Tag Archives: Sports Betting

The Problem With Legalized Sports Gambling

May 14th, 2018 will go down in history as one of the most impactful days in sports history. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the federal ban on state sanctioned sports betting is “unconstitutional.”  Dan Patrick  put it best when he said “the floodgates are officially open for other states to allow sports betting.”

Many sports pundits and gambling professionals have made themselves vocal about wanting sports gambling to be legalized.  Bringing about the “unconstitutional” nature of denying citizens the right to gamble and because “everyone does it anyway.”

A sports betting room at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Prayitno

I am a sports-gambling enthusiast. I love the science that is sports-handicapping. I talk with other sports-snobs who understand that picking a winner against the spread – instead of “straight up” – takes more skill than people give it credit for.  My best literary works come during the football season, when I pepper social media with my “Beating Vegas” articles, detailing who I feel will “cover the spread” in college and professional football.  It’s fun.  I get it.  .  . for some people.

The truth about sports gambling, is that it is an addictive and dangerous hobby.

For as long as sports has been around, the sports gambling racket has been a main source of income for the criminal element.  The guy at the corner store, the guy outside the bowling alley, your grandfather – so on and so forth – the bookie, has been a part of every neighborhood forever.  Yes, even yours.  It’s a dirty world where if you don’t pay up – you can literally lose your life.

Now with the legalization of gambling across the fifty states, just coming in a matter of time, think about the dangers this now puts on society as a whole.

People who have no idea how addictive sports-gambling is, or who have never tapped into that addictive part of their personality will now see that with gambling being legalized, it is somehow harmless.  These people who have never ventured into the perils of “chasing bets” and hitting a string of bad-luck will now feel as if they have been invited to a fun new hobby that brings no-ill-effects.

Photo Credit goes to CalvinAyre.Com / Article written by Kirby Garlitos “NFL Prop Betting Part 1: Offense”

Also, for all of those who do gamble and think this is better than the “guy at the corner store.” At least you knew what the parameters were if you didn’t pay up – those things usually involved intimidation by use of baseball bats and / or turning over a your family-owned-business to the person you owed money to.  Although those parameters never scare off the  true degenerates – for the most part, people understand the code of the streets.

Now, if gambling is legalized.  Be prepared to pay taxes on your winnings and be prepared for government agencies to start garnishing your paycheck with no questions asked if you don’t pay up on your losses.  Be prepared for people’s credit to nose-dive and be prepared to see more people losing their homes. . .

Everybody thinks of sports gambling and they don’t realize, after the first game you bet on – one of three things happens to you.

  1. You win and automatically start thinking how you can win more.
  2. You lose and begin to wonder how you can win that money back.
  3. (this is the most dangerous of the three) Winning or losing doesn’t matter at all.  It was the rush and the thrill for those three hours that you want to re-live again.

I am not here to preach.  I would be a hypocrite if I told folks how to live their lives and give them every reason to not gamble on sports.  It’s more about society as a whole.

With sports gambling being allowed, this leads us – the regular folk – to think about a placing a $50  or a $100 bet as a legal means to make some quick and easy cash in a fun way. . . All the while – it’s the casino’s, the government and the sports leagues that will be the real winners.  The rich will continue to get richer at our expense.  ‘Merica. But we’re too blinded by the immediate opportunity to make money on a game – that we won’t recognize it.

The NBA has already said they want 1% of all wagering action on their entity. That’s now.  What stops them next year from asking for 2%. . .then 3%, so on and so forth.  Major League Baseball would be the biggest of hypocrites to take on a percentage (and even support) sports gambling.  If you don’t believe that, why don’t you go and Google, Pete Rose.

There is no doubt that the idea of legalized sports gambling is on the way.  Just because something is now legal – it does not mean it is okay to do.   Be smart.  And as I always say: “Good Luck and Wager Wisely.”

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Patriots;Whenever, Wherever

New England Patriots -6.5 versus Oakland Raiders

(game to be played at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico)

After the Patriots manhandled the Broncos on Sunday Night Football, they decided to stay in Denver before flying back home.  Why?  Because coach Bill Belichick decided to keep his team practicing in a high-altitude-enviornment like the one they’ll see at Mexico City.  Smart play by “the Hood,” but that’s no surprise.   Remember when the Patriots started the season 2-2 and people said that this defense was probably the worst in the NFL?   That was cute.  Since then, New England has won five straight with their opponents highest point total being 17.  Meanwhile, the L.A. Raiders were supposed to be a top contender in the AFC and they have fallen miserably short.  The Raiders are currently 4-5 and a loss this Sunday can pretty much wrap this season up.  The Marshawn Lynch experiment is turning out to be a bust, Derek Carr is looking like a shell of himself from last season (13 TD’s, 7 INT’s); and the leading receiver on a squad that has Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper is tight-end Jared Cook.  The Oakland pass defense is gives up the highest completion percentage to it’s opponents (71%), has recorded no interceptions on the season and is tied with the Giants in sacks (13) which puts them dead last in that category as well.   Gross.  Did you even notice how we didn’t mention Tom Brady once in this article?  Yeah.  Tom Brady.

