NFL Week 1 Picks

Just three games for me in week 1

Minnesota @ Cleveland +4

This game represents everything that is good about NFL gambling.
First, we have a home underdog. Read everything here about why these are good to bet on.
Second, the public is all over the Vikings by as much as a 4:1 ratio, yet the line, which started at 3, hasn’t moved past 3.5 at some books. Probably because of this new QB playing for Minnesota
Third, even though Browns coach Eric Mangini fails at communicating, the man can game plan with anyone in the league and he’ll have his team ready on week 1.

Detroit +13.5 @ New Orleans

Two unit play here. Taking a non-public team and 13.5 is too many points for any NFL game in week 1.

Washington @ New York Giants -6.5

Feeler play here. I have nothing rational that would justify action on a game with a proper line.

EDIT: Adding a teaser for 4u Carolina +8.5 and Seattle -1.5

2009 NFL Over Under Season Win Totals

Atlanta Falcons Under 8.5 EVEN

Atlanta and Miami were the biggest surprises in the NFL last season and both teams will look to continue their winning ways this season. While Miami’s been given a much more achievable target of 7 or 7.5 wins, Atlanta is higher at 8.5 across the board. That’s strictly a reflection of the very good play from Matt Ryan and the acquisition of Tony Gonzalez. I have few doubts regarding this team’s ability to score points. Their problems are entirely on the defensive side.

Atlanta’s defense benefited from an easy schedule, the offense often jumping out to an early lead and the outstanding play of John Abraham at DE last season. Otherwise, they failed to cover and tackle well and the defense is still a work in progress, most notably at corner where the Falcons just traded for Rams castoff and former 1st round pick Tye Hill to play nickel.

If Abraham plays in all 16 games and gets some help from anyone else on the D-Line, and the offense performs as expected, 9-11 wins is possible. More likely, Abraham fails to play in 16 games and/or isn’t quite as effective, the offense is forced to play from behind more often, and this team reverts back to .500 or worse. The Falcons face the AFC East and NFC West on their out of conference schedule, starting this week at home to Miami.

Minnesota Vikings Under 10 EVEN

This bet was made against the local resident Vikings fan, but I’d still take the action at 9.5, though obviously much happier getting a push at 10. The Vikings are essentially the exact same team as last year, but their division rivals have all visibly improved. Where did Minnesota get better? I don’t see how a 39 year old QB who’s had all of 3 weeks of practice time with his receivers is a better option than Sage ‘Helicopter‘ Rosenfels or Tavaris Jackson, who was excellent the last 4 games of last season.

Brad Childress is definitely the worst coach in the division, and one of the worst in the league. 6 unit play here.

Buffalo Bills u7 +110

My bet of the year. The line posted is from Bookmaker and better than u8 -200 or worse and marginally better than u7.5 -150 at The Greek. Buffalo not only plays two well coached and more talented teams twice (NE and MIA), they also face the AFC & NFC South on their out of conference schedule. The more I look at this team, the more I wonder if they’ll even win 5 or 6, much less 7 or 8. Their offense is a mess (click the Bills links) and their defense, while competent lacks depth leaving only their special teams as a strength. Dick Jauron has to be the favorite to be first coach fired this season.

From Lombardi:

Again, this proves the point that most problems within organizations lie in their inability to self-evaluate. The Bills had no passing game last year, and although they had some talented players, their production never matched the talent. Keeping the status quo has made this season very challenging, and the hope for success is just that — hope. I would love to know who made the design for the Bills of 2009.

Now they go to New England with three-fifths of their offensive line gone from last year. All the money paid to Walker and Derrick Dockery in free agency two years ago has been wasted. The design of this team has been bad, and at some point the Bills have to get someone in their building who can build a team that can compete with the Dolphins, the Patriots and even the Jets on and (most critically) off the field. The Bills are going nowhere until they admit their planning and design has been flawed. They need one person in the building, a coach or personnel man, who can make the right choices and design the right plan because the level of competition in the AFC East is and will remain very fierce and intellectually challenging.

Dallas Cowboys u9.5 -125
Oakland Raiders u5.5 +110

Small plays here, see Sean‘s writeup.

