Friday, October 30, 2015

Flyers Lineup Volume 4

I have some bad news, guys. The Flyers kind of stink again. We should temper those "Parade Down Broad Street" hopes and try to just figure out how we can maybe win a game.

It's not all bad, though. We have to frame this recent string of shitting the bed in the context of two major injuries. Sean Couturier and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare are two of our 4 starting centers, and they both contribute on the penalty kill. Coots also plays a major role on the second power play unit.

So there are reinforcements on the horizon, and when they get here, we have to be ready. Here's the lineup, volume 4:

Line 1: Gagner - Giroux - Simmonds
This would be the offense line. Gagner, for all of his success, is a terrible center because he can't win a faceoff to save his life. From this point forward, we really have to consider him a winger. These three should be able to do quite a bit of damage in the offensive zone (and complement each other nicely in the process), and they'd also be able to hold their own in the defensive zone.

Line 2: Read - Couturier - Voracek
As you might have noticed, I am advocating for the separation of Claude and Jake. Like a couple of angsty teenagers, they just need some time apart. The best part of this separation is we would be able to create two really solid lines. Pairing Jake with Coots and Reader gives us some crafty attacking and a lot of shutdown ability. Jake may not be known for his defense, but his size and strength should be able to rival Coots'.

Line 3: Schenn - Laughton - Raffl
I'll be honest: I don't know what to do with Raffl if can't stick him with G and Jake. I happen to think his success in terms of advanced stats has been wildly inflated by the fact that he always plays with the team's two best players. The Schenn-Laughton duo is feisty and brings a lot to both ends of the ice, and Raffl fits in well there.

Line 4: White - Bellemare - Vandevelde
Old reliable.

That's four forward lines that can each be used in any scenario, and you'd trust all of them in all three zones at any point in the game. Boom. Easy.

D-Pair 1: Streit - Del Zotto
I enjoy watching these two play together, and they will only get better as they spend more time together. It's a little unorthodox to pair two VERY offensive-minded defensemen together, but that's just #Hakstoll.

D-Pair 2: Medvedev - Schenn
The third- and fourth-best defensemen. For all that gets written/said about him, Luke Schenn is mostly capable of holding his own. For every Vine with a thousand loops of him falling down or doing something stupid, there are half a dozen breakout passes that he sends out of the zone. He also brings a physical presence that you have to have when you other top-four defensemen are 5'11 (Streit), 6'0 (MDZ), and 187 pounds (Medvedev). It's a little old school, sure, but having a 6'2, 230-pound brute out there is great, especially when he can contribute offensively.

D-Pair 3: (Pick 2) Manning - Gudas - Schultz - Gostisbehere
Well this is where it gets really ugly, even by Philadelphia standards. Money-wise, Schultz should be able to crack the lineup. He stinks. Manning also kind of stinks, but he's been a decent penalty killer. Gudas is fun to watch and I always like to have a good on the roster. (Ryan White is not a goon.) Calling up Ghost would be a spark for the power play and it would allow us to get a glimpse of the future. It won't happen unless there are 2+ injuries to defensemen, but I'm going to dream here and go with Manning-Ghost as my third pairing.

PECO Power Play 1: Giroux - Simmonds - Voracek - Raffl - Streit
Just give it time.

PECO Power Play 2: Gagner - Couturier - Schenn - Del Zotto - Gostisbehere
Obviously, 2/5 of this unit is currently not active and 1/5 has been playing with the first unit. But dear god can we please get RJ Umberger off of the powerplay unit?

Wawa Penalty Kill Forward Pairs: Couturier/Read, Giroux/Laughton, Giroux/White, Bellemare/Vandevelde
Wawa Penalty Kill Defensemen: Del Zotto, Schenn, Medvedev, Manning
You can really mix the PK units up, but those 11 guys should be getting the bulk of the time. For what it's worth, Schultz also has value as the high defenseman in a PK situation, but it's not worth a roster spot for him to just lay down on the ice a few times a night.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Monday Night Football Recap: Ravens @ Cardinals


David Johnson To Score A Touchdown (Loss)
He had 3 rushes for 5 yards and 2 catches for 19 yards, and zero touchdowns.

Kamar Aiken Over 3.5 Receptions (Loss)
He was targeted just 3 times, and he only caught one of those. It went for 6 yards.

John Brown Over 4.5 Receptions (Loss)
We got close! He was targeted 6 times, but only caught 4 of them.

Larry Fitzgerald Over 6 Receptions (Loss)
Targeted five times and caught just 3.

Ravens +9 (Win)
We did not have a good night, but I did say "I think the line is 3-4 points too high" and we stole a win with this pick.

Overall, I need a drink.

Last night: 1-4
Monday Nights: 18-24
Thursday Nights: 12-14-2

Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday Night Football Preview: Ravens @ Cardinals

As much as I hate to say it, we are in a bad spot. Two weeks in a row, we had college football teasers blown up by Last Play Of The Game Special Teams Miracles As Time Expires - first Michigan, then Florida State. I can't take any more special teams defense heroics. 

Also we're hemorrhaging money:
Thursday Nights: 12-14-2
Monday Nights: 17-20

So take these bits of advice at your own risk:

Line: Cardinals -9 and Over/Under 49.5

There's a lot to consider with a line that big. For one, the Ravens are 1-5 but have not lost a game by more than 6 points. They have one-possession losses to the Broncos and Bengals, and they beat the Steelers. However, they have losses to the Raiders, Browns, and 49ers. 

On the other side of the field, the Cardinals have blown out the Saints, Bears, 49ers, and Lions by an average of 25.5 points. They lost by 2 to the Rams, and they are coming off a 12 point loss at Pittsburgh. 

I think the best way to attack this is to see how St. Louis and Pittsburgh kept Arizona in check, and then figure out if Baltimore can replicate that. 

The Rams had a very Rams game when they beat the Cardinals 24-22. Nick Foles had just 171 yards, but he threw three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Todd Gurley did the heavy lifting, totaling 146 rushing yards. The biggest thing they did, though, was limiting Carson Palmer and the Cardinals to just one towndown. 

The Steelers also limited Arizona to just one touchdown. Landry Jones and Mike Vick combined for a surprisingly good stat line of 174 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Vick and Le'Veon Bell combined for 135 rushing yards. 

You do not beat the Cardinals by going all "New NFL" on them and trying to throw for 400 yards - just ask Drew Brees, Jay Cutler, and Matt Stafford. You beat them by pounding the ball, chewing up clock, and holding Arizona to field goals instead of touchdowns. 

I might be crazy, but I really like Baltimore here. 

In their Denver game, they held the Broncos to 0 offensive touchdowns, 1 defensive touchdown, and 4 field goals. They couldn't get anything going against Denver's tough defense, and Joe Flacco's 2 interceptions really killed any chance they had of actually winning. 

In their Bengals game, the Ravens got torn up by Andy Dalton. The Red Ginger (or whatever his gay nickname is) had 383 yards and 3 touchdowns, and he also rushed for a touchdown. If Baltimore had made one more stop in the red zone and held Cincy to a field goal, they could have pulled out a win. 

The Pick: Ravens +9 (-110). I think the line is 3-4 points too high, and I think Baltimore is going to be able to keep it close by pounding the ball with Justin Forsett and Javorius Allen.

Now, onto the player props:

The Cards have a running back committee that is led by Chris Johnson (93 carries, 2 touchdowns) but also includes Andre Ellington (16 carries, 2 touchdowns) and David Johnson (21 carries, 3 touchdowns). I really would have liked to take David to score, but Bovada has not made him available. I'm making up my own odds and picking David Johnson To Score A Touchdown (+550)

On the Baltimore side, my first thought was the entire game is going to go through Forsett. I was thinking about taking him at even money to score, but I'm nervous that he totaled just 56 yards in Baltimore's games against Denver and Cincy. So I'm staying away. 

Kamar Aiken Over 3.5 Receptions (-105) is a tasty bet because he's gone for 5-5-4-3 receptions in the last four games he played. He got at least 7 targets in each of those games, and you have to think the Cardinals will be keying on Steve Smith tonight to try to negate Joe Flacco's first option. 

He's averaging 5.5 catches per game and he had 10 last week, so John Brown Over 4.5 Receptions (-115) sort of feels like stealing. Thanks, Las Vegas! The same goes for Larry Fitzgerald Over 6 Receptions (-140), because Fitz has only caught less than 6 passes once this year, when he caught 5. I think I might make that the lock of the week just so we can all tweet #NiceHandsLarry at each other all night for a good laugh. 

Thursday Night Football Recap: Seahawks @ 49ers

Sorry to make you wait so long for this recap. I was out of the office Friday because I wanted to be out of the office. Also because I'm getting sick and I sound like a dead person.

Busy day today: we'll start by recapping Thursday, I'll toss in some gripes about FSU blowing up a teaser, and then we'll make some money in the Cardinals game tonight.

