Feds Shut Down Massive Online NFL Survivor Pool and Seize $2.5 Million in Entry Fees

As NFL fans waited for Thursday Night Football to kick off last week, one of America’s largest football betting pools was raided by federal authorities.

According to business reporter Darren Rovell of ESPN, the owners and operators of Ron & Mike’s Football Pool were served with search warrants issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Federal prosecutors declined to offer any comment regarding this matter, citing internal policies prohibiting the confirmation or denial of an ongoing investigation.

On November 7, after interviewing participants in the pool who chose to remain anonymous, Rovell tweeted a screenshotted image of a message emailed to players taking part in Ron & Mike’s Football Pool:

“Please be advised that the Ron and Mike website has been forced to shut down at this time and is unlikely to open again.

We understand your frustration and anger at this time, but closure of the pool is beyond our control. We apologize to those that are still alive in our various pools and we ask for your patience and understanding while we contemplate the next steps.

Unfortunately, at this time we cannot make any additional comments.”

Players told Rovell that the series of NFL “Survivor” pools had been organized by Ron Kronengold and Mike Bernstein during each of the last eight NFL seasons.

Joe Conway, who identified himself as an attorney representing both Kronengold and Bernstein, told Rovell that his clients had voluntarily suspended their RonAndMike.com website. Per Conway, the men have heard nothing from federal prosecutors after having been served the search warrant.

In an NFL survivor pool, players must select one winner from the weekly slate of games, and that pick must win for the player to advance. Teams can only be selected once, and the field is whittled down week after week as upsets take their toll. The last player left standing takes the lion’s share of the prize pool, or all of it, depending on “house rules.”

In the case of Ron & Mike’s Football Pool, players reported that two primary pools – Red and Blue – cost $100 each to enter. Both the Red and Blue pool were capped at 10,000 entries apiece, and they sold out to create ostensible prize pools of $1 million each.

Because of their size and scope, the Red and Blue pools expanded to two picks per player from Week 11 through Week 15, and three picks in Weeks 16 and 17, in order to cull the massive fields by season’s end.

Kronengold and Bernstein also offered a Second Chance pool for $200, and a High Roller edition which cost $500 to play. By the midway point of the NFL season, the duo also created a Second Half pool with a $100 price tag.

All told, Rovell reports that Ron & Mike’s Football Pool hauled in more than 23,000 entries across the five pools, generating over $2.5 million in potential prize money.

As participants detailed, Kronengold and Bernstein had players send entry fees, in cash only, to “Green River” in Plainview, New York. Rovell reported that the Green River Capital mortgage brokerage operates in Plainview, but neither Kronengold and Bernstein are employed there. Instead, the mailing address used is connected to a UPS Store.

With only four weeks left in the NFL regular season at the time of the seizure, just a handful of players were left in contention for the pools’ top prizes.

Section 225.00 (3) of the New York Penal Code prohibits individuals from “advancing gambling activity,” a term which applies to operators who profit from illegal bookmaking and other wagers:

“One advances gambling activity when, having substantial proprietary or other authoritative control over premises being used with his or her knowledge for purposes of gambling activity, he or she permits such to occur or continue or makes no effort to prevent its occurrence or continuation.

A person PROFITS FROM GAMBLING ACTIVITY when, other than as a player, he or she accepts or receives money or other property pursuant to an agreement or understanding with any person whereby he participates or is to participate in the proceeds of gambling activity.”

The seizure of Ron & Mike’s Football Pool is the largest such shutdown since 2010, when federal prosecutors in New Jersey charged John Bovery with promoting gambling and money laundering in connection with a $100, 8,000-player survivor pool.


Online Casino Players in New Jersey Scoring Significant Slot Jackpots

Per a report entitled “Atlantic City Jackpots $75,000 and Over,” which is released monthly by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), the Garden State’s online casino industry has become fertile ground for five-figure payouts and beyond.

The report revealed that New Jersey’s entire gambling industry – combining online and land-based casinos – paid out 124 jackpots totaling $19,076,307 from January 1 through November 30 of this year.

Of those, 23 jackpot winners claimed their prize through virtual slot machines or video poker games offered by one of New Jersey’s five licensed online casino operators.

BorgataCasino.com led the way by awarding seven jackpots of $75,000 or more, followed by GoldenNuggetCasino.com and BetfairCasino.com at six each. PlaySugarHouse.com, NJPartyPoker.com, VirginCasino.com, and TropicanaCasino.com paid out a single jackpot apiece.