Detroit Lions Over 4.5 -130

This is an “I believe in Jim Schwarz” bet as Detroit has kept only 22 players from last year’s 0-16 team. They should be OK on offense and they play the AFC North and NFC West which, combined with a professional coaching staff (See Atlanta 2007 vs. 2008) should be plenty to get them to 5 wins.

Atlanta u8.5 4 units
Minnesota u10 6 units
Buffalo u7 10 units
Dallas u9.5 2 units
Oakland u5.5 2 units
Detroit o4.5 3 units

Today’s plays

As I myself am on tilt after Chile gives up two goals…….while UP A MAN (WTF!)……..there is an interesting teaser opportunity if you are itching for some action tonight. I am generally not a big fan of teasers, although I am 1-1 so far with last week’s South Carolina (+5.5 @ NC State) and Notre Dame (-10.5, Nevada). I was able to get SC at +1 and ND -6.5 on a 6 point teaser which was not only highly successful, but also opportunistic as I felt the bookies had made slight mistakes with both lines BEFORE I teased it down at the same -110 price.

Pittsburgh is -6.5 tonight at home to the Titans. I felt that was a bit too much, although they will definitely win the game (I think no ring team has yet to lose the Thursday opener) and I really like a close battle in the ACC tonight between Clemson and GA Tech, as both teams know that this is a big game tonight in a very wide open ACC. Clemson also has a new coach in Dabo Sweeney (whose teams covered the last 4 games of the year in ’08), who actually has a pulse and can motivate and coach during games…..unlike the last coach, Tommy Bowden, who was great at recruiting, but not good at game planning (or keeping his daughter’s nude spread eagle pic off of the interweb). Paul Johnson leads and GT squad who can run that football, with arguably the best running back in the country in Jonathan Dwyer; their defense is vulnerable in the secondary, and Clemson usually has some of the best WR recruits in the nation.

So, I took a 6-point tease with Pittsburgh now at +0.5 and Clemson +11.5 @ -110. 15.48 to win 30, why not?

Thursday Links

Still on tilt from soccer yesterday thanks to Finland failing and Chile conspiring to lose after tying the game and being up an extra man. -7.32 units yesterday, -3.32 since this site started.

My favorite sentence from the writeups:

It was the product of a collective lack of focus at a moment when too many Finnish players apparently thought the match was won.
In classical terms, hubris was followed smartly by nemesis.

Live & learn. My real job is my latest excuse for the lack of over/unders being posted. No play for me on either PIT or TEN this year. Onto the links:

See Cover, Miracle.

Maybe some state other than Delaware will try and legalize sports betting now?

I take back what I said about the Bills & Jauron being slightly competent. They are definitely not.

Why Eric Mangini is limited as a head coach.

Simmons on the still unsigned Michael Crabtree (sidebar, near the end). Best analogy ever.

Week 1 injury report here.

Blogger #3 on board

I have been reading the site and am impressed with the level of insight Sean and Lou bring in justifying their gambling picks. I simply do not have the level of knowledge at this point in teams and players, but I will note some of the bets I have made, undoubtedly commenting on them in future posts.


Rams 12-1 win NFC west. I bet 12 bucks on this so I have to pay out 144 to Louis if they win the division.


Jets win total over 7 (20 bucks with Van Tran), I got this at straight even money, posted at -155 or so most places

Atlanta win total over 8.5 (20 bucks with Louis). This reeks of sucker bet on my part

Colt win total over 9 (15 with Sean), this is posted at 9.5 or even 10 in most places. Just can’t see the Colts going .500

Win total Dolphins vs Giants (20 bucks with VT) This is a bad bet for Van, he’s only making it because they are our respective favorite teams. Still never know.

Bengals win total under 7 (Case of beer with Karna). Again, this is a case of a short foreigner thinking with his heart and not his head. Bengals winning 8 is not impossible, but come on.

Pretty sure I made another bet with Van but I can’t think of it right now.


And folks, our first “miracle cover” of the football season

via Jon Troisi on Twitter (found this via google trying to find the Miracle Covers Twitter lol):

“First miracle cover of the year. Meaningless TD run wit 6 seconds left in the Ole Miss/Memphis game.”

