Friday, December 31, 2010

Roberts College Football Bowl Selections: January 1, 2011 - Happy New Year!

Michigan looks like the right side vs MSU 
Saturday, January 1
Cotton Bowl
Texas Tech -9 vs. Northwestern

Outback Bowl
Penn State +7 (EV) vs. Florida

Citrus Bowl
Michigan State +10 vs. Alabama

Gator Bowl
Michigan +4 vs. Mississippi State

Rose Bowl
TCU -3 (EV) vs. Wisconsin

Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma -16 vs. Connecticut

Bowl Record: 13-10-1

NFL Week 17 Betting Moves From Las Vegas Sports Books

Week 17 of the NFL is always a tough week to handicap for the bettors, and maybe even tougher for the bookmakers who have to baby sit a few lines as they wait for information and scenarios to unfold. Several games will be treated with caution by the sportsbooks because of being meaningless, even though most books will take care of that by offering lower limits. In other instances, they have to wait for rumors and reports from the practice field such as Tom Brady and the Patriots and how long they’ll actually play in their home game against the Dolphins.And then there are semi-meaningless games with all kinds of variables from players who will play and who won’t that has the team rating all muffled. The feature game in this category goes to the Cowboys visiting the Eagles. The initial early line on Monday had the Eagles as 12-point favorites against the Cowboys who had quarterback Jon Kitna listed as ‘doubtful,’ meaning rookie Stephen McGee would likely start. When QB Michael Vick got hurt, the line was left vacant until Thursday morning. If the line was Eagles minus-12 with Vick, knowing that McGee would play, then it’s got to be at least a 4 ½-point line move, right? And then, how much do you add on for wide receiver DeSean Jackson being out? Position players usually don’t get much consideration in point spreads, but this kid actually makes the quarterback look better because of his athletic ability.

Click here to find out more!
The South Point was the first to put the game on the board in Las Vegas at Philadelphia minus-7 and shortly after Station Casinos posted minus-6 ½. Later in the day, the crew over at the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book posted the Eagles minus-9 and quickly jumped to Eagles minus-12. As this was being written, no other book had a posted number on the game. The Hilton line likely has more to McGee getting his first career start, on the road in Philadelphia, than anything else. The Eagles are locked in and can’t advance further with a win, but maybe Kevin Kolb has an agenda to prove something to himself and the team, and maybe even other teams.
Another aspect to look at from a handicappers’ perspective is who the game means more to. The Lions are the perfect example this week. They aren’t going to the playoffs, but they have won three in a row, including two straight wins on the road. They’ll come home to a glorious reception as though they’re in the playoffs against the Vikings, who showed some grit last week, but have essentially packed it in on a disappointing season. After winning at Philadelphia on Tuesday with rookie quarterback Joe Webb, the Vikings line dropped 3 ½-points from their early line of plus-7 on the basis of Minnesota appearing that they had something left in the tank. But do they have anything left? Is their motivation for this game there just because they don’t want to lose 10 games? Who is hungrier at this juncture: a team who fell one game short of the Super Bowl last season with lofty expectations for this year, or a team who is clearly on the rise and proving it weekly? I’d have to side with Lions here laying minus-3 (-120).
On the early line of Jacksonville at Houston -- before their games were finalized Sunday -- the Jaguars were installed as a 2 ½-point favorite. After an injury to QB David Garrard and the likelihood that running back Maurice Jones-Drew wouldn't play, coupled with both teams losing Sunday, the Texans became 3-point favorites. That’s quite a swing for a team like the Jaguars that still have playoff implications, but it also says a lot about the back-up QB, Trent Edwards, who has a tendency to be overcautious with the football when piloting the ship. Jones-Drew, as great as he is, has proved to be replaceable and has no bearing on the movement. It says a lot about the quarterback when a shift happens like that favoring a team that got blasted in the fourth quarter last week by a rookie quarterback (Tim Tebow) who everyone believes can’t be an NFL QB. However, Houston has shown the ability to get up for these Week 17 meaningless games -- to them -- as they have won convincingly in the final game of the year the last four seasons.
Statistically, the Dolphins were coming strong to play this week at New England regardless of the implications. They are 6-1 on the road this season and are 4-0-1 in their last five trips to Foxboro. Because New England coach Bill Belichick is likely to allow his key starters to play only in the first half, the line is reduced considerably to the Patriots being 4-point favorites, up a whole point from the opener. Had this game been in Week 12 where the game meant something to New England, we’d be looking at a spread closer to minus-8 just because of how well the Patriots offense has been cashing in for the public. They are America’s favorite team to bet right now and the line movement reflects that despite the coaching moves that will greatly impact the final outcome.
When looking at the Bears getting 10 points at Green Bay, we’re all thinking that game must not mean anything, but it does, kind of. The "kind of" part is built in to the line because in order for it to mean something, both the Falcons and Saints have to lose which would then make the Bears game at a later start time mean playing for home field. Had this game been in Week 13, the Packers would be around 4 ½-point favorites if under the same circumstances, of which being the Bears scoring some points like they have been the last two weeks. This game will be taken off the board at most sportsbooks when the early games involving the NFC South teams start and then offered once again when those games become closer to the final outcome, which in the Falcons case at home against Carolina could be the second quarter or earlier.
The Falcons early line was closer to being a line that reflected them beating the Saints on Monday night and resting this week as they opened up as 10-point favorites. Upon losing, making home field a dangling incentive carrot for Week 17, the Falcons were quickly adjusted to minus-14 against Carolina where it sits right now.
The “Game of the Week” features the Rams at Seattle in a do or die matchup for the NFC West crown and ticket into the playoffs. The Seahawks will start Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback and the opening line of Rams minus-2 was built in to him starting, but the Sharps jumped all over it pushing the game to minus-3. The fact that the Seahawks haven’t looked like they did earlier in the year at home also looks to be the key as they have gone 1-3 in their last four at home against the number. The Rams look to be a solid play this week simply on the basis of Whitehurst trying to control the show.
Some early Sharp money came in on the Broncos at home getting 3 ½-points against theChargers, but incremental public money, spurred by an incoming New Year’s Eve crowd, has kept the game at Chargers minus-3 or 3 ½. This game kind of has the same approach that the Lions game does in that it means a whole lot more to the Broncos who seemed energized with some pride for the future due to the play of Tebow. Whereas, the Chargers are playing for nothing in Week 17 for the first time in ages. Will the Chargers road woes of 2-5 on the year continue and what is their mindset like after being thoroughly disappointed in a year where they had one of the top offenses and defenses statistically, only to watch everyone else play in the postseason while they‘re at home?
Happy New Years to everyone and may your 2011 NFL betting year be much better than 2010.
For many, it has been one of the worst ever.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

NFL Week 17 Betting Trends


OAKLAND at KANSAS CITY...Odd series visitor dynamics were finally altered in earlier 23-20 Raiders win, which stopped Chiefs’ 9-game cover streak at Oakland. Now action switches to Arrowhead, where Raiders are 6-0-1 vs. line in last seven visits. Last four meetings at KC also "under." Raiders-back-and-forth with covers on road TY, by that pattern due for a "W" here.Tech edge-"Under" and Raiders, based on series trends.MIAMI at NEW ENGLAND...Curiously, Miami has played very well at Foxborough lately, standing 4-0-1 vs. line last five visits in a visitor-oriented series (road team 8-2-1 vs. number last 11 meetings). Of course, Dolphins have continued their solid road play this season, now 6-1 SU and vs. number, and 17-5 vs. spread last 22 away from home under Sparano.Belichick "over" 8 of last 9 in 2010Tech edge-Dolphins and "over," based on team and series trends.
TENNESSEE at INDIANAPOLIS...Titans broke 3-game spread losing streak vs. Indy with the backdoor of all covers Dec. 9 at Nashville. That one also went "over" after 8 of previous 9 had gone "under" in this AFC South series. Titans have also dropped last four vs. spread on road TY after covering first three as visitor in 2010. Indy needed a last-minute onside kick return TD vs. Jags to break recent 3-game spread losing streak and give Colts their first cover at Lucas Oil Stadium in last four tries in 2010. Indy "under" 4-3 at home this season. Tech edge-"Under," based on "totals" trends.
JACKSONVILLE at HOUSTON...Houston has won SU in its last four closing-week games, all victories by 7 or more. Texans also 6-2 all-time at home vs. number against Jags, although Kubiak just 2-9 vs. number last 11 TY. Jags, who won first meeting on deflected Hail Mary, now "over" 5 of last 7 vs. Houston (first meeting also "over"), and both of these teams "over" 10-5 this season. Tech edge-"Over" and slight to Texans, based on "totals" and series trends.
PITTSBURGH at CLEVELAND...Brownies have covered last two meetings vs. Steelers in Cleveland, although Mangini just 1-6 vs. spread last 7 on board in 2010. Steel just 2-3 vs. line as visitor since Big Ben returned in October, and Tomlin also "under" 5-1 last 6 TY after Dec. 23 win over Panthers. Brownies also "under" last four TY. Tech edge-"Under," based on "totals" trends.

