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Holding Celebrities Accountable

Posted by on Nov 8, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Movie Reviews, Politics | 2 comments

 

 

I went to a movie last night.  During the previews, the trailer for “All the Money in the World” came on.  To be released soon, the Ridley Scott-directed film tells the true story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty’s grandson by terrorists during the 1970s.  At the time, John Paul Getty was the world’s richest man.  Still, he stubbornly refused to pay a ransom.

Sounds intriguing, no?

There’s just one problem.

John Paul Getty is played by Kevin Spacey.

The recent allegations against Spacey of multiple sexual and perhaps criminal misdeeds are shocking.  One of Hollywood’s most respected actors, he’s become the latest miscreant in what appears to be a mass epidemic of abuse — of sex and power.  Spacey, his reputation in shreds, is toxic — at least for the time being.  He joins the moral septic tank which includes Roman Polanski, Mel Gibson, Harvey Weinstein, and other movie moguls tainted by scandal.

Just as the movie trailer concluded, I leaned over and whispered to my wife, “Well Spacey killed that movie’s chances of success.”

Think about it.  What an awkward situation for multi-million dollar film production.  Writers, producers, investors, executives, film crews, advertising departments, other movie actors — hundreds and perhaps thousands of people worked hard on that film.  They’re likely to suffer because now many people won’t go and see a Kevin Spacey film.

To be clear, Spacey was cast and the film wrapped-up production way before any of the terrible allegations came out.  Had there been prior knowledge beyond just the rumors and whispers, probably someone else would have been cast as John Paul Getty.  But hey, what’s done is done.

[NOTE:  READ UPDATE BELOW]

I wonder to what extent we should hold celebrities accountable for their misconduct.  When we make a decision to boycott someone’s film, are we really punishing them?  Or, is the collateral damage to innocents far worse?  Is boycotting a movie based solely on a performer in it really fair?

For decades, many Americans boycotted Jane Fonda’s movies because she was among the most outspoken voices of the Vietnam anti-war movement.  For millions of good people who loved movies (and probably adored her father — actor Henry Fonda), Jane crossed a serious line when she visited North Vietnam and appeared to delight in mocking the shooting down of American aircraft.

The anti-Jane Fonda boycott didn’t hurt her career.  She went on to create a stellar body of film work, including several Oscar-caliber performances.  While she later apologized for her actions in 1972, specifically to the veterans she outraged, Fonda remains stigmatized by her actions, some deemed as treasonous.  Perhaps rightly so.

I’m pretty dogmatic about standing up for my views.  But I also have trouble boycotting movies based on politics.  Before he became the frontman for the National Rifle Association, Charlton Heston was a proud liberal.  He marched in civil rights parades during the early 1960s when it wasn’t a cool thing to do.  Later on, Heston became an arch-conservative.

None of Heston’s political views bothered me when I watch (and inevitably re-watch) him playing Moses in “The Ten Commandments” or the slave in “Ben Hur,” or the astronaut in “Planet of the Apes.”  I don’t see a conservative or a liberal.  Instead, I see a master performer who was perfectly cast in many film roles who left us with an astounding catalog of entertainment.

To be clear, there are many performers I have absolutely no interest in seeing in any movie (Adam Sandler, Jennifer Lopez, Casey Affleck — all make my short list).  But it’s not because I oppose their politics or think they’ve done bad things in their lives.  I just think they suck.

Mel Gibson probably committed the gravest sin in Hollywood, which is to be anti-Semitic.  Gibson’s repeated drunken outbursts during which he defamed Jews pretty much destroyed his bankability as a beloved movie star.  Or……….perhaps not.  His controversial 2004 film, “Passion of the Christ,” released well after allegations against Gibson began to surface, has earned $430 million (most of the profits going directly to Gibson since he was the primary investor).  It remains one of the best-selling DVD releases more than a decade after coming out.  Apparently, Christian audiences were perfectly willing to forgive an overt anti-Semite.

No doubt, Harvey Weinstein was (and is) a pig.  He’s a disgraceful man who badly abused his power and probably deserves to be behind bars eating pork and beans the rest of his life.  Weinstein should never again be in a position of power over anyone in the movie business.  That’s putting it mildly.

That said, Weinstein (and specifically his former production company — Miramax) has consistently released the most critically-acclaimed movies over the past 15 years.  Many Miramax films have been quite progressive in pushing the boundaries of conventional taste.  When it was still considered risky to make movies about the Black experience in America or delve into uncomfortable (for many) topics like homosexuality, Miramax hasn’t just been an opportunistic conglomerate intent to exploit these outlier subjects.  It’s been a cultural beacon.

Sadly, Weinstein’s fall from Hollywood grace now brings the viability of making smarter and riskier movies into a perilous future.  It’s far less risky for studios to redux cartoon characters for the umpteenth time or make movies about spaceships rather than to greenlight a World War II movie about a British codebreaker who happened to be gay.  In the end, Weinstein’s victims won’t just be all the women he molested.  It will be the rest of us for missing out on what could have been.

I do find it odd that we allow certain celebrity sub-cultures to get away with gross offenses which would otherwise destroy the careers of people in other fields.  Rock stars (rappers, etc.) are almost expected to engage in scandalous behavior.  Groupies.  Destroying hotel rooms.  Drugs.  Drunkenness.  But when’s the last time a musician was charged with having sex with a minor?  Are we to conclude that pop musicians are better behaved than actors?

Even non-celebrity cases of sexual misconduct are often fraught with outlandish hypocrisy.  Teachers abusing students is a crime and should be.  When an older male teacher sexually assaults a younger female student, he’s considered a pervert.  When an older (usually good-looking) female teacher sexually assaults a younger male student, we make jokes that the kid’s lucky.

Morality isn’t so much a line, but a matrix.

 

UPDATE:  All of Kevin Spacey’s scenes will be re-shot.  The movie release of “All the Money in the World” was pushed back to a December 22nd release date.  READ MORE HERE

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Another Discussion Worth Having: Animal Rights and Stopping Abusers

Posted by on Nov 7, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 0 comments

 

 

The tragic killings in Central Texas this past weekend have sparked yet another round of tireless debates about gun laws and mental health issues.

While these are debates worth having, they don’t fully address a national epidemic worsened by the distorted scales of criminal justice in America when it comes to animal cruelty.  Turns out, abusing animals (often family pets) is among the most troubling indications of serious trouble to come later in life.  And — we don’t take this issue nearly as seriously as we should.

The deranged Texas gunman wasn’t just a military reject, a mental patient, and wife beater.  He was also a viciously cruel man who was charged with animal abuse.  In 2014, the mass murderer was cited for animal cruelty after neighbors told police he viciously punched his dog outside his trailer home in El Paso.  Court records show the case was dismissed after he paid a small fine.

A small fine.

So punching a defenseless animal in the face so brutally that witnesses living in a trailer park felt compelled to call the local police gets taken about as seriously as a parking citation.

Most animal abusers aren’t caught.  Most aren’t charged with criminal offenses.  The vast majority of animal abuse goes unreported.  And most people who abuse animals don’t do it just one time.  They are habitual offenders, mindlessly cruel sadists who do awful things to animals for some sick perverted satisfaction, even joy.

There’s a terribly disturbing pattern linking animal abuse in childhood (and sometimes later on, even as adults) to the monstrous acts they commit which brings them into the public consciousness.  Consider the most high-profile killers in history, most of whom have tortured animals, and then gone on to commit viciously wicked crimes:

  1. Albert DeSalvo, a.k.a. “The Boston Stranger” murdered 13 women.  As a child, he trapped dogs and cats in boxes and would then shoot arrows at them.
  2. David Berkowitz, a.k.a. “Son of Sam” murdered at least six people.  Before he began his mass killing spree, he shot his neighbor’s dog.
  3. Brenda Spencer shot a gun into a crowd of children.  Eleven were hit by bullets and two died.  During her childhood, Spencer liked to light the tails of stray cats and dogs on fire.  Not as many women commit these horrendous acts.  Most childhood animal abusers tend to be men.
  4. Jeffrey Dahmer was a sexual sadist who murdered 17 young men.  As a kid, his hobby was to kill neighbor’s pets.  He even impaled a dog’s head on a stick, which he proudly displayed.
  5. Ted Bundy killed 40 people.  He learned cruelty early in life, often watching as his father tortured small animals.  As a teenager, Bundy later did the same acts to animals, and eventually people as an adult.
  6. Edmund Emil Kemper murdered eight women (including his mother) during the 1970s.  As a child, he found cats around the neighborhood, killed them, and then displayed their heads on poles.  He even killed his own cat and sliced it into pieces.
  7. Andrew Cunanan murdered five people, including fashion icon Gianni Versace.  As a kid, he often went to beaches and tortured crabs by gouging out their eyes.
  8. Lee Boyd Malvo was the impressionable teenager in a duo of snipers who terrorized the Washington, DC area during the early 2000s.  As a child, he used to torture small animals.
  9. Dennis Rader, who would become the infamous “BTK Killer,” discovered a grotesque thrill as a kid when started binding, torturing, and killing animals.  He cruelly experimented on several types of animals, even going so far as to prolong their lives during torture sessions so they would experience more pain.
  10. Now, add the name Devin Kelly to this list, who murdered 26 people on Sunday.