But first, we have to look to the past:

Teaser: Seahawks -1 and Over 36.5 (Loss)
The Forty-Niners did not hold up their end of the bargain, and they finished the game with just 3 points. Colin Kaepernick's QBR was 9.0. Single digits! Obviously we should have just bet the Seattle spread because they covered the -7 easily.

Colin Kaepernick To Score A Touchdown (Loss)
Just a quick reminder that the prop could have been "Colin Kaepernick's Team To Score A Touchdown" and it still would have been a loss.

Jimmy Graham To Score A Touchdown (Loss)
I maintain that this was a good value bet at +120, but Seattle's two touchdowns went to Marshawn Lynch and Tyler Lockett. Graham was targeted 5 times and caught 2 passes for 31 yards.

Fuck me!

Thursday night: 0-3
Thursday Nights: 12-14-2
Monday Nights: 17-20

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thursday Night Football: Seahawks @ 49ers

It seems like it was so long ago that a Seahawks-Niners game could be happening two weeks before the Super Bowl. Then Harbaugh went back to college and the Seahawks had to do the Chicago Blackhawks salary cap shed/reload move and they've started two seasons in a row poorly.

So here they are, both at 2-4 and both having showed flashes of the solid teams they've been in the recent past.

I could see tonight going a LOT of ways, but I'm going to throw out a few lines to try to build on our season record (17-20 on Monday nights and 12-11-2 on Thursday nights).

Tease Seahawks -1 and Over 36.5
Except for their Loud Fart Noise against Detroit when they scored just 13 and their loss at Green Bay when they scored 17, Seattle have scored 20+ against every team they've played so far. And they haven't been facing cupcake defenses: the Rams, Bengals, and Panthers have all been good this year. 

On the other side, San Francisco has gotten creamed by the Steelers, Cardinals, and Packers. They blew out Minnesota to start the year and have played close games against the Giants (loss) and Ravens (win) the past two weeks. 

That over/under line is set as if these two defenses were still as elite as they've been the past 5 years. But Seattle is allowing 21.3 points per game (25.6 if you factor out Chicago's 0). San Francisco is allowing 26.7 per game (31.4 if you factor out Minnesota's 3). 

Ultimately I like Seattle because of the following lines: Wilson to throw over 1.5 touchdowns pays -135, while the same line for Kaepernick pays +140. Wilson to throw an interception pays -115, while Kaepernick's line is -155. 

I think I like Seattle's spread even without the tease, and I feel the same way about the over. But teasers are the best and I could absolutely see a situation where Seattle wins 20-17. 

To Score A Touchdown:
Jimmy Graham +120
Marshawn Lynch is the only player in the game who has prohibitive odds to score a touchdown. That kind of tells you what sort of game Vegas is expecting (the Total Touchdowns line is over/under 4.5). Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin lead Seattle with 2 receiving touchdowns each, and Lynch actually only has 1 rushing touchdown on the year so far. The Waterbirds defense has 2 touchdowns. 

Colin Kaepernick +300
Carlos Hyde is questionable, which should increase Kap's load - and he already runs 6+ times per game. He's rushed for 228 yards and 1 touchdown, and he's about as likely as anyone on the Niners to convert in the red zone. (This paragraph was sponsored by the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ emoji.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday Night Sun Belt Preview: UL Lafayette @ Arkansas State

Ragin' Cajuns! Red Wolves! Tonight on ESPN2!

My goal with this post is to absolutely nail two bets: the point spread is currently Ark State -9 (looking like it might move to -8.5), and the over/under is a hefty 63 (looking light it might move to 63.5). In the interest of full disclosure, my gut says take the Ragin' Cajuns because that's the best nickname in all of sports.

Ragin' Cajuns Summary

  • Junior QB Brooks Haack stinks. He's thrown 0 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on his 66 attempts for the season, and he seems to getting gradually phased out.
  • Haack's replacement has been fellow Junior Jalen Nixon. On his 86 attempts, he's totaled 5 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. Nixon has also rushed for 99 yards in the past two games. 
  • ULL does more damage on the ground, totaling 1156 yards and 15 touchdowns through 5 games. They are led by Junior Elijah McGuire's 585 yards (on 6.0 yards per carry) and 7 touchdowns. 
  • The Cajuns have a balanced receiving group, with 5 receivers between 12 and 22 receptions on the year. Four of those five have scored a touchdown, and there are 8 receivers who have caught at least one pass of 20+ yards this year. 
  • The ULL defense has been all over the place. They gave up 40 at Kentucky (23.4 ppg since), 17 versus Northwestern State (26.6 in other games), 35 versus Akron (26.2 in other games, but they either blow the other team out or get blown out), 43 at Louisiana Tech (35.7 in other games), and 27 versus Texas State (35.8 in other games, but got killed by FSU and Houston). 
  • One sentence summary: Hamstrung by interceptions and the lack of a defense against Akron and La Tech, but overall about as solid as you could expect a Sun Belt team to be. 
Red Wolves Summary
  • Ark State have been splitting quarterback time between Senior Fredi Knighten (63 attempts, 302 yards, 4 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 45 rushes, 90 yards, 0 touchdowns, has been a successful runner in the past) and Freshman James Tabary (102 attempts, 788 yards, 4 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, not a rushing threat at all). 
  • Similarly productive on the ground, they've totaled 1190 yards and 15 touchdowns. The three-headed beast of Michael Gordon, Warren Wand (A+ porn name), and Johnston White have combined for 1035 of those yards on 6.0 yards per carry, and have scored 14 of the team's rushing touchdowns. 
  • JD McKissic leads the team in receptions and yards, and Tres Houston (A+ rap name) leads the team with 4 receiving touchdowns. 
  • The Wolves have held just one opponent under 27 points this year: Missouri State, who have gotten absolutely obliterated in 5 of their 6 games this year, with their other game being an 8-point win against Chadron State, who do not have a team page on ESPN. USC scored 55 (average 35.0 in other games), Mizzou scored 27 (17.8 in other games), Toledo scored 37 (34.2 in other games), Idaho scored 35 (23.4 in other games), and South Alabama scored 31 (22.6 in other games). 
After looking at those summaries, how the FUCK can you think Ark State is going to cover a 9 point spread? (Checking Bovada again, the spread have moved all the way down to 7.5 since I started writing.) That's a #shoutout to my fellow sharp bettors, because 9 is a laughable line and even 7.5 is a joke. Tbh I kind of like the Ragin' Cajun moneyline at +265. Forget the over/under, I'm not going to review that. Take whatever money you were going to bet on the over and bet it on the Ragin' Cajuns. #LetsRage

If you're looking for a counterpoint, here's a link to an article on Athlon Sports that basically undermines everything I think about this game.)

Monday Night Recap: Giants @ Eagles

This is the reaction from Eagles Legend Ron "Jaws" Jaworski to the game last night:
As negative as you could possibly be about a quarterback who just "led" his team to a 27-7 win. I put led in quotes because in all honestly this team was led by the defensive line. But you don't come here for in-depth analysis of the defensive line, you come for sketchy pseudo-analysis of player props:

Eagles -4 (Win)
As noted above, the game was not particularly close.

Sam Bradford Passing Yards Over 275.5 (Win)
To be honest I would have taken him over like 300 yards because I really expected him to torch the Giants. But he was missing his receivers all night, and there were very few times he looked like a legit NFL quarterback. But again, you don't come to me for actual analysis, you come to hear me tell you that he ended the game with 280 yards. Cha-ching!

Sam Bradford Touchdown Passes Over 1.5 (Loss)
He only threw one, but he did throw three interceptions.

Darren Sproles To Score A Touchdown (Loss)
There was not nearly enough Sproles last night. He had 2 carries for 4 yards and 1 catch for 3 yards. On Brian Westbrook night, I expected some noise in the return game. He returned 4 punts, but his longest went for just 13 yards.

Eli Manning To Throw An Interception (Win)
I think my new strategy is going to be parlaying both quarterbacks to throw an interception. In every game that doesn't feature Brady or Rodgers, it seems like both QB's always toss at least one each. Last night Eli threw 2 and Bradford threw 3.

Shane Vereen Receiving Yards Over 39.5 (Loss)
Did Vereen even play last night? What the fuck, man. He ended with 1 catch and 6 yards,

Rashad Jennings Over 2 Receptions (Win)
The lock of the night was a winner again, but it wasn't easy. Rashad was only targeted 3 times so he had to catch all 3, and he did. His first catch went for 6 yards, then he fumbled and gave the ball back to the Eagles (but it counts!). And then, in the fourth quarter, on the final Giants possession of the game, down by three touchdowns, Jennings came up big and caught 2 meaningless passes to go over his total.

