Odds Makers See NFC West and NFC North as Strongest …

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Last season the NFC West was the dominating division in the NFL. Three teams from the division won 10 games or more straight up as well as against the spread.

This year bookmakers also believe the NFC West will once again reign. This year’s combined win total for the four NFC West teams is 36.5, which is three games higher than the next closest division, the NFC North, which is 33.5.

At the end of last season, many bookmakers had three NFC West teams in the top ten of the power rankings with Seattle at No. 2, San Francisco No. 5 Arizona No. 8.

Last season the division was 13-3 against the AFC South.

According to information from Bovada and sporstbook.com, the AFC South is the worst division with a win total combined between the four teams of just 29. The only team in the AFC South expected to have a record above .500 is Indianapolis.

Top Five Divisions

The NFC West has a tougher schedule in 2014 as they play the AFC West, which had three teams make the postseason last season.

Seattle is favored by 3.5 points on the road to one of the AFC West teams, San Diego, that reached the postseason.

San Francisco is laying 6.5 points to Chicago and 6 to Philadelphia.

The NFC North is the league’s offensive minded division with Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford leading powerful offensive attacks. Even though Minnesota does not look to be strong, they will have Adrian Peterson and look to utilize Cordarrelle Patterson as well.

According to betonline and topbet, the AFC West will again be strong, albeit less than last season. Denver is clearly a step above Kansas City and San Diego. Most believe the Chiefs will regress, with the Chargers finishing second and the Raiders dead last.

The NFC South is unpredictable. Drew Brees should have another super year. Cam Newton will help his throwing game by using his run skills to keep defenses off balance. Matt Ryan hopes his receivers stay healthy as last year more were injured than healthy in Atlanta.

The AFC North looks to be a dogfight between Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. All three can post 10 wins or more. Defensively Cincy will be even stronger than last season.

Pittsburgh has added speed and strength on offense. Baltimore should utilize the run much better this season under Gary Kubiak. Cleveland’s fate is not in the hands of Johnny Manziel, but the league office, as they will decide the amount of suspension wide out Josh Gordon will face.

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Bears go from Underdog to Favorite After Cutler Cleared …

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The Chicago Bears received good news on Thursday when doctors cleared their starting quarterback Jay Cutler to play in Sunday’s home game at Soldier Field.

Chicago is 5-3 SU and 2-5-1 ATS this season, while Detroit is 5-3 SU and 4-4 ATS. Both teams are tied at the top of the NFC North with Green Bay.

On the announcement that Cutler was cleared to play in Sunday’s game, the Bears went from being the underdog in the game to being the favorite on some sportsbooks like Bovada and betonline.

In a loss in Week 8, Cutler was knocked out of the game with an injured groin and doctors said he would be out three weeks or more.

However, during this week most people felt he would return, but were waiting for the all clear sign from doctors.

The spread had started to move in Chicago’s favored even prior to the announcement that doctors had cleared Cutler to play. Sportsbooks such as topbet had Detroit -1 on Thursday morning, and then many took the game off the big board and reposted the Bears at -1.5.

In the fourth week of the season, Detroit defeated Chicago 40-32, as a favorite by 3 points. The game was not as close as the margin of eight-point might indicate.

Last week the Bears won behind Josh McCown at Lambeau Field thanks in part to Aaron Rodgers going down injured. Nevertheless, McCown had 272 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Some sportsbooks like Bovada believe the Bears are as many as two points better with Cutler on the field.

After the game was reposted on Thursday, the spread jumped from Chicago -1.5 to pick’em and back up again for Chicago at -1, then to a pick’em.

Regardless of where the line ends by game time, the important part for Chicago is that Cutler is back and that gives them a chance against the offensive minded Lions.

With Green Bay facing a big problem with Rodgers shoulder injury, Chicago and Detroit could be the two to battle for the NFC North. With their head-to-head games taking place early in the season in Week 4 and now Week 9, each team will have to win their games going forward and rely on other teams to knock their division rivals off.

The Rodgers loss for 4 to 6 weeks could prevent the Packers from reaching the post season if they cannot find a way to win without him. The Packers face Philadelphia on Sunday and currently that line is a pick’em.

