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

NFL Week #7 Picks

 

 

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

NFL Week #6 Picks

 

 

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

NFL Week #5 Picks

 

 

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

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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Posted by on Oct 1, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

NFL Week #4 Picks

 

 

It’s been a solid start to the 2017 NFL regular season — with 11 wins and 6 losses.  That’s a net gain of $1,170.

Last week was a contrarian’s dream, producing several major upsets.  Anytime the betting public loses to the books (which usually occurs when many big favorites go down in flames), that’s a really good week for me and the rest of us like-minded against-the-flow bettors who look for value.

This week, I’m backing off from marching too strongly in the contrarian parade since many teams which were dealt upsets in Week #3 will now have some added motivation to play well.  After bad teams win a big game, there’s often a letdown factor.  Bad teams have difficulty stringing wins together.  By contrast, good teams rise to the occasion, which is why they are good teams.  So, I recommend treading lightly on games that look “too easy.”

 

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Starting Bankroll: $10,000.

Current Balance:  $11,170.

W-L Record:  11 wins / 6 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

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Only two wagers this week…….

 

EARLY GAME:  New Orleans / Miami (in London)

The Dolphins would normally be a contrarian play here coming off the humiliation of losing to NY Jets.  However, Miami has endured an absolutely brutal travel schedule, missing the first game due to the Florida hurricane, followed then by a trip to Los Angeles, then a road game at New York, and now a plane ride across the pond to London.  Way too many question marks with this floundering team which is playing down to its quarterback’s lack of leadership.  Until I see QB Cutler manage the Dolphins offense with some consistency, there simply aren’t enough points to take the Dolphins.  Moreover, Miami’s defense has looked just as bad, which is just as big a concern.  Yes, I’m usually a contrarian and I bet on lots of bad teams.  But I’m not crazy.  New Orleans’ inconsistencies — especially as a bad road team, especially as a favorite — only adds to making this game difficult to predict.  I”m not betting this game.

 

Carolina / New England UNDER 49 (Risking $220 to win $200)

I’m playing the UNDER 49 in this game for a few reasons.  First, the total went from 47.5 at the open to 49 now, which gives us a few key high numbers (48 and 49).  Carolina’s offense has been horrendous.  QB Newton seems to be regressing (yes there’s some excuse since he’s coming off injury).  He’s also without key target TE Olsen this week.  NWE defense has been horrid the first three weeks but expect this much-maligned unit to step it up here against a team that’s been really poor both moving the ball and scoring.  Also, Carolina’s defense has played well enough to win each week.  Sure, the task is tougher with New England on the road.  But there should be enough talent on the defensive side of the ball to give QB Brady some difficulty.  Total looks slightly high, especially given the Panthers are going to milk the clock as much as possible with a running attack.  No way Carolina wants to get in a shootout in this game.  So, I look for either New England to play a lackluster game or Carolina to struggle against on offense which means most of the scoring will have to come from the Patriots.  PLAYING UNDER 49.

 

 

NY Jet’s +3.5 vs. Jacksonville (RISKING $330 to win $300)

This is an absurd line.  First time since 2011 Jaguars have been favored on the road.  Question is — why?  Jacksonville is notoriously inconsistent and has a terrible road spot here as a traveler coming off the London game last week.  Meanwhile, the Jags gets a rested home team now playing with some confidence off a big win of its own.  I tend to like home teams in back-to-back situations over opponents played consecutive games on the road, and we get the added bonus of receiving generous points (it’s +3 in many places, but I found a few +3.5 lines).  I mentioned last week that NY Jets play well in 1H in all three games this season, which shows me the team is reasonably prepared for game time.  With a chance to get to 2-2 I look for this home team to keep things close.  Jacksonville has the strange situation of being the NFL’s best pass defense and worst run defense, statistically speaking.  So, look for a more conservative, running attack from the Jets which plays to the home dog getting more than a FG.  PLAYING NY JETS +3.5

 

 

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Posted by on Sep 24, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

NFL Week #3 Picks

 

 

Colin Kaepernick wasn’t the first NFL player to commit the sacrilege of refusing to stand at attention during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The national anthem’s first mutineer was none other than Duane Thomas, the enigmatic former star running back who played briefly for the Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, and Washington Redskins during the early 1970s.

Thomas displayed a brilliant, though disappointingly short pro football career tarnished by repeated controversies inflamed by deep personal resentment which led to his self-imposed solitude.  He went an entire season, which concluded with a Super Bowl victory, without speaking to anyone including — as impossible as it seems —  his own coaches and teammates.  No one could figure out what went on inside Thomas’ head during those years nor knew what created such intense bitterness and personal difficulty.  Inner demons perhaps.  To this day, his inexplicable actions remain a subject of speculation.

