Tag Archives: Broncos

Beating Vegas: Give Thanks, Make Money

Houston Texans +7 at Baltimore Ravens

We’re going to kick off this week’s NFL edition of Beating Vegas by telling you to ignore the the line of seven points and take a look at the points total number which is 38.  Nobody would blame you for not wanting to view this Monday Night Football match-up.  The Houston Texans without DeShawn Watson at quarterback are pretty unwatchable and the Ravens have the leagues second worse offense in the NFL.  The Ravens deserve some kind of award for having Joe Flacco under center for the last three years and acting as if he is something special.  Flacco is one of the most underwhelming quarterbacks in the NFL and it’s been that way for a while. . . Running back Alex Collins has been a welcomed surprise, averaging five yards a rush and being the teams one true source of consistency on offense. Collins will have a tough challenge going up against a Texans defense that holds runners to an average of 3.7 yards a rush.  Last week this defense held the Cardinals’ Adrian Peterson to 26 yards on fourteen carries. . . This Baltimore team though is hard to gauge; this defense has “pitched” three shut outs but also lost 44-17 to the Jags, 26-9 to the Steelers and actually figured out a way to lose to the Chicago Bears 27-24.  Baltimore will most likely win this game because they will be at home and the Texans are still putting Tom Savage out there to play quarterback. . . who is probably one of the three starting quarterbacks worse than Joe Flacco.

The Pick: The Under at 38

Minnesota Vikings -3 at Detroit Lions

Thanksgiving Day always gives us the Lions and the Cowboys.  The world always understands the Cowboys – but why – oh why, the Lions?  Why won’t the football gods let us enjoy our festive day filled with family and food by viewing a team that the world can at least pretend to care about?  The Lions are currently riding a three-game win streak and are at least beating the teams they are supposed to be beat during this streak.  The Lions do one thing, but at least they do it pretty well – pass the ball.  The receiving core (which was mentioned on Beating Vegas last week) is a dangerous one, that averages 12 yards a catch.  But being a one dimensional team against a defense like the Vikings is a recipe for disaster.  The Vikings are currently in the top five for total offense and total defense, but it’s their defense that has become their calling card.  Last week the Vikings defense put the clamps on the leagues number one offense, the L.A. Rams.  As much as people want to push quarterback Case Keenum out for Teddy Bridgewater; the Vikings can’t and more importantly – they shouldn’t.  Keenum has jelled well with his wide-outs Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs and is doing with a completion percentage of 65% and averaging over 240 passing yards a game.   Last time these two teams played, the Lions won 14-7 in a boring game in which it was evident, both teams were working out the “kinks.”  Minnesota by 10 is more than realistic.

The Pick: Vikings -3

Denver Broncos +5 at Oakland Raiders

The Raiders enter this week with a new defensive coordinator, John Pagano and the Broncos enter this week with a new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Obviously, this is proof that both organizations are disappointed with themselves, and they should be.  Last week we were all over the Patriots destroying the Raiders (your welcome) but this week they go up against an offense that is putrid.  The Raiders pass defense might get a break after getting scorched by Tom Brady last week, because Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler’s 53% completion percentage isn’t enough to scare even a pee-wee-football team’s secondary. (*DISCLAIMER: It was announced after this article was posted that the Broncos have benched Osweiler in favor of Paxton Lynch to start the game at quarterback.  This doesn’t change the line for me at all. . .)  For as much as we are told that this Broncos defense is one of the best in the NFL, they are on a six-game losing streak and in this mess, the secondary has been toyed with  – and because of the inefficiency of this offense – the defense is on the field a lot.  The Raiders were just embarrassed on national television and are looking to gain some kind of redemption.  This is a good week for a  defensive coordinator to start his new job, because it should be easy to prep against this Broncos offensive attack.

The Pick: Raiders -5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

 

Beating Vegas: Gonna Fly Now

Denver Broncos +7 at Philadelphia Eagles

The Denver Broncos trot cross country into the City of Brotherly Love, where the Eagles have been flying high this season.   The Eagles’ offense is one of the NFL’s best and Carson Wentz is the reason why. Only in his second season under center and Wentz’ name  is on the short list of those being mentioned in the MVP race.   The Eagle’s leading rusher is LaGarrette Blount who is averaging 4.7 yards a carry, but things may be changing now that they’ve acquired former Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi this week via trade.   One wouldn’t be “reaching” by saying maybe Ajayi was acquired for this match up against Denver because the Broncos rush defense is the best in the league, holding to opponents to 3 yards a rush and 73 yards on the ground per contest.  Things don’t get much easier tryin to air it out against the Broncos either.  When a secondary has Chris Harris Jr and Aquib Talib it’s no surprise to see they’ve allowed the second fewest receiving yards in the NFL, behind Jacksonville.   The issue for Denver will be the offense as this will be Brock Osweiler’s first start of the season.  The last three years have been a roller coaster of sorts for Osweiler: 2015, was the back up in Denver when the team won the Super Bowl; 2016 signed with the Texans for a contract that guaranteed him over $35 million; 2017 was traded to the Browns, who released him before the season started and was picked up by the Broncos to be the back up quarterback to Trevor Siemian.  Siemian had to be benched but make no mistake Osweiler is awful and if he’s “better” than Siemian that’s like saying you’d rather be “nicked” than “scratched.”  The Eagles pass defense isn’t terrific, but their play up front will put unwanted pressure on Osweiler who will be forced to make throws.  Eagles edge out a close cover 17-7.

