Posts Tagged ‘Sports Handicapping’

By W.G. Ramirez

Tonight is like a second helping the night of Thanksgiving.Line1_PROOF

You’ve had your fill of turkey, stuffing, candied yams and the NFL. But then you go back and feel compelled at a second helping, cause, well, it’s Thanksgiving.

After watching yesterday’s marathon between the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos, whose 51 points matched what Jacksonville has scored all season, well, you could call tonight’s contest between the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets the second helping.

It’ll be that painful when it’s all said and done, especially for how good the main course was yesterday.

Looking at the laundry list of injuries with these two teams, I’m not sure how much offense we’re going to see, a hint that the Under may be a good play.

Atlanta’s left tackle Sam Baker (knee) was the latest casualty, joining running back Steven Jackson (hamstring) and cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh), who have both missed two straight games. Defensive end Kroy Biermann and fullback Bradie Ewing are out for the season, while linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (foot) will miss at least six more weeks. Receiver Roddy White has played through an ankle injury but has vividly been limited by his bad wheel.

The Jets are so limited by injuries at wide receiver, I’m not sure what quarterback Geno Smith plans on doing with this offense, especially knowing he shares the league lead with 11 turnovers, including eight interceptions. Wideouts Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill probably won’t play, as Holmes is still out with foot and hamstring problems and Hill has been grounded by concussion issues.

Is it scary to say the best part of this game might be the Jets’ defense?

That would be like saying the turkey and stuffing were dry, the yams were soggy and the best part of dinner was the green bean almondine.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather hit the gym instead of bothering with seconds. But, here’s the key matchup…

KEY SHOWDOWN: Atlanta’s receiving corps vs. New York’s second-ranked defense

Jets defensive back Antonio Cromarite will likely line up against the NFL’s leading receiver, Julio Jones, who has racked up 481 yards receiving and has topped 100 yards in three straight games.

As mentioned, White has been limited by a high ankle sprain and that means the Matt Ryan will turn to age-defying tight end Tony Gonzalez, who is in after 12 catches for career-best 149 yards and two touchdowns against the New England Patriots.

The Jets’ defense is a big reason they’re 2-2 this year, as its No. 2 in the league overall, ranking fifth against the rush and eighth against the pass. Tonight they take on the league’s third-best passing offense.

The winner of this battle could very well win this game.

BY THE NUMBERS: N.Y. Jets at Atlanta (-10, 44)

New York is 3-1 against the number this season, while Atlanta is 1-3 ATS.

New York is also on a 3-0 straight-up run against NFC teams, including its season-opening win over Tampa Bay.

The Jets are on a 5-1 spread streak in the month of October.

The Falcons are 1-3 for the first time since 2007 and come in mired in a 0-2 skid, the first time in six years under coach Mike Smith they’ve lost back-to-back regular season games.

Ryan is 34-6 in home starts and has won 12 of his last 14 at the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons are 33-1 when Ryan starts and has rating of at least 100.

Atlanta has failed to cover 4 of its last 5 in the Georgia Dome and 6 of their last 7 overall.

The Falcons have covered the game 7 of the last 9 seasons preceding a bye week.

Five of past six meetings between these two teams have played Under the total.

ON DECK: While the Falcons get a bye after this game, the Jets return home to play the Pittsburgh Steelers.

At most books with a line on the game, the Steelers are a road favorite laying 2.5 to the Fly Boys next week.

HBO and NFL Films announced Thursday, what is an apparent “long-term renewal” to continue to produce the behind-the-scenes training camp documentary “Hard Knocks.”

The reality sports documentary television series produced by the two entities was first shown in 2001. There have been eight seasons (seven teams) – the show was idle between 2003 and 2006 – with the most recent airing last year, featuring the Miami Dolphins. In 2011, due to the work stoppage, there was no team featured. Each season, a team from the NFL is followed with cameras rolling virtually 24/7, through its training camp while providing an in-depth perspective of the team’s preparation for the upcoming football season.

This year’s victim: the Cincinnati Bengals.

It’ll mark only the second time a team has been twice-featured, as the Dallas Cowboys were on display in 2002 and 2008.

