September 22 , 2022

Daniel Mogollon

Actionable and entertaining information to your inbox…and hopefully, sprinkle a few winners along the way.

Who Are the Top NFL Pipelines?
The Alabama Crimson Tide led all schools with 58 players on active rosters for the NFL's Kickoff Weekend for the sixth straight season. The usual suspects follow them in LSU, Ohio State, and Georgia

Top 10 Schools With NFL Players on Week 1 Rosters:
  • Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC): 58 players
  • LSU Tigers (SEC): 52 players
  • Ohio State Buckeyes (B1G): 52 players
  • Georgia Bulldogs (SEC): 44 players
  • Notre Dame Fighting Irish (IND): 37 players
  • Penn State Nittany Lions (B1G): 35 players
  • Florida Gators (SEC): 33 players
  • Michigan Wolverines (B1G): 33 players
  • Oklahoma Sooners (Big12): 32 players
  • Iowa Hawkeyes (B1G): 31 Players
Three of the top four programs hail from the SEC, with the Big Ten joining them with four apiece in the top 10, rounded out by independent Notre Dame and Oklahoma out of the Big 12

The highest-ranked ACC school is Clemson (29), ranked 11th, while Washington (26) out of the Pac-12 is tied for 12th. The NFL released the top 21, and all are Power 5 schools, plus Notre Dame. 

Biggest surprise? It has to be the Iowa Hawkeyes, who routinely recruit outside the top 25. It's wild that Kirk Ferentz has produced more current pros than Texas, Auburn, Miami, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. 

Second biggest surprise? USC is not among the 21 schools listed. Wow.

The most players any school produced at a position is Alabama, with 14 defensive backs. 

Schools With the Most NFL Players by Position:

  • QBU (3): Missouri, North Dakota State, Oklahoma
  • RBU (6): Alabama
  • WRU (7): Ohio State
  • TEU (5): Notre Dame
  • OTU (5): Alabama, Florida
  • OGU (5): LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State
  • CU (4): Missouri
  • DTU (10): Alabama
  • DEU (7): Michigan
  • LB (10): Georgia
  • DB (14): Alabama

Not only is North Dakota State the only non-Power 5 program represented, but two of the three quarterbacks were top-three overall picks in Carson Wentz (2016) and Trey Lance (2021). Who's the third QB? Easton Stick went to the Los Angeles Chargers in the fifth round in 2019.

Any wonder why the Bison are an FCS powerhouse?

Back to the biggest FBS power, Alabama. The NFL numbers also back up the notion that the gap between the tippy top of college football and everyone else is widening.

Their streak started in 2017 (tied for first) when they had 39 players on NFL rosters on the opening weekend. That's 19 fewer than this season and would rank them fifth in 2022, barely ahead of Notre Dame. 

Today's SportsGrid Daily looks at a downtrodden NFL franchise that may have turned the corner as senior writer Grant White steps into his lab to put the Jacksonville Jaguars under the microscope.

Mr. Insights Zack Cook is back with a pair of teams who have seen line movement in the College Football National Title race. What I'm Watching Tonight is the St. Louis Cardinals at the San Diego Padres in a potential postseason preview. 

NFL: Saints

Things started great for the New Orleans Saints in 2021. The Saints won five of their first seven games and entered the turn in complete control of their destiny. Then, an injury to Jameis Winston forced New Orleans to call an audible midseason, and they never recovered. The NFC South contenders lost five of their next nine games, falling out of the playoff picture on the misfortune of a tiebreaker.

With nearly a full year to recover from the torn ACL, Winston is back in the saddle and ready to lead the Saints into the 2022 season. They enter the year with +4000 NFL odds to win the Super Bowl.

Famous Jameis

Arriving in the NFL as a first overall selection comes with the belief that you will turn the fortunes of a franchise around. Although Winston was effective at times throughout his tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he failed to deliver the game-changing results that were expected. Winston famously joined the 30-30 club in his last year with the Bucs, throwing 33 touchdowns against 30 interceptions.

Understanding his limitations, the Saints built their offense around Winston’s strengths, which paid off early last year. Winston’s pass attempts per game nosedived to 23, from a career-high of 39.1 with the Bucs in 2019. As expected, his yards per game got cut in half, going from 319.3 to 167.1. However, his yards per catch were mostly unaffected, but his interception total plummeted to a career-low 1.9%.

