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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.

1 Pick NCAA Basketball Saturday Picks, Saturday March 28

By Joe Nelson
Posted 03/11/2015 at 03:51 PM

The ACC Tournament is now a five-day 14-team event starting this week and the bracket would be even more interesting if the ACC’s 15th team Syracuse was included. While there appears to only be one true bubble team in the conference this season, a lot is at stake in Greensboro this week in the conference tournament.
Top Seed Contenders: In many projections the ACC could claim two #1 seeds on Selection Sunday with 28-2 Virginia and 28-3 Duke both in position to be strongly considered for the moment. At least one of those teams will lose at some point this week however so it may be tough for the ACC to hold on to both spots unless the other candidates also falter with Arizona and Wisconsin currently looking like #2 seeds seeking to move up with Villanova also in the #1 or #2 seed position. Notre Dame could potentially move up to the #2 line by winning the ACC Tournament while Louisville and North Carolina seem likely to fall in the #4-#6 seed range in the NCAA Tournament depending on the results this week, with a likely head-to-head matchup lined up Thursday.
Bubble Teams: Miami looks destined to fall right on the bubble as the team with the most at stake in the ACC this week. The Hurricanes have 11 losses including less impressive misfires with home defeats against Green Bay and Eastern Kentucky as well as conference losses to Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Wake Forest. This has been an erratic team but a dominant win at Duke carries a lot of weight though that is one of just two wins over certain NCAA Tournament teams all season. Miami is the #6 seed in the ACC tournament and they will play Wednesday against the winner of Tuesday’s matchup between Wake Forest and Virginia Tech for the right to face #3 seed Notre Dame. Miami cannot afford an opening loss and a win over the Irish would certainly provide a lot more assurance to the Selection committee. NC State appears to have done enough to qualify even if they lose Wednesday while the next in line teams Pittsburgh and Clemson are far enough away that they would need to win the ACC tournament to get in.
ACC Tournament Favorites: While Virginia is the top seed, Duke won the only meeting in the regular season and in a favorable venue in Greensboro the Blue Devils will enter the week as the favorite in this tournament. With 11 straight wins the Blue Devils have a lot of momentum though the run has not been without some close calls including two overtime wins. With Justin Anderson on the shelf Virginia has struggled a bit down the stretch, losing the regular season finale at Louisville and featuring several tight games with lesser competition as the Cavaliers look like the team that is more vulnerable. With that said the path might be less daunting as Duke’s first game will be with either NC State or Pittsburgh, two teams that have proven capable of playing up to an elite level on occasion this season as the Wolfpack did beat Duke in the regular season. Next Duke would potentially face Notre Dame or Miami, the other two teams to knock off the Blue Devils this year.
ACC Title Sleepers: While most project NC State as a team comfortably in the Big Dance, the Wolfpack may not feel completely secure in that bid and should be a motivated squad. With wins over Duke, Louisville, and North Carolina in the regular season NC State has proven it has a high ceiling even though the overall results were marginal. A difficult first game with Pittsburgh will precede a potential opportunity against Duke in a big local rivalry match in a series that the Wolfpack has been very competitive in during recent seasons. The winner of the potential North Carolina/Louisville quarterfinal matchup will also be a threat as will Miami if the Hurricanes play with the urgency that they need to in order to secure a NCAA Tournament spot.
Cinderella Candidates: It is pretty rare to see one of the bottom teams make a run to a conference tournament title in the major conferences but it is not impossible. The best candidate is likely Pittsburgh, who at 19-13 had a pretty respectable season despite finishing 8-10 in ACC play with losses in the final three games to wipe out any fringe NCAA Tournament hopes. Pittsburgh has been a better scoring defense than the efficiency numbers suggest and this has been one of the best offensive teams in the conference despite the losing record. Wins over Notre Dame and North Carolina prove the Panthers have the ability to play with the top teams and there weren’t many lopsided losses in league play even against the elite teams on the road. Veteran coach Jamie Dixon could get a lot out of a sophomore heavy squad this week and the Panthers would only have to win four games as the #10 seed instead of five games like the four teams below them thanks to Syracuse being absent.
Coaching Farewells? Brian Gregory has been on the hot seat at Georgia Tech all season and with a 3-15 ACC campaign in his fourth season in Atlanta that status has not changed. There are not many scenarios for Gregory to improve his stock this week as this year’s team was filled with upperclassmen and much more was expected. With a task of winning five games to get the Yellow Jackets into the NCAA Tournament it seems likely that this may be Gregory’s final week on the bench in the ACC. The other three teams in the bottom four of the conference all had first year head coaches with their schools after making a change after last season. Clemson certainly had a disappointing finish to the season but Brad Brownell was extended last season and the Tigers are unlikely to make a move. It looks like it will be a third straight NCAA Tournament missed for Leonard Hamilton at Florida State but Hamilton has been in Tallahassee 13 years with enough success to buy more time after a year with a young team and some key injuries. The only other potential move would seem to be an unlikely one at Syracuse but Jim Boeheim will face scrutiny following the NCAA sanctions. The Hall of Famer seems likely to be able to stay or leave on his own terms whenever that may be even if his legacy has been tarnished.



By Joe Nelson
Posted 01/15/2015 at 02:43 PM

How much a team spends on its quarterback can be an overlooked factor in ultimately winning the Super Bowl. In the salary cap era it certainly makes sense that the less you spend on one key player the better the rest of your team can potentially be and there is some data to support that notion. Only three times in the last 12 seasons has a team that won the Super Bowl had a top five highest paid quarterback in terms of the salary cap number and the only four times in that span has the Super Bowl winning quarterback had a salary cap number above $10,000,000.
The average Super Bowl winning quarterback has ranked 21st among quarterbacks in their salary cap hit going back to the 2001-02 season but that number is misleading as second year quarterback Tom Brady was paid just $314,993 against the cap that season, 78th among quarterbacks. If you take that season out and also take out last season when Russell Wilson had a cap number of $681,085 for 53rd in the league among quarterbacks, the ten seasons from 2002-03 to 2012-13 featured the average Super Bowl winning quarterback ranking about 12th in the league in cap number, pulling in an average salary of $8,851,469. That is still a big number but 15 quarterbacks this season made more than that against the cap.
Of the four remaining quarterbacks in this week’s conference championship games two are highly paid, one is more modestly paid, and one is one of the absolute steals of the league. Aaron Rodgers had a cap number of $17,550,000 this season while Tom Brady is at $14,800,000. Both are huge numbers and higher than any Super Bowl winning quarterback ever. Eli Manning’s second Super Bowl season in 2011-12 featured the highest salary for a winner at $14,100,000. The three highest ranked Super Bowl winning quarterbacks in terms of salary against the cap have all been named Manning with Eli 3rd in 2007-08 and Peyton 5th in 2006-07 and Eli also 5th in 2011-12. Rodgers is actually only 6th in the league in terms of the highest cap number this season and Brady is 12th. Four of this year’s top five did not even make the postseason with Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, Drew Brees, and Sam Bradford as the top five, illustrating how disastrous your season can be if your quarterback is vastly overpaid.
Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson are both in the third season of rookie contracts but they came into the league in a much different manner with Luck the #1 pick in the draft and thus he is making $6,029,454 against the cap this season, 18th most in the league. Wilson made $817,302 against the cap this season, again 53rd in the league. The salary history indicates that the Seahawks and Colts may have the best chance to win the Super Bowl this season and Wilson’s low salary makes it clear why the Seahawks have the best chance to be a repeat Super Bowl champion since the Patriots did in 2003-04 and 2004-05 when Tom Brady was modestly paid as the 21st and 13th highest paid quarterback against the cap those seasons.


Nelson: Fade Alert - Overseeded Teams
Nelson: Northwest Division Analysis
Nelson: Southeast Division Analysis
Nelson: Atlantic Division Analysis
Nelson: Central Division Analysis
2014 MLB #3 Favorites Leader: +1,100
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Period: 02/28/2015 to 03/28/2015
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03/11/2015 at 03:51 PM
ACC Tournament March 10-14: What is at stake?

01/15/2015 at 02:43 PM
Super Bowl Quarterback Salary Factor

01/12/2015 at 03:32 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 12

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