The Weekly Gambling Debacle
NFL: 5-9-0 NCAA: 0-2-0 Last week: 5-11-0 Season total: 5-11-0
$ Wagered: 325 $ Won: 127.5 $ Lost: -200 $Net: -72.5
So last week was not the banner beginning we were hoping for. Lessons learned early in the year: never pick against Nick Saban (especially at home when they have by far the more talented team), never expect an NFC West team to show up on the road even when it’s against another NFC West team and Marc Sanchez only eats hot dogs when his team is winning and his nose isn’t broken1.
1. I changed my mind and chickened out of picking the Bills minutes before I published my picks. I will refer to my own rules (and not second-guess myself) for the remainder of the season.
2. Kenny Britt’s knee injury (besides crippling my fantasy football hopes) severely hampered the Titan’s offensive explosiveness and kept the game close versus Denver and assuring that they wouldn’t cover -7.
3. The Falcons inexplicably deciding to throw the ball 47 times on the road against a team that plays cover 2 almost exclusively (Cover 2 prevents deep throws and begs teams to run the ball) and subsequently losing when favored by one.
But these are reasons and not excuses; reasons explain, excuses excuse. We are not here to make excuses, we’re here to make picks. With all that said, here we go:
NFL (Lines as of Friday, September 30, 2011 per Las Vegas Hilton. Home Team in bold).
Detroit (+2) over Dallas
The line for this game has moved from +3 to +1 which there is a decent amount of juice behind the Lions. It’s not hard to see why. Dallas secondary is banged up and has no one to guard Megatron even when they’re healthy, the defense may get back Nick Fairley on an already stacked defensive line and Dallas is pretty much running plays drawn on Tony Romo’s due to the lack of cohesiveness the offense is suffering through right now. If Tony Romo’s ribs can withstand an Ndamukong Suh hit, their red zone offense (as witnessed by 6 field goals on Monday night) simply cannot put up enough offense until both Romo and Miles Austin are healthy and this street ball unit has had some more time together on the practice field.
New Orleans may be a sneaky good pick to be the NFC 1 seed by the end of the season. Look at their next 7 games leading into their bye week. At Jacksonville, at Carolina, at Tampa Bay, vs. Indy, at St. Louis, vs. Tampa Bay and at Atlanta. Combined these teams are 7-14 and no one besides Tampa Bay plays a lick of defense. It’s entirely possible that they win all 7 of those games behind Brees, Payton and a defense (much like their championship team) that forces just enough turnovers to make a difference. Even if they go 5-2 in that stretch, possibly stumbling on the road division games, they will be 7-3 heading into a bye week with extra time to prep for a home game against an already depleted NY Giants secondary. That should take them to 8-3. The last five games are a little trickier with home matchups against the Lions, Atlanta and Carolina and road tests versus the Titans and Minnesota. But they finish with 4 of their final five games under a dome where New Orleans seems to have an advantage over everyone and with the final two of these games coming at home against an Atlanta team that may very well be out of the playoff picture already2 and a Carolina team that has one of the worst defenses in the NFL is hard to see too many stumbling blocks along the way. Bold prediction #23: The New Orleans Saints will have the best record in the NFL.
Philly (-9) over San Fran
No matter who plays QB. Philly cannot continue to play this bad, especially in the secondary. And how do you cure secondary ills: 4 quarter-long doses of Alex Smith.
St. Louis has the opposite of the New Orleans situation mentioned above. Good gosh, St. Louis couldn’t buy an easy opponent in the first half of the season. Eagles (with a healthy Vick), Giants, Ravens, Redskins (much better than expected), Packers, Cowboys, Saints and at the Cardinals. That is how St. Louis gets to open their 2011 season4. The best team in the league would have a tough time coming out of that 8 game stretch above .500, let alone a developing team that has been bashed by injuries. If the rams don’t win this week, it could be a real, real, real, real ugly start. Gotta happen this week, Washington coming off a short week and having to travel again to the middle of the country 2 weeks in a row.
Cleveland should be able to beat the Britt-less Titans.
I know a lot of people might see this as a trap game for the AFC’s only undefeated team. But playing a lack luster, rookie-quarterbacked, down their best player (Cedric Benson suspension) and key wide receiver (Jerome Simpson), Cincinnati Bengals team just doesn’t seem like much of a trap for me. If the Bills don’t get down early they win going away. If they come out in a coma like they have last 2 weeks they rally and in the fourth quarter do just enough to win by 6.
This is a terrible game to pick. If it wasn’t in KC I would like the Vikings even if they were getting -4. But alas it is not. Bummer. What’s more of a bummer. Adrian Peterson having only 58 rushes through 3 games (less than 20 per game) when he’s averaging 5.1 YPC and the Vikings have been nursing leads in all 3 of their games. I see the Vikings correcting this egregious play calling trend, pounding the rock and getting their first victory. I also have zero faith in any game where I must rely on Matt Cassel5.
The Raiders and the Panthers are the only undefeated teams against the spread through 3 weeks. Let me repeat that. The Raiders and Panthers are undefeated against the spread this season. The kid Cam Newton, has been the biggest surprise of the 2011 season so far6. The Panthers’ rush defense may be the worst in the league. They currently sit at 25th but that number could be much worse if not for the rain soaked field slowing down MJD this past weekend (he still went for 122 yards). And those numbers are against Arizona, Green Bay and Jacksonville not three teams known for their amazing rushing prowess. This may be a chance for Chi-town to finally get a decent amount of rushes for Matt Forte. Chicago wins, but Cam keeps it close.