Boxscore; line was Ole Miss -28

NFL Season Prediction Bets

As promised, here are my season predictions (a.k.a bets) for NFL teams this year. All are unders because I do better predicting failure rather than success (thank you, Boston sports scene for this gift). I have graded the season total bets in confidence points based on the “coach vote of confidence” system. This means if I put a bet on Bill Belichick levels, it’s a lock; and if I put in Marty Schottenheimer, that means it’s somewhat of a false vote of confidence, like when the San Diego Chargers brass said to the media and Marty (who coached the Chargers to a NFL best 14-2 in 2005) before a playoff game versus the Pats that “he has a vote of confidence to be our coach next year, win or lose”……and then fire the motherfucker 2 days after he loses in the playoffs in an excruciating fashion (again).

First, I will recommend a player prop bet that could be very lucrative: gross passing yards. I was looking at the lines last night for such players as Drew Brees (leader last year, 5056 yds), Tom Brady (threw for 4800 yds in 2007), and a dark horse in Aaron Rodgers (3450 yds in 2008). has Brees at +200; I think this is a steal bet at 10 units to win 30. He has a great shot to do it in a Saints offense that is pass heavy, and will only improve with Reggie Bush and Jeremy Shockey coming back, never mind the fact the offense’s WR core didn’t miss a beat when they lost their #1 WO in Marques Colston last year. They have a very deep core in Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, and Lance Moore. Plus, if you look at their schedule, they have some real cupcake secondaries to face, at home on the turf, in the Lions (last vs pass last year), Pats (in the 20s), and the Bills (also in the 20s). They also face Miami (19th, and those numbers are skewed b/c sacks, which Miami is good at, count against the number of total yards that decide the ranking), on the road. Brees came about 40 yards shy of beating Marino’s record, and he may do it this year.

Two other plays you can make here are Tom Brady at +500 (if he stays healthy in that offense, he always has a shot) and Aaron Rodgers at +1000 (if you have watched Green Bay throw the ball around in the preseason, you know this kid and the offense is ready to make a charge versus a schedule that has the Lions twice, as well as the Browns and the Rams). There are speculative plays, but putting a low amount of cash on these high caliber players on very good teams is always a +EV decision, in my book.

Division/Conference Winner Bets (lines via

Ravens +300, to win AFC North
Getting odds on a coinflip, IMO. The Steelers are good, but only won the division by 2 games (and the nose of the football) last year, and since 1980, have not made the playoffs the year after making it to a Super Bowl or AFC Championship. The Bengals or Browns aren’t winning the division, never less 8 games. Betting on Ray Lewis and Ed Reed isn’t a bad play, either.

Rams +800, to win NFC West
Like because you have faith in the Cardinals, Seahawks, and 49ers running away with this thing, right? Five to win 40, sign me up!

Packers, +1000, to win NFC Championship
Watch the preseason games.  They have been by far the best team I have watched so far. Everyone looks ready to go, and the team is motivated even more with Minnesota having Favre in the division (which is tough minus the Lions).  And you know how much we love betting against Favre here at Miracle Covers, especially if he has to play Green Bay, in Lambeau, for the NFC title.

Onto my season total picks (lines via

Dallas, Under -9 @ +130

This is one of my favorite picks, and not just because I love betting against the Cowboys (a +EV decision since 1997). They’ve lost Greg Ellis and Terrell Owens. Their two best players on offense, Jason Witten and Marion Barber, are injury prone. The secondary is still weak in the 3-6 levels, and they’re quarterback is Tony Romo, who has the nickname, “Pepto Bismol” amongst Dallas fans. They also have a gauntlet of a schedule this year in that they play in the toughest division in football in the NFC East (if you go 3-3 in the NFL EAST, that’s AWESOME), as well as face the toughest division last year in the NFC South. They also have to go Green Bay again this year. And if you look at their schedule, the Cowboys, who have always been fast starters, especially under coach Wade Phillips, (who has had good starts in 3 places where he has coached: DAL, DEN, BUF) only to see the season fan down in flames each time. The last 5 games are ridiculously tough and all will be versus teams in the hunt. Yes, they do face the AFC West earlier in the year, which leads to easy wins, but those long road trips may hurt them in the end when the last 5 games are: @NYG (on short week), SD, @NO, @WAS (always a close rivalry game), and at home versus Philly, a game that like last year, will probably decide a playoff berth (as well all know what happened last year).

