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Joe Nelson - About Me

Joe Nelson has been a regular on the Vegas Insider leader board since 2006. Well known for producing the Nelly’s Sportsline Green Sheet football newsletter, Nelson provides his very best picks to Vegas Insider clients.
The 2013-14 football season was especially profitable for Nelson, finishing as the Vegas Insider win percentage leader in BOTH the NFL and college football at 60%, finishing as the money leader in the NFL and #2 in money earned in college football amongst the deep and excellent field of handicappers at Vegas Insider. Few handicappers have ever been able to put together such strong finishes in both disciplines in the same season.
Nelson has also produced strong seasons in basketball and baseball in addition to the success in football as a long list of documented top finishes on Vegas Insider indicates. Nelson was also the champion of the prestigious Wise Guys Football Contest in 2011, besting a field of 72 national handicappers and then went on to finish 2nd in the same contest in 2012 for impressive back-to-back finishes.
With a statistics background and years of experience working with several established handicappers as well as over a decade as a professional handicapper, Nelson provides a unique approach with traditional methods as well as innovative strategies. Nelson’s handicapping focuses on team situations, schedule analysis, and line evaluation as well as following a variety of statistical indicators that are incorporated into the process.
You can find regular blog posts and articles for insight and commentary throughout the year and be sure to consider getting on board for a successful season.

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By Joe Nelson
Posted 01/26/2017 at 04:26 PM

New England’s #1 scoring defense will take on a lot of scrutiny this week as they don’t look much like the elite defenses that have taken home Super Bowls in recent years, notably the 2013-14 Seahawks or last season’s Broncos. Ben Roethlisberger (#11) was the top rated quarterback that the Patriots faced on the season and the 18 games they played wound up vs. teams that have an average league ranking of 19.4 in yards per play offense including facing four games vs. the league’s three worst yards per play offenses. Atlanta had to face Drew Brees and the Saints twice but they really didn’t face a lot of elite offensive opposition outside of those two games as the Patriots and Falcons both only played four games vs. top 10 yards per play offenses. Atlanta faced teams in 18 games that had an average league ranking of 17.4 in yards per play offense.
Comparing the defenses faced delivers more separation considering the opposition faced with both teams among the league’s top scoring and production offenses. Atlanta wound up as the 7th highest scoring team in the NFL history but they have faced seven regular season games vs. teams in the bottom seven of the league in yards per play defense. Atlanta played a role in shaping those numbers with two of its three division counterparts in that group but Atlanta faced defenses with an average ranking of 18.8. The Falcons did post impressive offensive outputs against a few strong defenses however, scoring 38 on Arizona and 42 on Los Angeles as well as the 36 points posted against Seattle in the divisional round.
New England meanwhile did face some stiff opposing defenses with an average ranking of 13.1 in yards per play defense yet the Patriots were still the third highest scoring team in the league even playing four games with backup quarterbacks. In the 14 games with Tom Brady New England averaged 30.7 points per game, a pace that would have been the 19th best in NFL history and only behind Atlanta this season. Those scoring marks came despite New England facing 11 games vs. top 14 yards per play defenses including posting 67 points in two playoff games vs. top 13 squads. Atlanta did post 36 points on Seattle in the playoffs, the league’s #5 yards per play defense this season as these are teams that both have great scoring potential.
What might be concerning considering how impressive Atlanta’s offense has been is that they went just 11-5. None of the six teams with a higher scoring regular season took home the Lombardi Trophy but those teams went a combined 84-12 in the regular season even with some of those teams sporting similarly shaky supporting defensive units. That group of six teams includes a 16-0 team, two 15-1 teams, and two 13-3 teams. Ultimately only two of those teams even reached the Super Bowl and both were Patriots squads that lost to the New York Giants for the two New England Super Bowl defeats in the Belichick/Brady era.  
Super Bowl favorites are on a 1-8 ATS run and a 3-12 ATS run since New England’s first Super Bowl win in 2002. In those 15 games the closing spread has been above three in all but four of those games. The past two 3-point closing favorites split with Green Bay winning by six and New England losing by four in consecutive Super Bowls in 2011 and 2012 though three of the last four Super Bowl 3-point favorites have won and covered. After winning four Super Bowls in a row from 2005 to 2007 the AFC is 4-5 in the past nine Super Bowls. The past five AFC teams to be favored in the Super Bowl have all lost ATS with only Pittsburgh in 2009 winning the title.
The ‘under’ is 7-5 in the last 12 Super Bowls though just 1-3 the past four years though all of those totals were in the 40s. The winning team in the Super Bowl has scored at least 21 points in each of the last seven Super Bowls while the losing team has been held to 21 or fewer points 13 of the last 18 Super Bowls though as this year’s total represents at least 21 points are certainly expected from both sides this year. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate…



