The Daily Sweat: NFL Draft starts, and we can find out which of our prop bets cash
If you have a ticket on Will Levis to go first overall in the NFL Draft due to a Reddit thread you saw, a ticket on any number of players to go No. 2 or one on Tyree Wilson to be picked before Will Anderson Jr., the suspense ends Thursday night.
The NFL Draft begins its three-day event with the first round Thursday. It doesn't matter if the NBA or NHL has playoff games, the NFL Draft dominates the television ratings, typically drawing at least 10 million viewers for the first round. There is intrigue in this draft, from a football perspective and also a betting one.
Here is a last look at the favorites for the top few picks as of Thursday morning at BetMGM (the first overall pick odds were down, but Bryce Young remains a big favorite despite the Levis rush this week):
Second overall: Will Anderson +175
Third overall: CJ Stroud +250
Fourth overall: Will Levis +150
Fifth overall: Jalen Carter -175
Obviously Levis isn't being picked twice, but him being favored at No. 2 and at No. 4 is due to the Indianapolis Colts' rumored interest in him. The Colts have the fourth pick but could trade up to No. 2. Oddsmakers want to account for both possibilities.
Draft prop betting has become popular, in part because bettors have done well in that market. Last year, bettors had a great NFL Draft, beating the house on several picks. This year seems as unpredictable as ever, with no certainty from the second pick on. That might lead to some nice betting wins again.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
Hawks try to force a Game 7
Trae Young's big shot in Boston led to a Game 5 win and makes the Boston Celtics a little more nervous.
The Atlanta Hawks come home for Game 6 with some hope. They're 6.5-point underdogs but at least have a chance to extend the first-round series to seven games. The Celtics, who saw the Eastern Conference open up with the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks being eliminated Wednesday, are in a good spot but need to get past a feisty Hawks team first.
NHL has 3 playoff games
The NHL has a pair of potential elimination games Thursday. The Toronto Maple Leafs try to finish off the Tampa Bay Lightning after some dramatic wins to pull ahead 3-1 in the series. Toronto is a -155 favorite. The Vegas Golden Knights are also up 3-1 over the Winnipeg Jets, and the Knights are -190 favorites to win Thursday and finish the series.
The third game features the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. That series is tied 2-2, and the Devils are -120 favorites.
Shohei Ohtani, Gerrit Cole highlight MLB
There are 11 games in Major League Baseball, including the two favorites for AL Cy Young. Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels are -300 favorites over the Oakland A's on Thursday. In an evening game, Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees are -175 road favorites at the Texas Rangers. Both Cole and Ohtani are +400 in the Cy Young market after some great starts to the season. You'll have to lay a lot of chalk on either in most of their starts this season, including Thursday.
What's the best bet?
I won't go with Bryce Young to go first overall here, but take something with reasonable odds instead. Since a lot of value has been sucked out of many of the draft props, let's look to MLB. I don't know what's going on with the Pittsburgh Pirates (or Los Angeles Dodgers, for that matter), but they can't lose lately. The Pirates won 8-1 on Wednesday over the Dodgers, who are not off to a great start. The Pirates are a +140 home underdog, and why not ride that train again? Then we'll take those winnings and put them on Will Levis to go second overall.