NFL 2012 – Week 20, “Conference Championship” Edition

I love being on the opposite end of a two point game where I am laying 2.5 points, it really warms my heart.

Here is the back of the Colin Wynner, Handicapper player card update with 2012 stats:
Career Playoff Record (1995-2012): 105-85-5
Wildcard Round: 40-31-1
Divisional Round: 38-32-2
Championship Round: 19-15
Super Bowl: 8-7-2

Playoff Best: 7-3-1 (2001)

Please note that these picks are made based on several years of experience in handicapping the playoff games, in fact I have developed a list of playoff rules to live by that you can read here.

Note: I use the Las Vegas Hilton Lines from vegasinsider.com.

Baltimore @ New England (-8.0)

Interesting Sub-Plot: The possibility of God intervening on behalf of the Ravens. As Ray Lewis himself told the freezing, “get me the eff out of here” Solomon Wilcots after the Ravens victory over the Broncos, “No weapon forged against you shall prosper. . .” {hugs Peyton Manning}, “No weapon, no weapon, God is amazing and when believe in Him, man believes in possible, God believes in the impossible. . .” I guess, loosely translated, that means that no one thought it was possible for the Ravens to win in Denver and God showed them!

All kidding aside, there might be something to this divine intervention theory. Think about what had to happen for the Ravens to escape with a victory – a. the oldest defense in the NFL playing on short rest and approaching close to a combined 200 plays in two weeks, yet somehow made several key stops in overtime; b. how many times to do see a defensive back with deep responsibility take such a poor route to the ball and then mis-time his jump? Never or rarely. It’s almost as if the ball changed paths at the last second and Rahim Moore got a slight push in the back as he leaped, hmmm; (c.) the fire-able move by John Fox to take a knee with 31 seconds and two timeouts left, as if his mind was suddenly frozen, hmmm; and (d.) the pick by Manning, where the entire left side of the field was vacated, yet P-dog choose to run into the defensive penetration and then throw a pass that in comparison to a throw by an 8-years girl, would have made the girl’s pass look like it was fired by Tom Brady.

Is God on Ray Lewis’ side? Maybe. But I think the better question would be – Is God against the opponent of Ray Lewis? Right, remember “no weapon forged against you will prevail . . .” Maybe God punished the citizens of the Colorado by having their beloved Broncos lose, for their egregious decision to legalize marijuana. And we know that those radical New Englanders have passed many of laws that might not have in alignment with the Big Man upstairs. Advantage Rayvens!

Teenage girl logic: I love the way people from Boston talk. So, in my best Boston accent, here is how I see this game playing out – “Look, ya bastaards, it’s going to be a real pissah for ya come the marnang, when you wake up with banger to find out ya beloved Paats got tha wicked shit kicked out of ’em.”

Trending: The Patriots are 13-5 ATS in their last 18 games when playing a team after losing the previous matchup.

The Ravens will cover if: Their defense has enough left in the tank to play a full four quarters. This is the first time since 1991 that a team will play a game after facing 87 or more plays on consecutive weeks.

The Patriots will cover if: They show up, right, I mean this is the greatest team in the history of the world, with the greatest quarterback on Earth and coached by the best coach, field general since the inception of time. They just need to make it to the field on time.

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner:  We were two plays away from an exhilarating, infinitely more enjoyable conference championship Sunday. Come on, admit it, Manning v. Brady, Broncos v. Patriots was “can’t miss” football. Throw in the intrigue of the Seahawks v. 49ers III and it was a “honey, I don’t think I am going to make it to the kids soccer game” kind of day. Thanks to the divine intervention play and the Seahawks celebrating a little early we now are facing possibly the worst conference championship Sunday since 2005. That year featured the Steelers v. Broncos, a game that had all the excitement of a Lance Armstrong interview, and the Seahawks v. Panthers, a game where the Panthers ran out gas, and were promptly run out of the Qwest field.

I can see this game being a lot like that 2005 Seahawks/Panthers tilt. The 2012 Ravens are a mirror image of those 2005 Panthers in a bunch of ways. Both faltered down the stretch, thus limping into the playoffs, yet both got hot by winning a couple of playoff games, including a huge road upset in the divisional round. If you remember, Steve Smith was un-coverable for those first two playoff games, amassing 4 touchdowns and 22 receptions for 306 yards. While the Ravens have not had a Steve Smith, they have had a receiver step up in each game, against the Colts Anquan Boldin put the team on his shoulders, while Torrey Smith was virtually un-coverable by the ghost of Champ Bailey last weekend.

What’s it all mean? Well, that 2005 Panthers literally ran out of gas against the Seahawks, a rested, focused bunch. The Patriots are in a similar situation as they barely broke a sweat last week in dispatching the over-matched, over-rated, under-achieving Texans.

And guess what? The world is on the Ravens, forcing the odds-makers top drop the line to from 9.5 to 8; that movement is laughable as a drop from 9.5 to 8 is statistically unlikely to factor into the outcome of this game, as just two of out 264 games played in 2012 season ended on a nine point margin. An eight point margin has a slightly higher probability of hitting with 11 games such games ending there. Still, there is less than a 1% chance that getting 9.5 is going to be the difference between cashing or not and just over a 4% chance that an investors will avoid the dreaded push. No that movement is all to get into psyche of the sports investor. I’ve mentioned it before that while all sports investors primary motivation is to win, a secondary motivation is to be on the “sharp” side. This movement reeks of “sharps” hammering the Ravens and the investor doing whatever they can, including but limited to the following blood doping, HGH, testosterone, to get to the top of the “sharp” mountain. And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the so-called “sharps” are pumping the Ravens early and often in hopes to get a better number to lay on the Patriots. Unless, of course, you believe and trust everything that comes out of a “sharp.”

With the world on the Ravens, let’s look at the case for the Pats – 1. the aforementioned 174 plays by the Baltimore defense over the last two weeks, that could equate to almost three regular season games. In addition, a high percentage of those plays are high leverage. Oh and have I mentioned that the Ravens defense is one of the oldest in the NFL?; 2. Everyone points to last year’s game as the reason the Ravens will be close, with a chance to pull off the upset in this game. Remember thought that the Ravens had a bye last year and won a home game before traveling to Foxboro. In fact, the last time the Ravens were in this situation was in 2008, they were beaten soundly by the Steelers, a game where the Ravens defense four years younger.; 3. The Pats up tempo offense is tough to stop, and Brady is awesome, but the Pats key to rolling in this game is dynamic duo of Verren and Ridley . Those guys play every play like they are competing for more playing time, and can’t you see Belichick telling each of them, “Well, we will just have to see how things play out today” in terms of their playing time. By kickoff each guy is like a rabid dog; and 4. Flacco is now at “elite” status because Boldin took over the Colts game and he completed three hail-mary passes against the Broncos. Uh, ok. In my book, still shaky, on the road, remember my rules. . .

New England 34 Baltimore 23

San Francisco (-4.0) @ Atlanta

Interesting Sub-Plot: What will Mike Smith do next? Dude looks, and acts, like he is in way over his head. Let’s totally forget about the pathetic, “playing not lose” play-calling late in that game and strictly focus of three egregiously bad decisions. First off, why did Smith choose to kick the extra point not once, but twice with very little time remaining the third quarter? The Seahawks jumped offside twice, which means the Falcons could have tried a two point attempt from the half yard line. I guess Smith adheres to the old adage,”Don’t go for two, until the 4th quarter.” Goodness that type of thinking is so Musbergerian.

The second flub by Mr. Smith was then he decides to burn his final timeout with 13 seconds left, which in and of itself would have been fine if the Falcons were not going to attempt a field goal on the next play, therefore, why leave 13 seconds on the clock? So the Seahawks can run a couple of plays? Great thinking there Mensa boy. The most humorous part of this was the way Smith sprinted down the sideline to get the timeout, he even breathed a sigh of relief, like “whew, I got there, I got the timeout.”

Finally, the onside/squib kick that gave the Seahawks the ball at their own 46 yard line with enough time for two plays. Too bad the Seahawks lost their kicker, Steven Hauschka to a strained calf a week earlier, because he has the leg to connect from well beyond 55. This might not have been Smith’s fault but really isn’t every play ultimately the coach’s responsibility.

Teenage girl logic: San Francisco seems like a cool city, it’s in California, so it has to be somewhat cool, right? Whereas, Atlanta seems really boring to me. Where is Atlanta? In Georgia? Where is Georgia? Is that even in America? I learned about Georgia in world geography class and I think it’s in Eurasia or something. Why on earth would they play this game in Eurasia? That’s just stupid. Anyway, I picked the 49ers to win the Super Bowl before the playoffs began, so duh, this is an easy win for them!

