NFL Week 9 opening odds and early action: Patriots-Ravens quickly draws two-way play

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NFL Week 9 is on deck, and the Sunday night game is already on the move. Covers checks in on the opening odds and early action for that matchup and three others, with insights from John Murray, director of The SuperBook at Westgate in Las Vegas.

New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens (+5)

Defending Super Bowl champion New England hasn’t lost since the middle of last December, going 13-0 SU and 10-3 ATS. In Week 8, the Patriots (8-0 SU, 6-2 ATS) topped Cleveland 27-13 as 9.5-point favorites.

Baltimore leads the AFC North at 5-2 SU after winning its last three before a Week 8 bye. In Week 7, the Ravens (2-5 ATS) snapped a five-game spread-covering slide, knocking off Seattle 30-16 as 3-point road underdogs.

“We opened Patriots -5 and saw money come in on Baltimore at +5 and +4.5,” Murray told Covers on Sunday night. “Then we took a bet for $31,045 on the Patriots -4. The Ravens will be a huge-need game for the books everywhere next Sunday night, especially if the afternoon games are chalky.”

Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs (no line)

Kansas City was without Patrick Mahomes in the Week 8 Sunday nighter, but Matt Moore and Co. gave Green Bay all it could handle. The Chiefs (5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS) scored 17 straight second-quarter points to erase a 14-0 first-quarter deficit and were in it the rest of the way, losing 31-24 as 5-point home ‘dogs.

Minnesota returns from its bye week looking to build on a four-game win streak. The Vikings (6-2 SU, 5-3 ATS) went off as hefty 16.5-point Week 7 home faves against Washington and managed a 19-9 victory, halting a three-game spread-covering streak.

With Mahomes’ Week 9 status unclear, The SuperBook held off on posting the opening number for this game. But Murray offered a little insight into where the line might land if Moore is still under center.

“It would depend a lot on the result of (the Sunday night) game and how K.C. and Moore look without Mahomes,” Murray said during the Packers-Chiefs tilt, in which Green Bay was a 5-point road chalk. “But Minnesota is considered slightly better than Green Bay, so it would be something close to what Packers-Chiefs was. Maybe a touch higher, unless K.C. wins, then a touch lower.”

That being the case, Murray said if Mahomes returns, the Chiefs will be short home favorites.

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (+7.5)

San Francisco remained in elite company through eight weeks, sticking with New England as the only unbeaten outfits. The 49ers (7-0 SU, 5-2 ATS) steamrolled Carolina 51-13 as 4.5-point favorites Sunday.

Arizona is better than expected this year, with a rookie coach and quarterback, but its three-game SU and ATS win streak ended in Week 8. The Cardinals went to New Orleans as 12.5-point pups and were dealt a 31-9 setback.

“We opened 49ers -7.5 and are still there,” Murray said. “Arizona will be one of the biggest needs of the week for us in the NFL. A ton of moneyline parlay and teaser wagers will start with the 49ers.”

Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5)

Philadelphia got a much-needed Week 8 win, snapping a two-game skid to get back to .500. The Eagles (4-4 SU, 3-5 ATS) shuffled over Buffalo 31-13 laying 1 point on the road Sunday.

Chicago looks little like the squad that last season went 12-4 SU and ATS, leading the league in spread-covers. The Bears (3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS) held a 16-7 third-quarter advantage against the Los Angeles Chargers, but didn’t score again in a 17-16 loss laying 3.5 points at home Sunday.

“We opened Eagles -4.5 and have been bet up to -5,” Murray said. “It’s hard to imagine people wanting to bet on Chicago right now.”

Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.

PointsBet USA unveils partnership with Detroit Tigers

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In the absence of MLB games until – hopefully – later this month, MLB betting made some news Thursday with the announcement that PointsBet USA is now the official gaming partner of the Detroit Tigers. It’s the first such arrangement between a sports betting entity and an MLB team, made possible by PointsBet USA’s recent agreement with MLB designating the sportsbook as an authorized gaming operator by the league.

“The PointsBet team is excited to announce our groundbreaking deal with the Detroit Tigers and Major League Baseball, becoming the first legal sports betting operator in U.S. history to partner with an MLB franchise,” PointsBet USA CEO Johnny Aitken said in a news release. “We offer the most betting options in the world on MLB games via our unique PointsBetting product, and we are excited to inject a unique and robust betting proposition into the great state of Michigan.”

Michigan legalized sports betting in December, for both brick-and-mortar and online operators, and books began taking bets in March. PointsBet USA is not only the first book to partner with an MLB franchise, but the first to partner with any Michigan-based professional sports team.

As part of the multi-year deal, PointsBet USA will have TV broadcast-visible branding at Comerica Park, a sponsored presence on the Tigers’ digital platforms, and will be integrated into The District Detroit app and the MLB Ballpark app.

“We are thrilled to welcome PointsBet as a gaming partner of the Detroit Tigers,” said Chris Granger, group president of sports and entertainment for Ilitch Holdings. “Our incredible fans will love the unique experiences and innovative offerings that PointsBet’s personalized platform provides. We look forward to the fan-friendly enhancements this will bring to the game-day experience in and around Comerica Park for years to come.”

NBA betting: Eight seeding games to bet when NBA returns

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NBA betting is back on the board with the NBA season restarting in Orlando after the COVID-19 shutdown. From July 30-August 14, the 22 remaining teams with NBA Championship aspirations will face off against each other to determine playoff seeding, so get ready for some exciting matchups.

We take a look at eight must-bet NBA seeding games to watch as the league returns to action.

Clippers vs Lakers (-1.5, 218.5), July 30, 9 p.m. ET

When the Los Angeles Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, take on Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers, the NBA doesn’t get much better than this. Opening day and Christmas Day also featured this marquee matchup and the opening night of the restart in Orlando will mark the fourth time this season that these LA rivals have faced off.

