the Dolphins, just let the media puff up the Cowboys and bash the Fins (especially now that they’re trading away top young players) this week. Come Sunday, you could be looking at even more points.
TOTAL TO BET NOW: UNDER 44.5 NEW ORLEANS AT SEATTLE
How much is Drew Brees worth to the Saints’ odds? Well, the lookahead had New Orleans getting a point in Seattle with a total of 50 before Brees was ruled out for the next six weeks with a thumb injury. So, do the math lazy.
Losing Brees is crushing but the Saints are somewhat set up to absorb that injury better than most teams. Backup Teddy Bridgewater has experience and shared plenty of reps with dynamic QB Taysom Hill in the preseason. That switch does shorten the New Orleans attack, but it doesn’t completely pull the plug.
The Seahawks offense went back to the basics in Week 2, running the football 33 times and chewing up almost 36 minutes in time of possession in a win over Pittsburgh. Last season, the Seahawks loved to pound the turf at CenturyLink, averaging 175.5 yards on the ground per home game (almost 39 yards more than on the road) with nearly six more handoffs as a host.
This game is also in Seattle, where people still put weight into this home-field edge. I will say, the crowd noise could give the Saints’ backups some issues on snap counts and audibles and rain is also in the forecast for Sunday, so yeah… it’s Seattle.
If you project a low-scoring finish in the wake of the Brees injury, then have at it. This total will likely tick down before the 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff. But watch for sharp buy back on the Over. Plug this Over/Under into your Covers Live App and let the line alerts do the heavy lifting.
TOTAL TO BET LATER: OVER 48 HOUSTON AT L.A. CHARGERS
These teams combined for a grand total of just 23 points in Week 2, with Houston just getting past Jacksonville 13-12 and Los Angeles falling 13-10 at Detroit. That’s ticked this total down from 49 points to as low as 47.5 at some books.
Those early Under bettors have been quick to downgrade two very strong offensive teams that ran into solid defenses and played in tough situational spots last Sunday. I try to keep my own wagers out of the way with these “Bet Now/Later” articles, but I like the Over in this Week 3 matchup and love seeing the total go the other way.
Houston has a loaded receiving corps and showed that on Monday Night Football in Week 1, and now that group gets to snack on a bunch of rusty lawn chairs – or whatever secondary the Bolts have left after getting chewed up by the injury bugs. Unfortunately for the Texans, their defense is not so loaded, giving up key plays and big gains to both Brees in the opener and rookie QB Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars last week.
The L.A. offense (which sits fourth in yards per game) left a ton of points on the table in Motown, with two touchdowns called back on penalties, a goal-line fumble, an interception in the end zone and two missed field goals. We’ve seen the Chargers do this exact thing in the past, only to rebound with a strong scoring effort the following week.
If you’re like me and love the Over, be patient and let this continue to creep down. Injury reports on Thursday and Friday won’t paint a pretty picture for the Bolts pass defense, so you might want to snap up the Over on the lowest number you can get before then. Good luck.
The San Diego State Aztecs will look to keep their perfect season going on Sunday, while Texas Tech and Kentucky tangle in a matchup between two Top-20 teams on Saturday night. Rohit Ponnaiya digs into the college basketball odds and brings you his favorite bets and predictions for the weekend.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
The game of the night Friday will take place in the Big East as Marquette tangles with Butler. After falling 76-61 to Villanova on Tuesday (which made us a bit of money), Butler has now lost three straight games after beginning the season with a 15-1 record. In Butler’s last three games they’ve allowed 112.3 points per 100 possessions and a large reason for that is that they’ve been sending opposing teams to the line. Over that three game span they’ve given foes an average of 26.7 free throw attempts per game.
That’s bad news against a Marquette squad that has scored at least 82 points in each of it’s last three games and is led by the leading scorer in the country in Markus Howard. Howard has averaged 35 points per game over his last five contests and has averaged 12.5 FTA over his last two. As a team the Golden Eagles know how to get to the line, attempting 23.6 free throws per game, 18th highest in the country. We like the Over 64.5 on Marquette’s team total.
