Against the Spread: Week 15
By Chris, the Impaler
A look at the schedule, falling temperatures, crappy songs on the radio, marketing overkill (I could careless if retailers don't sell more of the same crap they did last year-in fact the US and the World in general could use about a 80 percent reduction in retail), the departure of Slingblade Martinez from the 2004 Championship team, and the annual debate over how much the BCS sucks tells me 2004 is almost in the books. Good riddance.
This Friday night I'll be hunkered down in front of a real championship game as James Madison plays host to Montana in the 1-AA championship game at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, TN. I think if Montana brings their A-game they'll have a good chance at the upset.
Meanwhile, if you're like me you'll bemoan the fact that for the next few Saturday's we'll be without college football. But at least the NFL got together with the TV people and figured that they could use those Saturday's to increase their revenue by showing more vapid NFL games to an American public that will eat up dog excrement and exclaim it is a delicacy as long as Martha Stewart packages it and K-MART sells it at a 25 percent blue light discount. No doubt Americans get what they deserve-heck the last election proved that maxim.
It is no secret that college football (save for the multitude of Bowl Games) is about 1000 times more entertaining than what the pros will have to offer us this Saturday. But as a degenerate gambler we mainly just care about the fact we can bet-that is until the government can find a way to impose their morals on you and me and arrest the entire betting publis.
Since it is too early in NCAA Hoops season to make educated bets, we'll have to make due with a mediocre slate of Saturday NFL games. Are you going to waste your time watching the 49ers and Skins play? Even if you have a dime riding on the game, run into the middle of the street and get hit by a car at least you'll be doing something productive and making someone else money.
We can prolong the agony as many as twenty or thirty pages but eventually we'll have to look at these games so may as well choke on the bile and get through it now. F'me.
Wait strike that, F'them we got bets to place, winnings to pick up and an old sock to toss-off into. Tempus fugit bitch! How's that for some of the old 6th grade Latin from Cardigan Mountain School?
Carolina (+4) v ATLANTA (42 o/u)
This could actually be a good game if Vick figures out how to read the Carolina defense. Unfortunately for the Hokie, he's playing against the best team in the NFC South. No, not playing for, but playing against. Aren't the Falcons in first place and the Panthers in second? Numbers are mere contrivances that fool only those who look at them.
Winners of five games in a row, the injury ridden Panthers look to pull ahead of the Falcons in the division record column. Currently, the Panthers are 2-1 in the division and the Falcons are 3-1. A win would give the Panthers the psychological edge, but nothing more than that since Atlanta finally clinched the NFC South last weekend. So why bring it up? Because stupid stats like this is what cappers rely upon when making their picks.
But my favorite stat reads something like; when the Panthers play on the 18th day of the month they are 9-1 in their last ten against the spread! They are? Well don't go checking that fact, it doesn't exist. I made it up. However, is that stat more meaningful if it was real? Nope, because it is a BS stat and if you want to win in today's NFL you have to know how to avoid the BS stats.
We are much more concerned with the fact that this is the second time these two teams have met this year. The first match resulted in Atlanta winning on the road 27-10. Perhaps you'll remember what Atlanta Linebacker Keith Brooking yelled as they left the field in that win, "We own the South!"
They do? Man the Falcons sound a bit too much like a firebug northern general 150 years ago, don't they? This weekend Atlanta will likely try to play landlord and collect on their bill to the Panthers. But before you go dropping all kinds of moss on the Falcons because you see that the Falcons are 11-13 against the Panthers, let me refresh you memory of a few salient facts from week 4. Remember, John Fox's team was 1-3 after the loss and looked like they'd lose out the rest of the season.
The Panthers held Atlanta QB Michael Vick to 148 yards passing and 35 yards rushing. Carolina Panthers had three crucial turnovers; WR Muhsin Muhammad fumbled on the Atlanta 21 yard line that led to a Warrick Dunn TD. The second was when Carolina QB Jake Delhomme was intercepted at the Falcon three-yard line. The most costly turnover was in the fourth quarter with Atlanta leading by a score of 13-10. Delhomme threw an interception that was returned for a TD. In the waning moments of the game Atlanta RB TJ Ducket ran for another TD sealing the victory for the Falcons. However, Ducket is expected to miss two weeks so Warrick Dunn will get the nod to start in this game. The drop-off is precipitous.
Impaler Perspective: We're betting 3300 that Carolina is the best team in the NFC South. Grab the four points even though the Panthers will win this outright.
SAN FRANCISCO (+4) v Washington (37 o/u)
Do we really need to offer analysis for this game? If we are just going to bet it because a buddy of ours told us that the Steelers -10 were a lock and we're trying to win back that early money we lost, we might look a little deeper at this game. But since we are avoiding the pratfalls of the amateur gambler, we don't have to worry about it. We can go shopping with our wives from 5-8:30, heck go all day if they want, I mean really score bonus points at home and then when everyone is feeling great about themselves, we can hunker down in front of the tube to watch our big bet cash.
Impaler Perspective: When two crappy teams play each other it is a great game to avoid. But we'll let the amateurs make the mistakes this week and avoid any costly traps. The play is the home team and the four points for 220.
Buffalo (-1) v CINCINNATI (44)
They say NFL players, and sports figures in general, are role models. I guess. Take for instance the stellar example Jake "the Fake" Plummer set last week flipping the bird to his hometown from the bench during the Broncos 17-20 home win against the Dolphins. Unluckily for the Fake his gesture was caught by a television camera and broadcast countless of time on the national Deportes Station. Meanwhile, real sportsmen, like Buffalo QB Drew Bledsoe have been quietly winning backers by keeping his cool and playing competent football.