Last night: 4-3
Monday nights: 17-20
Thursday nights: 12-11-2

We're crawling back up to the black. I'll see you guys on Thursday.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday Night Football Preview: Giants @ Eagles

If you follow these Thursday Night/Monday Night previews and recaps, you know I've had a bad stretch of picking NFC East games. It's part of the reason I'm just 12-11-2 on Thursday nights and 13-17 on Monday nights. (Another part of it is I got absolutely creamed with last week's Steelers-Chargers game.)

But we're turning the ship around tonight, just like Chip and Sam and the Birds are turning it around. The march for the playoffs started last week against the lowly Saints, and it continues tonight against a decidedly mediocre Giants team.

The G-men are allowing opposing quarterbacks to average 304.2 passing yards per game, 1.6 touchdowns per game, 1.0 interceptions per game. That group includes Tony Romo and Matt Ryan, but it also includes Kurt Cousins, Tyrod Taylor Who Stinks Now, and Colin Kaepernick Who May Or May Not Stink Now.

Opposing running backs, meanwhile, have been held to just 80.6 rushing yards per game and 0.6 rushing touchdowns. That sentence makes me really regret taking DeMarco Murray on FanDuel this week - perhaps I should have researched a little bit more and coughed up the extra $400 for Devonta Freeman.

Opposing "feature backs" have done these things:

  • Joseph Randle: 16 carries, 65 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 fumble
  • Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman Combined: 21 carries, 57 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • Matt Jones and Alfred Morris Combined: 17 carries, 57 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 fumble
  • Karlos Williams: 18 carries, 40 yards, 0 touchdowns
  • Carlos Hyde: 21 carries, 93 yards, 1 touchdowns
For reference, Philly's backs combine to average 24.6 carries per game and 1.0 touchdowns per game. I don't think anybody will deny that DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and Darren Sproles are as giid or better than any group that NY has faced so far. I'm expecting a decent day on the ground, but the focus here should really be getting Bradford over 300 yards and at least a pair of touchdowns. 

Eagles -4 (-110)
Duh. That one should have been clear from the start. Bovada has the line on the Eagles at 27.5 and the Giants at 22.5. I think the Birds go over and the Giants stay under, but because I think it may end up being a shootout I will just take the plain old spread. 

Darren Sproles to Score a Touchdown (+150)
It's Villanova Graduate Brian Westbrook night at the Linc, as he's getting inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame before the game. VGBW famously ran a kick back for a touchdown to cripple the Giants, and then Non-Villanova Graduate DeSean Jackson repeated the feat a few years later. This is destiny. Fate. Money in the bank. 

Sam Bradford Passing Yards Over 275.5 (-125)
As discussed above, the Giants are definitely susceptible to a quarterback torch job. Bradford is averaging just 245.8 yards per game, and the line being 30 yards above that is a testament to how bad New York has really been. Against the two teams he's played in the bottom half of the league in defense, #SamIAm went for 336 yards (Atlanta) and 333 yards (New Orleans). 

Sam Bradford Touchdown Passes Over 1.5 (-180)
See above. 

Eli Manning To Throw An Interception (-175)
Guys, it's Eli Manning. This is going to be a fun bet. 

Shane Vereen Receiving Yards Over 39.5 (-115)
Credit where it's due, New York has a solid passing attack. Even if Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz are out, and if Reuben Randle is also out with them, Eli is going to be chucking the ball around. I think Vereen is going to be a guy that benefits, because he can line up in any offensive position on the field. 

Rashad Jennings Over 2 Receptions (-115)
This is a mind blowing line. We know Eli is short on passing options. Jennings has caught 11 passes in the last 4 games. And we have the chance to push if he only catches 2? It's the lock of the week!

Time for me to get back to work. I'll see you guys out there tonight. #FlyEaglesFly

The Flyers are 2-1-1; Mailbag

Let me start by saying this whole thing is a complete ripoff of Dave Isaac from the Courier-Post.

Dave's a great follow on Twitter if you like the Flyers, and I think that endorsement buys me enough brownie points that I can blatantly steal questions that people asked him on Twitter.

Will they ever free Vinny? 
In the actual tweet/question, she hashtagged "Free Vinny" - I do not support freeing Vinny, thus I am not going to #usethehashtag. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I think it's a great sign that Hextall/Hakstoll are leaving Lecavalier in the press box. He can't hang, and there is more to gain by figuring out the middle six (and whether Brayden and Gagner should be around after this season).

It would be easy to throw Vinny on the ice, trying to shelter him in an attempt to get rid of his huge contract. But that's a waste, and so barring injuries I have no desire to see Vinny with skates on.

Should Mason start Tuesday?
I don't know enough to answer this. Really, that should be Mason's decision. Clearly, if his head in not going to be in it, then he should sit his first game on the bench to get himself set. But if he thinks he's good to go, then he absolutely should get back out there.

One note on Mase's situation: I think it's a great sign for the team that nobody has leaked any details. The common thought is the "players meeting" after the big loss to Florida was him telling the team what was going on. That was a week and a half ago, and no details about the situation have been released. In my view, that's a sign that the team is a tight-knit group, and that's a great thing for a hockey team.

What kind of pizza do you like?
Chicken bacon ranch from Casa Bella on Main Street in Manayunk at 2:30am is my go-to.

How many goals for Schenn this year?
I assume this question is referring to Brayden but I'm going to go above and beyond and give you a double Schenn prediction. Brayden's gone for 20 and 18 in the past two seasons, and he's on pace for 41 this year. Obviously, I expect him to cool down. But I think he's going to crack 20 and end up somewhere around 25 goals for the season.

Luke has four times as many penalty minutes as shots this season. I don't expect much more than his career average of 3-5 goals this year. But I still love you Luke!

Lecavalier, MacDonald, Luke Schenn: Who gets moved first?
Somewhat related to that last question, I think the easy answer is also my least favorite. I don't want to trade Luke. I think there is a lot to be gained from a big bruising defenseman, especially when he's shown flashes of success in Hakstoll's system. I just think it's a pipe dream to expect to move Lecavalier and MacDonald's enormous contracts, and people are going to be interested in Luke.

That will be a sad day, but hopefully the haul for him is a nice addition or two to our big bucket of prospects. In case you haven't been following, Konecny, Sanheim, and Provorov have been tearing it up in juniors.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Recap: College Football Week 7

We had a lot of action across the board yesterday, and there were a bunch of games that went exactly like we predicted (pats self on back). There were also a few that we missed on... badly.

Florida State -7 (Win)
Ho hum, Florida State keeps marching toward the only two games on their schedule that matter: at Clemson on November 7th and at Florida November 28th.

Baylor -21.5 (Win)
The Bears are a really legitimate team, because they're going to be able to outscore everybody until they have to play an elite SEC or Big Ten defense.

Purdue +23.5 (Win)
On what planet is losing 24-7 ever a good thing?

Northwestern +2 (Loss)
I wrote a One Sentence Preview basically just blindly supporting the Wildcats. They got smoked by Iowa - so maybe it's best to do a little bit of research before betting? That's a strategy we should try sometime.

Texas Tech -32.5 (Loss)
The Raiders only beat lowly Kansas by 10 points, but the nice thing about losing that bet is we'll get a ton of points next week in their game against Oklahoma and we'll also be able to win on Kansas getting creamed by Oklahoma State. So we're losing one bet this week to win two next week - that's like a gambling 401(k).

Michigan -7 (Loss)
What can I say about this game that hasn't already been said? The ending of that game hurts a lot more in the "Tease Bag" section of this post, but Holy Christ that was a bad way to end a game. The Wolverines had a 99.8% chance to win, and they fucking blew it.

Alabama -4 (Win) and Over 54  (Win)
These two should have been co-locks of the week, but having three locks of the week kind of defeats the purpose. Alabama blew past Texas A&M and the game blew past the total. Easy.

Boston College +16.5 (Loss)
When I actually placed this, it had moved to 17 (which would have been a push). But I'm an honorable man and I'm going to take the loss here. I really thought BC's defensive success against everyone they had played would translate. But nope, Clemson put up 34.

Penn State +17.5 (Loss)
Ohio State kicked the crap out of them. Whoops.

Utah -6 (Lock of the week) (Win)
I was drunk at the bar and nervous that they weren't going to take care of business, but the Utes had a really strong fourth quarter and it made the steak at Sonny's that much tastier.

Oregon +3 (Win) and Moneyline (Win)
I didn't watch a second of this game, but Oregon beats Washington every time. That was an easy end to the day.

Tease Bag: Florida State (Win), Ole Miss (Loss), Michigan (Loss), LSU (Win)

Who Would Be In The Playoff If The Season Ended This Week
This is a new feature I decided to toss in here now, because we've seen the ups and downs of every team and we have a pretty good idea of who should be competing for the national championship.

1: Baylor
2: Alabama
3: Utah
4: Ohio State
First four out: the winner of FSU/Clemson, TCU, Michigan State, LSU

Is it too late to expand the playoff to eight teams?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Week 7 College Football Preview: The Night Games

(In case you missed them, I broke down the Florida State-Louisville game here and the rest of the noon games here. Then I previewed afternoon games, Michigan-Michigan State here and Alabama-A&M here. To recap those posts, we're on FSU -7 early, buying the extra half a point if we need to. We're also on Baylor, Purdue, Northwestern, and Texas Tech. We also have Ole Miss in the tease bag, waiting for a partner.)