CINCINNATI at BALTIMORE...Bengals have given Ravens fits lately, winning and covering last three meetings. Five of last six in series "under" as well. John Harbaugh just 6-7 vs. spread last 13 as host, although Cincy just 2-5 vs. line away TY, and 3-8 vs. number last 11 as visitor. Tech edge-"Under" and Ravens, based on "totals" and Bengals’ road trends.
MINNESOTA at DETROIT...Lions now 12-3 vs. line in 2010 and 6-1 vs. points at Ford Field, although Detroit lost and failed to cover at Minnesota back on Sept. 26. Meanwhile, Lions also "over" 7-1-1 last 9 at home since late ‘09. Tech edge-Lions and slight to "over," based on team and "totals" trends.
NY GIANTS at WASHINGTON...G-Men 5-0 SU, 4-0-1 vs. line last 5 in series, and 7-1-1 vs. spread last 9 vs. Skins. NY has also won and covered last four visits to FedEx Field. Tech edge-Giants, based on series and team trends.
CHICAGO at GREEN BAY...Green Bay has won its reg.-season finale seven years running, with 6-1 spread mark in those games. Pack had won and covered last 4 in series prior to bitter 20-17 loss at Chicago back on Sept. 27. Note last five "under" in series. Tech edge-"Under" and slight to Pack, based on "totals" and team trends.
DALLAS at PHILADELPHIA...Birds broke 3-game losing streak to Cowboys in win at Dallas Dec. 12, but Cowboys have still covered last four meetings. Note Dallas now "over" last 12 this season after Cards game and Andy Reid "over" 10-5 in 2010, and Birds 22-11 "over" last 33 on board. Tech edge-"Over," based on "totals" trends.
BUFFALO at NY JETS...Jets have only covered 1 of last 4 at home TY, while Bills on 6-3-1 spread run. Bills have also covered 5 of last 6 on road TY, and have surprisingly covered last 4 as series visitor. Road team 8-1 vs. line last 9 in series. Jets also "over" 11-4 TY and 15-5 last 20 since late ‘09. Tech edge-Bills and "over," based on team and "totals" trends.
CAROLINA at ATLANTA...Panthers have lost and failed to cover their last two at Georgia Dome, and Carolina just 2-5 vs. line on road TY. Falcons 10-4 vs. line at home since ‘09. John Fox swan song? Tech edge-Falcons, based on team trends.
TAMPA BAY at NEW ORLEANS...Bucs very inside-out this season, poor vs. line at home but 6-1 vs. spread away, now 8-1 last 9 vs. number on road and 10-2 last 12 away since mid ‘09. Saints have covered 4 of last 5 in series, however. Raheem Morris "under" last 3 on road TY.Tech edge-Bucs, based on recent road mark.
ST. LOUIS at SEATTLE...NFC West on line! Rams broke 4-game lose and cover streak vs. Seahawks with 20-3 win back on Oct. 3. Rams 10-4 vs. line last 14 TY and 5-2 vs. spread away in 2010. Seahawks' former strong home trends fading, now 1-3 vs. line last 4 at Qwest Field. Tech edge-Rams, based on team trends.
ARIZONA at SAN FRANCISCO...49ers have won and covered last three series meetings, but SF just 2-4 vs. spread at Stick TY. Meanwhile, Cards only 1-5 vs. line last 6 on road TY. Tech edge-49ers, based on team trends.
SAN DIEGO at DENVER...Six of last nine "over" in series. Broncos "over" 10-5 TY and 16-5 last 21 dating to late ‘09. Denver 4-8 vs. line last 12 at Invesco Field since mid ‘09. Norv 6-2 SU and vs. line last 8 TY, and 24-11-1 vs. number from Week 8 of reg. season since ‘07. Tech edge-Norv and "over," based on team and "totals" trends.

Roberts College Football Bowl Selections: Dec 30-31

Look for South Carolina to beat Florida St soundly

Thursday, December 30
Pinstripe Bowl
Kansas State PK vs. Syracuse 

Music City Bowl
North Carolina -1 vs. Tennessee

Holiday Bowl
Washington +13 ½ vs. Nebraska

Friday, December 31
Meineke Bowl
South Florida +5 ½ vs. Clemson

Sun Bowl
Notre Dame +3 vs. Miami (FLA)

Liberty Bowl
Georgia -6 vs. Central Florida

Chick-Fil-A Bowl
South Carolina -3 vs. Florida 

Bowl Record 9-7-1

Betting Notes From Las Vegas

By Micah Roberts

Jacory Harris Looks To Start For Miami
Prior to Hawaii falling badly to Tulsa as 10 ½-point favorites, the favorites of the first six bowl games had all covered. Even though there is no correlation with one game to another, it always seems like during the stretch run we’re about to see this week, that this is the time frame when things always level off in the favorite to underdog ratio.

The trend of taking underdogs at +8 or higher in pre-New Year’s day bowls is 1-2 thus far, but if playing money lines, you’re well ahead with Tulsa. This week we have two other opportunities to make the trend hold up with Army getting 8-points against SMU and Washington getting 13-points against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.

Even though the Huskies got blasted at home by the Cornhuskers 56-21 in September, it’s safe to say that Nebraska’s current squad isn’t the same amid several internal squabbles, the main one being quarterback Taylor Martinez who orchestrated all those early season blow outs. While Nebraska comes in somewhat of a team in disarray, Washington comes in having rallied to make a bowl by winning their final three games. The major wild card in all this is Huskies quarterback Jake Locker who has the ability to single handedly take over games. I’ll take the points in this one and look for Locker to close out his collegiate career with a great performance.

Before I get to my favorite Bowl game of the week, I’ll let in that I also have action on Notre Dame +3 over Miami in the Sun Bowl, South Carolina -3 against Florida State in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and Michigan +5 ½ over Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl.

Jim Harbaugh has brilliantly led the way for Stanford
When reflecting back just four years ago, it’s amazing to believe that the Stanford Cardinal (11-1) were 1-11. It’s seems inconceivable that a major player in the BCS game could just sprout of the ground from nothing, but here they are, the No. 5 team in the nation being piloted by the probable No. 1 pick in the NFL draft with Andrew Luck. Monday’s Orange Bowl matchup with Virginia Tech (11-2) will be the first meeting ever between the two schools and will mark the first time that an ACC school has faced a Pac-10 team in the Orange Bowl.

Virginia Tech can also say they have had a major turnaround of sorts after starting the season 0-2 with a season opening loss to Boise State and then the let down game the very next week at home against James Madison. The Hokies got back to basics, played their traditionally tough defense and won out, securing their fourth ACC title since joining the league in 2004 and won at least 10 games for the seventh straight year, the only team currently in the nation to do so.

