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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.
4 Pick NCAA Basketball Daily Picks, Wednesday January 26
1 Pick NBA Daily Picks, Wednesday January 26

By Joe Nelson
Posted 01/22/2022 at 12:38 PM

Last season was the first season where only two NFL divisional round teams came off the bye week, with a split ATS in those games as the Packers and Chiefs both won but Kansas City failed against a heavy favorite number. Generally, any handicapping trend listing the day of the week as an input is rather worthless, but Sunday divisional round road teams do much better than Saturday divisional round road teams. It sounds meaningless but getting an extra day in the turnaround is not insignificant for teams that win in the wild card round. Last season the Saturday hosts won comfortably in the division games while both road teams covered on Sunday including Tampa Bay winning outright in New Orleans. This year only the Bills are getting a full week in the turnaround as the Rams play Sunday coming off a Monday game as Buffalo rightly has the shortest dog price on the road this week going Saturday to Sunday for the most advantageous placement, while the hosting Chiefs played last Sunday night in the late game.

This is a unique playoff field as however your fundamental breakdown of the season numbers plays out, the case for the #1 seed being the lesser team statistically is valid as Tennessee and Green Bay do not look like #1 seeds relative to the past historical numbers of #1 seeds. Both teams are seemingly in a significant scheduling advantage this week and the injury reports for Cincinnati and San Francisco add to the bye week advantage enjoyed for the hosts this week. While the ATS record is mixed, divisional hosts off the bye week do fare quite well in the recent S/U history, winning at about a 75% clip and spreads are often higher than this week’s numbers.  

All four games this week are outdoors as well, a bit of an unusual situation given that over 31 percent of the league’s stadiums are now indoors or feature retractable roofs likely to be closed this week. Only one of this week’s road teams is an indoor team, oddly the Rams team in an area that enjoys some of the more consistently comfortable weather in the nation. It is no surprise that the Packers have the most extreme weather projected this week. Green Bay did lose its last home playoff game in last year’s NFC Championship but had won four straight Lambeau playoff games going back to January 2015 and it will be quite a bit colder this week than the near 30 degree temperature the Buccaneers won in last January. Aaron Rodgers is 5-4 S/U and 4-4-1 ATS in home playoff games but the scoring for the Packers has been rather consistent with much more variance for the Green Bay defense in those games. Rodgers has faced the 49ers three times in the postseason and is 0-3 however. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate… 



By Joe Nelson
Posted 01/22/2022 at 12:37 PM

Nick Saban will be considered the greatest college football coach ever and his track record is incomparable. Saban’s in-game performance in the CFP final certainly warrants scrutiny however, as Saban fell to 3-3 S/U and 1-5 ATS in CFP title games. Saban’s preparation and game plans are usually terrific and his record in season openers and bowl games show how much of an advantage he has with significant time to prepare. On shorter turnarounds, the results are not as strong and Saban teams generally don’t have much experience in close games and mistakes have happened in some big spots.

While many Alabama fans will point to star WR Jameson Williams getting injured as the turning point in the game, later in the second quarter Alabama had a golden opportunity to potentially add points before halftime and Saban opted not to call timeouts to force Georgia to punt. Alabama likely would have had around a minute of clock remaining in good field position to try to at least add a field goal before the break as what should have been a clear halftime edge was just a three-point advantage.

The 15-point final hides how close the game was as Alabama led the game 18-13 with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The unusual score was built on Saban’s reliance on field goals, shockingly kicking a 21-yard field goal while down four points early in the fourth quarter rather than going for it from the 3-yard-line. That decision was not at all similar to one of the many recent heavily debated NFL end-game scenarios that was a near-even proposition, there was an over 20% change in win probability with the successes of those possible outcomes. That decision was not deep-dive analytics, but rather 3rd grade math with Saban making the clear wrong choice.

Even while taking those three points to still trail in the fourth quarter, Saban was bailed out with one of the more bizarre plays in CFP history, getting an incredible turnover that set-up the go-ahead touchdown. Stetson Bennett and Georgia responded with a four-play touchdown drive to get the lead back and Alabama would not get back in front as Bennett will go down as a Georgia legend in one of the great stories in recent memory in college football. Last week we discussed the general trend of blowouts in the CFP games and this was indeed a fourth straight game decided by 15 or more points, though it was a rather misleading final with the late defensive touchdown. Georgia nearly had another defensive touchdown early in the game as a couple of huge close calls went in favor of the Tide. Georgia had a massive edge per play in the game and may have deserved that 15-point margin even if the game track did not play out that way. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate… 


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: 01/26/2022 to 01/26/2022
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01/22/2022 at 12:38 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 19

01/22/2022 at 12:37 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 12

01/05/2022 at 01:49 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 5

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