Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce celebrate another Kansas City Chiefs score.

DENNY MEDLEY, USA TODAY SPORTS

Betting on the NFL in week one is a little bit like trying to hit a bullseye with a butcher knife, while blindfolded and blacked out. Other than that, it's a breeze.

You have nothing to base your wagers on besides some meaningless play and training camp murmurs. This season will be no exception EXCEPT given the COVID truncated offseason, there's one thing you can value more than any other year: Continuity.

If the Chiefs taught us anything from the Thursday night shellacking of the Texans, it's that all that money they shelled out to keep their absurd level of talent was worth it. Not just because it's better to have more talent than the other team, it is, but also because if you can keep as much of a championship squad together from one year to the next, you have a better chance of that squad continuing to play in the rhythm they've already established.

The Chiefs ran it back with their coordinators, all their speedy wide receivers, their terrorizing twosome on the defensive line, their All-Pro tight end, and plugged in LSU's double threat running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Put all that together, Andy Reid might be lining up for free cheeseburgers in Kansas City with two Super Bowl rings in 2021.


So, betting-wise, where does that leave us? Looking for teams who have established chemistry and culture. I'm looking for teams that are bringing the band back against teams that are trotting out untested rosters and fresh coaching staffs. I'd also say it's safe to bet against some truly bottom-of-the-barrel, no-hope-in-sight, dreadful teams.

Battle Tested vs. Newbs

Ravens -7.5 over Browns

Colts -8 over Jaguars

Bills -6.5 over Jets

Eagles -5.5 over Football Team

Steelers -6 over Giants

Saints -3.5 over Bucs

Titans -2.5 over Broncos

The Ravens come off one of the most efficient offensive seasons ever, period. All they did was add talent around their transcendentally talented QB. The Browns were, well, the Browns and thus they overhauled the coaching staff. This is a make-or-break year for Baker and his receivers, who could put it together later in the year, but not against a definitive Super Bowl contender in their first game under new head coach Kevin Stefanski's system.

The Colts built the most dominant offensive line in football, drafted a running back made of bowling balls powered by rocket fuel, and signed a quarterback who takes the phrase "wily vet" to a whole new level. Meanwhile, the Jaguars are so very bad. They've either cut, traded away, or chosen not to resign their most talented players over the past two years and given Gardner Minshew little to work with heading into 2020.

The Bills competed last season with Josh Allen operating as a deep ball throwing machine or a running option with little in between. They've added weapons, like Stefon Diggs, to bring some balance and their defense will be disruptive as ever. The Jets, last time I checked, are still coached by Adam Gase. They would need players at every level of the offense and defense to make significant leaps to be competitive this decade, especially after trading away Jamal Adams for no immediate help.

The Eagles soar under Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz, and a game-wrecking defensive line, which all return intact. If they can keep even halfway decent receivers on the field for a game or two and get some run out of the intriguing Miles Sanders, I like their chances against virtually any opponent. The Washington Football Team is so disorganized that they can't even pick a name or respond to multiple reports of harassment without slipping all over themselves. Not to mention, Ron Rivera is dealing with cancer treatments (get well soon!), which means Jack Del Rio is running practice in his absence. Not exactly an ideal situation to inspire the team to be ready for week 1.

The Steelers boast one of the most steady-handed coaching staffs in the NFL. Big Ben returns to lead the offense and their defense played so well down the stretch that they almost dragged Mason Rudolph into the playoffs. The Giants have a whole new coaching staff, which includes the underwhelming Jason Garrett at OC, and a second year QB throwing to guys who've seen better days or haven't reached their potential. Look for Roethlisberger and the Steelers to hit their stride early.

The Saints return a team with no real holes on offense or defense and actually upgraded by signing Emmanuel Sanders over Ted Ginn Jr. Not to mention, Sean Payton's connection with Drew Brees remains strong. The Bucs have acquired more talent in one off season in recent memory. It all looks good on paper, but practically they have a 43 year old QB and a 31 year old tight end that's already retired once after dealing with just about every injury imaginable. This has the Eagles' Dream team disaster written all over it. Don't believe the hype, trust in the team that's been at the top of the NFC South for the past 3 seasons in the Saints.