The Pick: Philadelphia -7

Detroit Lions -2 at Green Bay Packers

I have a tradition on Monday Night Football.  Pretty much the tradition is, I have a couple of beers with my dad and we watch the game.  Yes, we flip to Monday Night Raw during commercial breaks, but that’s neither here nor there.  I look forward to watching Monday Night Football because just for that night I pick one of the two teams and become a fan of theirs for the next three hours.  This week, two teams I detest in the NFL are playing against each other:  The Lions and the Packers.  Terrific. . . All of trends point in Green Bay’s direction: Lions have lost 25 of their last 26 at Lambeau Field;  straight up and ATS the Lions are 1-4 in their last 5 games and Green Bay is 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games at home.  61% of the public’s money is going on the Detroit Lions, mostly because people have given up on an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers squad.  That’s understandable but why would anyone be confident putting their money on an entirely healthy Detroit Lions squad?  Three of Detroit’s four losses came at under 5 points; and two of their three wins came against two trash-cans disguised as football teams in the Giants and Cardinals.  Bottom line is – when something good is expected out of Detroit, they don’t carry through.  We all know Matt Stafford doesn’t beat teams with a winning record and for what it’s worth the Packers are 4-3, with a head coach you can put in the top five of the league every year against a coach in Jim Caldwell who looks like he’s waiting for a bus to pick him up on the sideline.  Home underdog, with a smart coach, after a bye week.  Gimmie dat.

The Pick: Green Bay +2

Atlanta Falcons -1.5 at Carolina Panthers

Here is one of those games where the actual line means nothing because we are looking at the point total, which Vegas has set at 42 total points for this NFC South match-up.  The Falcons offense is a shell of what it was last year.  When you factor in that the personnel is the same, it comes to the departure of offensive coordinator  Kyle Shanahan who left to take the head coaching job at San Francisco.  Falcons coordinator Steve Sarkisian came with some baggage and it looks like by the end of this season, he’ll be packing those same bags when he gets shipped out of town.  Last season this Falcons team was number two in the league in total offense.  At the mid-point of the 2017 season they are currently ranked 9th.  Now this offense will go up against the Carolina Panthers defense which is the second best against the pass and against the run is allowing an impressive 3.8 yards a rush.  The Panthers offense lives and dies with quarterback Cam Newton who is a freak of nature and a once in a lifetime kind of athlete but he is also an emotional diva.   Chances are we’ll see more of the latter this week because the team was apparently shocked that the Panthers front office decided to trade wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills earlier this week.  This is a team already short on receiving targets and although Benjamin wasn’t great he was someone Newton had developed a chemistry with over the years.  The Falcons defense isn’t terrible and that might be just enough for this low scoring affair.  Falcons will probably edge out the Panthers 17-13.

The Pick: The Under at 42

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: NFL Week 1

The “sharps” at Vegas play the NFL lines differently from the college lines.  A lot of what is determined is based off what the “public” leans towards.  Don’t fall for the “sucker-bets” and the “traps” – just beat, Vegas.

Arizona Cardinals -1.5 at Detroit Lions

Last season was a disappointing one for the Cardinals who finished 7-8-1 (yes and ONE).  Coach Bruce Arians is still regarded as one of the best in the NFL but his team as a whole just didn’t seem to max out their potential. In what may be a “make it or break it season” for veteran quarterback Carson Palmer, opening weekend means a lot.  Detroit on the other hand, surprised the masses last season.  As well as over-achieved.  .  . They rewarded their quarterback Matthew Stafford with a five year $135 million contract.  It’s been brought to the light that Stafford has a record of 5-46 when playing against teams with a winning record, and although I’m not big on putting wins and losses on a QB, that stat is just mind blowing.  Lucky for him it’s the first game of the season and the Cardinals are 0-0.  Even then, the Lions (since dating back to 2006) have lost six straight to the Arizona Cardinals.  The public will jump on the Lions being a playoff team home dog to the Cardinals, but the Cardinals have weapons on offense, including the best player in the NFL, David Johnson and a healthy defense that can cause trouble for Detroit.

 

The Pick: Cardinals +1.5

Los Angeles Chargers +3 at Denver Broncos

Let’s just call it for what it is when it comes to the Broncos: Good defense that picks up the slack for an average vanilla offense.  John Elway really thought he could sway a QB to come here, or at least expect last year’s first round pick Paxton Lynch to step up and assume the starting position, but nope – we’re here once again to see another season of Trevor Siemian.  Not that Siemian is “terrible” – 18 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and 3400 yards passing last year – but he won’t “wow” you either.  On the other side of the field, the Chargers have one of the more underappreciated starting quarterbacks in NFL history in Philip Rivers.  Rivers, was average at best in two games against the Broncos defense last year but running back Melvin Gordon was able to run for 111 and 94 yards in both games.  An added bonus for the Chargers this time around is that they have a healthy receiving core (minus rookie Mike Williams) which includes Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin.  The Chargers defense is one of my “sleepers” this year and against this very limited and predictable offense, the Chargers win this one in a low scoring affair.

