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NHL Season Point Total
N.Y. Islanders u82 -105

BEST LINES:  Pinnacle u82½ -115 BET365 u82½ -105 SportsInteraction u82½ -163 5DIMES u82½ -110

Posted on September 27 before the first game of the season.  

The New York Islanders will attempt to rebuild their roster in the post-John Tavares era and it’s going to take some time. However, with Lou Lamoriello taking over as the GM and Barry Trotz taking over behind the bench, the Islanders are getting way too much credit in this number. Way too much. What 82½-points means is that the Islanders have to play over .500 and frankly, we don’t see how that is possible.

Lamoriello will eventually get this franchise going in the right direction but is it any different than what he inherited with the Maple Leafs in his first year in Toronto? Not really, as Toronto was morbid and labored its way to a first-round draft pick that turned out to be Auston Matthews. For now, the Islanders have plugged their roster full of assorted fourth-liners and depth players on long-term contracts, having them join the other fourth-liners and depth players that are returning … also on long-term contracts.

That creates a roster that is just not particularly good or deep by NHL standards. Fine people that play hard, go about their business as professionals, and can each probably carve out a niche for themselves in the NHL. It is exactly what an NHL roster shouldn’t be, which is a collection of players that make up a significant portion of your roster. Second, all of those long-term contracts and additions mean those veteran players are all but guaranteed roster spots, making it even more difficult for younger, potentially more impactful players to make the roster. Younger, potentially more impactful players that might be able to make your team better.

Lou Lamoriello is buying time and we saw that play out recently with the latest round of roster cuts from the Islanders, as they continue to trim their roster toward the 23-player opening night group. Among the cuts were 2016 first-round draft pick Kieffer Bellows, 2018 first-round pick Noah Dobson, and the talented Josh Ho-Sang, who seems to have been unable to gain the trust or win the approval of a new coaching staff and front office. Along with them, there were also other young players, Sebastien Aho and Michael Dal Colle, assigned to the American Hockey League.

Lamoriello was asked if he wanted to have a more veteran roster to open the season, something the team will now no doubt have. He downplayed that, before coming out and saying that none of the players being sent down deserved to be in the NHL over the veterans that are on the roster right now.

“I don’t think it’s a case of wanting to see a veteran team, we have a lot of players under contract,” said Lamoriello. “We have to find out who they are and if they can play before any major decisions are made. So you have to give an opportunity. I think to ourselves and our coaching staff we are still learning about them. They have contracts, that’s why sometimes the business gets into it. But these players who are going down, they don’t deserve to be here right now. They haven’t played that well that they should not be taking a job away from the veterans at this point.”

We want to emphasize how important that last quote is. Lamoriello comes over from Toronto, a franchise he turned around completely in three short years with the same approach. He’s going after franchise player Jack Hughes (Hughes is seen as a top prospect for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and widely projected to go first overall) and he’s preparing for it right now.

Taking a quote from that last one above, Lou said, “I don’t think it’s a case of wanting to see a veteran team, we have a lot of players under contract. We have to find out who they are and if they can play before any major decisions are made”.

Find out what you have with a bunch of these veterans? At this point in their careers everyone in the NHL knows exactly what every single one of those players is, and what they are capable of. Lamoriello is bullshitting his way through a bad year and knows how to answer questions.

Leo Komarov is 31 years old with 327 games in the NHL.

Matt Martin is 29 years old with 590 games.

Tom Kuhnhackl is 26 years old with 168 games.

Valtteri Filppula is 34 years old with 876 games.

Luca Sbisa, just signed on Monday, the same day that Dobson and Aho were sent to the AHL/Juniors. Sbisa is 28 years old with 495 games. These are just the players the Islanders brought in this offseason from outside the organization, almost all of whom seem to be overkill in their roles when you consider the team already had Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas and Ross Johnston (who got a four-year contract over the summer) on the roster. There are no secrets with any of these players. At this point in their career you are getting exactly what you have seen from them over the past several years.

In goal, the Islanders will go with Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss. The Isles ranked 31st in the NHL last year in goals against and dead last in PP goals against too. Analytically, they ranked near the bottom in many key defensive categories. Goaltending determines the outcome of games more than any other factor and the Islanders are in bad shape in that regard. Lehner is not only a below average goaltender, he’s a hot-head too while Thomas Greiss is just plain bad. Of the 56 qualified goaltenders last year (20 minimum games played), Greiss ranked 55th in GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average) while Lehner ranked 40th. These two stiffs are not going to steal many games but will cost the team many.

Let’s recap: The Islanders just lost their best player from a team that missed the playoffs by 17 points. It is a team that is going to be bad and miss the playoffs again with perhaps the worst record in hockey. The new GM made an indirect statement that this is a write-off year, as all the young talent was sent back to the minors in favor of a bunch of grinders that will try to scratch and claw their way to a 2-1 or 3-2 win. They have weak goaltending, very weak defense and they will once again play all their home games in a morgue-like atmosphere in front of less crowds than they’ve ever seen before. The Islanders projected total is a bad number put up by oddsmakers that we have to try and take advantage of. This is a 30-win team if everything goes well and even that might be a stretch.

