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Boise State gets much of their hype from their Blue Turf in Boise, but the value in betting this team is clearly on the road. The last three seasons the Broncos are 13-4 ATS away from home with 12 of those 13 games resulting in straight up wins. After dominating Georgia in Atlanta in week one the Broncos had a bye last week. With only Tulsa on deck at home next week there is no looking past the improved Rockets. Chris Peterson is terrific when given extra time to prepare. In his six years in Idaho Boise State is 3-1 ATS in season openers and 4-1 ATS in bowl games. Because the Broncos have what many consider a weak schedule from here on out they need to look especially impressive when playing in front of the National TV cameras. Boise State beat Toledo last year 57-14 at home as a favorite of 38 1/2 points. Now they are laying as of this writing 18 1/2 points less with the change in location. That's way too much value to not play the Broncos here. Keep in mind that only once last year were they favored by 20 points or less on the road, and now to do so against a MAC school is even more ridiculous. In our opinion Boise State and Alabama are the two best teams in the country. If the Tide or for that matter Oklahoma were playing this week at Toledo do you really think they would be only a 20 point favorite?
LSU has defeated Mississippi State 11 straight times, including five in a
row in Starkville. Has anything changed?
The Bulldogs are more competitive, but the gap still isn't this narrow.
LSU is traveling on a short week, but the Tigers had a walkover last week
romping past Northwestern State, 49-3. The Tigers couldn't quite cover the
mammoth 48-point spread, but they did get to rest some of their regulars.
Mississippi State wasn't as fortunate. The Bulldogs lost 41-34 to a
rebuilding Auburn team after getting stuffed on the goal line at the end of
Let's compare schedules. LSU had a cupcake last week, but defeated Oregon,
40-27, in its opener. Mississippi State has been fortunate to play a
horrendous Memphis team. The Tigers lost by 44 points last week to Arkansas
State, a Sun Belt Conference team.
So the Bulldogs are stepping way up in class. Vick Ballard is an outstanding
all-purpose back, but the Bulldogs haven't seen a defense with this kind of
speed and could be missing two key senior offensive linemen, center Quentin
Saulsberry and left tackle James Carmon. They both were hurt against Auburn.
LSU, of course, is without suspended quarterback Jordan Jefferson. However,
Jarrett Lee is the better passer. The Tigers are more diversified with Lee
The Tigers have covered 61 percent of the time as an SEC road favorite under
Mississippi State hasn't been a money-making home club going 20-31 ATS in
Starkville the last nine seasons. The Bulldogs are 4-15 ATS against LSU.
Total OVER 42.5 Points
The Bears come out onto Soldier Field on Sunday to face the upstart Seahawks in what should be a very interesting game. The last time these two sides met was in Week 6, Seattle was coming off a bye week but had been blown out in its only two previous road games. Using a pattern of blitz schemes which helped lead to six sacks of Jay Cutler, the Seahawks beat Chicago 23-20. Seattle didn't commit a turnover against a Bears defense which finished tied for third in the NFL with 35 takeaways.
The Bears will be looking for revenge this Sunday and will be all out to get it, the loss to the Seahawks came during a 1-3 stretch as they struggled to find offensive rhythm. The Bears went 0 for 12 on third down and ran only 14 times - two on scrambles by Cutler - for 61 yards. Matt Forte and Chester Taylor combined for 12 carries and 42 yards. Cutler completed only 17 of 39 passes for 290 yards - 67 on one completion to Johnny Knox., The Bears followed that defeat with a loss to Washington before having its bye week, then went on to win five straight and seven of eight to win the NFC North and a secure a first-round bye. The Bears' pass-oriented attack took a more balanced approach over the final nine games, with 258 rushing attempts and 276 passes. The Bears rushed for more than 100 yards only twice in their first seven games, but they eclipsed that mark in eight of their last nine. Forte averaged 119.7 yards from scrimmage and 5.8 per carry over the final six. Cutler will be making his playoff debut as Chicago makes its first playoff appearance in four seasons, when it last had a first-round bye after the 2006 season. The Bears beat the Seahawks 27-24 in overtime on their way to the Super Bowl, which they lost 29-17 to Indianapolis. Seattle has lost all seven of its road playoff games since winning its first one, 27-20 over Miami on Dec. 31, 1983.
Seattle again has the underdog tag heading into this match and are looking to win their first road playoff game in more than 27 years, The Seahawks won the NFC West with an awful 7-9 record , beat the rams to get into the playoffs and last weekend beat last seasons Superbowl champs the Saints 41-36 behind four touchdown passes from Matt Hasselbeck. And a great rushing contribution from Marshawn Lynch whose 67-yard touchdown run sealed last week's win over the Saints, He rushed 17 times for 44 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown, while Mike Williams caught 10 passes for 123 yards.
Head to head and these sides have faced off 4 times in Chicago since 1992, The Bears are 2-2 against the Seahawks and are 2-2 ATS when facing the Seahawks, 3 of those 4 matches have resulted in over the set total, Only one time have these two sides met in the past 3 seasons in Chicago with the Seahawks winning 23-20 and of course the game ending over the set total.
As amazing as this might sound both sides averaged the same scoring wise this season with either side scoring 20 ppg on seasons averages, on defence though and things change quite a bit with the Bears allowing 17 ppg compared to the Seahawks 26 ppg, The Seahawks total yardage on seasons average is actually more with them gaining per game 304 total yards on offence compared to the Bears 289 total offensive yards. On defence total yardage though and the Seahawks allow 374 total yards compared to the Bears 314.
