Sunday, October 31, 2010

NFL Vegas Line Error Blog for Week 9

Prelude: In last week's blog, we talked about how we will continue to go "bigger" on games that have more line value, and we'll continue to play any game with enough value to make a play, and that even though week 7 was a 1-3 turd, the perception errors will always lead to a winning end result.

This most recent week (number 8), we looked smart! While the plays of minor value went just 1-2 for a loss of 1.1 units, the bigger value NFL plays (San Diego and New Orleans) went 2-0 for a gain of 5 units. Just one week, but it's amazing how fast you can wipe out a bad week if you stick to what works.

Anyway, back to the quick PERCEPTION LINE ERROR notes on EVERY game, since, dammit, that's what I've been doing since last December. I will make the following statement, and I challenge anyone to disprove it:

"No one, Pro or otherwise, has broken down, in writing, more games, from a betting standpoint, over the last 12 months, for free, than me."

I'd put that in my forum signature, but it's complicated enough, already.

Pro Notes:

1) NFL -- SUNDAY ALL ACCESS PASS with GAME OF THE WEEK -- 8-2 on "BIG" NFL Plays (including 2-0 this most recent week) -- cashed another 4 units this last weekend, so I expect ALL of you that read this to JUMP ON, no excuses!!

2) CFB -- CFB GAME Of The WEEK -- 7-0 Last 7 Straight College Big Plays, and now haven't lost a CFB Saturday Paid Play since mid-September! Also, 6 Consecutive CFB Winning Saturdays! Very quietly, we've just won every College Card since week 3.

3) NBA -- Pasted from last week: on average, we'll have about 1.5 plays per day, and given the season is roughly 180 days, and the SEASON PASS is just $495, you're looking at an investment of LESS THAN $2 per play! If you buy the plays individually, it will probably run about $3,000, so...GET THE SEASON PASS - it's the best deal at Pregame.

4) MLB -- The World Series! You guys can thank the NBA, because ALL WORLD SERIES PLAYS WILL BE FREE!

Week 7 Recap and Lessons Learned: This week, I'd argue, we had some prime examples of how "weirdness" regresses to a mean.

The Chargers literally handed the Patriots two "fumbles" in week 7, but in week 8 managed to injure Vince Young and hang 30+ on the Titans.

In week 7, the Steelers got a wild official ruling to steal a win in Miami, but in week 8 they got caught when they made mistakes, and the Saints, who, in week 7, allowed 2 fluke pick-sixes, bounced back with a less "weird" game of their own.

Betting on good teams to avoid back-to-back "weird" games isn't a terrible idea.

What did you guys learn?

Sports Wagering: NFL

Sunday, 1pm

Chicago Bears (-2.5) @ Buffalo Bills with a total of 40;
Yikes. Where to begin? The public is coming off watching Chicago lose back-to-back home games to the Seahawks and the Redskins, and turn the ball over 6 times (4 just on Cutler's arm) in that hideous Washington game. I'm not sure the public could think a great deal less of Chicago than they do right now, but they're still the Bears, and they're still a Chicago team, which means they'll be public until proven otherwise. Losing ugly hasn't made them a non-public team, just a slightly less intriguing one. The Bills, meanwhile, keeping finding ways to lose heartbreakers, but given that they're catching more than a handful of points every time out, they've been covering, so quietly, Buffalo has started to become a little ATS darling in late October. I believe that if this line came out 2-3 weeks ago, Chicago would have been a 4 point road favorite, at least, so based on that, there's a little value on Chicago, but based on the fact that Chicago just can't be trusted, I'm not sure there's any true value anywhere. When a line is as close to where it should be as this one seems, there's no sense in pushing our luck. Plus, there's something to the idea that Buffalo hasn't been, really, any better at home than on the road, so getting those extra 6 points might actually make the Bills a better road play.

San Diego Chargers (-1.5) @ Houston Texans with a total of 50;
Well, we cashed in 3 weeks of ugliness with the Chargers last week, and now they go right back to being the road favorite. Interestingly, early indications are that the public is actually backing Houston, or at least pretty close to split, despite San Diego's win over Tennessee last week, and maybe more interestingly, despite Houston getting blasted on Monday Night Football. I suppose it makes sense. Houston has fluctuated between scoring a ton of points and not, though they've given up a ton of points seemingly every week, while San Diego stunk for a month, won one game, and when all is summed up, both teams are somewhat moderately disliked by bettors, and that's splitting the action. I can't really get on board with San Diego laying points on the road, but that Houston defense should give up at least 25 points, probably more, to a Chargers team that can really move the ball. Tough to find a ton of line value in this opening number.

New Orleans Saints (-6.5) @ Carolina Panthers with a total of 40.5;
This one doesn't need much of a breakdown. The Saints are coming off a Sunday Night Football win over the Steelers, the perceived best team in the NFL. The Panthers got completely shut down by an impressive Rams defense, and remain just a 1-win team. Is this a letdown spot for the Saints? Maybe. Are the Saints truly 9.5 points better than the Panthers on a neutral field? Probably not, but it's pretty easy to see why this line is as high as it is. This line should probably be about a point lower, which is something, but not nearly enough for me to get behind this Panthers team against a quality opponent. They are just a disaster, and though they did lose just 16-14 to New Orleans earlier this year, I can't imagine they have similar success in round two, especially not if Brees brings even his B-game. But, as I've stated a thousand times (and violated 900), this is a perception blog, and clearly, the line value is with Carolina. If this one gets over a TD, Carolina will look a lot better.

Arizona Cardinals @ Minnesota Vikings (-8) with a total of 40;
This is a tough one to analyze, largely because of Favre (or not Favre). I suppose we could also argue that it's a tough one because Derek Anderson might get the start for the Cardinals. With so much uncertainty, it's very, very difficult to get a firm grasp on how the public is going to react. Clearly, they're going to prefer the Vikings just because of the star power of Adrian Peterson, but Randy Moss getting waived and Favre's injuries are definitely putting a damper on things, and this line is pretty darn high. On Arizona's side, they lost a winnable game to the Buccaneers last week, losing out on what appeared to be a sure game-tying FG chance with minutes remaining when Derek Anderson tossed yet another INT near the red zone. Whoops! Just from the teams alone, there's probably some perception value on the team getting 8 to 10 points, but not sure I can trust Derek Anderson to actually score at all, and as a fantasy owner of the Vikes defense, I'm finally looking forward to a weekend.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons (-9.5) with a total of 46.5;
First off, please do take note of the rather high total. I know the Bucs played a wildly high-scoring game in Arizona, but they hadn't been featuring monster offensive outputs (or allowing a ton) prior to that. Tampa Bay isn't really great on either side of the ball, but they're not terrible, so that total is giving a ton of credit to a solid Atlanta offense. The Bucs did just win another tight one, so I have to think the public opinion of them is going to stay about the same - somewhere in the middle of the road. As far as Atlanta goes, they put on a scoring show with the Bengals before a "bye" week, and I would believe that game has had some impact on the total. The side is awfully high though, and I have to think that it opened this high because of the "bye" week that Atlanta had to prepare. But let's not ignore the fact that the Bucs are confident, and they think they're the best team in the NFC. This would be an intriguing time to try to prove it. I think this line is a shade high considering it could be argued that this is some sort of rivalry, but Atlanta with 2 weeks to prepare should definitely score some points. Make of those statements what you will.

New York Jets (-3.5) @ Detroit Lions with a total of 41;
Well, that line seems oddly low, doesn't it? I know the Jets got shut out last week, at home, by the Green Bay Packers middling defense, but just over a FG to the Lions? It's pretty clear which side is going to be the public choice in this one. But let's dig deeper. The Jets had dominated during their winning streak, but one could argue that Sanchez didn't play all that well in Denver in a win that basically was gifted by a pass interference call, and then capped with some strong running game work. Sanchez is probably going to need to do some work in this one, too, since Detroit's front 4 are definitely in the League's top 10. On perception alone? Well, the Jets are still the Jets - the villains of the NFL that people love to hate, but also like to bet on because they were cashing ticekts. And, sadly, the Lions are still the Lions to folks, even though they've been extremely competitive in every game, and are actually about 2-3 plays from being a 4-3 team instead of 2-5. Anyway, from a math perspective, this line confuses me. The Lions were catching 14 when they played in Green Bay in early October, albeit without Matthew Stafford, but then this most recent week Green Bay was catching between 4-6 in New York. By that token, the Jets should be valued at 12-14 points more than the Lions without Stafford, on a neutral field. By that logic, we're saying Stafford alone is worth at least 5-6 points, maybe as many as 8? I'm not buying it. This line is hugely fishy.

Miami Dolphins @ Baltimore Ravens (-4) with a total of 39.5;
I doubted you on the road, Miami, and I apologize. The Dolphins once again found a way to win on the road, despite scoring just 1 TD in the game. Somehow, they worked their way down the field repeatedly, and repeatedly settled for FG's, but that defense ratcheted up the intensity and held the Bengals first down-less for more than half the game! So, what do people remember about these teams? The Ravens won a nailbiter before heading into their "bye" week, so they're still fairly public, but maybe not as much since the close game was with a Buffalo team that no one figured would even compete. Here's the thing about Baltimore - aside from beating on a Denver team that is being revealed to be a bit of a fraud, they've played all pretty darn close games. Miami has been finding ways to win those close games on the road, but I have to believe the World is going to catch on with the Fins pretty darn soon, if they haven't already. I think that, at 4 points, this line is a little low, and Miami's nice road win, and series of covers forced a low opening number. As this line creeps up, though, then you have to start thinking that perhaps the value is not only gone, but flipped.

