TJ Watt and the Pittsburgh defense has them on top

Photo Credit to Steelers via Twitter

The NFL has reached the halfway point in the season, and we have a clearer picture of who are contenders and who should be turning their attention to 2021 already.

The Chiefs, Ravens, Seahawks, and Packers have justified being favorites to win the Super Bowl going into this season. Drew Brees and Tom Brady have the Saints and Buccaneers positioned to be in a battle for the NFC South title all year. The Bills and Cardinals have gotten MVP caliber performances from Josh Allen and Kyler Murray, which has resulted in both teams exceeding expectations in 2020. The Steelers look damn near unbeatable so far, and head coach Mike Tomlin made it clear that "we do not care" about anything standing between them and a championship.

Let's take a look at the Week 8 power rankings based on what we've seen so far this year.


32. New York Jets (0-7, Last Week 32 +/- 0) - For the second week in a row there isn't a lot to say about the Jets. Until they fire Adam Gase this franchise has no chance to turn things around.


31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6, Last Week 29, -2) - Three bad losses in a row and they just don't seem to have enough players on the current roster to win. Still have Packers, Steelers, Browns, Titans, and Ravens on their schedule.

30. New York Giants (1-6, Last Week 30, +/- 0) - Daniel Jones continues to show flashes of what could be next year when Saquon Barkley returns from injury.

29. Dallas Cowboys (2-5, Last Week 25, -4) - Jerry Jones this past week reinforced that Mike McCarthy is their guy which should tell you where this season is going for the Cowboys. Time to jump ship on all Dallas players in fantasy including Ezekiel Elliott.


28. Washington Football Team (2-5, Last Week 31, +3) - Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin are really good position players for Washington. They cut up a porous Dallas defense in a Week 7 win, and once the Football Team has a new name and quarterback their fortunes could be changing in D.C.

27. Denver Broncos (2-4, Last Week 21, -6) - Denver has been ravaged by injuries this year most notably with Von Miller and Courtland Sutton sidelined for the season. They don't have the depth on their roster to compensate and should continue to fade even with starting quarterback Drew Lock back with the team.

26. New England Patriots (2-4, Last Week 23, -3) - New England is coming off an embarrassing 33-6 loss to the 49ers one of the worst in Bill Belichick's tenure, and things look bleak for the Patriots for the first time in nearly two decades. Cam Newton was benched in the whooping, but Belichick has confirmed that Newton is still the starter there. Unless Julian Edelman can wind the clock back five years there simply isn't enough left in the cupboard for chef Bill to cook with.


25. Cincinnati Bengals (1-5-1, Last Week 26, +1) - All the Bengals need is a defense because Joe Burrow is already a bona fide stud. He's thrown for 300 or more yards in five of his seven career games and thrown for three touchdowns now twice. Cincinnati is much better than their record indicates and adds yet another team in the AFC North you don't want to face.


24. Houston Texans (1-6, Last Week 22, -2) - Should get on track this week against Jacksonville although the playoffs may be out of reach already for Houston.

23. Atlanta Falcons (1-6, Last Week 24, +1) - The Falcons should've came out of Week 7 with a win, instead their strange season rolls on as it feels like a matter of time before they start to add some games in the wins column.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1, Last Week 28, +6) - A big jump by Philadelphia this week as any resemblance of a football team playing football should be enough to win the NFC East this year. Travis Fulgham has settled into a good chemistry with Carson Wentz and has them looking better going into Week 8.

21. Los Angeles Chargers (2-4, Last Week 27, +6) - Justin Herbert gave the Chargers over 400 yards of total offense and four touchdowns last week. They have a favorable schedule the rest of the season and could surprise us by grabbing a wild card spot.


20. Minnesota Vikings (1-5, Last Week 20, +/- 0) - Coming off a bye week, unfortunately for them they'll be welcomed back by Green Bay this week.

19. Las Vegas Raiders (3-3, Last Week 17, -2) - The Jekyll and Hyde for me the in the first half. They've beaten the Saints and Chiefs, but got crushed by the Patriots, who we thought were good, and the Bucs, who we know are good. Should know more after this week. TBD for Gruden's Raiders.

