Thursday, September 21, 2017

College Football: Week 4 promises loads of fun.

I'm very excited about this week's slate of games.  So let's get right to them.....

Army @ Tulane (-2.5)  T: 44.5

I'm all over the Golden Knights in this one to pull the upset. I think this is the best Army team we've seen in over a decade and I think they're going to handle the Green Wave in short order. Prediction: Army 37 Tulane 13

Texas A&M @ Arkansas (-2.5) T: 55.5

Call this the "Hot Seat Bowl" because the coach that loses is going to find himself sitting on the college football equivalent of a nuclear bomb.  My feeling is that aTm doesn't have enough offensively to do much against Arkansas who seem to have the Aggies number when playing in the Dallas Area. Prediction: Texas aTm 10  Arkansas 16

Idaho @ South Alabama (-4)  T: 57.5

I'm still pretty high on the Jaguars despite a rough start to the season. Idaho is an FCS team and they're not even playing in the Kibbe Dome this week.  I think -4 is a "good" line for bettors and I would suggest hitting USA hard to cover that and then some. Prediction: Idaho 3 USA 27

Ohio @ Eastern Michigan (-2.0) T: 52.5

Eastern Michigan is a great story, a historically bad program that's experiencing somewhat of a boost of late is cool, but that doesn't mean that they can beat Ohio, one of the strongest teams in the MAC, a favorite to win their division, and my pick to win the conference this year. Prediction: Ohio 24 EMU 21

Wake Forest (-4.5) @ Appalachian State T: 48.5

Wake Forest (3-0) is a trendy pick this season as a dark horse in the ACC. I'm not buying it. Their three wins are over FCS Presbyterian, and FBS Bottom 10 teams Boston College and Utah State. App State did lose against Georgia in Athens and they did struggle at Texas State but this team is much, much more difficult when they get to play in the Mountains.  Prediction: Wake Forest 13 App State 20.

Duke (-2.5) @ North Carolina T: 66.5

Duke's 41-17 win over trendy Northwestern is the most impressive win on the early-season schedule of either school, and North Carolina is struggling to replace many losses from last year's team. Head Coach David Cutcliffe of Duke has found his home. Larry Fedora is a good offensive mind, but he needs to rebuild.  Prediction: Duke 38 North Carolina 24.

Alabama (-18.5) @ Vanderbilt T: 43

Beware games with big spreads and teeny-tiny totals.  Except with 'Bama.  The ONLY elite team in the SEC is getting faded because Vandy has good wins over Middle Tennessee State and Kansas State but Bama demolished Florida State, which is a much better team than the Commodores. Don't fade Saban against the SEC. Just don't. Prediction: Bama 38 Vandy 3.

San Diego State (-3) @ Air Force  T: 47

Games against the service academies are always tough, and I don't think this game is any exception. I do however think the Aztecs are one of the top teams in the Group of 5 and have a legitimate shot at the New Year's Six bowl.  That said, I think Air Force will get yards and points.  Could turn into a pop-gun shoot-out. Prediction: SDSU 45 Air Force 20.

Syracuse @ Louisiana State University (-22.5)  T: 56.5

LSU star running back Darrius Guice will sit out this game, but that's not my biggest concern. My concern is that Tiger Head Coach Ed Orgeron is a good coordinator who is masquerading as a head coach.  Yes, Syracuse is not good, but they did beat a Central Michigan team that's an average Group of 5 side and with LSU's offensive woes I don't see them scoring 23 points. Prediction: Syracuse 3 LSU 17.

University of Texas - San Antonio (-12.5) @ Texas State T: 45

Last week UTSA demolished Southern 51-17. I'm not entirely convinced that Texas State could beat Southern. This is a 'good' line that should be taken advantage of IMO. Prediction: UTSA 48 Texas State 10

Oregon (-14.5) @ Arizona State University  T: 75.5

The Oregon "Stomp out cancer" gear was so solid last week my wife bought a hoodie despite not being a fan of the Ducks. I'm certainly not a fan of their defense, but I'm not much of a fan anything ASU has to offer, even their coach, who I've gone on record as saying gets fired after this season. No defense in this game, take the over.  Prediction: Oregon 56 ASU 35

Notre Dame (-4) @ Michigan State  T: 54

Irish head coach Brian Kelly is one of the true all-time college football jerks. He practices "the buck stops somewhere over there" style of leadership always blaming others for his poor planning, sub-par recruiting and disappointing on-field results.  I wouldn't bet this game but I hope he loses. (and yes, that's difficult for me to say because I dislike Michigan State more than tofu) Prediction: Notre Dame 17 Michigan State 18.

Eastern Carolina University @ UConn (-4.5)  T: 66

I'm only including this game because it's being played at 11 o'clock, on SUNDAY.  That means that you will have something to watch instead of the morass that has become the NFL.  Despite the fact that ECU might be the worst FBS program this year and UConn is desperately missing Bob Diaco. This is one of those games that could be known for its punting, may they be sexy. I think the Huskies eek out their first win over an FBS program this year. Prediction: ECU 10 UConn 12.

And now, for the teams in which I have a rooting interest.


Texas Tech @ Houston (-6)  T: 71.5

Take the over. Because I don't think either team is going to be able to stop one another, but I do think Houston DL Ed Oliver will make at least one big play to swing this game toward the Cougars.