New England Patriots (-4) @ Cleveland Browns with a total of 45;
Once again, it's pretty easy to see which side has the intrinsic line value. The Patriots are coming off yet another win and yet another cover, beating the Vikings at home in their most recent affair. Still, New England seems to be getting, let's say, some breaks. If you go back a few games, the Pats have done a significant amount of their spread-covering with rather unique measures. Special teams went nutso in Miami, San Diego gifted them a win, and then at home, the Vikings foolishly played Brett Favre...still the head-scratcher of week 8. So, what happens now? New England gets to face a team with 3 subpar QB's, but at least one of them is showing signs of growth. The Pats are overvalued, and it's a matter of when we think the time is right, but getting well over a FG is intriguing.

Sunday, 4pm

New York Giants (-5) @ Seattle Seahawks with a total of 40;
Yes, we all know about the Giants pass rush, and we know that Seattle matches up poorly in that regard because they don't run the ball well, but we've also seen what opposing QB's can do to the Giants if the front 4 don't get a ton of pressure. So, that raises a few interesting points, in terms of situational angles and matchups. Let's break down those in the comments section. In terms of line value, the Giants have won 4 games in a row, covering 3 of them. They've scored 103 points in their last 3 games, and they're just clicking right along. Seattle, meanwhile, got creamed in Oakland by a suddenly surging Raiders team, and now comes back home where they've actually been pretty good this year. The fact that this line has gone up near a TD isn't surprising, either, as sharps could be grabbing that -5 to get ahead of the market, and certainly with Seattle coming off an ugly loss, and the Giants off a "bye", the middle opportunity is set up. So, yes, there's some solid line value with the Seahawks at opening number, and moreso at 7.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders (-1) with a total of 41;
Both of these teams look decent to bettors right now...who would have thought I'd be typing that in week 9 a few weeks back? The Chiefs defense has kept them in every game, and the offense is slowly coming along. The Raiders are coming off back-to-back blowout wins for the first time in, well, probably the better part of a decade. As discussed on "TiSB", both of these teams are a little overrated right now, and the line is probably pretty close to where it should be. At Oakland -1, the Raiders are a slight value, but by the time of posting this note, the line has moved up towards a FG, and now we're looking at a number that's probably right on the nose. Though, again, it's hard to imagine the Chiefs being at completely full strength off playing a full 75 minutes last week in a hard-fought win, but that's a story for the comments area.

Indianapolis Colts @ Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) with a total of 46.5;
Short week for Indianapolis, 2 weeks for the Eagles, and the return of Mike Vick. The question is, how much of that does the public digest. The Mike Vick part, I have to believe, is indeed processed by the bettors, so that's factored into the line. The "bye" and Indianapolis traveling off a MNF game might not be. Situationally, there's the quick breakdown. From a value standpoint, Indy is off a big win over Houston that bettors just ate up, and Philadelphia's most recent game was a poor performance in Tennessee...or, really, a poor 4th quarter. And by "poor", we mean, "the worst damn quarter they could have imagined." So, with that in mind, Philadelphia might be a tiny bit undervalued, if that's possible given the Vick situation, and there's no question the Colts are going to be overvalued off the MNF monster win. In my humble opinion, the Eagles are probably a more well-rounded team than Indianapolis, so anything FG or under is a slight line value (key number value, I'd say) on Philly.

Sunday, 8:30pm

Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers (-7.5) with a total of 44.5;
This opening number is silly, and the fact that the line has gone up as high as 9 is even funnier. It's official, though - the World has given up on the Cowboys. Dallas got worked by Jacksonville in their last game, in what I like to call the "season's over, letdown game"...but as we've seen in every sport from every team that sputters, after the letdown comes the "playing for pride" part of the season. From a perception standpoint, the Packers are way, way overvalued. Dallas's offense wasn't nearly as bad as last week might have indicated, as 3 tipped balls ended up as interceptions, and without those, they might have won, or certainly would have put up another 7-10 points. Green Bay, meanwhile, won last week because they keyed in on the Jets' rushing attack, and let the insane winds ruin whatever Mark Sanchez might have been trying to accomplish in the Jets' passing game. This line shouldn't be higher than about 6, certainly not over a TD, and certainly not 9.

Monday, 8:30pm

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals with a total of 42.5;
The Bengals look pretty terrible. Is that the time to back them? Probably, since catching over a FG at home for any team in the NFL, especially one that can indeed break out and score a few points, is something intriguing. Still, I'm not sure I can trust them. From a pure perception standpoint, Pittsburgh is coming off a road loss in New Orleans, but I don't think that does a ton to hurt the perception of their skill. Losing to a good team isn't that debilitating, and Pittsburgh should still be the slightly overvalued club, here. Cincinnati, meanwhile, can't get out of their own way. They've lost 4 in a row, and while many have been close, that simple fact speaks to Cincinnati's trouble getting anything done when it matters. Hell, just last week, Miami held the Bengals to zero first downs for basically the middle 30 minutes of the game. And Pittsburgh's defense might be a tiny bit overrated on name, but they're damn good at tackling, and don't give up many big plays. I'd love to advocate the home dog, and certainly catching 3.5, or more, is a nice deal, but it will take some colossal nuts to get behind the Bengals right now, even if they're a nice 2 point value.

Is Arco Still a Company

Sports Wagering: NBA

Portland Trailblazers @ Chicago Bulls (-1.5) with a total of 190;
Maybe I'm alone in this, but despite covering their last one, I'm not that impressed with Chicago so far. Joakim Noah has looked like a solid hustle player, and we know Derrick Rose is a baller, but overall, Chicago could very easily be 0-2 if not for a complete meltdown by the Detroit Pistons in what's becoming the norm for Detroit. Now, Chicago plays host to the Blazers, who have had Chicago's number of late, and are already 2-0 on this road trip. Here's what I'm really seeing in this game. The Blazers are on the penultimate road trip game, with the concluding contest tomorrow night in Milwaukee. That makes me think they'll give something of a 75% effort in at least one of these 2 games, most likely tomorrow. If Portland plays as well as Detroit did for 40 minutes, they'll beat a Chicago team that looks a little out of sorts, for no clear reason. On the other hand, Chicago's momentum from the conclusion of that last game could carry over, but can they bring it for 4 full quarters? It figures to reason that Chicago is a 1.5-point favorite in a game that should be pretty close. Slight lean to PORTLAND and UNDER.

Toronto Raptors @ Sacramento Kings (-2.5) with a total of 209;
This game has a pair of competing angles. Toronto is starting a 4-game road trip, so they're traveling cross-country and playing their first road game. What will we get? The Toronto that got roughed up a bit by the Knicks, or the Toronto that bounced back strong against a Cavs team in a little letdown spot? And then, what of Sacramento? The Kings have played 3 straight on the road to open the 2010 season, winning in Minnesota and in Cleveland, but dropping one late to the Nets in between. This is bordering on the "first game home" theory we discussed at length last year, but because it's Sacramento's home opener, I have to think that washes out any sluggishness that might normally set in when a team comes back after being in hotels for a week or two. That, to me, would explain a line shift towards Sacramento, which we're already witnessing even before the books' computers are warm. I've been wrong before, and will be again, but I believe that, a week into the season, most people won't realize that the Kings haven't played at Arco yet, where they're generally pretty darn tough. Lean to SACRAMENTO and the OVER.

San Antonio Spurs (-6.5) @ Los Angeles Clippers with a total of 195;
Has any team underachieved as much as the Clippers in the first week of the season? I realize it's very, very early, but the return of Blake Griffin had Clippers fans everywhere (namely, Frankie Muniz and the rest of the Malcolm in the Middle crew) excited about a potential season of progress. Well, so far, this team looks like they need to figure out how to play together. Is it because Baron Davis came to camp fat? Is it because Blake Griffin is the "man" and the rest of the guys don't know how to play through him? It's tough to say, because, from a pure roster standpoint, I like the Clips. I like Kaman enough, Eric Gordon is solid, Craig Smith is a nice bulldozer off the bench, Rasual Butler is a sniper. But, put the pieces together, and they're disjointed and confused. I'm pretty sure I only watched about 14 minutes of the Clippers-Mavericks game yesterday, and I think I saw Baron Davis hit backboard on 2 threeballs. Mix that with about 4 turnovers in 6 possessions, and the Mavs ran away. But this is why there are spreads. The Spurs are laying 6.5 or 7 on the road against a team not from Jersey. If we do the math, add in the back-to-back, and this line is claiming the Spurs are roughly 7.5 or 8 points better than the Clips on a neutral court. That's at least a point, perhaps even 1.5 points more than the Spurs were laying (on a neutral site) to the Pacers to open the year, and that was the home opener. This line is inflated, and even though the Clippers look terrible, it's a lean to LA or nothing...and the UNDER...thanks to the Spurs slow starts and especially slow road starts.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An NBA Week Wraps Up, Pt 1

Recap: No plays on Thursday, as the NBA afforded only minimal value in the two TNT games -- so, in that regard, not a ton to recap, though your buddy Dan is in our Nation's Capital for a couple days, so my base of operations has moved temporarily, and that's always exciting!

Today: First, listen to the SEASON PREVIEW PODCAST HERE:

Next, get the DAN BEBE NBA 2010-2011 SEASON PASS HERE:

If that one doesn't fit, get my NBA Game of the Week:

Finally, read the blog!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Indiana Pacers @ Charlotte Bobcats (-5.5) with a total of 191.5;
Indiana did not play defense in their opener, and that, to me, bodes poorly for their first few road games. Charlotte, meanwhile, stunk in their road opener in Dallas, but that's not really a surprise. We saw, last year, Charlotte make mincemeat of the League at home, and I wonder if they can get right back at it, this year. The total on this game has rocketed up, not surprising given the pace that Indiana tries to play at, and catching almost 6 points means that a close game is probably going to be an Indiana cover. I really think Indiana beats a lot of teams at home, and teams with poor defense on the road, but Charlotte is known for defense and slowing things down, and I just don't think this is a particularly great matchup for either team. Lean to CHARLOTTE and the OVER.