Trending: The team winning the high scoring divisional round game is 1-12-1 ATS in the conference championship game.

The 49ers will cover if: They don’t dig a deep hole like the Seahawks did a week ago. The 49ers are a team built to play from ahead or at least within a score of their opponent. And even though they have been very explosive under Kaepernick, they are not good catch-up team on either side of the ball.

The Falcons will cover if: They get out to a fast start, get the crowd involved and then keep their foot on the pedal. Despite the comeback last week, this team’s psyche is still fragile as is their fans, believe me the first sign of trouble for them and the Georgia Dome will be as silent as Manti Te’o has been this week amid rumors that he concocted a fake girl friend.


Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: The “sharps” are selling the idea that this is just too much “value” to pass on the Falcons. Ok, but you know what else is an extremely good value? The three week old bread rack at your local supermarket. That’s great value for a loaf of bread, in fact, practically free, but good luck choking it down without slathering on the butter mask the moldy, stale taste. But once you’ve used an excess of butter, the value is sucked out. Again this might be another case of the “sharps” either attempting a very tempting middle -3 on SF and +4.5 on Atlanta.

I so agree that the public is over-valuing the 49ers. It’s not all that close either, case in point the Falcons closed last week as 2.5 point favorites, after opening around a point to a point in a half favorites. If we use the low end opening number for a comparison of the Falcons and Seahawks, we would get the Seahawks graded two points better than Atlanta. After the Seahawks took the lead last Sunday, a bookmaker posted their NFC Championship game line at the 49ers -4 over Seattle. Meaning the 49ers grade out a roughly a point better than the ‘Hawks and three points better than Atlanta. That should put this line at a “pick.” Granted, the margin of error in this example is significant, but not four points worth. So, yes, there is great value on the Falcons.

But you go ahead and back the Falcons. And then sit back watching the following – 1. Mike Smith looking constipated. Believe me is hard enough to coach in the NFL playoffs when you’re regular; 2. Matty Ice being Matty Ice. He completed two desperation passes when the Seahawks essentially were thinking about the big celebration they were about to have in the locker room. Sorry, that game was only close because he and Smithy-poo got tight late. So, yeah, he hasn’t proved anything to me yet.; and 3. 70,000 fans thinking, and waiting for, something to go wrong. Let’s face this Atlanta bunch is somewhat apathetic to begin with, but put them through the Braves repeated playoff failures, the Michael Vick fiasco, the Petrino fiasco, the 2008 playoffs (game turned on a Michael Turner fumble that was returned for a touchdown), the 2010 playoffs (the Packers obliterated them with a lasting memory the Tramon Williams pick-6 off a Matty Ice, back footed, weak out pass) and the 2011 playoffs (where they failed a zillion times on fourth and one and were rung up by the Giants) and this group is more uptight, fidgety and pessimistic than Jesse Pinkman. Tell me you couldn’t show up at the Georgia Dome Sunday afternoon to successfully study for the MCAT test if the 49ers take the opening possession for a touchdown, followed by a Falcons three and out that includes a short armed, bounced ball to a wide open receiver by Ryan, then tack on three more points on an another 49ers scoring drive and then top it off with a tipped pass that is picked and returned for six points. 17-0 49ers, Falcons fans will be finding their “happy place.”

San Francisco 27 Atlanta 20
I just threw on my “Joe Public” sweater vest, yup, I am a square! Good luck this weekend!

NFL 2012 – Divisional Playoff Predictions, “Sunday” Edition

I knew I was in trouble in that Packers/49ers game when I ran into one of my kids soccer teammates dad who is a huge Packers fan. Dude was decked out in high end Packers gear and when asked, “How are you feeling about tonight?” His reply, “Totally confident! Kaepernick is very beatable and it’s his first real test.” Uh, how that turn out for you?
So I suck at calling primetime playoff games. Good thing neither of these games are in primetime. On to the Sunday picks.

Here is the back of the Colin Wynner, Handicapper player card update with 2012 stats:
Career Playoff Record (1995-2012): 103-83-5
Wildcard Round: 40-31-1
Divisional Round: 36-30-2
Championship Round: 19-15
Super Bowl: 8-7-2

Playoff Best: 7-3-1 (2001)

Please note that these picks are made based on several years of experience in handicapping the playoff games, in fact I have developed a list of playoff rules to live by that you can read here.


Note: I use the Las Vegas Hilton Lines from vegasinsider.com

Seattle @ Atlanta (-2.5)

Interesting Sub-Plot: Matty “Ice” Ryan with his 0-3 playoff record facing a team with a monster defense. Guess what Super Bowl winning quarterback was once 0-3 in his playoff career? Yup, you got it, Saturday’s playoff goat, Peyton Manning! Ok, so maybe it’s not the best comparison when attempting to build up Ryan, but still Manning has won a Super Bowl, Matty has a chance this year. Slim, slim chance but nonetheless a chance.

Teenage girl logic: Seahawks are like a evolutionary freak, a sea creature that can fly. That’s weird. While the Falcons are a normal bird in the sense that they fly and live in the normal atmosphere not underwater. The Seahawks are creepers, I hate creepers that stare at you and your privates – oooohhhh, gross, go Falcons!

Trending:  1. Home playoffs teams favored by 3 or less points are just 8-13* ATS since 2002 (updated as of 1/12/2013); and 2. The Seahawks are 4-11 ATS since 2002 after a game where they covered the spread by a touchdown after trailing at the end of the first quarter; just 1-4 ATS in the Pete Carroll era.

The Seahawks will cover if: They can weather the Falcons crowd and storm early in the game. Believe me, it won’t take much to take this Atlanta crowd out of the game, in fact at the first sign of trouble the Georgia Dome will sound like a library.

The Falcons will cover if: The Falcons defense can keep Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch in check. It would be easy to put this game on Matty Ice, but the Falcons defense is really the key here, they have to be able to get off the field on third downs.

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: Here is an interesting fact about falcons – they are able to fly at heights well above their prey but when ready to pursue they go into an amazing dive. Hmmm, interesting that the falcon and the Falcons seem to be the same. Both are able to fly high above their prey (regular season), but when they are ready to pursue (the Lombardi) they go into an amazing dive. Very interesting!

Up until this week, I fully expected them to take a dive again, in fact, I stated more than a few times that “I couldn’t wait to bet against this team in the playoffs,” but for this week, this one game, this specific moment in time I believe the Falcons will find a way to win this game. I cannot deny that on paper the Seahawks are a significantly better team, that they present matchup problems for the Falcons, in a league all about matchups and have a significant special teams advantage.

But here is my logic on the Falcons – 1. It feels like the spot for them and if they have any pride at all, they have to be ready to explode after hearing about how they cannot win a playoff game, they are the weakest 13 win team since their 2010 team and that the Seahawks are that much better than them; 2. On the flip side, it feels like the spot for the Seahawks to be a little flat, they have had an amazing run of domination mixed in with highly emotional performances. At some point doesn’t that have to catch up with a team and they lay a stinker?; and 3. It’s a 10AM PDT kickoff for the Seahawks on back-to-back east coast trips. Uh, that’s not good.

Bottom line – The best bet in this game is the Falcons -0.5 in the first quarter. Really that first quarter is going to tell us all we need to know about this game, if the Falcons don’t jump the Seahawks early, get a lead and get the crowd fully engaged, then they will allow ghosts of playoff past to creep into the building. If that happens, we can hang a nice “0-4” on Matty Ice’s resume. Not. Going. To. Happen. Not. Today. Not. This. Time.

Atlanta 31 Seattle 14 (4 Stars)

Houston @ New England (-9.5)

Interesting Sub-Plot: If you happen to be born into a Patriots family and by default you are a Patriots fan but your year of birth was, let’s say, 2002 or later, you most likely have known nothing but football heartache. I mean unless at the age of one you were some child prodigy who was banging out musical compositions that would make Mozart look like he was playing on a PlaySkool mini-piano, then you have no recollection of the Pats winning their last Super Bowl in 2004. Actually, it’s quite the contrary for those poor souls, who have a yearly ritual of asking pops, while sobbing profusely, “when dad, when will the Patriots finally win a Super Bowl?”