18. Chicago Bears (5-2, Last Week 11, -7) - I was looking for a reason to fade the Bears this week and I got it with another flat performance by them against the Rams in Week 7. Expect them to continue to trend down until their offense looks like they have a pulse.

17. Carolina Panthers (3-4, Last Week 18, +1) - Christian McCaffrey a longshot to comeback this week, but is back from IR and should be back on the field in the next few weeks. Teddy Bridgewater has kept them competitive picking up a few wins and adding in CMC could turn them into legit playoff contenders.


16. Indianapolis Colts (4-2, Last Week 15, -1) - Coming off a bye week, they get a surging Detroit team this week.

15. Miami Dolphins (3-3, Last Week 13, -2) - Tua Tagovailoa will make his first NFL start against the Rams this week. A head scratching move by head coach Brian Flores not only to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick who had the offense clicking, but to put a rookie in front of Rams' defensive superstar Aaron Donald in their first start is asking a lot of the young prospect.


14. Detroit Lions (3-3, Last Week 19, +5) - The Lions look like a different team with Kenny Golladay in the lineup. His long reception setup the eventual winning touchdown in Week 7 against the Falcons.

13. Los Angeles Rams (5-2, Last Week 12, -1) - The Rams have beaten every NFC East team and the Bears to comprise their five wins on the year. YOU'RE STILL ON NOTICE RAMS at least until you get a good win.

12. San Francisco 49ers (4-3, Last Week 16, +4) - The 49ers have dealt with more injuries than anyone this year and coach Kyle Shanahan has done an excellent job keeping his team focused on winning. If they can get healthier down the stretch the division crown isn't out of the question.

11. Cleveland Browns (5-2, Last Week 14, +3) - A career performance from Baker Mayfield who tossed five touchdowns against the Bengals in their Week 7 win made up for the fact that they lost receiver Odell Beckham for the season. Beckham tore his ACL on the team's first drive and will join Nick Chubb on IR.


10. New Orleans Saints (4-2, Last Week 10 +/- 0) - The Saints have been playing great in the absence of Michael Thomas. New Orleans gets the Bears this week before two tough matchups against the Buccaneers and 49ers.

9. Buffalo Bills (5-2, Last Week 8, -1) - Tyler Bass made six field goals against the Jets, but those were the only points the Bills could muster against the league's worst team. Josh Allen has played like an MVP at times this season, but needs to reduce the turnovers for them to make a deep playoff run.

8. Baltimore Ravens (5-1, Last Week 5, -3) - The Ravens drop three spots here, but only because they're coming off their bye. Lamar Jackson is going to have to be great over the next five weeks as they play the Steelers twice, the Colts, Patriots, and Titans. This will be a true test of whether Lamar is the same guy we saw last year or if he has in fact regressed.


7. Arizona Cardinals (5-2, Last Week 9, +2) - It feels like Arizona should be moving up more than two spots here, but the competition at the top of this list is fierce. Kyler Murray is one of the most exciting players to watch in this league, and although they will be missing Kenyan Drake for a couple weeks Chase Edmonds has proven to be a reliable fill in.

6. Green Bay Packers (5-1, Last Week 7, +1) - Even without Aaron Jones the Packers continue to put up points. Jamal Williams filled in admirably with 77 yards and a TD. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams stole the show though. Adams finished with 196 yards and 2 TDs against the Texans. They get the 1-5 Vikings in Week 8.


5. Seattle Seahawks (5-1, Last Week 4, -1) - The Seahawks' schedule does them no favor coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Cardinals. They will play another tough divisional game against the 49ers this week, but that might be just what Russell Wilson needs to get his team refocused and back on track.

4. Tennessee Titans (5-1, Last Week 2, -2) - In the battle of the undefeated in Week 7, the Steelers appeared to be on track to blow out the Titans jumping out to a big first half lead. Tennessee came roaring back however and nearly completed a comeback, falling just short. Pittsburgh has the best defense in the league and did an adequate job of limiting Derrick Henry throughout the game. The Titans will continue to be the favorite to win the AFC South.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2, Last Week 6, +3) - Coming off a convincing win against the Raiders, they will get the Giants on Monday night. Antonio Brown has agreed to terms with the team and could make his debut Week 9. The Bucs are for real and Tom Brady could be raising a Lombardi trophy again, and not for the Patriots. Sooo 2020.