One thing is certain.  Thomas’ football ability was never in question.  He was so talented that he won the 1970 NFL Rookie of the Year award.  Despite not playing until the fifth game of a then 14-game season, Thomas still managed to lead his team in rushing yardage, leading many observers to compare his running style and enormous potential to the legendary Jim Brown.

Then, contract negotiations bogged down and things went downhill from there.  More like off a cliff.  Thomas held out for a higher salary (the Cowboys front office was notoriously cheap with its players at the time).  At the height of Thomas’ career, he earned just $20,000 per year (equal to about $126,000 in today’s dollars when adjusted for inflation).  If Thomas played in today’s NFL, he’d be earning 40 times that amount.  Like most pro players of his era, Thomas was exploited physically and grossly underpaid given what owners and television networks were making, by comparison.

Had ESPN existed back then, Thomas would undoubtedly have been a heated topic of discussion.  He rarely talked to the media, but when he did, his quotes were often wickedly accurate.  During his bitter contract impasse, Thomas called his own press conference.  There and then to a room filled with reporters watching in disbelief, Thomas called coach Tom Landry “a plastic man — actually no man at all.”  Head scout Gil Brandt was branded “a liar.”  Thomas had particularly harsh words for team general manager Tex Schramm described as “sick, demented, and completely dishonest,” to which Schramm later jokingly replied, “Not bad.  He got two out of three right.”

One of funniest stories about Thomas occurred during his rookie season.  Thomas didn’t pay any attention to protocols.  He had little respect for authority.  One day, Thomas wheeled into the parking lot at the Cowboys’ practice facility.  He pulled into Tom Landry’s private parking space, locked his car, and then walked into the building.  An equipment manager witnessed this and was startled by what he saw.  He immediately ran up to Thomas and hurriedly asked, “Why did you park in Tom Landry’s space?”  As though the reasoning for his action should have been blatantly obvious, Thomas snapped back, “It was the nearest one to the door.  Don’t you realize it’s raining out there?’”

That was Duane Thomas.

Eventually, the Cowboys got wary of Thomas’ antics, though his unorthodox behavior never impeded his abilities on the playing field.  They attempted to trade him to New England, but the woeful Patriots rejected the trade weighed heavily in their favor only a week later citing him as a hopeless troublemaker and shipped him back to Dallas.  Soon thereafter, Thomas was busted on a bogus marijuana charge that still remains the subject of controversy.  Drug accusations were the final straw for Cowboys management.  They’d had enough.  He was shipped to San Diego.  The terms of the trade included even the word “unconditional,” which meant the agreement was completed no matter how Thomas acted with the Chargers.

During the pre-season, his new team’s patience would be put to the ultimate test when Thomas took the field for a home game in San Diego.  He seemed totally lost during warmups.  He wouldn’t practice with his teammates.  He refused to go through the usual drills.  Just prior to the game’s start, players lined up along the sideline for the national anthem.  To everyone’s astonishment, Thomas was spotted wandering off, walking around behind the bench, staring down at the ground.  No player had done that before.  No athlete had ever demonstrated such a glaring disregard for an accepted tradition, Olympic medal winners Tommie Smith and John Carlos, notwithstanding.

Thomas’ career in San Diego was over almost before it began.  He never touched the ball or played a single down for the Chargers.

To be clear, Thomas’ defiance of the national anthem wasn’t intended as a political statement, as is the case with Colin Kaepernick last season and current NFL players now demonstrating their solidarity by voluntarily kneeling in protest against overt racial injustice in America.  Thomas’ curious actions during his flash-in-the-pan pro career are mostly forgotten.

Read more about Duane Thomas in this insightful article from Texas Monthly magazine entitled, “The Lonely Blues of Duane Thomas.”

__________

 

This is the third week of the NFL regular season.  I had some personal matters to take care of over the previous few weeks, which prevented me from posting my customary plays here at the site.  However, I did manage to post a few short write-ups on previous Sundays at Facebook.  So far, those plays have netted a small profit of $100 for the season (I lost $250 the first week and won $350 the second week).  I shall go forward from this point and will keep track of all my wagers and betting results.