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Our Pick

N.Y. Islanders u82 -105 (Risking 4.2 units - To Win: 4.00)

NFL Season Win Total
Jacksonville u9 +109

BEST LINES:  Pinnacle u9 +109 BET365 u8½ +125 SportsInteraction u9 -133 5DIMES u9 +100

Posted on August 15 before the first game of the season.  

2017 could not have started any better for the Jacksonville Jaguars after their defense pasted the Texans for 10 sacks and thus "Sacksonville" was born. When the dust settled, the Jags were minutes away from a Super Bowl appearance. If not for another Tom Brady fourth-quarter comeback, Jacksonville would have been in a favorable position to finish its dream season. The problem with making such a splash is that the Jaguars can no longer sneak up on anybody and oddsmakers know this. You only have to look at a Week 1 opening line that has Jacksonville spotting points on the road against the Giants. That definitely would not have been the case at this time last year.

While the Jags defense was a real beast last season, they also benefitted greatly by posting the league's third-best takeaway rate with 16% of opposing team's drives ending in a turnover. Only Detroit and Baltimore had a higher rate of return than Jacksonville in that luck-based statistic. Turnovers are not a skill and over time, the bounces will go your way until they don't. In the NFL you have to be good, but you also have to be lucky and the Jags were far more the latter last season. It's very unlikely that Jacksonville gets as many breaks this year as it did in 2017.

Looking for overvalued and undervalued teams is a big part of our criteria when it comes to making season long wagers and an unexpected 10 win season has the Jags right in our sights. A closer look at Jacksonville's 2017 shows that they played the weakest schedule of any team in the NFL according to Football Outsiders, a respected website that uses advanced analytics to rank just about anything that happens on the gridiron. One could argue that the Jags can only play the teams that they are scheduled against, but the AFC South has been notoriously awful for many years and last season the division was missing its best quarterback in the Colts' Andrew Luck. The four starting QBs that took the field for AFC South teams in Week 1 of 2017 were Houston's Tom Savage, Indianapolis' Scott Tolzien, Tennessee's Marcus Mariota and of course Jacksonville's Blake Bortles. Bortles was not an elite passer last season, but he was paid relatively handsomely after rumors swirled that the Jags would try to find a competent quarterback to take his place in 2018. Instead, Bortles signed a three-year $54-million deal that had him pocket $26.5 million in guaranteed money. With a bigger paycheck will come bigger expectations for Borltes, who has never been regarded as more than a "game manager". The goods under the hood don't dispell that theory either, as Bortles ranked 14th in Total QBR, which is a metric that incorporates information from game charting, splits responsibility and is adjusted for strength of opponent, among many other factors. The man that finished number one will help us put a nice little bow on this gift from oddsmakers.

While the road to Sacksonville was paved with the charred remains of Tom Savage's career, a phoenix did rise that fateful Sunday. Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson took the field in a second-half blowout way ahead of schedule and soon lit the league on fire. That half an hour of game time was the only time that Jacksonville had to contend with Watson, who went down with a torn ACL during a practice in early November. A healthy Watson doesn't only change the entire landscape of the AFC South, but the conference as a whole. Jacksonville's most notable triumph of the regular season was a dominant 30-9 win at the Steelers, who they met again in a toe-to-toe heavyweight fight that ended in a 45-42 win for the Jags in the Divisional round. That was a real franchise W that has left an impression in the market, as did their near win over the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. If there is a team more overrated than Jacksonville coming into 2018, we're not sure who it is.

With all that said, oddsmakers have posted the Jaguars to win nine games, which is one less than they won a year ago. Conventional wisdom may suggest that they will be better after a quality year together, but even if the Jags are better than they were last season, so too will everyone around them be. Luck and Watson both appear to be healthy and when you include Mariota, Bortles is by far the weakest of all of the starting quarterbacks in his division. In addition to a tougher test from its division, Jacksonville will also have to contend with the NFC East and AFC East, which creates tough road games for them at Dallas, Buffalo (in late November), Philadelphia (a home game in London) and the aforementioned Week 1 opener against at the Giants, while also bringing the Patriots to J-Ville. Finally, the Jags will have to play the Chiefs and Steelers as their "open" dates, a pair of teams far more fitting of a conference finalist. Last season the Jags played the Jets (5-11) and Chargers (9-7) in those spots. A further mining of Jacksonville's schedule proves it is difficult to find the 10 wins they are going to need for us to lose this bet. The Jags are no longer a sleeper, as they became relevant again last season and are a talking point this season. In summarizing, the Jags got blown out by Tennesee last season (37-16), two weeks later they lost to the Jets and two weeks after that they lost by double-digits to the Rams. In an important game in late November, Jacksonville lost to Arizona. In the last two weeks of the season, the Jags went 0-2 losing by double-digits to San Francisco and falling for the second time to the only team in their division that had a legit quarterback in the Titans. Again, Jacksonville went 4-0 last season against the Watson-less Texans and Luck-less Colts. This year they may go 0-4 and they are not likely going over the nine wins required to beat us.