It’s excruciating for me to point out this short list is by no means complete, nor is it comprehensive.  Indeed, there are innumerable cases — thousands, hundreds of thousands — of kids who torture animals who later go on to commit even worse crimes as adults when empowered with greater means and opportunity to inflict more pain and destruction upon innocents.

So, what is to be done?  And, how do we stop this?

I don’t have all the answers, but this is a question we should be asking.  While gun debates and how we administer mental health treatment is a vital issue right now, so to must be animal rights and mindless cruelty.

A good start might be each of us taking an interest in what we observe.  Neighborhood kids throwing rocks at ducks might not seem like such a big deal.  Chasing defenseless animals seems innocent enough.  Shooting a pellet gun at birds isn’t illegal.  But engaging in these inexplicable childish acts not only exhibits a complete lack of empathy for other creatures.  These common acts of adolescent violence often become an early foundation for horrors to come later.  They are an affirmation that is okay to amuse oneself at the expense of animals.  It’s fucking sick.

We need more teaching.  We need more respect for animals and the environment.  We need to instill goodness in the hearts and minds of children.  We need more counseling.  We need greater access to mental health professionals.  We need more severe punishment for those who harm animals.

Not small fines.

It’s time to take animal cruelty much more seriously.  Too often, it’s the secret and silent beast within which incubates for years and later mutates into mass murder.

 

READ MORE:  DO MASS KILLERS START OUT BY HARMING PETS? [PSYCHOLOGY TODAY]

 

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NFL Week #9 Picks

Posted by on Nov 5, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

 

 

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.

[READ MORE:  Rest in Pieces — 50 Demolished Sports Stadiums We Love]

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.

 

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NFL Week #8 Picks

Posted by on Oct 29, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

 

 

Approaching midway point of the regular season, I’m currently at 24-16, which is 60 percent winners.  Read my comments about all of this week’s games below.

 

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

2017 NFL REGULAR SEASON RESULTS

STARTING BANKROLL:  $10,000.

CURRENT BALANCE:  $11,570.

OVERALL W-L RECORD:  24 wins / 15 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

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

For those who are still following the “bet on all winless teams after Week #5” angle (60 percent winners over the past 30 years), the two winless teams split against the spread last week — going 1-1.  That brings the overall season record to 5 wins and 4 losses.  Two teams remain winless at the moment — Cleveland and San Francisco.  Both are getting a generous number of points — perhaps too generous.  So, I will continue to ride this angle with my faith and money in Week #8.

Here are my wagers and thoughts on all the games this week.  So, far, I’ve made 6 plays:

 

Minnesota / Cleveland (at London)

CLE has been horrid as a straight up wager but did manage to play a close game last week, losing in overtime to TEN but getting the easy cover.  This week’s matchup looks even better for CLE, given the opponent may be just a bit overrated.  CLE defense playing well enough to win just about every week.  3 of 4 home games this season have been 3-point losses.  Now, CLE inexplicably gets a whopping 10 points (technically a home game, but they’re playing in London), which is way too much.  MIN appears to be the perfect fat and happy non-conference foe coming in after two big home wins.  This is only the third road game of the season for MIN, which got clobbered earlier at PIT and won a sloppy game by a FG at CHI.  Even with CLE’s woeful offensive problems, CLE should not be getting this many points.  Yes, CLE QB Kizer is horrible and has no business suiting up in the NFL  Betting on Kizer is kinda’ like having sex with the ugly girl, where midway through you’re asking yourself, “my god, what am I doing?”  But hey, since we’re here….  I’m counting on MIN to struggle on the highway here after two huge wins and look for the game to fall within double digits.  Due to travel and time difference, these London games sometimes play way out of form (recall Jaguars destroying Baltimore by 30).  Combine all these intangibles with the contrarian angle of betting on winless teams, we have enough incentive to play CLE +10.

Wager: 

Game:  Cleveland +10 (Risking $220 to win $200)

 

Chicago at New Orleans

Anyone who drinks the kool-aid on either of these two”surprise” teams deserves to get poisoned.  CHI has gotten every imaginable break the last two weeks (both upset wins).  CHI offense still stinks.  Rookie QB is dismal (he completed just 3 passes last week).  CHI running game has shown occasional flashes but remains way too inconsistent to back against a high-powered offense.  If CHI falls behind, how are they going to play catch up with such a weak passing attack?  I think CHI is in trouble big time this week, drawing the worst possible opponent.  NOR has won four straight but what’s been most impressive if they’re not relying entirely upon QB Brees.  NOR combination of a running game and a defense playing much better gives them a decisive advantage in this contest.  I give lots of credit to CHI defense in shutting down BAL (which was down to three WRs two weeks ago) and CAR (which outgained the Bears 2-1), but that charade stops here in a game where the home Saints should roll.  I’m not laying -8.5, but do like NOR on the inside edge of the Wong Teaser, reduced to a very marginal -2.5.  Playing the hot Saints here to stomp a bad QB who will find the Superdome a much tougher place to win.

Wagers: 

Teaser:  New Orleans -2.5 with NY Jets +10.5  (Risking $220 to win $200)

Teaser:  New Orleans -2.5 with Kansas City -1 (Risking $220 to win $200)

Teaser:  New Orleans -2.5 with Carolina +8 (risking $200 to win $200)

 

Atlanta at NY Jets

What’s become obvious is, OC Kyle Shannahan’s departure to accept the SFO job has left a huge void in ATL’s offensive consistency.  This was previously one of the NFL’s best offenses, which has since been reduced to mediocrity.  ATL has now lost three straight games (two average teams), scoring no more than 17 points in any game played the last month.  This spells big trouble for a struggling team now headed back on the road and laying close to a touchdown as a road favorite.  NYJ have certainly climbed back into the ranks of respectability — losing close games the previous two weeks.  They’re headed in the right direction with a good enough defense to keep ATL in check.  ATL defense is first-rate and the reason this line is higher than some might expect.  But NYJ have been fighters in 6 of 7 games this season.  This looks to be a close game that will go down the wire, so getting +6.5 is a gift.

Wager:  NY Jets +6.5 (risking $220 to win $200)

Note:  Also teasing NY Jets up to +10.5 with New Orleans

 

San Francisco at Philadelphia

SFO at 0-7 looked horrendous last week, while PHL at 6-1 currently looks like the NFL’s best team.  That’s what makes this a -13 point spread.  I’m betting the huge dog because of the angle on winless teams.  However, there is even more to the puzzle for contrarians.  PHL coming off a huge home win against division rival and with a short prep week gets to face the NFC’s worst team.  However, SFO remains 5-2 against the spread and comes off their worst game of the season.  So, we should expect a better effort this time.  PHL lost it’s best OL for the season last week, which helps SFO defense.  Everyone expects an easy PHL win here, but in a season that’s been filled with surprises and a nice record by the underdogs, this appears to be one of the more attractive wagers on the board.  Looks to be a 7- or 10- point win for the home Eagles.

Wager:

San Francisco +13 (Risking $220 to win $200)

 

THOUGHTS ON OTHER GAMES:

I want nothing to do the SDI at NWE game, which is lined perfectly and looks like a coin flip with the home cheats laying -7.  SDI (or should I say the “Carson Chargers?”) are the NFL’s best sleeper team at the moment (playing good football and staying way under the radar).  But unless they’re getting +7.5 in this spot I’m likely to pass on this matchup because anytime you bet against Patriots you are risking getting disemboweled either by Tom Brady or the referees — usually both.  Thing is, NWE defense looking much better in recent weeks after first month of stank humiliation.  NWE also at home the second straight week versus what could be another soft Charmin team.  It’s all up to QB Rivers here as far as which team covers the number.  If he plays a good game (50 percent chance), then SDI probably gets the money and could upset.  If Rivers plays like shit (50 percent chance), which he does every so often in big games like this, then NWE could wipe out the Chargers by 30 and the refs won’t be needed.  So, no play for me.

