Hopefully you all noticed, there was no blog last week. I wrote it in a few places, but as I'm reminded, not everyone sees everything, so very quickly...
Last week was blog-less because I was spending time with close friends here in Michigan to mourn the death of an incredible person, a future doctor, and a true world-changer. Life can be shit. Pardon my language, but sometimes, that's just what needs to be said.
Anyway, this week, back to normal -- quick notes on EVERY game, since, dammit, that's what I've been doing since last December. I will make the following statement, and I challenge anyone to disprove it:
"No one, Pro or otherwise, has broken down, in writing, more games, from a betting standpoint, over the last 12 months, for free, than me."
1) NFL -- SUNDAY ALL ACCESS PASS -- off a 2-1-1 Winning Sunday, now 6-1 on "BIG" NFL Plays, I expect ALL of you that read this to JUMP ON:
2) CFB -- CFB GAME OF THE WEEK -- 5-0 Last 5 College Football Games of the Week, and 4 Straight Winning Weeks on top of that! Just 20 bucks!
3) MLB -- Postseason Stuff. For Sale Mid-week, Free every other day.
4) NBA -- NBA Preseason Betting Guide got started, then scrapped because of the aforementioned tragedy. Daily blogs coming in a week!
Week 6 Recap and Lessons Learned: This felt like the week a few of the small favorites, undervalued because of poor road performances and underdogs covering, would get their rightful ATS victories, and indeed that did play out. A few lines were right on the money, as well...no surprise considering we're now right in the thick of the NFL season.
I think the biggest lesson, though, to take away from the whole NFL season so far, not just this last week, is that no team in the NFL is truly THAT much better than any other team. Call it parity, if you want - I just happen to believe that the way the game is played lends itself to relatively close games, so backing huge favorites is never going to be smart. This is no new epiphany, but bad teams playing good teams "tough" continues to win money for those with the stones to take a big dog.
What did you guys learn?
Sports Wagering: NFL
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) @ Miami Dolphins with a total of 40;
From a pure perception standpoint, and that's all we're covering in this blog, the value should be on the Miami side. The Steelers were laying 2 TD's at home last week thanks to the return of Big Ben, and they just barely squeaked out a cover despite dominating the game. The problem with backing the Dolphins on a perception spot is that they, too, are coming off a cover in week 6, beating Green Bay on the road. If Miami were to have gotten spanked in Wisconsin, they'd be getting more than 3 here, making them a much better value. As it stands, this line isn't off by all that much, perhaps 1 point.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Atlanta Falcons (-4.5) with a total of 42;
I believe this line is closer to fair than it would have been if these teams played in week 6. What does that mean? Maybe not all that much, but it's something. The Falcons got positively drilled in Philadelphia by Kolb and the underrated Eagles, bringing this opening number down from, probably, 5 or 5.5 to its current mark of 4.5, or as low as 4. The problem, like we addressed in the game above, is that both teams are coming off ATS and SU losses, and Cincinnati had an extra week to prepare. I truly wish the Bengals hadn't made diarrhea on the end of that game with Tampa, since we'd be getting an even better line on this one, but as it stands, Atlanta is in a little bit of a rut, and might look to get fat with this pretty fair line.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5) with a total of 43;
I was really, really hoping the Jags would play better on Monday Night Football, not just because I had a losing wager on those lumps of coal, but because that would have done a nice bit to bring this line down. Instead, the Chiefs, who played to a push with the Texans this last weekend (in a game they probably should have won), are laying a fairly sizable number. And, on top of that, this line really isn't available anywhere as oddsmakers are playing this one close to the vest for the foreseeable future thanks to injury concerns. The Chiefs should win, and should cover, but if Trent Edwards is going for the Jags, this line might open up even higher than the original, and barely seen, line of 4.5. In terms of line value, there would have been some with Jacksonville, but to be quite frank, the question marks around that team are so severe, that it just doesn't matter. Some games are not dictated by perception as much as injuries, and here we're staring down the barrel of one of those.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tennessee Titans (-3) with a total of 42.5;
And here we are, two teams off two big wins. Hell, two teams of 4 big wins. Philadelphia has been doing work with Kevin Kolb at the helm, beating the Niners on the road and trouncing the Falcons at home. Meanwhile, Tennessee took care of Dallas on the road, and then smashed Jacksonville on Monday Night Football. Fact is, neither team is as good as they've looked in the last two, and for that reason, this line is probably right about where it should be. There's no mismatch, and if anything, all the hype around the Eagles might leave, at most, about 5-10 cents worth of vig of perception value on the Titans. A brief writeup, but one that gets the point across.
