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

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Golfers walk on the sixth fairway during the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament, Friday, July 3, 2020, at the Detroit Golf Club in Detroit.

Sat, Jul 4, 2020 (2 a.m.)

The biggest sports-betting event of the weekend won’t be available for wagering in Nevada.

That might be an overestimation of the action drawn by the annual Fourth of July Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, but not much of one. The cornerstone of the competitive-eating calendar has become quite the hit to gamble on offshore, and for the first time this year, it’s coming to regulated markets.

New Jersey and Colorado both approved wagering on the Joey Chestnut-dominated event, though it won’t be permitted in Nevada. Luckily, there are still plenty of bets to be found elsewhere.

I’ll be looking to bounce back after my first losing foray out of the first four editions of this column last weekend. I went 2-2 but the two wins were the chalkiest plays, cutting into my profit margin through four weeks.

Read below for five wagers to make on five different sports with lines being the best available in Las Vegas at publication time. Records are attached by individual leagues with the monetary figure calculating the success of a hypothetical bettor placing a $100 wager on each choice.

PGA Tour (2-0, $192): Mark Hubbard minus-130 over Seamus Power in the third round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at William Hill

If there's one impostor at the top of the leaderboard in Detroit after the first two rounds of the tournament, it's Power. The 33-year-old Irish journeyman sits one stroke back from Webb Simpson and Chris Kirk going into Saturday's round.

Power opened at 500-to-1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook to win the tournament, and that looked like a fair price. He has only five top 10 finishes in 87 career appearances in the PGA Tour and most, if not all, of those high finishes came in fields weaker than this week's Rocket Mortgage.

The pressure is going to be on Power in the second-to-last pairing on Saturday, and there's no telling how he will respond. Hubbard, meanwhile, should be more comfortable in virtually the same position at 11-under-par and has a better track record of success.

He's played exceptionally in making every cut since the tour's restart, and had a second-place finish earlier in the PGA season at the Houston Open last October. Hubbard's strong approach game pairs well with Detroit Golf Club while Power has mostly gotten this far with his putting, which is more unreliable, through two rounds.

English Premier League (1-0, $86): Sheffield United plus-175 vs. Burnley at William Hill

This price amazingly didn’t sway following Sheffield’s 3-1 breakout victory over Tottenham on Thursday.

It’s coming, though, so don’t wait too long to jump on the Blades before Sunday morning’s match at Turf Moor in Burnley. This position actually has more to do with fading Burnley than backing Sheffield.

These two teams may look evenly matched but that’s only when ignoring Burnley’s injury situation, which is dire.

The Clarets’ top three strikers — Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood and Jay Rodriguez — are all expected to miss their second straight game. Burnley rallied around their absences and upset Crystal Palace 1-0 on Monday, but that form is going to be hard to replicate going forward short-handed.

Crystal Palace outplayed Burnley by expected goals, anyway, and Sheffield United is a step-up in competition.

NASCAR (3-1, $285): Matt DiBenedetto minus-110 over Alex Bowman at Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook

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Driver Matt DiBenedetto poses with a fan before the NASCAR Pennzoil 400 race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday March 4, 2018.

DiBenedetto’s Mustang smoked Bowman’s Camaro in both races at Pocono last weekend.

It would typically reek of a recency-bias mistake to use only those performances to evaluate the next race, but this is a special case. No two back-to-back tracks are more alike than Pocono Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Chevrolets have struggled with the no-banking, flat tracks like those two for more than a year now. Unfortunately, bookmakers appear to have wised up to that fact as there are few matchups around town pitting Chevrolet against the better-fit Fords.  

This appeared to be the best one, though some caution might be necessary given Bowman’s superior Hendrick Motorsports equipment compared to DiBenedetto’s Wood Brothers Racing team.

DiBenedetto has outperformed his expectations and car all year, though, and this sets up strongly as a spot for him to continue the trend.

UFC (2-2, -$74): Alex Volkanovski minus-185 vs. Max Holloway at UFC 251 at Station Casinos

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UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway gestures while responding to reporters' questions during Media Day for UFC223, Thursday, April 5, 2018, at the Barclays Center in New York ahead of his upcoming lightweight title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov.

For the first time in five weeks, there’s no UFC card scheduled for Saturday night. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth working ahead, especially considering the magnitude of next week’s UFC 251, the debut of “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi.

Three title fights are scheduled on the same card for the first time since the UFC had its first Madison Square Garden event nearly four years ago, and there might be merit in backing the favorite in all three of them. The odds have already been bashed into place on welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and bantamweight hopeful Petr Yan, however, leaving Volkanovski as the lone place to find value.

Volkanovski was much better than Holloway in their first fight last December at T-Mobile Arena, and there’s no reason to believe that will change the second time around. Holloway had a terrific reign to secure his spot in UFC history, but his name value is inflating this line.

Take Volkanovski at minus-200 or less. The line is likely to closer higher than that.   

NFL (0-0): New York Jets to win the AFC East at 9-to-1 at Circa Sports

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New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) walks the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J.

Cam Newton’s signing with the Patriots was the big NFL news of the week, leaving football fans and sports bettors in a debate over whether New England or Buffalo should be the favorite in the AFC East going forward.

But this is no two-team race. The Jets could have the most talented roster of the three.

That might sound hyperbolic, and probably is to an extent, but don’t forget the Jets’ 7-9 record last year was fantastic all things considered. No team in the NFL was more befallen by injuries.

They should have positive regression on that front in the 2020-2021 season and at least stay competitive in what looks like a wide-open division. Will they win the AFC East? Probably not, but they only need to win it more than 10 percent of the time to make this a profitable play.

When there’s a price this out of whack, it’s wise to take it. If the Jets are close to as competitive as I’m projecting, then there will be a chance to arbitrage the position later in the season.

Lifetime column record: 11-5, $556

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; Kiwoom Heroes to win KBO Series at plus-600

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

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