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Thursday, November 3, 2011

BCS Top 25 Matchups in Week 10

There are three stellar games this Saturday night and all three of them feature two teams in the top 25. For this article, I'll be giving you my take on all three of them; topping it off with my take and pick on the game of the year so far, between #1 LSU heading into #2 Alabama.

#9 South Carolina at #7 Arkansas

Two teams, each with a loss to a conference opponent face off this Saturday night as the Gamecocks head into Arkansas to face the Razerbacks. While Arkansas' loss is not nearly as bad as South Carolina’s, this will be an extremely important game for both clubs. Arkansas is looking up at both Alabama and LSU in the Western division of the SEC, knowing that one of them will be a one loss football team come Sunday morning. If Tyler Wilson can carve up the Gamecock's good defense, the Razerbacks should have a great game.

#14 Kansas State at #3 Oklahoma State

Coming off an embarrassing loss last week to Oklahoma 58-17, the Wildcats of Kansas State face an even tougher opponent this week when they head back to the Oklahoma City metropolitan area; this time to face the Cowboys of Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have one of the most balanced teams in all of college football this season. Their #3 rank is well deserved with strong road wins against #8 Texas A&M and at #22 Texas.

I feel that sportsbooks have inflated this line considering Kansas State got blown out last week and the Cowboys beat down the Baylor Bears 59-24. However, I was wrong picking Kansas State last week as 13 point underdogs and after watching that game I'm convinced, the Wildcats are on their last dying breath. The Cowboys can score in bunches and I expect more of the same this week.

#1 Louisiana State at #2 Alabama

And now, the one we've all been waiting for. I don't think I've been this excited about a regular season college football game in a long time. The media coverage has been off the charts and the town of Gadsden is probably crawling with pretty blonde national television reporters...
Anyway, not deterring from the game, it's kind of a shame that one of these teams will probably not be in the BCS title game while the winner will almost definitely be there. I think the Associated Press in Tuscaloosa put it best, “after a nearly two month build up, Judgement Day --SEC Style-- is now just days away.”

This game will feature a bit of everything. Two great defenses with tons of future NFL prospects; the triple threat running attack of LSU Tigers opposed to the Heisman candidate rusher from Alabama and two head coaches that are two of the most respected, feared and recognized names in college football.

The college football betting lines for this one opened at -4 in favor of the home Crimson Tide, but since then has moved to -5. The college football odds most likely moved because over 60% of the money being put on this game has been laid on the road underdog Tigers. I'm not buying it. Though both of these teams have good defenses, I like the Tide at home this season. It's going to be physical, messy and a great game to watch; but I'm going against the public and once again I'm going with the home favorite.

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SBR Forum | Jordan Sharp

Monday, October 31, 2011

NFL Free MNF Play!


Chargers/Chiefs UNDER 45


Last 3 games between Chargers and Chiefs have gone UNDER the total.

The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Kansas City's last 8 games at home.

The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Kansas City's last 12 games.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ravens vs Jaguars MNF Betting Preview

The Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars are set to battle in this week's MNF game. The second part of our series of articles capping the Monday Night Football showdown is going to discuss betting the total, which is set at 39.

This is the lowest total of all the 13 games in week seven and it could provide some good value bets for you Monday Night NFL picks.

I first examined the opening line for this matchup where the Ravens are favored by seven to nine points on the road. Some have been arguing that NFL odds makers have set the point spread too high, and that the total is very low.

Ravens Soaring

While the Patriot's offense has had a lot of press for dropping thirty points for so many consecutive games, the Ravens have quietly scored 30 + three of their five games, and have averaged 32 points per contest. The Ravens are extremely balanced on offense. Ray Rice is averaging nearly 4.5 yards per carry and while most running backs have had six games to get to these totals, Rice has 700 all purpose yards and 4 touchdowns in five games.

Joe Flacco also has been playing well and silencing some of his critics. After last season, critics around the league were labeling Flacco as an average quarterback that couldn't win the big game. While neither of those labels can be completely disproven just yet, Flacco is leading on of the best AFC teams to another great season. His statistical numbers aren't anything to get excited about. However, he has thrown only four interceptions on the year and his decision making has been better than any time in his career.

While the Ravens offense has been more than serviceable, Baltimore's defense is once again the reason why their team has been so good through five games. Teams are averaging only 11.8 points per game against the Ravens defense and the only time they gave up more than 400 yards of offense in a game, they lost to the Titans.

Gabbert Growing Pains

After replacing Luke McCowen as the Jaguars starting quarterback, Blaine Gabbert has shown some good signs as well as some struggles. However, I am one to argue that he has looked better every game. He even gave his team a chance to win during a last second hail mary against the Steelers last week. However, the Jags rank dead last in passing offense averaging only 132 yards per game.

