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Joe Nelson - About Me

Joe Nelson has been a regular on the Vegas Insider leader board since 2006. Well known for producing the Nelly’s Sportsline Green Sheet football newsletter, Nelson provides his very best picks to Vegas Insider clients.
The 2013-14 football season was especially profitable for Nelson, finishing as the Vegas Insider win percentage leader in BOTH the NFL and college football at 60%, finishing as the money leader in the NFL and #2 in money earned in college football amongst the deep and excellent field of handicappers at Vegas Insider. Few handicappers have ever been able to put together such strong finishes in both disciplines in the same season.
Nelson has also produced strong seasons in basketball and baseball in addition to the success in football as a long list of documented top finishes on Vegas Insider indicates. Nelson was also the champion of the prestigious Wise Guys Football Contest in 2011, besting a field of 72 national handicappers and then went on to finish 2nd in the same contest in 2012 for impressive back-to-back finishes.
With a statistics background and years of experience working with several established handicappers as well as over a decade as a professional handicapper, Nelson provides a unique approach with traditional methods as well as innovative strategies. Nelson’s handicapping focuses on team situations, schedule analysis, and line evaluation as well as following a variety of statistical indicators that are incorporated into the process.
You can find regular blog posts and articles for insight and commentary throughout the year and be sure to consider getting on board for a successful season.

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By Joe Nelson
Posted 10/24/2016 at 05:26 PM

The Top 10 of the college football polls features four teams with rather hollow resumes at this point and all of those squads will be severely tested on the road this week. Washington plays at Utah, Nebraska plays at Wisconsin, Baylor plays at Texas, and West Virginia plays at Oklahoma State. While none of those victories would cement that team’s status as a top 10 contender, it might start to erase the pretender suspicion that is still lurking behind all of those squads with perfect starts but not much weight behind the records in terms of quality wins.
West Virginia and Baylor will eventually meet in Big XII play but not until December 3 and the conference would love to see both teams still undefeated so that game can serve as a de-facto championship game on a weekend where the other four major conferences will have actual championship games. Both teams have numerous hurdles as the teams have 7.7% and 3.6% shots to finish 12-0 according to FPI with West Virginia actually the stronger candidate for perfection, which makes sense as they get to host both Oklahoma and Baylor.
The Big Ten was the victim of last week’s biggest upset as Ohio State fell at Penn State thanks to a blocked field goal return touchdown. Wisconsin may have done the heavy lifting for the Lions pushing the Buckeyes to the limit the previous week as Ohio State’s college football playoff odds took a big hit. Penn State has five games to go but they could be a major wrench in the Big Ten picture as winning out to finish 8-1 in Big Ten play is a real possibility. Michigan is carrying the national hopes for the conference but if Michigan is upset perhaps at Michigan State or at Iowa, and then the Wolverines also lose in Columbus, it would be Penn State playing on December 3 with the conference almost assured to be left out of the College Football Playoff. That is unless somehow Nebraska runs the table with FPI calling a 13-0 Huskers run a 0.1% probability as it would be a major surprise if the Huskers don’t lose the next two games.
This week’s game between Washington and Utah is not only a potential Pac-12 championship preview game but it also will determine who will be the lone remaining College Football Playoff hope for the conference. Every other team in the Pac-12 has at least two losses and while the victor of this week’s big game winning out is a steep long shot to run the table, the conference will at least continue to have a team in the conversation. 7-1 Utah doesn’t feel like they are in that conversation but a win this week would change that though odds are they would need to beat the Huskies twice in addition to beating Oregon and winning at Arizona State and at Colorado to complete a 12-1 campaign that still wouldn’t be a lock for the College Football Playoff.
Perhaps for lack of other storylines in the SEC but Alabama’s November schedule that looked like an automatic 4-0 run a few weeks ago now looks a bit more threatening with LSU building a lot of momentum now 3-0 under Ed Orgeron and Auburn coming off a very impressive win and displaying a defense and running game that could pose a threat in the Iron Bowl. Both of those teams have just one SEC loss at this point so those games could wind up deciding the division title, though Alabama will likely still have a path to get into the College Football Playoff as a one-loss team that doesn’t win the SEC West or play in the SEC Championship.
One of the biggest games of the college football season was supposed to be this week as the Clemson/Florida State game was expected to decide the ACC Atlantic and determine a clear College Football Playoff team. Clemson can still be that team but they need to lose twice in the final four ACC games to surrender the division title as a loss in Tallahassee isn’t likely to doom Clemson and the ACC. Doomsday for the conference will be if Clemson loses the ACC Championship game and then the committee is left with a Tigers team off a bad loss or a Louisville team that Clemson beat, with neither likely being the easier choice. Best of luck and onto this week’s slate…



By Joe Nelson
Posted 10/17/2016 at 05:03 PM

Basic probability math does dictate going for it on 4th down more often than most NFL coaches generally do but it seems that a lot of coaches have bought into going for it in risky situations for less logical reasons, such as setting the tone as a physical team or some similar line of justification. A couple of coaches were certainly burned on 4th down attempts last week, ultimately leading to costly defeats.
Chuck Pagano’s decision to go for it on 4th down in the 3rd quarter rather kick an easy field goal to go up by 7 wouldn’t come up had the Colts held on but the decision now haunts Pagano, whose status as a NFL head coach is probably as shaky as any of the 32 current head coaches. The decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 in that spot up 13-9 was definitely justifiable statistically but a shotgun formation pass play call certainly looked ridiculous after the sack. Those three-points certainly would have come in handy as Houston rallied with 14 points in the final 2:37 to force overtime.              
Jim Caldwell and Jeff Fisher had a bit of a bravado contest in the first half. Caldwell’s Lions went for it on 4th-and-1 on their opening drive from their own 49. That success prompted another gamble with a 4-and-goal call from the Los Angeles 2-yard line with about three minutes to go before the half. The Lions succeeded again to tie the game at 14-14. Jeff Fisher got his opportunity right before halftime as a Rams 3rd down pass to Kenny Britt was stopped inches before the goal line. The Rams quickly lined up to go for it against a scrambling Lions defense but play was stopped to review the previous play. It seemed like an unnecessary review as Britt wasn’t that close to scoring and all momentum was lost with the Lions allowed to rest and change personnel. Fisher still went for it on the final play of the half rather than taking a sure halftime lead and Todd Gurley was stuffed in a game the Rams eventually lost by three points late.
First year head coach Ben McAdoo certainly had the best week on 4th down with a 4th-and-5 conversion down 10-0 leading to a touchdown late in the first half. The Giants also converted another 4th-and-3 early in the third quarter on a drive that tied the game and the Giants wound up with a 66-yard touchdown pass to Odell Beckham that won the game on a 4th-and-1 play with 1:24 remaining in the game, taking back the lead after falling behind 23-20. That see-saw game featured a combined 22 penalties for 230 yards with Baltimore taking 15 of those 22 flags.
College football nearly had complete chaos on top of the rankings last week as #2 Ohio State and then #3 Clemson both needed overtime for wins last week. Louisville had a very tight Friday night contest with Duke while undefeated and surprising top 10 Nebraska narrowly escaped at Indiana. Nine power conference teams remain unbeaten with three in the Big Ten, two in the Big XII, two in the SEC, and just one each in the Pac-12 and ACC. Clemson and Washington will be carrying heavy burdens for their conferences in the coming weeks though this does feel like a year where multiple one-loss teams could make the playoff.
Alabama and Texas A&M face off this week to trim the SEC undefeated candidates down to one, and as usual, if Alabama loses they will remain effectively unbeaten as the assumed top one-loss team. It is a tall order for the Aggies but Alabama has lost a SEC home game three of the last five seasons while ranked as a top two team in the polls, including losing to Texas A&M in 2012. That game won’t decide the SEC West just yet however as Alabama’s next game will be in two weeks at LSU and while two losses has the Tigers out of the national picture, if they win out the will win the SEC. The Florida game will now be played in Baton Rouge, though it makes for a ridiculous November schedule for Ed Orgeron facing Alabama, at Arkansas, Florida, and at Texas A&M, and that run will only matter if they top Ole Miss this week. The other unexpected team with a win out and win the SEC path is Florida with a pretty reasonable path ahead outside the now much tougher LSU game. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate…


Nelson: Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh
Nelson: Close Calls - Week 7
Nelson: 4th Quarter Covers - Week 8
Nelson: 4th Quarter Covers - Week 7
Nelson: Close Calls - Week 5
2015-2016 NCAA BK #3 Money Leader: +1,709
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Joe Nelson's NFL Picks
Period: 09/27/2016 to 10/27/2016
Pick Type: All Picks
Record: 17-16-1 ( 51.5% , -50)
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Start Date: End Date:
10/24/2016 at 05:26 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 24

10/17/2016 at 05:03 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 17

10/10/2016 at 05:42 PM
Bewtween the Lines - Oct. 10

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