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Saints put Unbeaten Streak on Line Agianst Bears

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Two of the better offensive teams meet this Sunday in the NFL when the New Orleans Saints visit the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in the Windy City.

Drew Brees and his unbeaten Saints will take on Jay Cutler and his Bears in a game that could be dictated by possible foul weather.

New Orleans is 4-0 SU this season and holds a two game lead over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South. Even though Brees has been his normal self, throwing multiple touchdown passes in each game, the Saints have been helped by a much-improved defense and the return of head coach Sean Payton to the sideline.

Chicago looks to rebound after suffering their only loss thus far in the season under Marc Trestman their new head coach.

At this point, the line is a pick ‘em with the point total on 48.5. The line has moved all week long, with some having the Saints -1 and other books such as Bovada or topbet had it at a pick ‘em. The opening point total was 47, but the OVER has all the action thus far on sportsbook.com and betonline pushing it up to the current 48.5.

In their careers, Brees is 100-80-3 ATS, while Cutler is 39-75-2 ATS.

The teams last played head to head in 2011 with New Orleans winning at home 30-13. Chicago at home is just 1-5-1 over its last seven games.

This will be the Saints second road game, but their toughest, as they have only played Tampa Bay on the road prior to this game.

Brees has played spectacularly this far, but if weather is a factor and his passing game is affected, the Saints have very little in the way of a running attack.

Defensively the Saints are much improved with a No. 5 ranking in the NFL against the pass.

Chicago saw its defense shredded last week against Detroit. The Bears defense is No. 23 against the pass. Through four games, they only have six sacks, which is the third fewest in football.

Offensively, Cutler had three interceptions versus Detroit. Matt Forte has a 4.6-yard average and should be able to find space against the defensive line of New Orleans.

The weather is expected to be rainy and windy and could affect the offenses.

The Saints are back, even though their defense remains suspect to the run. Chicago does not have a defense that can contain Brees’ passing game.

Pick: Saints 35-21

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Lions offense powered by Bush not Stafford and Johnson

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This season the Detroit Lions are off to a great start after just four games. The Lions are currently tied for first in the NFC North. The Lions record is 3-1 as is that of the Chicago Bears. Detroit has won two straight games and is 2-0 in the division, which is of great importance when the postseason nears.

When bettors look at the Lions and point spreads for their games, they often think of Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford.

They wonder how many yards passing Stafford will have and how many touchdown passes. With Johnson they ask themselves how many catches, yards and touchdowns will he have and how will that affect the game’s outcome.

Nevertheless, this season the one player powering the offense more than Stafford and Johnson is all-purpose back Reggie Bush.

Stafford and Johnson thus far have not lived up to the top billing they were and still have been getting. The reason the Lions are 3-1 and their offense has been generating points is Bush.

Bush returned from a slight knee injury to show Detroit’s rivals the Chicago Bears that when he can play at full speed he makes the offense for Detroit go. On Sunday, Bush had 22 touches in the game and accumulated 173 yards.

Of course, Joique Bell the No. 2 back for Detroit has done well, and subbed well during week 3 for the injured Bush, but the explosiveness Bush has is not comparable.

Bush has a game-breaking versatility that few others possess. His rushing skills and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield make Bush the perfect complement to Johnson’s threat over the middle and down the field.

Even though the Lions beat Chicago to stay abreast the Bears, a real test for them is this weekend.

Detroit will face the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay has not played well and sits at 1-2 after having a by-week with Carolina.

Nevertheless, a standard of excellence is obtained when a team can shut the Packers down offensively and outscore them. Detroit will have that opportunity this weekend.

The line opened on sites like betonline, topbet and Bovada with the Packers -7, but has come down to 6.5.

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Chicago Bears win total and prediction for 2013

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Odds makers at online sportsbooks such as Bovada, betonline, sportsbook.com and topbet have given the Chicago Bears a win total of 8.5 for the 2013 season.

The success for the Bears in the NFC North will be predicated on the season of Jay Cutler their quarterback. His performance will be the biggest factor in determining if Chicago reaches the postseason.