Sacramento Kings @ New Jersey Nets (-3.5) with a total of 199;
The Kings and Nets each play their second game, and each is batting 1,000 so far. That won't last, obviously, but you have to believe both teams are feeling decent about themselves. I still don't trust New Jersey, as I feel like they stole that opener from the Pistons, who outplayed them for 46 minutes. The Kings, meanwhile, held strong in a road game, which is a small triumph, and they get Tyreke Evans back for this second game. On paper, it seems like the Kings should be able to hang tough, especially with their top threat back in the lineup, but as we saw in the Nets opener, if you're backing a dog at less than 4 points, you really have a narrow margin for error. I'm not a believer in Sacramento just yet. Leans to NEW JERSEY and the UNDER.

Atlanta Hawks (-4) @ Philadelphia 76ers with a total of 194.5;
The Hawks looked awfully dominant in their opener, a crushing of the Memphis Grizzlies on the road. Now, as a 4-point road favorite (as opposed to a short road underdog), Atlanta heads into Philadelphia, fresh off their own season-opener, a loss to the Miami Heat. I still believe there's a lot to learn about both of these teams. As I suggested in the NBA Season Preview blog, and again, if less intently on the podcast, I believe the Hawks are due to take a step back this year, but not until later in the season. They have the advantage of being largely unchanged, which is a great edge in the first few games of the year, while other teams are trying to develop chemistry. Atlanta doesn't have to worry about that, and even though they might be a hair on the public side, they do have a nice thing going early on. As for Philly, I think they might actually be worse than what we saw against Miami. They clearly got up for that game, and it still wasn't anywhere close to enough, even with Miami struggling to develop chemistry, and LeBron committing 9 more turnovers. I hate to go public with a lean, but... lean to ATLANTA and the UNDER.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Toronto Raptors (-3) with a total of 197;
Two teams starting the post-superstar eras, and getting off to pretty different starts. The Cavs upended a tired Boston team in their home opener to go to 1-0 on the year, and probably looked better than they truly are in the process. Toronto got beat, at home, by the revamped Knicks, though a game that looked like it might get out of hand early was, instead, not a terrible contest. The Raptors are going to have all kinds of problems this year on both sides of the ball, though, so there was no huge surprise in game 1. I wonder here, however, if Cleveland is riding a little too high on that first win. The Cavs, with LeBron, were an incredible home team, but that arena is a good advantage. Now, heading into Toronto, this game is fairly evenly matched, in my opinion, and I can't imagine Cleveland can play much better than they did against the Celts. To me, that makes this opening number all the more interesting - it's a strong one for Toronto. Slight lean to the pathetic RAPTORS and the UNDER.

New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics (-8.5) with a total of 198;
Okay, everyone is settled in, now. Boston plays, incredibly, their 3rd game of the young season already, and the Knicks play their second. New York got a road win in Toronto, so a nice confidence boost to open the new year, and Boston got a big home win over a disjointed Heat club, then had nothing left in the tank and got roughed up in Cleveland, a team playing with a chip on its shoulder. Now, home, and off a night of rest, Boston can regroup to get the rest of the season started. To me, the Knicks are a bit overrated, largely because of hype, so that cancels out, at least a little, the normal inflation that comes with a Celtics side. I believe this line is right about where it should be, and if Boston plays their normal lockdown defense, they should win this one by 7-10. Tiny lean to BOSTON, and small lean to the UNDER.

Oklahoma City Thunder (-6) @ Detroit Pistons with a total of 195;
I'd love to come before you and say that the Pistons are the super sharp play, but the simple fact is that Oklahoma City is a powerful young team that know what it takes to win, home or road. And that's what makes them scary. If this line was a bit higher, and the inflation was great enough to warrant a pure mathematical play, that would be one thing, but the Pistons are not a team that is going to score a ton of points on a nightly basis, and as we saw in their opener, aren't huge on closing games out, either. I know Detroit is going to be better at home than on the road, but a lot of that is because their opponents are probably going to be worse playing at the Palace. I do like Detroit as an undervalued team this year, but against a club with firepower like the Thunder that can also play defense, it's just not the time. World's tiniest, most microscopic lean to DETROIT, and lean to the UNDER.

Orlando Magic @ Miami Heat (-4.5) with a total of 184.5;
Flat out, this game means more to Orlando. We've heard all offseason about how Stan Van Gundy wants to make sure the East isn't just handed to the Heat, and how he feels about the top 2 free agents both signing with the same team. We also saw what Orlando was doing to teams throughout the preseason, and then again in their opener. This is a team on a mission, and if the look-ahead to Miami isn't reason for them to take Washington lightly (at all), then surely they're going to be ready to make a point of beating on the Heat. Miami got a cover in their second game, beating Philadelphia by 10 points for a narrow ATS win, but things still aren't even close to right with the Heat. Bosh was mostly ineffective, or I guess we could say played a "decent" game, but not what 20 million is worth; LeBron is turning the ball over, and an heroic effort from Dwyane Wade was enough to get by a pretty bad Sixers team. If it wasn't clear by the way these teams are approaching this particular game...Lean to ORLANDO and PASS on the total.

Milwaukee Bucks (-4.5) @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of 200;
The Bucks were a 3-point road dog to the Hornets in their opener, and dropped that game by 4, a narrow ATS loss. The Wolves were a short home fave to the Kings, and lost the game outright. Most know how I feel about the Bucks, so I'll keep that side of things short - Milwaukee is among the "hunted" this year, and they are a team with something to prove - namely, that they weren't a flash in the pan. The Wolves are a slightly improved team, but they still stink, and the loss of Al Jefferson leaves them with Darko Milicic starting at the 5, a disaster waiting to happen. Milwaukee is going to want to snag a win in their second game, and I expect a strong, workmanlike effort from a Scott Skiles team. I do think Minnesota can hang with them for most of the game, especially if the long range shots are falling, but Milwaukee should win this one late. Covering 4.5 isn't easy, though. Still, tiny lean to MILWAUKEE, and UNDER.

Denver Nuggets (-1.5) @ New Orleans Hornets with a total of 205;
Denver has a lot to prove this year, and the more people talk, the more likely it seems Carmelo isn't going to last the season. But that's all speculation, and something happening down the line. For today, the goal is to show that Denver can win on the road. Honestly, I'm not sure they can. Denver played a beast of a game against the Jazz, but Utah's inability to make a shot played as big a role in that game as Denver's solid game. New Orleans, meanwhile, played yet another close game (I say "yet another" because of how many close ones they had last year), and as I've written repeatedly, Chris Paul has a knack for keeping games close, and winning them late - and quietly, since he doesn't necessarily hit the "game winner," but hits a few big shots when the Hornets need them, and the team goes on to play well. This short line tells me oddsmakers aren't sold on Denver, either, since the Nuggets blowout win over the Jazz could have probably led to a slightly higher line. Chris Paul will make sure the Hornets have a chance, and that's all you can ask as a home underdog. Lean to the HORNETS (ML, maybe), and the OVER.

Memphis Grizzlies @ Dallas Mavericks (-10) with a total of 199;
I wonder if this line is extremely high for a reason, or if it's just getting inflated more and more by preseason hype combined with the results of game 1. Let us recall, Memphis got creamed by the Atlanta Hawks in their opener, and the Mavericks, an awful ATS home team last year, picked up a nice win, and cover, against the road-clunker Bobcats. But, we must remember, the Mavs lost their home opener last year to the Wizards, and seemed pretty bent on making up for that this season. Also, the Bobcats inability to play on the road might have made the Mavs look better than they actually are. Dirk had a monster shooting night, and Jason Kidd turned back the clock. Memphis looked about as bad as any team in their opener, and I can't imagine they play that poorly again, or play no defense again. There's some value with the road team here, and with the line moving to reflect that perception, lean to MEMPHIS and the OVER.

Los Angeles Clippers @ Golden State Warriors (-4.5) with a total of 219;
Two teams on the rise get to square off early in the year, and based on what we saw in the opener, the Warriors were definitely the more impressive team. The Clippers played the Blazers tough for 3 quarters, and then, like the Suns before them, couldn't penetrate the Portland defense in the final quarter. They won't have that issue with Golden State, who will just look to outscore its opponent. Can the Clippers keep up? The Clippers, last year, could count on a size advantage against the Warriors, and they probably still have a minor one, but with Biedrins healthy and able to focus on mostly rebounding, and David Lee doing some of the dirty work in Golden State, the Warriors can actually clean the glass. These games always just come down to which team is going to shoot the higher percentage, so with that in mind, I'd prefer the team with the point guard that can shoot. Lean to WARRIORS and the OVER.

Los Angeles Lakers (-4) @ Phoenix Suns with a total of 212;
Doesn't this line seem eerily low, considering the Suns played last night in Utah? To Phoenix's credit, they're playing with some big-time nuts so far this year, but the second night of a back-to-back, and going against the defending Champs, who, for the same reason as always, took a team lightly in their home opener. The Lakers didn't seem to take teams all that seriously on the road, either, and the notion that this line would be -2 if Phoenix hadn't played yesterday is a pretty interesting thought. That means the Lakers are just 5 points better than Phoenix on a neutral court, which is also roughly how that game with Houston opened., are oddsmakers saying Phoenix and Houston are the same? Something doesn't add up. The Lakers needed an opening-night comeback to beat the Rockets, and I wonder if Phoenix doesn't just keep scoring. When the Lakers are focused, they can severely outmuscle the Suns, but I don't think they're focused. Lean to PHOENIX and the OVER.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

TNT Thursday Arrives

Recap:Call me a perfectionist if you like, but I'd nominate last night for one of the more frustrating 2-1 days in recent memory, and I think most of you agree. We somehow hung on with a narrow cover on the Pistons, the Cavs not only covered, but won, but Indiana, the largest of the 3 plays, allowed the Spurs to go on an 11-0 4th quarter run that put the game "out of the money" and the Pacers couldn't get back in there. Still, 3-1 to start the season, and that's, more or less, how we wanted to start!


