Tag Archives: Tom Brady

Beating Vegas: Super Bowl Prop Bets

The Super Bowl is not only the biggest sports event of the calendar year.  It is also the biggest gambling day of the year.  The folks at Vegas are taking tickets for just about any kind of action they can this Sunday, and for good reason.  This is the day that the hardcore gamblers look at as “their last chance to win big this year” and for the people who don’t normally place a wager on action – they feel they “must” for the Super Bowl.  Besides the general lines and prop bets, the Super Bowl goes nutty with prop bets as Vegas tries to suck your wallet dry – at least one last time.  Lucky for you, your pocket has looked pretty good this football year, if you’ve been following the Beating Vegas articles and podcast.  Let’s continue that trend with the final, Beating Vegas article of this football season, by looking into these ridiculous prop bets.

Will a roughing the passer penalty be called in the game?

Yes EVEN (1/1)
No -130 (10/13)

This is an easy one.  Patriots coach Bill Belichick knows that this game is just too big for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, or at least he hopes.  Foles will not be given the privilege of seeing line backers drop into a zone coverage in the early going, as Belichick will be looking to get him shook up early – and often.  This increases the chances of a roughing the passer penalty getting called on the Patriots, who aren’t the best pass-rushing defense out there and might get over-zealous.  On the flip side of things, the Eagles are a good pass rushing team, and Tom Brady is arguably the most hated offensive player of all time if you ask any defensive player for the last 15 years.  Due to this fact, referees are quicker to throw a “roughing the passer” penalty in favor of Brady to keep defenses in check.

The Pick: “Yes” at Even money

Total rushing yards – Jay Ajayi (PHI)

Over/Under 62½

Remember how Jay Ajayi was traded from the Dolphins to the Eagles mid-season?  Yeah, that’s because he’s not that good.   Ajayi had a fluke of a season last year and has had attitude problems and problems adjusting to defenses for most of this season.  He’s gone over the 62.5 rushing yard mark seven times this season.  He’s also going to be splitting carries with LeGarrette Blount how is averaging 4.4 yards a carry to Ajayi’s 4.1 and although lately Ajayi has been getting more carries than Blount, expect the former Patriot to get some action against his former team being he’s the veteran with playoff and veteran experience. The Patriots rush defense is pretty good, and will be focused on having more men in the box anyway against Nick Foles.

The Pick: Under 62.5 Rushing Yards

Will there be a score in the final two minutes of the first half?

Yes -300 (1/3)
No +240 (12/5)

Doug Pederson hurried and got the Eagles into field goal range before the first half ended, already up 21-7 against the Vikings, to hit a field goal with no time left – giving them a 24-7 lead at the half.  This showed Pederson’s willingness to “kick” an opponent when he’s down and it also showed that Pederson believe’s that “anything can happen” and if you can score points, you score the points.  Belichick has more trust in Tom Brady to get points before the half than probably any coach ever.  Belichick is also (for lack of better words) a “dick” to some degree and will look to put it in the endzone (or uprights) whenever he can and as many times as he can.

The Pick: Yes -300

 Will “nipplegate” be said during broadcast?

Yes +500 (5/1)
No -900 (1/9)
**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count.

Absolutely not, unless people want to get fired on-air during the biggest televised sporting event of the year. . .

The Pick: No -900

Will Justin Timberlake cover a Prince song during halftime?

Yes -120 (5/6)
No -120 (5/6)

Here’s a little fact on Justin Timberlake that people either don’t know, or refuse to believe.  He’s kind of a jerk.  Timberlake is all about him and what he can do to further his agenda.  He has a new album coming out in mid-February and he will be most likely performing the two (god-awful) songs he’s released and pepper in a lot of the this that we all know and love him for.  Prince has been an inspiration to many artists like Justin Timberlake, and I would not doubt for one second that Timberlake is a huge fan of Prince, but Prince-Estate is apparently holding any and any rights to the late-Prince’s likeness and won’t let that go down.  Also, the death of Prince has had some time to settle in and won’t be as big of an emotional impact that J.T. would be looking for.

The Pick: No -120

 

Super Bowl MVP

Dion Lewis +1000 or Rob Gronkowski +1000

At +1000 these are both good bets because Gronkowski is the ultimate x-factor when he’s in the game and Dion Lewis has been great since he’s come back into form.  Of course the popular vote here usually sides with Tom Brady (who is at -175) but what’s the fun in that?

The Game Itself

New England Patriots -4 versus Philadelphia Eagles

I pick the Patriots to go to the Super Bowl every year because – why not?  The Eagles impressed me this year.  Even after I read and listened to people hyping them up before the season started, I saw them as a .500 team.  I was dead wrong.  Underestimating Carson Wentz was the lamest thing I did all year and seeing him go down was probably the worst thing that happened to the Eagles and the league this year, as many – including myself – thought he could be league MVP in just his second season.  Coach Doug Pederson has kept it all together though and now has Nick Foles at quarterback.  Foles was once thought to be the future of Philadelphia football not-to-long ago and now he has the chance to make history for the franchise. Unfortunately for him, he’ll be going up against a true dynasty in the New England Patriots.  The Patriots were actually a five point favorite, until some Vegas big shots laid down $700,00 on Eagles money line and a nice million on the Eagles with the points.  Now the Pats sit at about 4 point favorites at most spots.  For either sentimental value of the Eagles maybe winning a championship or pure hatred towards the Patriots the public is going with the sharps and laying it all on the Eagles.  Looking at the Eagles without Wentz you see a shoot-out victory against the pitiful Giants, a lackluster win over a bad Oakland team, a gross 6-0 win against Dallas and two playoff wins where they looked like two totally different teams.  In this case, the public just wants to see Belichick and Brady lose but as mentioned before, if Belichick has two weeks to game plan against a back-up quarterback – how can you go against the hood?

Four points, may not be what I’d want – buy the whole point and at least take it down to a 3 to be safe.

Final Score should read Patriots 23 Eagles 18, in something of a grind.

As always good luck and wager wisely!

 

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Tom Brady, Earning His Seat

A weird thing happened on January 21st 2018.  Did you happen to witness it?  There isn’t really a word for what happened on the Gridiron that day.  The New England Patriots were home favorites against a Jacksonville Jaguars team, that was young, cocky and talented.   We all saw what happened on the field, there is no need to get into the details of how the New England Patriots came from behind in the fourth quarter to pull off the victory against – for all things considered – the best defense in the NFL today.  We won’t go into those details because that is not the topic of discussion at hand.  For there are levels to this game of football.

There is the beginning, where young men delve into this rugged sport.  Some from the start know they aren’t cut out for it, but those that feel they are, endure the pain, the disappointment, the glory – all of it – that may or may not lie ahead. . .  then after they’ve gone through what they think is the hard part – they realize that there is a a shot at being a legend.  They realize there are moments that are immortalized in this sport, and they want to partake in one of those moments.  For others though, they strive for greatness, they strive for that bronze-busts which cements them forever in the Hall of Fame. Then there is a final level of football.  This is more a realm than a level, actually.  Very few people get to garner this respect and most do not even think about getting to this level because the bar is so high, some men have contracted vertigo even imagining themselves up on such a perch.  That level – this realm – is that of the Football Gods.

Brown, Payton, Unitas, Taylor, Munoz, Hannah, Rice. . . there are maybe ten names which fill out this realm.  Some have clouded vision when declaring who these gods really are – but if one is to be honest with themselves, these names are the sure fire ones that fit “the gold standard.”

Not many realized what happened on January 21st 2018.  If you blinked, you may have missed it.

With about nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, the skies opened up.  Clouds separated among themselves, as if scurrying away from the light which would soon push through the marvelous and great blue which caresses the Earth, like wings, carrying it through the cosmos.  There was a loud noise, which pushed against the winds of fortune.  It was more like a dragging sound, if one is to tell this tale correctly. . . the sound of a chair’s legs, brushing along the floor.  A seat was being pulled out and then it happened – Tom Brady passed the football to Danny Amendola down the middle of the red-zone and scored a touchdown.

The Football Gods, looked to each other – now certain that their debating among themselves was all for not.  Unitas looks to Hannah and smirks.  Brown’s hand still at the back of the chair with a look on his face that says “I’m not standing here all day.”

A light shone upon the red-zone about six minutes later and with a wave of his finger, Rice makes sure that both of Amendola’s feet stay in bounds as Brady delivers a thing of beauty to him at the back of the end-zone.  Sealing the come from behind victory.

All of who become Football Gods deliver more pain and anguish to the on-lookers than they do joy to their followers – to be hated only feeds the hunger of the Gods.  Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. lives off of that hate like no other of the Football Gods.  Brady laughs at the hate.  Brady mocks the hate.  He sits at his dinner table, sees the hate in front of him, sprinkles animosity on top for flavor and washes it all down with a twenty ounce glass of water infused with electrolytes.  He has eaten this hate for over 10 years.

The Football Gods have noticed.  They even tried tripping him up.  They threw the obstacle of the New York Giants at him twice – only to watch him fail – consume more hate – and climb back on top of that mountain called Greatness (which now is looking to physically plant itself in Foxborough, Massachusetts just so the walk up and down the hill is a little easier for the man who is now forty years of age.)

