Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baseball Ends Weekend, Day 1

Recap: We had a Game of the Week washed out in Baltimore, but buyers of the Package received a Bonus play on the Oakland Athletics, who are currently looking to snap out of a skid, and win us some money. They're up 4-0 as I type, but there's a long, long way to go. Stay tuned. We'd love to get that one and make Thursday a winning day!

Today: BASEBALL! Let's be clear - my College plays are largely going to be situational, or involving teams from the Big-10 or Pac-10, and to me, this Friday game is out of my wheelhouse. So instead, let's just keep hammering the BREAD AND BUTTER. Do you guys want another Baseball Winner? Of course you do! ADD MLB Top Play to CART!

Sports Wagering: MLB

Rockies @ Cardinals (-126) with a total of 8.5; J. De La Rosa vs. J. Westbrook;
This is a classic case of a team that is d-o-n-e for the year. The Rockies made their run, and since that series in Arizona where the D'backs basically ended Colorado's season (or pushed them to the brink), Colorado has fallen apart. They were swept at home by the Dodgers, and got pummeled in the opener of this series last night. Fact is, the Cards have had time to deal with the reality that their season is over, and I believe having such a strong home crowd, such an appreciative fan base, is going to make St. Louis want to end the season with a little pride. Beating the Rockies is also a bit of a revenge spot, since Colorado hung some of the most ridiculous comebacks I've ever seen on the Cardinals when these teams faced off in the altitude. We're seeing a pretty cheap line on this game because folks still haven't caught on to the Rockies' complete collapse, and because of Westbrook, but don't overthink the low-ish line. This is a fair number on a team that has whatever small amounts of motivation are left to have.

Padres @ Giants (-166) with a total of 6.5; C. Richard vs. M. Cain;
I assume just about everyone wants some thoughts on this game, the only one left that actually matters, aside from whoever the Braves get to tackle to try to push the Padres out of the Wild Card race. Truth be told, I want no part of this game, but if I had to make a play, I'd take a shot on the Padres. The problem? The Padres have not responded well, at all, to the pressure of the Playoff chase. They can't score, and the Giants have been pitching as well as any team in baseball. I know Cain has run into pitch count issues with the Padres in the past, but the crowd at AT&T is going to be going ballistic, and even though the Padres are the presumed value, I don't believe in that team. We all kept wondering when the Padres would fall apart, and they really did wait until the very last moment, but it happened. The lack of true offensive firepower caught up with them, and they're finding ways to lose games even though they're only allowing 1-2 runs per game...hence, the total of 6.5. This one could feature 3 runs, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.

Angels @ Rangers (-111) with a total of 8.5; J. Weaver vs. T. Hunter;
Weaver scares me in Texas. This has not been his favorite place to pitch, and against the Rangers, maybe more than most other opponents, he's been a tale of two cities. We know Weaver can pitch at home, but he has also featured a 7-run outing in Texas this year, as well as the "bare minimum quality" - 6 innings, 3 runs. The Angels are playing decent ball down the stretch, but lost last night, and it seems like Texas is looking to take a little momentum into the Postseason. And honestly, I'd like to see more teams play out the stretch like that. The concern with backing Texas, here? Hunter. He hasn't been all that sure of himself against the Halos, and his innings have been pretty darn short. Texas could be limiting him at the tail end of a long Big League season, but if that means we're going to see some middle relief, that means the Angels will have some chances to score. Texas isn't going to take any risks with the top bullpen arms, either, so I wouldn't be surprised to see some severe hesitation before going to the true cannons, even if Texas is trying to preserve a short lead. Be careful with this game - I happen to believe the better values out there involve home teams trying to give their fans a show, or bad-to-middling teams trying to climb a rank spot in their division to take some positive momentum into the offseason.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Last MLB Series of 2010

Recap: I was feeling pretty darn sick on Tuesday, and a little less sick yesterday. A sweep might have brought me back quicker, but we had to settle for 1-1, with a win on the Angels and a loss on the Nationals. Back to multi-sport cards.

Today: Thursday is a true "Orders of Business" day, and here's why...

1) Thursday is a double-podcast day! I'll post the links to each in here, eventually, but be sure to check out the morning show with forum member VegasMatty, and the HERALDED College Football Specialty show with Mike Hook and Sac Lawson. For the most recent episode of "TiSB" at any time, visit this link: TiSB RSS Feed

2) Thursday is an MLB transition to the last series of the regular season! MLB is on a 5-1 run over the last 5 days, a 14-5 run over the last few weeks, and a 40-29 run dating back almost 2 months! Let's finish strong, and since MLB is where we've been buttering our bread, today's Paid Play is out of the MLB, and I love it so much, I'm making it our GAME OF THE WEEK! ADD GOW to CART

3) College Football Returns with a stand-alone game that, to me, isn't terribly interesting. There might darn well be value in it, but I'm not ready to pull the trigger -- if anything changes, CFB Thursday will be FREE here in this thread!

4) NFL Weekly Blog is ROLLING along! If some of you that read this thread AREN'T reading the weekly NFL notes, well, I might just have to pop you one. NFL Week 4 MegaBlog Link

Football Pro Notes...the Sunday ALL ACCESS PACKAGE is still just 22 bucks, but it goes up to 25 on Saturday, so GET ON BOARD EARLY!

I will be selling a play on the NFL Evening game separately, as well, so if you don't want the ALL ACCESS, you can get just the Bears/Giants Top Play for 15 bucks.

College Football Game of the Week goes Saturday! That's for sale, and ALL OTHER Saturday College Plays and MLB Plays will be 100% FREE...AGAIN!

Sports Wagering: MLB

Tigers @ Orioles (-134) with a total of 8.5; J. Bonderman vs. J. Guthrie;
And now it's official, the Orioles are a force to be reckoned with. The Tigers, normally a fairly public team, are catching reasonable underdog numbers in Baltimore, and it just goes to show how things have changed in the old MD. But down to business. The key components of this one, besides the strong opening number on the Baltimore side, are that Baltimore continues to win, and that Detroit seemed to shoot their metaphorical "wad" in the home season finale against the Twins. Detroit promptly went on the road, and looked like utter garbage in Cleveland, and truth be told, it's tough to envision this team getting some sort of life for the last series of the year, when the only thing standing between the players and 5 months of relaxation is a surging Baltimore club. The Orioles are one of the few non-playoff-bound teams that doesn't seem to want the season to end. They struggled a little on their road trip, but finished strong with some good games in Tampa, and though the first game home is often a trouble spot, being that it's the last series of the year, I expect a performance commensurate with the medium favorite line that oddsmakers tagged them with.

Blue Jays @ Twins (-159) with a total of 8; S. Hill vs. F. Liriano;
This line is rather low, but the Twins have locked up that Playoff spot, and they seem to be content to just get healthy and lose a few games down the stretch. I wonder, though, if the road losses in Detroit and Kansas City were just a lapse of focus, and if Ron Gardenhire will get his troops to play harder in the final home series, just to get some momentum heading into the postseason. It's a huge question mark, really, and we've certainly seen plenty of teams over the years just bag it with a week to go, get healthy for the postseason, and completely disregard the final 7-10 games of the year. With that in mind, I would be very, very careful before betting anything in this game. I know Liriano is having one of the quieter dominant seasons for a pitcher, and he could easily shut the Jays down completely, and Shawn Hill has a long way to go to get that arm strength back, but when everything looks so easy, and the Twins seem ready to bounce back, that's when they lose one more. Minnesota's momentum is a huge priority when handicapping this game, so take a long look at how the finale in KC played out, then make a decision.

Rockies @ Cardinals with a total of N/A; J. Hammel vs. C. Carpenter;
I'm curious to see where oddsmakers bring this line out, since the Cards have been getting progressively less public love over the course of this late-season collapse. That being said, the Rockies, much like the Angels in the American League, are not in the Playoffs, played their last home game, and are sniffing the offseason. But, they're separated from that offseason by one stupid road series. For the Angels in the AL, the difference there is that they've had plenty of time to cope with not making the Playoffs, and the youngsters are trying to put together something. For the Rockies, they surged hard, then fell flat, and even looked lackluster in the home series against the Dodgers where they were officially eliminated. A young team like the Rockies that played with all that emotion is still ripe for a few more losses. They might try to end the season with a win, but if this line is low enough, I might consider taking a shot with the Cards, even though Carpenter's had 4 bad starts in a row. Passing might still be best, but the Rockies are in such a letdown spot that I have to at least take a peek.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Baseball Roundup for Tuesday

Recap: Monday was a STRONG performance, as the Indians mopped up the Tigers for an easy winner on the bases, and the Chicago Bears cashed our 2* NFL Game of the Week! That completed just a 2-4 NFL Week 3...BUT...we cashed the 2* and the 3*, and all 4 losses were on 1* Best Bets. So, not my ideal week, but TURNED A PROFIT, and that really feels nice after Sunday being rather ugly. And MLB is just crushing right now!

Today: Uh oh, it's Tuesday...that sound you hear is 70% of Pregame dozing off simultaneously...but not this guy!

It's a very, very tough week to bet the bases, but the huge keys this week involve teams wrapping up home schedules (Fan Appreciation Days, youngsters in front of big crowds, road teams that have packed it in, etc.), and I'm confident we can continue to nail MLB plays on a daily basis!

A ton of games don't have lines yet, so I'm not going to post a package until the morning, when I can be completely sure we'll have an MLB Top Play. Stay tuned!