The largest online jackpot in New Jersey history was won through GoldenNuggetCasino.com on August 24, when a player pocketed a massive $271,268 progressive jackpot. The player, who asked that only her first name of Susan be released, was playing the Divine Fortune slot game for $10 per spin when the reels aligned perfectly to produce the six-figure payout.

Divine Fortune is designed by iGaming software supplier NetEnt Gaming, which was formerly known as Net Entertainment. The game is centered around the theme of Greek mythology, and features a three-reel, five-row alignment with 20 paylines. Players have three progressive jackpots on the line – Minor, Major, and Mega – which offer average payouts of $5, $50, and $200,000, respectively.

The NJDGE data revealed Divine Fortune to rank among the most profitable online slot titles in the state, with more than a million dollars in jackpot payouts attributed to the game.

Through the first 11 months of 2017, Divine Fortune has dispensed $1,019,566 via jackpot alone.

Those wins took place across three different online casino platforms, as shown below:

  • November 1 on BetfairCasino.com for $136,629
  • September 26 on GoldenNuggetCasino.com for $146,418
  • September 17 on BetfairCasino.com for $121,547
  • September 11 on PlaySugarHouse.com for $91,681
  • August 24 on GoldenNuggetCasino.com for $271,268
  • July 7 on BetfairCasino.com for $132,396
  • May 18 on GoldenNuggetCasino.com for $119,627

In each case, Divine Fortune players used a wager of just $1 or $2 to land the elusive jackpot.

Susan’s spectacular slot result surpassed the previous New Jersey record for online jackpots, which was set on June 25 by Kim Seib.

A native of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Seib found herself killing time before work when she fired up the Wonderland slot – a five-reel, four-row progressive jackpot game with 100 paylines.

As she told the Tropicana Casino Blog after the life-changing spin, Seib was hunting specifically for sizable jackpots:

“I was about to log out, but I ultimately decided to play Wonderland after noticing how high the jackpot amount was up to. I thought to myself, ‘What the heck, I’ll give it one last shot!’

During my 15 minutes or so of playing Wonderland I got the Rose Garden Bonus and only completed painting about five roses before the Queen popped up. Then I got it again. I was clicking my laptop buttons and completed five, six, and seven.

All of a sudden, they were all completed… jackpot!  I sat there in total shock, thinking, ‘this can’t be. No way!’”

According to Seib, she’s been a regular online casino player for most of New Jersey’s regulated iGaming experiment:

“My husband and I love going to Tropicana Casino Atlantic City. But with our schedules, it makes it hard to visit like we want to.

So, I just decided to try Tropicana’s online casino, and here we are three years later.”

College Football Odds 2017: Bowl Game Betting Preview

After last Saturday’s frenzied finish to the regular season, the four-team College Football Playoff (CFP) field has been set.

The New Year’s Day festivities begin at 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time (EST), when second-ranked Oklahoma (12-1) meets third-ranked Georgia in the Rose Bowl.

As one half of the CFP Semifinals, the 104th edition of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena is likely to live up to its reputation as the “Granddaddy of Them All,” with two 12-win conference champions taking the field.

Georgia claimed the SEC Championship last week by beating then second-ranked Auburn (10-3), as the Bulldogs avenged their only loss of the year in a 28-7 beatdown. To decide the Big 12 Championship, Oklahoma also faced a formidable conference rival in then 11th-ranked TCU (10-3), but for the second time this season, the Sooners easily handled the Horned Frogs in a 41-17 rout.

Oklahoma sports the nation’s fourth-ranked scoring offense at 44.9 points per game, but they’ll be tested against Georgia’s fourth-ranked scoring defense (13.2 ppg).

Expectedly, the linemakers at online sportsbook Bovada have opened betting with the Rose Bowl as a straight pick’em.

The other half of the CFP Semifinals begins at 8:45 p.m. EST, when top-ranked Clemson (12-1) continues its national title defense against fourth-ranked Alabama (11-1) in the Sugar Bowl.

When the Tigers take on the Crimson Tide at the Superdome in New Orleans, it will mark the third straight year that Clemson and Alabama have clashed in the postseason. Two years ago, the Tide rolled 45-40 to win the national championship, and last year Clemson returned the favor in a 35-31 comeback classic.

Clemson had superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson leading the way in both of those title tilts, but he’s since moved on to the NFL, leaving Kelly Bryant to take the reins. The Tigers offense hasn’t missed a stride, scoring to the tune of 35.4 ppg, but the defense has joined in the fun by limiting opponents to only 12.8 ppg.