The transformation of Stanford into a power house can be attributed to Luck’s play, but much of the credit for creating a winning atmosphere and schemes to get the job done have to be given to head coach Jim Harbaugh who took over in 2007. He has mixed the best of both worlds into his offensive attack stemming from his college playing days as the quarterback for Bo Schembechler’s Michigan teams along with adding some modern wrinkles. The combination of old and new styles has worked brilliantly as Stanford has one of the most balanced attacks in the country.

Stanford will be Virginia Tech’s second team they have faced this season that was top-10 in the nation in passing efficiency. Boise State was the other. Had it not been for a second half melt down at Oregon, a game they led 31-24 at the half, Stanford would be playing Auburn for the title game. Laying only 3 ½-points with one of the top teams in the nation that can beat you so many ways, against a team that padded their record against weak ACC teams, seems like one of the better bets in New Years day bowls and beyond. Stanford 38, Virginia Tech 21

Twitter Value
Information is the name of the game for both bookmakers and bettors and currently, there’s no where does sports information come quicker than on Twitter. Last week alone, there were two major occurrences where key information was found first on Twitter before any of the sports books paid services relayed the info. On Tuesday night, the Kansas State basketball team had it’s two best players, including pre-season All-American Jacob Pullen, suspended for their game against UNLV. The news was first displayed on Twitter and didn’t reach the sports books until 20 minutes later giving a huge window of opportunity for bettors to take advantage of the info. K-State was a 4-point favorite prior to news of the suspensions and closed at -2. The Rebels won outright in a game that probably should been shaded closer to UNLV being a slight favorite after the news was known.

Another opportunity occurred Wednesday where rumors of Ohio State’s star football players might be suspended, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, were swirling abound from quality sources on Twitter over an hour before news got to the sports books from their paid consultants. Even though it was revealed a day later that the NCAA would strangely allow the five players to play in their Bowl game and begin their 5-game suspensions next season, there was a large gap where the books were left unprotected with lack of information. Had the players been out for their Bowl game, Arkansas likely would have been a 6-point favorite or higher making it a 10-point swing.

For bettors looking to take advantage of this relatively new phenomenon, just sign up for a free account, follow a few sports writers around the country and ask to see key words such as “injury”, “suspension” or the actual name of a player your waiting information on. You’ll be surprised at how information comes just a little quicker than everyone else’s does. Quality information that I do see, I pass along as a re-tweet. You can follow me at MicahRoberts7.

College Basketball
It was kind of a quiet week over the Holiday weekend in college hoops, but we were further enlightened to a few teams that may have been perhaps rated too high as Baylor, Michigan State and Tennessee all took a step backwards with losses. Of the three, Michigan State will be the team to keep trusting as they head into conference play this week. They have four losses on the season, but all four have come at the hands of teams currently ranked. Last week it was Texas taking down the Spartans and before that, it was Syracuse, Duke and Connecticut, a regular who’s who of college basketball this season.

Baylor’s 77-71 loss to Washington State in Hawaii as 4-point favorites came as somewhat of a surprise even though the Cougars had been 9-1 coming in. Two days later, WSU lost to Butler as a 2-point favorite. We’re all still trying to figure out who the best team is in the weak Pac-10, but based on the play thus far, it could be the Cougars. Klay Thompson is averaging 22.3 point-per-game, up 3-points from his sophomore season last year. WSU can take a major step in taking conference supremacy this week on the road by doing the L.A. two-step and taking out UCLA and USC, something that seems entirely possible despite both USC and UCLA playing good basketball right now.

Tennessee is a team fading fast and at some point the rating on them may be adjusted too much giving them value. But let’s wait and see where they level off at, because they are free falling like rarely seen from a team that was once ranked in the top-10 after beating the likes of Villanova and Pittsburgh earlier in the year. They ended their three game losing streak by sweating out a home win against Belmont 66-65. This week they should be able to rebound with home games against Tennessee-Martin and Charleston before a big January 5 game against in-state rival Memphis. Then, the eight game SEC suspension of coach Bruce Pearl begins.

The games of the week both feature No. 18 Notre Dame (11-1) as they head into Big East play as one of the major surprises of the season so far. They welcome No. 9 Georgetown (11-1) on Wednesday then go to No. 5 Syracuse (13-0) Sunday. If their fate hasn’t been decided by then as to where they stack up, the following Tuesday they play No. 4 Connecticut (10-0).

The Irish have played only one ranked opponent this season and lost 72-58 to Kentucky. Look for them to play Georgetown tough and squeak out a home win, but to stumble by 10 at Syracuse. Based on those games and how they stand up to the class of the conference, a better assessment can be made for how they’ll perform for their January 4 game with U-Conn.

NFL Week 16 Recap
After getting pummeled all year by the sports books, bettors picked a fine time to ease the reins on their betting strategies and unit plays. Sure it was Christmas weekend, family was in town, or you had to be out of town, a portion of the betting funds had to be used to buy gifts, but when week 16 of the NFL came and passed, many were left off the gravy train. The favorites went 8-4 on Sunday with five of the six most weighted games coming in for the public, but unfortunately, about 25% of the regular weekly handle was missing.

“If it had been a normal NFL weekend, it would have been a very tough day, “ said Las Vegas Hilton Super Book Executive Director Jay Kornegay, “Because of the Holiday season we were slow for most of the week until a major rush on Sunday morning.“

Kornegay reported that his sports book “broke about even” as was the case for many other books near the strip, but the local sports books took a much harder blow due to the high propensity of players playing parlays off the board and on cards. Even so, all the books combined were very fortunate that many of the regulars were busy with other matters due to the Holiday’s. Much of the lodged clientele that target Christmas as their vacation destination aren’t traditional sports bettors either. Had this week of results occurred in, say, week 10, it had the potential of being the worst day of the season for the sports books.

The only weighted public choice that faltered was the Chargers as 8-point favorites, who lost straight up to the Bengals. The Patriots, Ravens and Chiefs all came through for bettors in the early games and then in the late games, the Colts and Buccaneers led the way to more profits. Those wins, combined with the six college bowl favorites that covered earlier in the week, led to some serious risk and high payouts on multi-legged parlays.

Even the Sharps took somewhat of a hiatus because of the Holiday’s.

“We saw a few limit plays, but nothing like we normally see,’ said Kornegay, “It was more like half-limit plays mixed in with not many showing their plans until late Saturday night and Sunday morning.”

On a typical week, there usually is a surge of Sharp action when the line is first released on Monday’s. Then a little more of the Sharp’s plan is revealed on Thursday or Friday, with the final pieces of their plan unfolding on game day. Last week, not so much.

The Sharp plays of the week had the Bears and Raiders, with smaller movement on the Packers and Bills. The Bears had opened as 1 ½-point home favorites against the Jets, were bet down to -1 and then bet everywhere by Sunday morning pushing the game up to -3 even. The Raiders saw the same type of movement going the other way as they opened 3-point home underdogs to the Colts, but by kickoff the Colts were only -1 ½.

However, the public didn’t care what the Colts line was. They had seen enough last week in their win over Jacksonville that they felt their good old reliable team was back and that laying a field goal was easy. Same story with the Chiefs as the line was dropping on game day from -5 to -4 because of a few respected large plays, but the 6-0 home record had the average Joe taking Kansas City regardless of the line.

The one saving grace for the sports books over the weekend, beyond the Chargers losing, was the Cowboys losing Saturday night as 6 ½-point favorites at Arizona.

For those who missed out last week after a tough year, be thankful that we throw the entire year in the trash can, where it belongs, as week 17 begins a new year. Let’s make it a good one and hope that the tables turn for the bettor.

Tuesday night football gets it’s debut this week as the NFL treated one of it’s home games in Philadelphia like a rain out in baseball. I thought part of the beauty of football that separated it from other sports is that the fans and players both dealt with the elements as the dealer in the sky dealt them. What’s funny is that NBC made the switch to that game from their originally scheduled game of San Diego at Cincinnati to a game with a 14-point spread that was initially hoped to have Michael Vick playing against Brett Favre, a real ratings winner. Everyone who bet the game prior to the announcement of the date change has no action with all bets refunded. If looking to bet the game, you’ll have to use the new betting numbers of 133-134.

