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November 26, 2020

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Five sports, five bets: What to wager on this weekend

Bellagio Safety Measures Unveiled During Media Preview

Christopher DeVargas

Plexiglass barriers are seen on counters at the BetMGM Sportsbook at the Bellagio during a media preview, Monday, June 1, 2020. The new measures are a part of MGM Resorts’ health and safety plan for guests and employees.

A buzzer-beating knockout and a deft driving performance lifted the inaugural “Five bets, five sports” column to a profitable start last weekend without much of a sweat.

Cody Garbrandt left Rafael Assuncao unconscious with a right hook moments before the second-round bell of their UFC 250 bout last Saturday night in a Knockout of the Year contender. On Sunday, Ryan Blaney ran toward the front of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup race in Atlanta all afternoon, ultimately finishing fourth and winning most if not all of his betting matchups posted around town, including the one suggested here against Alex Bowman.

I’m going back to the racetrack and octagon again this week, as well as dipping into a couple new sports markets. From games taking place Saturday morning to future bets that could last into early 2021, this column is meant to find value and dispense betting advice for those seeking weekend action.

Here are five bets to consider making this weekend. Lines are the best currently available in Las Vegas at publication time. Records are attached by individual sport with the monetary calculated by the assumption of placing a $100 wager on each bet.

PGA Tour (0-0): Collin Morikawa plus-115 over Bryson DeChambeau in the third round of the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas

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Jordan Spieth hits from the bunker to the second green during his practice round for the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Augusta, Ga.

Get in on Morikawa at discounted prices while they're still available. If the superstar rookie out of the University of California, Berkeley wins this tournament, he may never be available at a discount again — and he just may win this tournament.

Colonial Golf Course in Fort Worth, Texas, the site of this week's event, tailors to Morikawa's strengths — namely his ball-striking, irons game. That's been evident through the first two days as Morikawa sits at 9-under-par, two strokes off the lead, despite having not yet pieced together his best round.

Morikawa was only plus-3.09 strokes gained over the first two rounds as opposed to DeChambeau's plus-5.09. Translation: DeChambeau may have played slightly more above his head and could see some regression going forward.

That's harsh because DeChambeau is a phenomenal player in his own right. In fact, he's a better overall player than Morikawa right now. 

But not on this course. Not at this high of a price.

Bundesliga soccer (0-1, -$100): Monchengladbach plus-1.5 (minus-115) at Bayern Munich at William Hill

I sung the merits of betting on the outlier teams in Germany’s top soccer league last week. Like clockwork, a week later, I’m betting against the most extreme outlier.

Trying to handicap European soccer — perhaps the toughest sport to beat in the world betting-wise — might be the death of me but too many sports-betting principles apply in this week’s biggest match to ignore. Namely, it’s important to identify when the situation calls for selling high on a team.

Bayern Munich is rated as the top club globally but with an eighth straight Bundesliga title already wrapped up — it’s not technically clinched but the probability sits in excess of 99 percent per multiple mathematical models — it has nothing left to play for. Monchengladbach, on the other hand, is desperately trying to qualify for the Champions League and currently sits tied in the fourth and final slot with Leverkusen.

Bayern will be playing at far less than full strength with two of their top four scorers, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller, sitting due to yellow-card suspensions.

There’s also value on Monchengladbach to win outright in three-way betting at plus-680, but for the sake of this column, let’s play it conservatively and take the goals.

UFC (1-0, $74): Zarrukh Adashev plus-115 vs. Tyson Nam at Circa Sports

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A general view inside the UFC APEX prior to the UFC Fight Night event on May 30, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)"

If lining up against the best soccer team in the world isn’t enough of a masochistic thrill, how about siding with a fighter who took a bout on three days’ notice?

Adashev is a late fill-in for Ryan Benoit on Saturday’s UFC on ESPN card, and that’s the only reason he’s available at a plus-price against Nam in a bantamweight bout. The Uzbekistan native has vicious kickboxing, which he’s utilized en route to three straight victories including two by knockout in Bellator.

He’s thrust into an opportune stylistic matchup with Nam, who’s usually all too willing to exchange strikes on the feet. The fear is that Nam plays it safe, takes down his opponent and uses control to exhaust Adashev.

Nam has enjoyed far more time to prepare, but that doesn’t always matter. Adashev’s potential is far greater, and if he’s stayed in even decent shape through quarantine, that should carry him to victory.

NASCAR (1-0, $115): Chase Elliott plus-120 vs. Kyle Busch at William Hill

Those who question whether driving a racecar requires any athletic ability or stamina would be wise to consult Jimmie Johnson’s Twitter account. The retiring future Hall of Famer posted statistics from his heart-rate monitor from last week’s race in Atlanta, showing he burned 2,558 calories with an average heart rate of 135 beats per minute in the 3-hour, 38-minute race.

Several other drivers followed by posting their own reports and further illustrating that, at the least, a NASCAR race is a grueling affair. Now consider that this will be the third Sprint Cup race in seven days, and that Sunday’s forecast calls for 85 degrees with 75 percent humidity at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Most of the top drivers are older and outside of their traditional athletic primes, so in this condensed schedule, there’s likely an edge in looking at the younger end of the spectrum. Consider it a bonus that the 24-year-old Elliott has fielded the fastest car all season by loop data and advanced metrics. He has seven top-10 finishes in 11 races and has been highly unlucky to only convert one of those into a victory.

But it’s important to note when that one victory came —May 27 at Charlotte, a fourth race in 10 days where the whole field was a bit run down physically.

Elliott should not be available at a plus-price in a matchup against anyone, with the possible exception of Kevin Harvick, this weekend.

NFL (0-0): Indianapolis Colts over 9 wins (minus-125) at South Point

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San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (99) celebrates after recovering a fumble against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019.

I’ve been cautioning to wait on placing NFL futures for months with the uncertainty of the season, but now that it’s looking highly likely to start on time and as scheduled, it’s time to dive in.

Let’s start by backing a well-coached team that improved significantly in the offseason and sits firmly in a mediocre, and potentially overrated, division. The Colts will be the best team in the AFC South next season, and it might not be close.

Quarterback was seen as the only weakness on the roster going into last season after the surprise retirement of Andrew Luck, and though Jacoby Brissett played well at times, the incoming Philip Rivers is a major upgrade. Rivers hasn’t played for a head coach as shrewd as Frank Reich since Marty Schottenheimer in 2006, the quarterback’s first season starting where he helped lead the Chargers to a 14-2 record.

Yes, the Colts were disappointing on defense last year, ranking 24th in the NFL by giving up 5.2 yards per play, but that’s not a major concern for several reasons. For one, defense is highly volatile on a year-to-year basis, much more so than offense. The underlying talent is still there too, and Indianapolis managed to add to it in a big way by trading for All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Bucker, who’s entering his prime at 26 years old.

With the divisional rival Texans having a much-maligned offseason and the Titans being overestimated off of a surprise AFC Championship Game run, the Colts are where to find value in the AFC South.

Previous pending future bets: NC Dinos will not win KBO Series at minus-230; Calgary Flames to win series against Winnipeg Jets at minus-120

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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