Las Vegas Sun

June 24, 2024

Weekend wagers: Nine bets to make including a pair of football futures

Truex wins NH


Martin Truex Jr., front left, holds up a lobster while celebrating after his win in the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race as David McGrath, second from front right, executive vice president and general manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, smiles Monday, July 17, 2023, at the speedway in Loudon, N.H.

A lot of serious sports bettors will stress the importance of learning from losses. It’s critical to learn from winning days too, though.

Last week’s column ended up being a winner, but it could have been so much better. I placed a NASCAR matchup bet on Martin Truex Jr. and wrote why he should be the favorite in New Hampshire even though he wasn’t priced like it. But, for some reason, I didn’t follow through with an outright wager on Truex to win.

He proceeded to blow away the rest of the field in the most lopsided fashion of the year, and I was left eking out a small profit after losses on two other drivers to win outright despite my pro-Truex handicap. Leaving Truex off my outright card was a mistake made out of stubbornness, something I hope to avoid going forward.

When you have that strong of a read on a race or game, it’s a shame to let it pass without maximizing it at the betting window. Weekend Wagers is still going exceptionally well overall, though, and I’ll try my best to keep building in the right direction.

Read on for eight bets in this week’s Weekend Wagers. Odds are the best currently available in Las Vegas at publication time with the sports book noted. Plays outside of the column will be linked and tracked in the record at the bottom of the page.

Golf (3-7-1, $5): Min Woo Lee -105 head-to-head vs. Jason Day in third round of The Open Championship (STN Sports)

$210 to win $200

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Jason Day, of Australia, hits his drive on the first hole Sunday, March 27, 2016, during the semifinal final round against Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, at the Dell Match Play Championship golf tournament at Austin County Club in Austin, Texas.

The Australian-born Lee would be one of the least-familiar major winners in recent memory, but the long-hitting, clutch-putting 24-year-old has a real chance to do it at Royal Liverpool over the final 36 holes. Yes, he's seven strokes behind second-round leader Brian Harman but Lee's formula to success thus far appears more sustainable. This was a links course that set up phenomenally well for him especially with the experience of a few years grinding it out on the DP World Tour. Lee in contention is much less of a surprise to me than Harman and Day being high on the leaderboard. The 35-year-old Day has enjoyed a bounce-back season on the PGA Tour but he's always sketchy to fully trust going into the weekend given his lengthy injury history. Lee is much better off the tee, and that could be the difference. Lee should be the slight favorite, not the slight underdog, in this matchup. 

WNBA (1-0, $200): Minnesota Lynx +15.5 -105 vs. Las Vegas Aces (Boyd Sports)

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Las Vegas Aces forward Candace Parker (3) celebrates after scoring a basket against the Connecticut Sun during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Saturday, July 1, 2023, in Las Vegas.

$210 to win $200

The Aces looked somewhat human for one of the only times so far this season Thursday in a 79-63 win at Seattle where they didn't cover the 16.5-point spread. And it didn't seem just like a random one-off. Las Vegas wasn't as sharp without legendary forward Candace Parker, who's out "for a while" according to coach Becky Hammon. It's still comfortably the best team in the league, and could probably cruise to a title without Parker in the lineup, but perhaps the Aces' power rating should be momentarily downgraded. They shouldn't be laying this type of number on the road against a team at least capable of putting up some resistance. Minnesota is nothing special, but it's a big step up from Seattle, which is in a full rebuild mode. There's no way the spread for the Aces' second road game in three days two time zones over should be only a point lower going from the worst team in the league to a merely mediocre one.

MLB (9-4, $1,190): Seattle Mariners +125 vs. Toronto Blue Jays (Wynn)

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Seattle Mariners's Julio Rodriguez reacts after stealing second base during the 13th inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game against the Houston Astros, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle.