The Pick: New England -6.5

 

Detroit Lions -3 at Chicago Bears

It’s time for the hopeful and misguided Chicago Bears fan to realize the truth about their team.  They are below average. As a Bears fan myself, I knew this before the pre-season, but many others let their minds wander to a false state of grandeur.  Now, the Bears are looking to play out the season, but whether or not they do it respectfully is what really matters.  With head coach John Fox just waiting for this season to end so he can move on with his life in retirement, the Chicago Bears have a defense that is pretty-decent -but also a lot of smoke and mirrors.  The Bears pass defense is ranked in the top ten when it comes to passing yards allowed, but they are letting opponents complete 65.5% of their passes and at seven yards a clip. The Bears’ rush defense is better-than-average allowing 3.9 yards a rush but this should all work out in favor of the Detroit Lions, who can’t run the ball, so they abandon it early – and usually end up airing it out most of the game.  Detroit’s receivers are averaging 11.9 yards a catch.  At the end of the season, Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford may be responsible for having two 1000 yard receivers in Marvin Jones and Golden Tate.   Detroit’s in the top 10 in rush defenses which will give Bears running back Jordan Howard some fits, as he is the only source of offensive power on this roster.  The Bears tendency on defense of either missing tackles or letting opponents break out of tackles will be something to watch out for with the speedy players like Golladay, Tate and Abdullah for the Lions.

The Pick: Detroit -3

Jacksonville Jaguars -7.5 at Cleveland Browns

This is a big number for the Jaguars to cover.  It doesn’t matter who they’re playing.  Eh, they’re playing the Browns. . . The Jaguars are toting around the number one pass defense in the NFL  which is mostly due to cornerbacks AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey.  Offensively, they try to manage the game around their quarterback rather than let their quarterback manage the game.  Blake Bortles is on thin-ice to be the starting quarterback in Jacksonville next year – but that’s next year.  This season, Bortles is the man under center, but it’s more about the guys in the backfield.  Rookie running back Leonard Fournette  has been as good as advertised (albeit he did get benched one week for violating team rules) but the Jaguars must be feeling cautious of not over-using him, as head coach Doug Marrone has hinted at spreading the ball among all three backs including Chris Ivory and TJ Yeldon.    As a team the Jaguars are averaging 4.8 yards a rush and because it is what they want to do, the Browns actually pose a threat to their success on the ground.  The Browns have consistently been in the top five of the NFL when it comes to rush defense, allowing only 3.1 yards a rush.  The Browns are getting back wide receiver Corey Coleman this week, which will be good to see considering Duke Johnson, the number two running back on the depth chart, is the team’s leading receiver.  At the end of the day, who cares?  DeShone Kizer is still there throwing to the wide-outs with his 4 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

The Pick: Jacksonville -7.5

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: A Penny For Your Thoughts

Nevada +15 at San Diego State

If there’s one thing San Diego State has proved it’s that they’ll beat up on the bad teams.  If you’re a little above average though,  they can’t figure you out. The Aztecs are playing at home after coming off of two huge roads wins and a bye week.  It’s no secret how the Aztecs play their brand of football: Hand the ball off to Rashaad Penny and don’t get in his way.  Penny is the second leading rusher in all of college football with 1602 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.   He’ll be looking to inflate his seven-yards a carry number as he goes against a Nevada Wolfpack that’s allowing 4.5 yards a carry.  That would give Penny a smash-average-advantage of 5.75 a carry, which is a ridiculous number.   The Aztecs’ pass attack is more about keeping the opposing defenses honest and managing the game, but it may have more opportunities against this Nevada pass defense which is one of the absolute worse in football (giving up a completion percentage of 68.1% and 279 passing yards a game).  The times that Nevada has put up points or a fight is against bad defenses, this won’t be one of those times as they face the Aztecs this weekend.