EVERYTHING IS BIGGER IN TEXAS
Two Top-20 teams face off in the Lone Star State on Saturday as the Kentucky Wildcats travel to Lubbock to face Texas Tech at 6:00 p.m ET. This matchup should get plenty of action with the Red Raiders coming off a Final Four finish while Kentucky is…well Kentucky.
Texas Tech is coming off a road loss against TCU but is 9-1 at home. Chris Beard’s Red Raiders are known for their defensive intensity and this year’s squad ranks 7th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency according to the KenPom rating system. That said, Kentucky ranks 42nd in defensive efficiency and 32nd in offensive efficiency (while Texas Tech ranks 97th on offense).
Kentucky has three guards (Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and Tyrese Maxey) that love to apply pressure on opposing ball-handlers while also being able to create their own shot. With Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery, Calipari’s squad has a (pardon the pun) big edge in size and rebounding ability. And unlike past editions of the Wildcats, this team has plenty of veteran experience so don’t expect them to be rattled playing in hostile territory.
We’re expecting Texas Tech to have the chalk and backing UK as the likely underdog, but if public action makes the Wildcats the faves the value will be on the Red Raiders.
HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN DEVILS
It’s the battle of Arizona on Saturday night as the Arizona State Sun Devils host the Arizona Wildcats. These teams met up on January 4, with the Wildcats routing ASU by a score of 75-47. But don’t expect to see a repeat of that score with the Sun Devils now enjoying home-court advantage.
The Wildcats led by guard Nico Mannion and big man Zeke Nnaji are 13-5 but they have been very beatable when playing outside of Tucson. They’re 9-2 ATS at home but just 1-6 ATS on the road and at neutral sites. They have an average scoring margin of plus-26.6 ppg at home but that falls to minus-1 ppg away from home.
The Sun Devils also play way better in front of their home crowd, outscoring opponents by a margin of plus-15.7 ppg in Tempe, compared to minus-7.2 ppg when they have to travel. Take the home side to cover as underdogs.
THE LAST OF THE UNBEATENS
The last unbeaten team in the country are the No. 4 San Diego Aztecs who head to Vegas to take on the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels on Sunday. The Aztecs have an aggressive defense and have been holding opponents to just 56.7 ppg on 36.7 percent shooting. But SDSU has been effective on the offensive end of the floor as well, ranking 14th in the country in offensive efficiency.
UNLV has been solid, winning seven of the their last nine games and going 6-3 ATS, but they might be out of their depth here. Their two losses during that span were by 14 points against Nevada and seven points against Boise State. The Aztecs beat Nevada by 13 points and clobbered BSU by 18 after leading by 23 points at halftime.
UNLV has been sloppy with the ball turning the ball over 14.6 times per game, second-worst among all Mountain West teams. SDSU has just 11.1 turnovers per game on offense while their pesky defense forces 15.2 TO per game. The full game spread might be a bit too rich for our blood but with the Aztecs fifth in the nation with an average first-half scoring margin of plus-9.2 ppg, look for them to cover the 1H spread.
MID-MAJOR TO WATCH: DAYTON (17-2 SU, 11-8 ATS, 13-6 O/U)
Dayton is flying up the rankings currently sitting at No. 7. Their 17-2 record is even more impressive when you consider that both defeats were in overtime to quality opponents, falling 90-84 to Kansas and 78-76 to Colorado.
Led by forward Obi Toppin (19.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 62.3 percent shooting) the Flyers are first in the country in field goal percentage at 52.5 percent and rank third in scoring with 83 ppg. On Saturday they take on the Richmond Spiders who can also fill up the basket converting at a clip of 47.5 percent from the field, including a sizzling 57.6 percent from the floor over their last three games. The Over is worth looking at.
NATIONAL TITLE ODDS
Gonzaga isn’t a program to sleep on anymore, currently sitting at No. 1 in the polls and with the best odds to win the National Championship at +1000. The Zags have the top rated offense in the nation, putting up 88.8 ppg on 50.6 percent shooting and those numbers jump up to 93.5 ppg and 52.5 percent at home.
On Saturday, Gonzaga hosts Pacific and will probably be favored by more than 20 points. Gonzaga is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings at home between the two teams dating back to 2016, and the average score of those games was 80-52 in favor of Gonzaga.
