Beating Vegas: Entry Seven

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: No excuses, most of us fell for that Utah trap.  Vegas won out on that one, getting about 75% of folks to take the road underdog in that won.  Although this weekly article is called “Beating Vegas” – you have to expect Vegas to swing back at you.  Even if it’s a low blow. . .

Rutgers (+19) at Wisconsin


The Wisconsin Badgers defense averages 11.1 points a game.  That looks impressive at first but after looking at their schedule it’s easy to see that those numbers are blown up after beating down opponents like Miami Ohio, Troy and Hawaii (one might even want to throw terrible Purdue in there for good measure).  This year’s Wisconsin team has been tough to watch.  They are not as dominant this year running the ball – still above average, but just not what we’re used to seeing.  And they have to stick with the ground game, even through its struggles because quarterback Joel Stave just doesn’t have the tools to pose a serious threat against any opposing secondary.  Add to the fact that Wisconsin wide out Robert Wheelwright has a serious case of the “drops,” it’s an all out struggle at times.  Rutgers isn’t that much better.  They have a 3-4 record but have gone score for score with a talented Indiana offense in a 55-52 victory, and gave all Michigan State could handle in a 31-24 loss.  Getting destroyed last week by Ohio State didn’t surprise anybody, but getting whipped like that at home must’ve stung a bit. . . Rutgers has two running backs in Robert Martin and Josh Hicks who can bang in the trenches and help make it a “grinder” of a game.  Wisconsin has lost the right this season to be a near three-touchdown favorite against a team that puts up a fight like Rutgers.

The Pick: Rutgers +19

Boise St (-20) at UNLV

This is the first time those funky Broncos from Boise State have been written about here.  They’ve had an impressive season if you don’t look at their two losses, where they gave up 21 points in the fourth quarter to BYU and then got totally blindsided losing to Utah State 52-26.  Boise has the number one offense in the Mountain West Conference and it’s led by wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck who averages a notch under 20 yards per reception.  Although Boise State’s offense gets most of the attention (38 points per game) it’s their rush defense that will be a problem for UNLV.   The Running Rebels of UNLV’s ground game is formidable, averaging 4.7 yards a carry and 213 yards a game, but they will be tested by a Boise State defense that allows only 2.5 yards a rush.  What makes things worse for UNLV is that their passing attack is a work in progress, to say the least.  Quarterback Kurt Palandech has added a little spark to the aerial attack, but not enough for Boise to worry about, especially since they hold opponents to a 50% completion rate and have 14 interceptions on the year so far.

The Pick: Boise State -20

Air Force (-7) at Hawaii


Here’s another match up out of the Mountain West conference.   Hawaii has been abysmal offensively averaging 17 points a game.  In true Rainbow Warrior fashion, Hawaii depends on a strong passing attack to move the ball.  The problem is, they are completing less than 50% of their passes and have a total of eight touchdowns to fourteen interceptions.  This leads them to fall behind quickly and abort a running game, that is pretty non-existent anyway.  Air Force is the polar opposite when it comes to offense.  They only attempt about 10 passes a game, but lead the Mountain West conference with a rushing attack that gets 333 yards a game.  That average puts them third in the nation – a spot behind Baylor and a spot above LSU – which shows how dominant this run game is.  The Air Force defense is strong against the pass and should only look stronger against this Hawaii air attack.  Air Force hasn’t won a road game so far this season and that will surely change this weekend.

The Pick: Air Force -7

Green Bay Packers (-2.5) at Denver Broncos


Both teams are coming off of bye weeks and both teams are struggling offensively.  We all knew coming into the season that the Broncos would have some issues, but Green Bay’s struggles are just confusing.  Running back Eddie Lacy is about to lose his job to James Starks in Green Bay, and CJ Anderson has pretty much lost his starting job to Ronnie Hillman  in Denver.  Peyton Manning’s Broncos are 6-0 and it’s all due to the defense.  Manning has seven touchdowns to ten interceptions so far this year, and on the ground the Broncos are only averaging 85 yards a game.   Green Bay hasn’t been awful on the ground, just inconsistent – and their passing game isn’t bad at all – just not as explosive as we’re used to seeing.   For a team that hasn’t looked crisp in their last three games – coming back and playing arguably the best defense in the league won’t be an inviting task.  With all that being said – forget about the winner and the loser of this game – look at this over/under of 45.5 points.  Vegas is playing the odds that the names of Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, under the lights of Sunday Night Football, will make casual fans want to see a shoot out.  Be smarter than the casual fan.

The Pick: The Under at 45.5

If you must:  Head coach, Bobby Petrino hasn’t gotten this Louisville offense where he’d like them to be and it’s an obvious work in progress.  On paper, it would seem that Louisville as a twelve point favorite is a slam dunk, but Wake Forest has a pretty good defense playing at home.  Wake takes a lot of shots through the air and this Louisville defense is letting opponents complete passes at a rate of 60%.  Wake Forest +12 won’t be fun to watch, but they should cover.

Tease of the Week: (4 gamer) Iowa -5, Western Kentucky -11, Arkansas State -6.5 and TCU -2

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

“All Love Lost” Album Review

Whether he is recording music, doing a podcast or on reality television – Joe Budden has made himself out to be the most “open book” of a rapper today.   Budden has had a way of keeping listeners engaged with his struggles through addiction, depression and his definition of “love.”   His formula throws many off, and his sound is not one which mainstream hip hop gravitates to, but even the most casual hip hop fan can admire the lyrical prowess that Budden possesses.  “All Love Lost” is the third installment of Budden’s “Love Lost” series following the album “No Love Lost” and the EP “Some Love Lost.”

