Vegas’ Odds for Thanksgiving Day Football

For people out there who are roughly around 40 and younger, you might not even know that Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Day football are two separate things. Some people legitimately believe that Thanksgiving is an NFL-sponsored holiday. That’s how synonymous football is with turkey on Thanksgiving. It really is amazing how much the sport of professional football has grown in America, and how it’s the thing that millions of people are looking forward to on Thursday, not their overly-dry turkey slices and jellied canned cranberry stuff. Las Vegas oddsmakers understand just how popular football is on Thanksgiving, and so they’re taking no holiday when it comes to handicapping the matches.

Throughout this post, we’re going to look at the Las Vegas odds for Thanksgiving Day football games, and speak briefly about how those oddsmakers in the desert are actually coming up with their numbers.

Current Odds For Thanksgiving Day NFL Football Matchups

Let’s go over the odds quickly for the three games being played on Thanksgiving Day. First up, we’re going to have the Minnesota Vikings (6-4) visiting the Detroit Lions (6-4) in a game that will decide the leader in the NFC North. At this current juncture, there may be no two teams in the NFL as evenly matched. The Lions have a top offense, the Vikings a top defense, and each team has an identical record. Though because the offense trumps defense in most NFL games today, the slight edge goes to the home team, and the Detroit Lions are favored at -2.5. The O/U is 43, so it’s not even expected to be much of a high-scoring game. Something about 24-20 for the over seems to be the practical outcome. The Lions get the nod here by, in part, being a hot team, winners of 4 of their last 5, while Minnesota has actually lost 4 of their last 5.

What will likely be the more exciting game, we have the Washington Redskins (6-3) traveling to Texas to face off against the Dallas Cowboys (9-1). The Cowboys have the longest winning streak in the NFL, and with Dak Prescott, they have a young QB who’s set the record for the longest winning streak by a rookie in history. Can this continue? With the Cowboys favored at -7, some seem to believe they will. The Cowboys may just be too much for the Redskins to handle while at home. They have a very strong running game, an unflappable passing game, and a defense that bends but doesn’t break. It will take Kirk Cousins racking up some insane yards to compete, and the edge is going to stay with Dallas in this regard, as the Cowboys’ pass rush should be able to shut that down.

The fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) and Indianapolis Colts (5-5) aren’t division rivals doesn’t make this game any less exciting. The Steelers are favored, going off at -8, and that’s mostly because the Colts are without Andrew Luck, who’s out with a concussion this week. Although we also see Pittsburgh winning, we don’t believe it’s going to be some run-away walk in the park. The Steelers’ offense can be held in check with even a modest set of man coverage keeping Antonio Brown underneath. The Colts are certainly intelligent enough to play tight in the secondary, which may keep the game close going into the 4th quarter.

How Oddsmakers Come up with Their Odds

Before we get into the numbers and data used by oddsmakers to set their odds, here’s something incredibly important to keep in mind: A favorite doesn’t necessarily mean that Vegas is picking that team to win. In other words, having the Cowboys at -7 doesn’t mean the oddsmakers believe the Cowboys will win by a touchdown; it’s simply a number that’s used to hopefully induce the same amount of action from each side. Oddsmakers are trying to balance a book at the end of the day, allowing the proceeds from the bets lost (by people) to pay out the bets won, with a healthy chunk going to the sportsbook in question. To this end, all data used by oddsmakers is used to determine a line you expect to see, want to see, and will bet on.

A good example of this would be the 2007 Super Bowl, played with the New York Giants vs. the New England Patriots. All computer models of facts and figures had the Patriots at only a 9-point favorite, which is pretty big. But Vegas’ oddsmakers realized that, colloquially speaking, the Patriots were more or less invincible, and to get people to bet on the Giants, they were going to have to give up more points. Therefore, the average line out of Vegas for the Super Bowl was Patriots -13. AccuScore provides the data, which is objective, but the way the line is set and moves is subjective to what the gamblers actually want to bet on. Bet you didn’t know that you—and not Vegas—were the entity responsible for the odds lines!

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Buddy Heild Surprises Everyone—Even Vegas—in Oklahoma’s Tournament Domination

Prior to the first leg of March Madness being played, you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone who thought the Oklahoma Sooners had a legitimate shot at making it to the Final Four. However, after defeating VCU en route to the Sweet Sixteen, people started to look at Oklahoma differently. When seeded in the West Anaheim bracket, with the top-seeded Oregon Ducks, most assumed that Oklahoma’s trail might end there, or even sooner. Vegas had them going off at 20:1 or worse for even the Elite Eight, not to mention the Final Four. Though after beating Texas A&M in the Sweet Sixteen, Oklahoma absolutely crushed the top-seeded Ducks 80-68 en route to the Final Four. And it wasn’t anywhere near as close as the score suggests. Led by Buddy Hield, Oklahoma is starting to look like the best team in the nation.

