NFL week 1 picks

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Bad touts lead to bad bets

Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

Sometimes, a bet seems a lot better than it really is.

Two friends, Pete Kizenko and Robert Doran (no, you’re thinking of Roberto Duran) each placed a $1,000.00 futures bet on Utah State to win the 2022 NCAA Football National Championship at 1,000/1 odds to win a very cool $1,000,000.00 each. The friends’ logic was that USU has a very weak schedule this year outside of their match against #1 rated Alabama, so if the Aggies could just somehow get by the Crimson Tide, they would be on their way. Of course, this “logic” did not take into account that even if Utah State could beat Alabama and run their Mountain West Conference and championship games, they would still have to win the two CFP games they would have had to play. Their “logic” was also reportedly based on several tequila shots consumed before making their bets.

Unfortunately for the two buds, Alabama nipped USU 55-0 (that was also the score after three quarters) to end any hopes of a USU national championship this year, given the general perception that Utah State’s Mountain West Conference is not very powerful when compared to perennial powers like the Big 10 and the SEC. You’ll notice that Kizenkp and Doran’s “logic” did not include any mention of matchups, injuries, coaching, transfers, or skills that either team has or lacks, just a vague idea and a prayer. It also seems tequila was a much bigger factor than any tidbit of fact about either team.

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I relate this story because then I wouldn’t have to talk about similar bad bets that I made that seemed much better at the time than they actually were. Sometimes, I can blame alcohol for bad bets. Sometimes listening to bad or irrelevant information. Sometimes, going against what I know by listening to some fool behind me in the betting line is the problem. Sometimes, I listen to my heart instead of my head when I think things like, “The Lions always play well on Thanksgiving Day”.

Whatever the circumstances, bad information leads to bad bets.

This week in the NFL, like the first game in most NFL seasons, presents a great opportunity to misinterpret, overestimate, undervalue, and just get things wrong. The Jets are sure to be better, right? The Tua Tagovailoa we watched for the last couple of years will suddenly morph into a good NFL QB. A similar story for Daniel Jones. The Lions will suddenly start winning football games. Don’t worry about the Raiders’ offensive offensive line, their games will all turn into flag football games with lots of successful chuck ‘n duck. The Broncos are sure to let Russ cook.

Maybe some of the things I said as a joke in the last paragraph will actually happen, I don’t know.  If there are two pieces of advice I can offer to betters, here they are: 1. Only bet what you can afford to lose; 2. Search out, and make your bets on, reliable facts. I guess there is a third: Have fun.

Here are my picks, against the spread, for Week #1. Lines are from William Hill Sportsbook on Sept. 4, 2022.

Baltimore Ravens (-7) at NY Jets Zach Wilson might play, which would be better than the statue that is Joe Flacco. But the Ravens are good, and the Jets aren’t.

New England Patriots (+3) at Miami Dolphins I believe the Dolphins have improved, but the Patriots’ defense is good.

Pittsburgh Steelers (+6 ½) at Cincinnati Bengals I don’t know if the Steelers Offensive line will be better or not, but they have a huge upgrade at QB and a very good defense.

San Francisco 49ers (-7) at Chicago Bears Speaking of chuck ‘n duck, I think we’ll see plenty of that in Chicago Sunday when the home offensive offense is on the field.

Detroit Lions (+4) vs Philadelphia Eagles This bet may fall into the USU futures bet I mentioned earlier. Full disclosure: I am a Lions fan.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) at Washington Commanders The old Washington Football Team still has not recovered from losing the best thing it had-its fight song. I miss “Hail to the Redskins”, and “Hail to the Commanders” is no better than “Hail to the Washington Football Team” as a replacement.

San Diego Chargers (-3) vs. Las Vegas Raiders I actually took my own advice here. The Raiders have great skill players protected by a bad offensive line. The Chargers have a great defensive front that can really pressure a quarterback. Derek Carr has not responded well to pressure.

Robert’s picks

My season got off to a disappointing start with a 1-3 record, and of the three losers, only Houston ever even had a chance scoring first in the second overtime before promptly giving up the tying touchdown.

The hardest part of the second week of the season is determining what part of what happened in Week 1 is real, and what isn’t. Some teams with a higher profile game in Week 2 will keep their game plans vanilla, and other teams take the opposite approach, looking to show something on film that forces the opponent to prepare for it, while not planning to use it at all. One such situation is among the games I’ll be playing this week, and whether I win or lose will likely come down to whether I read the Game 1 situation correctly.

The picks (Lines using the Vegasinsider.com consensus):

Missouri (+7 ½) at Kansas St.: Missouri will be one team I’ll be paying keen attention to early this season, because they have a chance to be extremely underrated. If I’m right, that won’t last long, though. They easily dispatched a capable Central Michigan team last week, and if they were to win outright here, that might suck all the future value out of taking them. But I’m buying in now, because this is a winnable game. They returned 14 starters and new quarterback Brady Cook looks like an upgrade from Connor Bazelak, who transferred to Indiana. Coach Eli Drinkwitz is in his third year and has established his culture, and with a game against Abilene Christian next week, Missouri can focus on this game and possibly set themselves up for a 3-0 start. They aren’t on the level of Alabama or Georgia, but they should be a problem for everyone else in the SEC. Kansas St. quarterback Adrian Martinez regressed the past two years at Nebraska after a good freshman season, and I’m looking at Missouri being able to cash in its opportunities with a chance to win this game outright.

Virginia (+4) at Illinois: Quarterback Brennan Armstrong is back for Virginia this season, and he’s a good one. Illinois pounded Wyoming at the line of scrimmage in a Week 0 game, then gave up a late TD to lose to Indiana last week. Illinois’ offense looked stuck in mud  at times last week.

Boston College (+2 ½) at Virginia Tech: Both of these teams lost last week, and hence the need to decipher what it really means. Boston College lost a battle with Rutgers, which is a decent team that played tough event against the top teams in the Big 10 last season. Virginia Tech lost to Old Dominion, and while Old Dominion is capable, Old Dominion is a 12 point underdog this week at East Carolina, which was a 12 point underdog last week against North Carolina St. That’s a roundabout way of seeing how much Virginia Tech struggled last week. Like Nevada, their roster was decimated by transfers after their coach was fired after last season, and Boston College qualified for a bowl game last year, although it got canceled by a Covid outbreak. Quarterback Phil Jurkovec has proven to be a difference maker, and he’s the kind of leader I want when I’m betting on a team that’s trying to avoid an 0-2 start. I don’t think Virginia Tech has that kind of leadership yet. And with last week being the first game under a new coach, I don’t think that’s a situation where VA Tech was playing possum.

Ravens (-7) at Jets: I’m expecting good things from the Ravens this season, after losing an insane number of players to injuries last year. Any improvement by the Jets is contingent upon Zach Wilson developing into a good NFL quarterback, but he’s out with a knee injury. After a disappointing ending to last season, I’m expecting a sense of purpose from Baltimore, and a double-digit win here.

Browns (pk) at Panthers: Baker Mayfield will be plenty motivated to show up his former team, but I gotta believe his former team will be equally motivated to show him up. And the Browns have more talent across the board than the Panthers. Jacoby Brissett went 5-2 a couple years ago starting for the Colts, and all he has to do is not lose the game, and allow his running game and defense to win it.

Saints (-5 ½) at Falcons: There’s only so much confidence you can have when you bet on Jameis Winston, because he’s equally as likely to throw four interceptions as he is to pass for 300 yards. But the with Alvin Kamara, a crew of good receivers and a good defense, I think the Saints are one of the more undervalued teams in the league. The Falcons are relying on Marcus Mariota, but he doesn’t have nearly the weapons that Winston has, and nowhere near the defense.

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