Teenage girl logic: I really despise the Texans because I hate Cowboys and I hate people who have that ridiculous “Don’t mess with Texas” bumper sticker. What does that even mean – “Don’t mess with Texas?” You can’t mess with a state anyway. That is so stupid. Screw the “don’t mess with the Texans,” the Patriots are going to mess with you big time!

Trending: Teams that covered a regular season matchup by 10 or more points are just 4-10* ATS in the playoff matchup (updated as of 1/12/2013).

The Texans will cover if: Matt Schaub can avoid the back breaking mistakes that he seems so adept at making. Think about how the game looks last week if Schaub doesn’t keep the Bengals around with that horrible pick-6 or if he can find a way to convert in the red zone. Blowout city, right? And let’s flash back to the 1st Patriots game when the Texans were driving, down at the time just 7-0, and Schaub is baited into a horrible end zone interception. Five plays after that pick, game ovah!

The Patriots will cover if: They don’t miss kickoff! Right, I mean this is team has really, really shown the world that not only can they put up big numbers but they can play great defense as well. Well, with the exception of that total statistical anomaly in the San Francisco game, where the 49ers hung 41 on them. But that doesn’t count when evaluating this juggernaut. Their mere presence should be enough to cover this spread.


Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: There is a great temptation on my part to bang the Pats given that we have already seen the “major divisional round” upset with the Ravens taking out the Broncos. But let’s try to make a case for the Texans – 1. The Patriots were probably looking ahead to the matchup with the Broncos, but now with Denver soiling themselves, they will be fully focused on — New Orleans and a rematch with the 49ers. Yup, I think they’re looking ahead and preparing themselves for another painful Super Bowl loss; 2. Think about the playoff games the Patriots have played in since the game that I say officially ended their run (2006 Colts game where they blew the 21-3 lead). Since that point, the Pats are just 4-4, with only the 2011 game against Broncos game being a dominate performance and honestly who didn’t see that coming. They have either struggled mightily or been beaten in the other seven games. This Texans team is not 2011 Broncos; and 3. This is eerily similar to the 2010 season. In each season, we had the late season Monday night Patriots ass whipping, that was followed by the whipped team playing the rest of the season in a funk and both the 2010 Jets and 2012 Texans rallied to win ugly playoff games. Sure we have heard from the Pats that they remember that game and are taking the Texans seriously, but are they? Come on, the Pats didn’t have the amazing Gronkowski for that game and still laid down the smack on Bum’s Son’s defense.

Yeah, that’s too thin to put hard earned money on. Plus, the biggest difference between the 2010 Jets and the 2012 Texans is the secondary, that was a strength of the Jets while the Texans are quite mediocre in the back seven. The Jets could matchup with the Patriots on the outside, the Texans cannot, meaning there will be an intense amount of pressure on the Texans D-Line to disrupt Brady up the middle. Too much pressure for them to live up to.

Bottom line – Believe me I have 10,125 reasons to back the Texans in this game, but smart money is sticking with my most important playoff rule – “Don’t back a shaky quarterback, especially on the road.” Matt Schaub is about as shaky as you get.

New England 34 Houston 17 (4 Stars)
Good luck!


NFL 2012 – Divisional Playoff Predictions, “Saturday” Edition

The Colin Wynner express was rolling toward the 11-0 holy land when out of the blue it was sent caroming into the desert roughage by what I will call the “Joe Webb experience.” And to think, I actually made this comment regarding Webb, “I still love the Vikings with Webb, their game plan doesn’t change with him – play defense and get the ball to Peterson, but now they add the element of the zone read two hours before kickoff.” We all know how that worked out. Maybe Christian Ponder is worth three points.

The “Joe Webb experience” gave me a strong desire to hurl myself off a 700 story building into a pit of fire (the pit of fire is the fallback, just in case the 700 story plunge doesn’t do the trick). But I resisted and rebounded Sunday with a perfect 2-0 record. But the primary reason I refrained, was so I can bring you the 2012 NFL playoffs divisional round winners.

Here is the back of the Colin Wynner, Handicapper player card update with 2012 stats:


Career Playoff Record (1995-2012): 103-83-5

Wildcard Round: 40-31-1
Divisional Round: 36-30-2
Championship Round: 19-15
Super Bowl: 8-7-2

Playoff Best: 7-3-1 (2001)

Please note that these picks are made based on several years of experience in handicapping the playoff games, in fact I have developed a list of playoff rules to live by that you can read here.
Note: I use the Las Vegas Hilton Lines from vegasinsider.com.


Baltimore @ Denver (-9.5)

Interesting Sub-Plot: Peyton Manning playoff stats in this situation are quite interesting. First, his career record with the temperature below 35 degrees is 0-3, with losses to the Jets and Patriots twice. Game time temperature in Denver – 18 degrees! In fact, at 18 degrees this will be the coldest playoff game Manning has ever started. Of course, many a Denver fan will point out two facts – 1. Manning has never lost a home playoff game where the temperature was below 35 degrees; and 2. Manning played exceptional in two cold weather home games late in the year. Fair enough, Donkey fan, but I will point out that Manning has never won a home playoff game in those frigid conditions and that the final two games of the season were against Cleveland and Kansas City, good luck with that logic. And for the record, the temp was 51 and 35 for those games so – EAAAHHHHH, sorry wrong answer!

Secondly, Manning is just 1-3 in the playoffs when coming off a bye. Guess what? The Broncos had a bye last week. And lastly, it appears that Manning will don a glove on his throwing hand to mitigate the cold weather. Hmmm, very interesting, I guess there will be no glove lost in this game.

Teenage girl logic: I love Colorado, it’s a great place to visit and a better place to live. Yeah, I’ve only been there once but I can tell it’s a perfect place with perfect people. Go Broncos!

Trending: Teams that covered a regular season matchup by 10 or more points are just 4-9 ATS in the playoff matchup.

The Ravens will cover if: Anquan Boldin takes this game over like he did last week against the Colts. “Q” might be at the beginning of a 2008 Fitzgeraldian run through the 2012 playoffs.

The Broncos will cover if: They don’t let the Ravens hang around. The Ravens are a “keep it close, steal it at the end” team. The Donks absolutely cannot let the Ravens jump out to any sort of lead in this game. just ask the Titans about that (2000 and 2008). On the flip side, if the Broncos put up two quick touchdowns, the Ravens are done!

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: The was a day where you could drop a double digit number in the divisional playoff round and sip on Courvoisier while watching a 44-3 blowout. That doesn’t happen in the current NFL, well unless the team double digit dog is quarterbacked by Tim Tebow coming off a incredibly emotional Wildcard round win (see how I did that). The history of what I will call the “NFL – parity edition” tells us to take the points in these situations. Sure we are roughly 10 years into this edition, but the days of the of #1/#2 seeds laying the hammer in the divisional round is long gone.

So you’ve got that and the following: 1. It’s likely that the week off truncated the momentum for a Broncos team riding an 11 game winning streak; 2. The glove! The glove gives us litany of literary play on words, like the promiscuous young lady telling her boyfriend, “No glove, no love!” Or my personal favorite from the Naked Gun 45: Nordberg found innocent of murder, “if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit!” Well, here is one for this game, “with glove on hand for support, the Broncos shit their shorts!”; 3. The Ravens are in much better shape for the rematch, from the offensive line to the defense; 4. The emotion of Ray Lewis and the corresponding influence on the rest of the Ravens; it can’t hurt, but, I agree, the angle itself is weak, since it was obvious Ray left it on the field last week. Still if the Ravens keep it close, Ray-Ray might make a huge play somewhere late in this game that has a major impact on the outcome or at least the spread; 5. The Broncos have to be looking ahead to the showdown with the Patriots, right? and 6. It bears mentioning again – it’s too many points.

And, yes, I know this is the blueprint for playoff disaster by going against probably the single biggest playoff rule, “never back a shaky quarterback in the playoffs, especially on the road”, in the history of the playoffs or rules. Furthermore, there is a better than average that after this week, I will be bitching about not follow my own rules, along with updating the “rules” with this new one called the “never bet against NFL” rule. Yeah, it’s probably only me and like four other guys who know that the NFL would love to see a Brady and Manning matchup up for the AFC championship, in primetime no less. Eff-it all, give me the Ravens and the points

Denver 26 Baltimore 21 (3 Stars out of 5 possible)

Green Bay @ San Francisco (-3.0)

Interesting Sub-Plot: The fact that this is the “all-in” moment for Jim Harbuagh with his decision to hand the starting QB job to Colin Kaepernick. In week one, former starting quarterback, Alex Smith played about as well as one could play in leading the 49ers to a victory in Lambeau. If the 49ers lose this game with Kaepernick playing a key role in the loss, will that become the second strike against Harbuagh? What’s the first strike, you ask? Harbaugh’s charmingly self – yeah, he is so obstinate and generally unlikable that I believe he will start every job with 0-1 count, a little bit like it seems Carl Crawford does every at-bat.

