Opinion

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Stacy Revere, Getty Images

This Sunday, we have two huge Conference Semifinal Game 7s on the schedule.

The Celtics won on the road in Game 6 off of Jayson Tatum’s heroics. As a result, the Bucks return to the TD Garden to face the Celtics at 3:30 PM EST. The Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks have won all their home games and lost all their away games in their playoff series. The Mavs’ take on the Phoenix Suns on the road at 8:00 PM EST tonight. Let’s take a look at the best bets of today’s amazing NBA action. The stakes couldn’t be higher for each of these four teams.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics -5 (Series Tied 3-3)

Following a heart-wrenching loss at home in Game 5, the Celtics bounced back in Milwaukee in Game 6. The Bucks’ hopes of closing out the series at home were crushed by Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum who scored 46 points (17-32 FG).

Though Giannis scored 44 (14-30 FG), the Bucks lost Game 6 by 13 points. Boston’s defense held the Bucks to 40.9% shooting from the field and a disastrous 24.1% from downtown. The Bucks only converted seven of their 29 three-point attempts on Friday night. While Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pat Connaughton, and Jrue Holiday played well, they combined for 75 of the Bucks’ 95 total points. The rest of the team only combined for 20 points. Brook Lopez only saw 19 minutes on the floor to score 6 points. The Bucks’ opted to five Bobby Portis more minutes, yet he only scored four points on two-of-eight shooting. Though the Celtics’ as a team combined for a mediocre 43.7% shooting on the night, they hit 17 three-pointers which allowed them to easily outscore the highly inefficient Bucks in Game 6.

Expect the Bucks to play better Sunday afternoon. Still, Ime Udoka's defense has been highly successful against Milwaukee throughout the series. This Celtics’ team is playing with outstanding confidence fueled by the desire to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2018. With the home crowd’s support at the TD Garden tomorrow, Boston should take Game 7 by five or more points.

The Pick: Boston Celtics -5

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns -6.5 (Series Tied 3-3)

The trend throughout this series has been winning comfortably at home. Each team has won all of their games at home and lost all of their games on the road. In Game 6, the Suns only scored 86 points and played abysmally. Phoenix got into foul trouble early, and finished with 27 personal fouls as a team. As a result, the Mavericks scored 27 points from 36 FT attempts in Game 6. The Suns also had 22 turnovers throughout the game, with 13 of them coming from Devin Booker (8 TOs) and Chris Paul (5 TOs). In contrast, the Mavericks only produced six turnovers throughout the contest. Game 6 was over by the third quarter.

The Suns will certainly play better in Game 7 as they look to secure another ticket to the Western Conference Finals. Nonetheless, this game will not end in a blowout. Expect the Mavericks to lose by six points or less on Sunday.

The Pick: Dallas Mavericks +6.5

NBA Player Props

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns -6.5 (Series Tied 3-3)

Prop: Reggie Bullock, Over 9.5 Points

After going scoreless in Game 5, Reggie Bullock bounced back in Game 6 to score 19 points (7-15 FG). He knocked down five three-pointers in the game. Bullock has played a crucial role in the Mavericks’ success this postseason. He’ll step up again to easily hit 10+ points in this massive Game 7.

Prop: Devin Booker, Over 28.5 Points

D-Book only scored 19 points (6-17 FG) and shot very inefficiently from the field in Game 6. At home in a must-win Game 7, expect Booker to bounce back for 35+ points. He will be Phoenix’s main scorer.

Cameron Johnson (Left), Chris Paul (Mid), Mikal Bridges (Right), Phoenix Suns

Photo By: Johnathan Bachman, Getty Images

Two first-round series in the West are all tied up heading into Game 5's tonight.

After an abysmal collapse in Game 3, Minnesota was able to win Game 4 at home. Likewise, the New Orleans Pelicans lost to the Suns by three points in Game 3 but won by 15 points in Game 4. Phoenix will look to bounce back tonight. Finally, Miami will look to eliminate the Atlanta Hawks at home tonight after blowing them out in Atlanta in Game 4. Let's take a look at some of tonight's best NBA bets.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Atlanta Hawks at Miami Heat -7 (MIA Leads Series 3-1)

While the Hawks have fought valiantly to make their way through the play-in games, they now have to win three games in a row including two on the road to move past the Heat. With such an unlikely scenario for the Hawks and Miami’s desire to get some rest before the second round of the NBA playoffs, the Heat are looking hot going into tonight’s game. Game 4 ended in a 110-86 blowout victory, led once again by Jimmy Butler’s dominance. He produced a 36-point (12-21 FG), 10-rebound double-double and recorded four steals in Game 4.

