Fluke or fire? That’s for you to decide as I continue to diversify my sports portfolio for another weekend.
From cage fighting to golf, and with events stretched from locally to Korea and Germany, let’s dive deep into the betting board.
Read below for five wagers to make this weekend on five different sports with lines being the best currently available locally at publication time. Records are attached by individual league with the monetary figure calculated by the assumption of placing a $100 wager on each selection.
Bundesliga (2-1, $87): Cologne plus-1 (minus-115) vs. Werder Bremen at South Point
Grudges get you nowhere, especially in sports betting. Just because a team burned you once or twice doesn’t mean it should be blacklisted ad infinitum.
Cologne has torched its way through a number of bettors’ bankrolls since the restart of Germany’s top soccer league a month and a half ago. The Billy Goats haven’t won a single game in that time frame — losing five and settling for draws in four others — despite fielding an above-average roster on the surface.
That’s not cause for panic, though, because the analytics match their perceived talent. Cologne ranks in the top half of the league in expected goal-differential and four spots ahead of Werder Bremen.
Bremen has far more to play for, as it’s looking to fight off relegation but laying a huge number — it’s a minus-155 favorite in three-way betting — should be out of the question with this team. In these sides’ match earlier this year, Cologne hardly ever allowed Bremen to advance in a 1-0 victory that was more lopsided than the final score indicated.
The chances of Cologne losing by more than one goal are minuscule, giving bettors a chance to both practice forgiveness and receive reimbursement for past wrongs in the final match week of the Bundesliga.
Golf: Jon Rahm minus-130 over Sergio Garcia in Round 3 of the Travelers Championship at William Hill
The torch has been passed.
After years of holding the title as the best golfer on the PGA Tour from Spain, Garcia has been surpassed by Rahm. And he’s been surpassed by far more than this line, and even recent results, may indicate.
Both Rahm and Garcia sit at 6-under-par through three rounds in Cromwell, Conn., but it’s the former who’s played nowhere close to his potential. Rahm missed a few putts he would normally tap in on Friday to add to what’s been a relatively frustrating first three weeks back on the course for the second-ranked player in the world.
It’s not going to continue. There’s a much larger sample that indicates that Rahm will shore up his putting and play more to his overall expectation.
I’m gambling it will come over the next two days. Rahm currently sits seven strokes behind Phil Mickelson for the lead but has the stuff to make himself a factor.
Garcia was a surprise force in the final days of last week’s RBC Heritage; it’s Rahm’s turn this time around.
UFC (1-2, -$126): Maurice Greene minus-190 vs. Gian Villante at Circa Sports
Backing this large of a favorite might sound like the easy way out, but cut me a break. With two straight losses each of the last two weekends, the UFC has been my lone losing endeavor in this column.
More importantly, it just so happens that this main-card fight on Saturday night’s ESPN card is where to find the most value. Greene should be closer to a minus-300 favorite in a highly advantageous matchup.
Moving up in weight classes is always difficult, but there’s added difficulty in transferring from light heavyweight to heavyweight. Gian Villante wasn’t a particularly big 205-pound fighter, and he’s suffered a handful of knockout losses in that division over the years.
Moving up to take on a 265-pounder doesn’t bode well for him. Greene might have been a bet-on fighter anyway given his recent move to the famed Jackson-Wink MMA Gym in Albuquerque, N.M., but now he’s also got an opponent that sets him up for success.
Villante is the bigger name, but it would be wise to back the bigger man here.
NASCAR (3-0, $385): Ryan Blaney to win Group Matchup B over Martin Truex, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano at plus-320 in Pocono Organics 325 at Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook
There’s a tendency to overlook the winner of the most recent Cup race when going into a new week. There shouldn’t be.
Sure, sometimes they’re priced out of consideration, but not always. Not this week where Blaney, who prevailed in Monday’s Talladega race by the nose of his car, should be a much shorter favorite.
He’s as high as 12-to-1 in sports books around town, and also an Even money matchup bet against any of the three drivers in this group. Why not just ramp up the throttle and call for him to beat all three?
Blaney certainly has a better chance than the 20 percent implied probability in this proposition wager suggests. He’s driven the best car on the circuit over the last few races.
Elliott still might have the fastest overall car for the season, but he’s been regressing recently and Chevrolets have fared poorly at Pocono over the last few years. Truex and Logano are contenders, but not more complete ones than Blaney, who’s the longest shot in this group.
This bet is the direct inverse to the UFC play. I’ve been so hot on NASCAR in the column that the time has come for a heat-check of sorts, and this is a worthwhile shot at a higher payout.
Korean Baseball (0-0): Kiwoom Heroes to win the Korean Series at 6-to-1 at Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook
Before all the other major sports start trickling back and stealing our attention, let’s give one last bask to the surprising hero of sports-betting quarantine, the KBO.
And this is no pity pick; it’s being made because there’s immense value. Rush to the Westgate to take Kiwoom not only because KBO will soon be all but forgotten but also because this price won’t last long.
How often is the best team in a 10-team league available at a 6-to-1 price to win the title? Hardly ever.
The Heroes might not look like the best team based on the season as a whole, but they’ve certainly been recently, and help is also on the way. It’s been a big week for the KBO’s youngest franchise, as it rode an eight-game winning streak to get within three games of the first-place NC Dinos and announced a massive free-agent signing.
Former Chicago Cub Addison Russell will soon join the lineup and may immediately become the biggest offensive force in the league. FanGraphs projected Kiwoom as the best team in the league at the start of the season, and Circa followed by making it the favorite to win the Korean Series.
The Heroes may have started slow, but lately they’ve shown they deserved those positions.
Lifetime Column Record: 9-3, $627
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; Indianapolis Colts over 9 wins at minus-125