Teenage girl logic: I had no idea that those gaudy “cheesehead” things were so popular, but apparently in addition to the normal “cheesehead” you can get a cheese sombrero, a cheese fireman’s hat, a cheese tie, a cheese cowboy hat, etc. etc. Yikes, with all that crazy cheesehead crap donning the rather large humans in Packer-land , a home game in Green Bay must rival a tattoo convention and most nights on Bourbon street for biggest “freak show” ever. And my goodness, they have cheese earrings as well. How tacky! But I see can totally see this girl named Sarah wearing them. Uh, she is such a slut! I can imagine that guys would be all like, “Oh, Sarah how cute, you have cheesehead earrings.” ARGH, I can’t stand her, she is so ugly and the only reason guys like her is because she is a total whore! ARGH! Oh wait, this is where I am supposed to make a pick, right? OK, OK, enough about sluts, I think the 49ers are going to win the Super Bowl, so DUH, they are going to win this game!

Trending: Home playoffs teams favored by 3 or less points are just 7-13 ATS since 2002.

The Packers will cover if: If, “the most worthless piece of shit in the world” (as a fantasy buddy of mine calls him) a.k.a. Jermichael Finley, shows up ready to be the difference. Look it seems almost impossible for Finley to be a non-factor given that he is 6-4, 240, runs a 4.4 40, posesses amazing balance and athletic giftedness but somehow he does. Yup, most games Finley is invisible. And when not invisible he can be found dropping key third down passes or pointing first down when coming up a half yard short or tweeting “YOTTO.” YOTTO (“Year Of The TakeOver”), is an acronym coined by Finley after his breakout year. Interestingly, I coined the YAYWIGFAL to describe his play the year after his YOTTO year (“Year After YOTTO When I Got Fat And Lazy”). He can be difference in this game for the Packers, if 1. he shows up ready to play; and 2. Rodgers and McCarthy have enough trust left in him.

The 49ers will cover if: Colin Kaepernick plays less like Colin Wynner and more like Colin Kaepernick. I’m not going to lie with me at quarterback in this game, the number is probably close to Packers -7.5, so Kaepernick is worth close to 11 points more than me, but the junior Colin has the potential to lay an egg here, or in other words – there is massive pressure on this kid. So far he has handled the pressure in every spot, but this is the biggest, brightest stage of his career, and one where the 49ers are expected to win.

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: This is tough, really tough, man! On one hand you have the “Lindsay Lohan doing porn” inevitable factors, like Rodgers is going to be harassed all day long by that 49er defense line and David Akers will miss a bushel of field goals, while Billy Cundiff sticks pins in an Akers voo-doo doll. Those are the gimmies, but that’s not going to get me the much sought after W. I firmly believe to have a winning week this week, I need this game. Sure when I interviewed before the game, I will tell the world, “they all count the same in the standings.” But this game, this game is a game I need, a game I want badly.

Therefore, I have to dig deeper for this one. Truth be told I loved the Packers from the start of the week. But that’s three parts of “the public would be all over 49ers” (thus giving me the playoff rule “it’s never a bad idea to be on the same side as the house”) and one part “revenge for week one.” The revenge card is an over-played, never truly works like you think it will.  Plus, from my rudimentary “bet metrics” the money appears to be fairly well divided, therefore, we can totally throw out the “it’s never a bad idea to side with the house” rule.

Desperate situations call for desperate measures, so I went go to the biggest 49er fan I know “Da Carz”, who has always had an unrealistic view of his team. So, I asked him how nervous he was on a scale of 1=already booked my flights to New Orleans to 10=I am wearing Depends just to be safe. His response, “I am about a five. I believe in my team, but Aaron Rodgers is the wildcard. If they did not have a good quarterback, I would not be worried.” Hmm, a five, huh? Thanks for nothing!

Despite his middling response, he gave me exactly what I needed. Here is the deal – last year in a similar spot “Da Carz” told me that the 49ers were about to visit “Lock” city against the Saints, so reading his comments this year, he’s not a five, he’s a 9.9999, meaning he’s probably played the game out in his mind which caused him to shart himself.

So here we go, I jumping off the building here holding my balls and screaming “Geronimo” (wait, is that insensitive?). I think Kaepernick is shaky, at least shaky enough that if the Packers put up the first points of this game the pressure will go from, in terms of the aforementioned Lohan, “if this B-Movie, and my over-acting, work for me, I might be able to claw my way back into fringe blockbuster movies, plus I will be able to continue pay rent, always a bonus” to “only one option left – hard-core porn. And rent is now a 50/50 prop each month.” I also am not buying that Justin Smith is back to anywhere near 100%, something the Packers will figure out on the first series and make adjustments to aid their one liability in this game, the offensive line.

Bottom line – the Packers have been there, done that in hostile road playoff game environments. The 49ers needed five turnovers and two miracle drives from their backup quarterback to pull off a win against a “good quarterback” last year. All cheese, all the time!

Green Bay 24 San Francisco 20 (2 Stars)

Coming up – the Sunday divisional round picks!

Good luck this weekend!


NFL 2012 – Week 17, “Fantasy Teams, Part II” Edition

Part two of the 2012 fantasy teams, this part is the positive side of fantasy football, better known as the players who showed up this season or the “Anti-Eli Manning,” which also works.

Before I get to the teams, I wanted to take a minute to detail the reasons why I won’t be playing fantasy football next. In my opinion, fantasy football has become a commercialized joke.

In the simplest form, there are two personality types of people in the world – Type A and Type B. Type A personality traits include being overly competitive, goal oriented and achievement-driven. Given those traits, it’s obvious that a Type-A personality would measure success in fantasy football by winning rather than enjoyment. On the flip side, Type-B personalities, “do not mind losing and simply enjoy the playing game.” It’s clear which personality type is better suited playing a random game of luck.

To illustrate this, let’s say a Type-A and Type-B engage in a game of flip the coin. Probability tells us that it is likely that each person in this classic duel we will half of the flips. But let’s say the Type-A person goes on an incredible streak of calling the coin correctly ten consecutive times. Type-B guy is like, “Wow, that is impressive . Well done.” Type-A guy isn’t focused on what has happened, they are focused on continuing the streak. Now we all know, that whether Type-A guy has called the coin correctly 100 times in a row, the next call is 50/50. And if thrown enough, Type-A guy will regress to the mean, with streaks of brilliance mixed in. Each “streak of brilliance” is a killer for Type-A because he knows what can be. Whereas, Type-B, is smiling and enjoying watching the coin do a multiple flips in air.

Moreover, Type-B personalities love fantasy football for what it really is, entertainment. It keeps them interested in the game, after their teams are eliminated from the playoffs. I can imagine a Type-Ber giggling, like child watching Sponge Bob turn himself into various household items, when they sign into the league website on Tuesday morning to find out they won. I also think the Type-B guys put very little into the game like, “oh, shucks I missed free agents again this week” or “oh, my guy is on IR, maybe I should pick up his backup.” It’s the social aspect, not results, that keeps them coming back. They love getting together at the draft, maybe running a bit of smack talk during the season, and maybe, if everything breaks right for them they have a shot at a championship, but if not, “oh well, great season, see you all in August!”

I maintain both Type-A and Type-B people are the same when they start playing fantasy football, but any taste of success will drive the Type-A to reach higher levels of success. Soon, winning a division isn’t an accomplishment unless they win a playoff game, and so on. Remember the coin flip example from above. Once they’ve won ten in row, they want the 11th and if they lose the 11th, the other 10 don’t matter.

And that’s the rub, it’s in a Type-A’s DNA to be hyper-competitive and want to win, but once fantasy football has become essentially a coin flip and the losses mount, the Type-A goes crazy and eventually burns out. That’s when you find them holed up in their house buried under hundreds of fantasy football magazines.