That’s good for the second-ranked scoring defense in all of college football – second only to Alabama, which limits opposing offenses to 11.5 ppg.

The first two rounds of this trilogy were shootouts to be sure, but this year could bog down into a defensive battle, so Bovada leans slightly toward the Tide as 2.5-point favorites.

Fifth-ranked Ohio State (11-2) won the Big Ten Championship by handing then fourth-ranked Wisconsin (12-1) its first defeat, and many prognosticators put the Buckeyes through to the CFP final four. Instead, the committee decided to elevate Alabama, leaving Ohio State to settle for a Cotton Bowl consolation game against eighth-ranked USC (11-2).

The Trojans took the Pac-12 Championship by downing then 12th-ranked Stanford (9-4), but like the Buckeyes, two losses on the year – including a big blowout – left USC on the outside of the CFP picture.

Ohio State holds a major edge on both sides of the ball, boasting the fifth-ranked scoring offense (42.5 ppg) and 22nd-ranked scoring defense (19.9 ppg) – while USC ranks 24th and 60th, respectively.

The Cotton Bowl takes place in Dallas on December 29 at 8:30 p.m. EST, and based on the disparities above, the early line favors Ohio State by a full 7 points.

Sixth-ranked Wisconsin had its chances to reach the CFP semifinals, but a weak schedule and that Big Ten Championship loss sent the Badgers to the Orange Bowl. There, they’ll face 10th-ranked Miami (10-2), yet another team with CFP aspirations late into the season.

The Hurricanes have the benefit of hometown advantage, with the Orange Bowl held in the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium, but the team limps in on a two-game losing streak. Miami was winless until a shocking upset at the hands of Pittsburgh (5-7), but the ‘Canes still had a shot at the ACC Championship, until Clemson rolled them 38-3 last week.

Despite the benefit of playing in front of friendly Floridians, the Hurricanes haven’t impressed when the pressure ramps up, leading to a wide 7-point spread in favor of Wisconsin.

iGaming Market Grows to £4.7 Billion in U.K.; Casino Sector Surpasses Poker

The latest round of statistical data released by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) on November 30 highlighted the growth of online gambling.

The figures – which cover the period between April of 2016 and March of 2017 – reveal that the “remote sector” generated a gross gambling yield (GGY) of £4.68 billion (USD$6.33 billion).

That represents a 10.1 percent increase over the corresponding period in 2015-2016.

Furthermore, online gambling now accounts for just over 34 percent of the U.K.’s entire gambling industry, which the UKGC values at £13.7 billion GGY. The iGaming sector’s market share increased by 1.5 percent year-on-year.

And while the gambling industry as a whole grew by 1.8 percent year-on-year, UKGC executive director Tim Miller singled out online gambling’s 10.1 percent rate of growth as the primary economic engine:

“These latest figures show that the gambling market is continuing to grow, particularly in the online sector.”

But even as Miller praised the growth of iGaming in the U.K., he called on operators to exercise good faith in addressing industry issues such as problem gambling and consumer protection:

“However, with such growth comes a great responsibility for operators to prevent gambling-related harm to all consumers and the public.

We would urge all gambling businesses to be acutely aware that as their market grows so too will our focus on ensuring that consumers are protected.”

The report also broke the online gambling sector down by game type, with “Casino” games generating £2.6 billion in GGY to account for 56 percent of the total iGaming industry output. Under the UKGC classification system, casino games include table games such as roulette and craps, card games like blackjack and baccarat, virtual slot machines, and poker played “peer to peer” against other people.

Traditional sports betting – or remote wagers that aren’t placed as part of an exchange or pool – made up 37.1 percent of the iGaming industry at £1.73 billion.

Bingo comprised 3.5 percent (£162 million) of the overall numbers, followed by betting exchanges 2.9 percent (£129 million), and pool betting 0.7 percent (£32 million).

When the £2.6 billion online casino sector was examined in detail, slot machine games were by far the most productive game type. Online slots generated £1.69 billion in GGY to account for 64.5 percent of the casino marketplace.

Table games produced £414 million in GGY to make up 15.8 percent of the market, while card games generated £205 million (7.8 percent).

The smallest subsector within the online casino industry was poker, which produced only £101 million – or just 3.8 percent of the U.K.’s entire iGaming output.