The Pick: Chargers +3

Oakland Raiders +1.5 at Tennessee Titans

The Raiders won five games last year by 5 or less points.  Sure that’s a result of good coaching and focus by the players – but lets not kid ourselves – you need a lot of LUCK for that to happen as well.   Quarterback Derek Carr is the leader of Raider Nation and he enters the home of a Titans defense that finished third worst against the pass last year letting up 7.2 yards an attempt.   One could easily say that number was that high because teams were forced to throw against a defense that was stingy against the run last year ( allowing 4 yards a rush).  The Raiders allowed 4.5 yards on the ground and even more yards per pass last year than the Titans at 7.9.  Bottom line is, the Raiders can’t get “lucky” with this bad play by their defense.  That line should actually be 6 or 7 in favor of the Titans.

The Pick: Titans -3

New York Giants +4 at Dallas Cowboys

Two rules that I have when it comes to sports wagering:  1) Never bet on or against your favorite team and 2) Never bet on or against the team you despise.  The Giants are the team I despise, while the rest of the world either hates the Cowboys, or can’t get enough of them.  Last season the Giants beat the Cowboys in both meetings 20-19 and 10-7 respectively. This is a rivalry in which both teams know each other well and with another tight race expected in the NFC East this season, the importance of this rivalry is multiplied by fifty.  The Cowboys have their running back Ezekiel Elliot (at least for week one)  who had a 50 and 100 yard game against the G-Men defense last season which was only allowing an impressive 3.6 yards a rush.  The Cowboys defense was just as impressive against the run last year but it was their pass defense that was gross allowing quarterbacks to complete 67.1% of their passes last year (second worse behind Detroit).  Although Eli Manning isn’t the most accurate of passers in the NFL, his receiving options are plentiful.  As long as Eli can get rid of the ball quickly, the Giants should not only cover the spread but win outright over the Cowboys. So much for my “rules.”

The Pick: Giants +4

Only if you must: Pittsburgh Steelers are a 9 point favorite in Cleveland against the Browns.

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Where Does Cutler Go?

There have been very few players as polarizing as Jay Cutler in recent professional sports.  I wrote an article almost exactly two years ago “The Perception of Jay Cutler,” in which a defense of his character was made.  And quite well, may I add.

Jay Cutler’s run with the Chicago Bears looks like it may very well be at it’s end.  After eight years with the Bears, Cutler has cemented himself as the franchises most storied quarterback, holding fourteen team records (including passing yards, passing touchdowns and quarterback rating).  Even with that, Bears fans (and for some strange reason even non-Bears fans) have an issue with Cutler.  The whole “he” hasn’t won anything conversation is laughable for all those Millennials and lazy sports writers, have made “wins” an actual stat for quarterbacks – no matter what kind of condition a franchise is in.  Cutler played for a Bears team that actually had guys like Johnny Knox and Devin Hester running routes for him at one point.  Yikes.

But this isn’t a piece to further defend a guy who has been incorrectly vilified in his career, this is to predict possible landing spots for the 33 year old gunslinger.  Keeping in mind that the Bears will most likely cut him before finding a trading partner for him.

1- New York Jets – This is almost too obvious.  If the Jets decide to not part ways with wide receiver Brandon Marshall, reuniting these “bickering brothers” may be something to look into.  Marshall has referred to Cutler as his brother numerous times and even when they blow up at each publicly it’s really not a big deal.  With that being said, the Jets are usually in the business of lying to themselves and believing they have a chance to get into the playoffs.  Teams that believe that, bring in veterans who are looking for one more run, at a good price.  Cutler would get killed by the New York media, but it’s a good thing that he really doesn’t care what you say about him. . . like, ever.

2- Miami Dolphins – Yeah, Ryan Tannehill is still there.  So what?  Reports had come in Miami last season that head coach Adam Gase was growing increasingly frustrated with Tannehill as the season progressed.  Tannehill’s numbers are smoke in mirrors and he still looks like a guy learning how to play the position.  Gase is a “Cutler guy” and they worked great together in Chicago but this would be a touchy situation to get into and would involve the Dolphins giving up on the young guy to roll with the injury prone older guy. . .

3- Denver Broncos – This would be a best case scenario for Cutler.  He would go back to where his career started and would have a playoff contender right off the bat.  With the receiving talents there just being left out to dry, they would welcome a guy like Cutler who can sling the rock.  Cutler wouldn’t have to try to hard to beat out Trevor Siemian for the starting job but Elway definitely wouldn’t look to break the bank for Cutler either.

4- Retirement – Jay Cutler has taken a beating over his career.  Physically and mentally.  He has made a lot of money, has three kids and a beautiful wife and usually makes his way doing charity work (especially with youth diabetes).  Cutler has made it known that  he wanted to end his career as a Bear, which you’ve got to believe was his goal since getting traded to Chicago but money and opportunity can still be offered for this veteran.  Aside from personal opinions – Cutler is still a starting quarterback in this league – but at a certain point, a man has to consider his options and his health.  If he is satisfied with it all, nobody can judge him for that.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Army-Navy

Last week “Beating Vegas” went two out of three – still above 60% for the year.  This week, with only one college game, the classic “Army-Navy Game,” we’re going to have to try our hand with some NFL action as well.  The system has been working all year at “Beating Vegas” – keep winning with us!