Sports Wagering: MLB

Dodgers @ Rockies (-134) with a total of 9; H. Kuroda vs. J. Francis;
I don't often considering backing a team with a slightly inflated line, but this one is staying low because of Jeff Francis's struggles, and because the road team is still going to draw SOME money just because they're the Dodgers. The issue with this game is not, in my opinion, whether the Rockies will put up a few runs. They just will against Kuroda, who can't seem to solve this team, and certainly does not enjoy his trips to Coors. The issue is with Francis. He's been a complete disaster in his 2 starts since another 1-month "break", and hasn't cleared 4 innings in either of them. How can we really trust Francis to get the job done, even against a poor-hitting Dodgers team, when he gave up 5 runs to them earlier this year when he was actually completing 5 innings? The Over is certainly in play, as is the home team if you believe Francis can put together even a start that borders on quality. My take is that the Rockies will likely score 5-6 runs, so the question is whether the Dodgers score 3, which would make the home team the bet, or 5, which would make the Over the bet.

Mariners (-119) @ Rangers with a total of 8; F. Hernandez vs. S. Feldman;
This one caught my attention because the line is extremely strong in Seattle's favor. That being said, this ballpark is one of the select few that has given the King some issues in the past. He has a 7-run debacle under his belt from earlier this year, in Texas. To me, the competing angles lead down the road to a pass, but we can explore why just a tad more. First, Felix was a +115 road dog the last time he was in Texas, facing Colby Lewis, so that matches up relatively will, given Feldman's terrible work in 2010. Felix was a -140 road favorite in Toronto against Shawn Hill, a game the Mariners lost 1-0. On closer inspection, the line is about where it should be. So, writing off the strength of the opening number, I think you actually have to consider the home team. Teams playing in front of those frantic crowds the last few days of the year, and teams making the playoffs for the first time in over a decade are going to have a rambunctious fan base. Will Texas field a reasonable lineup, though? That's the huge problem. They need to get their starters in line for the postseason, and get those nagging injuries to go away in the regulars. We might see 3-4 starters sit every night between now and the end of the year, and if that's the case, we might as well wait before playing a game. Hell, the line might move 15-20 cents towards Seattle if Texas scratches Michael Young and Vladdy.

Athletics @ Angels (-129) with a total of 7; D. Braden vs. D. Haren;
Here's an intriguing game. Try to follow this logic. The A's pitching has faltered in their last few games, and they dropped a rather ugly home series to the Rangers, despite Texas clinching the division and playing the finale hung over. Normally reliable, when the A's don't pitch, they don't win. The Angels haven't been scoring at all, and they got swept at home by the White Sox. This is the Angels last home series, so I expect a little better effort here than they put forth against Chicago. Dan Haren has quietly been pitching his butt off, but the Angels are out of it, so no one is taking notice. Braden has struggled with the Angels this year, but if they don't hit, they could make him look good, and he's coming off a fantastic start his last time out. What does this mean? Not a ton. I think the angles shake out in favor of the home team just by a hair, but to me, the line is almost right where it should be. The one factor that might tip it in the Angels favor, in my mind, is that the Angels are about 2 games back of Oakland in the AL West, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Scioscia get his guys to try to pass Oakland for 2nd place and grab at that straw to end the year.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

NFL MegaBlog for Week 4

Prelude: This week, and all weeks moving forward, the blog will shorten up just a tad. The first 2 blogs focused largely on perception angles, but also included a good deal of other notes. From here on out, the blog will focus SOLELY on how perception is creating or demolishing value, and it's going to be up to YOU all to fill in notes on matchups, line moves, and other key game insight. I really want this blog to be interactive, and if I'm typing up everything, that's no fun for everyone else!

Pro Notes:

1) NFL -- Much like the last couple weeks, I'll be featuring a SUNDAY ALL ACCESS PASS, and after treading water for a couple weeks, it's time to storm the roost. Too much overthinking in week 2, then not enough overthinking in week's time to get back to the basics: ADD ALL ACCESS PASS to CART

2) CFB -- Like last week, I will be selling just my CFB GAME OF THE WEEK, and every other CFB play will be 100% FREE! I maintain that no one on this planet gives away more FREE STUFF (blogs, podcasts, plays, leantrackers...I mean, that's how it's done!) than I do, and I'll take that statement to the grave. Thus, ADD the CFB GOW to CART

3) MLB -- For Sale Top Plays on Tuesday and Wednesday (and possibly Thursday and/or Friday) will lead into more FREE MLB work on the weekend, and off last weekend's 3-0 MLB, there is REASON to pay attention. Stay tuned.

Week 3 Recap and Lessons Learned: There were a few lessons to be learned.

For one, the Carolina Panthers really are that bad. That's a team that I don't want to play on or against, ever. Why? Well, they're so terrible that lines are going to be consistently inflated for the opponent (barring a west coast trip to one of the stinker-teams on Pacific time), and they're so terrible that almost any level of line inflation isn't good enough for me to trust them.

Second, teams in desperation are somewhat unpredictable. The Vikings played a wholly mediocre game, but beat the Lions because Detroit played a slightly more mediocre game; the Niners got slapped around in Kansas City in a truly ugly effort; and the Cowboys, really, played far and away the best game of every supposedly "good" team trying to avoid 0-3.

So, what teams are in desperation in week 4? The Niners, clearly, since they already fired the OC, but outside of San Francisco, the only other team I could argue expected better things are the G-Men, and that defense is beyond suspect.

And third, I RE-LEARNED a valuable lesson about speculating. Don't do it. Sometimes, you need a game to remind you not to "take shots," and for me, week 3 had 2 of those. The play on the Texans was ill-advised, going against everything I stand for, in terms of public perception. That won't happen again. And the play on Denver was ill-advised, in that we really just didn't know how the team would respond to tragedy. I admit, I'm less irked at the Denver play, since I still believed them to be a live dog, but to take a vastly overvalued Houston team...well, it's actually going to take a long time for me to forgive myself for that one. Just foolish.

What did you guys learn?

Sports Wagering: NFL

Sunday, 1pm

Denver Broncos @ Tennessee Titans (-6.5) with a total of 41.5;
The perception in this one is pretty easy. Last week, Denver got mauled by the Colts, while the Titans ran all over the hapless Giants. In terms of value, the value in this one is squarely on the side of the Broncos. Beating up on the New York Giants is no accomplishment, and we've seen they can't stop anyone. Losing to the Colts isn't really all that shameful, and to Denver's credit, they actually moved the ball extremely well, but failed to convert opportunities in the red zone. They outgained Indy by 150 yards, for goodness sakes. I love Denver's execution, and without a few key early mistakes, Denver doesn't have to go for the TD late, and the entire game is different. Folks that believe Denver is bad after that game just didn't do their homework. Tennessee is a good team, but what have they truly done? They manhandled Jason Campbell and the Raiders, got completely shut down by the Steelers, and then beat the defenseless Giants. This team, again, is good, but overvalued right now, and this line should be closer to 4.5 or 5.

Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5) with a total of 36.5;
From a pure perception standpoint, the Steelers look awfully tough. The fact that Charlie Batch is under center, though, is keeping this line low, and also making me scratch my head. I happen to think that this line should probably be a Pick, so there's some slight value on Baltimore, but not sure it's enough to be truly intriguing. Plus, on top of the perception stuff (I know, I promised perception only, but whatever...) the Baltimore Ravens defense is going to give Charlie Batch a harder time than Tampa Bay's defense did. Baltimore did not look good against the Browns last week, though you could potentially argue that the schedule sort of hinted at that. They played that tough game with Cincinnati, and then had this one coming up, so they're likely a better club than the one we saw the last couple weeks. I'd love to hear more opinions on this game, because I'm about 95% sure I want nothing to do with this game, which has minimal perception value, and tons of question marks.

Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) @ Cleveland Browns with a total of 38.5;
If there's one thing we saw last week, it's that the Bengals aren't afraid to just grind out an easy win against a bad team. If there's one other thing we saw, it's that Peyton Hillis can be a beast. I happen to believe that, based on perception, the Bengals are going to be a big-time public choice again, and I simply can't come to terms with the idea that the books are going to take it in the rectum two consecutive weeks with the Bengals on the road against a bad team. The value is squarely with the home dog, since we've seen Cleveland can keep games close. That being said, it's tough to back a team when you don't feel confident in their ability to actually win the game outright. Is Cincinnati truly 6.5 points better on a neutral field? How about in a division rivalry game? You have to believe the Browns are going to bring the heat here, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if that half point was the difference. And why do we get that half point? That's right. Because of a perception imbalance. Not a huge one, but one does exist.

Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers (-14) with a total of 45;
Some might argue the Packers are in a letdown spot off the tough loss in Chicago, but I happen to feel just the opposite. Of course, from a perception standpoint, even playing an ugly game on Monday Night isn't going to swing this number much. The Lions are the Lions, they lost by 14 to the Vikings, who haven't looked good, at all, and now they're catching this many points against a team that, even on Monday Night, clearly had an unstoppable pass offense. This is a classic case of perception and skill creating one of the most lopsided lines we'll see all season. The Lions have showed nice fight, but barring 17 more penalies, Aaron Rodgers and co should run away with this one. Does that mean they win by more than 2 TD's? That's tough. Keeping this one simple, this line is inflated by about 2 points, but to me, that's not nearly enough on such a large spread. Be very, very careful before dumping your life saving on a DD favorite. You all saw how those went last week (they lost, in case you didn't see)...

Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints (-14) with a total of 46.5;
This game is a perception nightmare. The Saints pushed their opener, and have since failed to cover 2 straight games, so it's just a matter of time before the luster comes off. This rather hefty opening line is a pretty good indicator that the luster might have come off here, but not against this opponent. No team in the NFL has looked worse so far than the Carolina Panthers. They simply have not been involved in any of their games so far, and as I noted in the lessons learned section above, they're not a team I intend to get involved with. Of course, that could change, if they show some signs of waking up, and lord knows if they're going to be getting these types of lines against teams with less talent the Saints, we can start grabbing the monster underdog number, but given that New Orleans is a team that's actually accurately valued right now off the poor ATS start, this is a monster "avoid" game for me, even though perception definitely makes the Panthers a value moving forward.