By Joe Nelson
Posted 01/16/2017 at 03:27 PM

In a regular season that featured some less than stellar moments for NFL Kickers including the Week 12 fiasco with 12 extra-points missed, kickers stepped up in a big way in the divisional round of the playoffs. Kickers combined to go 21-21 in field goals last week including some lengthy kicks and pressure-packed kicks. Mason Crosby only hit two field goals last week but they were from 56 and 51 in the final two minutes of the wild NFC win over Dallas for the Packers. For the Steelers Chris Boswell didn’t kick from farther than 45 yards but his 6-for-6 performance was a playoff record and Pittsburgh needed all six of those kicks to hold on against the Chiefs Sunday night.
After double-digit margin finishes on Saturday, the two Sunday games were remarkably entertaining and competitive games. Green Bay and Dallas wound up separated by just 15 yards in a game with over 800 yards and the wild fourth quarter finish will be possibly the most memorable playoff finish of the season, particularly if the Packers can continue their great late season run. The Chiefs/Steelers matchup fit the profile of both teams with the Steelers posting big production but not always cashing in while the Chiefs managed to hang around despite poor yardage numbers.
While to say the penalties were outcome-deciding would be going too far both Sunday games did have somewhat controversial calls in critical spots late in the games. The pass interference call on Dallas on Green Bay’s first go-ahead field goal drive was certainly a penalty by the rule of the law but certainly the type of contact that is typical in a multitude of plays throughout a game. That the pass had no chance to be caught and wound up being intercepted certainly deepened the blow on the Dallas side. The holding call on the Chiefs successful two-point conversion attempt was also far from egregious and wouldn’t have impacted the play. Both were correct calls but in a year where waning fan support and viewership has been an important topic it is easy to understand the fan frustration of the timing of these calls when dozens of similar calls don’t get made in every single game. Both certainly felt like calls that most would prefer not to see and usually don’t get made in the final minute of a one-possession basketball game. The subjective penalties will continue to be an issue the league may need to get a better handle on in the coming years, though controversy isn’t a bad ratings driver.
Dallas fans also can cry foul for the very unusual substitution foul they were hit with early in the game, wiping out a 22-yard gain and at least a field goal try on a drive that helped the Packers build their early lead. It’s in the rule book but the question deserves to be raised on why that violation is a 15-yard penalty and why it isn’t flagged pre-snap. Deliberately playing a down with 12 players is only a 5-yard foul, yet that substitution mistake is enforced the same as the most serious penalties in the game.
The NFL has a dream final four as far as high profile quarterbacks with the four remaining leaders with seven Super Bowl titles combined and 27 pro bowl appearances. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers both have two MVPs and it seems very possible that this year’s MVP will go to one of the four remaining quarterbacks, with a strong case to be made for Matt Ryan, the lone remaining quarterback without a title. Ryan and Rodgers will face off this week with an opening total of 60, matching the previous high for a NFL playoff game. That was the 2011-12 home win for the Saints 45-28 over the Lions in the wild card round. The Week 8 game between Ryan and Rodgers was wildly entertaining with a 33-32 win for the Falcons and seven combined touchdowns for the quarterbacks. Green Bay covered at +3 with the total only at 51. The Packers memorably won at the Georgia Dome 48-21 on their Super Bowl XLV run in January of 2011 when the Falcons were the #1 seed in the NFC. Four Atlanta turnovers were the big factor in a game Atlanta actually led 14-7 early with a kickoff return touchdown before Green Bay scored three touchdowns in the final seven minutes of the first half. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate…


Nelson: Late Season Spoilers
Nelson: Top Contender Concerns
Nelson: NL Lefty vs. Righty Splits
Nelson: AL Lefty vs. Righty Splits
Nelson: Pitchers to Watch - June
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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Joe Nelson's NFL Picks
Period: 07/18/2017 to 08/18/2017
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Record: 0-2-0 ( 0.0% , -220)
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01/26/2017 at 04:26 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 26

01/16/2017 at 03:27 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 16

01/09/2017 at 04:50 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 9

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