Week 15 Ramble Drill

We start the week with this mantra I learned from Eric Mangini’s interview with NFL Network this week: “Sometimes punting isn’t always a bad thing” (you know that’s a shot at BB).

Herm Edwards’ advice for Tiger Woods

Thanks to Brian Billick, his adjective for Jay Cutler, “Jeff Georgish”, is now going to be an EXTENSIVE part of my sports vocab on Sundays from now on.  You can even apply it to other things in life, like restaurant reviews: “Heading into an Italian dinner in the North End I was excited, but after having the rubbery pasta, it meal itself was a bit Jeff Georgish.”

Looks like the guys who made the Comcast info descriptions for TV programs don’t try that hard:

At least the Entertainment Division seems to be stepping up it’s game:

Onto NCAA News, congrats to the South Carolina Gamecocks who will face UConn in the PapaJohns.com Bowl, and to the Clemson Tigers who will face the Kentucky Wildcats in the GAYlord Hotels Bowl.  Way to go, fellas!  We’ll keep a close eye on these bowls here at Miracle Covers because quite simply, people who gamble on these games will be the only ones watching them.

Brad Gradkowski blowing out his knee may have saved by Oakland Raiders under season 5.5 bet (they have 4 wins now).  They were playing well under him and even beat Pittsburgh IN Pittsburgh.  Now Oakland has to rely on the Charlie Frye and/or JaMarcus Russell experience.  I think my bet is safe.

If the Cowboys lose the rest of their games in December, I ship my under bet with them as well.  Not out of the realm of possibility.

Here are the picks of the week, I have Jax in a teaser which shipped its end last night if it wasn’t for Peyton Manning, who is a machine.  12-12, 116, 2 Tds in 10 minutes in the 1st half alone last night.  Ridiculious.  I am sure GB will lose by 8 on Sunday.

6 pt Teasers:

Jax +9 vs Colts

GB +7 vs Pittsburgh

and

Denver -7.5 vs Oakland (led by Charlie Frye!)

San Diego -0.5 vs Cincinnati

Dallas/NO Over 52.5

Baltimore -10 vs Chicago (Good thing I got this in on Monday, now at 11)

Friday Links

Light links this week…picks I’m going to lose money on this weekend.

Worst Date Ever (serios). Complete with MS Paint NSFW Imagery.

The story above references a pee bottle, something I’ve never heard of, but Stuttgart GK Jens Lehmann could have used one last week.

Former Ravens coach Brian Billick compared Jay Cutler to Jeff George this week. That’s can’t be a good thing.

I was a huge Jay Cutler fan, and I’m not ready to bail on him yet. But I’m going to make an analogy here that’s going to scare a lot of people. He’s beginning to feel Jeff Georgish. Tremendous talent. The two interceptions, two touchdowns in the game [Sunday]. The interceptions, you just scratch your head and say, ‘Where exactly were you going with this ball?’ And then the two touchdown throws … there is probably not four guys in this league that could make the kind of throws that he made to get those two touchdowns. So it’s a head-scratcher. Obviously huge, huge potential. But right now, it’s only potential I think.

Fishing show bloopers.

Fidelity fired four of their employees for playing fantasy football at work. I guess firing people for surfing the internet is next.

Maybe they’ll have time to follow this guy’s advice on how to make a billion dollars. It’d make a great infomercial spot.

NFL Week 15 Early Leans & Stats of the Week

I don’t know and haven’t measured how relevant road records are come playoff time, but I’d be willing to believe there’s a predictive element in there someplace. Teams that win at home are taking care of their business; teams that win on the road, even against bad teams, are legitimately good. Below are the current road records for all teams to date without further comment.

NFC

New Orleans Saints 7-0
Philadelphia Eagles 5-2
Arizona Cardinals 5-2
Minnesota Vikings 4-2
Green Bay Packers 4-2
Dallas Cowboys 3-3
New York Giants 3-3
Carolina Panthers 2-5
Atlanta Falcons 1-5
Chicago Bears 1-5
San Francisco 49ers 1-5
Seattle Seahawks 1-5
Washington Redskins 1-6
St. Louis Rams 1-6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0-6
Detroit Lions 0-7

AFC

Indianapolis Colts 6-0
San Diego Chargers 6-1
Cincinnati Bengals 4-2
New York Jets 4-3
Denver Broncos 4-3
Houston Texans 3-3
Miami Dolphins 3-4
Buffalo Bills 3-4
Baltimore Ravens 2-4
Jacksonville Jaguars 2-4
Oakland Raiders 2-4
Kansas City Chiefs 2-4
Pittsburgh Steelers 2-5
Tennessee Titans 2-5
New England Patriots 1-5
Cleveland Browns 1-6

Stats of the Week

1. Miami and New England both won on Sunday despite being -3 in turnovers. The last 2 teams to win with a -3 turnover differential were San Francisco and Atlanta in week 16 & 17 of 2008, both against the Rams.