Jacksonville's defense has been pretty good despite losing five straight. As mentioned in my spread opener, Jacksonville held the Steelers to 70 yards of offense in the second half. With the exception of New Orleans, Baltimore will be the best offense Jacksonville has faced so far this season and Ray Rice is by far the best runner. If the Jags are to slow down the Raven offense, they will have to defend the run better then what they have been.

Betting the Total

On the surface, this line screams over and though it isn't a lock, I can see the Ravens blasting the Jags on the road and scoring another 30 points. Despite Jacksonville being good on defense, they will have a tough time slowing down Ray Rice, who will set up some nice play action passes to a good receiving core for Baltimore.

Even though the Jaguars have had trouble moving the ball, Maurice Jones-Drew should be able to be ok versus the Raven's defense and sooner or later, Gabbert is going to get things together. He is too good of a talent and his supporting cast is better then some of the other's being utilized by other rookie quarterbacks. I'm really high on the Ravens this year and both teams have the ability to put points on the board. 39 is just too inviting of a number.

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SBR Forum | Jordan Sharp

Friday, October 21, 2011

10/21: NCAAF Free Play of the Day!


RUTGERS -1 (-110)


Game Notes:

Rutgers is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games.

Rutgers is 11-4-1 ATS in its last 16 games on the road.

The total has gone OVER in 5 of Rutgers's last 5 games when playing Louisville.

Louisville is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games at home.

Louisville is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games at home.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

2011 World Series Betting Preview

The 2011 World Series will feature the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. Read our full breakdown of the pitching matchups, as well as all of the info you need for betting the total in this showdown.

The 2011 World Series begins Wednesday night in St. Louis with the Cardinals hosting the two-time American League champion Texas Rangers. MLB bettors are already dissecting every angle of the game from the money line to the first five innings to the total to the World Series Championship price.

Game 1 is Wednesday at 8:05 PM ET at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Chris Carpenter and the Cards opened at Legends Sportsbook as a slight favorite at -122 with the total at 7.5. To me the intriguing part of MLB betting in this series is the possibility that given the respective offense’s every game could go ‘over’ and with the dominant bullpens a case could be made for the ‘under’ to be the prevalent play.

For starters, Texas manager Ron Washington is going to need to get a lot more from his Game 1 starter C.J. Wilson (16-9, 3.28) who so far has been a playoff bust in 2011. He is 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA in 15 2/3 innings (three starts) this postseason. He's given up 14 earned runs on 21 hits with six of those home runs.

Not surprisingly four of the six games between the Rangers and Tigers went ‘over’ the closing total while the Rangers were 19-12 to the high side in Wilson’s 2011 starts.

St. Louis will have its ace Chris Carpenter (13-9, 3.47 ERA) on the hill in Game 1 as he looks to improve on a 2-0 playoff record and a 3.71 ERA. All three of Carpenter’s starts playoff starts have played ‘under’ the total but he was 18-18 during the regular season. In the National League championship series, the ‘over’ was 4-1-1.

But Wilson has been shoddy in this postseason (0-2 with an 8.04 ERA) and Carpenter is the lone Cardinals starter with a postseason ERA lower than 5.74.

Pitching plans

A glance at the recent work of the starting pitchers on both sides would indicate that this World Series, more so than any other in recent years, could produce a plethora of high scoring games meaning a great time to make your MLB picks in favor of the 'Over'. The starters on each side were bad in the championship series.

The Cardinals' starters went 1-2 with a 7.02 ERA in six games in the National League Championship Series. The Rangers' rotation was 0-2 with a 6.59 ERA in six games in the ALCS. Both teams need much better efforts if they plan to hoist the championship trophy.

Game 2; Derek Holland (14-10, 4.45 ERA) vs. Jaime GarcĂ­a (13-7, 3.56 ERA)

One thing these two pitchers will have in common is a short leash.
Garcia made two starts in the NLDS and St. Louis likes to pitch the young lefthander at home whenever possible, thus he gets the call in Game 2. He’s allowed 10 runs in 15.2 innings this postseason, making it out of the fifth inning in just one of his three starts. His ERA in the playoffs is 5.74.

Holland will be making his fourth start of the playoffs and like everyone else in both rotations he has struggled. He’s 1-0 but his ERA is 5.27 and opposing batters are hitting .316. That’s potentially bad news against the predominantly right hand hitting Cardinals lineup.

Game 3; Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.49 ERA) vs. Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA)

Neither team produced a quality win in their recent series. In fact the longest a team's starter went in any of the combined 12 games was the Rangers' Colby Lewis who lasted 5 2/3 innings in Game 3 against the Tigers. Lewis is also one of the few hurlers on either side with an ERA of under 4.00 (3.43 on the road and 5.54 ERA at home). For his career he’s been a solid postseason starter posting a 2.37 ERA, including a victory in last year’s World Series against San Francisco.