If you want to look at a team that’s tumbled down the odds board look no further than the Memphis Tigers who came into the season at +1300 after a terrific recruiting class. After top freshman James Wiseman was suspended and then chose to leave the school, Memphis has looked ugly, coming off a 80-40 smackdown at the hands of Tulsa on Wednesday night. The Tigers currently sit at +6000 odds and even that might be generous. Memphis will try to get back on track on Saturday as they host SMU.
• By holding Memphis to just 40 points, Tulsa managed to cash the Under for the sixth game in a row. The Golden Hurricanes are 15-4 to the Under and will take on UConn on Sunday. Thanks to a defense that ranks inside the Top-50 teams in the country in opponent FG percentage and an offense that ranks outside the Top-250 in FG percentage, the Huskies have also been a great Under bet, going below the total in 12 of their last 16 contests.
• Virginia has been awful on offense, terrific on defense and plays at the slowest pace in Div 1. But oddsmakers might set the total for their Sunday matchup on the road against Wake Forest a tad too low. The Demon Deacons have gone 8-0-1 to the Over in their last nine games and are 7-1 O/U at home this season.
• Austin Peay is 7-0 ATS in their last seven games overall and is a perfect 6-0 ATS at home this season. On Saturday, the Governors will host the Belmont Bruins in a Ohio Valley Conference matchup. The Bruins are coming off a 10-point loss on the road against Murray State and have failed to cover in their last two away contests.
With the NHL heading into the All-Star break we take a look the updated futures odds to win the Stanley Cup as well as the best and worst teams to wager on in terms of Moneyline, Puckline and Over/Under bets.
Despite Washington leading the way for the Presidents’ Trophy this season, Tampa Bay still has the best odds to win the Stanley Cup. The Lightning are followed by the Boston Bruins and the defending Stanley Cup champions the St. Louis Blues.
On the other hand, the Toronto Maple Leafs have fallen outside the Top-5 and now sit at +2000, while the San Jose Sharks have plummeted from a Stanley Cup contender to a +8000 long shot.
Here are every teams’ odds to win the Stanley Cup, courtesy of the Superbook at Westgate:
|Teams||Odds to win Stanley Cup (as of Jan 23)|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+600|
|St. Louis Blues||+800|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+1,000|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+2,000|
|New York Islanders||+4,000|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+4,000|
|San Jose Sharks||+8,000|
|New York Rangers||+10,000|
|Los Angelas Kings||+50,000|
|New Jersey Devils||+200,000|
|Detroit Red Wings||+1,000,000|
The Capitals don’t just have the best record in the league, they’ve also been the best Over bet as well as the top team to back on the moneyline returning a profit of +9.35 units for bettors this season.
Thanks to rookie goalie Elvis Merzlikins and a group of forwards that can’t find the back of the net, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been the NHL’s best Under bet. The top team to back on the puckline as a favorite has been the surprising Vancouver Canucks who lead the Pacific Division.
While the Golden Knights were sweating sportsbooks when they made their Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Finals two years ago, oddsmakers have made some of that money back this season as the Knights have been the second-worst money team in the league. The Knights are still way ahead of Detroit who has cost bettors dearly with a loss of almost 20 units.
BEST OVER BETS
|Toronto Maple Leafs||28-18|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||27-20|
BEST UNDER BETS
|Colombus Blue Jackets||18-32|
|San Jose Sharks||21-28|
BEST MONEY BETS
|Teams||Total Money Won (based on 100$ bets)|
|New York Islanders||$700|
|Colombus Blue Jackets||$605|
|New York Rangers||$567|
WORST MONEY BETS
|Teams||Total Money Won (based on 100$ bets)|
|Detroit Red Wings||$-1992|
|Las Vegas Golden Knights||$-1010|
|Los Angelas Kings||$-916|
|San Jose Sharks||$-895|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||$-829|
BEST PUCKLINE TEAMS AT -1.5
|Teams||Total Money Won as Puckline Favorite (PL record as favorite)|
|Vancouver Canucks||$840 (11-12)|
|Colorado Avalanche||$771 (14-14)|
|Chicago Blackhawks||$480 (7-8)|
|Florida Panthers||$410 (13-17)|
|New York Rangers||$375 (5-5)|