$200 to win $250

Blue Jays’ fans are breathing a sigh of relief with Kevin Gausman set to return to the pitching mound this afternoon in Seattle. But they should be careful. Gausman has been sitting out with side discomfort, and if he’s not back to 100% yet, it’s not wise to project him to pick up right where he left off as one of the best pitchers in the league this season. It’s certainly not wise to pay a big price to back him, even with the Blue Jays looking strong since the All-Star Break. They’re better than the Mariners, but the home team isn’t toothless. Gausman’s opposing starter, Logan Gilbert, specifically has come on strong lately. And there are no injury concerns with him. This game shapes up as more of a coin flip than the odds imply.    

UFC (12-16, -$230): Fares Ziam -162 vs. Jai Herbert at UFC London (Boyd Sports)

$324 to win $200

This line is approaching -200 at other sports books, which is more appropriate. There’s room to bet Ziam, a well-rounded French fighter, all the way to -190. He should be able to outclass Herbert, who’s a dangerous striker but doesn’t have much else in his arsenal to threaten Ziam. Ziam has never been knocked out and should be careful not to put himself too far in the line of fire. Herbert will have the homefield advantage, so to speak, in front of a partisan crowd at the O2 Arena. That is a factor for cards like this given judges’ tendency to sometimes get won over by the emotion in the building but, in this case, there should be a large enough gap in Ziam’s favor for it not to matter.

UFC (12-16, -$230): Julija Stoliarenko +180 vs. Molly McCann at UFC London (Circa Sports)

$120 to win $216

Let’s pick against yet another native fighter. What could go wrong? A lot, to be honest. McCann should win this flyweight fight in the co-main event but I’m not convinced she wins it two out of every three times as the line implies. Stoliarenko has some real edges, namely with her size and grappling ability. Stoliarenko was considered big at the 135-pound weight class where she previously fought; she’s going to be massive for the 125-pound division. That should give her an opportunity to take McCann down and control her, which is exactly where the popular English striker doesn’t want to be. A submission or close decision nod are both possible win conditions for Stoliarenko, who has a decent chance to ruin the home-country fight.

NASCAR (11-9, $3,270): Kevin Harvick Even money head-to-head vs. Chase Elliott in 400 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

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Kevin Harvick celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, May 17, 2020, in Darlington, S.C.

$250 to win $250

Elliott hasn’t been the same since returning from a broken leg. He’s too talented not to regain his championship-caliber form eventually, but it’s unlikely to be on Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. That may sound too dismissive considering Elliott won here last year but a lot of good fortune with into the victory; he didn’t have one of the fastest cars on the day. In the five previous stops at Pocono, Elliott managed only one top-five finish. Harvick, on the other hand, had hit that mark here five straight times before a rough race last year. This has been one of the best tracks for the retiring great, and he should have one last competitive race there.   

NASCAR (11-9, $3,270): Kyle Larson at 8-to-1 and Ryan Blaney at 12-to-1 to win 400 (South Point)

$150 to win $1,200 on Larson and $100 to win $1,200 on Blaney

Anyone who’s read previous columns with NASCAR outright plays won’t be surprised by this pair of bets for Pocono. I’ve been on Larson and Blaney all year. Somehow, they continue to look undervalued. Denny Hamlin deserves to be the favorite at Pocono this weekend, but the gap between him and Larson should be a lot narrower than the odds currently suggest. Ford has been a fair bit behind Chevrolet and Toyota on the whole this season but has a better chance on a big track like Pocono. And no Ford driver is faster than Blaney. These numbers may very well crash after practice and qualifying, so don’t wait to lock them in as soon as possible.