Next, get the DAN BEBE NBA 2010-2011 SEASON PASS HERE:
Finally, read the blog!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Washington Wizards @ Orlando Magic (-13.5) with a total of 192;
You can go ahead and mark this one down as a win for John Wall, not because they're necessarily going to get a "W" in the game, but because the Wizards made TNT in the first week of the season. How about that, eh? In any case, this is a team that is going to be improved this year by a decent amount, but still not in the same world as the Magic. Orlando is definitely in the running for deepest team in the NBA, and my guess would be that they spent the offseason working on ways to deal with the Boston Celtics and getting pissed off at the Heat. It's a nice turn of events for a team that was dealing with disappointment after their playoff exit, since, suddenly, they can use the "no respect" schtick to get them through another regular season. Orlando is going to be solid. Washington is a team on a learning curve. I like the moves they've made, and I like their young frontcourt, too, but this game is a total crapshoot. Washington could lose by 30, or they could hang in there and take it down to the wire. What I don't see happening is a game decided by a number right around the spread. It has "extreme" result written all over it. So, my advice is...PASS on the side, DON'T tease an NBA game, especially not this one, and slight lean to the OVER.

Phoenix Suns @ Utah Jazz (-6) with a total of 209.5;
Well, we have a decent idea of what to expect from the Suns, but not a great idea of what to expect from the Jazz. In the middle of the season, I'd be all over Utah coming off that horrific loss in Denver to open their season, but in the early going, the ability of a team to bounce back is less about motivation and more about actually having some solid team chemistry. Utah, it would seem, might need another week or two to figure each other out. And it wasn't like Denver shot 60% in a freak hailstorm of threeballs. Utah just shot 39%, and flat out stunk against a team that's not really known for its defense. This is also one of those teams, Utah, that Phoenix might be able to score against in the 4th quarter. Utah plays some decent defense, but not like Portland. On the flip side, Jason Richardson went off in their opener, and without his ridiculous game, Portland would have been up 15 long before the final horn. So, who's to really say how this one is going to go. TNT lined up a pair of crapshoots, in my opinion, and while I do feel Utah has the horses to win (namely, Deron Williams, since Steve Nash isn't going to be even remotely close to able to stop him), Phoenix should be able to hang in there. Slight lean to UTAH, slight lean to the OVER.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Disjointed Three

Recap: It took some moxie from the Blazers, but a man-size 18-1 run to end the game secured a Blazers victory, and a 7-point cover for our first play of the NBA season, and first win. 1-0. 100%? Haha, I kid. So many, many games to go, but it's nice to start up!

Today: First, listen to the SEASON PREVIEW PODCAST HERE:

Next, get the DAN BEBE NBA 2010-2011 SEASON PASS HERE:

If that one doesn't fit, get my NBA Wednesday Follow-Up Slamma-Jamma 2-pack:

Finally, read the blog!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Detroit Pistons @ New Jersey Nets (-4) with a total of 191;
We're only about 10 words into the blog, and already I disagree with a line the oddsmakers set on this game. The New Jersey Nets were an offseason hype machine, getting involved in trade talks for Carmelo Anthony, Russian billionaire owners, an actual trade for Troy Murphy, and a high draft pick. But what, really, changed about this team? Not a great deal. Courtney Lee is gone, which I don't think changes much, they flipped Douglas-Roberts and ended up with Morrow, and when push comes to shove, this team is largely unchanged from the club that won 12 games last year. Detroit, meanwhile, had themselves a pretty darn ugly year, and an offseason that makes the latest Wayans Brothers production seem like an exciting whirlwind ride. But then, how much did Detroit really need to do to get a little better? I'd argue, very little, besides get healthy. Yes, they already lost Jonas Jerebko to injury, so the bug bites again, but Stuckey has proclaimed himself ready to be a leader, Rip is healthy, Ben Gordon is healthy, Tayshaun is healthy (for now), and Austin Daye is emerging as the fantasy sleeper of the preseason. I happen to believe the veterans on this team should be enough to get them a few more wins if, again, they don't lose half the team for the season. New Jersey isn't better than Detroit, and this line, in my opinion, is too heavily weighted on the Nets offseason "moves." -- Leans to DETROIT and the UNDER.

Boston Celtics (-5) @ Cleveland Cavaliers with a total of 186;
The feelings on this game weigh very heavily on the results of Boston's home opener against the Miami Heat. Let's wait and see how that one goes, since a win over Miami would do an awful lot to keep this line good and juicy for a tired, older team, going against the team with the worst publicity of the entire offseason....(time elapses, game occurs)...Boston came away with the win, and the emotional letdown is upon us. I know there's the overwhelming feeling that Cleveland can't keep up with anyone, but believe me when I say that oddsmakers aren't giving this team any credit. If this line is low, it's because of money. Just look at the season win total, at 30 games, half of last year's number. Cleveland is very poorly regarded by the public since LeBron left, and I wonder if people have forgotten that Cleveland bought a ton of pieces to put around LeBron, and most of those guys are still there. Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao, Hickson, and new guys like Ramon Sessions, all playing under a very capable Byron Scott. Cavs are going to come out ready, and while I think Boston should ultimately win, a close game means we cover. Lean to CLEVELAND and the UNDER.

New York Knicks @ Toronto Raptors (-2) with a total of 210;
Does anyone remember what the Raptors did when Chris Bosh was hurt last year? Let me jog everyone's memory -- they went 5-8, including 2 wins to end the regular season against a Pistons team that was without Rip Hamilton, and Stuckey was returning from passing out, and against these very Knicks, who clearly had called it a year. They also beat the Nets on the road, but who hasn't? So, let's call it 4-8, if we eliminate the very last game of the year. They did, however, sweep 4 games from the Knicks last season, so this is a matchup that had worked in Toronto's favor. So, we're left at a cross-roads. Toronto lost its best player, while the Knicks acquired Amar'e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton while unloading David Lee. Toronto signed Amir Johnson, which means almost nothing, and right now Reggie Evans is the starting power forward. So these offseason moves warrant the extremely cheap line? I think that, in almost any other game, they do. The Knicks are going to be better than Toronto this year, and oddsmakers know that, but this number reflects the desire of the remaining Raptors to try to win a few games, certainly moreso at home. The Knicks, meanwhile, had some significant turnover, and it might very well take them a few games to get acclimated. The season series sweep last year throws a wrinkle into things, but the Knicks that got beat aren't the Knicks playing this game, at least from a star power standpoint. This is a strong number, and I respect that, since I believe oddsmakers would err on the side of the Knicks if they were less confident. Leans to TORONTO and the UNDER.

Miami Heat @ Philadelphia 76ers with a total of N/A;
We'll get these lines around 8am pacific time, or so, and we'll once again settle into the NBA season's nuances. I was looking at this game as a potential fade spot for Miami off the high-intensity opener in Boston, but given the way the Heat needed 2 quarters just to realize that "hey, if we let LeBron do stuff, we can score," I have to believe they come at Philly, one of the League's worst home teams last year, with a purpose. LeBron did lose the first 2 games last year with the Cavs, but that was a home-to-road. This road-and-road double-header is not going to be particularly fatiguing, and I actually don't think the game in Boston was that emotionally draining for a team that spent most of the game trying to find a rhythm. It's a learning process, but the 2 point line adjustment for a back-to-back might be just enough to get this one into coverable territory. Still, if I must...tiny lean to PHILADELPHIA, and likely to the UNDER.

Atlanta Hawks @ Memphis Grizzlies with a total of N/A;
I'm not 100% certain why this line is off to start the season, though I suppose it could be the injury situation involving Marc Gasol, who apparently might give it a go. This is an intriguing game, because the Hawks are a team I had pegged as taking a small step back this year, but they're also a team (like the Grizz, too) that should have some preexisting chemistry, and understand what it takes to win a basketball game. Given the public's feelings towards teams that make the Playoffs, I have to think that the value will be with the home Grizzlies, who look to try to make a stride off last season's strong, um, final two-thirds? I don't know if Memphis gets much better this offseason, barring significant growth by the guys already there, but we know for a fact Atlanta won't get much better. I think Memphis has a nice shot to open the season with a win, and given that I believe this line is close to a pick when it opens, Lean to MEMPHIS and the OVER, when it pops up.

Sacramento Kings @ Minnesota Timberwolves (-3.5) with a total of 199.5;
So wait, let me get this straight: the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were already the second worst team in the NBA last year, got rid of their best player, and are a neutral court favorite to the Kings (by a half point, but still)? I know that Mike and I talked at length about Sacramento taking a small step back, or perhaps holding steady this year, and they have long been a team that is far, far better at home than on the road, but the wealth of talent, some of which is actually marginally developed, should instantly make them an intriguing play against a team of misfits like the Wolves. Minnesota brought in Luke Ridnour to try to run the offense, and he'll do a decent job, but for goodness sakes, they're starting Darko Milicic! And if this was the middle of the season, I'd dig for another half hour to try to find out why this line is somewhat strong on the Minnesota side, but right now, I'm pretty content with the idea that oddsmakers think these teams are evenly matched, and gave Minnesota a tiny extra bump because it's the season opener. And they might be right to do so. This is a game where both teams are going to do their best to lose it, so we'll see who actually makes a few plays down the stretch. We have a lot to learn about these teams, so tread lightly early on - leans to SACRAMENTO and the UNDER.

Milwaukee Bucks @ New Orleans Hornets (-3) with a total of 191;
Call me crazy, but I actually think the Bucks are a little overhyped. They made a monster jump last year, winning games with stout defense, clever fast-breaking, and decent execution in the half court, and then nearly advanced past the more talented Hawks without star center Andrew Bogut. And now, they're suddenly the trendy pick to get even better. They signed Drew Gooden and picked up Corey Maggette, which should, in theory, make them deeper and stronger. But something feels odd. My initial thought is that the difference this year is that Milwaukee is more the hunted than the hunter, at least with more than half of the Eastern Conference, and teams aren't really going to be caught off guard by them. Can John Salmons really duplicate what he brought to them? Can Brandon Jennings find a way to shoot better than 35%? Is Bogut healthy? There are more questions with Milwaukee than most would be willing to see. On the New Orleans side, they still have Chris Paul. They might not by midseason, but they do now, and by picking up Trevor Ariza and Jerryd Bayless, and with Okafor and West healthy in the middle, they should be more than able to compete with anyone in the League. And that's the beauty of Chris Paul - there is no player in the NBA better at keeping a game close. He knows when to take over, and sort of quietly will hit an open 3 when his team falls behind by 7, or make a key steal to start a 6-point run. It's remarkable, and I want all of you guys to watch for that aspect of his game, this year. And for that reason, among others (New Orleans being a tough place to play), I think the Hornets are underrated, and the Bucks a little overrated. Both teams will be decent, but the Hornets will win a close one, which this could be. Leans to NEW ORLEANS and the UNDER.

