NFL Week #9 Picks
I read recently the Pontiac Silverdome soon will be demolished. The Silverdome was the old home of the Detroit Lions. Not many fans will lose sleep over this. The Silverdome wasn’t among the shrines to NFL greatness.
[Here are some interesting images of what the crumbling Pontiac Silverdome looks like today]
This news got me to thinking about the old NFL stadiums I’ve visited. So, I compiled a list, noting football stadiums that made the greatest impression on me. For purposes of discussion, I’ll apply this list to NFL stadiums only.
A drum roll please……the most impressive now-bygone stadiums were…..
(1) Tulane Stadium (New Orleans) — Home of the Saints from 1967-1974. Check out the photo above, which shows old Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. I visited and paid my respects to it just before they tore it down sometime in the early 1980s. The coolest thing about Tulane Stadium was that it was very much PART OF THE CITY. Now, many stadiums are buried somewhere in suburbia and surrounded by parking lots and malls. But Tulane Stadium was tucked into an urban neighborhood and was right on campus. Of course, this created a traffic nightmare on game day. But few stadiums could match the energy of the old Tulane Stadium crowds which are part of New Orleans folklore. In the photo, notice how close the houses are to the stadium. Also, no corporate skyboxes for the fraud fans. No stadium would ever be built like this today. This was a real old-style football stadium for real fans.
(2) Orange Bowl (Miami) — Home of the Dolphins from 1968 to early 2000’s. About ten years ago, just before it was demolished, I visited Miami. Yeah, I did the beaches and touristy stuff, and all that. But for me, the place where I had the most memories of Miami was watching games on TV for 30 years from — the Orange Bowl. Remember those swaying palm trees in the end zone? Unfortunately, the former shrine to football history was crumbling badly by the time I saw her in her final days. I snuck inside and sat on the 50-yard-line gazing into an empty stadium. It was like peering into the Grand Canyon. Almost spiritual. All the memories of those great games came back to me. Like Tulane Stadium, the Orange Bowl was once wedged into an old neighborhood. Parking was non-existent. This didn’t dampen attendance or the crowds who always turned out for Dolphins’ games. After leaving the Orange Bowl, Miami hasn’t been a great team since — pro or college.
(3) Yankee Stadium (New York) — Home of NY Giants for many decades. I’ve never liked the Yankees or New York sports teams, but still one had to respect the tradition of this great ballpark. I attended a baseball game there once around 2005. The experience was a surprise. I was astounded at how bad the sight lines were to the field (I sat 20 rows up behind first base — great seats…..they were terrible!). I walked all over the stadium (I had no interest in the ballgame, I just wanted to see the stadium) and couldn’t believe how bad the seating was for spectators. The upper deck was so steep I’m shocked dozens of fans didn’t stumble on the steps and tumbled over the rail to their deaths. Seriously, Yankee Stadium was a hellhole. Great history (NY Giants played there through 1972). But a bad place to watch a game, especially a football game. Yeah, the backdrop looks majestic on TV, but you can’t see anything across the field. One plus was riding the subway to the game. Personal bias: I like stadiums connected easily by mass transit. Makes the list solely because of great tradition.
(4) RFK Stadium (Washington) — Home of Washington Redskins 1961-1996). I saw many games at old DC Stadium (later renamed RFK) when I lived there, which is now falling apart and an embarrassment. It probably won’t be around much longer given there’s no future. Former Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke’s body should be dug up and burned for the gargantuan mistake he made 25 years ago — building that shithole stadium out in the middle of suburban Maryland where there’s nothing around except one of the busiest interstates in the country. RFK should have been renovated and expanded because it’s perfectly positioned in the nation’s capital. Look straight ahead from the ariel view and you see the US Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial connected to RFK Stadium. It’s like the forefathers knew how beloved the Redskins would be to this city and so it was given a perfect location. Great place to watch a game, incredible energy. Redskins haven’t been the same since leaving the District and RFK. Burn Jack Kent Cooke’sbody again, over and over. Make him suffer.
(5) Three Rivers Stadium (Pittsburgh) — Home of Pittsburgh Steelers 1971-2001. One of the real highlights of my life as a sports fan was walking across the field once of the old home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I stop and worshipped the part of the field where Franco Harris caught was was probably an illegal pass in the most incredible ending to any football game ever, which I watched on TV back in 1972. Very intimidating arena, where everything around the field seems swallowed up inside a bowl when you’re down on the field. Not the largest stadium ever built (it only held 50,000), but great home-field advantage and a great football city. Yes, the new stadium is just as good, perhaps even more so. Smart Steelers ownership knocked down the old stadium, expanded it by 25,000 seats, and ripped out the shit fake turf in favor to real natural grass. Smart. Anyway, Three Rivers Stadium was something special.
