Posted Friday, August 31, 2012 12:58 PM
Kansas City Chiefs:
KC went 7-9 last year, but enjoyed a winning 9-7 ATS
record. They were Under machines,
cashing a dozen Under tickets in their 16 ballgames. The Chiefs faced a much tougher than average
schedule, outgained by 0.5 yards per play while finishing -2 in turnovers.
Romeo Crennel had the ‘interim head coach’ tag lifted when
he guided the Chiefs to a 2-1 late season mark after taking over for the fired
Todd Haley, highlighted by a shocking upset as double digit underdogs over the
previously undefeated Packers last December.
Crennel will serve as his own defensive coordinator. He brought in the much maligned Brian Daboll
to coordinate the offense, KC’s sixth offensive coordinator in the last six
seasons – not much continuity on that side of the football.
Daboll has worked with Chiefs QB Matt Cassel before, serving
as a Patriots assists in Cassel’s first two years in the league. But his track record as the offensive
coordinator in each of his last two stops – Cleveland and Miami – was downright
awful, unable to create touchdowns on any sort of a consistent basis with
This is a make-or-break year for Cassel. He had a QB rating below 70 in his first year
as the starter in 2009, then missed the back half of last year following h... [More]
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2012 01:26 PM
Last year, in John Fox’s first season at the helm in Denver,
the Broncos got hot down the stretch, in large part due to some Tim Tebow
magic, and won the division with an 8-8 record (7-9 ATS, 9-7 to the Over). They faced a schedule that was right around
the league average in terms of toughness, yet were outgained by 0.4 yards per
play while finishing -12 in turnovers.
Fox returns as the head coach, as does offensive coordinator
Mike McCoy, but the Broncos have a new defensive coordinator; former Jaguars
head coach Jack Del Rio. Del Rio served
at the same position under Fox in Carolina prior to his ascension in
But nobody in Denver is talking about the coaching staff –
they’re talking about Peyton Manning. Manning
is 36 years old, coming off a lost season and four neck surgeries. He’ll be throwing to a largely unproven group
of receivers - -no WR on the squad has more than 124 career catches. And Denver doesn’t have much of a Plan B if
Manning doesn’t work out – backup Caleb Hanie was nothing short of a disaster
in Chicago last year and rookie third stringer Brock Osweiler has looked awful thusfar.
That being said, nobody is writing off the four time MVP
Manning. The offensive line in front of
him looks solid, with ever... [More]
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2012 12:25 PM
The Vikings were a mess in 2011, both on and off the field;
the single worst season in franchise history.
By my numbers – based on my power rating of each of their opponents on
the week the game was played – Minnesota faced the single toughest schedule in
the NFL. They did not fare well against
that imposing slate, just 3-13 SU, 6-8-2 ATS.
The Vikings overall stats didn’t look too bad for a 3-13 team
that faced the toughest schedule in the league with a rookie QB behind center
for most of the campaign. They were
outgained by a relatively modest 0.4 yards per play and finished -3 in
turnovers. Minnesota was an Over team
last year, cashing Overs at a 10-6 clip.
Let’s start with the coaching staff. Head coach Leslie Frazier and offensive
coordinator Bill Musgrave are already on the hot seat in only their second full
season on the job – right there with Norv Turner in San Diego as the hottest
seat in the NFL right now.
On offense, the Vikings are hoping that star running back
Adrian Peterson will be fully recovered from his ACL surgery to start on
opening day. First round draft choice
Matt Kalil is expected to shore up the left tackle position on what looks like
a decent offensive line.
But the biggest of... [More]
Posted Tuesday, August 28, 2012 12:09 PM
Green Bay Packers
Last year, the defending Super Bowl champs were the best
team in the NFL for the entire regular season, before getting bounced out of
the playoffs following their bye, at home against the Giants. Green Bay finished 15-1 SU and despite their
‘public’ nature, they were strong moneywinners: 11-5 ATS, including a 6-0 ATS
mark in games were they were less than a TD favorite.
The Packers were an Over machine; 11-5 to the Over in
2011. Against a very easy schedule,
Green Bay outgained their opponents by 0.3 yards per play and finished with a
whopping +24 turnover margin, second best in the league.
There’s no question that this offense is loaded, despite
some minor concerns at the running back position. Green Bay outscored the weakest offense in
the league by a full three TD’s per game last year. They solidified the offensive line in the
offseason, signing free agent center Jeff Saturday, and extended several
contracts to ensure stability up front for years to come.
The Packers defense, however, has plenty of question
marks. Green Bay’s top six draft picks
were all on the defensive side of the ball.
