Week 6 picks: Mind Games
Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
What has been your biggest mistake when it comes to race/sports betting? Bad information? Not enough information? Betting with your heart? Giving the ticket writer the wrong bet? Betting too early? Too late? Putting too many teams in a parley?
For me, this one’s easy…the biggest mistake I make is changing my mind on my way to the window.
There are lots of reasons why I change my mind. Probably the factor that comes to my mind first is useless information, like, “The Irish never lose when they wear kelly green jerseys”. (Yes, they do) “Andy Reid NEVER loses in September”. (Until this year) “The Raiders never lose in prime time”. (Wanna bet?) “The Giants win the World Series every other year” (Until they don’t have good players) “Tom Brady never loses on Thursday Night Football” (Until he loses track of what down it is) And many, many more.
Statistics, as much as I love them and see the benefit of using them, can be (and are) overused. The main problem with statistics is that you assume what happened in the past is going to happen in the future and that just isn’t so. If that were the case, there would be no reason to play the game. So, I’ll hear on the radio that the Eagles are poor against the run, but I don’t hear that their two main run stoppers have been out and are returning to this game. Or I know that Tom Brady is putting up huge passing numbers, but I don’t know that his thumb is now sprained and he can’t grip the football. The key with statistics is to determine (as best we can) if they are still relevant…frequently they are not.
Then, there is the problem we all have is there is A LOT of information out there. I seriously think I can find very well reasoned opinions on every single bet available on the NFL board. One guy telling me the Jaguars will win, another saying they’ll lose, while one “expert” says the over is a sure thing, but another is touting the under.
But again, this one’s easy for me. The biggest reason why I change my mind about a bet is listening to others in line to make my bet. I have said many times I am not a football expert, but I can say, with all confidence, DO NOT LISTEN TO ANYONE IN A BETTING LINE!! There are an equal number of knowledgeable bettors and fools in line with you. The chances of you hearing complete and utter nonsense is as good as you hearing good information, and you have no idea, all things being equal, which is which. I think, no, I know, this last piece of advice is more valid at race tracks than at sports betting windows, but I have been a victim at both places.
So, I have made a rule for myself that I will not, under any circumstances, change my mind about a bet once I get in my car. This has mostly worked well for me over the years, but it has cost me, too. A few years ago (actually, almost 30) Florida was playing Florida State for the NCAA National Championship. I made up my mind to bet Florida State, but on the way to make my bet I heard the FSU quarterback was injured during warmups and was out of the game. I stuck to my sometimes stupid rule and did not change my mind, then watched helplessly as Florida won by 40 points. I guess nothing’s perfect.
So, don’t be like yours truly and lose out on a nine team parlay that you changed to a 10 teamer when you heard in line that Notre Dame was wearing their kelly green jerseys (and THEY WEREN’T). Don’t forfeit a $2,000.00 Superfecta because you heard in line that the 5 horse was a mudder (it wasn’t even raining!) Don’t trust the guy behind you that says the wind is blowing out at Wrigley Field! Andy Reid CAN lose in September if his defense stinks! For your own sanity, make your decision and stick with it.
OK. I feel better now. Here are this week’s picks against the point spread. Lines are from vegasinsider.com on Wednesday, Oct. 13.
Houston Texans (+9 ½) at Indianapolis Colts Lamar Jackson only threw a couple of incomplete passes against the Colts, and the incomplete passes were NOT the fault of the Colt secondary. It’s because of injuries, but there was no defensive coverage and even the Texans will take advantage getting a lot of points.
Washington Football Team (+7) vs. Kansas City Chiefs Giving 7 points on the road with a bad defense? Really?
Los Angeles Chargers (+3) at Baltimore Colts The Chargers have real NFL defensive backs and a very strong pass rush, two things Indy lacked.
Las Vegas Raiders (+3 ½) at Denver Broncos This line opened at Denver -2 ½, and has moved, why? Because of the Raiders’ ex-coach? How many tackles has he made?
Seattle Seahawks (+5) at Pittsburgh Steelers The Seahawks have their problems. Poor pass rush. No Russel Wilson, so instead of letting Russ cook, I guess they’ll have to be happy with Geno making snake noodles and frozen pizza. (Geno’s Pizza?) Seriously, the line opened at Pittsburgh -2 ½, and has moved to Steelers -5, and the last time I checked, Pittsburgh is not very good.
Last week: 4-2
Michigan St. (-4) at Indiana: These two teams are living proof of the difference good quarterback play can make between winning and losing. Last year, Indiana had a special season, at least by the standards of their program, on the back of quarterback Michael Penix. But Penix tore his ACL and missed the end of the year, and this year he’s been barely a shadow of his former self. Not coincidentally, Indiana is only 2-3. Now Penix is injured again, and his replacement, Jack Tuttle, has been mediocre in 11 games over three seasons so far in his career, so until there’s evidence to the contrary, don’t expect too much from him. Michigan St., meanwhile, struggled the past couple of seasons in big part because of the limitations of Rocky Lombardi. But this year, Lombardi is at Northern Illinois, where he is having an OK season. But Michigan St. is 6-0, because redshirt freshman QB Payton Thorne has been a difference-maker.
North Carolina St. (-3) at Boston College: North Carolina was supposed to be the team from the Triangle that challenged Clemson for ACC supremacy this season, but instead, it’s NC State that beat the Tigers, and has a clear path to the championship game. They’re balanced on offense and tough on defense, and while Boston College’s backup quarterback Dennis Grosel had a nice comeback win over Missouri a couple weeks ago, but those Tigers are among the worst defenses in the country.
Air Force (+3 ½) at Boise St.: In one respect it was a little surprising for Boise St. to go into BYU and win as easily as they did last week, but winning on the road as an underdog is what Boise St. does. But this is not a vintage Boise edition, while on the other hand, with all of the players who sat out last season for Air Force, this is by far the deepest Falcon squad. Air Force leads the NCAA in rushing yards per game with 341.3, and Boise St.’s weakness is stopping the run.
UCLA (+1 ½) at Washington: UCLA has struggled against Fresno St. and Arizona St. teams that have dynamic quarterbacks. But they’ve taken care of business in their other four games, and their experienced and explosive offense should give them a cushion here against a popgun Washington attack that hasn’t done much except against an Arkansas St. team that is on pace to give up the most points in a season in NCAA history.
Chiefs (- 6 ½) at Football Team: I’ll agree with Jim’s premise that it isn’t normally wise to lay a touchdown on the road with a bad defense, and the Chiefs defense has actually been worse than bad this season, it’s actually the worst in the league. But guess who is the next worse? The Football Team. Yes, Washington can score a little, averaging 24.6 points per game, but the Chiefs can score a lot. The line and total on this game projects to a final score 31-24 Chiefs. I think that’s about what Washington will score, but I think KC gets a bit more than they are projected for.
Raiders (+3 ½) at Broncos: Maybe the Raiders are too distracted from the past couple of weeks and give a flat effort here, but I think more likely, they’re just a better team than the Broncos, they’ll give a professional effort, and win the game outright.