Posted Wednesday, April 10, 2013 01:57 PM
1* Take San Diego
This is a straight ‘fade’ of Chad Billingsley in his 2013
MLB debut. Billingsley came on strong
after the All Star break last year following a 4-9 start to the campaign, but a
torn ligament in his elbow cut his season short.
Billingsley avoided surgery, but his rehab has not been
without problems, including a badly bruised index finger on his throwing hand
from a bunting drill in spring training.
He finished the spring allowing seven runs in just 7.2 innings of
work. His minor league rehab start last
week was equally problematic, struggling with his control in another subpar
effort. I’m not expecting vintage
San Diego bounced back strong yesterday following a dismal
1-5 road trip to open the season – two series where they were outscored by a
combined 40-14 margin. The Padres lineup
pounded out nine runs; their first legitimate outburst in the reconfigured,
more hitter friendly confines of Petco Field.
And let’s not forget that the Padres ranked among the top eight MLB
money winners at home last year, despite finishing ten games under .500
Padres starter Eric Stults threw seven innings of one run
ball in his lone start against the Dodgers last year. The Padres have won nine of his last eleven starts,
despite the fact ... [More]
Posted Monday, April 08, 2013 01:54 AM
I’ve been writing about college basketball fairly
consistently since the Super Bowl. Now
that the calendar has shifted to April, it’s time to shift focus and start
writing about the NBA. With less than
ten days remaining in the regular season, most of the prevailing focus is on
playoff teams. That’s why I’m writing
this week’s column about the bottom feeders that have already been eliminated
from playoff contention.
Can we make money betting on or against these squads down
the stretch? Read on to find out my
thoughts on a handful of lottery bound teams before I shift my focus towards
playoff squads next week and beyond!
Teams are listed in alphabetical order.
In the 2012 season, the Charlotte
Bobcats set a record for NBA futility, finishing the season 7-59 SU. Their pointspread futility made headlines
here in Las Vegas as well, as the Bobcats finished as the single biggest money
loser in the league by a wide margin, a woeful 23-43 ATS.
In 2013, the Bobcats didn’t set any records for futility,
but they’ve still got the single worst SU record in the NBA entering the
homestretch. And, for the second
straight season, the betting markets have been unable to catch up with how bad
this team truly is. Charlotte ranks as
the single biggest money loser in the league on... [More]
Posted Monday, April 01, 2013 01:14 PM
I’ve been writing about college basketball consistently
since the Super Bowl, and there’s room for one last college hoops column this
week. No, I’m not going to break down
the NIT Final Four, the CBI ‘best of three’ series between Santa Clara and
George Mason, or the CIT Championship Game between East Carolina and Weber
State. This column is about the big boys!
Four teams have stood out above the rest on the biggest of
stages over the past two weekends: Michigan, Syracuse, Wichita State and
Louisville. Bracketologists might be
surprised that only one of the top twelve seeds made it this far, with a pair
of #4 seeds and a #9 seed joining the top overall seed Louisville in the Final
But bettors know that seeding is essentially meaningless,
especially when we’re talking about the bevy of quality teams in the Big Dance. That’s why we’ve seen lower seeded teams
favored on more than a handful of occasions here in the tourney, like when
Syracuse was the chalk against #3 seed Marquette, in one prominent example this
Only one team can cut down the nets in Atlanta next
Monday. This week, I’ll take a closer
look at all four squads, assessing their chances moving forward. Teams are listed from ‘most likely to win it’
to ‘least likely to win it.”
Louisville is the
Posted Monday, March 25, 2013 12:20 PM
The first weekend of the Madness is in the history books and
only 16 teams remain standing in the NCAA Tournament. The
two best conferences in the regular season – the Big Ten and the Big East -- proved
to be the two best conferences in the Big Dance, sending seven teams to the
Sweet 16 between them. The ACC and the
PAC-12 were the only two other conferences to send multiple teams onto the
second weekend of the Big Dance.
