Against the Spread: Week 7
By Chris, the Impaler, Patriots Insider
We'll get to football in a moment. Way back in April when the World Series was just a wish, I was searching around my attic and found a present my mother got me in 1982; a foul ball from the St. Louis Cardinals - Milwaukee Brewers World Series.
Already resting in its place of honor on my mantelpiece was a Bill Mueller foul ball I caught for my wife on her birthday against the Marlins when the Sox bullpen blew an eight run lead last year and lost to the eventual 2003 World Champions.
Before a protest from the wife was uttered, I surreptitiously stuck the Cardinal baseball on the left side of the Red Sox ball and sighed with a fatuous grin. There were my two balls displayed on the mantelpiece, they were perfect in their representational simplicity; somehow these two teams would meet this year in the World Series I thought.
Meanwhile this week has been a test of my patience for me as I have been inundated with emails from gambling Yankee fans telling me in no uncertain terms, well in Sheffield terms, that the Sox are a walking disaster. I thought I'd take a month to share.
This is from renowned NY sports writer, Jim Cheney, before the LCS "It's the intangibles, my friend. Win it for Mo's dead relatives!" will be the battle cry, as Gary Sheffield will strut around the locker room draped in a Panamanian flag, muttering about how he needs to keep up the family honor for his Uncle Dwight. Miguel Cairo will sit quietly engaged in deep meditation as Enrique Wilson flogs him with a cat-o-nine-tails fashioned from shoelaces and Giambi's spent syringes. Really?
This email was from my brother Bez after game 5, It (ALCS) won't go 7 games, done tonight if it doesn't get rained out. You better pray that Shilling's bionic sneaker does the job or he'll get shelled early again. It won't?
Victory is especially sweet tasting when you win money, but there is added zest when that money comes from family.
At deadline, the Astros and Cardinals had not played the rubber game of the NLCS, completing the Impaler's Mantelpiece Prophecy. However, as I look at the date today I notice it was 19 years ago today the Red Sox finally managed to play Game 6 against the Cincinnati Reds. As you know the game went into extra innings until Carlton Fisk body Englished the Sox to a homerun 7-6 win in the bottom of the 12th. The rest as they say is history. Let's hope history does not repeat itself, again.
PATRIOTS (-6.5) v Jets (o/u 44)
Turning our attention to the Patriots (finally) we notice that for the offshore aficionado there are so many research portals made available to the weekend warrior who wagers a ducat or two that today the online gambler has enough resources to give them an advantage they have never had before; access to up to the minute intel. To prove a point we will only look at the betting trends for this game and eschew positional, coaching and ATS statistics for this game.
A crucial stat for our purposes is what I call, Betting Trends. Essentially this tells the weekend bettor who is betting on what, or quite simply, where the public money is going. Crucial when you are lining up your wagers. We'll see how it plays out through this week's column.
For instance, the betting trends I see that for this weekend's PATRIOTS-Jets match up has 87% of the public betting on the Patriots 6.5 to cover the spread while a mere 13% are grabbing the 6.5 points and taking the Jets to cover. WOW! This is not what Las Vegas Sports Consultants wants, they're looking for 50-50, but as with the case with most Patriots games these days, the public is well behind the hometown heroes. But the question here is, are LVSC that off on setting the line? Apparently, so the line will get adjusted to encourage more of us to take the points and even out the play.
On the money line 44% of gamblers took the Jets for +240 with 56% of gamblers spending -280 on the Patriots to win outright. Using these betting trends we can surmise that while the betting public is evenly divided on the money line, the point spread is so skewed that if the weekend warrior waits the 6.5 will probably be up to 7.5 by game time.
Impaler Perspective: Since we hate betting for or against the Patriots, we'll utilize our betting trends and take the Jets +6.5 points to cover ATS for a paltry 1 unit.
CLEVELAND (+7.5) v Philadelphia (o/u 41.5)
In last weekend's match up for the Eagles, the Panthers came into Philadelphia with so many injuries it was apparent to me that there was no way that Carolina could stay competitive, and I was correct. The Eagles held Stephen Davis to 66 yards rushing and they allowed 8 meaningless points in the fourth quarter. Granted the Eagles 31 point score was a bit skewed by a 42 yard Westbrook rushing TD in the last minutes of the game. However, 24 points would have been plenty to cover the 8.5 points. This week, we have a Cleveland Browns team that won decisively over Cincinnati at home last week. With Garcia throwing for more than 300 yards against a porous Bengal Defense. Do not let this fool you, Cleveland is not about to come up from the cellar. This game will be, quite simply, won and lost on the line of scrimmage. The Eagles DL features the 'Freak' Jevon Kearse and his supporting cast of merry men. Look to Philadelphia controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball as the Key element in this game. The Eagles have covered last 9 of 10 road games, which explains why 97% of the public is on the Eagles side.
Impaler Perspective: The fact that Philadelphia has won every game this year by double digits has me flying with the Eagles again for 2 units.