With the supporting cast around him, New Orleans doesn’t need Winston to carry the team; they need him to manage games.

Star-Studded Firepower

Entering the season, the health of Michael Thomas is a big question mark. The two-time All-Pro resolved an ankle injury that kept him out all last year, only to hurt his hamstring ahead of the regular season. Undoubtedly, Thomas makes the Saints a better team, but as shown in 2021, New Orleans can win without him.

Alvin Kamara remains the centerpiece on offense and has put the team on his back at times. The five-time Pro Bowler is coming off a 1,337 all-purpose yards campaign and saw increased usage in the Saints’ new offense. Kamara’s rush attempts per game went up by nearly 50%, jumping from 12.5 to 18.5 year-over-year. A focused running attack took the pressure off Winston and will be at the forefront of the Saints’ play-calling again this season.

New Orleans added more firepower to their offense, selecting Ohio State Buckeyes standout Chris Olave with their first-round selection. Olave averaged 15.4 yards per catch throughout his four-year tenure with the Buckeyes, adding another dimension to the Saints’ attack.

No Added Pressure on Offense

The Saints’ offense operates within their own parameters, thanks to the defensive structure that remains in place.

DeMario Davis, Marshon Lattimore, and Cameron Jordan set the tone in each layer of the defense. Further, the team added three-time All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu to their secondary, which should help the Saints improve on their already impressive 224.6 passing yards allowed per game.

The status quo is a good thing for a Saints defensive unit that allowed the sixth-fewest yards per game, although Mathieu brings some intangibles to the table that could help them look even better.

BetMGM Super Bowl Insights and Analysis

Health is one of the few factors working against the Saints ahead of the regular season. Winston needs to prove his knee is fully healed, the start of Thomas’s season is in jeopardy, and Kamara was limited to 13 games last year.

If the Saints can avoid significant setbacks, they could make a run at Bucs for the division title. Still, that uncertainty is already cooked into their Super Bowl odds, with New Orleans entering the season at +4000 to claim their first championship since 2010.
Betting Insights: 

The NFL season is underway, and there have been some interesting betting trends to follow through two weeks that give us an indication of how the public feels. Particularly how bettors are looking at Super Bowl contenders. 

Two teams that are currently drawing interest in the betting market in regards to their Super Bowl odds are both the top two contenders in the AFC, the Buffalo Bills, and Kansas City Chiefs.

Line Movement (Week 2 --> Current)

  • Bills +500 --> +400
  • Chiefs +750 --> +650
  • Packers +1400 --> +1200

Bills Look Unstoppable Early

The Buffalo Bills not only made a statement in Week 1 against the defending Super Bowl Champs, but they also followed that up with a beatdown of the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football. Josh Allen and company have scored 72 points in two weeks while only allowing 17.

It's going to be interesting to follow which teams give the Bills a run for their money, if any. 

Bills Super Bowl Insights @ BetMGM

  • Highest Tickets: 13.8%
  • Highest Handle: 21.9%
  • Biggest Liability

Buffalo was a trendy Super Bowl pick heading into the season, and their dominant opening two performances certainly haven't hurt their momentum. The Bills still have the shortest Super Bowl odds at +400, once again bet down from their +500 odds entering Week 2.

In addition, the Bills have seen some big money placed on them, owning 13.8% of tickets, along with 21.9% of the handle. What this says is that the sharps have gravitated towards Buffalo

Chiefs Finding New Ways to Win

Much like the Bills, the Kansas City Chiefs also look like a contender early on. They blew out the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1 and followed that up with a close divisional victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. Patrick Mahomes looks like himself, and the early concerns surrounding their offense have been put to rest. At least for now.

Bills Super Bowl Insights @ BetMGM

  • Second-Highest Tickets: 11.3%
  • Second-Highest Handle: 13.4%
  • Second-Biggest Liability

With the Chiefs once again looking like a formidable squad, they've seen their Super Bowl odds bet down from +750 to +650 over the last week. The public was clearly curious to see how they would fare against the Chargers, and they passed that test, which now has them holding 11.3% of tickets and 13.4% of the handle.