Hield wasn’t exactly an underrated player or anything. He was considered one of the top-five players in the NCAA this year, behind players like LSU’s Ben Simmons, who is considered a shoo-in for the #1 pick in the NBA Draft. However, after Buddy dropped 37 points on Oregon, a team with a good defense, many are starting to rethink their assessment of Hield, and certainly of the Sooners.

Buddy Hield opened up the game against Oregon on fire, and he never stopped his domination. He hit eight 3-point shots, which is Steph Curry-level greatness in a big game, and ended up dominating at the guard position for both halves. Another top-five player in the nation, Oregon’s Elgin Cook did everything he could to keep the game in reach, scoring 24 points. The Ducks had an 11-game winning streak heading into Saturday’s Elite Eight match-up, and they were the favorites to win. Vegas had them by 3 points, but by the time the first half was over, it was clear that Oklahoma was the better team. They led 48-30 at the half, and the Ducks simply couldn’t answer Hield’s relentless play. Apart from the points he scored, Buddy also rebounded well, grabbed loose balls, avoided making costly turnovers, and played tenacious defense.

Hield is an anomaly in college basketball today. He’s actually a senior, and he came back with the express purpose of leaving college as a National Champion. While the majority of top players in college leave after their freshman season, Hield stuck it out in Sooner Land, despite being a two-time Big 12 Player of the Year winner, deciding to finish what he started. And thanks to Hield’s impressive performance, Oklahoma is now in the Final Four and await the winner of the Kansas Jayhawks and Villanova Wildcats match-up.

The moral of the story here is that the bookmakers don’t always have it correct as illustrated by the Vegas odds on the NCAA tournament prior to the elite 8. In fact, nobody gets it correct. There has never been a perfect bracket, and likely never will be. And especially in a down year like this where there’s no runaway favorite, the hottest teams get all the recognition as the best teams. Oregon was a hot team, winning 11 in a row. But, as was decided on the court of play, the Oklahoma Sooners were the better team, and Buddy Hield is the primary reason.

New Stars Set to Emerge at the British Open

Unlike sports of a fast, furious, flashy nature like professional football and basketball, some sports build their fan bases off of building their legacies as tried-and-true classics. This is certainly the case with baseball, and it’s also part of the reason that golf is still so popular. It is one of those classic games that requires true skill and grace to compete well, and players who do well must have unparalleled mental focus. It also doesn’t hurt that golf is a pretty game to look at, especially on today’s HD TVs, and tournaments like the British Open are a real treat to watch. In this year’s Open Championship, fans not only get to see a beautiful backdrop and classic skill and mental prowess on display; they also get to see a changing of the guard as it were.

Newer, younger stars are starting to emerge on the golf scene today, leaving the old guard behind. In the 144th Open Championship, colloquially called the British Open, fans get to see perhaps the highest concentration of young, evenly matched players in generations. Who will win this year’s title? Last year’s champion Rory Mcllroy had pretty solid golf odds, but unfortunately didn’t end up playing. Other favorites include Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day. Though some big names are noticeably absent from those favorites.

Today’s Contenders and Yesteryear’s Champions

The British Open is actually the oldest of the big-four majors in golf. It’s also the only major played off of US soil. The British Open takes place at St. Andrews in Scotland, and it’s actually a large mash-up of professional tours, including the PGA tour, of course, the European tour, and the Japan Golf tour. This year’s tournament, which seems to be all about the youth, isn’t actually the first time fans have witnessed a dramatic changing of the guard.

In 2000, an aging Jack Nicklaus was playing his farewell tournament at the Open Championship, and as he made it through the tournament and waved at the crowd, a young, up and coming golfer named Tiger Woods was stealing the Golden Bear’s fanfare by playing amazing golf. Jack didn’t win one for the old guard that day, but Tiger Woods did end up breaking the record with -19 to par.

This year’s passing of the torch isn’t nearly that dramatic. What you have are a few older, popular players who are still playing rather well considering, yet they’re simply unable to best today’s youthful players. Tiger Woods, as of the second day of play, is in 140th place, well out of contention for the second cut and well behind his overall game that he’s been known for going on two decades. Tiger’s fall from grace has been a long time coming, and his poor play at the Open Championship just cements his current legacy as a notable golfer and a fan favorite who simply doesn’t win.