Bengals Shed Their Dead Skin
One week after ridding themselves of Terrell Owens and a 10 game losing streak, the Bengals played the Chargers without the other half of the Bozo-Ocho show. The Bengals played as smart and loose as they have all season in their 34-20 shocking win over the Chargers, a team who had to win to stay alive for the playoffs. I wonder what the duo will have to say on their show about the sudden wins correlating with their absence.

The public liked the Texans as a short -2 ½-point favorite against the Tim Tebow-led Broncos and it appeared that everyone would cruise to any easy win as Houston rolled out to a 17-0 halftime lead. Even though the Texans have the worst pass-defense in football, Tebow showed all the skills and grit that made him the scrutinized early pick by former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels by throwing for 308 yards and running for the winning score in a 24-23 win. Tebow engineered two fourth quarter touchdown drives that may give the faithful something to look forward to in 2011 after suffering through one of the worst seasons in Broncos history.

Freeman Free-Wheelin’
Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman threw five touchdown passes with no interceptions in a 38-15 rout over the Seahawks giving him a 23-6 ratio on the season in those categories. The win keeps the door to the playoffs still somewhat open with what could be a pivotal game next week at New Orleans for both teams depending on what the Saints do Monday night in Atlanta. It’s hard to believe that this kid is still only 22 years old with almost two full seasons as an NFL quarterback.

Playoff Picture Clearing
The AFC is pretty simple at this point, if the Colts (9-6) win at home against the Titans, they’re in. If the Colts lose and the Jaguars (8-7) win, then Jacksonville is in. Should both lose, the Colts advance. In the NFC, the winner of the Rams-Seahawks game advances. If the Packers (9-6) and Saints (10-4) win, they are in, but should they lose, then the door opens up for the Giants (9-6) and Buccaneers (9-6), if they win, in a crazy scenario.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Roberts College Football Bowl Selections, 7-3-1 Thus Far: Dec 27-29

Monday, December 27
Independence Bowl
Georgia Tech +3 vs. Air Force

Tuesday, December 28
Champs Sports Bowl
West Virginia -2 ½ vs. NC State

Insight Bowl
Missouri -3 vs. Iowa

Wednesday, December 29
Eagle Bank Bowl
East Carolina +7 ½ vs. Maryland

Texas Bowl
Illinois +1 ½ vs. Baylor

Alamo Bowl
Oklahoma State -5 ½ vs. Arizona

Bowl Record: 7-3-1

Week 17 NFL Trends

Season Ending Division Finales Take a look up and down the NFL schedule this Sunday and what do you find? A division orgy.
Curiously, for the first time in NFL history, all 16 games are division matchups.

Click here to find out more!
In an attempt to prevent teams from ‘laying down’ the final week of the season, the NFL brass went to the schedule maker and mandated all season ending contests be division games.
This unprecedented move appears to have worked as a good majority of games this week find teams with a plethora of playoff implications inside the matchups. And because, for all intents and purposes, division games take on a double-importance both in the standings and in NFL tiebreakers, this week’s games certainly take on a whole new stratagem.
That being the case, here are some notes of interest from our powerful database in games played in the past involving division pairings in regular season finales. Please note all results are Against The Spread (ATS) and since 1980, unless noted otherwise…
Size matters
The point-spread is a string barometer when it comes to season ending division games.
That’s because favorites of nine or more points are 20-12, while favorites of less than three points are 12-20-1.
.666 or greater teams laying nine or more points are 17-5, while favorites of less then three points are only 6-14-1 when facing .500 or greater opponents.
Margin call
Teams off ATS spread margins at opposite ends of the ladder have performed accordingly.
Those entering off a spread loss of 25 or more points are 15-10-1, including 9-3 versus and opponent off an ATS win.
On the flip side, those off a spread loss of 25 or more points are 7-13, including 2-9 versus a foe off a win.
Bad dogs
Simply put, there is no disguising bad teams in season ending division finales.
Those who were dogs of nine or more points the previous week are 9-17 in these contests, including 3-11 when taking seven or more points this week.
Worse, put these seven-plus point dogs at home and they vanish into thin air, going 0-7.
One and done
Put a team in a season ending division finale off one win-exact and they tend to dissolve faster than a patty melt at an over-eaters luncheon.
Teams in this role are 7-20 when playing off a win of 16 or more points, including 1-15 when favored.
There you have it, a quick glimpse at some of the more intriguing situations surrounding this week’s season ending NFL card. Divvy them up and enjoy the feast.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Roberts Week 16 NFL Selections; Bucs Look to be The Side

By Micah Roberts

Packers-Giants headline an amazing week 16
There is no question who the best sports commissioner in the world is. Hello Roger Goodell, and thanks for making so many proactive changes in such a short time. Beyond being the only NFL commissioner to actually take a look at the lingering affects of concussions and hold players accountable for conduct off the field, his greatest gift to the fans may be changing the late season schedule to reflect more meaningful games. Last week had eight divisional rematches, this week we have three and in the final week, every game will be divisional rematches.

Not that he planned it, but this week we also have the pleasure of seeing every game mean something except for the Texans-Broncos and Lions-Dolphins games. Week 16 is like the first week of the wild, wild card in the playoffs. 19 teams are still in the hunt for a playoff birth that is only offered to 12. One of the most attractive betting opportunities features two of those teams vying for a spot.

Tampa Bay is hanging on by a thread for their playoff lives while Seattle is fighting for the NFC West division crown and seemingly given every opportunity to lose and still be in it. The Bucs have to win this game while the Seahawks could actually lose and still have a shot at the division with their week 17 matchup against the Rams.

Even though Tampa Bay has eight wins, they haven’t beat a team with a winning record. Not only does Seattle have a losing record, but they’ll be trying to win on the road for one of the longest road trips anyone in the NFL could make as they travel from the northeast corner of the country to the very bottom of the southeast. West coast teams traveling east is rarely a good bet, especially from a Seattle team that routinely gets whacked by double digits.

The main culprit for each team’s success and demise has been turnovers. Seattle gives the ball up frequently and is third worst in the league with at a -9 ratio while the Bucs saving grace this season has been being able to hold onto the ball at +8. In Matt Hasselbeck’s last four starts, he has thrown 10 interceptions. The Seahawks only win over that stretch was beating the lowly Panthers in Seattle. I’ll take Tampa Bay, who is favored by 6-points, to win by 14.

Detroit @ Miami (-3 ½): You’ve got the best cover team in the NFL with the Lions (10-4 ATS) who are on a two game winning streak against the worst home team with the Dolphins (1-6). The only negative could be Shaun Hill starting instead of Drew Stanton, who engineered the Lions last two wins. Because of that winning cohesion gone with Stanton, I would lean towards the Dolphins, but would be hard pressed to bet on them.

Minnesota @ Philadelphia (-14 ½): The Vikings have packed it in having been blown out in their last two games. Joe Webb playing quarterback doesn’t inspire confidence and going against a team that is clicking like the Eagles will make his play look worse than he actually is. I would feel comfortable laying up to 16 with Philly.

Shanahan's confidence in Rex will be rewarded 
Washington @ Jacksonville (-7): The Jaguars have been one of the best home teams (5-2) and have everything to play for, but the question is, what Rex Grossman will show up? Will it be the “Bad” Rex that was run out of Chicago or will it be the “Good” Rex who almost engineered a win at Dallas, and more importantly covered. Same situation this week as a 7-point underdog. Because of the whole McNabb ordeal, and Mike Shanahan’s confidence in Grossman, I would look for another good game out of Grossman which make taking the points attractive.

San Francisco @ St. Louis (-2 ½): Sam Bradford has already played more games in a season than he ever has and in his last two games, he’s looked like a rookie quarterback for the first time this season throwing four interceptions with his lowest combined two game passer rating of the season. In those games, which appeared to be do or die for the Rams, Bradford was at the forefront of reasons why they lost. I think the kid is running out of gas so I’ll take the 49ers to win a close one.