While Chicago’s defense is strong, ranked No. 8 last season in the NFL in both stopping the rush and pass, and their rushing game was a solid No. 10 in the league, the passing game was dismal ranked No. 29 in the NFL.

Even though champions are built on defense, today’s game has changed and teams must have a reliable and consistent quarterback for them to be successful.

Cutler thus far in his career has proven to be an unremarkable passer, but this season with Marc Trestman as the new head coach of the Bears, that could change.

Trestman won two straight Grey Cups with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. That league is all about the passing game.

Trestman was quarterback coach at Cleveland and the Browns reached the playoffs with a 10-6 record, beating the Colts in the first round. He helped former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar throw for over 3,500 yards.

Trestman has coached previously in Arizona, Oakland, Detroit, Minnesota and San Francisco as a quarterbacks coach and always was able to get the full potential out of his quarterbacks and that will be crucial for the Bears and Cutler this season.

Defensively the Bears look as strong as they always have, even though Brian Urlacher is gone. With Lance Briggs, who had 103 tackles and D.J. Williams who had 90 tackles in 2011 the team should fill Urlacher’s vacancy without a problem.

The Bears defensive line will be crucial in their success, but their secondary will play a huge role for the unit as well.

The secondary for Chicago had six interception returns for touchdowns in just the first seven games of last season. With Major Wright at safety and Christ Tillman at corner, the Bears have a great secondary.

Cutler will not only be helped by his new head coach, but the offensive line has some new faces that should help protect him more in the pocket. Two draft picks Jordan Mills and Kyle Long will help from the start.

I take the UNDER in the win total of 8.5, as the Bears should win 7 or even 8 games as they have a tough schedule and Cutler is not the quarterback they need to reach the next level.

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Green Bay Packers Win Total for 2013 Season

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The NFL regular season is a month away and teams are finding out where they stand amongst opponents as the first full week of NFL preseason games concludes today when the Buffalo Bills visit the Indianapolis Colts.

This season, as has been the case for at least the last decade, the Green Bay Packers are favored to win the NFC North division. The Packers have been given an Over/Under win total for the season of 10.5. The big question is will they pass that mark or come up short during their 16 regular season games.

Betonline feels the Packers are one of the best teams in the NFL, yet the resurgence of other teams, such as the San Francisco 49ers has made the win totals that much harder to predict.

Nevertheless, one thing is certain, Aaron Rodgers the signal caller for the Packers is one of the best in the league, if not the best. If he is playing, the Packers have an opportunity to win; it is as simple as that.

Depending upon the sportsbook, the Packers are as high as +600 to take the NFC Championship and +1000 to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl Champions.

During the offseason, the Packers had to fill some holes and its seems they came up big in that department. Greg Jennings, the veteran wide receiver was allowed to sign with the Minnesota Vikings because the Packers want youth in the skills positions on offense.

Green Bay added Eddie Lacy to their backfield through the draft, as well as Jonathan Franklin. Lacy played with Alabama, while Franklin was a machine running for the UCLA Bruins in the Pac-12. The two-headed running attack will help the Packers offense become more diverse and that much harder to stop.

However, if one weakness was obvious last season it was the way the Packers played defense. During the offseason, this issued was addressed through the drafting of Datone Jones and the release of veterans such as Charles Woodson.

Jones will add a much needed interior pass rush to help the already strong outside presence that Clay Matthews gives the defense. Add to that Nick Perry, the team’s first round pick from a year ago and the defense should show improvement from the first game.

Green Bay will get the chance to prove they have improved defensively as they open the season on September 8 against the San Francisco 49ers and then play the Washington Redskins the following week.

If betting on the over under win total is not enough, take a change on Rodgers as the league’s MVP. Bovada online sportsbook has Rodgers sitting at 8 to 1 to take the MVP this season.

Nevertheless, with the odds makers giving the Packers a 10.5 win total, smart money takes the OVER.

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Lions Head to the Windy City for Monday Night Football

Matthew Satfford wrenched D.J. Moore's helmet from his head last time out. Will the Bears be on the hunt for retribution?