San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons (-7) with a total of 40.5;
I know I promised no line discussion, but 7 doesn't look like much for the Falcons, the way they've moved the ball offensively. Thus, let's take a closer look. In the opener, the Falcons got mostly shut down by the Steelers superior defense. Pittsburgh didn't do anything offensively in that game, either, but it showed that Atlanta is, indeed, stoppable. The last two weeks they've looked pretty smooth, laying 40+ on the Cardinals, and then beating the defending Champs on the road. That was a monster divisional road win, so there's going to be the argument that the Falcons are in for a letdown. They might be. In terms of perception, the Niners are back in a severely undervalued spot. ATS-wise, San Francisco might be the most predictable team so far this year. They got spanked in Seattle, came back and covered as a nice value home dog on Monday night. Last week, they got murdered by the Chiefs, despite, like in week 1, being the heavy public favorite. Now, they'll go back to being the team no one wants, and catching a TD is more than they should. If you add to San Francisco's undervalue the fact that the Falcons are coming off two very impressive wins (ATS and SU), this is an intriguing mismatch of value.

Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) @ St. Louis Rams with a total of 38;
Who would have thought we'd get a game with these two teams, and neither team would be largely over or undervalued. The Seahawks are coming off a rather impressive home win over the Chargers, thanks largely to the special teams play of Leon Washington (2 TD's). The Rams had an equally impressive home win over the Donovan McNabb-led Washington Redskins, though they seemed to do it with strong defense, controlling the clock, and making the big plays. After watching both teams play, I happen to think the Rams showed the greater upside, as Philip Rivers and the Chargers ran all over the Seahawks, and just couldn't quite make the comeback in the second half. So, in terms of perception, I think the Seahawks might be a tiny bit overvalued by comparison, if only because we saw how out-of-sync they looked the last time they went on the road. By comparison, the Rams have seemed more consistently sub-average, home and road, but good enough to win a few home games. I believe the Rams should be favored by 1 here, if not for Seattle's higher-profile win.

New York Jets (-5) @ Buffalo Bills with a total of 36;
I don't think anyone needs my help determining which side has the perception value in this one, and without giving any strong feelings on the actual game, it's pretty clear what's happening, here. The Jets have churned out two impressive wins in a row - one, at home, against the Pats, and one, on the road, against the Dolphins. The most impressive part was probably that they won one with defense, and one with offense. Bettors love offense, so that Sunday Night win over the Dolphins has left this line fairly inflated. Yes, the Bills covered a wildly inflated line in New England, but I don't think many took notice of that ATS win, just sneaking in beneath the number. A quick line comparison reveals more. The Bills were catching over 2-TDs on the road against New England, which would translate, roughly, to catching a shade over a TD at home (somewhere in the 8-10 range - which also means the Pats were considered roughly 11 points better on a neutral site). New England was a FG road-fave when they played the Jets in New York, which should tell you that, at the time, the Pats were considered significantly better than the Jets by a solid 6 points, at least. This doesn't add up, at all. By those week 2 and week 3 numbers, the Jets should be considered 5 points better than the Bills on a neutral field. That doesn't add up. Yes, the Pats are slightly less overvalued this week, and the Jets are slightly moreso, but you can see from simple addition/subtraction that the Jets shouldn't be laying more than a FG on a true line.

Sunday, 4pm

Indianapolis Colts (-7) @ Jacksonville Jaguars with a total of 46.5;
This is another one with a fairly remedial perception analysis. The Colts are off back-to-back easy wins (though the Denver game was actually closer than the final score might indicate), and the Jaguars are coming off two games where they got completely worked. Indianapolis just continues to build back that giant public following that we've come to know, and after losing a few bettors in that week 1 stumble in Houston, the huge primetime win over the Giants built most of those bettors back. On top of the pre-inflation, perception of both teams should lead to at least a few more points before gametime, barring a monstrous early move to the dog by sharp money. So, from perception only, the Jags have about as much value as they will most of the season, and the Colts are always a tad overvalued, but off two straight ATS wins, that number increases quite a bit. Also, and this is away from the perception side again, but a game in this series hasn't been decided by more than a TD since 2007, a span of 5 straight games. And let's remember, quite a few of those involved Indianapolis as a significant public favorite.

Houston Texans (-4) @ Oakland Raiders with a total of 44;
This game, to me, is very interesting from a pure perception standpoint, and significantly less so from a betting value standpoint. The Houston Texans are, of course, going to be the public choice in this battle, especially at a number that, to most bettors, looks quite low. However, getting blasted by Dallas at home last week has drastically decreased the value in fading the Texans. They were overvalued against the Cowboys, and that big loss (watched by many) has dropped this line, I believe, by a solid 1.5 points. On the other side, the Raiders were able to hang tough with the Cardinals on the road, and while they didn't get the win, they covered, and continue to play much stronger football with Gradkowski leading the offense, and keeping the defense off the field for at least a couple minutes. And, as we've seen over the last few years, the Oakland defense is generally not the issue. They're not great, but they can cover bodies, and give the team a chance. And the move away from Jason Campbell, to me, gave the team a little value last week, but since they covered, Oakland isn't really as sharp as folks might hope. They might be at +4, but it appears this line was already whacked down to a FG, and is one of those games, where I'd be happy seeing any result, as long as it's an extreme one. That could set up a nice value on both teams in week 5.

Arizona Cardinals @ San Diego Chargers (-8) with a total of 46;
I was desperately hoping the Cardinals would dominate the Raiders in their home opener and build some street cred heading into San Diego, since I was pretty confident the Chargers would not play a good game in Seattle, and we could have ended up with a nice match of under with overvalued teams. Instead, the Chargers are only slightly undervalued, and the Cardinals remain undervalued equally, if not moreso. Of course, we've seen how the Cardinals contend with a decent offense, and they got completely mauled in Atlanta. I suppose my concern here is that it's not easy to cover more than a touchdown in the NFL. The Chargers are the better team, but without 7 turnovers against Jacksonville, how much do they win by? And the other 2 games were losses. This is a dangerous game to back the favorite, despite the Chargers coming off that loss in Seattle. Most folks saw that they outplayed the Seahawks by a wide margin in the second half, and I just don't think the value is there. If this one was under a TD, we might be in some sort of shape, but the Cardinals are so unilaterally distrusted that I don't think we can consider playing against them a value...not until they cover a spread.

Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles (-6) with a total of 41;
This one's a rivalry game, so relying on perception angles is probably not going to be enough. The angles are pretty simple, though. Washington just lost in St. Louis, and looked terrible doing so. They were in a trademark sandwich spot with the Rams, between the OT loss to the Texans, and prior to this showdown in Philadelphia, and you know that they may have taken their week 3 competition a little light. As a result, they got outplayed from start to finish. No gimmicks, no bad luck, the Rams just ran all over Washington. Now, the Redskins have a bone to pick, and Donovan has an old franchise to try to combat. Washington is undervalued. Meanwhile, the Eagles creamed Jacksonville in a rout, and Michael Vick has very loudly led his team to 2 straight wins over weak competition. They were road wins, which, on paper looks extremely impressive, but I'm not so sure that letting Vick settle into a groove on the road wasn't actually calculated. The Philadelphia fan base can be, let's say, vitriolic, and Vick was free to succeed or fail on the road without fear of boo birds. Needless to say, he succeeded. Philadelphia, as a result of all the attention and Vick's performances, is overvalued. If this game weren't so emotional, the Redskins would be a great value, but you can almost throw that stuff out the window in such a monster media game.

Sunday Night Football

Chicago Bears @ New York Giants (-3) with a total of 42.5;
This might be the fishiest spot of the week. Considering what we all know about perception, the Giants look like absolute dog "doodie" after getting blown out on the road by Indy, and then at home by Tennessee. The Bears look pretty tremendous - they're one of the only remaining 3-0 teams, and are coming off a Monday Night Football home win over the "invincible" Packers. So, when you expect a line to move with perception, the line, instead, opens as if the last 2-3 weeks never happened! This game is almost completely uninfluenced by public perception, and that is often an indicator of early money being pretty strong. No feelers, no buy-backs, this opening line is shaded to New York, and the initial move is in New York's direction. You can make cases for letdowns, but the Giants have been so bad that it's tough to see them winning, let alone laying chalk. Once you're done scratching your head, let's talk about the situational angles in the comments section, since public perception on this game is being almost completely ignored by the line. I suppose we should note, though, that the rarity of a situation where the line goes in completely the other direction from where perception would normally send it does make it an interesting talking point.

Monday Night Football

New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins (Pk) with a total of 46.5;
Perception plays a role in both side and total on this one. The Patriots are perceived to be an offensive machine that only the Jets can slow down, while having a defense that can't even stop the Bills. The Dolphins are perceived to be a team that was winning ugly/lucky the first 2 weeks, then got exposed by a surging Jets club in week 3. How does that help us with the line? Well, I believe the total is inflated by the Patriots defensive numbers, as well as the Dolphins/Jets high-scoring game on Sunday Night. I also believe that the side is a little inflated on the Patriots side. I know it's tough to use the term "inflated" with respect to a line of zero, but the Pats probably would have been a very tiny road dog if not for Miami looking a tad foolish last week in front of the national audience. Also, as we've seen last year, and then again to star this season, the Patriots are a much, much better team at home than they are on the road. Clearly, a healthy Wes Welker and a confident Tom Brady, nice and removed from surgery, makes them more dangerous on the road in 2010, but teams that win with offense win games at home. You can quote that line and apply it to most spread sports. NBA, Phoenix wins at home, but aside from a crazy run down the stretch, that team rarely covered on the road. In NFL, it's quite similar. You need defense to win those tough, grinder road games.