CAR at TB looks to be quite intriguing, assuming you get off watching woefully inconsistent QB play and have some fetish for overflowing toilets.  Either starter (Newton on Winston) could toss 4 TDs or lose the game single-handedly with a stupid mistake.  CAR was utter fucking shit last week losing at CHI despite DOMINATING that game out the ass.  But to their credit, CAR defense did play well and the team remains at 4-3.  On the other side, TB are now losers of three straight, yet they are favored this week?  I don’t see much of an edge either way here (gun to head, I’m taking the Panthers), but the teaser on CAR getting +8 does appear too tempting to pass up.  So, that’s the only play I’m making on this game.

CIN is laying -10.5 which is sorta’ like gifting points to Rick Perry in an IQ contest.  CIN should roll against the NFL’s worst defense this week.  Indianapolis is shake-your-head disgusting putrid, and I’m not just talking about the city, I mean the team.  I really do think IND is worse than CLE, which is kinda’ like saying Donald Trump is a worse president than Ulysses S. Grant.

BUF is probably the right side so long at this game against OAK stays within -3.  Line is now -2.5.  OAK plagued by confidence cobwebs and seem to have forgotten how to win since QB Carr’s Week # 3 injury.  Sure, he’s back in the starter role now, but something stinks in Oakland and it’s not just the shitty airport.  Huge game for both teams.  If forced to bet, I’d lay the -2.5 with BUF but if line was +3 then I’d probably take OAK instead.  When you can’t make up your mind like that, the only conclusion that can be drawn is this is a game to skip.

HOU at SEA looks to be one of the best games of the week.  Afraid to bet a rookie QB on the road at SEA.  Otherwise this would be a solid play in HOU which is getting +7 in a few places (+6.5 is still the prevailing number).  SEA gives up rushing yardage, which can only help HOU chances.  HOU probably a more solid teaser pick at +13 if you want action on this game.  Another factor that keeps me off the game is the possible distraction of idiot owner’s comments earlier this week, which could be disruptive to Texans.

I used to go to all the DAL-WAS games in the 1970s (in DAL) and in the 2000’s (in WAS), so this rivalry has always been a personal treat.  But it’s also tricky.  I don’t like DAL playing second straight on the road here, and WAS comes off a game they could have won, except PHL QB Wentz decided to turn into Superman for 3 hours.  Really intriguing matchup that should have a playoff atmosphere.  DAL doesn’t deserve to be favored on road, but lined at -1.5 the points are not significant enough for me to make a wager.  OVER worth a strong look if you can still find a 47.  But total now at 48 which makes me pass.

SNF:  I’d rather vote Republican than lay points with the inconsistent Steelers on the road, which somehow managed to beat KC outright, but they stunk at CLE and CHI.  DET has a solid pass defense and could shut down PIT.  DET at 3-3 and playing for what could be a division title with GB now on the rocks, is probably the right side getting +3.  If I have a horrible day and need a bailout special, the Lions will likely get my money as a late “say a prayer so I don’t have to pay the man” game.

MNF:  I bet KC on a teaser from -7 down to -1 because DEN has been exposed as a total fraud with that garbage QB.  16-16-10-0 are Broncos’ offensive scores last four games.  Now, they have to play at KC, one of the best defenses in the league.  I won’t lay anything more than a TD because KC doesn’t usually win via blowouts. So, the teaser is the better option.

Oh and if you haven’t bet it yet, I like Baltimore in the Thursday night game against Miami.  Bet your house on the Ravens at any number -39 or less.

Good luck to all.

 

NOTE:  Check back for updates and possible added plays.

 

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When Terms of Endearment Get Politically Incorrect

Posted by on Oct 24, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Politics | 4 comments

 

 

A recent Facebook discussion sparked curiosity and heightened my awareness about the ways we commonly address each other in public.

My discovery came as a surprise.  The lesson I learned was this:  I’m guilty of making spurious assumptions about what’s acceptable in the ways I address other people.

This self-reflection began yesterday when Terrell Johnson, a Facebook friend, posted the following message:

 

 

I thought about this post for a while.  I admit being guilty of the act described by Mr. Johnson as “dumb weird.”  Yes, I’ve called Black males “brother” plenty of times, even when I didn’t know them and I wasn’t entitled to that instant salutation of familiarity.  Of course, I didn’t mean anything harmful by it.  But, the salutation remains indomitably tinged with presumptions based on race.

“Hey, brother — how’s it going?”

Sounds innocent, enough.  But I’d probably never say it to a White guy.  Only a Black man.  That makes it racial — and inappropriate.

“Man” is another common term that’s been around for decades.  “Man” has been spoken across racial lines for as long as I’ve been alive.  Before 1960’s counterculture co-opted “man” as common slang between rockers and hippies, the term was deeply rooted in Black male self-empowerment.  It was even a quiet means of protest.  Indeed, “man” was the typical greeting Black jazz musicians often used to address each other during the Klan-clawed 1920’s when most of America was undergoing an ugly resurgence of bigotry and mass discrimination.  In many places, Black men, including old Black men who deserved respect were instead still called “boy” — often straight to their faces.  Millions of Black men were forced to stand there and swallow the degradation because to do otherwise would have been life-threatening.  And so, “man” became a small yet significant means of defiance against this cultural belittlement.

“Hey, man.”

I still use “man” quite frequently.  It’s just a common figure of speech for those who came of age during a certain era.  You might say it’s part of our linguistic DNA.  I see no reason to stop using “man,” because no one is offended and there are no racial connotations to its usage.

Meanwhile, younger people have created their own expressive lingo, using common salutations like “dude.”  Call it a “get off my lawn” seizure, but I don’t like this one bit.  Hey, man —  I’m not a “dude.”  No one calls me “dude.”  If I offended easily, I’d take issue if someone whom I did not know addressed me in that way, unless, of course, I was somehow cast in the movie remake of “The Big Lebowski.”  Then, calling me “dude” would be okay and besides I’d be collecting a fat paycheck for my willingness to lower myself to the depths of thinking of myself as a “dude.”

Whew.  I feel much better now.

Salutations between the sexes are equally as sensitive these days, and perhaps even more so given the alarming rise in reports of sexual harassment that have been in the news.  Most of these misunderstandings about everyday interaction can be solved by a healthy dose of common sense.  But I must also admit not knowing exactly where to draw some lines.

Though I was born and grew up mostly in the South, I’ve never fallen prone to its regional colloquialisms, particularly when it comes of informality.  For instance, “honey” is a term I’ve never used when addressing females.  I think it’s wrong, or perhaps it just doesn’t fit my manner of speaking.

Nonetheless, “honey” remains a very common expression in many areas of the country to this day.  It’s so common that most people probably don’t even consider it offensive.  Then again, I’ve never seen any actual studies on this — so, who knows?  Perhaps waitresses who get called “honey” all the time by their customers are quietly boiling deep down inside.  I don’t know.  Hence, it’s better not to use it at all is my policy.

About ten years ago, I started using “darling” a lot when addressing females — mostly when around co-workers, waitresses, and so forth.  Many people probably think of it as another way of saying “honey.”  I picked up this cutesy means of expression from the late writer Christopher Hitchens, who used it all the time and sounded downright suave and gentlemanly, which was quite endearing.  Then again, perhaps the English accent combined with his masterful use of prose that made “darling” acceptable within elite circles.  I’m not nearly so talented nor as lucky.  In my circles, “darling” probably raises some eyebrows.  And so, barring the occasional slip up from now on based purely on a bad habit, I won’t be using it any longer.

While I’m perfectly willing to alter (and even cease) my use of language based on changing times and cultural sensibilities, my best guess is that others will not be nearly so flexible.  Most people are deeply rooted in their ways of speaking and behaving and thinking.  They are utterly unaware, and if made aware by chance, they usually don’t care if others take offense to words and phrases they’ve considered “normal” all their lives.

Of course, playing the common sense card — we should probably be willing to forgive and dismiss the typical mutterings of the very aged, to which the rules of political correctness will never apply.  Old people who call someone “honey” might as well be speaking a different language from another time.  Occasionally, I still hear some old people refer to Blacks as “Negroes.”

C’est la vie.  I mean, what can you say?