Florida @ LSU (-7.5), 7:00
We have a lot to get to for tomorrow night so let's cut right to the chase here: LSU has beaten every team by 10+ points except Mississippi State, and they've won every home game by 21+. Miss State played them by far the closest of anyone this year, and LSU squeaked by with a 2 point win. Overall, MSU has a pretty average defense, and the box score doesn't show that they did anything crazy in that game. In reading recaps, it seems like LSU got clipped by some dumb penalties? I like LSU, but I'd prefer to toss it into the tease bag.

Boston College @ Clemson (-16.5), 7:00
Honestly guys, sixteen and a half against the best defense in the country? I don't even know if Clemson can score 17 points. Give me BC, please and thank you.

USC @ Notre Dame (-5), 7:30
As you guys know, we can't bet against Notre Dame. But I wanted to take a second to send some T's and P's to Steve Sarkisian, I hope he gets some help and some clarity in the next few months.

Missouri @ Georgia (-14.5), 7:30
Mizzou has been up and down this season, but Georgia has scored 30+ on everyone except Alabama. If we could tease the Dawgs down to (or even inside) a touchdown, I'd be all for adding it to the teasebag. At 14.5 though? I think I'd have to stay away.

Penn State @ Ohio State (-17.5), 8:00
Here's your weekly Mail It In Direct Quote From Clay Travis On Outkick The Coverage: "I can't tell you guys how much I love this game. Last year Penn State took Ohio State to double overtime after playing them virtually even in total yardage for the entire game. 

There was nothing flukish about this game, in fact, Ohio State actually got the benefit of some atrocious first half calls, otherwise Penn State might have won in regulation.

This year Penn State has won five straight games after a tough opening week loss to Temple. But most of the nation hasn't even noticed this. Meanwhile, Ohio State has been mediocre all season long, failing to cover in every game since week one. 

So you're telling me I've got a Penn State team that knows it was good enough to beat Ohio State last year, going on the road in a game that no one is giving them any chance to win? This is the situation that James Franklin dreams of, he's great at playing the no respect card.

My jaw dropped when I saw this line open at Ohio State -17.5. So far it hasn't budged much off that line. Don't just hammer Penn State here, take them on the money line for a part of your bet too. Get rich, kids."

Arizona State @ Utah (-6), 10:00
I mentioned in the Texas A&M preview that this weekend is when we'll find out if Arizona State is a legit contender out west. They aren't. Utah is going to spank them. This line inside of a touchdown is the easiest money of the whole weekend. Lock of the week, Utah -6.

Oregon @ Washington (-3), 10:30
I was really surprised to see this line. Oregon, recently, has been a contender for the Pac-12 title every year for a long time now Could 3-2 Washington really be favored over them? How fucking disrespectful is that? Then I did some digging (not a lot, tbh) and found that Washington won at USC last week and went to Boise State and only lost by 3 earlier this year. Boise State ran for 2 touchdowns and kicked 2 field goals, and USC ran for 1 and kicked 2. Against Michigan State and Utah (good defenses), Oregon combined to throw for 3 touchdowns, run for 3 more, and kick 0 field goals. Against the rest of their opponents, the Ducks averaged 2.0 touchdowns in the air, 3.8 touchdowns on the ground, and 2.3 field goals. So, yeah, Vegas, I think you fucked up and I think I'll take the Ducks -3 and the moneyline at +125 too.

Week 7 College Football Preview: Alabama @ Texas A&M

(In case you missed them, I broke down the Florida State-Louisville game here and the rest of the noon games here. Then I previewed the other afternoon game, Michigan-Michigan State, here.)

Now it's time for the two biggest games of the day. Two of the three best teams in the Big Ten on one TV, and two of the five best teams in the SEC on the other. (For the record, the rest of that list is Ohio State, LSU, and then maybe Florida and Ole Miss.)

Part 2: Alabama (-4) @ Texas A&M, 3:30, CBS

Anything you're looking into an Alabama game, you have to keep in mind that there is going to be a bias in Bama's favor because of Saban and because they have an ungodly amount of talent on the field and on the bench. A&M is rolling, undefeated, ranked higher than Alabama, and at home. Yet the Tide are favored. That's Alabama football.

So the question of the day/night: are the Tide really that much better than the Aggies? I mean A&M beat Arizona State 38-17 and we'll have to see what happens tomorrow night to know for sure whether ASU is really not a contender in the Pac-12. A&M also beat Arkansas and Mississippi State back in the SEC, and those two really cover the spectrum of run-heavy to pass-heavy in the SEC.

But there seems to be this lingering notion of Alabama being the king of the SEC, and really of the whole college football world. They beat Wisconsin and Arkansas pretty easily at home, and they went on the road and stomped the shit out of Georgia.

But the Tide's lone loss is also the crux of my preview: Bama had Ole Miss at home, and couldn't contain Chad Kelly and the Rebels enough to pull out a win. Kelly went off for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns without an interception, and he only needed 33 attempts (18 completions) to do it. Alabama out-rushed A&M 215 yards to 92, but both teams ran in two scores. The difference, really, was Alabama's quarterbacks combining for 3 interceptions.

As I write this, the over/under is at 54 and looking it might drop to 53. I LOVE the over here. A&M wants to throw the ball, and I just told you how Alabama fared against the other elite passing team in the SEC. Bama wants to run the ball, and A&M probably can't stop them:

  • Arizona State ran for 92 yards and 1 touchdown (average 197.0 yards and 1.3 touchdowns in their other games)
  • Ball State ran for 240 yards and 2 touchdowns (164.8 and 1.8)
  • Nevada ran for 153 yards and 1 touchdown (236.2 and 2.0)
  • Arkansas ran for 232 and 2 touchdowns (166.4 and 1.2)
  • Mississippi State ran for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns (140.8 and 1.6)
In conclusion, I am 80% certain that Texas A&M will not be able to contain Alabama's rushing attack. I am 60% certain that Alabama will not be able to contain Texas A&M's passing attack. I think both teams will get into the 20s with ease, and I think the total will blow past 54. 

As for the point spread, I don't know how you can look at the facts and determine that A&M has any significant advantage except for home field. Even if A&M throws a gem like Chad Kelly did, they won't be able to bank on their defense to match those 3 interceptions, and they definitely won't be able to bank on Derrick Henry being slowed down. I like Alabama -4. 

Week 7 College Football Preview: MSU @ Michigan

(In case you missed them, I broke down the Florida State-Louisville game here and the rest of the noon games here.)

Now it's time for the two biggest games of the day. Two of the three best teams in the Big Ten on one TV, and two of the five best teams in the SEC on the other. (For the record, the rest of that list is Ohio State, LSU, and then maybe Florida and Ole Miss.)

Part 1: Michigan State @ Michigan (-7), 3:30, ESPN

After their opening week loss at Utah, Michigan has won 5 games by a combined score of 160-14.

Go re-read that sentence. The Wolverines lost away from home to the best team in the Pac-12 by one touchdown. Since then, they have absolutely creamed everyone in their path. BYU and Northwestern were both ranked when Michigan beat them (31-0 and 38-0, respectfully).

The Wolverine defense is out here lambasting fools. They:

  • are averaging 6.3 points against per game for the season (best in the nation)
  • are second in the nation in pass yards allowed per game and third in rush yards allowed per game
  • held Utah to 24 points (40.3 points per game in other games)
  • held Oregon State to 79 passing yards, 59 rushing yards, and 7 points (they stink though but still)
  • held UNLV to 7 points, and then UNLV put up 80 the next week (against Idaho State but still)
  • shut out BYU (33.2 points per game in other games)
  • held Maryland to 76 passing yards, 29 rushing yards, and 0 points (Terps kind of stink)
  • shut out Northwestern and held them to 38 rushing yards (Cats averaged 248.8 rushing yards and 25.4 points in their other games)
The closest Michigan State has gotten to an elite defense are Air Force (20th in yards against, 43rd in points against), Rutgers (86th and 60th), and Central Michigan (38th and 64th). Sparty put up 35 on Air Force, 30 on Central Michigan, and 31 on Rutgers. But there really is a huge gap between the *Elite* defenses and those three. Michigan isn't going to shut out MSU, but they'll hold them under 20. 

