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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.

1 Pick MLB Daily Picks, Sunday September 20
1 Pick NBA Daily Picks, Sunday September 20
3 Pick NFL Sunday Picks, Sunday September 20

By Joe Nelson
Posted 07/31/2020 at 12:05 PM

EASTERN CONFERENCE TEAMS (Odds to Win Conference):
Milwaukee Bucks (-185): The Bucks are a massive favorite to win the Eastern Conference and almost certainly will be the #1 seed in the playoffs. There is no home court advantage ahead however and the Bucks were ousted in the Eastern Conference Finals last season in six games against Toronto despite being the #1 seed. A franchise and city in a long title drought will have a harder path than they deserved in these circumstances.
Toronto Raptors (+600): No one expected the Raptors to be in same position they were last season without Kawhi Leonard but Toronto is on pace to again be the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. At +600 to win the East few are banking on another long postseason run but the restart does provide an opportunity for a team that has proven many wrong before.
Boston Celtics (+550): The Celtics are +550 to win the Eat despite being closer to falling to the #4 spot than moving up to the #2 spot at the restart. Gordon Hayward is also expected to leave the bubble in September for the birth of a child in the middle of possibly the conference finals if the Celtics get that far. Respect for Brad Stevens in these unusual circumstances is carrying some weight.
Miami Heat (+1100): The Heat are a surprise top four team and will be saddled with a tough schedule out of the restart with four difficult games including facing the three teams above them in the standings. Indiana and Philadelphia are just two games behind Miami, though the urgency in playing for seeding may be less significant in this format.
Indiana Pacers (+4000): The Pacers are just two games back of Miami for the #4 spot but also in danger of sliding to #6. Victor Oladipo is one of the most prominent players opting to sit out of the restart citing his injury history. His return could have made the Pacers a serious sleeper but he had only played in 13 games this season and the adjustment on this price looks severe, though they remain a serious long shot.
Philadelphia 76ers (+850): Certainly one of the league’s bigger disappointments, the 76ers could be a team that could make the most of the restart opportunity that may level the playing field a bit. The 76ers have an attractive schedule in the eight seeding games and are a serious threat to climb to #5 or even #4 as the East odds that are far lower than the two teams directly above them suggest.  
Brooklyn Nets (+8000): The Nets have been decimated with players opting out of the restart and have added Michael Beasley, Jamal Crawford, and Sean Marks to fill up the remaining roster that was trimmed down to just 10 at one point. It would take quite a collapse for the Nets to surrender its six-game edge over #9 Washington however but Brooklyn will be an appealing draw for one of the favorites in the first round.
Orlando Magic (+25000): Orlando is hosting these games but there isn’t likely to be any real advantage for the team. 5.5 games up on the Wizards the Magic are almost certainly heading to the playoffs and should be considered a threat to pass up short-handed Brooklyn for the #7 spot, with the Magic winning Game 1 vs. Toronto last April in the 2/7 series before the Raptors went on to win the title.
Washington Wizards (+25000): The Wizards have lost two of their top players for the restart and the inclusion of Washington in this process seems quite unnecessary. The league clearly wanted to include some of the other teams in the West picture (notably New Orleans) and as such Washington was drawn in and should provide Ws for most foes.
WESTERN CONFERENCE TEAMS (Odds to Win Conference):
Los Angeles Lakers (+135): Everyone will be expecting a LA/LA Western Conference Finals but the Lakers are moving forward without Avery Bradley who started 44 games and was a great defensive asset. He will be replaced by Dion Waiters and reportedly J.R. Smith, though ultimately Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Alex Caruso will ultimately fill in most of those minutes.
Los Angeles Clippers (+180): The Clippers have pulled a slightly easier schedule than the Lakers in the 8 games to finalize the seeding but 5.5 games is an overwhelming hurdle even if the Clippers take the opener with their rival. This group will probably prefer to enter as the #2 seed though it can’t affort to have Denver or Utah make a run at passing them up, particularly with Houston lurking as the likely #5 or #6 seed.
Denver Nuggets (+1000): The Nuggets barely survived the opening round of the playoffs last season as the #2 seed and wound up ousted in the conference semifinals. Denver isn’t being given much of chance to best one of the LA squads with this price and is most likely to stay in the #3 spot. A dangerous first round matchup with Houston would emerge in the current standings.
Utah Jazz (+2600): The restart schedule for the Jazz is one of the most favorable with six of eight game against teams below them in the Western Conference standings. 1.5 games behind Denver the Jazz have a realistic shot to move up to the #3 spot, getting a head-to-head opportunity with the Nuggets in the sixth game while Denver also plays both LA squads and Toronto in its final three.
Oklahoma City Thunder (+5000): The Thunder has been considered great overachievers, incredibly sitting ahead of the Rockets team that Russell Westbrook joined at the break. Oklahoma City has roughly equal probability to finish 5th, 6th, or 7th in the final standings with a rather clear incentive to avoid being in the #7 spot. Oklahoma City has one of the more favorable schedules after three tough games to open the restart.
Houston Rockets (+650): These odds certainly seem short compared to Denver, Utah, and Oklahoma City teams currently ahead of Houston but the restart opportunity will be embraced by a team that has been considered a contender in the West for several years. The remaining schedule offers no favors drawing the Bucks and Lakers among the eight remaining games.
Dallas Mavericks (+1800): While many are looking at Houston as a West sleeper, Dallas has some serious potential as well and has a reasonable shot to climb out of the #7 spot sitting just 1.5 games behind the Thunder and Rockets. The opener with Houston will set the tone but playing Phoenix twice plus games with the Kings and Blazers is appealing. The Sagarin Ratings call Dallas the 6th best team in the NBA, not just the West.
Memphis Grizzlies (+10000): Five additional Western Conference teams were included by the NBA in hopes that one of them can track down the Grizzlies for the #8 spot. With a 3.5 game lead, Memphis has a nearly 90 percent chance to hold on as much as the league would love to see the Pelicans make a move. Not surprisingly the Grizzlies landed a difficult 8-game path featuring the top three East teams.
Portland Trail Blazers (+6000): The Blazers were in the Western Conference Finals last season as hard as that may be to remember given the 29-37 record that has the Blazers out of the playoffs before the restart. Portland’s restart schedule is one of the most difficult among the 22 remaining teams and Portland will move forward without Trevor Ariza.
New Orleans Pelicans (+4000): The league isn’t hiding its desire to see budding superstar Zion Williamson in the postseason. The Pelicans recovered from a brutal start to play to go 23-15 since mid-December and give the team hope of the postseason. The eight-game path is rated as the easiest of all the teams in Orlando. The first three games will dictate the chances as the Pelicans should be a solid favorite in each of the final five.
Sacramento Kings (+20000): The Kings also have a relatively favorable eight-game card and being included in this event is a positive sign for a franchise that was last in the playoffs in 2005-06. The Kings are in the same position as Portland and New Orleans in the standings despite the contrasting odds and Sacramento has two favorable games to start off to give itself a shot to force a play-in situation.
San Antonio Spurs (+25000): The Spurs have done a number of remarkable things under Gregg Popovich and after some debate he will be coaching the team in Orlando. LaMarcus Aldridge is injured and the Spurs are an extreme long shot even with one of the more favorable schedules. Despite the contrasting odds the Spurs have about as good of a probability of forcing a play-in as the #9 team as the Blazers do.
Phoenix Suns (+20000): Including the Suns is questionable but they were needed for balance despite being 13 games below .500 and full six games behind Memphis for the #8 spot. The Suns haven’t made the playoffs since 2009-10 and they won’t this season either, drawing a tough path that includes several games against teams with a serious incentive to move up or hold their current positions.



By Joe Nelson
Posted 07/21/2020 at 08:41 PM

Baseball is finally back, below is a win total thought for each division (numbers as of early July 2020). Good Luck!

BEST BET: UNDER 31½ – Philadelphia Phillies: A third of the games for the Phillies will be against the Nats and the Braves, clear NL contenders. Add in 10 more games with a formidable Mets rotation and wins will be tough to come by for a limited offensive team. The Marlins pitching staff even offers some promise while the AL East draw won’t do the Phillies any favors. New acquisition Zack Wheeler has already questioned being able to finish the season with his first child on the way while putting the DH in the NL isn’t likely to benefit the Philadelphia lineup as much as other teams in the division with better offensive depth. Aaron Nola regressed last season and returning to his 2018 form isn’t likely in a short season as he has been a very slow starter with a 5.68 ERA in March/April in his career. Rookie Spencer Howard is likely the leading candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation with Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin at best average options after Nola. The Philadelphia bullpen is already littered with injuries for a unit that had limited promise to start with. 31½ doesn’t sound like an overwhelming figure, but the Phillies were just a .500 team in 2019 and haven’t topped .500 in a season since the 2011 campaign.  
BEST BET: OVER 30½ Wins – Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers don’t have many household names in the rotation following rising star Brandon Woodruff but the Brewers should be well-suited for a short campaign as they can lean on the deep and versatile bullpen. Milwaukee is 55 games above .500 the past three years combined and last season made its great late season run without Christian Yelich. The Cubs and Pirates are surely candidates to decline in 2020 compared to last season while drawing a third of the schedule against the AL Central while completely avoiding the NL East and NL West teams is a huge plus for Milwaukee’s chances at returning to the playoffs for a third straight season. While Craig Counsell’s creativity may take a hit with the implementation of the DH in the NL this season, the Brewers have viable DH candidates in an aging Ryan Braun and defensively challenged Keston Hiura, while sluggers Ryon Healy and Logan Morrison are also in camp looking to possibly earn a spot behind new addition Justin Smoak. Another newcomer Avisail Garcia also could reemerge as a major contributor after battling injuries the past two seasons in Chicago and Tampa Bay.
BEST BET: OVER 31 – Arizona Diamondbacks: The Dodgers are certainly the favorites in the West but Arizona held its own in that series last season and went 39-32 after the All Star break in 2019 despite falling out of the playoff race with a mid-September slide. Madison Bumgarner is the high-profile addition to lead the staff but Robbie Ray, Zac Gallen, and Luke Weaver give the Diamondbacks a solid rotation top-to-bottom. The schedule will also work out well for Arizona with 30 games ahead vs. the Rockies, Padres, and Giants, division foes that Arizona could have done much better against last season. Houston and Oakland will be difficult draws from the AL but that division crossover will also bring four games with Seattle and will mean much lesser travel than the team is accustomed to. Arizona has had three consecutive winning seasons, even in years dealing with a historically great Dodgers team and a more formidable Colorado team than is expected this season. The Rockies have a bit of rebound potential this season but the Giants aren’t as likely to hang around as long this season, while San Diego remains a team with many question marks. The Dodgers will also lean on three ultra-young starters behind Clayton Kershaw which could mean some inconsistency and more work for the bullpen.
BEST BET: UNDER 31½ – Boston Red Sox: The 2018 Red Sox were a historically great team with 108 wins and a World Series title. Last season Boston dropped to just 84 wins and the climb downward could continue in the abbreviated 2020 season. New York and Tampa Bay look like perhaps the top two AL contenders and those two teams will fill a third of Boston’s schedule, teams the Red Sox combined to go 12-26 against last season. Last season’s #5 starter for the Red Sox Eduardo Rodriguez is now the staff ace by default while Nathan Eovaldi and Collin McHugh back from injuries and an aging Martin Perez off a season overachievement will need to fill out the rotation. Subtracting Mookie Betts isn’t going to spell improvement as the lineup is much less intimidating and will also draw 20 games against the pitching-rich NL East as well, with Boston only 10-10 in interleague play last season. Boston went 21-11 vs. the AL Central last season and had a winning record against four of five AL West teams and now has all of those opponents erased. 31½ sounds low for a popular Red Sox team accustomed to being in contention but winning 32 games means a 53.3% winning percentage for at team that won at a 51.9% clip last season. 
BEST BET: UNDER 34 – Minnesota Twins: Given that the Twins will play the Royals and Tigers 20 times and capable but not overly formidable Cleveland and Chicago squads 20 times, many will call for a great season in Minnesota. The Twins were clear overachievers last season with 101 wins however in a historically great home run season. Minnesota got unexpected starting pitching last season and now is turning to three veterans that have battled injuries and inconsistency in recent years to replace much of that success. Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi also are regression candidates at the top of the rotation and the short summer camp will likely mean more reliance on a bullpen that lacked quality depth last season. The NL Central draw is a tricky one with likely four quality teams in that group and the Twins were just 8-12 in interleague games last season. Minnesota still lost its season series with the Indians last year and was a fortunate team in one-run games with a 23-12 record. A huge 21-8 May buoyed the season with Minnesota a more average performer in the mid-summer months before another embarrassing playoff sweep. Josh Donaldson is a high profile addition but several returnees might struggle to match their 2019 pace.
BEST BET: OVER 28½ – Texas Rangers: The new ballpark will be an unknown factor but there remains a lot to like about the Texas lineup. Adding Corey Kluber gives the Rangers a potential ace to match with the quality results Lance Lynn and Mike Minor have provided while Kyle Gibson remains a pitcher with a tantalizing upside. The rotation is high on experience which could help to offset some of the uncertainty in the bullpen. The case for the Rangers also hinges on clear paths to decline from Houston and Oakland. The Astros will remain formidable but two expected starters in the rotation haven’t even reported yet and everyone will be looking to spoil Houston’s season. Oakland also has some regression potential after back-to-back 97-win seasons. The five projected starters for Oakland won a combined 30 games last season and while the bullpen can carry the team it may be a tougher path. Seattle looks like one of the worst teams in baseball this season as Texas could produce a much better record in that series this season. The NL West interleague draw also offers some matchup and travel benefits to the Rangers as this team that was 48-42 at the All Star break last season has the potential to be a sleeper in the AL playoff race. Texas should at least have a good shot for a .500 campaign following three straight losing seasons.


Nelson: South Alabama at Southern Miss, Preview, Picks, Odds
Nelson: NCAA Basketball March Madness Contender Concerns for the Tournament
Nelson: Clemson vs. Ohio State
Nelson: Gasparilla Bowl Preview
Nelson: Hawaii Bowl Preview
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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