Behind the Bets, Odds and Ends

Behind the Bets, Odds and Ends
Behind the Bets, Odds and Ends


Doug Kezirianespan


    • ESPN Sportsbook Specialist
    • Top of the daily bets
    • Behind the host of the Bets podcast.

We have a special weekend as the AFC and NFC decide who goes to Tampa for the LV Super Bowl, the Notorious One returns to the Octagon, and the NBA/NHL season is in full swing. Here are some thoughts on betting on this weekend’s highlights.

Mahogany effect

As in life, sports betting is very nuanced. Nothing is simple, and this theory is crystallized by the huge question mark behind Patrick Mahomes’ status in the AFC Championship Game. On the NFL version of Panda Watch, football fans have been following the superstar’s concussion closely every day this week, trying to read between the lines of key updates. Still, the bold and confident bettors published a points gap on Sunday night, and the figure didn’t really move.

2 Connected

Based on the KC -3 line, the market suggests Mahomes will change hands on Sunday. I’ve talked to a few people who are taking risks and foresee no change in programming if and when Mahomes is officially released. First, three is the most important number in the formation of NFL odds because it is the most common winning margin in NFL history. Since the league cut PAT distance in 2015, 14.1% of games have been decided by exactly three points. So it would take a major event to change that number. Moreover, most books indicate that most of the public action in this game takes place in the books, so bettors see no reason to give better numbers to those who support the game.

But if Mahomes isn’t released, we could see six-point favorites at Arrowhead Stadium. Ed Salmons, head of the NFL’s Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas, pointed out to me that the Chiefs are 5.5-point underdogs against the Vikings and Packers for the 2019 regular season, while Mahomes is out with injury. This Bills team is much better than any of these teams, Salmons told ESPN.

It would also mean that Chad Henne, in his 29th appearance. Start with one line, he’s the underdog. Archie Manning and Blaine Gabbert always keep the score at 34, a random number that only the bookie can estimate.

Cooling capacity

The forecast for Lambeau Field calls for 29 degrees and no snow. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that NFL Films will deploy additional cameras to film Sunday’s NFC championship game on a frozen patch of tundra. However, it’s hard not to pay attention to the weather in January when the Packers host a Florida team; it could prove to be a deciding factor. Aaron Rodgers is 27-7 overall and 24-9-1 ATS when playing at 32 degrees or less.

Meanwhile, Sunday’s opponent, Tom Brady, is also successful: He won 14 of 16 playoff games in sub-zero or below freezing temperatures. Overall, Brady stands at 24-15-3 TTY under these circumstances. After all, they’re just fun facts. The position of quarterback is probably the most important in any sport, but QB records have their pitfalls. For example, some of Brady’s wins and covers are related to Bill Belichick’s defense.

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There is no greater draw in the UFC than Conor McGregor’s. The proverbial star was involved in six of the organization’s first eight goals, and the commitment pins reflect this trend. According to the Westgate SuperBook Las Vegas, most bets are on cards with McGregor. Additionally, his exhibition match against Floyd Mayweather Jr. broke the record for boxing catches in Nevada. And given the state’s increasing legalization, Saturday’s UFC 257 card could set the UFC up for good.

They’re coming for him. I’m already at four-to-one on Conor, Tony Miller, Golden Nugget’s director of sports betting, told ESPN. We’re at -330, which is the highest point in the city centre. It’s pretty cool considering it’s -300 or -310 somewhere else, but they keep playing it in bets and betting.

Trend reversal

We all want easy winners, and I want winning to be as easy as blind betting. However, I wouldn’t blame anyone for continuing to support the last round of the NBA. The Brooklyn Nets have scored in 10 straight games. Unfortunately, extortionists are familiar with offensive firepower and defensive challenges. At least 240 goals have been scored in four NBA games this season and the Nets have played in all four.

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Most gamblers look at this and say it’s pretty simple. I bet they’ll do it again tonight, Chuck Esposito, racing director of Sunset Station and Sportsbook, told ESPN. Sometimes you have to adjust when you see a team scoring like the Nets do. So you’ll see some of the totals get inflated, but we’re not going to get too carried away because we always want to publish a total that does a good two-way.

Essentially, you’re paying a tax to support the last three big ones, but it’s certainly been worth it lately.

It’s LeBron’s turn… Again?

It has actually been eight years since LeBron James won the NBA MVP award. It’s hard to imagine when you consider that he has since won three MVP trophies in the Finals and is considered the best player in the league for over a decade. But sometimes stories can get in the way of your status, and other superstars have certainly come forward. Still, it’s starting to look like this could be the year he earns his fifth MVP.

After LeBron’s 36 points and the Lakers’ stunning win on Thursday, my money is on James at 8/1 at Caesars William Hill. Giannis Antetokounmpo (+450) showed weaknesses in the three-point shot and free throw, and ultimately voter fatigue will likely prevent a third consecutive MVP. Luka Doncic (+400) is the league favorite. He’s impressive, but LeBron has taken the Lakers to the next level. The 36-year-old continues to dominate games statistically, reminding fans, voters and bettors that he still has a place in the conversation. Kevin Durant (+650), Nikola Jokic (7-1) or Joel Embiid (10-1) could win, but I think LeBron will earn the respect of the voters who narrowly chose Giannis last year. Buyer’s remorse can be a powerful emotion.

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