Final Week of Baseball

Recap: As usual, Monday's thread will contain a full Weekend Recap, since we had just one slow thread over Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday was a very nice start to the weekend, going a perfect 2-0 in MLB with winners on the Tigers and underdog Marlins, and going 2-2 in College Football, but hitting the 2* Game of the Week on my Cal Bears. Put it all together, we profited 0.8 units in CFB, and 2.26 units in MLB for 3.06 units overall.

Sunday was certainly less impressive. We lost all four 1-unit plays in NFL, which really punched us in the stomach. Fortunately, we nailed the 3* Game of the Month on the Seattle Seahawks, and the only MLB play on the Arizona D'backs. So, another unit of profit in MLB, but dropped approximately 1.4-1.5 units in the NFL (depending on the price of buying a hook for everyone out there). A net loss of roughly half a unit on the day.

Of course, I want more on Sunday. I want to win every day. But, if we hit all of our "BIG" plays, and nail an underdog money line play in the MLB such that we PROFIT 2.5 units every weekend...well, I won't complain about that. I DEFINITELY want to prove that week 1 in the NFL was NOT A FLUKE, but I do like knowing that everyone that followed every play I put out is once again IN THE BLACK for the weekend. Moving on to Monday.

Today: The first two weeks of the season, we had 1* plays on Monday Night Football, so you guys can trust that I won't increase that unless the situation is spot on. Tonight, it's spot on. So, we WILL have a 2* Game of the Week size play on the Packers/Bears showdown. I'm pumped for it, and you can get it here: ADD MNF GOW to CART!

As always, ANY and ALL MLB plays on Saturday through Monday will be FREE through the rest of the regular season! I've said it once and I'll say it a million times, NO ONE on this planet has given out more FREE STUFF (be it Premium Plays, Podcasts, or Blogs that break down EVERY game, EVERY day). Some call me the Matchup Scientist; I'd rather you guys call me The Most Generous Man in Handicapping.

Sports Wagering: MLB

Marlins @ Braves (-184) with a total of 8; A. Sanabia vs. T. Hanson;
This game is a "Warwick Capper" request, so let's break it down. First, the Marlins finish up their road schedule with this series, which makes me think that focus is not going to be terribly solid. Hanson has been dealing, and on namesake alone, the line is inflated. On top of that, the Braves are in a "must-win" situation because of the Wild Card race, which inflates the line further. Put all those factors together (and that the Marlins are generally stronger against lefties), and to me, you have yourself a perfect PASS. The Braves are probably going to win, but to me, the inflation of the line in THIS GAME isn't quite enough. Maybe it should be at -175, and you're getting 9 cents of value. That might work for someone that has the bankroll to bet every game, since this particular game played 1,000 times might net a tiny profit, but we can't operate like that because we're normal people.

Cubs @ Padres (-149) with a total of 7; C. Zambrano vs. T. Stauffer;
This is another "Warwick Capper" request! Stauffer has really been a warrior for the Padres down the stretch. Both of these teams are coming off losses at home yesterday, and for the Cubs, that was their home finale, so I imagine not the best taste in their mouth. Herein lies the issue. The final WEEK of the MLB season, we have to handicap how much these guys actually want to be playing. For most of September, handicapping motivation was about finding the overachieving youngsters playing for roster spots, but now, teams that are done at home and head on the road with just a few lonely nights in a San Diego hotel (or downtown with a drink) separating them from the offseason might find focusing extra-tough. Yes, the line is, once again, inflated for the team in the "must-win" spot, and yes, Zambrano has been a monster cashing tickets the second half of the season, but this is another game that has too many competing angles. And, truth be told, this final week of the season we need to take MLB selectivity to a whole new level, and I'd consider avoiding any games involving teams still in a race against teams not in a race.

Tigers (-114) @ Indians with a total of 9; A. Galarraga vs. C. Carrasco;
Armando faces the one team that just has not figured him out. He pitched the "perfect" game against Cleveland way back in the early parts of this year, and then followed that up with 7 shutout frames against the Indians in August. Now, all that said, Galarraga is not healthy. Being in Detroit, I have the privilege of hearing discussion of these cats on a daily basis, and Galarraga has been battling some shoulder soreness. I believe Jim Leyland wanted to skip a start for Armando at some point, but a minor injury to Rick Porcello last week forced Armando to make a couple starts with pain, and he's been getting shelled. Detroit just swept Minnesota at home in their final home series, so they're in a little bit of a letdown spot, and Cleveland is coming off a nice series with the Royals, and with another series win could solidify their spot NOT in the AL Central cellar. To me, the Indians have way more on the line here, and might even get a crowd to come check out the final series of the year. Be careful before betting the short price on the "seemingly" better team.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Heading Into the Weekend Strong

Recap: We had but one play yesterday, and it was a small 1* on the Pittsburgh Panthers as the One-Dollar-Capper play!

As far as baseball, yesterday's card turned out to be more value-packed than I initially realized, but that's okay! We had a strong lean to the Nationals that didn't materialize into a play, and they pummeled the Astros, but this brings us to a nice lesson. No regrets in handicapping! Never look back unless you're trying to learn, NEVER to lament a missed play or a bad choice. There are plenty of opportunities on the road ahead...

Today: I happen to like plays in BOTH CFB and MLB, and while 90-95% of the time I'd just make the MLB plays completely Free, because of the relative SIZES of the plays, it just makes sense to make today a very special "Two-Sport, Two-for-One!"

The College game features a solid angle, easily worth a 1* play, and the MLB is riddled with ultra-strong opening lines and so far this September, our line analysis has been nearly flawless! So, to get BOTH (and I believe there was a coupon in my One-Dollar-Play), just click here: ADD TWO-for-ONE PACK to CART!

Sports Wagering: MLB

Giants @ Rockies (-125) with a total of 8; T. Lincecum vs. J. Chacin;
Oddsmakers don't generally make mistakes with lines this late in the season, so you have to immediately take a long, hard look at the Rockies. Colorado's issues on the road continued with a poor series effort in Arizona, but getting back to their confines a mile high generally works out pretty well for them. Let's face it, Colorado isn't going to beat teams with pitching, so it makes sense that they're a very tough team to beat at Coors. Of course, on the road, when those outfielders can cover most of the actual terrain (Coors is quite spacious), the bloopers stop falling in, and the towering fly balls land don't carry out. Lincecum is pitching well again, so that's certainly a point of concern, but the Giants looked pretty human offensively in Chicago (though the ridiculous wind in the finale may indicate otherwise), and if you're not scoring, you're not going to win in Colorado. I'm also intrigued by the idea that when these two pitchers last met here in Colorado, Chacin was a -105 home favorite. Have things really changed so much that Lincecum is now 20 cents more affordable?

Reds @ Padres (-121) with a total of 7; B. Arroyo vs. C. Young;
Oft-injured Chris Young gets the start in the first game of a very, very important series for the Padres, and I must admit, I expected this line to be higher. Maybe I'm not giving the Reds enough credit, but I believed, going into this game, that the Padres are in the "must-win" situation, and would be facing some inflated lines. However, this line is right on the cusp, for me, in terms of determining whether it's a very strong opening number for the "playing 500-ball into the postseason" Reds, or whether it's a fair line, based on the fact that folks don't trust Chris Young, yet. Fact is, I'm probably too cautious to take a chance either way. Considering Young was a -110 play on the road in St. Louis (albeit, that was against Jeff Suppan), I thought it was safe to assume this line would open over -130. Young is in his 2nd game back, which has been a bit of a physical letdown spot for pitchers that miss a ton of time, so I wonder if some arm fatigue might be driving this line down. I'd claim that his pitch limit is the reason, but the Padres pen has been better than the starters most of the year. I think the best advice here is to look at the Reds (with San Diego playing their first game home off a long roadie), or a total.

Rangers @ Athletics (-111) with a total of 7.5; T. Hunter vs. B. Cramer;
What's the deal with the Rangers? Josh Hamilton goes down and the whole team decides they'd prefer to just make diarrhea on the entire season? I suppose "getting healthy for the Playoffs" comes to mind, but these guys should really be trying to ramp their focus up down the stretch. The only road games the Rangers are winning come when the pitching staff shuts the opponent down on only 1-2 runs, and as we've seen, that's simply not going to happen every night. The opening number here seems to indicate that a decent amount is expected of the A's, and with as poorly as the Rangers have been hitting, you have to at least give a look in Oakland's direction. My main concern with making a play on this side is that while the A's are still playing relatively hard, I can't help but wonder how long before the Rangers really decide to lay it on the line. Slight lean to the A's, for sure, especially with how Cramer has gotten things going in the Bigs, but this one could be a 1-run game, and a true coin-flip just isn't worth dabbling with.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Still Cruisin'


: Pittsburgh! Game of the Week! 6-0! Yeah, I'm excited, what of it? With the Pirates pounding the daylights out of a half-focused Cardinals team for another Game of the Week winner, we moved to 6-0 in our last 6 "Big" plays, 9-2 our last 11 MLB plays overall, and 13-3 on our last 16 Paid Plays. Literally everywhere you look, things are "green"... but the onus is on to keep it going!

Today: As seen above..."ONE DOLLAR CAPPER DAY" is in full effect! For those that have been around, you know the story.

For those unaware, Pregame bestows this honor to one capper every Thursday (on a rotating basis, and based partially on who is kicking some serious ass), and this capper (me, today!) sells his TOP PLAY for just A BUCK! I'm not a very good "tout" in general, but I have absolutely no problem hawking my wares for a single dollar. Heck, most of you can find that much in the couch cushions - lord knows I can!

The ONE DOLLAR PLAY is going to come from tonight's compelling College Football showdown in Pittsburgh between the Panthers and the Canes! I've got a nice little angle on this game, so I'd love to get EVERYONE on board to put a few more bucks in the ol' Cartier -- ADD $1 HAPPY MEAL to CART!

And, as always, any MLB plays on football days will be 100% Free! And don't just write these off because they're free, as MLB has been dominant, and the play WOULD have been Paid if not for CFB!