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 10: Joe Budden of Slaughterhouse at John Ricard Studio on August 28, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by John Ricard/Getty Images)

Joe Budden’s bread and butter is how he can detail turmoil in a relationship and he sticks to that formula on the album’s lead single “Broke.”  Because Budden has been very public throughout his career when it comes to the women in his life, every song about a female leaves the listeners wondering who it could be that he’s talking about.  As entertaining as “Broke” is, it seems more like a song that was made to be the single then to actually fit in causing it to stick out of the bunch.

The album opens with Joe Budden and frequent R&B collaborator, Emanny on “All Love Lost” and it details the sound which provides the canvas for the album.  Pianos, strings and guitars all played in dramatic sequences while Budden is seemingly on cruise control, riding the track at his own pace, never rushing through his story.   It’s here that Budden speaks on his frustrations with his fan base, who didn’t respond well to his last album which had features from more mainstream artists like Wiz Khalifa and French Montana.  The meaning of the album is true in it’s intro as Budden seems to have lost faith in the idea of love, whether it be within the music industry, women or love for himself.

“Playing Our Part” gives us insight to how Budden deals with this on again/ off again relationships.   At the end Budden comes to the realization that he has been involved with the same kind of self-indulgent personalities, but he can’t turn away from temptation: “Nowadays they all the same / Enhanced body parts, smaller brains
They don’t get a hi in fact/ Mums the word, baby girl, it’s now quiet for that/ If you got nothin’ to offer, sorry Mrs. Jackson, gotta off ya/a
But as soon as you leave ’em alone /It’s when they send that same text to the phone (like ‘what’s up’).”


“Love, I’m Good” is a track that stands out as one of the more emotional tracks as Joe speaks on his frustrations with hip hop, Tahiry (we assume) and his son.  He speaks on hip hop as a girl who has changed and fallen prey to the world around her (“now I see her with Young Thug and Future, like what did you n*gg@s do to her?”).  He still has bars for days when it comes to Tahiry (“You threaten every girl I’m with, that just confuses me/Say you want kids real soon, now that’s abuse to me/And I just write about it in song, you’re like a muse to me”).  The song’s final verse is one that tugs at the heartstrings though, as he talks about his son, who at this point in his life looks at his father with discontent.  Budden has spoken about custody battles for his son before and continues here and even tries to relate to his son : “I was you 20 years ago when pop popped up/But nothin’ like you, sad how life’ll recycle a cycle/ You missin’ intel only a dad can give/
Can’t expect you to understand, this doesn’t matter to a kid. . .”


A disappointing track was “Make it Through the Night.”  It’s disappointing because it features a very uninspiring verse from Jadakiss, who is usually on-point when it comes to his guest features. . . The track is nothing new on a general music level either as it’s just one of those “hopefully I’ll get outta the hood” tracks.    “Immortal” wastes a strong hook which rides over an uneventful beat, produced by Boi-1da and Vinvyl.  Joe also blatantly uses the same very distinct flow that is used on the album’s single “Broke.”  The funny thing about “Immortal” is that although the song itself is uninspiring – this is  the Joe Budden sound.  Budden can sometimes just ramble from one topic to another so effortlessly, the listener at times can get lost in the whirlwind of emotions and topics being thrown at them in a sometimes unorganized fashion.

“Unnecessary Pain” is a gem on the album, that may get lost in the shuffle.  Here, Budden details how he is so ruined inside that he knows that any female who comes in contact with him will most likely get hurt: “I see your life from afar and something’s off with it/It’s my fault and shit, I shoulda never altered it/I sold a dream when you couldn’t have known the cost of it/Knew my love came with a pain and I still offered it.”  Budden goes off on another tangent again, but this time it is seamless and an easy transition as he looks at his mortality in music.  Being that he is one of those that puts out emotional LP, after emotional LP it seems to be draining him, but at the same time, he does it because it’s what his fans want: “And to the fans that I once gave my life for . . . I gotta tell you that there’s not much left in me / Yeah and not that it’s growin’ old/ But years of bearin’ my soul is takin’ it’s toll. ..”

“Man Down” and “Slaughtermouse” display a slightly more aggressive Joe Budden.  “Man Down” is Budden firing shots at people who are praying for him to fail, or even worse.  Budden makes a point in saying how he has been tried in every direction but he’s still around and knows he’s garnered hate from all different people from different walks of life because of the life he displays and accusations laid out before the public. . . “I’ve been more than a leader, even with my back to the wall/Thought I was finished forever when I was practicin’ falls/Now you second guessin’ yourself, you gotta ask what you saw/They fishin’, wishin’ it’s fiction, but ain’t no actin’ at all.” 

“Slaughtermouse” was leaked online before the album was released and most took it as a shot to Eminem for not helping elevate the status of Slaughterhouse – the four man rap group comprised of Budden, Joell Ortiz, Crooked-I and Royce, which is on Eminem’s Shady Records.  It was far from a shot at Eminem, it was more praise to someone he respects.  In that respect Budden details that they barely know each other although they’ve been through similar misfortunes in life.  Once again Joe’s vulnerability is displayed: “But different times, I was feelin’ like the odd man out/Like I should leave, they’d be better with the odd man out/Like when I wasn’t on that intro, I felt a little weird/ But that was for the team, so I didn’t really care. . .”