I think the common bond on what’s truly offensive — be it everyday language or much worse, actions which lead to overt racism and/or sexual harassment — is very much rooted in the subservient role of the victim.  An older woman waiting tables who addresses me as “honey” is entitled to that latitude whereas I should not be able to get away with it.  After all, if I don’t like being called “honey,” I can get up and leave.  If she doesn’t like being called “honey,” well then, tough shit.  She pretty much has to suck it up and take it — because that’s her job.

By the way, it’s okay to call me “honey.”

When it comes to common expressions we use, what’s normal is no excuse.  Tradition is no justification.  At one time in America, the denigration of women and minorities was quite normal, acceptable and even encouraged within power circles.  It was a tradition.  Then, we gradually realized how hurtful the small things were and how those seemingly insignificant details buttressed a faux fever of racial, cultural, and gender superiority.  Changes in the way we address each other are gradual and slow, but they are certain, and that’s a good thing.

In short, just because you’ve been doing something the same way all your life, doesn’t make it right.  Just because it’s an old habit that’s comfortable to you, doesn’t make it right.  Just because you don’t think you’re not offending anybody, doesn’t make it right.

Times change.

We must also change with them.

 

Note:  Thanks to Terrell Johnson for sparking the idea for this column on Facebook.

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NFL Week #7 Picks

Posted by on Oct 21, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 4 comments

 

 

Which NFL team has the best fans?

Great fan bases support their team no matter how they fare on the field.  They show up — win or lose.  The teams with the best fans always sell out their games.  The fans always pack the stadium from start to finish — rain or snow or shine.  Great fans produce energy in the home stadium.  The teams with the best fans are deeply embedded into the local community.  By contrast, the worst fans produce little or no loyalty and support.

According to this definition, here’s my list of the TOP TEN and BOTTOM FIVE fan bases:

 

TOP TEN (best at top):

  1. Green Bay Packers — rabid fan base for 60 years, tiny market size, uncomfortable old-fashioned bench-style seats, lousy weather–yet always a home sell-out and a celebration of football
  2. Cleveland Browns — horrible franchise, hopeless team–yet still beloved and supported….lovable losers–the proverbial Chicago Cubs of football.  Imagine how much more fans would love the Browns if they were winners.
  3. Buffalo Bills — like Browns, not much to cheer about in last 20 years, but great local support for every home game….stadium traffic is worst I’ve ever experienced
  4. New Orleans Saints — when Saints play at home, entire city tailgates.  Despite small market, fans 80,000 fans packed Tulane Stadium and Superdome even when team was awful
  5. Kansas City Chiefs — Hasn’t appeared in Super Bowl in 47 years, but sells out every seat for 5 decades–one of loudest NFL stadiums
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers — Might rank higher since like Saints this is a smaller market that consistently packs a large stadium, often in bad weather.  Great history and tradition 
  7. Denver Broncos — since 1970’s one of best home-field advantages in the league–great fan support despite highest ticket price in the NFL (average ticket–$300)
  8. New York Jets — No Super Bowl appearances in 48 years, but rabid fan base still shows up every game even though the Jets have often fielded the league’s worst teams
  9. Seattle Seahawks — loud fanatical fans–indisputably the best home-field advantage in the NFL.  Winning helps fill seats
  10. Tie:  Philadelphia Eagles/Minnesota Vikings — Neither team has ever won a Super Bowl, but all their games sell out and the fans show up no matter how bad the weather

Amending Top 10 :  Replace Seattle Seahawks with Washington Redskins

 

BOTTOM FIVE (worst at top):

  1. “Los Angeles” Chargers — this “worst” fans pick isn’t even close.  The Chargers are an NFL orphan, a team without a home.  San Diego fans screwed by owner Spanos, who went for the money grab to the north.  No one in L.A. cares. 
  2. San Francisco 49ers — Moving out of old Candlestick was obscene.  New stadium is hours’ drive away from city center, and horrible design broils the fans in upper deck.  Now that team is losing, they can’t sell seats.  An embarrassment given the 49ers former glory
  3. Los Angeles Rams — Average ticket price among the NFL’s lowest and despite a fun, winning team to watch now, they still can’t attract fans.  USC draws twice as many fans in the same stadium–that’s humiliating. 
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars — Jaguars have been a bad team for a very long time, but then so have the Browns, Jets, Bills, etc. and yet those teams sell out every game.  Low ticket price, seats always available, and no one cares.  This franchise should be moved to Toronto
  5. Atlanta Falcons — Despite strong ownership, a sparkling new stadium, and fielding an exciting team that almost won last year’s Super Bowl, early season games have lots of empty seats, late-arriving disinterested fans, and minimal home-field advantage

 

Agree?  Disagree?  Who belongs on the list that I missed?  Which teams and fans would you leave off?

 

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

2017 NFL REGULAR SEASON RESULTS

STARTING BANKROLL:  $10,000.

CURRENT BALANCE:  $11,850.

OVERALL W-L RECORD:  21 wins / 12 loses

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

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

This is the third straight week, I’m touting the angle to bet on all the winless teams (after Week #5).  The angle has produced about 60 percent winners dating back nearly 30 seasons.  In Week #5, the angle produced 2 wins and 2 losses, although one of the games (SD at NYG) pitted two winless teams against each other.  Last week, the angle went 2-1, as both SFO and NYG covered.  CLE did not.  Heading into Week #7, this leaves two remaining winless teams — CLE and SFO.

Here are my wagers and thoughts on all the games this week.  So, far, I’ve made 8 plays:

 

Dallas at San Francisco

SFO plays tough every week.  Only blowout loss was to LAR four weeks ago.  Despite 0-6 straight up record, SFO is a stellar 5-1 against the spread, including three straight covers on the road.  Now, back at home against perpetually overrated DAL getting +6 (line opened at +4.5 but moved upon news that RB Elliott will start) this looks like a solid play.  For bettors, it’s SFO here or nothing else (DAL, the ultimate square play — RUN if you see any handicapper touting the Cowboys).  A victory here gives SFO considerable confidence team is headed in the right direction.  I think there’s enough talent here to keep the game close and perhaps pull off the upset of the day.  By the way, here’s a really cool 12-minute clip of the greatest moments in the storied DAL-SFO rivalry:

Wagers: 

Game:  San Francisco +6 (Risking $220 to win $200)

First Half:  San Francisco +3.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)

 

Tennesee at Cleveland

Tough to bet CLE, which has shown no signs of improvement since a few close losses to open the season.  CLE does return to QB Kizer after getting yanked last week, which could spur a better performance (can things get any worse for Browns?).  If there’s any game where CLE should be motivated, it’s this week playing back at home with their top draft choice starting versus a wildly inconsistent opponent that’s has been shredded defensively.  TEN will run the ball heavily, but one of few bright spots thus far in this otherwise dismal season has been CLE run defense.  TEN also gets the short prep week after a big MNF win.  INDY led much of that game fielding a team much like CLE with weak talent, which leads me to believe CLE should keep this within the touchdown margin.  Overreaction here to QB Mariota’s strong performance and a final score last week that was a bit misleading.  Combined with the “bet the winless teams” angle, CLE is a compelling play.  TEN is clearly a square wager to be avoided.  Moreover, the total at 46 seems like a ridiculous number of points given TEN likely to run the ball and CLE incapable of much scoring.  Betting the UNDER, as well.

Wagers: 

Total:  Cleveland/Tennessee UNDER 46 (Risking $220 to win $200)

Game:  Cleveland +6 (Risking $220 to win $200) 

First Half:  Cleveland +3 (Risking $220 to win $200)

 

Carolina at Chicago

I’m allergic to laying points on the road.  It makes me sick.  But I’ll swallow my disgust here and lay the points with CAR on the road.  Major reason for this is — both teams should retort back to their usual ways after major aberrations last week.  CAR got humiliated by PHIL and since then gets ten days to prepare for an inferior opponent that should be handled with ease.  Meanwhile, CHI’s road win at BALT was somewhat misleading.  Three critical BALT turnovers killed the Ravens, and CHI’s offensive yards came on a few breakaways.  Give Bears credit for good defensive effort last week (BALT leading WR was out) and massive props for the rushing attack.  But that’s likely to end here against a superior and highly motivated opponent.  CHI shows signs of being much better and in time they will be, but young teams like this have a way of zig-zagging and this looks to be the week they zag (or zig, which is it?).  On a personal note — this play is largely a fade of rookie QB Trubisky to get a second consecutive win….I don’t like what I’ve seen, so far.  Looking for Newton to vastly outplay his counterpart.

