The PLL Championship betting odds are here. That means it’s time to head to wherever you go to make bets and throw a couple units down on pro lacrosse. For the first time. Ever.
I’ve gone back through stats and spent some time looking at trends, and as the PLL Championship Series gets closer I plan to do much deeper dives into matchups to try and find some value and make you (and myself) some money. In the meantime, with the PLL Championship odds here, it’s time to look at which of the seven clubs offer the best, and worst, value for your money.
The Redwoods opened at 9/2 to win the title, but I think that line starts moving in a hurry. The Redwoods were an overtime goal away from winning the PLL Championship last year, added Myles Jones, kept their attack intact, still have a top defense and have some of the best two-way players in the sport…..but are tied for the third best odds at the title? Does not compute.
The Woods are loaded at every spot. The retirement of Greg Gurenlian at the faceoff X is worth mentioning, but he was winning at a 50% clip last year and the additions of Greg Puskuldjian and Peyton Smith might even represent an upgrade from that number. If the Woods can stay healthy and handle the grueling schedule (they avoid the Archers, but play Whips, Atlas, Chrome, Chaos) they are in my eyes at worst the second best team in the league. This is where I’d put my money.
Hey there, it’s the other club at 9/2 to win the title. The Archers had the best offseason in the league. They added first overall pick Grant Ament, arguably the second best passer in the sport (the first is already on the Archers), to an attack line with two of the best shooters in the sport, Will Manny and Marcus Holman.
Like every lacrosse fan, I’m eagerly awaiting my chance to see this group take the field together. But their entry draft moves were also outstanding. Christian Mazzone had 40 points and 40 ground balls in 2019. The full list of players to have 40+ points and 40+ ground balls last year, in both leagues, is him. That’s it. Eli Gobrecht solidifies what was already an excellent defensive unit that didn’t get enough praise. The best player in the world is also on the Archers, as Tom Schreiber will lead what could be, at least on paper, the best 6-on-6 offense in the league.
It was a razor thin margin between being a top team and a team fighting for a playoff spot last summer. The Archers played seven one-goal games last summer, including the first six games of the season, and went 2-5 in them. That’s the difference between a bye and a first round game in the PLL Championship Series playoffs. The roster moves they made could put them on the right side of more of those games. If the Archers can get some solid faceoff play to generate extra opportunities for their offense, they could be very difficult to slow down.
Ok, Worth A Shot Bets
The Atlas were the team pegged by many as the favorite before year one started, but the Bulls never really got on parade. Inconsistency, some issues on the defensive end and really a lack of identity and urgency on the offensive end led to some lackluster performances. The talent is undeniable, and this loaded team somehow added Rob Pannell in the entry draft and Bryan Costabile as the 2nd overall pick from college. They opened at 11/2, which is tempting. Really, what makes me consider a wager on this team is Trevor Baptiste. The best faceoff specialist in the world will tilt the field in almost every game, and with more opportunities to get the ball to guys like Pannell, John Crawley, Paul Rabil and Eric Law, you’d think this team would have to show some marked improvement from year one.
Yet, the Atlas have a really rough schedule, playing Whipsnakes, Redwoods, and Archers. If Ben Rubeor can get everyone on the same page this summer, the Atlas might realize that potential so many saw, but for now, with some roster questions still looming, I think it’s better to avoid them.
The Chrome had a rough year one and this offseason has been about tearing down and rebuilding this team. New head coach Tim Soudan traded away Romar Dennis and Max Tuttle, acquired Matt Gaudet via a trade from the Chaos and added Jesse Bernhardt and Donny Moss via the entry draft. They’ll be without Joel White and Matt Danowski among many others for the PLL Championship Series. Going without a player like White, who led the league in groundballs by non-faceoff specialists, hurts a lot, but that’s really an opportunity for college pick Reece Eddy to shine.
The massive amount of turnover and rebuilding for the Chrome gives me pause when it comes to opening up the wallet, even at 8/1 odds. They have an outstanding attack group with Jordan Wolf, Justin Guterding and now Gaudet. The midfield group is also pretty strong, and you can see what type of identity Coach Soudan is trying to put together. Doing that on the fly in a tournament like this can be tough. When the Chrome had flashes of brilliance in year one, they were some of the brightest in the league. It’s a big lift to try and produce that on a consistent basis in this World Cup-esque format.
The defending champs. Life’s too short to bet the under, and also to bet the odds on favorite. At 3/1, the Whips have a target on their back. They were absolutely looted by the Waterdogs in the expansion draft, but added Zedd Williams in the entry draft and have quality players like Joe LoCascio who will get to be a larger part of the offense this summer.
The Whips have a tough schedule, playing the Redwoods, Atlas, Archers, and Chaos. Their defense is intact, they still have the league MVP in Matt Rambo, and Coach Stagnitta is clearly very confident in his roster (they didn’t make any waiver moves because Stags said the waiver is for filling voids, and they don’t have any). If some more offensive threats emerge to replace the departed Connor Kelly, Ben Reeves, Ryan Drenner and Drew Snider, the Whips have a solid shot at repeating, but with the odds so short and the league this competitive, it’s probably not that smart of a value bet.
The Bomb Squad (dubious nickname if we’re being honest) opened at 4/1 odds at the title, second best in the league. Yes, the Chaos finished the regular season a league best 7-3 last year, but they had a +1 goal differential, and as the year crept on, the transition and long range style of the Chaos had been figured out by the league for the most part. The Whipsnakes and then the Redwoods took turns dismantling the Chaos in the playoffs, as without Connor Fields making plays in settled sets and teams keying to stop them in transition, the Chaos looked rudderless. They most certainly did not look like a title contending team.
In the offseason they added some nice pieces like Sergio Salcido, and have added Curtis Dickson and Austin Staats to their stable of horses at attack, but they have no college draft picks coming in, and some quality players who may have gone underappreciated were plucked by the Waterdogs. The defense loses Brodie Merrill, and a new field general has to emerge on a relatively young unit. The Chaos also have to play the Redwoods, Whipsnakes, and Chrome, three teams who put a serious beating on them last summer. Maybe the Chaos get their mojo back this summer, but I wouldn’t give them a 4/1 shot at the title when I think that at least three teams in the league that look better already.
It was going to be a challenge to start this year for the Waterdogs anyway. An expansion team of players is going to be looking for their identity and chemistry as things get started, and with minimal time spent together and really true training camp thanks to COVID-19, the Waterdogs will be well behind the other six clubs who have already had a season together.
Andy Copelan has built a team of versatile and talented players on both ends, and clearly is going to be looking to spend as little as time possible making substitutions. Transition is the focus, and as year one showed us, that’s probably the best way to build your team in the PLL. The talent is there, but at 9/1, the revenge squad has the worst odds in the league at the title.
Maybe the revenge game attitude and prove it mentality propels this team through the PLL Championship Series. Maybe magic happens. The Waterdogs have a friendly group play schedule, avoiding the Whips and Redwoods. The Vegas Golden Knights opened at 500/1 to win the Cup in their first season as an expansion club and nearly pulled it off.
Nearly. You don’t win money for nearly.