This continues a decidedly downward trend for the online poker market, which has contracted on a global scale over the last five years.

In March of this year, the leading online poker room PokerStars revealed that poker accounted for only 70 percent of revenue across the fourth quarter of 2016 – down from 78 percent in Q4 of 2015.

As a result, Rafi Ashkenazi – who serves as chief executive officer of PokerStars parent company The Stars Group – initiated several changes to the site’s poker offerings in an attempt to diversify the platform. Innovations such as the lottery style Spin and Go tournaments, a fantasy card game known as Power Up, and the fast-fold concept Zoom Poker were introduced to offer casino enthusiasts an entry point to PokerStars products.

Ashkenazi also spearheaded a companywide shift away from PokerStars’ high-volume professional players, hoping to attract recreational players who have fled the site in recent years.

During Q3 of this year, PokerStars reported online poker revenues of USD$221.4 million, good for a 12.5 percent increase year-on-year.

NFL Odds 2017: Week 14 Betting Preview

After suffocating the Atlanta Falcons (7-5) offense in a 14-9 victory last week, the Minnesota Vikings (10-2) took control of the NFC standings – and gave themselves a chance to make NFL history.

If the Vikes can keep their hold on the NFC’s top spot to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, they could be the first team to ever play in a Super Bowl on their home turf. We’re still two months away from Super Bowl 52 kicking off in Minneapolis, but for now, the Vikings are on the inside track to making it a home game.

Their quest continues this week when Minnesota hits the road to take on the Carolina Panthers (8-4), a fellow NFC heavyweight with playoff aspirations on the line.

The Panthers had a shot at the NFC South title last week, but a disappointing loss to the New Orleans Saints (9-3) left Carolina clinging to the sixth seed. Another defeat could see the Panthers tumble out of a postseason spot altogether, so quarterback Cam Newton will be looking to get the offense back in the same gear that saw Carolina score 100 points during a recent three-game winning streak.

That won’t be easy with Minnesota coming to town – even for their third consecutive road game – as the Vikings boast the second-ranked scoring defense at just 17.0 points against per contest.

Per the latest lines posted by online sportsbook Bovada, the Vikings get the nod as 3-point favorites in this pivotal NFC matchup.

In another tilt between top NFC contenders, the Los Angeles Rams (9-3) host the Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) as both teams look to solidify their playoff positioning.

The Eagles have held the top seed all season, but last week’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks (8-4) saw them slip to the second-seed. The Rams own the third-seed as the NFC West leaders, but a win this Sunday would flip that dynamic.

This game could turn into a shootout, as the Eagles and Rams are the top teams in the NFL when it comes to point differential, at +146 and +139, respectively.

But while Philadelphia has feasted on sub-.500 teams to build its sterling record, the Eagles have fallen flat twice on the road when facing top-tier teams in the Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs (6-6). Conversely, Los Angeles has wins over the Saints, the Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4), and the Dallas Cowboys (6-6) with their full roster to bolster the Rams’ resume.

Accordingly, the linemakers lean slightly to Los Angeles with the Rams as 2-point home favorites.

The aforementioned Seahawks and Jaguars also clash this Sunday looking to notch their ninth win of the year. For Seattle, winning records are old hat, but Jacksonville has failed to finish above .500 for nine straight seasons. In fact, the Jags have only recorded two winning seasons during the 21st century.

Sufficed to say, securing a winning year would be monumental for Jacksonville, but young stars like cornerback Jalen Ramsey and running back Leonard Fournette don’t seem to know any better. For these former college standouts, winning is the norm, not the exception – and they have Jacksonville on the verge of an AFC South title.

Seattle is still struggling through serious injuries, but the loss of defensive stalwarts like Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor hasn’t had the impact many observers expected. Instead, quarterback Russell Wilson took the team on his back last Sunday night while almost single-handedly downing the Eagles.

This one couldn’t be any closer, as evidenced by the standard 3-point spread posted in favor of the Jaguars as the home team.

High-Ranking Senators Write Trump Administration Requesting Federal Online Gambling Ban

Less than one month after Pennsylvania moved to legalize and regulate online gambling, a pair of power players in the U.S. Senate are once again seeking a federal ban on the iGaming industry.

In a letter sent on November 21, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) enlisted the support of Rod Rosenstein, who serves as deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice (DOJ). Graham and Feinstein asked Rosenstein – who was appointed by President Donald Trump in January of this year – to reexamine a 2011 opinion issued by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel.

