Last week was the MOST VIEWED, and GREATEST NUMBER OF RESPONSES of any NFL Blog so far, and I can't thank you all enough for weighing in on every game, and really making it interactive!
We had some great plays that panned out, and we had some almost-good plays that fizzled because of unbelievable 6-turnover performances, missed 2-pt conversions, a 4-turnover half, and other kooky stuff that only sports makes, well, kind of normal. Just remember, IT HAPPENS! Even the BEST handicappers hit 55% long term, which means, unfortunately, there are going to be 1-3 days, or even 0-5 (though let's hope that doesn't happen to us!). The key is sticking with what we KNOW works, and that's playing on teams with 2-3 points (or less, with a key number) of value, such that over the long haul, we will ALWAYS turn a profit.
Anyway, back to the quick PERCEPTION LINE ERROR 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."
I'd put that in my forum signature, but it's complicated enough, already.
1) NFL -- SUNDAY ALL ACCESS PASS with GAME OF THE MONTH -- 6-2 6-1 on "BIG" NFL Plays, this package has my Largest NFL Play of October -- I expect ALL of you that read this to JUMP ON, no excuses!!
2) CFB -- CFB GAME OF THE MONTH -- 6-0 Last 6 Straight College Big Plays, and 5 Consecutive CFB Winning Saturdays! I already LOVE LOVE LOVE a few plays, and considering a few will be free, you know the BIG ONE is going to be good.
3) NBA -- Starts Tuesday! On average, we'll have about 1.5 plays per day, and given the season is roughly 180 days, and the SEASON PASS is just $495, you're looking at an investment of LESS THAN $2 per play! If you buy the plays individually, it will probably run about $3,000, so...GET THE SEASON PASS - it's the best deal at Pregame.
4) MLB -- The World Series! You guys can thank the NBA, because ALL WORLD SERIES PLAYS WILL BE FREE!
Week 7 Recap and Lessons Learned: We learned, once again, that about half of all NFL games are going to come down to ONE PLAY.
It's almost unbelievable. Like I said last week, call it "parity" if you want, but if you go down the box scores from this last week, I would argue the Buffalo/Baltimore, Washington/Chicago, Atlanta/Cincy, Pittsburgh/Miami, Carolina/San Francisco, Tampa Bay/St Louis, New England/San Diego, and Green Bay/Minnesota could have turned the ATS result on just one play.
Unfortunately, last week's blog guided us down a few paths that led to a failure on those KEY plays, but fact is, if we continue to find the 2-3 point perception edge, we're going to be in the driver's seat more often than not.
What did you guys learn?
Sports Wagering: NFL
Denver Broncos @ San Francisco 49ers (Pk) with a total of 42;
This one is loaded with angles, but because this is a perception blog, let's just focus on those...er...okay, we'll talk about all of the above. One, this game is being played in London, so make sure to count that in your handicapping - the line we're seeing is a neutral field line, which already seems nuts to me, but whatever. Two, the Niners are coming off a last-second loss to the Carolina, and a game where they lost Alex Smith, and had to throw David Carr to the wolves. He was awful. Keep an eye on that injury report this week. Third, Denver is coming off one of the worst games in the history of the franchise, allowing 59 points to the hapless Raiders in a game where the team clearly gave up. It happens, we're all human. Fact is, there are still people out there that believe in the Niners, somehow. I don't quite get it, but they exist, and thanks to the Broncos suffering the worst loss of any team this weekend, the line isn't inflated. Perception is nearly a wash, but situationals point to Denver.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Dallas Cowboys (-11) with a total of 45;
Tony Romo went down, and so did this line, as the Cowboys are favored by just 6.5 now. On the other side, David Garrard might play this week, so the zero-defense Jags might get back to nearly full strength on offense. There's nothing good about this game. Jacksonville has looked like the worst team in the NFL the last 2 weeks, and Dallas, a public team, lost their star QB, and should suffer a bit of a public depression as a result. This game has more question marks than I would care to cover. From a perception-only standpoint, the line is pretty close to fair. Move along, nothing to see here.
Washington Redskins @ Detroit Lions (-1) with a total of 44.5;
This might be among the fishiest opening lines of the week, and by all indications, the line is teetering towards moving in Detroit's favor! Okay, on the perception side, I'm actually surprised. The Redskins are coming off, arguably, one of the better 4-game stretches that any team has put together this year. It hasn't been pretty, but they beat the Eagles, the Packers, played Indy tough, and then went on the road and beat the Bears in one of the most poorly played football games of the year. Washington should be overvalued, but the public hasn't completely bought into them, courtesy of the ugly wins. On the Detroit side, the Lions are, despite doing a nice job ATS, still just a 1-win team, which means they won't get much in the way of respect. This line is pretty close to where it should be, which is damn incredible considering what people have seen with these teams. My feelings are that the strong ATS mark of both clubs has leveled off the perception value. There are a ton of situational and injury-related angles to pursue, so let's talk a bit about those in the comments section. Most notably, the return of Matthew Stafford would seem to have some impact on the line, especially since Shaun Hill got hurt in the last game, and it would have been Drew Stanton if Stafford wasn't set to return.