One wouldn’t be wrong in calling Joe Budden one of, or even the most, emotional rapper  in hip hop.  In serious circles, you won’t even get much argument that he is one of the game’s best lyricist either.  Joe is in a weird spot though.  He has a loyal fan base who wants the “emo” music, which he has mastered the delivery of, but it also has him in his own bubble as an artist.  All he knows, is how to air out his dirty laundry in public, and he does it brilliantly.  He just needs to find different ways to do it, so it doesn’t sound like the same story, coming from the same place every time.

Rating: 7 out of 10

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Six

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week:  The Bengals proved they weren’t pretenders making short work of the Bills, while the Clemson Tigers made us sweat it out, covering the spread by the half-point they needed to against the Eagles of Boston College.  Eastern Michigan was destroyed by a Toledo team I may have underestimated – but seriously – Who told Kansas to make it a game against Texas Tech?!

Utah (+3.5) at USC


This has “trap game” written all over it for Utah.  Or is that too obvious?  Wasn’t last week’s game against Arizona State supposed to be a trap game as well?  And before that, didn’t they play the Jared Goff, of Cal – who many see to be the best QB in the nation – and didn’t they pick him off FIVE times?   This Utah team is legit.  USC was thought to be “legit” entering this season, but things have spiraled out of control.  The firing of coach Steve Sarkasian, followed by the 10 point loss at Notre Dame – finds the Trojans licking their wounds at home, while a strong Utah Utes team comes to town.  Defensively and Offensively these teams are basically a mirror image of each other (scoring approximately 35 points a game, and holding teams to about 20 points a game).  A key injury here is to Utah’s tight end, Siale Fakailoatonga, who is out for the season.  He is not a receiving threat but was a huge part of the blocking scheme that has helped been the backbone of Utah’s offense.   It will take some getting used to but USC has shown vulnerability against the run this year allowing 167.5 yards a game this year.   Even if USC wins, which is doubtful – this game will be determined by a small margin either way.

The Pick: Utah +3.5

Indiana (+16.5) at Michigan State


Now that the dust has settled and we have taken in that dramatic Michigan State victory over Michigan, let us all take a step back.  The truth of the matter is that somewhere, on some mountain there are football gods.  On this day, the football gods decided to get at Jim Harbaugh, who may think he’s bigger than the game of football itself.  This is the only realistic reason for Michigan State to have come away with a victory on Saturday. . . but this has been Michigan State all year hasn’t it?  Last year’s Michigan State team was much more dominant, making short work of opponents.  This year, they’ve had single digit victories against the likes of Western Michigan, Purdue and Rutgers. . . eh.  Quarterback Connor Cook is averaging about two touchdown passes a game and hasn’t looked as sharp and poised as he did last year.  Something has to be said though for a team that can consistently come away with the win in close games week to week . . . On the other side of the field, Indiana can score.  That’s about all they can do, but they do it well.  The 6’6″ senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld is leading an Indiana Hosiers offense that is third in the Big 10 averaging 34.1 points per game.   The only problem with the Indiana offense is that they score quickly, leaving their defense gassed at times.   Teams can run and pass against this Indiana defense, but Michigan State has been sleep walking this year and have a tendency to slowly figure out the opposition’s weaknesses.  Michigan State will surely win, but follow the trend. . .

The Pick: Indiana +16.5

Colorado (+2) at Oregon State

For the most part, this game is uninteresting no matter how you look at it.  Colorado is currently on a three game losing streak while Oregon State returns home after losing back to back road games.  Colorado has put together a pretty solid ground game, rushing for over 190 yards a game at 4.1 yards a clip.  One would think a defense that practices against a formidable run attack would do well against the run, but that isn’t the story here.  Colorado ranks dead last in the Pac-12 in rush defense allowing five yards a carry and over 200 rushing yards a game.  For a run-centric offense like Oregon State, that should be music to their ears, but they are so one dimensional and just flat out abysmal with a passing attack that it just “balances out” the one advantage they might have had in this game.  Looking deeper at the numbers, Colorado’s rush defense has been under heavy attack by the offenses of Oregon, Arizona State and Arizona.  After seeing those three offenses, Oregon State will be moving in what will seem like “slow motion” to the Colorado defenders.

The Pick: Colorado +2

Missouri (-3) at Vanderbilt

It was tough picking a fourth game this week, then I stumbled upon this “gem.”  This might be one of the more underwhelming and boring games of the weekend, and that’s perfect when you look at an under/over which stands at 35.  Missouri and Vanderbilt rank at the bottom of the SEC in points per game, but they are both in the top five when in comes to points allowed per game.   Missouri was actually ranked in the national top 25 for the first four weeks of the season, until they lost to Kentucky.  A week before that loss was an unimpressive win over lowly Connecticut 9-6.  Missouri has mustered up only 9 total points in their last two contest, but the defense looked impressive last week against Georgia, holding the Bulldogs to only nine points (although ultimately they lost the game.)  Vanderbilt’s quarterback Johnny McCrary has ten interceptions in the six games he’s started this year and averages a little over six yards a completion.  Those numbers are gross, but it’s really not all his fault, this is just not a talented team on the offensive side of the ball.  Missouri giving three points may be safe, but the under might be even safer with a 17-13 kind of game headed your way.

The Pick: The Under at 35

If you must:  At this point, just assume that if I don’t spend a paragraph writing about Baylor’s match-up, that I’m taking Baylor anyhow, no matter what.  Take Baylor for the first half, take them for the game – whatever.   They average 63 points a game and are looking to stay in the top four all year long – which means they are going to run up the score at times.  This week they are at home, spotting Iowa State 37 points.  Just take it.