 

Army +6.5 vs  Navy (game played in Baltimore)

At 60-49-7, Navy is the all time leader in this rivalry, which has them owning the Black Knights since 2002. Yikes.  Last season, Beating Vegas won this game by telling folks to take the under and this year the over/under is  set at 47.  In the last four years, the highest the point total has gone up to is 41 (we should note, that the two years prior total was at 48).   The reason for this is that these two programs run similar offenses and the playbook for these teams haven’t changed for, maybe, decades.  There is also “honor” in this rivalry, so “running up the score” won’t occur much either.  The rushing statistics for both of these squads are impressive and nearly identical, except in touchdowns where Navy has scored 54 on the ground, compared to Army’s 37.  Statistically, it would appear that Army’s defense is superior to Navy’s but let’s chill out for a second – Navy has a REAL college football schedule.  Navy is in an AAC Conference that was quite impressive this year.  The Midshipmen had  impressive back to back wins against two bowl eligible teams in Houston and Memphis.  Navy has had to rely on their offense to pull them through some tough competition, while Army beat up on Morgan State and Lafayette.  They both lost in similar fashion to Air Force, Army beat Temple, Temple beat Navy, Navy beat Notre Dame and Notre Dame beat Army — what does this tell you?  Nothing.  There are no stats to help gauge where to go with this one.  Smart money has Navy still winning this game and keeping the streak alive.  On a side note, both teams will be sporting some really sick jerseys for the game.  Seriously.

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The Pick: the under at 47

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Denver Broncos +1 at Tennessee Titans

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What is this?  An NFL game?  How’d this happen?  This one has Marcus Mariota squaring off against one of the best defenses in the NFL, in the Denver Broncos.  If you’re expecting excitement – don’t.  Although, Marcus Mariota is having an impressive season so far, IF the Titans win this game, it will have very little to do with the former Oregon Duck.  The only way to beat tough defenses like this is to run the ball.  The Titans have the means to do it behind this offensive line and Demarco Murray. Murray has cracked the one-thousand yard rushing mark this year and is doing it at a rate of 4.6 yards per carry.  His back up Derrick Henry, hasn’t been used as much as many thought he’d be used this year, but when he comes in the yards per carry only drop by a tenth. . . For all the talk of Denver’s defense, they are giving up 4.2 yards a rush, pretty average by NFL standards; but they’ve allowed the fewest passing yards this year and they hold teams to a 55.3% completion rate which is best in the league.  Considering that the Titans don’t have the most elite wide outs in the world, as mentioned earlier, Mariota will have his struggles.   The Broncos offense has talent but is a struggle due to their quarterback position, regardless if it’s Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch.

The Pick: the under at 43.5

Atlanta Falcons -6 at L.A. Rams

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The Falcons had a taste of one of the NFL’s best teams last week (yes, the Chiefs ARE legit) and it was two Matt Ryan interceptions that ultimately costed them the game.   Even with that, Ryan has the best QB Rating in the league (among those who played more than 8 games. . .) and is having an MVP caliber season so far.  The Los Angeles Rams. . . are pretty much awful.  They have the NFL’s worst offense and have a rookie starting at quarterback who looks like one of the worse rookies we’ve seen start at quarterback.  Jared Goff may get lucky this week though as he’s squaring off against the worst pass defense in the league.  Teams have figured out the Rams though.  Stack the box, force their rookie quarterback to make throws to his average receivers.  Atlanta has a lot to prove and this is a soft landing spot after a tough loss.  Take this spread now before it finds it’s way to -9 before kickoff.

The Pick: The Falcons -6

Seattle Seahawks -2.5 at Green Bay Packers

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Admittedly, these are two teams and two quarterbacks I personally do-not-like – BUT – for the sake of making some coin, let’s take a look here.  Both team’s have no offense line and both defenses like to blitz.  Both quarterbacks like to throw on the run, and both offenses are plugging different guys at the running back position.  Seattle won’t get the calls they usually get in Green Bay, Green Bay gets calls everywhere they go – and surprisingly enough the defenses aren’t that much different except in one category – passing touchdowns.  The Seahawks have only allowed 11, where the Packers have allowed 24.  Things may change drastically for Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” now that All-World-Safety Earl Thomas is out for the season though. . . This is a tricky game, and Beating Vegas usually doesn’t like “tricky” but what we do love this week are overs/unders.  Aaron Rodgers will without a doubt test the middle of this secondary without the presence of Earl Thomas and Russell Wilson, who always finds pay-dirt (someway. . .somehow) will find holes against a secondary, who’s back end won’t keep up with the speedy wide-outs the Seahawks package out there.  Enjoy the fireworks.

The Pick: the over at 46.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Titans/Broncos under 55.5; Seahawks +9.5; Falcons +6 and Bucs/Saints over 39

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

2016 AFC West Preview

  1. Kansas City Chiefs  – Yeah, something doesn’t look right in a division when a team led by Alex Smith at quarterback and the Kool-Aid-Man as head coach are the favorites to win it.  But the Kool-Aid-Man a.k.a Andy Reid has been a model of consistency in his coaching career and has made quarterbacks play above their potential.  Alex Smith is in a comfortable spot with the Chiefs and he’s a decent enough “dual-threat” quarterback that he keeps defenses honest – although they know the deep ball is a rare occurrence.  Outside of Jeremy Maclin, the only real receiving threat is tight end Travis Kelce, but the Chiefs’ offense will circle around their backfield depth.  When star running-back Jamaal Charles went down last year the Chiefs saw what they had in Charcadrick West and Spencer Ware.  Expect Andy Reid to find ways to get all of three of these backs involved in the offense often.  In the draft, the Chiefs didn’t really do much, but look out for their fourth round pick Eric Murray out of Minnesota to add some punch to a defense that allowed less than 18 points a game last season.  Chiefs have a middle of the road schedule in terms of difficulty, but this is a team that has most of the same pieces that reeled off an 11 game win streak last year and a division that is win-able with eight or nine wins this year.