Green Bay Packers @ New York Jets (-4.5) with a total of 42;
Just for posterity, I'll point out that this opening line existed for about 12 seconds. The line sits near 6 everywhere now. As far as perception goes, BOTH teams are overvalued. The Packers are coming off a Sunday Night win over the Vikings, and the young gun finally overcame the master, though it took until Favre was playing on one leg to do so. Still, as a Cal guy, I can't help but root for Rodgers' success. In any case, people are back in love with Green Bay, and people have been in love with the Jets for a while now. Who do they love more? Well, this line, hovering in the middle of key numbers, is an interesting one, in that I feel like people that want to back the Jets will probably do so up to a TD, and people backing the Packers will likely do it at most numbers over a FG. Funny, right? I think there might be a hair of value on the Jets side, if only because they had a "bye" week, and the Packers complete inability to run should hurt them. A quick note, though - if the Packers run a few odd blitzes, and Sanchez commits a few turnovers, that could be the difference. Still, all things equal, the Jets should win this game.
Carolina Panthers @ St. Louis Rams (-3, -120) with a total of 35;
I have to admit, I'm actually pretty impressed with the Rams, even in defeat. The offense is doing some good things, enough to compete, and the defense has been significantly better than people expected. From a perception standpoint, these teams are pretty close, in my opinion. The Panthers got a nice last-minute field goal to beat the Niners, and Matt Moore was a vastly superior option at quarterback. Of course, that big effort came off a "bye" week, and against the Niners, who remain one of the most overrated teams in the NFL despite having just 1 win. The Panthers still struggled, had a few big mistakes, and if San Francisco didn't stink in almost every respect (besides at linebacker), Carolina would have found a way to lose. The Rams are confident, and my only concern is that a tough loss might lead to a letdown. From a perception standpoint, the Rams should be ranked a tiny bit stronger than the Panthers, and the increased vig is representative of that. This line is about where it should be, on perception alone.
Miami Dolphins @ Cincinnati Bengals (-1) with a total of 44;
This is a very difficult game to gauge on perception alone. The Dolphins covered last week, but remain winless at home. They remain a team that people struggle to respect because of the way they have won games on the road, and the way they have been unable to cover at home. But then, they played the Steelers, who many feel is the best team in the NFL, very tough, and might have had a game-winning fumble recovery if not for some weird officiating. Cincinnati has been exposed, I believe, for the fraud that they are. They made bonehead plays to lose before the "bye", then simply couldn't keep up with Atlanta's scoring on the road this last weekend. Believe it or not, because the Bengals are falling out of favor, and the Dolphins are hovering between sort of a "public-neutral" and then getting some betting love after upset wins on the road, this is another line that's not far from where it should be. If there's any value in the line on perception, it would be minimal on the Cincinnati side, maybe a point at the most. If you're making a play on this game, it's going to have to come from matchup analysis and situational angles...like, say, the fact that the Dolphins are studs on the road.
Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs (-9) with a total of 43;
Kansas City just spanked the already depressed look right off the face of the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, and I am officially a believer. But that has nothing to do with ATS. Kansas City plays hard, they have tremendous special teams talent, the Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones duo at back is solid, and the more time Cassell spends in this system, the better he's becoming. The Bills, meanwhile, played the Ravens to an OT loss, which, I would think, would have garnered them some respect. Still, this is roughly the same line we saw for Jacksonville, and they were starting Todd Bouman! That's a pretty good sign that this line is inflated. By how much remains to be determined, but given that we actually have seen the Bills start to score a few points, I'd argue that any line over a TD is in that neighborhood of too many points. You have to have some big-time sack to back the Bills, on the road, getting less than double digits, but this line should be closer to 7 or 7.5.