Lohse, however, has been awful in the playoffs so far, with a 7.45 ERA, and 9 runs, 8 earned, in just 9.2 innings. In his 8 career playoff outings, Lohse has a 5.09 ERA.

Game 4; Edwin Jackson (5-2, 3.58 ERA) vs. Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39 ERA)

While Harrison hasn’t gone deep into either of his two starts, he has allowed only 2 runs in 5 innings in each game and that should give the Rangers hope. This will be Harrison’s third start and fourth appearance of the playoffs.

The much traveled Edwin Jackson is 1-0 in three starts but his ERA is sky high (5.74) and opposing batters are hitting .316 against him.

*Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa has ‘hinted’ that he may flip flop Lohse and Jackson in the rotation but won’t make that determination until after Game 1 at the earliest.

Following Game 4, most managers will change their rotation depending on how the series is progressing. At the moment, Game 5 would be a rematch of Wilson against Carpenter. Holland and Garcia would square off in Game 6 with Lohse against Lewis for all the marbles.

In 11 postseason games, St. Louis has notched just three quality starts (at least six innings pitched and three earned runs or fewer allowed), while the Rangers have just one quality start in 10 outings. The managers share a large part of the blame for the lack of long outings and both skippers aren’t afraid to go to the pen at the first hint of a possible big inning.

Bullpens will decide the winner

Closer Alexi Ogando, a 13-game winner during the regular season has been almost 'Mariano Rivera good' this postseason. He’s got two wins and has allowed one run, four hits and 12 strikeouts in 10.1 innings. He’s had to be good because the Texas starters have come up woefully short. C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison combined for a 6.59 ERA in the ALCS and has turned in just one quality start in 10 postseason games.

St. Louis' bullpen, which ranked 21st in the majors in the regular season with a 3.95 ERA, pitched in just over 54 percent of the team's innings -- the fifth-highest percentage ever for an LCS -- and contributed a 1.58 ERA.

Cruz vs. Pujols

Nelson Cruz is on a ‘high’ that very few players ever experience. After going 1 for 15 in the ALDS against Tampa Bay, he switched into another gear hit .364 against Detroit with six home runs and 13 runs batted in. He is the singular reason the Rangers and not the Tigers are headed to the World Series.

Pujols has turned in his best postseason series since 2002 going 18 for 43 (.419) with 2 homers and 10 RBI’s.

There are other reasons why we should expect a high-scoring series. The Rangers were first in the majors in hitting (.283), second in home runs (210) and third in scoring (5.28). The Redbirds were fifth in scoring (4.70), fifth in batting average (2.73) and 13th in home runs (162).

The baseball world is well aware of Cruz and Pujols and their respective performances but who is this guy David Freese? He who won the NLCS MVP by hitting .545 with three home runs and nine runs batted in and he’s another reason why the ‘over’ figures to be the predominant ‘bet’ in the 2011 Fall Classic.

Overall, the Cardinals are 91-72-1 to the ‘over’ (playoffs included) while the Rangers are 93-74-6 to the high side.

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SBR Forum | Bob Harvey

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What To Watch For: 2011 World Series

What to watch for in the 2011 World Series:

Cruz Control

The Rangers' right fielder did it all in the ALCS, putting on an unprecedented power show and cutting down a runner at the plate with a rocket throw in a crucial situation. He had six homers and 13 RBIs - both major league records for a postseason series - and finished 8 for 22 (.364) with two doubles. He seems to enjoy the spotlight, too. Cruz was 15 for 40 (.375) with 5 HRs, 5 doubles and 8 RBIs in the AL playoffs last season before going 4 for 20 (.200) with a homer and 3 RBIs in the World Series.

Fond Farewell

Pujols got a standing ovation before his final regular-season game at home and he'll get at least two more doses of love from adoring St. Louis fans in the World Series. The three-time MVP has had nothing of substance to say about his impending free agency since cutting off negotiations on a long-term deal before the start of spring training. Rather than allowing Pujols' situation to paralyze them, the Cardinals have already started planning for next season by signing Berkman to a one-year deal and Carpenter to a two-year extension. They've also stated interest in retaining Furcal.

Young At Heart

Young adapted to his new role this year and had a team-high 159 starts, the ninth time in 10 seasons he played at least 155 games. He started 69 as the DH, 39 at third base, 36 at first, 14 at second and one at shortstop. He became the only player to have at least 200 hits (213) while playing 35 games or more at three different positions. Before last year, Young had played 1,508 regular-season games without tasting the postseason. This year, Game 1 of the World Series is scheduled on his 35th birthday.

Spark Plug

The scrappy Schumaker, who can also play the outfield, missed the NLCS because of a strained muscle on his right side. He expects to be available for the World Series. Schumaker went 6 for 10 in the division series with 2 doubles and 3 RBIs. He drove in the only run against Halladay in the first inning of Game 5.