The Titans bring back an offense that had been firing on all cylinders behind Ryan Tannehill, a brutalizing rushing attack, and the work of wunderkind OC Arthur Smith. Plus, they gassed up their defense by signing Javedeon Clowney. The Broncos just lost their most important player, Von Miller, which greatly diminishes their pass rush and overall effectiveness on D. Drew Lock looked serviceable in his limited starts last year, but how much could he improve in an off season like this? Especially when Courtland Sutton's questionable for the game and the rookie, Jerry Jeudy, only has a month of hands on experience in the offense.

Here's the thing about this column and these picks. I don't necessarily expect to rip off a seven-teamer out of the starting gate, like I'm some kind of psychic on a hot streak. However, these games all fit the bill of what I'm looking for in value. Play 'em as a three, four, or five team parlay and give it a ride.

HomeDawg Special

For something completely different, these games all fit under a tried and true bettor's rule: Go against west coast teams on the road playing east coast teams. The idea of travel and playing While this maxim isn't foolproof, it certainly gives you a good base to work from when deciding where to put your money.

Panthers +3 over Raiders

Bengals +3 over Chargers

Falcons +2.5 over Seahawks

The Panthers may have finished last season on an eight game slide, but look at those games, even with Kyle Allen at QB, they played a lot of good teams close. Now with Teddy Bridgewater, who's looked above average, under the tutelage of Matt Rhule and Joe Brady, the college football whiz kid, the ceiling has been raised. However, the Raiders under Jon Gruden have seemed to teeter between mediocre and utter mess. There's nothing they did this off season that would make me feel they deserve 3 points on the road.

The Bengals drafted the man who should be the franchise, Joe Burrow, and, by all accounts, he's been everything and more since arriving in Cincy. One other thing to note here, the Bengals played the Seahawks to a 21-20 nail-biter in Week 1. I wouldn't call it a trend, but, perhaps, Zac Taylor can prep even a 2-win team to a close game if you give him all off season. Let's just say this year's Chargers aren't last year's Seahawks. Their D will be stout, but the offense is unproven. Gimme those points.

The Falcons finished last season hot, saving Dan Quinn's job in the process. Quinn, who was Seattle's DC for their championship run, knows his former team better than just about anyone else. These teams met last year, and after Seattle broke it open early, it ended up a one score game. Which sums up the value here, the Seahawks were in twelve (12!) games that came down to one score. It's a running joke that Seattle never plays in a normal game, I don't expect one this Sunday.

As a three-teamer, this pays out at +700. If only two of the three suit your fancy, I'd recommend parlaying those, as well.

Moneyline Upset

Dolphins over Patriots

The Dolphins took down the Patriots in Week 17 last season in a game that Brady and co. needed to win. Brian Flores, former Pats coach, knows Belichick well and coached his scrappy team above their pay grade in his first year. The Dolphins went on a shopping spree, adding talent all up and down their roster, and cashed in some draft capital. Meanwhile, the Pats replace Brady with Cam Newton, but didn't do much else, except have a handful of players opt out of the season. This one will be close and the value of +240 is enough to get a few shekels from me.

That's all for me to start the season. Let's hope all these come up winners and we can check back next week to count our profits.

Andrew Wiggins and Jayson Tatum

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In Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the Warriors defended the home floor to take a 3-2 lead in the finals over the Boston Celtics. Largely, this is because Boston was careless with the basketball. The Warriors tallied nine steals and forced 18 turnovers by the Celtics. In contrast, the Warriors only got the ball stolen twice and turned the ball over just six times Monday night. While Stephen Curry was guarded ferociously and was held to just 16 points on 7-of-22 shooting (and 0-9 from downtown), his teammates stepped up.

Andrew Wiggins had another huge double-double, scoring 26 points (12-23 FG) and hauling in 13 rebounds. Finally, if the Celtics hope to win in Game 6, they will need to stay awake in the fourth quarter. Over the last two games, Boston has fallen asleep at the end of the game while the Warriors managed to sneak away with two consecutive victories.

