Packers-Cardinals Analysis

I’m not sure if this quote from Cardinals QB Kurt Warner shows the high level of their execution, the inability of the Packers to disguise their defense, or both:

“I knew early on it was going to be a good day,” he told me as he drove home. “Sometimes I know when I’m on, when I’m going to play well, and there were specific things I knew they were going to have trouble stopping. Like the touchdown to Steve Breaston [that gave Arizona a 45-38 lead in the fourth quarter]. From watching tape, we knew how we could get a matchup of Steve isolated on a linebacker.”

That way was to line up Breaston wide left, with another receiver in the slot, then motion Breaston in toward the formation, and at the snap of the ball have him jet upfield. The corner wouldn’t follow him all the way inside, tape study told Warner, and a linebacker would pick him up. That’s exactly what happen. Nick Barnett was no match for the speed of Breaston, particularly when Barnett had to turn and run with him. Touchdown.

Wild Card Playoff Preview and Picks

First of all, thanks to the referee/Shane Graham combo below in Wk 4 that hit a FG in OT versus the Browns that was the key Miracle Cover in my Browns Under 5.5 bet (Season review here).  oddly, I really liked the way Mangini and Co. played and the end of the year and profited off of it as well, so it worked for both sides.

Congrats to Alabama, who somehow held on and covered the 3.5-4.5 vs Texas in the BCS Title game.  Lou made a good point……did ANYONE bet on Texas except for alumni and those from the state?  Maybe they major in Cummunications like the Jeron Johnson of Boise State:

Here is video of a crazy ending to the Florida/NC State Hoops this week

BTW, make sure to get your picks into Miracle Covers before Saturday 4:30, we have about 6 people so far.  Here are my picks for the week:

Bengals -2.5 vs Jets

Everyone and their mom loves the Jets, and I am with Simmons that taking a rookie QB on the road is not the best thing, I learned that last year backing up the truck on Matt Ryan in Arizona.  I mean, the Jets do have the better overall team, but if they fall 10-0 on the road in a VERY cold, windy, and hostile Bengals home crowd, I just don’t see it in Sanchez to give them the throws they need to beat Cincy, even as bad as Cincy looked last week.  Plus everyone loading up on the Jets in good pick’em karma, IMO.

Dallas -4 vs Philly

I really don’t want to pick the game.  The thought of having to decide whether to pick a game where my choices of  teams are coached by Andy Reid or Wade Phillips makes me have seizures. Dallas has dominated Philly so far but it is so hard to win 3 times in a row versus another team.  But the Jackson  injury at center for the Eagles I think is a huge loss because he’d been calling the protections for 7 years straight, and now it’s some rookie who also BTW has to block Jay Ratliff.   I don’t like putting money anywhere near a team who is coached by a “Phillips”,  it’s a heart attack waiting to happen, but Dallas has played their best ball going into the playoffs, and that’s what you look for in betting.

NE  -3 vs Baltimore

I’ll be at this one, and I think the Pats can muster up some Foxboro magic despite losing Welker to eek this out at home.  Flacco has played like crap since Green  Bay game and the Ravens and bengals are the only two teams who can NOT take advantage of the Pats shitty secondary because of their equally-as-shitty WR corps.  Belichick usually takes away what you do well, and that’s Ray Rice for the Ravens.  Take him out, and the Pats should win with home cooking behind them and rally around Wes.

Green Bay +1 @ Arizona

Listen to the Bill Simmons’ Playoff preview podcast and Mike Lombardi made some real good points on how you can take away things from a preseason game and a somewhat of a preseason game in Green Bay’s 67-3 total drubbing of the Cardinals in their last 2 ballgames.  Essentially, the Packers can do whatever they want on both lines of scrimmage, meaning Warner might get pressured into some turnovers.  The Packers 3-4 defense scheme matches up well vs what the Cardinals do, Clay Matthews had 6 pressures last week alone.  The Cardinals may not have Boldin either.  Plus I love taking Aaron Rodgers versus a average defense in a dome.  The only thing that worries me about Green Bay: after Minnesota, they have the worst special teams in the playoffs.  That and the “Arizona is an NBA team” factor as like last year when everyone loaded up against them, they are the only team in football history who can turn the switch on and off from F-level team to SB contender.