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Prediction: 10-6

2. Oakland Raiders – Yeah, that’s right.  Eight or nine wins will win this division and Oakland won’t get the division crown.  Do the math.  Folks are high on the Raiders this year.  Maybe because of the young talent; or maybe because folks are tired of this once proud franchise being a laughing stock. Last season they showed promise and showed they have the centerpieces for their offense and defense: Derek Carr and Khalil Mack, respectively.   Mack will have free agent signees Bruce Irvin and (in November) Aldon Smith to help not just with the edge rush but also help to form a very athletic trio up front.  Rookie Karl Joseph has all the tools to be a starter for this franchise for the next ten years.  Joseph will be playing alongside safety Reggie Nelson who had an NFL leading eight interceptions last year.  Amari Cooper is the real deal at wide receiver; and Michael Crabtree looked the best he’s looked in years, but it may be reaching to think he’ll duplicate last year’s performance.  The pieces are there for this team to  make the next step, but because EVERYONE is saying that, it definitely won’t happen.  This is a team that looks better on paper then they will on the field.  They are still one year away, and if they can put it together, this division can be theirs for the next three to four years – easily.

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Prediction: 9-7

3. Denver Broncos – What did we expect?  A team wins a Super Bowl, and all the players who were up for new contracts – left for ridiculous pay days.  That’s the business of the sport.  The Broncos biggest attraction, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, was set to sit out for the season if he and Broncos didn’t agree on terms – but cooler heads prevailed.  Miller will be set to lead a defense that is still formidable even after the losses of Danny Trevathan and Malik Jackson.  The defense will have to be key because that’s how they won games last year.  The Broncos re-instilled the notion that “defenses win championships” because in this “quarterback league” they basically played without one for most of last year.  Although Peyton Manning was trashy last year, his poise and leadership kept this offense motivated and focused all season long – even when times were tough.  Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are top notch receivers but expect their numbers to plummet this season.  The Broncos signed Mark Sanchez who once upon a time was the savior to the New York Jets.  Now he’s a journey man, who’s forever haunted by the epic “butt-fumble.” The Broncos also went and drafted Paxton Lynch who has a creepy mustache and a stupid hair cut.  Also the general manager John Elway is pretty smug.  Nobody with teeth like that should be that smug.

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Prediction: 7-9

4. San Diego Chargers – The Chargers are basically, sorta, kinda. . . irrelevant?  Ugh, you hate to hear the word “irrelevant” associated with a team that has the coolest alternate jersey and a team that is led by Philip Rivers, who has been quiet as kept – this generation’s Dan Marino to some degree.  Does he have the records like Marino and is he as good – no.  BUT, Rivers has put together quite the career and done so with little to no help for the most part.  The organization makes the wrong signings, drafts the wrong people and — oh wait – who’d they draft this year?  Ha. . .  as of now (August 17th, 2016) the Chargers first round pick Joey Bosa is holding out, and it seems that both sides are not budging.  Bosa comes in with a lot of hype, too much hype if you ask me – he’s a piece that would be nice in building a defense, but he is not a piece to build around.   Free agent Travis Benjamin signed on to the Chargers from the Browns and he joins a pretty talented receiving group that include Keenan Allen and tight-end Antonio Gates who is still a top five tight end at thirty-six years of age.  The Chargers lost eight games by seven or less points and just couldn’t close the deal when they needed to.  There is just nothing flashy or exciting about the Chargers anymore.  Sick jerseys though. . .

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Prediction: 6-10

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

NFL 2015: What We Learned and What We Can Expect

Every NFL season brings it’s own brand of drama.  It’s own brand of heroics.  And unfortunately for some of us, it’s own brand of heartbreak.  Now that the Denver Broncos have been crowned champions of the league, the ever important off-season is in effect.  Contract talks, free agent signings and rookie hype all start now and before we know it – Boom –  we’re back into a whole new swing of weekly heart-attacks.  Here are a few things we learned from the 2015 season, and a few things we can expect from teams in it’s aftermath.

What We Learned:

It didn’t matter who the Broncos had at quarterback this year.

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Let’s be honest, if the money that was spent on Manning was given to a better running back, their season would’ve had the same outcome, but without any controversy.  Broncos kept old-school traditionalist smiling by winning the Super Bowl, just so that crowd can say “Defense wins championships.”

Adrian Peterson isn’t human.

Whether he’s returning from a terrible injury or returning after being ripped apart by the media for a year – nothing can stop Adrian Peterson.  In his ninth NFL season, Peterson ran for over 1400 yards and doesn’t seem to have slowed down a bit.  One would think that his bruising style would slow him down but he seems just as fit as he did in 2012 when he ran for over 2000 yards.  Too bad the Vikings are continually in a rebuild.  They had a once in a lifetime player and came up with nuggets during his tenure there. . . so far.

The Eagles and the Browns Have No Idea What They’re Doing.