Let's take a look at some of tonight's best bets for this huge NBA Finals Game 6.

Please Note: All betting odds were correct today as of 2:00 pm EST from Caesars Sportsbook

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Best Bets of the Night

Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics -4 (GSW Leads 3-2)

NBA Finals Best Bet #1: Boston Celtics -4 (-110)

It’s difficult to envision the Boston Celtics collapsing in the fourth quarter in three consecutive games. The Celtics may briefly watch the tape from Game 5 but they are going to have to shake it off and move forward immediately. Boston’s carelessness with the basketball Monday night should produce a much-needed wake-up call that will allow the team to make smarter passes and take fewer risks on offense against a Golden State defense that has surged over the last two games.

While Steph will likely score more than 16 points in Game 6, Jaylen Brown must have a bounce-back performance after going 5-of-18 for 18 points in Game 5. Though the Celtics shot above 40% from the field on Monday night, they turned the ball over at an uncharacteristic rate, finishing the night with 18 turnovers. Some of those were unforced errors while the Warriors earned nine steals as well.

At home in Game 6, the Celtics will play better and bring this 2022 NBA Finals series to a blockbuster Game 7 at the Chase Center. For NBA fans wishing for a seven-game series in the 2022 Finals and bettors looking to cash in on Game 6, Boston will win by at least four points at home in a win-or-go-home scenario. Jayson Tatum has yet to play his best basketball this series with Andrew Wiggins playing lethal defense but tonight will be the night that he finally drops 30+ points. Although Steve Kerr seems to think his squad is ready to close out the series, he may have to think again given how well Boston has bounced back from losses this postseason.

Don’t forget that the Celtics were in a three-game to two-game deficit against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals yet found a way to come out victorious. They may not be able to win two straight against Golden State but it’s tough to imagine the Warriors defeating the Celtics in three consecutive matchups. Boston wins by a few possessions: 110-104.

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NBA Finals Best Bet #2: Over (O/U) 210 Total Points (-110)

Though only 204 points were scored between both teams in Game 5 (BOS 97 - 107 GSW), Game 6 will be a higher-scoring contest for multiple reasons. First, Jaylen Brown will have a bounce-back night. After being held to 18 points on 27.8% shooting from the field on Monday, Brown will almost certainly play more efficiently and score more in Game 6. Additionally, Boston had way fewer scoring opportunities due to their whopping 18 turnovers. Ima Udoke will make sure his starters take care of the ball in a game that can decide Boston’s fate. Marcus Smart and Al Horford have come up huge as role players but Tatum needs to really shift into an entirely new gear. Don’t be surprised if that happens tonight.

The story through Games 4 and 5 has been the same. Golden State has stepped it up on defense, managing to out-rebound the Celtics in both contests. Robert Williams III might have something to say about that tonight. In Game 6, the Celtics should be more cautious with the ball and therefore have more opportunities than they did over the last two contests. Meanwhile, the Warriors are always expected to drop at least 105+ points.

NBA Player Props

Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics -4 (GSW Leads 3-2)

Prop #1: Andrew Wiggins To Record a Double-Double (+225)

Throughout these NBA Finals, Andrew Wiggins has been on an absolute tear. Just over the last two contests where he finished both with double-doubles, he’s recorded 29 rebounds and 43 points. He has adapted his style of play and is spending more time down low in the post to help the Warriors out on the glass. Wiggins is putting significant pressure on Robert Williams III, Al Horford, and Jayson Tatum to rebounds the ball more efficiently. Not only is Wiggins keeping his scoring numbers up, he’s drastically improved on the defensive end to record 49 rebounds (9.8 rebounds per game in the Finals) through the first five games of this series. Wiggins’ shift to focus on rebounding and keeping the pressure down low has worked brilliantly for the Warriors over the last two games, both of which they won. In Game 6, expect him to continue to do what has been working, giving him a great chance to produce a third consecutive double-double in the NBA Finals. Perhaps he can even win the NBA Finals MVP Award if he continues to play at this level. Wiggins has been the true x-factor for the Dubs in this series.