NFL Playoff Pick ‘Em Lines for Wild Card Weekend

I’ll post the final pot and ppl numbers by the weekend, lines from Pinnacle:

NYJ +2.5 @ Cincinnati

Philly +4 @ Dallas

Baltimore +3 @ New England

Green Bay +1 @ Arizona

EDIT 1/11: I’ll post the standings and the first round spreadsheet tonight. -Lou

Thursday Links

Back from the homeland & blogging again…

Good clock management story today on ESPN from Greg Garber. The column mentions Dick Curl & Herm Edwards at one point, which gives me reason to re-quote my favorite story from the 2009 season.

Is there a less encouraging sight than Dick Curl excitedly imparting information to an overwhelmed head coach trying to make a crucial strategic decision? He’s like a two-minute drill saboteur. Lost in the Jim Zorn bashing this week after the Rams-Redskins game was a vintage piece of Dick Curl gamesmanship at the 9:25 mark in the fourth quarter with the Rams down 9-7 and facing 4th-and-2 on the Washington 41. Now, what would someone who is not Dick Curl recommend in this situation? Send the offense back out and go for it? Attempt the long field goal? Solid choices, but lacking in the Curl touch. Wouldn’t it be better to call a timeout after an incompletion, line up in a fake punt formation with an eye toward drawing Washington offside, only to have one of your guys commit a false start at the last second, killing any chance for a field goal or manageable fourth-down conversion? Brilliant. I’m interested in who else Steve Spagnuolo considered for the clock wrangler job before settling on Curl. There were people in the McKinley administration with a better sense of when to take a timeout.

Norv Turner, Good Coach?

This point admittedly seemed more controversial two weeks ago, back when the Colts were 14-0 and the Saints were 13-1. Back-to-back losses have left both teams vulnerable entering the playoffs. Turner’s the last man standing all right, but his case would be complete with or without the late-season swoon from Jim Caldwell and Sean Payton. All it did was remind us that a good coach—fundamentally—is someone who keeps preventable damage to a minimum. That’s Norv Turner. Norv Turner is a good coach. How the hell did this happen?

For readers under the age of three, it’s worth noting that Turner was considered an apocalyptically bad head coach for nearly a decade. He went 49-59-1 in seven seasons in Washington and 9-23 in two years in Oakland. Since taking the Chargers job in 2007 he is 32-16, with a 3-2 mark in the playoffs Whether Turner improved in San Diego or merely had his incompetence outpaced by a new generation of coaches is debatable. Not debatable is Turner’s performance over the past one-and-a-half seasons holding together a Chargers team that had every excuse to go to pieces.

Top NFL Business Stories of 2009. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, especially during Lions games, and I’ll certainly have more on it this offseason.

Despite several recent meetings between the NFL and its labor counterpart, the NFL Players Association, regarding the extension of the labor agreement ratified in March of 2006, it appears we’re headed for a different system come March.

The amazing thing about this negotiation, unlike any other in modern professional sports, is that ownership is ready and willing to embrace a system without a Cap and the players are arguing in earnest for continued operation with a Cap.

In looking more closely, one can see two reasons: (1) Among the poison pills built into a system without a cap are two more years required for free agency, meaning 212 players – including top players such as Logan Mankins, Elvis Dumervil and Vincent Jackson – who would be free to negotiate with any team in the league now cannot; and (2) the lack of a spending floor that will permit (encourage) teams to roll back player costs and gear up for the next system, with or without a cap.

The gap between good and bad appears to be widening. The successful teams of recent years – Patriots, Colts, Chargers, Eagles, Packers, etc. – continue to have success. The unsuccessful teams of recent years – Lions, Raiders, Browns, Rams, Bills, etc. – continue to have challenges (the Rams and Lions will draft in the first two slots in consecutive years). The games appeared less competitive, especially early in the season.

Get all of your decade best-of lists here.

Boris Becker is playing poker.

NBA Jam is coming for the Wii!!!!

