Category Archives: NFL

How To Play the Super Bowl Prop Bets

The Super Bowl is not only the biggest sports day of the year.  It is an unofficial American Holiday, a gathering of friends and family and also for all things considered, the end of “betting season” for many.  Whether it’s a blessing or not is the gambler’s issue – but the Super Bowl is the last time for many to cash in, feel the rush or hand their money over to their bookee one last time.  Vegas is aware of this and that is why “prop bets” were created.

Coin Toss:

All of the coin toss props are 50/50 and it’s a quick way to lose or make your money right at the start of the Super Bowl.  Heads or tails, which team will call heads or tails, will the team who wins the coin toss win the game, etc, etc.  If you have to get your early fix and bet on the coin toss, ride with history.  In the Super Bowl, Seattle is 2-0 in winning the coin toss while New England has only won the coin toss twice in seven trips to the big game.

Will There Be Three Unanswered Scores by Any Team:

This one is interesting because the line on YES is -200 and NO is +160.  Without giving away a Super Bowl prediction just yet, this game will be close.  The -1 line on the game itself (favoring Seattle) is proof enough that Vegas does not see any one of these teams running away with the game.  “NO” is the bet on this one.  Easily.


Will Richard Sherman Record A Interception:

This prop bet is tailor made for those who know the name of Richard Sherman but do not know the game of football.  In 16 regular season games Sherman had 4 interceptions but in the playoffs he has 2 interceptions in two games.  Both of those picks weren’t necessarily great plays by Sherman, but really a bad throw by Cam Newton and an uncharacteristically bad throw/read by Aaron Rodgers.  Sherman will be dealing with a Patriots offense that has had two weeks to prepare and game plan for him – oh, and Tom Brady is one of the leagues most annoyingly accurate perfectionist when it comes to in game execution.  The YES on this bet is at +195 while the NO is at         -250.  The  easy money is on the bigger bet, risk 250 for every hundred and laugh at the losers who will bet on Sherman because of his soup and headphone commercials.

Total Tackles + Assists by Kam Chancellor:


The over/under for this prop is set at 6.5 (over -155/under +105).  Kam Chancellor is an absolute animal.  The Patriots are no doubt going to try to soften up and find a crease within the tough D Line of the Seahawks and there is no doubt that Kam Chancellor will be called upon to navigate that line of scrimmage more than a few times. Aside from the running game, expect Kam to be dealing with Rob Gronkowski in the middle of the field.  Gronk is Brady’s favorite target and Chancellor is the kind of monster, competitively that wants to be the one to lay him out one on one.  The Pats use the middle of the field with their tight ends and (a-hem) eligible lineman so Kam will get many opportunities to get that tackle number way above 6.  Take the gamble and risk 155 units to win your easy 100.

Which Song Will Katy Perry Begin The Halftime Show With: 

Of course we have to talk some Katy Perry.  The odds for this one go like this: Firework 3/2; Roar 3/2; This is How We Do 5/1; Dark Horse 12/1; E.T. 12/1; Wide Awake 12/1; and Waking Up In Vegas 20/1.   Automatically eliminate Waking Up In Vegas because most people have forgotten about that song.  ET was  a hit but even then we’re talking some years back – The Songstress Perry is all about keeping things fresher.  Firework will no doubt be performed but that seems more like a closing song – TV-wise – this song was the highlight of her 2010 performance for Victoria Secrets.  Dark Horse may be too slow to kick off something as exciting as a halftime show should be which leaves three more: Wide Awake, This Is How We Do and Roar.   Wide Awake might be a song that would be on the edge of not even being heard, so that leaves Roar and This is How We Do.  Most would put money down on both but go for the longer shot and the safer start up song in “This Is How We Do.”  It still has some relevancy so it’s a safe bet.


The Game Itself

No, this isn’t a “prop” bet but it’s the most important bet of the day.  As of now, Vegas has the Seattle Seahawks as a one point favorite over the New England Patriots.   The talk has been the Seahawks defense versus the Patriots offense – but folks should flip that around.  For all the fan fare that Russell Wilson gets, this Seahawks offense is a run first and run dominant offense, they are far from a juggernaut (although Marshawn Lynch represents the Marvel Comic villain of the same name at times).   Bill Belichik is one of the greatest coaches of all time and his integrity has been called into question because of “Deflate Gate.”  The Hood has had two weeks to get that defensive mind of his wrapped around this run heavy offense.  This WILL-NOT be a repeat of last year and the Seahawks are not set to repeat either.  Take the Patriots here at +1 and enjoy your Super Bowl viewing party.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

The Issue With Russell Wilson

When discussing quarterbacks in the NFL, there are two things people need to STOP doing.