This week, I’ll be taking a look at the sixteen remaining
teams in the field; assessing their chances for continued tournament success as
the field gets reduced to the Final Four this coming weekend. Teams are listed in rotation order.
drawing comparisons to the UConn
team that won it all two years ago. The
Orange, like the Huskies, slumped down the stretch of the regular season. Like the Huskies, they came on strong in the
Big East tournament, rebuilding their confidence in the process. Also like UConn, Syracuse has all kinds of
NBA ready talent. Michael Carter-Williams, James Southerland and Brandon Triche
are all expected to be drafted this spring.
Don’t sell the Orange short just because their regular season record
Indiana had more
turnovers than assists against Temple last weekend, and were outrebounded by
the Owls; failing to sniff a pointspread ... [More]
Posted Monday, March 18, 2013 12:57 PM
With the madness that is March now in full swing, it’s time
to take a look through the brackets.
Today, I’ll offer a quick take on the 28 matchups already set for
Thursday and Friday. Games are listed in
the entire season losing close games on the road, falling in OT at UCLA and
Kentucky, while dropping games by three points or less at Tennessee, Arkansas,
Texas A&M, LSU and to Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament. Larry Eustachy got the most he could out of Colorado State’s talent level this
year, but the Rams, too, lost nearly every step-up game on the highway.
As a #3 seed, Marquette
is only a 3.5 point favorite over #14 seed Davidson; the shortest 3-14 pointspread in recent memory. The betting markets clearly respect the
Wildcats five upperclassmen starters that started 30 of their 33 previous games
together this season.
Butler has won at
least the first two games of every single postseason tournament they’ve played
since 2010, including runs in the Horizon League and A-10 conference tourney’s,
two runs to the championship game in the Big Dance and last year’s run to the
CBI semi-finals. Bucknell’s fellow Patriot League member Lehigh knocked off #2 seed Duke
in the first round last year.
eleven juniors and seniors on the roster, and they’re loaded with siz... [More]
Posted Monday, March 11, 2013 09:46 AM
Part 1 of this article last week, I took a basic look at the profile of the
past 15 NCAA champions. From that profile, I was able to make a ‘short
list’ of potential champs in 2013, consisting of the following 15 teams: Florida,
Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Georgetown, Louisville,
Marquette, Syracuse, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Miami-FL and
However, since last week, one
of those 15 teams has been bounced from consideration. Syracuse’s late
season meltdown – four losses in their last five ballgames – has left them
above the seven loss cut-off line.
I’d still call the Orange a
‘live’ longshot – let’s not forget that fellow Big East member UConn in 2011
also lost four of their last five regular season games before reeling off eleven
consecutive wins in the Big East and Big Dance tournaments to win the
title. Then again, that 2011 UConn team is clearly the ‘exception to the
rule’ type of squad when we examine the last 15 title winners.
step in the elimination process is to look at the team’s records away from
home. The NCAA
championship is not won on a team’s home floor. Even with a favorable
location one weekend, a team is still going to have to win four ‘neutral site’
games in order to cut down the nets in Atlanta on April 8th. And the best
predictive evidence for future success in neutral or hostile environments is
Posted Monday, March 04, 2013 07:08 AM
Who Has What It Takes to Win the Big Dance in 2013?
History shows us many things about what it takes to be a champion. I write this article every year, and every year except for one, I have been able to identify the eventual NCAA national champion among my elite level teams. Last year was no exception. I pegged Kansas as my title team, and they made it all the way to the national championship game against Kentucky before falling short.
Past predictions do not necessarily indicate future success, but I’ll stand by my track record in this article. Remember, as always, this gets written before the regular season is over, before the conference tournaments, before the seedings are announced and before a single tournament game has been played.
I’ve nailed the winner of the NCAA tournament three times in the last six years, correctly predicting Florida in ’07, Kansas in ’08 and North Carolina in ’09. I did NOT predict Duke in 2010, and didn’t even have UConn in the discussion in 2011.