I’d say this is a Andy Reid lock; you might not get there, but at least you’ll have a guaranteed sweat in the end for entertainment value……but there is also enough talent there in Dallas (as well as unpredictability) that you may have made a Philadelphia-sized skid mark in your trousers while along for the ride.

Oakland Raiders, Under 5.5, @ +110

Ah, the Raiders. Thank god for today’s ESPN report that the Pittsburgh Pirates have broken the sports record mark of consecutive seasons of futility (17), otherwise Raiders fans may resort to suicide, especially since the second story today is that Richard Seymour, who they acquired in a trade from the Pats for a 2011 draft pick to help a run defense that was 31st last year, hasn’t yet reported to camp yet. I wonder why? Maybe it’s the .375 winning percentage the Raiders have had since 2003. Now, I can see why the juice is in the positive because the Raiders had a good end to last year, winning 3 out their last 4 ballgames, granted against the Broncos and Bucs. They play in the AFC West, and may not even be the worse team in the division, talent wise (they may actually be second!). And they can run that football….they have a good offensive run block scheme with 4 very good running backs. Sounds good, right?

So, why the under? In the NFL, you need certain things to win you can’t see on paper. Leadership at the QB position. I think the only leadership JaMarcus Russell has shown the last few years in that locker room is how to wear a white mink fur coat to press conferences after a game and somehow not look gay doing so. You need good example, and good coaching, you know, a guy who is motivated and can discipline players and make them do the right things by leading by example. Like when Tom Cable came into camp with a mission to cut down on penalties, he was so motivated to do so that he was willing to knock out his own motherfucking coaches to prove a point….which in turn, now has him being investigated by the Oakland-Alameda Police Department. Way to lead by example, Tom. The only thing you taught your players there is that cheating isn’t bad, as long as you don’t get arrested.

But the main reason I like the under: form. You need good form going into a year, or at the end of it, and the Raiders have none. They went 2 and 3/4 preseason games without scoring a TD (only one versus Saints 4th stringers), and only had 2 first downs (they did score also last week versus Seattle, who is bad against the run b/c they have an undersized defense). The faced the Saints, at home, in preseason Week 3 (which is considered the only game teams take seriously). The Saints wanted to play their guys for 3 quarters; but coach Sean Payton was disappointed. Not because the Saints played bad; but because his team only got 1 and ½ quarters work in, since they were already up 31-0 with 3 minutes left in the half, and the Raiders had negative -10 yards on offense. Their offensive line is big, but slow and not good at pass blocking. After they cut Jeff Garcia, I have no idea who the backup QB is. They lost their sack leader in Derrick Burgess to a trade to the Pats, and their best player, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, is only at 75% which a slight fracture in his wrist. So the player on the team with the best hands, the cornerback, is only playing with one hand. And not only that, the AFC West plays the NFC East this year, and have a brutal back to back with the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and then Pittsburgh on a short week right after, both on the road. Yikes.

You are getting juice on the Raiders sucking again this year. I’d say that’s a Herm Edwards lock…….as in when, Jets or Chiefs fans (or bettors against those teams) watched a game, there would always be a guarantee that a) your team would be up or down by a possession late in the game and b) Herm’s team would never have enough timeouts and the clock would run out, or leave the opposing team with enough time to make a “play to win the game,” to make Herm lose his shit after in the press conference and thanks to his mismanagement of time.

Indianapolis Colts, Under 10, @ -115

This is more of a hate bet for me because I dislike the Colts as a Pats fan, but I saw some things in last year’s AFC Wild Card game versus the Chargers that worry me if you are a Colt fan. First, they can’t move anyone off the ball at the line of scrimmage. To win any football game, high school to pro, you need to do this on a consistent basis to win versus tough teams. No run? You take away one of Manning’s weapons in his stellar play-action. Sure, they can still throw it to Reggie Wayne, but they also lost Ben Utecht to free agency, which leaves them fucked if Dallas Clark gets hurt (again). They also have issues at left tackle, although they have a solid pass blocking group which is helped by Peyton Manning’s quick release.

