If you are planning on placing just one bet on sport today you ought to make it the best bet possible. Our expert tipsters have been pawing over their favourite sports to pick out the one we consider our 'banker bet', free of charge!
Today’s Best Bet: Thursday, December 5 – 01:20 GMT
Leigh Copson: Back Dallas Cowboys to beat Chicago Bears by 1-13 points @ 8/5 with Paddy Power
Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season gets underway with a meeting of two 6-6 teams, but despite sharing the same record they are both in very different situations right now. While Dallas’ mark is enough to give them a one-game lead at the top of a poor NFC East, Chicago’s record is only good enough for third place in the NFC North behind the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. So while a defeat here for the Cowboys would not exactly be disastrous, it would pretty much end Chicago’s chances of making the postseason. So how has it come to this?
There was plenty of hype surrounding Da Bears after they came roaring back to life in 2018 to win the NFC North and make it to the playoffs. Rookie head coach Matt Nagy had brought some fun and excitement to the offense while Vic Fangio had masterminded one of the most impressive defensive seasons seen by a team in recent years, but that campaign came to a shuddering halt in the wildcard round of the postseason as special teams woes reared their ugly head yet again, and it has been a rough ride for Chicago ever since. Defensively they remain one of the league’s elite, but the offense has been nothing short of pitiful almost all season long and had it not been for those shortcomings they would probably be something like 9-3 or 8-4 at this time – firmly in the mix for both the division title and a postseason berth. Instead they are 6-6 and facing up to the fact that they simply must win out and get some favours elsewhere, but can they keep the dream alive on Thursday night?
Dallas are another team that came into the season with a great deal of build but have failed to live up to the hype. While they are top of the NFC East, they have benefited from being in a weak division that has only offered Philadelphia as a genuine rival, and they were beaten by Miami last weekend! Every time they have come up against a team with a winning record they have fallen to defeat and the Thanksgiving Day defeat at home to Buffalo may have put head coach Jason Garrett firmly on the hotseat. Garrett and his team desperately need a win in Chicago, and despite their underwhelming record and despite them being the road team, the bookies are backing them to leave Soldier Field with the ‘W’. I am backing them too.
While Chicago have won three of their last four, all of those victories have come against very poor opposition and Dallas do not fit into that mould. And until the Bears can beat a team at .500 or above I am not going to get carried away with their sudden turnaround in results, especially since this is a team who have been their own worst enemy at times. Like I said before, it would not be unrealistic to say that they could have been, and perhaps should be, at least 8-4 heading into this one. Instead they have beaten themselves repeatedly and that will probably happen again here. The defense will, once again, keep it close, but ultimately the Cowboys will emerge victorious by less than two touchdowns.
Today’s Best Bet: Friday, December 6 – 19:45 GMT
Ben Darvill: Back Bath to beat Clermont Auvergne @ 2/1 with William Hill
Bath return to European action with an incredibly tough match on Friday night as the English side along with France’s Clermont Auvergne raise the curtain on another weekend in the Champions Cup. Bath are so far yet to really spark into life in Europe as both of their games have ended in defeat. Their opener saw the side hosting Ulster in a 17-16 loss which could have very easily have ended in a win had it not been for some heroic defending on the wing late-on from Ulster. Next up was a trip to face Harlequins, but the fact they were playing against a side in the same league as them did nothing as they were sent home following a 15-9 loss to ‘Quins. Now, with only two bonus points to show for their efforts, Bath know they have to start winning their games or they will put themselves out of contention for a berth in the knockout stages.
Clermont meanwhile arrive with a supreme 53-21 win over Harlequins in round one followed quickly by a tough 18-13 away loss to Ulster, with the French side doing enough to convince us that they are a side that can definitely get out of their group if they play the way they have shown they can. Their win over Agen at the weekend will buoy them going into the match, but it is interesting to note that the side have only won two of their six away games in all competitions this season, with a huge chunk of their points coming from home ties. Bath meanwhile have won two of their four home games this year, only losing to Ulster and Saracens, with the two among the best outfits in Europe right now. While Bath’s record is not spotless, it is one we feel could have been sitting at a 75% win ratio had it not been for that narrow loss to Ulster. In this one, Bath offer decent value at 2/1 while Clermont are odds-on. We feel this is rather generous pricing as Clermont have been poor on the road while Bath have been no slouches at home. It is something of a risk backing the home side, but we feel that the crowd at the Rec will roar them on in what will likely be exceptionally cold conditions that will not really play into running rugby.