Houston (-3.5) over Pittsburgh
This seems like the kind of game Houston usually loses. They come in playing well for a home matchup against a tough opponent and subsequently lay an egg. But the Steelers and Mike Tomlin, cannot be happy with their performances to date against Indy and Baltimore. With all that said, Pittsburgh’s whole offensive line seems to questionable for the game; what really should be questionable is their play this season. An improving secondary and relentless pash rush make the day difficult for Big Ben. Houston keeps looking like a playoff team.
Atlanta (-4.5) over Seattle
I am pretty sure that somewhere when God was creating the universe he mandated that the Seachickens could not cover two weeks in a row with Pete Carroll as head coach. Isn’t that the 13th commandment or something.
NY Giants (-1) over Arizona
Eli please do not make me regret this. And NY please hit Kevin Kolb.
Miami (+7) over San Diego
Miami is one of those anomalous teams that plays better on the road than home. And the last time I checked the Chargers are still coached by Norv “My teams always massively underachieve and don’t cover early in the season” Turner. Combining these two factors with the emergence of Daniel Thomas, Miami has a very good chance of keeping this close.
Green Bay (-12) over Denver
Denver is just a bad team.
New England (-5) over Oakland
If Oakland (undefeated against the spread this season) can pound the rock (and the clock) they have a chance to keep it close. NE lack of third down defense makes it extremely hard to pick them to get the ball enough to make it a blow out. Tough pick, as this may be a let-down game for the Raiders after a big win over the NY Jets last week. The Patriots don’t lose back to back games and will most likely shred the Raiders’ weak secondary. Although I am very high on “the bully” Raiders; I cannot pick against Brady this week.
Baltimore (-3.5) over NY Jets
Baltimore is actually the better team this year and their ability to pound the Jets in the mouth help mitigate for the Jets relentless pass rush. Being at home definitely helps, and playing their old coach should give added motivation. This team is scary when focused and motivated. The Jets aren’t as bad as everyone is afraid they might be. But they need to show more results/dedication to the run game. Getting Mangold back helps, but reestablishing your run game in the NFL is hard, let alone against the Ravens.
Indianapolis (-10.5) over Tampa Bay
After a much better showing last week, Indy may finally be doing something right and Kerry Painter (two headed QB monster) will continue to improve mainly because they cannot do much worse. TB beat their biggest division rival last week and may have blown a little too much mental energy in the process. TB still wins but not by more than ten.
NCAA (Lines as of Friday, September 30, 2011 per Las Vegas Hilton. Home Team in bold).
Baylor (-3.5) over Kansas State
With an emotional win last week against Miami Kansas State (3-0, 2-1 ATS) looks to be a better team than most anticipated. I am suspect of the Miami win as they had just come off a long-distance travel win in Columbus and showed obvious let down being down 14-3 at halftime and 21-10 with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. This win has closed the line against a legitimate Baylor team. Robert Griffin III is a next level talent and although the Baylor defense will give up some points, I see a similar scenario to Miami’s last week with a let-down game for Kansas State as they return to Manhattan following their big non-conference win.
Alabama (-4) over Florida
This game came out with the Crimson Tide favored by 6. Betting has brought this line down substantially, to -4. I still think Alabama is the best team in the country. After this victory I see then bumping to number 2. Florida is on the rise there is no doubt but I don’t see them as that much better than Arkansas and Bama just handled and out-classed the Razorbacks. Charlie Weiss’ offense is making a significant difference in Gainesville but scheme simply cannot out do the ridiculous amount of talent Alabama stocks on their defense. I have learned my lesson from last week and refuse to underestimate Nick Saban again. Roll tide roll!
Navy (-3.5) over Air Force
Navy has looked very good this season. They kept it way too close for comfort against a South Carolina team and had a legitimate chance to shock the #10 Gamecocks. They look to build on this excellent two way performance this week as they take on rival Air Force. Air Force leads the nation in rushing, but Navy is familiar with the option look the Academy brings and did a decent job against the best rusher in the nation, Marcus Lattimore. I see Navy moving up and down the field and sends Air Force to another loss against the spread (0-3 so far this season).
Picks to place money on: (All money wagers are $55 to win $50 unless otherwise noted)
*Just to clarify based on some questions that I have been asked:
-Wagering= Games I am telling you to put money onto/am betting myself.
-Near bets= Games that I was close to betting
-Kryptonite= Games I am terrified of and you could not force me to gamble on.
Wagering: Baylor, Alabama and Navy all covering as favorites. Detroit, Buffalo and New Orleans to continue their roll and the Colts to cover the 10 points they’re being given.
1. I will continually take shots at former USC QBs, because it’s easy and that’s just what I like to do.
2. Atlanta looks like they may have overshot the moon last year with 13 wins. Again, this is why you do not trade your entire draft for one player no matter how close you think you are to a championship.
3. I will continue to make one bold prediction a week, culminating in a review and hopeful celebration of the genius of these picks at the end of the season.
4. If I had a stats department I would have them look into this: What is the worst combined W-L record through 8 games for two teams combined from the same state. There is no way possible that the Chiefs and Rams will not demolish this record no matter what it is. The state of Missouri has some bad mojo working for them. Traveling advisory: stay away from Missouri at all costs.
5. Easy shot at USC Qb, a must take.
6. Cam Newton looked lost in the pre-season. Lost. He barely beat out a confused and beaten Jimmy Clausen. And now, while he still makes rookie mistakes, his poise and decision making are far above what anyone expected. If they get better on defense and start to run the ball a little the Panther are going to continue to be a tough out every week.