2. 500 yards of offense in a loss is both rare and difficult to accomplish. Check out this list of underachievers:

New York Giants v. Philadelphia Week 14, 2009 (512)
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Week 11, 2009 (516)
Denver Broncos v. Buffalo Week 16, 2008 (532)
New Orleans Saints v. Atlanta Week 10, 2008 (521)
New Orleans Saints v. Denver Week 3, 2008 (502)
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Week 17, 2007 (501)*
Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco Week 12, 2007 (552)
Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Week 3, 2007 (531)

*Seattle rested their starters in this game and Seneca Wallace played extensively.

Will need to look at this further, but this might be a trend. I’ll definitely be looking at Pittsburgh and NY Giants over win total next season.

3. The Lions are allowing a league worst 31.2 points/game on the year. The only two teams they’ve held under 20 are the Redskins and Rams (both at home). Detroit is 3-9-1 against the spread this season.

4. Rushing Yards – 2009

1. Chris Johnson · TEN 1626
2. Steven Jackson · STL 1279
3. Adrian Peterson · MIN 1200
4. Thomas Jones · NYJ 1167
5. Maurice Jones-Drew · JAX 1136

5. The Arizona Cardinals cannot turn the ball over and win. Under Ken Whisenhunt, the Cardinals are 20-1 with a positive turnover margin and 2-17 when it’s negative. It’s not new that teams that turn the ball over tend to lose, but the Cardinals are an extreme example.

6. The Jacksonville Jaguars have averaged 15.3 points/game in their last 9 outings. The Redskins are going the other way, having averaged 24.2 in their last 5.

7. New Orleans QB Drew Brees leads the NFL with a 112.3 passer rating this season which would be the 5th highest all-time. The Saints have scored at least 24 points in every game this season.

8. The San Diego Super Chargers are the only team besides the Saints to score at least 20 points in every game this season. Their offense is possibly the most consistent in the league. The Chargers also have a total of 13 turnovers on the season and had only one game with under 300 yards of offense. Their win on Sunday was their 8th in a row.

9. The Chicago Bears are last in the NFL in rushing.

10. The Green Bay Packers defense currently ranks 2nd in the NFL behind the Jets.

Early Leans

Minnesota @ Carolina +9
New England @ Buffalo +7
NY Giants @ Washington +3
Bungles @ San Diego -7

No Jets line yet, but 7 or less would be appealing at home to Atlanta.

NFL Week 14 Plays

Miami @ Jacksonville (-2)

San Diego @ Dallas (-3)

Good luck out there today.

UFC Plays

From Eric Foster

Fitch -400

Kongo +185

Week 14 Ramble Drill

Links of the week:

Mark Sanchez needs to work on his accuracy……kind of.

How is this Meachem TD not counted in Yahoo FFBL Leagues?

This is why we gamble on Fresno State @ Illnois games.

“Pat Patriot” got caught in a prostitution ring. Looks like he’ll be pulled out this Sunday versus the Panthers.

Video that pretty much sums up the Chicago Bulls early troubles. No wonder they don’t lace em up every night; they are too busy watching the other team!

I think when hilarious parody skits are being made about your transgressions, it’s time for Tiger Woods to take time off of golf for a while.  Tiger and his inability to hide his legendary debauchery (that would of gotten a high five from every man in America if he wasn’t married with two kids) clinches him for the “Facepalm Award of the Year”.  More end of year awards to come later this month!

Onto the picks:

Denver +7 @ Indianapolis

Baltimore -13 vs Detroit

6pt Teaser:

Minnesota -0.5 vs Cincinnati

Oakland +7 vs Washington

Thursday Links

Gambling winners & losers, music lists of the decade and way, waaaaaaaay too much about Jersey Shore. Settle in.

The Gambler Who Blew $127 Million

During a year-long gambling binge at the Caesars Palace and Rio casinos in 2007, Terrance Watanabe managed to lose nearly $127 million.

The run is believed to be one of the biggest losing streaks by an individual in Las Vegas history. It devoured much of Mr. Watanabe’s personal fortune, he says, which he built up over more than two decades running his family’s party-favor import business in Omaha, Neb. It also benefitted the two casinos’ parent company, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., which derived about 5.6% of its Las Vegas gambling revenue from Mr. Watanabe that year.