The question then becomes whether or not Michigan can score the 32 points per game they have been averaging since the loss to Utah. Here's what MSU's defense has been able to do:
  • Western Michigan scored 24 points and threw 2 interceptions. In their two other losses (Georgia Southern and Ohio State), they averaged just 14.5 points. In WMU's two wins (Murray State and Central Michigan), they averaged 46.5 points. That WMU team is so all over the map I don't even know what to make of them
  • Oregon scored 28 points. Besides their Utah game (when they only scored 20), the Ducks are averaging 50.3 points per game. That MSU-Oregon-Utah-Michigan connection has to mean something, and here I think it means the game should stay in the 20s?
  • MSU held Air Force at 21 points, below their average of 29.8 for the rest of their games
  • Central Michigan scored just 10 points, well below their average of 25.8 in the rest of their games
  • Purdue stinks, but even at 1-5 they've still averaged 25.8 points per game on the season, and 21 of them came against MSU
  • Rutgers has been all over the place offensively. Here are their point totals (in increasing order): 3-24-27-34-63. That 24 was last week against MSU
I think this is going to be very close to the spread. I like Michigan to win, and I think they do it by more than a touchdown. If you have a tease bag started already (like maybe with FSU?), throw the Wolverines in. If you're betting games on their own, I'm in on Michigan -7. 

Week 7 College Football Preview: The Noon Games

(If you missed the Louisville-Florida State preview, it's here - but I like FSU -7.)

Here are the rest of the notable 12:00 games:

West Virginia @ Baylor (-21.5)
WVU has been in a freefall, losing by 20 at Oklahoma and by 7 at home to Oklahoma State. Baylor scores 60+ points per game. I like Baylor, I wish it was inside three touchdowns, but I don't want to tease with this because it's either going to be a 30 point blowout or a single-digit nailbiter. It's tough to argue with Baylor's offense though, so I like the Bears -21.5.

Purdue @ Wisconsin (-23.5)
When you Google both of these teams, the first ESPN result is the link to the basketball page. That's a fun fact, and here's another: except for their 3 point loss at Michigan State, Purdue lost has lost their games against Big 5 opponents by 27 (Virginia Tech) and 28 (Minnesota) - and both of those games were at home. I'm almost wondering if the Boilermakers are a frisky road team because they have a home crowd that doesn't care? Couple that with Wisconsin's 1-1 B1G record (lost by 4 at home to Iowa and won by 2 at Nebraska), and I'm in on Purdue +23.5.

Ole Miss (-11) @ Memphis
Memphis is 5-0 against a bunch of crap teams. Ole Miss is 5-1 (2-1 in the SEC). In Ole Miss' only loss, Florida held them to 1 passing touchdown, 259 passing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, and just 69 rushing yards (nice). For the season, Chad Kelly averages 310.3 yards and 2.3 touchdowns per game (with almost 1 interception per game). Their ground game averages 188.3 yards and 2.8 touchdowns per game. The issue with trying to analyze Ole Miss is they combined for 201 points (25 offensive touchdowns) against UT-Martin, Fresno State, and New Mexico State. Memphis probably won't win, but I'd like to mix this into the teaser bag to get it under a touchdown.

Iowa (-2) @ Northwestern
The friskiest team in the Big Ten getting points at home? I'm in!

Texas Tech (-32.5) @ Kansas
Kansas is another team that has the basketball page show up before the football page, and wow is it easy to see why. 0-5. Lost to South Dakota State. Lost by 32 to Memphis at home. Lost by 13 to Rutgers and by 25 to Iowa State. Coming off a 59 point loss at home to Baylor in which they only managed to score a touchdown on their first drive and go scoreless on their next thirteen. Texas Tech has been held under 50 twice this year (both times they scored 35 points) - at Arkansas, which they won, and at home to Baylor, which they lost because Baylor is Baylor. The Red Raiders beat Iowa State 66-31 last week, so transitive property tells us they should beat Kansas by 50. One of our first rules was Thirty Points Is A Lot, but I'm in on Texas Tech -32.5.

Week 7 College Football Preview: Louisville @ Florida State

Last night, we were considering a parlay of Auburn -1.5, Atlanta -4, and the Mets moneyline. We decided not to bet it because parlays are stupid. We thought it would be smarter to just bet them separately. We got Atlanta into Bovada. Then their system froze or crashed or something and we couldn't place Auburn, and we kind of just forgot about the Mets.

Well Atlanta lost so we lost that money. Auburn covered and the Mets won, and we got dick to show for it.

Fucking great!

Lots of big games this weekend, let's break down some notable ones:

Louisville @ Florida State (-7.5), 12:00

What Louisville does well: Rushing. Like a lot of college teams, the Cards rely more on the run than they do on the pass. They've run for 11 touchdowns and thrown for just 5 (with 7 interceptions). They ran for 3 touchdowns when they beat Auburn, 2 when they lost to Houston, 1 when they lost to Clemson, and 1 when they beat NC State.

On the other side of the rushing game, Louisville's run defense is solid when it counts. They held Auburn to 2 touchdowns on 41 attempts, Houston to 0 touchdowns on 57 (!!) attempts, Clemson to 0 touchdowns on 40 attempts, and NC State to 1 touchdown on 30 attempts.

The Cards also defend against the pass moderately well. They had 3 interceptions against Auburn and 2 against Clemson, and they picked off Houston's Greg Ward once even though he pretty much torched them.

Florida State wants to run the ball, and there is really no denying it. They've gone for over 1000 yards through their first five games, led by Dark Horse Heisman Candidate Dalvin Cook Who Was Found Not Guilty For Allegedly Punching That Woman Outside Of That Bar and his 792 yards. Cook averages 9.0 yards per carry and has already score 8 touchdowns.

Before last week against NC State, Louisville had been giving up 4-5 yards per carry (and about a yard more than that to "feature backs"). Last week they held NC State's "feature back" Matthew Dayes to 68 yards on 19 attempts (3.6 yards per carry). Dayes isn't an elite back, but he has 10 touchdowns on the year - granted, it's against subpar competition.

Louisville isn't going to be able to contain Dalvin. They make keep him under 100 yards (doubtful), and they might even keep him out of the endzone (even more doubtful), but even if they do they will have to commit too much manpower and Everett Golson will add to his perfect 8 touchdown-0 interception stat line for the season. Tease if you have to because they're definitely winning, but I like FSU -7 (-120, buying the half a point).

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Monday Night Recap: Steelers @ Chargers

I'm going to be honest with you guys. I kind of mailed it in yesterday. One of the drawbacks of trying to blog about player props two nights a week from your desk at work is that you are doing it from your desk at work. Boss over shoulder, phone ringing, meetings with HR telling me to stop using the computer for personal use, the distractions are endless.

And yesterday I basically picked the line, the over, and the "To Score A Touchdown" props for seven players. And I got killed, final score Pittsburgh 24, San Diego 20:

Chargers -4 (Loss)
They let Phil Rivers throw the ball 48 times and he was only able to orchestrate 2 touchdown drives. Late game heroics from Bell aside, Rivers needed to put up more than 20 points. And he did not.

Over 46 (Loss)
See above.

Le'Veon Bell (Win)
San Diego had a 3 point lead at the end so it wasn't going to be a cover anyway, but Bell running it in as time expired for the win (from the Wildcat, no less) was a real kick in the dick. We didn't cover, we missed the over by 2 points, and the touchdown payout here was -175.

DeAngelo Williams (Loss)
Hey Jay, you idiot! There's a reason he was +450 to score a goddamn touchdown last night!

Antonio Brown (Loss)
Darrius Heyward-Bey (Loss)
Mike Vick only completed 13 passes, and 3 of them went to Bell. The Steelers' leading receiver last night was Markus Wheaton, who had the lone touchdown despite catching just one pass.

Melvin Gordon (Loss)
Melvin led the team in rushing attempts and was second in receptions but couldn't get into the end zone. Typical move from a guy named Melvin, and I should have known better.

Keenan Allen (Loss)
This one stings.

Antonio Gates (Win)
Let's end on a high note! (Puts bag on head)

Last night: 2-7
Thursday nights: 12-11-2
Monday nights: 13-17

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday Night Football Preview: Steelers @ Chargers

We split our college picks from Friday's post. It was really nice to actually win a bet, because it had been like a week since we saw black. We followed it up with a solid NFL Sunday where we hit on the Eagles, Cardinals, Patriots and a Bills/Falcons teaser.

Do you smell that? It's momentum! We're rolling! Let's go to Steelers-Chargers tonight:

Game Lines: Chargers -4, Over/Under 46, Total Touchdowns Over/Under 5.5

The Chargers want to pass the ball, and they do so more than anyone in the league except the Patriots. The Steelers want to run the ball, but they are in the middle of the pack in terms of rush yards per game (Note: things done changed since Le'Veon Bell came back from his martyrdom and Ben Roethlisberger got hurt). Pittsburgh has a pretty much average pass defense. San Diego has a bad (but not quite atrocious) run defense. Pittsburgh is near the top of the league in points against (18.8). San Diego is near the bottom (27.5).

The Chargers are favored here because, in today's NFL, passing is more important than rushing. Phil Rivers is better than Michael Vick, and that means more than Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown being better than anyone on the Chargers.