Here is a list of the last 15 NCAA champions and the teams they beat in the title game: Kentucky over Utah in ’98, UConn over Duke in ’99, Michigan St over Florida in 2000, Duke over Arizona in ’01, Maryland over Indiana in ’02, Syracuse over Kansas in ’03, UConn over Georgia Tech in ’04, North Carolina over Illinois in ’05, Florida over UCLA in ’06, Florida over Ohio State in ’07, Kansas over Memphis in ’08, North Car... [More]
Posted Monday, February 25, 2013 07:42 AM
It’s late February, and there’s still two more full weeks of
regular season action in college hoops before the madness truly begins. It’s too early to write about conference
tournament betting strategies – I’ll save that for next week. But it’s not too late to write about the bevy
of ‘dead’ teams that are populating the college hoops landscape right now;
teams that are lethargically playing out the string of the regular season. Sometimes, the sharp move is to lay big
points fading sorry teams.
Even bad teams have hope in November – the season is fresh
and new; teammates aren’t sick and tired of each other or their coaches, and
the nagging injuries haven’t started to pile up. And teams that get smacked around in
non-conference play for two months get an opportunity to regroup against
comparable competition when conference play begins in January.
But when things go south in conference play, it’s not easy
for many of these squads to continue competing at the same level they were
earlier in the season. By late February,
the final few weeks of the regular season are a meat grinder for struggling
squads, particularly those who have suffered from injuries and attrition,
leaving them banged up and shorthanded down the stretch. I call these squads ‘dead’ teams, and look to
bet against them at every reasonable opportunity.
Posted Monday, February 18, 2013 03:42 AM
I’ve done my last two columns breaking down aggregate season
long stats, examining the very best and very worst pointspread teams in all of
college basketball. Next week, the focus shifts towards conference tournaments
and the Big Dance. In between? This little doozy about how to make money
betting NCAA hoops in the always tricky month of February!
The key to late regular season college hoops for me has
always been about ‘morphing’ teams – squads whose long term numbers don’t match
their short term momentum – either positive or negative. There are quite literally dozens of such
teams right now, all of whom are at least moderately mispriced in the betting
markets these days, offering savvy bettors solid opportunities on a near daily
Who are some of these teams?
Why are they morphing now? Read
on to find out!
I’ll start with a handful of teams moving in the right
direction – from mediocre to good, or from good to great. Georgetown
certainly stands out on this list; a perfect 7-0 straight up and against the spread
in their last seven contests. The Hoyas
were never a bad team, but a 2-3 SU start in Big East play left them somewhat
undervalued at the same time that NBA lottery bound small forward Otto Porter
really stepped up into his ‘go-to-guy’ role during crunchtime.
But more... [More]
Posted Monday, February 11, 2013 12:33 AM
Last week, I took a look at the best pointspread teams in
all of college basketball, with the goal of assessing which teams were most
likely to continue their ATS success down the stretch. This week, I’m taking the opposite approach;
examining the very worst pointspread teams in college basketball. Why are they so bad against the spread? Will they continue to be overvalued as
February rolls into March? Let’s find
The single worst pointspread team in all of college
basketball this year has been IUPUI
(Indiana-Purdue, Indianapolis); the type of team that only wiseguys bet on or
against on a regular basis. At 5-17 ATS,
no team in all of college basketball has suffered more pointspread defeats than
the Jaguars this year. The Jaguars play
in the Summit League, on the added board in college hoops – exclusive territory
IUPUI has virtually no homecourt edge, covering just a
single pointspread at home all year.
They’ve been besieged with injuries and attrition; leaving them with a
rotation that goes only seven deep these days. Statistically, their two biggest weaknesses
really stand out: rebounding (-5 per game) and defense (49% shooting and 77
points per game allowed).
But the real question is why a team like IUPUI is at the very
bottom of the ATS standings. Todd Howard’s
squad wasn’t particu... [More]
Posted Monday, February 04, 2013 12:55 PM
The Super Bowl is in the rear view mirror after Sunday’s
wild Ravens victory, which can only mean one thing – college hoops is on center
stage for the next eight weeks. I’ve
been writing game previews for ESPN.com/Insider for the last month, but I’ve
yet to write a true ‘college basketball overview’ column for any publication so
far this season. That streak ends here.
I’m going take a look at the very best pointspread ‘regular
board’ teams in the country in this week’s column. The list of ATS juggernauts is likely to
surprise many people due to it’s diversity.