The Pick: San Diego State -15

 

UCF -14 at Temple

The University of Central Florida is the number one offense in college football, averaging 48.6 points per game.  They are currently 9-0 but are feeling a bit of “conference bias” when they look at their current ranking in the college football playoff picture.   UCF is getting little to no love with a ranking of 18 and the chances of them making the actual playoff are slim to none – even if they go undefeated.  This positions UCF to only get themselves into a major bowl game and maybe square up against a highly thought of SEC, BIG 10 or Pac12 opponent. . . This week, the Knights don’t do too much to help out their cause as they travel to Temple to take on the Owls.  The Owls are generally considered to be a pretty decent team that is not part of the power-five conferences but this is a down year for them and now at 5-5 they are struggling to find themselves bowl-eligible with only two games remaining on their schedule.  Quarterback Frank Nutile has been the reason behind this mid-to-late season run given to the Temple Owls though.  Looking at the numbers though, he’s had success against Army, Navy and Cincinnati  – all three teams which let up at least a 60% completion percentage to their opposition.  UCF is only allowing a 54% completion percentage and has 12 interceptions on the season so far. Add to the fact that Temple’s 3.5 yards a rush puts them in the bottom quarter of the entire NCAA – you have a one-dimensional offense playing a power house team in the Knights.  Fourteen points is way too modest here.

The Pick: UCF -14

 

 

Iowa State -9.5 at Baylor

This line is giving Baylor way too much credit for playing at home. . .Listen, I used to be a Baylor against the line guy.  Every week.  Especially for first half action.  But since the unceremonious departure of coach Art Briles, this program has been on a downward spiral.  No longer are they a top ten offense in the nation fighting for the big 12 crown. . . now they are 1-9 with their only win coming against Kansas. . .the only team worse than Baylor in the Big 12 conference.  This week, they play host to an Iowa State team that is the biggest roller coaster ride in college football this year.  This is a team that has split wins against the best teams in the conference and the games have all been decided by single digits. Iowa State’s defense is good – according to Big 12 standards – but that’s mostly due to a rush defense holding opponents to 3.7 yards a carry.  Baylor’s 25.7 points per game are decent, but considering they don’t pass the ball well or run the ball well, it’s mostly due to playing in the Big 12 that that number is what it is.   In the Big 12, literally anything can happen on the scoreboard, but Baylor is more inept to consistently score points against a team that at least tries to play defense – so ride with the Cyclones as the traveling favorite.

The Pick: Iowa State -9.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Indiana +1; Air Force +29.5; San Diego State -3; Ball State +32.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

Beating Vegas: Familiar Faces

NC State -3 at Boston College

N.C. State has become the most talked about team here at Beating Vegas.  This is the FOURTH time they’ve been mentioned by me this year.  It’d be great to say we’ve hit each time with N.C. State but the truth is, they are 1-2 when they’ve been picked to cover the spread by Beating Vegas.  With that said:  Here we go again.  N.C. State was riding a six-game win streak until fate hit them with really tough back-to-back competition, losing to Notre Dame by twenty-one points and losing to Clemson by six points.  It doesn’t get much easier as their next two games are on the road against two pretty good defenses. The Boston College defense is allowing 25 points per game and are tied in the ACC with 13 interceptions.  Teams complete only 51% of their passes against them.  If there is a weakness it’s the rush attack which allows five-yards per rush.  It’s not good, but not terrible considering the attacks they have to face in the ACC. The Eagles ground attack is there only attack and will be one dimensional throughout this game.  N.C. State is averaging 32 points per game (8 more than B.C.) and has done it with a consistent balance that doesn’t turn over the ball often.  This spread is too low and that is because Vegas is banking on the public falling in love with an Eagles team that clobbered a Florida State team that is “all name and no game.”  N.C. State is a well coached team who does not over-look their opponents.

The Pick: N.C. State -3

 

Georgia -2.5 at Auburn

This is a game I had circled after week four of the college football season.  Auburn has been a favorite of mine to surprise folks this year.  Before we get into the numbers and the pick, a little Google-search shows that Georgia leads this series 57-55-8 in what is called “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” (okay I knew the last part but still. . .).  This match-up has been going on since 1892 and I wouldn’t say these are the biggest stakes to be had in the history of this rivalry – but, the stakes are definitely big enough.  Georgia is the current #1 team in the nation with Auburn being ranked 10th.   These teams run the ball well, defend the run well.  They both throw the ball “efficiently enough” to give their teams a good balance and they both hold opponents to a 55% completion percentage.  Publicly the early money-lean is going by way of the Georgia Bulldogs at 71% and this isn’t a surprise.  What to look at here is the balance these two teams have against each other AND the fact that Auburn is playing at home for the first time in THREE weeks.  Meanwhile, Georgia has to hit the road after beating a South Carolina team that was not an “easy-out.”  This game is going to have some moments, the final moment though will be the “War-Eagle” chant with the students of Auburn filling the field.