The evolution of soccer tactics and a video of the making of the World Cup ball.

Lastly…

This week in Jersey Shore:

This may be shocking, but it turns out, “The situation is that the “The Situation” is no stranger to getting paid to walk around shirtless.”

Best quotes from last week’s episode here. From the recap:

It wasn’t entirely clear how the gang scored themselves an invite to Sleazeside’s version of Lake Havasu, but we’re fairly certain the lake that they were romping in contains more crabs than your local Red Lobster. The highlight of the afternoon was clearly when Pauly D hopped in the water and not a single hair on his head moved.

NFL Playoff Line Pick’em Challenge

I suggested over a few beers at the Castle a NFL Playoff Pick’em Challenge here at Miracle Covers.

Basically for 10 bucks, you pick ALL of the games’ lines and compete against the other players for the best overall record thru the Super Bowl  (11 games, total) for the pot.  There is also a side bet for another kitty that goes towards the pursuit of perfection, as it is VERY hard (and is the gambling Holy Grail, minus maybe winning a NCAA Bracket).  If you go 11-0, you win the side pot.

If you are still mathematically alive, the SB Final Score will be tiebreaker #1.   If we have more that 2 going into SB week for a chance, the Pro Bowl could also be used as a secondary tie breaker as well.

The lines we will use will be from Pinnacle, and will be posted Thursday afternoon after the injury report.  I will then post everyone’s picks on the site for tracking and bragging rights.  Your picks must be in BEFORE kickoff of the first game that weekend.

Just post interest below, tell Darts/Lou, or shoot me an email @ sean@miraclecovers.com

Have a chance to win some dough and use it to party with JaMarcus Russell at the Palms in Vegas!

GL!

EDIT: Lou here, just a couple of things to clear up:

1) Sean will post the lines we will be using Thursday afternoon/evening. Picks are due by kickoff of the first game and can be emailed to either me or Sean or posted in the comments. 10 fun units each, winner take all. I’ll take care of posting a spreadsheet with everyone’s picks and the score each week.

Week 17

KC +12 @ Denver

Got this in the second just after McDaniels benched Scheffler AND Marshall for a game (now @ +10), they need to win to have any sniff of the playoffs.  How this team even made the 7 win under/over total a sweat after starting 6-0 makes me wanna puke.  So does the idea of watching this game.  “Denver is 2-7 in its past nine games! Kansas City is 9-38 over the past three seasons! Orton!  Savage! It’s the NFL on CBS!”

Baltimore-10 @ Oakland

Win and in for the Ravens, AND if Oakland loses, I ship the 5.5 Season under bet.  Imagine if shitty teams could rest their guys like the good teams do before the playoffs.  The press conferences would be hysterical.  Cable: “We are resting our guys for our 11 am tee time at Pebble Beach Monday.  We are also going to not play JaMarcus because we fear the more he plays, the more confidence he loses.”

Colts @ Buffalo Under 33

Colts resting starters (and not for a bad reason like last week; you play to win the game, baby!  This goes to show Bill Polian really runs the show in Indy), Buffalo sucks even in perfect conditions, AND it’s lake effect blizzard conditions in Buffalo for the entire game.  I have been to one of these games in 2000 when the 4-11 Pats played the 8-7 Bills in Orchard Park under 2 feet of snow.  The Pats won 6-3 in OT.  I’ll take the under.

6pt Teaser

GB +9 @ Arizona

Carolina -1 vs NO

I hope everyone is having a good start to 2010.  You know the alumni of South Florida and Northern Illnois who went to the International Bowl in Toronto did!