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Our Pick

Jacksonville u9 +109 (Risking 3 units - To Win: 3.27)

NFL Season Win Total
Arizona u5 +164

BEST LINES:  Pinnacle u5½ +164 BET365 u5½ +125 SportsInteraction u5½ +125 5DIMES u5½ +125

Posted on August 15 before the first game of the season.  

The Cardinals were quick out of the gate last season, but injuries to key players like running back David Johnson clipped their wings. Arizona finished 8-8 and with that retired former head coach Bruce Arians and aging quarterback Carson Palmer. We were critical of the Cards offense last season because it was old and tired (it was) and so Arizona drafted former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, who many called the most NFL ready pivot in this year's draft. However, the Cardinals also signed veteran QB Sam Bradford, who has to be held together by gum and toothpicks at this point. Whether or not Rosen plays likely has far more to do with Bradford's durability than it does anything else. The Rosen hype train has already left the station after he looked confident in Arizona's 24-17 preseason win over the Chargers. Rosen completed his first pass and did not get flustered after he was constantly harassed with a group of second-string linemen in front of him. That there is already a quarterback controversy brewing in the desert suits us just fine for this wager.

While Arians was a bigger idiot than we thought, the real problem with the Cardinals starts at the top. General Manager Steve Keim was charged and then plead guilty to an extreme DUI stemming from an incident on July 4. Keim signed a contract extension in February that runs through 2022, but we're not sure why he was given such a long leash after being the guy to piece together the Arians/Palmer era to begin with and stuck with Palmer two years too long when he was in a clear decline in 2016. The point is, changing the coach and the quarterback isn't going to fix Arizona's woes. Also, there has been significant turnover as you might expect with the introduction of a new coaching regime. The only player on this year's roster to attempt a pass for the Cards last season is receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Arizona will also have to replace all but 54 of the 410 carries that it had last season. The 2018 Cardinals will have the second-most offensive turnover as it relates to passers and ball carriers in the last two decades. Only the 2002 Ravens had more and they missed the playoffs that year after winning 10 games and the Super Bowl the previous season. The Cardinals biggest strength last season was their defense, but Wilks can't leave well enough alone and will be changing the scheme from a 3-4 to a 4-3, which will no doubt cause some confusion early in the season. The Cards have also lost much of that quality unit from last year with five players that played at least 50 percent of the defensive snaps now grazing on greener pastures. Safety Tyrann Mateiu's exodus to Houston was the most significant loss, as he led the secondary in defeats with 19. Defeats is a stat created by Football Outsiders and counts when a defender makes one of the following plays: A tackle that results in a loss of yardage, including sacks. Any play that results in a turnover, including tipped passes which are then intercepted or any tackle or tipped pass that leads to a stop on third or fourth down. A rookie head coach and a flock of new players assembled by a guy that can't keep his shit in check is not the recipe for an uptick in victories.

What should be a much improved NFC West also has the Cardinals at a major disadvantage, as the Seahawks are well established, while the Rams and 49ers both figure to be strong. A close look shows that Arizona has a brutal schedule that also sees them play the NFC North and AFC West, as well as the Redskins and Falcons. Where do their wins come from? According to Football Outsiders, the Cardinals play the third toughest schedule in 2018 and they might not win a game on the road. The Cardinals first road game is in Los Angeles against the Rams. Their next two road games occur in San Francisco and Minnesota. If things go perfect, they'll be 0-3 on the road. The Cardinals next three roadies are in Kansas City, L.A. against the Chargers and Green Bay. If things go perfectly, Arizona will be 0-6 outside the desert. Arizona's final two road games are in Atlanta and Seattle and frankly it's hard to find even one W on that difficult slate.

At 5½ wins, the Cards have the lowest win expectation on the board. During its collapse last season, Arizona racked up double-digit defeats to the Rams (32-16 and 33-0), Houston (31-21), Philadelphia (34-7), Dallas (28-17) and Detroit (35-23). Their other two losses came to the Redskins and Seattle by five and six points respectively. Arizona had just two comfortable wins last season. A 23-0 Week 2 shutout of the Giants and a 20-10 win over the Garoppolo-less 49ers. The Cards' other six victories all came by less than a touchdown. Winning close games is not a skill and something that is likely to even out over time. Arizona was a terrible team and those narrow victories inflated its record and its standing in the market. This year, the Cards appear to be much worse everywhere on the field. If they get the six wins needed to beat this number, then so be it, but at this price, we'll take our chances that Arizona will be picking near the top of April's draft.

Open an account today at and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.


Our Pick

Arizona u5 +164 (Risking 3 units - To Win: 4.92)