Tease of the Week: (three gamer) Jets +19, Cardinals +2.5 and      LSU -7

Good Luck and Wager Wisely,

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Bowles’ Turn at the Rivalry

It’s a fairly new “rivalry” but a rivalry none-the-less.   And if the word “new” is offensive to the fan bases of the Jets and Patriots, one does apologize.  Let’s be honest though – it wasn’t until the Eric Mangini run in New York, that this rivalry really “mattered.”  There was substance there,  a questionable loyalty and an uncomfortable handshake at midfield. . . Then when Rex Ryan came to town, the fiery head coach put a battery in his players’ backs and charged violently to the top of the mountain, where the Patriots perched from.  Rex Ryan may not have had the success against the Patriots that he had wished for, but he certainly made them sweat out the final minutes of games and he definitely gave ammunition to the respective fan-bases.


Enter the Todd Bowles Era.

The New York Jets are 4-1 under Bowles and this weekend face an undefeated New England Patriots team.   The Jets did things right in the off-season by bringing back Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie and adding Brandon Marshall (via trade) and Buster Skrine to the mix.   The Patriots on the other hand lost Darrelle Revis and could not even celebrate their Super Bowl season too loudly because many were calling them cheaters due to something as trivial as the amount of air being taken out of footballs. . .  Not too mention the Patriots had no idea if they would have their star quarterback Tom Brady, suspended at the start of the season.

Both teams have glued together at the start of the year for different reasons, and now the “rivalry” ensues this weekend.

The Jets are a nine and a half point underdog this weekend, which seems a bit ridiculous. The Jets are second in the league in rush defense and pass defense.  The Jets offense has also taken a step in the right direction leading the NFL in rushing at 146 yards a game, which is a big reason why they have the seventh best offense in the NFL.


The Patriots are just running with the “us against the world” mentality, which every Super Bowl contending team opens the season with – but the “Deflate Gate” nonsense just added fuel to the fire.  The Patriots at times, seem as if they’re playing games as if they’re in college.  What that means is: they seem as if they’re trying to impress voters with “style points.”  They are not looking to beat teams, they are looking to beat them down.   The Patriots have the league’s number one offense and most of that damage comes through the air.

We all know coach Bill Belichick has tricks up his sleeve, especially against divisional foes, and we also know that he finds a way to expose a team’s weakness.  The Jets weakness is well documented.  It’s quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Is Fitzpatrick terrible?  Absolutely not.  Is he average?  Absolutely.  An average quarterback playing against Belichick could put the Jets in a bad situation early.  Fitzpatrick at times has tunnel vision and if it’s not tunnel vision – he is just flat out oblivious to things going on downfield.  Even with that being said, Fitzpatrick is smart enough to know, he has to keep this game as simple as possible to stand a chance.


The Patriots will force Fitzpatrick to throw the ball.  Belichick won’t allow the Jets running game to run him out of his own stadium.  The problem with that is  – just how good is this Patriots secondary?  Brandon Marshall is still playing at a Pro Bowl level and proving to be a tough cover for corners as good as Cleveland’s Joe Haden and Washington’s Bashaud Breeland.  If Belichik’s focus is to stop the run, then chances are Brandon Marshall AND Eric Decker will see one on one coverage for most of the game.

The Jets are bringing to the table the best three corner back set in the NFL with Revis, Cromartie and Skrine.  Although Skrine has been listed as “questionable” with a thumb injury, chances are very slim he’ll miss this one.   The Jets are one of the few teams who can go man to man with the threats the Patriots bring on the receiving end with Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski.  The Jets can probably shade Gronk with two man coverage, while Revis stays with Edelman, because nobody is scared of Amendola.  Dion Lewis is the wildcard out of the back field for New England, his pass catching ability and speed liken him to New England’s version of Darren Sproles.


A nine point spread in any division rivalry is too many points.  In this case it’s just plain ridiculous.  The Jets have a legitimate chance at upsetting the Patriots this weekend.  Add to the fact that the Jets’ schedule swings in their favor for most of the year – a win here, can get the Jets some good footing in the playoff picture.   On the other hand if the Patriots win – it’s business as usual.  . . but if the Patriots win big – the rest of this league will probably not have a shot at dethroning the champs.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Five

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: After two failed weeks in a row, it’s safe to say we’re jumping off of the N.C. State bandwagon.  Baylor and Ole Miss cleaned up easily against their 40 plus point spreads, proving to not be scared of those big numbers when you’re Goliath, and the opposition is David.  .  .

Eastern Michigan (+29) at Toledo


The Toledo Rockets are everyone’s “Cinderella” team this year.  The small school from the MAC Conference who finds themselves undefeated and in the Top 25.  Toledo stands at 5-0, and in all truth could be 6-0 if their season opener against Stony Brook wasn’t postponed.  Toledo’s rushing attack is first in the MAC with 197 yards per game and second in the MAC with 5.0 yards a carry.  The backfield carries are split evenly between Terry Swanson and Damion Jones-Moore who average 6.5 and 5.5 yards a rush, respectively. Toledo’s defense has also been stout this year allowing only 11.8 points per game, which is spearheaded by a rush defense allowing less than three yards a carry.  Toledo was the team that exposed an over-rated Arkansas, early in the season with a 16-12 victory and is proving to be ahead of the class in the MAC.   Eastern Michigan hasn’t had quite the fortunes of Toledo, and are holding a 1-5 record and will definitely lose this match up.  Of course, if you’re here it’s not about if you lose the game, it’s by how much.   Eastern Michigan’s run defense is prime pickings for this Toledo attack, but the Eagles have their own star-back.  Darius Jackson is averaging 5.7 yards a carry and has amassed 585 rushing yards so far this season.  His backup Shaq Vann is averaging one more yard per carry.   Eastern Michigan is actually right there with Toledo in average points and yards in a game and as an offense are actually more balanced than Toledo.