Elite level teams aren’t necessarily pointspread winners, and bottom
feeders can cash ticket after ticket if the betting markets set numbers that
allow them to hang within the number as big underdogs. Look no further than the single best ATS team
in the nation so far this season.
I’ll wager that less than a dozen people in the country knew
that Fordham is the #1 ATS team in all of D-1 basketball this year; 14-5 against
the number. The Rams are 6-16 SU, just
2-5 in Atlantic-10 play. This is nothing
new or different – the Rams went a combined 17-40 SU in head coach Tom Pecora’s
first two years on the job. They’re a
bad offensive team, hitting less than 41% from the floor for the season while
missing more than one out of three free throw attempts. They’re a mediocre def... [More]
Posted Monday, January 28, 2013 02:27 AM
It’s no secret where the early
money has come on the Super Bowl. At the
opening number, San Francisco was as high as a 5.5 point favorite offshore,
with mostly -5’s here in Las Vegas. But
we’ve seen steady Baltimore money pour in since that time, driving the line
down to the -3.5 or -4 range at every sportsbook in town; numbers that are
currently attracting two way action. I
expect the 49ers to be in that same pointspread range (-3.5 or -4) between now
The early sharp money has also
come in support of the Under. One prominent
offshore book opened the total at 52.5, and here in Vegas we saw several books
open with a total of 50. Through the
first week of Super Bowl betting, the Under has been a popular wiseguy choice. The prevailing current offshore number is
47.5; here in Vegas we’re looking at mostly 48’s. I do expect the public to be squarely on the
Over on Sunday – this total could easily get bet up a notch or two.
The Super Bowl is a unique
animal when it comes to moneylines, particularly at the sportsbooks here in
Vegas. We get a boatload of tourists in
town for the big game, and those tourists have a strong tendency to bet the
moneyline when supporting the underdog.
Right now, San Francisco is in the -170 to -180 range on the moneyline,
with the Ravens sitting at +150 to +160 in most locations.
Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 01:45 AM
I write about sports every week. Next week in this space, I’ll be writing
about Super Bowl props. Two weeks from
now, it’ll be all about college basketball through the end of March
Madness. But not today. Today, I’m going to write about movies. Nobody needs two full weeks of Super Bowl
There are no great sportsbetting movies --none. Hollywood has produced a handful of great
gambling movies – The Sting, Casino, Rounders, The Hustler and Croupier
certainly stand out. But when it comes
to anything resembling realism in a sports betting movie, it doesn’t
exist. Every bettor in a Hollywood
sportsbetting movie is a compulsive addict; every bookmaker is evil and they
There are no exceptions in this tried and true Hollywood
formula. If Richard Dreyfuss isn’t uncontrollably
gambling on every race in ‘Let it Ride’, then Matthew McConaughey is forcing
his clients into bankruptcy and letting his entire career path depend on a
coin-flip in ‘Two for the Money’. Even
Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vince Vaughn couldn’t save last year’s ‘Lay
the Favorite’; just more tripe from the big budget studios. No wonder it’s so hard for new sports betting
projects to get the green light!
So when I was contacted by an aspiring young Hollywood
filmmaker who wanted to make a legitimate ... [More]
Posted Monday, January 14, 2013 12:25 AM
We’re down to the Final Four in the NFL Playoffs, with two
compelling championship game matchups set for next Sunday. I’ve spent all year writing about these teams
using my own words. This week, I thought
it would make an interesting read to focus on the numerous quotes offered by
various players and coaches. Who’s
saying what heading into the biggest games of the season? Read on to find out.
The Falcons finally got the monkey off their backs with
their first playoff victory in the Mike Smith/Matt Ryan era. And Atlanta has one advantage that the
Packers didn’t have facing a mobile QB in Colin Kaepernick on Sunday – they’ve
already faced Cam Newton (twice), Robert Griffin and Russell Wilson. However, former 49ers head coach and current
Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan saw his defense get picked apart in
three of those four games (allowing 28+ points), and the one that they didn’t
(against the Redskins) was a game where RGIII left early due to a concussion.
Head coach Mike Smith was pretty darn pumped following
Atlanta’s last minute win over Seattle, after Matt Ryan threw a pair of strikes
to Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez to put the Falcons in field goal range for kicker
Matt Bryant’s game winner from 49 yards.