NY GIANTS (-6.5) v Detroit (o/u 40.5)
Last weekend a peeved Green Bay Packer team exposed Detroit. While most of the Motor City had high hopes for their Lions, Green Bay once again showed that they don't have to play on Thanksgiving to prove they can beat the Lions. What killed the Lions was their inability to run, Kevin Jones almost managed 6 yards on 2 carries! They also had a really hard time stopping Favre and RB Green throwing TDs. This week when Detroit travels (2-0 on the road straight up) to the NY football Giants, Az Hakim might not recognize his old pal, chuckmeister Kurt Warner who has resurrected the hopes of Giants fans as far as Portland, Oregon. Who would have thought that Tiki Barber would be fifth in rushing this year with 577 yards already! HC Tom Coughlin has realigned the Giants' mentality and approach to the game making them virtually unstoppable this week against the Lions.
Impaler Perspective: The Giants are a 4 unit play this weekend to cover the 6.5 points at home in the Garden State.
CAROLINA (-3.5) v San Diego (o/u42)
The one question I have is what did Marty Shottenheimer say to Boilermaker Drew, they call me the Brees? One moment Wolfpack star QB Rivers is drafted to replace an ineffective Brees the next minute the Chargers QB has thrown 9 TDs to 1 INT and has made believers of the doubters. With an improved completion percentage and a hard corps trio of receivers, the Chargers have surprised the league by going 2-0-1 ATS on the road this year. On the other side of the ball Carolina still has a host of injuries on Defense, which should benefit a hurting Horned Frog RB Thomlinson. Panther QB, Jake 'The Man' will have to improve his accuracy and settle down until his receivers have run their routes before passing the ball. But this depends on his OL as well. If they don't do a better job getting of the line and making holes for lone surviving RB Davis, the Panthers will be in for another long day.
Impaler Perspective: Actually we see San Diego winning this game outright after a tough 1-point loss to the Falcons on the road last week but we'll grab the 3.5 points and lay 2 units on the Chargers.
Monday Night Bonus
CINCINNATI (+5) v Denver (o/u44)
A full compliment of bettors, 97%, are backing the 5-1 Broncos this week on the side and laying the five points on the road against an awful 1-4 Bungles team. And initially it looks like the woeful Bungles will get creamed on Monday night. In fact, unlike last weekend's game with the Rams, we advise betting this game late, like an hour before the game. The Red Sox get a travel day as they move toward their World Series dreams so this will be the only game in town. A nationally televised game at home (actually the Bengals second nationally televised game, the last was against Miami) Last week, behind RB Droughns (178 rush yards) pummeled their bitter rivals, the Raiders to the tune of 31-3. Indeed they looked unstoppable and they were. This week against and equally pitiful defense the Broncos will look to improve to 6-1! But this win might not come as easily as 97% of the betting public thinks. While the Bronco's running game looks fierce (which is nothing new) there are still questions about QB Plummer, at least in my mind. If the Bengals can keep a leash on the snake then with PK Neil Racker's accuracy and leg they'll be within three points of the spread for the entire game. I also look to Bengal WR Houshmandzadeh to stay open for most of the game as the focus and energy of stud CB Champ Bailey is on Chad Johnson allowing the Bengals to burn the Broncos deep at least once. You'd also be a fool to ignore the fact that the Bengals have a league leading 8 fumble recoveries this year.
Impaler Perspective: I love the home dog in this one as the Broncos look beyond this to next week's tilt with the Falcons. I'm grabbing 5 points now (and any extra points an hour before game time) and wagering 2 units on the Bengals at home on Monday Night.
Week 6 RECRAP
The scene on Powell St. in Portland, Oregon with no time left in regulation and Seattle with a first and goal on the Patriots 1 was such; various family members gathered around the wide screen teaching their toddlers (while equipping the kids with wooden spoons for extra emphasis) the vile phrase, 'No Touchdown, no touchdown!' The blood curdling cheers of delight erupted when Alexander failed to penetrate the end zone as the game ended with the Patriots a ten-point winner. Every damn member of the family, even Uncle Tino who has taken me five straight weeks in NFL wagers, had gone against the Impaler (as they do every week) and we're calling me to gloat (of course I'd get revenge later in the week on a certain baseball team).
Followers of this space know that the Impaler has been burnt by this exact same play on two consecutive weeks, but this week our hubris cost us a dime. However, good thing we had five plays since we fared much better with two bills on the Eagles 8.5, three bills on Cleveland 3, and four bills on the Monday Night Bonus play with St. Louis covering the six point spread (if you did not follow my advice and bet late you pushed since the number jumped to seven by game time). We lost on Detroit 2.5 for two units to round out week 6 with a 3-2 mark against the number, but with a net deficit of 4 units. The Impaler's record now squats at 4-6-1, with minus 5 units after six weeks of play. But there is still plenty of time to get us up to a comfortable 70 percent by season's end.
Don't forget to get those picks in for the weekly picks contest Deadline Friday by 3pm!
Chris Shepard, aka The Impaler, writes a weekly piece for the patriots insiders titled "Against The Spread," written as if it were from a gamblers perspective on the upcoming game(s). You will find The Impaler in the forums under the screenname ChrisTheImpaler He'd like nothing better than to hear from you on why you agree/disagree or take issue with his perspectives.
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