Cleveland Browns @ New Orleans (-14) with a total of 44.5;
This one's an easy one, and you guys probably don't even need my help finding the line value here. The Saints are coming off a demolishing of the fairly well-regarded Bucs, taking care of Tampa Bay 31-6 on the road. That game marked the best the Saints have looked all season, and the obvious concern for when you're considering non-perception angles is that, perhaps, New Orleans is awake now. On the perception side, though, this line is all kinds of nuts. The Steelers were laying 14 to the Browns, won by 18 (covered), but the Steelers are definitely a more well-rounded team than the Saints. You can tell right off the bat that this line is off by at least 1-2 points just by looking at the line. The Browns QB situation is at the forefront, but the Saints defense is going to allow teams to move the ball. Tampa simply couldn't get in the end zone, missed 2 FG's, and were forced to go for the "big score" most of the game because of being so far behind. This line shouldn't be any higher than 12.
Washington Redskins @ Chicago Bears (-3) with a total of 40;
I have to admit, the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears are two of the toughest teams to read right now, in terms of eyeballing public perception. Both teams have a QB that people have heard of (McNabb and Cutler), but neither team really has the star power to be considered elite, or marquee. Washington has been finding ways to cover, sometimes win, and got themselves a push on Sunday Night Football against Peyton and the Colts. How does that alter the line? Probably not at all. The Bears were underrated without Cutler, overrated with him, and got embarrassed by a Seahawks team that, prior to last week, didn't look comfortable away from home. My gut tells me that Washington looks like the juicy side, catching 3 points on the road after they beat Philly, Green Bay, and took Indy down to the wire, and Chicago can't even beat the lowly Seahawks at home. If indeed those numbers play out, this could be an itsy-bitsy value on the home team. This game is, flat out, more interesting from a match-up perspective, given Chicago's solid run defense and Shanahan's insistence on pounding the rock. It may end up being a Donovan McNabb escape show.
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens (-13.5) with a total of 37;
Any time you see a number this high, the value is on the dog. Certainly with a complete failure of a team like Buffalo, that's the case. Oddsmakers are just going to continue adding points to the Buffalo side until they cover more consistently, and to Buffalo's credit, they've been able to hang in there with a few teams. The Bills are really, really bad, though, and that's a tough point to overlook. The Ravens are coming off a difficult OT loss to the Pats, which leads to a host of potential letdown angles, and we can explore those in the comments section. From a line perspective, this one should be closer to 11-12. Do I have the stomach to consider a play on Buffalo? Probably not, even with the line value, since that Bills defense is unbelievably bad. But will the Ravens have the focus for 60 minutes that you need to cover 2 TD's? Hmm...
San Francisco 49ers (-3) @ Carolina Panthers with a total of 34.5;
And with one quick win, and cover, the value is right back off the Niners. We waited, and waited, and backed San Francisco successfully twice this year, at home, when they covered against the Saints, and then against the Raiders. But how someone could watch that game with Oakland and truly believe this Niners team has a future of success is beyond me. Alex Smith still looks like a deer in the headlights, consistently backpedaling when the pocket starts to collapse, and just doesn't seem to understand what's going on around him. The Niners aren't 6 points better than anyone, certainly not at 10am (local time), 3,000 miles from home. The Panthers are coming off a "bye" week, and an ugly home loss to the Bears prior to that. This team is not good, but they're also not as bad as everyone thinks. This line should be closer to a pick.
St. Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5) with a total of 38;
I smell some value. You guys are probably starting to sense a pattern that public perception angles are more pronounced off a big discrepancy ATS the previous week. For instance, here, the Rams were a 9-point underdog and won outright by a FG, a 12-point swing. The Bucs were a 5-6 point home dog to the Saints, and got blown out by over 20 points. Put those two together, and the Buccaneers look awful, while the Rams beat the Chargers, who, for some reason, are still well-regarded. I can only assume it's because of San Diego's big offensive yardage numbers, because it sure as hell isn't their record. In any case, this line would have definitely been closer to a FG if not for the results of the previous week, and it's amazing how the World can overreact. The Saints were bound to wake up, and as discussed above, the Bucs missed 2 FG's and needed to go for the big score, and failed. The Rams aren't going to run away from Tampa like New Orleans can, and did, and we saw how the Rams responded the last time they hit the road. There's value in getting a key number with a home team, and another point on top of that.