New England (-7 ½) @ Buffalo: Since losing at Cleveland in week 9, the Patriots have reeled off six straight wins and have scored over 30 points in each game. Tom Brady hasn’t thrown an interception since week 6 in a win over Baltimore. The Bills should be able to score some points, but they won’t be able to keep up. Look for this to be the largest margin of victory of the day.

NY Jets @ Chicago (-1): Thanks to a spirited win by the Jets win at Pittsburgh last week ending a two game slide, you get a chance to lay less than a field goal with the Bears at home. I’m not a big fan of the Bears scheme, but did the Jets really show anything offensively last week to make us believe they are reborn from the team that couldn’t score a touchdown the previous two games? Mark Sanchez won’t be able to throw deep and the running game still isn’t in shape. I’ll take the Bears with hopes Jay Cutler starts out well.

Peyton Hillis controlling the clock should lead Browns to win
Baltimore (-3 ½) @ Cleveland: I love that the Browns are competitive again and can welcome Art Modell back home with a real threat. Since a week 6 28-10 loss at Pittsburgh, the Browns have forced every team to play to their level, forcing the tempo. In the process they have played gritty football with a chance to win every game. Getting a field goal and hook in this meaningful game for the city looks to have some value.

Tennessee @ Kansas City (-5): After a six game losing streak, the Titans rebounded strong last week with an offensive output similar to what we saw in big wins over the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys early on. The correlation looks to be having Kenny Britt back healthy once gain, a player who was out for most of those six losses. This looks like a good money line play here because this is what recent AFC West leaders do in week 16, they lose.

Indianapolis (-3) @ Oakland: Another correlation with a quarterback and team playing well due to a single receiver is the Colts plight without Austin Collie. He has been Peyton Manning’s crutch while without Dallas Clark and the Colts wins and Manning’s numbers reflect it. Collie had been banged up since week 9 before last week, and the Colts went on to lose four of five games with Manning throwing 13 of his 15 interceptions on the year. Collie is out for the season and the Raiders are playing well. I’ll take the points with the home team.

Houston (-2 ½) @ Denver: The heir apparent to Mike Shanahan, Gary Kubiak, will be auditioning his game plan for Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, who now realizes after 11 losses that Shanahan’s competitive teams of 9-7 weren’t that bad after all. Kubiak is likely to be dismissed after this year, but should have a good game plan put together to take down one of the worst teams in the league right now.

NY Giants @ Green Bay (-3): If the Giants win, they’re in, it’s that simple. If the Packers win their next two, they’re in. This is the jewel of the day with more on the line than any other game. The Packers have the advantage of being at home and having Aaron Rodgers back, while the Giants try to regroup from their meltdown last week. Will there be any lingering affects this week? It kind of feels like there has to be. That was a must win game for the division and they blew it horrifically. It’s hard game to bet, but I’d take the Packers if forced to play it.

All the Falcons do is play sound football and win
San Diego (-7 ½) @ Cincinnati: Get Terrell Owens out of the game and presto, the Bengals end their 10 game slide. Who can figure the Chargers out week to week, especially on the road (2-4) where they have lost to teams close to being as bad as the Bengals. The Chargers rarely lose in December and it’s a must win spot for them, so I’ll look for a 10-point win from them this week.

New Orleans @ Atlanta (-2 ½): It seems like a gift being able to lay less than a field goal with the Falcons at home in a game where they can clinch the division and conference with a win against a team they feel very comfortable at beating. The Saints have come on strong, but have lost more games than they have won against winning teams, including what was a near must win game last week at Baltimore. I see a close game, but lots of value laying less than a field goal with a team that has been the clear class of the NFC.

Article in the LVRJ 

Week 16 LVRJ NFL Challenge Picks

Friday, December 24, 2010

All Is Calm In Las Vegas Sports Books The Night Before Christmas; Light Action

By Micah Roberts

Twas the night before Christmas and all was quiet in Las Vegas, especially in the sports books. It’s a different clientele than normally seen in Sin City throughout the year during the holiday weekend as the regular crowd stays home with family and friends giving way to a majority of folks who aren’t Christians. It’s not to say that everyone visiting doesn’t believe in Christmas, but as I walked through the Aria casino Thursday night it was apparent that Las Vegas had a different vibe like rarely seen all year. There was a calm, relaxed vibe that made me feel like I was in an Indonesia mega resort with all kinds of rules.

This may explain why action in the sports books have been so slow this week. From locals standpoint, many of the regulars that bet every week are being a little more frugal with their funds as they finalize their shopping. Lucky’s Race and Sports Book Director Jimmy Vaccaro see’s his business slow, but not as bad as it used to be in town.

“In the late 70’s and early 80’s, we used have reduced hours considerably during the holiday season because there was no one in town other than the small base of locals. The consumer traveler didn’t go to Vegas, but now we see people from all over visiting and also have a much younger crowd here which was never the case before.”

Vaccaro also feels this time of year generally doesn’t produce the type of meaningful games that get people through the doors to bet.

“The NFL games have been great with the new scheduling, but we’re likely to see most of that action on Sunday,” Vaccaro explained. “The early bowl games haven’t been attractive to bettors where they say they have to go bet it on their way home like they might have earlier in the season. Other than the Boise State game, just because it was played here, the other games haven’t inspired regular bettors to play and watch. Even some of the college basketball betting has been a little slow and I think that’s just because the bettors are wore out after a long season.”

Busy malls are the worst part of Christmas
The Holiday season plays into that as well. I don’t remember how it was when I lived in other places, but it’s a dreadful thought just thinking about trying to shop close to Christmas in Vegas. At the same time, when it’s a week or two before, I always have the feeling that I can do it tomorrow. When tomorrow finally comes, which is usually a day or two before Christmas, I’m beat up, germed out and worn out after bustling through the impatient crowds. The last thing I feel like doing is stopping anywhere but my home.

On NFL Sunday, the action will surely come. The kids will all still be enamored with their gifts, the wife may dare to go shopping some more because of the deals, but for Dad, all he wants for Christmas is to relax and enjoy the games, and the games this week are pretty attractive.

It’s almost like the playoffs because the new scheduling format. Despite no serious action on the Thursday night game at Pittsburgh, everyone will be back in full force with things returning to normal Sunday, following Christmas, with most of their attention focused back into the sports world.

We have three divisional rematches this week with nearly every other game having playoff implications. 19 teams are still in the hunt and other than the Lions-Dolphins and Texans-Broncos, every game means something.

"3" has been the magic number in the NFL this season
Six of the games are hovering around the key number of “3” and the slightest of line movements on the week have come from those games. The value of “3” hasn’t been as important as it has this year for quite a few years. Through 15 weeks of action, there have been 43 games land on “3” meaning that 19.1% of all games this year have landed on “3”. Last season there were only 41 games (15.4%) for all 17 weeks. In 2008, only 28 games landed (10.5%). 2007 had 43 games land (16.1%) and in in 2006, there were 46 games (17.2%).

Now, those figures are for all games with all spreads and don’t reflect the actual games that were on or around “3”, but it gives a little clarity on why the sports books may use money lines so much attached to 2 ½, 3 and 3 ½, not wanting to get middled on such a key number.

Bucs -6 looks like the bet bet of the week
The one game that has stood still for the entire week that looks to be maybe the most attractive is the Buccaneers at home as a 6-point favorite against the Seahawks. This is essentially a playoff game with Tampa Bay hanging on by a thread and Seattle fighting for the NFC West division crown. The Bucs have to win this game while the Seahawks could actually lose and still have a shot at the division with their week 17 matchup against the Rams.

Even though Tampa Bay has eight wins, they haven’t beat a team with a winning record. Not only does Seattle have a losing record, but they’ll be trying to win on the road for one of the longest road trips anyone in the NFL could make as they travel from the northeast corner of the country to the very bottom of the southeast. West coast teams traveling east is rarely a good bet, especially from a Seattle team that routinely gets whacked by double digits.