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So let me get this straight.  The Eagles fired Andy Reid, who in 14 years at Philly gave them six division titles and brought them to five NFC Championship games; to hire Chip Kelly who went 10-6 in his first two seasons and then fired him when he went 6-9; to ultimately hire Doug Peterson, who was offensive coordinator in Kansas City.  Oh, who was he the coordinator under?  None other than Andy Reid.  You can’t make this stuff up.  The term “ass-clowns” comes to mind when discussing the Eagles.  The Browns aren’t all that better.  Since 2001 they’ve had seven different head coaches and six different general managers.  They’ve whiffed on numerous first round picks, the recent being the “in the media for all the wrong reasons quarterback” Johnny Manziel.  Both of these teams have loyal fan bases who at any given moment might just rush the main offices in the same fashion as Black Friday shoppers rush a Wallmart.

The Dolphins Are Awful:

Their quarterback, Ryan Tannehill’s numbers should really be looked into because the majority of his damage is done in garbage time.  And when it comes to the Miami Dolphins, their whole season is garbage time.  They spent big money on Mike Wallace some time back – got nothing in return.  Now they spent big money on Ndamakong Suh – and they’ll get nothing in return from that as well.  They had building blocks for a good defense but had to let a lot of that go to sign Suh.  Does Marc Anthony still own a part of this team?  If so he needs to bounce on this team quicker than he bounced from J-Lo (or as quickly as he bounced on to J- ah, never mind.)

What to Expect:

Kirk Cousins gets franchised by the Redskins.

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Kirk Cousins is a free agent and after his ridiculously good second half of the season, he may have played himself into the sights of NFL teams needing a starting quarterback.  Jay Gruden has believed in him and the Skins can’t be stupid enough to let Cousins walk.  I’d hope. . .  Just to make sure it isn’t fool’s gold though, a smart move would be to pay cousins a big salary for this season and see if they can get more of the same.  It’s worth the gamble if he turns out to be their guy for the next 5 years or so.

Matt Forte Finds Life On a Contender and For A Bargain Price.

Forte is 30 and has a very flashy skill set.  He’ll continue to avoid contact to stretch out his career and he’ll have to find a system where he’s either well protected or will play in space.   The Bears have been overpaying him for years, so he’ll look less for a payday and more for a winner.   Expect  New England or Denver to be the most intriguing plays with Dallas not too far behind.

NFL Starts Losing Faith in Andrew Luck.

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It won’t be his fault either.  They re-signed arguably the worst coach in the NFL in Chuck Pagano and they continue to draft badly and sign free agents that make no sense.  The offensive line will continue to be a mess and Luck, feeling the weight of every game on his shoulders, will start to lose confidence as he’s throwing picks trying to play “catch-up” every week.

Panthers Trying To Get Cute.

The Panthers have been a gritty team under head coach Ron Rivera, but expect them to franchise or straight up re-sign cornerback Josh Norman, and expect them to sign a couple of flashy free-agents in what will appear to be an upgrade in offense.  The truth is, this is a tight knit group that works more on the chemistry around their super star Cam Newton.  Although with a healthy Cam Newton, the Panthers win this division by default it’s still not a smart move to stir this pot too much.

The Browns Will Blow Another First Round Pick:

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Poor Cleveland.  They just don’t get it.  If and when they draft either Carson Wentz or Jared Goff, it’s just a matter of time before they realized they just reached for another quarterback that will NOT lead this wretched franchise to the promised land.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

 

Beating Vegas: Super Bowl Deluxe Edition

It’s been fun here at “Beating Vegas” all football season.  We finished about 10 games over 50% so all in all, not a bad season.  Now it all comes to the end with the biggest sporting event of the year – the Super Bowl.  The NFL’s most valuable and exciting player, Cam Newton on one side and one of the NFL’s most recognizable celebrities, Peyton Manning, on the other.   Vegas knows that this is their last chance to bank on football action for at least six months and they like to throw EVERYTHING at you.  The trick is to not bet all over the place, but to use your head and think logically – eh, forget logic, it’s the Super Bowl – it’s a time to let loose, drink, eat and have fun – BUT, here is my advice to you on those prop-bets and the game itself.

Total Receptions By Ronnie Hillman:

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Yeah, this is a weird and random place to start but it could  be easy money come Super Bowl Sunday.  Ronnie Hillman is the smaller speed back, that shares the Broncos back field with the more physical CJ Anderson.  Hillman has more of the game breaker speed in him, but he is prone to injury and is known to fumble.  Anderson though will have his hands full trying to run the ball all day against a Panthers defense that allows less than four yards a carry.  The Broncos will look for ways to get the ball out of Peyton Manning’s hands quickly all game and they will look to slow down the Panthers’ blitz attacks.  Screen passes and check downs in the direction of Ronnie Hillman will help the Broncos in achieving that.  The over/under for total receptions by Ronnie Hillman is set at 1.5.  Hillman is dangerous in open space and his speed is deadly once he takes off.  Take the over – it’s probably the easiest bet of the day and the payout is at +155. 

 

Total Field Goals Scored By Broncos:

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The Denver Broncos have a three and out percentage of 26.13% and that number should be there or even worse against one of the NFL’s best defenses in Carolina.  The Broncos are not a high octane offense anymore due to Manning’s declining ability as a quarterback and Kubiak’s predictable, conservative offense.  The Broncos won’t get cute on fourth down when in the Panthers territory and they have a lot of faith in their kicker Brandon McManus who was perfect kicking from 20-39 yards this season.  From 40-49 yards out he was 5-8 and from 50 yards are more he was 5-7.  Points will be hard to come by for Denver but getting at least three field goals should be possible.  The over/under is 2.5 with a payout of +340 and that’s definitely worth the shot, at least for a small dime, for more than three times the payout.