Also worth mentioning…..
Shea Stadium (New York) — NY Jets and NY Giants for one season. Redux on the New York sports teams thing, but hey The Beatles played two concerts here, the first-ever mass stadium rock shows. Shea was the home of the Jets for many years was visually spectacular. It looked like a tidal wave with those giant decks around the baselines and yet the outfield was completely open looking out onto….not the NYC skyline which might have been astounding….but nothing. I walked across the field at Shea Stadium and admit I had chills. And it wasn’t because of the wind. Visually spectacular. Seems like every Jets game there was played in swirling dust, which only added to the mystic.
Cotton Bowl (Dallas) — Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs former home. I’m biased, of course, but far too many great memories of Fair Park in East Dallas and those blue and white seats where I witnessed so many great football games — from the bowl games, to SMU home games, to the Texans (way before my time), to the Cowboys, to some great rock concerts. The Cowboys played at the Cotton Bowl in the 1960’s and it’s where I attended my first pro football game ever, the 1970 playoff game won by Dallas over Detroit by the most unusual football score — 5-0.
Wrigley Field (Chicago) — Chicago Bears home field for many years. I only walked around Wrigley Field once from the outside, but this place was truly amazing. It’s tiny. Takes up just one city block. Impossible to imagine the Bears played here for several seasons. Magical.
Memorial Stadium (Baltimore) — Baltimore Colts home stadium 1950’s-1985. Saw one Orioles game here way back in 1986, was amazed how great the seats were and how close one felt to the action. Very intimate setting on an old North Baltimore neighborhood.
San Diego Chargers Jack Murphy Stadium (San Diego) — Chargers’ home stadium from mid-1960’s through last season. Gorgeous location. Drove by many times, but never saw an actual game there.
Other (former) NFL stadiums I’ve visited that were (mostly) disappointing…..
Texas Stadium (Dallas) — Awful location, stupid design, way too corporate, hot as hell in the summer and freezing in the winter. Surrounded by highways.
Astrodome (Houston) — Domes are shit. Ahead of its time, but ushered in a terrible trend…fake grass and games played indoors. Football heresy.
Kingdome (Seattle) –– See above. Only saw it from the outside.
Anaheim Stadium (Los Angeles Rams) — Playing football inside a baseball stadium in suburbia…..everything that’s wrong with a stadium fits here. Drove by a few times while Angels were playing. Not impressed at all.
Candlestick Park (San Francisco) — Fascinating in a graveyard sense. I was awed by the location next to the bay, but once inside was shocked how bad this place appeared to be to watch a football game. Visited once during offseason when I snuck in, sometime around 1998. Stadium deserved to be renovated, not torn down. New 49ers stadium is horrific. Bring Candlestick back.
Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia) — Cookie cutter hellhole in a warehouse district. Horrible stadium and even worse fans. Besides, everybody in South Philly looks like Burt Young.
Giants Stadium (New Jersey) — Appalling location, no connection to the city, lack of mass transit, no hotels within walking distance, void of anything else that makes New York so interesting. Hideous sports arena that should never have been constructed on this location. Dumbest fake home field switch in history, changing the banners from Giants to Jets and back and forth, yet it was always called GIANTS Stadium. Attended on game here about 15 years ago, good tailgating though.
On to this week’s games: Now at the midway point of the regular season, I’m currently at 28 wins and 18 losses, which is about 61 percent winners. Read my comments about all of this week’s games below.
2017 NFL REGULAR SEASON RESULTS
STARTING BANKROLL: $10,000.
CURRENT BALANCE: $11,930. (+$1,930)
OVERALL W-L RECORD: 28 wins / 18 loses / 1 push
Week #1 — 3 wins, 4 losses = net -$250
Week #2 — 1 win, 0 losses = net +$350
Week #3 — 7 wins, 2 losses = net +$1,070
Week #4 — 1 win, 1 loss = net -$20
Week #5 — 7 wins, 3 losses = net +$740
Week #6 — 2 wins, 2 losses = net -$40
Week #7 — 3 wins, 4 losses, 1 push = net -$280
Week #8 — 4 wins, 2 losses = net +$360
My betting angle crashed and burned last week, with two shitty losers. For those still following the “bet on all winless teams after Week #5” angle (produced 60 percent winners over the past 30 years), this season the trend is now at 5 wins and 6 losses for a net loss of 1.6 units (with vig). It’s very tough to bet on either of the two winless garbage teams right now. Fortunately, only one of them plays this week (San Francisco) which really puts faith to the test. Cleveland has an undeserved bye.
