Behind the Mic: NFL Odds

Since there were so many upsets the first two weeks in the NFL, I got to wondering how the Las Vegas odds makers were faring.  Las Vegas is one place with a legal US sports book for gamblers.  There are, also, legal online sites…OR you could choose a local guy, but you should understand that doing that is illegal.

I am certainly aware that no one throws an “illegal procedure” flag on the millions of people who play fantasy football, NFL “tickets” or get into “survivor” pools.  There is no question that being involved in these weekly competitions makes watching the NFL that much more fun and interesting.

But what if we lived in Las Vegas where gambling on the NFL is legal?  Just out of curiosity, I wondered how the gamblers and  the Las Vegas bookies fared in the first two weeks of the NFL season.  According to my research, in week one, the Sunday night game between the Patriots and the Cardinals was the “make or break” match-up for each side.  80% of all the money wagered on that game was on the Cardinals.  After all, Tom Brady was out, Rob Gronkowski was out, and other key players would not play.  Four times as much money was bet on the Cardinals to win and the Cardinals were, also, seven times more likely to be on wagers that included more than one team.

As you know, New England won the game 23-21 on a field goal and many a bettor’s ticket was torn up and thrown away.  As a matter of fact, six underdogs won on the first Sunday, including the Miami Dolphins who were 10.5 point underdogs.  It was a good day for the casinos.

Week two proved even more profitable for Las Vegas.  With the unlikely wins by the Falcons over the Raiders and the Rams beating the Seahawks, Sunday afternoon created a windfall for the sports books.  That scenario got even better when gamblers in Vegas took the Packers over the Vikings in the Sunday night game six times more often than vice versa.  The Vikings won and Sunday became a spectacular day for the “bad guys”.

There was, however, one “feel-good” story for the guy who tries to beat the “house” (and, rarely, if ever does).  One Nevada gambler won $179,940 betting on college football when he placed three separate bets in three different locations.  Believe it or not, he picked twelve out of twelve – TWELVE – college games correctly against the point spread.  Although his name was not divulged, he did say he had made a similar bet every week during college football season for years and this is the first time he has ever won.  I hope that, with his win, he has at least broken even now.  Why do I doubt it?

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. It probably isn’t news to you if I tell you that you can buy a University of Florida Tim Tebow jersey. It is news if I tell you that you can also buy a Tim Tebow Mets jersey.  He has signed a $100,000 bonus contract with the Mets and was sent to their instructional league at Port St. Lucie, Florida.
  2. What is the story with the Seattle Seahawks offense – 15 points in two weeks and to Miami and the Rams? They do not have a healthy running back and QB Russell Wilson can’t run on a bad ankle.
  3. If Bill Belichick’s Patriots beat Houston this week with their #3 quarterback, then you must admit, even though you may hate him, that he is the best coach in the NFL.
  4. Five years ago, Lafayette traveled to North Dakota State (where Carson Wentz played) to play the Bison. That team has won the national FCS championship every year since 2011.  This past Saturday, they beat #13 Iowa 23-21 of the FBS (those are the big boys).  You can use permanent ink when you pick them to win the FCS title again this year.
  5. On Friday, September 23, RCN-TV offers up undefeated Saucon Valley at Southern Lehigh (7:00pm) followed by Celtic Classic highlights. Lafayette will host nationally ranked Villanova on Saturday.  The live broadcast begins at 6:00pm.

 Gary's Picks

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (Last week – 11-5; Overall – 21-11 – 66% )
Week Three

Houston
Cincinnati
Oakland
Arizona
Baltimore
Miami
Giants
Green Bay
Carolina
Seattle
Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh
Kansas City
San Diego
Dallas
Atlanta
 

Behind the Mic: SportsTalk

I appeared on Sports Talk this past Thursday with Chris Michael and Joe Craig.  I always enjoy the repartee between Chris and Joe, and Chris and the guests.  The second guest was Brian Ludrof, Lafayette’s Assistant Sports Information Director, who just happens to be my grandson.

It was the 500th Sports Talk and that deserves special mention.  Chris and Joe have continuously made this show better.  The guests have gone from just being very local to today, with the advent of Skype, where guests can be from pretty much anywhere.  The show continues to look and sound better and that’s a tribute to the “behind the scenes” group that deals with graphics, audio, and directing.  We all look forward to the next 500!

