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Posted by on Sep 15, 2019 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

NFL 2019: Week #2 Picks

 

 

Last week, the 2019 NFL Regular Season began with a small loss.  I posted 3 wins and 4 losses for a net loss of -$160.  Minimal harm done.  Let’s remember — the 21-week season including the playoffs is a marathon, not a sprint.

My private investment fund (BD /SM) closed with 37 brave souls who put in amounts ranging from just a few dollars up to $1,000 max.  My fund raised nearly $8,300 in all.  Look for the fund’s wagers to become increasingly aggressive once some early season data points have been established.

Once again, if you are involved, please do check your name and status at the end of this report and inform me of any errors.  I expect this will be the final tally on investment figures going forward.

Oh, and in case you missed the boat.  It sailed, man.  It’s cruising.  Go ahead and cap your games out of the newspaper or listen to PTI.  Poor things.  My people are on board.  First-class.  I take care of my people.  Remember this, next time.  You missed the Concorde and are stuck in the middle seat in coach on Spirit.  Hang in there.  I might toss you a lifeline if I feel charitable.  Let me generate some scrub before inviting more players onto my handicapping life raft.

Also, $200 of the fund has been put into a contest where the objective is to simply pick the game-winner (no points).  In Week #1, I went 10-5-1 — which is currently good for a middle-of-the-pack standing.  I’ll update our progress on that investment as the season continues.

Thanks again to each of you who invested in the fund.  Hang in there, it’s a long season ahead.  Hopefully, a profitable season, as well.

Live and learn, people.

Now, let’s move on to Week #2.

************************************************

2019 NFL WAGERING RECORD

Wins — Losses — Pushes          3 — 4 — 0

Starting Bankroll:   $ 8,296.

Current Bankroll:   $8,136.

Last Week’s Results:         3 — 4 — 0  (- $160.)

*************************************************

Wagering $1,925. to win $1,700. on eight bets.

This Week’s Wagers:

First Half:  NY Giants + .5 (-120) vs. Buffalo — Laying $180. to win $150.

Comments:  NY Giants didn’t play a bad game, last week, a 35-17 loss to the Cowboys.  Dallas just might be among the NFC elites, right now.  Now at home facing a beatable opponent, look for the NY Giants give a better effort.  I think this line has over-reacted to last week’s results.  A few weeks ago, this line probably would have been NY Giants favored by 2.  While NY Giants have been a horrid team at home in recent years (both SU and ATS), I expect the opener to inspire a good effort.  Meanwhile, Buffalo had to rally late to win in this same stadium, last week against the hapless Jets.  This is a rare case of back-to-back road games in an away arena.  The Bills defense played exceptionally well, which is a legitimate concern in the game backing the Giants.  However, the Buffalo offense continues to be anemic.  Inconsistent QB Allen looked lost much of the first half and was responsible for four turnovers (two ints. and two fumbles) in the first half alone.  For some reason, Allen has shown a tendency to play much better in the second half.  These factors — Giants at home, getting a half-point with slightly elevated juice, a weak offensive opponent, and perhaps some extra motivation compels me to make a modest-sized wager on the G Men in the first half.  I don’t think the Bills should be laying points on the road to anyone (except perhaps Miami).  Let me put it another way — last week, Buffalo was down 16-3 entering the 4th quarter in this stadium against the lowly Jets, and yet they are laying points?  That’s ridiculous.

Tennessee – 3 (-120) vs. Indianapolis — Laying $300. to win $250.

Comments:  Several trends favor the underdog Colts in this game, who have won 6 of the last 7 meetings in Nashville.  However, with the Luck factor gone, all eyes point to replacement QB Brissett who admittedly played very well in last week’s loss (but cover) to the Chargers.  I see a tougher spot here for the visitor, making a second-straight road trip versus division opponent.  It’s also always tough to recover emotionally from OT losses and then have to travel again with less prep time.  Oddsmakers say these teams are rated as roughly equal in talent (home team usually gives -3, which is the game line), but I’m of the opinion the Titans still might be a bit undervalued.  Tennessee destroyed Cleveland last week, although they were certainly helped by a +3 turnover ratio in that game.  Tennessee continues to run the ball well, dating back to midseason 2018.  Titans have been one of the league’s best rushing attacks, led by RB Henry.  I expect they’ll enjoy some success against Colts defense that entered the season with concerns and gave up 30 points in the first week.  Titans will look to make a statement here in the home opener.  They’re 8-5-1 last few seasons at home ATS.  With a win here, Tennessee takes the early driver’s seat in the division.  One added intangible is some concern Indy placekicker Vinatieri is still his old self.  He missed three kicks last week (33, 46, and an XP), which merits a red flag.  Betting on teams with concerns in the kicking game is probably undervalued as a handicapping tool — it really should be taken into more consideration.  I like the Titans, which looks to be a well-rounded team, especially at home, to cover this number.

Cincinnati -1 (-110) vs. San Francisco — Laying $275. to win $250.