I’m departing from my usual habits this week, instead of betting dogs, I’m taking a number of popular public favorites. This is highly unusual as I generally prefer to fade public opinion and popular trends. However, there are some very attractive bargain numbers available, and I am taking advantage, hoping and expecting a return-to-the-mean correction of favorites doing better in several mismatches.
Here are my thoughts and wagers on all the games this week. So, far, I’ve made 4 plays. I also have some strong leans in the later games:
Indianapolis at Houston
Lots of trends point to an OVER here, but nearly all are connected to these two teams when they had much better quarterbacking. This game features IND without QB Luck (out for the season) and HOU now having to dust off the dreadful QB Tom Savage, who was so bad in his season opener debut they yanked him at halftime. Now, Savage (who constantly disappointed at Pitt) gets called in off the bench again. His confidence must be in shreds. No way HOU puts the game in his hands. So, watch HOU run the ball 40-45 times in this game and chew up lots of clock. Prior to injury, HOU had become an OVER team with new star Deshaun Watson and I wouldn’t have bucked that trend if he was healthy and starting. But Savage taking snaps for HOU combined with IND scoring only about 20 PPG (despite playing some horrific defenses), tells me this game should fall under the posted total of 46.5. Note that total opened at 48. I caught a 47.5 and bet it right then. However, the late line is now 46.5 and could fall as low as 45.5 by game time. Reason number is high is the misleading trend, combined with a correct assessment of IND defense as perhaps the NFL’s worst unit. HOU defense also not the same with All-Pro Watt out for year. But still no way either team explodes for points in this game. So, let’s look for a sloppy 23-17 kind of game and get the money with a play on the UNDER.
Denver at Philadelphia
As a contrarian, I would normally be looking at DEN getting the points (+7 to+7.5 depending on where you shop). Trouble is, DEN seems like they should be getting closer to +9 here. DEN offense has completely collapsed the last five weeks, producing awful numbers. Lost at both QB and RB, DEN has now lost three straight games by double digits. Now, DEN goes on road for a second straight week to East Coast for an early start off a shortened week. DEN is not the type team that flips a switch and suddenly gets good. The head coach might not be up to caliber, the offensive coordinator is having issues, QB is about to be benched, and all the WR talent is being wasted. Meanwhile, PHI arguably the best team in the NFL right now. I might be wary of the home team letdown, but if that was going to occur it would have happened last week I think, versus soft SFO team off the short week. PHI at home three straight weeks, offense into perfect rhythm, defense improving, confidence at high. Hard to see how DEN comes into PHI with all their problems and upsets a team which looks to be getting better with each game. DEN winless on the road this season at 0-3 — losers by 10, 10, and 21. Now, they’re play AT NFL’s top team? I’m not laying more than a TD (just my rule). But I will gladly tease this down across the Wong numbers and lay the more than reasonable -1 (would also lay the -1.5). PHI should continue to roll here against an offense that can’t move the ball and could be on the verge of a major overhaul. Playing PHI as the hub on two TEASERS. LATE UPDATE: Brock Osweiler starting at QB for DEN, making his first start since last season when he stank things up in HOU. I see no reason to back off the wager based on this news.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Another play which is public in nature and anti-contrarian. NOR at home second straight week, which bodes well for preparedness. TB are losers of four straight, and playing a horrible string of games as this is the Bucs’ third road game in 4 weeks, (and they’re about to play 3 more road games out of 4 after this game). TB defense gave up lots of yards and points last few weeks, and a trip to New Orleans isn’t usually the spot for defensive improvements. They also lost their best corner to injury for this game. I really like NOR here since they played a subpar game last week at home (and know it). Big step down now facing TB soft defense. Teasing from -7 down to -1 with the hometown favorites seems the way to go.