For the record, this will be my sixth consecutive year to do this (actually 22nd year — dating back to other posting websites).  So far since posting plays here, I’ve enjoyed three winning seasons and suffered two losing seasons.  The usual vig is always included in my calculations, which means the biggest winner overall has been the house.  I’ve paid about $25,000 in vig.  Last year, I took a small loss.  That was entirely due to the Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl game which should easily have gone UNDER the total.  I strongly touted the UNDER.  But then the game when OVER in overtime, resulting in a painful swing of $3,150 to the negative, the difference between booking a modest win versus a small loss for the year.  Stupid shit Falcons.  I’m still pissed about that.

Here’s to hoping there won’t be any ranting material in 2017.  On to NFL Week #3…..

Note:  Lines are current as of Saturday night (taken from William Hill)

 

JACKSONVILLE +3.5 vs. BALTIMORE (Risking $220 to win $200)

Take the points in what should be a close, lower-than-average scoring game where the line appears to be overreacting just a bit too much to Raven’s hot 2-0 start.  This game likely would have been closer to a pick ’em if Baltimore had lost the opener and been 1-1 like the Jaguars.  Baltimore has played two of the most inept teams in the entire NFL so far (both Ohio teams), and should get a tougher test here on the road (in London).  Jacksonville won quite impressively at Houston in the opener and was involved in a tight game last week versus Tennessee in the second half, before collapsing in the 4th quarter.  This game is more probably meaningful to Jaguars here which have to look at this as a very winnable game.  Some intangibles here also favor taking the generous amount points in these annual London games.  Jaguars should keep this close enough to cover and certainly could win outright.

 

CHICAGO +7.5 vs. PITTSBURGH (Risking $220 to win $200)

Another home underdog is way too tempting to pass up, especially getting the half-point on the 7.  Steelers in the Tomlin era are notorious in road games in this situation, often playing down to their level of talent.  Consider the lackluster opener at Cleveland where Pittsburgh scratched out an unimpressive 3-point win.  There’s not much about the Bears to inspire confidence, of course.  However, they did play solid in the opener against a bona fide Super Bowl contender (Atlanta).  Look for Pittsburgh to go through the motions here and the Bears to have just enough talent to squeeze within the touchdown margin.

 

NY JETS +6.5 vs. MIAMI (Risking $220 to win $200)

This wager is not for the faint of heart.  Sure, it’s hard to bet the Jets, now 0-2 both straight up and against the spread.  But a closer look at both losses showed some fight in the Jets who kept things close in both first halves.  Jets were also on the road the last two weeks and now get a more comfortable situation playing at home.  I watched last week’s game closely and it appears Jets players are still with the coach, so to speak, which is not always the case with losing teams.  Miami is simply laying too many points here.  They looked rusty in the road win versus San Diego last week (I’m not calling them the LA Chargers — not just yet), and should have lost the game had the Chargers been able to field a decent kicker.  And, consider this — anyone like betting on JAY CUTLER, who is playing just his second game with the Dolphins, on the road, laying nearly a touchdown?  That’s absolutely insane.  Miami is the sucker play of the day in a card filled with sucker bets.  It’s either the Jets, or a pass.  I think there’s enough talent on this team to keep it close in a divisional matchup, so I will side with the home dog.

 

BUFFALO +3 (EVEN) vs. DENVER (Risking $200 to win $200)

Speaking of sucker plays…..Exhibit A:  the Denver Broncos.  This is a terrible bet given that it’s entirely predicated on Denver’s impressive home win versus (overrated) Dallas last week.  Here’s a quintessential case of a huge emotional letdown, especially a western team flying east for an early start, against what appears to be a much-improving defense.  Credit the Bills for shutting down two opponents in a row during the first two games, especially at Carolina.  Denver isn’t quite the team yet with its young QB to be laying this number on the highway.  Obviously, there are lingering concerns about Buffalo’s offense and whether they can score much.  But young Bills are at home here and have a great chance to make a statement by beating what’s perceived to be a very solid Bronco team (I think they’re mediocre).  Take the points and watch for an upset.

 

PHILADELPHIA -5.5 vs. NY GIANTS (Risking $220 to win $200)

Eagles come off a tough road loss but should bounce back against a team that looks totally lost at the moment, especially on offense.  Giants have no running game at all.  The offensive line is horrid, now to the point of being a punch line.  Mediocre Eli Manning isn’t making good decisions or throws (he’s been average the last five seasons and always seems to make at least one bonehead play when a big game is on the line).  And the best player on the field for the Giants (OB) still isn’t at 100 percent yet.  It’s hard to see how the Giants turn things around and fix their problems in just five days following a dismal loss at home to the Lions on MNF.  Coach Ben McAdoo was said to be an offensive-minded coach who would produce lots of scoring, but the Giants continue to regress under his shaky leadership.  Normally, a team like the Giants would be serious worth a look getting generous points versus a division rival.  But things in New York look terrible and the Eagles coming off the loss should be extra motivated this week at home in a bounce-back game after two straight on the road.  Big home opener with lots of confidence and momentum favoring the Eagles.  I’ll lay anything up to -6.5.