Comments:  49ers picked up an ugly false win last week.  They’re frauds.  They were trailing 7-6 at halftime to the Bucs and were outgained in yardage for the game.  The lifeless offense looked weak, even with QB Garoppolo healthy (just 255 yards of total offense).  Tampa’s QB basically gift-wrapped the game with three turnovers, including two interception returns for TDs.  Sorry, but San Franciso isn’t the caliber of a team to go on the road again and get another win, particularly since it appears the Bengals are getting slightly disrespected here.  Also important to note these aren’t close road games.  Both are though three time zones.  Cincy took Seattle down to the wire in a 21-20 loss in Seattle last week.  The big spark was the Bengals’ passing attack, which ran up nearly 400 yards, even with playmaker WR Green sidelined.  49ers will face a motivated team with a new coach in his first home game and won’t find it as easy as trying to defense Jameis Winston.  QB Dalton threw 51 passes last week, so it will be up to San Fran to shut down the receivers.  Betting the Bengals is often an exercise in faith if not futility, but seeing the noble effort last week and laying a very low number (-1) this seems like a gift.  I have to play the Bengals at this price.

Miami / New England UNDER 48.5 — Laying $275. to win $250.

Comments:  Many sharp bettors are on the big home dog Dolphins, and I certainly see that line of reasoning.  But I’m persuaded that the far better wager is the UNDER here, especially at this high number.  Miami, as the undisputed NFL’s worst team at the moment, shows little to no ability to score many points.  That brings to question how motivated the reigning Super Bowl champs will be to run up the score.  Given that new Miami Coach Flores was previously a defensive assistant to Bill Belichick (and was with Pats organization 15 years), it’s hard to see the Patriots running up the score and making a mockery of a division rival.  A hot and humid day, an opponent that’s clearly outclassed, and (oddly enough) Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB for the Dolphins —-who isn’t prone to rookie mistakes leading to easy points off turnovers—- is a perfect recipe for a “boring” low-scoring game.  31-10 looks about right.  But it also wouldn’t surprise me if the Dolphins were shut out in the game given how awesome New England is on the D dating back to last season.

Arizona / Baltimore UNDER 46.5 — Laying $275. to win $250.

Comments:  I have concerns so many handicappers are touting this as one of the best totals on the board.  As a contrarian, I tend to fade public (and even some expert expectation).  But too many factors weigh heavily here to discount the obvious, including a higher-than-average total, which compels us to play the under.  Arizona was horrid offensively for 3 quarters, last week.  Detroit’s defense was gassed by game’s end, and that’s when the home underdogs came to life.  I think some of what we saw in the epic comeback was misleading  That won’t happen here in Baltimore, a much tougher place to play, certainly for the inexperienced Cardinals.  It’s hard to say where Baltimore ranks defensively (yes, they are #1 after shutting down Miami — but that was Miami).  It looks to be another relatively easy task for this defense, facing a rookie QB and new head coach both making their road debut.  So, let’s assume the Cardinals won’t be lighting up the scoreboard.  Meanwhile, Baltimore’s laugher last week should probably be discarded.  This isn’t a 59-point offense.  This is more of a ground attack, short pass dunks, and a ball-control game plan that will be content with the home win.  I look for the Ravens to build a lead, sit on the ball, and walk away with a 26-13 type of win that goes under the number.

LA Rams – 2 (-110) vs. New Orleans — Laying $275. to win $250.

Comments:  New Orleans isn’t a good early-season team.  We saw this trend continue last week, as the favored Saints barely escaped with a win in a thrilling game.  Now, off a short prep week, New Orleans must travel west for an NFC title game re-match.  I might like the Saints were this game at home, especially given some revenge motivation after one of the worst non-calls of all time.  But New Orleans isn’t the same flashy high-scoring team when on the road.  We know the Rams can roll up points at home, and have shut down New Orleans in the past (credit Wade Phillips).  Saints lost six of last eight road openers; Rams have won both home openers in McVay era, decisively so — 46-9 and 34-0.  Rams are slightly more balanced in my estimation, especially on defense and with home field against an opponent they won’t take lightly, I look for the favorite to cover, especially given New Orleans history of starting slow early in the season.

Atlanta + 1.5 (-110) vs. Philadelphia — Laying $165. to win $150.

First Half:  Atlanta +.5 (-120) vs. Philadelphia — Laying $180. to win $150.

Comments:  Two wagers on the contest — one for the game and another for the first half.  It’s painful to take real money and bet it on the Falcons, right now.  This team looked horrid in the opener at Minnesota.  I can’t make any case for the Falcons statistically speaking, but this team still has plenty of talented veterans, a coach who knows how to win, and certainly — added motivation this week in the home opener.  Seems like a critical game already for Atlanta.  Meanwhile, Philadelphia looked totally lost for 35 minutes last week (down 0-17 to Washington) before coming to life and nearly covering.  That “win” was rather unimpressive considering how mismatched the opponent was at +10.  The Eagles don’t appear to be anywhere near the elites of the league, just 18 months after their Super Bowl win.  But, they’re still favored here because (I presume) many bettors are overreacting to the Falcons’ really bad performance last week in which they were down 0-28 at one point.  I’m glad to fade this (hopefully mistaken) popular perception.  Moreover, the Eagles defense was ripped last week for several big plays.  One expects a talented Falcons offense at home in the dome to exploit some of those same weaknesses.  Oddly enough, Eagles have been a poor indoor turf team at just 5-9 ATS under HC Peterson.  Also, Atlanta has historically opened up well at home, winning 13 of last 15.  Falcons also 8-2 as a home dog in last ten games, which tells me these veterans rise to the occasion against top competition when in Atlanta  I’ll take the home dog in the game, as well as the half-point in the first half.