Second, as evidenced by the second half of the Charger game where the Colts could NOT stop Darren Sproles, the defense gets gassed very quickly. The Colts are a top heavy team…..with very little depth. Their defensive leader, SS Bob Sanders, is crucial to them winning. His backup is a white guy who played at BYU last year. If he gets hurt, expect Tom E. Curran of to put out his annual, “Colts Winning percentage w/o Bob Sanders” article that demonstrates this. Plus, their best pass rusher in Dwight Freeney, is coming off his second broken foot in 5 years, and if Peyton ever got hurt, their backup is Jim Sorgi, who has been there since 2000. He had a chance to leave for free agency in 2006 and try to go to another team for a starting gig, but didn’t. Wanna know why?

It’s because he sucks, but he (like all Americans) like job security…..that and Peyton likes him making fat girl jokes in the QB meetings. I also think having no Tom Moore (who is now just a consultant, not the OCoordinator) and Marvin Harrison (old, but still has the touch with Manning) will affect Peyton, especially if they struggle early (and he already questioned some moves in the offseason in regards to coaching placement).

They also have a new coach in Jim Caldwell, who I am sure is a nice man, but is no Tony Dungy, who has a Joe Torre-like influence on his team when it came to dealing with adversity (and some luck as well, they won 3 games last year thanks to the other teams giving it to them). He is a question mark until he can prove it. I give this a Marty Schottenheimer vote of confidence. I am betting on what, I think, is the inevitable rather than the impossible…so much so I took the Colts at under 9 games (although in charity towards a degenerate friend).

They’ve won 12 games each of the last 7 years. The odds are against them to do it 8 times, with their schedule in an improved division. Plus if any of the top three get significantly hurt, that will be a fun text message to send to Pat Darts (and another reason to drink, like he needs one).

Cleveland Browns, Under 6.5, @ -140

I hate the juice, but I do love betting against this team this year. A new coach who struggled in NY at times as the coach of the Jets, in Eric Mangini, is already stirring up controversy when he made his rookies go on an “involuntary” 10-hour bus ride to Long Island to speak at his football camp, or when he STILL won’t announce who his starting QB is before Week 1, when both are the same player. That’s gonna win some people in the locker room! The defense, bad last year (although at times played well at home under the defensive minded Romeo Crennel) is now even worse, especially losing their emotional leader in Willie McGinest and leading pass catcher in Kellen Winslow, Jr. They play in a division versus the two teams who were in the AFC Championship game in the AFC North, and the 3rd team, the Bengals, have improved as well, making them the worst in the division (the only upside is that they face the NFC North). And they have very little running game with an old man in Jamal Lewis, and the WR corps is headed by Braylon Edwards, whose only headline in the last few years was being in the middle in a war of words between blogger and founder Will Leitch and “Friday Night Lights” writer Buzz Bissinger on HBO’s Costas Now.  Edwards has more chance of catching a swab of spit from Buzz saying the word, “fuck” for the 50th time in describing his hatred for bloggers, than a pass from whatever mediocre QB they throw out there this year. I’d place a small-to-medium wager here and give it a Romeo Crennel vote of confidence, as in, if you have bet against Crennel and are getting 7 or less points and his team is driving, it’s a guarantee he’ll go for the field goal (and covering your bet) and kick the ball back to the other team, rather than having some balls and going for the win.

Denver Broncos, Under 7, @ -115

THE bet of the year, IMO. They lost their starting QB thanks to a dispute with the new coach, former Pats OCoordinator Josh McDaniels, and replaced him with Kyle Orton, who ejects more ducks than a 300 pound guy who’s just downed 4 sausages in the parking lot.  He also hurt his throwing index finger last week, and his backup is either Chris Simms (also hurt) or some rookie with a long name I have no time to Google for.

They now have a contract dispute with Brandon Marshall, who undoubtedly will get the Plaxico Burress “NFL Douchebag Award” by seasons’ end (on the bright side, Broncos fan, at least it isn’t the Rae Carruth “Farewell, You Bitch” award). It’s his douche-ness that may actually keep Marshall with the Broncos this year; other teams want his talent, but don’t want to put their money and draft picks behind a guy who is just as good at catching passes as he is at smacking his girlfriend. And their defense is still awful, even those they have added Brian Dawkins (playing with one hand) and finally made Elvis Dumervil just a LB pass rusher (seeing Elvis Dumervil trying to guard the run is like trying to listen to someone on Turrets’ syndrome try to recreate the Emancipation Proclamation speech, everyone at the end feels uncomfortable, even the guys who laughed about it afterward).

