Few thoughts on last week:
I went 1-4 on SEC plays last week (ended up taking the under 44 in LSU/FLA as I was on tilt after near misses early in the day). I ended up breaking even on Saturday thanks to that and the Dodgers sweeping St. Louis, who I had @ +125 WITH home field advantage (Don’t the bookies have ESPN? Where every night/morning SportsCenter would lead off with highlights of Andre Either celebrating with his teammates at home plate with weekly walk-offs at Dodger Stadium? Am I missing something here?).
I however KILLED it on NFL this Sunday, going 5-0 and hitting all of my teasers, mostly thanks to Cincy (now known by Gus Johnson as the “Cardiac Cats!”, and yes, with the exclamation point) helping me complete not only the teasers I mentioned last week, but I also gambled it up with a 4 team teaser at +350 and hit that too. Hopefully I can keep the roll going. Here are some random thoughts on the week:
The Browns winning a game with only 2 completions has to now place the Bills as a lead nominee for “The Darwin Awards”. How can you only score 3 points, at home (granted with some of that swirling, crazy wind in Northern NY) against a team who not only is lacking in talent, but also smarts. Just take a look at this quote from Defensive Captain D’Qwell Jackson:
Browns linebacker and co-captain D’Qwell Jackson was among the most stunned by the Browns 0-3 start. “Every year I think we’re going to go 16-0, so I’m shocked that we’re 0-3.”
I’m not, D’Qwell. Granted maybe you have more faith in your teammates than I do, but seriously, 16-0? At least say something somewhat attainable, like 10-6 or something. The fact you can’t recognize your team blows maybe proves that the dementia that esteemed journalist Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in The New Yorker this week maybe is more of a problem than we thought. I certainly can, and plan to profit off of it!
Dre, this is how it is done (or maybe not….maybe this is where the “Hunter Smith: whitest player” beef came from?).
Poor form, Donnie Avery. Not only do you celebrate with a gay-ish dance after scoring a TD late in the 4th (which is OK I guess, the Rams will be lucky to score 10 TDs this year), down 31-3….you then push away your teammate (former Cowboys Hard Knocker) Danny Amendola, which can’t look good to your teammates, coaches, and the fans of the Rams. And Yes, I will blatantly admit I was giddy to type in the phrase, “Hard Knocker”, all week. Avery gets the Double Facepalm Player of the Week award.
Onto the picks:
Alabama/South Carolina Under 45
Big game in the SEC between two really good defensive teams, and two very vanilla offenses. Only offensive scare will be outstanding Alabama return man Javier Arenas versus a piss poor South Carolina special teams unit.
Jackonsville, -9.5, vs St. Louis.
Mo-Jones-Drew is pissed, St.Louis blows, is 0-5, and has no road TDs, they have the bad karma of Donnie Avery working against them, and Jacksonville is coming off a 41-0 loss @ Seattle. I always remember my dad saying, “Beware of the team that gets blown out a week before and is playing at home. They will play harder the week after, not only for pride, but if anything, to shut the coaches up from yelling at them in the meetings”.
Philly -14 @ Oakland
The aforementioned quote from my dad applies to professional, and even college, teams. Oakland is neither.
Bears @ Atlanta Over 46
This probably gets smashed around the 3rd quarter.
Teasers of the Week (6 point):
KC @ WAS +12
GB -7.5 vs DET
HOU +11 @ CIN
NYJ -4 vs BUF
I’m tempted to start blaming Commie Roundball for everything that’s broken. It sounds like a bad comic book villain and probably looks something like this. The Bills suck? Well if it wasn’t for Commie Roundball things would be a lot better. Lost money gambling? That’s what you get for betting on Commie Roundball.