The Pick: Auburn +2.5

 

Oregon State +23.5 at Arizona

Yes, we blew it with Arizona last week as they decided to play one half of football when it was too late but – this is still a good team and Khalil Tate is still one of the more exciting players in football to watch this year.   Honestly,  this game has nothing to do with Arizona and everything to do with Oregon State.   Teams have had no problems running against the Beavers as this defense has allowed 4.7 yards a carry against them (by the way, when Bowl Season comes around, keep in mind that every team in the Pac-12 gives up more than 4 yards a carry outside of Oregon and Washington).  They are pretty good against the pass but let’s not be silly, Arizona is going to run the ball, run it again and run some mo’. Arizona’s rush attack has proven to be just as dangerous as Notre Dame’s, averaging seven yards a carry and closing in on 3000 total rushing yards for the season. Outside of UTEP and Northern Arizona though, the Wildcats haven’t blown out anybody by a margin this big.  This is one where you might want to take the Arizona Wildcats for some first half action, but watch out for Oregon State get some back door scores during mop-up-duty.

The Pick: Oregon State +23.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

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: Going Wild in Southern Cal

Arizona +7 at USC

The Arizona Wildcats go into the home of the USC Trojans this weekend and this is a battle between two quarterbacks who have been on a very different road in getting to this point of the season.  The Trojans’ quarterback Sam Darnold was the pre-season Heisman favorite, with a lot of NFL scouts touting him as the best signal caller in the nation, who was supposed to lead the Trojans to the playoff this year.  The Trojans are currently 7-2 with a middle of the pack defense and an offense, that although is putting up  33 points per game – was expected to do even better.  Darnold is having an okay season throwing 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions (second most in the Pac-12).  The real answer to this offense’s success has been running back Ronald Jones who is 112 yards away from a thousand yard rushing season and is averaging 6.7 yards a carry.  Jones is the fifth best -statistical – rusher in the Pac-12 conference – one spot above him though is Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate.   Tate in just six games has accumulated 960 rushing yards and averaging nearly 14 yards a rush.  Coach Rich Rodriguez’ offense doesn’t look to throw the ball much but if they do Tate is netting a completion percentage of 68.7%.  The other ball carriers on this team average at least 5 yards a carry (all four of them).   The Wildcasts defense stepped up when they went against another highly touted Pac-12 quarterback in UCLA’s Josh Rosen and forced the quarterback to toss 3 interceptions.  Arizona is playing very well as a unit as Tate is proving to be right there with Bryce Love as the best players in the Pac-12 conference.  USC is playing with hurt pride and defending their undefeated home record this week.  Arizona’s wins have either come in blowouts or by thin margins while USC has proven to be mostly unreliable so far this year.

The Pick: Arizona +7

Rice +10.5 at UAB

It was only a few years ago that the University of Alabama-Birmingham ended their football program.  They figured it was costing them too much money to be competitive and decided to pull the plug.  2017 became the “the year the Blazers come back.”  Many figured it would remain to be a bottom dweller.  History proved it was never a good program anyway so after being dead for two years, they would definitely be a door-mat to anyone who stepped to them.  Funny how things turn out, huh?  Currently UAB is 5-3 and knocking on the door of becoming “bowl-eligible.”  The Blazers offense is predicated off of the success of their ground game and running back Spencer Brown who is averaging 5.6 yards a carry and has a total of 909 rushing yards so far this season.  Quarterback AJ  Erdely has been efficient as well, throwing nine touchdowns and only 2 interceptions but more impressive than that are his 10 rushing touchdowns this season.  This isn’t a surprising stat when you realize that UAB’s scoring percentage in the red zone is 87%, which ranks them higher than Penn State and Louisville’s red-zone attacks.  This will be key when going against a Rice red-zone defense that is allowing opponents to score 89% of the time. (And just to see the other side of things: UAB’s red zone defense 70% sandwiched between the likes of Ohio State and Alabama while Rice’s red-zone attack scores 71% of the time which knocks down the Owl’s chances of scoring to a 49% in the red-zone.) The Rice Owls have been on the wrong side of lob-sided scores all season and stand at 1-7 so far this year. The offense is ranked 229th in total yards, 251st in passing yards and 116th in rushing yards.