In addition, Miami completely locked down Trae Young in the last game, holding him to nine points (3-11 FG) in 36 minutes of action. Young shot six-of-14 in Game 3 and was also held to eight points (1-12 FG) in Game 1. Although the Raptors are fighting back and have won two games after losing the first three of their first-round series, the Hawks' outlook is much bleaker. The Hawks' 2021-22 season ends tonight in South Florida.

The Pick: Miami Heat -7 (-110)

Game: Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies -6 (Series Tied 2-2)

Karl-Anthony Towns went from producing eight points and five rebounds in Game 3 to recorded a 33-point and 14-rebound double-double in Game 4 to help his team even the series up. Game 5 will be tonight in Memphis, and the Grizzlies will defend the home floor. The way Desmond Bane erupted in Game 3 on the road gives me all the confidence that he has a huge game at home in Game 5 tonight. This is a very tough series to predict, but Memphis remains one of the best teams in the league, and they should bounce back big after a stinger of a loss in Game 4.

The Pick: Memphis Grizzlies -6

Game: New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns -6.5 (Series Tied 2-2)

Chris Paul was special in Game 3, but rookies Herbert Jones and Jose Alvarado created nightmares for him in Game 4. Though he scored 28 points and dished out 14 assists to carry the Suns in Game 3, CP3 was contained to only four points on two-of-eight shooting from the field in Game 4. It’s crucial to remember that Devin Booker is still out and that Phoenix will likely be without him for the remainder of the series. In Phoenix tonight, the Suns will bounce back. In turn, expect the Pelicans to be the favorites at home in Game 6. This is one series that I feel will head to a Game 7. One team wins, and the other bounces back. The Suns will win by 10+ points tonight after a 15-point loss in Game 5.

The Pick: Phoenix Suns - 6.5

NBA Player Props of the Night

Game: New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns -6.5 (Series Tied 2-2)

Prop #1: Cameron Johnson Under 14.5 Points

Cameron Johnson has played great all season and now that Devin Booker is out of the rotation, his scoring opportunities per game are elevated. However, he’s scored 11, 8, and 13 points respectively in the last three games. While D-Book has been out, Johnson has played efficiently, but hasn’t scored more than 14 points in any game since March.

Prop #2: Mikal Bridges Over 4.5 Rebounds

Mikal Bridges' Over in rebounds hits frequently, but not always. The reason he will grab at least five boards off the glass tonight is that the Phoenix Suns will be having a resurgent defensive game. The Pelicans will be missing more shots than they did on Sunday night when they scored 118 points.

Tyreek Hill

Getty Images

It’s the final week of the regular season, so before the NFL Playoffs begin, let’s nail some picks and head into the postseason with some extra cash to wager on the most exciting games of the year.

This season, we converted 62.5% of our Best Bets, which is an unheard-of percentage. The most successful sports bettors only get about 60% of their bets correct. It is simply unrealistic to think that you are going to win at a higher rate than that. Of course, there will be good days and bad days, but it is important to trust your process and remain diligent. And especially when you are just getting your feet wet in the sports betting world, it’s important to temper your expectations. Sports betting is not a quick money-making scheme. It is not realistic to expect a small deposit will turn into life-changing winnings. The most successful gamblers know that the only way to be profitable over a long period of time is to increase your bankroll in small increments.

With the regular season coming to a finish, there are no games this week on Thursday. There are two games on Saturday – the Kansas City Chiefs at the Denver Broncos followed by the Dallas Cowboys at the Philadelphia Eagles. In Week 18, no Monday night game will be played. The rest of this week’s games will be played on Sunday, concluding with a primetime matchup on Sunday Night Football between the Los Angeles Chargers at the Las Vegas Raiders. That game will have tons of playoff implications.

The postseason picture has become a whole lot clearer in recent weeks. 11 of the 14 playoff berths have already been clinched. The Green Bay Packers have locked down the top seed in the NFC, so they may not play their starters the entire game in Week 18 against the Detroit Lions, despite Matt Lafleur stating the opposite. The Titans will clinch a bye and the top seed in the AFC if they defeat the Houston Texans on Sunday. Tempers will be incredibly high for teams jockeying for playoff seeding, and particularly for teams attempting to clinch one of the three final playoff spots remaining (two in the AFC and one in the NFC).