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (-6) with a total of 40.5;
Those dastardly Seahawks won a road game, upending a Bears team that was laying 6-7 points, and in the process, wiped out whatever value they might have had coming home. Instead, we've got 2 teams coming off upset wins (or underdog wins, I guess I should say, since nothing is all that crazy in the NFL), and a line that is probably a tad inflated on the home team. People remember Arizona's last road game, and people remember Seattle's last home game, and the simple fact is that Seattle probably shouldn't be laying a hair under a TD to anyone, even Arizona. With two fairly bad teams, a lot can happen, which makes this game a tougher one, but from a pure line perception standpoint, this one should have been closer to a FG (pick), or just a shade over that. I'd say about a point, maybe 1.5 on the Cardinals side, especially if young QB Max Hall can continue to find ways to get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald's colossal hands.
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos (-7) with a total of 44;
This line stayed at 7 for about 5 minutes, and now sits at 8.5, another line that came out late due to injury concerns. The Raiders might be going with Kyle Boller if Campbell's knee doesn't feel better come gameday, and as much as I enjoy rooting for former Cal Bears, Boller is a 3rd stringer in Oakland for a reason. He'll hand the ball off, make some short passes, and be (yes, this is what I mean...) a poor man's Bruce Gradkowski. Yikes. In terms of line value, neither team covered last week, and this is a rather high number, which makes me think the line is fair, and definitely one of those games where bettors should be wary. Tease it. You heard it here.
New England Patriots @ San Diego Chargers (-3) with a total of 49;
High total, two teams with offenses that can literally run up and down the field, two solid place kickers if it comes down to that, and as a result, a completely sterile "push" on a neutral field. But this line intrigues me. Considering New England is coming off a super-exciting home win over the Baltimore Ravens, and before that, a huge special teams-led win on the road in Miami, and considering that the Chargers have lost in Oakland and in St. Louis, one might have expected the Pats to be considered the superior neutral-field team. There's no question that this opening number is a strong one for San Diego, and though I try to keep line analysis out of this blog, the fact that it hasn't come off 3 is also a little surprising, though it might as the week wears on. I believe this line is pretty fair where it sits, but if it moves under 3, I'd say there's some value getting that key number with the underachieving Chargers.
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers (-3) with a total of 44;
This line is a bit of a head-scratcher. The Packers are coming off another difficult 3-point loss, and again suffering that fate as a 3-point favorite. Now, I have to believe that folks are starting to lose faith in this pass-happy offense that, without Ryan Grant, and unwilling to swing a trade for Marshawn Lynch, just simply doesn't have a running game. You can beat bad teams by airing it out, and Green Bay will continue to do so, but a good defense like the Vikings? At a FG, this game is of zero interest. Minnesota and Green Bay are both teams that continue to get too much credit based on either last year or the first few weeks of this season. Cold weather could mean Brett Favre's tendinitis might worsen, but it also means the team with the better rushing attack has an edge. The Pack might also ratchet things up a tad against Favre and try to get some revenge. There's simply too much going on to make a play on this game UNLESS you can get that key number. To me, a line move in either direction would make it a better play, or throw this side into a teaser.
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys (-3) with a total of 44.5;
The Giants defensive front has shown some signs of waking up the last 3 weeks, posting very strong showings against the Bears and Texans before relaxing a tad in a win (but failed cover) against the visiting Detroit Lions. The Cowboys are in desperation mode, salvaging a win a few weeks back, but then tumbling in back-to-back close losses to the Titans and the Vikings. Is this that game where the public loses faith in the Cowboys? Lord knows every media outlet is calling for Wade Philips' head. This has that feeling of the week the Cowboys wake up and win one, especially against the rival Giants. I also believe that if not for the results of the last 2-3 weeks, the Cowboys would be laying 4.5 or 5, so there's some value brewing. If this line, for any reason, dips below 3, that's a big perception move. As it stands, it's hovering in that neighborhood of near-play-level perception value, and if other factors coalesce just right, well, you get the idea.