Prediction:  TTU 52  UH 63


University of Nevada - Las Vegas @ Ohio State (-40.5)  T: 64.5

The Desert RugRats looked pretty good last week, albeit against Idaho, and Ohio State has been struggling on offense.  40 points is a ridiculous line for Ohio State given their offensive issues, but the DRR's defense could be historically bad. the DRR's do have a mobile QB which tends to give Ohio State fits......OK, I'm reaching.  Drink heavy RugRats fans, this one's gonna hurt.

Prediction: RugRats 6 Ohio State 52


And FINALLY......

Michigan (-10) @ Purdue  T: 52

Purdue is not as bad as we all expected them to be prior to the season, and Michigan's defense is better than many thought it would be as well.  Unfortunately, for both, Michigan's offense is yet to leave the starting gate and Purdue's hang-tough loss to Louisville lost a lot of luster via a domination by Clemson over the fighting Petrinos. Harbaugh's Wolverines have been workmanlike in all of their wins, I'm hoping this trend continues and they're not looking ahead to Sparty coming to the Big House.


Prediction:  Michigan 26  Purdue 9



Postscript:  Temple is playing South Florida tonight in a game that promises to be much more watchable than the NFL's force-feeding to you of San Francisco vs. LA.  Will probably be more people in the stands for the college game to boot.

Can we all just give up and admit that the NFL flirtation with Thursday Night Football has been an unmitigated disaster?  Just stop NFL and give the night back to College Football.  It would be better for all involved.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

College Football: The Week Four FIVE

To be honest, last week I was more interested in getting away to Lake Charles for a weekend than I was actually picking the games.  As a result, the results were below what I've come to expect from this little adventure in trying to finish above 55% for the year. (In case you're wondering, that's the amount you have to exceed to beat the Vig and turn a profit.)

I called Week 3 "sneaky" good but I'm just flat out declaring that Week 4 in college football is going to be Goooooo--ood.  Especially in the Pac 12 and SEC, which feature in four of the FIVE this week.  I think you're also going to see another trend in here that I'll discuss at length in the Bet the Rent newsletter.

So let's get on with it:  As a reminder, all lines are correct as of the time of publication as published by the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.  THEY WILL MOVE by kick off, which is something I try to note.

1. Utah (-3.5) @ Arizona  T: 58.5

I've a lot to say about the Wildcats and none of it is any good.  They've basically beaten two FCS teams (UTEP is awful, look it up) and lost, at home, to a Houston team that was playing it's first game and still struggling with Harvey issues back home. The Utes pounded two bad teams (one FCS, the other might as well be this year) and won, on the road, in the Holy War.  Two things I like about this game but I'm only using one in my pick.  The other, the over, is due to the fact that Arizona can move the ball, they just can't stop anyone.  Pick: Utah to cover -3.5 (wait a bit however, I think you might get this at less than three if you're patient. If it starts moving the other way, grab it before it gets to 5)

2. Toledo @ Miami (-13.5)  T 57.5

Toledo is, probably, the class of the MAC this year and a win at Miami would put them in the early-season discussion to be the Group of Five representative in the New Year's 6 Bowl Game.  While I think that's going to be a tall order against the 'Canes I DO think it's a possibility.  However, I think two better possibilities are the over and the pick.   Pick: Toledo to cover +13.5. (This line is plunging toward Toledo. I would jump on it in a hurry as the offshore books are already showing -12.5)

3. Mississippi State @ Georgia (-5) T: 48.5

Yet another game where I'm betting the road dog starts barking. I'm a little bit more confident in this one however.  This line has moved Georgia's way and the total has gone down. Last week's 37-7 thrashing of LSU by MSU was the 2nd most impressive win I've seen all year behind OU over Ohio State. I think people are still underestimating the Bulldogs. Pick: MSU to win on the M/L. (If you don't like that, take them to cover anywhere down to +3)

4. Florida (-2.5) @ Kentucky T: 44.

The most impressive win between these two teams is Kentucky's road win over South Carolina. Florida's offense is still struggling and I think it's too early to suggest they found a quarterback because Feliepe's Hail Mary was answered.  If ever there was a year the Wildcats could break through, this is it.  What's life (and gaming) without some chance right? Pick: Kentucky to win on the M/L. (If you can't get that in Vegas try to see if the line moves to +3 and take them to cover at home)

5. UCLA @ Stanford (-7.5) T: 57

Pac 12 After Dark is one of the greatest things about College Football.  And while I don't think this game has true "AD" potential, I DO think it's got the makings of a giant upset.  True, Stanford has lost to a couple of good teams in USC and SDSU but UCLA's loss to Memphis is nothing to hang your head about. They also have that miraculous come-from-behind win over the fighting Sumlin's. I like the Bruins here a LOT. Pick: UCLA to cover +7.5 (I would also probably make a small bet on the M/L if I could find it, because I think the upset potential here is very real).



As you can see, I'm heavy on the underdogs this week.  It will be the same for my Bet the Rent Picks but, if you're a subscriber, you won't see those until Friday.  As a reminder I am 4-0 on picks for BtR and I'm hoping to make it 6-0 this week.

Monday, September 18, 2017

College Football: Week 3 Wrap-Up

The FIVE was awful this week, I hope you faded.  I went 1-3-1 which brings my season record to 3-5-2 so far. Not good.  On a brighter note I went 2-0 for the BetTheRent.com newsletter which brings me to 4-0 this season on that front.

