Sports Picks For Sale - Stephen Nover

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An award-winning journalist, Stephen Nover’s sports handicapping expertise has been published worldwide.

Active since: 1994 

Locations:  Las Vegas, NV; Cyprus 

Stephen Nover is unique among professional handicappers. A multiple award-winning sportswriter for numerous newspapers, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nover has one the best combinations of gambling and media sources in the world.

The author of two sports gambling books, “Las Vegas Sports Beat” and “Sports Gaming Beat,” along with a book on fantasy football titled, “Winning Fantasy Football,” Nover is a former professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas having taught a football handicapping class there. He also was the co-host of the Sunday night sports betting radio show, “The Stardust Line,” during the 1990's.

Parlaying nearly 50 years worth of professional gambling experience with tremendous knowledge of the players through elite deep-roster Rotisserie leagues, and building on copious gaming and media sources - having worked for newspapers in the Midwest, South and West and also for legendary oddsmaker Roxy Roxborough - Nover is a true wise guy. 

Part of what makes Nover special is the pride he takes in writing his deep-dive analysis, which always is unique, well-researched and sometimes entails out-of-the-box thinking.  Join Stephen every day here at VegasWinners.

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WNBA - Point Spread - Tue, Aug 09

Stephen Nover's WNBA Game of Week - 13-6 Run!

The oddsmaker doesn't have the time to deep dive into the WNBA. But Stephen Nover does with his passion fueled by mon...


NFL - Over / Under - Sat, Aug 13

Stephen Nover's NFL Preseason Total of Week

Preseason and Over/Unders have been a huge winning combination for long-time NFL sharp Stephen Nover. Stephen passed ...


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Nover's View: Don't sleep on the Heat

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2022

The Miami Heat come out of the All-Star break 38-21. That's tied with the Bulls for the best record in the Eastern Conference.Yet there are three teams with shorter odds than the Heat to win the Eastern Conference, according to current numbers at the Westgate.The Nets are plus $2.75. The Bucks and 76ers are next both at plus $3.50. Then the Heat at plus $5.50.I think that's a pretty good price to take a shot on the Heat especially considering their three best players - Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry - missed a combined 57 games.The Heat check a lot of boxes: They have deep playoff experience having reached the NBA Finals just two seasons ago. They are strong defensively giving up the fifth-fewest points per game while ranking fifth in defensive field goal percentage and first in defensive rebounding. Miami shoots well, ranking in the top-four in 3-point accuracy and free throw percentage. The Heat also have an upper tier coach, Erik Spoelstra.So, yeah, at plus $5.50 I'll take a shot on the Heat to capture the Eastern Conference.

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Nover's View: Packers RIP

Monday, Jan 24, 2022

The Packers were playing with fire all season with the worst special teams units in the NFL. An explosive offense and improved defense couldn't cover for special teams breakdowns and poor coaching. The result is the Packers got burned by their special teams at the worst possible time. They went one-and-done in the playoffs losing to an inferior 49ers team. The bigger question now for the Packers is this the end of their regular-season dominance? I believe it is. The home playoff loss to the Buccaneers last year and the one to the 49ers this season exposed a number of myths about the Packers:Myth: Green Bay is well coached. No, not in the playoffs. Forget Matt LaFleur's three-year outstanding regular season record. He chokes in the big games. He made a terrible decision to kick a late field goal against the Buccaneers in last season's NFC title game and his passive game plan against a vulnerable 49ers secondary was a huge mistake, too. Aaron Rodgers is capable of much more than handing off and throwing short passes to Davante Adams. LaFleur had three years to fix special teams issues that have plagued the Packers. He failed to do so. Myth: The Packers have a cold weather advantage. They don't. They are 7-7 in the last 14 home playoff games. Both Rodgers and Brett Favre had bad performances during their last couple of home playoff games in cold weather. Their advanced ages could be to blame for this.  Myth: Special teams don't matter. Of course they do. But that wasn't the approach the Packers took. Green Bay went the cheap route regarding special teams hiring or promoting a bunch of lightweights instead of paying the bucks to get an elite special teams coach. Maurice Drayton, Shawn Mennenga, Ron Zook, Shawn Slocum, Mike Stock and John Bonamego. Do any of those names ring a bell? They shouldn't because they've been the Packers' last six special teams coaches. None distinguished themselves. All were terrible.The Packers enter this off-season projected to be $44.8 million above the salary cap. Only the Saints are in a worst salary cap position. This leaves the Packers a choice of trying to keep Rodgers and play with far less front line talent, or lose Rodgers and begin a massive rebuild.Rodgers already has said he doesn't want to be part of a rebuild. So I'd say there's better than a 50-50 chance of Rodgers not being with the Packers next season. That means the Jordan Love era could begin. I'm not high on Love, judging by reports of how he looked during practices and seeing him in game action. He strikes me as little more than a game manager and an inaccurate one at that. LaFleur's proud won-lost record is going to take a massive hit if he has to go from Rodgers to Love. Then you'll really see just how good a coach LaFleur is. 

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Who's the Real Bad Guy?