Wager:

Carolina -3 (Risking $220 to win $200)

 

Arizona / Los Angeles Rams at London

I’m looking for steadily improving LAR to feast on a weak ARZ offensive line and force aging QB Palmer to win through the air.  Love DC Wade Phillips to game plan the hell out of ARZ and make it impossible for the Cardinals to keep up in scoring with the league’s top scoring offense (that’s right, the Rams lead the NFL in scoring).   ARZ has been horrid on the road this season and coming off their best showing of the year last week, no expectation here that ARZ keeps the momentum going versus a defense that has something to prove and an offense that’s becoming one of the NFC’s best.  Last LAR division game was a bitter loss to rival SEA, so I look for a better effort here against a downgraded opponent coming off a big win.

Wager:  LA Rams -3 (risking $220 to win $200)

 

MNF:  Washington at Philadelphia

Should be a wildly entertaining game.  I made this game line -3, but it’s -4.5 instead (and -5 at a few offshores).  PHL getting lots of breaks with turnovers and penalties, and although this team may end up winning the NFC East, I don’t like them laying this many points to an opponent with a QB who’s enjoying his best season (statistically) as a pro.  QB Cousins looks to be solidly in control an offense that can keep up with anybody.  Game here means a bit more to WAS which probably must win or else they fall into the wild card hunt (win by PHL gives them a 2-game lead).  Looks to be a 3- 4-point game either way.  So, I’m playing the dog and hoping it barks and bites.

Wager:  Washington +4.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)

 

THOUGHTS ON OTHER GAMES:

JAX worth a look playing at INDY off the Colts’ short week.  But JAX so inconsistent it’s hard to predict which team will show up.  Thinking JAX will light up a weak INDY defense that hasn’t exactly faced the NFL’s best QBs, so the OVER 43.5 is the most tempting play in this game.  OVER will be especially attractive if JAX jumps to an early lead and INDY has to abandon the run.

CIN very tempting getting generous +6 versus PIT team that finally got things together defensively last week.  Yet, PIT still struggling on offense.  CIN a eal darkhorse in this game, after playing three bad games has steadily improved and is very much back in the hunt.  Only reason I don’t pull trigger with CIN is some serious concerns about OL.  If QB Dalton gets pressured, CIN has no shot in this game.  He must get protection, otherwise PIT could roll.  For this reason, probably a game to avoid.

BAL is shit.  Wildly inconsistent frauds.  Not sure what would ever compel me to bet on the Ravens again after getting gutted last week by yet another BAL shit the bead performance and mental fuckshow (yeah, I’m still pissed they lost at home to Bears fielding a rookie QB — SHAME!!!).  Since my emotions have completely taken over when it comes to capping shit Ravens’ games, it’s best I just leave them alone, or else make another angry rant video.  I honestly can’t see straight after losing so much money on Ravens and Flacfucko every week.  Enough!  Ravens get dicked in London and lose to mediocre Jags by 35, then bounce Oakland on the road, then can’t convert a fucking third down until halftime to the shit Bears last week (Both Ravens’ scores were on kick returns).  No more betting the Ravens!!!!!  Oh yeah, Baltimore is playing Minnesota.  Keenum starting again for Vikings, but they come off huge home win versus Rodgerless Packers, so perhaps an emotional letdown here.  Fuck the Ravens.  Fuck this game.

NYJ at MIA and home team is laying -3, which sounds about right in this division rivalry.  Tempting to take road dog which is playing very well at the moment (refs screwed Jets last week).  But MIA defense is more than solid.  MIA might be the worst NFL offense — but the defense hasn’t allowed more than 20 in any game this season, which is why Dolphins are 3-2 and in the playoff race even with Cutthroatler at QB.  Shutting down ATL entire second half after faling behind last week 17-0 on the road showed some real spark, so I don’t want to bet against this unit at the moment.  Lots of bettors will be tempted to bet UNDER the low total, but I’m passing on making any wagers, unless there’s a prop on Cutler’s interception total to go OVER.

TB plays at BUF and Bills are tempting laying just -3 with the extra prep time.  Really bad spot for TB here after getting rolled in PHX last week and now have to travel second straight week.  I can’t failt anyone for laying the FG with BUF which looks like a really tempting play.  But something tells me this could be a trap game full of surprises.  Also not really inspiring of confidence to lay points with this BUF offense.

Who could have imagined NOR would be laying points on the road at GB, but that’s what happens when Rodgers went down with injury.  Line moved at least ten points in this game.  NOR suddenly playing well but has also caught opponents at the right time and now face a GB team that may rally behind the backup.  NOR defense always a concern.  NOR could score 40.  They also might play a sloppy game decided by a late FG.  Way too many intangibles here to lay money.  Lambeau Field might as well be a giant craps table this week.

NYG plus 4 looks tempting against SEA which doesn’t appear capable of blowing out anyone at the moment.  But SEA defense is strong enough to absolutely shut down Giants and have the stadium turning against Manning by halftime.  Probably NYG +4 is the play, but I’m skipping this one.

DEN playing SDI at Los Angeles.  OVER 41 looks worth a look.  SDI playing much better now, winners of two straight.  With a break or two, SDI could be 5-1 right now.  And with a facelift and $50 million, I’d be Leonardo DiCaprio.

ATL plays NWE in Super Bowl rematch.  Unless I have money in it, which I won’t in this game, I don’t give a fuck.  I’d rather watch my money on the Browns.  Pass.

Good luck to all.

 

NOTE:  Check back for updates and possible added plays.

 

 

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A Wine Dinner Worth Remembering

Posted by on Oct 18, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Personal, Politics | 3 comments

 

 

A WINE DINNER WORTH REMEMBERING

Take a look at this photo (above).  Tell me where you think it’s from.  No cheating.  I’ll provide the answer at the conclusion of the column.

__________

Earlier tonight, Marieta and I had the great pleasure of attending a special four-course wine dinner at a local restaurant here in Las Vegas.  But this wasn’t a wine dinner like all the rest.  We were seated with a couple, aged in their late 60s.

The gentleman and I got to chatting.  Somehow, the topic of the Vietnam War came up.  We engaged in a spirited conversation about the masterful Vietnam War television series, produced by Ken Burns, on PBS.  By the way, this is must-see television for anyone who has not seen it yet.

During the course of our friendly conversation, the man revealed that he served two tours of duty in Vietnam.  He was stationed at Da Nang in 1968 and returned again in 1971.  He was assigned to a U.S. Air Force unit that provided routine maintenance on fighter jets.

Initially, the man was somewhat reluctant to talk about his memories of the war. But inquisitive (nosy) as I am, I was riveted by this moment — what amounted to a front-row, first-person account of one of the most transformative events in all of American history.  How fortunate I was to have this rare opportunity.  I wasn’t about to let this chance to learn more pass me by.  And so, I pressed on.

The man stated that he arrived in Da Nang in early 1968 at the tender age of 18.  He had lied about his age and joined the Air Force at age 17.  His very first night in Vietnam was the Tet Offensive.  For those unfamiliar with Vietnam War history, the Tet Offensive was a surprise attack that caught the American military totally off-guard and was arguably the shocking turning point of the war.

I listened intently over the next two hours, privileged to be given this, such a rare gift.  As we talked, or I should say — as he talked and I listened — the man became increasingly more open and willing to talk about the many experiences that had haunted him for nearly half a century.  It will take me some time to digest all the perspectives he shared with me, some of which were very troubling to hear.  Perhaps I shall write about them later, if appropriate.  I don’t know.  Perhaps some things are best left unsaid.

But what really struck me at one point during our conversation was when I sought to give the man an “out,” allowing him to escape my inquisitive and perhaps annoying curiosity and enjoy the evening with the rest of the 30 or people assembled in the room sipping on Pinot, Zinfandel, Cabernet, and Sangiovese.  Indeed, I casually tried to change the subject at this point, thinking my captive might leap at the chance to leave those painful memories of Vietnam behind.  But instead of taking the easy bait, the man wanted to talk — more.

I have a tear in my eye and a tremble in my wrists as I write this now, a few hours later thinking about the next thing the man revealed to me.

“No one ever asks me about my time over there.  It feels good to talk about it.”

Wow.  Just, fucking wow.

Here I was, thinking I was blessed to be able to gain a new perspective from his insight, and yet he was on the opposite side of the table, convinced that my empathy was in some small manner — therapeutic.  He thought I was doing him the favor.  I’m having trouble writing now.

For another 90 minutes or so, I heard stories and memories and events and perspectives that opened my eyes and broadened my knowledge about what thousands of good men (and women) went through — both over there then and back here later.