Chargers -4 (-105)
Over 46 (-115)
I like San Diego tonight in a shootout and I like the over. I'm not going to bet the total touchdowns prop, but I always think it's interesting to see how many TDs are going to be split between the skill players. Under 5.5 pays -145, so the line is really more like Over/Under 5 touchdowns.

Here's who I think is getting those five touchdowns:

Le'Veon Bell (-175)
There is never any value in betting the star running back, but it's free money.

DeAngelo Williams (+450)
The value comes in the form of Bell's backup, who has scored 3 touchdowns this year that all came against San Francisco before Bell came back. Because you can run against the Chargers, it's not unreasonable to think that someone other than Bell gets in the end zone.

Antonio Brown (Even)

Darrius Heyward-Bey (+200)
DHB has turned into a sneaky good red zone target. He scored touchdowns against San Francisco and Baltimore.

Melvin Gordon (Even)
He has 53.3% of the team's carries this year, and he's averaging 4.1 yards per carry. He has 4 runs of 20+ yards. Somehow he's been held to zero touchdowns, and I think that's gotta change sometime.

Keenan Allen (-115)
He is Rivers' favorite target and he has scored 3 touchdowns in the past 2 weeks.

Antonio Gates (+125)
Gates is back! He's fresh off the steroids, so I almost don't want to bet on him to score because he's probably all flabby now. But it's Antonio Gates and I'm sure Phil will be happy to have him back in the red zone.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Week 6 College Football Preview

This is not a great time for us, guys. Our last eight bets (going back to last weekend) are losses. We went 0-4 last night because Matt Hasselbeck turned out to be good, the two players with the most touchdowns for each team turned out to be bad, and there was a 42-yard touchdown as the first half expired to blow our "Longest Touchdown Under 40.5 Yards" play.

We need to turn this ship around. And we aren't going to do that by betting the way we have been betting. I'm going to go #guru on this, the way I normally do for college basketball. I'm looking at strengths and weaknesses. And god damnit, we're going to win a fucking bet!

The SEC's Best Rushing Teams

  • LSU (334.0 yards per game, 75.4% of offensive plays)
  • Georgia (244.8, 61.2%)
  • Tennessee (225.0, 63.5%)
  • Arkansas (204.0, 58.3%)
  • Alabama (199.8, 52.8%)
  • South Carolina (190.2, 60.1%)
  • Auburn (190.0, 66.0%)
  • Texas A&M (188.0, 54.1%)
  • Ole Miss (173.0, 49.7%)
  • Vanderbilt (157.0, 50.4%)
  • Mississippi State (155.0, 44.1%)
  • Florida (140.6, 53.1%)
  • Kentucky (135.0, 53.4%)
  • Missouri (116.2, 51.8%)
The SEC's Best Passing Teams
  • Ole Miss (327.4 yards per game, 50.3% of offensive plays)
  • Texas A&M (292.4, 45.9%)
  • Mississippi State (284.8, 55.9%)
  • Arkansas (272.0, 41.7%)
  • Vanderbilt (255.4, 49.6%)
  • Florida (253.6, 46.9%)
  • Alabama (244.0, 47.2%)
  • Kentucky (230.6, 46.6%)
  • Georgia (208.0, 38.8%)
  • Missouri (203.0, 48.2%)
  • Tennessee (192.8, 36.5%)
  • South Carolina (163.2, 39.9%)
  • Auburn (153.8, 34.0%)
  • LSU (95.5, 24.6%)
My first takeaway is LSU might as well not even have a quarterback. The same goes for Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. Arkansas is right on the border. 

Here are the SEC matchups this weekend:

Georgia (-3.5) @ Tennessee, 3:30
Lotttttt of rushing yards to be had here. In SEC play, Georgia beat Vandy and SC both handily, then got creamed by Alabama. That doesn't really tell us a whole lot, other than those lists I just made are utterly useless. 

I can tell you that UGA held Vandy - granted, a team not totally committed to rushing - to just 105 yards and 2.7 yards per carry. South Carolina, a team that focuses more on the run, managed to get 174 yards and 4.5 yards per carry. Alabama runs more effectively (although not necessarily more) than either of those teams, and they hit the Dawgs for 189 yards while holding Georgia to 193. 

This is pretty simple then: will Tennessee be able to hold Georgia's rushing attack in check and counter it with Jalen Hurd and Josh Dobbs? The Vols did that to Florida, though the Gators are more of a balanced attack. Arkansas ran ALL OVER Tennessee, out-rushing them 275 to 133. That didn't get reflected on the scoreboard, though, as the Hogs only won 24-20. Of their 11 total drives (not counting the end of the game), Arkansas scored just two touchdowns and two field goals. 

Four different Georgia players have combined to rush for the team's 15 touchdowns, and Malcolm Mitchell and Sonny Michel have each caught 3 of the team's 8 passing touchdowns. Greyson Lambert is one of the better quarterbacks in the SEC, and the Dawgs are going to be hungry after last week's embarrassment. I'm in. 

LSU (-15) @ South Carolina, 3:30
In conference, LSU has played Mississippi State and Auburn. That should give us a good look at how they fare against pass-heavy teams and against rush-heavy teams. They squeaked by on the road at MSU (21-19), and creamed Auburn at home (45-21), and the Tigers sit at a Kind Of Overinflated 4-0

That Auburn game is key because those blue and orange tigers are similar to South Carolina. They want to pound the ball on the ground. Auburn did that against LSU, totaling 160 yards and 4.3 yards per carry. But 65 of those yards (and the only rushing touchdown) came on one touchdown run for Jeremy Johnson, who still only averaged 3.4 yards per attempt. 

I'm penciling in the Cocks for the high teens or low twenties. Can LSU score enough to cover two touchdowns? If their games against Kentucky (3 rushing touchdowns), Georgia (4), and Mizzou (1) mean anything, it is going to be a busy day for Future Heisman Winner Leonard Fournette. Give me the Tigers on the road and let's help the Ol' Ball Coach one step closer to living on a beach. 

Arkansas @ Alabama (-16.5), 7:00
If you just look at the two lists above, this looks like it should be a lot closer than a 17 point game. It seems like half of that spread is coming from Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin being a million times better than Brent Bylsma, and the other half is coming from the players on the field. 

'Bama has played 3 legitimate top-25 teams: they beat Wisconsin by 18, lost to Ole Miss by 6, and just thrashed Georgia by 28 last week. 

Arkansas has played one team that is MAYBE as good as any of those three - Texas A&M, who beat the Hogs by 7. 

To cover this big of a spread, though, Alabama is going to have to be firing on all cylinders. Derrick Henry has 9 touchdowns so far, and he's going to need at least a pair. Jake Coker has run for 2 touchdowns and thrown for 9, but he's also thrown 4 interceptions this year. Arkansas has 3 interceptions on the year, but one came against UTEP and the other two came against Texas Tech, who have attempted 44 more passes than any SEC team (and 61 more than the Tide).

This one is going to be a game time decision. Rule number one is Never Bet On The Worse Team, so it's either Alabama or nothing. Spoiler alert: on Saturday at like 6:58, it will be Alabama. 

Florida (-5) @ Missouri, 7:30
These two have three things in common. (1) They stink. (2) They run the ball slightly more than they throw the ball. (3) They aren't particularly effective at running or throwing the ball. 

Bovada doesn't post over/under numbers until game day, but my side chick ( has the total for this game at 39.5. Both of these teams are going to be kind of inflated coming off wins last week (Mizzou 24-10 against South Carolina and Florida 38-10 against Ole Miss), and I think this number is actually inflated too. 

I'm never a person that bets the under. I think, if your goal is to enjoy watching the game, betting the under is incredibly counterproductive. But listen, man. I made those lists. It told us that these two teams don't do anything good on offense. Courtesy of Fox Sports, I can also tell you that they are the first- and third-ranked teams in the SEC in points against per game.

Neither team is breaking twenty points, baby! Under 39.5! Catch the fever!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Emergency Flyers Lineup Prediction (Volume 3)

Guys, we did it!
As such, it's time to throw together the final pre-season Flyers lineup card.

Like I've been saying all summer and preseason, I am not touching the first and fourth lines. Those are rock solid for me, and I hope those six guys stay in those six spots all season. 

I've swapped Matt Read up to Coots' wing, because you can't keep them apart. 

Gagner - Schenn - Umberger is a real interesting third line for me, and it gets more interesting when you factor in Scott Laughton (I don't know how to add him to the roster on that site). In Hextall's press conference, you can tell he's really excited to have Laughton at the big club this season. Perhaps Laughton steals Umberger's place in that third line? 

If you're worried about possibly having NINE MILLION DOLLARS of salary in suits a hundred yards above the ice, I can't say I blame you. But in sending MacDonald to the minors, Hextall has shown that he doesn't care about short-term money. If anything, it will make the salary cap seem that much more friendly when everything's cleared off in a year or two. 