1 – Stop issuing “wins” and “losses” to quarterbacks.  This includes Super Bowl wins, playoff wins, come from behind wins – all of them.   Offensive linemen never get credit for keeping their quarterbacks untouched in final drives, wide receivers are the ones making the catches the quarterbacks throw out there and running backs, more times than not, pick up blitzing corners and handle a lot of the dirty work in the trenches.   The quarterback did not win the game, the team did.  As cliche as that might sound it’s the truth.

2- Stop using the word “elite” when discussing quarterbacks.   This all goes back to the infamous Michael Kay radio interview with Eli Manning – and ever since then – the words “elite” have been tossed around like cuss words in a high school locker room.   The word “elite” has even gone hand in hand when trying to put Super Bowl winning quarterbacks into the “elite” class.  Joe Flacco.  Eli Manning.  Stop it.


Wins, playoff success and the word “elite” have all come into play with the Seahawks third year starter, Russell Wilson.  Wilson, is a likable fixture in an NFL where the loud-mouthed, off-season troubled issues of many have cast a dark cloud over the sport.  Wilson is an intelligent, quiet, well mannered kid, who says all the right things when the camera is on him.  He has been in the playoffs all three seasons, including a Super Bowl win and another trip to the big game this year.   Even then – the praise has gotten out of hand.

The reason why the word “elite” now holds no meaning is because it meant something and now means virtually nothing.  That class of quarterback should only be the guys who throw for 35-40 touchdowns, 4500-5000 yards and have a touchdown interception ration of at least 4:1.   Without those guys at that position, their team accomplishes nothing.    In his three seasons, Wilson has played a total of 48 games – in those 48 he has only thrown for 3 or more touchdowns six times in a game (never achieving that mark once this year.)  In the same span of games he has only thrown for over 300 yards four times in a game.  These are not the consistent numbers seen with the word “elite.”

“But he wins games,” is what those with no argument say.


Russell Wilson is the direct benefactor of being on one of the most talented squads in the NFL.   There is no question that no other team has been built better than Seattle’s in the last 4 years.   Wilson has benefited from a good offensive line and one of the most unstoppable forces at running back – Marshawn Lynch.  If there was ever an “elite running back” conversation – Lynch would be in the top three, without a doubt.  Not many other teams hand off to their running back on third and six situations – with confidence, none-the-less.  Defenses are forced to pack line-backers and/or safeties up on the line of scrimmage in order to stop this running game – leaving Russell Wilson many easy opportunities in the play-action game.

There is nothing wrong with Russell’s game, this is not an indictment on how well/bad he can play the game – but the credit that he is given is over-board.  Statistically  Russell Wilson’s numbers go neck in neck with the likes of Alex Smith (who many label a “game manager”), Derek Carr (rookie QB for the Raiders. . . yes the Oakland-Mess-Of-A-Franchise Raiders), Brian Hoyer (who played two less games and for Cleveland) and Andy Dalton (who gets crucified weekly for not being worth the money he’s signed to).   That’s the “elite” class Wilson’s numbers have him with.

“But his rushing yards, too. . .,” is the last thing those with no argument say.

This season he ran for over 800  yards, terrific.  Amazing.  Once again – let’s not give credit to the fact that half of those yards come off of play-action bootleg plays because defenses are concerned with stopping Marshawn Lynch and let’s also not mention that this receiving core does one thing extremely well – block on the outside.


The argument of Russell Wilson being ‘great’ is just over-blown.   Wilson is the piece that’s needed at the quarterback position for this team.  That’s all that needs to be said.  He is neither great, nor terrible.  Truthfully, we won’t ever really know how good Russell Wilson is until he is served up the hefty contract which everyone knows is coming his way.  The Seahawks reportedly want to offer Wilson a “record breaking contract” which will leave not much money to throw around.  The Seahawks are very cap savvy but for how long will Wilson remain as the NFL’s most storied game-manager without the league’s best defense backing him up and an absolute beast named Marshawn Lynch to lean on offensively.

Maybe, some folks just have the bar set low, when it comes to being “elite.”

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Cam Newton’s Future: Your Move Panthers

In 2011 Cam Newton was drafted with the first overall pick by the Carolina Panthers and was given  a four year contract worth $22 million (with a signing bonus of $14 million).    In his rookie season, he made the Panthers “must watch TV” as he became the single most entertaining player in the league.  His larger than life personality, rare athletic attributes for someone his size and his versatility captivated fans young and old.   His sophomore season came with the ever infamous “slump” word propped at the back-end of it and even more than that, Cam was developing a reputation for being a diva, who cared more about SuperMan poses and advertisements than things that mattered in the game of football.