The Lakers are third in the NBA in scoring defense, allowing 106.9 points per game, while the Clippers hold opponents to just 43.6 percent shooting from the field, also third-best in the league. With both teams coming in off lengthy breaks, there may be some rust on the offensive end of the floor making the Under 218.5 an intriguing play.

Betting trend to watch: The Clips won the first two meetings while the Lakers won the last one in March. The Under hit in each of those contests with an average score of 108.7-106.7 in favor of the Clippers.

Celtics vs Bucks (-5, 217.5), July 31, 6:30 p.m. ET

Barring an absolute collapse, the Milwaukee Bucks will wrap up the No. 1 seed in the East, but they will still likely want to play MVP front-runner Giannis Antetokounmpo in this one just to shake off the cobwebs after the break.

This could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals and it will be interesting to see how Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker looks after being hampered by knee issues following the All-Star break. Boston split the series with Milwaukee during the season and Walker torched the Bucks both times, scoring 32 points against them in November and putting up 40 on them in January.

Betting trend to watch: Milwaukee opened as a five-point favorite, with the total set at 217.5, but don’t count out the Celtics, who have gone an impressive 14-4 ATS as an underdog this season.

Rockets vs Mavericks (+1.5, 225.5), July 31, 9 p.m. ET

The battle between James Harden and Luka Doncic will be a treat for basketball fans, but the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks have plenty of firepower in addition to their All-NBA guards.

With the full game total for this contest opening at a reasonable 225.5, keep an eye on the first half total when it drops.

Betting trend to watch: Fast starts have been a trend for both squads, with Houston leading the league with 59.9 first-half points per game and Dallas second with 59.3 ppg. For good measure, the Rockets also rank 25th in the NBA in first-half scoring defense, surrendering 58.1 ppg.

Heat vs Nuggets (-1, 212.5), August 1, 1 p.m ET

Both the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets could see their seeding change dramatically based on how they perform in Orlando. Miami has an absolute gauntlet to run through with its first four games against Denver, Toronto, Boston and Milwaukee.

The Nuggets have long had a massive edge at home, due to the increased elevation at the Pepsi Center, and losing that advantage in Orlando could hurt. Then again, Miami could be in the same boat considering that they posted an average scoring margin of plus-9.3 ppg at home — and that plummeted to minus-2.7 in away contests.

Betting trend to watch: The Heat have been one of the highest-scoring teams in the league during the first quarter, but have really struggled to put the ball in the hoop at the end of games, averaging just 26 ppg in the fourth quarter. With Denver holding opponents to just 26.2 fourth-quarter points per game on the road, this is a trend you’ll want to consider when live betting in the final 12 minutes.

Bucks vs Rockets, August 2, 8:30 p.m. ET

It’s always a blast watching two MVP favorites face off against each other, and after Harden came up short against Antetokounmpo last year there seems to be a lack of respect between the two superstars. The Greek Freak took a potshot at Harden when he selected his team during All-Star weekend, with the Rockets guard responding with, “I wish I could be 7 feet and run and just dunk. Like, that takes no skill at all.”

Betting trend to watch: Unfortunately for the small-ball Rockets, defending in the paint is their biggest weakness, especially after trading away Clint Capela left them with the 6’5″ PJ Tucker often manning the center position. Houston allows 51.5 ppg in the paint, sixth-worst in the league, and Giannis is the most dominant inside scorer since Shaq, putting up 29.6 ppg this season.

Grizzlies vs Pelicans, August 3, 6:30 p.m. ET

Not only will this matchup feature the two best rookies in the league in Ja Morant and Zion Williamson, but it will also be a prime spot for the New Orleans Pelicans to gain ground on the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

New Orleans was impressive on offense even without Zion and have become even more unstoppable since the first-overall draft pick joined the team on January 22. Once Zion joined the fold the Pelicans averaged 120.1 ppg and played at the fastest pace in the league.

Betting trend to watch: Thanks in large part to Morant, Memphis also looks good on the offensive end of the floor, ranking seventh in the league in both possessions per game and shooting percentage. With both teams electrifying on offense – and terrible on defense – this should be a very fun game with the Over worth looking at.

Trail Blazers vs Nuggets, August 6, 8 p.m ET

There might not a more dangerous team currently outside a playoff spot than the Portland Trail Blazers, who arguably boast the second-best backcourt out of all 22 teams in Orlando and will also get center Jusuf Nurkic back from a broken leg. The Nuggets are third in the West but sit only 1.5 games behind the Clippers and 1.5 games ahead of the Jazz, so every game matters.

This is a rematch of last year’s Western Conference semifinals, where the Blazers upset the Nuggets in seven games. In three games head-to-head this year the Nuggets went 3-0 SU and ATS.

Betting trend to watch: Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard has struggled against Denver, averaging 21.6 ppg on 37.7 percent shooting over his last seven regular-season games against the Nuggets. Although he played better during the playoff series last season, it was CJ McCollum who carried the Blazers offense, especially in Game 7 when Lillard went 3-17 from the field.

Raptors vs 76ers, August 12, 6:30 p.m. ET

There might not be much on the line if the Toronto Raptors have already secured a seed by this time, but if their nerve-wracking seven-game playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers last year is any indication, this should still be a great game.

Betting trend to watch: It will be interesting to see how these teams play on neutral ground. Toronto has been one of the best teams in the league away from home, going 23-9 SU and 16-15 ATS and posting an average scoring margin of plus-4.2 ppg. On the other hand, the 76ers have been terrible on the road, going 10-24 SU, 9-23 ATS and posting a scoring margin of minus-5.3.