Denver has a good O-Line that can block run and pass, and has good young talent in RBs Knowshon Moreno and Peyton Hills, and WR Eddie Royal; but especially without a big arm and a big play WR in Marshall, it is going to be a tough sell versus a tough schedule (same as the Raiders) for a team who still can’t defend the run, while at the same time trying to learn a new system based on timing since the screen game is a big part of McDaniels’ offense. I put this at Bill Belichick confidence level, pretty much a lock 90% of the time here, unless David Tyree somehow gets picked up by the Broncos for karma points, because John Elway ain’t walking through that door.

As the season progresses, I’ll put out my bets week to week, as well as info on the rest of the games of the season (we also may do a pick’em challenge here at Miracle Covers).

To start placing the preseason wagers right away (only 2 days left!), go to and sign up, and use referral code 1288283, to qualify for a 100% signup bonus.

World Cup Wednesday

Lots of picks for tomorrow’s qualifiers:

Chile +600 @ Brazil

Brazil are at home following Saturday’s comprehensive 3-1 win in Argentina. That win also locked up their World Cup place, making their last three games essentially meaningless. Brazil will be missing most of their attacking players who featured on Saturday with Robinho out with a thigh and Kaka, Ramires, Luis Fabiano are suspended along with defender Lucio. Chile are second in the qualifying group and can book their World Cup place with a win. Brazil certainly doesn’t lack depth, but if there’s ever a time to take 6/1 on Brazil losing, it’s here. +300 on the draw is interesting too. More info here.

USA -167 @ Trinidad

Team USA needs a win here to stay on top of their group with three games to play. Trinidad is terrible and their only home win has come against joint bottom El Salvador. With only 5 points from 7 games, Trinidad are essentially out of the running for a World Cup place. If USA were to lose here, they don’t deserve to qualify. A draw is possible, but the US should win this one handily, by which I mean make this more difficult than it should be. Three points are essential as the US finishes with Honduras away and Costa Rica at home, neither of which is an easy game. Fun fact: Trinidad lost at home to Bermuda last year.

Mexico -265 vs. Honduras

Mexico is fresh off a 3-0 win in Costa Rica (where the US got schooled 3-0 earlier in qualifying) and looked fantastic. This should be a repeat of the US game last month, though with much worse odds. Honduras has been in form as well, but Mexico is a perfect 3-0-0 at home in qualifying while Honduras has only picked up one point in three road games. I’m sure Honduras’s record all time in Mexico is something like this, and everything from that post applies here. Wish the price were better, but this is still a value play.

Finland -300 @ Lichtenstein

Finland have an outside chance of qualifying but would need lots of help. This bet is basically Finland to score, as Lichtenstein have one goal in seven games (incidentally against Finland). Finland is not a particularly good team, but these odds reflect a 75% chance of a win here and that feels much too low against a team so limited.

Russia -200 @ Wales

Full preview which covers just about everything from the Russian side is here. Wales are a mess but will be, “doing their best to deliver.” That doesn’t sound promising.

Austria +585 @ Romania

Austria will have a good chance to qualify with a win in Romania and a France loss or tie. On the road tend they to put 8 players behind the ball and try to counterattack through 6’7″ Stefan Maierhofer. It hasn’t been successful as their road record the last few years has been awful. +285 on the draw is also tempting here and might actually be a better play, as could betting on 0-0 if you can find it. Romania is missing their best player forward Adrian Mutu but coming off a solid 1-1 draw with a disorganized France. Like with Chile, 6:1 odds are hard to pass up as Romania is out of contention.

Ukraine -133 @ Belarus

At 3-4 with two road wins Belarus looks fairly decent, until you see those three wins came against group minnows Kazakhstan and Andorra. Belarus do not offer much going forward as 13 of their 15 goals in qualifying have come against the aforementioned Kazakhs and Andorrans. Ukraine have been mediocre this qualifying and only beat Belarus at home on a 90th minute penalty in their last meeting. That said, they will leapfrog Croatia into second place in the group with a win here and a Croatia loss away to England. Ukraine could screw up here, but we’re betting they don’t.