The Pick: Eastern Michigan +29

Texas Tech (-31) at Kansas


Sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahommes has been leading the nations number one pass offense and has given the Texas Tech Red Raiders the offense that coach Kliff Kingsbury has been wanting to see.  Mahomme has thrown 19 touchdown passes and over 2200 yards so far this year.  Their defense makes the offense play “catch-up” on the scoreboard week to week, but when your opposition is Kansas. . . there is not much to be worried about.  Kansas was the whipping boy in last week’s column and that trend may very well continue as they are proving to be one of the worse programs in the nation.  The Kansas Jayhawks rank at the bottom of the Big 12 in total defense and total offense and are showing no improvements on either side of the ball.  This is a team that will go win-less this year and they’ll look terribly doing so.

The Pick: Texas Tech -31

Boston College (+16.5) at Clemson


The spread seems to be just where it needs to be because the Clemson Tigers average 35 points a game while the B.C. Eagles average 20.  Boston College has the best defense in the ACC, letting opponents only average 7.2 points per game.  Is that stat smoke and mirrors?  Yes and no.  See, the Eagles opened up the season with wins against the likes of Maine and Howard at a combined score of 100-3.  They held  Florida’s offense to 14 points in a shut out loss and held Duke to 9 points in a 9-7 loss.  Even those losses are somewhat statements for the defense, but losing 3-0 to Wake Forest last week – that just confuses things.  Boston College is a team that can’t throw the ball at all  and seemingly can’t help themselves from losing.  Clemson has their eyes set week to week on getting closer to a playoff birth.  Their offense has looked prolific against lesser opponents but in wins against Louisville and Notre Dame, their defense looked “steady” at least.  Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been more of a game manager than a gunslinger, which is his best option with this offense.  There is so much speed and talent around him, Watson defers to take what the defense gives him and lets his play-makers do the work.  Clemson has a steady defense itself and put the clamps down on a good rushing attack in Georgia Tech last week.  Boston College’s rush game is more straight up the gut, then Georgia Tech’s but it’s hard to believe a team that struggled against Duke and Wake Forest defensive fronts will do much better against Clemson.  The Boston defense is good, but Clemson is a team that is ‘feeling themselves’ right now and they capitalize well off of other team’s mistakes.  The home crowd will be unbearable.

The Pick: Clemson -16.5

Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Buffalo Bills


While writing this, it is currently Tuesday, October 13th and the spread is in favor of the visiting Bengals at three and half points, but you better believe this line will jump up at least, one and half more points.  The reason being,  Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has a reported MCL sprain and will “miss some time.”  This means a worse possible scenario for the Bills who are now forced to start former first-round pick E.J. Manuel.  In 2014 Pro Football Focus graded Manuel simply as a “poor” starting quarterback.  His completion percentage hovers at around 58% and has the reaction time of a dead-man in the pocket.   This week Manuel will be going against a Cincinnati Bengals team that might be one of the best in the NFL today.  The Bengals defense gives up, on average, twenty points a game and this Buffalo Bills offense is one that is one-dimensional and currently, terrible at that one dimension – running the ball.  It is very unlikely neither Lesean McCoy or Karlos Williams will be active for this game, leaving the likes of Anthony “Boobie” Dixon who had a disgusting seven carries for nineteen yards against the Titans on Sunday. . . Sure this Bills defense is tough, but they have shown as of late that their secondary needs a lot of help from it’s front seven.  Andy Dalton has looked the best he’s ever looked, and having a huge comeback win against Seattle last week, has certainly boosted the Red Rocket’s confidence.  The Bills defense will be gassed because this offense will not sustain long drives, let alone put up points against this Bengals team.

The Pick: Bengals -3.5

If You Must: The New England Patriots seem almost unbeatable.  This “chip on their shoulder” is legit and they are looking to embarrass teams they face.  The Patriots have always had their way with the Colts and that will not change this time around.  The Colts are 3-2 and riding a three game winning streak in which they struggled to get by three of the leagues worst teams.  Patriots as a -8 favorite is a slam-dunk.

Teaser of the Week: (Four Gamer) – Bengals +8.5, Patriots: +4, Panthers/Seahawks Under 53 and Michigan +3.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio


“The Documentary 2” Album Review

When The Game announced that his next release would be a sequel to his classic “The Documentary” the anticipation grew.   When The Game dropped “The Documentary” in 2005, he was riding an incredible high and was being backed by Dr. Dre and 50 Cent.  Although the album was a modern-day classic – the “fallout” that the Game had with those on his first album was immense.  Still, that didn’t deter The Game.  He is one of the hardest working artists out in the industry and his record catalog is actually pretty impressive.  Although many have their reservations when it comes to “L.A.X” and “Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf” – there is no doubt the Compton native has come a long way from the infamous “fallout.”


The Game is now on reality TV trying to find “love” on the VH1 show “She’s Got Game” and  with the release of “The Documentary 2,” The Game is looking to dominate on all media surfaces.