Washington at Seattle
SEA is quietly coming together at just the right time, winning four straight after a sluggish start. A perfect 3-0 home mark this season, and now playing a second straight in SEA bodes well for team that gets to face a WASH team which is struggling badly. Biggest reason to bet against WASH this week is their injury situation, which is a disaster. WASH could be missing three offensive line starters. Also, playing a second straight road game in a very difficult place to win for opposing team mandates a play on the favorites getting teased from -7 down to -1. SEA offense looking better each week, while WASH defense looks to be getting worse — surrendering 29, 24, 34, and 33 points it’s last four games. I think I read Steve Fezzik say he predicts a SEA-NWE Super Bowl based on great organizations and their ability to overcome challenges. This got me to thinking how SEA is now under the radar while other teams are getting more love. Rare opportunity to get nice value with SEA at home. Combined with PHI, this looks to be the best teaser of the season.
Cincinnati at Jacksonville
Total at 38.5 seems low. Down from opener at 39.5. I realize JAX defense is showing vast improvement (4 opponents held to single digits this season). But this is a game where CIN may have to do something drastic to try and salvage the season. Practically a must win for them, so I look for the added aggressiveness to lead to points in a game with one of the lowest totals of the week.
THIS WEEK’S PLAYS:
Cincinnati / Jacksonville OVER 38.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)
Indianapolis /Houston UNDER 46.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)
Teaser: Philadelphia -1 / Seattle -1 (Risking $550 to win $500)
Teaser: Philadelphia -1 / New Orleans -1 (Risking $330 to win $300)
THOUGHTS ON OTHER GAMES:
LAR playing at NYG and line has moved from road team favored by -3.5 to -4.5. This would normally cause me to play the home dog. However, NYG might not be able to stop the LAR here, which struggle versus stronger teams but roll against overmatched opponents (coming off a 33-0 win two weeks ago — last week was a bye). Probably LAR were the play at -3.5. But I won’t lay that and certainly won’t face a one point line move across a key number (4).
CIN at JAX has me looking Bengals plus the points. Line all the way to up +6. JAX inconsistent, but plays as well as any team in the NFL when they are having an “on” week. This could be such a week so I will pass. I did bet the game over based on fading a small total move across a key number — 38.
ATL plays at CAR. Panthers just too darn hard to figure out to place a wager. ATL may be coming together….real test coming when they play games vs. NOR. But ATL offense still wobbly. These teams are both playoff contenders but are also loaded with problems. Line at ATL -2 gives us slight value to the home dog. But not enough for me to make a play. It’s CAR plus the points, or tease CAR here, or nothing. I’ll pass on this one.
I’ve made a vow to boycott betting on BALT games and I see no reason to break it this week where they are getting a FG at TENN. I might consider the Titans since line dropped dropped two points, but why roll dice on these two teams when there are better plays on the board? No action.
ARZ which is awful is playing SFO this week, which might be worse. I would continue with the BET THE WINLESS TEAMS ANGLE in this spot, but I didn’t like the QB trade (betting wise) as it disrupts the 49ers’ offense and make this impossible to predict. Probably SFO is the play if you have to wager, especially getting points at home versus a team that stinks. But way too many intangibles here to predict what will happen. Especially difficult to say how SFO offense will fare knowing that recent QB acquisition (Garoppolo) will NOT play this week, leaving the lame duck -non-confidence starter in the game to suck it up. The UNDER would be tempting, but total lined at just the wrong side of 40 (now 39) makes me pass. I love trash games, so I may actually watch this.
KC plays at DAL which looks to be the best game of the week for fans. For bettors, I don’t see much that compels me. Both teams coming off very strong performances. Wish I could get KC plus a FG, but lined at +2 to +2.5, that is not enough to pull the trigger. Total looks a bit high at 53, so UNDER could be worth a look.
OAK is likely the play at MIA but now line is up to a FG for the road faves. Not sure OAK deserves this kind of respect with the season they are having. Plus, MIA defense has played stellar aside from the Thurs blowout at BAL. Otherwise, MIA defense merits some respect. Cutler at QB again this week for MIA is a gift for the opponent. Could be a tempting UNDER at 45. Will make a gametime decision, but a pass for now.
DET at GB….what an interesting matchup, especially since DET is in the rare spot of being favored on the road in a place they have played poorly for decades. GB is beyond a mess at the moment. Not just the QB position, the Packers defense has gone on hiatus. DET would be the obvious play here, but they struggled so badly in the red zone last week at home (five trips inside the 10-yard line and NO TDs!) this causes me to lay off the game. Also, I just don’t like laying points on the road in divisional matchups — often a losing proposition. Another UNDER worth considering, given how solid DET pass defense is playing right now combined with GB’s total inability to produce points with the inexperience garbage starter. Another game-time decision, and a sure bet if this total moved from 43.5 to 44 (already moved a half point).
Good luck to all.
NOTE: Check back for updates and possible added plays.