The Bears have some interesting trends also on their trend sheet, here's a couple, The Bears are 10-3 on the overs in their last 13 January matches and are 6-1 on the overs in their last 7 playoff matches. The Bears also in their last 3 matches have averaged 27 ppg and are 2-1 on the overs in their last 3 matches. The Seahawks trend sheet depicts this game as an over type of game, here's some trend information on the Seahawks totals, The Seahawks are 7-0 on the overs as an underdog lined between 3-9 points and are 12-4 on the overs in their last 16 matches overall. Seahawks matches on Grass have resulted in 10-3 on the overs, 7-1 on the overs in their last 8 matches when facing a team with a winning record, 5-0 when facing a team with a winning record in the second half of the season and in Seahawk matches the total has been over in 11 of the last 13 when in this situation. On this season the Seahawks are 12-4 on the overs, 6-2 on the overs when playing away this season2-1 on the overs in their last 3 matches and 10-3 on the overs in their last 13 matches played on grass.
Believe it or not the Seahawks are a chance here against a Bears side who have been getting some great results this season but who also have come up with some shocking performances this season as well. The Bears are 0-2 straight up in their last 2 matches after a bye and although the Seahawks have had an awful season they are here and have now gained some much needed confidence heading into this match, they may of beaten both the Rams and Saints at home but no one thought they would win either game and they did so quite convincingly really in the end, Consider this also, the Bears have allowed over 220 yards through the air in 3 of their last 4 matches and in their last 3 home matches the Bears have allowed 105 rushing yards against the Eagles and 293 passing yards, 398 yards total on defence, however they did win 31-26, and it gets worse than that, 2 home games ago against the Patriots they allowed 124 rushing yards and 351 passing yards for a total of 475 total yards allowed on defence losing 7-36 and in their last home match against the Jets the bears allowed again 124 rushing yards and 269 passing yards for a total of 393 total yards allowed but again the Bears won 38-34.
Matt Hassleback is no slouch and he will find some open receivers in this game and I’m expecting the Seahawks to score at least 2 TD’s with perhaps 2 FG’s with a total for themselves between 17 -20 points, however the Bears behind Cutler can and will score and I expect them to score 3 TD’s with a winning FG or TD to seal the game, it won’t be easy and the Seahawks I fell will be ready for this match, Who will win? I have a feeling that the Bears will sneak home but the Seahawks will cover the start and the total will wind up north of the total set….Good Luck.
NY Jets + 9 ( Spread ) vs. NE Patriots (Jan 16, 2011)
Everyone remembers the Patriots destroying the Jets on a Monday night just a few weeks ago, 45-3. So naturally, a majority of the public is lining up to bet on New England. If only it was as easy as looking at that game or looking at Tom Brady vs. Mark Sanchez. But it is not that easy.
Remember, the Patriots only opened up as a 3.5-point favorite in that game. And because of that result, we're now looking at a line of anywhere from 8.5 to 10. That sure looks like value to me.
I expect the Jets to use the same formula they used to beat the Colts last weekend; run the ball with Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson, chew up clock, shorten the game, keep Brady and the Patriots offense off the field as much as possible, and keep the score close heading into the 4th quarter.
The X-factor here is WR/KR Brad Smith. Smith is listed as "probable" with a groin injury. The Jets need Smith's explosiveness in the return game as well as the "Wildcat" package.
The Patriots defense has definitely been playing better lately. But let's not forget, they have a young secondary and this is their first taste of NFL playoff football. Simply put, they can be had.
Bottom line: Motivation will not be a problem for either team, as these division rivals just flat out hate each other. Having said that, I always like taking the team that got blown out the last time, as that should serve to ensure that the entire team gives max effort for the full 60 minutes this time around.
And remember, the Jets did beat the Patriots 28-14 earlier in the season. Do I expect the Jets to win this game? No, but I do expect this to be a closely contested game. And that makes the Jets at +9 a definite play for me.
PIT Steelers - 3 ( Spread ) vs. BAL Ravens (Jan 15, 2011)
The Steelers have won the last six installments of one of the NFL's fiercest rivalries when Ben Roethlisberger has played, a trend they'll hope to continue when the Ravens travel to Heinz Field for Saturday's AFC Divisional showdown. Ben Roethlisberger had his nose broken by Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata in Week 13.and has admitted he doesn't exactly look forward to facing Baltimore. But the two-time Super Bowl winner has certainly done his part when facing the Ravens, Roethlisberger has thrown 10 TD passes in winning six straight versus Baltimore.
Meanwhile for the Ravens their QB Joe Flacco is the first quarterback to start and win a playoff game in each of his first three seasons but has not fared so well against Pittsburgh. He's thrown six touchdowns and seven interceptions while posting a 69.5 rating in seven meetings. However he does hold some hope and this season Flacco is the NFL's second highest-rated passer (103.4) since Week 3, trailing only Tom Brady. Sunday's win was Baltimore's fourth away from home in the postseason since Flacco took over as a rookie in 2008, and the Ravens have reason to be confident Saturday despite Pittsburgh being rested. From 1990-2004, home teams were 49-11 in the divisional round. Since 2005, they're just 10-10. The Ravens didn't have much trouble against the Chiefs, forcing five turnovers and winning 30-7 at Kansas City on Sunday.
Pittsburgh and Baltimore both finished 12-4 in the regular season and scored 27 points apiece in their two meetings, each winning by a field goal on the other's home field. Five of the seven meetings over the past 28 months have been decided by three points, one by four and the other nine - that courtesy of Troy Polamalu's late interception return in the 2009 AFC championship game that sent the Steelers to their seventh Super Bowl.
