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Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby: Race time approaches!
Our coverage has been building all week. Now it’s time to get serious and make your final decisions for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks and Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
Here's a final prep from one of VSiN's guests this week, NYRA handicapper Andy Serling.
Video #1 is Andy’s preview of Friday’s Kentucky Oaks
And Andy’s look at The Run for the Roses:
We can assure you that you’ll learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of the entire Derby field from a betting perspective in that 12-minute video than you will all day Saturday from NBC’s coverage. Yes, the mainstream networks do a great job of defining the drama and presenting compelling features that pull at the heartstrings. Nothing wrong with that! But, IF YOU WANT TO BET THE RACE, be sure you listen to Andy’s breakdown of the entire field. Knowing which horses to avoid could be the difference between a big celebration and a lost weekend.
Also, be sure to read Ron Flatter’s breakdown of the weather dynamic, if you missed that Thursday afternoon at the VSiN website. And, watch Ron’s live report during Brent Musburger’s “My Guys in the desert.”
NFL: Betting Regular Season Win Props…Thoroughbreds
While many of you in Las Vegas betting the Kentucky Derby, you’ll also want to place some bets on NFL Regular Season Win totals. Those were posted last Sunday at the South Point. Some of the most popular betting teams (most notably New England and Oakland) have seen their lines rise through the week. Today we finish this week’s series on stat indicators with a look at teams whose Regular Season Win totals are 9.5 or higher. These are the true thoroughbreds of the NFL!
N. England 12 (Over -120)
- Plus 0.7 ypp differential (5.9/5.2), plus 12 turnovers, #32 schedule
The braintrust at the South Point knew the public would be interested in the defending Super Bowl champs. But, even they’ve been surprised that the line has risen all the way to TWELVE with additional vigorish on the Over. The Patriots do have a long string of seasons reaching a dozen wins or more. Yet, they also exploited the easiest schedule in the league last season according to Football Outsiders. The offense was relatively tame compared to past standards, falling fractionally below 6.0. Even as the best team in the league, the margin for error is shrinking in terms of reaching 13 victories…which is now the threshold needed to cash any Over bets. Handicappers should ask themselves this. What would New England’s YPP and turnover differential have been last season vs. a league average schedule?
Pittsburgh 10.5 (Over -120)
- Plus 0.3 ypp differential (5.8/5.5), plus 5 turnovers, #13 schedule
Well, the Patriots YPP and turnover differential would probably have dropped to something like that! Pittsburgh played close to a league average schedule, and posted positive numbers in our key indicator stats. Though, they weren’t always at full strength. Pittsburgh is basically Super Bowl caliber when everyone is healthy, but they can’t manage to keep their weapons out of harm’s way enough of the time.
- Plus 0.6 ypp differential (5.6/5.0), plus 1 turnover, #27 schedule
Seattle really didn’t post impressive numbers once you adjust for their weak schedule. This defense used to SCARE people. Now, turnover differential might have been negative against a league average slate. This head coach has a knack of inspiring his players at first, then getting on their nerves. Has that caused the recent trend away from championship form?
Oakland 10 (Over -130)
- Minus -0.4 (5.7/6.1), plus 16 turnovers, #10 schedule
There’s always a lot of support in Nevada for the Raiders anyway (and the 49ers in their good seasons) because of locale. Now that the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas in the near future, interest has spiked even higher. Another team where the South Point braintrust tried to guard against a flood of money, but still saw Over bettors flock in. Handicappers must look for improvement on defense. It’s very hard to win at least 11 games with a defense that allows six yards-per-play or more.
Atlanta 10 (Under -120)
- Plus 1.1 ypp differential (6.7/5.6), plus 11 turnovers, #16 schedule
Many pundits are expecting a Super Bowl hangover after that brutal loss. If that hangover doesn’t happen, this Over could be a steal. Atlanta posted GREAT indicator stats last season while playing a league average schedule. They would have won the Super Bowl with smarter tactics in the fourth quarter. Volatile situation because those are the numbers of a legit 12-13 win team.
Green Bay 10 (Under -120)
- Minus 0.2 ypp differential (5.7/5.9), plus 8 turnovers, #10 schedule
Another squad that’s hard to trust because of its defense. They did play an above-average schedule, and they go on the list with Pittsburgh as a team that’s elite when the weapons are all healthy. One of the dangers of handicapping Regular Season Win totals is that it’s difficult to handicap future injuries.