Kendrick Lamar joins The Game on the opening track “On Me” which is produced by Bongo ‘The Drum Gahd’ – who handles the lion’s share of this album’s production.  The Game is a “friendly competitor” who invites artists to collaborate with him and gives them a backdrop that fits their style more than his.  He does this in ways to elevate his artistry and show his versatility.  Even on this laid back track he still emits the slick gangsta’ talk: “Spoon feed you n*gg@s like toddlers, from the city of Impalas / When shot-callers take their pitbulls and feed them n*gg@s rottweilers.”

The Game always pays homage to his hometown and to the legends of the craft – he kills two birds with one stone on “Don’t Trip” which features Ice-Cube and Dr. Dre.   The track is produced by who sampled the bass line from the Digable Planets classic “Rebirth of Slick.” It’s still weird hearing the now family-comedy actor Ice Cube do the tough talk on record, but he is an originator of the gangster rap craft, so you have to respect it.  “Step Up” uses the same sample as 2Pac’s classic “I Get Around,” and while the Dej-Loaf feature is barely noticeable, the hook by Sha-Sha is a clever gangster twist on Brandy’s old school classic “I Wanna Be Down.”  The Diddy featured “Standing On Ferraris” has elements of Notorious B.I.G’s “Kick in the Door” and while Diddy’s spoken word outro is neither funny or entertaining, The Game handles his business on the track: “I’ve been shot, stabbed, left for dead / Walked through every hood in L.A., bandana on my head / Guarantee that sh*t was red/ Machetes and them choppers out/B*tches with their knockers out/I done f*cked them all, that’s why I’m standin’ on Ferrari’s n*gg@.”


Surprisingly the collaboration between The Game and Future works out harmoniously.  The Game even weighed in on Future’s situation with his baby mother Ciara and her new beau Russell Wilson : “Had a n*gg@ focused on the future, now a n*gg@ feelin’ like Future/We both dealing with a new n*gg@ ’round our kids/And we ain’t kill him yet, n*gg@, I salute you/ And I still bang like I used to, red Impala, gold things like I used to.”

The Game made a big deal about the guest production on the album and those big features turn out being  a disappointment.  Scott Storch came out from the rock he was under to produce the uninspired effort on “B*tch You Ain’t Sh*t.”  Kanye West even turns in a let down effort on “Mula” with an awkward chorus and a simple loop for the beat.

“Dollar and A Dream” features Ab-Soul, who is kind of all over the track and never really settles into a consistent flow, while The Game’s routine – honestly, just starts becoming tired.

He’s an infamous “name-dropper” and all of his metaphors consist of a verbal formula that goes like this: “I do ______________ like _____________ when he _____________.”

The album gets weird with “100” featuring Drake.  It’s “weird” because this is one of those rare occasions where Drake lets down as the featured artist, which works out for The Game who easily outshines Meek Mill’s assassin.  .  .  Another “weird” moment is on the track “L.A.” where actually has a better verse than The Game or Snoop (who is also featured): “LA native, LA Raider, LA Rams – motherf*ck*n’ traitors / LA Clippers, LA Lakers, trippin off Kobe, you the motherf*ck*n’ greatest/LA Dodgers, finger to the Padres/East Los n*gg@s sayin’ ‘china tu madre.'” 


The Game gets it right on the Dr. Dre and DJ Premier production collaboration on the title track “Documentary 2,” – but who could really screw that up? He really did go in though: “I’m like sixteen Jay’s but the beat I can manage/so every sweet 16 is like Duke and Kansas/You about to lose advantage, I will come through crews and bandage/Bruise and damage/ f*ck your rules and manners/I kick back, click clack, bump the Wu in Phantoms / F*ck rap, I only respect Ja Rule and Hammer.”   If there was more of that version of The Game on this album it would leave a lasting impression.   “The Documentary 2” is a far cry from its predecessor.  This would’ve been better off as a mix tape to be honest. . . “The Documentary 2” actually takes away from the light that once shined on the “The Documentary” which has the unfortunate fate of sharing a legacy with it’s “adequate at best,” sequel.

Rating 5 out of 10

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Four

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week:  The Seattle Seahawks’ lack of an offense was the reason they failed to cover against the lowly Lions last week.  Penn State won – but looked terrible doing it against a hapless Army squad.

N.C. State (PK) at Virginia Tech


N.C. State let us down with a loss to Louisville last week, but this is their chance to get the positive momentum going back in their direction.  Virginia Tech is trying to avoid their third loss in a row after losing to East Carolina and in a “tough game to watch” lost to Pitt.   VA Tech is second to last in the ACC Conference in points allowed per game with 24.2 and they’ve given up the most yards per carry in the ACC at 5.1.   This is a far cry from the defensive teams, that worked great special teams and executed with speed on the offensive end.  This is a down year for the Hokies and people are questioning if it’s time for head coach Frank Beamer to end his stay at Tech.  N.C. State’s well balanced offense which bangs out nearly forty points a game might prove to be more than a handful for the Hokies.   Senior quarterback Jacoby Brisset is quietly having an impressive season so far throwing at a 70% completion rate.