Head to Head and since 1992 the Steelers have won 20 of 31 matches between the two sides, the Steelers are also 17-13 ATS in those matches,18 of the 31 matches have ended over the set total. 17 of those matches have been played in Pittsburgh with the Steelers winning 12 of those matches and are also 8-8 ATS when facing the Ravens in their last 17 home matches. Total wise and 10 of the 17 matches have ended over the total. In the last 3 seasons these two sides have met in Pittsburgh 5 times with the Steelers winning 4 to the Ravens 1, The Ravens are 2-1 ATS in those matches while 2 of those most recent matches here finished over the set total.
I'm not going to put too much stock in what we saw from the Ravens at KC last weekend. The Chiefs were a team that had been reeling for weeks and when that 4th and 1 in the first half failed, the wheels quickly came of the wagon. I've said this on numerous podcasts this week, but the Ravens have no skill position players that the Steelers D fears. Ray Rice comes the closest, but even he is not having his best season. Both Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason lack the speed that would typically strike fear in an opposing D, and with the Steelers #1 run D and #1 red zone D, I simply don't see how the Ravens can score enough points to win or cover in this game.
The Steelers and Ravens match up well against each other with the Steelers average scoring on the season being 23.4 points with the Ravens being 22.8 ppg, Defence wise and either side gives up little with the Steelers allowing a paltry 14ppg compared to the Ravens 16ppg. Loking through both sides offence and defence and again it is similar, The Steelers rush per game for 120 ypg compared to the Ravens 116 ypg, through the air and the Steelers average 225 ypg compared to the Ravens 210. The Steelers average 345 total yards on offence while the ravens average 19 yards less with 326. On defence and again the Steelers shade the Ravens, the Steelers allow 62 yards on the ground per game while the Ravens allow 94, both sides are equal against the pass with the Steelers on seasons averages allowing 214 yards the same as the Ravens season average of 214 passing yards per game, The Steelers allow per game on seasons averages 276 total yards compared to the Ravens 309.
A few things on the Ravens trends sheet stand out , here they are, The Ravens are 4-4 ATS in games played in January as well as 4-2 ATS in their last 6 playoff matches, they are 10-8 ATS after winning their previous 2 matches, 6-1 ATS in road games when the Total is set at this mark today, However the Ravens are also 2-3 in their last 5 matches when facing a team with a winning record in the second half of the season and are 12-14 in their last 16 when facing a team with a winning record and the big one for me is that the Ravens are 6-9 when revenging a loss against an opponent.
The same can be said of a few things on the Steelers trend sheet, The Steelers are 5-1 versus division opponents in their last 6 when faced with that situation, they are 4-0 when coming off a bye, 4-0 in their last 4 January games, 3-0 in their last 3 playoff games, 10-4 when playing a team with a winning record in the second half of the season and are 19-7 in their last 26 home matches.
GS Warriors - 3.5 ( Spread ) vs. LA Clippers ( Jan 14, 2011 )
Golden State Warriors meet at home tonight Los Angeles Clippers like a small favorite with 3.5 points.The Warriors are hope for revenge game tonight after two losses against LA squads in their last two games.First they was beated in LA against the Clippers and after that at home lost against the Lakers.
The Clippers are clearly an improved team of late and they enter tonight's game on a rare 3-game winning streak. With Blake Griffin delivering "highlight reel dunks" on a nightly basis, they're also getting a fair amount of play on "sports center" and other sports/news programs. Given the added TV time and the fact that they just pulled off a big upset win over Miami, many are starting to believe that this team is the "real deal." In my opinion, that's caused them to be slightly over-valued here.
While the Clippers do have some decent young talent, a closer look reveals that the majority of their success has come at home and that they're still a poor 3-11 on the road. Note that two of those wins came by a single point and that two of them came at Detroit and at Sacramento. (Neither the Kings, nor the Pistons, currently has a winning record at home.) Tonight, they'll be up against a team which has "quietly" been playing very well at home.
The Warriors did lose their last game here. However, that was against the Lakers. They only lost by five though and they played well. With sure the Warriors are much better team when played at home and they should to use that advantage to beat the Clippers getting revenge for that lost 5 days ago.The Warriors played well at home when the Clippers visited.The Clippers are 2-8 ATS in the last 10 meetings in Golden State. Golden State are in good form posted 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games overall.This season they was played already at home with LA Clippers and beat them with 109:91.The Clippers are with more missing players,while for Golden State only Reggie Williams will miss this game...
Prior to the loss vs. the Lakers, the Warriors had won three straight games here. Those victories came by an average of greater than 13 points. They're 11-8 their last 19 here, including 9-7 this season.
While they lost at LA, the Warriors have dominated the Clippers here at LA. They beat them by double-digits here already this season and are 9-1 SU the last 10 times that they hosted the Clippers. Note that ALL nine of those victories came by a minimum of six points and that they came by an average of 13.9 points. In other words, they haven't been close.
The Clippers are an ugly 24-41 ATS the past 65 times that they had won their previous three games. That includes a 2-4 ATS (1-5 SU) record their last six in that situation. With the O/U line having climbed above the 200 mark, note that they're also 5-10 ATS (2-13 SU) the last few seasons, when playing a road game with an O/U line of 210 or greater.
