Kicking off its 2010 Thursday Night Football campaign with gusto this week, the NFL offers one of the best match-ups we’ve seen all year…albeit to the dismay of sports fans who don’t currently subscribe to the NFL Network! As the Baltimore Ravens get set to tee-off against the Atlanta Falcons in a heated match-up between two 6-2 teams, best marks in the league, most of us can only sit back and observe the updates on the game from ESPN, or any other sports website, and quietly curse the league for not allowing all television customers to take part in this exciting and likely hard-nosed football contest. Without the actual game on TV, the majority of us sports fans will have to settle for checking out the wagering lines on this great match-up at one of the top sportsbooks reviewed here, and retain hope that someday the NFL decides to work an agreement to put these games on primetime (lord knows how terrible just about every single network TV show is these days anyway). While we remain dreaming of that day, for sports betting on Thursday, this game is front and center for sports fans, and today a trip to one of the best online sports betting sites at the Players Only sportsbook (read the review of Playersonly.com) will yield a wager on this match-up, as well as a handful of games taking place in the NHL and NBA for Thursday. Getting a chance to also see a little College Football could be exciting as well, and for Friday, keep in mind the big opening of College Basketball, with 134 games in store for betting on sports. It’s one fantastic time to be a sports fan!
To start the wagers off on Thursday, we’ll start with the lines on the Baltimore vs. Atlanta match-up, with the Players Only Sportsbook giving a few solid opportunities for sports fans to pick up a wagering win. First off, Atlanta pulls the favorite at home, getting the line at -1 being a strong team at home behind QB Matt Ryan and a potent offense. Balancing out that attack is the solid pass defense of the Ravens, and while their rush defense has been less than stellar compared to previous seasons, Atlanta is going to struggle to run the ball against a veteran D that will no doubt be keeping a close eye on Michael Turner and the Falcons running crew. On the other side of the ball, Baltimore will look to exploit the pass defense headed by Dunta Robinson, ranked 26th in the league. Though the Ravens will look to get the ball moving with the triple threat of Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le’Ron Mclain, the 6th ranked rush defense may turn this into a shootout between Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan. With Roddy White banged up heading into tonight’s contest, Baltimore will be able to focus in more on protecting against the run, which may give them the nod in the game overall. However, up against an undefeated at home Atlanta Falcons team, it’s obvious why they get the favorite for the game today. If there is one team that has the offensive weapons, and the defensive ability to shut down a strong offense, that would be Baltimore, and that’s my pick for tonight. Taking the over bet on total points (expecting some fireworks on both side, enough to beat the 43.5 points offered), and another wager taking Baltimore to win, the first wager of the day is a lock at Players Only sportsbook.
Moving on to further options for sportsbook bets on Thursday, check out the three games in the NBA, all of which will be great contests to watch and wager on. In the biggest match-up between two hot teams, the Miami Heat continue their home stand hosting the Boston Celtics, victors in the first game of the season between these two teams. Coming off a collapse of epic proportions in losing to Utah on Tuesday, Miami no doubt will be refocusing for a better performance at home, and will likely give Boston a better run tonight now that the Big Three have settled into their roles a little more, and defense is the priority on the table tonight. With Miami favorites by 7 points at Players Only, I can’t help but take the Celtics to keep this one close (themselves coming off a tough loss at Dallas), whichever direction the final outcome goes. Check out the further match-ups for NBA Basketball tonight, as the upstart Golden State Warriors look to further their outstanding start to the 2010-11 campaign against Chicago tonight, a team that has played very well at home with the balanced offense of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng. Again I like the line on this match-up, with Golden State getting 6.5 points, looking to erase the pains they’ve suffered in the past three season in trips to Chicago. This is a new Golden State team however, especially with Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry contributing to the solid 6-2 start. While both teams can put up offense, it’s key to note the points total at 215 tonight, high for a Chicago team that has only given up one 100 point game to an opposing team in their first four home stands. While Golden State is averaging 106.5 points a game this season, this match-up should be a little tighter, and the under wager on total points looks like the proper call for this game. Lastly, the final pick on NBA hoops falls on a tough pick with the Los Angeles Lakers heading to Denver to take on the Nuggets. With Denver looking to rebound after a crushing 144-113 loss to Indianapolis, the Lakers will need a much better effort then their last to keep undefeated on the season. With this Laker team though, clearly outmatching Denver all the way down the bench, I’ll take L.A. to win, and go with the over wager on total points (211.5), which is easily passable by these two stout offenses.
On to action on the ice today, the NHL features a host of 10 games for betting on sports, and at least a few games stick out as solid picks for sportsbook wagers. The game of the night features Boston, fresh off a crushing 7-4 win at Pittsburgh, against Montreal starting strong on the road for the year to date (5-2). Tim Thomas, net minder for the Bruins remains undefeated on the year heading into tonight’s contest, behind an offense scoring 3.33 goals over the start of the season. A great Original Six match-up, drop a wager on this game, but look towards Boston for the win on home ice behind one of the top three goalies in the league right now. In another huge match-up between potent offenses, check out the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay, with the former team winning four straight at home, and the two hottest players, Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos facing off against one another tonight. I’ll take Washington at home with their hot hand, however its likely we can expect plenty of scoring with these two potent offenses (combined to hold a 6.47 goals per game average). In further betting for NHL Hockey, check out the St. Louis Blues looking to rebound at home after a punishing 8-1 loss at the hands of Columbus, ruining their 7 game win streak and tarnishing Jaroslav Halak’s pristine Goals Against Average. The Detroit Red Wings should make quick work of the Edmonton Oilers on their home ice, San Jose gets the New York Islanders, who can’t seem to win a game for any reason, and the Kings and Stars face off in Los Angeles tonight, with the bet going to LA who have played great at home, and try to extend their best start in 30 years (as well as go to 7-0 at Staples Center). All in all, another great day for sports and online sportsbook bets, check out the Players Only Sportsbook for great action all day long, and we’ll catch you on the flipside before heading to the weekend!