Besides virus, a look at top NFL storylines

September storylines seldom make December headlines. 

We should be so lucky this year because without question, the NFL’s No. 1 storyline entering the season is whether or how the league can conduct business during the Wuhan flu pandemic. For this exercise, we’ll push that aside and focus on our true national pastime: betting on king football. Our odds come courtesy of the Westgate SuperBook because it currently offers the most complete betting menu.

Who will win more games: Bill Belichick or Tom Brady?

Brady’s Bucs sport a 9.5 Over/Under win total, with the Over juiced to minus-120.

Belichick’s Patriots are 9 O/U, with the Under juiced to minus-140.

That minus-140 reflects not only the loss of Brady but also the four Patriots starters who opted out of the season because of the virus. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, right tackle Marcus Cannon and tight end Matt LaCosse are sitting out.

Belichick plus the addition of quarterback Cam Newton, if healthy, keeps the Pats dangerous, but the first three road games are Sept. 20 in Seattle, Oct. 4 in Kansas City and Nov. 1 in Buffalo.

For me, you lay the extra juice on Under nine wins or pass.

As for Brady and Tampa Bay, the buck stops with him. This team won seven games last season with a quarterback, Jameis Winston, who threw 30 interceptions. Brady’s big gamble is switching conferences. Peyton Manning moved from Indianapolis to Denver, where he won a Super Bowl, but he remained in the AFC. Brady moves to the NFC, which presents a lot of defenders and coordinators with whom he’s unfamiliar. For me, the bet is Under 9.5 wins at even money or pass.

Is Lamar Jackson truly the real deal or the most overhyped quarterback in the NFL?

The Ravens are currently minus-230 to win the AFC North. The O/U is 11.5, juiced to the Under at minus-120.

Jackson is a remarkable story. Projected by many scouts as an “athlete” at the NFL level, Jackson has won 19 of 22 games as the Ravens’ starting quarterback, earning last year’s MVP award. A year ago, he rushed 176 times for 1,206 yards, both single-season records for quarterbacks. He threw for 3,000 more yards. From October through December, the Ravens were unbeaten, a gaudy 12-game winning streak.

And then came the abrupt end to the season and the lingering question about Jackson. He knows it won’t go away until he does something about it. Jackson is 0-2 in the playoffs, losing last season to the Titans and a year earlier to the Chargers.

The Ravens’ schedule includes games against the AFC South and the NFC North, plus games against the Chiefs at home and the Patriots on the road. The schedule is manageable.

An even-money return on 12 wins plus a wager on minus-230 to win the AFC North seems like the way to go. And then Jackson can address his playoff failures.

Can Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City repeat?

The Chiefs are favored again to win the Super Bowl at plus 450. Their O/U win total is 11.5, juiced to the Over at -120. Because of the Chiefs and the Ravens, the AFC is a two-point favorite over the NFC in the early Super Bowl line. Mahomes tops the MVP betting line at plus 350.

What’s not to like? Betting value. It simply doesn’t exist with the Chiefs unless you back the ol’ coach, Andy Reid. You can bet Reid at plus 2000 to be the AP Coach of the Year, a higher number than Mike McCarthy (plus 1000 with Dallas), Bruce Arians (plus 1000 with Tampa Bay),

Sean McDermott (plus 1200 with Buffalo), Bill Belichick (plus 1400 with New England) and Frank Reich (plus 1400) with Indianapolis. 

My play here is to back the AFC in the Super Bowl and future Hall of Famer Reid as coach of the year.

Good luck and let’s hope we’re all still cashing tickets come December!

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