The Warriors are 7-4 ATS (8-3 SU) when laying points this season. They're also a lucrative 50-33 ATS the last few seasons, when playing a home game with an O/U line of 210 or greater. I expect them to improve on those stats here.
SA Spurs - 3 ( Spread ) vs. MIL Bucks ( Jan 12, 2011 )
San Antonio Spurs have recovered after their mini slump in form against Boston and New York and got back to business by playing better defensively and have now won 3 on the trot. They have limited their opponents to an average of under 93 points per game in this 3 game winning streak and will continue to play similarly against the Bucks in this one.
In the first game of the series the Spurs won by 2, but after playing well last night in Minnesota led by Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, the team look like they are going to dominate the game tonight as well.
The Bucks will continue to be without Delfino, Jennings and Gooden, with Andrew Bogut also a major doubt due to a viral infection and could not have been helped with the travel to cold weather in Atlanta and travelling back for a game 24 hrs later. Additionally, the team hasn't played for 2 days, and this might hamper their performance tonight.
Spurs should win this one, as their bench has started producing quite well behind Bonner, Neal and Hill with defensive play from McDeyess will definitely help them win.
I love the fact that these teams have already met, with the Spurs winning by just 2 points at home. That win last month will ensure that they are focused heading into tonight. Just like the game Spurs played yesterday against the Timber wolves, Spurs was not able to cover the spread when they visited Minn last time. Sometimes the road favorite is the side with VALUE. Based on the specific situations tonight, i believe the Spurs are the ONLY side you could back here tonight.
Pick: Portland Trail Blazers (-3.5) vs. NY Knicks ( Jan 11, 2011 )
The New York Knicks have been a pleasant surprise this season; the Portland Trail Blazers, meanwhile, have been a surprising disappointment. The two teams will square off on NBA odds on Tuesday night. Sportsbook.com has made Portland a 3.5-point favorite.
New York Knicks at Portland Trail Blazers – Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. ET
Portland (20-18, 19-17-2 ATS) is coming off a 107-100 overtime loss to the Miami Heat. Despite the defeat, the Trail Blazers remain a rock-solid 4-2 in their past six games, including a 4-2 record against the spread (though they failed to cover against Miami).
Certainly, the most impressive player of the bunch has been LaMarcus Aldridge. The big man is averaging career highs in scoring (20.5 points per game) and rebounding (8.8 rebounds per game), but he’s been ever better over the last month or so. In Aldridge’s last 13 games, he’s shooting 53 percent from the field while putting up 26.3 points and 10.8 boards per game. He’s posted at least 25 points and 10 boards in six straight games. Aldridge finished with 31 points and 14 rebounds against the Heat.
His efforts have been crucial with Brandon Roy sidelined. Thanks to a knee injury, the star guard hasn’t played since Dec. 15—a span of 12 games. To make matters worse, his left knee injury has begun affecting his right knee thanks to overcompensation. Roy isn’t expected back in the lineup anytime soon.
New York (21-15, 23-12-1 ATS) had a three-game winning streak snapped with Sunday’s 109-87 loss to the Lakers. It was New York’s fourth loss in its last five road games. The Knicks also failed to cover, dropping to 2-3 ATS in their past five games.
Ray Felton’s struggles continued. Felton has been one of the biggest and best surprises in the league this season, but he’s looked a little worn down over the past few weeks. He scored just 12 points against the Lakers, the sixth time in his last 10 games he’s scored 15 or fewer points. It’s especially disappointing since Felton was coming off his first career triple-double (23 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds in a 121-96 win over Phoenix).
The Knicks elected to give forward Shawne Williams his first start of the season against L.A. It didn’t work out. Williams hit just two of his seven field goals and finished with eight points and three rebounds in 35 minutes. To be fair, nobody on the Knicks shot particularly well against Los Angeles, as New York hit just 36 percent of its field goals.
Portland has won seven of its last 10 games against the Knicks, but New York is a very strong 6-3-1 ATS in those games. They met in late October, with Portland winning 100-95 on the road (the game was a push). The total has gone under in two of the last three games between the Knicks and Blazers; Sportsbook.com has set the total for Tuesday’s game at 202.5 points.
ORL Magics - 4.5 ( Spread ) vs. DAL Mavericks ( Jan 8, 2011 )
The Orlando Magic are in the middle of an 8 game winning streak and are looking to continue on building that form as they head into a game with the struggling Dallas Mavericks who have lost their first and third leading scorer through injuries.
Without Caron Butler and Dirk Nowitzki in the line up, the team have lost 3 out of their last 5 games and things are not looking promising, with no big ready to step up to the plate to deliver a performance. Shawn Marion has stepped up his numbers in lieu of the injuries, but they are missing the range that Nowitzki brings by drawing out defenders to the perimeter and than making a move on them.
Orlando on the other hand are flying well with the signings that they have made. Turkoglu has shown the signs of the player he was when the Magic reached the 08-09 finals. Along with scoring prowness of Richardson, Arenas and co-captains Howard and Nelson, the team look like a devastating one, who can battle for Eastern Conference honors along with Miami and Boston.
The Magic should win in this fixture as they look to extending their winning streak of 8 games to 9 tonight.
NY Knicks + 2.5 ( Spread ) vs. PHX Suns ( Jan 7, 2011 )
The final game of this evening is going to be played between D'Antoni's Knicks and his former team of the Suns. The Knicks seem to be having a much better record than the Suns who have struggled recently to create any impact since the trade happened 3 weeks ago.