On offense, the best case scenario is we lock down 4 solid line combinations that we can build on next year. If we can avoid having the "Who should make up the middle six and where should they all play?" conversation next summer, that will be a win. 

On defense, I don't even know if there is a best case scenario? I guess, if we're dreaming, I'd like to see Streit and Schultz moved at the deadline and replaced with Gostisbehere and either Hagg or Morin. I'd also like to see Medvedev and Del Zotto reinforce that they can both be top-four defensemen. I'd like Luke Schenn and Radko Gudas to bash people all over the ice and each get two dozen fighting penalties over the course of the season. And I'd like Brandon Manning to force us all to expand The Big Five to The Big Six or even (deep breath) The Big Seven with Mark Alt. 

Well fuck me, guys. I am so goddamn positive when it comes to the Flyers. No way that can come back to bite me, right?

Monday Night Football Preview: Lions @ Seahawks

It has been a rough week so far. We had a soccer parlay blown up because Arsenal lost, then we shit in our pants and lost 4 college games on Saturday. We also stayed away from Indiana, who almost messed around and upset Ohio State.

The cold streak is real. And we need some sort of rebound tonight. Follow this advice at your own risk, because we haven't hit on a bet for like a week and a half.

Marshawn Lynch has been ruled out. Tonight is going to be a Week Four Fantasy Sleeper Thomas Rawls kind of night, with a dash of Still In The League Fred Jackson too. In limited minutes this year, Rawls has run 18 times for 109 yards. He played sparingly at Michigan for three years, and then transferred to Central Michigan and ran for 1100 yards and 10 touchdowns his senior year.

That's about as good a backstory as you could expect for Lynch's replacement, and it seems like people are high on Rawls. He was listed in just about every "Fantasy Sleeper" post this week, and the line hasn't really moved since Lynch's announcement.

Seattle lost on the road to St. Louis (34-31) and Green Bay (27-17), then beat Chicago at home (26-0). Detroit has lost twice on the road (33-28 to San Diego and 26-17 to Minnesota) and once at home (24-12 to Denver).

Factor in that the game is being played in front of Seattle's overrated home crowd, and the line of Seahawks -10 makes sense. I'm going to stay away from betting the spread because it's such a toss up, but there are quite a few player props floating around.

I've had this open as a Draft since about 9:00 this morning. It is now almost 1:00 in the afternoon and Bovada does not have any props posted.

Just in case your dick wasn't already kicked in enough from this weekend.

Friday, October 2, 2015

College Football Week 5 Betting Guide

West Virginia @ Oklahoma, 12pm
WVU has beaten up on Georgia Southern, Liberty, and Maryland by a combined score of 130-23. They held their only Big Five opponent to 6 points. They haven't played a road game yet, but the 'Eers went 4-1 on the road last year.

Oklahoma destroyed Akron 41-3 in their opener, then beat Tennessee 31-24 on the road, then beat Tulsa 52-38 at home.

This is a tricky game to predict, and Vegas has been holding around Oklahoma -7. I think that is too many points, so I'm on WVU +7 before it changes to +6.5

Iowa @ Wisconsin, 12pm
Wisconsin lost to Alabama in week one, and it wasn't pretty. Since then, they are 3-0 and have outscored their opponents 114-3. That was a classic B1G Cupcake Run against Miami (OH), Troy, and Hawaii, but still.... 114-3.

Likewise, Iowa has played a classic B1G Cupcake Schedule so far, beating Illinois State and North Texas at home, beating Pittsburgh at home without their only elite player, and getting a huge win on the road against The Second Worst Team In The Big 12. They are being portrayed as a stout run defense, but Wisconsin is going to run all over them.

I have no idea how this line is only 7 points. Give me Wisconsin -7 in this situation every day for the rest of the football season.

(Note: Iowa State is the second-worst team in the Big 12, but Kansas is the worst and ISU is favored by 17 against the Jayhawks this week.)

Alabama @ Georgia, 3:30
This is right from Clay Travis' preview this week: "Here's the deal, these two teams are almost completely equal except Greyson Lambert is playing much better than either of Alabama's quarterbacks. So how do you not take the better quarterback playing at home when the teams are otherwise equal? (And when Georgia can actually make a field goal). The Dawgs win, sending Alabama and Auburn to 0-2 starts in the SEC for the first time in the history of the SEC."

Clay's been hot recently, so let's go Dawgs - UGA -1.5.

Ohio State @ Indiana, 3:30
I wish I had the balls to take Indiana +21.5 here because I don't think OSU will be able to cover that, but I don't.

Ole Miss @ Florida, 7pm
I guess I don't understand how the Rebels, who beat Alabama on the road, are only favored by 7.5 against Florida. The Gators have played one possession games against Tennessee, Kentucky (!), and East Carolina (!!). Maybe throw Ole Miss into a teaser to get it closer to a pickem, but even at the regular spread I still like Ole Miss -7.5.

Notre Dame @ Clemson, 8pm
We have a very staunch "No Betting On Notre Dame" policy, but they're actually getting two points at Clemson. The Irish blew the doors off of Texas, beat Virginia (on the road) and Georgia Tech by a touchdown each, and smacked UMass last week.

Clemson dominated Wofford and App State (snore), and beat Louisville by 3 points on the road.

DeShone Kizer got his tune-up game last week against woeful UMass, and I think ND is just flat out better than Clemson. But we don't bet on them here. I'm just looking out for you guys.

Thursday Night Recap: Ravens @ Steelers

We expected a gross, AFC North-style game last night, and boy did we get it. Both teams ran the ball more often than they threw it, which is almost unheard of in the modern NFL.

But as far as our ticket from last night goes, that was alright with me.

Steelers +3 (Push)
Teaser: Steelers +10 and Under 51 (Win)
These should have both been wins, but Pittsburgh sort of blew it at the end of the game. Here's some hard-hitting football analysis: when you are leading 20-7 halfway through the third quarter, you should win the game.

First Scoring Play: Field Goal or Safety (Win)
On a completely random bet like this, you just have to get lucky.

Joe Flacco To Throw An Interception (Win)
Mike Vick To Throw An Interception (Loss)
Take that, racists!

Le'Veon Bell To Score A Touchdown (Win)
Antonio Brown To Score A Touchdown (Loss)
Steve Smith To Score A Touchdown (Loss)
I was expecting 4-5 touchdowns to go around, and I expected these three (or at least two of them) to be the recipients. Bell got his, and he got 129 yards rushing and 21 yards receiving as well. Brown was targeted on about a third of Vick's 26 pass attempts, but he only caught 5 passes. Smith only caught 4 passes, as Flacco spread the ball around to 9 different receivers.

Justin Forsett Rushing Yards Over 49.5 (Win)
I don't know if I've ever seen any player in any sport cover their total three times over. Forsett went for 150 yards last night. So that was pretty fucking sweet.

Total Sacks In The Game Over 4.5 (Win)
The Ravens had 4 sacks and the Steelers had 5. This was, as advertised, a gross game. But how can you be mad about it when you load up on props that pay you for watching a gross game?

Last night: 6-3-1
Thursday nights: 12-11-2
Monday nights: 11-10

And I'll say it again, fuck the NFC East.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thursday Night Football Preview: Ravens @ Steelers

Tonight's game has the potential to be even worse than last week's Redskins-Giants dumpster fire. The Ravens are 0-3, and that includes losses at Denver and Oakland and at home to Division-Leading Cincinnati. The Steelers lost to the Future Super Bowl Champion Patriots but then blew out the 49ers and squeaked by the Rams.

When I first saw the line at Ravens -3, I allllllllmost bet my entire life's savings on Pittsburgh +3. Then I remembered that Ben Roethlisberger is injured and Vegas thinks he's worth almost a touchdown (Pittsburgh was around -3 before the injury).

Here is how bad the game is going to be tonight: Mike Vick and Joe Flacco are both -200 to throw at least one interception. Vegas knows everything, and they think that each starting quarterback tonight has a 67% chance to throw a pick. I can understand that for 35 year old Vick, but what about 30 year old, $121 million Joe Flacco? He can't take care of the ball enough to win at home against a team who lost their quarterback last week?

(Sam Bradford plays for the Eagles, shut up Jay)

To the bet ticket:

Steelers +3 (-110)
Thought 1: It's the NFL. There is no way the Ravens are going to start their season 0-4 when they started the season +150 favorites to win the division. Especially against a team missing their star quarterback and replacing him with someone who won't allow Antonio Brown or Le'Veon Bell to be quite as effective as they normally are.

Thought 2: The Ravens have moved all the way out to +750 to win the AFC North, and Pittsburgh is holding steady at +260 even without Big Ben. They're playing with a steady backup quarterback who, despite his pedigree, completed 5 of his 6 passes last week and has rushed 5 times for -5 yards this year (more on that second stat later). Vegas knows, and this is a complete Pittsburgh line.

