NFL Underdogs: Week 4 pointspread picks and predictions

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There’s nothing like a good old fashion distraction to hide the ugliness. I do it with my screaming kids, the President does it to the media pretty much every week, and the New York Giants are doing it in Week 4 of the NFL season.

The talk of the Big Apple is rookie QB Daniel Jones and his triumphant debut as the Giants’ new starter, just squeaking out a victory at Tampa Bay last Sunday. Jones passed for two touchdowns and scrambled for two more, ushering in a new era for New York football and putting the dark days of Eli Manning under center to bed.

But while football fans fall in love with “Danny Dimes” they’re blinded to the fact that the G-Men have one of the worst defenses in the NFL. New York has allowed scores of 38, 28, and 31 points through three games, giving up 6.8 yards per play to opponents (second worst) and getting torched for 16 strikes of 20-plus yards, including allowing six plays of 40 yards or more.

When you’re hemorrhaging those kinds of gains, it’s a lot to ask a rookie passer – without his best weapon (Saquon Barkley out with high ankle sprain) – to pick up the slack. And honestly, had the Bucs made that last-second field goal in Week 3, this line could look very different (lookahead lines had Giants -2 before Week 3).

New York’s Week 4 opponents, the Washington Redskins, don’t exactly fill football bettors with confidence. Washington is playing on a short week after a rough home outing on Monday night, losing to a desperate Bears squad and falling to 0-3 on the season.

The Redskins are sitting near the Giants at the bottom of the defensive results, but some of the blame can be put on an offense that has turned the ball over five times in three games and has forced the stop unit to play more than 33 minutes per outing – fourth most in the league. With Barkley out of order, the New York offense (which is averaging a NFL-high 6.3 yards per run) becomes one-dimensional, allowing the Skins to focus on frustrating the rookie.

This line is starting to tick down at some books, so grab the Redskins at a field goal and brace for some ugliness.

PICK: Washington +3

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT DENVER BRONCOS (-3.5, 38.5)

Do we still think Denver has a good defense? Is that still a “thing”?

I’m not a huge stat head but the Broncos’ DVOA at FootballOutsiders has this unit ranked among the bottom feeders of the NFL. Denver is winless through three games, allowing 22.3 points per game despite giving up only 314 yards an outing (ninth in the NFL). What’s more, the Broncos have yet to record a single sack or takeaway in 2019. That’s bonkers.

A deeper dive shows that this methodical Broncos offense, which chews up nearly 32 minutes of clock, has worked to cloak those issue with the stop unit. Opponents have held possession for a mere 28 minutes a contest, scoring almost 0.8 points per minute or 0.4 points per play. The Broncos’ scoring attack has posted totals of 16, 14, and 16 through the first three weeks and runs into a solid Jacksonville defense in Week 4.

The Jaguars pass rush was the star of the show last Thursday, recording what seemed like 100 sacks (actually nine) against a Titans offense that looks pretty similar to the one the Jags will face in Denver Sunday. Broncos QB Joe Flacco has been sacked 11 times already this season, including five against the Packers last week.

As for the Jaguars offense and rookie Gardner Minshew, they benefit from a mini bye coming off the Thursday game in Week 3. That should help with Minshew’s maturation before this big road game as well as give RB Leonard Fournette some time to recharge after fighting through a frustrating night versus the Titans.

I’m taking the points against a 0-3 team that’s worse than it looks. And it looks pretty bad.

PICK: Jacksonville +3.5

CINCINNATI BENGALS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-4, 43.5)

I’m back on the 0-3 Bengals and the points for the third time in three weeks. And why not?

Cincy woke up just in time to put 17 second-half points up versus the Bills and steal the cover as a 6-point pup at Buffalo last Sunday. In Week 1, the Bengals’ new up-tempo attack caught the Seahawks by surprise, and kept things close enough to cover the +9.5 as the visitors.

Those results improved Cincinnati to 13-5 ATS on the road going back to 2017, including an 11-5 ATS mark when getting the points in those away contests. And that’s where we find the coolest helmets in football again in Week 4: catching four as the road team on Monday Night Football.