Matthew Stafford wrenched D.J. Moore's helmet from his head the last time Detroit and Chicago met. Will the Bears be on the hunt for retribution?

You can bet that when the powers that be were putting together the Monday Night Football schedule they fully expected this matchup between Detroit (2-3, 1-2 road) and Chicago (4-1, 2-0 home) to be both a grudge match and a potential division-topper.

Of course, Detroit’s erratic play has the team languishing at the bottom of the division (below Minnesota!) while the Bears have been the talk of the north, charging to an impressive 4-1 record and top spot. This game might not decide who leads the division, but you can count on it being both a grudge match and an important fixture in terms of heading forward.

The last time these two sides met (November 13, 2011) Chicago took a 37-13 win in a hot-tempered affair that is best remembered for Matthew Stafford tearing D.J. Moore’s helmet off following an interception.

It was the kind of moment that has punctuated this rivalry since its inception in 1930, when the Bears took on the Lions (then known as the Portsmouth Spartans) for the first time. It was also the sort of moment this Chicago side isn’t likely to forget. You think we’re not going to see some Chicago defenders looking to get up close and personal with Mr. Stafford?

Chicago’s run of form has been built on a strong running game that has averaged 123.6 yards per game (good enough for ninth in the league). Matt Forte may only be rushing for 67.5 YPG but he’s getting help from Michael Bush (41.2 YPG). Detroit could be in for a long night, but the Lion’s own top ten rush defense may well be up for the challenge.

Detroit may well consider forgetting the run before the first quarter is over. Chicago has the number one rush defense in the league, giving up just 65.8 YPG. That leaves the team relying on Matthew Stafford’s arm.

Stafford has averaged 298.6 YPG through the air, leading the most prolific passing attack in the league. Whilst that is undoubtedly a good thing, the Detroit gunslinger has only connected on four touchdown passes all season. This miserly number is confounded by the five interceptions he’s thrown. Going through the air against Chicago could be tough, especially as the past two weeks have seen Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman return interceptions for touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Jay Cutler has put up consistent, if not awe-inspiring, numbers. He’s averaging 241.8 YPG and has tallied an even seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. The big worry at this time is that opposing defenses have gotten to him 14 times for sacks.

Historically speaking, the Bears lead the all-time series 95-65-5, and have won seven of the last eight and 11 of the last 13, a dominant record if ever there was one.

 

Odds: Lines opened with Chicago six-point favorites to take this one. As the week has progressed, this number has risen slightly (-6½). The over/under is 47½ points.

Take: Chicago – There’s a real temptation to pick Detroit for one simple reason: in the season of the upset, only one underdog (Tennessee) has come away with a win this weekend. A Detroit victory would be at the very least a talking point. However, this Chicago side looks defensively solid enough to put the Lions down. Stafford is unreliable through the air, and the Lions’ run game is less than stellar, and even less likely to trouble the number one rush defense in the league.

The two sides are combining for an average of 55 points per game this season. The total has gone over in six of the last eight Bears games at Soldier Field as well as five of seven Detroit games. The smart money then has to be on the OVER.

 

Player Props

If you’re looking for more action than the spread has to offer, Bovada is offering an extensive list of player props to get involved with. Here’s a few to get you started.

Will Matthew Stafford (DET) pass for more than 285½ yards? Yes (-125), No (-105)

Will Matthew Stafford (DET) throw more than 1½ touchdowns? Yes (-165), No (+135)

Will Matthew Stafford (DET) throw more than ½ interceptions? Yes (-260), No (+200)

Will Jay Cutler (CHI) pass for more than 260½ yards? Yes (-120), No (-105)

Will Jay Cutler (CHI) throw more than 1½ touchdowns? Yes (-155), No (+125)

Will Jay Cutler (CHI) throw more than ½ interceptions? Yes (-200), No (+160)

Will Calvin Johnson (DET) score a TD? Yes (-125), No (-105)

Will Brandon Marshall (CHI) score a TD? Yes (-125), No (-105)

Will Mikel Leshoure (DET) rush for more than 62½ yards? Yes (-125), No (-105)

Will Matt Forte (CHI) rush for more than 80½ yards? Yes (-125), No (-105)

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