Tennessee Titans @ San Diego Chargers (-3.5) with a total of 43.5;
Tennessee laid a beating on yet another challenger this past week, lowering the boom on the previously-surging Philadelphia Eagles. That, on the heels of the big Monday Night Football win, sure makes Tennessee look like a tough nut. Add to that the possibility that Vince Young returns to the field for this game, and you've got a tidal wave of public action on the Titans. Then, there's San Diego. Yet another tremendous offensive game this past week, combined with yet another tremendous defensive effort, combined with more critical "big-play" mistakes led to yet another loss. San Diego vastly outplayed the Patriots, but fell inches short on a missed last-second FG. Four turnovers in the first half set them behind by just a few points too many. Interestingly, too, if San Diego can play even 3 good quarters, they could be 5-2 right now. Also, if Tennessee doesn't score 27 points in the 4th quarter in a ridiculous turn of events, they wouldn't look quite so intimidating. I can't believe I'm saying this, but if perception brings this line down to 3, which it might, that would be a value on San Diego. Yep, I threw up a little.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Arizona Cardinals (-3.5) with a total of 40;
I would have thought, based on this most recent week, that the Cardinals would be the team getting some value, but this line, to me, actually looks to be a tiny value on the Buccaneers side. Tampa Bay has shown they can play defense, and Josh Freeman's legs have earned them a few key first downs. In terms of skill positions, they're lacking, there's no doubt, but Arizona's inability to score on OFFENSE makes them a tough, tough team to back against teams that don't turn the ball over all that much. In any case, Tampa Bay is still not revered by the public, perhaps because they, like the Dolphins, win ugly. I have to think that Tampa's comeback win (but failed cover) will bring a tiny bit of money to their side, at least when you compare that to Arizona's anemia in Seattle. Their red zone defense was decent against the Seahawks, but if they really have to go back to Derek Anderson, I can't see them as truly "better" than almost any other team in the NFL.
Seattle Seahawks @ Oakland Raiders (-1.5) with a total of 40;
Well, if ever there were a time when we might see an inflated line on the Raiders side, it would be coming off scoring 59 in Denver. But then, Seattle has won 2 in a row, and covered both (including the upset win in Chicago), so they're not exactly undervalued, either. Oh, how I would have loved to see Arizona go into Seattle and upset them, such that this line would rocket up to near a FG and create value on Seattle. Instead, this line is only a small value on the Seahawks side, if any, and if the Raiders defense can lock down on the Seahawks, and, mind you, the Raiders pass defense is solid, they can win this game. Seattle has but one good road game compared to 2 ugly ones, and even though perception is going to create a 1 to 1.5 point line value on Seattle's side, matchups, situationals, and the stadium could potentially mean more than that in the other direction.
Minnesota Vikings @ New England Patriots (-3.5) with a total of 44;
The Patriots have won quite a few in a row now, and you have to wonder if they're fresh out of power for their smoke machine, or perhaps the clubbie forgot to pack the mirrors...har de har har. But seriously, if they were playing almost anyone besides Minnesota, I'd say fade fade fade. As it stands, New England, somehow, gets a little reprieve. Minnesota is smack dab in the middle of a bad children's movie - Favre and the Case of the Stress Fracture - so they're a total wreck. If Tarvaris Jackson plays, huge perception value on the Vikes. If Favre plays, who the heck knows.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New Orleans Saints (Pk) with a total of 43;
There aren't going to be many times when the Superbowl Champs are a line value, but this is likely one of those times. The question is whether it's enough to warrant a play, and on top of that, whether the other factors line up, as well. In this paragraph, we'll look at how these teams come into this game. The Saints are off an hideous performance against the visiting Cleveland Browns. Drew Brees threw 4 interceptions, 2 that got returned for touchdowns. Their defense wasn't terrible, but when 2 offensive plays lead to 14 points for the other team, the end score is generally going to look more lopsided than it should. Bottom line, though, the Saints got outplayed. The Steelers, meanwhile, stole a win in Miami, but they didn't look that great doing it, and I wonder if Pittsburgh has maxed out on public perception. Roethlisberger returned, they've won both games, and people are going to keep betting them, especially here, with no spread, and especially considering Pittsburgh dispatched of the Browns, then the Browns beat the Saints. Here's a nice MATH BREAKDOWN: Pittsburgh and New Orleans both opened as 2-TD favorites to the Browns, and now Pittsburgh is ranked as roughly 3 points better than New Orleans. You see what that means?
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts (-6) with a total of 51;
Will either team stop the other? Both teams are coming out of the bye week, and had a ridiculously high-scoring shoot-out in week 1, a game that Houston grabbed, largely on the legs of Arian Foster. Since then, I'd argue Indianapolis has gotten better, while Houston has gotten worse, but the line would seem to agree. From a pure perception standpoint, the line is probably inflated on Indy's side by a half point, a point at the most, and that's just because of Peyton Manning. This game is another this week where the situational stats and series history are probably more important. These teams play close games, usually very exciting ones, and it's on Monday Night Football. We all know how Peyton can step his game up in these big spots. I believe those notes probably balance out with the tiny perception line value.