And with that, it’s time to gear up for this week’s edition of NFL best bets. It takes a lot of energy and research to have success over the course of a season when it comes to sports betting. Here at FantasySP, we are committed to helping you cash. Remember, if you win 55% of your bets, you are a really good gambler. We are looking at some eye-opening odds this week and will help you decipher the best games to place your money on, whether it’s against-the-spread picks, moneylines, over-unders, or prop bets. With that, let’s dive in.

WEEK 18 NFL BEST BETS

Kansas City Chiefs (-10.5) at Denver Broncos

Although the Chiefs perhaps blew their opportunity to win the top seed in the AFC by losing a heartbreaker to the Cincinnati Bengals last week, Kansas City can still earn a first-round bye and the No. 1 seed in their conference. They must win this game and hope that the Tennessee Titans somehow lose to the Houston Texans.

Last week, the Chiefs’ offense performed despite the absence of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and underwhelming performances from Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Still, Kansas City posted 31 points. It was the defense and some costly (and controversial penalties) that cost them the game. Kansas City’s defense has been on the rise prior to Week 17 and will get back on track against a Denver Broncos offense that has struggled to move the chains with Drew Lock under center. Lock has been unable to take advantage of some decent weapons in Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and Noah Fant. Although Jeudy and Patrick missed Week 17 due to COVID-19, the Broncos didn’t score a touchdown until the final minutes of their loss to the Chargers in garbage time. Lock is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league and it’s tough to envision the Broncos putting up more than 20 points in this game. Even Denver’s strong suit, their running game, has gone cold in recent weeks. Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams combined for just 73 rushing yards and zero touchdowns on 24 carries against an abysmal Chargers run defense.

Meanwhile, Mahomes has the best weapons in the league and has done an excellent job utilizing Darrell Williams out of the backfield. The Chiefs should roll in this one and dominate a Broncos team that has been officially eliminated from the playoffs. Kansas City will have no problem covering the spread despite playing on the road in Week 18.

  • Pick: Chiefs (-10.5)
  • Prediction: 30-16 Chiefs

San Francisco 49ers (+4.5) at Los Angeles Rams

San Francisco needs this victory to get into the playoffs while the Rams need this game to clinch the division over the Arizona Cardinals. This is probably the most interesting NFC matchup on the Week 18 slate. Under Kyle Shanahan, the Niners have gotten the best of Sean McVay’s Rams in recent meetings, including a 31-10 Week 10 blowout earlier this season. However, the 49ers won the first meeting with Jimmy G under center, but there is a decent chance rookie Trey Lance will be under center in the rematch.

Lance struggled to get it going early last week but finished strong against the Texans. He made some huge throws and moved the chains with his legs when needed. That said, the Rams defense is much better than Houston’s defensive unit. Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd will provide pressure like Lance has never seen before, and the Rams’ secondary featuring Jalen Ramsey will make things a lot more difficult for the rookie quarterback.

San Francisco will attempt to utilize their run-heavy approach, but Donald and the rest of the Rams will do a good job at limiting the Niners’ success on the ground. On the other side of the ball, Matthew Stafford has struggled with turnovers recently, but San Francisco has one of the worst secondaries in the league. Cooper Kupp will have a massive day, and it doesn’t hurt that Stafford and Odell Beckham are starting to link up for touchdowns on a weekly basis. Stafford is going to pick apart this secondary. And although the Niners have a stout rushing defense themselves, Sony Michel has done an excellent job since Darrell Henderson went down with an injury. Although the game plan will call for more passing plays than running plays, I still think Michel will have some success.

Both teams are 8-8 ATS this season, however, San Francisco failed to cover the one time they were road underdogs earlier this season. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is 3-3 ATS as home favorites.

Overall, I think San Francisco’s secondary is not strong enough to stop Stafford and his elite wide receiver corps. And Trey Lance has struggled to get superstar tight end George Kittle involved in the offense. Expect a hard-fought battle, with the Rams eventually getting the victory and clinching the NFC West. Although 61% of the bets ATS are on the Niners, a whopping 86% of the money is backing the Rams. In this scenario, it is a good idea to follow the “smart money.”