Taking a couple of home underdogs to win over in England tomorrow. Liverpool travels to Sunderland minus their two best players and Sunderland is still getting +280 to win and +220 to draw. Both are solid plays as Sunderland have played well at home, have a decent team and were a miracle cover away from beating Manchester United away two weeks ago. Tottenham visits Portsmouth for the second bettable game of the day. Portsmouth are +350 to win and despite being bottom of the league, they have not yet a) quit on their coach or b) played particularly terribly. The players are saying the right things. GK David James:
At the start of the season there was a strong feeling of negativity at Portsmouth, and I know I contributed to that with my own comments. I was just being honest about how I felt. There was a lot of stuff going on that didn’t fill me with confidence and it was fertile soil for disillusionment.
But the new players that came in helped clear the air. They missed all of the uncertainty that had been building up over the summer; they were here to work out where their careers were going and they weren’t embroiled in club politics. They came in fresh and uncontaminated – visitors to planet Portsmouth.
Since then, a harmony in the team has been developing. Everybody appreciates what needs to be done, the feeling is good and best of all there’s a sense of equality around the place. Where last season our dressing room felt frantic and anarchic, this season it feels calm.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp was previously in charge of Portsmouth, and several Portsmouth players transferred away from Spurs this offseason. Key Tottenham defensive midfielder Wilson Palacios will miss out as he was ordered to celebrate with Honduras after helping them clinch a World Cup place on Wednesday.
Actually following some of my early leans this week, we’ll see if Commie Roundball does me in or not:
Carolina @ Tampa +3
Two bad teams, one a home underdog being ignored.
Houston @ Cincinnati -4.5
Up to 5.5 now. Not thrilled about this bet, but Cincy seems to be exactly the type of opponent Houston fails against.
Philadelphia -14 @ Oakland
Fully expecting McNabb to pull a Delhomme here. There should be lots of disposals.
Kansas City @ Washington -6
This line hasn’t moved despite heavy action on the Chiefs and I don’t know why other than people smarted than me betting on the Skins.
Good luck out there this week.
The last round of qualifiers for the World Cup takes place today. There will still be a handful of playoff games for the final places next month, but 80% of the field will have been determined by the end the day. Many of the games are largely meaningless and without any inside information on whether one side went out drinking the night before, there’s little/no value in most of these lines.
We do have one play to recommend and that’s taking Bosnia at home to draw with Spain at +230. Spain has already secured their place and did so easily and convincingly. First, a short recap of their weekend encounter with Armenia:
Over in Armenia, Spain won 2-1 in a game whose result failed to reflect the utter dominance of the visitors – that despite the fact that Armenia equalised at one point (thereby scoring against Spain for the first ever time) and celebrated the goal as if they had just won the national lottery. Valencia’s Juan Mata restored some sanity with a penalty soon afterwards, but Spain looked as if they could hardly be bothered for most of the game, and simply passed it among themselves for long periods, with the Armenians running around in a daze, unsure of what to do.
The win made it nine out of nine for Spain, the longest consecutive run of group wins in World Cup qualifying history. They may have their work cut out to make it ten in the final game in Bosnia in midweek, but the astonishing fact is that the Spanish have now gone 42 qualifying games without defeat – the last one coming in 1993 in wonderful wonderful Copenhagen (1-0).
Bosnia has already secured their playoff place for one of the last four European berths, so this game is essentially a friendly for both teams. Spain won’t want to lose their unbeaten streak after having played so well the last two years, and Bosina is just good enough to where they’ll probably be bothered enough to turn up. If Bosnia can get a result, they’ll be able to boast of “having momentum” going into next month as Spain is favored for this game. In short, a draw would suit both teams just fine and the odds are certainly good enough. Two unit play here.
In South America, Argentina was nearly eliminated by bottom team Peru on Saturday and travel to Uruguay with the winner getting the last automatic place. Not worth betting on this game as legend Diego Maradona has turned one of the most talented teams in the world into a disorganized and mediocre team. Ecuador can leapfrog the loser of this game and earn a playoff place with a win at already qualified Chile (Standings here). These games both kickoff at 6:00 Eastern and I promise finding an internet feed with one or both of these games will be well worth the effort.