“Our quarterback is a special
player. They call him Matty Ice, but I feel like we've got ... [More]
Posted Monday, January 07, 2013 02:17 AM
With three more NFL playoff weekends still ahead of us,
there are eight teams still standing; the top quartile of the league. This week, I’m going to write about all eight
of those teams; assessing their respective chances for a trip to the Super
Bowl. But first, it’s time for a brief
history lesson for the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
If you’re looking for active trends for next weekend’s round
of the playoffs, you’re not going to find much when it comes to sides. Over the past ten years, the rested team has
only gone 17-23 ATS in this round, but we’ve seen some dramatic swings. From 2006-2008, the teams coming off a bye
went only 2-10 ATS in this round. In
2009, the teams coming off their bye went 3-1 ATS. In each of the last two years, it’s been a
2-2 ATS split. In other words, there’s not
much of a trend.
It’s a similar story with totals. Over the last ten years, there’s no
prevailing trend to report, with 21 Unders compared to 19 Overs. But over the last two years, it’s 7-1 to the
Over. In the two years before that, it
was 6-2 to the Under. In the two years
prior to that, Overs and Unders split 2-2 both times. Again, there’s not much of a trend.
Do we give the Ravens credit for being the only team in the
NFL to win at least one play... [More]
Posted Monday, December 31, 2012 01:17 AM
Last week, I made my end of the year Top 7 Pointspread Plays
of the Year for the NFL; a look back at some of the wackiest ATS outcomes in
what were thrilling or nerve-wracking results, regardless of which side you
This week, I’m taking something of a different tack, writing
about my Top 5 ‘Hidden’ pointspread plays that had massive repercussions –
repercussions that were felt by the betting markets for weeks, even months
after the game was played. What’s a
‘hidden’ pointspread play? Read on to
5) Week 12: Miami sack
The Seahawks led throughout the second half, but a late
Dolphins TD had the game tied at 21 at the two minute warning. Seattle was driving, facing a first and ten
at the Dolphins 40 yard line, needing only a few more yards to put them in
position for a game winning field goal try from kicker Stephen Hauschka. But they lost yardage on their first down
running attempt, then lost yardage again on a quick pass behind the line of
scrimmage on second down.
On third down, Seattle QB Russell Wilson took a bad
sack. The sack forced the Seahawks to
punt from midfield, pinning Miami deep.
But a 19 yard completion from Ryan Tannehill to Devone Bess followed by
a 36 yard completion between the same duo left the Dolphins in position to
snatch the ... [More]
Posted Monday, December 24, 2012 12:02 PM
In my world, there’s nothing better than a ‘right side’
winner -- no drama, no sweating; an easy ‘rocking chair’ cover. Of course, cashing nothing but ‘right side’
winners is MUCH easier said than done.
In the real world, there are so many games that come down to a single
key late play that determines the SU and/or ATS winner.
As the end of the NFL season approaches. I’ve gone back
through my notes, looking at the some of the wackiest pointspread outcomes of
the year – the really memorable ones. End of the year Top 10 lists are so
passé, so I’ll call this my Top 7 Pointspread Plays of the Year. Let’s start the countdown with #7
7) Week 11: Packers
late field goal
Green Bay was a three point road favorite at slumping
Detroit, but they trailed for most of the game, and were behind by six points
at the two minute warning. Lions bettors
weren’t worried – a Packers TD, in theory, would only lead to a one point,
non-covering win. Aaron Rodgers threw
for that TD on the very first play after the two minute warning. The Lions proceeded to go ‘four-and-out’ on
their subsequent drive, leaving Green Bay the ball at Detroit’s 20 yard line
with just over a minute to play. The
Packers were unable to get a first down, and Jim Schwartz used his remaining timeouts,
forcing Mike McCarthy to trot kicker Mason Crosby onto the fie... [More]
Posted Monday, December 03, 2012 01:44 AM
I spent the last few Sunday’s concentrating on some pretty
bad football teams. It’s December now;
time to shift my focus towards the other end of the spectrum. This week, I focused on four AFC Playoff
contenders. Which teams have the
potential to do some damage when January rolls around and which are
frauds? Read on to find out!