The Pick: UAB -10.5

 

Virginia Tech -2.5 at Miami

Here goes one that the “sharps” are big on.  Getting Va Tech under a field goal, while you can.  There are many reasons why.  First one, as we saw last week, Miami will just let any team hang with them.  Even teams they should blow out by a large amount like UNC or Duke.  Yes, we all saw that ridiculous touchdown that put the Seminoles away, but in truth – Florida State is in a down year, with injuries and inexperience stripping them of reinventing their dominant looking selves.  Miami is a good team.   A marginally good team.  They’ve been “bleh” against the spread and they are usually given too many points because they are such a large “public” favorite.  Virginia Tech has a quarterback in Josh Jackson who goes under the radar and it’s a crime.  Jackson is completing 62% of his passes with 17 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. Behind his is a running back committee of Travon McMillian, DeShawn McClease and even Coleman Fox — they all are racking up over 4.5 yards per rush between them.  Miami is mediocre when it comes to stopping the rush (allowing 4.1 yards a carry) but are stingy when it comes to letting ball carriers get into the end-zone, allowing only 3 rushing touchdowns so far this year.  Miami pass defense has looked great this year, holding opposing quarterbacks to 50% completion percentage but look at the competition and you’ll see why.  The number is perfect where it’s at right now and if it goes up to 3, you shouldn’t hesitate to buy the half a point.  This will be a close one but in the end, Virginia Tech has the better pass defense, the better rush defense and the better quarterback.  Don’t fall for the hype.

The Pick: Virginia Tech -2.5

Four Team Teaser of the Week: Wisconsin -1.5; South Carolina +35.5; Purdue -2 and Baylor +4.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: North Kakalaka: Part 2

N.C. State +7.5 at Notre Dame

After N.C. State lost its opener this season to South Carolina, they have reeled off six wins in a row, including a win over reigning Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson and a win over the Seminoles at Florida State.  This is a team who returned all their senior starter in the front seven of their defense and returned 8 starters in key spots on their offense.  This is a senior laden team with a lot to play for.  Here at Beating Vegas we spoke about running back NyHeim Hines before and his 5.6 yards yards a carry is worth mentioning again.  Quarterback Ryan Finley is completing passes at a rate of 70% and has yet to thrown an interception this season.  The Wolfpack have the best rush defense in the ACC, holding to opponents to 3 yards a carry and only 91 yards a game.  .  . Enter the Notre Dame rushing attack. The Fighting Irish are 8th in the nation averaging 318 yards a game.  This is mainly due to running back Josh Adams who is still rocking out over 9 yards a carry, and dual threat quarterback Brandon Wimbush 6.2 yards a carry.  Throwing the ball, Wimbush is completing barely fifty percent of his passes, although he seems to make the big throws when needed. When calculating our “clash average” the fighting Irish will be hovering around 4.3 yards a carry – which is good, but will become a point of frustration for them, and if forced into third and longs, the advantage will go to the N.C. State defense.  Notre Dame has a great rush defense too but they’ve been able to inflate their numbers more, especially in the last three weeks.  We picked Notre Dame last week against a very over-rated USC team and won easily.  This week, we don’t think the Irish will lose. . .but N.C. State will keep it close. . .or just win straight up.

The Pick: N.C. State +7.5

Mississippi State PK at Texas A&M

Remember a few weeks ago, how the pundits on ESPN said that Mississippi State could possibly pose a threat to win the SEC? . . . that was adorable. After the Bulldogs slaughtered LSU 37-7, the world thought they were legit.  Until they found out that LSU wasn’t very legit and oh yeah, the Bulldogs got pummeled by above average competition in Georgia and Auburn by a combined score of 80-13.  Mississippi State rebounded with back to back wins against BYU and Kentucky.  Mississippi State’s offense is averaging 33.7 points per game and most of that is due to a ground attack averaging 5.1 yards a rush.  Texas A&M and head coach Kevin Sumlin are kind of where they are every year: an average team with a head coach that’s on the perennial “hot-seat.”  A&M is 5-2 on the season so far and one of those losses were an 8 point loss to Alabama.  Now, if you lose to Alabama by 8 points, that’s like moral-victory-heaven.  This Aggies offense has four backs that have at least 70 carries this year, all averaging over four yards a carry.  The advantage here, aside from coming off a bye-week and being at home; is that the Aggie’s defense against the run is allowing only 3.9 yards a carry.  A&M has the athletes on their defense that will give Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald some fits as well.  The Bulldogs are a lot of hype against inferior competition, while A&M is usually a punching bag for the media.  A&M at home, off a bye and being the better team – makes this one easy.  Expect the line to go up to at least 2 points with A&M being the favorite.