Chances are if you’re reading this you’re already aware that Derek Anderson of the Cleveland Browns “led” his team to victory on the back of a 2 for 17 performance at Buffalo. The Football Outsiders guys have some things to say about that here. In short, there have been some equally bad performances by winning QBs in the recent past. Not much time this week, so jumping right in…
1) Cedric Benson leads the NFL in rushing.
2) Philadelphia is 11-0 coming off of a bye week under Andy Reid.
3) Peyton Manning has 300+ yards passing and at least one touchdown pass in every game this season. He leads the NFL with 1645 passing yards.
4) 34 year old Redskins linebacker London Fletcher leads the NFL in tackles with 59. No other player besides Browns LB D’Qwell Jackson has more than 50.
5) The Oakland Raiders are the first team since at least 1960 to have under 200 yards of total offense in four straight games.
6) 49ers punter Andy Lee has 35 punts through 5 games putting him on pace for 112 on the season. The NFL record for punts in a season is 114.
7) Carolina has a -9 turnover margin this season.
8) New England is 18th in average scoring (20.8 pts/game) despite having run the most plays from scrimmage of any team in the NFL (351).
9) The Rams outgained the Vikings 400 yards to 377 but still managed to lose by 28 points. They have only scored three touchdowns all season.
10) Denver is 5-0 in real life, but also 5-0 versus the spread this season. Their under has also hit in every game this year. New England was the first team to score two touchdowns in a game versus the Broncos this season.
11) The Buffalo Bills have had 31 different players flagged for penalties this season.
12) This week will be the sixth straight week the Washington Redskins play a winless team.
San Diego/Denver over 44. Clearly I don’t read my own blog. San Diego showed last week versus Pittsburgh they can’t stop the run without Jamaal Williams and that Philip Rivers guy is pretty good.
Houston @ Cincinnati -4.5 Texans can’t run the ball and I don’t see how they’re going to be particularly effective throwing it against Joseph and Hall.
Atlanta/Chicago over 46. Do you think Atlanta’s offense has to run laps or do pushups whenever they don’t score against their defense in practice?
Carolina @ Tampa +3 Not sure if I’m the only person that thinks these two teams are equally horrible. If it’s even close, Tampa is a home underdog being shunned by the public, which should be good enough on its own.
So a favorite technique of mine last year in figuring what team to bet on would be to see the game, guess the line, view the Vegas line, and then take the games where the biggest disparity exists. Let’s do it and see how this goes. Actual line will be put in bold using pinnaclesports.
Detroit @ Green Bay
I think the Packers are due for a big game from the offense, let’s put this line at Pack minus 9. (GB -13)
Kansas City @ Washington
Did not see either team play this week or even a single highlight. Both tems are bad, Washington minus 4. Wash (-6.5)
Houston @ Cincinnati
How about them Bengals. Cincy minus 4.5 Cinc (-4)
Carolina @ Tampa Bay
There is every chance that the line on this will end up lower than the number of INTs, I’ll say TB minus 1 (Car -3)
Cleveland @ Pitt
Is Polamalu back? I think that he more than any other defensive player affects the line on a game. Let’s say the line is Pitt minus 11 Pitt (-14)
Giants @ New Orleans
Whether it turns out that way who knows but at the moment this is the game of the year, and I won’t see a moment of it while at work at City Sports. Bummer. Giants minus 1.5 Saints (-3)
Baltimore @ Minnesota
Very tough game. Flacco looked not too hot last week and Minnesota’s D is legitimate. Minn minus 3.5 Minn (-3)
St Louis @ Jax
It is a testament to how awful Lou’s bet earlier in the year on Rams winning the NFC West was when a team that lost 41-0 last week will be minus 8.5 this week Jax (-10)
Arizona @ Seattle
Seattle minus 2, literally any possible score combination at the end of this game cannot be considered surprising. Sea (-3)
Phil @ Oak
Only the second road favorite of the week, let’s call it Phil minus 9 (Phil -14)
Buffalo @ Jets
Jets minus 5 No line yet
Tennessee @ New England
New England minus 6.5 NE (-9.5)
Chicago @ Atlanta
Atlanta minus 3.5 Atl (-3)
Denver @ San Diego
Sexy little match up. San Diego minus 2.5 SD (-4)
So, what does this tell us? This week my picks are Detroit, Tampa, Giants, and Oakland. Pretty nauseating group outside of the Giants (who are playing arguably the hottest team in the league right now). Let’s see how things go.