Chicago Bulls @ Oklahoma City Thunder (-6.5) with a total of 194;
If there's another team out there that's getting all kinds of hype - warranted though it may be - it's the Thunder. And for that reason, I want absolutely, positively, nothing to do with this game. The Thunder have a ton of expectations heaped on them, with Durant anointed as the second coming, and everyone looking for them to turn the corner and go deep into the Playoffs. Those types of expectations lead to inflated lines, but at the same time, the Thunder can play some insane home games, and there's no one on the Bulls that can stop Kevin Durant. Derrick Rose doesn't play much defense, either, which means Russell Westbrook should put up some decent offensive numbers. Though, Rose can make Westbrook work on the other end, so that should be a fun battle. When Chicago gets Carlos Boozer back, that will be a nice bump, but for now, I'd leave this game alone. Let's sit tight, watch how each team looks out of the gate, and get a feel for what type of basketball the Bulls are going to play under a new coach, and how the Thunder deal with some chalky lines this year. PASS on the side, slight lean to OVER.

Charlotte Bobcats @ Dallas Mavericks (-7) with a total of 187;
Dallas made a name for itself last year by being the true road warriors of the NBA, and the early parts of the season were no exception. Dallas lost their season opener, at home, to the Washington Wizards, a team that went on to be among the worst in the League. Then, a couple days later, Dallas swept a back-to-back at Staples Center, beating the Lakers and Clippers decisively. Will they make the same mistake twice? Can Dallas follow the Rangers and make the state of Texas proud, or will they go Romo, and disappoint? Over the course of the season, I think Dallas will be fine, and the team that won all those road games is basically all back. They added Tyson Chandler, a weak-boned shot-blocker who can basically do what Dampier did, but quicker, and the slowing of Jason Kidd should be mitigated somewhat by the evolution of JJ Barea and Roddy Beaubois. Why should Dallas be any different, is my question? Charlotte should be a hair worse, still unable to win on the road, and still decent at home, but with a weaker front-court, and that will hurt their team defense. I do think the extra playing time for Tyrus Thomas is going to be a good thing, but Dallas won't lay another egg in game one - they'll win this game, and this line is pretty close to where it should be. Slight lean to CHARLOTTE and UNDER.

Indiana Pacers @ San Antonio Spurs (-9) with a total of 200.5;
Let us not forget two key words...Slow Start. Yet again in 2009-10, the Spurs got out to a slow start, working the old limbs back into NBA season warmth, and after starting the year 4-6, sure enough, they slowly turned it around. First, it was a .500 stretch, then it was a slightly better run, then that rodeo road trip came around, and the Spurs kicked ass. Same old story for this team that can always create problems in the postseason, if/when they get there. And all we keep hearing is that Popovich is going to continue cutting minutes of his top guys, really trying to preserve health throughout the year. So, we have a Spurs team that is focused more on eking by with their health than on crushing opponents. On the other side, a Pacers team that needs Darren Collison to figure out the offense quickly, cut down on turnovers, and they'll be solid. Can they take it to San Antonio on the road in the opener? I will say, I loved how Indiana finished last year, actually focusing on playing some defense, so all those points they were able to score at home actually translated into some wins. The road is a tougher spot, but this line is just huge, and I can't believe how high it really is. Again, middle of the season, I tip my hat to the oddsmakers a little on a line like this one, and assume that the Spurs are more motivated than I realize, but given how slowly San Antonio has started almost every year since the first time Duncan got hurt in a game, I have to think this one stays closer than 9. Lean to the PACERS and OVER.

Utah Jazz @ Denver Nuggets (-3.5) with a total of 205;
This is a great Northwest division rivalry game to kick off the season for each club. The Nuggets, who still have Carmelo Anthony, for now, but also have injury issues coming out of the preseason. The Nuggets have 2 guys coming off the bench that can each fire up 5-10 terrible shots in a quarter in J.R. Smith and Al Harrington, and this team definitely has some questions to answer off a disappointing effort in the Playoffs last year. And that brings us to point number two - playoff revenge. The Jazz took the Nuggets out of the Playoffs last year, and blame it on Adrian Dantley if you want; blame it on immaturity, I don't care. Fact is, the Jazz were just so much more professional in the Playoffs than the Nuggets. While the Nugs were whining and screaming about tough defense, the Jazz just kept scoring, over and over, and Deron Williams had an unreal series before getting blasted in the next round by the Lakers. I'm very curious how the public reacts to this game, since this line is pretty darn low on what is still a loaded Denver team. Are the public so soured on Carmelo Anthony that they have no faith left in Denver? I suppose it's possible, but as it stands, despite Utah's workmanlike ability to execute Jerry Sloan's offense, and despite Deron Williams' leadership, I think Denver responds well to George Karl, and they've got a bad taste to wash out. Lean to DENVER and the UNDER, but only because that total is so darn high.

Houston Rockets @ Golden State Warriors with a total of N/A;
This game, like the next one, features a relatively young team (aside from Yao's busted ass) playing a back-to-back to open the season. Guess what, Houston did it last year, too! They lost in Portland to open the 2009 season, then went to Golden State and beat the Warriors, like they always seem to do. The reasons are pretty simple. Houston has, for the last couple years, been a slightly bigger, slightly stronger, far better coached version of the Warriors. They have a quick guard to handle the ball, and a shooting guard that does mostly that. They had solid outside shooting and a quick tempo. The difference has long been that Houston can just push Golden State around under the hoop. I'm very, very interested, this year, in seeing if David Lee can help squeeze that gap, grab some of those tough boards, and give the Warriors close to the same number of shot attempts as the Rockets, or if it's going to be the same old story. Either way, I'll be watching, since Stephen Curry is the most incredible ball-handler in the NBA. World's tiniest lean to WARRIORS, if the line is right, and the OVER.

Portland Trailblazers (-3) @ Los Angeles Clippers with a total of 193.5;
Okay, this game brings us to that idea that a team off a home opener, playing a back-to-back, might be in a tough spot, and in general, I'd agree, but there's also something to say about a team that has had a game to shake off the jitters. The Blazers head south to play a much-improved Clippers team, but these second day back-to-backs aren't always that bad for the team that has already played. Of course, Marcus Camby was sucking wind by the 3rd quarter of that game with Phoenix, and playing the Clippers off running, running, and running some more to keep up with Steve Nash can take its toll on a team. I feel like, to some degree, the benefits to being "warmed up" are probably counterbalanced by the fatigue from playing 2 in 2. So, in that respect, the 2-point line move is probably unwarranted, or too much, and might even create a hair of value on the Blazers. PASS on the side, UNDER on the total.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Basketball's Back, Baby!

Recap: What recap? I guess we could go all the way back to LAST SEASON, if we absolutely must (and the 174-148 season and playoff combined record is nothing to scoff at, especially considering that after November 22, that mark was an even-more-impressive 142-107). But, that's the past, and this is now. It's time to see how this wild offseason plays itself out!

Today: First, listen to the SEASON PREVIEW PODCAST HERE:

Next, get the DAN BEBE NBA 2010-2011 SEASON PASS HERE:

If that one doesn't fit, get my NBA OPENING NIGHT 2* SEASON-OPENER HERE:

Finally, read the blog!

Sports Wagering: NFL

Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics (Pk) with a total of 193;
Wow, it almost feels cathartic to write those team names. Baseball is a geek's heaven, and we broke down thousands of games. NFL has been hugely profitable, we've got a weekly blog going right now, but it's just not the same. But we're back, with full leantracking goodness, and it starts with this marquee tip-off TNT game! So, so awesome. I feel like I'm repeating myself a tad with thoughts on this game, at least when you compare it to what was said on the season preview podcast, but let's dig in. The Heat, as everyone on the damn planet knows, picked up LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and a host of veterans large and small to fill in all the open spaces left on the roster. Mike Miller has since gotten hurt, so the Heat grabbed older guys. It's a remarkable way to make a roster, but over the course of an 82 game season, health could be an issue. I like some of the complementary pieces, and of course, I love the "Three Kings,"....BUT...I do not love them early in the season. People will make a ton of the concept of chemistry early in the year, but it's a much huger deal with some teams than others. This game might be an interesting example of that. The Celtics grabbed a few aging centers to hold down fort (Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal) while Kendrick Perkins gets healthy, but Rondo, Allen, Pierce and Garnett are all still there, and Doc Rivers is ready to rock for something of a swan song. Miami, on the other hand, is just waiting out Erik Spoelstra getting ousted for Pat Riley, and the team is trying to figure out how to divvy up touches. There is no question in my mind - leans to the CELTICS and the OVER. I think a lot of folks are going to ask for an Under play, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Boston try to run early, and Miami try to run late, which could push the number up. I also expect a close game, which makes me think of free throws and extra possessions down the stretch. We might also see an extra technical foul or two, thanks to the League's new rules. Beware of this game, in all seriousness.