But fantasy football has not always been a “coin flip.” In fact, back in the day (defining day – a time before fantasy football was engorged with zillions of fantasy experts, who actually make a living giving make believe advice for a make believe world), a Type-Aer had a huge advantage over “happy-go-lucky, winning doesn’t matter, just likes being part of something” fantasy player, he could out-work him for players in both the draft and the during the season. Those days are long gone, when every fantasy player has access to a version of the “weekly waiver wire recommendations.” There are no longer players that can be defined as sleepers, because once Matthew Berry announces them as a sleeper, guess what, they are no longer a sleeper. And these “fantasy sites” begin their fantasy football year so early and have so much time to fill, that they literally mention every player who might have a shot a scoring a tenth of a fantasy point in the coming year.

Now it’s a coin flip, essentially a lottery ticket where everyone shows up to the draft with a freshly printed draft cheat sheet that tells them who to draft, when to draft them and when to crack a joke about a guy being drafted to soon. These seasons could literally be played out with auto-draft on, for everyone, and then it’s a matter of avoiding injuries and getting the right mix of guys. A lottery draw!

That randomness is what will ultimately drive all Type-A players out of the game, because they know they have less control. I agree that there is randomness is virtually every facet of our lives and that shouldn’t be any different in fantasy football, but I ask you would you be happy if promotions given out by pulling a name out of a bingo machine? Exactly.

Therefore, the question becomes – can fantasy football be fixed? Can we mitigate the randomness and bring the Type-A back into the fold? Sure, I think it’s possible to fix this mess, while allowing some randomness for the Type-B’s. How? Glad you asked, here are some ideas:

  • Snake drafts should be Audi-5000’d immediately. All drafts should be auction style. Sure, it’s harder but they are far less “fantasy experts” willing to venture into the scary world of auction drafts, so it leaves room for an owner who does their homework, prepares a strategy and budget to have an advantage. An auction draft is a lot harder than crossing names off a list and drafting the next available player. Advantage: Huge to Type-A player
  • With snake drafts out of play, it would be easier to convert each league to a keeper league, with a significant amount of keepers, say five or so. When a player is acquired in the auction, the dollar amount becomes his number and to keep that player the amount rises each year. With that keeper amount rising each year, an owner cannot hang on to a rookie like Doug Martin until they have gone from the equivalent of A-List Vegas escort to waitressing the midnight shift in Laughlin (yeah, it happens that quick). This also opens up a bevy of trading options that otherwise would not be available, since at any point an owner may decide to scrap talent and build for next year. To avoid that getting out of hand, rosters are managed by a cap on player salaries. But those type of deals are what would keep a Type-A player motivated season to season, even in the face of losing. Advantage: Slight Type-A player, only slight because Type-A will likely throw in the towel way to early
  • Something has to be done to mitigate week-to-week randomness, whether it’s what I mentioned in Part I about carry over points or an all roster play or a percentage of bench points getting added to the final score. Putting something like this in play, kills two birds with a sinlge stone, as it will penalize the stagnant owner with a roster full of players on IR, but rewards the owner building the strong roster from top to bottom. Advantage: Slight Type-A player
  • Defensive teams should not be part of any fantasy league ever again. In my leagues where a defense was required this season, I witnessed a game that swung close to 50 points this season. And there were several games where the swing was at least 30 points. That is ridiculously random. There is no other position with that kind of swing, even quarterback if you were forced to start that worthless sack of dog crap Eli Manning. With defensive teams out, I would add in IDP and a return position to the weekly lineup. It works like this – one DL, one LB and one DB starts every week and gets points for defensive things – like forced fumbles, sacks, tackles, penalties,etc. The returner position can be any NFL player, but they only get points for returns, however, all returns are included – interceptions, fumble, punt, kickoff and blocked kicks. This gives an advantage to players willing to do some work, since, not surprisingly, most fantasy experts do not give fantasy advice on IDP. Advantage: Type-A player
  • Finally, I would implement something like the presidential veto where a player can potentially eliminate one of his opponents players score. There was an old Sports Illustrated/Athlon game called Paydirt, where each team had a play sheet with outcomes based on actual statistics from the previous season. One of the rules of the game was, when on defense, you had the ability to “key” on one offensive play. If the offense called that play, the result was an automatc no gain, if they didn’t the offensive outcome was taking with no regard to defensive adjustment. My idea would give owners the opportunity to “key” on one of the opponents player. If that player was the high scorer for your opponent, his score would be reduced by some percentage. But if that player was not the high scorer, points are added to your opponent for that week. Advantage: Wash, Type-B player will forget to use this more often than not, while Type-A player will over think and screw it up more often than not.

Don’t be surprised if I come back after a year off with a radical new league that mirrors the above ideas.

Ok, enough about me, let’s get back to the exciting conclusion of the 2012 fantasy teams.

To start off the “Anti-Eli Manning” side let’s introduce the “All-Rookie” team. This season seemed like there was an unprecedented number of rookies who played a major part in not only their teams success, but also their owners fantasy success.

There is an old fantasy football adage that states, “You can’t win the league with your draft, but you can lose it.” You see, most fantasy football championship are won with a fair amount of free agents comprising the winning lineups. Therefore it makes sense to recognize the top free agents pick-ups of 2012, with the “All-Waiver” team.


And without further ado, here are the “All-Fantasy” teams. These are the creme de la creme of fantasy players for 2012. Beginning with the 2nd team, players who were crazy good, but not quite the top.

And the fantasy superstars – the “All-Fantasy” 1st team:

NFL 2012 – Week 13, “Rooting for the House” Edition

Note: I use the LVH Lines from vegasinsider.com. The Super Contest lines are not live, but instead are set and held the entire week.

The “Super Contest” picks:
Cincinnati (-1.5) over San Diego – Even in the midst of this crap season by the Chargers I still had them favored in this game by 2 to 2.5 points. When I noticed the line I immediately thought, oh, Chargers are a great play. Then I thought back to that gutless effort by San Diego on Sunday against a Ravens team that neither wanted to be in San Diego nor attempt to win that game. And fresh in my mind was the Flacco give up 4th and 29 screen pass; though a screen pass carries the implication that there is at least some semblance of blockers out in front of the running back where as this was more of a two yard dump off that Ray Rice essentially willed his way through eight of the 11 Charger defenders for the first down. Did I mention the Chargers were gutless last weekend?

In fairness, I know what I’m get when betting on Norv, but goodness is there a head coach in the NFL who is so below average at every head coaching category? I don’t think there is, but by all means Bolt management, bring him back for another four years. The USA would do it!

Need proof, how about the lack of a timeout before halftime, which likely cost the Chargers points, or at least a chance at points. Norv steadfastly refused to call timeout even though QB Phil Rivers was screaming for one. Even the announcers were at a lost, as Ian Eagle feeble attempt to explain the non-timeout was absurd. Eagle, “Norv’s not calling a timeout here because the Ravens have their offense on the field.” WTF? Are you kidding me, Norv? If the Ravens are going to attempt a 4th and 1 from their 30 in the 2nd quarter of a game they are trailing, why would you stand in their way? Are you really worried about them scoring? Even if you plan nothing more than to run a couple safe plays, you have to call timeout there to force the opposition to punt and give yourself enough time to put some pressure on the defense. Pathetic!

Yeah, I cannot trust this Norv Turner Chargers team ever again.

Baltimore (-7.0) over Pittsburgh – Um, it’s Charlie Batch in Baltimore with the Ravens a win away from nailing the coffin shut on the Steelers in the division. In addition, dealing the Steelers another loss cripples their playoff chances. That is important to the Ravens as they have no desire to see a Roethlisberger led Steelers team that they defeated twice in the regular season, both times without the quarterback. Remember in Die Hard when John McClain didn’t kill the terrorist when he had the chance. That’s a rule in life to live by – never let someone who would should kill, live to haunt you!

San Francisco (-7.0) over St. Louis – This is a contradiction of my belief that when rebuilding a coach will focus from the division outward. The Rams are clearly rebuilding, but Jeff Fisher has the Rams playing at a very high level against the NFC West, as evidence by their 3-0-1 record against divisional foes. But this feels like a “flex their muscles” spot for the 49ers, who were out-played by the Rams in Frisco.

Dallas (-10.0) over Philadelphia – I have to admit that I am shocked by this line, regardless of how poor the Eagles are playing. The Cowboys have trouble covering any spread at home, how can Vegas give money away like this? Exactly, they’re not giving money away, they realize that the Eagles have officially quit after the loss to the Panthers and the Cowboys can throw up a big number to quiet the masses of fans clamoring for changes.