Wednesday, Jan 05, 2022

The year was 1942. Ted Williams won the American League Triple Crown that season. He also led the league in runs, walks, slugging percentage and on base percentage.Obviously Williams was the unanimous choice for Most Valuable Player, right? Nope. He didn't even win the award! It went to Joe Gordon. Williams hit twice as many homers as Gordon, drove in 44 more runs and batted 33 points higher than Gordon. But certain biased voters screwed Williams because they didn't like him personally. That's just plain wrong. I bring this up because it could happen to Aaron Rodgers this season when it comes to NFL MVP voting. This isn't a no-brainer like it was in baseball for Williams. Rodgers isn't head-and-shoulders above other worthy candidates Tom Brady, Jonathan Taylor and Cooper Kupp. Brady leads the NFL in passing yards and TD throws. Taylor leads the league in rushing. He's 529 rushing yards ahead of No. 2 Joe Mixon. Kupp is having a record pass-catching season well ahead in receptions, receiving yards and TD's. Rodgers has a 35-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Yet Rodgers' strongest qualifications are related to the team. Green Bay is 13-2 in games he has played. Thanks to Rodgers, Green Bay finished as the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC and has the best record in football. No player is more important to his team than Rodgers is to the Packers. That should make Rodgers the MVP favorite. Not according to Hub Arkush, though.  Arkush said he won't vote for Rodgers because Rodgers is a horrible person for misleading people about his vaccination status. This is what Arkush said about Rodgers during a radio interview with a Chicago radio station: ''I just think that the way he's carried himself is inappropriate. I think he's a bad guy, and I don't think a bad guy can be the most valuable guy at the same time.'' Bad guy? You'd think Arkush was talking about Antonio Brown, or Henry Ruggs. Rodgers is complicated. But a bad guy? Even if Rodgers were that, it isn't a reason to disqualify him for MVP consideration. I think Arkush is a bad guy for blackballing someone out of personal feelings when he has an obligation and voting honor to act responsibly and objectively. Arkush is a long-time Chicago NFL fixture, who has done writing and announcing for the Bears. Perhaps he's jealous that the only really good quarterbacks the Bears have had during their 100 years in the NFL were Jim McMahon and Sid Luckman. 

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Bad NFL Owners Need To Be Held Accountable

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2021

The names invoke horror. No, not Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf Man. But Adam Gase, Matt Patricia, Hue Jackson and Marty Mornhinweg. What do these four former coaches all share in common besides a combined losing record of 30-115-2 during their head coaching stints with the Jets, Lions, Browns and Lions?  None of them lasted more than 2 1/2 years as a head coach with their respective team before the plug was mercifully pulled on their incompetence. A bad coach gets fired. A bad player gets cut. If an owner is bad, nothing. That should change. Owners should be held to the same standards. If they aren't good they should be out, too.Want to know why Washington has just six winning seasons and only two playoff victories during the last 22 years while being the most toxic place to work? Look no further than Daniel Snyder. Washington has dropped from being No. 2 in attendance in 2009 to now being among the bottom eight. It's a damning indictment on the gutlessness of Roger Goddell to let Snyder remain as an NFL owner. Want to know why Jacksonville is 41-117 during the last 10 years? Take a bow Shad Khan. It's no coincidence that's how long Khan has owned the Jaguars. If it's possible to look even worse than a 2-12 team, the Jaguars are it. Urban Meyer was a disaster of biblical proportions. Yet it took Khan 13 games to finally show Meyer the door. Want to know why Houston is 3-16 in its last 19 games? Hello Cal McNair, the nincompoop who inherited the Texans following his father's death in November of 2018. McNair somehow gave general manager powers to then coach Bill O'Brien. The power hungry O'Brien proceeded to dismantle the Texans, a playoff team just two seasons ago, with a series of mind-blowing horrific trades while also surrendering huge draft capital. If Bavaria ever needs another mad king, I would recommend O'Brien. Meanwhile, the poor Texans are in for a deep rebuild.  Want to know why Las Vegas is 62-96 since 2012? Introducing Mark Davis, son of the late Al Davis, who died in October of 2011. Al Davis had many great Raiders teams banded together under his famous slogan: ''Commitment to Excellence.'' The Raiders under Mark Davis could have the motto: ''Commitment to Excrement.'' Mark Davis tossed an absurd 10-year, $100 million contract to Jon Gruden, who hadn't coached in 10 years. Davis apparently also didn't do his due diligence vetting Gruden. Davis had no choice but to can Gruden following Gruden's brutal racist, sexist, anti-gay emails he traded with Bruce Allen, who at the time was Snyder's right-hand man and team president of Washington's football team. Hope Mark Davis was happy with the 22-31 record he received from Gruden along with a ton of bad press for his $100 million. Washington, the Jaguars, Texans and Raiders can look forward to the draft all they want, but they will never achieve a consistent winning environment until they get rid of their owners. 

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Nover's View: How to Beat NFL Props