Indeed six weeks into the season most veteran broadcasters who "know" things the rest of us don't proclaimed that this was Bledsoe's final season. That he'd been hit so many times that he was shell-shocked and could no longer continue in today's NFL. Obviously rumors of his demise have been highly exaggerated and Buffalo is still in contention for a wildcard spot. While this match-up should prove very exciting, we love the fact that he put up Tom Brady like numbers in their win at Cleveland last week. Bledsoe was 12-of-27 for 100 yards and a touchdown and an interception in Week 14 against Cleveland.
On the other side of the ball, Cincinnati almost beat the Patriots last week but they were too busy beating themselves. Did Cincinnati get that much better over the past 6 games? Or are they finally learning to play as a team and trust Carson Palmer as their fearless QB? Now, when it seems that Palmer is much better at reading defenses he might be out for this game. Wait to see who starts before placing your bets. Cincinnati has played tough at home this year-remember what they did to the Broncos?
Impaler Perspective: We are playing the over 44 for 110. Depending upon whom QBs the game we'll take the better team laying 1 point on the road for a dime (1100 Bledsoe's) because Buffalo really needs the win (and they are 9-1 playing on the 18th of the month).
St. Louis (-1) v ARIZONA (41.5o/u)
Who would have thought that this game would mean so much for the Rams? Talk about your fading fast and out of sight, but that is what happens when you have a QB named Chandler who threw six interceptions against a resurgent Carolina Panthers (you will also recall this was a two dime win last weekend). Of course this line will leap to -3 if Bulger returns in Week 15 to play at Arizona. However, at deadline, the Rams' QB status was uncertain. In my mind, whether Chandler or Bulger gets the nod is immaterial. Especially when we are talking NFL playoffs and/or a possible NFC West title.
The NFC West is definitely the worst division in the NFL this year (it is the SF forty-niners that helped secure this dubious title for the NFC West) but that doesn't mean that a team won't win the West, it just might take longer than other divisions.
With a win on the road, the Rams can pull even in the NFC West lead. Seattle travels across the country to play at the NY Jets in New Jersey. It is more than possible that Seattle loses and drops to 7-7, the Rams win and move to 7-7. The Cardinals are a day late and an ass-crack short this year so a win will mean nothing except avenging an opening week loss at the Rams-a game the Cardinals should have won.
And most gamblers know that when pride plays playoff contender it is the contender that usually wins. Usually.
Impaler Perspective: Even St. Louis' bad QB-ing won't lose this game for the Rams who come into Sun Devil stadium needing a win to keep pace in the NFC West. Heck, Zona' might even make Chandler look good. We'll lay the point for a dime.
Monday Night Bonus
New England (-9.5) v MIAMI (41.5 o/u)
This is the exact garbage game that a home field advantage contending team loses or almost loses. However, that is most teams and not the well-disciplined Patriots, right? Of course this week has not been without its distractions. Patriots' OC Weiss has spent most of the week telling the people who care that Notre Dame will return to former glory under his guiding hand. And why not? It looks as if his team is on a return trip to the NFL Championship Game. While Weiss signed a 6 year, 12 million dollar contract, most observers of college football know he has 2 years to right the ship and a third for a major bowl. If not, Ty Willingham will tell him, contact Belichick and see if he needs his OC again. But that is next year. Weiss has said he'll stay with the Patriots for the remainder of the season. Now he can focus his full attention on the Dolphins. Well, if not his full attention, then at least 25 percent of it on the flight home from South Bend to Miami.
This week Patriots QB Tom Brady was asked if didn't have Weiss, could he call the plays since he has been a part of Weiss' system for so long. Brady's response, the game has changed so much in the last ten years and has become so situational that it would be impossible for him to call the game without Weiss.
We'll see if the distractions made a bit of difference or not this week. However, if you are the Patriots coaching staff and you have already clinched the Division and a #2 seeding in the playoffs you are more concerned about managing wins with little to no injury to your star players. If the Patriots can stay healthy these next two crucial weeks they'll get a much-needed week off. And that does not sound like a team about to cover a 10.5-point spread on the road, does it?
Impaler Perspective: We don't like anything about this game so we'll take the Dolphins for 360 grabbing the ten and a half points (we'll buy the extra half point just in case).
WEEK 14 RECRAP
We won the big bets and lost the small (and that is the way it is supposed to work). We won 2k on Carolina giving 6 to the Rams, another dime on the Bills, and three hundred on the Bengals. We lost a nickel on the Titans on Monday night as they lost at home to KC and we also lost a grand on the JETS 2nd half implosion. We went 3-2 for our five picks that translated into another winning weekend. We are still profitable as we realized a positive cash flow of $1750 for a hard weekend of work in week 14. This brings the Impaler's record to 25-26-1 ATS with $3550 greenbacks stuffed into the envelope marked for "BCS Betting and 10th Avenue Midnight All-star fund." With only two betting weekends to go in this column we see that it is still possible to hit our 10k mark for the 2004 NFL season that we set back in August.
You can find The Impaler's weekly column here each week as he contemplates the odds and provides perspective for the top 5 picks for the week. Have a bone to pick, want some more insights, just want to talk football odds? You can reach Chris in the forums, under the screenname: christheimpaler.
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