Miami (+7.5) over New England – I have always believed that there are two key spread numbers that tell the story about who to bet, with those numbers being 6.5 and 7.5. Without researching, I have blindly believed that 6.5 was a clear play on the underdog while 7.5 was an indication to make play on the favorite. Basically my logic is that why would the odds-makers not simply make a game a solid seven as opposed to adjusting the line a half point? The adjustment, in my mind, is to entice the action towards the natural comfort of the bettor. Most betters feel more comfortable laying 6.5 on the favorite for the obvious reason – they win with a touchdown margin, conversely, with 7.5, the bettor can afford a loss by a touchdown. In a nutshell, my plays are contrarian which side with the house.
Fortunately, it’s 2012 and we have the technology to research. Since 2002, teams favored by 7.5 are just 40-52 ATS, while teams receiving 6.5 points are 84-61 ATS. So, that actual numbers make logically sense to me but refute my blind theory. A number like 6.5 is frowned upon by the favorite loving general public, who are chalk bettors and can’t get their money to the window fast enough at 6.5.
A 7.5 point number is also hammered by public, chalk bettors with similar results, they don;t care about the .5 point because “the favorite is a better team and will win easily.” So, essentially what these numbers tell me is that betting the favorites will get me beat more often than not. Look at me, I’m a “sharp”!

The “Breaking the Rules” pick:
Jacksonville (+6.5) over Buffalo – I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was done taking the Jaguars and Chiefs. Of course, that was before Chad Henne showed up to save the day in Jacksonville. So, in the interest of fairness, I have amended my rule to “I will no longer pick a team quarterbacked by Blaine Gabbert.”

One more thing on this game, why is that by the end of the year whoever is quarterbacking the Bills has less arm strength than Chad Pennington immediately after his 18th shoulder fusion surgery. Think about it – from Flutie to Van Pelt to Losman to Edwards to Fitzpatrick – each of those guys have below average arms to begin with, but by December they literally cannot throw the ball more than 15 yards. Is there something in the water in Buffalo? Is it the 100 wings or so that the quarterback of Bills is mandated to eat each week? The result of these candy-ass armed quarterbacks is that the Bills become very easy to defend even for the Jaguars.

Kansas City (+3.5) over Carolina – Yeah, I am supposed to believe the Panthers are back because they beat the Eagles on Monday. Not buying it. First off, the two touchdown passes for the Panthers last weekend looked like they were in pre-game warm-ups without a defense. And let’s look at that defense of the Panthers that allowed a rookie, making his first start, to look like Walter Payton, imagine what Jamaal Charles will do to them. Without the turnovers, they probably lose that game. Just sayin’ they aren’t good and they certainly should not be giving points to any team.

 Edit: Wow, I just heard the news on ESPN about Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher. Terribly sad news for all parties involved. I will tell you can never understand the depths of where people will go when they lose hope. To say that this type behavior is not in everyone of us, is to say that not everyone of us has been pushed to the brink, made a terrible mistake, lost hope and completely bottomed out. Being a fan, handicapper, sports investor, soccer dad should prepare us well for bleak situations since things are never as bad nor as good as they seem. It’s important to remember that in all facets of life.

My prayers go out to the families of those involved in this tragedy.

The “PED Bowl” pick:

Chicago (-3.0) over Seattle – The big question is how much impact will not being on PEDs have on Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner? I guess we now we know why these guys are big, physical corners.
The funniest part of this story is that Brandon Marshall jumped in with the “guys are on Viagra” statement. That’s hilarious. And opens up a plethora of bad puns, “He hits you hard. . .” and “Oh no, an offside penalty on the Bears, that’s quite a boner. . .” But the reality is Viagra could in fact help an athlete. The drug is designed to expand the blood vessels, thus allowing more oxygen carried to the muscles, which might help an athlete with bursts of speed and strength. In addition to being ready immediately after the final whistle for the groupies.
I am sure the NFL is already putting together the “eunuch policy”, where a player has to prove they truly have erectile dysfunction by putting them through a series provocative tests.

The “Kick on the Balls” pick:
Detroit (-6.0) over Indianapolis – Look I have three kids, so I have seen plenty of my share of “turning of the head while sticking the foot out to trip your sibling” acts in my time. “What did I do,” is the typical response. I might even consider myself an expert. Given that there is no way Suh’s kick Matt Schuab’s balls was unintentional. I virtually guarantee Suh is a middle child.

Honestly, the Lions are a dumb team, but I don’t trust this Colts team on the road against any semi-competent team. Personally, I think Andrew Luck has hit the rookie wall, coincidentally right after I traded for him in fantasy (reason #2130 why I am not playing fantasy ever again).

And this line is way too high, I have no choice but to back the house.

The “though logic generally fails in the NFL, I will try, try again” pick:
Minnesota (+7.5) over Green Bay – Green Bay cannot protect the passer, Minnesota can rush the passer, therefore Green Bay cannot protect Rodgers from Minnesota.

The “we will make the playoffs” pick:
NY Jets (-5.0) over Arizona – What is there to like about the Cardinals this week? Sure the Jets looked bad against the Pats, but a lot teams look bad against them. Here is the deal with the Jets, they went to St. Louis a couple weeks back and spanked the Rams right after an embarrassing home loss to the Dolphins. Aren’t we essentially in the same spot for them this week? And guess what, let’s assume the Bengals, Steelers, Dolphins and Colts all lose this week, the 5-7 Jets would be just one game out of the playoffs with an upcoming schedule that includes the Bills, Chargers, Titans and Jags. I can absolutely see this team finishing 9-7 and making the playoffs.

Bottom line – the only way you can play the Cardinals in this game is if you believe the Jets have quit. I think the above contradicts that notion.

The “so what” pick:
Tampa Bay (+7.5) over Denver – I have to admit that I am very surprised by this Broncos team. I mean not as surprised as I was when I found out that Dustin from the Battle of the Seasons has done “a few gay porn movies.” Uh, wait, rewind that, what did he say? Quoting Dustin, “Frank is bringing up that I have done a few gay porn movies. So what?” So what? Wow, that was the day I realized that I am old, really old, like Methuselah old because I’m like that would be the last thing I would say if I did “a few gay porn movies.”

Not that there is anything wrong with that, but there was a day when once you’re in porn, your options were either porn or more porn. All of a sudden it’s socially accepted to be in porn? Are you telling me banks are now willing to give loans to porn actors trying to start a store named “Buck’s Super Stereo World”? Yeah, I’m old.

Anyway, this Tampa team will find a way to keep it close and if you’re so inclined maybe throw a few nickels down on the money line.

The “when do the playoffs start” pick:
Tennessee (+6.5) over Houston – I give you eight reasons why the Titans will cover – 1. Houston is bored with the regular season; 2. Matt Schuab’s balls still hurt; 3. Wade Phillips is more concerned with all goodies associated with the holiday season than he is with designing defenses to shut down mediocre offenses; 4. Tennessee is in the same boat as the Jets, except they’re thinking if we win this we have the Colts, Jags, Packers and Jets left, all winnable; 5. There is a new offensive coordinator in Tennessee, “it’s probably that pederast Loggains”, but nonetheless there’s new blood and a new system that an over-eating Phillips hasn’t thought about; 6. The Titans are 7-3 lifetime at home against the Texans; 7. Jake Locker has a 102.7 rating in his last two starts at home; and 8. The Texans are just 1-3 when giving 6.5 or more points on the road.

The “I only pick real teams” pick:

Oakland (+2.5) over Cleveland – I’ve got some balls picking the Raiders when they just suspended starting LB Rolando McClain. I mean we’ve already seen a rookie running back run for roughly 1000 yards against them with McClain, how many yards will Richardson have?

The disgruntled McCalin took to social media to vent with the following, “I can’t wait to play for a real team.” Hmm, Rolando, let’s hope that the “real team” has a need for an inside linebacker who can’t cover, runs himself into blocks, is not physical unless he holds a clear size advantage, is not a leader despite manning the “play calling” defensive position and is a cancer in the locker room. I am sure your agent’s phone will be ringing off the hook as every team in the NFL wants an ILB just like that. Don’t hold your breath Rolando!

Trust me, as I have it on good authority from my Raiders fan buddy, this suspension is a positive move for the Raiders. Plus, how pissed do you think the Raiders have to be at getting 2.5 at home against the Browns. They have to be madder than cat hater swerving in an attempt to hit a cat but narrowly missing.

The “eff the spread and pile up fantasy points or else” pick:
Washington (+3.0) over NY Giants – Look I am quitting fantasy football next season, that’s a given, but I am still playing this year and this game most likely will decide my fate in one of my leagues. Therefore, I need Manning, Nicks and Garcon to pile up fantasy points like it’s 1999. I don’t know what that means, but it seems like back in 1999 I could count on some sort of fantasy consistency.

