February 13, 2023
Three Early Thoughts
Steve Quinne’s first take on the 2023 NFL season
The favorites – 6/1
Kansas City is one of the co-favorites to win the Super Bowl, tied with Buffalo at 6/1. The Chiefs deserve to be there, having been in three of the last four Super Bowls, winning two. The Bills do not. Josh Allen is a great player, but he continues to hit a ceiling in the playoffs. The quarterback hasn’t earned the right to be in the same conversation as Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
The next tier – 8/1
If Brock Purdy hadn’t gotten hurt on the opening drive, it might’ve been a different opponent taking on the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII. The 49ers losing their quarterback, who was already their third starter of the season, effectively ended their chances. But the 12-game winning streak that got them to that point shows that they are a good bet in 2023, assuming they can decide who is going to be their QB.
The long shot – 40/1
It’s fashionable to bash Russell Wilson. The quarterback fell flat on his face during his first season in Denver, as the Broncos went just 5-12. But they lost a lot of one-score games, an indication of a team that can turn things around quickly. And with Sean Payton arriving as the team’s new head coach, the dysfunction that surrounded the Nathaniel Hackett era will be long gone.
Three suggestions for early-in-the-week action
Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
7:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: New York -2.0
Oh, what could have been for Brooklyn. In the not-so-distant past, the Nets had Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, and looked poised to become the next great super team in the NBA. To quote LeBron James, they didn’t win “not 1, not 2, not 3…” championships together because they won zero.
The trio played in just 16 games together before all three unceremoniously demanded trades and now have new homes. Harden is in Philly, Irving is in Dallas and Durant is in Phoenix.
The Nets are just 1-3 since the Irving trade put this latest bit of chaos into motion, with the lone victory coming against the extremely mediocre Bulls. They got some nice pieces back in the two most recent trades, but you can never replace superstars, especially with a new group that needs time to gel.
Meanwhile, the Knicks are 3-1 in their last four home games and added a nice piece at the deadline in the form of Josh Hart. He went for 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists in a very balanced New York debut, a 126-120 win over Utah.
The Knicks sit just three games back of the Nets in the standings, and you can bet when this season is all said and done, the two teams will have swapped places. That trend continues on Monday night, with a cohesive Knicks team taking care of a discombobulated Nets team.
Jason Schlefsky’s pick: New York -2.0 (-110)
Detroit Red Wings at Vancouver Canucks
Rogers Arena – Vancouver, BC
10:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Vancouver -125
The Red Wings are one of the most-storied franchises in NHL history, but they’re stuck in a drought not seen from them since the 1970s and early 1980s. Detroit has missed the playoffs a stunning six years in a row and has not finished with a winning record since 2016, the last time they made the dance.
While a quick peek at the Eastern Conference standings shows they have a lot of work to do, their 23-20-8 record and 54 points has them just seven points back of the Penguins for the final wild card spot. It’s not likely, but crazier things have happened, and the Red Wings are feeling good as they head on a crucial five-game road trip that will make or break their season.
They’ve won two in a row, including coincidentally, a win over the Canucks by a score of 5-2 on Saturday. The two teams will meet again in a back-to-back, so there’s very recent evidence that Detroit is the better team.
It’s not like the Canucks have much of a home-ice advantage to speak of, considering they’re just 10-13-1 at Rogers Arena this year. Vancouver has given up at least four goals in five of their last six games, surrendering 27 total over that span.
The Red Wings will take advantage of a team that can’t play any defense right now and earn a road win. That’ll keep postseason dreams going for at least a little bit longer.
Norm LaChatlier’s pick: Detroit M/L (-104)
Buffalo Sabres at Los Angeles Kings
crypto.com Arena – Los Angeles, CA
10:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Los Angeles -155
The Kings are one of the better stories in the NHL this year, as they’re right there to take the Pacific Division. The standings are absolutely insane, with the Knights, Kraken, Oilers and Kings all bunched in.
Vegas has 68 points, while Seattle, Edmonton and Los Angeles all have 65. It’s going to be a fight until the final night of the season, with three of the four taking divisional playoff slots and the fourth team almost assuredly securing a wild card berth.
So, every game is pivotal for the Kings right now. And boy oh boy, did they look like they knew that in their first time out after the All-Star break. A well-rested Los Angeles team absolutely embarrassed the Penguins, blasting them 6-0 at home.
Adrian Kempe didn’t just score a hat trick in the second period, he added a fourth goal in the third for good measure. Pheonix Copley stopped all 25 shots he faced, and L.A. made a statement to the rest of the division.
Meanwhile, not even the return of superstar Tage Thompson after missing a couple of games could help a Sabres team that is going in the wrong direction. Thompson scored once, but it was of little significance in a brutal 7-2 loss to the Flames at home.
Buffalo has lost three straight games, including getting outscored 12-3 combined their last two times out. The Sabres are trending down while they watch their playoff hopes slip away, while the Kings are in an epic battle for seeding.
Take Los Angeles with confidence when the two skate together on Monday night.
Norm LaChatlier’s pick: Los Angeles M/L (-155)