 

Other Games and Thoughts:

I was really tempted to play DET plus the points at home hosting the LAC, but a few things kept me off the game.  DET really looked poorly coached and conditioned down the stretch in last week’s tie.  That was an unforgivable collapse, and as tempting as it may be to bet the home dog, Detroit really is outclassed here.  LAC are aware they dodged a bullet last week.  But the Chargers also moved the ball well and should have no problem with this defense.  The play here is probably the OVER 47 if you must bet the game.  Two veteran QBs with good wideouts on the rubber grass.  Game could fly OVER.  But no action for me.

DAL laying -5.5 to WASH is worth a look, but I shy away from laying points on the road in division games.  DAL could come in overconfident, which happens with this inconsistent team under coach Garrett.  Credit K. Moore calling the plays on offense last week (new OC), which makes me think this team might step up.  But when you look at how WASH moved the ball in the loss/cover last week in Philadelphia, it’s certainly possible the ‘Skins give another solid effort.  Too many points to lay.  Should be -3.5. tops.

Hard to figure what state of mind HOU will be in after the crushing defeat in New Orleans Monday night.  But they face a team that should be shut down, with a backup QB (who looked fabulous statistically, 22/25 last week in loss to Kansas City).  Highly-coveted free agent signee QB Foles is out.  So. it’s doubtful JAX can produce enough offense to stay with HOU, but I’m not laying -9.5 points with any team that’s as inconsistent as HOU.  Let’s also remember JAX brings in a top defense.  KC rolls up points against everybody, so look for a better rebound effort.  It’s taking the dog or nothing here, for me.

PITT is laying -3.5 to SEA, which almost lost to Cincy at home last week.  PITT looked horrendous in loss to the Patriots.  There’s valid concern about these Steelers, who missed playoffs last season, might be taking a step downward.  So, this game should tell us a lot.  Many serious cappers are on PITT, but I think that faith is grounded too heavily on history.  I don’t see any spot where PITT enjoys definitive advantages, so I don’t want to lay points, especially since SEA is one of those teams capable of beating anybody.  Some analysts insist SEA defensive secondary could get shredded here (which game up 400 to Anthony Dalton in Week 1).  I’m just not convinced PITT has the talent anymore to flip a switch and beat well-coached opponents, especially given QB Russell’s skill set.  Pass.  But I do lean to OVER 47.

GB is laying -2.5 to -3 to rivals MINN.  Line looks about right.  I don’t have a good read on GB defense (was the opener just an aberration?) nor MINN offense, which uncharacteristically threw just 10 passes last week in domination over Atlanta.  The total at 43 does seem a little low, given QB Rodgers’ impressive numbers historically at home.  But that’s just a slight lean.

Many pro cappers are taking OAK this week, getting +7 in a divisional matchup against KC.  Horrible spot for Chiefs here, with the cross-country back-to-back games.  My guess is — OAK is the right side.  But I can’t step in front of the roaring KC money train right now.  Total at 53.5 seems a little high.  But given what we see from KC week in and out, this game could fly OVER.  Too much volatility for me to bet this one.

DEN is getting +1.5 to +2 at home hosting CHI.  Both offenses were steaming piles of puppy shit last week, so I’m tempted to play any side getting points.  But I’m going pass this temptation and invest my money elsewhere.  I suppose CHI with 3 extra days (played last Thursday) to prepare should enjoy some advantages.  Whichever offense struggles, you can pretty much say it’s — season over.  If Flacco bombs, he and Elway should get a 2 for 1 bus ticket out of Denver.

CLE is laying a whopping -6.5 points to NYJ, which lost another softie USC QB draftee (to mono, this week).  Poor NYJ played pretty well on defense last week, and that could keep them in the game.  Seems ridiculous for CLE to be laying this high number on road, after getting bounced like clowns at home in the humiliation of an opener.  I was tempted to play the home dog, but something tells me DC Gregg Williams is going to pay a price in this game for some off-the-field controversy regarding (now) Browns’ WR Beckham.  He’s been an overrated injury-prone act for a while, but could be the difference in a CLE win and over.  Normally, I don’t weigh these personality issues, but those of you who have followed the issue know it’s very volatile as a betting prop.  It’s probably NYJ and an UNDER here, but that’s an arm-twister.  Skipping this game for greener pastures elsewhere.  And since you are still reading, CLE is a sucker play here.  You drank Koolaid last week and got poisoned.  Why on earth would you do that again?  Sucker play = Cleveland.

 

PICK THE WINNER CONTEST [NO POINTSPREAD] — $200 entry fee

Season Record To-Date:  10-5-1

Week #2 Picks:

CAR over TB

CINCY over SFO

SDI over DET

GB over MIN

TEN over INDY

NWE over MIA

NYG over BUF

PIT over SEA

DAL over WASH

BAL over PHX

HOU over JAX

KC over OAK

CHI over DEN

LAR over NOR

ATL over PHIL

CLE over NYJ

 

BD /SM INVESTMENT GROUP [37 persons]