  • Pick: Rams (-4.5)
  • Prediction: 27-20 Rams

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Los Angeles Chargers (-3) at Las Vegas Raiders

The final game of the week will be a thriller. This is essentially a playoff game. The winner will earn a postseason berth and the loser will be watching the playoffs from home. Many didn’t expect the Raiders to be in this position, but they played a great game in Week 17, defeating the Indianapolis Colts on the road, largely behind their defense. Derek Carr has done well this season, particularly since he has been missing superstar tight end, Darren Waller, for the last month. Hunter Renfrow has come through in the clutch. Not only did he catch a touchdown last week, but he also made a great play in the late stages of last week’s game to set up Daniel Carlson’s game-winning field goal as time expired. The Raiders are now in a position to somehow earn a wild-card berth.

After losing to the Texans in an embarrassing fashion in Week 16, the Chargers got back on track behind Justin Herbert and some pretty excellent defense against the Broncos in Week 17. Although the Chargers are on the road in Week 18, the offensive weapons around Herbert featuring Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and tight end Jared Cook, should provide tons of matchup problems for the Vegas defense. Although the Chargers are 0-2 as road favorites this season with a 13.5-point average deficit, Los Angeles should take care of business and clinch a spot in the postseason. Don’t expect a blowout, but I do anticipate them covering the minimal spread.

Additionally, both defenses are very exploitable, so expect a high-scoring affair. I think this game should easily produce 50+ total points.

  • Pick: Chargers (-3)
  • Prediction: 30-24 Chargers
  • Bonus: Over 49.5 points

Dallas Cowboys (-5) at Philadelphia Eagles

Both NFC East teams have already clinched a playoff berth, however, the specific seeds in the NFC are still at stake. Dallas has a chance to earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC if they win and the Buccaneers and Rams suffer losses. The chances of that happening are pretty unlikely, so Dallas needs to be careful in who they suit up for this game. They already clinched the division so at the very worst, they will be the No. 4 seed. However, home-field advantage in any playoff game is very beneficial, so something tells me that Dak Prescott will start this game while the organization watches the scoreboard. If Dallas has no chance at moving up in the standings, Prescott may be benched. The Cowboys already lost wideout Michael Gallup for the season last week, and they don’t want to risk losing any other pivotal players.

The Eagles are currently the No. 7 seed in the NFC and the best they can do is finish as the No. 6 seed. There’s a good chance that Philadelphia rests Jalen Hurts for at least part of the game. Not to mention, Philly has a ton of players with COVID-19, so we should see several rested players on both sides of the ball.

The Cowboys are tied with the Packers for the best ATS record this season (12-4) while the Eagles are 8-7-1 ATS. Earlier this week, Jerry Jones hinted that the Cowboys will play to win. Although their running game has not looked great as of late with Ezekiel Elliott struggling immensely, this would be a good opportunity to get Zeke and Tony Pollard going ahead of the postseason. Plus, Dallas needs to get used to executing the offense without Michael Gallup.

I think it is more likely that Dallas plays their starters while Philadelphia rests a major group of their most important players. Don’t be surprised to see Gardner Minshew under center rather than Hurts. For this reason, I’m taking Dallas.

  • Pick: Cowboys (-5)
  • Prediction: 24-17 Cowboys

Carolina Panthers (+8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Panthers are an absolute mess and will be starting Sam Darnold on Sunday. Their offensive line has been atrocious, giving absolutely no room for rookie Chuba Hubbard to find any holes. Not to mention, Tampa has one of the best run defenses in the NFL. The Bucs will dominate the trenches just as they did in the last meeting between these two teams in Week 16 when Brady led the Bucs to a 32-6 victory.

Carolina has the second-worst ATS record (5-11) in the NFL. Since the Bucs are still fighting for playoff positioning, Brady should play most (if not all) of this game. With Chris Godwin out for the season and Antonio Brown recently released, Brady will need to continue to establish a rapport with the rest of the wide receivers on the roster.

Expect the Buccaneers’ defense to turn in a strong outing against a Carolina offense that is prone to turning the ball over. I anticipate the Bucs leaning on their defense and the running game to get the victory. Tampa Bay has already clinched the division, but if they lose and the San Francisco 49ers win, the Bucs would have to face a team that nobody wants to see in the first round of the postseason. However, if the Bucs are victorious, they may be able to avoid the Niners in the wild-card round. That’s why I expect the Bucs to go all out to get the victory, as they would earn the No. 2 seed in the conference with a win and a Rams loss.

  • Pick: Bucs (-8)
  • Prediction: 30-17 Bucs

Top Week 18 NFL Player Props

Note: Keep in mind that not all player props have been released. These are the top five player props that have been released at the time of this publication.