Today’s Best Bet: Saturday, December 7 – 2w:00 GMT
Leigh Copson: Back Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua to go over 8.5 rounds @ 11/10 with William Hill
Shockwaves went through heavyweight boxing back on June 1 when late stand-in Andy Ruiz Jr dethroned a previously unbeaten Anthony Joshua. AJ had been looking to make an impression in his debut fight on US soil and a routine victory appeared to be on the cards when he dropped the challenger, a late replacement for Jarrell Miller, in the third round. However, his decision to stand and trade with Ruiz Jr following that knockdown backfired as the challenger then sent the champion tumbling to the canvas, and Joshua never truly recovered as he was dropped four more times before the referee finally waved it off in the seventh.
It was a stunning defeat for the former Olympic gold medallist, but he is not the first world heavyweight champion to suffer a shock defeat and he will not be the last. The question is did Ruiz Jr get lucky at Madison Square Garden or does he have Joshua’s number? The answer to that question will be provided when the two men share the ring for the second time on Saturday night, with a custom-built stadium in Saudi Arabia the host site for a heavyweight title fight that will go a long way to giving us a hint at what fights we will see in 2020. If Joshua wins then it will almost certainly be time for him to face the winner of Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury, but if he loses it will be back to the drawing board for the former champion. So, how will this play out.
As you will know from our Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua 2 betting tips we are backing Joshua to bounce back and regain the world heavyweight titles he surrendered back in June. However, for the purposes of our Bet of the Day I am steering clear of the fight winner market. While I do believe AJ will get back on track, we like our Bet of the Day to feel like something of a banker and I am not 100% sold on the challenger proving the first time was a fluke.
What I am confident about though, is this fight lasting quite some time. I expect a cagey approach from Joshua because he knows full well that Ruiz Jr can knock him out, but on the flip side I am not buying into Ruiz Jr’s claims that he is ready for a brawl because all of the pressure is on the challenger. If he can successfully beat Joshua for a second time then there are some huge fights on the horizon for him in 2020, bouts that could set up future generations of the Ruiz family for life. For that reason alone there is pressure on him, unlike the first encounter. And of course, he knows that Joshua has the power to drop him too – the Mexican had to climb back off the canvas in the first fight before making his stirring fightback. Therefore this rematch could be a bit of a ‘slow burner’ that lasts longer than the first meeting, with over 8.5 rounds a solid and tempting bet.
Today’s Best Bet: Sunday, December 8 – 18:00 GMT
Leigh Copson: Back Kyle Rudolph to score a touchdown & Minnesota Vikings to beat Detroit Lions @ TBC
Minnesota remain on course for a return to the NFL playoffs this season, but their quest to make it to the postseason took a hit last week as they fell to defeat in Seattle. The Vikings gave up 24 unanswered points after the break before falling short with a fourth-quarter fightback attempt, and not only did that defeat hand control of the fifth seeding for the postseason to the NFC West, it also allowed Green Bay to pull one game clear in the North. It also kept the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams in the race for what is likely to be the final wildcard spot, so to say that Minnesota desperately need a win this Sunday would be an understatement. The good news for them is that they are facing the Detroit Lions.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia finds himself on the hot-seat with the team set to finish with another losing record. Detroit have lost eight of their last nine games to slump to 3-8-1 for the season and in recent weeks they have been beaten by an appalling Washington Redskins team and have twice lost to a Chicago Bears outfit that have offered very little offensively all season long. The Lions have understandably been weakened considerably by the absence of Matthew Stafford and they will not have their starting quarterback back in the mix for this meeting with Minnesota either, so there is only one way you can go here.
You simply have to back Minnesota to complete the season sweep over Detroit by winning this NFC North showdown at US Bank Stadium, and I am backing Kyle Rudolph to play a scoring role in proceedings. The Vikings tight end has become a popular target for Kirk Cousins since head coach Mike Zimmer tweaked the offenses approach, and Rudolph has rewarded his coach and QB by hauling in six touchdowns across the last six weeks. He is now coming up against one of the worst secondaries in the entire National Football League – a unit that was torched by Chicago just over a week ago – so you have to expect that Rudolph will get plenty of targets from Cousins on Sunday. One of them should result in him finding the endzone.