Sports Wagering: MLB

Mariners (-134) @ Blue Jays with a total of 7; F. Hernandez vs. S. Hill;
I've got to believe that the HEAVY sinker of King Felix is the perfect antidote for the big-swinging Toronto Blue Jays. Of course, oddsmakers seem to agree, given the opening line for this one. Tough to back the Mariners anywhere as a favorite, and even moreso on the road. That being said, they did score 6 in a nice win over Toronto last night, tied for the 2nd most runs they've scored all month. Is that a sign that Seattle will put another 4-5 on the board tomorrow, or that they shot their offensive wad for the next 2 weeks? That's the question. The low total suggests Shawn Hill is going to pitch a tad better in this one, as his first couple of starts haven't been terribly decisive. Given what we can see, and how Hernandez dominates almost every team besides the Angels and Rangers, the Mariners could probably win this one with 2-3 runs.

Giants @ Cubs (-114) with a total of N/A; M. Bumgarner vs. R. Dempster;
Don't look now, but the completely irrelevant Chicago Cubs are playing out the string like they're the Cardinals (as in, like it matters...). The starting pitching has been tremendous, and the youth injection has given the offense a bit of a kick in the pants. Obviously, the loss of Tyler Colvin to a freak broken bat impaling accident hurts the offense a little, but the Cubbies have shown late this year that they can, in fact, hit lefties (despite the full season stats perhaps showing otherwise), and they hit Bumgarner fairly well the only time they've seen him, in San Francisco. Dempster, meanwhile, is on a scoreless innings streak (now I jinxed it, didn't I?) dating back a few starts, and his last 2 starts were both 7 scoreless frames, on the road in Florida and Milwaukee, two solid offensive clubs. If Dempster can do that kind of damage to tough, tough lineups, the anemic Giants offense would seem to be a nice next target. Also, the Cubs were home dogs in the first two games, and now open as a favorite. I think oddsmakers are tipping their hand just a tad, and the Cubbies grab this one.

Rays @ Yankees (-139) with a total of 8; D. Price vs. C. Sabathia;
This game made the list because it's a hell of a matchup, and a rematch of a game we saw down in Tampa a little over a week ago, a game the Rays won 1-0. Interestingly, that game featured a posted total of 7.5, saw just 1 run scored between the 2 teams, and this total is higher? Something odd about that. Sure, the stadium could play that role, since the short porch in right field could contribute to a half run on the total, but you'd think that given the star power of the two pitchers, and how the last meeting went, this number seems a half run high. Does that mean I'm playing the Over? Well, tough to bet an Over with C.C. and Price on the mound, but when the number is just fishy enough, well, it deserves a look. I want no part of the side, and I suggest you guys stay away from it, as well.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bashing the Bases

Recap: We went betting with the Fishies, and it paid off! Florida took care of the Mets last night for our MLB Top Play, winning 5-2 with the longball. What does that mean for us? Well, the Paid Run is now at 12-3, and the MLB Run is at 8-2 (as well as 5 straight winning MLB weeks!). We did drop the SMALL freebie on the Nationals/Astros Under, which was a 3-1 game in the 8th inning when the Nationals decided to score 7 runs in just 3 outs. I honestly thought we had that small one, too, which would have been neat, but nailing the Top Play nightly to turn a profit is alright with me!


I have to say -- I am just elated with how much attention my baseball work has gotten in the last couple days! I expected the same old formula to take shape, where everyone just crawls back into their holes until Thursday, but with a nice turnout on yesterday's Paid Play (and everyone WON), I just have to commend you all on being SHARP enough to play the VALUE, regardless of the sport! As I said yesterday, "Baseball has been quietly kicking phat azz (yeah, I went there), so really, while everyone else is crying their eyes out that football is off for a couple days...the MLB stretch run and postseason are right here before us!"

If you want Wednesday's MLB GAME OF THE WEEK (remember, just a 2*!), it's at my Pro Page at, or just click here: ADD to CART

And again, just a few games previewed per day from here on out.

Sports Wagering: MLB

Requested: Braves @ Phillies (-147) with a total of 7.5; T. Hanson vs. R. Oswalt;
This game was requested to be profiled, so let's crack 'er open. The key here, obviously, is that the Phillies are on a 9-game winning streak, and Citizens Bank Park is just rocking right now. The home field edge is huge for the Phillies, they're cruising, they have Oswalt on the hill - what could go wrong, right? Well, not so fast. Despite the Braves sinking slowly and the Phillies trying to run away with things, this line is rather low. That could have something to do with Oswalt being 0-3 lifetime against the Braves with an ERA of 7.58. Tommy Hanson hasn't been great against the Phillies, but he's been better than that. So, the Braves are the value side? Yes, but the Phillies are just about as hot as any team can get, which makes betting against them a little bit of a roll of the dice. Put those factors head-to-head (momentum and starting pitcher edge), and, to me, you've got yourself a classic PASS.

Astros (-119) @ Nationals with a total of 8; W. Rodriguez vs. J. Marquis;
I broke this game out for the Roundup today because I believe that those that are just now starting to bet on Wandy Rodriguez have missed the boat. Hear that? It's too late! The lines have adjusted, and he's now a road favorite. Add to that the fact that Jason Marquis draws about as much money as my buddy Brad Bergesen, and this line is clearly inflated on the Astros side. The Nationals got a nice win last night with a monster 8th inning rally, and these young, rather crummy teams (like the Nats) definitely tend to operate on momentum at this point in the season. I could very well envision Washington putting up another crooked number against even Magic Wandy, so please do take caution before backing the guy you've been hearing about for 6 weeks. Plus, Marquis is coming off a start where he went just 0.1 innings, so you know he's going to be out for revenge against someone.

Indians @ Twins with a total of N/A; C. Carrasco vs. N. Blackburn;
This line is off right now, most likely because as I type this the Twins are blasting each other in the face with champagne. Their win last night, combined with the White Sox loss in Oakland has sealed the AL Central, and the Twins are going to be getting their drink on. This is an afternoon game, which means only 1 thing. Hangover. If this line comes out looking funny, fear not. The Indians are going to be the sober team, and I wouldn't be surprised to see some real scrubs in there for Minnesota, trying their best not to puke during warmups. It's an early-ish game, so keep your eye on this line and on any news regarding lineups and pitching changes, but there could be some money to be stolen on this afternoon tilt, thanks to the thousands of bettors that had no idea the Twins were out partying all night.

Monday, September 20, 2010

NFL MegaBlog for Week 3

Prelude: This heading is pretty standard this week, and should remain so, barring some big blog changes, which I don't foresee.

Week 2 Recap and Lessons Learned: I think this section was a nice little addition to week 2's MegaBlog, but it's really as much about forum participation as my own work.

For me, I learned that the game that I based a good deal of my week 2 predictions upon was a complete disaster, and that was the Panthers/Giants game back in week 1.

Initially, I watched parts of that game, and read the box score in great detail, and it seemed that if Carolina could decrease turnovers and stay close, they should be able to continue having success on the ground.

What I failed to realize was that Matt Moore wasn't just "off" in week 1 -- he's off, period. Tampa Bay was able to load up to stop the run, force Moore into tough spots, and after building a lead, Carolina was unable to smash anyone on the ground.

Of course, upon watching that Carolina/Tampa Bay game, it became pretty clear that not only are the Panthers quietly becoming one of the worst teams in the NFL, but the Giants were not even remotely close to as good as they looked in week 1. They were not a team that "forced" turnovers, but merely the lucky recipient of an incompetent opponent, in Carolina. So, the Giants went into Indy and got smashed.

What did everyone else learn from the week 1 to week 2 transition?

Pro Notes:

1) NFL -- Much like the last couple weeks, I'll be featuring a Sunday ALL ACCESS PASS, and more like the first week, this one is going to hammer-dunk. Too much overthinking in week 2 kept us from a big weekend, and it's time to get back to the basics: ADD ALL ACCESS PASS to CART

2) CFB -- Like last week, I will be selling just my CFB TOP PLAY, and every other CFB play will be 100% FREE! I maintain that no one on this planet gives away more FREE STUFF (blogs, podcasts, plays, leantrackers...I mean, that's how it's done!) than I do, and I'll take that statement to the grave.

3) MLB -- Top Plays on Tuesday and Wednesday (and possibly Thursday and Friday) will lead into more FREE MLB work on the weekend! Stay tuned.

Sports Wagering: NFL

Sunday, 1pm

Tennessee Titans @ New York Giants (-3.5) with a total of 43;
I'd say it's pretty safe to assume that a good deal of this game hinges on the playing status of Vince Young. I've been digging, and I still haven't been able to definitively say that he's going to be the starter. He should be, regardless of what we saw against Pittsburgh in week two. Vince Young looked hung over for that game, but on a week by week basis, he gives the Titans a much, much better shot to win, especially against a completely incompetent defense like the one he should see here in New York. Of course, thanks to both teams looking stupid in week 2, there isn't a ton of value on either side. I will admit, and I think most will agree, Tennessee looks like a nice value at +3 or higher. Still, I will also admit that I want to see how New York plays at home against a better opponent. The Titans aren't the best in the business, but they're a heck of a lot better than the Panthers. Because, let's be honest, we don't know that much about the Giants yet. And that, right there, is what's keeping me from making a strong statement about this game. We've seen the Giants slaughter a terrible team at home, and get pummeled by a good team on the road. Let's see how the Giants play against a good team at home, and against a crummy or middle-tier team on the road, and we'll have a better grasp on whether New York is just bad all over, has a home field edge, or maybe just got picked apart by the best QB in the League in week 2.