The Pick: N.C. State

Baylor (-44) at Kansas

These big spreads are scary to look at and for Kansas, Baylor should be very scary to look at.  Talk about two teams going in completely different directions – yikes.  Coach Art Briles has constructed one of the best offensive programs in college football and he is ruthless when it comes to taking advantage of lesser opponents.  Kansas is downright dreadful football.  The Jayhawks are win-less so far this season – that includes a loss to the South Dakota State Jack Rabbits out of the Missouri Conference (it’s okay to shake your head at that).  If it wasn’t enough that their offense is a train wreck, the Jayhawks defense is equally as bad.  Baylor running back Shock Linwood is averaging 9.4 yards a carry and Kansas’ defense allow 5.4 yards a carry.  Baylor might have 44 points scored by the middle of the second quarter.

The Pick: Baylor -44

TCU (-9) at Kansas State


This is a situation where the numbers do not tell the whole story.  The Kansas State Wildcats defense has allowed an impressive 18 points per contest, which is second best in the Big 12 Conference.  Look at who the Wildcats have played and the truth is revealed as to why.   Kansas State opened up with wins against South Dakota and UTSA for a combined score of 64-3.  The following two games they gave up thirty three points in a win against Louisiana Tech and 34 points in a loss to Oklahoma State.  Looking at TCU though, outside of their season opener against Minnesota, the competition hasn’t been up to par either.  When discussing TCU though, not many opposing defenses can keep up to par with the Horned Frogs offense.  They have put up at least fifty points on the board in their last three outings and their Heisman candidate quarterback Trevone Boykin already has 19 touchdown passes and 1800 passing yards.  Kansas State is coached well and may make TCU work in the first half, but in the second half expect TCU to just runaway with this one.

The Pick: TCU -9

New Mexico State  (+43.5) at Ole Miss

Ole Miss looked like they were firing on all cylinders until they ended up getting stomped out in the Swamp by the Florida Gators.   The last three weeks have been emotionally charged for the Rebels.  It started with upsetting the Crimson Tide in Alabama, followed by the typical “let-down” game where they came out with a win against a scrappy Vanderbilt team; and then of course – last week.  Bleh.  Ole Miss has had one of the best recruiting classes the last two years and the depth chart shows it.  In all truth, it won’t surprise anyone to see a one-loss Ole Miss team be  a threat at the end of the season to reach the college football playoff.  The receiving core of Adeboyejo, Core and of course Treadwell have been meshing well with former Clemson transfer quarterback Chad Kelly and this game against New Mexico State is a great tune-up game before they take on the rest of the SEC.   New Mexico State is no where near the level of Ole Miss – any team that loses to Georgia State is one who can lose every week.  This is another one of those big spreads but this is a weekend where there won’t be many upsets.

The Pick: Ole Miss -43.5


If You Must:  Anytime you get a team flying coast to coast, the home team is usually the way to go.  And right now it’s a bad 49ers team flying three-thousands miles to play a Giants team that is feeling really good about themselves right now.  The Niners put up a little bit of a fight against Green Bay, but they won’t do that this week.  Shane Vereen and Larry Donnell will be the players to watch as the Giants cover -6.5 pretty easily.

Teaser of The Week: (four gamer) Patriots +3, Michigan State -2, TCU +3 and North Western +19.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio


Stop Babying Quarterbacks

While watching Russell Wilson on Monday Night Football a few things occurred to me. . . The first of many things is that the NFL and it’s fans love / hate quarterbacks.  The position of quarterback is easily the most overly glorified and overpaid in probably all of sports.  Do you need a quarterback to win in the NFL?  Duh.  I’m not saying the position isn’t important – just overly glorified and overpaid.  Keep up with me here. . .

Whoever started giving quarterbacks credit for “wins” deserves to be shot.  Starting quarterbacks are not  the equivalent to starting pitchers in baseball.  There is not a win-loss column tied in with their stat sheet.  Another notion that needs to be faded away is how quarterbacks fare when playing “head to head.”  It’s ridiculous.  When football pundits bring up records of Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning, it’s the most absurd concept because the only time they are on the field together is when they shake hands at the end of the game. . . Peyton Manning versus Ray Lewis is a better head to head match up; or even Tom Brady verses Rex Ryan is a headline more worthwhile.



The second thing that came to my mind was how quarterbacks are “sheltered” and protected when they are struggling.  Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck have come under some criticism this season (fairly and unfairly).  In the case of Tannehill, who was just inked to a contract extension before the season started for six years and $95 million – has looked flat out bad.   In the midst of his struggles, those running to his defense have said – he has no weapons, it’s bad coaching and it’s a bad offensive line.  Oh really?  So he’s having the same  problems Carolina’s Cam Newton is having and he seems to be just fine.  Maybe its just a point of ability.  Cam, has been making due with very little for his whole career it seems and he just makes it work.  Tannehill has the same issues as Cam but looks bad handling it.  That’s not saying Tannehill can’t be a starting quarterback in the league – he just may be in a class with many starting quarterbacks, who needs a better cast around him.  The same can be said for Andrew Luck.  Since Luck has arrived in Indianapolis he has carried this franchise.  With the Colts off to a slow start, the pundits started tossing shots at Andrew Luck and his interception rate this year.  Slow down.  Luck has to throw the ball at a much higher rate than the Russell Wilson’s and  Ryan Tannehill’s in the league, and he – much like Tannehill and Newton – doesn’t have much to work with.   So why does one excuse work for one and not the other?  Furthermore, why doesn’t that elevate the perception of one like Cam Newton?