The problem that I'm having is that I'm using my best picks for the newsletter and not the FIVE.  And I'm getting killed on the "replacement" games.  Still, the last few seasons I went 0-5, 1-4 and 0-5 to start the year so it's not all bad.

Items:

1. Clemson is the best team in the country (right now). Their defense is scary good and it appears that they haven't lost all that much on offense. They've got two big wins under their belt already (Auburn and Louisville) with Virginia Tech upcoming after what should be a snoozer versus a bad Boston College team. (Beware! Sandwich week).

2. Oklahoma is the 2nd best team in the country (right now). They have the "best" win, on the road against Ohio State and they demolished Tulane last week.  The problem for the Sooners is that they really don't play anyone until Bedlam on November 4th.

3. Alabama is still pretty good. They handled an average Colorado State team as you would expect them to and now they enter conference play in what appears, early, to be a down year for the SEC. It's possible, just, that Mississippi State could be the toughest opponent remaining on the Tide's schedule.

4. Top 25 rankings at this point in the season are worthless. So ignore them. Also, ignore pretty much everything that the 'media' is spouting and calling "analysis".  The big media outlets all have an interest in pimping up their conference affiliations.  So CBS will tell you that the SEC (the only property they have) is the best, while Fox will pimp the Pac-12, Big XII and (now) the B1G, while ESPN apes the SEC and ACC the best they can. It.is.all.crap.

5. LSU is in trouble. They looked gormless against Miss State and were out coached on every level. Ed Orgeron's team looked like Orgeron's Ole Miss teams. That's not a compliment. Still, they get a little softer over the next two weeks before starting their mid-season conference run.  Maybe the Tigers can turn it around, but I have my doubts.

6. San Diego State is REALLY good. And while I still think Stanford is a program in decline the win by the Aztecs was impressive.  My early season pick for the Group of Five New Year's Six representative was USF. I still think the Bulls will be there but  the race with SDSU should make for some interesting week-to-week poll watching.

7. Kevin Sumlin will not survive the year. The Aggies are not a good football team. And they're poorly coached to boot.  aTm is going to have to find some money and pay-off Kevin Sumlin. The question is, who next? I would argue for UTSA coach Frank Wilson but that pick would likely face resistance from alumni who would be leery of getting another small-school coach from a Texas college.

8. Kentucky and Purdue on the rise? Both teams are 3-0, and while both have been in relatively soft (South Carolina is OK thought) both have handled their business. The Boilermakers get Michigan at home on Saturday while Kentucky welcomes Florida.  Good acid tests for both teams IMO.

9. Abandon Hope, all who enter here. Kansas, ECU, New Mexico State, Nevada, Boston College, Charlotte and Missouri can all start looking forward to basketball season. Baylor is in for a long season, as is UConn. The line between the haves, and the have-nots in College football is getting glaring.

And finally.....

10. Texas is not "back". Yes, they played hard against USC, just losing in 2 OT's but that Longhorn's offense is going to get them murdered in Big XII play.  There's also ample evidence that Tom Herman's "jerk" routine is growing stale in Austin.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

College Football: Week 3 - Sneaky Good

I've stated before that last Saturday was an epic one in College Football history. There were many good games and a couple of below-the-radar great games (Boise St/Washington State anyone?) and, as is usual, several dogs.

On paper this week the match-ups don't seem as compelling, but (think back to week two of last year, we've been fooled before. One thing we do know, it's becoming increasingly more difficult for a bad FBS team to guarantee themselves a win by paying an FCS school hundreds of thousands (or Millions) to come into their house and meekly take a whuppin.

While some of the games we thought might be marquee games probably won't be (Hi Texas) there's still the main-event of Clemson and Louisville on the board that should be quite the spectacle.

Let's dig into the rest of the games, the ones that I didn't include in my FIVE or on the BTR newsletter.  Yet, I still have an interest. (Reminder: All lines are as accurate as I can make them at the time of writing.  They could change by Saturday of course.)

Oklahoma State (-12.5 or 13.5) @ Pitt  T: 65 - Oklahoma State has looked spectacular in their opening games, while Pitt has looked like a team that's still trying to find themselves.  IF Oklahoma State is a championship contender they cover here.  If they don't?

Iowa State (-10) @ Akron  T: 61 - After playing their guts out in El Assico, the Cyclones travel up to Fear the Roo! land try their luck against a pretty good Akron side. I would take Akron plus the points in this game and might even take a peek at the ML if  I could find it in Vegas.

Tulsa @ Toledo (-8.5 or -9.5) T: 73 - In what promises to be a high-scoring affair we're going to get a pretty good look at what these teams are. Many (Including me) think Toledo can win the MAC this year.  Take the over, both teams can score tons.

Clemson (-3) @ Louisville T: 58.5  - Clemson has one of the best defenses in the land and Louisville has Lamar Jackson. There's your match-up. I have no real lean on this game. I expect it to be a good one however.

Arizona State @ Texas Tech (-7.5) T: 76  - The last time these two teams played was an all-timer match-up for offense. It was something to forget for defense. I expect this year to be more of the same. I lean ASU here but not enough to strongly endorse them. I do LOVE over 76 however. Two coaches on the hot-seat in this game that I fully expect to not be coaching their respective teams next year.