The Football Gods thought they had him when they threw the best defense they could put together in years with the Seattle Seahawks – only to see him raise the trophy.  Then they pitted him up against a ‘hopefully newer’ and younger version of himself – who was surrounded by more talent than him in Matt Ryan — only to see Brady lead the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

Brown has taken a seat next to the one he pulled out, as Payton tells him “it’s not over, yet.”

Brady, in two weeks will get his chance at yet another Super Bowl victory.  Win or lose though, his seat will be waiting for him.  He will be sitting at the same table with the Football Gods by the end of this season.

Deservedly so.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Will The Pats Start 0-2?

New England Patriots -6 at New Orleans Saints

Last week’s 42-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs left Patriots fans feeling empty and it gave Vegas fat(ter) pockets.  Last week’s season opener was one of the biggest wins the wise-guys had on an opening day game.  The Patriots made losers out of anybody who took them straight up, second half, teasers, parlays etc. . . More so, the Patriots defense could not get their pass rush going and the offense seemed lack-luster.  Could this be the end of Tom Brady?  Most likely not.  Super Heroes go out as winners, usually.  Now, the public has to decide if the Pats reign over the NFL is coming to an end, or if the Pats will rectify this embarrassing loss.  The Saints on the other hand,  weren’t embarrassed by the Vikings last week, but they were definitely kept in check for all four quarters.  The Saints showed that their defense is still “bleh” and they also showed that the signing of running back Adrian Peterson is going to be a headache for most of the year.  Peterson is the least valuable back out of the three-man-rotation in the Saints backfield and that isn’t going to sit well with the future hall of famer.  Aside from that drama though, Drew Brees still completed 73% of his passes against a good pass rush, so just imagine what he’ll accomplish against this Patriots defense.  The Patriots are still winning the division, they can probably even win this game – but the Saints have the upper hand playing at home to avoid the 0-2 start.

The Pick: Saints +6

Minnesota Vikings +4.5 at Pittsburgh Steelers

Weren’t we just discussing the Vikings?  Yes, we were.  Quarterback Sam Bradford looked amazing carving up the Saints defense, and rookie running back Dalvin Cook, proved to be worth the first round pick running for 127 yards in his first game.  The Steelers opened as a 10 point favorite last week against AFC North doormat, the Cleveland Browns, but had to hold on tight for the entire ride to come out on top 21-18.  Really wasn’t an impressive win for the Steelers who people expect to have an almost unstoppable offense this year. Pats Pulpit on SB Nation wrote up a piece going in detail about how Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a completely different player at home than he is on the road.  In the last three years he’s thrown 62 touchdowns at home compared to 24 on the road and has a quarterback rating of 109.5 compared to a traveling QB rate of 85.3.  This is another case of the public seeing Minnesota look great on national television and getting the points against a veteran team who struggled against the lowly Browns.  Don’t fall for the trap.

The Pick: Steelers -4.5

Arizona Cardinals -7 at the Indianapolis Colts

I’ve got issues with both of these teams.  First, the Colts. . . Chuck Pagano is the worst coach in the NFL.  And has been for years.  Why is he still the coach of the Colts?  Oh, because the Colts are one of the more poorly run franchises in the NFL.  They have failed to give Andrew Luck a competent coach or a decent team; and now it seems their medical staff may have failed Andrew Luck who is still sidelined.  Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien looked awful against the Rams last week and even if newly acquired Jacoby Brissett doesn’t know the playbook yet, he’s the better option.  Jacoby Brissett is a “Beating Vegas” favorite because he was the reason money was put on N.C. State when he was the one under center.  With that being said, the Colts are awful. . . And that leaves us with the Cardinals.  The most disappointing, under achieving team in the NFL.  Unlike the Colts’ Pagano, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is actually a great coach – but something just isn’t clicking on this team.  Where it needs to click the most is the quarterback position but folks, remember you heard it hear first (said it last year too) – Carson Palmer is done.  He has nothing behind his throws and reminds me of the Cap Rooney character Dennis Quaid played in the movie “Any Given Sunday.”  This will be one of the most toughest games to watch this year.

The Pick: The Under at 44

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

The “Franchise” Quarterback

I grew up in a time when it was beat into your head that “defenses win championships.”  And it seemed to be true.  The ’85 Bears, 2000 Ravens, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and even the New York Giants that ruined a perfect season – they all had amazing defenses.  Even Bill Belichick’s Patriots were more defensive minded and oriented before Belichick realized the rules of the game would favor the offenses.

And that brings us to today.