The ability of those youngsters to step in and have an impact as rookies
is paramount if Dom Capers leaky defense (ranked dead last in the NFL... [More]
Posted Monday, August 27, 2012 01:03 PM
Four years ago, the Lions were the laughingstock of the NFL;
the first 0-16 team in league history.
Obviously, things could only improve once the Ford family took the keys
out of bottom tier GM Matt Millen’s hands.
After more than a decade of futility, Detroit made the leap from a 2-14
bottom feeder in 2009 to an improving 6-10 team in 2010, to a 10-6 playoff team
Despite their leap up in the standings, the Lions were not
money winners for their supporters in 2011, finishing with a modest 7-7-2 ATS
mark. Detroit showed guts and moxie,
rallying back from double digit deficits on the road against the Raiders, Cowboys
and Vikings. But they did not play their
best football down the stretch, just 5-6 SU after their 5-0 start, before
getting blown out by the Saints in their playoff game (3-8-1 ATS in their last
The Lions faced a harder than average schedule in 2011, but
still outgained their opponents by 0.4 yards per play. They finished +11 in turnovers.
Detroit will enjoy great continuity, with head coach Jim
Schwartz, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Gunther
Cunningham all returning, as well as the vast majority of assistants. QB
Matthew Stafford joined Dan Marino, Tom Bra... [More]
Posted Sunday, August 26, 2012 12:31 PM
The Bears were two completely different teams in 2011. The ‘good ’ Bears went 7-3 to open up the
campaign. The ‘bad’ Bears went 1-5 to
close out the season after a bevy of injuries decimated their roster, most
notably the season ender to starting QB Jay Cutler.
Chicago finished the season with an 8-8 SU and 8-8 ATS mark
while going 9-7 to the Over. They were
outgained by 0.3 yards per play and finished with a +2 turnover margin against
a much tougher than average slate of opponents.
Mike Martz failed miserably as the offensive coordinator in
Detroit and in San Francisco prior to his arrival in Chicago. No surprise that Martz’s offense failed with
the Bears as well, leading to his resignation following the disastrous close to
New offensive coordinator Mike Tice is the former Vikings
head coach, assistant head coach/offense in Jacksonville and the offensive line
coach here in Chicago under Martz for the last two seasons. His new offense is designed to maximize the
Bears big play ability while getting the ball out of Jay Cutler’s hands
The Bears are loaded with top notch skill position talent,
bringing in receiving weapons Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in the
offseason. Their big... [More]
Posted Saturday, August 25, 2012 01:49 PM
The Titans were the only team in the NFL last year to finish
with a winning record without making the playoffs; losing the tiebreaker with
Cincinnati for the final playoff spot in the AFC. Based on my numbers, they faced the single
easiest schedule in the NFL in 2011.
Despite the easy slate, Tennessee only outgained their foes
by 0.1 yards per play and finished the season with a +1 turnover margin. The Titans were slight money losers for their
supporters, going 7-8-1 ATS and 10-5-1 to the Under.
The Titans enjoyed good continuity this past offseason,
returning head coach Mike Munchak for his second year on the job, and both
coordinators (Chris Palmer offense, Jerry Gray defense). Tennessee’s preseason QB battle between the aging
veteran Matt Hasselbeck and the second year first rounder Jake Locker has been
settled in Locker’s favor. He’s not
likely to light up opposing defenses on a weekly basis.
The Titans biggest offensive issue is not at quarterback –
it’s fixing a running game that ranked #31 in the NFL last year. RB Chris Johnson had been in three
consecutive pro bowls, rushing for more than 4500 yards in the process, but
last year he suffered career lows in nearly everything – yards from scrimmage,
yards per carry, touchdown... [More]
Posted Friday, August 24, 2012 12:58 PM
Somehow, the lowly Jags managed to win five games last year
against an average schedule in terms of toughness. They were outgained by a full yard per snap
for the entire season, but finished with a +5 turnover margin. Jacksonville was an injury plagued disaster
by the end of the campaign, with 25 players on injured reserve. The Jags went 7-8-1 ATS and 11-4-1 to the
Like in Indy, there’s a new era in Jacksonville. The Jags have a new owner, billionaire
businessman Shad Khan. New head coach
Mike Mularkey held the same position in Buffalo, lasting only two years on the
job before getting fired. He’s been the
offensive coordinator in Atlanta for the last few seasons.
Mularkey retained Jacksonville defensive coordinator Mel
Tucker, but brought in Bob Bratkowski – one of five current or former offensive
coordinators on the staff – to coordinate the offense. Bratkowski coordinated the Bengals offense
for most of the past decade and was the QB coach in Atlanta last year.
The Jags biggest issue is at the QB position. As a rookie, Blaine Gabbert was awful,
finishing the season with a 65.4 QB rating.