In his final two seasons though, Cam has worked more in the film room, reads defenses better and has become more of a leader on this Panthers team.  He has been under center for the Panthers for two consecutive division titles and playoff runs.  Sure, he still loves the camera and at times flashes some obnoxious antics on the field but the guy just enjoys what he’s doing.  That shouldn’t be a problem. Right?

The Carolina Panthers have never said outright that Cam was their “future” or their “franchise” quarterback.  Rumor mills start up every so often that management and / or coaches don’t see Cam as the guy who can elevate his play or be deserving of franchise QB money.

The pay scale for quarterbacks today is out of control.  Even nonsensical at times, but one thing is certain : If you want to build an offense – you better make sure you have a quarterback that fits it.  Cam brings a unique skill set, but has shown development in the departments that are needed in being a starting quarterback in the NFL.   Some teams have been looking for their quarterback forever – Carolina has a guy who can play another 6 or 7 years in this league and at best be a top-10 talent.

With one more year on his rookie contract, a year that will be up in the $14 million range – time is ticking for Carolina and Cam Newton.  Decisions have to be made.


If Carolina truly doesn’t believe that Cam Newton is their guy, they’d be smart to find a suitor for him, instead of letting him just walk away.  Here are three teams that might find it in their best interest to acquire Cam’s services.

1. New York Jets:  The Jets have a knack for having a top pick in a draft full of uncertainty in the first round.  With the sixth overall pick this year, the Jets have the option of being one of the teams in play for either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston.  Here we go again.  If recent history has showed us anything, it’s that the Jets have not been lucky when drafting their “quarterback of the future.”  Instead of taking another blind gamble, why not acquire the services of a playoff quarterback like Cam Newton.   Even trading the sixth overall pick for Cam (as long as he intends on signing long term with the Jets) is a smarter move than the aforementioned gamble.   If Cam is Super-Man, New York would definitely serve as his Metropolis.  After losing a personality like Rex Ryan’s, Cam Newton can fill the void and be the face of a franchise that desperately needs one.

2. Houston Texans: Maybe what Cam needs is a little southern comfort.  The Texans roster as a whole is better than the Indianapolis Colts’ yet what the Colts have that the Texans don’t is a quarterback. That’s the difference between first place and second in the AFC South right now.  The Texans are coached by Bill O’Brien who was so good in Penn State, even under heavy sanctions and a limited roster – he made quarterback Matt McGloin serviceable – and even developed him to be a back up QB in the NFL.  O’Brien works an offense that is run heavy to set up the big play – which fits right into Cam’s bag of tricks.  O’Brien is a disciplinary type of coach though and who knows if Cam is ready to shed his child-like antics yet. . .

3. St. Louis Rams:  Jeff Fisher can talk all he wants about Sam Bradford being his guy, but the truth is : Enough is enough with Sam Bradford.  Four years of being a starter has shown two seasons shortened by injury and two full seasons of a guy putting up average to okay numbers.  Bless the Rams souls for trying to work through Shaun Hill and Austin Davis as starting quarterbacks but the truth is, they need someone now.  Their defense is ready to go, they have Cam’s old Auburn teammate Tre Mason as the clear #1 running back on the depth chart and an offensive line that is far from the makeshift line in Carolina.  With the right quarterback this team can be a wildcard or division contender by next year.


Other teams that come to mind but with doubt are the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Chicago Bears.  These two make sense – football wise –  but won’t happen simply because Carolina wouldn’t trade Cam within their division; and Chicago simply has catastrophic cap issues especially when dealing with the contract of their own quarterback Jay Cutler. Even if Chicago found a trade partner – they would definitely not be able to wash their hands free of the whole contract.

Cam Newton’s future should be in Carolina – no where else.  Maybe if Carolina added to the pieces like Kelvin Benjamin and Gregg Olson – the development will come easier.  He’s got all the tools, it’s just time for Carolina to go “all-in” on Cam.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Is Rex the Man for Chicago?

Everything that made Rex Ryan a splash in New York, ultimately led to his demise in the Big Apple.   After seeing early success with the New York Jets, Ryan found himself on the back page of the papers for a number of reasons.  Weird tattoos, a foot fetish, foolish proclamations, embarrassing losses – you name it, Rex did it.  In his six years as head coach of the Jets he put up a 46-50 record.  Rex finished no higher than second in the AFC East and he committed that feat four times.

