After three straight weeks of gambling on Norwegian ice fishing, I plan on returning to reality this week and betting on something I actually know a little bit about: The NFL Draft.
Although the draft is still 13 days away, it's never too early to start thinking about which draft props you should bet on and that's exactly what we're going to do in today's newsletter, which is going to cover way more gambling than I ever though a football newsletter could cover on a random Friday in April.
Not only will we be talking draft props, but we'll also be going through the over/under win totals for all 32 teams. Basically, there's a lot to cover today, so let's get this thing moving and get to the rundown. As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link. Degenerate gamblers are welcome.
1. Today's show: Friday mailbag
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week by adding a listener mailbag every Friday. Our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We read listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. Questions can be about literally anything. I mean, I think we once spent 10 minutes ranking grocery stores. Personally, I'm a Kroger guy, but I have been known to make the occasional trip into Publix. I also think I once went to a Piggly Wiggly. Anyway, if you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review.
For today's mailbag, the questions were all over the place. Here's a small sample:
- If you had to come up with a new primary sponsor for each NFL team, what would they be? Bonus points for funny puns and regional affiliations. I'm glad this question got asked because I feel like the Bengals are sitting on a potential gold mine. Someone in their marketing department needs to call Kellogg's ASAP and get a marketing deal done with Frosted Flakes. Once that happens, the Bengals can dump their mascot, Who-Dey, and replace him with Tony the Tiger. Everyone wins (well, except for Who-Dey). I would also like to see Jaguar sponsor the Jaguars and if the Chargers are for sale, I think Apple should buy them and make the team's logo a phone charger. Also, one of our listeners said the 49ers should be sponsored by square since 49 is a square number and I love that idea.
- If you could put any two teams from the Super Bowl era into the next Super Bowl, which two would each of the super friends choose? When you think of the Super Bowl, you think of the two best teams playing at the end of the season, but Ryan Wilson suggested we should have the 0-16 Lions of 2008 play the 0-16 Browns of 2017 and I have to admit, I'm totally onboard with that idea. I would also like to see the 2013 Bengals play the 2014 Bengals so that Andy Dalton finally wins a playoff game.
To listen to the rest of the questions from today's mailbag -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here.
Craving even more NFL coverage focusing on previews, recaps, news and analysis? Listen below and follow the Pick Six podcast for a daily dose of everything you need to follow pro football.
2. NFL inks $1 billion gambling partnership
Back in 2015, the NFL was so uncomfortable with the idea of gambling that the league forced Tony Romo to move his fantasy football convention out of Las Vegas. Six years later, the NFL has decided to fully embrace gambling and we know that because the league just signed a monstrous deal with three different sportsbooks: Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings and FanDuel.
According to CNBC, the three deals could be worth as much as $1 billion over the next five years. The move will allow Ceasars to keep its title as the "official casino sponsor" of the NFL. If you're wondering what being the official sponsor gets you, it means that Caesars is the only casino that's allowed to use NFL trademarks inside its buildings. Caesars is also expected to play a big part in upcoming NFL events that will be held in Las Vegas, including the 2022 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft.
For DraftKings and FanDuel, the move is big because the NFL has promised to put the two companies front and center on NFL-related shows. This means that if you're watching NFL Network or the RedZone channel this year, there's a good chance you're going to see fantasy stats or projections that prominently feature a logo from either DraftKings or FanDuel. FanDuel will also work with the NFL on some pregame integration opportunities for the seven regular-season games the will air on NFL Network in 2021. On DraftKings' end, it will get to tout itself as the official daily fantasy partner of the NFL.
What all this means is that everyone is going to be betting on football soon, so you might as well get a head start on what to bet on by subscribing to SportsLine, our sister site that offers more gambling advice than you'll know what to do with.
3. Best NFL Draft props to bet
The only thing more exciting than watching the NFL Draft is making money while watching the NFL Draft and you can actually do that this year if you live in a state that allows to you to gamble on draft props. If you don't live in a state that allows you to gamble on draft props, then I would take that as a sign that you need to move.
Anyway, no one does draft props better than SportsLine's R.J. White. R.J. actually used to be my editor and he regularly nails draft props. Last year, he hit Tua Tagovailoa to Miami (+110) and C.J. Henderson Under 12.5 draft position (+150).