To start off the week, I give Johnny Knox the DeSean Jackson Award for the most stupid pre-touchdown celebration. He was lucky Detroit, as Lou pointed out, was in the middle of their “worst 2nd half, ever” and didn’t challenge the play (by rule, if Detroit recovers and the whistle is blown, they get the ball at the 1).
The Lions may want to work on their kickoff coverage, maybe they should hire the Bears ball boy.
I have become accustomed to betting (and winning) on SEC division football games over the last year. I usually take SEC home dogs, and also the under. These games are usually intense, full of defenses with players who will play on Sundays, middle-of-the-road teams with an offensive star who usually also gets drafted, and full of football coaches who can recruit, but have no idea how to manage the game or even do simple A-B-C playcalling.
For example, like when Les Miles, on the road in a tough place in Athens and up 6-0, not only decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 21 with the most vanilla QB sneak play formation, ever, versus a Georgia team with a strong D-Line (memo to coaches on the road; this means you, Jim Zorn: TAKE THE FUCKING FIELD GOAL), but also decided to kneel on the ball with 11 seconds left and 1 timeout, from the Georgia 33. Instead of trying a TD pass or at least try to steal a long field goal before the half ends, he kneels on it. Instead of it potentially being 12-0, it’s 6-0. This type of coaching is what helps you hit the under.
You must be careful of the referees, however, in college football. They have a way of calling the most ticky-tac unsportsmanlike penalties at the worst times to give bettors a sweat. The unintentional comedy moment of the week was when SEC on CBS analyst Gary Danielson was critiquing the TD “celebration” of an LSU running back in slow motion replay. “Oh, there he is, going to the mouth with his finger, yup, you gotta call that. I guess. He maybe should of went with the Running Man, Verne. It’s more subtle but yet captures the emotion of the moment.”
OK, I made that last part up, but you know what I mean. His main quote that really put the point home was, “the only thing I see excessive is the flags”. Last week, there was not one but two 15 yard unsportsmanlike calls at the end of touchdowns late in the forth quarter that almost resulted in a 6-0 game with 7 minutes to go, turn into a 20-20 game that heads into overtime, killing my under bet of 50. Thankfully, I was betting against Georgia QB Joe Cox, who not only is terrible, but also looks like Fire Marshall Bill from In Living Color. The Tigers held on, 20-13.
One of my SEC plays is Ole Miss +5 at home, versus Alabama. Ole Miss doesn’t play 60 minutes all the time, and Houston Nutt can give bettors a heart attack as evidenced by his “timeout with season on the line, let’s call a screen” debacle. But the Ole Miss Rebels usually pull off one big upset per year in the SEC (most of the middle tier teams do), and Alabama, a team who has limited personnel on offense minus WR Julio Jones, is a prime candidate to put up an offensive stinker on the road. The only worry is Nick Saban is one of the few coaches in the SEC who manages the game properly, but that just means Alabama, if they win, will take it down in a nail biter. I like the Rebels with the points here.
I also have a juicy teaser with South Carolina -4 at home versus Kentucky (by far the worst team in the SEC) and LSU +13.5 at home versus Florida (who may or may not have Tim Tebow). This will be, by far, Florida’s biggest test minus the SEC championship on their title run. LSU has a mediocre offense, but their defense is full of playmakers, including outstanding CB Jordan Jefferson. The under is at 44, which may be a bit low. If Tebow doesn’t play, then I might consider taking that too.
Speaking of South Carolina, if you are ever golfing and hit your ball into the water hazard (I’m talking to you, Allen Gowin), do not, I repeat, DO NOT put your hand in the hazard to get your ball. Although if this does ever happen to you, Allen, I am legally changing your name to Chubbs Peterson.