To some, Rex Ryan is a loud mouth obnoxious type – to others, he’s just a fun guy, with an unmatched competitive spirit.  His defensive prowess is amongst the best in the NFL.  Within his defensive scheme he’s proven he can max out a players potential – but his ineptitude on the offensive side of the ball is what got him in trouble.  Even then, is that really all his fault?  The Jets organization kept throwing a different offensive coordinator at him every two years or so and it just never worked out.


After a competitively abysmal 4-12 season, Rex Ryan was relieved of his duties as head coach of the New York Jets.  The term competitively-abysmal is used because although 12 losses are more than “a lot” – the Jets lost by 7 or less points in 6 of those losses (including  one and two point losses to the New England Patriots).   Look at the roster Rex was given on offense though: a capable receiver in Eric Decker, a some-what jaded Percy Harvin, a dumpster fire at quarterback and a rookie tight end who’s hands were suspect.  Regardless of what he was handed, Rex  Ryan’s players never gave up on him during the year.

Enter, the Chicago Bears.

Hours after the Jets fired their head coach and general manager, the Bears did the same.  Parting ways with Marc Trestman was a no-brainer for the McCaskey family, who was said to be “furious” with and “embarrassed” by the product that was put out on the field.  In the last two months of the season, the Bears became a laughing stock and for what it’s worth, the hardest team to watch in the league.  What made matters worse for the Chicago Bears faithful was that there were actual expectations when the season began – and not those “pipe dream” or “blind fan” type of expectations – real expectations.  Needless to say, week to week of lack luster football led to the end of coach Marc Trestman.

It was obvious to anybody watching, the Bears’ team as a whole just seem uninterested in playing football or fighting for their coaches’ job.

This is why the table is set for Rex Ryan.

Rex Ryan coming to Chicago and being the man who brings the Bears back to respectability is the stuff movies are made of.  Rex’s father Buddy Ryan, of course was the defensive coordinator during the Super Bowl Shuffle Bears days and that defense has set the bar for others like the 2000 Ravens or last year’s Seahawks to match or surpass.

Rex can bring back the “nasty” that this defense has lacked for years and he can also be the guy who these players would never quit on.  Rex needs a big city for his big personality and he wouldn’t have to worry about trying to steal headlines from an inner city rival.

While in New York, Rex Ryan embraced the rivalry that existed between the Jets and the Patriots.  He loved the animosity and to some degree loved the chess match that existed between him and Bill Belichick.   Now imagine how much Rex would embrace being in the middle of the NFL’s longest running rivalry: Bears vs Packers.


There will no doubt be a thorough process the Chicago Bears will undertake in hiring a new coach.  Coordinators like Todd Bowles, Dan Quinn and Adam Gase are the popular names being thrown out as possible head coaching candidates in the NFL – but Ryan is the guy for Chicago.  The Bears thought an out of the box, quiet hire like Trestman would be the answer – but the truth is, Trestman was never head coach material.  He could not lead men onto the field, give direction or handle the chaos that might come with the job.  Ryan has endured and embraced the New York media and has been able to rally his troops to victory in a meaningless week 17 game that would be the difference of ending the season with 3 wins or 4.

A culture change is needed in Chicago.  The funny thing is, the culture changed two years ago – now it’s time to get it back to basics.  It can start with Buddy’s son, Rex – the loud-boisterous spawn which stems from a family tree rooted in defensive genius.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Is Dez Worth The Gamble?

In 2010 the Dallas Cowboys traded up three spots in the draft with the New England Patriots to secure themselves of wide receiver Dez Bryant.  There was no denying the physical abilities and over-all talent of Bryant, but there were early character concerns and an abundance of baggage that he took with him to Dallas. Continue reading Is Dez Worth The Gamble?

Luck or Newton?