Prop #2: Jaylen Brown Over 24.5 Points (-110)

After a rough shooting night in Game 5 where Brown only converted on five of his 18 shots from the field, he should wake up and score 25+ points in Game 6 at TD Garden. While you may want to stick away from three-point shooting props involving brown right now, he’ll hit the over in points tonight at the TD Garden. Brown has only scored over 24 points in one of five games this series (27 points in Game 3) but the Celtics do much better when Brown and Tatum perform like the perennial All-Stars that they are.

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Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

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In Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals, Stephen Curry and the Warriors executed exactly where they didn’t in Game 3 to tie up the series 2-2. Notably, Golden State dominated down low Friday night after being outrebounded and suffocated by the Celtics in Game 3. As a team, the Warriors recorded 16 offensive boards for a total of 55 rebounds for the night. For instance, Draymond Green struggled Wednesday night to finish the night with only four rebounds and three assists before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

In Game 4, Draymond dominated down low for eight rebounds, eight assists, and four steals without getting himself into foul trouble (only three PFs for Green in Game 4 after fouling out in Game 3).

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors - 4 (-110)

Similar to Game 3, both teams shot the ball rather evenly. The Warriors finished the night with 44% shooting from the field, and 34.9% from downtown. The Celtics converted 40% of the field goal attempts and 39.5% of their shots from deep. One factor which helped Golden State keep up with the Celtics throughout the game was terrific rebounding. Andrew Wiggins stepped it up off the glass to produce a 17-point and 16-rebound double-double. What really caused the Celtics to lose in Game 3 was a complete offensive collapse in the fourth quarter.

With seven minutes remaining in the game, the Celtics had a 91-86 lead over Golden State. That means Boston was outscored 21-6 in the second half of the fourth quarter to lose Game 4 107-97. With Golden State back home, expect their offense to shoot better than they did on the road and secure a home victory in Game 5.

Bet: Golden State Warriors -4 (-110)

Throughout the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors shot 49.4% from the field and 40.7% from downtown in 11 games played at home. For their nine road games, the Warriors were less efficient on average averaging 47.2 FG% (2.2% less efficient from the field) and 34.9% (-5.8% less efficient from 3PT range). The numbers reveal clearly that for the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors have been more efficient scoring. With the prospect of taking a 3-2 lead over the Celtics, its likely that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have another big night in front of the home crowd.

Bet: Over (O/U) 212.5 Total Points (-110)

While only 204 points were scored in Game 4, expect Game 5 to be a much higher-scoring game. In addition to the Warriors shooting much better from the field, the team seems to have found some efficiency against the bigger Celtics down low. These two factors could push the Warriors to score 120+ points in Game 5. In turn, Jayson Tatum who scored 23 points (8-23 FG) will bounce back to have a 30+ point game. Both he and Steph are scoring big these NBA Finals.

While the defense was the main story of Games 3 and 4 at the TD Garden, scoring buckets will be the principal feature of Game 5 at the Chase Center. With him and Stephen Curry averaging more than 34 PPG through these finals, you can count on Game 5 in Golden State to be a high-scoring game.

NBA Player Props

Game: Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors - 4 (-110)

Prop: Jayson Tatum, Over 26.5 Points

Jayson Tatum, like the rest of the Celtics, started hot but finished ice cold. If it wasn’t for the fourth quarter where Tatum shot the ball multiple times unsuccessfully. This negatively impacted his shooting numbers from Game 4 where he finished the night with 23 points (8-23 FG) converting only 34.9% of his shots taken. After a disappointing Friday night, Tatum will shoot more efficiently in Game 5. Since he still scored 23 points on an off-night, you can count on Tatum to score 30+ points in Game 5 even if the Warriors defeat the Celtics.

Prop: Andrew Wiggins, Over 6.5 Rebounds

One of the major adjustments made by the Warriors in Game 4 was boosting their presence off the glass. Andrew Wiggins recorded 16 of Golden State’s 55 rebounds Friday night.