Kentucky @ South Carolina (-6.5) T: 52. -  What to make of the Gamecocks?  Seemingly improved they are threatening to make some noise in the down (very down) SEC East.  Kentucky is having a good season because their students are not yet looking totally forward to basketball season. I think SC is real.  But I'm not sure enough on that to say they can win by almost a TD. I also have no faith in Kentucky so this game is a pass for me.

Ole Miss (-3.5 or 4) @ Cal. T: 71.5 - Normally I'd take Ole Miss here every day and twice on Saturday.  But this is a Rebels team that's reeling from off-field issues. I don't think Cal is very good, but I suspect they might be good enough here.

Texas @ USC (-15.5 or 16) T: 67.5 - Is USC the title contender I think they are?  Has Tom Herman started righting the good ship BEVO?  We'll see, but I'm still not sure exactly where either program is right now so I'm passing.  If I had to lean it would be toward USC.

LSU (-7 to 8.5) @ Mississippi State  T: 51.5 - I think the Tigers should handle the Bulldogs in easy fashion. I can't see MSU generating much, if any, meaningful offense against LSU. But LSU is one of those teams in which I have no faith to do what they need to do so this game is a pass.

Purdue @ Missouri (-7) T: 78.5 -  Lord help me I like Purdue here. To pull the upset even.

Kansas State (-4) @ Vanderbilt. T: 51 - Every inch of me wanted to pick Vandy to pull the upset at home. So much so that this game was "Game Six" the game that could have been in my five except....I'm just not that convinced the Commodores are all that good.


The Desert Rugrats are off this week.

And Finally.....

Air Force @ Michigan (-24) T: 47.5 - Michigan lines have been silly so far this year, and this one is no exception.  I think Michigan wins but I think 24 points is venturing into silly land, especially when you consider the total.  Go Blue!!






Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NFL: L'Affair au Kaepernick.

Interesting read today on Yahoo! Sports regarding why Kaepernick is currently sitting at home....

Two logical spots for Kaepernick and even THOSE don't make sense. Jay Hart, Yahoo! Sports

The author pretty much rules out a team wanting to bring Mr. Kaepernick in as a back-up (wise), he's too much distraction for almost zero impact. This is not about racism, it's about running a business.

He then analyzes every team, in brief, to determine if Kaepernick would be an upgrade for them at QB.  He narrows it down to two teams, the Colts and the Jets. I disagree with the author on the Colts however IF they believe Luck is coming back soon.  Because if that's the case then you would basically be signing Kaepernick as a backup who is going to play short-term. Not worth it. Even IF they don't think Luck is coming back they just gave up something to get Jacoby Brissett. They would at least want to see how that investment pays off.

The problem with the entire situation surrounding Mssr. Kaep is that the crux of the issue has been flooded under by our lesser demons.  Kaep's being on a roster or not has nothing to do with his playing ability, clearly he can still play, but everything to do with both fan-reaction and his personal actions.  And I'm not speaking about the anthem protests.

The author of the piece mentions this, but it's largely glossed over that Kaepernick, or his partner, have spent a lot of time on Twitter insulting either prospective employers, the police, or a majority of American society.  At some point there becomes a difference between being an activist, and just shouting a lot to generate re-tweets, snarky responses or to increase your partner's listener count on their radio show.

At some point you have to realize that it's unwise to publicly call prospective employers racists if you want to be gainfully employed by them.  And while I'm sympathetic to Mr. Kaepernick's protests, and the reasons behind it, I'm not much of a fan of trying to Twitter shame everyone who disagrees with me.  Kaepernick seems to be more interested in doing this than in actually getting paid to play tackle football.

This doesn't mean that he's not physically trying, by all accounts he's working out every day, staying in shape, but mentally I feel as if even he's thrown in the towel and has decided that there's more attention to be gained continuing to cast stones at the league than actually being a part of it.

One thing that DID bug me even worse was the 49ers fan account trying to shame all of the other fan-bases because they didn't sign Kaepernick when their team was unwilling to do so and was the team that released him and created this mess in the first place. No one likes the person who spills their drink and then chastises everyone else for not cleaning it up Niners Nation. Nobody.

I truly hope that Colin Kaepernick can find a job playing for the NFL at some time in the future, and I hope that he continues his activism. I hope that he can find a balance between the two.

Given recent events however I'm starting to doubt he ever does.  Which is a little disappointing because not only was he fun to watch, but I think that some of his points have real merit and society could benefit from having them in a public forum.

The background noise on this has become deafening.  I'm not sure that's reversible.

College Football: The FIVE (Week 3)

After the Week 2 push (2-2 total with 1 NC) we're looking to create some momentum going into conference play (for the most part) next week. [Reminder: Week 1 was cancelled for the FIVE on account of that bastard Harvey]

While not as compelling a slate of games I do think there is some opportunity here so let's get to it.

1. Illinois @ S. Florida (-18 or 17.5) T: 55.5. The South Florida shine has worn off for me as the Bulls continue to struggle adapting to head coach Charlie Strong's system. Add to the fact that that bitch Irma strafed their campus last week and you have a distracted team that's outside of their comfort zone. To be sure, Illinois has not set the world on fire, but they did beat a fairly decent Group of Five team in WKU 20-7 last week while USF sat idle. I'm not a believer in Illini head coach Lovie Smith but I do think their defense might give the Bulls fits. Pick: Illinois to cover -18. (As with last week, the line at the time of publication is split in Vegas between -18 and 17.5, go to a book that offers the former)

2. U La La @ Texas aTm (-24 or 23.5) T: 59.5. I'm not sure why anyone thinks that this aTm team is going to be any team on their schedule by 24 points.  After the horrific loss to UCLA this is a team in crisis that has clearly lost its way and faith in the coaching staff. Rumors are that aTm is going to start Jake Hubenek at QB, I don't think this will help a program that's irrevocably broken.  Still, U La La's defense is a sieve, so despite all the warning signs people are still running toward the disaster that is the Aggies.  I say run away from the disaster. We're betters not first responders. Pick: U La La to cover -23.5. (Again, pick a book that has the best line)

3. Virginia Tach (-21 to 23.5) @ ECU. Every year, on the Internets, there are a host of touts selling you on their ability to find "bad lines".  This is bunk, of course, because they almost always get it backward.  "Bad Lines" to them are "good lines" to us. A true "bad line" is one that's fair and makes sense.  From that perspective I consider Va Tech to be a "good line".  ECU has gone from a tough Group of 5 beat to possibly the worst FBS Program in two years. Head Coach Scottie Montgomery should be on a seat hotter than Kevin Sumlin's. Last week ECU lost by 36 to West Virginia, who was beaten by Va Tech. I would bet this line at -23.5 at the Westgate, I LOVE this line at -21 at William Hill.  Pick: Virginia Tech to cover -21.

4. Tennessee @ Florida (-4.5 to -5.5) T: 49. If any team needed a "get back" game after a bad loss it was the Gators. Unfortunately, that bitch Irma did them no favors.  Tennessee fulfilled the great SEC tradition of opening the season with a yawner of a win over an FCS opponent. Florida is out of sync, they have no offense to speak of, and is going to struggle here.  Place this bet at the Westgate Superbook which is offering a full point advantage. Pick: Tennessee to cover +4.5 (Note: avoid this if the line moves to -6 for Florida)

5. UCLA (-3) @ Memphis. When I first saw this line I wanted to hop a plane, fly to Vegas and put a lot of money on it immediately. Then, I calmed down and realized it would make an oustanding "big bet" in the 5-hole for the FIVE. Memphis would be a good play here if this was last year's team that was one of the top teams in the Group of 5 and had an outside chance of making a NY6 bowl.  But this is THIS year's team that barely beat UL Monroe, which is the worst team in the SunBelt. Were I betting this would be my largest exposure of the day. Pick: UCLA to cover -3.

I've also got two games coming for the BetTheRent.com newsletter that will be dropping Friday.  You do get that don't you?  If not, why not.  It's free. (No seriously, free. I was a subscriber before I was writing for them.)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Houston Texans: This is a bad football team, and QB is the least of their worries.

Another year another round of "It's on me" from the Houston Texans football coach explaining away a bad loss.

It's not just that the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13 in 2016) came into NRG Stadium and beat the dog mess out of them, or that the offense looked pathetic and the defense laid an egg, or even that Bill O'Brien panicked mid-game and changed quarterbacks (again) as he desperately looked for something to ignite a moribund offense, it's all of those things and the fact that, gushing media pre-season coverage notwithstanding, the Texans roster is just not very talented.

The worst unit, by far, is the offensive line. It's staffed by low-level free agent signings, some League cast-offs and street free agent signings of players who were cut by other teams for a reason.  That reason being they're just not very good. The highlight of the game for the O-line was C Nick Martin, and the best that can be said about him is that he was "solid".

Next come the TE's, a unit that Bill O'Brien's offense relies on, but in which there is not one player who would be a starter for almost any team in the rest of the league.  Even more unfortunate is the fact that all three TE's are currently in concussion protocol with a game fast approaching on Sunday.

WR had Hopkins, and not much else on Sunday, and it's unclear whether a returning Will Fuller IV is going to do all that much to help a unit who struggles to run clean routes, gain any meaningful separation and actually catch the ball on a consistent basis.

At RB your best current option, rookie D'Onta Freeman, is currently listed as 4th string, while journeyman Lamar Miller (who has had exactly one really good game in his career, against the Texans FWIW) and Alfred Blue languish ahead of him.

On defense things aren't much better.

On the Defensive Line you have JJ Watt, who is coming back from back surgery and who played injured while racking up one (1) tackle all game, while NT DJ Reader had a horrible game and opposite side DE Joel Heath was a non-entity.

The LB corps is good on the outside (JD Clowney and Whitney Mercilus) but incredibly weak on the inside with aging, injury prone Brian Cushing (concussion protocol) and living statue Benardrick McKinney coming up JUST short play after play.

On a bright note: the defensive backfield is competent.

How did it get so bad, so fast you ask? I would suggest that a lion's share of the blame should be shouldered by GM Rick Smith, who has done a terrible job drafting players in any round other than round 1 (and possibly 7) of the NFL draft. He's especially horrid during round's 2, 3 & 4, where rosters are filled and lineups solidified.  The Texans are seeing the fruits of this now, as the team has entire chunks of roster filled with guys who should be planning for life after football.

Then there's the sobering reality that Bill O'Brien is not a very good coach. He's certainly not an "offensive guru" or a "quarterback whisperer" as advertised, Tom Brady can make almost anyone look competent, and he's in desperately over his head at the NFL level.