Of the seven teams featured, only three teams have made it to the playoffs: the Baltimore Ravens (2001), Bengals (2009) and New York Jets (2010). No team has ever won the Super Bowl after appearing on the show.

Ironically, since the show’s debut, teams featured on “Hard Knocks” are a combined 56-56 straight-up. The Jets (11-5) produced the best record in the 2010-11 season, while the Chiefs (4-11) have produced the worst, in 2007-08.

At the betting window, mediocrity is contagious, as the seven teams are a combined 53-56-3 against the spread, with the 2010-11 Jets producing the best betting mark, at 9-7.

The following are the year-by-year records of “Hard Knocks” teams:

  • 2001 – Baltimore Ravens 10-6 SU … 8-7-1 ATS
  • 2002 – Dallas Cowboys 5-11 SU … 7-8-1 ATS
  • 2007 – Kansas City Chiefs 4-12 SU … 7-8-1 ATS
  • 2008 – Dallas Cowboys 9-7 SU … 7-9 ATS
  • 2009 – Cincinnati Bengals 10-6 SU … 7-9 ATS
  • 2010 – New York Jets 11-5 SU … 9-7 ATS
  • 2012 – Miami Dolphins 7-9 SU … 8-8 ATS
  • 2013 – Cincinnati Bengals ?-? SU … ?-? ATS

The Miami Heat have not lost back-to-back home games since the 2011 NBA Finals.

Something tells me the fact the Dallas Mavericks celebrated their NBA Championship on June 12 on the American Airlines Arena floor left a sour taste in the players’ mouths, and they’ve vowed not to let it happen again.

Miami lost four games at home during the regular season, add in two during these NBA Playoffs, and that’s half dozen. In all six of the Heat’s next games on their home court, they’ve won by a combined 141 points – an average of 23.5 points per win. All six have come by double digits.

Four of those six wins came in back-to-back home games – not necessarily nights, just games – as we’ll see Sunday in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, against the San Antonio Spurs.

So, note to the Spurs, be wary now that you’ve taken a 1-0 lead after your 92-88 win on Thursday in Game 1.

This domination the Heat display, looking to avenge a home loss against whomever is in their way, stretches back to last season, when they lost seven times at home, both in the regular season and playoffs combined. Five of those seven wins came via double digits, while the combined 142 points produced an average margin of 20.2 points per win.

Admittedly, this is the NBA Finals, and these are the veteran-laden Spurs who are in the championship round for the first time since 2007, and are in search of their fifth NBA title since 1999. And, lest we forget the Spurs are a perfect 4-0 in the NBA Finals – four trips, four championships.

So what does all this have to do with Sunday’s Game 2, in which the Heat are laying -6 points?

If we’re talking about the Heat making it 14 straight times they avoid losing back-to-back home games, I suppose nothing, and you have to apply all intangibles when looking at the point spread.

The Heat did win the regular-season series, but how much can we really take from those two games, as neither matchup featured both teams at full strength. The Spurs go and win Game 1 outright, but how much can we really take from it, as Miami was vividly winded by the fourth quarter, showing signs of fatigue from its seven-game series with the Indiana Pacers.

History says the winner of this game should cover it, as the straight-up victor in this series is on a 9-1 ATS run. And the Heat have won four of the last five meetings. They come into Game 2 on additional ATS win streaks of 9-2 after an ATS setback and 13-3 after losing on the wood. They’re also in on an 8-2 spread streak after two day’s rest, while they’ve covered seven of 10 against Western Conference teams.

The Spurs have their own ATS win streaks to brag about, though most have been short-term. For instance, they’re on bookie streaks of 5-1 after a straight-up win, 4-0 with a suitcase in hand and 6-1 overall.

Quite frankly, it comes down to this for Game 2, pick the winner of this game, and bet on it against the number! If you think the Spurs can win outright again, take the points. If you think the Heat are going to knot the series at a game apiece, lay the chalk.

World boxing champion Floyd Mayweather may appear in at least one episode of the soon-to-be-appearing reality show Money Talk$, which will take viewers inside the world of sports betting via Steve Stevens, owner of Las Vegas-based VIP Sports.

CNBC recently said it would be developing a primetime slate featuring reality programming, and one of those hours will include the sports betting industry.