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots (-11) with a total of 43;
Trent Edwards was removed as the starting QB for Buffalo, and a tumbleweed blew through the arena. Why? Because Ryan Fitzpatrick is basically the same guy in a different jersey! Fitzpatrick can probably take a few more shots downfield, but he's also going to take more sacks and make more mistakes. The end result is that Buffalo is still one of the worst 3 teams in the NFL, and the opening line of -11 was too low. Of course, this line has bounced quickly to -13 at the fair books, and as high as -14 at the square books. I must say, though, that New England's loss to the Jets might actually be the only thing keeping this line from hitting 14. Considering what we've seen from Buffalo so far (that they're terrible), and what we've seen from Tom Brady and New England (they appear to still be a team much happier at home), a 2-TD win really isn't that much of a stretch. Let's approach this one in reverse. What is it going to take for Buffalo to stay within 2 touchdowns? I would claim that Buffalo is going to need to force some turnovers, but on the road, and off that tough game in Green Bay, the Bills are going to be seeing two of the most accurate QBs in the League on back-to-back weeks. I believe Buffalo has a decent pass defense, but there are so many holes, and the offense has the ball so very little that it's almost like a matter of time before they get gashed. The Green Bay defense is better than the New England defense, though, so Buffalo might actually put up 10-17 points. Make of all that what you will, though I believe strongly that Buffalo will become a huge value play when they head home and take on a weaker opponent.

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens (-10) with a total of 38;
This is another game where two teams are coming off what you might call a poorer than average performance. The Browns had a nice shot to capitalize on a Kansas City team that was riding a tad high, and the Ravens had a chance to get revenge from last year's failures against the Bengals, and both came up short. So, does either team really have much value? Well, Baltimore's defense, as it turns out, is still decent. Cincinnati just could not punch it into the end zone, but Joe Flacco insisted on turning the ball over constantly in a very ugly offensive performance. Without all those key mistakes, that game goes differently. Cleveland, meanwhile, is still a team with a long way to go. Seneca Wallace couldn't get the job done (surprised?), and there's little hope that starting QB Jake Delhomme would perform much better. This Baltimore defense could cause quite a few turnovers if Delhomme is in there, and that's horrifying. My take is that the Cleveland defense is my point of question. Are they as "middle of the road" as they appeared in the first two weeks? I really believe this defense has a long way to fall, but I just don't know when it's going to happen. There's probably a little bit of value with any team catching double digits, but I don't trust either team to consistently play well enough to get my money. The total, meanwhile, would seem to indicate that the Browns aren't going to score at all, and that's a possibility, but short fields could contribute to over 20 points for the Ravens. This one does have a shot at sneaking Over, but again, the complete lack of definitive knowledge about the Browns makes this game, to me, nearly unplayable.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a total of 34;
Regular season totals aren't going to get a whole heck of a lot lower than this one, and it raises the question of, "Is this one of those games where oddsmakers simply could not make a total low enough?" My take is that yes, that is indeed the case. If Pittsburgh can completely dominate the high octane Atlanta offense in week 1, then roll into Tennessee and make Vince Young look like he was hung over, well, I'm a believer. This defense can lock down, flat out. I said it in a previous blog, but Troy Polamalu is absolutely huge for them, not just because he's a tremendously skilled football player, but he's their leader and the brains of the defense. Tampa Bay will score between 10-15 points, max. Can Pittsburgh score, though? The Tampa defense has actually looked marginal in the first 2 weeks, and Charlie Batch is a 4th string quarterback. FOURTH! Pittsburgh is going to run, run, and run some more, and hope to break one or two long runs to set up field goals. This total is low for a reason, and the spread is horrifying to me. Can anyone truly win this game by more than a couple points, given the total? Without getting into the skill set of Josh Freeman and what Tampa has accomplished in the first 2 weeks, let's just simplify this game to the point that you either play the total, or play nothing at all. Combining Pittsburgh's marquee defense with the complete lack of confidence in the starting QB has created a sort of wash of handicapping value.

Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) @ Carolina Panthers with a total of 40;
This game is one of the easiest on the entire board to handicap. Simply put, after the public saw Cincinnati take care of Baltimore, and saw the Panthers lay a truly royal-size egg against the Buccaneers in week 2 on the heels of a dismal performance in New York in week 1, there is NO betting value on the Bengals. You don't need to look past that opening number. The Panthers as a 3.5-point home dog to a 1-1 team? I am by no means suggesting that Carolina is the play, as this team is going to the backup QB (Jimmy Clausen), which means they're grasping at straws. Clausen couldn't be a whole lot worse than Matt Moore, so I don't know that his insertion changes the handicapping a great deal, but again, fading a team off 2 of the ugliest losses that any teams have incurred thus far is a long term recipe for disaster. How far does the line need to be inflated for Cincinnati to fail to cover? Well, that's a question for those betting on this game. I'm inclined to see how Cincinnati performs in a little bit of a letdown spot, and how the Panthers respond after opening the year looking like the worst team in the League. This is a stellar watch-and-learn game, so don't just write it off because the betting value is "screwball." Watch the game, learn from the plays and the results, and we'll have some key info heading into week 4 on these two teams.

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints (-4.5) with a total of 50;
First off, that is a very high total, and I think right off the bat, you can get the idea that just about everyone expects some sort of shoot-out. New Orleans' defense looked pretty good in week 1, but Minnesota's lackluster play in week 2 may have revealed the New Orleans defense to be more lucky than good. They promptly went into San Francisco and got run all over, only surviving because San Francisco can't field a punt, and can't keep Brees from going 40 yards in 30 seconds to set up a game-winning partially-blocked FG. Atlanta, meanwhile, went from getting completely shut down in their opener in Pittsburgh (against, arguably, the best defense in the NFL) to dominating the Cardinals at home in typical Matt Ryan-era home-dominant fashion. I believe both teams will find a way to score, and in terms of what to expect from the Falcons, I think you have to look at last year's home/road split as an indicator that they're just not as confident away from home. Also, in terms of perception, Atlanta is coming off a win by nearly 40 points, and the Saints looked pedestrian on Monday Night Football. Not surprisingly, this line has dipped to 3.5, but I do NOT believe that to be sharp money-related. That's a perception dip, and if you wonder why, just look around. Everywhere, folks are saying that they'll "never back the Saints again." A rash, and probably foolish move, given what we know about line movement based on perception.

San Francisco 49ers @ Kansas City Chiefs (Pk) with a total of 36;
We go from a game with a total of 50 to a game with a total of 36, and the funny part is that neither of these teams is known for their defense. Considering the Niners are a team with a fairly high-octane offense that likes to spread the field, and the Chiefs are a team that appears to be built on the big play (at least in the early going), seeing a number that low is awfully suspicious. I'm not touching the total with a 10 (or longer) foot pole, but I do believe that the low total gives us an indication of how the game is going to be played. The Niners do have a solid linebacking corps, and considering the line move on this game was a quick shift to Niners by a FG, it seems likely that they'll hold the Chiefs in check. That being said, I'm not convinced San Francisco does much scoring, either. They have been turnover machines in the first 2 weeks, and though you can sometimes overcome those cardinal sins at home (they still lost), committing turnovers on the road will fire up a crowd and an opponent, and we saw how the Seahawks took quick advantage of the Niners' issues. I don't believe San Francisco turns it over 4 times. Maybe 2. But again, you look at this opening line, and it is filled with information. As far as perception goes, the Niners covered on Monday Night Football, and looked like a very good team in doing so. Most people see them as a team that wins that game without the turnovers, so I believe people will bet San Francisco in this spot. For whatever reason, despite opening the year 2-0, the Chiefs still aren't getting any respect, but anyone that saw their home opener saw how crazy that stadium can get...almost like a College atmosphere, and they have a legitimate shot at winning this game, or covering at the very least.

Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings (-10) with a total of 42;
This game might be the biggest head-scratcher for me on the entire card, just in terms of what the line means. Not because I don't understand how the Vikings could open up as a favorite to the Lions, but moreso because the Lions are actually the "public" choice in this game! Yes, the Lions, over Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and the Vikings. It's mind-boggling. And despite that, the line has actually crept up to 11 at a number of books. That subtle line move makes me think that this is the week the Vikings put some of the pieces together. Detroit's defense is atrocious, as we saw in week 2. Even if Favre is still looking old and slow, Peterson will gash that defense, and Favre will move the ball. Minnesota's defense is still very good, and Detroit's offense is going to face its first "true" test. From a perception standpoint, the Lions have covered both games so far, so I suppose anyone that bet on them is continuing to do so, and anyone that bet against them is probably flip-flopping. Minnesota, meanwhile, pushed in the opener, and then absolutely stunk it up against the underrated Dolphins in week 2, so this is going to be their first "easy" game. My biggest fear with this game is that the line is in that high-for-a-reason category, where it's a big spread and getting bigger even though Minnesota has looked pretty darn bad so far, and Detroit has looked like a team with a ton of heart. That total, to me, looks pretty accurate, especially if Minnesota takes this one 28-14.

Dallas Cowboys @ Houston Texans (-2) with a total of 46.5;
This is panic time for the Cowboys. If they fall to 0-3, that almost puts a lid on the season before things could even get started. And I know people are going to yell at me for making that sort of claim, but teams just don't come back from that, especially not teams that have shown a significant lack of clutch ability. The question then becomes why this line is so low. Well, I admit, the first thing I thought when I saw this line was that Houston should be someone's Game of the Year. The Texans have been nearly unstoppable on offense, and have been doing just barely enough on defense to get them a pair of wins to start the year. Yeah, they got a little lucky last week with the Skins missing a game-winning FG, but the big home win over Indy was certainly a nice way to start the year. Here's the issue with this game. Even a public team like the Cowboys gives bettors a breaking points, and we're awfully close to it, if not there. Folks are losing faith in Dallas after seeing how bad they played against the Bears at home, and the Texans have looked like one of the top 3 or 4 teams in the NFL through the first 2 weeks. When it comes to a betting card, throwing a "public" play on there every so often isn't necessarily a bad idea, but in terms of value, MOST of it is gone on the Texans' side. They still look like a nice bet, and some of that is because the Cowboys, no matter how terrible they play, are still going to draw a decent amount of money, but if this line was set in week 1, the Cowboys would likely have been a slight road favorite. To think that we've lost 3-6 points of value in the first 2 weeks makes it tough for me to get truly excited about fading the 'Boys again. And in terms of the total, the Texans first 2 games are giving some value on the Under, while the Cowboys very low and very high totals from the first 2 weeks are having almost no impact. I'm not sure there's enough to play on, but just sort of a jumping off point for a totals discussion.