ALL THAT SAID

It's just one game.  And one game, even a pathetic game, does not a season make.  I would argue that it's more likely the Texans will go 6-10 than 10-6, but there are still 15 games left to play, the first on Thursday, and the Texans are likely staring down the barrel of playing that game with no currently active TE's eligible to play and missing Brian Cushing due to concussions.

If I'm wrong, and if O'Brien IS a quality coach, he's got his work cut out this weekend. If I'm right however, this team could spiral to 2-14 and it could all be over but the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

One thing is for sure, it's on the Texans fan to step up and NOT support football at this level. If the Texans lose to Cincinnati the next home game should find the Texans playing in front of a 1/4 full NRG, fans should stay home, tune out, and send a message to McNair that mediocre is not acceptable.  Because as long as McNair sees a full NRG (and continues to rake in money) his real goal of ownership will be attained. This man pays lip-service to winning championships but that's about it.

If the Texans win in Cincy, then fans give them a second chance.

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice?


Shame on us.

NFL Football: Let's be honest, the on-TV product is BAD

Disclaimer: I understand that the NFL has the most talent and the best players and the quality of said talent is way higher than College Football, that's not what I'm talking about here.

Real, live, NFL football that counts was played yesterday and the on-field product was ....... meh.

The most exciting game of the day, the Los Angeles Ram's 46-9 destruction of the Colts, was only so because it was funny seeing just how bad Scott Tolzein could be. Outside of that?

 - Only two teams broke the 30 point barrier (The Lions [35] and the Eagles [30])
 - Six teams couldn't muster 10 points (The Texans [7], Bengals[0], Colts [9], 49ers[3], Seahawks [9], and Giants[3]
 - The Colts, Bengals and Texans all had greater than 4 turnovers.
 - Only 3 games were decided by a single score.

The fact is the NFL is not only producing a lot of bad football, but it's producing boring football as well.  Then there's the problem of the NFL's exclusive market issue.  I live in Houston, so my only choice for NFL football on Sunday was either to watch a horrible Texans team, or spend money going to a sport's bar, or buy shitty DirectTV service, that I don't want, to pay a lot of money for a NFL package that I will only get to see if it's not raining.

Then, on Sunday Night, the league force-feeds us Giants/Cowboys for the umpteenth time.

Even worse, ESPN is continuing to punish us with it's "Opening week Monday Night Football Doubleheader" which means that one game will kick-off before many people are home from work, and the next will kick off after many people have gone to bed.

It's as if the NFL doesn't want us to watch.

Yes, I understand that there is a hard-floor for NFL ratings, that there are some die-hard souls who will watch it no matter what, in part because they've convinced themselves of the lie that "they're watching sports at the highest level".

I'd get that if what the NFL was putting on the field WAS the sport played at the highest level, but it's not.  What the NFL is currently is the sport played without risk.  And sport without risk is boring.  No NFL coach will take 1/8th of the risks college football coaches take because they're going to lose their jobs if they do. No GM is going to risk trying to build a roster that would match a collegiate offensive skill-set.

And, even when they do (see: Carolina) every attempt is made to mold the players into the NFL norm, the run-the-same-six-plays-over-and-over again snooze-fest that is increasingly making viewers turn away.  I know last Sunday that I found better things to do with my time.

During the first half of the Texans game I went and had a massage. During the 2nd half I went grocery shopping.  During the afternoon game-window I took a nap, and during the Sunday Night Game I decided that the 2018 Miss America Pageant had more entertainment potential than the Giants at the Cowboys.  I wasn't wrong (If you've never seen the "talent" segment of Miss America then you're missing one of the best awful-comedy bits in the world, plus, swimsuit round yo)

On Saturday mornings I wake up before 8 o'clock to turn on College Game Day and will frequently stay up past Midnight to watch the last televised game.  This Saturday that game (Boise St @ Wazzu) ended at 2AM CT. It was a 3 OT thriller that involved a furious Wazzu comeback in the 4th quarter. There was nothing close to it on the TV on Sunday.

That's a problem for the NFL and judging by the ratings it's not one they're doing a good job addressing.  It's very easy to blame Colin Kaepernick or the scourge of domestic violence for the league's TV problems but I think the heart of the issue is much more basic than that.

In short: The product on the field is just not all that compelling.

College Football Recap: It was a GREAT day.

As a Public Service: We are still a LONG WAY away from the College Football Playoffs.

As such, a couple of things to remember....

1. Rankings at this point in the season are now, and have always been, useless. 

Where the Sooners are ranked after beating Ohio State, or how far the Buckeyes fell, is of little importance.  We pretty much understand that Alabama is currently viewed as the best team in the country but after that?

2. The SEC had a really bad day.

In fact, outside of Alabama you're going to be hard pressed to find an SEC team that's going to be in with a chance. Auburn is an offensive mess, as is Florida, Georgia looked OK but will get too much credit for beating a mediocre Notre Dame team (and they've lost their QB for the season which will haunt them later). If you take away the Georgia win you have a conference that's going to crow mightily this week about beating lower-tier FBS and FCS teams.

As for the FIVE.