The third issue that came to my mind had me focused right back on the Monday Night Football game between the Seahawks and the Lions.   While Jon Gruden and 80% of social media were drooling over every little thing Russell Wilson did on the field – nobody was seeing the big picture.   Russell Wilson was playing against a bad Detroit Lions defense and the Seahawks offense seemed to be relying  on broken plays, in order to move the ball downfield.  When Russell Wilson was ducking, dodging and chucking – sure it was getting the job done, against a terrible Lions team – but for how long will that realistically take you?  Lately,  Wilson seems to do enough to get his team into field goal range, while his defense handles the opposition.  If that formula sounds familiar,  there’s good reason why.  It was the same formula that Tim Tebow and the Broncos had a few years back that wasn’t embraced by the media and social media alike.  It’s the same. damn. thing.

The NFL quarterback is the equivalent of a spoiled kid who is called an under-achiever.  If he doesn’t achieve anything, it’s not his fault and when he does, he is carried on the shoulders of those who support him.  Let your eyes be the judge, it’s really not difficult.  Or just keep pacifying the reality that the era of “quarterback nurturing” has gotten out of control.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio



Beating Vegas: Entry Three

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: Looks like your boy “The Heartthrob” underestimated the speed and athleticism of Michigan, as Jim Harbaugh made me feel downright foolish for believing BYU would cover the spread. . .  The Jets entered the game against the Eagles with Chris Ivory and Eric Decker on the bench – this is a team that cannot afford to lose what they have on offense, at any cost.  The pick of Ohio University was an easy one at +10.  It looks like Vegas caught wind of my pick and by kickoff the spread dropped to +7. . .


Louisville (+4.5) at N.C. State

Louisville enters this game with a 1-3 record including a season opening loss at the now disappointing Auburn Tigers as well as back to back three point losses at home.  Coach Bobby Petrino is one of the best in college football, but this may be a “down” year for Louisville in terms of talent.   The N.C. State Wolfpack can be a “sneaky” team in the ACC Conference this year and Louisville is their first real test of the season.   While Louisville is 1-3, they have actually played real competition this year while N.C. State has been facing some lowly opponents.  While this rhetoric usually means something favoring the team facing better competition, the truth is, N.C. State is slated for a 9 or 10 win season and this game against Louisville brings them half way there.   Running backs Matthew Dayes and Shadrach Thorton are both averaging at least six yards a carry while quarterback Jacoby Brisset’s completion percentage is  a decimal point below eighty.  Louisville is a shade below mediocre defensively which is perfect for a team like N.C. State who doesn’t get greedy on offense, but more or less takes what opposing defenses are giving them.  Expect the final score to be somewhere along the lines of 27-20 or 23-17. . .

The Pick:  N.C. State -4.5


Texas Longhorns (+15) at TCU Horned Frogs

Although the line is at fifteen, the number we are concerned about for all entertainment purposes is the over/under which is set at 71.   The Big 12 is the spot for high flying offenses and terrible defenses.  Remember, once upon a time, coach Gary Patterson, coached TCU and they were one of the best defensive teams in the nation?  This was a team putting out NFL talent from the defensive side of the ball but once this team moved to the Big 12, he converted to the Church of Offense.  TCU gives up 28 points per game and Texas gives up 35 per contest.  While TCU was expected to be able to rack up points against anybody this year, Texas’ offense has been surprisingly effective the last two weeks.  They lost by one point (at home) to a pretty potent Cal offense and last week put up 27 against an Oklahoma State team many thought would put them away early.   TCU may actually cover this spread and win with a final score of 55-27 when it’s all said and done.

The Pick:  The “over” at 71

Army (+24) at Penn State

With all due respect to our military forces, the Black Knights of Army are just a pitiful football team.  Any team that loses to Fordham and then UConn in back to back weeks, should ask to leave Division I football.  . . Not that Penn State has looked fantastic in their 3-1 start this season but this is the kind of game that Penn State should have wrapped up by the end of the first half.   Expect Penn State to open it up early with the running attack of Akeel Lynch and  Saquon Barkley  – which will open things up for Hackenberg.  Christian Hackenberg has been mostly disappointing since last season, but take into consideration what is around him.  If UConn’s quarterback Bryant Shirreffs was able to throw for 270 yards on 19 of 25 passing, Hackenberg should easily be able to use this game to inflate his stat for the season.  Army doesn’t have the speed or size to contend with Penn State, who is actually one of the tougher teams Army will face this year.   In true Penn State fashion, they’ll make you worry but they should have complete control of this game and win 38-7.

The Pick: Penn State -24


Detroit Lions (+10) at Seattle Seahawks

Here’s a situation where you don’t want to over-think things.  Seattle is at home against a Detroit Lions team that is sloppy on offense and has taken a step down, defensively.   If Russell Wilson is able to display talents that are above adequate, then this should be an easy victory for Seattle.  Seattle has the secondary to take care of Calvin Johnson because they have the physical presence of Kam Chancellor back in the swing of things and Matthew Stafford’s offensive line will have no answer for the blitz packages that Seattle has to offer.  Throw in the crowd noise, under the Monday Night Football lights in Seattle and the fact that the Lions ground game has not taken off – this one could be over quickly.   Bottom line – Seattle will win the battle in the trenches and because of that will the field position battle, making things easier for their vanilla offense to take shots against this Detroit defense.

The Pick: Seattle -10

If You Must:  Take the Green Bay Packers -8.5 points going into San Fran.  The 49ers fan base has already had it, Colin Kapernick looks lost and the Packers are making it all look easy on the offensive side of the ball.

NFL Football Tease of the Week:  (three gamer) Green Bay Packers +1.5, Arizona Cardinals +3 and Seattle Seahawks PK.

Good Luck and Wager Wisely.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio