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5 Bets You Should Make to Start Your 2019 Off Right

Pacers guard Victor Oladipo going in for a layup.
Victor Oladipo and the Pacers are getting long odds to win the Central Division, despite sitting just one game back of Milwaukee heading into the new year. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License].
  • A new year brings a new chance to beat the house.
  • Start 2019 off on the right betting foot with these five futures bets. 
  • From the NBA to the NFL, March Madness to the Stanley Cup, there’s a bet for everyone, even soccer fans. 

Was your bottom line not what you were hoping at the end of 2018? Perhaps I can help remedy that in the next calendar year.

I don’t advise putting your entire 2019 bankroll on the following bets, but I have scoured Bovada’s futures offerings and found five wagers that are ripe for the picking.

1. NBA: Indiana Pacers to win the Central Division (+370)

Indiana (23-12) is only a game behind Milwaukee (23-10) in the Central and has a five-game cushion over third-place Detroit (16-16). Their +5.5 point differential is fourth-best in the East; they can win at home (12-5) and on the road (11-7), unlike many NBA teams; and they already own impressive wins over the Bucks (by 16), 76ers (by 12), and Jazz twice (by 33 and 27).

They are 16-6 with Victor Oladipo in the lineup. Ever since he arrived in Indianapolis, this team has been nothing but consistent.


The +370 odds you can get on the Pacers to win the Central Division gives them just a 21.3% chance to make up that one-game deficit.

Milwaukee has dropped games to the Knicks, Suns, Heat, and Hornets. Since winning their first seven (five of which were at home), they are only 16-10 overall. They are going to drop games here and there, keeping this a tight race all year long.

2. NFL: New Orleans Saints to win the NFC (+130)

The New Orleans Saints are the outright Super Bowl favorites heading into the postseason. They are the #1 seed in the NFC, guaranteeing they’ll have home-field advantage until they get to Atlanta.

New Orleans has not lost a home game since Week 1 of the season. They have also never lost at home during the playoffs in the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era (5-0).


Given how flawed every other team in the NFC looks, plus the fact that New Orleans is the only NFC team to rank in the top-10 in both Offensive and Defensive DVOA, you have to love their chances of winning two home games and reaching the big dance.

Their current odds (+130) give them a 43.5% chance to win the NFC. They’ll be favored by a touchdown or more against the Cowboys, Seahawks, Vikings, or Eagles in the Divisional Round. If/when they host the Bears or Rams in the NFC Championship Game, they’ll be favored by about a field goal.

Depending on your appetite for risk, you’ll be able to hedge on the visitors and guarantee a small profit or let it ride, knowing you’re getting plus money on a team that’s never lost in this spot.

3. NHL: Winnipeg Jets to win the Central Division (+110)

The Jets (24-10-2, 50 PTS) have a four-point cushion over the injured Nashville Predators (22-13-2, 46 PTS) with a game in hand. They also have the best goal difference in the entire Western Conference and are relatively healthy. The Preds, meanwhile, are suffering from terrible injury luck and are having a very hard time scoring without Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson in the lineup.

Those two will eventually return, but making up ground on a Winnipeg team that’s started matching its home success (13-4-2) with stellar play on the road (11-6-0) is going to be monumentally difficult.

There’s at least at 50% chance Winnipeg wins this division, especially with the constantly-outshot Colorado Avalanche (19-12-6, 44 PTS) likely to regress. You’re getting solid value at +110 (47.6% implied probability)

4. NCAAM: Kentucky Wildcats to win 2019 March Madness (+2000)

Due to the vast amount of talent on their roster plus John Calipari’s track record, the Kentucky Wildcats were as short as +530 to win the national championship in early November. A terrible start to the season — including a 34-point loss to Duke — soured most people on their chances this year, and they’ve fallen all the way to +2000.

Now is the time to buy low on Kentucky.

[Kentucky] is already showing signs of progress, following up a 27-point rout of Utah with an 80-72 neutral site win over a legit North Carolina team.

Calipari’s teams have a history of improving over the course of the season. That makes perfect sense, since they are usually filled with freshmen who are adjusting to the college game and a bunch of new teammates.

The 2018-19 team is already showing signs of progress, following up a 27-point rout of Utah with an 80-72 neutral site win over a legit North Carolina team.


Freshman guard Keldon Johnson is quickly blossoming into the top-10 NBA draft pick most expected him to be, and fellow five-star freshman Ashton Hagans is slowly but surely earning Cal’s trust.

Unlike on many Kentucky teams of years past, senior Stanford transfer Reid Travis is providing a steady veteran presence.

This is one of the few teams in the country with the size, talent, and athleticism to compete with Duke, even if that season-opening blowout didn’t show it. There is absolutely a 5% chance that these sexy-ass puzzle pieces fit together quite nicely come March./

5.  Liverpool to win the Champions League (+900)

Despite sitting first in the Premier League (16-3-0, 51 PTS) and reaching the Champions League final last year, Liverpool have just the fifth-best odds to win the 2018-19 UCL title. They currently trail reeling Manchester City (+275), Barcelona (+450), Juventus (+600), and Paris Saint-Germain (+700).

Part of the rationale for those long-ish odds is their tough Round of 16 draw against Bayern Munich.

But the Bavarians are not the juggernaut they have been in recent years. They are currently second in the Bundesliga  (11-3-3) with a pedestrian +18 goal difference, and they only went 4-2-0 in an extremely weak Group E (which also included Ajax, Benfica, and AEK) during UCL group play.

Plus, Bayern has struggled a little on the European stage recently, relatively speaking that is. Since winning the title in 2013, they haven’t been back to the finals, losing in the semis in four of the last five years and the quarters in the fifth.

The Reds sit six points clear of second-place Tottenham in the Prem and have +36 goal difference, tied with Man City for the best mark in the league.

The Reds sit six points clear of second-place Tottenham in the Prem and have +36 goal difference, tied with Man City for the best mark in the league. In the Champions League, they survived the group of death with PSG and Napoli, despite losing three games (all away matches). Between the EPL and UCL, they have only not taken the full three points at home once this year (0-0 draw vs Man City).

If they manage to beat Bayern at Anfield in the first leg of the Round of 16 (Feb. 19th), their odds are going to get significantly shorter. They are small favorites in that matchup because they are significantly younger and more dynamic. Their speed should win out over 180 (or more) minutes.

To follow, thank, or insult me on Twitter: @SBD_Sascha 

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Sascha was a hockey player in his youth, a lawyer in his capricious mid-20s, and has been SBD's lead oddsmaker/number cruncher since 2014. He writes about everything you can possibly put odds on. He's happiest when those things are football, baseball, hockey and basketball (in that order).