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Joe Nelson - About Me

Joe Nelson has been a regular on the Vegas Insider leader board for nearly a decade. 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 2014-15 season.

2 Pick mlb Daily Picks, Thursday June 30

By Joe Nelson
Posted 03/16/2016 at 06:59 PM

South: Kansas (and Champion)
In a season where upsets on the top of the polls were the norm much of the season Kansas clearly established itself as the best team in the country with a two game edge in a Big XII conference that rated as the nation’s best. Kansas has a great mix of proven veteran leaders and talented youngsters and Kansas hasn’t lost since late January despite facing Kentucky, West Virginia (twice), Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas (twice), and Iowa State in that stretch for one of the nation’s most difficult schedules. Unlike many of the recent overall top seeds Kansas won’t be playing all that close to home going to Des Moines and then potentially Louisville but the region lines up pretty favorably for the Jayhawks barring a major upset. A disjointed Maryland team and a young California team are the 4 and 5 seeds in the group while Villanova looks less threatening than some of the other 2 seeds like Michigan State and Oklahoma. The team Kansas might least like to see is the team they lost to in the Round of 32 last season, a Wichita State team that lurks as a clear sleeper in the bottom half of the region. Ultimately Kansas looks like the most complete team and has a favorable path lined up for Bill Self and the Jayhawks to claim the title, though program has been an early upset victim several times in the last decade despite the consistent regular season excellence.
West: Oregon
The Ducks haven’t been in this position before and they certainly look like a vulnerable #1 seed. With that said they will enjoy a big location edge in the first two games with no other northwest teams in the grouping and the #4 and #5 seeds in the West region are also both big upset risks in the first round with difficult matchups. Duke or Baylor could absolutely beat Oregon but the game would be on the west coast in the Sweet 16 and neither presents a stiff defense, which looks like the best formula for slowing down a Ducks offense that was one of the best in the nation. Texas A&M and Oklahoma are viable on the bottom half of the bracket to emerge as Final Four contenders and Oklahoma would definitely be a slight favorite over Oregon in a potential regional final but the swings of inconsistency late in the season for the Sooners and Aggies makes them feel like a high risk to slip up before getting that opportunity. If the former conference rivals faced off in the Sweet 16 it would also be a grueling emotional game and the Ducks could benefit facing the victor two days later. Oregon shouldn’t be considered one of the four biggest threats to win the tournament but they were handed a pretty favorable draw and could make the most of it.
East: Indiana
The East bracket looks like the grouping most likely to produce some chaos with the top two seeds potentially at risk. North Carolina and Xavier are certainly formidable teams but the East also features dangerous teams up and down the bracket with West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana as the 3-5 seeds with each of those teams having a strong case for deserving to be up a notch higher. Providence and Wisconsin also look like viable Round of 32 upset candidates in the matchups with the top two seeds should they advance as this doesn’t look like a region that will go according to form. It wouldn’t be a complete shock if Indiana lost in the first round to a capable Tennessee-Chattanooga team but this Hoosiers team impressed down the stretch through a difficult February schedule to run away with the Big Ten and Indiana is one of the best shooting teams in the field. This is a much better defensive team than Tom Crean has usually fielded in Bloomington and the biggest threats on top of the bracket Kentucky and North Carolina are not defensive teams that create turnovers, the biggest weakness of the Hoosiers. Indiana would struggle if they faced West Virginia in the Elite Eight but Indiana has a viable shot in this region and the slight as an outright Big Ten champion being a #5 seed could fuel a team with one of the field’s best backcourt playmakers in senior Yogi Ferrell. A talented Tar Heels team that was the preseason #1 is certainly a safer choice but the team’s erratic shooting and casual perimeter defense is tough to trust in the tournament and despite the accolades North Carolina went just 4-4 vs. the other top five teams in the ACC even after winning the ACC Tournament while also beating no elite teams in non-conference play. Strong cases could be made for several teams in the East in what should be an entertaining region with many high profile games.
Midwest: Virginia
Supporting Virginia feels like taking a big underdog in the West region despite the Cavaliers being the top seed. Facing the Spartans in Chicago would be a big challenge but talk that the Spartans would cruise over the Cavaliers for a third straight season is a bit reckless. Two years ago Michigan State won by two points in a back-and-forth game and last season’s six-point win for Michigan State featured one of Virginia’s worst shooting games of the season with only two 3-point makes for the Cavaliers while Michigan State was also handed several breaks from the officials, getting to the line 33 times. It was a game where contact on the perimeter was called incredibly tight by the officials which completely took away the biggest strength of Virginia’s team particularly in the first half which allowed the Spartans to build the early lead. Virginia lost despite a 39-32 rebounding edge while committing only five turnovers as departed Michigan State senior Travis Trice had perhaps the best game of his career. In those two tournament wins over the Cavaliers 2016 player of the year candidate Denzel Valentine had more turnovers than made field goals, combining to score just seven points in 56 minutes as none of the current Spartans had much of an impact in either game. The teams rate very similarly this season and it would be a great game should both teams survive any of the hurdles in a region that feels favorable for the top two seeds with teams like Utah and Iowa State rating as two of the weaker teams on the 3 and 4 seed lines.
Sleeper: Providence
Since 1985 #8 seeds have made more final fours than #6 or #7 seeds and getting a crack at the #1 seed in the second round with a quick turnaround for limited preparation and less at stake than in the second week of the tournament may be the best time to beat them. The East region looks very tough and as such could have some upsets and some very tough games that could take a toll. While North Carolina isn’t likely to be an upset risk in the first round vs. Florida Gulf Coast they will have to exert some energy in an up-tempo game. Playing close to home may give the Tar Heels a bit of a false sense of security and if Providence survives a tough first round game with USC they will be a threat to send the top seed home. The Friars had an uneven Big East season but Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil have next level talent and with wins over Arizona and Villanova this season the ceiling for the Friars is extremely high but with the inexperience on the team there have been some ups and downs. North Carolina lacks size in the backcourt and has been a very erratic outside shooting team which should put them at risk in the tournament. Indiana or Kentucky in a potential Sweet 16 game would be a worse matchup for the Friars with the strong guard play of those teams but Providence looks like one of the biggest threats to one of the top seeds in the first weekend and if that happens they are a team that could take the run a step or two further in a region that could see some of the big chips fall in the opening weekend.



By Joe Nelson
Posted 01/26/2016 at 04:27 PM

There will certainly be a lot of comparisons between Super Bowl XLVIII and next week’s Super Bowl 50 matchup for the obvious correlation between two Peyton Manning led Broncos teams heading into a matchup with an up-and-coming NFC squad with an opportunistic defense. There are some similarities in the matchup but the biggest commonalities are not the ones most people are making. The eventual Super Bowl champion 2013 Seahawks team looks a lot more like the 2015 Denver Broncos than the 2015 Carolina Panthers.
The 2013 Broncos team was an offensive machine, leading the league in scoring (like the 2015 Panthers) by a wide margin and being by far the top offensive team in terms of total yardage (actually producing 90 more yards per game than this year’s Panthers team and nearly 102 yards per game more than the Broncos this season). It was the 2013 Seahawks that had a limited offense (18th in the league in total offense, Denver is 16th this season) and a quarterback that brought some question marks with his ability to move the ball downfield through the air, often settling for check downs and working with conservative play calls. It was also the Seahawks that had the league’s best defense in many areas (like the 2015 Broncos) with Denver’s defense this season allowing about 10 more yards per game than Seattle’s league-leading 2013 squad.
That 10 yard gap is actually about the same production average gap between Carolina’s offense and Denver’s offense this season despite the great contrast in the perception between the offensive ability of these teams. Carolina’s scoring led the league with an incredible turnover margin being a huge factor with the Panthers scoring almost nine more points per game in the regular season compared with the Broncos, but facing just five top 12 yards-per-play defenses this season while Denver has faced 10 such teams. Denver actually had one more defensive touchdown than Carolina in the regular season despite the focus on Carolina making big game-changing plays as the Panthers also had defensive scores in each playoff game.
 Cam Newton’s unique ability to excel in 3rd down and red zone situations will be the key area that should decide the Super Bowl. Denver won the AFC Championship by getting big 3rd (and 4th) down stops vs. New England while holding the Patriots to just one short-field touchdown until the final seconds of the game produced a second end zone strike. The Broncos will need to get those same big stops and leave Graham Gano to lead the scoring for the Panthers rather than Newton.
The Denver team that was ambushed by Seattle in New Jersey two years ago had a very mediocre defense that allowed 73 more yards per game and nearly a touchdown more per game than this year’s Denver squad as there are very few similarities between the two Super Bowl defenses for the Broncos. Carolina’s defense this season statistically falls right in between those two Denver units and falls nowhere near the numbers of the 2013 Seattle squad that they are drawing comparisons to, that team allowed just 14.4 points per game and fewer than 274 yards per game.
 When looking at the season team statistics a better comparison might be last season’s Super Bowl with the Panthers and the 2014 Patriots being a much better comparison and this season’s Broncos team featuring very similar yardage and scoring numbers to last year’s Seahawks team. Super Bowl XLIX was one of the best in recent years and a game that could have gone either way as the Patriots incredibly emerged as 28-24 victors, overcoming a turnover deficit with an edge on 3rd downs being a big area of success. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate…


Nelson: NL Value Starters
Nelson: AL Value Starters
Nelson: Schedule Outlook - AFC West
Nelson: Schedule Outlook - AFC North
Nelson: Schedule Outlook - NFC West
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03/16/2016 at 06:59 PM
Final Four Predictions

01/26/2016 at 04:27 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 26

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Between the Lines - Jan. 11

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