The Pick: Texas A&M Pick

 

Miami -20.5 at UNC

There is a heavy lean on “The U” this week and for good reason.  This UNC team is a dumpster fire.  The UNC Tarheels rank second to last in total offense and dead last in total defense in the AAC.  They have lost in blowout fashion to Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech in their last four weeks and this number of “20.5” was cleared all three times.  Miami has proven to be a very “blue-collar” 6-0.  Not blowing out their opponents, but edging out good competition and looking strong when they finish.  Miami is 3-3 ATS so far this year while UNC is 1-7.  Publicly the Hurricanes are the third most bet on team so far with this spread.  Vegas has about 85% of their plays going that way. At the start of the year UNC put up 35 and 30 against Cal and Louisville respectively but in the last five weeks they haven’t scored over seventeen points in a game.  Meanwhile, against good competition, the Canes have averaged victories by a four point margin (yes we’re counting Syracuse as “good”).  Against inferior competition like Duke and Toledo, they’ve looked like world beaters though.  Usually, I would go against the public in a game like this, but considering the competition that the U has seen in the last three weeks, this should seem like a walk-through-practice.  Expect a close cover here in the world of 41-17.

The Pick: Miami -20.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Georgia Tech +26.5; Virginia Tech -3.5; Texas +4.5 and Georgia -2.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Houston Is A Problem

Houston Texans +5.5 at Seattle Seahawks

A lot of people wanted to jump ship when the Houston Texans lost J.J. Watt for the season, but the truth is: The Texans are kind of used to it by now.  What also has tempered the over-reaction of panic in Houston is the play of rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson.  Watson, who said he’s looking “forward” to playing against the Seattle secondary is completing passes at a rate of 61.5%, with a 3:1 TD to INT ratio.  Nobody can be happier than wide-out  DeAndre Hopkins.  Hopkins was almost “forgotten” among the NFL’s “elite receiver class” but this year has 6 touchdowns, averages 10 yards a catch and is the team- leader, by far, in receptions with 37.  Hopkins will go against a secondary in Seattle that is still living up to it’s legendary status.  The “Legion of Boom” is holding the opposition to 5.6 yards a completion and a completion percentage of 55%.  The rush defense has seen better times in recent years, as this year’s group is allowing 4.7 yards a carry.  Fortunately for them, they are seeing Lamar Miller across from them this week, who is averaging 3.8 yards a carry.  The Seahawks are 4-2 so far this season and it has ZERO to do with their offense.  Their wins so far have come off of inexperienced or putrid competition.  Usually the Texans win their division by default and although “default” will play a role again in them taking the AFC South, this is a more competitive team than we’ve seen under Bill O’Brien.  Houston doesn’t only cover the five and a half points – but wins this one outright.

The Pick: Houston +5.5

L.A. Raiders +2.5 at Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills have been a part of the very confusing AFC East.  They currently stand at 4-2, and as long as quarterback Tyrod Taylor can stay healthy, the win total should only go higher.  Defensively, the Bills are holding the opposition to 3.4 rushing yards a game.  This of course forces teams to throw against them, but even then – the Bills are second in the league with nine interceptions.  Offensively, as mentioned before, this team goes as far as Tyrod Taylor will bring them.  Tyrod is a game manager who’s success is determined on his amount of turnovers.  So far he’s only got two interceptions and zero fumbles, so things are looking good, for the former Hokie.  The Raiders came into the season with high expectations and started out the season 2-0 looking to make all pre-season pundits look like genius’.  Then. . . they lost their next four.  Yes, Derek Carr got hurt during that, but even when he played it was nothing special.  Last week they got up for division rival, Kansas City and beat them 31-30, although some would say they netted that win due to help from the officials.  .  .Derek Carr has two viable targets in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree but the chemistry hasn’t exactly been perfect. Cooper was in a real struggle but blew up last week with over 200 yards against a below average Kansas City secondary.   When it’s all said and done if this game was on the West Coast it would be a pick ’em.

