My Notes from the LVH Football Handicapping Seminar
Friday night, the LVH Casino hosted a football handicapping seminar. Over a thousand people showed up, hoping to get advice and selections from some of the best sports handicappers in the business.
Here I am posing with longtime pal Steve Fezzik (see photo above). “Fez” is the only person in history to win the prestigious “Super Contest” twice, which he accomplished back in 2009 and 2010. That’s like football gambling’s equivalent of the World Series of Poker.
Today, Fez is affiliated with a site called PREGAME.COM. I have no vested interest here other that to say that when Fez recommends something to me, I almost always bet it. I don’t need an explanation, because I’m sure it’s already been analyzed thoroughly. No one I know works harder at sports handicapping than Fez. He’s also never short on opinions about a game or a situation. When we met last night, Fez told me he’s putting up a free podcast daily at the site. You might want to check it out. I know I will.
Friday night’s seminar featured a dozen handicappers who took to the stage and talked about pro and college football. Hats off to Jay Kornegay, the legendary race and sportsbook manager for LVH (formally the Las Vegas Hilton) who provided this service free of charge. In years past, the Red Rock Casino used to be the home of this seminar. I’m glad to see something provided to sports bettors. I wish there were more of these activities
I’d also like to give a special shout out to Ted Sevranksy, a.k.a. “Teddy Covers” who is right up there with Steve Fezzik as a football betting analyst. Teddy, who hosts a daily radio show, was also on the panel, and offered a number of interesting ideas.
I took a few mental notes. These are not necessarily Fezzik and/or Sevransky’s opinions. However, when one of the panelists said something I thought was particularly noteworthy (even when I disagreed with it), I filed it away to reflect on it later. Listed here in no particular order are some of my mental notes from the football betting seminar:
– Neutral opinions on Arizona. Some positive feelings for Carson Palmer and Arizona always plays tougher at home. But a challenging schedule poses to many problems this year for Arizona, with a new head coach.
– Majority opinion says to fade Atlanta both in season wins and early in the season. One dissenting opinion says pick up for RB Jackson will help the team close out some games this season, that they otherwise would have lost in the past. True that Atlanta has lacked that 4th quarter “protect the ball and the lead” running back.
– Majority opinion looks for Baltimore to take a major step backwards (I strongly disagree). But hard to argue with regression models of past Super Bowl winners, which miss the playoffs the next year about half the time.
– No one seems to like Buffalo, with a new head coach, quarterback, and entirely new systems. Way too many question marks. Some love for Bills as an OVER team early in the season, playing more up-tempo.
– Some serious love for Carolina, which enjoyed a strong finish in 2012 and has a better defense. Make it or break it year for head coach Rivera.
– Mixed feelings on Chicago. However, some intrigue that QB Cutler is in option year (ala Flacco) and team now has a new coach (Smith fired after a 10-win season).
– Lots of love for Cincinnati to possibly win the AFC North. I’d go along with this, but they play a murderous schedule.
– Majority opinion likes what’s happening in Cleveland, but everyone might be overreacting to a strong preseason.
– Dallas gets generally favorable reviews, some thinking they have the best talent in the NFC East. That’s true, but they’re also the worst coached and have been an organizational basket case for 20 years. Team can’t shake off choking in the big games.
– Denver is the AFC “best team” consensus. Hard to argue with Broncos chances, given they get to play KC, SD, and OAK twice each.
– Lots of love for Detroit to bounce back strong after a dreadful 4-12 season. One capper even picked them to win the NFC North.
– Green Bay is a red flag to some (I agree). Seems to be an 11-win team, but also could stumble if their OL and defense don’t hold up.
– Houston surprisingly didn’t get much attention from anyone, either way.
– Virtually all the cappers look to fade Indianapolis this season (I strongly disagree). Too many people drinking kool-aide.
– Jacksonville virtually wasn’t discussed at all.
– Kansas City is one of the most popular picks on the board to improve. Huge respect for Andy Reid and the consensus view is Alex Smith is good enough to get the job done and perhaps make the Chiefs into a playoff contender. I think everyone’s moving way too fast on this one.
– Miami has too many question marks….no consensus view.
– Minnesota looks to be a huge fade this season. No one expects RB Peterson to put up anywhere near the numbers of 2012. While I agree, there also might be some overreaction here. Linesmakers won’t be respecting Minnesota, so could give us some early season value.
– New England gets a mixed grade. Lots of distractions during off-season. But this team still has one of the best QBs and head coaches in the NFL, so that makes them a perpetual Super Bowl contender.
– New Orleans is a bet on team, especially as the season progresses. Some opinion Saints will play a ton of OVERS early in the season and then as the defense improves will change and become an UNDER team. Virtually all the NOR home games are totaled in the 50s now. May want to play OVER first few games (if playing the total at all) and then look to go UNDER once we see defense improving under new DC Ryan.
– NY Giants don’t get much love, which was a surprise to me. All of the panel missed what I think is obvious — this is going to be one of the best Giant offenses ever with all its skill positions loaded. I was surprised there wasn’t more love for the Giants, who should be favored to win the NFC East.
– Panel hates the NY Jets prospects, which is no surprise. Some expect things to get very ugly for Coach Ryan, who would exit before the season ends. Sanchez is stuck in a tar pit, and Geno Smith has underperformed in camp. The Jets also lost key personnel in offseason.
– Absolute universal agreement that Oakland will probably be the NFL’s worst team. No one said a positive thing about the Raiders in three hours. That always scares me when the entire world is on one side of things. But what is there to be optimistic about in Oakland?
– Philadelphia should be interesting to watch, but will struggle early in the season, learning the up-tempo system which was popularized are Oregon. Hard to see them finishing out of the cellar in the NFC East.
– Consensus opinion is that Pittsburgh will bounce back after a disappointing 8-8 season, when QB Rothlesberger missed three games. I tend to agree.
– Overwhelming consensus against San Diego, which finally ditched Norv Turner. Soft team, new coaches and system. Not much to like here, except they play in a weak division.
– Some slight lean to a step back for the 49ers, who could have a tougher time repeating what happened last season. Talent is there, experience is there, coaching is there. But then, so is Seattle. One handicapper noted that the best two teams in football are probably in the same division.
– Seattle gets nothing but love from the panel. Hard to disagree on this team, except that San Francisco could be in the way of taking that next step.
– Virtually everyone says to go against St. Louis (I disagree). This is a 7-win team from last season which made some improvements. I also like Jeff Fisher as a reliable game-day coach. No one seems to agree, so I am the lone wolf on the Rams to go at least 8-8.
– Slight lean by the handicappers on Tampa to perform well. I think they’re insane. Which team in the NFC South is Tampa going to leap over — Atlanta, New Orleans, or Carolina? This was a head-shaker listening to the panel talk about how much better Tampa will be.
– Tennessee attracted virtually no discussion at all.
– Everyone was split on Washington, with good reason. Obviously, Griffith staying healthy is the concern. A few cappers predicted Washington will win the division. One even said this is the best defense in the NFC. Others said they could fall back and finish in last place. Very tough to predict the Redskins, other than I think they’ll be the most exciting team in the NFL to watch this season.