Chalk Talk: Pride of Detroit

You’ll find the usual suspects atop the NFL futures board. However, some teams further down the list headed into the season with an implied value that exceeds their betting price. One of those teams is the Detroit Lions, who saw their win total odds move substantially towards the over. 

The 2021 version of the Lions came up short, as evidenced by their 3-13-1 record, but they were painfully close in most contests. Four of their 13 losses came by four points or fewer, with the tide turning late in several of those games.

Moreover, Detroit was exceptional at covering the number, exceeding the betting market’s expectations and covering 11 of 17 games.

More importantly, the Lions spent the offseason getting better. General Manager Brad Holmes drafted a trio of defensive starters who should make immediate contributions and form a core nucleus that could help the Lions compete for years to come.

  • No. 2 Overall Pick Aidan Hutchinson - three sacks on Sunday
  • 6th Round Pick Malcolm Rodriguez - 14 tackles in two starts

Similarly, they added standout wide receiver Jameson Williams, who is expected to become the preferred option for Jared Goff once he’s cleared to return from his ACL injury.

Then there’s their schedule. Underachieving in the NFL has benefits, and the Lions can take advantage of weaker opponents (see Commanders, Washington) in 2022. Detroit entered the season with the fifth-easiest strength of schedule (opponents with a combined 135-154 record last year).

Low win totals are a common theme among Lions’ opponents this season, as 13 of their 17 opponents entered the year with win totals of 8.5 or lower, five of which have win totals equal to or below Detroit’s. That’s a good omen for a team that finally got a win as a favorite in Week 2.


What I’m Watching Tonight

When the San Diego Padres acquired All-Star Juan Soto at the trade deadline, many believed they would be the team that would emerge as the biggest threat to the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, and Atlanta Braves.

With Fernando Tatis Jr. slated to return, the trio of Soto, Tatis Jr., and Manny Machado would take the National League by storm. 

The St. Louis Cardinals expected to battle the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL Central and possibly the final postseason birth in the Senior Circuit. However, the Redbirds have separated themselves from the Brew Crew and built an 8.5-game lead in the division

Instead, it’s the Pads fighting for their postseason lives with a half-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies and 2.5 games ahead of Milwaukee. One of the three will be home for the playoffs. 

Cardinals at Padres Game Information
  • Location: Petco Park | San Diego, CA
  • Time: 9:40 p.m. ET | TV: TBS

A positive test for PEDs has kept Tatis Jr. from making his much-anticipated return, but that isn’t the only reason San Diego has been stuck in neutral, playing only .547 baseball since the break (.551 overall). 

Cardinals at Padres Game Odds @ FanDuel
  • Moneyline: Cardinals (-104) | Padres (-112)
  • Run Line: Cardinals -1.5 (+150) | Padres +1.5 (-182)
  • Total: OVER 8 (-112) | UNDER 8 (-108) 
Juan Soto has been in a shockingly horrendous slump that can be described by no word other than unfathomable. 

Over a 15-game stretch, Soto had a slugging percentage of .063, the third-worst slugging percentage over 15 games that any player has had in 2022 (with at least 50 plate appearances). That’s three total bases in 48 at-bats

Juan Soto Splits
  • As a Padre: .221 BA, .366 SLG, .752 OPS, 4 HR in 131 ABs
  • Septemeber: .163 BA, .265 SLG, .604 OPS, 1 HR in 49 ABs
  • Last 7 Days: .238 BA, .476 SLG, .884 OPS, 1 HR in 21 ABs
With a three-RBI game on Friday and his first home run since August 28 on Sunday, Soto might be breaking out of it. Five of his six September ribbies came over the weekend against Arizona. 

Same Game Parlays @ FanDuel
  • Soto RBI, Soto Hit, Padres -112 (+334)
  • Bell HR, Padres +1.5 (+639)
  • Wainwright Over 3.5 Ks, Cards -1.5 (+330)
Tonight he’ll face Adam Wainwright (11-9, 3.29 ERA, 1.24 WHIP), who Soto has faced nine times with a walk and three singles in eight at-bats (.375 BA, .819 OPS). The Padre with the most success against Wainwright is Josh Bell (.375 BA, 1.019 OPS, 2 HR, 25 ABs), who came over with Soto from the Washington Nationals. 

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