Phoenix Suns @ Portland Trailblazers (-6.5) with a total of 201;
The Suns are in for a tougher year. I know they've played without Amar'e Stoudemire before, but if anyone tries to tell me that the Suns will do this year what they did last year, I'll flip. Phoenix made a monster stride last year by winning on the ROAD, and the biggest reason that happened was Stoudemire. He learned how to play mad. We've seen Amar'e soaring above the rafters for years, making some of the most electrifying plays that any human being could ever make, but he never was the leader. Last year, that changed. He became vocal; he demanded the ball in the 4th quarter, and he scored or got fouled almost every time he touched it because, simply, no one can guard him. And then...he left. The New York Knicks gave Amar'e a buttload of money, the Suns couldn't match it, and Phoenix is left with Robin Lopez as their paint option. I am fairly confident in saying that the Suns are still going to have a winning record at home, where they will run their opponents right out of the building, and guys like Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Jared Dudley, et al will MAKE those outside shots, stopping on a dime to launch a transition 3. They might make them in the first half on the road, too, but when the intensity ratchets up, and teams need a guy they can go to to get them points in the half court, Phoenix is going to be up a creek. Portland, on the other side, is a team wholly reliant on some damn luck. Very few teams (maybe Detroit, you could argue) have been as injury-plagued as the Blazers, but Portland has to feel like this is their year. Roy is healthy, Aldridge is good to go, Andre Miller has learned the system and enjoys it, Oden is due back, Camby is floating around. Portland is good, and they can play defense and shoot. They are also largely unchanged, a big edge early in the year. Plus, from a matchup perspective, no chance that Steve Nash can guard Andre Miller, and he will punish the Suns guard every time down, either scoring, or smart enough to know where to go with the rock if the Suns double-team. Leans to the TRAILBLAZERS and the UNDER.

Houston Rockets @ LA Lakers (-8) with a total of 196.5;
This is another game where I think the public will take the Lakers, and the fashionable might take the Rockets, but I would offer a word of caution. The Rockets, to me, are the team dealing with a tiny bit of turnover, and I'm very, very interested in how Yao looks in his first regular season game in forever. There is no question that the Lakers are a great FADE candidate throughout the season, and this line right here is almost assuredly off by a point, but in terms of times to bet against the Lakers, home openers seem a little dicey. There's this perception that Houston always plays the Lakers tough, largely because of a close, hard-fought Playoff series (the one where Yao went down), but yet, the Lakers have actually covered 6 of the last 8 against Houston, at home. And here, Houston dumped Trevor Ariza, Yao is back, Brad Miller is his backup, and to me, this team is going to be relying very, very heavily on Aaron Brooks to do their scoring, so if he doesn't shoot the lights out from the perimeter, how do they really win this game? Now, on the covering side, that's a slightly different story. We've seen the Lakers get up by 25 time and again, relax, and win by 7-12. I wonder, though, if having a deeper bench (which the Lakers do this year by signing Steve Blake and Matt Barnes) will help them keep those leads. I think both of these teams are overvalued, I guess is the short version. The Lakers are obviously a tad more overvalued, which is why there's some minimal value on the Houston side, but my leans are to a PASS on the side, and the UNDER.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

NFL Vegas Line Error Blog for Week 8

Prelude: Last week was the MOST VIEWED, and GREATEST NUMBER OF RESPONSES of any NFL Blog so far, and I can't thank you all enough for weighing in on every game, and really making it interactive!

We had some great plays that panned out, and we had some almost-good plays that fizzled because of unbelievable 6-turnover performances, missed 2-pt conversions, a 4-turnover half, and other kooky stuff that only sports makes, well, kind of normal. Just remember, IT HAPPENS! Even the BEST handicappers hit 55% long term, which means, unfortunately, there are going to be 1-3 days, or even 0-5 (though let's hope that doesn't happen to us!). The key is sticking with what we KNOW works, and that's playing on teams with 2-3 points (or less, with a key number) of value, such that over the long haul, we will ALWAYS turn a profit.

Anyway, back to the quick PERCEPTION LINE ERROR notes on EVERY game, since, dammit, that's what I've been doing since last December. I will make the following statement, and I challenge anyone to disprove it:

"No one, Pro or otherwise, has broken down, in writing, more games, from a betting standpoint, over the last 12 months, for free, than me."

I'd put that in my forum signature, but it's complicated enough, already.

Pro Notes:

1) NFL -- SUNDAY ALL ACCESS PASS with GAME OF THE MONTH -- 6-2 6-1 on "BIG" NFL Plays, this package has my Largest NFL Play of October -- I expect ALL of you that read this to JUMP ON, no excuses!!

2) CFB -- CFB GAME OF THE MONTH -- 6-0 Last 6 Straight College Big Plays, and 5 Consecutive CFB Winning Saturdays! I already LOVE LOVE LOVE a few plays, and considering a few will be free, you know the BIG ONE is going to be good.

3) NBA -- Starts Tuesday! On average, we'll have about 1.5 plays per day, and given the season is roughly 180 days, and the SEASON PASS is just $495, you're looking at an investment of LESS THAN $2 per play! If you buy the plays individually, it will probably run about $3,000, so...GET THE SEASON PASS - it's the best deal at Pregame.

4) MLB -- The World Series! You guys can thank the NBA, because ALL WORLD SERIES PLAYS WILL BE FREE!

Week 7 Recap and Lessons Learned: We learned, once again, that about half of all NFL games are going to come down to ONE PLAY.

It's almost unbelievable. Like I said last week, call it "parity" if you want, but if you go down the box scores from this last week, I would argue the Buffalo/Baltimore, Washington/Chicago, Atlanta/Cincy, Pittsburgh/Miami, Carolina/San Francisco, Tampa Bay/St Louis, New England/San Diego, and Green Bay/Minnesota could have turned the ATS result on just one play.

Unfortunately, last week's blog guided us down a few paths that led to a failure on those KEY plays, but fact is, if we continue to find the 2-3 point perception edge, we're going to be in the driver's seat more often than not.

What did you guys learn?

Sports Wagering: NFL

Sunday, 1pm

Denver Broncos @ San Francisco 49ers (Pk) with a total of 42;
This one is loaded with angles, but because this is a perception blog, let's just focus on, we'll talk about all of the above. One, this game is being played in London, so make sure to count that in your handicapping - the line we're seeing is a neutral field line, which already seems nuts to me, but whatever. Two, the Niners are coming off a last-second loss to the Carolina, and a game where they lost Alex Smith, and had to throw David Carr to the wolves. He was awful. Keep an eye on that injury report this week. Third, Denver is coming off one of the worst games in the history of the franchise, allowing 59 points to the hapless Raiders in a game where the team clearly gave up. It happens, we're all human. Fact is, there are still people out there that believe in the Niners, somehow. I don't quite get it, but they exist, and thanks to the Broncos suffering the worst loss of any team this weekend, the line isn't inflated. Perception is nearly a wash, but situationals point to Denver.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Dallas Cowboys (-11) with a total of 45;
Tony Romo went down, and so did this line, as the Cowboys are favored by just 6.5 now. On the other side, David Garrard might play this week, so the zero-defense Jags might get back to nearly full strength on offense. There's nothing good about this game. Jacksonville has looked like the worst team in the NFL the last 2 weeks, and Dallas, a public team, lost their star QB, and should suffer a bit of a public depression as a result. This game has more question marks than I would care to cover. From a perception-only standpoint, the line is pretty close to fair. Move along, nothing to see here.

Washington Redskins @ Detroit Lions (-1) with a total of 44.5;
This might be among the fishiest opening lines of the week, and by all indications, the line is teetering towards moving in Detroit's favor! Okay, on the perception side, I'm actually surprised. The Redskins are coming off, arguably, one of the better 4-game stretches that any team has put together this year. It hasn't been pretty, but they beat the Eagles, the Packers, played Indy tough, and then went on the road and beat the Bears in one of the most poorly played football games of the year. Washington should be overvalued, but the public hasn't completely bought into them, courtesy of the ugly wins. On the Detroit side, the Lions are, despite doing a nice job ATS, still just a 1-win team, which means they won't get much in the way of respect. This line is pretty close to where it should be, which is damn incredible considering what people have seen with these teams. My feelings are that the strong ATS mark of both clubs has leveled off the perception value. There are a ton of situational and injury-related angles to pursue, so let's talk a bit about those in the comments section. Most notably, the return of Matthew Stafford would seem to have some impact on the line, especially since Shaun Hill got hurt in the last game, and it would have been Drew Stanton if Stafford wasn't set to return.

Green Bay Packers @ New York Jets (-4.5) with a total of 42;
Just for posterity, I'll point out that this opening line existed for about 12 seconds. The line sits near 6 everywhere now. As far as perception goes, BOTH teams are overvalued. The Packers are coming off a Sunday Night win over the Vikings, and the young gun finally overcame the master, though it took until Favre was playing on one leg to do so. Still, as a Cal guy, I can't help but root for Rodgers' success. In any case, people are back in love with Green Bay, and people have been in love with the Jets for a while now. Who do they love more? Well, this line, hovering in the middle of key numbers, is an interesting one, in that I feel like people that want to back the Jets will probably do so up to a TD, and people backing the Packers will likely do it at most numbers over a FG. Funny, right? I think there might be a hair of value on the Jets side, if only because they had a "bye" week, and the Packers complete inability to run should hurt them. A quick note, though - if the Packers run a few odd blitzes, and Sanchez commits a few turnovers, that could be the difference. Still, all things equal, the Jets should win this game.

Carolina Panthers @ St. Louis Rams (-3, -120) with a total of 35;
I have to admit, I'm actually pretty impressed with the Rams, even in defeat. The offense is doing some good things, enough to compete, and the defense has been significantly better than people expected. From a perception standpoint, these teams are pretty close, in my opinion. The Panthers got a nice last-minute field goal to beat the Niners, and Matt Moore was a vastly superior option at quarterback. Of course, that big effort came off a "bye" week, and against the Niners, who remain one of the most overrated teams in the NFL despite having just 1 win. The Panthers still struggled, had a few big mistakes, and if San Francisco didn't stink in almost every respect (besides at linebacker), Carolina would have found a way to lose. The Rams are confident, and my only concern is that a tough loss might lead to a letdown. From a perception standpoint, the Rams should be ranked a tiny bit stronger than the Panthers, and the increased vig is representative of that. This line is about where it should be, on perception alone.