I won’t give the man’s name because he insists he’s a private person.  But I suspect there are many, many more veterans like him harboring memories that deserve and must and demand to be shared, real pain and emotional conflict that merits the soothing salve of a kindly ear, a gentle nod at the right instant, and a genuine but simple expression of gratitude.

I wonder how many others are out there now, tight-lipped, sitting in silence.  How many others of this war and that war and all the wars we’ve fought and continue to fight didn’t get the chance to sit down at a wine dinner and speak about what they saw and what they endured and how they survived the madness.  Hundreds?  Thousands?  Tens of thousands?  Why don’t we ask questions and why aren’t we listening?

Yes, the wine dinner was exceptional, but then most of my wine dinners are great.  But this one was of Grand Cru of an exceptional vintage, two souls de-cantered into one.

How blessed I was to have the opportunity to share a dinner with a Vietnam vet, and listen and learn.

__________

Finally, the answer to the question posed in the opening paragraph is — the photograph shows Da Nang, Vietnam.  This is a photograph of Da Nang, formally one of the largest American military installations in South Vietnam, as it looks today.

Times do change.  Places change also.  What should not and must not ever change is our curiosity for history and insatiable compassion for others, even strangers.

This was an evening I shall not soon forget.

 

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Donald Trump is a Lying Sociopath

Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 5 comments

 

 

Donald Trump told yet another jaw-dropping lie on Monday.  During a White House press conference he falsely asserted that former Presidents failed to call or write letters to the grieving families of American soldiers killed in the line of duty.

This is a fucking lie.

The preponderance of evidence proving Trump is a despicable liar is both indisputable and overwhelming.  No one in command of their senses with even a basic knowledge of contemporary events disputes this.  Yet again, as has so often been the case since this political pustule popped onto the surface, Trump repeats fake innuendo but then when pressed reveals he has no clue what he’s talking about.  He is deranged.  Mentally unhinged.  Sociopathic.  Beneath contempt.

Normally, most of us wouldn’t give a flea’s ass if Trump the chronic liar lived anywhere else but 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  It wouldn’t matter if the eccentric “billionaire” (yeah, right) was bouncing off the walls of his tacky penthouse at Trump Tower.  If celebrity-obsessed Trump was pimping his contrived reality television show on NBC (the network he now wants off the air) falsely pretending to be a successful business tycoon — we’d all be laughing at him, rolling our eyes, and no one would give a damn.  This lunatic wouldn’t be a public hazard if the swanky swindler was still out there conning gullible investors, which has been his business model ever since the first of multiple bankruptcies when he repeatedly left thousands of suckers holding his smelly bag of dog shit.  Indeed, what rings alarm bells is that 62 million doddering dirt-dumb dimwits somehow swallowed the infected load and elected this superstooge as President.

America, we have a problem.

Yes, Donald Trump is a serial liar.  He’s a political shitstorm, a sick Son of Sam, only without the talking dog for guidance, because even this pathetically lonely loon of a man with no friends utterly incapable of any empathy or affection doesn’t even own a pet.

Does anyone out there not polluted by the poisonous distortions of Breitbart and Bannonism really believe what Donald Trump said yesterday at his Rose Garden press conference?  Does anyone who values truth and honesty really accept Donald Trump’s assertion as fact (quoting him directly), “if you look at President Obama and other Presidents, most of them didn’t make calls.  A lot of them didn’t make calls.  I like to call when it’s appropriate — when I think I’m able to do it.”

Reality check:  Presidential schedules are closely monitored.  Presidential activities — including everything they say, what write, and who they call — is recorded.

So, is there any truth to former Presidents not displaying compassion for those who made the ultimate sacrifice?  Answer — none.  It’s a lie, propagated by the conspiracy-obsessed haters of the alt-right apparently linked to a bogus 2010 article which (falsely) claimed President Obama failed to contact one of the many grieving families.  Some flunky in the Trump Administration purportedly whispered something into the President’s ear.  Salivating at the prospect of making Obama look bad, Trump decided to run with it, then was hit with the truth and fumbled.

A Google search instantly reveals that the two most recent Presidents — Barack Obama and George W. Bush contacted Gold Star families thousands of times during their respective administrations.  Between 2002 and 2015, countless phone calls were made directly from the Oval Office.  Signed letters on presidential stationary were written, many with handwritten inscriptions directly from the commander-in-chief.  Both former Presidents also made personal visits to the caskets of those who gave their lives.  Innumerable conversations with surviving family members, many in private, are all a matter of the historical record.

No one sane would dare question this.  No one.

Unfortunately, what’s also a matter of the historical record is Donald Trump’s spewing of lies to prop up his fragile ego.  These lies aren’t sporadic, they’re a firestorm.  Lies are told on any occasion, to everyone, at any time — about anything.  His lies transcend simple misinterpretation and the occasional malapropism, which may be forgiven.  Donald Trump’s lies are deliberate.  They are intentional.  They are calculated for a reason.  They are targeted at dopes too lazy to do any fact-checking.  They are feeble attempts to make himself seem as worthy as any of the men who preceded him in office, although by now it’s become painfully obvious the man-infant throwing twitter tantrums harbors some deeply-rooted inferiority issues.

Say what you want and believe what you will about President Barack Obama and his legacy.  Petty partisan bickering becomes irrelevant here.  What’s relevant is 2,500 service members were killed during Obama’s presidency and the fact that virtually all of those families were contacted in some way personally by the President — either by telephone or in writing (or both).  President Obama visited military hospitals at least two dozen times during his eight years in office.  He also paid visits to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honor soldiers who returned in flag-draped coffins.

Say what you want and believe what you will about President George W. Bush and his legacy.  Again, petty partisan bickering becomes irrelevant here.  What’s relevant is 6,700 service members were killed during Bush’s presidency and the fact that virtually all of those families were contacted in some way personally by the President — either by telephone or in writing (or both).  President Bush visited military hospitals at least two dozen times during his eight years in office.  He also paid visits to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honor soldiers who returned in flag-draped coffins.

Trump lied about Obama.  Trump lied about Bush.  Because he’s mean and vicious and vindictive.  He’s an ugly President and an even uglier person.

Lack of human compassion is a serious problem.  Willful disregard of truth is an even bigger problem.  But this single-minded obsession with Obama is sick.  Compulsively determined to undo every single act over the previous eight years, Trump is a wrecking ball swinging in every direction.  Fortunately, Hoover Dam wasn’t built on Obama’s watch, so that government program won’t get blown up.  Everything else signed into law by Obama has a bullseye and Trump is aiming a bump stock.

Indeed, a more grave concern than Trump’s lack of personal empathy for anyone other than himself is a character flaw that’s been unmasked on multiple occasions.  His self-imposed confinement within an isolation chamber of willful ignorance has become frightening.  If Trump really believed in his own warped mind that former Presidents didn’t bother to contact families of the fallen, then he should have been set straight immediately by someone working on his staff.  Then, he should have been man enough to acknowledge his public misstatement and apologize to the good men who preceded him in office.  Such action would have quickly defused yet another ugly mess.  But Trump didn’t do that.  He wouldn’t do that.  He never apologizes, nor corrects himself.  Ever.

When asked if he plans to make phone calls or write letters to the families who four soldiers killed on duty in Niger, Trump replied, “I’ve written them personal letters.  They’ve been sent or they’re going out tonight — but they were written during the weekend.”

They’re going out tonight.  Nice.  Thanks for the sacrifice, Mr. President.

It’s been two weeks since the soldiers died.

To be fair, being President is a very busy job.  Perhaps Trump didn’t have time until this past weekend to compose letters that might be of some solace and comfort to those who suffered an unbearable loss.  Writing to the families of the dead isn’t easy.  Making phone calls and speaking with people who are crying is even harder.  But each of his predeccesors wrote thousands of personalized letters.  Both of his predeccesors made an incalculable number of painful phone calls.

Meanwhile, within just the past two weeks, since those brave soldiers died, Trump actions reveal he was preoccupied with far more pressing personal concerns.  Trump’s wasted countless hours obsessing over the behavior of football players.  He tweeted on multiple occasions promoting some horrid Fox television show called “Judge Jeanine.”  He visited his golf resort in Sterling, VA — five times.

 

READ MORE:  CRITICIZED FOR NOT COMMENTING ON SOLDIER KILLED IN ACTION, TRUMP FALSELY SAYS OBAMA DID EVEN LESS

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NFL Week #6 Picks

Posted by on Oct 15, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 3 comments

 

 

In the nearly century-long history of pro football, it’s hard to think of a more monarchial player name than Yelberton Abraham Tittle.