The main culprit for each team’s success and demise has been turnovers. Seattle gives the ball up frequently and is third worst in the league with at a -9 ratio while the Bucs saving grace this season has been being able to hold onto the ball at +8. In Matt Hasselbeck’s last four starts, he has combined to throw 10 interceptions. The Seahawks only win over that stretch was beating the lowly Panthers in Seattle.

I’ll take the Buccaneers to win 27-13.

With two weeks to go the in the Las Vegas Review-Journal NFL Challenge, I am 40-34-1, 2 ½ games behind the leader, Las Vegas Hilton Super Book Executive Director Jay Kornegay, who is 40-34-1. The contest is based on the Hilton’s Super Contest format and lines battled out between a small group of Las Vegas handicappers, writers and Sports Book Directors.

LVRJ NFL Challenge Standings through Week 15

Here are my week 16 Selections:
49ers +2 ½ @ St. Louis
Bears -1 vs. Jets
Buccaneers -6 vs. Seahawks
Patriots -7 ½ @ Buffalo
Texans -2 ½ @ Denver

Week 16 NFL Betting Trends


CAROLINA at PITTSBURGH (Thursday, December 23)... Panthers only 2-6 vs. line last 8 TY but have gone "over" 4-1-1 last six, a departure from previous John Fox/Carolina "totals" trends that had been decidedly "under." Meanwhile, Tomlin trending "under" lately (4 of last 5 "under") as Steel’s long "over" skein at Heinz Field appears to be disappearing. Tech edge-slight to Steelers, based on Panthers’ spread trends.
DALLAS at ARIZONA (Saturday, December 25)... Cowboys 5-1 vs. line since Jason Garrett took over as HC, Cowboys also "over" last 11 in 2010. Cards only 2-5 vs. number at Glendale this season. Whisenhunt "over" 8-5-1 TY and 10-5-1 last 16 since late ‘09. Tech edge-"Over" and Cowboys, based on recent "totals" and team trends.
DETROIT at MIAMI... Lions have remained a pointspread force TY, now 11-3 vs. line in 2010. Meanwhile, Miami continues a pattern for Sparano, 2-5 vs. line at home TY, 5-15 vs. spread last 20 as host since mid ‘08. Dolphins also "over" 11-4 at home since ‘09, and Lions "over" 9-4-2 last 15 since late ‘09. Tech edge-Lions and "over," based on team and "totals" trends.
MINNESOTA at PHILADELPHIA... Vikes 2-5 vs. line, and 1-5-1 vs. number away from home. Even with the Vick phenomenon, Birds only 5-4 vs. spread last 8 this season. Andy Reid "over" 10-4 TY and 22-10 last 32 since late ‘08. Tech edge-"Over" and Eagles, based on "totals" and team trends.
WASHINGTON at JACKSONVILLE... Del Rio would have been on 7-game cover stgreak had Colts not run back onside kick for TD late in 4th Q last week. JV 5-2 vs. spread as host TY after problems in previous years at home. Jags lately have been trending "over" (10-5 last 15 "over" for Del Rio). Tech edge-Jags and sight to "over," based on team and "totals" trends.
SAN FRANCISCO at ST. LOUIS... Singletary 2-4 vs. line as visitor TY. This series "under" 6 of last 8, although meeting at Candlestick was “over" on Nov. 14. Rams 9-4 vs. line last 12 T3. Tech edge- Rams, based on team trends.

SEATTLE at TAMPA BAY... Weak tech spots for both. Bucs just 1-5-1 vs. line as host TY and 2-12-1 in role as host since Raheem Morris took over last season. Pete Carroll just 2-5 vs. spread on road TY, and Seahawks only 3-13 vs. number their last 16 as visitor. Seattle 10--3-1 "over" in 2010, and "over" 12-5 last 17 on road. Tech edge-"Over," based on Seahawks’ road "totals" trends.
NEW ENGLAND at BUFFALO... Belichick hasn’t lost to Bills since opener of 2003 season, winning last 14, although he has failed to cover last three in series (0-2-1). Belichick has covered 8 of last 11 TY, however. Chan Gailey 6-2-1 vs. number last 9 TY. Belichick "over" 12-2 TY and 14-2 last 16 since late ‘09. Tech edge-"Over" and slight to Patriots, based on Belichick "totals" and team trends.
NY JETS at CHICAGO... Ugh! Jets "under" 3 last 4 TY after "over" 9 of first 10 in 2010. Rex Ryan also just 3-5 last 8 on board TY. Lovie "under" 7- 17-11-2 since ‘09. Tech edge- "Under" and slight to Bears, based on "totals" and team trends.
BALTIMORE at CLEVELAND... Nobody seems to mention the old Browns vs. new Browns connection anymore with these two. Brownies 1-5 vs. line last 5 TY, also "under" last three after "over" previous 6 TY. Ravens has won and covered four straight vs. Brownies prior to non-cover at M&T Bank Stadium back on Sept. 26. Ravens "over" last 3 away TY, and "overs" 4-2 last six in series. Tech edge-slight to Ravens and "over," based on team and "totals" trends.
TENNESSEE at KANSAS CITY... Titans have dropped last three on road, after covering first three as visitor this season. Chiefs 4–2 vs. line as host in 2010, but trends don’t extend much further. Tech edge-slight to Chiefs, based on team trends.
INDIANAPOLIS at OAKLAND... Indy now "over" 9-2 its last 11 as visitor. Oakland "over" 7-3 last 10 as host, and "over" 9-5 this season. Teams haven’t met since ‘07. Tech edge-"Over," based on "totals" trends.
HOUSTON at DENVER... Kubiak returns to Denver. Broncos "over" 10-4 TY and "over" 16-4 last 20 dating to late ‘09. Kubiak "over" 10-4 TY and 12-4 last 16 since late ‘09. Kubiak 2-0 as road chalk TY, Broncos just 2-4 vs. line at home and 3-8 vs. line last 11 as host. Tech edge-"Over" and slight to Texans, based on "totals" and team trends.
NY GIANTS at GREEN BAY... Hard to know what we are getting from Pack. Giants have covered 4 of last 5 on road TY. Pack "over" last 2 at home in 2010 but "under" 9-5 in all games this season. Tech edge-slight to Giants, based on team trends.
SAN DIEGO at CINCINNATI... Cincy just 3-8 vs. line last 10 TY. Norv rallying again down stretch, after 49ers win Bolts have now covered 6 of last 7 TY, and Norv 23-10 vs. spread in last 8 games of reg. season since ‘07. Tech edge-Norv, based on team trends.
NEW ORLEANS at ATLANTA (Monday, December 27)... Falcons on brink of clinching NFC South, and it will be hard for NO to bypass Atlanta in NFC South, even if it wins this game. Atlanta has won SU last 8 TY and covered last 6. Atlanta 19-3 SU at Georgia Dome since Mike Smith arrived in ‘08. Saints just 2-8 vs. line last 10 as visitor, and note Falcs 4-1 vs. line last 5 in series. Meanwhile, Saints only 4-5-1 last 9 as dog. "Overs" 5-1 last 6 in series. Tech edge-"Over" and slight to Falcons, based on "totals" and team trends.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pryor and Five Other Buckeyes Suspended for Five Games, in 2011 Season; Sugar Bowl Is On!

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Five Ohio State football players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, must sit out the first five games of the 2011 season for accepting improper benefits, the NCAA ruled Thursday.

A sixth football player must sit out the first game in 2011 for receiving discounted services in violation of NCAA rules.

All of the players be eligible for the Jan. 4 Allstate Sugar Bowl, however.

Five players were found to have sold awards, gifts and university apparel, plus receive improper benefits in 2009. In addition to missing five games next season, Pryor, Mike Adams, Daniel Herron, Devier Posey and Solomon Thomas must repay money and benefits ranging in value from $1,000 to $2,500. The repayments must be made to a charity.

Jordan Whiting must sit out the first game next year and pay $150 to a charity for the value of services that were discounted because of his status as a student-athlete.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the school will appeal the suspensions.