The Suns are looking to keep things extremely tight defensively, but when you try to do that against a team like the Knicks, you are asking for trouble from their permimeter players. The Knicks are the team attempting 2nd highest 3 point shots in the league and when you play an in-out game with Amare, that leaves 4 shooters wide open for the bucket.
The Suns used to play the high octane offense until Amare left, and so did Richardson as well. The scoring of the Suns isn't as explosive as before, Vince Carter prefers the outside shot in his veteran years. Nash is moving into a more playmaking role rather than a scoring role, which also limits his effectiveness.
In the Knicks you got Amare, and we know that all his numbers are up from a year ago with the Suns when they made the West finals. Felton has shown to be a quality player running this ball club as well as scoring. And then you got the shooters and supporting cast of Chandler, Douglas, Williams, Galliniari and Turiaf, who give you solid play in solid minutes.
Overall the Knicks look that they will get the better of the Suns in this first match up of the new Knicks era.
with the 'Sixth Sense' from SixthSenseSports.
Author: Paul Hogan and Joey Su
Paul Hogan is a sportsbook manager at MGM Mirage in Vegas.
Joey Su is an amateur writer based in Shanghai, China. His game preview articles published on ESPN's Blog are very popular.
Updated 1.30 AM EST, Sunday 2 January, 2011
NY JETS -1.5 Buffalo 39.5
Jets will play their starters but for how long is the question. Also, some starters who are banged up may or may not play. The Jets have lost three of four games and the defense hasn抰 played terrific as of late so I am sure Rex Ryan wants to tighten up the defense some. For Buffalo, Ryan Fitzpatrick will be a game time decision, which would mean Brian Brohm would start if Fitzpatrick can't play. The Bills are also hurting at wide receiver as well as injuries have hit them hard the last few weeks.
The Jets qualify in a last game situation, which is 24-3-0. Numbers would favor them by nine points if the starters were playing and predict about 44 points. I will lean with the Jets and if I had a better idea on the starters would even consider playing them at this short number. NY JETS 24 BUFFALO 13
ATLANTA -14 Carolina 41
Atlanta lost at home to NO last week and now needs this win to secure the number one seed in the NFC. Carolina was blown out at Pittsburgh last Thursday, 27-3. They allowed the Steelers to throw for 8.4yps while managing just 1.7yps themselves.
Carolina qualifies in a contrary situation, which is 157-80-6, including 44-15-1 if our team is a double digit dog. They also qualify in a situation that plays against double digit favorites coming off a loss, which is 46-19-0. Both of those situations have done well this year and are 4-1 when the same team applies to both this year. Numbers favor Atlanta by 13.5 points and predict about 41 points. Atlanta has struggled to run the ball lately, averaging just 3.4ypr last week, only 2.6ypr the week before at Seattle and just 3.5ypr the week before that at Carolina in their 31-10 win over Carolina. Carolina actually averaged 7.6ypr in that game, totaling 212 yards but couldn抰 throw the ball at all in the game. Not sure I can take Carolina in this game but would never want Atlanta in this type of game. Two years ago, Atlanta needed a last week win over the Rams and were laying 14 points and won 31-27. That Rams team that won only two games, much like Carolina this year. ATLANTA 27 CAROLINA 16
St Louis -3 SEATTLE 41.5
The Rams defeated SF last week at home 25-17 but were out gained in that game 5.6yppl to 5.1yppl. Seattle was throttled at TB 38-15 and out gained 7.8yppl to 3.3yppl. Matt Hasselbeck left that game after two drives with his team leading 7-0. He averaged 6.0yps on the four passes he threw before leaving with an injury, which was much better than the 3.2yps Charlie Whitehurst averaged.
If St. Louis is favored by 3.5 or more points, they would qualify in a negative last game situation, which is 49-23-1 and plays against them here. Numbers favor Seattle by one point and predict about 44 points but that assumes Hasselbeck plays. He actually threw some passes in practice today and may play. If Whitehurst starts I have to lean to St. Louis. If Hasselbeck starts, I would feel much better about Seattle. Seattle has lost every game this year by at least 15 points. And, they lost at the Rams earlier this year 20-3. Adding to that, the only wins they have had in the last 12 weeks have been over Arizona twice and Carolina once. With that said, they have beaten the average teams at home as they also defeated SF in the first game 31-6. Meanwhile, the Rams are 2-5 SU on the road this year with a three point win over Denver and a 19-6 win over Arizona. The Rams have been much more competitive but that hasn't added up to wins on the road against a bunch of average to below average teams. But, I need Hasselbeck to play to even consider Seattle. SEATTLE 21 ST LOUIS 20 (with Hasselbeck) ST LOUIS 20 SEATTLE 13 (Without Hasselbeck)
San Diego -3.5 DENVER 47
SD was knocked out of the playoffs with their loss at Cincinnati last week. Assuming both teams are playing hard, my numbers favor SD by 11 points and predict about 48 points. Denver is playing better with Tebow at quarterback but they are still horrible on defense and are hurting there with injuries again this week. SD has injuries of their own on offense but should be able to put some points on the board. SAN DIEGO 31 DENVER 23
There are two items that need to be mastered before one can become a successful long-term punter. The first is the art of making positive expectation bets. The second is proper money management. Money management will be the topic of this article because many bettors are able to make positive expectation bets without being able to realise a profit. This is an extremely frustrating proposition and is something that I would like to address today.
Generally speaking, your money management system should be able to turn a profit if you are able to pick money winners than losers. I will now examine a few different methods that claim to be able to do so.
