With 2019 coming to an end, it’s time to leave this year’s wins – and more importantly, losses—behind and look toward the 2020 calendar.
For the past few years we’ve been able to pencil the Patriots in as the AFC champion, but the emergence of the Ravens and the poor play of late from the New England offense means we’ll likely have a new Super Bowl champion come February.
Based on what we’ve seen so far in the NBA season, it looks like we may see another repeat NBA MVP like Steph Curry did in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons.
And last season’s winner at Augusta, Tiger Woods, has a real chance to make his own repeat performance and tie Jack Nicklaus for most Masters wins ever.
As the new year gets underway, I preview my three favorite bets for 2020 as the calendar turns over.
It may seem a little early to start betting such a massive favorite in an MVP race that won’t conclude for another six or seven months, but the Greek Freak is as much of a lock to win the 2019-2020 MVP as we’ve seen at this point in the season.
Antetokounmpo is averaging 30.5 points per game, second in the league to James Harden, while putting up 12.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. His rare blend of size, length, speed and athleticism makes him almost impossible to stop, as we’ve seen so far this season with the Bucks shooting out to a 29-5 record. Milwaukee is already four games ahead of the Heat (24-8) in the East as we get ready for the new year, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see that lead grow well into double digits as the season goes on.
More impressive than the team’s success and his per-game numbers is the efficiency with which Antetokounmpo is playing. While posting a league-high usage rate (38.1), Antetokounmpo is in the midst of the most efficient season in the history of the NBA, according to John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER).
Antetokounmpo’s 33.7 PER is almost a full two points clear of Wilt Chamberlain’s current record of 31.8 in the 1962-1963 season. Chamberlain averaged more than 44 points per game that season on a league-best 52.8 percent shooting. His dominance hasn’t just been on the offensive end either, Antetokounmpo leads the NBA in defensive win shares and defensive rating.
Harden (+500) and Mavs point guard Luka Doncic (+550) are having amazing seasons, but neither of them compare to the year that the Greek Freak is putting up in Milwaukee. -117 is good value for Giannis to pick up his second straight Most Valuable Player award.
Playing at home in the playoffs, especially when that home is the Frozen Tundra, is a huge difference maker. The Packers fell one Seahawks’ yard short of locking up the No. 1 seed in the NFC, but the No. 2 seed still guarantees at least one home game before a potential NFC championship game. That’s extremely important for a team that finished with the best home record (7-1) in the conference.
With the Ravens looking destined to make it out of the AFC, there is a ton of good value in the NFC. The top-seeded Niners start the postseason at +400, but Jimmy Garoppolo has never started a playoff game, and San Francisco went 3-2 in the final month of the season after a 10-1 start.
Rodgers has looked a bit off at times in the regular season, but he still threw for over 4,000 yards with 26 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Quarterback play often dictates success in the postseason, and Rodgers is about as good as it gets.
Rodgers isn’t the only difference maker on Green Bay’s offense. Aaron Jones is coming off his first 1,000-yard rushing season and caught 49 balls for another 474 yards and three touchdowns. Jones’ versatility gives his Hall of Fame quarterback an explosive option in both the running and passing game. Davante Adams is one of the best wide receivers in football, and the emergence of Allen Lazard means Rodgers can beat opposing defenses in a multitude of ways.
The Packers’ defense is also much improved this season. Za’Darius Smith finished the regular season with 13.5 sacks, good for sixth in the NFL, and Preston Smith’s 12 sacks were eighth in the league. Green Bay allows only 19.6 points against per game, meaning the offense may not have to put up all that many points to get a win.
The Ravens have looked unbeatable of late, but +1000 is too good of a price to pass up on a team with a Hall of Fame quarterback surrounded by tons of weapons that only needs to win two games to book a trip to Miami.
Only one golfer in the 2020 Masters field has won 15 majors, 82 PGA Tour events and comes in defending a 2019 win at Augusta National – Tiger Woods.
After years of hearing Tiger would never win another major, the greatest golfer of all time did just that, chasing down Francesco Molinari and holding off the likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele to win his fifth green jacket.
Koepka is the favorite to win this year’s event at +900, with Tiger and Rory McIlroy both available at +1000.
Tiger has just as much if not more knowledge of Augusta National than any player in the field and started the 2020 PGA Tour with a three-stroke win in the Zozo Championship in Japan.
His age means that he’s not consistently at the top of the leaderboard week in and week out like he was throughout most of his career, but he always gets up for big events, and there is no bigger event in golf than the Masters.
The sport’s biggest superstar will undoubtedly draw a crowd, but he’s proven time and time again that he can handle the bright lights that come with being the most recognizable name golf.
Look for Tiger to build on the momentum he gained in 2019 and challenge Jack Nicklaus for the most green jackets of all time (6).