Watanabe would have done well to have this guy gamble with him. He actually supports a family picking up losing tickets that aren’t.

Do MLB teams need defined closers?

As someone who is somewhat caught between the world of statistical analysis and actually being involved in the game I’ve thought a lot about how I would handle the closer situation if I were a manager. In this instance I feel like players pitch better when they have a definitive role, thus I would disagree with statistics that say that you should play match ups in the 9th inning unless you have an elite closer. The fact is that it is nearly impossible to be locked in where you need to be to pitch for the entire game, in every situation.

Obligatory NCAA Football playoff article for the year. It’s actually well researched & written and until something of the sort is implemented I’ll continue to not care about college football.

Some enterprising souls managed to legally scam both the US government and the credit card companies.

Enthusiasts of frequent-flier mileage have all kinds of crazy strategies for racking up credits, but few have been as quick and easy as turning coins into miles.

At least several hundred mile-junkies discovered that a free shipping offer on presidential and Native American $1 coins, sold at face value by the U.S. Mint, amounted to printing free frequent-flier miles. Mileage lovers ordered more than $1 million in coins until the Mint started identifying them and cutting them off.

Coin buyers charged the purchases, sold in boxes of 250 coins, to a credit card that offers frequent-flier mile awards, then took the shipments straight to the bank. They then used the coins they deposited to pay their credit-card bills. Their only cost: the car trip to make the deposit.


Top Music of the Decade

PitchFork
Paste Magazine
NME
The AV Club
Rolling Stone

MTV’s Jersey Shore is the newest best worst reality television program ever. It’s probably not worth the time and brain cells killed to sit and watch full episodes of this, but the clips and quotes are outstanding. From Vulture:

“You have your penis pierced. I love it.” —Jenni “JWOWW”
After housemates Pauly D and Jenni “JWOWW” found themselves a little bit buzzed and falling prey to the always romantic strains of house music at club Karma [Side Note: We’re strongly considering hitting up Google Maps and making a road trip there this weekend], they made their way back to the share and started making out. It was there and then that we learned that “the party’s in Pauly D’s pants tonight” (his words, not ours), and that said party was pierced.

“I feel like this is beneath me. I’m a bartender. I do great things.” —Angelina “Jolie”
We’ve all been in a position at one time or another when we’ve felt like our unique talents might be going overlooked in the workplace. However, we imagine that only a small fraction of you ever had this epiphany while putting airbrushed tank tops on hangers in a souvenir T-shirt joint on the boardwalk. Thanks to Angelina, though, we can now all empathize with her plight. She’s sort of like the Erin Brockovich of Shore Store.

“I love the Situation.” —Mike “the Situation”
And now, so does America! You see, our boy Mike has dubbed himself “the Situation,” which provides him with the opportunity to lift up his shirt and display his rippling abdominal muscles at a moment’s notice simply by asking women, “Do you love the Situation?” while pointing at his six-pack. You might think this outright display of peacocking wouldn’t work in a post-Mystery world, but surprisingly, it works like gangbusters. Not only do women coo and fawn in his presence, he was able to sell multiple factions of guidettes booty shorts emblazoned with his catchphrase, quickly proving himself to be one of America’s all-time greatest salesmen. Could “I love the Situation” be the new “Eat my shorts, man”? Quite possibly!

You can get catchphrase emblazoned clothing here.

Lastly a couple of videos, first some clips from the actual show and then a “parody” of an audition tape for season 2.

Match Fixing & the NBA

Soccer in the Lower German Leagues, a Target for Bribery

For a few sweet hours on Saturday, none of that mattered. SSV Ulm beat F.C. Eintracht Bamberg, 3-1. The Ulmers dominated the game and loved every minute of it.

Who cared that only 39 fans in Ulm’s black-and-white colors made the trip to Bamberg, a journey of about 155 miles, or that the Neu-Ulmer Zeitung newspaper had not bothered to send a reporter?

For those few hours, everyone could forget that three of Ulm’s best players had recently been fired after they were accused of fixing matches.

The three fired players — Davor Kraljevic, 31; Dinko Radojevic, 31; and Marijo Marinovic, 26 — are a case in point. They are under investigation and suspected of rigging four matches last season and two matches this season for several thousand euros each.

Earning $4,500 to $6,000 a month, they were among the best and highest-paid players on the team. But as one official familiar with the investigation explains, their choice was between $525 in taxable bonus payments if the team had won, and about $7,500 in cash per rigged match.

“Their calculation was, get paid well to lose or get paid poorly to win,” said the official, who declined to be identified because the investigation is continuing.

