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Against the Spread: Week 17

<p>On a final note for the season, Chris Shepard brings his prognostigating powers to bear once more for the benefit of our readers. Once Chris found success, it was hard to keep his enthusiasm down. Nothing beats making weekly winning picks, or in The Impaler's case, over a season's worth of them.</p><p>Here's Chris' final picks. Questions or comments, you can reach him <a href="" target="_blank">in the forums</a

Against the Spread: Week 17
By Chris, the Impaler

In cyber space I'm known as the Impaler but in West Cornwall they call me Tilt Rebuy. The first part of my name is descriptive of how I play poker while the second is after the frequency of action of buying more chips after consecutive all in bad beats.

Holiday poker week with the family (West Cornwall Christmas Invitational) and all of a sudden I can't play poker against these people because they are my brothers and their pregnant wives, my pregnant wife and my Uncle, Langfarb. Hell, I lose my grub steak a few times and I start to hear remarks like, "How's that SuperSystem going Brunson?" or "Hey Tilt, all in."

Everyone chuckles. Langfarb thinks it is funny as hell. He celebrates by going out to the porch and lighting a Winston and sipping Inglenook, or Working Man's Brew as it is known here, or as I call it, the Inglenook Effect.

Hell, everything is funny when you write the rules (and you have had enough Inglenook). Or when you have the tower of power a fat stack of chips. I'm the sucker chasing, playing every hand because I'd like nothing more than to swat them with my pocket queens or big slick.

If I was smart I'd kick my brother Bez in the head on suspicion of looking like a malingerer and give Jez a bit of the old ultra violence on principle but it is kind of hard to open that can when you've re-bought three times in twenty minutes.

Aggressive. Like Mrs. Iris in 9th grade Algebra practicing her cheers, B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E, Be Aggressive, B-E Aggressive. That never happens. All I am is a limp dick sitting with my lame over card betting into the bad boy as the little goat. It gets easier after the first time; so I say it, "Rebuy!" Hoots and hollers, high fives and general merriment ensue as the women light smokes and snort shots of anisette in celebration. Nothing better than getting a professional gambler mortgaging his family street credit for a pocket full of 11.5 gram clay chips (X-mas present from Idez to Jez).

Good thing I came into the game up big to my brothers Zo and Jez. Langfarb owed me big time also but we'd squared that voucher the night before as he'd already nailed me for a Benjamin. Heck most of the family owed me money one way or another during this year and we decided to settle all bets after poker. I warned them if they didn't pay I'd lay on the thumbscrews so they knew I was serious.

Langfarb nailed me on his 7 when he had no business staying in against my fourth street pot raise flush-or so I thought. He took me full to the river with jacks over sevens against my flush and before you could say bad beat I was re-buying like a tour head sucking nitrous on a hippie crack balloon.

By the time we settled up Langfarb and me were the big losers and the women, Lez, Hez and Idez, like usual, surpassed the men when it came to profit. But none of us really lost. We had a hell of a good time playing cards, drinking, smoking and having a good time. We proved the old maxim that money won is fun but money won off of your family is the fucking best.

If we lose every bet this weekend we'll be out $5100 but for the season, but we will have made our readers $2180 as THE VERY WORST case. Chances are pretty damned good that that won't happen but you never know and since this is my last column on the Patriots Insider as our 17 weeks together comes to a close I like to point out that it is impossible for me lose money this season.

Of course, I'd love to go 5-0 and win an additional $4600 to bring our 17-week total to $11880 as THE VERY BEST case scenario. Most likely we should fall somewhere in between. Our target of 10 dimes will likely become a reality.

Whatever happens it has been a great season and again I have proved the point that all you have to do is pay attention and you too can win at handicapping. Indeed, as I said at the beginning of this column, wagering on sports is an investment opportunity. It is up to you to decide if you want that opportunity for yourself. I can't place that bet for you that is up to you. By following my foolproof system after 17 weeks molesting Tagliabue's balls, the worst you could have done was win $2180. And the best that we can do? Well read on and you'll see where I think we can make some money by exploiting weakness in the line.

Happy New Year. Can you believe it is 2005?

NEW ENGLAND (-14.5) v San Francisco (37o/u)
With neither team having much to play for it is hard to get excited about this game. Except, we bet so we are excited. The Patriots were given the Forty-Niners for some reason as their last home game. There is almost nothing like a meaningless out of conference, out of division game the last week of the football season to bring the fans to the ice-cold Razor for some New Year's cheer.

The Forty-Niners have locked in a first round draft pick which should help their woes due to cap abuse, but that is next year and they still need to sleep walk through their last game before they can relax for the off season. Meanwhile, our Patriots are looking at a game where almost every conceivable outcome includes the risk of injury for the number two AFC seed. This is a game the Patriots do not want to play either. The odds man has set the line at 14 and it jumped to 14.5 immediately. The line is not high enough. I know many people who would have bet the Patriots at 20 points. I think the number hits 20 as the Patriots third team plays better than Erickson's crew. Am I sure about this? I wouldn't call it a lock only because these types of games are screwy and all the home team wants to do is get home and watch the late game.

Impaler Perspective: I'm laying 110 on the Patriots giving 14.5 points because I am compulsive and like a little taste when I watch sports.

Pittsburgh (+9) v BUFFALO (34 o/u)
The question you should ask yourself when deciding to bet this game is can Pittsburgh's backup QB Tommy Maddox win this game in Buffalo? Certainly we do not want to buck Pittsburgh's 13 game win streak, but then there is no team in the NFL is hotter than the Buffalo Bills. The magic is back in Buffalo and Bledsoe has believers hanging up his jersey next to Flutie's. Pittsburgh has already clinched home field advantage and a first round bye in the AFC playoffs. However, is this fact combined with Maddox taking over at QB enough to make the Steelers a 9 point dog at Buffalo?