"While we believe sanctions should be rendered, we do believe they are severe," he said Thursday at a news conference. "We do believe we can give mitigating circumstances for the NCAA to consider."

The NCAA announced the suspensions Thursday, shortly before Smith and head coach Jim Tressel were to meet with reporters to discuss the university's investigation of players trading autographs for tattoos.

Pryor is the team's star, while Herron is the leading rusher and Posey is the second-leading receiver. Adams is a starter at left tackle and Thomas a top sub on the defensive line.

Pryor must repay $2,500 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, a 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 Gold Pants, a gift from the university.

Herron must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discounted services worth $150.

Posey must repay $1,250 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,200 and receiving discounted services worth $50.

Adams must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring.

Thomas must repay $1,505 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,000, his 2008 Gold Pants for $350 and receiving discounted services worth $155.

"These are significant penalties based on findings and information provided by the university," Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, said in a statement released by the NCAA.

The players are eligible for the bowl game because the NCAA determined they did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred, Lennon said.

"We were not as explicit with our student-athlete education as we should have been in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 academic years regarding the sale of apparel, awards and gifts issued by the athletics department," Smith said in a statement. "We began to significantly improve our education in November of 2009 to address these issues. After going through this experience, we will further enhance our education for all our student-athletes as we move forward."

"We as coaches feel the buck stops here," Tressel said at the news conference. "We're the ones who need to make things even more crystal clear."

Pryor, Herron and Posey are all eligible for the NFL draft in 2011.

Ohio State has been investigating allegations that several football players traded autographs for tattoos. Rumors first surfaced last Saturday. Athletic department officials, including Smith and Ohio State's compliance director, had refrained from addressing the allegations.

Twitter Beating Las Vegas Sports Books To The Punch With Information

By Micah Roberts

Editor’s note: Since Micah filed this story, Ohio St. announced that five of its players are suspended for the first five games of 2011.

For the second consecutive night, users of Twitter were rewarded with key information regarding players and possible suspensions that would have a major effect of the Las Vegas betting line of those games involved. On Wednesday night, about 90 minutes before the two Las Vegas paid services sent information alerts to their subscribers on the matter, information was coming strong across the Twitter universe that nine Ohio State football players could face possible suspensions due to their involvement in an autograph trade for ink deal they had at a Columbus tattoo parlor that was being investigated by the IRS.

Nothing may come of this, and the matter could be internally investigated and self reported well after the Sugar Bowl, but what if something happens quick and the players actually get suspended. We’re talking about several key Buckeye starters, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who are being linked. Ohio State was a 3 ½-point favorite over Arkansas before the official alert came out. Once the alert was out, within 5 minutes, every Las Vegas sports book had taken the game down.

What’s even more amazing is that these paid services in Las Vegas weren’t even watching, or listening, to the live feed of the Las Vegas Bowl where Kirk Herbstreit broke the news story nationally which was still an hour behind the Tweets coming in. It took nearly a half-hour after Herbstreit had made the announcement for the alert to be sent to the Sports Books. Herbstreit was visibly shaken by having to announce that his alma mater and hometown team could be in trouble. Upon actually watching the Las Vegas Bowl and hearing first hand, about four Las Vegas books had taken the game off the board, while others were left exposed with a lack of information.

But in reality, every book was left exposed for over an hour. The difference in the line -- should the players be suspended -- could be almost a 10-point swing which makes the information gap the paid sources are using very outdated in this new age. Sports Books won’t last long with information gaps like that where the bettors know key reports and rumors before they do.

It’s an information driven world and Twitter is an immediate source that starts spinning before the major media gets involved with their finished copy and reports.

On Tuesday night, Twitter followers were rewarded with information on Kansas State’s best player and leading scorer, Jacob Pullen, along with the team’s second leading scorer being suspended for their game against UNLV. K-State was a 4-point favorite and the game didn’t move all day. A few of the sports books got popped with UNLV bets before the information was out giving the bettors extreme value on the game because of getting the information first through Twitter.

At about 5:20, an hour before the game had started, one of the paid consultants sent an alert stating that the two player were out. I contacted the other service about a half-hour before game time and they hadn't even sent one out yet. Even after the information, most books only adjusted the game 2-points. Two points? With the top two players out in a game that only five players are on the court at a time? UNLV won the game, but the point is more about the value gained early on before the sports books even knew what was going on.

For the last 20 years, sports books have been on an even playing field with bettors thanks to the internet and the way information has been passed along through news services. With the way Twitter works, it’s faster than the standard internet passage of information and there is a huge edge to be gained if continually searching for the right information through Twitter.

All it takes is to get a free account and set up several key words that alert you such as “Suspension”, “Injury”, or putting in an actual players name if waiting for injury information before it’s released. The window of opportunity is there to get the information before the sports books do and gain a huge edge over the house. Information is everything!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

NFL Week 15 Betting Recap From the Las Vegas Sports Books; Packers Save the Day

By Micah Roberts
Gaming Today Las Vegas

Michael Vick leads huge come back
Week 15 of the NFL season had a little bit of everything that included fantastic finishes, upsets and most of all, revenge. There were eight divisional games last week that had teams facing each other for the second time. Through Sunday, the team that lost the first time around had won five of the seven games played with the Vikings hoping to continue the trend Monday night.

There was also a nice mix of favorites (7-7) and underdogs covering giving a little of something for everyone. However, the only down side of a fantastic weekend of pro football play was that the key games the public most prominently featured in their plays went down which helped the Las Vegas sports books to either a break even or small winner for the day.

The Patriots-Packers Sunday night would ultimately decide the fate on the day for both the books and bettors. With the uncertainty of Aaron Rodgers, the game had been off the board all week until Saturday when most opened the Patriots a 14-point favorite when Matt Flynn was announced the starter. With Rodgers in, the early line had the Packers as 4 ½-point underdogs, a huge swing for a quarterback change. Despite the game being off all week, the action over the counter didn’t reflect it. The Patriots are back as being the public’s most reliable team after taking a couple years off. When the Packers covered, it was official, most sports books won for the day.

The combination of the Texans, Cowboys, Saints, Buccaneers, Falcons and Raiders coming through would have been a dreadful parlay for the house to pay, but the books were able to beat those games down as the six teams went a combined 2-4. Had either the Falcons or Raiders game been lumped with the 10 early games, the books would have won much more, but because those two large favorites were keyed together in the get-back late games with equal action on the Steelers and Jets, it negated a lot of the win from the 10 am games.

Brad Smith got it going for the Jets at Pittsburgh
If the sports books had to choose who they would like between the Jets and Steelers, it would have been Pittsburgh all the way just because of some sharp play on the Jets that pushed the line from +6 to +3 ½ by kickoff. When that kickoff came, Brad Smith returned it all the way for a touchdown and set the tone for the day of what had been a struggling Jets squad coming in.

In the game that had the most betting action of the day, Philadelphia at the Giants, DeSean Jackson became the first player in NFL history to return a punt for a winning touchdown to end a game. The public was shaded slightly towards the Eagles with parlays, but straight bets were relatively even with the Giants being favored by 3 to 2 ½ points all week, bouncing back and forth from -120 to even money.

The Sharps were also on the Rams in the I-70 battle with the Chiefs pushing that game from St. Louis opening as a 1-point underdog to being Rams a 3-point favorite by kickoff, Kansas City won the game 27-13 and in doing so kept the futile NFC West wide open. The Seahawks and 49ers both lost which paves the way for a chase to the playoffs for all three led by the Seahawks and Rams 6-8 records. A major piece of that puzzle will be unveiled when the 49ers travel to St. Louis this week.

Despite Tampa Bay’s 8-6 record, they still hadn’t beat a team with a winning record which helped the public decide easily who to choose in their match with the Lions. Sharp money actually came in on Detroit and pushed the number from +6 to +4, with some places even dropping to +3 ½. The Sharps were right as the Lions pulled of a 23-20 overtime win, the first road win for Detroit in 26 games.