211. — David Heldar
100. — Steve Watanabe
1,000. — Peter Lucier
302. — Bruce Kramer
200. — Finbarr O’Mahony
100. — Howler
500. — Linda Keenan
100. — John Pickels
100. — Patrick Kirwan
300. — Sean McGuiness
252. — Jim Anderson
200. — Chad Holloway
500. — Eric Schneller
351. — Randy Collack
100. — David Lawless Lawful
1,000. — Paul Harris
51. — Dan Goldman
51. — Sharon Goldman
102. — Ken QB
102. — Chuck Weinstock
102. — Peter Taki Caldes
51. — Kenny Shei
51. — Jeff Dietch
128. — Kevin Un
22. — Becca
102. — Corey Imsdahl
102. — Don Bingo Reick
1,000. — Jeff Siegel (payment pending)
100. — Stephen Cohen (payment pending)
51.  — John Reed
51. — George Wattman
51. — Mickdog Patterson
100. — Larry Lubliner
100. — Guy Grizz Berentsen
100. — Edmund Hack
500. — Bob Feduniak
63. — John Reed

__________

 

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Posted by on Sep 8, 2019 in Blog, Essays | 1 comment

NFL 2019: Week #1 Picks

 

 

This year in my posts and wagers, I’m doing something different.  I’m controlling an “investment fund.”

Several thrillseeking investors bought into my NFL investment pool, which will be used as a wagering bankroll.  My investors posted amounts — ranging between $50 up to $1,000.  This grand sum will be my starting bankroll for the regular season, which will (hopefully) last all the way through the Super Bowl, and if past results are any indication of future returns, we might also realize a profit.

The name of my private investment group is BD/SM, which stands for Balls Deep / Sports Management.  Not for the timid.

As in years past, I’ll post my write-ups and recommendations here on this page, expected to be up at the site by late Saturday night.  To investors, fans, lurkers, and enemies alike, I suggest checking in at midnight Saturday night PST which will have my latest updates.  It’s also suggested you follow me on Facebook, where I might post some late plays, including second-half wagers.

IMPORTANT:  At the end of this report, please see the member consortium of the BD/SM investment group, along with the dollar amount(s) invested.  If you see errors or your name is not listed and should be, then please-mail me privately at — nolandalla@gmail.com

Moreover, I have invested $200 of the total fund into a season-long “pick the winner with no pointspread” contest which is run by someone many of us know based in Philadelphia.  I will post my plays in that contest in each weekly report so investors can check the progress of that speculative endeavor, as well.

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2019 NFL WAGERING RECORD

Wins — Losses — Pushes          0 — 0 — 0

Starting Bankroll:   TBD

Current Bankroll:   TBD

Last Week’s Results:          + /- $0

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Unfortunately, an injury affects the betting action this week.  Not with the players.  But with me.  Last weekend, I lost the use of my left hand which is now engulfed in a cast.  So, I’m typing this report with one hand — not easy for someone who does lots of writing.  My point in telling you this — is not to gain sympathy — but to convey that this will be a somewhat abbreviated report.  I normally handicap every game in full, in writing.  That won’t be as easy for the next week, or two without the use of half my fingers on the keys.  So, please don’t think I’m cutting corners in today’s report.  Here we go:  Wagering $800 to win $700 in seven bets.

This Week’s Wagers:

Atlanta +3.5 at Minnesota (at -110) — Laying $110 to win $100

Comments:  Several trends favor Minnesota as a home favorite here, including Vikings’ strong ATS record at home combined with Atlanta’s stinky recent road history.  However, Falcons might be the better team at the moment, certainly true on offense.  Falcons will get to play 12 of 16 games inside a dome this season, which plays to the experience of their skill positions and sets them up for favorable advantages given their strong history indoors.  I also like QB Ryan over QB Cousins, even though both very posted similar stats last season.  Gamebreaker WR Jones is expected to start according to late reports, so that likely explains the line drop (in some spots) from +4 down to +3.5  I think Jones even at 80 percent is well worth the half point, even around those sensitive key numbers in the 3-4 range.  In what looks to be a close matchup on paper and in coaching, I’ll take the hook on the 3 and grab the points.  Key in this game will be Atlanta running the ball.  Rushing “attack” was dreadful last year (ranked 29th) due in part to injuries.  Falcons now come into the season fully healthy with five first-round draft picks on OL, which tells me this unit should show improvement to go with a strong passing game.  Vikings also have a league-high 12 rookies on their roster, including a few new starters.  Look for the experienced Falcons to stick with the home favorites for 60 minutes and get the road cover, if not the outright upset win.

Buffalo +3 at NY Jets (at -120) — Laying $120 to win $100

Comments:  This looks to be a pick ’em game in talent, with the customary +3 points given to the home team.  However, Buffalo destroyed NY Jets at home last season (one of only two road wins), which I think gives the young Bills some confidence that this is a division opponent they can beat.  Sometimes, outmatched teams don’t give the full effort when a loss seems imminent, but Buffalo and NY Jets certainly understand this game could set the direction for the season and show who is most likely (if anyone) to challenge New England’s divisional dominance.  I like Buffalo for a few reasons — namely QB Allen’s scrambling ability combined with some questions about NY Jets defense and secondary under (another) new DC, this time, Gregg Williams who seems to be with a new team every year.  Week #1 divisional underdogs are an impressive 11-4-2 the last four seasons, which bodes well for the visitor.  NY Jets are 0-4-1 last five homes games.  New coach Adam Gase was 0-3-1 ATS when coaching against Bills with Miami.  I also like RB McCoy being cut from the Buffalo roster, who was arguably the least effective, highest-paid RB in the league.  Both teams should be interesting to watch.  I’ll take the FG and lay double juice to -120.

