Hey, welcome to your Wednesday afternoon. Today's newsletter is going to look a bit different than the one you've grown accustomed to. The newsletter you've learned to love more than your partner, and possibly a child or two. Oh, don't worry, I'm still going to be handing out gambling advice, but it's going to be of a different nature.
You see, when the World Series ended last night because Kevin Cash pulled Blake Snell -- I didn't hate the decision to pull Snell as much as I hated the decision to hand the ball to Nick Anderson -- it left us without any of the four major sports being played tonight. It feels like it's the first time this has happened in decades. So, instead of giving you picks for MLS matches tonight, I'm instead going to give out some futures on the only major professional sport we've got going in the immediate future: the NFL.
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I've been trawling through the futures at William Hill Sportsbook looking for the best values, and I've found four plays I think are worth your investment. I've got a play on the NFL MVP, a conference winner, a division winner and a playoffs future all waiting for you. Before we get to them, though, let's catch up on today's news, because while there aren't any games tonight, there's been plenty of news today!
- The Big Ten got through one weekend before having to cancel its first game.
- Bengals pass-rusher Carlos Dunlap is going to get his wish.
- A look at the complicated legacy of Dodgers president Andrew Friedman.
- 20 questions about the current NBA trade market.
OK, let's look into our crystal ball.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
💰 The Best NFL Futures Bets
The Pick: Patrick Mahomes (+450): As of now, Russell Wilson is the favorite to win the NFL MVP at +100 odds. He should be favored, but there's not a lot of value to be had there. Instead, let's look just behind him and see Patrick Mahomes alongside Aaron Rodgers at +450. It's important to remember that we're only halfway through the NFL season, though, and as good as Russ has been, recency bias is a real thing. The odds are that the winner of the NFL MVP will be the player who is playing the best at the end of the season, not the one doing so right now.
Plus, as the guy out in front, that just means Wilson's performances are going to be picked apart and gone over with a fine-tooth comb. So you'll see a performance as he had against the Cardinals on Sunday night. Russ threw for 388 yards and three touchdowns, but he also had three interceptions. Those turnovers helped the Seahawks blow the lead, so people will ignore everything Wilson did to put the Seahawks in a position to win and instead focus on the picks. "That's going to hurt his MVP credentials," they'll say.
Well, how many people did you see questioning Aaron Rodgers' MVP candidacy after he threw two picks against Tampa in a 38-10 loss two weeks ago? Not as many because Rodgers isn't the current leader. That's what makes Mahomes such a great value play here. He won the award in 2018, and voters don't tend to hand the award to the same player in consecutive seasons, so he's "eligible" in a lot more minds this season. He also plays in the best offense in football, for the defending champions, and the current favorite to win it again in 2020. If the Chiefs finish strong, Mahomes will lead them there, and he could easily win the award again.
Key Trend: The NFL MVP has gone to a QB each of the last seven years.
The Pick: Packers (+450) -- I don't think Aaron Rodgers is a better value than Mahomes to win the MVP, but I think there's great value on the Packers to win the NFC. The Buccaneers (+350) are the favorites in the conference, but I'm not all that confident in them going forward. With games remaining against the Saints, Rams and Chiefs, the second half of their schedule looks to be a bit more difficult than the first half. The Seahawks are great, but their defense can be shaky and their division is a monster.
Then there are the Packers, who are 5-1 and the only NFC North team with a positive point differential. Not only are they the favorite to win their division, but of the Packers, Bucs and Seahawks, they're the most likely to earn a crucial first-round bye and possibly home-field advantage as well. There's only one game remaining on the schedule (at San Francisco) in which the Packers aren't likely to be favored. That makes them an enticing option at +450.
Bears To Make NFL Playoffs
The Pick: No (+125) -- While we're on the subject of the NFC North, let's talk about my Chicago Bears. This pick is not an emotional reaction from me after seeing the Bears get trounced by the Rams. Quite the opposite. I knew the Rams game was coming. The Bears are 5-2, but they've given up more points (140) than they've scored this season (138). Only five teams have scored fewer than the 19.7 points per game the Bears are, and those five teams are a combined 7-26. The Bears also have games remaining against the Saints and Titans and two games against the Packers. They could easily lose all four of those games. In fact, I'd expect them to.
Now we're looking at a 5-6 team with two games against the Vikings and dates with the Lions, Texans and Jaguars. Realistically, to make the playoffs, the Bears would have to win at least four of those games to finish 9-7. They might, but they likely won't often enough to make that +125 look juicy.
NFC East Champion
The Pick: Giants (+1300) -- This is all about principle. The NFC East is awful, and nobody should be this big of an underdog to win the division. As bad as the Giants are, the first-place Eagles are only 2-4-1! No, I don't expect the Giants to win the division, but at +1300, they only have to do it 7.14% of the time. Considering they're 1-2 in the division already, that's not impossible!
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: There's one obvious Survivor play this week: K.C. over the Jets, but most people already have used the Chiefs. So who do you go with -- the Bucs, Titans, Packers or maybe even the Eagles? The SportsLine Projection Model keeps nailing its Survivor plays and it has generated the best non-K.C. option for Week 8.
🏌 Bermuda Championship Top 20 Props
Let's build the golf bankroll a bit before The Masters starts next month. Remember, you're betting these golfers to finish in the top-20, not to win the tournament.
- Pat Perez +225
- Brian Stuard +300
- Brice Garnett +350
- Vaughn Taylor +500
- Bronson Burgoon +500
⚽ Thursday Europa League Parlay
We're betting 1 unit to win 3.44 units.
- Tottenham -200
- AC Milan -225
- Roma -400
- Benfica -450
- Arsenal -2500