In that 2011 opinion, the DOJ ruled that the Wire Act of 1961 was applicable only to sports betting, and not other forms of gambling. The Wire Act, which bans bettors and bookmakers from conducting wagers over the telephone, was previously used by the federal government as the basis for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006.

By revising its stance on the Wire Act’s purview, the DOJ effectively returned the issue of online gambling on poker, casino games, and daily fantasy sports (DFS) to the states. Since 2011, four states have successfully passed legislation to regulate the iGaming industry – Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.

Graham introduced the Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA) in 2014, with backing by anti-iGaming conservative donor and billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG). Feinstein has been a vocal supporter of RAWA, despite the bill’s repeated failure to gain traction within Congress.

In their letter to Rosenstein, the pair pointed to Pennsylvania’s recent passage of a comprehensive iGaming package as a sign of things to come should the 2011 opinion remain intact:

“Pennsylvania has recently enacted legislation authorizing internet gambling, and other states are lined up to follow suit.

Online casinos are already operating across state lines pursuant to compacts, and states are contemplating opening up their online casinos to foreign markets.

We fear that unless the DOJ promptly revisits its 2011 opinion, our prediction that online casinos could spread across the country could come to pass.”

The senators also trotted out several disproven claims about the iGaming industry’s connection to underage gambling and other forms of crime:

“Internet gambling takes gambling too far. It preys on children and society’s most vulnerable.

The FBI concluded that ‘[o]nline casinos are vulnerable to a wide array of criminal schemes,’ including money laundering and ventures by transnational organized crime groups.

Of particular concern to us, as senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is whether the FBI has the resources to effectively oversee a robust internet gambling industry to assure online casinos are not being used for criminal activities, and to protect the interests of states that prohibit internet gambling.”

States like Nevada and New Jersey have successfully operated online gambling platforms since 2013, with no documented instances of children gaining access.

John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), issued a statement rejecting the claims made by Graham and Feinstein:

“If they were handing out awards for Congressional letters, this one would win ‘most misleading’ in a landslide. Aside from the statement that Pennsylvania authorized online gaming and other states are considering it, there is nary a fact contained with the letter’s five paragraphs.

Congress has given express authority to states to regulate iGaming, a detail that Senators Graham and Feinstein repeatedly ignore.

Moreover, they continue to misrepresent an almost decade old FBI letter that does not address the realities of regulated online gaming.”

Rosenstein made headlines again this week, when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes announced that the deputy AG could be facing contempt of Congress charges in a political row connected to the Special Counsel investigation of President Trump.

Ontario Lottery & Gaming Seeks Company to Expand Online & Mobile Sports Betting Services

With other provinces throughout Canada adopting a wider range of online and mobile betting products, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is looking to supplement its existing services.

The OLG released a Request for Proposals (RFP) on November 20, with the lotto agency looking to partner with a “service provider to enhance and expand sports betting in Ontario.”

Per a press release issued on the same day, the OLG specified that it’s seeking to update its online and mobile sports betting service by adding “new sports products that will be available at retail locations, as well as online and through mobile devices.”

Currently, the OLG website offers sports betting through the Pro-Line platform and its related mobile app. Bettors are able to place real money wagers on hockey, basketball, and other North American sports leagues. But in compliance with federal and provincial laws, Pro-Line bets are limited to so-called “parlay cards,” which require between three and six sides to be backed simultaneously.

For now, online and mobile sports betting in Ontario is limited to athletic competitions, but as OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti explained in an interview with CBC News, the recent RFP was issued to identify iGaming companies that can add more options:

“In the last few years, (eSports) and betting on it, has surged in popularity. There are hundreds of eSport tournaments events held each year, many in Ontario.

Novelty betting is placing a bet on an outcome that’s not part of a sports or athletic event.

For example, the winner of an election or the gender of a baby about to be born to royalty.”

Expanding the OLG’s sports selection to include eSports and novelty wagers would put it on par with four other Canadian jurisdictions: Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec.

The respective lottery corporations for Manitoba and British Columbia use the Play-Now platform, which includes 17-1 (18.00) odds on novelty wagers like “Trump to announce that alien lifeforms exist during his time as President.”

Betting on the beleaguered American president is one of the more popular novelty bet attractions offered by Play-Now. Bettors in the two provinces can wager on whether Trump will be impeached during his first term, with “Yes” (1.56) the decided favorite over “No” (2.25).