Andrew Luck or Cam Newton?
If this question was to be asked, most wouldn’t think twice and pick Andrew Luck.  Why? The word “prototypical” comes to mind.  Luck has the size, accuracy, arm strength and athleticism most people prefer in a pro system.  Andrew Luck came into the NFL after a stellar college career at Stamford University.  It was there under coach Jim Harbaugh that Luck was able to go toe to toe with powerhouses like USC and Oregon.  Luck entered the NFL as the most “sure thing quarterback prospect” since Peyton Manning, who he ultimately replaced in Indianapolis when he was drafted #1 overall. Luck had a squeaky clean image accompanied with a degree in architectural design as he entered the draft in 2012.  Cam Newton may not have the accuracy of Andrew Luck, but his over-all athleticism puts him in a very limited class of people in the NFL.
 While attending Auburn University, Cam Newton accomplished two things Luck didn’t in college: he won a National Championship AND a Heisman Trophy – and he did it in his one year as a starting quarterback. Cam Newton played in the SEC which is known for having the most pro-ready defensive athletes in a college conference and absolutely scorched everyone he played totaling over 4200 total yards and 50 touchdowns. Cam Newton was also taken with the number one overall pick but he didn’t come into it without some criticism.  Nobody denied his talent, but questioned his character.  Newton started his college career at Florida but was arrested for being in the possession of a stolen laptop which subsequently left him to transfer to a junior college, Binn, the following season (where he dominated as well and won the NJCAA Championship).  Also, while being recruited by Auburn, Cam’s father, Cecil Newton, was accused by Mississippi State University of trying to get “more than just a scholarship” for his son to transfer there.
Aside from the “baggage” Cam brought with him, he immediately became “must watch” football in the NFL and even set the record for most passing yards by an NFL rookie in a season with 4051.  It was an amazing feat until it was broken the following season by Andrew Luck who threw for 4374 yards. . . And while Luck was riding that impressive rookie season, questions about Cam Newton arose.  In Cam’s rookie season, he was all smiles and energy week in and week out – but he suffered that “sophomore jinx” – you know, the same one many face after defensive coordinators have a season’s worth of tape on you, so they break down your mechanics and tendencies. . .
Cam appeared less like the jubilant kid with the big smile, and instead exemplified the characteristics of a spoiled brat.  His body language was terrible, his effort seemed questionable in losses and word around the league was that he was a hardcore “diva.” All of this was going on while Andrew Luck was being anointed as “the next big thing.”
Cam Newton
Luck found himself in a better situation than Cam Newton.  Add to the fact that Luck did bring all the tools to be star from day one – it was a smooth transition. Consider that while Andrew Luck was being coached in his rookie season by a great offensive mind in Bruce Arians and was helped along the way by having future hall of famer, Reggie Wayne to throw to – it was in Luck’s favor not  to fail.  Cam Newton on the other hand had a defensive minded coach in Ron Rivera and although he had a future hall of famer in Steve Smith to throw to – Steve Smith is not the prototypical build or personality as Reggie Wayne is.  There was also something Cam needed to learn that Andrew Luck already understood.  Cam had to realize, he doesn’t have to try to do it all.
While in college, Cam literally was Mr. Do-It-All.  Due to his amazing abilities he was able to manipulate his talents to his advantage and take it to anybody he faced. . . at the college level.  In his rookie season, he pretty much played the same way but as previously mentioned, he found himself struggling by year two.  While people questioned his maturity and actual ability, Cam Newton himself realized he needed to be a better leader and study the game more because all he knows is to win, and that’s what he needs to do.  By his third season Cam polished his mechanics a bit more, was more in tuned with reading defenses and most importantly showed patience in the pocket.  He had his lowest totals in passing and rushing yards but that’s because he understood he didn’t have to rush things or try win the game on every throw.  Carolina had one of the best defenses in the league – when you have that on your side, as a quarterback the best thing to do is keep drives alive and limit the turnovers, which is what he did and helped lead Carolina to a 12-4 record, bringing Cam to the playoffs for the first time.  Cam had to restrain his instincts and sacrifice personal stats for the betterment of his team – which is what a leader does.
Andrew Luck has found himself in the playoffs in the two years he’s played, and under two different head coaches. Most thought Andrew Luck’s numbers would’ve been higher by his second season but they actually lessened from 4374 passing yards to 3822.  He did cut his interception numbers in half from 18 to 9 but alot of these stats are due to the fact that he threw the ball less under coach Chuck Pagano . . . which seemed to make no sense.  In a league where it benefits you to throw the ball, especially with a talent under center like Luck – many were left scratching their heads as to why Luck was being held back.
Keep in mind that while Cam Newton is in a division where he has to win in shootouts against the Falcons’ Matt Ryan and the Saints’ Drew Brees – Andrew Luck has had the luxury of playing the Titans and the Jaguars twice a year – add to the fact that Houston was terrible last year, which made that division a cake walk.
Is there a clear cut advantage of picking either Andrew Luck or Cam Newton?  To some there might be.  It all depends on the type of quarterback you’d rather have under center.  Andrew Luck brings what every team wishes they had in terms of character, intellect and ability to the position. Cam Newton brings a package we’ve never seen at this position and has showed that when he applies himself he has the smarts to break down defenses and make the intelligent decisions come game time.  Both are still young in their careers and it should be a fun ride for us, the fans to enjoy for a long time.
G.W. Gras
twitter @GeeSteelio