Produced by Turn Left Productions with Todd Crites and Jackson Nguyen as executive producers, the show will feature Stevens and his representatives (ahem, salesmen), who keep the phone lines open for all interested sports bettors.

VIP Sports is located near the Mayweather’s gym in Las Vegas, and as the boxer has risen as one of the most prominent bettors in the world – just see his tweets – he and Stevens have become close.

Ads are expected to begin running July 31 on CNBC, while the show is expected to debut on Sept. 10. The pilot episode will run roughly 90 times before subsequent episodes pick up in December.

A little less than a month ago I was here talking about NFL win futures, and at the time, the Washington Redskins sported an over/under number of 9. As of Monday afternoon, the Redskins were down to 8.5 wins at with the under being a -150 favorite, and the comeback price on the over at +120.

It doesn’t surprise me one bit, as I think the Under is a solid play.

I’m pretty sure players, coaches and the media have noticed somewhat of a different atmosphere around camp this offseason, after last year’s playoff run, but I’m skeptical about the expectations being a bit too high with this team, and that 2013-14 will be more of a letdown.

As I said last month, I believe one of the biggest question marks of this coming season would be with the Redskins, because of Robert Griffin III’s knee surgery. And while all the reports have been positive, and he seems to be enjoying a positive-spin campaign with his endorsements, I’m not convinced we have another Adrian Peterson situation on our hands. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Griffin takes a step backward this year.

I spoke to one of the leading physical therapists in Las Vegas for perspective on Griffin’s injury, and according to him the second time an athlete has an injury like this you’re looking at a longer recovery time.

“I think the first year he comes back is a tough year,” said Joe Rainone, of Tim Soder Physical Therapy, home to many Las Vegas-based pro athletes. “He’s going to have a hard time with that knee. He’s got to get used to a brand new knee, and not being able to cut on that knee as much as he (used to).

“I think the second surgery definitely has an effect on his longevity.”

Rainone did say it’s realistic we could see Griffin ready to roll by opening week of the regular season, as Griffin should be running at four months, into functional training at five months and six months pretty much good enough to do whatever you want to do for a full recovery.

“Because of the LCL it may be delayed marginally; usually the LCL will heal quicker than the ACL,” Rainone said. “The ACL is usually 6-to-8 month’s recovery.”

Rainone explained that Griffin is going to have to get used to working on virtually an entirely different knee.

“Mechanically there’s a different feel to the knee when they get it done, and that’s the thing you worry about,” said Rainone, who has worked with several MLB players who reside in Las Vegas during the off-season. “Adrian Peterson is unusual. AP came back and had the best year of his life. You usually don’t see that. Athletes at that level are pretty confident, but there’s always that self-consciousness they get when they cut on that. Mentally, up front, they think ‘I feel fine’ But in the back of the brain, they’re saying: ‘there’s something a little different feeling than there was before.’

“(Griffin) may be apprehensive, and he may lose a little something the second time around.”

Obviously, his upper body strength won’t suffer, nor will his ability to throw the football. It’s all about cutting on his knee, and putting stress on it each time on the field. Will he be able to cut? Yes. But will he be as effective? I say probably not. At least not this coming season.

And because so much has been put into him as the franchise player, I’m taking the Redskins Under.

EARLY SUPER BOWL LINE – As of June 3, the early line on Super Bowl XLVIII has the AFC -1 over the NFC with a total of 50.5 points. AFC Favorites are 12-8 ATS all time in the Super Bowl. But after last February’s setback by the 49ers, favorites are 22-21-2 ATS in the Super Bowl, and are mired in a 3-8 ATS run. Also, make note that when the line is ranges from even to -3 points, the favorites in the game are just 3-7 ATS.

TIM TEBOW – Back in May I scoured the Internet for interesting NFL-related wagers, and I found was offering lines on whether or not – and where – the devout Christian will play football. The lines (back on May 10) were: signs with an NFC team +120, signs with an AFC team +100, signs with a CFL +500, signs with an Arena Football team +1000, and, doesn’t sign a pro contract to play the 2013 season +200.

As of June 3, those props have disappeared and the only one I can find related to Tebow were how many Twitter followers he would have on June 30, 2013 at Noon eastern. The number is set at 2,305,200, with the Under a -140 favorite, and the Over bringing back even money.