The Freeroll Game, a Follow-up

So I said we were going to keep half an eye on this freeroll game thing from last week so let’s take a looksie back to Week 16.  Before we do I should note that on Monday Night Football the Giants crushed the underdog Redskins putting the total for Week 15 at 6 Underdog wins, 2 double the spreads by favorites, and 8 Nothin’ Doin’s.  As for Week 16…

San Diego/Tennessee – Underdog San Diego wins

Buffalo/Atlanta – Atlanta doubles spread

Kansas City/Cincinnati – Nothing

Oakland/Cleveland – Cleveland doubles spread

Seattle/Green Bay – Green Bay doubles spread

Houston/Miami – Underdog Houston wins

Jacksonville/New England – New England doubles spread

Tampa Bay/New Orleans – Underdog Tampa Bay wins

Carolina/Giants – Underdog Carolina wins

Baltimore/Pittsburgh – Nothing

St Louis/Arizona – Nothing

Detroit/San Francisco – Nothing

Jets/Indianapolis – Underdog Jets win

Denver/Philadelphia – Nothing

Dallas/Washington – Dallas doubles spread

Minnesota/Chicago – Underdog Chicago wins

WWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!  what in the name of bill parcells in going on here?  16 games were on the board.  6 underdog outright wins?  5 favorites double the spread?  and the people making these lines are professionals!  imagine the results if they didn’t know precisely what they were doing!  lets see what i like this week.

Chicago (-3) @ Detroit

When has Detroit shown at any point during the season that they should be getting this level of respect?  In my mind this line should be 7.

Giants (+9) @ Minnesota

I think the Giants will come to play and give the Vikings a decent fight.  I think they would like to end the season with guns drawn.

As a side note, three games this weekend will have a solid chance of being playoff previews during the wild card.  In order of sexiness

Packers/Cards

Philly/Dallas

Bengals/Jets

Another side note is that the last week is obviusly gut check time for season total bets.  I’m looking at you, Atlanta.

Week 16 Plays

Arizona -14 vs St.L

Oakland @ Cleveland Under 37

Teaser 6pt

Atlanta 1.5 vs Buffalo

Baltimore +10 @ Pittsburgh

The Freeroll Game

So recently I have been giving Van Tran some freeroll bets on sports.  I am living rent free at 55 Montfern, so I’m giving the young man an opportunity to make some cash on the side.  But I can’t just say “Alright, the Jets are minus 5.5, who do you like?”  That would be a little too generous.

The result is The Freeroll Game.  The player gets two picks from the slate of games.  For those two picks, they get two selections; that an underdog will win outright in a game, or that a favored team will win by double the spread.  As case in point, the San Diego/Cincinnati game yesterday had San Diego as a 6.5 favorite.  If you go for this game, you are either choosing that the Bengals will win or that San Diego will win by 13 or more.  Note 13 here is not a push, 13 is a win.  For his two selections, Van played the roll of fan, choosing the underdog Dolphins to win, and charity case, selecting the favored Giants to double the spread tonight in Washington.

Here is how the pay works for The Freeroll Game.  I offered Van two selections on his two picks.  He could do separate picks at 30 dollar payouts, 0 for 0 right, 30 for 1 right, 60 for 2 right, or he could parlay the picks, 0 for 0 right, 0 for 1 right, 100 for 2 right.  Van opted for the first plan picking the games separately and it is good he did since the Dolphins lost in overtime.  Let’s take a look at the games and see how things shaked out in regards to The Freeroll Game.

Indy/Jax – Nothing

Saints/Dallas – Underdog Dallas wins

Atlanta/Jets – Underdog Atlanta wins

Houston/St Louis – Nothing

Cleveland/Kansas City – Underdog Cleveland wins

Miami/Tennessee – Nothing

Arizona/Detroit – Nothing

New England/Buffalo – Nothing

Cincinnati/San Diego – Nothing

Oakland/Denver – Underdog Oakland wins

Chicago/Baltimore – Baltimore doubles spread

Tampa Bay/Seattle – Underdog Seattle wins

Green Bay/Pittsburgh – Nothing

San Francisco/Philadelphia – Nothing

Minnesota/Carolina – Underdog Carolina wins

That is 6 underdogs winning outright and only one team doubling the spread as the favorite.  Is this an indication of something?  Is this a fluke?  Is this normal?  I have no idea, but it is something to keep half an eye on, and it is, The Freeroll Game.

NFL Week 15 Plays

Lots of action this weekend…

San Francisco @ Philadelphia (-7.5)
Atlanta @ NY Jets (-5.5)
Tampa Bay (+7) @ Seattle
NY Giants @ Washington (+3)
Minnesota @ Carolina (+9)