Loto-Quebec doesn’t dabble in novelty bets, but the eSpaceJeux does offer dozens of wagers on eSports tournaments, including the Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and League of Legends.

According to Bitonti, the OLG’s interest in expanding online and mobile betting isn’t limited to eSports and novelties, as the agency will upgrade its traditional sports menu in kind:

“OLG sports offering will include new products that will provide more betting options on a wider variety of events, including all major North American sports leagues and major international sports.”

As reported by CBC News, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa offered his support for the OLG’s plans, but he remains concerned over the risk of problem gambling:

“We’ve been looking at the modernization strategy.

We’re looking at expanding and protecting consumer activity … The situation is that a lot of online (gambling) activity occurs that is unregulated and many people are exposed, especially young kids.

In my capacity I have a duty of social responsibility here. I also have to ensure that we re-invest in things that will help people with addiction.”

To that end, the OLG has already announced that any future products will continue to carry content from responsible gambling advocate PlaySmart. The PlaySmart platform educates players about the true probabilities and odds involved in their wagering activity, while providing assistance to those who are considering self-exclusion or other methods of preventing problem gambling.

Bitonti also revealed that the OLG is hoping to select an iGaming provider by the fall of 2018.


College Football Odds 2017: Week 14 Betting Preview

Week 14 of the college football season means one thing, and one thing only: conference championship games.

The sport’s elite teams have survived the gauntlet of a full regular season to post sterling records, setting up pivotal matchups to crown conference champs – and possibly send the winner to a spot in the College Football Playoff (CFP).

After last week saw former number one Alabama (11-1) fall to in-state rival Auburn (10-2), the Tigers vaulted over the Crimson Tide to reach the SEC Championship Game.

Auburn vaulted to second in the latest CFP rankings, while Alabama fell to fifth, leaving Nick Saban and Co. in an unfamiliar position on the outside looking in when it comes to postseason positioning.

To maintain their hold on the CFP semifinals, Auburn will need to bring their best game to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, where they’ll play sixth-ranked Georgia (11-1) for the SEC title.

Georgia already faced Auburn in mid-November, but playing on the Tigers’ home field, the Bulldogs were rolled over in a 40-17 rout for their lone loss on the season. They’ll have a chance at redemption this Saturday, but per the latest odds posted by online sportsbook Bovada, Auburn holds the edge as 3-point favorites.

Defending national champion Clemson (11-1) has played its way back into the top spot in the CFP rankings, but they’ll face one more test before the title defense truly begins.

The Tigers take on seventh-ranked Miami (10-1) in the ACC Championship Game, and if not for a huge upset suffered last week by the Hurricanes, this could’ve been a CFP preview. Miami had a perfect season on the line against unranked Pittsburgh (5-7), but a 24-14 stumble saw the Hurricanes tumble out of the top of the rankings.

Miami might just be able to play their way back in with a big upset of their own at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, as knocking off the defending champs would certainly add cachet to their resume. The linemakers don’t like their chances, however, as the Hurricanes have been tabbed as 10-point underdogs against the Tigers.

Oklahoma (11-1) has used a string of blowouts to take hold of the top spot in the Big 12 standings, including a 38-20 victory over 11th-ranked TCU (10-2) a few weeks ago.

The Sooners meet the Horned Frogs in a rematch to decide the Big 12 championship, and amidst the backdrop of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TCU should have the de facto home field advantage.

Once again, this game could’ve been a potential CFP preview, if not for the Horned Frogs’ unexpected loss to then 25th-ranked Iowa State (7-5). Instead, TCU will be forced to play the spoiler role against the Big 12’s big boys.

Even a close win by Oklahoma could be enough to drop the Sooners from the CFP’s top-four, so the intensity will be high from kickoff to the final whistle.

Despite playing across the Red River in the hostile territory that is Texas, the Sooners hold a 7.5-point edge in this one.

Finally, the only undefeated team in a Power Five conference must face one final test to secure their spot in the CFP, as fourth-ranked Wisconsin (12-0) plays eighth-ranked Ohio State (10-2) for the Big Ten championship.

Wisconsin suffers from playing in the Big Ten West, as conference heavyweights like Penn State (10-2), Michigan State (9-3), and Michigan (8-4) all reside in the East along with the Buckeyes.

Even so, perfection speaks volumes, and the Badgers have surrendered more than 17 points just once all season. With their defense allowing just 12.0 points per game, Wisconsin has proven itself to be one of the most balanced teams in college football, but they’ve yet to take on a team with Ohio State’s offensive talent.

