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Concannon: Guide to smart sports betting this NFL season

| Friday, August 23, 2019

It is often taught one should seek investments that are low in risk and high in return. I have found some investments that are guaranteed money in your pocket. You could pay thousands of dollars, but no financial advisor would come close to providing the risk-free return I am about to provide you.

I am talking, of course, about my gambling picks for the upcoming NFL season. Here’s some values that are guaranteed (kind of) to win you money. For clarity, if I were to say that a team is 2-1 to win its division, I mean that a one dollar bet on that team would pay out two dollars (three total dollars including your bet) if your prediction was correct.

AFC North

There is all kinds of hype around the Browns this year, and they are currently the favorite to win the AFC North. I like Baker Mayfield and what the Browns have put together, but they’re an unproven commodity that has not been to the playoffs since 2002. The Steelers are 8-5 to win the AFC North, and that’s a bet I’m taking to the bank.

Picking the team that has won its division three of the last five years and has the best quarterback in the division (all hate mail from Browns fans can be directed to my email below) feels like stealing to me. The team unloaded Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell — both major distractions last season — with solid replacements. Ride the Steelers to free money.

NFC South

Give me the Panthers at 11-2 to take the NFC South. I don’t think the Panthers are the favorite to win the NFC South, but 15-4 is a criminal value. Cam Newton is finally healthy, and the team made heavy investments in its offensive line during free agency to keep him that way.

Everyone thinks the Saints are untouchable in the NFC South, but this is not true. There is so much parity in the NFL now. The NFC South has had three different champions in the last four years. Four of the 2017 season’s division winners failed to repeat last year. The Panthers may not be the favorite, but their odds are far greater than the 21.1% probability implied by these odds. We’re betting on uncertainty here, and I love the long odds we’re getting to do so.

NFC East

What do you get when you combine a coach on the hot seat, no offensive weapons and a defense that just cut the team’s leading tackler from last season? You get the 2019 Washington Redskins, a sneaky worst-team-in-the-league contender. I like Washington to win under six games, a bet currently paying even 1-1 odds.

Whether it’s Case Keenum or Dwayne Haskins in control of the offense, I’m not confident. I’m especially nervous when you consider who they will be throwing to. Their receivers are weak. Derrius Guice and Jordan Reed are on the injury report far more frequently than the end zone. The NFL is an offensive league, as only two of the bottom five NFL teams last year in points per game last year surpassed six wins. I fully expect the Redskins to be in the bottom five in offense this year, and they will pay the price for it. Hammer the under.

Honorable mentions

A prediction worth watching is the Patriots at 6-1 to repeat as Super Bowl Champions, because some football god loves to see us all suffer. The Chargers at 9-4 to win the AFC West is interesting. Many forget they were 12-4 last year and now the league has a full year of film on Mahomes and an offseason to prepare for him. The Houston Texans at 17-4 to win the AFC South is worth considering, because if Luck is announced to miss week 1, the odds are going to get far less favorable for betters and it looks like that Luck may not be healthy.

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