Through the first four games of the NBA Finals, Wiggins has recorded a total of 34 rebounds. That means Wiggins is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game in the 2022 NBA Finals. Especially because the Warriors know how effective he was producing much-needed rebounds in Game 4, Wiggins will look to have a similar presence down-low in Game 5.

Boston Celtics, NBA Finals Game 3

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In Game 3, both teams shot almost equally well from the field and from downtown. However, Boston took more shots from the field and dominated off the glass to take Game 3 116-100. Boston’s defensive energy was on full display Wednesday night as they outrebounded and drew countless fouls from the Warriors. Boston’s defense was the story of Game 3. Will Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry overwhelm the Celtics in Game 4?

Let’s take a look at some of tonight’s best bets for Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals.

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Best Bets of the Night

Game: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics Game 4 (BOS Leads 2-1)

In Game 3, both teams shot virtually as efficiently from the field. The Celtics converted 48.3% of their shots (43-89 FG) from the field and went 37.1% from downtown. Golden State finished the night with a 46.2 FG% (36-78 FG) as a team, converting 37.5% from beyond the arc. The main reason for the Celtics’ victory was fantastic defense. For instance, Robert Williams III who isn’t 100% healthy, played 26 minutes to produce 10 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks. The Celtics dominated the Warriors off the glass to record 47 rebounds as a team with 15 of them recorded on the offensive end. In contrast, the Warriors totaled 31 rebounds on the game and only had six offensive rebounds. In addition, the Warriors committed 23 personal fouls allowing the Celtics to go to the line 24 times (Celtics were 17-24 FT) and had 16 turnovers as a team. For the Warriors to bounce back in Game 4, they will need to be more aggressive down low and less sloppy on the floor.

Bet #1: Golden State Warriors, +4 (-110)

The Warriors shot the ball well in Game 3, but were simply overwhelmed by the Celtics defense and the energy at the TD Garden Wednesday night. Golden State recorded 39 combined turnovers (16) and personal fouls (23) which demonstrates how sloppy they were with the basketball. This gave Boston a possession advantage throughout the game, ultimately allowing the Celtics to take 11 more field goal attempts and finish the night with seven more made FGs than the Warriors. Offensive efficiency is not the issue for the Warriors. Rather, they will need to ramp it up on defense in Game 4 to make the game interesting. Draymond Green fouled out of the contest after being shut down all night. Green was held to just two points, four rebounds, three assists, and two turnovers in 35 minutes on the floor before getting a sixth personal foul in Game 3.

Bet #2: Over (O/U) 215 Total Points (-110)

Though the Warriors were held to 100 points of offense on Wednesday night, they shot the ball well. Golden State was limited as a team for FGAs as a result of Boston’s defense. In Game 4, Golden State will have an answer to put up more points on the board than they did in Game 3. In turn, the Celtics will keep things interesting. Expect this Game 4 to be a high-scoring contest. Both teams have been scoring big throughout these playoffs, and that doesn't seem to be changing right now during the Finals.

NBA Player Props

Game: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics Game 4 (BOS Leads 2-1)

Prop #1: Klay Thompson, Over 19.5 Points

Klay Thompson started the night shooting very well but cooled down towards the end. He went five for a whopping 13 attempts from downtown Wednesday night. He finished the night 7-of-17 from the field for 25 points. This comes after a terrible Game 2 performance where Klay went 4-of-19 from the field and only one-of-eight from beyond-the-arc. Tonight, Klay will shoot better tonight after an average Game 3 performance and bad Games 1 and 2.

Prop #2: Jaylen Brown, Over 2.5 Threes

Jaylen Brown has been knocking his shots from downtown as of late. In the last two games, he’s recorded at least three threes. He’s gone 7-of-17 (41.1%) from downtown through Games 2 and 3 combined. In the second of two home games at the TD Garden, it’s likely that Brown knocks down at least three buckets from beyond-the-arc tonight in Game 4.

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