College football (0-0, $0): Miami over 7.5 wins at +125 (BetMGM)

$200 to win $250

My first two college football win totals in this space were of the pessimistic variety — unders — so I figured I should start to even it out and be more positive this time around. It’s hard to be too positive about the Hurricanes coming off a disastrous 5-7 season in the first year under new coach Mario Cristobal, but this line feels like an overreaction to those struggles. I was happily on the under last year when it was over/under 9 wins but now that it’s closer to 7 with the juice, there’s value on the other side. Miami still rates behind only Clemson and Florida State in terms of roster talent in the ACC. Cristobal was also able to bring in new coordinators on both sides of the ball — Shannon Dawson on offense and Lance Guidry on defense — that should be better cultural fits for the schemes he wants to run. Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was considered a darkhorse Heisman candidate going into last week and is now regarded as a joke. The truth is somewhere in the middle — just like Miami as a whole. The Hurricanes should safely win eight games this season, and could even easily wind up 9-3.    

NFL (0-1, -$100): Myles Garrett to win Defensive Player of the Year at 8-to-1 (Circa)

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Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) runs off of the line of scrimmage during an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Cleveland, in this Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, file photo. Garrett was selected Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, to The Associated Press All-Pro Team.

$300 to win $2,400

It’s somewhat surprising Garrett hasn’t won the NFL’s top individual defensive honor yet considering he’s seemingly in the conversation every year. The former overall No. 1 pick has put together some terrific seasons with the Browns — including notching 16 sacks in each of the last two years — but this year should top all of them. He’s at the top of the aging curve, entering his prime at 27 years old, and surrounded by a stacked defensive unit around him. The Browns’ addition of Za'Darius Smith on the opposite of the line should particularly help Garrett, as opposing offenses will have to account for another high-level pass rusher. Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons is the favorite in this market, at +460, and while that’s reasonable, he may not match the sack total or have the overall statistical production of Garrett. A standout player who’s long threatened to win the award at double the price is the way to go.   

Weekend betting column year to date: 67-82-3, $7,703

Weekend betting column all-time: 545-578-9, $26,202.95

Previous pending wagers: Texas to win the College Football Playoff at 30-to-1 ($100 to win $3,000); Tanner Mordecai to win the Heisman Trophy at 200-to-1 ($30 to win $6,000); Atlanta Braves at 5-to-1 to win the National League ($300 to win $1,500; Atlanta Braves at 10-to-1 to win the World Series ($300 to win $3,000); Buffalo Bills at 9-to-1 to win Super Bowl 58 ($300 to win $2,700); LSU to win the College Football Playoff at 20-to-1 ($150 to win $3,000); Philadelphia Eagles to win Super Bowl 58 at 9-to-1 ($300 to win $2,700);  Nolan Smith to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year at 20-to-1 ($100 to win $2,000); Kansas to win 2024 NCAA Tournament at 14-to-1 ($200 to win $2,800); Los Angeles Chargers -2.5 vs. Miami Dolphins in Week 1 ($330 to win $300); Tampa Bay Buccaneers +7 at Minnesota Vikings in Week 1 ($220 to win $200); Baltimore Ravens -9 vs. Houston Texans in Week 1 ($330 to win $300); Buffalo Bills at 10-to-1 to win Super Bowl 58 ($100 to win $1,000); Lamar Jackson to win NFL MVP ($150 to win $2,700); Green Bay Packers +2.5 at Chicago Bears in Week 1 ($330 to win $300); Ohio State to win the College Football Playoff at 8-to-1 ($350 to win $2,800); Carson Beck to win the Heisman Trophy at 30-to-1 ($100 to win $3,000); LSU -1.5 at -115 vs. Florida State in Week 1 ($345 to win $300); Las Vegas Aces to win WNBA Championship at -115 ($575 to win $500); William Byron to win NASCAR Cup Series championship at +750 ($300 to win $2,250); Edmonton Oilers to win 2024 Stanley Cup Final at 12-to-1 ($250 to win $3,000); Mississippi State under 6.5 wins at -145 ($435 to win $300); US women's national team to win World Cup at +250 ($200 to win $500); Scottie Scheffler to win Open Championship at 10-to-1 ($200 to win $2,000); Xander Schauffele to win Open Championship at 26-to-1 ($80 to win $2,080); Cameron Young to win Open Champonship at 60-to-1 ($35 to win $2,100)

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

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