Miami +7 vs. Baltimore (at -120) — Laying $120 to win $100 

Comments:  Why the hell is Baltimore laying a touchdown on the road to anyone?  This team has major uncertainties on offense, especially at QB.  I’ve seen QB Jackson ranked as low as dead last among NFL starters.  While I don’t share the level of deep pessimism, the Ravens are still a one-dimensional team.  Ravens wideouts are among the league’s weakest.  However, Baltimore has relied on a heavy rushing game, including Jackson’s legs.  Miami’s few strengths include the pass defense so look for Baltimore to keep it on the ground.  I think this plays into a low-scoring game where points could be at a premium.  So, the +7 looks like a gift.  Valid concerns about what shape Miami will be in, which is in a complete rebuilding phase with new coaches in every area.  Moreover, Miami starter might be the weakest QB in the NFL (poor leader, weak arm, no mobility — other than that, he’s terrific!).  Fynny thing is, I could be talking about either Fitzpatrick or Rosen here.  I’m counting on the home humidity, some genuine energy in Miami for the first time in a while, and perhaps some Baltimore mistakes to keep the Dolphins in this game.  Taking yet another dog.

Tampa Bay -1 vs. San Francisco (at -110) — Laying $110 to win $100

This is more of an anti-San Francisco play than anything else.  First, QB Garoppolo hasn’t started a meaningful game in like….forever.  He hasn’t taken a snap since 2017 when all the games were pretty much against bad teams when coaches were playing for draft order.  This is a weak team, unproven in virtually every area.  The offensive line is average, at best.  Defense doesn’t pressure — this unit had just six (SIX!) takeaways in 16 games last season, worst of any team in 18 years.  You don’t fix those glaring problems with a 27-year-old highly paid QB making just his 11th NFL start.   Oh, and the 49ers get to travel 3,500 miles for an early start in the Florida heat.  Tampa Bay meanwhile, gets the favorable home spot, lays a small number, gets DT Suh on the defensive front as the top free-agent signing, and (I believe) has much better coaching.  Bruce Arians taking this job was a great move for the franchise.  I also like DC Todd Bowles,  who I expect will get more out of that unit than many people are expecting.  Reasonable number to lay here, even with QB Winston’s storied troubles as a pro.  This might be a better system for him, certainly with better coaches, and he faces one of the least intimidating defenses in the NFL in his home opener.  Taking the small home favorite.

Tennessee +5.5 vs. Cleveland (at -110) — Laying $110 to win $100

Another big overreaction to hype.  I love fading hype.  Sure, Cleveland will be a fun team to watch this season.  They are finally heading in the right direction and may have a winning season.  But that’s not what handicapping is all about.  We want to go contrary to those perceptions and take value —  and in this matchup, the points are clearly the more attractive team.  Titans are coming off the better season at 9-7 to Browns 7-8-1.  Titans also closed down the stretch with the NFL’s top running game — RB Henry 135 YPG last six games.  Tennessee should be able to run the ball here and keep this within the margin.  Admittedly, I’m always wary about backing any QB Mariota-led team on the road (he’s dismal on the road versus home).  But Mariota won’t be asked to win the game alone.  I think people expect too much out of the Browns, especially this early.  Tennessee has a better than average defense, a really good secondary, and asking the Browns to cover what seems to be a big number is a prospect I’ll gladly fade.  Taking the Titans and looking for the outright upset.

Detroit -2.5 vs. Arizona (at -120) — Laying $120 to win $100

Rare for me to bet a road favorite, but this is a good spot for the far-more experienced team and roster of key starters.  This is a rebuilding phase for Cardinals and like Miami, they will have home-field and fresh coaching staff, with a new starting QB.  Thing was, Miami was getting +7.  Here, we will lay less than a field goal.  New Cardinal coach Kingsbury is expected to produce fireworks on offense reminiscent from his Texas Tech days, and he might do that in time.  But in their first game with so many question marks, I don’t think we’ll see that for some time.  Cardinals are also missing their best defensive player Peterson due to suspension fo 6 games, plus two starting CBs, which will allow an experienced Lions team some opportunities.  QB Stafford has reliable receiving weapons with WR Golladay, WR Jones and WR Amendola along with top draft pick TE Hockenson.  Detroit won in this identical spot last year, winning by two touchdowns.  Probably just as much a mismatch at this stage of the season.  Hard to write this sentence and keep a straight face but Lions have an advantage at virtually every aspect of this matchup.

Indianapolis +6.5 at LA Chargers (at -110) — Laying  $110 to win $100

I’m taking the underdogs with the major chip on their shoulders after (now retired) Luck’s disappearing act, which now leaves QB Brissett in charge and under center. Brissett quietly improved and was already widely considered a more than capable backup.  Now thrust into a system that was projected as a playoff contender, I look for a major statement game bere from a very well-coached team, playing an opponent with minimal home support and a reputation for being soft.  Chargers are plagued with some key injuries, a RB holdout, and perhaps a spot where they might be a bit overconfident taking on a team perceived as significantly weaker with change at QB.  Thanks to Stephen Nover for also pointing out San Diego-Carson-Los Angeles has lost three straight season openers.   Colts were getting +7, which was a major gift.  I missed that generous number, but still think the dogs are worth betting at +6.5  Solid live dog here I think capable of winning outright.