What color will Beyonce’s footwear be when she comes on stage for the halftime show?

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If your “guy” has this prop bet, consider these lines: Black: 3/2, Gold/Brown: 5/2, White: 11/14, Silver/Grey: 19/4 and any other color: 7/1.   Beyonce is a diva.  Beyonce is a trendsetter and (much like myself) a “walking fashion statement.”  Last time she performed at the Super Bowl, she had on black boots.  She wouldn’t be caught dead wearing something similar at the same function a few years later, so scratch that.  She probably won’t match up with Coldplay’s bland attire and she might want to separate herself from Bruno Mars, who is pretty unpredictable.   To prove her “queen” like ways, I expect her to go with something flashy and at the same time classy which is why the Silver/Grey line is more to my liking here.

How many times will “dab” or “dabbing” be said by the announcers during the broadcast?

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The over/under for this line is 2.   Phil Simms and Jim Nantz are probably the most out of touch guys to ever call a football game.  Sometimes they don’t even know what’s going on during a football game so do you really think they have a chance to know about anything in pop-culture?  If it wasn’t for the commercials, I’d watch this game with the mute button on.  Take the under and good luck to us all having to deal with these two lame asses. . .

Super Bowl MVP:

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There are only two names to look at here, Cam Newton who is the favorite at -145 and Luke Kuechly who is a long shot at +1400.  Cam is the obvious choice because the offense runs through him, he is dynamic and the NFL is more likely to give quarterbacks the credit for a win, than anyone else.  Luke Kuechly is an interesting name though, especially considering the payout.  This game has a slight chance of being a low scoring defensive battle or a high chance of being a blowout in favor of the Panthers.  Either way, Kuechly is a player who finds himself around the action and the football often.  If the defense is all the way dominant, it will be mostly because of his doing.  Eight tackles, coupled with a forced fumble, recovered fumble or interception might be enough for a defensive player to become MVP of this game, and who would be more likely to achieve that than Kuechly?

The Super Bowl Line:

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The Carolina Panthers are a six point favorite in this game against the Denver Broncos and if you’ve read this article, you can guess where this paragraph will lean. . . Peyton Manning is a fraction of what he once was and against this secondary, he might be in for one of his worst performances since.  . . the last time he played in a Super Bowl.  Manning has never been a “big game” quarterback, even in his prime, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see him struggle in this one.  Denver’s defense will be on the field for most of the game and have their back’s up against the wall a lot.  This works in favor for a Carolina offense that likes to be physical.  Cam is a difference maker, and there is really no way to coach how to stop him, because even he has no idea what he’s set to do at any given moment.  Carolina and Denver may be close in the first half, but in the second half Carolina pulls away and wins by at least 15 points.

The Pick: Carolina -6

 

Hope you guys have enjoyed “Beating Vegas” this football season.  We’ll be back next year and continue our winning ways here.  Thank you for checking back each week and as always: “GOOD LUCK AND WAGER WISELY!”

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cam Newton: More Than Just a Road to the Super Bowl

At 26 years of age, Cam Newton has come into his prime in his professional football career.  When he was drafted as the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, the Carolina Panthers were hoping they cashed in on their “franchise quarterback” and they definitely did.  This season is a special season for Cam Newton though.  In all areas of life, Cam has certainly come of age, professionally and personally.

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This season Cam has established himself as the NFL’s most valuable and entertaining player in the league.  During this campaign he has led the Carolina Panthers to their second ever Super Bowl appearance and he has also witnessed the birth of his first child, a son he named “Chosen.”  This is a fairy tale like season for Cam and the Panthers but the road to getting here has had many ups and downs for Newton.

After being recruited by the University of Florida as a five-star recruit, he won the role of back up quarterback job behind Tim Tebow and when he got his chance to start the 2008 season, he suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him (medical redshirt).  In that same year Cam was arrested for the purchase of another student’s stolen laptop computer.  Cam didn’t make himself look  innocent in the situation considering he tossed the computer out of his window in his attempt to not get caught with it.  After that, Cam found himself at Blinn University, a junior college where he led Blinn to the Junior College National Championship and put himself back into the focus of the recruiting plans for division one schools.  This is when the University of Auburn stepped in to win the services of Cam Newton.

Once at Auburn, he lit the world on fire.  He was destroying SEC defenses week to week.  The most memorable performance of his  was being down 24-0 to the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide defense, and he willed a comeback victory to seal the SEC Championship.  Even then, when things seemed to be approaching an undeniable climax, there was a cloud that hovered over Newton’s head.  Talk came about that his father was trying to talk Mississippi State into “buying” his son’s services for a certain price (rumored over $120,000).  In a weird turn of events Cam Newton was suspended for the National Championship Game by the NCAA but soon after called off the suspension.  .  . Cam won the Heisman Trophy (beating out Andrew Luck) and won the National Championship with Auburn.

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Cam had a ridiculous start to his professional career, breaking 9 rookie records and earning himself a Pro Bowl bid.   It was at that Pro Bowl though, where players and NFL personnel alike were turned off by Cam Newton’s pri-madonna like ways.  This was only assumed to an even greater scale in his second season, where the sophomore jinx was evident and Cam appeared more like an isolated brat on the sidelines then the man-child the NFL wanted him to represent.