This year, he's got 10 props he likes for the draft. Although White's picks are behind a paywall over at SportsLine, I'm going to share three of them with you and then hope I don't get fired for it.
- Justin Fields draft position: Under 4.5 (-110). "I get why you take Trevor Lawrence over Justin Fields, and I understand the hype surrounding Zach Wilson pushing him above Fields for many people as well. But Mac Jones? Trey Lance? Those guys don't have nearly the upside of Fields, who can beat you with his arm and also make plays with his feet."
- First defensive player drafted: Patrick Surtain +150. "Surtain is an absolute stud, and I would be shocked if he escaped the 7-10 range of the draft, especially with the corner-needy Cowboys picking at No. 10. He also checks in slightly behind Micah Parsons at the time of writing for first defensive player drafted, but I see Surtain as a much harder player to pass up when a team is on the clock."
- First RB drafted: Travis Etienne +180. "I can see some team falling in love with what Etienne can do in space, turning short passes into long gains and even touchdowns. I think it's closer to a toss-up which of these two will go first (between Etienne and Najee Harris), and it'll largely come down to which team is the one to jump first at the position, as I believe both guys will be on top of a number of boards at running back. So take the value here with Etienne."
To see the rest of White's best prop bets, you'll have to head over to SportsLine, which you can do by clicking here. If you're interested in getting a SportsLine subscription, which I would highly recommend for anyone who loves to gamble on sports, be sure to click here.
4. NFL win totals released
NFL win totals are definitely one of my favorite things to bet on every year and it looks like I can start placing some bets, because the win totals for the 2021 season have finally been released. The totals are from the Caesar Sportsbook by William Hill in Las Vegas (via ESPN.com).
In news that probably won't surprise you, the Buccaneers and Chiefs have opened with the two highest projected win totals. With an Over/Under of 12 wins, the Chiefs have the highest-projected win total in the NFL while the Buccaneers are right behind them at 11.5. Since there are 17 games being played this year, the Buccaneers would have to go 12-5 to hit their Over while the Chiefs would have to go 13-4.
Here are a few nuggets from all the win totals.
- Lowest totals. The Lions and Texans have an Over/Under of just FIVE wins, which makes them tied for the lowest win total in the NFL. The Texans are in total disarray and the Lions are the Lions, so this isn't that surprising.
- NFC East surprise. Even though Washington won the NFC East last season, the Cowboys (9.5) have the highest-win total in the division and it's not even close. Washington has the second-highest total in the division with eight. The Eagles and Giants both have an Over/Under of seven.
- Oddsmakers are high on the NFC West. There are 10 teams with an Over/Under of 10 or more wins and the most notable part of that fact is that three of those 10 teams are from the NFC West with the Rams (10.5), 49ers (10) and Seahawks (10) all having a double-digit win total.
Here are the all win totals for all 32 teams from highest to lowest: Chiefs (12), Buccaneers (11.5), Packers (11), Ravens (11), Bills (10.5), Rams (10.5), 49ers (10), Seahawks (10), Colts (10), Browns (10), Saints (9.5), Titans (9.5), Cowboys (9.5), Steelers (9), Patriots (9), Dolphins (9), Chargers (9), Vikings (8.5), Washington (8), Raiders (8), Cardinals (8), Panthers (7.5), Bears (7.5), Broncos (7.5), Giants (7), Eagles (7), Falcons (7), Bengals (6.5), Jaguars (6), Jets (6), Lions (5), Texans (5).
5. How the Buccaneers can have the perfect draft
Between now and the start of the draft, we'll be listing how each team can pull off the perfect draft, and today, we're going to cover the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If the Buccaneers wanted to, they could probably just skip the draft this year and that's because they don't really have any holes on their roster due to the fact that EVERY SINGLE STARTER from their Super Bowl team will be returning in 2021. To give you an idea of how improbable that is, no Super Bowl team has brought back every starter since the Raiders did it after winning Super Bowl XI in the 1976 season.
Even though Tampa Bay doesn't have any gaping holes, it could stand to add some depth in a few areas and that's where our Tyler Sullivan comes in. According to Sullivan, here's how the Buccaneers can have the perfect draft this year.