Better known as Y.A. Tittle, the former LSU college star and Most Valuable Player of the 1947 Cotton Bowl spent 16 years as a journeyman quarterback in the NFL.  To this day, he still holds the record for the most touchdown passes in a single game (7).  Tittle also played in three league championship games.  However, he ended his career as a bloodied and battered castoff with the New York Giants.  His team went 2-11-1 during that miserable final season.

Tittle’s career has pretty much faded from memory.  However, one sliver of his legacy continues, and it’s because of an iconic image of him taken by photographer Morris Berman.  The Pulitzer-prize winning photo was shot at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field in during a bitter 1964 loss to the Steelers.  Snapped the instant Tittle collapses to his knees, with streams of blood and sweat pouring down his forehead, his facial expression reveals that sometimes defeat produces a rare moment of valor.

Y.A. Tittle died last week at the age of 90.

READ:  BEYOND BERMAN’S FRAMES OF Y.A. TITLE

 

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

2017 NFL REGULAR SEASON RESULTS

STARTING BANKROLL:  $10,000.

CURRENT BALANCE:  $11,890.

OVERALL W-L RECORD:  19 wins / 10 loses

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

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

Last week, I touted the angle to bet on all the winless teams (after Week #5), which has produced about 60 percent winners dating back nearly 30 seasons.  The angle produced 2 wins and 2 losses, although one of the games (SD at NYG) pitted two winless teams against each other.

This leaves 3 winless teams heading into Week #6 — including San Francisco, NY Giants, and Cleveland.  Typically, I would continue betting this angle blindly.  However, two of these dogs appear to have way too many fleas and a few tics.  NY Giants are an absolute wreck of a team, suffering multiple injuries, internal discord, and even a major suspension this week over discipline.  Although the Giants are getting a whopping +12.5 at Denver (that line would have been +5 a month ago), I can’t pull the trigger on such a “Giant” mess.

Cleveland would be another “bet on” winless team.  Sure, there are signs the Browns have some talent, particularly on the defense.  But they’re starting yet another quarterback this week, on the road, which makes me think the Browns offense will continue to struggle.  This becomes a no bet for that reason.  Also, don’t like fading Houston here again at home with extra prep time coming off a loss.  They might feast on the Browns.

That leaves San Francisco, which although they’re 0-5 has been a pointspread covering machine.  49ers are 4-1 against the spread this season.  This week, they catch +10.5 at Washington.  That’s way too many points.  So, I’m going with the 49ers.

Otherwise, this looks like a tough card.  Here are my wagers and thoughts on all the games this week (FOUR WAGERS):

 

San Francisco at Washington

San Francisco playing tough every week.  Only blowout loss was a month ago to the Rams.  I’m concerned by the coast-to-coast factor and the 49ers playing third straight game on the road.  Niners have also lost 9 games in a row on the East Coast.  That’s often a problem for teams, especially those that struggle.  But these factors seem to be more than compensated in a game line that’s moved from +9 (opener) to +10.5 (current).  Washington has some injuries.  Their defense is vulnerable.  Look for the road-weary visitors to have enough punch to keep this score within single digits and thus get the cover.

BETTING SAN FRANCISCO +10.5 RISKING $220 TO WIN $200

 

Green Bay at Minnesota

Vikings are 4-2 straight up against Packers with defensive guru Mike Zimmer in command.  I expect the game plan will be solidly run-oriented and conservative with backup Keenum starting at QB.  Last thing MIN wants here is a shootout, which probably kills off MIN chances for victory.  Hence, I’m looking for MIN to run lots of clock here, which should help the UNDER.  GB coming off a huge win last week plays another tough road game, this time against division rival.  That spells trouble in my opinion.  It’s tough to bet the UNDER in a Packers’ game, but this is the week points should be in short supply.  Total hasn’t adjusted much to change at QB for MIN (Bradford out with injury), dropping from 47 to 46.  I’m looking for a close game to be decided by a late field goal — 23-20 sounds about right.

BETTING UNDER 46 RISKING $220 TO WIN $200

 

Chicago at Baltimore

I’ll lay what seems to be a low number with Ravens — giving just -5 to inept Bears.  BALT has been a tough place to place for rookie QBs, as Harbaugh’s teams have gone 9-0 at home in this situation.  CHI is dead last in turnover margin, and BALT defense creates turnovers.  Looks like a terrible recipe for any possible Bears; road upset.  I’ll lay the points in a game where I think the line should be closer to -7.  Note:  LIne moved because Ravens leading WR is late injury scratch, but I don’t think this will matter.

BETTING BALTIMORE -5 RISKING $220 TO WIN $200

 

Tampa Bay at Arizona

ARZ is a mess at the moment, impossible to bet on given their offensive ineptitude.  QB Palmer is at the tail end of his career.  The offensive line is injury-riddled (two linemen are returning this week, but one has to worry if they’re ready).  The Cards have no running game (ranks dead last) and had to make a midseason trade for ancient Adrian Peterson, this week.  Hard to see ARZ offense scoring many points.  TB has been wildly inconsistent, although game line moved from ARZ -1 to TB -2.5.  I think the better play is to wager on the UNDER.  We get an added bonus with UNDER play since TB has been having some serious kicking issues.

BETTING UNDER 46 RISKING $220 TO WIN $200

 

THOUGHTS ON OTHER GAMES:

Houston would be a play to blow out Cleveland, but Browns defense is playing just well enough to keep me off this game.

NY Jets have won three straight and have the defense to slow down QB Brady and Patriots.  However, NWE has won ten straight on the road and a staggering 23 straight with Brady as starter versus NYJ.  To their credit, NYJ has split the last four games played in NJ against Patriots, even with some horrible teams.  All four of those games were decided by a touchdown or less.  I’d bet NYJ here in a heartbeat.  What keeps me off the game is 10-day prep time for NWE and some fear the defense might improve and completely shut down NYJ based on their impressive performance last week at TB.

Many expect ATL to blow out MIA, and the reasons for this are obvious.  But MIA defense has not allowed more than 20 points in any game this season (avg. 17 ppg), despite being on the field far more than offense and having to deal with what’s typically been bad field position from an inept Cutlet-led offense.  MIA offense ranks dead last in the NFL.  ATL isn’t the team you want to be playing in this situation, especially when Falcons are rested and coming off a bye.

I was going to bet DET at NOR, which is getting too many points (+5).  NOR is no longer one of the league’s best home-field advantages, as Saints have struggled to cover in Superdome.  I’m still not convinced NOR defense has improved that much, since last two games they played injury-plagued CAR and thoroughly incompetent MIA.  QB Stafford’s injury is rumored to be worse than is reported, so this keeps me off the game.

MIN would be the play as a divisional home dog hosting GB coming off an epic road win at DAL.  Trouble is, I’ve seen no evidence (backup) QB Keenum belongs in an NFL uniform.

JAX is probably the play if you have to pick a side versus LAR, who play cross-country.  LAR could have a mental letdown after crushing home loss to rival SEA last week.  I don’t think that bodes well for a team that now must travel to a non-conference opponent.  JAX laying only -1 is tempting, but so far not a wager I’ve made.  JAX is the NFL’s best rushing team — which is a stat I like when I make a bet.  Any team that beats PIT on the road in a third-straight road situation is impressive.  They should be laying -3.  More I think of this, more I like JAX -1.

I keep wanting to fade unbeaten KC, but that got me in trouble last week when the Chiefs went on the road last week and spanked HOU.  Now, they are laying slightly more than a field goal versus reeling PITT opponent where QB Roethlesberger is coming off his worst game as a pro.  It’s KC or nothing here for me.

Is QB Carr being rushed in his return with OAK?  Raiders have been a disaster last three weeks after the 2-0 start.  I fear there’s panic here setting in.  Also, not sure that local fires won’t impact OAK slightly in terms of prep and distraction.  I like SDI here coming off the win at NYG last week, but wish they were getting at least +4.  This line +3 to +3.5 isn’t quite enough to pull the trigger for me.

No way I would lay a whopping -12 points with DEN, even though they play the crumbling Giants.  Low total here at 38 makes it tempting to go contrarian and play the OVER.  But with NYG not able to score points dating back to last season, I can’t make this wager.

TEN plays IND which looks to be a game with way too many variables, especially with QB issues on both teams.

 

Good luck to all.

 

NOTE:  I will post write-ups on late games shortly.  Check back for updates and possible added plays.