The first system is the Martingale system. This advocates doubling up on losing bets to regain losses. There are two fundamental problems with this system. The first is house limits. Even if your bank can sustain a losing run, you will eventually hit the house limit and will not be able to wager sufficient funds to recoup your losses. The second problem is the size of your wagers. If you wager any decent amount, say 1% of your bank, a short losing run will break your bank. If you wager only small amounts, say 0.1% of your bank, your bankroll will survive the losing streak but winning 0.1% is quite a paltry amount.
There are many derivatives of the Martingale system, all of which involve some type of “lose chasing” system. All loss chasing systems will eventually fail. You cannot break the laws of mathematics, but they will certainly break you.
The next system is betting a percentage of your bankroll. This system has you wagering a fixed percentage of your bankroll, recalculating the actual amount bet after each wager. For example, suppose you have a bankroll of $1000 and you are choosing to bet 5%. If your first bet, at $50 is a winner, your next bet works out to be $52.50, or 5% of $1050.
The problem with this system is that you can still end up losing even if you have sound handicapping skills. Consider the case where you are staking 5% of your bank and you pick 101 winners and 100 losers all at even money. It’s quite obvious that a sound money management system would have you ahead. Unfortunately, betting a fixed 5% of your bank, your starting bank of $1000 would end up at $817.48. You’ve lost 20% of your bank even though you should be slightly ahead.
Be careful of those who argue that this system allows you capitalise on a “hot streak” by virtue of a compound interest effect. Yes it’s true that if you go 10-0 you will get the effects of compound interest, the so called eighth wonder of the world. However, when that losing run hits as it inevitably does, your losses are also much bigger than they should be. Similarly they argue that a losing streak does not hurt as badly because each wager is getting smaller and smaller. Once again this is a flawed argument because when you get back to your winning ways, your winning bets are also smaller than they should be.
The next wagering strategy is the very controversial Kelly criterion. This was originally designed for an engineering problem but was later adapted to sports gambling. The basic methodology behind the Kelly criterion is that the size of your wager should be in proportion to your advantage over the house. This type of strategy is popular in blackjack, where skilled counters are able to reasonably approximate their advantage.
Without getting into the mathematics of the Kelly criterion, I would like to outline several of its key features:
(a) It is a mathematical formula designed to maximise your bankroll over an infinite number of bets
(b) It is based on an underlying assumption that you are able to accurately calculate your advantage over the house
I would like to address each of these points in turn. Firstly, the Kelly criterion is designed to mathematically maximise your bankroll. Supporters of this staking plan will argue that because you are always betting a percentage of your bank, you can theoretically never lose your entire bankroll. Technically this is true. However, sometimes the Kelly criterion calls for very sizeable wagers, as much as 50% of your bankroll. Even if it is a positive expectation bet, the possibility of losing 50% of your bankroll should cause most punters to be wary. Losing half your bank is a crippling blow and it will take an enormous amount of effort to double your bankroll and get you back to your original capital.
The Kelly criterion also assumes that you can accurately calculate your advantage over the house. Unfortunately, unlike blackjack, it is almost impossible to know how much of an edge you have. The most you can know is that you have some type of advantage, quantifying it is almost impossible. For example, let’s say in a head to head match up you rate TeamA a 70% chance and TeamB a 30% chance. The bookmaker rates TeamA a 50% chance and TeamB a 50% chance. The Kelly criterion demands a large bet be placed on TeamA and you oblige. However, unbeknownst to you the bookmaker has information on TeamA to which you are not privy. Hence in this particular case you have wagered too much on TeamA and if it happens to lose, it will take many bets and a great deal of patience to regain this lost amount. There are numerous other scenarios that can cause you to wager too much and ultimately eat into your potential profits.
A relation to the Kelly criterion is the star system, where plays are rated at 1 star, 2 star, 3 star and so forth. Two star plays are generally twice as big as one star plays, three star players are generally thrice the size of one star plays and so forth. However, if 1 star plays are testing the thresholds of your bankroll, then 2 star and 3 star plays will invariably break it once a losing streak occurs.
There is also a logical fallacy in grading plays at different strengths. For simplicity let’s assume that you have two rankings, 1 star plays and 2 star plays. There are only two possible scenarios for your 1 star plays. Firstly, they’re too weak and not profitable. In this case you should not be making them at all. The second scenario is that they are profitable, in which case if you have played them all at 2 stars, then you would currently have significantly more profit.
The last method is most simplistic yet the most effective. It is the one I recommend. Flat betting involves wagering the same amount on every single game, for example $100. I would like to outline some of the strengths of this system. If you pick 21 winners and 20 losers at even money, you will come out ahead. If you have a really strong bet that loses, your bank will not be dealt a crippling blow. As an example, one time I was wagering on a tennis match where the coach of a certain player told me that the player’s shoulder was injured and would likely affect play. Very excited with this inside info, I proceeded to oppose said player in a wager. Even though I suspected I had a massive advantage, I still wagered only the same amount as usual. This was fortunate for me because the injured player managed to grind out a five set victory. I was now out of pocket by only a small amount instead of losing my house.
The American way of “flat betting” is slightly different from what I advocate. The American system sets prices by using notation such as +154, -105, +423 and so forth. +154 means you wager $100 to make $154 profit. This is the same as $2.54. –105 means you have to wager $105 to win $100. This is approximately odds of $1.95. Americans who flat bet wager a fixed amount on an underdog, say $100. However, on a favourite they will bet to win that fixed amount. So they would wager $105 at odds of –105, $170 at odds of –170 and so forth.