I went 2-2 with one game cancelled on account of Irma.  Given the starting history of my FIVE I'll take it.  Since there were no week one selections due to Harvey, I'm currently batting .500.  Also, on my "Bet the Rent" picks I went 2-0 so life is pretty good right now.

Let's run-down the picks from last week first....


The FIVE:

1. OSU vs USA - I really thought the Jaguars would show up better than they did at home.  Either OSU is much better than I'm giving them credit for or USA is worse.  I'm not sure which.

2. Ohio vs. Purdue - Again, are we living in a world where Purdue is good or is Ohio not as good as we thought?

3. Iowa vs. Iowa State. - El Assico didn't disappoint. It was a great game that Iowa won by three.  If you were smart, and got to the books when I told you to on Wednesday, you got a win. If you waited until game-day you lost because the line drifted to 3.5.  WHEN you bet is just as important as WHERE you bet.  The lines I show are as current as I can make them WHEN I POST.

4. S Florida @ UConn. - Screw you Irma.  Hang in there Florida

5. OU vs. OSU (Also a Bet the Rent pick) - I gave the line at -7, it dropped to around -6 by game time. None of that mattered.

Bet The Rent Picks:

1. OU vs. OSU (see above)

2. Baylor vs. UTSA. - In both of these games I liked the underdogs with the points but suggested that a M/L play could be the way to go. In both cases I was correct.  Two picks, two upsets.  You're welcome if you took advantage.

Other games....

Cincinnati @ Michigan - It wasn't pretty, but it was a win. But in the end Cincy did score more than I thought they would and that Wolverine offense continues to struggle. Still #GoBlue and Rashan Gary is a damn beast.

The Desert Rug Rats @ Idaho - A great bounce-back game for UNLV after the embarrassment against Howard.  This was the UNLV team I expected to see.

Houston @ Arizona - A win and cover for a UH team that made a lot of mistakes, but still showed that there's a ton of talent there.  Ed Oliver is a damn beast.

Louisville @ UNC - The Tar Heels are bad, Lamar Jackson is good.  End of story.

TCU @ Arkansas - The Fire Bert rumblings are already starting despite the fact there's no way, short of scandal, the university can afford to let him go.  Statement win for the Horned Frogs over a Razorback program that appears to be in decline.

Stanford @ USC - The Trojans did what I expected the Trojans would do over a Stanford program that I also feel is in decline.

SDSU @ Arizona State - Good win for the Aztecs (I called the upset) and Todd Graham is still a douchebag. (granted, one who will probably be out of a job after this season.)  On another note: Have you seen the new ASU facilities?  Wow.

BYU @ Utah: - It was a dumb, glorious Holy War won by Utah and one that left BYU fans scratching their heads, as I predicted would happen pre-season.  BYU is in a rough stretch and might not win a game until late October.

Boise State @ Wazzu - This game ended at 3AM ET on Sunday morning.  If you stayed awake you witnessed one of the best games of the day.  It was a 3 OT marvel that is everything great about the college game.  You inject games like this straight into your veins and still carry it around like a hang-over into Sunday.


All in all a magnificent start to the College football season that's got me already anticipating the Thursday games, and a slug-fest next Saturday that could be one of the better games of the season.  More coming on Wednesday and Thursday.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

College Football Week 2: Deeper than week one, without the BEST MATCHUP EVER.

ESPN, as they do, spent a lot of time and effort hyping the week 1 tie between Alabama and Florida State as the BEST GAME EVER.

Of course, it was somewhat of a bust.  Alabama and Nick Saban seem to always make them so.

This week however Alabama is playing a cupcake so we're free to focus on some actual games that might turn out to be OK. Similar to the Sunday and Monday gems that college football provided.

So without further ado, let's take a look at a sampling of the best games as well as some games from teams I root for.

Memphis at UCF (-3) T: 69 - Part of me really likes Memphis here. I think UCF had a solid, if not spectacular, win last week but I don't see them prevailing over a solid Memphis team that has an outside shot at the AAC championship.

Louisville (-10) at UNC T: 62.5 - Put this on my "almost made the five" list as I think Louisville, with a game under their feet, will play much better and will roll.  UNC is replacing a LOT.

Western Michigan @ Michigan State (-7) T: 50 - To be honest, I'm not sure Michigan State's god-awful offense is going to be able to score 7 on Western Michigan who, by the way, looked a lot better than people thought they would last week against USC.

TCU (-3.5) @ Arkansas T: 59 - To me this is a "run way" game. Every year I struggle figuring out just how good both of these teams really are and I don't think this game is going to give us much of an idea. That said, I think TCU needs this game worse than Arkansas.

Louisiana at Tulsa (-15) T: 59 - I think the Rajun' Cajun's are going to do some work in this game and keep is closer than the experts think.  I also think Tulsa ran into a buzzsaw of an offense at a difficult place to play last week. In short, I like both teams' prospects this season but I like Tulsa a little bit more to win, but Louisiana a LOT more to cover.

Nebraska at Oregon (13.5) T: 70 - My gut feeling is that Vegas is giving a little too much credit to the Ducks who are going to be better than last year, but not THAT much better.  Nebraska could really use a big win.

Auburn at Clemson (-4.5) T: 53.5 - I stated in my pre-season write-up that I think Auburn is one of the more overrated teams in the country.  We'll find out in this game whether I was right or just sniffing glue when I wrote my SEC write up.