While I love the pace of this Bengals offense, it was actually the defense that got the job done for bettors in the final two quarters against the Bills. The team showed sound tackling for the first time in a long time and kept the Buffalo runners between the hash marks.

Pittsburgh’s 24-20 result in San Francisco wasn’t as close as it seems. The Niners fumbled away the ball three times and Jimmy Garoppolo threw two interceptions, yet the Steelers offense managed only 239 total yards (second lowest for Week 3) and went 3 for 12 on third downs.

And as poor as the Pittsburgh offense is under backup QB Mason Rudolph, the Pittsburgh defense may just as bad. The Steelers were gashed for 21 second-half points by San Francisco and have allowed an average of 18.3 points in the final two frames so far in 2019.

Smells like another backdoor cover for my favorite underdogs.

PICK: Cincinnati +4

Week 3: 2-1 ATS
Season to date: 7-2 ATS

VanVleet picks up where he left off in the playoffs, and the NBA bets you need to make Tuesday

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Opening day of the 2019-20 NBA season is here with the defending champion Toronto Raptors hosting the New Orleans Pelicans. The late matchup pairs the top two choices to win it all, according to the NBA betting odds, with the Los Angeles Lakers taking on the new-look Los Angeles Clippers. 

If you’re betting on the NBA openers, we have the best bets and prop predictions for Tuesday’s two games.

BIG CHANGES IN THE BIG EASY

The Pelicans sport one of the most overhauled rosters in the NBA after trading Anthony Davis to the Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and draft picks. New Orleans then selected Zion Williamson first overall in the draft, but unfortunately, his debut will have to wait as he is expected to miss the first couple of weeks with a knee injury. Some more big pickups include Derrick Favors and J.J. Redick.

Although Redick is playing for a new squad this year, while with Philadelphia he had success versus the Raptors in the playoffs, shooting 43.9 percent from the field, 41 percent from beyond the arc, and scored 15 or more points in four of those seven postseason games. With an increased role on the Pelicans and some good shooting numbers, back Over his points total of 16.5 on PointsBet.

NO HANGOVER HERE

The Raptors kick their season off playing a double-header with the first game at home to the Pelicans. The 2018-2019 season saw the Raptors set franchise records in points per game, assists per game, rebounds per game, and 3-point shots made. A regression is expected with Toronto losing both Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green but still finds itself a 7-point favorite in the season opener.

With the Championship banner being hoisted, rings handed out, and the Raptors looking to start the schedule strong, look for them to take care of business and cover at home as 7-point favorites.

RIGHT SAID FRED

With Toronto PG Kyle Lowry undergoing surgery on his finger in the offseason, don’t be surprised to see big numbers out of Fred VanVleet in the first few games of the schedule.

Last season, VanVleet averaged 27.5 minutes with 11 points, 4.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game. Although this is a revamped Pelicans roster with many new faces, New Orleans struggled to defend opposing point guards last year, allowing 23.3 points per game and the league’s highest assists per game average at 9.1 to that position. If he carries over his postseason play, VanVleet will be a major player and offensive contributor for the defending champs. Take Over his assists total of 4.5.

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES

The Lakers start their second season with LeBron James at the helm but has more support behind him with guys like Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, and Danny Green. The Clippers were also busy in the offseason, adding MVP talents in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

George will not be playing in the opening game (out until November while recovering from shoulder surgery), which plays a major role in shaping this spread, which sees the Purple and Gold as short “home” favorites in the war for the Staples Center.

LeBron and the Lakers have a lot to prove after a terrible finish to 2018-19 and we like them to cover as 2.5-points favorites Tuesday.

DOWN TO DEFENSE

With both Leonard and Patrick Beverly on the floor, the Clippers will be a difficult team to score on. With George out of action and this L.A. offense not firing on all cylinders, the Clippers certainly have the defense to keep things close.

The Lakers have plenty of scoring options but miss out on the services of Kyle Kuzma (18.7 ppg in 2018-19), who will be sitting out in the opening game with a foot injury. While it’s Game 1 of an 82-game season, this Los Angeles rivalry could have playoff intensity right out of the gate. We like a lower-scoring game and the Under 225.5 points Tuesday night. 