 

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NFL Week #5 Picks

Posted by on Oct 8, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 1 comment

 

 

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STARTING BANKROLL:  $10,000.

CURRENT BALANCE:  $11,150.

OVERALL W-L RECORD:  12 wins / 7 loses

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

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

There’s a startling trend that merits betting blindly in my opinion.  That trend is backing winless teams.  I don’t have the exact numbers handy, but since 1989 from regular season Week #5 on, winless teams cover the spread about 60 percent of the time.  This trend has produced an unusually large number of trials — about 250 over the past 28 seasons.  The shit teams are about 150-100 to the good when backing them, which comes out to a stellar win percentage of about 60 percent covers.  You won’t find these percentages on any large-scale trends, so I will recommend latching on to this one given there’s some added value on these “bad” teams.  A team might indeed be bad, but good to bet on.

One of the potential pitfalls of betting trends like this (most aren’t widely known), is falling into a possible trap that the point spread has already adjusted taking this solid 60 percent angle into account.  However, I see no evidence of this currently with the teams I’m looking at wagering on.  These games look to be very winnable outright.

This angle also melds into my overall contrarian betting philosophy very nicely.  These winless shit teams typically get no respect from the public, which means they keep getting more and more points during the losing streak until finally — they produce solid value.  This has been a good season for contrarians already.  So. no reason to get off the money train, just yet.

Here are the winless teams I’m betting this week, for no other reason than faith in the continuance of this solid historical trend.  I’ve also included some other recommendations, as well [TEN PLAYS IN ALL THIS WEEK]:

 

San Diego Chargers at New York Giants

Oops!  Problem here.  Two winless teams are playing against each other.  This stalemate seems to cancel each other out.  However, since the NY Giants have been notoriously ill-prepared and slow starters in every game this season, I’m wagering on San Diego/Los Angeles getting +2.5 in the first half.  I’m also playing the Chargers +3.5 for the full game.  Everything here between these two looks like a toss-up.  Two desperate teams with two veteran quarterbacks, so I’ll take the points where I can get them.

PLAYS:

SAN DIEGO +2.5 (FIRST HALF) risking $220 to win $200

SAN DIEGO +3.5 (GAME) risking $220 to win $200

 

NY Jets at Cleveland

Note that I’ve been the Jets biggest cheerleader over the previous two weeks.  I’ve backed them in both games (people laughed at me), and I not only cashed both tickets — my underdog won outright.  Hard to imagine the Jets could possibly go 3-2 with a win here and end up in contention for the AFC East title.  But here’s where contrarians will shift gears and (hopefully) make some money.  Look for the public to suddenly sniff the cheap perfume and fall in love the with stinky Jets, only to get their dreams crushed this week when they lose in Cleveland.  Sure, the Browns are young and a mess and they’re the Browns, but bad teams usually win 2-3 games each year and this is looked upon as a very winnable game for the host.  Jets have won largely on the basis of defense and have also caught two favored visitors sleeping at home.  Not sure this Jets team has the pedigree to go on the road and defeat what is an equally motivated team to win.  YOu Jets team now has the pressure off while Browns have to be looking at this as the one game they can win.   Looking for the home host to play tough and pick up a first victory of the season here.

PLAYS:

CLEVELAND (PICK) risking $220 to win $200  

 

San Francisco at Indianapolis

I’ve lambasted 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan in the past, but there are clear signs of improvement in San Francisco.  49ers have played two decent teams tough during the previous two weeks, losing by a couple of points to the juggernaut 3-1 Rams and taking the 2-2 Cardinals into overtime on the road.  San Francisco looks primed for a win here against what’s clearly the NFL worst defense.  Indianapolis is surrendering a whopping 34 points per game.  Indy has no offensive weapons, other than WR Hill who can’t get the ball often enough.  Given the fact we have the winless teams angle, some added motivation, and we’re getting what appears to be the better team at the moment (certainly defensively), I’ll back the small dog 49ers.  I’m also teasing San Francisco because even with a Colt victory, I don’t expect they’re capable of blowing out an opponent, especially a team that’s showing improvement by the week.  So — I’ll tease the 49ers with Cleveland expecting the generous +6 points to be more valuable in what’s expected to be an offensively-challenged, low-scoring game.  I’ll also take the visiting Ravens on a tease at Oakland since QB Carr is doubtful.  Raiders are an entirely different team without Carr in the backfield, and Baltimore should be better prepared after falling to 2-2 after losing two straight games.  Plus 9 points against a hobbled team is too tempting to pass up.  The third teaser will be the 49ers with Philadelphia, which should handle Arizona at home handily.

PLAYS:

SAN FRANCISCO (+1.5) risking $220 to win $200

TEASER:  SAN FRANCISCO +7.5 with CLEVELAND +6 risking $220 to win $200

TEASER:  SAN FRANCISCO +7.5 with BALTIMORE +9 risking $220 to win $200

TEASER:  SAN FRANCISCO +7.5 with PHILADELPHIA -.5 risking $220 to win $200

 

Cincinnati vs. Buffalo

I’m not drinking the Buffalo kool-aid.  The (perhaps overconfident) 3-1 Bills should run into a buzz saw this week versus a team that got off to a horrendous start but has played much better the previous two weeks, playing at Green Bay tough and beating the Browns badly.  Bengals have a chance here back at home to crawl back in the race with a win, and I’ll go with that prospect given this remains a veteran team with some talent in a dire situation.

PLAYS:

CINCINNATI (-3) risking $220 to win $200

 

Arizona at Philadelphia

I’m not totally sold yet on the Eagles as a playoff team, but they should handle aging Arizona easily at home, which seems to have lost all the spark of what was one of the NFL’s rising teams a few years ago.  Arizona’s offensive line is a mess.  This problem is made worse by a weak running attack (note the injury) and a soft, aging quarterback named Carson Palmer who’s best days are way behind him.  Palmer’s immobility is a huge problem here, exacerbated by a porous, injury-filled line.  Cards have allowed 17 sacks already in 4 games.  Look for Eagles back at home to string together one of their better efforts versus a team that’s struggled all season long.  It will likely take a huge game by WR Fitzgerald and although he’s a game breaker, I don’t think the protection will be there for Palmer to get him the ball often enough.  We also get the old angle to fade teams flying cross-country to the East for an early start time.  Eagles should roll here.  Line should be at least a touchdown.

PLAYS:

PHILADELPHIA (-6.5) risking $220 to win $200

 

Baltimore at Oakland

Two teams reeling from consecutive losses.  I wouldn’t touch this if QB Carr was healthy, but he’s doubtful to start (at present) and that’s a huge downgrade to EJ Manuel.  Baltimore getting +3 isn’t quite enough to pull the trigger on the Ravens…..but will bet them if the line moves to +3.5  If Carr starts, even though he may not be full speed, that would still be a disqualifer.  Better play here is to leave Ravens in the teaser all the way up to +9 and then enjoy what should be a close game.

 

Kansas City at Houston 

This Sunday night game could be a feast.  Suddenly, HOU is one of the NFL’s most exciting teams to watch fresh off a 57-point outburst last week on top of a close call loss at New England the week prior.  Back at home again a consecutive time, undefeated Kansas City is the perfect fat and happy opponent and a statement game for the Texans.  Houston defense should be fine and assuming what we are seeing with Houston’s new young quarterback is real, Texans should the win and cover here.

PLAYS:

HOUSTON (pick) risking $220 to win $200

 

OTHER GAMES:

Tempting to play JAX in a rebound situation versus highly-inconsistent PIT, but JAX is playing third straight on the road, so I will pass.

TEN looks like money laying a small number at MIA.  However, MIA has looked so horrendous the last two games, one has to expect an all-out change of philosophy and a retooling which might surprise.  Yes, fading Cutler is always wise, yet I’ll pull up on this one preferring greener pastures elsewhere.

DET at home laying -2.5 now after the -3 opener.  CAR playing second straight on road following huge win at NWE.  Was CAR really that good, or was the NWE defense just so dreadful they make any offense look decent?

Contrarian play on SEA getting small number at LAR, perhaps.  LAR off huge win at DAL and now rolling at 3-1.  This could be a letdown week, even against a division rival they usually play against tough at home.  Pass, but very tempting.

GB very tempting to take at +3.  Injuries keep me off them this week.  DAL showing some signs of falling back to mediocrity.  This is big test for DAL, which makes me think they go all out here.  Too many variables cancel each other out.

I want no part of the MIN at CHI Monday night game.

Good luck to all.

 

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