Tuesday, Dec 07, 2021

Many bettors say they beat the NFL. Most don't unable to overcome numbers devoid of line value especially on game day. There is a softer NFL market, however, one that can be beat by understanding key factors. These are proposition wagers commonly referred to as props. These special games within a game are beatable. When making props, the bookmaker/oddsmaker crunches numbers and arrives at a figure. Those who intensely study players - hardcore fantasy football owners, for instance - hold an edge because they have more player knowledge and are putting extra time into these specific areas. Their projections could differ greatly from the available number due to many factors. They are not just statistic-driven based. Here's a position breakdown on the extensive thought process used to beat NFL props besides just using statistics. Quarterbacks: Game script. Does this particular matchup lend itself to a heavier, or lighter, passing attack than normal? Offensive line: Is it in good shape? How many sacks has it been giving up lately? Injuries: What is the status of the wide receivers? The Titans, for example, went into their Week 13 bye having been without A.J. Brown, Julio Jones and Marcus Johnson. That's a killer for Ryan Tanneheill. During his last four games from Weeks 9-12, Tannehill averaged 193 yards passing yards and threw only four TD passes. He was a go-against. Matt Ryan has been another fade lately minus Calvin Ridley and missing Cordarrelle Patterson for a couple of games. Ryan's passing numbers for his last four games going into Week 14 are 189.2 passing yards and only one TD throw during this span. Running backs:Game flow: Does this particular matchup ensure a lot of running opportunities? Finding a pertinent coaches' quote can help. Bengals coach Zac Taylor made a commitment to getting his offense more balanced. That meant more carries for Joe Mixon and less passing for Joe Burrow. Mixon averaged 25.6 carries during Weeks 11-13 scoring five TD's and averaging 114 yards rushing during this time frame. Consequently, Burrow didn't throw for more than one TD in any of these three games while averaging 212.6 yards passing compared to averaging 309.6 passing yards in his previous six games.  Opposing defenses: Jonathan Taylor has been the best running back in the NFL. But when he went up against the Buccaneers, who had the top run defense at the time back in Week 12, Taylor was held to 83 yards rushing. That was his second-lowest rushing total in an eight-week span. Gamescript also worked against Taylor in that game because the Colts went to a heavy passing attack in order to try to keep up with Tampa Bay's high-octane offense. Competition: Ronald Jones was the NFL's 12th-leading rusher last season with 978 yards. That was only one yard fewer than Ezekiel Elliott gained on the ground. However, Jones has totally lost favor in Tampa Bay where Leonard Fournette has become the top dog in the Buccaneers' running attack. Jones has just 19 carries in his last four games entering Week 14. Jones has become a total fade yet some sports books still put up props on him even though he's become a non-factor. Talent-wise, Nick Chubb is a top-five runner. Yet he always has to be downgraded when Kareem Hunt is healthy. Some books were slow to do this when Hunt came off the injured list. Myles Gaskin is the opposite of this. He's a mediocre back averaging a puny 3.4 yards a carry. Yet he has 154 attempts because he doesn't have much competition playing for the Dolphins. Only nine players have carried more times than Gaskin this season entering Week 14. Update injury information: Always monitor this looking for key bits of information. Doing this helped me win my largest prop bet of the year. It unfolded this way: David Montgomery, the Bears' bellcow running back, suffered a knee injury in Week 4 against the Lions. The injury was serious enough that Montgomery had to go on the injured list with his return date uncertain. Montgomery ended up missing the next four games. Khalil Herbert did a good job replacing him. It appeared Montgomery was going to miss Week 9, too. One prominent Las Vegas sports book put out a Week 9 prop on Herbert rushing for Over/Under 72 1/2 yards. But word started to come out that Montgomery was targeting that week to return. If true Herbert's rushing load would be drastically reduced. Following that information, I wagered heavily on Under Herbert's rushing total. The sports book lowered Herbert's number and then pulled the prop once the Montgomery return news became mainstream. Too late. My bet had been placed. Herbert finished that Week 9 game against the Steelers carrying the ball four times for 13 yards. Montgomery had 13 carries for 63 yards. Receivers:Target share and routes run: The oddsmaker isn't delving that far when making an Over/Under on receiving yards. But by knowing how many times a receiver was targeted you can be on the right side of an overdue factor. The Steelers are just an average passing team because Ben Roethlisberger is well past his prime. He's not the feared downfield passer he once was. The oddsmaker skews Pittsburgh's receivers because of that. Due to target share, though, Diontae Johnson is bulletproof. He's been targeted 51 times during Weeks 10-13. The result is an average of 7.7 receptions, an average of 96 receiving yards and three TD's during this span. Johnson is a consistent prop casher with these numbers. Opposing cornerbacks. If the opposition has a shutdown cornerback such as Jalen Ramsey or Jaire Alexander, it's important to find out who that cornerback primarily will be covering. Will he be on the No. 1 wide receiver, slot receiver, or be moving around? Tight ends: Knowing your tight ends is important. Some are heavily featured. Some teams go with a two-tight end system. Deebo Samuel has been the 49ers' No. 1 receiving target this season. Samuel didn't play in Week 13, though. So the 49ers made George Kittle their featured receiver. This was easy to surmise. The oddsmaker failed to adjust for this despite Kittle being an upper tier tight end. They set an Over/Under of 55 1/2 yards for Kittle's receiving yardage against the Seahawks in Week 13. Kittle caught nine passes for 181 yards on 12 targets and scored two TD's. It was a rocking chair winner on a line that was way off, something you never would see on a point spread or total.