One of the rematches from earlier this season was the Texans and Titans. Houston had won 20-0 in the week 12 matchup that also got Cortland Finnegan a fat lip. Because the Titans had been so bad in losing six games in a row coming in, the public was all over the Texans for the most one sided action of the day. Wouldn’t you know, the Titans jumped out 21-0 in the first quarter and it never was a contest.

Rex was pretty good as the Redskins starter
Almost as weighted by public opinion was the Cowboys who opened up a 6-point favorite against the Redskins and moved up to -8 by kickoff thanks to bettors believing the “Bad” Rex Grossman would show up. For a while that looked to be the case, but he quickly became “Good Rex” as he threw for a career high four touchdowns making Mike Shanahan’s move to bench Donovan McNabb not like such a crazy idea. The Redskins still lost the game 33-30, but they got the money and helped the sports books.

Tim Tebow got the nod for the Broncos because of Kyle Orton’s brusied ribs -- or at least that’s what the team said -- and he did fairly well early on with a 40-yard TD run and 33-yard TD pass in a 39-23 loss to the Raiders giving Oakland 98 points on the year against Denver. Surprisingly, the line didn’t move much upon rumors that Tebow would start. The line just sat at 6 ½-points until eventually moving up to Raiders -8 by kickoff.

The Atlanta Falcons showed once again that they look like one of the best teams in football by simply playing good football at Seattle, nothing fancy, just winning football in every facet. This week they’ll get a chance to close the door on the division by beating the Saints who lost by six at Baltimore. Atlanta is a short 3-point favorite against the Saints, a team that has feasted on beating bad teams all season. Only Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh had winning records among the Saints 10 wins.

The bad beat of the week went to those who bet on the Jaguars getting 5-points at Indianapolis. With less than two minutes to go, it appeared that the Jaguars may have just back-doored the Colts when they scored a touchdown making it Colts 27-24. When the on-side kick came, most Jags bettors didn’t care if they recovered, they just wanted the game to end, but the game was far from being decided. The on-side kick went straight to linebacker Tyjuan Hagler who then sprinted 41 yards for the touchdown, sealing the game and a gift cover for Colts backers.

Roberts College Football Bowl Selections: Dec 21-26

Road Game at San Diego for Navy? Think again, largest West Coast Base.

Tuesday, December 21
St. Petersburg Bowl
Southern Miss + 3 vs. Louisville

Wednesday, December 22
Maaco Las Vegas Bowl
Boise State -16 ½ vs. Utah

Thursday, December 23
Poinsetta Bowl
Navy +4 vs. San Diego State

Friday, December 24
Hawaii Bowl
Tulsa +10 ½ vs. Hawaii

Sunday, December 26
Little Caesar’s Bowl
Florida Int’l +1 ½ vs. Toledo

Bowl Record: 2-2

Sunday, December 19, 2010

College Betting Notes From Las Vegas - The Maaco Las Vegas Bowl

By Micah Roberts

Thanks to a few missed kicks, late season brain freezes and the injustice of the BCS system, the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl will have it’s best match-up ever pitting No. 10 Boise State (11-1) against No. 20 Utah (10-2). Not only does Wednesday’s night game at Sam Boyd Silver Bowl have the best combined records to be playing in Las Vegas, but it also is one the most intriguing competitive bowls of the season.

The only problem this west coast college football fan can see with the match-up is that they are playing each other rather than showing the SEC, Big-10, ACC or Big East that they can beat most of their teams. It’s almost like last season when they put TCU and Boise State in a closet as undefeated teams to play each other and essentially prove nothing to the east coast bias.

After Utah got whacked by TCU, when both were undefeated, they fell asleep at Notre Dame in an emotional downer stemming from the TCU game. However, the Utes bounced back with two gritty wins against San Diego State and BYU to close out the year. They come into this game having won their last nine straight bowl games, with two of those wins coming in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Boise State holds a 4-2 all-time edge against Utah and have won the last three -- the last coming in 2006, a 36-3 win. The Broncos have out-stated their opponents in 11 of their 12 games. While their offense has been impressive, their defense often gets overlooked. Western Athletic Conference team or not, allowing 13.6 a game and 259 yards a game, both good for fourth in the nation, is pretty impressive stuff.

Both teams have been successful against the point spread this season (Utah 7-4-1, BSU 8-4), but the public is sure to side with the Broncos after being severely let down by Utah against Notre Dame. A great trend to follow over the last few years has been to take the points in any game before New Year’s day when getting eight points or more. I can make a case for Washington, Tulsa and Army in that situation, but it’s hard to go against Boise State.

When thinking of Las Vegas, most think of heat, but the Vegas Bowl is usually pretty awful weather with cold, nasty winds. The extended forecast calls for possible showers at about 57 degrees which could be a good reason to consider under 61 points.

The best possible scenario -- coming from a homer Mountain West supporter -- is to send Utah to the Pac-10 with a bad loss and have it come from the conference’s new entry, Boise State. Even though it may not be talked about as a big deal by the coaches or players, their new conference affiliation for next season will be in the back of all their minds and pride will play a role.
I’ll take Boise State to win 35-16.

Hawaii and San Diego State are essentially playing home games for their bowls this week, but in the case of San Diego State, their fans rarely show up when playing at home. Maybe playing in their first bowl game since 1998 will get them fired up, or, maybe not, seeing how the fans witnessed three bowl losses in a row dating back to 1969.

Navy has the advantage of playing in front of a crowd that will flock to the stadium thanks to being in the backyard of the west coast’s largest Naval facility. Navy is also going for the second straight 10 win season which would be a first in academy history. Look for Midshipmen QB Ricky Dobbs to give the Aztecs fits with their triple option attack. I’ll take a shot with both underdogs in Tulsa and Navy.

College Hoops
Just when we thought UCSB’s improbable win as a 16-point underdog at No. 22 UNLV would be the upset of the week, a 4-7 Illinois-Chicago team upends No. 14 Illinois as a 17-point dog. Upsets like that are why we all love college basketball so much. There are only five players on the court and all it takes is for one hot hand to create some momentum for an underdog and have the favored team feeling some doubt which in turn ruins their confidence. In each case with UNLV and Illinois, their opponents took it to them and took away their confidence. Illinois shot only 32% from the field in their loss, a percentage that any team would be hard pressed to win with against anyone.

One week after praising the exploits of Tennessee for their extraordinary play despite the cloud over their program, they fall to Oakland and Charlotte as 12-point favorites in each. By the way, how is it that Vols coach Bruce Pearl is still on the sidelines despite his infractions when Michigan State’s Tom Izzo gets suspended one game for a minor infraction?

Central Florida is sure to be ranked this week after beating Miami giving them three wins against Florida colleges this season. Sophomore Marcus Jordan has doubled his scoring average this season to 16 points-per-game while shooting 49% from the field and 41% behind the arch. Up next for the undefeated Knights is Massachusetts and Furman. Their look ahead game is January 26 at Memphis.

The game of the week has Georgetown (10-1) visiting Memphis (8-1) where the Tigers are 7-0 at home this season. The Hoyas are currently ranked No. 1 in the RPI ratings because of their strength of schedule and opponents they have beat thus far. From a local stand point, UNLV (10-2) gets a major test to see where their psyche currently is when they travel to Kansas State (9-2) Tuesday night. Fortunately for the Rebels, the game will be played in Kansas City and not the on campus site in Manhattan. Unfortunately for the Rebels, they’ll be facing an angry talented team that was upended Saturday by Florida 57-44.

A team to keep an eye and find possible value in the next few weeks in Michigan (9-2). After a narrow loss to Syracuse and then UTEP on successive days, the Wolverine have ripped off six straight wins against the likes of Clemson, Utah and the suddenly potent Oakland squad. The Wolverines finished 7-11 in Big-10 play last season and 15-17 overall. Their Big-10 schedule begins next week with a home date against No. 17 Purdue and they should be getting points.

The kids get the holiday weekend off leaving action just through this Thursday. Have a great holiday season!