Over 200 games across Europe are currently under investigation which makes the NBA’s Tim Donaghy scandal look minor league. Follow up from yesterday is here. An excerpt:

What broke Marcel Schuon was his fear of the gun.

A middling player in Germany’s second-tier soccer league, Schuon had gambled away everything. He had borrowed from the bank. Built up debts with a dingy betting office. Borrowed more. Gambled more. Lost more.

But Schuon, 24, had always resisted when the betting office owner offered “an easy solution” — an own goal, or a handball in Schuon’s team’s next road game.

Then, in early April, a man at the betting office told him that the boss, a man identified by Schuon’s lawyer and the German news media as Nurettin G. — a stocky Turk in his 30s — had a gun. When Schuon next met the boss, on the city outskirts, he agreed to throw a game against Augsburg in return for having 20,000 euros, or about $30,000, in betting debts excused.

FIFA, soccer’s equivalent of the NCAA, is investigating but Declan Hill, author of The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime, remains unimpressed:

European and North American soccer needs a proper system for reporting attempted corruption. Imagine that you are a professional player in some soccer league, and a criminal approaches you to fix a game. What do you do now? Who do you report it to?

The corruptors are really good at this type of approach. During my research, I wore a secret wire to meetings with fixers, runners and some of the players they met. The fixers are very professional. They know what to say to the players. In the usual fix, they will say something that isolates a player from the rest of the team: “You do know that your coach is on our payroll ” or “We control your team owner. He gets his cash from us.”

In the best case, these kinds of statements are untrue, but they put doubt in a player’s mind. In many cases, they are actually true and remind the player that if he tells anyone, he may face some very serious consequences.

Establish an independent security unit with a telephone hot line that every player and coach knows he must call if approached to fix a game. This is what the Danish Football Association has done. It leads the soccer world at the moment in anticorruption measures, because it is one of the only soccer associations to have taken this issue seriously.

Another reform is to adopt the rule used in professional tennis. This is another sport that has been hit by a wave of gambling and allegations of fixing. It was not that all or even a number of players were fixing matches, but it was that when many tennis players heard about fixing or corrupt approaches, they would not tell the authorities for fear of being labeled a rat. There was a culture of acceptance. The tennis officials, in large part, changed this culture by adopting a policy under which the players must tell the authorities if approached to fix a game.

Soccer officials should learn from tennis and start to put into place some of their anticorruption policies.

Give the NBA some credit, at least the only betting scandal they’ve had so far involved a referee. They’re also much more vigilant, at least on the surface, about keeping gambling out of the game. Kings scout Jack Mai was recently fired and banned for betting on games as recently as last season. But anytime you have current and former players with gambling debts, it doesn’t take much imagination to read the stories above and figure out the quickest way for athletes at any level to get back to even.

In an NCAA survey of 2,000 football players, 102 admitted they’d taken money to play poorly, knew a teammate who had taken money, been threatened or harmed because of sports wagering or been contacted by an outside source to share information.

One of those “outside” sources used to be Michael Franzese, or at least guys who worked for the former capo of New York’s notorious Colombo Family.

“The leagues and the NCAA realize they can overcome a lot. They can overcome the steroid issues. They can overcome the harassment issues and guys getting in trouble for guns, and (fans) will still come back. But if there is a gambling scandal, if fans think athletes are doing something to change the nature of the competition, that is going to be a problem,” Franzese says.

“It has always been a big fear and it’s very real. Athletes have a propensity to gamble. It’s an extension of their competitive spirit and if they get themselves in trouble, get addicted, you know they’ll do something to affect the outcome of a game. It’s that simple. That’s what the leagues are afraid of.”

This article from 2003 by Tom Farrey was almost prophetic:

As the NBA moves forward, the league may find out whether it was decades of anti-gambling zealotry or mere coincidence that kept its games clean all these years.

“Will we look back (a decade from now) and see a much, much stronger alliance between gambling and sports? That’s probably going to happen,” [Tom McMillen, former NBA player and Maryland congressman] said. “And if that happens, all you need is one major incident and you can do tremendous damage to the integrity of sports. I think that’s a risk factor that professional sports, and particularly the NBA, need to take a look at.”

Bill Simmons from 2007 (When the Donaghy story first broke):

…When news of the Donaghy scandal broke, everyone’s reaction was the same: “Which one?”