  • Cooper Kupp Under 136.5 receiving yards (-115)
  • Deebo Samuel Over 47.5 receiving yards (-115)
  • Tyreek Hill Over 62.5 receiving yards (-110)
  • Josh Jacobs Over 55.5 rushing yards (-110)
  • Patrick Mahomes Over 268.5 passing yards (-110)

Dak Prescott

Week 13 of the NFL season kicks off tomorrow night with the New Orleans Saints hosting the Dallas Cowboys at Caesars Superdome. The Cowboys opened as 5-point favorites, but after much of the early money was bet on the struggling New Orleans Saints, the spread has dropped to 4.5 points.

Both of these teams have recently fallen on hard times and are trending in the completely wrong direction. Despite winning a game with Dak Prescott injured, Dallas has lost three of their last four games since Prescott returned to the lineup. They are coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss on Thanksgiving to the Las Vegas Raiders. Meanwhile, after starting the season 5-2, the Saints have dropped four consecutive games with Trevor Siemian under center. It will be interesting to see how the Saints fare as their postseason chances are dwindling.

Betting on the NFL makes games even more exciting among fans. Monitoring public betting trends is one of the most pivotal tools used by professional handicappers to find the top wagers in the sports betting marketplace. Public betting trends allow you to track which teams the public is chasing and which teams professional gamblers are high on each and every week. Whether you want to tail or fade the public, knowing the public betting trends (bet percentages and money percentages) is pivotal when determining which teams to back. So without further ado, let’s take a look at who the public likes in Week 13’s Thursday Night Football matchup, and where you should place your wagers.

Note: The lines and public betting trends are always changing so be sure to check out FantasySP for the latest odds and trends.

Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints (+4.5)

The Saints and Cowboys tend to play very competitive games against one another. In their last three meetings, each game has been decided by one possession. The Saints defeated the Cowboys the last time these two franchises met in 2019 (12-10). However, the Cowboys are clearly the superior team this season and are 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 games while the Saints are 4-6 against the spread over that same timeframe. So will Dallas snap their five-game losing streak on Thursday Night Football?

Although there were reports about Ezekiel Elliott being rested this week, Jerry Jones said he expects Zeke to be fed a sizable workload. It appears that although Tony Pollard will continue to get touches in this backfield, Elliott will serve as the lead-back in Week 13. The Cowboys’ offense has been very up and down over the last month. However, Dallas’ Thanksgiving day loss cannot be blamed on Prescott and the offense as they produced more than 400 yards and put 33 points up on the scoreboard. Plus, the Cowboys should get starting wide receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb back from injury this week. Although the Saints have a solid defense, they did just allow Josh Allen and the Bills to post 36 points on Thanksgiving.

The Saints’ offense really struggled on Thanksgiving against the Bills. This was largely due to the absence of running backs, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Both backs are expected to return this week, and Taysom Hill is clearly an upgrade at the quarterback position over Siemian. However, New Orleans still lacks playmakers at the wide receiver and tight end position. With tight end Adam Trautman injured, the Saints will have to rely on Tre’Quan Smith and Deonte Harris to get open against the Cowboys’ 26th-ranked defense.

Dallas’ defense has some elite talents such as youngsters Micah Parson and Trevon Diggs, but they are still allowing opponents to gain close to 370 total yards of offense per game. But the Saints’ 27th-ranked offense will be a welcomed opponent for a defensive unit that just allowed Derek Carr to lead the Raiders to 36 points without the services of tight end Darren Waller.

Overall, both of these teams are looking to get back on track. The Cowboys have more wiggle room due to their 7-4 record and weak division, however, a loss could throw this team into complete chaos.

The public thinks that Dallas will cover the spread as 68% of the bets placed on the spread are backing Dallas and a whopping 75% of the money wagered has the Cowboys covering the 4.5-point spread. However, professional gamblers like the odds on the Saints upsetting the Cowboys outright. Despite 70% of moneyline bets being on the Cowboys, 53% of the money is on the Saints. I’m following the smart money here and tailing the sharps. While I’m not quite comfortable taking the Saints outright, I think they have enough talent on both sides of the ball to keep this game close. I’m also going with the “smart money” on the over/under. While only 56% of bets are on the over, an eye-popping 78% of the money expects this game to exceed the 47.5-point total.

Picks: Saints (+4.5) and Over 47.5 points

Prediction: 27-24 Cowboys

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