Washington Redskins (-5) @ St. Louis Rams with a total of 38;
Speaking of the Redskins, since both of the teams in the game above have played these Donovan and co. head on the road for the first time. To me, that's a time to strongly consider passing on a game and seeing how a team performs away from home. We have so little to work with in the NFL, in terms of stats and trends, that when perception can't really dictate a play, that's when you really need to take a long, hard look at a game, see how the teams play, get some better data on different scenarios and how the teams handle them, then move forward. The Rams are absolutely a work in progress. They were competitive with the Cardinals, who aren't very good, then competitive with the Raiders (on the road), who are also an improving club, but not at all good, yet. This should be the Rams first good opponent, and even that is a little bit of a stretch. This line has come down though, which is a tad surprising to me. I know Washington blew that game with Houston last week, but I think they've looked pretty good in the first 2 weeks, while the Rams haven't looked that good, at all, though I suppose they did cover by a point in week 2. This line might be the "potential trap" of the week, since it's coming down despite the Redskins being the big-time public club and no real prominent perception angles forcing the line down. I also haven't heard of any life-altering injuries on the Washington side that could contribute to the line coming all the way down to 3.5. The rather low total is about what I expected, considering we know Washington can score, and we also know that they can put the clamps down on offenses that don't feature Andre Johnson. Very tough game, in my opinion.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) @ Jacksonville Jaguars with a total of 44;
Here's a fun one, and I'm not sure the perception angles are completely clear. On the one hand, Philadelphia has made the move to Michael Vick as the starting QB, which you know is drawing boatloads of attention to that side, and drawing additional public money. In that same vein, the Jaguars played a bad game in San Diego, but also one of the unluckiest games I've witnessed, as Garrard repeatedly had tipped passes result in interceptions. I obviously don't have the stats, but I have to believe that the percentage of tipped balls that result in interception is considerably lower than what we saw in San Diego. So, that should create value on the Jags, right? Well, Philadelphia is also drawing some criticism from the talking heads for their flip-flopping ways, and I wonder if that isn't tempering the positive mojo that Vick's performances in the first 2 weeks has created. On top of that, the Eagles didn't actually cover last week, despite Vick's tremendous effort, and their defense looked downright terrible against a Detroit offense without its starting QB. I have to believe that it does decrease the Jags' value, but it does tell us something that this is the same line the Eagles had before Stafford was ruled out in Detroit. Is that just line inflation, or is that a sign that the Eagles are actually going to play a strong game? Maybe a little of both.

Indianapolis Colts (-5.5) @ Denver Broncos with a total of 48;
Is it interesting that this line hasn't budged? I actually don't think so, as both of these teams put a beating on their opponents in week 2. I would have expected a slight shift towards Indy, considering their game was the Sunday Night Football NBC National broadcast, and Peyton just dominated the Giants, but with both teams coming off big wins, it's not that insane that the line hasn't really moved. Also...*sigh*...I hate to get into this, but there was indeed a death in the Broncos organization over the course of the last week, and as much as it's somewhat tasteless, we absolutely have to consider it before making a play anywhere on this game. How will the team respond? At press conferences, everyone looked absurdly broken-up, so it's clear that this kid had a strong relationship with the coaches and his teammates. Do they dedicate this game to his memory? Do they play with heavy hearts? The tragic situation really makes for a volatile outcome, one way or the other. I'd be very curious to hear what everyone else thinks about how a team responds to this type of awful occurrence. I think there are different schools of thought, and while I might believe that Denver comes together as a team, I'd love to hear why folks feel otherwise. Also, it's worth noting, from a matchup perspective, that Denver got some key turnovers from Seattle last week en route to that blowout win, and the Colts just crushed the Giants, who, for some reason, didn't really try to run the ball for more than a few minutes of the game.

San Diego Chargers (-4.5) @ Seattle Seahawks with a total of 45;
This game is a perceptionist's gold mine! The Seattle Seahawks, in particular, have been a complete Jekyll and Hyde case so far this year, pummeling the Niners at home before going into Denver and getting absolutely waxed. So, what's the deal? Is this team just going to be solid at home and terrible on the road? Possibly. Let's also remember that it was over 100 degrees and a mile high for their first road game, and with all the offseason coaching and personnel changes, it seemed likely that Seattle would have a letdown game somewhere in the early going. But, taking a closer look, we've basically seen the two extremes with this team. At home, they forced the Niners into all the mistakes, and capitalized on turnovers to blow out a team that was probably a hair better than them. On the road, they moved the football early, and then turned it over in the red zone (twice, I believe). So, if we see a Seahawks game where they don't have an extreme turnover edge or disadvantage, how will they play? My take is that they would play pretty close to where this line opened, maybe just a hair better. San Diego is a public team, and thanks to their blowout win over the Jags at home, this line has made a few small jumps up to 5.5 or 6. San Diego is not as bad as they looked in KC, and not nearly as good as they looked at home, and if Ryan Matthews is going to miss much time, or play hurt, that makes them significantly more one-dimensional, despite the strong play of that bowling ball Tolbert last week. In terms of perception alone, this line, where it sits now, is probably off by 2 points, maybe 2.5. The total, to me, is nearly indecipherable, given how both teams have been in games where turnovers have pretty much dictated the rather extreme outcomes.

Oakland Raiders @ Arizona Cardinals (-4) with a total of 40;
Let's answer the questions first. Yes, the Raiders are better NOW with Gradkowski at QB. And no, the Cardinals are not as bad as they've looked in their first 2 games. Believe it or not, the Cardinals are probably the value play in this one. We saw what Oakland was able to accomplish on the road in their opener, and it took a heck of an effort by the backup QB, as well as the defense, to get a home win against another of the NFL's dregs, the Rams. The Cardinals are rapidly making their way into that irrelevant category, but on a talent scale, this is a home game that Arizona should win. It's their home opener in the 3rd week, they're coming off getting completely embarrassed by the Atlanta Falcons, and most bettors have abandoned ship on that train wreck. The Raiders, meanwhile, seem to be a team that folks are now thinking about backing. They got steamrolled in the opener, just barely failed to cover (but won) at home in game 2, and thanks to how bad the Cardinals have looked, the Raiders are actually the public's preferred choice, the lesser of evils. I believe home field is being overlooked a bit, and since Arizona has yet to get out in front of their rather relaxed, yet accepting home crowd, I think folks have forgotten that Arizona rarely ever looks good playing on Eastern time. Don't be surprised if Arizona takes out some aggression on a Raiders team that is going to be flailing, looking for offense. My only wish would be to have seen the Raiders dominate game 2, which would have created a hair more value on Arizona. As it stands, this is a weird chalk to lay. The total, as a short footnote in this paragraph, looks low, but if you look and see what these two teams have done offensively in the first 2 weeks, you can certainly understand the number. I wouldn't play a total in a Cardinals game until we see how they perform at home.

New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins (-1.5) with a total of 35;
We have officially found our game where the public is almost perfectly split between the two teams. That means we probably have less to cover, in terms of perception, but it can't hurt our cause to see why the public is torn. The Jets are getting public love because of a nice home win over Tom Brady and the Pats, as well as all the media attention and the marquee playing level of their defense. The Dolphins are getting love because of a triumphant road win over the Minnesota Vikings, led largely by their defense. What's the common denominator? Both teams win with defense. That raises the question of whether both teams are just going to try to smack the other in the mouth until something breaks, or if one of the teams is going to take some shots downfield to try to steal a score. My assessment would be the former. Both teams trust their defenses above all else, and both realize that the one way they can truly lose this game is to turn the ball over in a bad spot. Let's be real, here. The Dolphins aren't exactly high-octane. They struggled to score against both the Bills and the Vikes, so they're probably not going to do a ton against the Jets. The Jets, too, looked downright miserable on offense against the Ravens, and then picked on an aging Pats defense. Sanchez is going to have to deal with a much tougher defense this week, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him go back to tons and tons of checkdowns and conservative play, leading to a battle of field goals. The timing of the game makes me think the Dolphins will get a nice little home field edge, but in terms of inherent line value, this one is almost right where it should be. Plays in this game should be made because of a matchup or situational edge, of which there are a few.

Green Bay Packers (-3) @ Chicago Bears with a total of 45;
Please, please, please be careful with this one. The Packers look fairly invincible right now, but this game has all the tell-tale signs of the Monday Night home dog. The public loving the road team, the Bears still not getting a ton of credit despite being 2-0 (since most of the attention is going to Calvin Johnson's "dropped" pass, and the Cowboys' team-wide issues), Green Bay beating the living daylights out of Buffalo after covering in their opener on the road, the short road favorite line that isn't moving. If you want to talk about a line that screams to be cautious, this really is that line. Plus, Chicago put up huge offensive numbers last week, and Green Bay has done that in both games, yet this total is only a hair over the total midpoint for most NFL games. This game is going to be competitive, and based on those factors above, Chicago has a nice shot to win this game outright. In terms of built-in line value, Green Bay's monster start to the year is certainly keeping this line nice and high, but Chicago's solid play isn't letting it climb up where Bears-backers would want it to go. I believe this line does make a move north at some point, though I can't promise that it won't get creamed right back down near a FG. All that being said, the line, perception, and situational notes make this game seem like it's going to be a good one, and Green Bay's defense can be beat by a good offense (as we saw in week 1).