That’s why I had one group of friends frantically organizing a “Who was the crooked ref?” office pool on Friday morning instead of wondering, “How could this happen?” That’s why [David] Stern ignored the FBI’s advice and used such harsh language in his official statement on Friday; nobody understands the gravity of this crisis more than someone who grew up in New York in the ’50s during CCNY’s famous point-shaving scandal. This was his worst nightmare, worse than a repeat of the Artest Melee, worse than a repeat of Kermit Washington’s punch, worse than anything except a terrorist act during an NBA game. Over everything else, Stern always wanted his fans to feel completely safe when they’re attending games, and he always wanted them to believe that the integrity of the game was intact. Now, they don’t feel that way. At all.

Don’t think the NFL or any other sport is immune to this either. How easy would it be to pay off a quarterback to make sure his team doesn’t cover? The scariest part is that if the fixing is done right there’s no way for us to know. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop gambling anytime soon, but we do need to be aware. Justin’s dad gives us all some good advice, “Son, people will always try and fuck you. Don’t waste your life planning for a fucking, just be alert when your pants are down.”

Chop Karma

So let’s all relive a recent situation I found myself in.  In my big pay league, there is a 100 dollar entry fee.  The prize breakdown is 400 given to the team that finishes first during the regular season, 100 given to the team that finishes second in the playoffs, and a cool half grand given to the first place playoff team.

Going into the final week, me and another kid were the only ones who could win the regular season.  By the end of the night Sunday, things were pretty close, but did not look good for me.  I was leading the kid I was playing by a bit but he had Rodgers and Driver going Monday night and I only had McGahee.  In the other match-up, it was a similar story, as the kid I needed to lose was only down by a few points and had Ray Rice, Flacco going.  The kid he was playing had the Packer D.

At that point, Lou reviewed my predicament and said something along the lines of, “you know, I bet he would still take a chop at this point if you offered it.”  I thought it over Sunday night and Monday morning decided to test the waters.  I sent him a message telling him to contact me if he was interested in “some sort of chop.”  At this exact moment, I now have CHOP KARMA in my favor.  I know that this kid is going to get the message, and if he either ignores it, or refuses, chop karma swings dramatically in my favor.  This is especially the case given the fact that he was odds-on to take the title down.

Our villain, though, is a crafty one.  Apparently realizing the full implications of such a decision, he almost immediately contacts me noting his desire to work out a chop.  I proposed two primary chops.  250-150 or 300-100, the winner of the reg season getting more money.  I personally preferred the 300-100, but he pushed for the 250-150.  Now, if I had been a prick and insisted on 300-100, chop karma would have swung 180 degrees away from the direction it had been a short while ago and slammed directly in my opponent’s favor, with him easily winning the title.  Knowing this, I of course had to accept the 250-150 proposal or I would have lost in a crushing defeat.  Accepting the 250-150 chop was the only chance I had that the football players I had never met on my team would score more points than the football players I had never met on my opponent’s team.

And so it came to pass.  Flacco threw three interceptions (obviously all to the Packer D), and I wound up winning the regular season by four points.  I hated to do this to Flacco, but I’m pretty poor at the moment and needed some money.

LINES

Arizona @ San Fran (under 44.5)

When it comes to over/unders I am a proponent of looking at what type of game style the home team likes to get involved in, and while the 49ers can get frisky with the Smith-Davis combo, I think in his heart, Singletary is a low-scoring, defensive minded type of guy.

Buffalo @ Kansas City (over 37.5)

Two weak defenses and a couple of offenses with a ton of guys who have something to prove.  I definitely like the over here.

Green Bay (-3) @ Chicago

The problem with this line is that the Pack are like -125 or something.  Felt obliged to throw a third pick in, let’s see if I can come across something better in the next couple days.

The Dirty Sanchez List

Since there will be lots of best of lists for the decade coming out in the next month or so and we could use the traffic boost from people who are Googling anything but quarterbacks who throw lots of interceptions, what better to add than a list of Dirty Sanchezes in the NFL since 2000? The “alternate” definition of Dirty Sanchez was coined by our friend Nick while watching Jets QB Mark Sanchez throw 5 interceptions in a 16-13 loss to the Bills in October. Sanchez finished with a quarterback rating of 8.3, completing 10 of 29 attempts for 119 yards.

Mark Dirty Sanchez

You’ll notice none of the other quarterbacks on the list below were quite as poor as Sanchez, but other than Tony Romo’s Monday Night Miracle, everyone was still a loser. One name that is missing from this list is sexy Rex Grossman.  I was sure the Denny Green Game would be on this list, but it turns out Grossman only threw 4 INTs that night to go along with his two fumbles.  Six turnovers, but no DS.  Interesting mixture of good quarterbacks and bad, kind of like baseball’s no-hitter list.  Permalink thanks to the awesome Play Index at Pro Football Reference is here.

The Dirty Sanchez List
The Dirty Sanchez List