Good luck this week.

2012 CFB – Week 14 “Seven Out”

I have a close friend who tells a story about a buddy of his who was a Vegas blackjack dealer, who, as the story goes, would become ice cold 10 minutes prior to going on his break . He would simply announce to the table, “everybody, it’s winning time.” I witnessed this once myself, it was truly remarkable. He broke at least eight straight hands, he would show a six, with a five under, then buy an ace, king. It does need mentioning, but we need more guys like him. Not necessarily the giving money away, but a guy who knew his status and could accurately convey to the players.

I am thinking that the same is true for yours truly with college football, as I finally got over on the “house” last week with a stellar 6-1 record. Not to say that I have everything figured out, but last week was the first week this season where I felt like I was reading English, as opposed to some undeveloped language from a third world country.

Much like the dealer, I am about to go on break, so I look to continue my assault on the odds-makers during Championship week and on into the bowl season.


Wisconsin vs. Nebraska (-3.5, O/U 49.0) – Ok, so I was ready to hammer the crap out of the Badgers in this game for the obvious reasons – a. Taylor Martinez in a big game, away from Lincoln; b. Bo Pelini in a big game, away from home; c. the abysmal performance by the Huskers in the fight for the “Heroes Trophy”; and d. the Huskers recent history in championship games. But then I read this column about how the Huskers spent 18 hours undergoing extreme military training in the spring of 2012.

Now those refuse to quit, play to the final whistle crazy comebacks make sense to me. The funny part is that in the column the players admit to being borderline lazy, self serving, essentially horrible team-mates. Yeah, essentially the reasons I played against them in virtually every game where I felt like they would need each other backs.

Anyway, they learned to dig deep, find strength where they though none existed, trust each other, help each other and most of all love each other. Yeah, whatever, good for them, I am only concerned about what I can use to my advantage over my adversary, the bookie! Also, I would file all that “feel good” crap under #ThingsIWouldHaveLikedToHaveKnown prior to picking against in every big game this season.

Well, now I know. Early Sunday morning, when an admin at the B1G conference office edits the list of conference champions, I expect the 2012 entry to look like the following:

2012 – Nebraska *

Play: Nebraska -3.5

UCLA @ Stanford (-9.0, O/U 46.0) – The Bruins had absolutely nothing to play for last week against the Cardinal and the result showed as much. Think about it, win and they head to Eugene to face an angry Ducks team or, lose, play a Stanford team that will likely be, based on a little something called human nature, over-confident. It was a no brainer then, it’s a no brainer now, even if coach Mora won’t admit it.

Here are three points to make my case for the Bruins this week – 1. The line has moved in Stanford’s favor, despite almost 2 to 1 bets on Stanford. That’s “sharp” money, which is worth about as much as “dull” money, but still someone, in some sports book thought enough of a “sharp” bet on the Bruins to move the number against the public action; 2. The Bruins have essentially had two weeks to prepare, they showed nothing last week, yet were able to absorb everything Stanford did. While the flip side, Stanford has had a short week to prepare a complete new game plan or hope that UCLA doesn’t make adjustments to the existing game plan; and 3. Never in the history of the NCAA has a team covered one week against an opponent, then cover the next week against the same opponent. Ok, you got me it’s 0-0, it’s never happened. Until this week.

Play: UCLA +9.0

Northern Illinois (-7.0, O/U 58.0) vs. Kent State – Kent State is the higher ranked team, yet they’re getting seven points, in a championship game no less. Lines like this are for the suckers, suckers who look at such things like rankings and determine how to bet based on some overweight, constipated mediot’s vote.

Rankings systems are so flawed, that they should be abolished and college football should play an 128 team triple elimination tournament for the season. Now that would be awesome!

Here is my case for NIU, there has been a significant amount of hoopla surrounding the possibility of Kent State bouncing an “AQ” conference school from a BCS bowl game. Now, I admit I don’t know everything, but I know when a power conference is in danger of losing a BCS payday there is a good chance that the referees for this game will be alums of NIU, including the guy with the Michael Turner calf tat and the guy with the cat named “Novak.”

Play: Northern Illinois -7.0

Georgia vs. Alabama (-7.5, O/U 50.5) – Doesn’t it feel like everybody is backing the Bulldogs this week? I haven’t heard one good thing about Bama. It’s Bama’s defense struggles with dynamic offenses, Bama should’ve lost to LSU and not even be in this game, Bama can’t rush the passer, the Tide’s defense is well below past versions and Bama’s offense lacks explosiveness. Ya da da!

Now I would think that type of disrespect would make Alabama players madder than an “actor” playing Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland repeatedly getting kicked in the nuts by a crying toddler while the proud papa tries to figure out how use the new digital camera.

I tell you these situations where everyone is on the same side and that side happens to be the worse of the two teams, are golden. Roll Tide! Alabama big time!

Play: Alabama -7.5

Oklahoma State (-5.0 O/U 87.5) @ Baylor – Whoa, the total is 87.5? Most reasonable bettors would think to themselves, “Hey, all I need is maybe two turnovers and two stops for this game to go under.” That’s logical until you look at the following: (a). This is the highest posted total in history of college football. Now I don’t know that for a fact, but I do know that, since 2006, the highest posted total was 83; just guessing here but I highly doubt any of those “three yards and a cloud of dust” games bak in teh day were touching the 80s. It’s so high that I side with the odds-maker here even if it seems unrelaistic.; (b). The three 80+ totals since 2006 have gone over the total in regulation. See trust the odds-makers!; (c). The arrogance of both offenses dictate that neither would consider a style of play to “keep the opposing offense off the field.”; (d). weather will not be a factor; (e). These teams are ranked #1 and #3 in yards per play; (f). Both teams are in the upper tier (#26 and #33 in the NCAA) of “yards per point”, an offensive efficiency stat. One of the main reasons they’re are not higher is that both defenses are so bad that the offenses rarely start with great field position, therefore, 80 yard drive for seven points is deemed less efficient than a 50 yard drive for seven points.; and (g). The tempo of this game figures to be in the 170-180 play range, which calculates on the low end to 90.5 points and 96.5 points on the high end.

Good enough for me.

Play: Over 87.5

Cincinnati (-5.0 O/U 40.5) @ Connecticut – The “third game flat” rule applies here as UCONN has won back-to-back games against Pittsburgh and Louisville. The latter was a emotional, overtime win, therefore, the Huskies are spent. Let’s throw in the fact that I think Cincinnati is the best in the Big East and it makes this game a no-brainer.

Play: Cincinnati -5.0

Oklahoma (-6.0 O/U 60.0) @ TCU– How disgusted do you think former OU greats like Dewey Selmon, Lee Roy Selmon, the Boz, Tommie Harris and Roy Williams are with this watered down, sissy version of the Sooners defense? And is there anything better than curmudgeonly old former players bitching about how “if they were playing, this type of thing would never happen!” I love to drop the 2012 Oregon Ducks back in the 70s or 80s and watch them run circles around those slow footed, smallish defenders. Now that would be entertaining.

Anyway somehow the Sooners, with the great defensive minds of the Stoops’ brothers, have allowed 97 points in the previous two games. The last time that happened was during the very forgettable John Blake era when they accomplished the feat in back-to-back seasons. The biggest difference between then and now, is the Sooners were expected to lose big in those games. Now they’re still winning but getting gashed worse than an emo with a fresh supply of razor blades.

Now I ask you – can you trust a team that allows points by the bushel? No, you can’t. Because just when you exhale after OU takes a 10 point lead, that seems like you’re in the clear, TCU will take four plays to cut the margin back to three.

Plus, two more points for TCU – 1. The number seems light to me, so again I will side, and root, with the house; and 2. I can TCU springing an upset here because the most recent bowl projections have OU playing Oregon. Not one player on that starting defense wants any part of the Ducks.

Play: TCU +6.0

Best of luck this week, it’s 10 minutes until the bookies “break time”!

Note: I use the LVH Lines from vegasinsider.com.

CFB – Week 12 “Seven Out”

Northwestern @ Michigan State (-7.5, O/U 45.0) – It’s official, Sparty and me are done. Yup, I woke up one day to the realization they had really let themselves go, coupled that with the fact they never reciprocated my love for them and that was that. In hindsight, we were doomed to fail from beginning with countless letdowns leading the burning of cash.