 

Other Games and Thoughts:

PHILA laying -10 to WASH looks about right.  Wanted to bet WASH in some early games, people forgetting Redskins won 7 games last season and collapsed down the stretch because they had 25 players on IR at seasons end, most of any team, and were basically starting Billy Kilmer at QB.   Love WASH to make move about midseason as a strong play on team.  But not this week, with awful QB Keenum getting the start.  Highly favored Eagles should be able to name the score and make a statement here.  I just won’t lay double digits in road division games.

JAX getting generous +3.5 is clearly the right side of the KC matchup.  Way too much is expected of KC after a marvelous 2018 season.  However, their porous defense is still a serious concern.  KC did outscore just about everyone last season and they could post similar numbers.  But here on the road, in the Florida heat, facing NFL’s best defense statistically, and then LAYING MORE THAN A FG is just a horrible spot for the favorite.  Anyone who bet JAX at this number can be tattoed instantly as a sucker.  You might not like JAX, but KC is the worst bet on the board this week.  For idiots only.

LAR laying -1 to -2 on the road (lots of road favorites!) is another trap game.  Not sure about CAR coming off a down year.  Here’s an ideal statement game for the underdog.  Just wish I was getting a little more points-wise with the Panthers.  So, this ranks as a pass.  LAR looked pretty woeful in their two road games at the end of last season.  Let’s see if that decline was just due to step up in class.  Interesting game to watch, but I want no part of betting it.

I really do like CINCY plus 9.5 at SEA.  Bengals collapsed down the stretch last season after starting out 5-2.  Same lineup of mediocrity returns, but there’s enough talent to cover this high number.  Seattle overachieved las season given the roster of players.  Now, more is expected.  Accordingly, I think this line is a little high.  I’d go with a 7.5.  Probably should bet this game, but with other more attractive options will pass.  Something to be said for not having to sweat QB Antony Dalton to cover the spread for us.

I love DAL to roll over the weak NYG, but a few trends keep me off this game — divisional dogs in Week #1, NYG-DAL games often being close, DAL relatively poor home ATS record.  DAL should dominate both sides of the line of scrimmage.  Hard to see where NYG have any advantages.  I considered teasing DAL down to -1.  That’s probably the optimal play if you wager on this game.  Nover likes the UNDER here, which I agree is probably best total on the board.

NWE plays PIT.  I don’t have money on it, so I don’t care.  Disgusted with that prick WR A  Brown getting signed by Patriots.  Disgusting.  Hope his season ends on first play.

HOU at NOR…before wagering on Saints and laying points remember that NOR often starts season dreadfully slow.  Don’t know if it’s the complexity of offense, or the heat, or whatever, but NOR is a terrible Sept. team as a favorite.  Might be wise to play visiting HOU here to keep it closer than a TD.

I’m likely playing DEN on MNF and will post late action on Facebook.  OAK looks to be a fade with all the distractions and mess of a team, right now.  DEN gets Flacco under center for the first time.  Hard to see how this will turn out, but the first week might be a good spot to bet the slightly-favored Broncos.  Another division road favorite.  Have to be careful with these.  If it’s -2 surely a bet, but if this moves to -3, will pass.

 

PICK THE WINNER CONTEST [NO POINTSPREAD] — $200 entry fee

Season Record To-Date:  0-0-0

Week #1 Picks:

Green Bay over Chicago

Tennessee over Cleveland

Baltimore over Miami

Atlanta over Minnesota

Buffalo over NY Jets

Philadelphia over Washington

LA Rams over Carolina

Jacksonville over Kansas City

Indianapolis over San Diego

Seattle over Cincinnati

Dallas over NY Giants

Detroit over Phoenix

Tampa over San Francisco

New England over Pittsburgh

New Orleans over Houston

Denver over Oakland

 

BD /SM INVESTMENT GROUP [29 persons]

200. — David Heldar
100. — Steve Watanabe
1,000. — Peter Lucier
302. — Bruce Kramer
200. — Finbarr O’Mahony
100. — Howler
500. — Linda Keenan
100. — John Pickels (payment pending)
100. — Patrick Kirwan
300. — Sean McGuiness
252. — Jim Anderson
200. — Chad Holloway
500. — Eric Schneller
351. — Randy Collack
100. — David Lawless Lawful
1,000. — Paul Harris
51. — Dan Goldman
51. — Sharon Goldman
102. — Ken QB
102. — Chuck Weinstock
102. — Peter Taki Caldes
51. — Kenny Shei
51. — Jeff Dietch
128. — Kevin Un
22. — Becca
102. — Corey Imsdahl
102. — Don Bingo Reick
1,000. — Jeff Siegel (payment pending)
51. — George Wattman

__________

 

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Posted by on Sep 5, 2019 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

The Changing Face of Online Gaming and How to Pick the Best

 

 

Gambling is no longer what it used to be at one time. While purists might still believe in travelling to Vegas or one of the major gambling destinations of the world, the fact remains that more and more people are looking at convenient ways to indulge in the thrill of money-making.

The drama that revolved around gambling is thus a thing of the past. There’s no need to dress up for a night out on the tables, or the impromptu talks one would have with total strangers. Gambling is now more intimate in every sense possible. You can enjoy a game of slots while lounging in the buff on your bed or whip out your phone and start earning at the tap of a few buttons. Online casinos are on the rise, are not just a trend, and have transformed into a way of life that has revolutionised the gambling industry for the better.

 

However, unlike a land-based casino, where you can get an idea of the environment just by looking at how busy or deserted it is, online casinos require a little bit of analysis. To start with, check for reviews and whether a casino is licensed or not. Just like there are scams nowadays in every form of business, several illegal online casinos exist on the internet. And no matter how good the proposition, it’s better to stand clear of them at all costs.