Granted, Buffalo has everything to play for on Sunday. A playoff berth is at stake for the Bills and increases the import of this game tremendously for the Bills. But I just don't see the Bills pouring on the points in this game. Sure, they'll do enough to win this game, but once they score the lead look for the Bills to do the same thing as every other team contending for the post season, not get hurt.

Impaler Perspective: We'll take Pittsburgh grabbing nine points for 550 steel curtain rods.

CAROLINA (-7) v New Orleans (46 o/u)
The Saints won despite themselves last weekend against a Falcons team that looked like they preferred to sit next to Mike on the bench. If you watch point spreads like I do then you noticed the swing last week. It was like an enormous pendulum opening with the Falcons as a 2.5-point favorite and swinging to New Orleans as a 6-point favorite minutes before game time. Bettors were not swayed and we all managed to realize a juicy win.

This week is a similar sort of game for the Carolina Panthers who have made amazing strides this year weathering 14 injured starters. How well the Panthers have played has been a testament to John Fox and his coaching staff. Now the Panthers are in contention for the playoffs and to show their detractors that Carolina is once again a dangerous team. Remember these guys have been here before. However, for me the X-factors really fall onto Carolina's side. New Orleans, a dome team, does not fare well on the road, nor are they, for mind, a good team. They will have to win this game, but that will only insure a ridiculously long and incomprehensible mathematical permutation to happen for the Saints to get into the playoffs. Don't worry it won't happen.

Impaler Perspective: From 1-7 to 7-8 in just eight weeks at home giving 7 points is the play for 3300 wildcards.

Jets (+2) v St. Louis (43 o/u)
Mike Martz must be pretty pleased with his Rams that they beat the number #1 NFC seed at home on Monday night. Once he is done patting himself on his back he'll have to concentrate on the NY Football Jets who fly into town on Sunday as two point underdogs.

The Patriots really abused the Jets in New Jersey and made Jet QB Chad Pennington pay for his mistakes (including his 19 minute commentary and lecture to the NY sports press two week's ago). In fact I attribute his poor play in part to only having one foot (he's been spending the last week trying to get the other out of his mouth). Now that he has hopefully recovered, the Jets come to St. Louis hungry for a win against a suspect Ram team who, if we all cross our fingers and beg, might not see post-season action. In today's NFL it is hard to gauge so we won't. There are certain things that the Patriots do on defense that St. Louis does not and we look for Jets Head Coach Herm Edwards to exploit a weak secondary and then attack with a heavy dose of Lamont Jordan. Martin should see a few snaps but I wouldn't count on seeing him carry the load. This is good since Jordan is more than capable of carrying the Jets to victory. The Jets should see success as they sustain long drives on offense and calming the Rams ability to score points at home. But they'll find the Jets have something to play for this week and will take a win seriously.

Impaler Perspective: Rams looked good against the second and third string Eagles last week at home, this week not so much. Jets grabbing two points for a nickel are the play.

Dallas (+2) v NY GIANTS (37.5 o/u)
Due to scheduling conflicts there will be no Monday Night game this week. Followers of this space understand that is a lousy deal since we have killed all year on Monday Night. If I did not have ADD, I'd recheck my Monday Night totals, but at this point it feels like we've nailed the Monday Night winner more often than not. So what I have done is bestowed this classic NFC match-up as my honorary Monday Night game. Perhaps this could have been a contender in an alternate universe, but here in the third dimension it is just another game.

Going back in the archives I see that it has been a damned long time since the Giants won as a favorite. In fact the GINTS are 2-9 against the spread when favored in the last eleven games they have played.

The Giants defense is in trouble and they'll be playing against revenge motivated and Bill Parcells coached Dallas Cowboys. Don't tell them that this is the last game of the year and they have no shot at the post season.

Impaler Perspective: Dallas grabbing two points on the road should win outright for 550 Jones'.

Week 16 Recrap

What can I say? Some weekends are better than others and bets placed under holiday duress are not always wisely chosen. Having to adopt many personalities to get through the season the one I most like was made unavailable due to the fact that there are parts of the Nutmeg State that do not get cable or internet. Suffice it to say, this riverboat gambler rolled the dice and crapped out. While unable to observe this weekend's action intimately I did notice that Gotham's Old Gray Bitch described what undoubtedly sounds like a bunch of we-made-the-playoffs-and-clinched-a-first-round-bye-so-we-did-not-play-our-first-string-players-garbage. Good thing we were on the correct sides of these two games as both the Saints and the Rams covered at home winning outright. Philly didn't need the game and the Rams did. Winner Rams for 300 on Monday Night. Atlanta without Vick and Crumpler no brainer and that cashed our 2 dime ticket for plus 2300 on two well placed wagers. Our three losses on the other hand left us wincing as we mistakenly thought that the Vikings would actually be able to win and cover at home against in conference rival Green Bay Packers. Yeah right, a 2-dime loss on Christmas Eve threatened to ruin the fat mans descent. We dropped a nickel on the Jets at home and another two bills on the Titans at home. Our three losses cost us 2970 for a net loss of $670 in week 16.

Our 2-3 pot shot in week 16 sports investment brought the Impaler's seasonal total to 30-31-1 ATS this season. A peek into the envelope shows that we were able to weather the loss no matter how unpalatable and now count $7280 dollars stuffed into the envelope marked for "BCS Betting and Miami Beach Ski and Snow Sports Club."


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.

If you are reading this article via a news portal, you can find the original story as well as links to others at Patriots Insider
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