Lakers vs Clippers NBA betting picks and predictions: Davis will dominate down low on opening night

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The 2019-2020 NBA season starts off with a bang tonight as two revamped teams with some of the best players in the world take to the court in Los Angeles as the Lakers face the Clippers. 

Expectations are sky-high for both teams after the Lakers added Anthony Davis as a running mate for Lebron James, while the Clippers are led by last year’s NBA Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard. These rivals will be highly motivated to begin the season with a win and stake an early claim as the best team in the league.

We break down the odds for the Battle of L.A. and give you five of our best bets and predictions.

QUICK HITTER

The biggest move the Lakers made in the offseason was obviously the addition of Anthony Davis. But he’s not the only new face with Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Dwight Howard, and Avery Bradley all in line to receive significant minutes in their rotation.

The Clippers have also gone through a makeover adding Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Maurice Harkless. While George won’t play until at least mid-November after undergoing shoulder surgery, the other two should log major minutes.

Playing together in practice and the preseason is no substitute for the actual defensive intensity of an NBA game. So expect both offenses to take some time to gell and back the Under on the 1Q total.

PICK: First Quarter Under 58 (-115)

FIRST HALF BET

The first quarter might see from offensive jitters from both teams but they should begin to settle down after 12 minutes. Lebron James, in particular, should have little problem facilitating the offense while the underrated additions of Green and Cook should improve their three-point efficiency which was among the worst in the league last year.

On defense, they match up well with the Clippers with Lebron able to switch onto Leonard while Bradley can give Lou Williams fits. Rajon Rondo is listed as questionable with a calf injury but if he’s good to go that will be yet another Lakers defender that can pressure opposing ball-handlers.

The Lakers also have a height advantage which should help them win the battle on the boards and get more second chances. Bet on the Lakers to cover the short first-half spread.

PICK: First Half Lakers -1.5 (-120)

TEAM/PLAYER PROP

Davis looks like a great fit in the Lakers offense next to Lebron. The Brow can run the pick and roll, attack down low and hit jumpers when he needs to. He gets to face a Clippers team that was among the worst at defending inside last season, giving up 50.7 points per game in the paint. Montrezl Harrell, Ivica Zubac and JaMychal Green will have a major mismatch on their hands against the Lakers star.

Last year Davis combined for 41.8 points, rebounds and assists per game but that includes a stretch towards the end of the season where New Orleans severely limited his minutes. Before the All-Star break, he combined for 45.2 points, rebounds, and assists per contest. Take the Over on his PRA total tonight.

PICK: Anthony Davis – Points, Rebounds and Assists Over 41.5 (-115)

 

FULL GAME TOTAL

The O/U for this game opened at 227 on Saturday and has already dropped to 224 and for good reason. The Clippers should be terrific at defending on the perimeter with Patrick Beverly and Leonard while the Lakers will miss Kyle Kuzma’s production on the offensive end of the floor. Kuzma averaged 18.7 ppg last season but the forward is still recovering from a foot injury.

The Lakers should be much improved at defending the rim with Davis and Howard, which will force Leonard and Lou Williams to carry the offensive load.

The Lakers added plenty of experience and size in the offseason. That might be a formula for winning but also means that they added older players and guys that prefer to set up in the half-court rather than running the floor all game. Expect them to play at a slower pace than last season and take the Under 224.

PICK: Under 224 (-110)

FULL GAME SIDE

As we enter this new era of “Super-Duos” in the NBA the Clippers could find themselves at a disadvantage without one half of their duo. Leonard will do his part on both ends of the floor but the Clippers will need a heroic display from Lou Williams and improved defensive play from their big men if they want to hang with the Lakeshow.

The Clips won’t have an answer for AD and Lebron will come out as healthy and as motivated as he’s been in years. As the season goes on, expect Lakers coach Frank Vogel to start resting his superstars, but he has said that there won’t be any minutes restrictions for Lebron or Davis at the start of the year. Count on the Lakers viewing this as a statement game and back them to pull off the win while covering.

PICK: Los Angeles Lakers -3.5 (-105)