Chris always has a segment on the show called the “Roundtable Discussion”.  It is a rapid-fire reaction to some of the current sports stories of the day.  The five topics this past week were all intriguing so I thought I would elaborate on my thoughts:

  • Is Bryce Harper worth $400 million?
    • The Washington Nationals’ may have the best player in baseball in Harper, but $400 million? Right now, Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins is signed to a $325 million contract.  I have reservations about saying anyone is worth that much, but I also have no doubt $400 million is going to happen soon.  Harper is the most likely candidate to get it.
  • Is the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas a good idea?
    • Not if you ask the NFL. The League would like to maintain the façade that they are not part of the sports gambling that is associated with the NFL.  Putting a team in the gambling Mecca of the U.S., I’m sure, does not sit well with the front office.  Secondly, Vegas is very small market compared to the rest of the NFL cities.  I do think the Raiders really want to stay in California, so it may very well have more to do with what the San Diego Chargers decide (stay in San Diego or move to LA).
  • Should or will Carson Wentz play three or more games with the Eagles?
    • The RavensJoe Flacco started right out of Delaware, but the Ravens were desperate. The Eagles are not.  Barring injuries to both Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel or a complete collapse of the team indicated by the win/loss record, I do not think Carson Wentz will play.  The Eagles would be best served to follow the Aaron Rodgers plan of learning behind a veteran (Brett Favre) for a few years and then making him the franchise QB.
  • Name a rule change you would like to see in football at any level.
    • I have a few – (1) Make the NFL extra-point rule permanent; (2) Since there seems to be more cheap shots these days, immediate ejection after the second personal foul in one game; (3) Make “half-the-distance to the goal-line” penalties the full distance in order to attain a first down.  In other words, a holding penalty on first down at the offensive teams’ ten-yard line should put the ball on the five, but move the chains to make it 20 yards for the first down (that would still make it a true 10-yard penalty).
  • Name a current athlete who captures your attention.
    • Right now, at this time of the year, it’s Jordan Spieth. He has become my Tiger Woods in the sense that I will watch the tournaments he plays in.  He is not dominating right now, but will most probably be ready for the next major at Oakmont.  I know I will watch.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
 

  1. Joe Maddon, former Lafayette student, has the Chicago Cubs playing the best baseball in the majors by far. His team is already eight games ahead of the second-place Pirates in the National League Central.  The Cubs are winning 75% of their games!
  2. Speaking of winning, how about those Phils? They are six games over .500, own the second best record in the National League, and are only one game out of first place.  Just amazing!!
  3. RCN and The Lafayette Sports Network will be celebrating their 20th year together bringing Lafayette College athletics this coming fall football season. It sure does not seem that long since I sat in the Lafayette Athletic office and cemented the relationship.  That was 1996 and it was a long time ago.
  4. The Blue Mountain League baseball schedule started this past Thursday and RCN will once again have the BML Game of the Week starting Tuesday, June 21.
  5. The US Open is at Oakmont this year which is in Pittsburgh. I played the course a few years back and found it to be the hardest course I have ever played.  I spent more time in the sand than I normally do at the beach.  My caddy put a sand rake in my bag so he would not have to walk for one every time.  On one hole, I avoided the sand, but caught him raking a trap anyway.  I asked what he was doing and he replied, “Just staying in practice”.  I tipped him anyway!

Behind the Mic: The NFL – Pre-Season Best and Worst

BEHIND THE MIC:
The NFL – Pre-season Best and Worst

I realize it is only July, but the summer seems to be flying by. I am already thinking about high school and college football. It will be here soon. And since I am writing this week’s blog and, in the fall, my blog includes my weekly NFL picks, it seemed like a good time to consider (in my estimation), which NFL teams will be the BEST and which teams will be the WORST.

Let’s start with the worst, since when these teams play (unless it’s against each other) my predictions should be easier. The five worst teams in the NFL for the upcoming season will be the:

Jets – Tim Tebow goes; Geno Smith comes in so the Jets still have a quarterback controversy (5 on their roster including Mark Sanchez) and they have gotten worse overall as a team.

Raiders – This team just does not have the talent to contend at all.

Bills – QB position is really questionable. 6-10 last year and they will probably struggle to surpass that win total.

Jaguars – They were awful last season and did very little in the draft to think they got better. Remember a 3-win season will be an improvement over last year.

Browns – They traded away draft picks in Rounds 4 and 5 so they had only 2 picks in the first five rounds and they find themselves in a division where everybody is better.

Titans – In case I’m wrong, the Titans should improve on their 6-10 record, but most of that responsibility rests on the QB Jake Locker.

Now that I have upset the Jets and Browns fans, I wish the Eagles, Steelers and the Redskins (my boss’s team) would now show up in my top 5. But, alas, that will not be the case. To me, the very best will be the:

 • 49ers – They were outstanding last year; had a decent draft and will have a new starter at safety (Eric Reid).

Broncos – Peyton Manning and a talented stable of receivers (including Wes Welker) make this team extremely strong offensively, but they, also, have one of the top defenses. They could win it all.

Falcons – They just needed to improve their defense and they did that with great improvement at the cornerback positions. They were 13-3 last year and, if possible, they could be better.

Seahawks – They have a great coach, terrific chemistry, and improved in the draft on both sides of the ball. They are one of the very best and will battle the 49ers for the Division title.

Packers/Patriots – Both of these teams have outstanding quarterbacks who could carry them to a win every weekend. The Packers got better at the running game. The Patriots did not do much with the draft and lost Welker so time will tell if they will be better this season.

 Oh, by the way, the Redskins and Giants should finish in the upper half, the Steelers in the middle, and the Eagles in the lower half.

Please, please don’t blame the messenger.