The Pick: Buffalo -2.5

Minnesota Vikings -9.5 at Cleveland Browns

From the pre-season to early in the regular season,  this Vikings offense looked legit. And with their already stout defense, people were thinking they could take the NFC North crown this season.  Then after Sam Bradford gets hurt and then (the bigger blow) rookie running back Dalvin Cook got hurt – things started to change. Now with the Vikings having Case Keenum in at quarterback and rumors starting to mount about a Teddy Bridgewater return to the position – things may get weird to say the least. As long as they can, the Vikings will try to push Jerick McKinnon down the public’s throats, but that’ll be tough against a Browns defense that’s done at least one thing right this year: stop the run.  The pass defense is tied with the NY Giants for giving up the most TD’s through the air (15) and are letting opponents sit back and complete 70% of their passes.  What makes matters worse for Cleveland is that their starting quarterback is Deshone Kizer who is flat-out awful.  Expect the Vikes to win this one  24-7, which means you can take them -9.5 but the smarter play here is the “under.”

The Pick: The Under at 38

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Lucky Week 7

Tennessee Titans -6 at Cleveland Browns

It seems as if, for one reason or another, the Titans and Browns are a “mainstay” at Beating Vegas this year.  This week, these two teams square off against each other, with the Titans coming off a Monday Night victory against the Colts and the Browns losing. . .again.  After Kevin Hogan’s inefficient outing against the Houston Texans, the Browns have decided to go back to starting rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer.  Teams that flip-flop on quarterbacks like this, especially when both quarterbacks are below average – are usually teams that have issues.  The Browns have had issues since they’ve come back into the league.  In the five games he’s played, Kizer has three touchdowns, nine interceptions and is averaging less than five and half yards a carry.  He’s a quarterback who only finds success when throwing to the left side of the hash-marks and one must wonder what his confidence is like at this point.  The good news for Cleveland is that Tennessee’s defense has been disappointing this year.  The Dick LeBeau coached unit is allowing 27 points per game and allowing opponents to complete passes at a 60% rate.  The thing to watch here is the health of Marcus Mariota.  He was stiff but was able to complete passes from the pocket for over 300 yards against the Colts.  Mariota’s more effective as a mobile threat and he should be a little more inclined to take off this week.  The Browns are holding opponents to 3 yards a carry and this will be the defenses toughest test when they go up against Demarco Murray (4.6 yards a rush) and Derrick Henry (5.1 yards a rush).  Add to the mix a more mobile Mariota and this will be too much for Cleveland to sustain passed a half.

The Pick: Titans -6

Washington Redskins +5 at Philadelphia Eagles

Philly’s second-year quarterback Carson Wentz is already putting himself in some NFL pundits’ early MVP conversations. He’s looking like a seasoned pro this year and his supporting cast have all helped to carry some of the load.  The name that may surprise many this year is running back LaGarrette Blount.  Why is he a surprise?  Because a week before the season there was talk about him possibly getting cut.  Blount is averaging 5.6 yards a carry this year, which puts him right in the class of Kareem Hunt, who is averaging 5.9 yards a carry this season. This will be an interesting match-up for Blount because Washington is currently only allowing 88 yards a game on the ground.  For all the talk of Carson Wentz this year though, Kirk Cousins is putting together another nice season for the Redskins. Cousins is averaging 8.5 yards per pass this season with 9 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. The emergence of running back Chris Thompson has been something to see this year as well.  Thompson has apparently come out of nowhere and is leading the team in yards per carry (4.9), receptions (18) and receiving yards (340). The Redskins are averaging 23.4 points a game so far this season, which is a pretty average total, but considering they are getting little to no contributions from Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson – it’s a miracle they’ve done this well.  Keep an eye on this game as the public will tend to go heavy on the Eagles, at home on Monday night, so the Skins may end up getting more points before kick-off.  The Redskins lost by thirteen points at home when they opened up the season against Philadelphia and they’ll be looking for revenge on the national stage.

The Pick: Redskins +5

New York Jets +3.5 at Miami Dolphins

The New York Jets have a lot of gamblers sweating considering they were only expected to win 4-5 games this season and they are already at three.  Be careful with those pre-season prop bets. . . Anyhow, the Jets haven’t looked too bad.  Their running game is confusing because although everyone sees that Bilal Powell should be the guy the Jets keep on trying to force Matt Forte onto our television sets.  That’s a good reason why they are ranked 28th in the NFL in rushing offense.  Its been veteran quarterback Josh McCown who’s been leading the charge.  He’s got viable targets in Jermaine Kearse, Robbie Anderson and Jeremy Kerley – you would think they’d throw the ball more but they hover around mediocrity averaging 234 passing yards a game.   The Jets should look to take advantage of a Miami secondary allowing a completion percentage of 72.4%.  The Jets though have been struggling to stop the run and if last week’s explosion by running back Jay Ajayi was the coming out party most of the league has been waiting on from him, he could stand to put up another monster performance.  Also, last week – it seems Adam Gase stopped being conservative and let Jay Cutler just throw the ball around – it opened up the entire offense and they’ll want to do that again this week because they’ll have their shots to take.  Division rivals usually are at a 3.5 point spread because of the familiarity, and it’s a good line here – for Vegas.  The real play here is the over/under of 38 points.  The over is the play here because both teams’ strength on offense is the other teams’ weakness.  Could spell a recipe for disaster for one side.  Which side?  Who cares?  Just put those points up!