The following three seasons showed a maturity in Cam Newton though.  He helped lead the Panthers to three straight playoff appearances and instead of relying purely on his athletic ability to win games, he put in the work and became better as a quarterback.  This season was the apex of him putting together his abilities as a quarterback and one of the NFL’s most gifted athletes.

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He has embodied what the NFL’s future should become.  A leader with a grin from ear to ear that can light up a stadium.  A player who can entertain the fans with gestures (whether to cheers or jeers) but at the same time will bear down and sacrifice his own body if needed just to get that extra yard.  The NFL playing field has become Cam’s personal playground and keeping that “playground” mentality as a focus for his brand, the younger fans are captivated by him.  That captivation is a product of what  he’s doing on the field or even how he engages with the kids in the stands and how he embraces every moment with open arms.

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Cam Newton has taken on a lot of criticism, some was deserved and some wasn’t.  He has made it easy for him to be hated and at the same time made himself out to be loved.  Cam has taken his game to the next level and raised the bar for the future of the NFL.  Now he is set to play against the best defense in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and set to go against another quarterback who in his prime, raised the bar for the future of quarterbacks in the league in Peyton Manning.  Everything about these two quarterbacks is different – except for the fact they both possess commercial appeal to sell anything from pizza to yogurt.  This is a shining moment for Cam Newton to continue his path to football immortality and more importantly to do it his way.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Nineteen

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: Last week was all kinds of weird.  Lost one and pushed the other two.  That’s just a non-eventful day of nothing but lows.  Let’s see if we too can “push” through this week and come out on top, as we usually do on Beating Vegas by taking action on the NFL Conference Championship games.

New England Patriots (-3) at the Denver Broncos

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This match-up has not been friendly to the team that travels in recent history.  In the last five meetings between these two squads, the road  team has gone 0-5, straight up and against the spread.  In the fictional “quarterback vs quarterback” world, Brady has bested Manning with an 11-5 record.  Don’t be a clown and base your wager on that silly tidbit of knowledge though.  The facts here are that Peyton Manning for all of his accolades and career records has pretty much been “okay” in the playoffs.  Even during his Super Bowl run of the 2006 season he threw only  three touchdowns and seven interceptions.  Considering that now Peyton is going up against a very underrated Patriots defense and Peyton’s arm strength is just about the equivalent to a big bowl of jello – what do the Pats really have to worry about?   The Broncos have a waste of two good wide outs in Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryous Thomas; and are relying on a two back running game that doesn’t exactly put the fear of God into opposing defenses when they hear the names “Ronnie Hillman” and “C.J. Anderson.”  What the Broncos do have is the NFL’s best passing defense and the league’s third best rushing defense.  Denver will surely try to put the heat on Tom Brady and this much maligned Patriots offensive line as the Broncos also had an NFL best with 52 recorded sacks.  The problem with that attack is that Brady gets rid of the ball quicker than most and blitzing leaves the gaps open for the Patriots’ drag, slant and seam routes all day long.  The bye-week seemed to do Brady good as he looked sharp in his game against a good Kansas City Chiefs defense.  Not counting Brady’s six scrambles out of the pocket (one which resulted in one of his famous goal-line touchdown dives), the Patriots only ran the ball 8 times and they seemed fine with it.  The Broncos defense will stay strong against the Pats for a while, but the Broncos offense is gross.  Peyton Manning’s career should end with a loss to the Patriots and hopefully it does because the last time we saw Peyton in the Super Bowl. . . aye.  . .

The Pick: Patriots -3

Arizona Cardinals (+3) at the Carolina Panthers

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If Cam Newton didn’t have the season he’s having, Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer would be in talks for NFL MVP along with Tom Brady.  No question.  BUT, we don’t live in a world of “maybes” and Cam Newton is treating the NFL, like he treated the SEC in his Auburn days: The NFL is Cam’s Playground.  He has a way of improvising, an undeniable leadership and the ability to make things happen with a very, very thinly talented offense.  Aside from tight end Greg Olsen, his best option is running back Jonathan Stewart.  The defenses are evenly matched but each defense has to deal with their own issues.  For Carolina, they shouldn’t under estimate the abilities of Arizona’s running back David Johnson, who has an NFL leading 9 touchdowns in road games this year.   Johnson may have started as number three on the depth chart this season, but Arians has had him involved in this offense since week one, so there should be no “rookie gitters” coming from the multi-purpose back. Arizona also boast one of the best wide receiver trios in the league with the speedy John Brown, the (still) under-rated Michael Floyd and the veteran Larry Fitzgerald, who showed in the over-time win last week against Green Bay that if you sleep on him, he can still hurt you.   For Arizona their defense is just as complete as Carolina’s but the loss of safety Tyronn Matthieu is one that they can’t make up for.  His versatility and overall skill has him already mentioned as a top three safety in the league, and his ball hawking ability and presence on the line of scrimmage will be missed (and needed) against Cam Newton. . .  This will be a tight game but three points may not be enough to lean to the visiting team in this one.

The Pick: Carolina -3

 

As always, good luck and wager wisely!

P.S. There will be no “Beating Vegas” article up next week, because everyone knows when it comes to the Pro Bowl you either take the “over” or find something better to do with your time than waste it on that non-sense.  “Beating Vegas” will return the week of the Super Bowl for the final entry of the year though, giving you an in-depth analysis on the Super Bowl game and of course, the ever popular “prop bets.”

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio