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Joe Nelson - About Me

A regular on the leaderboard across all sports, Joe Nelson has been a content contributor as well as an acclaimed handicapper on Vegas Insider since 2006. A past Wise Guys Contest champion, Nelson is known for producing the Green Sheet football newsletter and he makes his very best selections available to Vegas Insider clients in the NFL, College Football, NBA, College Basketball, and Baseball.

Dozens of top finishes are documented over the past decade and a few seasons in particular stand out. The 2013-14 football season was especially profitable with the rare accomplishment finishing as the #1 win percentage handicapper in both college football and the NFL on Vegas Insider.

Often considered the toughest handicapping discipline, Nelson’s +3546 mark in NFL selections since the start of the 2012 season is the very best record among the prestigious field of handicappers on the Vegas Insider roster as we approach the 2021 season.

Even with the great challenges of the unusual 2020-21 football season Nelson was one of only six handicappers that managed a profitable finish in both college football and the NFL, including a #3 finish for the college season.

Basketball has also provided great positive returns for those following Nelson including a net gain of +8520 the past six college basketball seasons combined from 2015-16 to 2020-21. Nelson is on a run of positive results in the NBA since the 2017-18, including an epic run in 2018-19 that included a 14-game winning streak in guaranteed selections.

In baseball Nelson was the Vegas Insider MLB underdog leader in 2019 while posting top 3 finishes for MLB totals in 2017, 2018, and 2020.

Nelson is a University of Wisconsin graduate with a background in statistics and regrettably, is also a pessimistic Vikings fan.

Look for regular blog posts and articles for insight and commentary throughout the year and consider following Nelson’s selections this season.
No daily picks currently submitted. Please check back throughout the day.

By Joe Nelson
Posted 09/15/2021 at 12:41 PM

There are only three current stand-alone division leaders in the NFL right now and they are Miami, Houston, and Philadelphia. While Miami made a big jump last season, it is a franchise with just two playoff appearances in the past 19 seasons and without a playoff win since 2000. The Texans and Eagles were both 4-game winners a year ago and had two of the lowest projections in the entire league, with many chattering about the prospect of a winless season for Houston with a win total that fell to 4.5, even with the expanded 17-game schedule. Both of those teams have new head coaches this season and Nick Siriani and David Culley joined Brandon Staley as winners in their very first games as NFL head coaches. The two most prominent new hires in the cycle last season were Robert Saleh and Urban Meyer and they had two of the worst opening week performances despite what looked like two of the most favorable opening draws.
Tampa Bay started off the 2021 season with a rare feat, winning S/U despite losing the turnover battle by a -3 margin. The Chargers and 49ers also held on to wins despite losing the turnover battle though both the Buccaneers and 49ers were ATS losers. Rookie quarterbacks have received a lot of attention this off-season with three rookies starting in Week 1, while two others saw the field for a few plays. The #1 pick Trevor Lawrence is currently #1 in interceptions as the only quarterback to have three in Week 1. He is in good company however as the only other two quarterbacks that produced multiple interceptions last week were future HOFs Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
The top QBR in the league last week belonged to Teddy Bridgewater who was cast aside by Carolina after one season and dealt with rumors of the Broncos courting Aaron Rodgers all summer. Bridgewater had to beat out Drew Lock this summer and rewarded Denver with a great performance. Second in QBR was Jameis Winston, as the former #1 pick with an interception history stepped up in a big way to replace Drew Brees. Matthew Stafford was third as the top three performers in Week 1 were all new starters compared with a year ago for their respective teams.
There are a few surprises in the current NCAA polls with Iowa climbing to #5 in the AP poll while Cincinnati moved ahead of Ohio State with the Buckeyes penalized far more for last week’s 7-point loss to Oregon than Clemson was for a 7-point loss to Georgia. Cincinnati’s hopes to be the first Group of 5 team to crash the CFP may rest on the next two games facing Indiana and Notre Dame. While the win for the Ducks was a great highlight for a Pac-12 conference in need of a boost, the rest of the day went poorly with big losses for USC, Washington, and Utah, teams the league was counting on for strong showings this season. The SEC West had a few big wins and has just one team with a loss so far, LSU, the 2019 national champions. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate… 



By Joe Nelson
Posted 09/13/2021 at 02:09 PM

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the second big college football weekend. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, while other teams played much better than the final score shows.

Coastal Carolina (-27) 49, Kansas 22: The Jayhawks hung around in Thursday’s game, trailing only 28-22 into the third quarter after quarterback Jason Bean rushed for a 46-yard touchdown. Coastal Carolina answered to lead by 13 heading into the fourth quarter and added two fourth quarter touchdowns for a 27-point final margin, giving many backing the Chanticleers a narrow win on line that was at -26 or -26.5 much of the week before closing back at -27.

Army (-6.5) 38, Western Kentucky 35: Army had a 14-0 lead just a few minutes into this game but Western Kentucky would score just before halftime for a seven-point margin at the break. Army went back up by 14 in the third quarter and scored first in the fourth to lead by 21 points. Western Kentucky struck for back-to-back touchdowns surrounding Army being unable to convert a 4th-and-2. The Hilltoppers held Army to a field goal with about two minutes remaining to stay within 10 and with 22 seconds to go Western Kentucky rushed into the end zone for the late cover.

Florida (-28.5) 42, South Florida 20: Florida led 35-3 at halftime but South Florida got back into the game in the third quarter to climb to within 22 points. Anthony Richardson broke an 80-yard run on 1st down for a Florida touchdown as the Gators briefly went up by 29 points to sit past the number. Later a nice punt return put South Florida in good field position to deliver a spread-spoiling touchdown with about four minutes left in the game.

South Carolina (-2) 20 East Carolina 17: These teams were tied 14-14 through three quarters but East Carolina took the lead in the fourth after settling for a short field goal after a 14-play drive. A big kickoff return for South Carolina followed but the Gamecocks were not able to find the end zone, tying the game with about seven minutes remaining. The Pirates had a 3-and-out and South Carolina went 54 yards in the final minutes to hit the game-winning field goal as time expired to win and slip past the near-even spread.

Wyoming (-6.5) 50, Northern Illinois 43: The Cowboys struck early and often in this game and wound up with a 42-16 lead late in the third quarter after a defensive touchdown. Northern Illinois connected for a 40-yard pass to get within 20 by the end of the third quarter. The Huskies then scored back-to-back touchdowns in the fourth quarter in the span of 13 seconds with a Wyoming fumble setting up the second possession to make it a 42-36 game. Forcing Wyoming to go backwards on a 3-and-out, NIU had the ball back and completed a 10-play drive to suddenly have the lead after trailing by 26 points about 15 minutes earlier in the game clock. The Wyoming offense finally woke up and scored a touchdown on 3rd-and-goal and then in a critical play relative to the spread, the Cowboys got the two-point conversion. Northern Illinois had time to answer but Rocky Lombardi wound up with four straight incomplete passes as Wyoming escaped Dekalb with a win and a cover for most, though a few late lines did hit -7.

Nebraska (-13.5) 28, Buffalo 3: In need of a win, Nebraska failed to score in the first quarter but managed two touchdowns late in the second quarter including a 68-yard pass in the final minute before halftime. Buffalo scored a field goal in the third as the Bulls had a narrow underdog cover going down 11 heading into the final frame. On the first play of the fourth quarter Kyle Vantrease was intercepted to hand Nebraska the ball at the one-yard line and the Huskers capitalized to lead 21-3. Buffalo failed going for it on 4th-and-2 in Nebraska territory on the next possession and later in the fourth, missed on two field goals. Nebraska added a late touchdown on a second 68-yard touchdown pass to create a 28-3 final.

Texas State (+2) 23, Florida International 17: Texas State led 10-0 early in this game but FIU would score 17 consecutive points to lead by seven heading into the fourth quarter. Texas State tied the game with about 10 minutes to go before five straight punts closed out regulation. In overtime FIU fumbled on a 3rd down sack and Texas State was able to find the end zone.

Wisconsin (-26) 34, Eastern Michigan 7: The Badgers led 24-0 at halftime and added a field goal in the third quarter to lead 27-0, sitting just past the favorite spread. A dominant defensive performance was spoiled in the fourth quarter as backup quarterback Chase Wolf threw an interception that Eastern Michigan returned 98 yards for a touchdown in what appeared to be devastating blow for those on the favorite. Eastern Michigan returned the favor with an interception in its own territory that set-up a late Wisconsin touchdown to get the margin back to 27. The Eagles were a late threat to score reaching the Wisconsin 18-yard-line on the final play before time ran out.

SMU (-23) 35, North Texas 12: In one of the more misleading final scores of the week SMU led North Texas just 14-12 late in the third quarter with the Mean Green lined up for a two-point conversion to tie. The attempt failed and just a minute later SMU hit a big play to lead 21-12 heading into the fourth quarter. SMU added two more touchdowns including a late 85-yard run to make the 35-12 final score in a game with rather even production as the final landed right on the 23-point closing spread.

Memphis (-6) 55, Arkansas State 50: Memphis scored early and often in this game but Arkansas State did just enough to stay in the mix with a 34-23 lead for the Tigers at halftime. The margin was still 11 points heading into the fourth but Memphis would lead 55-36 with about 10 minutes remaining after a 75-yard touchdown strike. Arkansas State followed with a 15-play touchdown drive that included two 4th down conversions, getting the score within 12. After forcing a rare punt, the Red Wolves went the distance with an 87-yard touchdown drive to narrowly climb within the spread, down five with less than two minutes remaining. Memphis again had to punt as Arkansas State would get the ball back with a chance to win, albeit from its own 4-yard-line. The Red Wolves picked up 40 yards but could not complete the miracle comeback.

Kentucky (-5.5) 35, Missouri 28: The Wildcats jumped out to a 14-0 lead in this game but Memphis battled back including getting a touchdown just before halftime. Kentucky still led by seven through three quarters but Missouri would tie the game early in the fourth. Fewer than two minutes later Kentucky went back in front by seven with still more than 11 minutes remaining. Missouri could not answer but the Wildcats failed to put the game away, missing on a 37-yard field goal. Missouri reached Kentucky territory on a late opportunity but took a third down sack and came up empty on 4th-and-long.


Nelson: Sweet 16 Handicapping Breakdown & Betting Analysis
Nelson: 2021 NCAA Tournament Favorites to Fade, Sleepers to Back
Nelson: Close Calls - Week 4
Nelson: 4th Quarter Covers - Week 5
Nelson: Close Calls - Week 3
2020-2021 CBK #2 Member Leader: +1,057
2020-2021 NCAA FB #3 Money Leader: +838
2020-2021 NCAA FB #2 Guaranteed Leader: +708
2020-2021 NCAA FB #4 Percent Leader: 59%
2020 MLB #3 Totals Leader: +681
2019 MLB Underdog Leader: +2,427
2018-2019 NBA Guaranteed Leader: +1,862
2018-2019 NCAA BK Record: 56%, +1,941
19-2 NCAA BK Guaranteed Run: 12/21/18 -1/21/19
14-0 NBA Guaranteed Run: 12/8/18 -12/22/18
2018 MLB #3 Totals Leader: +1,076
2017-2018 NBA Member Leader: +493
2017-2018 NBA Overall Money: +1,053
2017-2018 NCAA BK #2 Percent Leader: 57%
2017-2018 NCAA BK Overall Money: +2,129
2017 MLB #3 Totals Leader: +682
2015-2016 NCAA BK #3 Money Leader: +1,709
2015-2016 NCAA BK #3 Percent Leader: 56%
2014 MLB #3 Favorites Leader: +1,100
2013-2014 NBA #3 Totals Leader: +993
2013-2014 NFL Money Leader: +1,340
2013-2014 NFL Percent Leader: 60%
2013-2014 NFL Guaranteed Leader: +805
2013-2014 NCAA FB Percent Leader: 60%
2013-2014 NCAA FB #2 Money Leader: +1,446
2013-2014 NCAA FB #3 Member Leader: +940
2012-2013 NFL #2 Member Leader: +200
2012-2013 NCAA FB Guaranteed Leader: +722
2012 MLB Guaranteed Leader: +2,480
2012 #2 MLB Totals Leader: +1,208
2011-2012 NBA #2 Money Leader: +1,219
2011-2012 NBA #3 Percent Leader: 55%
2011-2012 NBA #3 Member Leader: +711
2011 MLB #3 Underdog Leader: +1,607
2011 MLB #2 Member Leader: +1,789
2008-2009 NCAA BK Guaranteed Leader: +1,250
2007-2008 NCAA BK Member Leader: +1,450
2008 MLB #2 Guaranteed Leader: +2,236
2007-2008 NFL #3 Money Leader: +1,470
2006-2007 NCAA FB Member Leader
2006-2007 NBA #3 Percent Leader: 54%
2006 MLB #2 Member Leader: +1,238
2006 MLB #3 Money Leader: +214

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Period: 09/22/2021 to 09/22/2021
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09/15/2021 at 12:41 PM
Between the Lines - Sep. 15

09/13/2021 at 02:09 PM
4th Quarter Covers - NCAA Week 2

09/10/2021 at 02:15 PM
Between the Lines Sep. 8

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