2. Kansas City Chiefs (6-1, Last Week 3, +1) - The Chiefs are so good that Patrick Mahomes can throw for 200 yards and a touchdown and they still put up 43 points in Week 7. Le'Veon Bell made is Kansas City debut and he will add yet another weapon to that offense to give defensive coordinators nightmares far past Halloween.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-0, Last Week 1, +/-0) - They're a team that just looks the part. Along with the Packers, Chiefs, Seahawks, Bucs - they just look like a SB contender in all aspects of the game. Well coached, talent at every position group, next man up mentality. Best defense in the league. The AFC North will be a gauntlet, but everyone else adopted the dark, the Steelers were born in it.



THE DARK KNIGHT RISES - Bane Blows Up A Football Stadium www.youtube.com

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Tom Pennington, Getty Images

In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Bam Adebayo's 31-point and 10-rebound double-double led the Miami Heat to a 109-103 victory over the Celtics on the road. That was followed by a dominant second-half performance by Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins who led the Warriors to a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

Tonight, we'll get the first of these two matchups. Boston will look to come back in their second home game against a Heat team that is clearly not at 100% healthy. Tyler Herro has been ruled out for Game 4 while Kyle Lowry remains questionable. Here are some of the best bets for tonight's and tomorrow's big Game 4s.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 3:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

ECF Game 4: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics -7 (MIA Leads 2-1)

In Game 4, the Celtics rallied back from double-digits to make things interesting in the fourth quarter. However, Boston conceded Game 3 to the Miami Heat 109-103. On Sunday, Bam Adebayo was getting everything he wanted down low. He finished with 31 points, 10 boards, six assists, four steals, and one block. Ime Udoka will need to boost the presence of his big men down low, perhaps by extending Daniel Theis’ minutes or having him share the floor more with Al Horford. The major reason for which the Heat are considered the seven-point underdogs for tonight’s game is injuries. Tyler Herro has already been ruled out for Game 4, and the Heat have four or five other players in their lineup currently listed as questionable. This includes Max Struss, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, and P.J. Tucker. Butler is dealing with knee inflammation which sidelined him for the second half of Game 3.

Even if all of the players in the Heat’s rotation are good to go tonight (outside of Herro), Boston has not lost back-to-back home games since late October. Plus, Jaylen Brown is shooting much better than he did earlier in the postseason. In fact, he’s elevated his shooting to 50% from the field through the 2021-22 playoffs through 14 games played. Expect Boston to bounce back big in Game 4, with multiple players on the Miami Heat not at full strength.

The Pick: Boston Celtics -7 (-110)

WCF Game 4: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Well, it’s looking like the Golden State Warriors are returning to the NBA Finals. With the emergence of Jordan Poole late this season and into the postseason, Andrew Wiggins’ First-Team All-Star season, and Klay Thompson’s return to basketball, Golden State has been simply phenomenal. Golden State is simply that good this year, with anyone on the team capable of stepping up. Stephen Curry erupted in Game 3, while it was Andrew Wiggins that caught fire in the second half of Game 4. Any given night, the Warriors have one or two guys who they can count on for scoring approximately 25+ points. Considering the Mavericks' struggles this round, particularly behind the three-point line, bettors should go with the Warriors as the slight underdog. Teams get swept sometimes. Just ask the Brooklyn Nets. The Warriors will bring out the brooms and sweep the Mavericks as they punch their ticket to the NBA Finals Tuesday night.

The Pick: Golden State Warriors ML -104

NBA Player Props

Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Prop #1: Stephen Curry, Over 27.5 Points

Stephen Curry has scored 31 points and 32 points over the last two games. He’s done so by converting at least 50% from the field in each contest. It makes sense that he would score at least 28 points in a series-clinching victory tomorrow night. Curry is averaging 27.1 PPG on 45.9% this postseason but has certainly put up more points and done so more efficiently over the last few games.

Prop #2: Luka Doncic, Over 3.5 Threes

Luka has drained nine three-pointers over the last two games. He’s knocked down at least four threes in three of his last four contests. Facing elimination and hoping to not let down the home crowd in back-to-back home playoff games, Doncic will convert at least four baskets from downtown in Game 4.

Tyler Herro (Left), Bam Adebayo (Right), Miami Heat

Getty Images

Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and the Miami Heat held their own against the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Likewise, Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 112-87 blowout over Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Tonight, the Celtics play their second game on the road against the Heat. On Friday night, the Mavericks will look to bounce back after shooting horrifically in Game 1.

Let’s take a look at the best bets for the two NBA Conference Final Game 2 matchups set for 8:30 PM EST. tonight and 9:00 PM EST. tomorrow night.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 4:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

After a nail-biting series with the Milwaukee Bucks that the Celtics won in grandiose fashion, Boston conceded Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. Tonight, they play Game 2 of the series at the FTX Arena and hope to bounce back from Tuesday’s 11-point loss. One of the principal reasons for their defeat in Game 1 was the absence of Marcus Smart (foot sprain) and Al Horford (health & safety protocols). It remained a relatively close game until the third quarter in which the Celtics were outscored 14-3 to begin the second half. Derrick White filled in for Marcus Smart and was terribly inefficient from the field. He scored three points (1-4 FG) and had four assists in 29 minutes filling in for the Defensive Player of the Year. In contrast, Max Struss and Gabe Vincent did a terrific job of filling in for Kyle Lowry, combining for 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting. In addition, Tyler Herro had a good night with a pivotal 18 points (7-15 FG) off the bench. Fortunately for the Celtics, both Smart and Horford are expected to return tonight.

Head Coach Ime Udoka indicated to reporters today that Smart was probable to play this evening. Horford was cleared of health and safety protocols today making him available for tonight’s contest. For those of you who have watched the Celtics this postseason, Horford and Smart have upped their play and have been absolutely integral to the team’s success. Tonight, let’s take the Boston Celtics to take a game on the road in the same fashion that they took two road games from the Bucks in the last series.

The Pick: Boston Celtics ML +108

Tonight's Best NBA Player Props

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

Prop#1: Gabe Vincent Over 9.5 Points
In Game 1 without Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent scored 17 points in 34 minutes on 50% shooting from the field. As Kyle Lowry is out again for Game 2 tonight, expect Vincent to score at least 10 points. Vincent has performed admirably while filling in for the veteran. Even when Lowry returns, it's quite possible that Erik Spoelstra will give some of Lowry's minutes to Vincent.
Prop#2: Al Horford Over 9.5 Points
After five straight double-digit scoring performances, Al Horford scored eight points or fewer in the last three games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Bucks. He missed Game 1 of the Celtics' series against the Miami Heat after entering Health & Safety protocols. Since he was only out for one game, he shouldn't face any minute restrictions tonight. Horford should score at least 10 points in 30+ minutes on the floor.

Tomorrow Night's Best NBA Bet

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State -6 (GSW Leads 1-0)

Dallas was annihilated by Golden State in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. This comes after the Mavs blew out the Phoenix Suns on the road in impressive fashion, punching their ticket to the next round of the playoffs for a series against the Warriors. Golden State shot an impressive 56.1% from the field in the opening game and finished with 112 points. Just as important as the offensive production, Golden State clamped down on defense. The Warriors contained Luka Doncic, who converted just six of his 18 field goals on his way to 20 points. Andrew Wiggins did an excellent job guarding the young playmaker. Luka's teammates didn't help out much either as the Mavericks shot 36% from the field in Game 1, and 22.9% from downtown (11-48 3PT FG) for just 87 points on the night.

While I think the Warriors will win again on Friday night, expect the Mavericks to keep things more interesting after such an abysmal night shooting from the field. Dallas will make the adjustments needed to make this a competitive Game 2 in the Bay area.