Phil Mickelson, currently 24th after two of four days, is in a much better position for the second cut, but he’s out of contention compared to these younger players. Dustin and Zach Johnson, Paul Lawrie, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth – today’s Open is all about the new pros climbing the polls. The old pros of yesteryear will undoubtedly stick around a while, but the theme to keep an eye on is how the new guard does all the winning.

Recapping March Madness 2015

For major television networks, thousands of gambling sites, and many satisfied gamblers, the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, AKA March Madness, went off without a real hitch. While there were the few proverbial upsets, and some great games that will go down in lure as some of the best to be played, it was basically just another successful year for the world’s biggest collegiate-level sporting tournament. Only since we’re experiencing more direct marketing and more media buzz every year since around 2003, this year’s March Madness was bigger in many ways: TV commercial spots, sports shows carrying coverage, social media exposure, etc.

Throw in Warren Buffet’s billion-dollar bracket challenge, and more people paid attention to this year’s tournament than ever before. Understanding how this year’s bracket played out might give one a better understanding about how to bet and what to expect going forward. So, without any more preamble, let’s get into the meat of this year’s freshly-finished March Madness.

Unexpected Surprises

As we see every year, with 64 teams playing in the NCAAB tournament, there are always a few upsets that really catch people off guard. For fans, these upsets are very exciting to watch and make March Madness worthy of focusing on; though for people who like to bet favorites, upset games are heartbreaking and result in lost funds. The first big surprise was number-seven Wichita State beating number-two Kansas. Not that a 7 vs. 2 is such a disparity to call upset, but most had Kansas penciled in for facing off against Kentucky in the Elite Eight. Wichita State threw the dampers on that quickly. Not to be outdone, the surprise team of the tournament, Michigan State, knocked out UVA in the same round in the other side of the bracket.

The biggest upset of this year, however, was the Kentucky Wildcats losing a very highly contested game to the Wisconsin Badgers. While both teams were #1s in their respective brackets, Kentucky had amassed a regular season record of 36-0, seeking to become the first team in decades to win the championship with an undefeated record. After Kentucky’s slim two-point victory over #3 Notre Dame the game before, Wisconsin had renewed confidence entering the match, sure that the Wildcats were not immortal. Marked as the biggest upset in the last decade, Wisconsin’s win really shook things up.

A Gambler’s Paradise

While some gamblers might end up getting hit with a bad upset loss occasionally, betting on the March Madness tournament is truly a gambler’s paradise. It’s almost impossible to say how much money is exchanged during the tournament because of so many outlets, but estimating it as north of $10 billion is fairly safe. In paid brackets alone, where people aren’t betting game-to-game but are rather trying to perfectly predict the entire tournament, fans spend $3 billion. And it is estimated that per gambling sites, live hubs like AC and Vegas, etc, that number more than doubles. Plus you have to include all the wagers regular folks make between friends, at work, through social networking sites, etc. $10 billion is most likely a low-ball estimate. Needless to say, March Madness is a great time of the year for a gambler.

On the first day alone, there are 16 games to bet on. And up until the Final Four, you will always have at least four games to spread your wagers out over. Betting point spreads, O/U, straight wins, proposition bets, etc – there are dozens of different ways to approach March Madness.

How the Final Four Played Out

Barring a few upsets, the Final Four played out just as many predicted. Even we, your humble online gambling resource, hit three out of four Final Four teams with our in-house prediction. The Final Four played out with Kentucky vs. Wisconsin, and Michigan State vs. Duke. The Blue Devils, led by Coach K, dismantled the Spartans, beating them by 20 points, 81-61. Seeing as the Spartans had rolled through Georgia and UVA en route to Duke, no one expected them to get blown out of the water like they did. Anyone taking Duke to cover did well, as they were favorites, but the action was about even with many taking the Spartans to cover. On the other side of the bracket, Wisconsin and Kentucky fought it out until the final 30 seconds, when the Badgers pulled away. The vast majority of the action was on Kentucky, but those who took the upset were well rewarded.

In the championship game, Wisconsin and Duke battled it out in an instant classic game that saw dozens of lead changes, tons of action, and Duke’s freshman squad come to life in a very unexpected way, scoring every second-half point for the Blue Devils. Duke pulled it out and won by 5, after Wisconsin’s shooting went cold late, and Coach K won his 5th National Championship.