Indy is certainly not a Super Bowl contender. But given that they were seven point
underdogs at 4-7 Detroit, the betting markets aren’t even calling the Colts a
playoff caliber team. Even with starting
cornerback Vontae Davis back in the lineup following a four game injury absence,
the pass defense spent all afternoon getting torched. Where's the pass rush? Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were
The offensive line got dominated by Detroit’s front four for
most of the afternoon. Andrew Luck was beaten
up, taking one big hit after the next.
Coming into the game with four fumbles and ten INT's in five previous
road games, Luck's emphasis was on ball security here. That emphasis didn’t work. He hit seven different receivers in the first
half, but also threw a pair of bad passes to Lions defenders, and followed that
up with a poorly thrown third INT that nearly doomed their chances of a fourth
quarter comeback. And this running ... [More]
Posted Monday, November 26, 2012 03:03 AM
Last week, I turned my focus towards the bottom feeders;
teams that some folks have been calling ‘dead’ of late. There were more struggling squads than I
could cover in a single column; hence Part 2 of my bottom feeder report this
With five games remaining on the slate for every NFL team,
there’s still time to make money fading the teams that have quit on their coach
and their season. On the other end of
the spectrum, there’s an opportunity to make money with teams that are out of
playoff contention IF they play with passion and precision down the stretch.
Here’s my take on this five-pack of sub .500 clubs.
Brandon Weeden continues to struggle, throwing an early pick six, putting the
Browns in a hole. QB woes have plagued
this franchise since their inception/return to Cleveland more than a decade
ago, and I've seen nothing out of Weeden as a rookie to make me think that he's
a franchise QB, capable of leading this team back to respectability.
Weeden is not
testing defenses deep, constantly settling for checkdowns; a dink and dunk
passer. He's throwing multiple poor
passes -- interceptable balls -- on a weekly basis. And he's not making the big throws with the
game on the line in the fourth quarter – the Browns punted on each of their
last ... [More]
Posted Monday, November 19, 2012 10:08 AM
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching the contenders
from both conferences closely. This
week, I turned my focus towards the bottom feeders; teams that some folks have
been calling ‘dead’ in recent weeks.
With six games remaining on the slate for every NFL team,
there’s still plenty of time to make money fading the teams that have quit on
their coach and their season. And there’s
most definitely an opportunity to make money with last place teams IF they play
with passion and precision down the stretch.
Here’s my take on four teams that entered Sunday’s games in
last place in their respective divisions.
We're eleven weeks into the season, and this sorry Chiefs
offense hasn't improved one iota.
There's talent to work with -- Jamal Charles and Peyton Hillis make a decent
'thunder and lightning' duo running the football. Dwayne Bowe, Tony Moeaki, Dexter McCluster
and Steve Breaston have all enjoyed past success as playmaking pass catchers,
although Bowe got hurt early and wasn’t a factor here.
But the same two issues that have plagued KC all year
haven't gone away -- turnovers and red zone offense. Hillis’ first half fumble here negated a
scoring opportunity. And KC was settling
for field goals -- just like they have all year - instead... [More]
Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 10:12 AM
November is the time in the NFL where we separate contenders from pretenders. Last week, I focused on the NFC; this week, I’ll turn to the AFC. Unfortunately, the Colts and Steelers didn’t play on Sunday, and the Texans Sunday Night game was played in weather conditions that affected the game (and the gameplan) significantly. Who among the rest can challenge for AFC supremacy? Read on to find out.
Another slow start for a West Coast team traveling East; certainly not unusual. Slow starts have been a consistent problem for Denver all year. We saw them fall behind by three scores when they faced Atlanta, Houston and San Diego -- three of the tougher foes they've faced. But slow starts is about the only fault I can find with this team right now.
We already know how good Denver’s offense can be, and they score touchdowns : 22 TD's in 32 red zone possessions. The Broncos have an elite quarterback, a strong running game and playmaking WR's - they can trade points with anybody. This team's postseason future rests on... [More]
Posted Monday, November 05, 2012 01:37 AM
November is the time in the NFL where we separate contenders from pretenders. This week, I focused on the NFC. My power ratings have the Giants, 49ers and Falcons as the top three teams in the conference. Who among the rest can challenge for NFC supremacy? Read on to find out.