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First-Half Looks At Each NFL Team

Tuesday, Nov 09, 2021

Now that every team in the NFL has played at least eight games, it's time to take stock of each one.Here are my thoughts and observations of the NFL teams. AFC East Buffalo: Even with that surprising loss to the Jaguars last week, I still say the Bills are the most complete team in football. I like my 30-1 ticket on Sean McDermott to be the Coach of the Year. New England: The Patriots aren't going to the Super Bowl. But Bill Belichick is doing one of his greatest coaching jobs. The Patriots are 5-4 despite having below .500 talent. New York Jets: Their defense has played with heart, but the Jets keep losing key defenders. The latest to go down is safety Marcus Maye. That's a huge loss. I see the Jets getting completely worn down as the season progresses. The Jets need to take the training wheels off Zach Wilson. Mike White showed how capable the Jets' offense is when they play loose. Miami: The Dolphins overachieved last season. This year they are one of the biggest underachievers. Just what is their identity? Oh wait, they don't have one. AFC NorthBaltimore: This is a team that knows how to win. Just not cover margins. Of the Ravens' first six victories, four have been by a combined 12 points, including one six-point victory in overtime. They are 1-5 against the spread (ATS) the six times they've been favored this season. Pittsburgh: Mike Tomlin quietly has done an outstanding job. T.J. Watt makes the Steelers' defense good, but it's far from great. The offense is mediocre with a work-in-progress offensive line and Ben Roethilisberger in his dotage. Cleveland: Just when you think you can trust Cleveland you can't. Don't expect much and then be surprised if anything good occurs is the recommended approach with the Browns. Good move by the Browns to part with Odell Beckham Jr. I will say, Beckham was open a lot and Baker Mayfield would miss him. Mayfield is a better commercial pitchman than NFL quarterback. I count 17 quarterbacks better than Mayfield. Cincinnati: Maybe it's because of Joe Burrow and his exciting group of wide receivers, but I find myself liking the Bengals more than in past seasons. Their mediocre play in the trenches, pedigree and coaching, though, likely will doom them to another year of missing the playoffs. AFC SouthTennessee: The Titans' beating the Bills, Chiefs, Colts and Rams during the past four weeks is the most impressive streak of the year. Can't take that away from them. I'm not even sure, however, that they win the division even though they currently lead the Colts by three games. The Titans have been outgained per play, surrendered big passing games to Carson Wentz and Zach Wilson and no longer have Derrick Henry. Those are red flags.Indianapolis: Carson Wentz is having a nice bounce back season. Jonathan Taylor is living up to preseason predictions as a top-five running back. It wouldn't shock me to see the Colts launch a serious challenge to the Titans for the division. The Colts don't have that It factor, though. Making the playoffs is about their ceiling. Jacksonville: Urban Meyer survived not being the first coach fired. He's been a joke, however, as an NFL coach. Trevor Lawrence hasn't thrown multiple TD passes since Week 1. That's on Meyer. Wentz gets coached up. Lawrence gets coached down.Houston: To paraphrase the late Dennis Green: ''The Texans are who we thought they were.'' But don't crown their asses. They are at expansion team level. Much of their destruction was caused by Bill O'Brien, who should never be allowed to work in the NFL again for how he ruined this once competitive franchise. As for DeShaun Watson forget it. When 22 women accuse you of assault and sexual misconduct you're guilty. He needs to be punished before being allowed to play again. AFC WestLos Angeles Chargers: Hard team to get a handle on. Joey Bosa and Derwin James are great players. Yet the Chargers rank 23rd in scoring defense. Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen are among the best at their respective positions yet the Chargers are only 14th in scoring. The Chargers put up 47 points on the Browns, but just six points on the Ravens. I do find Brandon Staley a coaching upgrade on Anthony Lynn. It was a small bar for Staley. But special teams still hinder the Chargers. Las Vegas Raiders: Strong defensive improvement and a career year so far from Derek Carr have elevated the Raiders to a 5-3 mark. The fallout from Jon Gruden and tragedy caused by Henry Ruggs' recklessness and stupidity are going to be difficult to put in the past, though, even though both of them are off the team. Kansas City: Patrick Mahomes hasn't been playing like a God this season. I'd still take Mahomes over any other quarterback. But the Chiefs have committed an NFL-high 19 turnovers, which has made them the most disappointing team in the NFL at this juncture Denver: Despite their upset victory against the Cowboys, the Broncos aren't going anywhere. Too many key defensive injuries. Vic Fangio is an ace defensive coordinator overmatched as a head coach. I don't see the point of starting journeyman Teddy Bridgewater and giving Melvin Gordon so much work. Find out what Drew Lock can do and make Javon Williams their bellcow running back. NFC EastDallas: An explosive offense, an infusion of young defensive talent and much better defensive coaching courtesy of new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn have elevated the Cowboys into a serious NFC contender. The gap has become very wide between Dallas and the rest of the NFC East Lilliputians. Philadelphia: Nick Sirianni could prove one and done. Jalen Hurts is a far better fantasy football QB than a real one. The Eagles are 0-4 SU, 1-3 ATS during their first four home games. New York Giants: The Giants are below average in every facet. They have a dazzling array of skill position talent surrounding Daniel Jones. Unfortunately much of it has been sidelined. Only once in their first nine games have the Giants managed to score more than 25 points in regulation. They have yet to reach the 30-point barrier. Washington: The defense has been missing in action all season. That was an unexpected bad development. But Washington was setting itself up for failure opening the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting QB. Backup Taylor Heinicke's limitations become more pronounced as the season grows longer. NFC NorthGreen Bay: An upper tier offense and improved defensive coaching make the Packers a serious Super Bowl contender. The Packers do have an Achilles' heel - special teams. It has been terrible for years. Their coverage and return teams remain as bad as ever. Minnesota: I'm embarrassed to admit that I pegged the Vikings to win the division. Instead Minnesota has regressed. The Vikings' offensive line still isn't good. Kirk Cousins hasn't shaken his deserved reputation as a glorified game manager and now the defense is down because of injuries to Danielle Hunter and Patrick Peterson. Mike Zimmer is on the hot seat. Chicago: Justin Fields is an exciting talent. However, he can't overcome his inexperience, nor the bad coaching he's getting.  The Bears' defense is not the dominant unit it once was so the offense doesn't get bailed out. Detroit: Dan Campbell is a sympathetic character. Imagine having the worst wide receiving group in recent memory plus multiple injuries that have thinned out what already was a weak starting lineup. Detroit isn't bad enough, though, to go 0-17.NFC SouthTampa Bay: How remarkable is Tom Brady? He entered his bye week on pace to throw for 5,631 yards and 53 TD's. The Buccaneers have a stout run defense. Once the injuries in their secondary heal they will definitely be the team to beat again if they aren't already. New Orleans: They didn't seem to miss Drew Brees last season. They miss him this season. I don't see the Saints making a playoff run with a QB combination of Trevor Siemian/Taysom Hill throwing to below average wide receivers. Atlanta: The Falcons never fully recovered from blowing the Super Bowl to the Patriots. They are 22-34 the past four years, including 4-4 this season. Atlanta is in no-man's land. Not a bottom feeder, but not a playoff team either. Matt Ryan is 36. I don't see a quick fix working for them. Carolina: There's some outstanding young defensive talent on this team. It doesn't matter. Even if Christian McCaffrey is back to 100 percent, the Panthers aren't ever going to win this division until they find the right quarterback. Sam Darnold is injured and seeing ghosts again. He has a 4-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his last six games. NFC WestArizona: The league's biggest surprise at 8-1. I don't see the Cardinals keeping this up with Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins both banged-up. Los Angeles Rams: I like the Rams' all-in approach. Matthew Stafford finally is with the right team with the right coach. Cooper Kupp has been the league's best wide receiver so far. Aaron Donald is the No. 1 defensive lineman in the NFC if not all of football. Jalen Ramsey is in the argument for being the top cornerback. That's serious star power.Seattle: The Seahawks are poised to make a move with Russell Wilson back from his thumb injury. This is a team that never should be counted out. San Francisco: Kyle Shanahan is the most overrated coach in the league. The 49ers are 3-5 and have yet to play the Rams. San Francisco hasn't beaten an above .500 team. The 49ers' three victories occurred versus the Lions, Eagles and Bears whose combined record is 6-20. If they lose at home to the Rams on Monday it's time to begin the Trey Lance era. 

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Nover's View: Best and Worst of Monday Night Football

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021

 By Stephen NoverOf all the announcers available, you would think that highly prestigious NFL Monday Night Football could do better than Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick. Riddick isn't bad. He understands the game and personnel. But Griese has no personality and doesn't say anything of value or interest. Levy is plain overmatched. He doesn't know football well enough to do play-by-play. The Monday night crew has a long list of bad play-by-play announcers. Levy is right there with the worst of them. I should know. I've watched Monday Night Football since its inception in 1970. Here is my list of the all-time best and worst of the Monday night announcers. Best Play-by-Play Announcers: 1. Al Michaels: Simply the greatest football play-by-play announcer of all-time. Astute, sharp, witty, totally on the ball. Never makes a mistake and isn't afraid to point out things other play-by-play announcers would shy away from. His ''Now the game really is Over,'' as a subtle reference to the total going Over in a game where the outcome was decided but not yet the total is a classic. 2. Keith Jackson: Jackson was the first play-by-play announcer in 1970. He brought a charisma to the job with funny expressions and was smart enough to stay out of the way of Howard Cosell and Don Meredith. 3. Mike Tirico: He wasn't spectacular, or strong like Michaels. Just a solid pro. Worst Play-by-Play Announcers:1. Frank Gifford: One of the most overrated broadcasters of all-time. Constantly would make mistakes. He was nicknamed ''Faultless Frank.'' He should have been called just the opposite - ''Faulting Frank.'' 2. Mike Patrick: I just hated this guy. Huge ego. Always screaming whether it was a 2-yard run, or a legitimate big play. You never could tell the difference. A receiver would make a routine catch and Patrick would go nuts yelling, ''I can't believe what I just saw.'' No, I could believe it. I just couldn't believe what I heard. 3. Steve Levy: A bumptious, overmatched lightweight. Best Color Commentators:1. Dennis Miller: I know, I know. Just about everybody hated Miller during his two-year stint of color commentating from 2000-2001. I admit he was ill-suited to the job. But I found him absolutely hilarious when I could understand his jokes and arcane references. I wasn't in need of someone trying to explain plays and strategy. Miller was a most welcomed change of pace. I'm still shocked he was even hired for the position and then actually lasted a second season.2. Howard Cosell: Another highly controversial figure. Cosell didn't know the game that well. But he knew how to articulate his points and would go after anybody, or anything. He was a heavyweight. He also was great doing halftime highlights in his staccato voice and was a tremendous interviewer. Like him or hate him, Cosell really made Monday Night Football. 3. Don Meredith: He played great opposite Cosell. Extremely witty with a knack of knowing and saying the right thing at the right moment. Meredith had the greatest ad-lib in Monday Night Football history when the camera panned to the stands focusing on a fan, who unexpectedly raised his middle finger at the TV audience. Undeterred and unflappable, Meredith said look he's pointing out that his team is No. 1.4. John Madden: The best combination of knowledge, insight and humor of any color commentator. 5. Alex Karras: He had maybe the best line in Monday Night Football history when the camera zoomed in on frightening-looking Otis Sistrunk, Karras quipped that Sistrunk was from the University of Mars. Worst Color Commentators:1. Boomer Esiason: There's a scene in a famous Woody Allen comedy where a kid in grade school always gets the wrong answer and Woody Allen just puts his hands over his face and slaps his head. That's how I feel about Esiason. The guy gets a pass from the national media because he's photogenic and articulate. But he always says something wrong. His opinions are terrible. 2. Frank Gifford: Gifford was a triple threat when he played football for the Giants. He was a double threat - to the audience - when he was a broadcaster being horrible at play-by-play and just as ineffective when he was a color commentator never providing any insight or provocative viewpoints. Just a huge bore. 3. Paul Maguire: Mcguire had the reputation of mixing football knowledge with being clever and funny. He was neither. His stories and jokes were clingworthy. He also was far more wrong than right on his comments. 4. O.J. Simpson: O.J. makes the top-five list independent of being a killer. He was a jovial, superficial cipher who never brought any insight or inside information. He just smiled and made bland and innocuous comments. 5. Jason Witten: Fortunately Witten lasted just a single season, 2018. He brought no special insight. He was a master at malapropism. Best Sideline Reporters:1. Lesley Visser: She was more than just a pretty face. She brought a journalistic touch to what started out to be a fluff position. 2. Michele Tafoya: Knowledgeable and asked the right questions. Worst Sideline Reporters1. Eric Dickerson: The first requirement to being an announcer is the ability to talk. Dickerson had trouble speaking. He was hard to understand. As great a running back that he was, that's how bad he was as a sideline reporter.2. Lisa Guerrero: She didn't know football. This was apparent and highly embarrassing.

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Nover's View: Point spread thoughts on 7 and Lions

Tuesday, Oct 19, 2021

The two topics in today's NFL column are the point spread number 7 and the Detroit Lions. I'll save the worst for last. So let's begin with 7. We all know 3 is the most important point spread number in football. The next most significant point spread number is 4. Then 7. However, 7 is not nearly as important as it used to be. This is because of more missed extra points and teams understanding analytics thus attempting 2-point conversions more frequently. The value between 6 and 7 isn't nearly what it once was because of these factors. A team winning by exactly seven points has happened five times this season in 94 games through the quarter mark of the season. That's 5.3 percent compared to 7.4 percent the number of times a team has won by exactly six points this season. Note that twice of the five instances it was underdogs that won by exactly seven points. There were a couple of times, the latest being the Cowboys beating the Patriots, where a team won by six in overtime and not seven because there was no extra point try with the outcome decided. Conclusion being don't spend money buying extra juice to get 7 if taking 6 1/2, or laying 7 1/2. Not worth it. Now on to the Lions. Ever heard of Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kalif Raymond, KhaDarel Hodge, Tom Kennedy and Geronimo Allison? Didn't think so. Those are Detroit's wide receivers. I've been watching the NFL for 58 years and have never seen a less distinguished group of wide receivers. Tyrell Williams was supposed to be the Lions' No. 1 wideout after Kenny Golladay went to the Giants. Williams is injured. So is Quinten Cephus, who was the lone wide receiver to display some potential. Unfortunately, he suffered a broken collarbone and is out for the year. Jared Goff was only effective with the Rams when the setting was right, which meant playing in LA's nice weather with excellent weapons and backed by the coaching of offensive guru Sean McVay. Goff is exposed with the Lions as the timid downfield passer that he is unable to make any of his wideouts better. Aside from tight end T.J. Hockenson and running back D'Andre Swift, Goff has extremely limited talent around him. That's true. But Goff doesn't do anything to elevate this talent. Despite being the only winless team in the NFL and hit hard by injuries - on both sides of the ball - the Lions still display effort. They held the Ravens, Bears and Vikings to an average of 20.6 points in their three previous games before getting clobbered, 34-11, by the Bengals this past Sunday. You can't make it in today's NFL without a semblance of a passing attack. The Lions lack this. Detroit has failed to break 17 points since Week 1. The Lions are averaging 15.2 points in their last five games. The last time they scored a touchdown in the first half was on their opening drive back in Week 2. So what do you do with the Lions besides watch another game? Feel bad for Dan Campbell and bet the Under. The Lions have gone Under in each of their last four games. They've gone below the total by a combined 43 1/2 points during this span.

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Most Overrated NFL Coach and Quarterback

Monday, Oct 04, 2021

Judging by how commentators constantly refer to him as a play-calling genius, you would think Kyle Shanahan is a great coach. Going by how many TV commercials he's on and how high profile he is you would think Baker Mayfield is a great quarterback. Truth be told, neither Shanahan nor Mayfield are very good at their respective jobs. I find Shanahan to be the most overrated coach in the NFL and Mayfield to be a bottom-10 quarterback. First Shanahan. He's 31-37 in his four plus years coaching San Francisco. That ranks him in the bottom-10 in win percentage among active head coaches. Shanahan led the 49ers to one Super Bowl and had three disastrous seasons. The 49ers have failed to cover the last NINE times they've been a home favorite. San Francisco is 6-11 ATS in its last 17 games. Maybe Shanahan is an above average play-caller. But you sure couldn't tell that from his two Super Bowls, both losses. Shanahan's play-calling as the Falcons' offensive coordinator during the final minutes of Super Bowl 51 six seasons ago could be considered the worst of all-time. The Falcons had a 28-20 lead with 4:38 left and were in field goal range. But instead of running clock and then kicking a field goal to go up 11 and thus likely wrapping up the game, Shanahan got way too aggressive calling for passes. The Falcons ended up blowing a 25-point lead.Shanahan choked again with questionable Super Bowl play-calling two seasons ago when the 49ers blew a double-digit lead to the Chiefs. The 49ers have had more than their share of injuries last year and this season. Great coaches don't use injuries as an excuse, though. Shanahan and 49ers management made a gutsy decision paying a huge price to trade up to draft Trey Lance. Now with Jimmy Garoppolo dealing with a calf injury, the 49ers should turn the team over to Lance. If Shanahan really is so great, he should be able to coach Lance up. Lance has the mobility and "It'' factor Garoppolo lacks. Let's find out if Shanahan is more Bill Walsh, or more Adam Gase. Mayfield was the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2018 draft. He certainly is not a bust, but he's been more mediocre than good. These are his passer ratings for the past three seasons: 2019: 31st. 2020: Tied for 15th. 2021: 23rd. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski doesn't let Mayfield bomb away like other quarterbacks get to do. Cleveland is run-oriented. Mayfield, though, plays behind one of the best offensive lines in football and the top 1-2 running back combination in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Mayfield should be deadly in play-action and have an extremely high percentage with those factors in his favor. But he doesn't. He's just not that talented, or accurate. Mayfield's performance this past Sunday against the Vikings was cringeworthy. He went 15-for-33 for 155 yards failing constantly to connect with a wide open Odell Beckham Jr. Perhaps it was just a bad day for Mayfield. We all have them. But whatever the circumstance, Mayfield fails to live up to the hype while being the endorsement king of the NFL doing commercials for Progressive and Nissan. It seems Mayfield has more commercials than touchdowns.  I find it sickening to see this overrated mediocrity constantly on TV when there are so many other better quarterbacks. 

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An NFL Official is Ruining the Game

Monday, Sep 27, 2021

Being well-known and having a certain amount of fame can flattering. It's not a good thing, though, if you are an NFL official. The best NFL officials usually are the ones who you don't know their names. Jerome Boger doesn't fit into that anonymous category. He and his merry flag-waving crew of nincompoops seem to call penalties nearly every down. They were on full display this past Sunday night trying their best to ruin an exciting game between the Packers and 49ers. Boger's calling card is defensive holding. I've never seen so many defensive holding calls as I do when Boger's crew are the official's. The only time Boger and his officiating team didn't throw a flag this past Sunday night was when Davante Adams took a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from Jimmie Ward on an obvious foul.  Baseball has an umpire who is far worse than any other – Angel Hernandez. He can make the game random when he's behind the plate with his bizarre ball and strike calls.  Boger is the same when it comes to the NFL, making the game less enjoyable by littering the field with his constant penalty flags. Hernandez and Boger each ruin their respective sport because of their dominant incompetency.  I can't stand Boger. I wish the league would force him to retire. But there is a successful betting angle with Boger. According to research compiled by noted totals guru Kyle Hunter, the Over is 115-79 in games Boger has officiated. That's 59 percent. I can't confirm this, but I read where Boger's crew has called more penalties than any other set of officials during 14 of the past 16 seasons. I wouldn't doubt that.  Some of Boger's calls are legitimate. Others are phantom. Boger's onerous effect on games actually has become a handicapping factor because of the Over bias. Sometimes you can find out ahead of time what officiating crew will be doing what game using this Web site:  It's a site I've been forced to bookmark now because of Boger. 

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Nover's View: NFL Week 1 Notebook

Tuesday, Sep 14, 2021

It worked. Not for me, for my friend. Figuring the randomness and variance factors would be highly increased in Week 1 of the regular season since many of the teams held out key starters during preseason, he played all underdogs. The 'dogs had their day going 12-4 ATS with eight outright winners. Here are my observations of the opening week insanity:An ominous beginning for the 0-4 NFC North. The Vikings, my preseason pick to win the division, aren't going to finish above .500 unless they fix their offensive line and their secondary plays better. Their offensive line isn't any better than the Bengals. Mike Pettine isn't looking so bad now in Packerland after the disastrous debut of Green Bay's new defensive coordinator Joe Barry. At what point do the Packers realize Kevin King is not a legitimate starting cornerback? The Lions' gunslinging passing days are finished. Jared Goff is the new sheriff in town and he carries a water pistol with his dinks-and-dunks. Don't be fooled by the Lions' 41-33 cover against the 49ers. Detroit trailed, 31-10, at halftime.The Bears have offensive line woes, too. That could delay the inevitable quarterback switch to Justin Fields. The Ryan Fitzpatrick era didn't last long in Washington. Taylor Heinicke risks his popularity by starting now. If you're not concerned about Saquon Barkley, you should be. He averaged 1.8 yards last year before his injury. He averaged 2.6 yards in 10 carries against the Broncos.  It's going to be a quite a contrast in Thursday night games going from the Cowboys-Buccaneers shootout to the Giants versus Washington.  The Urban Meyer disaster train remains in full throttle. I see another Lou Holtz NFL failure here.  I'm not sure what was more unusual, Jameis Winston throwing five TD passes in 20 attempts against the Packers, or Winston not committing a turnover. Now that Michael Gallup is out with an injury, I'd rate the Bengals as having the best wide receiver trio in the NFL with Ja'Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.  Nice coaching debuts by Brandon Staley and Nick Sirianni, who outcoached the more hyped Arthur Smith. The Chargers were 7-16 in one-score games the past two years under Anthony Lynn. Now they are 1-0 this season.  If you play against the Eagles, you better be able to defend basic zone run reads because that's the key to stopping Jalen Hurts.Kyler Murray is the Lamar Jackson of the NFC. I spent hours during the summer trying to analyze just how good Jerry Jeudy would be in fantasy football. Now he's out with a high ankle sprain. Speaking of fantasy football, Kyle Shanahan has replaced Bill Belichick as the most difficult coach to get a handle on regarding skill position personnel. Shanahan made Trey Sermon inactive and buried Brandon Aiyuk on the bench. Those were two heavily targeted players in the middle rounds of fantasy football drafts. Andy Reid is a Hall of Fame coach. His greatness stems from his innovative schemes that he works on and polishes during the summer. Combine this with Patrick Mahomes and it's no fluke the Chiefs have won their last 11 September games. Mahomes has a mind-blowing 36-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio in these games.  The Texans are already 25 percent there in reaching their season-win total of four. Now the Jets are the major threat to become the first 0-17 team. Houston came up with three takeaways against the Jaguars. The Texans had all of nine takeaways last season, the lowest season figure of this century. The Ravens have won a record 20 preseason games in a row going 18-1-1 ATS. I think John Harbaugh would trade all of those victories to have a healthy Marcus Peters, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.  Baltimore is in early trouble with that upset loss to the Raiders. Not only are the Ravens already down to their third-string running back in a top-heavy, run-oriented offense, but they have the Chiefs this week. The Ravens draw the Lions in Week 3, but then have games against the Broncos in Denver followed by home games against the Colts and Chargers. Certainly a great win for the Raiders on Monday. But let's see how they react in a letdown spot traveling to Pittsburgh on a short week with an early Sunday start time. 

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Stephen Nover's 2021 NFC North Division Preview

Saturday, Sep 04, 2021

(Editor's note: Midwest native Stephen Nover has been following the NFL since 1963 when he was a young boy. Stephen has paid particularly close attention to the NFC North Division. This is his season preview of the division. His choice to win the division? The Vikings at a plus $2.85 price. ) Minnesota Vikings – Notching a franchise-low 23 sacks last season after combining for 98 sacks the previous two years, the Vikings have retooled their defense to their previous high standards after surrendering the fourth-most points in the league. Minnesota added Patrick Peterson, Xavier Woods and Mackensie Alexander to its secondary, had run-stuffer Michael Pierce opt back in after missing 2020 while dominant lineman Danielle Hunter and linebacker Eric Kendricks return from injuries. The Vikings' offense is the most explosive in Mike Zimmer's eight years at Minnesota. Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielan are among the best skill position players in the league. Cook rates as the second-best all-around running back in the NFL next to Christian McCaffrey. Given these weapons, Kirk Cousins averaged 292.2 yards passing with a 23-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio during the last nine games of 2020. Minnesota produced at least 27 points in eight of its final 10 games.  Green Bay Packers – Green Bay is the safe pick to win the division having gone 13-3 each of the past two years, reaching the NFC title game both times. Certainly with Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, an outstanding offensive line, decent pass rush and above average secondary the Packers are again serious Super Bowl contenders while vying to win the division for the eighth time in the last 11 seasons. There is a caveat, though. Rodgers and Packers management have to maintain peace and keep in harmony as they navigate what might be Rodgers' final season in Green Bay. It's also going to be difficult for Rodgers to duplicate his MVP 2020 season when he threw 48 touchdown passes. The Packers also rated low again in special teams. This has been a long-time problem – aside from kicker Mason Crosby – that third-year coach Matt LaFleur has so far failed to fix.  Chicago Bears – The Bears are excited to have drafted Justin Fields, but the cold reality is this: There's a better chance of Matt Nagy getting canned before the season ends than Chicago winning the division. Nagy may not make it past Thanksgiving given his team faces the Rams, Browns, Packers, Buccaneers, 49ers and Ravens during their first 10 games. Beyond Allen Robinson and David Montgomery's strong finish against weak opponents, the Bears don't show much at the skill spots. Andy Dalton hasn't been good in five years. Fields' opportunity is likely to come early. Defense has been Chicago's saving grace. But now that defense isn't elite. First time defensive coordinator Sean Desai must replace six of the team's 12 best defenders and rebuild a secondary minus star cornerback Kyle Fuller. Khalil Mack has a string of six straight Pro Bowls. Mack, however, hasn't reached double-digit sacks either of the last two seasons.  Detroit Lions – It's a different era in Detroit with team career passing leader Matthew Stafford going to Los Angeles, a new general manager, Brad Holmes, and new head coach Dan Campbell. Different doesn't mean better. Aside from a solid offensive line and promising breakout star, tight end T.J. Hockenson, the Lions have major issues as the new brain trust tries to clean the 13-29-1 debris of Matt Patricia. This includes a defense filled with holes, probably the worst wide receiving corps in the league and taking a huge hit behind center going from Stafford to Jared Goff. The Lions are slow defensively. They lack pass rushers. Their cornerbacks and linebackers struggle in coverage. A major fix is needed. Detroit's ground game is serviceable, but Goff goes from having a strong supporting cast and the sharp coaching of passing guru Sean McVay to the behind-the-times style of Campbell and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. 

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