Can Anyone Take Down the Kentucky Wildcats in March Madness Tournament?

The Kentucky Wildcats are going to enter the NCAA March Madness tournament with a perfect record in the regular season. The extremely talented Kentucky team was only challenged four times this season. Ole Miss, Texas A&M, LSU and Georgia all made the Wildcats sweat, but they were still able to find a way to get the victory. All four of those teams have a very good chance of making the NCAA March Madness Tournament, so Kentucky has faced some tough competition during their perfect regular season.

The Kentucky Wildcats were able to easily secure their perfect record because they are an extremely deep and talented team. They have 10 players that can potentially get drafted by the NBA in the next few years. One college basketball team is rarely able to amass this level of talent on the same team. Having so many talented players allows Kentucky to win even when a few players have bad games.

The NCAA March Madness tournament has been known for being completely unpredictable. Connecticut was the 26th ranked team entering the tournament last year, and they were able to take home the championship. This level of unpredictability will most likely not occur this year. The number of teams capable of winning the NCAA March Madness tournament this year is very small because the Kentucky Wildcats are too talented. Even if Kentucky has a bad game, there are still only a handful of teams that can beat them.

The odds of Kentucky winning the NCAA March Madness tournament in Vegas are currently +105. This means that a $100 bet will only win an additional $105 if Kentucky wins the tournament. Florida was the favorite heading into last year’s tournament with +550 odds. When you compare the odds between the last two tournaments, it is easy to see why the underdog teams may struggle in the NCAA March Mardness college basketball tournament this year.

Wisconisn, Duke, Arizona, Virginia and Villanova may be the only teams with a realistic chance to defeat Kentucky this year. While Wisconsin is currently only the sixth ranked team in college basketball, they may have the best chance at stopping Kentucky. The Wisconsin Badgers currently have the second best odds to win the NCAA March Madness tournament at +650. The Wisconsin Badgers have the best offense in college basketball, so they should have no problem matching baskets with Kentucky. Wisconsin’s defense also matches up well with the Wildcats. The Badgers usually only get hurt by penetrating point guards, but that is the one thing Kentucky lacks. Duke and Villanova also have great offenses, but their defensive struggles can easily be exploited by the talented Kentucky team.

The Virginia Cavaliers have the third best odds to win the NCAA March Madness tournament at +950. Virginia is capable of beating any team because of their defense. If Virginia’s relentless defense is able to force bad jump shots from Kentucky, then they have a great chance of winning. Virginia’s methodical offense will slow the game down, so the Kentucky offense will get less opportunities with the ball. The first team to 60 may win the game, but that is the exact style of game Virginia wants to play. Arizona also has a great defense that can stop Kentucky’s offense, but the Arizona offense might have to play a perfect game to win.

There may not be that many teams with a realistic chance of winning, but the NCAA March Madness tournament should still be fun to watch. The early round upsets will still occur, and we should see a championship game between two great teams.

Check out our page for current vegas odds for March Madness.

Updated Vegas Odds on PGA Championship 2014

Rory up, Tiger down. The 2014 PGA Championship contested this year at the rain-soaked Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky enters weekend play with a future Hall of Famer clutching his back and missing the cut. And the world’s #1 ranked golfer is making his claim as the next big name on the tour. Tiger Woods has had many physical issues the last few years, and was seen clutching his back after a disappointing back-to-back 74 – 74 that meant he missed the cut for this year’s PGA Championship. His quest for Major number 15 will have to wait. But on the upside, Rory McIlroy, trailing by one stroke after day one, moved into the lead with a second-round score of 67. That places him 1 stroke above Jim Furyk and Jason Day, who shot the low round on the day at 65, six below par. Continue reading “Updated Vegas Odds on PGA Championship 2014”

2014 World Cup Final Championship Game Set – Germany vs Argentina

Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, July 13 is the venue for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final. A fearsome fusillade of 17 goals in 6 games has been unleashed by the powerful German soccer team in this year’s World Cup as they head into the final. Even discounting the 7, that’s right 7 goals scored against a catatonic Brazilian team this past week, that is a more than respectable 10 goals in 5 games. And though Argentina was counted on for some impressive scoring as well, they uncharacteristically have been using a stout defense to get this far. With Germany probably continuing to employ its high defensive line, a very risky idea in World Cup football action, look for Argentina to press early and often. It is just hard to believe that all that offensive Argentinian talent has scored just 8 goals in 6 games, and with Germany on fire, this could be a high-scoring affair. Continue reading “2014 World Cup Final Championship Game Set – Germany vs Argentina”