Miami Dolphins @ Cincinnati Bengals (-1) with a total of 44;
This is a very difficult game to gauge on perception alone. The Dolphins covered last week, but remain winless at home. They remain a team that people struggle to respect because of the way they have won games on the road, and the way they have been unable to cover at home. But then, they played the Steelers, who many feel is the best team in the NFL, very tough, and might have had a game-winning fumble recovery if not for some weird officiating. Cincinnati has been exposed, I believe, for the fraud that they are. They made bonehead plays to lose before the "bye", then simply couldn't keep up with Atlanta's scoring on the road this last weekend. Believe it or not, because the Bengals are falling out of favor, and the Dolphins are hovering between sort of a "public-neutral" and then getting some betting love after upset wins on the road, this is another line that's not far from where it should be. If there's any value in the line on perception, it would be minimal on the Cincinnati side, maybe a point at the most. If you're making a play on this game, it's going to have to come from matchup analysis and situational, say, the fact that the Dolphins are studs on the road.

Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs (-9) with a total of 43;
Kansas City just spanked the already depressed look right off the face of the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, and I am officially a believer. But that has nothing to do with ATS. Kansas City plays hard, they have tremendous special teams talent, the Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones duo at back is solid, and the more time Cassell spends in this system, the better he's becoming. The Bills, meanwhile, played the Ravens to an OT loss, which, I would think, would have garnered them some respect. Still, this is roughly the same line we saw for Jacksonville, and they were starting Todd Bouman! That's a pretty good sign that this line is inflated. By how much remains to be determined, but given that we actually have seen the Bills start to score a few points, I'd argue that any line over a TD is in that neighborhood of too many points. You have to have some big-time sack to back the Bills, on the road, getting less than double digits, but this line should be closer to 7 or 7.5.

Sunday, 4pm

Tennessee Titans @ San Diego Chargers (-3.5) with a total of 43.5;
Tennessee laid a beating on yet another challenger this past week, lowering the boom on the previously-surging Philadelphia Eagles. That, on the heels of the big Monday Night Football win, sure makes Tennessee look like a tough nut. Add to that the possibility that Vince Young returns to the field for this game, and you've got a tidal wave of public action on the Titans. Then, there's San Diego. Yet another tremendous offensive game this past week, combined with yet another tremendous defensive effort, combined with more critical "big-play" mistakes led to yet another loss. San Diego vastly outplayed the Patriots, but fell inches short on a missed last-second FG. Four turnovers in the first half set them behind by just a few points too many. Interestingly, too, if San Diego can play even 3 good quarters, they could be 5-2 right now. Also, if Tennessee doesn't score 27 points in the 4th quarter in a ridiculous turn of events, they wouldn't look quite so intimidating. I can't believe I'm saying this, but if perception brings this line down to 3, which it might, that would be a value on San Diego. Yep, I threw up a little.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Arizona Cardinals (-3.5) with a total of 40;
I would have thought, based on this most recent week, that the Cardinals would be the team getting some value, but this line, to me, actually looks to be a tiny value on the Buccaneers side. Tampa Bay has shown they can play defense, and Josh Freeman's legs have earned them a few key first downs. In terms of skill positions, they're lacking, there's no doubt, but Arizona's inability to score on OFFENSE makes them a tough, tough team to back against teams that don't turn the ball over all that much. In any case, Tampa Bay is still not revered by the public, perhaps because they, like the Dolphins, win ugly. I have to think that Tampa's comeback win (but failed cover) will bring a tiny bit of money to their side, at least when you compare that to Arizona's anemia in Seattle. Their red zone defense was decent against the Seahawks, but if they really have to go back to Derek Anderson, I can't see them as truly "better" than almost any other team in the NFL.

Seattle Seahawks @ Oakland Raiders (-1.5) with a total of 40;
Well, if ever there were a time when we might see an inflated line on the Raiders side, it would be coming off scoring 59 in Denver. But then, Seattle has won 2 in a row, and covered both (including the upset win in Chicago), so they're not exactly undervalued, either. Oh, how I would have loved to see Arizona go into Seattle and upset them, such that this line would rocket up to near a FG and create value on Seattle. Instead, this line is only a small value on the Seahawks side, if any, and if the Raiders defense can lock down on the Seahawks, and, mind you, the Raiders pass defense is solid, they can win this game. Seattle has but one good road game compared to 2 ugly ones, and even though perception is going to create a 1 to 1.5 point line value on Seattle's side, matchups, situationals, and the stadium could potentially mean more than that in the other direction.

Minnesota Vikings @ New England Patriots (-3.5) with a total of 44;
The Patriots have won quite a few in a row now, and you have to wonder if they're fresh out of power for their smoke machine, or perhaps the clubbie forgot to pack the mirrors...har de har har. But seriously, if they were playing almost anyone besides Minnesota, I'd say fade fade fade. As it stands, New England, somehow, gets a little reprieve. Minnesota is smack dab in the middle of a bad children's movie - Favre and the Case of the Stress Fracture - so they're a total wreck. If Tarvaris Jackson plays, huge perception value on the Vikes. If Favre plays, who the heck knows.

Sunday, 8:30pm

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New Orleans Saints (Pk) with a total of 43;
There aren't going to be many times when the Superbowl Champs are a line value, but this is likely one of those times. The question is whether it's enough to warrant a play, and on top of that, whether the other factors line up, as well. In this paragraph, we'll look at how these teams come into this game. The Saints are off an hideous performance against the visiting Cleveland Browns. Drew Brees threw 4 interceptions, 2 that got returned for touchdowns. Their defense wasn't terrible, but when 2 offensive plays lead to 14 points for the other team, the end score is generally going to look more lopsided than it should. Bottom line, though, the Saints got outplayed. The Steelers, meanwhile, stole a win in Miami, but they didn't look that great doing it, and I wonder if Pittsburgh has maxed out on public perception. Roethlisberger returned, they've won both games, and people are going to keep betting them, especially here, with no spread, and especially considering Pittsburgh dispatched of the Browns, then the Browns beat the Saints. Here's a nice MATH BREAKDOWN: Pittsburgh and New Orleans both opened as 2-TD favorites to the Browns, and now Pittsburgh is ranked as roughly 3 points better than New Orleans. You see what that means?

Monday, 8:30pm

Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts (-6) with a total of 51;
Will either team stop the other? Both teams are coming out of the bye week, and had a ridiculously high-scoring shoot-out in week 1, a game that Houston grabbed, largely on the legs of Arian Foster. Since then, I'd argue Indianapolis has gotten better, while Houston has gotten worse, but the line would seem to agree. From a pure perception standpoint, the line is probably inflated on Indy's side by a half point, a point at the most, and that's just because of Peyton Manning. This game is another this week where the situational stats and series history are probably more important. These teams play close games, usually very exciting ones, and it's on Monday Night Football. We all know how Peyton can step his game up in these big spots. I believe those notes probably balance out with the tiny perception line value.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

NFL Vegas Line Error Blog for Week 7

Prelude: Hopefully you all noticed, there was no blog last week. I wrote it in a few places, but as I'm reminded, not everyone sees everything, so very quickly...

Last week was blog-less because I was spending time with close friends here in Michigan to mourn the death of an incredible person, a future doctor, and a true world-changer. Life can be shit. Pardon my language, but sometimes, that's just what needs to be said.

Anyway, this week, back to normal -- quick notes on EVERY game, since, dammit, that's what I've been doing since last December. I will make the following statement, and I challenge anyone to disprove it:

"No one, Pro or otherwise, has broken down, in writing, more games, from a betting standpoint, over the last 12 months, for free, than me."

Dig it.

Pro Notes:

1) NFL -- SUNDAY ALL ACCESS PASS -- off a 2-1-1 Winning Sunday, now 6-1 on "BIG" NFL Plays, I expect ALL of you that read this to JUMP ON:

2) CFB -- CFB GAME OF THE WEEK -- 5-0 Last 5 College Football Games of the Week, and 4 Straight Winning Weeks on top of that! Just 20 bucks!

3) MLB -- Postseason Stuff. For Sale Mid-week, Free every other day.

4) NBA -- NBA Preseason Betting Guide got started, then scrapped because of the aforementioned tragedy. Daily blogs coming in a week!

Week 6 Recap and Lessons Learned: This felt like the week a few of the small favorites, undervalued because of poor road performances and underdogs covering, would get their rightful ATS victories, and indeed that did play out. A few lines were right on the money, as surprise considering we're now right in the thick of the NFL season.

I think the biggest lesson, though, to take away from the whole NFL season so far, not just this last week, is that no team in the NFL is truly THAT much better than any other team. Call it parity, if you want - I just happen to believe that the way the game is played lends itself to relatively close games, so backing huge favorites is never going to be smart. This is no new epiphany, but bad teams playing good teams "tough" continues to win money for those with the stones to take a big dog.

What did you guys learn?