Once you have a few leading online casinos on your list, it’s time to look at their catalogue and make sure they offer a variety of games. It doesn’t matter if you play them or not, because preferences change and you might one day start liking them all of a sudden. In the simplest of statements, more is better when it comes of games on an online casino.

 

 

Next up, dig deeper to see what all special events the casinos hold. All the casinos have games, but the real kicker is the special events that some hold, which are not only profitable for the players, but also the perfect opportunity to test your skills against other gamblers. One of the very best of these is Casumo, an online casino with enough bells and whistles to really make it stand out from the pack. From poker events to blackjack bonus card event, promotions like these mean that the feature-rich online casino is looking to get players involved and create an ambience that is a lot more exciting and entertaining than a regular casino.

When we look at the popularity of online casinos, slots are at the very core of it all. At one time, slots were considered childish and meant primarily for senior players, or those who did not know how to play card games. Now, online slots are a walking talking entertainment centre with theme-based options that bring alive movies and drama in the most fun way possible. Moreover, they cater to all budgets and tastes, thus becoming the most played online games.

While there is new technology being tested regularly by online casinos, and we already see VR and 3D being integrated into games, there are two aspects that you must consider before joining an online casino. Fist, check for their welcome bonus package.

Remember, the casinos want you as much as you want them, and they will layout a red carpet for you. Secondly, make sure you have all the accounts in order and read up on withdrawal and deposit rules to avoid unnecessary issues later.

Gambling responsibly can be a lot of fun. With the industry welcoming players from all walks of life, its transformation into something unique will only help it expand more in the future.

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Posted by on Aug 18, 2019 in Blog, Essays | 1 comment

A Wine Story

 

How is our memory for taste?

This was put to the ultimate test today when I opened a spectacular bottle of wine. I’d like to share my story with you.

Sometime around 1995 I first became seriously interested in wines. While living in Washington, DC, Marieta and I took two ten-week wine courses back-to-back, presented by a master sommelier who wrote for Wine Spectator. To say those classes were life-changing would be an understatement.

However, given we’re on a budget, I’ve never been able to afford super expensive wines. So, my wine knowledge pretty much is non-existent at any price point above $100. My daily price cap is more like $15.

I distinctly remember about five key wine moments in my life. One of the most memorable of those took place in 1998.

Marieta and I were staying at the Two Trees Inn at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. We were attending a poker event. A friend, who sadly I lost contact with named Nick Partenope (who I believe is/was an NYC MD) presented Marieta and me with a bottle of Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon. I distinctly remember opening the bottle of Arrowood in the hotel room. It blew us away. It was spectacular, and at the time, the best wine I’d ever tasted. Back then, the price was considerably higher and Arrowood was hard to find where we lived. Hence, we haven’t had a bottle since then in 21 years.

Until today and now.

A few nights ago, we went to a local wine dinner and to our surprise received a bottle of wine from the host. We didn’t even look at the label, expecting it to be some run-of-the-mill bottle that was nice, but hardly in a class of its own.

Today, we looked at the bottle. It was Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon! Instantly, we remember Nick Partenope and our encounter with this splendid old friend two decades earlier. Make that two old friends.

We don’t drink many reds during the summer, but this baby couldn’t possibly wait. We wondered aloud: Would this wine be as memorable as all those years ago? Arrowood has changed and we’ve changed, too. Our expectations were ridiculously high, perhaps even unreasonable.

And so, the cork was popped and the verdict was immediate.

The best way to describe the Arrowood was it was as tasty as blood to a vampire. It was ass-kicking incredible! I do mean a blast of fruit that bombs the taste buds. Fucking WOW!

I didn’t expect this. I’ve had most of the fruit bombs and usually don’t find them to be nearly as sophisticated as my taste for the classic Rhones and Bourdeuxs and wines from Burgandy and Loire. If you’d have bet money that I’d be partial to a California wine above my classic traditional favorites, I’d have wagered any amount of money. Well, I would have lost my wager.

This Arrowood is quite possibly the best wine I’ve ever tasted, certainly for the money. Clocking in at $29 per bottle and a 14.5 alc. content, it’s a dangerous and tempting beast.

And so, 21 years after falling in love with a wine, an old flame had been reunited.

I cannot possibly recommend Arrowood more highly. It’s truly THAT amazing, and then some. Dr. Nick Partenope, if you are out there reading, thank you for the memories — then and now.

Note: Marieta had an identical reaction.

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Posted by on Jul 28, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Rants and Raves | 3 comments

The Check-Deposit Scam

 

 

I’m holding a check in my hand for $6,850.12.

Unfortunately, it’s not even worth 12 cents.

This makes me the latest unsuspecting target of a popular scam that’s been going on for many years called the “Fake Check Deposit.”

Here’s what happened to me and typically how the scam works.

A few weeks ago, I scanned Craig’s List for odd jobs and temp opportunities to make some extra income.  Craig’s List and similar platforms allow people to post long- and short-term gigs doing all kinds of different tasks — from driving a car, to bricklaying, to joining a band, to webcam modeling.  Since my webcam modeling career is on a downswing right now, I answered an ad for a temporary chauffeur.

I sent a short e-mail listing my qualifications and also conveyed my 24/7 ability for the position.