Bulgaria @ Italy Draw +325

Small play here against the Italians who haven’t played well in nearly a year. Italy are on 17 points and lead their group with Bulgaria, unbeaten but with 5 draws, on 11. Ireland are in second place with 16 but have played a game more than these two. The group winner automatically qualifies and the second place team will earn a playoff spot. A Bulgaria win would completely open up this group, an Italy win would all but secure them first place. 3:1 on a draw feels like a good play as Italy seem to never makes things easy for themselves, and haven’t scored for themselves since playing the US in the Confederations Cup in July June. Italy’s form chart here.

My plays for Wednesday:

Chile 1 unit to win 6
USA 3.34 units to win 2
Mexico 5.3 to win 2
Finland 6 to win 2
Russia 4 to win 2
Ukraine 5.32 to win 4
Italy/Romania 1 to win 3.25
Austria 1 to win 5.85
Austria/Romania under 2.5 goals 1.15 to win 1

Chiefs, Bucs, Bills

Make it three offensive coordinators fired in three days, after Buffalo fired Turk Schonert this morning having failed to score a preseason touchdown.

From Mike Lombardi:

I’m not suggesting that Raheem Morris or Todd Haley should not have replaced their offensive coordinators. What I am suggesting is that they should not have hired either man in the first place. The interview process should have alerted both coaches of potential problems. But since both men have never really been in a position to interview coaches, they ran the risk of making mistakes.

What would worry me most if I were a Bucs fan is that the word going around was that while players and coaches were not happy with Jagodzinski, Morris in fact got along with him — but felt he needed to make the change to make peace with everyone. That doesn’t sound like the work of the leader, but rather the work of a committee.

Dick Jauron doesn’t have that excuse, but seeing how wretched their offense was this preseason, it’s probably the most defensible move of the three. It doesn’t change the fact that their offensive line according to their left tackle, “is still trying to come together.” Whether they can do that before their fragile QB gets injured again is a big question as their skill position guys are pretty solid, and they have one of the best return men in the game.


Full writeups on all 32 teamsOver/Under Picks coming next week after cut day, but the lines for the fired three:

Buffalo 7.5
Kansas City 6
Tampa 5.5

I think Tampa was actually at 6.5 some time ago, which seems ridiculous now. There may be value in the current 5.5 and I’m almost certain 6 or 6.5 with some juice is still out there. I’m certainly going to try and find where as rebuilding teams with little/young talent and coaching problems are probably teams to bet against winning seven games. KC is currently off the board so we’ll see if their line moves at all. We’ll look at Buffalo some more next week, but firing the guy who tried to run a slow no-huddle offense with a new O-line is probably a good thing.

Edit: Quote by Dick Jauron in the press conference today shows the difference in his thinking compared to Morris:

“I wasn’t thinking about it two weeks ago. And when you start thinking about it, I think you need to move on it and do something. So when I started thinking about it I gave it a good deal of thought and did it. Clearly I believe it’s the right thing to do. It’s painful for him and for his family and for the organization to go through it, but it was just a decision I needed to make I felt, and made it.”

Jauron acknowledged that the preseason struggles factored heavily into his decision.

The productivity parts of it, no doubt,” Jauron said. “I just didn’t feel like we were progressing and I didn’t get the sense that we were going to move forward and that we were going there.”

Thursday Links

Roger Federer being “Artful and Efficient

In a similar vein to the last post about overconfidence, what causes slumps?

Rarely, even in a slump, does a performer truly lose all the time; it just feels that way. By bringing attention to what the trader (read: athlete) is doing right, the focus shifts from one of performance outcomes to the process of following one’s own best practices. It’s the [equivalent] of seeing the ball when you serve.

As a rule, slumps don’t just end; they have to be broken. Ironically, it’s when performers let go of their need to perform well that they suddenly gain fresh access to the skills that produce elite performance.

The Bears offense is going to be really good. Why didn’t Minnesota trade for that Cutler guy?

Lastly, Brazil @ Argentina in a World Cup qualifier this weekend. Argentina has been struggling and is missing several first choice defenders. Anyone know where to find this one on tv?