The Pick: Dallas Mavericks +6 (-110)

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Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Klay Thompson is coming off one of his signature Game 6 performances. Thompson dropped his second-highest point total of the postseason, punching Golden State's ticket to the Western Conference Finals after defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in six games. In the elimination game, Thompson led the team with 30 points (11-22 from the field and 8-14 from beyond the arc), eight boards, two assists, and three blocks. Considering the multitude of injuries he has fought back from and the adversity he has faced, it's quite amazing that the five-time All-Star has converted at least 50% of his three-point shots in three of his last four outings. He seems to be in great form entering this pivotal series with the Mavericks.

Dallas stunned the top-seeded Phoenix Suns and reigning Western Conference champs on the road in Game 7, 123-90, and earned a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Let's see if Thompson can remain scorching hot as Stephen Curry and the Dubs host Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals tonight. Now, let's take a look at some of the best bets and player props to consider for tonight’s big matchup!

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 3:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Bet #1: Golden State Warriors -5 (-110)

Following a tough loss in Game 5 to the Grizzlies despite Ja Morant’s absence from the lineup, the Warriors bounced back and closed the series at home in Game 6. They take on the Dallas Mavericks, who’ve been absolutely unbelievable on defense. Changes made to the Mavs’ rotation by Jason Kidd worked flawlessly against Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and the Suns in the previous round. One surprise for Dallas this postseason has been former New York Knicks lottery pick, Frank Ntilikina. He's a player who has stepped up immensely this postseason, especially on defense. Throughout the series, Ntilikina held Chris Paul and Devin Booker to a combined 3-of-40 shooting from the field when he guarded them.

It will be interesting to see if Jason Kidd keeps his minutes up, or perhaps increases them after what was truly an astonishing defensive performance against the Suns. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, the Golden State Warriors have four efficient scorers who will need to be contained. The Warriors will cover the spread tonight and win by more than five points on their home floor.

Bet #2: Over 214.5 Total Points (-110)

Dallas scored an impressive 123 points in Game 7, and they did so on the road. I expect them to reach at least 110 points in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors shot on and off throughout their series against the Memphis Grizzlies. Nonetheless, they averaged 111 PPG in their series against Memphis (666 total points scored by the Warriors over six games). Both teams play a style of basketball that stresses ball movement to find an open man beyond the arc. When Dallas or Golden State shoot 40%-45% from the field, they can score in the hundreds because of the high volume of shots they take. Dallas started taking more shots and playing at a faster pace in the second half of their series against Phoenix. By the half in Game 7, Dallas was up 57-27. In the game, the Mavericks went 19-of-39 from downtown (48.9%). Even more impressive was Dallas’ 56.8% shooting from the field. Although the Warriors are one of the best defensive teams in the league, a 214.5-point Over / Under for tonight’s game is quite low. Smash the Over.

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NBA Player Props of the Night

Prop #1: Jordan Poole Over 1.5 Threes (-174)

Jordan Poole has finally cooled down after a stretch of three 20-point games against the Grizzlies. Over the last three contests, Poole has only hit two or more three-pointers in one contest. Over those last three games, he shot a combined 3-of-17 from downtown. While Poole has been highly inefficient over the last few games, he’ll hit at least two three-pointers in Game 1 tonight. The odds of this prop reflect how likely it is to happen. Although Poole isn't seeing as high a usage rate as when Curry and Thompson were injured during the regular season, Poole should still see plenty of open looks in the 25+ minutes he should log tonight. Given that Dallas will most likely try to stop Curry and Thompson from beating them, Poole should see a few wide-open looks. He will knock down at least two from deep range tonight.

Prop #2: Klay Thompson Over 20.5 Points (-112)

Klay Thompson has averaged just about 20.5 points since he came back this regular season. Throughout the postseason, he’s played strong and for the most part, been efficient from the field. Through 11 games in this postseason, Thompson is averaging 20.4 PPG on 45% shooting from the field. I like him to hit the over here in his first Western Conference Final matchup in three years. After getting his swagger back and dropping 30 points to eliminate the Grizzlies last round, Thompson should have all. the confidence in the world heading into Game 1 in the bay.

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