The next day, I received a response from “Dr. Lee.”

Dr. Lee explained that he/she lived in Toronto.  He would be visiting Las Vegas to attend an upcoming conference.  Dr. Lee needed a private driver for one month.  He needed transportation between his hotel and the conference and also wanted to do some sightseeing.  His e-mail was well-written and certainly appeared that it could have come from a doctor.  Although still somewhat skeptical, I believed this job opportunity could be real.

I accepted the position which paid $800 per week, for four weeks, plus a small bonus awarded at the end of the assignment.  The pay seemed reasonable for the work and hours involved.

Next, in his follow-up e-mail, Dr. Lee explained he would need to rent a car which had to be a luxury vehicle.  He noted that he’d leased a Mercedes GLE in the past, which was an SUV priced at $53,000.  This month-long lease would be every expensive.

Dr. Lee informed me that he’d send me certified check by Federal Express.  I’d receive it the next day.  He told me to take the check, deposit it into my personal bank account, and then a few days later when funds were available to make the lease arrangements.  Dr. Lee would later provide the name of the leasing company.

This temp job started to smell fishy.

But I decided to play along.

The next day, a Federal Express envelope arrived at my doorstep.  The only item inside was a single slip of paper.  It was a check for $6,850.12 made payable to “Nolan Dalla.”

The check image can be seen in the image above.  Note that I’ve blacked out personal information and the bank account numbers.

The checked looked and felt very real.  It had a water seal embossed in the paper.  It was signed by someone, but it wasn’t Dr. Lee.  Perhaps this was Dr. Lee’s personal assistant.

I did some quick investigating.  I performed a bank account search, which can be done online within just a few seconds.  To my surprise, the bank ID number wasn’t made up.  It actually matched the name of the bank, listed as “City Bank N.A.”  The account number also appeared legitimate.  But the check also had some glaring peculiarities.

My check for almost seven-grand was drawn from a business account listed as “National Sorghum Producers.”  That company is based on a remote highway in Lubbock, Texas.  I don’t want to seem cynical, but this seemed like an odd financial arrangement that a small company in West Texas would be paying for a car and driver for a Canadian doctor soon to be visiting Las Vegas.

Here’s an image of the company from MapQuest, when I typed in “National Sorghum Producers” located at 4201 North Interstate 27; Lubbock, TX; 79403:

 

 

Well, shit.

My heart sank.  Gee, I guess I wasn’t going to be chauffering a doctor around Las Vegas, getting paid to drive a new Mercedes.

I’d been instructed to deposit this check immediately.  Time was critical since Dr. Lee was coming into town next week.  Within just a few days, my funds would be available.  I was told to keep $800 for my first week’s pay and then send the remainder to rent the car in advance.  I’d be given the details of where to send the money once I confirmed receipt of the check.

This thing wasn’t just fishy.  It was now as smelly as week-old sardines.

Dr. Lee emailed me that same day.  “Did you receive my Federal Express envelope with the check?” he asked.

I decided to play along and get clever.

“No, it didn’t arrive,” I replied.  “Maybe you got my address wrong.”

After a few back-and-forth e-mails, Dr. Lee informed me that he’d Federal Express another check which would arrive the next business day.

“Great!” I replied.  “I can’t wait to start driving for you!”

The following day, another Federal Express envelope arrived at my front door.  Inside was an identical check in the same amount.  Each “Priority Overnight” delivery cost the sender $17.50.  So, Dr. Lee was now on the hook for $35.00 in express delivery charges.  He was a doctor, right?  So, he could afford it.

“Did you get the check this time,” Dr. Lee wrote.

I waited a full day, and then responded as follows:

“Gee, I don’t know what’s the problem.  I’ve been waiting for the Federal Express envelope, but neither one arrived yet.  Can you check with National Sorghum Producers and see if they sent it out yet?”

Bada-boom!

I never heard from “Dr. Lee” again.

The scam was reported to authorities.  I also contacted my bank, which confirmed these scams do often happen.  The problem, I was told, is that some people really believe these checks are real and mistakenly think they have no liability.  The truth is — if a check is deposited and gets returned, the account holder is fully responsible for the funds.  Some banks have been known to close the accounts of people who have fallen prey to this scam, even if from naivete.  Older people, students with little financial experience, and poor people, often desperate for any chance to earn income are particularly susceptible to this scam.

Indeed, I learned the scam does sometimes succeed.  How and why?  Laws require that funds be released to customers and made available in a timely manner, sometimes in as little as a few days.  I could have done precisely as instructed — deposited the check, kept $800 as my payment, and then transferred $6,o00 to the “rental car agency,” who was actually the scammer eagerly awaiting the fruits of his heist.  By the time the check was found to be fraudulent and bounced, which might take weeks, the scammer would be long gone with my money.  I’d be 100 percent responsible for making up the lost $6,000.  Who knows — maybe the scammer really does drive a brand new Mercedes, paid for by unsuspecting victims of the fake-check swindle.

There’s an old saying that goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

We should all learn ways to protect ourselves.  One of the best ways to dissuade scammers is to play along and get them to invest time and money digging down an empty hole.  So, my advice is to make things as costly as possible for them.  Milk them dry, even if it’s just for the cost of a Fed Ex express delivery.  Make them pay.  Then, report the incident to proper authorities.

Now, it’s back to Craig’s List again.  Let’s see what other exciting opportunities I can find and trouble I can get into.

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