The main difference between the two systems is when you pay for the house edge. When you wager a fixed amount, you “eat juice” (pay the house edge) when you win. As an example let’s suppose you bet Brisbane Lions to beat the point spread at odds of $1.90. If you win, you only receive $90 from a $100 bet whereas if you had made a wager with your neighbour, you would have won $100.
On the other hand if you wager to win a fixed amount, you “eat juice” when you lose. Let’s suppose you want to win $100 and you make a wager on the Brisbane Lions to beat the point spread at odds of –110. If you win, you make a profit of $100, exactly what you would have won from your neighbour. If you lose, you lose $110 whereas your neighbour would have only taken $100 from you. It’s a very subtle difference. My personal preference is for betting the same amount on each wager.
The one caveat I would add to the flat wagering rule is that you should wager the same amount on each bet provided it does not break your bank. Awhile back I was making a tidy sum from betting on golf and tennis. With golf, the idea was to try and pick a winner from an enormous field of players. Some of my bets would be as long as 100/1. In the tennis there are only two players and odds rarely exceeded 5/1. Clearly in this case flat betting would have not been appropriate. If my golf wagers were the same size as my tennis wagers, my bank would have been destroyed a long time ago.
The last question to answer is how much should you actually bet? A conservative approach is to bet 1% of your bankroll. Professional level gambles will generally not bet more than 2%. I would now like to outline a conservative plan that will allow you to increase your bankroll by 50% a year provided you have sufficient handicapping ability.
Let’s assume that you specialise in one or two sports and are able to carefully select three wagers a day. Furthermore, let’s assume that your long term profit on turnover stands at 5%. Wagering 1% per bet, each day you should be turning over roughly 3% of your bankroll. At a 5% profit on turnover, this averages out to be an increase of 0.15% a day. Of course this will not be linear. Your bankroll will fluctuate wildly but over the course of a year, averaging a 0.15% gain per day, your bankroll should increase by 54.8% (365 x 0.15).
This article was intended as a basic primer to money management. Managing your bankroll is very simple. Stake 1% of your bankroll on each wager, never vary the size of your bet and you should be well on the path to profit. Things can get slightly more complicated but for now there is no need to delve too deeply into the topic.
Happy punting to you all!
Published by ESPN in July 2010.
Copywrite owned by Paul Hogan and Joey Su.
There seems to be a general consensus in the gambling community that a good odds compiler generates a number to balance action on both sides of a game. Apparently, with a perfectly set line, the oddsmaker generates a point spread and exactly half the money will go for one side and exactly half the money will go to the other side. The bookmaker then has a game with absolutely no risk and duly performs his function as a broker, taking money from the losers, paying money to the winners and taking his commission of 5% or so.
This is a view with which I disagree. Let’s say you were booking a coin toss, where you know the true odds of the various possible outcomes. Let’s also assume you know the public has a tendency to bet on heads. This example is not unrealistic at all because in real life the market behaves irrationally and has a tendency to unreasonably favour one side over the other. The question is, how do you frame the market for this event? Do you set odds of $1.90 heads and $1.90 tails because you know the true probability of either event is 50%? Or do you set odds of $1.8 heads and $2 tails because you know the market is going to favour heads?
Without any equivocation I would say set odds of $1.90 a side, take on all the “heads” bettors and end up with more profit in the long run. The only two reasons I would deviate from this approach would be if:
(a) My bankroll was insufficient to handle unbalanced action
(b) I was not confident enough in the accuracy of my forecast
Situation (a) can arise in several circumstances. Some bookmakers are simply undercapitalised and are run by owners seeking to make some quick money. These types of books are generally found offshore which is why you should always do your research before sending your hard earned cash overseas. It can also arise in special events such as the Super Bowl. Most power ratings that I observed had Tampa Bay level with Oakland for the 2002 Super Bowl. However, bookmakers still made Oakland the favourite because this is the side that was favoured by the public. If any bookmaker had decided to book Tampa and Oakland at $1.90 a side, then every ticket written would have been for Oakland. Consequently said bookmaker would have retired richer than Bill Gates but on the other hand an Oakland victory would have buried even the biggest bookmaking behemoths.
Situation (b) can also arise quite often. You’re booking an ATP tennis event between two guys whose names you cannot properly pronounce. Or you’re booking a 3rd division soccer match taking place on the other side of the world. Or maybe you’re setting lines for US sports when your specialty is AFL because the manager doesn’t have anyone else who can even name one player in tonight’s NBA match. In this case there is a tendency to just copy the market consensus line because, more often that not the number is reasonably good and will produce a profit in the long run.
So, although a lot of people might disagree with me I believe that the idea of balanced action is a myth propagated by undercapitalised books and books that cannot accurately generate point spreads and money lines. A competent linesmaker at a well capitalised book should set the line and be confident that the number will be able to generate maximum profits in the long run.
How does this benefit the punter? Well one of the only reasons that sports betting can be beaten is due to the presence of inaccurate lines. If posted numbers were a perfect representation of the probabilities of the various outcomes, it would be impossible to generate a long term profit. If I was betting into a number generated by a team of statisticians and sporting experts, dedicated solely to forecasting accurate probabilities, I would be very wary of trying to take them on. The reality, especially in the more obscure sports, is that you’re likely betting into a number that’s been hastily compiled, copied from another bookmaker, then bashed the wrong way by a public that consistently manages to be on the wrong side of a positive expectation bet. This is a situation that makes me a lot more comfortable. Until next time good punting!