Dolphins retread Chad Henne was signed in the offseason to give Gabbert
some competition, but n... [More]
Posted Thursday, August 23, 2012 12:59 PM
After an NFL high nine consecutive playoff appearances, the
Colts crashed and burned last year following QB Peyton Manning’s season ending
neck surgery. They did face a tougher
than average schedule, but a 2-14 SU, 6-10 ATS season can’t be blamed solely on
a tough slate of opponents.
The Colts were outgained by 0.8 yards per play in 2011,
fourth worst in the NFL. They had a -12
turnover margin and went 9-7 to the Under for the campaign.
The 2012 schedule tells you all you need to know about
Indy’s rebuilding project. The Colts
have been primetime mainstays for the last decade, with at least three or four
Sunday or Monday Night national TV appearances every year. This year, the Colts play 15 of their 16
games at 1 PM Eastern time. The 16th
game is a Thursday Night affair at lowly Jacksonville on the NFL network. The Colts are most assuredly NOT a ‘showcase’
team for the league this year.
The Colts have a first time head coach, Chuck Pagano, the
former Ravens defensive coordinator.
Their new offensive coordinator is Bruce Arians, who developed some very
effective downfield throwing schemes in his tenure at Pittsburgh. New defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was
fired by the Chargers following his lone season on the job last ... [More]
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012 01:44 PM
After nearly a decade
of trying to ‘get over the hump’, the Texans finally broke through last year,
going 10-6, winning the AFC South and even winning a playoff game, despite an
injury plagued season that saw many of their top players go down for extended
Houston was a money winner for their supporters, thanks to a
9-5-2 ATS mark. They outgained their
opponents by 0.9 yards per play, tied for second best in the NFL, and finished
with a +7 turnover margin. The Texans
were an Under team in 2011, cashing Unders at a 10-6 clip.
But before we get carried away with the Texans success,
let’s not forget that they were beating up on a very weak slate of
opponents. Houston faced 3rd
easiest schedule in the NFL based on my numbers – numbers which are based on my
power rating of their opponents for the week that the game was played.
Houston has fairly good continuity from last year to this
year. Head coach Gary Kubiak and both
coordinators return, most notably defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Phillips took a defense that had been ranked
dead last against the pass and #30 overall, and transformed the unit into the
#3 defense in the NFL last year.
The salary cap challenged Texans did suffer some ... [More]
Posted Monday, August 13, 2012 01:33 PM
Value of ‘3’
NFL bettors are conditioned to think about the pointspread number
of + or -3 as being the single most important or ‘key’ number in football
betting. That certainly holds true for
the regular season, when nearly one out of every seven games finishes with a
final margin of three points.
But in August, coaches don’t play for overtime. We saw two prime examples of that this past
weekend. Jacksonville rallied from 17
points down against the Giants, scoring their final TD with two minutes left in
the fourth quarter.
Instead of kicking the extra point to tie the game – making it
quite likely that one of the two teams would win by a field goal – Jacksonville
head coach Mike Mularkey went for the two point conversion and the win. The Jags made that conversion and won the
game by a single point; a great result for line shoppers and a lousy result for
On the very same night, the Lions were a three point home favorite
against the Browns. Cleveland, like
Jacksonville, rallied from a double digit deficit in the second half. With just over six minutes left in the fourth
quarter – plenty of time – Browns head coach Pat Shurmur made the same decision
that Mularkey had made. Instead of
kicking the extra point to tie the game, the Browns went for the two point
Posted Sunday, August 05, 2012 08:53 PM
Over the course of the past week, just about every major
sportsbook both here in Las Vegas and offshore has posted their Week 1 college
football pointspreads. And, of course,
to no one’s surprise, the early bettors had some very different opinions about
the relative worth of those 124 board teams, resulting in a handful of
significant line moves in the first few hours and days after they were posted.
This column is titled the ‘Wiseguy Report’ for a reason –
most of my readers are looking for insight about the sharpest bettors in the
world. Who do the sharps like in college
football for Week 1 and why do they like them?
Read on to find out, but before I continue, a word of caution!
‘Sharp’ bettors are not a single entity; they are a
multitude of individuals and groups, each with their own opinions. Most of the groups have not gotten involved
yet, so the early money that I will describe is largely the result of
individual betting opinions.
First, let me make this perfectly clear. Of all the different ‘inflection points’ that
come to pass as the football market slowly starts to mature, there’s only one
group of wagers that attracts significant ‘public’ money – the odds to win it
all. Sharp bettors don’t ignore those
bets, but they tend to focus on ‘live longshots’ that have a puncher’s chance
to win a title at 20:1, ... [More]