Another, perhaps more profitable, form of gambling that I like to participate in is sports betting. I believe that with a small amount of research, a bettor can get a small edge on certain games. Being an ex-football player, my best sport is of course football, although I do ok at basketball as well. I think that the handicappers are often too stat-based– most of the games I bet on are decided by a touchdown or more, so a 6 point spread isn’t as big a deal as the handicappers make it out to be. I like to fade the weak teams, especially teams with weak QBs. Kordell Stewart has won me a fair bit of money this year.
So how have I done this year? Well, I started out great– 12-2 in September! My picks were made after reading game summaries and a few good NFL columns, but with limited watching of the games. I don’t have cable, so I usually catch one or two games on the network, but that’s it… I experimented with creating a neural network to predict nfl game results, and even trained a small version, but I figured that the handicappers are already doing this… if you’re going to beat the house, it’s not going to be by out-programming them, it’s going to be by finding weaknesses in their algorithms.
Anyway, of course my luck had to settle down, and I’m 6-7 in October (losing 4 games in the final minute), for a total of 18-9. I think the linemakers have been doing better, and there are fewer chances to get an edge. However, I think they have made several mistakes for this weekend. Here are my picks, in order of confidence:
Carolina over New Orleans, Money line (+120)
I’m amazed by this line. Carolina coming off a bad week against a tough Tenn. team, and NO off a blowout of the lowly Bears, and the linemakers make the 3-4 home Saints a favorite over the 5-1 Panthers. Sure Carolina has no passing game. Sure their QB is Jake Delhomme (who I actually think looks decent so far). Sure Stephen Davis was held to 20 yards on 11 carries by Tennessee. BUT THESE ARE THE SAINTS! Their 3 wins are against Chicago, Atlanta, and Houston! The best explanation of the line is that it was 19-13 in Carolina, and HeHateMe had a 100 yard kickoff there. But I just think the Panthers are so much better than NO. They will pound the ball and get their field goals and win easy.
Seattle over Cincinatti, Seattle -1.5
Yeah I know, Marvin Lewis has the Bengals believing in themselves and Seattle is overrated. Fine, but Seattle is a classic team that beats up on average/bad teams and does not do well against good teams. The Seattle offense will eat up the weak Cinci secondary. Kitna vs. Hasselbeck– showtime!
Unfortunately, I also took the money line on Denver at Baltimore. I say unfortunately because it was announced today that Steve Beurleine is OUT FOR THE SEASON with a dislocated pinkie on his throwing hand. Come on Steve, I have dislocated both pinkies about 5 times, and this is an injury you can play with. Sigh. Still, I think Denver has a good chance if they can stop the Baltimore run, and Jamal has an injured shoulder… but then again, Danny Kanell is now the starter, going up against the beast Ray Lewis and his boys… I think I’m gonna puke…
**new** 2 picks added
After reading John Clayton’s first and ten(the best pregame column out there), I’ve added two more picks.
Tampa Bay over Dallas, TB -6.5
I’ve lost on Tampa twice in the past 2 weeks, one game being the dreaded Indy Monday night comeback… however, Dallas runs a high school offense– Parcells had the Dallas OC dumb it down so that Quincy Carter only has to go down the progression rather than really read the defense. I’m banking on Monte Kiffin to eat this high school offense alive… TB will disguise their coverages, and step in front of a couple passes for INTs. If the TB defense can get 2 turnovers, and the offense doesn’t turn the ball over, I think TB wins by at least a TD.
Tennessee over Jacksonville, Tennessee -3.5
McNair at home vs. Leftwich on the the road… hmmm… well, I haven’t seen too much of Leftwich but I am a big fan of the Titan defense. I think they will just be too much for the rookie to handle, especially at home coming off a big win last week. Fisher always prepares Tennessee well, and this game will be no exception.
YIKES! Well monetarily this makes the biggest betting weekend ever: $440 in play on 5 games. It would be quite nice to go 5-0…