Teaser: Steelers +10 and Under 51 (-130)
It's been a while since we teased, but this is one that I really like. Fun fact: every game every played between these two teams has stayed under 51 points, and this will be another one that stays in the teens or low twenties.

Joe Flacco To Throw An Interception (-200)
Mike Vick To Throw An Interception (-200)
That's such a shitty payout, but it's Thursday so it's going to be a terrible game.

First Scoring Play: Field Goal or Safety (+110)
This is a crap shoot, but I'm loading up on props that would happen in a low-scoring, dogfight of a game.

To Score A Touchdown:
Le'Veon Bell (-160)
Antonio Brown (-140)
Steve Smith (-120)
Vegas has the line on "Total Touchdowns in the Game" set at 5, and the under only pays -150. So figure we probably have 4-5 touchdowns to go around. Stay away from Justin Forsett here: he hasn't scored a rushing touchdown this season, and Pittsburgh has not allowed a rushing touchdown yet either. I am, however, penciling in Flacco for at least one touchdown, so Smith seems like the safe bet because he's been targeted around a third of the time the Ravens pass the ball the past two weeks.

Justin Forsett Rushing Yards Over 49.5 (-115)
This line is deflated because he ran 10 times last week for 13 yards. Baltimore was trailing the entire game, so they abandoned the run and let Flacco unload for 49 pass attempts. In weeks one and two, Forsett ran for 43 and 68 yards. Pittsburgh has allowed Dion Lewis to run for 69 yards (nice), Kaepernick and Hyde to combine for 94 yards, and the Rams as a team ran for 71 yards. I really can't stress how bad the offense was on both sides of that Rams game.

Total Sacks In The Game Over 4.5 (-140)
In the first three games, Pittsburgh sacked the opposing QB twice, five times, and twice again. They've allowed three, zero, and five sacks. Those numbers for the Ravens: four, one, and two sacks. Two, zero, and zero sacks against. Why do I like the over here? Because it's going to be a gross game, of course.

This game is going to be more gross that this professional athlete's chin

Flyers Lineup Prediction, Volume 2

With one preseason game remaining (before the unofficial two-game second preseason in Florida), the roster is starting to take shape. There are a few key contributors next year that are back in Canada with the Weed Kings, Hitmen, and 67's. There are a few guys in Lehigh Valley that should make a splash in a year or two.

And there is a whole bunch of overpaid shit at the NHL level standing in their way. 

Here was Volume 1 of the lineup, from about a month ago before we really saw anything:

And now onto Volume 2, after a lot of time spend watching and even more time spent on Twitter.

Forwards 1: Raffl - Giroux - Voracek
Forwards 4: Vandevelde - Bellemare - White
Nothing has changed on my first and fourth lines, because nothing needs to change. The first is one of the best lines in the NHL, and the fourth is one of the best fourth lines in the league. These two are simple. I wrote about them in my "Six Lines I Want To See" post, and they met or exceeded my expectations. Get well soon, Raf.

 Forwards 2: Gagner - Couturier - Simmonds
I like the playmaking ability of Gagner (I hope the nickname Sammer holds), the physicality of Coots, and the gritty goalscoring of Simmer on a line together. And keep this in your back pocket: Sammer is 26, Simmer is 27, and Coots is 22. If the plan is to move the huge contracts of Lecavalier/Umberger/Streit/MacDonald/Schenn, there's going to be a lot of money to go around. If this line clicks and becomes a productive second line, let's lock Sam up long term and let him pick up where his older brother Simon left off. I think we're more likely to see Read or Brayden in that spot, but I'd rather stack two lines than let Coots dwindle as a tweener again.

Forwards 3: Porter - Schenn - Read
This line is clearly a notch below the top two in terms of talent and experience. But you will see all three of these names later on when we get to the special teams lines. For a team that isn't expected to contend this season (we lost twice to the Devils last night), it's not the end of the world to have a line who can defend and also create plays and maybe pot a few goals. However, there is a larger prize that I expect Hextall to force Hakstoll to look for...

Forwards 3: Schenn - Lecavalier - Umberger
There is SO much to be gained this year by having Lecavalier (35 years old) and Umberger (33) look decent enough to trade their huge contracts. Here's how we do that. If another line is nearing the end of a shift, chip the puck on goal and crash the net. Get an offensive zone faceoff. Then in come these three losers with a D-pair that can score, and we try to design some plays that put the puck in the net. I don't care if we don't get anything in return for Vinny or RJ. I just want them gone so we can start to build around players that actually belong here for the future.

One quick note on forwards: I think the first and fourth lines are untouchable. But you can pretty easily swap Gagner for Read (and mix Porter in when he gets called up), and you can rotate Simmonds/Schenn/Umberger. And even at Center, you can move Schenn, Lecavalier, and Umberger all into that 3C spot without messing too much up. There is a lot of flexibility in the middle lines, and it's Hakstoll's job to find combinations that work.

Another note: one name you will not see in the preview is Scott Laughton. I don't know if I'm only seeing the negatives because I have this idea in my head, but I think he stinks. I have never seem him win a 1-on-1 battle, and I've seen him turn the puck over about a thousand times. If Ghost and Hagg aren't ready for the big leagues, there is no way Laughton belongs on the Flyers this year. (Konecny also looked a lot better than Laughton, but the ability to bury him to keep a year off his entry level contract meant he would have had to be a lock for the top six.)

Defensemen 1: Streit - Schultz
Somehow I have convinced myself that these two make a significantly-above-average pair.

Defensemen 2: Del Zotto - Medvedev
Somehow I have convinced myself that we are solid on defense.

Defensemen 3: God Nevermind - Forget Those Last Two Comments
We are so fucked on defense. Our options here are MacDonald ($5 million until 2020), Luke ($3.6, expires after the season), Gudas and Manning (both under $1, and then RFA after this year). I'd love to see Luke Schenn and Radko Gudas create and old-time hockey "fourth line" kind of D-pair. That would be my favorite defensive pairing since Chris Therien and Dan McGillis accidentally got put on the ice together.

Defenseman 4: MacDonald - Manning
Curve ball! We're going with 8 defensemen, and we're dressing all 8 so nobody has to play too much and we can keep their shitty old legs healthy.

Goalie: Mason - Neuvirth
I don't expect a whole lot of arguments here.

23-man Roster:
Forwards (13): 10, 12, 14, 17, 20, 24, 25, 28, 40, 76, 78, 89, 93
Defensemen (8): 3, 15, 22, 23, 32, 47, 55, 82
Goalies (2): 35, 30

PECO Power Play 1: Giroux - Voracek - Simmonds - White - Streit
The best power play unit in the NHL, quarterbacked by the best power play playmaker in the NHL. There are players that shoot the puck everytime they get it that are also fun to watch on the power play, but (especially in the preseason), Claude is an extension of assistant coach Joe Mullen on the ice. You can see him barking out directions and pointing out instructions. Love you, Claude. As for Ryan White over Schenn, White was impressive when he got minutes last season and Brayden is of more use down here:

PECO Power Play 2: Gagner - Schenn - Couturier - Del Zotto - Medvedev
PECO decided to also sponsor the second unit this year, because we're all hoping for a pretty huge improvement. Sam and Brayden will take on the Giroux/Voracek playmaker roles from the circles, Coots will bang in front of the net, and MDZ/MDV are both offensive enough to justify two defensemen on the power play.

Eastern State Penitentiary Penalty Kill 1: Couturier - Read - Schultz - Schenn
Reader and Coots at the top of the PK unit makes carving out a roster spot for 24 and absolute must. Nick Schultz is the only defensemen that I really think is qualified to kill penalties, but I think Luke's size and ability to learn from Hakstoll (he's shown that already guys, I swear) will be beneficial.

Eastern State Penitentiary Penalty Kill 2: Bellemare - Vandevelde - Medvedev - ????
I hate the "Giroux killing penalties" strategy so goddamn much. He's the best offensive player on the team, and he shouldn't be wasting his energy chasing around penalties or (gulp) risking his body to block shots from the point. PEB and CVV are both solid penalty killers, but I'd also mix Porter in when he gets called up after we trade Vinny and RJ. As for that second defenseman spot, I don't even fucking know. Streit and MDZ both fall under the Giroux logic. MacDonald stinks. Gudas kind of stinks. Manning might stink? Ultimately I think I would put Gudas in there.

Microsoft Windows 3 Tablet 3-on-3 Overtime 1: Giroux - Voracek - Streit
Other Players Good Enough For Overtime: Couturier, B. Schenn, Simmonds, Raffl, Gagner, Bellemare, White, Read, Del Zotto, Medvedev
We have so much garbage on our defensive roster that it seems like we're going to be better off mixing in combinations of three forwards (and one of them, Giroux/Couturier primarily) serving a defensive role. There is a logical rotation here that I am not going to figure out, but basically you need to have at least one of Streit/MDZ/MDV/Giroux/Coots on the ice at all times. But really, it doesn't matter, because we always lose these anyway.