Two Sports, Two Winners

Recap: Let's make this simple. MLB, 1-0; NFL, 1-0. Orioles cash as a +135 road dog in Boston, and Niners somehow didn't win on MNF outright, but stayed tough and covered by a couple points. Honestly, if the Niners lost, it would have just been stomach-turning. A well-handicapped card results in a 2-0 night. I dig it!

Today: Uh oh, what's this? Dan's baseball becomes relevant again? Damn straight. Baseball has been quietly kicking phat azz (yeah, I went there), so really, while everyone else is crying their eyes out that football is off for a couple days, this is where I remind everyone that NBA is right around the corner, and the MLB stretch run and postseason are right here before us!

If you want the MLB Top Play for Tuesday (and why wouldn't you?), it's at my Pro Page at, or just click here: ADD to CART

And again, just a few games previewed per day from here on out.

Sports Wagering: MLB

Astros @ Nationals (-110) with a total of 7.5; J. Happ vs. J. Lannan;
This game made my list of three for a couple reasons. The Astros, for one, continue to play solid baseball, both home and away down the stretch, and to get them against a bad team at a Pick-em price isn't bad. Next, the starting pitching matchup is actually better than most folks realize. Happ has struggled a tad in September, but he's a career 3-0 against the Nats with an ERA under 2. Lannan is not that great, but has actually been pitching pretty well of late. That brings me to the final point on this game, and that's the ridiculously low total for a game involving the Nationals dismal pen. This is the lowest total for a Nats game since mid-August, and those game against the Cardinals aces, and when Strasburg was still pitching for Washington. Mull that one over.

Mets @ Marlins (-120) with a total of 8; M. Pelfrey vs. A. Mendez;
This other 7pm NL game made my list because of the line. Why, you might be asking, are the Marlins a short favorite with a guy named Adalberto Mendez getting the start? Why, when Mike Pelfrey is on the other side, is a pitcher with 2 Major League starts under his belt the listed favorite for a less public team? Pretty simple - Pelfrey does not like the Fish. His one start against them this year, in Puerto Rico, seemed to actually send Pelfrey into a bit of a tailspin that he only recently pulled out of. He has been pitching well, so there might be some revenge, but his 1-6 lifetime record against Florida is reason, at the very least, to beware the Mets side. Mendez is going to be on a bit of a pitch count, which makes paying a favorite price a little dicey, but teams don't know him, yet, and if he can keep his stuff in the strike zone, I think he could squeeze his way through 5-6 innings.

Giants (-124) @ Cubs with a total of N/A; M. Cain vs. C. Zambrano;
The third, and final, note of the day, and all 3 coming from the NL. What can I say? The AL matchups, aside from Yankees/Rays, are not that interesting to me. So it goes. In any case, the Giants go on the road with a chance to try to get a little separation in the NL West, but it isn't going to be easy. The Cubs are playing their best baseball of the season now that it doesn't matter, and the crazy Zambrano has been a huge reason why this team is still playing to win. On top of his recent success, Zambrano has a career 5-1, 2.83 mark against the Giants. He went 5 marginal innings against SF earlier this year, but had no control, walked 7, and had to give way to the Chicago middle relief. I'm rather confident he won't walk 7 again here. Cain, meanwhile, is 5-2 with a 2.61 ERA against Chicago, and is coming off a dominant performance against the punchless Dodgers. Prior to that outing, though, Cain had been giving up a homer or two, and that's no good. I like the Cubs as a dog here, but I'm also cautious, because road teams tend to play relatively well in game one of the trip. Certainly a word of caution for both sides.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Monday Night Plan Changes

Recap: Since I don't do a daily thread over the weekend, let's do a quick roundup, sport by sport.

College Football: We went just 1-2 in CFB, but won the 2* Game of the Week, and dropped both Freebies. Roughly, we broke even, and I do like knowing that folks that scratched together the 15 bucks got a winner, at the very least. Some sort of silver lining for me, considering...

NFL was not particularly impressive, also going 1-2, but dropping the bigger play. Just way, way off on the NY Giants call, and I will atone for that next weekend. Fortunately...

Baseball continues to storm the barn! We went 2-1 on MLB plays over the weekend, with a larger free winner on the Pirates on Saturday, a medium free winner on the underdog Cubbies yesterday, and a small loser on the Red Sox on Saturday. Baseball made sure that despite less-than-stellar performances on the gridiron, we basically treaded water this weekend.

And, considering we had a 9-1 Paid Run going into the weekend, we're still WAY, WAY up of late, and still rolling along with almost 5 straight winning weeks!

Today: If you had the gumption to make it through the "recap" (you guys know I like to make a point of recapping everything!), here are the Orders of Business for the week at hand:

1) We have a 1* play going in tonight's MNF contest between the Niners and Saints. I REALLY believe STRONGLY that this game does NOT warrant a big play, so be careful with everyone trying to ram a "GIANT" play down your throat. Let's just get this unit, NEVER chase, and keep clawing away: ADD MNF Play to Cart!

2) Don't say I never gave anything away! We have all these blogs, podcasts, and MORE, and on top of that, I've been giving away FREE MLB winners almost every day there's been football, and that will continue Monday. Any MLB Winners will be posted right here in this thread, and at my Pro Page:

3) With MLB winding down, and the Bebe madness known as NBA right around the corner, this is a time of year where I really like to take some time to collect my thoughts. Thus, because there are so many MLB games daily that are simply unbettable, I will be doing my MLB writeups on the TOP THREE REQUESTED GAMES, daily. So, start submitting requests for the FOLLOWING DAY'S MLB CARD, and I'll do a few writeups, but not the whole card. These blogs take multiple hours to write daily, and on top of the multiple hours that get spent on the card handicapping, it's VERY important to avoid burnout heading into my favorite time of year, and the time when I want to spend the MOST energy on blogging.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cardinals (-144) @ Marlins with a total of 8; C. Carpenter vs. C. Volstad;
I generally feel pretty strongly that betting inflated road favorites is a losing long term proposition, but at the same time, grabbing one every so often in the short term isn't completely nuts. Florida is slumping, big time, and the Cards played a solid series with the Padres. Carpenter is 3-1 against the Fish with an ERA in the 1's, and Volstad is a perma-fade for me. I'm considering St Louis, if nothing else comes my way.

Braves @ Phillies (-164) with a total of 8; J. Jurrjens vs. C. Hamels;
Hamels and the Phils have been way too hot to fade. Jurrjens has been struggling a bit in his last couple starts. However, he does have solid career numbers against Philadelphia, so I wonder if maybe he comes through with a better start than people expect. I'd go Phillies or Under...or likely, nothing.

Astros @ Nationals (-138) with a total of 8; B. Norris vs. L. Hernandez;
Livan went through a month of poor starts, but he bounced back his last time out with 8 shutout innings against the Braves. Norris has been rock solid in his last few starts, as well, and the Astros just keep winning late in the year. If Livan was still struggling, I'd put my house on Houston, but with Hernandez getting things back on track, that makes this game much tougher to bet. I'd consider the road dog, and I'd consider the Under.

Reds (-119) @ Brewers with a total of 9; H. Bailey vs. C. Capuano;
Someone might want to tell the Reds that they still have to win a couple more games before the NL Central is completely locked up. This might be a nice series to get those wins. I have to admit, I'm a little surprised at how cheap the Reds are, but I happen to believe there are actually more reasons to back Cincinnati than Milwaukee. The Brewers are hitting pretty well, and Bailey doesn't have particularly strong numbers against them, but Milwaukee comes home off a 6-game road trip that took them to San Francisco, and we know how that first game home can go.

American League

Royals @ Tigers (-124) with a total of 7.5; Z. Greinke vs. R. Porcello;
This line is higher than I would have expected, though I suppose the general losing attitude of the Royals makes it somewhat believable. Here's my concern with both sides. Greinke doesn't seem fully focused, and Porcello was scratched from his last start because of lingering issues with his pitching index finger. Dangerous spot to play anything other than the Over.

Rays @ Yankees (-125) with a total of 9; M. Garza vs I. Nova;
This is a Rematch from a meeting down in Tampa, where both pitchers got shellacked in a game the Yankees won 8-7. The total moved up a half-tick, so that's pretty standard, and the line shifted by about 45 cents, so that's pretty normal, too. The Rays didn't look good against the Angels between these series with New York, and the Yankees do tend to beat up on fools in the Bronx. I prefer the home team, despite Nova's implosion last time he saw Tampa.

Orioles @ Red Sox (-154) with a total of 9; B. Matusz vs. D. Matsuzaka;
There is tremendous value with the Orioles here, and if it wasn't immediately evident in how the two teams are playing, the rather low line should be a second indicator. Matusz pitches above himself against the best in the League, and Daisuke has been scuffling, to say the least. At least consider the Orioles before doing anything else with this one.

Indians @ Twins (-215) with a total of 8.5; J. Gomez vs. B. Duensing;
The Twins appear to be suffering through a slight letdown off that big series sweep against the White Sox. Be careful.

White Sox @ Athletics (-149) with a total of 7; G. Floyd vs. G. Gonzalez;
This is a tough travel game for Chicago, playing in the late ESPN contest last night, and since they're virtually eliminated from the Playoffs, you have to believe the energy isn't there. That said, Floyd has been outstanding against the A's (3-0, 1.32), and Gonzalez has been a turd against the White Sox (0-3, 8.82). I'd look at the dog just because no one else is going to give them the time of day off being "eliminated"...

Rangers @ Angels (-155) with a total of 7.5; D. Holland vs. J. Weaver;
Jered Weaver usually holds his own against Texas when he faces them in Anaheim. It's going to be a decent series, and this big line should give you an indicator that oddsmakers still expect the Angels to give it their best. I think this line is fair, though that might make me seem nuts.
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