This offense just isn't working. Facing a bottom tier defense, Jay Cutler still couldn’t find any receivers open downfield. They committed their 17th false start penalty in the first quarter here, by far the most in the NFL. Starting a drive from their own ten yard line, a false start immediately followed by an illegal hands to the face penalty resulted in a safety. Chicago is ranked #30 in the NFL in passing despite facing a soft early schedule; not what we're used to seeing from Super Bowl contenders in the modern age of football.
Chicago’s blocked punt TD is just one more example of how good these special teams right now. Devin Hester's punt return inside the Titans ten yard line is another, setting up the Bears second score. ... [More]
Posted Monday, October 29, 2012 10:19 AM
Last week, I wrote about the three strongest prevailing angles
for the 2012 NFL season. Let me update the
numbers from a week ago.
NFC Underdogs – any underdog in any game – have gone 37-12-2
this season. But that angle has now
suffered back-to-back losing weeks, looking like it’s come and gone as the
market has adjusted to reflect the NFC’s dominance -- just 3-5 ATS in Week 8
after a 2-3-1 ATS mark in Week 7.
Teams heading into the bye week are now 1-14 ATS,
discounting the games where one pre-bye team faced off against another. The Jets were the only team to fall into this
category on Sunday, with the 49ers pending on Monday Night. This trend is still very live; 0-3 ATS over
the past two weeks.
And teams coming out of the bye are on a 9-5 ATS streak;
again discounting the games where one post-bye team faced another. But that
trend seems to e flatlining: 2-2 ATS in Week 7 followed by another 2-2
performance in Week 8.
What’s really going on with these pre-bye or post-bye squads? For the second straight week, I focused my
attention on five teams in one of these two roles.
I like coaches who take some chances to get their team some positive
mojo (the anti-Ron Rivera). Here, Dolphins
head coach Joe Philbin pulled the trigger on a su... [More]
Posted Monday, October 22, 2012 03:59 AM
There are three strong prevailing trends this season in the
NFC Underdogs – any underdog in any game – have gone 34-7-2
this season, even after suffering their first losing week of the season (2-3-1
ATS in Week 7).
Teams heading into the bye week are 1-13 ATS, discounting the
games where one pre-bye team faced off against another (0-2 ATS in Week 7).
And teams coming out of the bye are on a 7-2 ATS streak
heading into the Bears-Lions showdown on Monday Night (2-1 so far in Week
All three trends pass the ‘does it make any sense’ test. The
NFC underdogs trend has a relatively simple explanation. All the worst teams in the NFL are in the AFC
this year. Carolina, St Louis and Tampa
Bay – the three lowest rated NFC teams in my power ratings – all rank above the
likes of Jacksonville, KC, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Tennessee and
Oakland. No surprise, then, that the NFC
has dominated interconference play thusfar.
And without any weaklings to beat up on, we’ve seen NFC favorites
struggle to build margins against their in-conference competitors.
The pre-bye trend of failure is an interesting one to
consider. There’s no short or long term
database history to support it, which means that many bettors are going to
conclude that it’s just ‘s... [More]
Posted Monday, October 15, 2012 10:25 AM
This week, I focused on five NFL teams that can only be described as ‘disappointments’ through the first six weeks of the season. Here are my notes from their respective performances.
This pass defense spent the first month of the season getting torched. Now that secondary gets even weaker without their top playmaker, Aqib Talib, suspended for the next four games after violating the league's drug policy. The run defense, however, was stellar, lots of penetration up front, holding the NFL's leading rusher coming in to eight yards on seven carries in the first half and 40 yards for the game. It’s certainly helped that they were facing a bottom tier QB, allowing their defensive focus to be on stopping the ground game.
At times, it seems as is Josh Freeman is a weaker QB now than he was two years ago, when he inspired his teammates with a series of impressive, gutty, fourth quarter comebacks. This was the first game where Freeman really connected with his big play wideouts Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson, throwing a trio of touchdown... [More]