Georgia at Notre Dame (-4.5) T: 57 - Georgia losing Eason is a killer.  An absolute killer. Had he been healthy this is close to a pick'em game and might have been one of the better games of the week.

UTSA at Baylor (-16.5) T: 59.5 - This was ALMOST a FIVE game but I included it in my inaugural submission for the Bet The Rent Newsletter  If you want to see which way I went, go look there. (cheap plug)

Stanford at USC (-6.5) T: 58.5 - Short and sweet: I think USC ROLLS the Cardinal, who I feel are a program in decline.

Utah (-1.5) at BYU T: 46.5 - How can you not include the Holy War in your list of must-watch games of the week.  This could be rough for the Cougars because I think the Utes are going to be pretty good this year.  Plus, the travel schedule has to be starting to weigh on the Cougars.

Boise State at Washington State. (-10) T: 58.5 - I have no idea who's going to cover, but take the over.

San Diego State at Arizona State (-3.5) T: 55 - A non-FIVE upset special. Were I a betting man I'd take the Aztecs on the M/L if I could find it.


"My" teams.

Houston (-1) at Arizona  T: 70 - This will tell us just how far the Cougars have fallen, if any at all. That said, Arizona is not a good football team right now. Rich Rod is probably coaching there in his final season. I would expect the Cougars to cover handily.  If they don't, it's going to be a long year in Houston.

The Desert Rug Rats at Idaho (-6.5) T: 70.5 - Dammit Rebels.  Just when I go and call you underrated and predict you making a bowl game you go and pull a boner against Howard.  Head Coach Tony Sanchez had better hope his team rebounds or his seat is going to be July in Vegas hot.  Still, what the team needs right now are supporters.  I'm buying in.


And finally.....

Cincinnati at Michigan (-34) T: 49 - Arguably the funniest line of the early year when you consider the spread (34) and the total (49).  I think giving Cincinnati 14 points is generous. Michigan should roll against this Bearkats team that is still struggling to rebuild after the program-killing tenure of Tommy Tuberville.  He pretty much destroyed what was a proud program, as he did to Tech TBH.

Go Blue!!!









Oh, and there's some NFL stuff.  Sorry, not interested.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

2017 College Football: The (belated) debut of the FIVE

That bastard Harvey cancelled week one, but we weren't washed away and my family was very fortunate in that we didn't have any significant damage which places us a lot better off than many in the Houston area.  There are many people in my home town hurting right now.  If you have the ability, please donate to help with the aid.

I would suggest JJ Watt's fundraiser which has been an amazing story.

JJ Watt Foundation Fundraiser

Alternatively, you can donate to the Houston Food Bank

Houston Food Bank

Or, if you're an animal lover as am I, the Houston Humane Society would welcome your donation as well.  I would also like to plug Austin Pets Alive! which has taken in over 200 dogs and cats from the Houston Area.

Austin Pets Alive!

Houston Humane Society

Houston will come back from this, but it will be a changed city in many ways.  Some of which we probably cannot expect.

OK, on to less important things:

1. Oklahoma State (-28 or 28.5 depending) vs. South Alabama. I'm pretty high on South Alabama this year and despite the fact that OSU looked REALLY good last week against Tulsa, I don't see their defense being strong enough to just allow them to dominate a pretty good USA team. Plus, they're on the road which is a place that they do not typically perform as well as they do in Stillwater.

Pick: South Alabama to cover +28 (But I would bet at a William Hill book if I could because you're getting +28.5 which is huge)

2. Ohio at Purdue (-4 or -3.5 if you're betting at Caesars) Purdue is getting brownie points for not looking bad last week at home against Louisville. This week they go on the road against a well-coached Ohio team that I think pulls the upset.  Coach Frank Solich has one of his best teams at Ohio in years.

Pick: Ohio on the ML (if you can get it in Vegas. Avoid Caesars if you're taking the points)

3. Iowa (-2.5) at Iowa State. I know, I know, this is a rivalry game that is "always close" except that it's not. The last two years Iowa has destroyed the Cyclones and it hasn't been close. Given that Iowa is returning a ton of talent and Iowa State is in chronic rebuild mode, I think you have a recipe for another whuppin'.

Pick: Iowa to cover -2.5 (The line here seems to be consistent among the major books so take your pick)

4. South Florida (-17.5 or 18 depending) at UConn. Again, I understand, USF has looked BAD so far this season. But if they can't get it right against a pathetic UConn team then Charlie Strong might not get it right and USF could be in for trouble. The Huskies looked terrible against....Holy Cross. At the beginning of the year I picked USF to run the table and be in a NY six bowl game. If they don't show signs of improvement here I'm bailing.

Pick: USF to cover 17.5 - Avoid the Wynn on this unless you're fading and taking UConn.)

5. Oklahoma at Ohio State (-7 or 7.5 depending) In what feels like the biggest game of the week I think there's value to be had in the Sooners.  TBH, I'm unsure at this point if Ohio State can score enough to beat OU by 7.  Urban Meyer's offense is struggling right now, and the Sooner machine seems to be picking up steam.

Pick: OU to cover +7.  I would go to either William Hill or Wynn however to grab 7.5 before the line falls further.  Ideally you would have grabbed this at -9 when it opened, but that ship's sailed.)


I'll do a run-down of some of the top games, including Michigan and the Desert Rug Rats (UNLV) tomorrow.


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