If you need a reason to dislike the Yankees, this article will give you plenty of reasons to. An article which also touches on the subject of sports slowly creeping away from our culture consciousness thanks to rising ticket prices across the board, and tickets even being used as bribes for business deals, here’s an example of the type of Yankee fan that attends the games today in the best of seats in the Stadium:
Inevitably, one group of equity traders — they worked at Fidelity — got caught. The thing that finally brought the whole thing to a close was a 2003 bachelor party for one of the traders. Everyone heard about it: private jets to Miami, a yacht, a bag of Ecstasy, a warren of rooms at the uber-exclusive Delano Hotel, some hookers, some strippers, some red meat, medium-rare. Oh, and one midget, named Danny Black, to toss off the boat. All told, $160,000 for a weekend at the beach.
“It wasn’t like a three-ring circus,” groused the father-in-law of the groom, disgraced Tyco executive Dennis Kozlowski, to the tabloids at the time. “It was a nice party. There was only one dwarf.”
Now onto the picks for the week:
Cincinnati/Baltimore under 42
Miami +110 Money Line
Seattle Pk versus Jacksonville (if you can find it)
Two 6 point Teasers of the week:
ATL +8 @ SF
NYG -9 vs OAK
CIN +14.5 @ BAL
MIN -4 @ StL
World Cup qualifiers are also this weekend, but probably passing on all of them. Only possible plays are Bolivia at home to Brazil in a meaningless game as Brazil is already qualified and Bolivia is out of the running. Bolivia’s players recently lifted their strike after threatening to not play in the final two qualifiers. They are not a good team, but play their home games high in the mountains and beat Argentina 6-1 a few months back. Hard to guess how motivated each side will be though.
All this is being factored into the price as Bolivia is only +300 to win and +250 to draw.
Italy has a tough game away to Ireland and can qualify with a win (+125). Roughly +200 on the draw or an Ireland win. Leaning towards a draw here as that will suit Italy just fine as they can still wrap up qualifying Wednesday versus Cyprus. Again, this is a pass for now.
Onto the NFL picks…
New England @ Denver +3.5
All kinds of goodness here. This probably means the Pats will win comfortably. Home underdog that no one is betting on who’s probably been as good as their opponent through the first four weeks of the year. Make sure to get 3.5 points though.
Cincinnati/Baltimore under 42
Having a hard time believing there will be 5-6 touchdowns scored in this one. The Bengals defense is underrated and very good.
Minnesota @ St. Louis +11
Pittsburgh @ Detroit + 11
Indianapolis @ Tennessee +4
New York Jets @ Miami +2
11, 18, 17, 19. That’s the percentage of money on each of the home teams listed above, all getting points. At some point, this is going to become the National Football League again where these become almost automatic plays again right? Right?
1. Jamarcus Russell now has 43 completions through four games. Tom Brady completed 39 passes in week 1 versus the Bills.
2. The Bears average drive versus the Lions started at the Detroit 46 yard line. The Lions averaged starting on their own 18. Said Lions coach Jim Schwarz:
We were poor on special teams. We were poor on offense. We were poor on defense. We were out-coached. We were out-played. Their trainers were probably better than ours in the second half.
3. The 49ers scored 35 points versus the Rams while only gaining 228 yards of total offense.
4. Aaron Rodgers trails only David Garrard in rushing yards for a QB this season (108-104). Rodgers’ 384 yards passing versus Minnesota was by far the highest single game total of his career. His previous high was 328 versus the Lions last year.
5. Houston’s defense entered week 4 allowing an average of 205 yards per game rushing. Oakland only gained 45 “led” by Justin Fargas with 10 carries for 24 yards and a Darius Heyward-Bey reverse for 20. 4th overall draft pick Darren McFadden had 6 carries for -3 yards.
Carolina – 3.5 v Washington
Giants -16 v Oakland
Teaser with Baltimore -9 v Cincinnati