 

TENNESEE -2.5 vs. SEATTLE (Risking $220 to win $200)

Seahawks are another team with major offensive line issues which probably won’t get repaired in less than a week’s time.  QB Russell Wilson seems to be running for his life every time he drops back to pass.  Titans are improving steadily and now have enough balance to put Seattle’s solid defense to the test.  I think they get their first home win here after playing Raiders tough at home in Week #1 and losing the home opener.  Seattle struggled badly in an embarrassment of a win against pathetic San Francisco last week and also got shut down by Green Bay.  We’ve yet to see this team in the usual form of a Super Bowl contender and the spreads are now starting to catch on to Seattle perhaps regressing towards .500.  These could be two teams headed in different directions — so I’ll take the Titans laying less than a FG playing at home.

 

SAN DIEGO +3 vs. KANSAS CITY (Risking $330 to win $300)  BEST BET

If the Chargers had a decent placekicker, they would probably be 2-0 right now.  They lost two games in the closing seconds due to missing very makeable late field goals.  Line is overreacting terribly here to Kansas City’s two impressive wins.  Certainly, the Chiefs do deserve much credit.  But these are the games where teams flying high often have a letdown, especially on the road in an unfamiliar environment (first game in Los Angeles), versus division foe.  I’ll still take tough veteran Phillip Rivers over Alex Smith in a heartbeat.  I also like Chargers playing their second straight week at home which promises a more rested unit, in a perfect spot to beat a team that might be a bit overconfident.  San Diego has enough weapons to keep this game close, cover, and perhaps win outright in front of a non-existent void of a home crowd (one of the worst decisions in sports history to move this team to Los Angeles).

 

WASHINGTON +3 vs. OAKLAND (Risking $220 to win $200)

This is an absolutely ridiculous line.  Sure, Oakland is 2-0 SU and 2-0 ATS and has looked very good in those two victories.  But now they head east for a big SNF game against non-conference opponent loaded on offense.  Assuming the home field advantage is still worth -3 points, there’s absolutely no way Oakland merits being a 6-point choice on a neutral field.  I’d have this game much closer to pick ’em.  So, give me the home Redskins and hope for one of their best performances of the season in a statement game that they belong as contenders in the playoff hunt.

 

LATE ADDITION:  CINCINNATI +7.5 vs. GREEN BAY (Risking $220 to win $200)

I would normally pass on this game.  However, six starters and seven players overall are listed as DOUBTFUL for the Packers and that might be just a bit too much to fade, even for Green Bay.  Bengals appear hopelessly out of synch at the moment, but the added three days of prep time (they played last Thursday) gives the no excuses not to keep this reasonably close.  Lone was +10 before the late news on injuries, which is still bettable so long as we’re getting more than a touchdown.  It sounds crazy to try and make a case for Cincinnati here, but this is mostly an against situation with Green Bay, due to injuries and the Bengals enjoying some advantages with the rest and preparation.

 

ADDED THOUGHTS (OTHER GAMES):

Can’t touch the CLEVE-INDY game due to monumental QB issues on both teams, but I still have to ask — how in the hell are the Browns favored over anyone on the road?  Could be worth a wager for the junkies….Thinking UNDER in the HOU-NWE game, especially since HOU can’t seem to score much and the rookie QB should struggle.  NWE has botch slapped HOU around the last several meetings.  Could be an opponent they take for granted — also have to like HOU defense the way they are playing, which means UNDER 45 looks like the way to go…..Leaning TAMPA -2.5 on the road, but MINN tough place to play and Bucs not quite there yet as deserving of road chalk — likely a pass….Leaning also to PHX at home versus DAL which is coming off a kick in the ass and has to play on the road again.  I cringe having to wager on Carson Palmer and Cards look to be regressing, but this is the statement game for the home team so look for them to be ready.

 

Finally, I will close with a political statement:  I’m hoping that EVERY SINGLE NFL PLAYER TAKES A KNEE THIS WEEK DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM in protest against the idiotic stooge of a President and his preposterous comments about the controversy.  Wouldn’t that be something for owners to announce they would fire players who kneel, and then EVERY PLAYER takes a knee.  Wouldn’t that be a statement for the ages.  I hope it happens.  Scab games in our near future?

 

 

 

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