Accordingly, the books have the Badgers as 6-point underdogs against the Buckeyes – a team with faint hopes of sneaking into the CFP’s final spot if they happen to win handily.

NFL Odds 2017: Week 13 Betting Preview

At this point in the season, the NFL’s top teams are jockeying for playoff position and preparing to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy.

And as luck would have it, the Week 13 schedule offers a postseason preview of sorts – as five high-profile games pit winning teams against one another.

To kick off the early slate of games, the Atlanta Falcons (7-4) host the Minnesota Vikings (9-2) in a battle of well-balanced teams.

Atlanta currently sports the 11th-ranked scoring offense at 24.1 points per game, and while that’s down from last season’s high-octane performance, the Falcons are benefiting from the 13th-ranked defense (20.9 points per game).

Minnesota is enjoying similar symmetry, with the 8th-ranked scoring offense (24.6) and the 5th-ranked defense (17.7). The surprising rise of career backup Case Keenum to the realm of elite quarterbacks has been the story, but as usual, head coach Mike Zimmer has the defense playing with passion.

The Vikes have won seven straight games, and even better for bettors, they’ve covered six straight against the spread.

An eighth straight victory is guaranteed to extend the covering streak too, as the latest lines posted by online sportsbook Bovada have Minnesota as 3-point road underdogs.

Next up, the Buffalo Bills (6-5) host the New England Patriots (9-2) in an AFC East “rivalry” that’s been anything but since Bill Belichick arrived in Foxboro. Since his tenure began in 2000, Belichick has simply dominated the Bills, to the tune of a 29-5 overall record.

That includes a five-game winning streak in Buffalo, during which time the Pats offense has averaged 38.6 points per game.

The Bills are 4-1 at home this year, but those victories came against low-powered offenses like the Jets, Broncos, Buccaneers, and Raiders. In their only home loss thus far, Buffalo was bombarded by the Saints in a 47-10 rout, which doesn’t bode well for the Bills as another top-tier offense comes to town.

Accordingly, the Bills find themselves as big-time 9-point home dogs here, even as they find themselves in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race.

Speaking of that race, the Bills are tied with the Baltimore Ravens (6-5) in the standings, but that could change quickly based on their history against New England. And if the Bills do wind up at .500 by week’s end, the Ravens could take a firm grip on a postseason bid by beating the Detroit Lions (6-5).

This one’s going down in Baltimore, where the Ravens just dismissed the Houston Texans (4-7) in a 23-16 defensive slugfest on Monday Night Football. That’s been par for the course for the Ravens, who are surrendering just under 10 points per contest during a 3-1 jag.

Detroit is also 3-1 over its last four games, but the Lions were slain by the Vikings on Thanksgiving Day in their last outing.

That means Detroit is fresh from a proverbial “mini-bye” with nine days of rest in between games, while Baltimore must cope with a short six-day week.

Even so, the consensus line has the Lions as 3-point road dogs despite the disparity in downtime.

The New Orleans Saints (8-3) host the Carolina Panthers in an afternoon affair, and the winner immediately takes the inside track towards an NFC South title.

That’s a shock to most pigskin pundits, given the Saints and Panthers finished last season at 7-9 and 6-10, respectively.

Both teams have used the ground game to get ahead, with New Orleans ranked third overall at 142.1 rushing yards per game, and Carolina close behind in fifth (129.2). But with quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Cam Newton under center, the potential for aerial attacks is always there – which goes a long way in explaining these rivals’ shared success this season.

With the raucous Superdome crowd on their side, the Saints are tabbed as 4.5-point favorites at Bovada.

To cap off the Sunday fun, the Seattle Seahawks (7-4) host the Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) in a game that very well may have implications on eventual NFC playoff seeding.

Obviously, the Eagles have the East locked down, but the Seahawks have been battered by injuries and currently sit in seventh place in the conference standings.

With the Legion of Boom broken up by major injuries to Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, the Eagles have the 6-point edge here, even heading into CenturyLink Field’s infamously hostile conditions.

Updated Odds to Win Super Bowl 52 as the Playoff Chase Begins

Just days after Super Bowl 51 concluded in February with yet another New England Patriots title, online sportsbook Bovada posted their opening futures for Super Bowl 52.

Obviously, the Pats were favored to repeat at (+400) with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick back in the fold, but after that, the list of contenders was diverse indeed.