Dallas 9.5 (Over -120)
- Plus 0.5 ypp differential (6.0/5.5), plus 5 turnovers, #8 schedule
Dallas went 13-3 last year with a team featuring a great offensive line and young offensive stars. Even if you assume they played over their heads much of the way…are they going to fall all the way to 9-7 (or worse)? They faced a tough schedule, and got the job done in the key indicator stats. You have to assume some adversity will hit them in the first half of the season (tough to dodge adversity two years in a row!). Their efforts to repeat as divisional champs will depend on how they handle that adversity.
NBA: Wizards get a win Thursday, Warriors still coasting out West
Washington made it clear they weren’t going to start making summer vacation plans just yet. Golden State kept taking care of business.
Washington (-5.5) 116, Boston 89
- Two-Point Pct: Boston 38%, Washington 52%
- Rebounds: Boston 38, Washington 50
- Turnovers: Boston 16, Washington 9
One of those occasional situations in the NBA Playoffs where the team that lost the first two games on the road comes out breathing fire in their home opener…and the road team calls in a night early to save their energy for Game 4. Washington was ahead 39-17 after the first quarter! They had already been dominating first quarters anyway. Difference here is that they established they were going to protect the lead. The head coaches pulled their starters early…angering Over betters who had no shot at 217 once the most lethal threats were lounging on the sidelines.
Boston still leads the series 2-1, and still enjoys home court advantage. We can expect a better effort in Game 4, that won’t be played until Sunday. For those of you keeping track of pace, tonight registered at 96 for possession count. In normal range for a series that’s now 93-97-96 through three outings.
Golden State (-14) 115, Utah 104
- Two-Point Pct: Utah 50%, Golden State 52%
- Three Pointers: Utah 12/32, Golden State 14/31
- Rebounds: Utah 39, Golden State 47
Also a huge early lead for the home team here. Golden State was up 33-15 after a quarter. Utah was able to get as close as six points in the third quarter, despite playing without point guard George Hill (injured toe). But the Warriors put their foot back on the gas and pulled away.
A faster pace (101 possessions, up from 92) might have helped Golden State get better looks at treys in a natural flow. You see above they were 14 of 31 from behind the arc in G2, after just 7 of 29 in G1. That faster pace did lead to more sloppiness though. A poor 17 giveaways, up from 7 the last time out. Ultimately it all came out in the wash. Golden State is up 2-0 in the series with a 12-point win and an 11-point win that were slightly below very high market prices.
Game 3 is set for Saturday in Utah, as this series will finally catch up with the others after a lag caused by Jazz/Clippers going the full seven.
Friday’s point spreads (Cleveland leads 2-0, San Antonio/Houston are 1-1)
- Cleveland (-2.5, 214.5) at Toronto: 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
- San Antonio at Houston (-4.5, total of 214.5): 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
NHL: Rangers beat Senators 4-1 again
In the only NHL playoff game Thursday night, the New York Rangers evened their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Ottawa Senators at two games apiece with their second straight 4-1 victory.
NY Rangers (-170) 4, Ottawa 1
- Shots: Ottawa 23, NY Rangers 30
A lot of similarities to Game Three for the hosts in Gotham in addition to the final score. The Rangers won shot count early, and kept a stranglehold on flow of play in a must-win situation. Remember that New York was priced as the superior team pre-series as a favorite vs. an opponent that had home ice. Through four games, NYR leads scoring 14-10, and is plus 16 in shot count. Can they turn that into a road victory before time runs out? Game 5 will be Saturday afternoon in Ottawa.
Friday’s money lines (Nashville leads 3-1, Edmonton/Anaheim is 2-2)
- Nashville at St. Louis (-115, total of 5--under -125): 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN
- Edmonton at Anaheim (-140, total of 5.5--under -120): 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
That closes out Kentucky Derby Week here in the VSiN City newsletter. VSiN’s full broadcast and website coverage continues Friday and Saturday with insight and analysis from our studio hosts and guests….and from Ron Flatter continuing his reporting direct from Churchill Downs.
Have a great weekend! Enjoy a mint julep for us as you root your choice to victory. Back with you Monday morning to report on a full weekend of winners. If you have any comments or feedback about our VSiN City newsletter, please drop us a note. For those of you reading today’s entry on the home page of the website or elsewhere, you can subscribe to receive weekday morning emails by clicking here. Don’t forget to follow us on twitter @vsinlive, particularly during this Triple Crown stretch!