Sports Wagering: NFL

Sunday, 1pm

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) @ Miami Dolphins with a total of 40;
From a pure perception standpoint, and that's all we're covering in this blog, the value should be on the Miami side. The Steelers were laying 2 TD's at home last week thanks to the return of Big Ben, and they just barely squeaked out a cover despite dominating the game. The problem with backing the Dolphins on a perception spot is that they, too, are coming off a cover in week 6, beating Green Bay on the road. If Miami were to have gotten spanked in Wisconsin, they'd be getting more than 3 here, making them a much better value. As it stands, this line isn't off by all that much, perhaps 1 point.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Atlanta Falcons (-4.5) with a total of 42;
I believe this line is closer to fair than it would have been if these teams played in week 6. What does that mean? Maybe not all that much, but it's something. The Falcons got positively drilled in Philadelphia by Kolb and the underrated Eagles, bringing this opening number down from, probably, 5 or 5.5 to its current mark of 4.5, or as low as 4. The problem, like we addressed in the game above, is that both teams are coming off ATS and SU losses, and Cincinnati had an extra week to prepare. I truly wish the Bengals hadn't made diarrhea on the end of that game with Tampa, since we'd be getting an even better line on this one, but as it stands, Atlanta is in a little bit of a rut, and might look to get fat with this pretty fair line.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5) with a total of 43;
I was really, really hoping the Jags would play better on Monday Night Football, not just because I had a losing wager on those lumps of coal, but because that would have done a nice bit to bring this line down. Instead, the Chiefs, who played to a push with the Texans this last weekend (in a game they probably should have won), are laying a fairly sizable number. And, on top of that, this line really isn't available anywhere as oddsmakers are playing this one close to the vest for the foreseeable future thanks to injury concerns. The Chiefs should win, and should cover, but if Trent Edwards is going for the Jags, this line might open up even higher than the original, and barely seen, line of 4.5. In terms of line value, there would have been some with Jacksonville, but to be quite frank, the question marks around that team are so severe, that it just doesn't matter. Some games are not dictated by perception as much as injuries, and here we're staring down the barrel of one of those.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Tennessee Titans (-3) with a total of 42.5;
And here we are, two teams off two big wins. Hell, two teams of 4 big wins. Philadelphia has been doing work with Kevin Kolb at the helm, beating the Niners on the road and trouncing the Falcons at home. Meanwhile, Tennessee took care of Dallas on the road, and then smashed Jacksonville on Monday Night Football. Fact is, neither team is as good as they've looked in the last two, and for that reason, this line is probably right about where it should be. There's no mismatch, and if anything, all the hype around the Eagles might leave, at most, about 5-10 cents worth of vig of perception value on the Titans. A brief writeup, but one that gets the point across.

Cleveland Browns @ New Orleans (-14) with a total of 44.5;
This one's an easy one, and you guys probably don't even need my help finding the line value here. The Saints are coming off a demolishing of the fairly well-regarded Bucs, taking care of Tampa Bay 31-6 on the road. That game marked the best the Saints have looked all season, and the obvious concern for when you're considering non-perception angles is that, perhaps, New Orleans is awake now. On the perception side, though, this line is all kinds of nuts. The Steelers were laying 14 to the Browns, won by 18 (covered), but the Steelers are definitely a more well-rounded team than the Saints. You can tell right off the bat that this line is off by at least 1-2 points just by looking at the line. The Browns QB situation is at the forefront, but the Saints defense is going to allow teams to move the ball. Tampa simply couldn't get in the end zone, missed 2 FG's, and were forced to go for the "big score" most of the game because of being so far behind. This line shouldn't be any higher than 12.

Washington Redskins @ Chicago Bears (-3) with a total of 40;
I have to admit, the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears are two of the toughest teams to read right now, in terms of eyeballing public perception. Both teams have a QB that people have heard of (McNabb and Cutler), but neither team really has the star power to be considered elite, or marquee. Washington has been finding ways to cover, sometimes win, and got themselves a push on Sunday Night Football against Peyton and the Colts. How does that alter the line? Probably not at all. The Bears were underrated without Cutler, overrated with him, and got embarrassed by a Seahawks team that, prior to last week, didn't look comfortable away from home. My gut tells me that Washington looks like the juicy side, catching 3 points on the road after they beat Philly, Green Bay, and took Indy down to the wire, and Chicago can't even beat the lowly Seahawks at home. If indeed those numbers play out, this could be an itsy-bitsy value on the home team. This game is, flat out, more interesting from a match-up perspective, given Chicago's solid run defense and Shanahan's insistence on pounding the rock. It may end up being a Donovan McNabb escape show.

Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens (-13.5) with a total of 37;
Any time you see a number this high, the value is on the dog. Certainly with a complete failure of a team like Buffalo, that's the case. Oddsmakers are just going to continue adding points to the Buffalo side until they cover more consistently, and to Buffalo's credit, they've been able to hang in there with a few teams. The Bills are really, really bad, though, and that's a tough point to overlook. The Ravens are coming off a difficult OT loss to the Pats, which leads to a host of potential letdown angles, and we can explore those in the comments section. From a line perspective, this one should be closer to 11-12. Do I have the stomach to consider a play on Buffalo? Probably not, even with the line value, since that Bills defense is unbelievably bad. But will the Ravens have the focus for 60 minutes that you need to cover 2 TD's? Hmm...

San Francisco 49ers (-3) @ Carolina Panthers with a total of 34.5;
And with one quick win, and cover, the value is right back off the Niners. We waited, and waited, and backed San Francisco successfully twice this year, at home, when they covered against the Saints, and then against the Raiders. But how someone could watch that game with Oakland and truly believe this Niners team has a future of success is beyond me. Alex Smith still looks like a deer in the headlights, consistently backpedaling when the pocket starts to collapse, and just doesn't seem to understand what's going on around him. The Niners aren't 6 points better than anyone, certainly not at 10am (local time), 3,000 miles from home. The Panthers are coming off a "bye" week, and an ugly home loss to the Bears prior to that. This team is not good, but they're also not as bad as everyone thinks. This line should be closer to a pick.

St. Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5) with a total of 38;
I smell some value. You guys are probably starting to sense a pattern that public perception angles are more pronounced off a big discrepancy ATS the previous week. For instance, here, the Rams were a 9-point underdog and won outright by a FG, a 12-point swing. The Bucs were a 5-6 point home dog to the Saints, and got blown out by over 20 points. Put those two together, and the Buccaneers look awful, while the Rams beat the Chargers, who, for some reason, are still well-regarded. I can only assume it's because of San Diego's big offensive yardage numbers, because it sure as hell isn't their record. In any case, this line would have definitely been closer to a FG if not for the results of the previous week, and it's amazing how the World can overreact. The Saints were bound to wake up, and as discussed above, the Bucs missed 2 FG's and needed to go for the big score, and failed. The Rams aren't going to run away from Tampa like New Orleans can, and did, and we saw how the Rams responded the last time they hit the road. There's value in getting a key number with a home team, and another point on top of that.

Sunday, 4pm

Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (-6) with a total of 40.5;
Those dastardly Seahawks won a road game, upending a Bears team that was laying 6-7 points, and in the process, wiped out whatever value they might have had coming home. Instead, we've got 2 teams coming off upset wins (or underdog wins, I guess I should say, since nothing is all that crazy in the NFL), and a line that is probably a tad inflated on the home team. People remember Arizona's last road game, and people remember Seattle's last home game, and the simple fact is that Seattle probably shouldn't be laying a hair under a TD to anyone, even Arizona. With two fairly bad teams, a lot can happen, which makes this game a tougher one, but from a pure line perception standpoint, this one should have been closer to a FG (pick), or just a shade over that. I'd say about a point, maybe 1.5 on the Cardinals side, especially if young QB Max Hall can continue to find ways to get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald's colossal hands.

Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos (-7) with a total of 44;
This line stayed at 7 for about 5 minutes, and now sits at 8.5, another line that came out late due to injury concerns. The Raiders might be going with Kyle Boller if Campbell's knee doesn't feel better come gameday, and as much as I enjoy rooting for former Cal Bears, Boller is a 3rd stringer in Oakland for a reason. He'll hand the ball off, make some short passes, and be (yes, this is what I mean...) a poor man's Bruce Gradkowski. Yikes. In terms of line value, neither team covered last week, and this is a rather high number, which makes me think the line is fair, and definitely one of those games where bettors should be wary. Tease it. You heard it here.

New England Patriots @ San Diego Chargers (-3) with a total of 49;
High total, two teams with offenses that can literally run up and down the field, two solid place kickers if it comes down to that, and as a result, a completely sterile "push" on a neutral field. But this line intrigues me. Considering New England is coming off a super-exciting home win over the Baltimore Ravens, and before that, a huge special teams-led win on the road in Miami, and considering that the Chargers have lost in Oakland and in St. Louis, one might have expected the Pats to be considered the superior neutral-field team. There's no question that this opening number is a strong one for San Diego, and though I try to keep line analysis out of this blog, the fact that it hasn't come off 3 is also a little surprising, though it might as the week wears on. I believe this line is pretty fair where it sits, but if it moves under 3, I'd say there's some value getting that key number with the underachieving Chargers.

Sunday, 8:30pm

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers (-3) with a total of 44;
This line is a bit of a head-scratcher. The Packers are coming off another difficult 3-point loss, and again suffering that fate as a 3-point favorite. Now, I have to believe that folks are starting to lose faith in this pass-happy offense that, without Ryan Grant, and unwilling to swing a trade for Marshawn Lynch, just simply doesn't have a running game. You can beat bad teams by airing it out, and Green Bay will continue to do so, but a good defense like the Vikings? At a FG, this game is of zero interest. Minnesota and Green Bay are both teams that continue to get too much credit based on either last year or the first few weeks of this season. Cold weather could mean Brett Favre's tendinitis might worsen, but it also means the team with the better rushing attack has an edge. The Pack might also ratchet things up a tad against Favre and try to get some revenge. There's simply too much going on to make a play on this game UNLESS you can get that key number. To me, a line move in either direction would make it a better play, or throw this side into a teaser.

Monday, 8:30pm

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys (-3) with a total of 44.5;
The Giants defensive front has shown some signs of waking up the last 3 weeks, posting very strong showings against the Bears and Texans before relaxing a tad in a win (but failed cover) against the visiting Detroit Lions. The Cowboys are in desperation mode, salvaging a win a few weeks back, but then tumbling in back-to-back close losses to the Titans and the Vikings. Is this that game where the public loses faith in the Cowboys? Lord knows every media outlet is calling for Wade Philips' head. This has that feeling of the week the Cowboys wake up and win one, especially against the rival Giants. I also believe that if not for the results of the last 2-3 weeks, the Cowboys would be laying 4.5 or 5, so there's some value brewing. If this line, for any reason, dips below 3, that's a big perception move. As it stands, it's hovering in that neighborhood of near-play-level perception value, and if other factors coalesce just right, well, you get the idea.
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