Published by ESPN in Sep 2009.
Copywrite owned by Paul Hogan and Joey Su.
I was reading the paper recently and came across an interesting article titled “Have you got what it takes?” The article was about the characteristics required to be a successful sharemarket investor. Many of these lessons are directly applicable to sports gambling so I thought I’d extract the salient details and present a more punting oriented viewpoint.
“The qualities you see in successful investors are similar to the characteristics you see in successful people in most areas. That begins with having clear goals. They start with the big picture and work their way down to the details” – Arun Abey, executive chairman of IPAC Securities
As a punter you should be focused on long term results, not individual events. Often you’ll see punters agonising over bad line calls, poor umpiring and teams failing to cover the point spread. However, to the serious investor these details are trivial. Instead, the sports investor should be analysing their position over hundreds or even thousands of results.
“Successful investors invest time in at least understanding broadly what investment markets are about, what trade-offs there are and so on.” – Arun Abey, executive chairman of IPAC Securities
It is very important to set realistic expectations and to have at least a basic grasp of the mathematics behind sports gambling. Once you’ve dispelled such nonsense as “hot streaks” and “cold streaks” you will be much better equipped to deal with the emotional roller coaster that naturally accompanies the life of any sports gambler.
“Successful investors establish their principles and stick to them rigidly” – Jim Clegg, principal consultant with Berkley Group
Successful investors are the ones who know what they are doing. They are not interested in following the market because they have their own differentiated strategy. They are not worried about following “smart money” or looking at price movements. The strategy of course has to be a sensible one or else your money will just go toward your bookmaker’s next Ferrari.
4. Hard Yakka
“Most successful share investors undertake to get to know the companies and industries in which they’re investing” – Michael Heffernan, senior adviser at Terrain Securities
The most successful investors are the ones with the most knowledge. In team sports, they will know how to convert money lines into point spreads. For a given number, they will know what percentage of games land on that number. They will be able to calculate home ground advantage for any given team. They will keep up to date with injuries, weather, team motivation and any other factors that may affect the game. For individual sports, successful punters will be intimately acquainted with the players. Once again the punter will keep up to date with injuries, personal events, motivation, player interviews and any other factors that can affect performance.
“It’s OK to be apprehensive, but the successful investors control their fears in bad times and accept that this is part of being a long term investor” – John Aldersley, managing director of DirectPortfolio
Being a successful sports investor means coming to grips with the fact that you will lose. A lot. There will be days, weeks, months and perhaps even years where nothing seems to be working. 95% of the time your bankroll will be below its previous all time high. Unfortunately this is the nature of the business and if this is not something for which you are prepared, then do not take this on as a serious investment vehicle.
Learn the meaning of value. A lot of people say that the best value bet is a winning ticket. However a winning ticket is not necessarily a value bet. For example, in the cricket a lot of bookmakers offer odds on the result of the coin toss. Let’s say they offer odds of $1.95 each side. Further let’s assume some mug actually decides to bet on this event and wins. Even though he’s cashed a winning ticket, it is a poor value bet. For $1.95 to be value, your winning percentage has to be greater than 51.28%. Since in this case your winning percentage is only be 50%, it is a poor value bet win or lose and eventually you will go broke taking these odds.
To conclude the article I’d like to include some words of wisdom from Warren Buffett.
‘While Buffett’s not always right, he says he wants to be able to explain his mistakes – and so he never invests in anything he doesn’t understand. “Risks comes from not knowing what you’re doing” he says’
This is a philosophy with which I wholeheartedly agree. If you do not have a logical, sound reasons for every wager that you make, then it is necessary to take a step back and re-evaluate what you are doing. However, if you are confident that your strategy will work in the long run and you work diligently to apply that strategy with discipline and rigour, then maybe, just maybe your bookmaker will be paying for your next house, instead of you paying for his.
Published by ESPN in July 2010.
Copywrite owned by Paul Hogan and Joey Su.
One of the least understood concepts for new sports bettors is the concept of value. That's understandable, as many veteran bettors have trouble with the notion, as well.
Placing a bet because it offers good value does not necessarily mean you believe the team you're wagering on is going to win that particular game, especially when you're betting on an underdog on the money line.
If a team is +200 and you believe they will win 40 percent of the time, you have a good wager, even though you believe the team will lose more often than they will win.
In our example above, if the team we take at +200 wins four games out of 10, we'll show a decent profit. If we wager $100 to win $200, we will lose $100 six of the 10 times, but win $200 the other times, which will leave us with an overall profit of $200.
Those of you who bet on horse races are probably familiar with this concept, which is often referred to as an "overlay" among horse racing bettors. If a horse which should be a legitimate 3-to-1 shot goes off at odds of 5-to-1, you have an overlay, which should be a moneymaking situation over time.
The same premise works in sports handicapping when betting the money line. It doesn't necessarily have to be an underdog, either. If a good baseball team with its best pitcher is throwing against a weak team with a poor pitcher, we may see the favorite at -300. If your handicapping shows the favorite will win four out of five times, you will have a decent wager, as you will win $100 four out of five times and lose $300 the other time, which will still leave a profit of $100.
Finding Point Spread Value Finding value when betting point spreads isn't so cut and dry, as each team has a 50-50 chance of covering the spread, at least in theory. When you hear sports bettors talk about finding value when betting against point spreads, it's simply a matter of betting into a line they believe is several points too high or several points too low.
Published by ESPN in Jan 2009.
Copywrite owned by Paul Hogan and Joey Su.
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