Vegas Odds on World Cup Knockout Round Schedule

The World Cup Knockout Round begins on Saturday, June 28. There are a number of ways that the remaining 2014 World Cup contenders can reach that round of 16 international football teams. Countries located in or near the host country tend to play excellent football when the FIFA World Cup comes around every year. Accordingly, host team Brazil is the Vegas odds on favorite to win this year’s heated competition, currently delivering 3 to 1 odds. But nearby Argentina is considered nearly as likely to win the World Cup Championship (4 to 1), along with powerhouse Germany. Brazil’s fellow South American teams from Colombia, Uruguay and Chile are middle-of-the-road World Cup contenders currently delivering some very attractive odds as well. Continue reading “Vegas Odds on World Cup Knockout Round Schedule”

California Chrome’s Belmont Stakes Date with Triple Crown Destiny

As June 7 draws ever nearer, Triple Crown anticipation and discussions are reaching a fever pitch. Only 11 horses have won the Triple Crown of thoroughbred horse racing in the United States, claiming the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and Belmont the same year. And of those winners and losers of the past, many think California Chrome has one of the best chances since the Triple Crown was last won in 1978, but we have heard this story before. In 2008 Big Brown looked like a solid candidate to win at Belmont, but fell apart down the stretch. More recently, in 2012 I’ll Have Another appeared to be headed to Triple Crown immortality as well, just to be pulled a day before the Belmont Stakes and retired. Can California Chrome do what 12 horses have not been able to since 1978? Let’s look a little closer. Continue reading “California Chrome’s Belmont Stakes Date with Triple Crown Destiny”

2014 French Open Odds Lose a Couple of Early Favorites

Kristina Mladenovic shocked world #2 Li Na, and the tennis community, in the first round of the 2014 French Open. Li Na won this year’s ladies Australian Open, and was ousted by underdog Mladenovic. And in a strange turn of events, this year’s men’s Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka was eliminated in the first round as well. In another upset, former number #1 ranked women’s professional Caroline Wozniacki went down along with veteran 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm in the first round. #4 seed Simona Halep moved on to the next round of play, and stands as a Vegas odds on favorite during the world’s premier clay-court tennis championship event.

Nadal Goes for 9th French Open in 10 Years

This year’s French Open is the 113th edition, contested at the Stade Roland Garros from May 25 through June 8. Rafael Nadal took the title in 2013, an incredible 8th victory at this event, and stands as the odds on favorite in the men’s division again this year. Last year’s ladies winner was powerful Serena Williams, who is a better than even money favorite to win again. One of the four grand slam tournaments events held by both the men’s ATP and ladies WTA professional tennis leagues, the 2014 French Open is the second grand slam event of the year. Along with the Australian Open, which was already held this year, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, it remains one of the most important professional tennis tournaments held anywhere in the world.

Sharapova, Ivanovic Poised For French Open Victory

Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic and Agnieszka Radwanska currently stand as favorites to win the women’s championship along with Williams. Joining Nadal as an odds on men’s champions this year are Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and David Ferrer. Once you get past the top two or three men’s and women’s favorites, possible 2014 French Open champions begin delivering some very attractive odds. And if the “King of Clay” or Serena Williams slips up, there are plenty of more than competent professionals which can win the singles championship and make for a potentially big payday.

Bryan Brothers 2014 French Open Mens Doubles Favorites

Airing on ESPN, the 2014 French Open also includes doubles matches and other events. Serena Williams is looking very strong entering the tournament, and a victory this year would be her third grand slam win at Roland Garros. The men’s doubles team of Robert and Mike Bryan are currently ranked #1 in the world, and have two previous French Open championships under their belts. Aside from Nadal notching his impressive 8th French Open singles championship last year, he has also won four in a row through 2013. Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina were the 2013 French Open women’s doubles title winners, the first grand slam doubles win for each of those ladies.

No Ladies French Open Championship Repeat Since 2007

Only Roger Federer has kept Rafael Nadal away from the championship the past nine years at the French Open. Federer defeated Robin Soderling for the title back in 2009, and is the only men’s winner besides Nadal at the Roland Garros grand slam since 2005. Maria Sharapova won the ladies title in 2012, and since 2007, no WTA ladies French Open champion has been crowned twice. After impressive and startling upsets in just the first round on both the men’s and ladies size, it appears the Vegas odds on French Open 2014 may possibly deliver a middle-of-the-road or underdog champion, allowing for an unforgettable payday with the right wager.