- Draft to replace looming free agents on the front-seven. "The defensive line and outside linebacker are two spots that are positions of strength for the Bucs in 2021, but the floor could fall out from under them a bit in 2022. While the team has star defensive tackle Vita Vea under team control for the foreseeable future, Ndamukong Suh and Steve McLendon are both signed through only 2021 while Rakeem Nunez-Roches is under contract through 2022."
- Add depth to the offensive line. "This isn't a need that must be addressed in the first round of the draft, but if they can find some diamonds in the rough that they can mold over the course of 2021, it may help them in the long run."
- Draft a QB to develop behind Tom Brady. "Because of Tampa Bay's ability to re-sign every free agent that it wanted to bring back, there are not many pressing needs on the roster that need to be filled via the draft this year. That, in turn, gives the franchise the flexibility to search for a developmental quarterback it can begin grooming for whenever Brady decides to hang up his cleats. Prospects like Davis Mills out of Stanford, Florida's Kyle Trask or even Kellen Mond out of Texas A&M should all be available through Day Two of the draft and all possess some solid potential of becoming a capable starter with the proper tutelage."
- 4. Take the best player available in first round. "For a large chunk of the pre-draft process, a running back has been the presumed pick for Tampa Bay at No. 32 but with the arrival of Gio Bernard, that becomes a little less of a hole to fill and one that may not require a first-round pick. What the club should do is simply see what shakes down to them and go with the best-player-available approach."
You can check out Sullivan's full explanation for his perfect Steelers draft by clicking here. If you want to know how the rest of the NFC South can pull off a perfect draft, click here to see what the Saints should do, click here to see how the Panthers should handle things and click here to see what moves would make the most sense for the Falcons.
6. Aaron Donald's lawyer: Rams star helped his accuser
Aaron Donald's lawyer has responded to the assault allegations that have been levied against his client, and not surprisingly, he's denying that the Rams star had anything to do with the injuries suffered by De'Vincent Spriggs.
During an interview with 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Donald's attorney, Casey White, did admit that the Rams player was present during the altercation where Spriggs got injured, but White said that video from the bar will show that Donald wasn't involved.
"Late last night, we got surveillance video that clearly shows that Aaron Donald did not touch Mr. Spriggs," White said, via KDKA. "In fact, Mr. Spriggs attempted to assault Mr. Donald with a bottle. Swung a bottle at his head, grazed the top of Aaron's head, and at that point in time, other patrons at the party came out onto the street and held Aaron back, and other people came to his defense."
After seeing what was happening to Spriggs, Donald tried to stop it.
"Aaron then breaks free from the restraints ... he then goes to the pile where this melee is taking place and he starts tearing people off, protecting Mr. Spriggs," White said. "He actually saves Mr. Spriggs from further injury."
So the story from Donald's side is that he was present while the beating took place, but he didn't play a part in it and he actually helped prevent Spriggs from suffering any further injuries. The one thing that could be working in Donald's favor is video from the bar. White said that the video, along with five separate witnesses, will be able to corroborate the story that Donald didn't injure Spriggs. Basically, the video could bring this situation to a quick end and exonerate Donald.
7. The Kicker: How the Netflix movie about Sean Payton came to be
Ever since Netflix announced that there was going to be a movie about Sean Payton, I've basically spent every waking moment wondering how this movie came to be. Yes, this is me admitting I have nothing better to do with my life than think about these things, but it's also an odd pairing and I wanted to know what led to the movie being made.
As it turns out, there's actually good answer for that.
Here's how it all came together (via ESPN.com): Payton's daughter, Meghan, is dating a man named Christopher Titone, who just happens to be Adam Sandler's brother-in-law. Sandler heard about the story of Payton coaching a youth team during his one-year "Bountygate" suspension in 2012 and he thought it would be perfect for a movie. Sandler then used his production company, Happy Madison, to get the ball rolling on the project.
Now that we've solved that mystery, we just need to figure out how Kevin James got cast to play Payton, because they look nothing alike. If you're wondering what Payton thinks of the casting choice, he doesn't seem to care as much as I do.
"Listen, I'm at that age where I don't really care," the Saints coach told ESPN.
If they ever make a movie about people who write newsletters, I hope Kevin James doesn't play me, but I do think he could play Tom Fornelli, and since I just made fun of Fornelli, I'm now going to kindly ask you to subscribe to his CBS Sports HQ PM newsletter and you can do that by clicking here.