The Dallas Cowboys were tabbed as the most likely challenger at (+750), with the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and last year’s runner-up Atlanta Falcons (+1200) lurking close by.

Fast forward to today – with Week 13 looming and half the league still vying for a playoff spot – and those odds have been adjusted wildly across the board.

Take those Cowboys as an example.

Less than a month ago, Dallas was 5-3 and in firm control of an NFC Wild Card spot. Today, having finally lost breakout running back Ezekiel Elliott to a six-game suspension, and suffering through injuries to stars like left tackle Tyron Smith and linebacker Sean Lee, the Cowboys are riding a three-game losing streak at 5-6.

As a result, Dallas’ odds to win the Super Bowl have tumbled from (+750) all the way to (+15000).

Sticking with the NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles entered the year lumped into the league’s also-rans, sporting (+5000) odds along with six other teams. In fact, only nine teams offered worse title odds ahead of the year.

But head coach Doug Pederson has harnessed the powers of second-year quarterback Carson Wentz to put up an NFL-best 31.9 points per game. As a result, the Eagles are 10-1 and a virtual lock to win the division. Philly also has the inside track to a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and at (+350), the Eagles have enjoyed by far the most positive line movement thus far.

Heading down the home stretch, Philadelphia has pulled nearly even with New England in the Super Bowl 52 futures race – so bettors who got on board the Wentz-wagon early have a huge edge.

Another big mover is the Los Angeles Rams, after a surprising 8-3 start has them atop the NFC West standings. With second-year quarterback Jared Goff looking like a number one overall draft pick for the first time, and stars like running back Todd Gurley and wide receiver Robert Woods leading the way, the Rams have the second-best scoring offense in football at 29.9 points per game.

L.A. began the year as big (+7500) underdogs to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, but today those odds have improved to (+1400).

And if you’re looking for another futures ticket that’s definitely a dead duck, the Denver Broncos were (+1600) against winning it all, before a 3-8 start doomed them to (+100000) longshot status.

Only three teams have been removed from the Bovada betting board so far – the New York Giants (2-9), the San Francisco 49ers (1-10), and the Cleveland Browns (0-11).

For the Niners and the Browns, that comes as no surprise, with both among the preseason cellar-dwellers at (+10000). But in the case of Big Blue, the Giants’ stunning fall from grace has seen them drop from (+2500) all the way out of contention with a quarter of the season to spare.

For a full look into the Super Bowl 52 futures betting movement, check out the table below, which highlights odds on February 7 and today:

Team SB Odds on 2/7 Team SB Odds on 11/28
New England Patriots +400 New England Patriots +250
Dallas Cowboys +750 Philadelphia Eagles +350
Green Bay Packers +1200 Pittsburgh Steelers +600
Pittsburgh Steelers +1200 New Orleans Saints +1200
Atlanta Falcons +1200 Minnesota Vikings +1200
Denver Broncos +1600 Atlanta Falcons +1200
Oakland Raiders +1600 L.A. Rams +1400
Seattle Seahawks +1600 Carolina Panthers +1800
Minnesota Vikings +2000 Seattle Seahawks +2200
Carolina Panthers +2500 Kansas City Chiefs +3300
Indianapolis Colts +2500 L.A. Chargers +3300
Kansas City Chiefs +2500 Jacksonville Jaguars +4000
New York Giants +2500 Tennessee Titans +4000
Arizona Cardinals +3300 Detroit Lions +6600
Houston Texans +4000 Oakland Raiders +6600
Tennessee Titans +4000 Baltimore Ravens +6600
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +5000 Cincinnati Bengals +7500
Baltimore Ravens +5000 Buffalo Bills +10000
Detroit Lions +5000 Dallas Cowboys +15000
Cincinnati Bengals +5000 Washington Redskins +15000
Miami Dolphins +5000 Green Bay Packers +20000
New Orleans Saints +5000 Arizona Cardinals +25000
Philadelphia Eagles +5000 Houston Texans +50000
Washington Redskins +6600 New York Jets +100000
Buffalo Bills +6600 Miami Dolphins +100000
Jacksonville Jaguars +6600 Chicago Bears +100000
L.A. Chargers +6600 Indianapolis Colts +100000
L.A. Rams +7500 Denver Broncos +100000
New York Jets +10000 Tampa Bay Buccaneers +100000
Chicago Bears +10000 San Francisco 49ers Off Board
Cleveland Browns +10000 New York Giants Off Board
San Francisco 49ers +10000 Cleveland Browns Off Board