The reality for the Spartans is their high end talent is no longer in “let’s leave it on the field and win the Big Ten” mode, instead they’re in “let’s not get hurt prior to the end of the season, so we are ready for the combine” mode. The rest of the team simply isn’t very good or at very best is average for the conference. Plus, they haven’t played a game outside of four point margin of victory since beginning of Big Ten play, why should I trust them giving more than a touchdown.

The only concern over Northwestern covering is how they have been unable to finish games. In their three losses lead late in the 4th quarter, yet in each of those games they went into “come one Northwestern get off your knees, you are blowing the game” mode. Against Penn State they blew a 10 point 4th quarter lead in Happy Valley, at home against Nebraska they lost by one point on virtually the final play.

And last week they Wildcats found a way to lose a game where they had possession of the ball with 23 seconds remaining and the ball at the Michigan 49. Somehow, the managed to merely net 11 yards on the punt, which was seemingly a great play compared to giving up 53 pass completion on the next play. Of course, they lost in overtime.

Taking away the Penn State 4th quarter and the last few seconds against Nebraska and Michigan leaves the Wildcats undefeated. If that were true, what’s the spread in this game? Nowhere near 7.5. Which means there is value on Wildcats.

Play: Northwestern +7.5


Stanford @ Oregon (-20.5, O/U 66.0) – In last week’s Oregon/Cal, I dozed off for about 15 minutes right after Cal scored a touchdown to close within seven points of the Ducks. When I awoke, I was like “Is that a, a 52? No way, you are still sleeping; you are having a nightmare, wake up and look again! WTF happened? 52 points, only 17 points!” At that point, I was holding out hope for a backdoor cover, but I literally could not believe how fast the Ducks play, run, score and run. Goodness, they’re scary! Did I mention that the Ducks can run really fast?

For this game we have comparative recent odds that suggest Oregon should be a 30-34 point favorite. While that is outrageous and would never be posted without the Cardinal getting hit harder than “Little Bill’s wife in Boogie Nights, the posted line seems too low. This tells me that odds makers, who have been taking in the backside the past couple of weeks, are taking a position on this game. Essentially what that means is that the odds-makers like their side (Stanford) and are willing gamble on the game.

Being on the side of the odds-makers in a game with significant lopsided action means either one of two things – 1. The bookies are really, really smart and they know something the rest of us don’t; or 2. They simply fix the game. Either way, I think I will side with the house.

Play: Stanford +20.5

Minnesota @ Nebraska (-20.5, O/U 53) – So, I got dropped by a half point last week when the Huskers kicked a field goal with 18 seconds left in the game, which sparked a heated debate between me and a buddy of mine. Of course, I was biased, but I maintain that there is a better chance of losing the game by kicking the field goal, than merely going for the first down on 4th and 1. Here is my logic:

  1. Do you really want to put the game in the hands of a kicker, long snapper and some snot nosed kid whose main job is to tutor the “athletes” on the team and for that he also gets to be the holder on field goals? Or do you put the game in the hands of your best player, Taylor Martinez? Read that again, I just called Taylor Martinez the best player on the team, yikes!
  2. The Huskers had already successfully converted three straight first downs with one yard to go. Now I am no sabermetrician but I think 100% is pretty good. Ballgame if they covert.
  3. Not only is there a chance that the field goal is blocked and returned for a touchdown, but also kicker could simply miss the kick, which leaves you in a worse position than simply going for the one yard. Even if the FG has an 80% chance of being good and only a 1% chance of being blocked, I would rather not take that chance, when I have 100% chance (same sample size, but still) on converting the first down via power run.
  4. And if you felt like the Penn State defense was due for a stop, why not roll out Martinez, after a fake dive to the tailback, have him run for the first down. If he feels he can’t make the first down then throw the ball a mile in the air and out of bounds. Sure that is risky, but dammit Bo, we didn’t want to cover that spread!

I stared in disbelief at how this Husker team continues to fall behind, yet finds a way to not only win but also cover the spread. And what a way to cover, down 14, rally to take a 4 point lead, get a gift call that eliminates a Penn State touchdown, a safety and the ill fated field goal. I am snake-bit when picking this team.

Therefore, let’s go with the total this week – expect the Huskers to be somewhat flat, especially on defense this week and Minnesota has some talent on offense. Oh and I’ve seen the Gophers play defense. Ovah!

Play: Over 53.0

BYU (-3.0, O/U47.0) @ San Jose State – BYU failed to cover the first game after their alum Mitt Romney blew the presidential election. And yeah he blew it, given where Obama’s approval rating two years ago, he had a cake walk and pulled an Alabama. So, doom on you BYU for not preparing Romney to close the deal.

Play: San Jose State +3.0

USC (-3.5, 66.5) @ UCLA – My employer – yeah, believe it or not I do not make my living from these college plays – has finally decided that the cost of operating six different buildings to house employees is outweighed by the chance an employee might take a lunch hour to pick up groceries for the week and decided to institute a full-time work from home program. Welcome to the 21st century, fellas! Also we should welcome the managers to a whole new process called “managing”! You see a properly managed employee should be able to work on the moon, right? Right!

Anyway, the name of the program is aptly called “inTouch” which has three tracks – 1. inMotion (no set workspace, but remote office work four times a week and one from home); 2. inOffice (in the office five days a week, no exceptions!); and 3. inHome (full time at home, with office visits only when customer meetings require you to have a face-to-face or you need to sneak in a quickie with an inOffice co-worker). I have proposed a fourth track called “the Trojan” named after the USC Trojans, where you essentially show up when you feel like it.

I think this is a week they decide to show up.

Play: USC -3.5

Central Florida @ Tulsa (-1.5, O/U 56.0) – As I yo-yo back and forth each week from 3-4 and 4-3 it occurred to me that I need to implement some of the same rules I have for the NFL. One such example would be “don’t back a quarterback who thinks the world is against his college, on the road with nothing to play for when the opposing team is fighting for the conference championship.” In other words, don’t back a shaky quarterback on the road. I feel into that trap last weekend with Penn State’s quarterback Matt McGloin, who took to the microphone after the game to deliver one of the whiniest, bitchiest, most victimized post-game interviews I ever heard in my life. Now that is a sure sign that a QB is shaky and cannot be trusted. Oh and listen up, Matty , you had the opportunity to leave but you chose to stay, if you failed to realize during decision making process that there would be some, understandable, backlash at what was essentially an entire cultish community supporting a monster, well then you’re not very smart and you deserve to have the refs biased against the Lions. And if you did realize there would be “hell to pay”, then STFU and play for your dream college, then get job as a grad assistant, where can walk in on a child being sodomized and do nothing about it.

What does that have to do with this game, you ask? Well, two things, first off, I don’t feel I have taken enough shots at Penn State and secondly, I backed a shaky quarterback from UCF earlier in the year on an under bet and he single handedly killed the prospect of the game going over. So, the pick is Tulsa, right? Nope. I’ve seen massive growth in Bortles.

Well, I’ve seen enough growth to know he is slightly above shaky and his UCF supporting cast is much better than that of Tulsa. This is a great matchup for UCF, plus they have revenge from a home loss to Tulsa last season.

Play: Central Florida +1.5

Arkansas @ Mississippi State (-5.5, O/U 55.5) – It seems as though when a team starts strong, they tend to get a longer leash on line adjustment when things go south. The opposite is true of a team that is up and down throughout the early part of the season. And even though both example teams have the same record, the edge still goes to the strong start team.

The Bulldogs are an example of this, as the 7-0 promising start to the season has gone up in flames with a three game losing streak, yet they’re still giving Arkansas points. Albeit the Bulldogs have played LSU, A&M and Alabama, but they weren’t competitive in any of those games.

The Razorbacks have a significant edge in overall talent, but they have been terribly inefficient causing the inconsistencies in their results. Though you can’t trust teams like that when giving points, they can be good when getting points. You know the whole “disrespect” thing.

Here is a story that I will tell from personal experience – I was on a team that started the season 7-1, however, it was a bit of a mirage as our final three games were against the top three teams in a very competitive conference. The morale on the team was high going into the first of the three games, but we lost, and we lost again. Then we got drilled 34-7. We never recovered and ended up losing in the playoffs to a team we had beaten soundly earlier in the year. To this day, I still believe had we mixed those three games into our schedule at various non-consecutive points, we would have gone further.

There you have it – Arkansas outright winner!

Play: Arkansas +5.5

Best of luck this week, Colin is calling a winning week this week of no less than 5-2 or your money back!

Note: I use the LVH Lines from vegasinsider.com.