The Pick: The Over at 38 points

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: North Kakalaka and . . .

Eastern Carolina +35 at UCF

Man, oh man.  This game pits the best of the American Athletic Conference against it’s absolute worst.  Funny thing is, Eastern Carolina isn’t a terrible football school.  This is just a really, really, really bad time for them.  How bad?  Like the worst defense in college football-bad. The Pirates are giving up 47.8 points a game and allowing 600 yards a contest.  The defense is very generous though, they’ll let opposing offenses run or pass against them at will.  Very nice of them.  It doesn’t get easier for Eastern Carolina as right now, one of the hotter teams in the nation UCF are waiting to pounce on them. UCF is number one in scoring offense this year at 47.5 points per game.  The Knights are completing 70% of their passes and are averaging 5.8 yards a carry (which is ironically what Eastern Carolina allows per carry).  UCF is also looking to show off new “space themed jerseys” to honor NASA that look amazing that night.  With a lot of big programs already at one-loss, and this UCF team looking like one of it’s best ever so far.  The Knights will be looking to run up the score when they can because every little bit will count when Bowl Season comes along.

The Pick: UCF -35

N.C. State -12 at Pittsburgh

Pitt is just having a run of bad luck.  And now, after losing to Syracuse last week, you can just tell this is a team that’s gotten in it’s own head. When you’re only wins come against Youngstown State and Rice people start to look at you differently.  Then when you barely look competitive against good teams, those same people know exactly what you are.  And this season, it’s just “not that good.”  The former USC Trojan Max Browne is somehow making a 70% completion percentage on the season look less than spectacular and with no real playmakers on this offense its no wonder why they are number 169 when ranked among college offensive yards for the year.  While Pitt is having a season to forget, N.C. State is having one to remember.  The Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley has 10 touchdowns with zero interceptions so far this year and has a junior running back in Nyheim Hines who is averaging 5.3 yards a carry.   N.C. State is a very good road team and in their last 6 road games they have gone 5-1 against the spread and there is no reason to believe that that trend will come to an end.

The Pick: N.C. State -12

Colorado -11 at Oregon State

It’s been a tough go for the Oregon State Beavers this season.  Now that head coach Gary Anderson has parted ways with the university, this bad situation has gotten even worse.  Anderson ripped the university and even admitted in text messages that were leaked that he hired the wrong people, when it came to his staff. Yikes. The Beavers are 1-5,  pretty much losing in blow out fashion, and their only win is a sad 3 point victory against the doormat we call Portland State.  They are ranked 183rd in passing yards and 184th in rushing yards and defensively they are dead last in the Pac-12.  Colorado comes into this game on a three game losing streak, one of those losses comes at a blowout to Washington.  Their last two losses have been by 4 points and 3 points (to UCLA and Arizona respectively).  Colorado running back Philip Lindsay’s stat line for this season is impressive: 810 rushing yards, 5.4 yards a carry and 8 rushing touchdowns. Considering that the Beavers already allow 4.8 yards a carry and have allowed 16 rushing touchdowns already this should be, literally a walk in the park for Lindsay.  Colorado quarterback Steven Montez has lost some confidence after throwing 3 picks to Washington’s tough defense in the Buffaloe’s blow out loss.  He’s been slowly picking up the pieces and hopefully last week’s 3 touchdown performance will turn things around.  Colorado has three targets in Shay Fields, Devin Ross and and Bryce Bobo who are all threats in the passing game and looked at often.  All three wideouts have over 20 receptions and 300 yards so far this year.  Oregon State is giving up nearly 70% completion percentage to opposing QB’s and if Montez’ focus is in the right place – it should be a breeze throwing another 3 touchdowns. Colorado is a team playing to get to that 6-win mark.  It’s been a disappointing season for them and playing against a bad team who’s coach just quit on them might be the right kind of recipe for Colorado to get back on track.

The Pick: Colorado -6

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Michigan / Indiana Under 59.5; Colorado State -12.5; Ohio State -12.5 and Georgia -18

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio