Football Betting Season in Review: Our Experts’ 2019 Records and Their Most Memorable Betting Moments
Kirk Irwin, Getty Images. Pictured: Lamar Jackson
Before we move onto 2020, our football analysts took some time to reflect on 2019, sharing their highs and lows from the past 365 days.
Happy New Year, gamblers! Here’s to a profitable 2020!
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2019 NFL ATS record: 141-112-3 (55.7%)
Most memorable moment: That’s easy, it was the last game of the year. I had the Niners -3 against the Seahawks. All season I had bet every NFL game for project 256 or Bust, in which a buddy and I had to bet all 256 NFL games against the spread. By the time this game was played, our record was secure (we finished the year 141-112-3), but it still felt like the game that would tip the scales between winning and losing. It wasn’t the thwarted Seahawks drive that ended at the one-inch line, with the Niners up 26-21 and just nine seconds left. It was the moments between the booth review of the final Seahawks play and the next Niners snap.
Would they take a knee in the end zone, resulting in a safety, and a 26-23 win, and a push for me? Would they run the ball out of the back of the end zone? Would they have it downfield? In the end, Jimmy G stuck his head down and plowed through the middle of the line. The Niners got their win, their division title and their No. 1 seed. And I got win No. 141.
2019 NFL Player Props record: 317-206-10 (59.4%)
Most memorable moment: As a fantasy guy, I’m primarily a player props bettor, but my favorite wager of the year was a futures bet I placed in June: Lamar Jackson to win MVP at 80/1. At that time I also bet on Kyler Murray at 100/1, Jameis Winston 100/1 and Ben Roethlisberger 40/1. I put one unit on each, and those are the only MVP bets I made this year.
Why did I bet on those four guys?
Because I thought they all had underappreciated odds of being productive enough to win MVP, and more importantly, I thought that if they were productive enough, they’d also have the narratives necessary to carry them. The MVP is not just about production. It’s also about the story of the season.
And Jackson, Murray, Winston, Roethlisberger: I thought each guy had a decent chance to be the story of 2019. Jackson as a stereotype-breaking quarterback. Murray as a franchise-saving first-year sensation. Winston as a gunslinging redemption-seeking passer. And Roethlisberger as a post-Antonio Brown maturing leader.
Not all of those narratives have been realized — but one has in a massive way. When Lamar wins MVP at 80/1, that will make my season.
2019 NFL player props: 119-69 (63.3%)
Most memorable moment: I became obsessed with fantasy baseball/football at a very young age. That led to an obsession with sports betting as well.
The first player prop I bet was back in 2006 when I backed Albert Pujols to get over 2.5 runs, hits & RBI. It was then I realized that player props merged what I love about fantasy, sports betting and my passion for creating projections.
Creating player projections is a much more direct process that removes a lot of “luck” typically involved in sports betting and gives me a huge edge. Yes, sportsbooks have limited how much I can wager on props and some shops have banned me from betting certain kinds of wagers, but they can’t limit my passion for them or ban me from creating content, giving picks, or teaching others how to profit on them. My hope is to spark the passion I have from player props in others.
One of the advantages of player props is being able to line shop. Unlike spreads and totals, sportsbooks often offer a wide range of numbers and prices for a specific prop. This makes it critical to have access to as many of them as possible and try to get the best number.
The best instance of this was having the Under 66.5 rushing yards for Saquon Barkley in Week 14 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Eventually, this number dropped to the 61-to-63 range. Barkley looked like a sure bet to go over all numbers, with 65 rushing yards with 0:28 left in the 3rd quarter. On the very next play he ran the ball for one yard to have 66 yards on the ground to end the 3rd quarter.
Barkley didn’t rush for a single yard in the fourth quarter and I won the under 66.5 by the hook.
2019 NFL ATS record: 83-63-4 (55.3%)
Most Memorable Moment: Ravens against the Patriots.
If you can believe it, the Ravens opened as a five or six point underdog against New England in Week 9.
To be fair, the Patriots were 8-0, but I wasn’t buying it against a super soft schedule. I knew the Pats had some serious flaws and they showed up in a 37-20 loss to the Birds. It was the perfect buy-low/sell-high spot.
2019 College Football ATS record: 198-176-0 (52.9%)
Most memorable moment: Texas State +34.5 versus Texas A&M
August is a tough month for sports bettors. The dog days of summer provide little opportunity as only the MLB is in full swing and by that point in the season, the lines are as sharp as they will be all year.
I admit, my love for Texas State over the summer was a bit outrageous. New head coach Jake Spavital had hired his brother as defensive coordinator and legendary offensive coach Bob Stitt to run the offense. They had a stable of quarterbacks and I was a believer.
The Bobcats took on TexasA&M in the opener and our projected line for the game was Texas A&M -33. Texas State +34.5 was my first bet of the 2019 season. The spread remained at 34.5 until the week of the game when it dipped to 33.
The Bobcats managed just eight rushing yards against the Aggies and were down, 41-0, heading into their last drive of the game. Despite a pair of interceptions from both Tyler Vitt and Gresch Jensen, Texas State was in position to cover any number above 34 with a touchdown on the final drive.
Jensen hit a 27-yard touchdown pass, the longest Texas State completion of the day, with just 36 seconds left on the clock. To make matters even more dramatic, wide receiver Trevis Graham Jr was on the turf in the end zone for the reception.
Gamblers who hit the Bobcats before mid-August were rewarded with a win, but Gamblers taking Texas State +33.5 or lower were dealt a severe bad beat.
That is College Football gambling in a nutshell. The timing of your investment in the market means everything. With a power rating lower than the market, early wagers on Texas State +35 paid handsomely.
Texas A&M vs. Texas State was one of the first games of the season to prove that College Football can make-or-break your heart 10 different times on any given Saturday.
2019 NFL ATS record: 37-24-3 (57.8%); 2019 NFL player props record: 75-60-4 (53.9%)
Most memorable moment: I am extremely humbled to have just finished No. 4 overall in the FantasyPros weekly rankings accuracy contest this season, especially considering all of the talented people I was up against. But to be honest, I had always set a high bar for myself in fantasy because it’s something I’ve loved for more than two-thirds of my life, whereas I felt like I had a lot more to prove to myself in the betting arena, which I didn’t get into more recently.
I say that because, despite being more widely known as a fantasy analyst, when I look back on my results, my biggest source of pride is being able to maintain a 56% win rate (191-150-11) in NFL betting since I joined Action Network ahead of the 2018 season. I guess it’s similar to how they say, “athletes want to be rappers and rappers want to be athletes.”
I would say my most memorable moment from this year was Week 12, when I went 8-1. It wasn’t just the rush of seeing my card flooded with green dots, it was that as the games in the early window were winding down, I thought I was looking at nothing more than a .500 day.
But then the Redskins (+165) tied the Lions with under two minutes to go and proceeded to pick off Jeff Driskel and kick a game-winning field goal with 20 seconds left; the Giants (+6.5) got a 23-yard TD catch on 4th-and-18 late in fourth quarter to secure the cover; and the Steelers, despite taking over on the Cincinnati 29 with 2:47 remaining, were able to run out the clock without scoring on the Bengals (+6.5) to preserve a half-point cover for Cincy.