Sure it’s great to have a good defense, but what does that get you in today’s NFL?  Last season the Cardinals and Jaguars ranked 3rd and 4th respectively in defensive yards allowed.  A stat that is really over-rated is “sacks” as half the teams in the top ten of that category didn’t even make the playoffs.  And although last year’s Patriots defense allowed the least amount of points per game, it was more because of WHO they played then HOW they (the Patriots played).  The Patriots DID have the number three offense in the NFL last year though – and they ended up playing against the number one offense in the NFL, the Falcons, in the Super Bowl.  Last year’s game featured a game with two clean cut quarterbacks with “video game” like statistics.  And the fans loved that.

Now a days, it’s not about the defense winning championships.  Its about the “quarterback.”  Not even the offense – just the quarterback.  Nobody wants to see a “defensive battle” on television anymore.  In a sport who’s fan-base has basically tripled because of fantasy football and daily fantasy football games – defenses are the devil.  The NFL knows that – which is why with today’s rules being adjusted, you can’t touch a quarterback, you must keep your hands off of a receiver and don’t you even THINK about hitting somebody too hard!  Because of these rule changes and a desire/need to see big numbers put up by offenses, the quarterback has become the focus of the league.

Before I go into why the quarterback is the “focus” of the NFL, let me just say. . . I’m still true to the belief of “owning the line of scrimmage.”  An offensive line is truly the key to any successful offense.  An offensive line adds balance to an attack, and security for the quarterback position.   With that said,   NGSC’s own Kyle Nash, has made sure to painfully and constantly remind me that Aaron Rodgers is probably the only QB to win a Super Bowl with a below average offensive line, which only ADDS to the fact that having a QB in today’s NFL is crucial.

Some quarterbacks can make average receivers look better than they are, for example: Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Dan Marino (sorry Clayton and Duper fans. . .) – these are the guys who can master their system and build guys up within it.  Then there are guys who need some talent around them so they can really flourish, for example Eli Manning, Carson Palmer and Kurt Warner – their is nothing wrong with being in that latter category – it’s just facts.

The quarterback has not only become the leader of a team on offense, who must have the skill set to take advantage of the rules set forth today in the NFL – they must also be “the face of the franchise.”  It used to be running backs for the most part, but the quarterback determines how a team will be perceived and welcomed by the media – not just with his stats, but with his demeanor and personality.

Quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler and even at times Cam Newton – make themselves easy targets for the media to pick apart what they do.  Anything from body language, social media posts or post game comments – can leave a negative affect on the media and in turn become what is talked about to each quarterback’s respective teams.

Quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning helped to usher in this new era of quarterbacks.  All time greats, who smile when they have to smile, say all the right things and stay out of trouble (stop it with deflate-gate already. . .).

This poses a problem in today’s microwave-society though.   Fans want their favorite team’s franchise QB to become Manning or Brady overnight.  Fans have no patience for a quarterback to mature or grow within a system.  This usually ends up in coaches being fired, and the quarterback left in a position where he is doomed to fail.  Remember Jason Campbell?  Early Alex Smith?  And soon to be, Blake Bortles?  The media ends up destroying the mold of a team’s franchise quarterback because the “results” are not immediate.

Even Andrew Luck is feeling that pressure right now.  Unfortunately for Andrew Luck, he is playing with one of the worse rosters in the NFL, and in a division that has become increasingly more competitive (eh, the Jaguars still have Blake Bortles at quarterback though so. . .).

The Chicago Bears moved up in the draft to take Mitchell Trubisky number two overall.  That kind of move means the franchise has all the faith in the world for him to become their “guy” in the near future.  But wait, didn’t the Bears just sign Mike Glennon to be their starter at a ridiculous price?  And when they did, weren’t they making all kinds of ridiculous praises about him?  Yes. Yes, they did. Teams like the Bears are desperate at the quarterback position and need the media and fans to believe they have someone under center who can lead.  The Jets need it.  The 49ers.  The Texans.

In short, the quarterback position is more than just the most important piece of the puzzle in building a roster.  The quarterback is also the chip that puts a franchise in a better light.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Super Bowl Aftermath

During the pre-game of this year’s Super Bowl match up between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots, Troy Aikman made sure to make mention of the Falcons’ “inexperience.”

Was Aikman totally off-base?  No, but still – the Falcons were bringing to the table the league’s number one offense and the league’s current MVP, quarterback Matt Ryan.  The Falcons were also bringing to the table, a head coach in Dan Quinn who has played a part in three of the last four Super Bowls.  The same man, Quinn, who has implemented a defense, concentrated on speed and athleticism that had gotten increasingly better as the season progressed.

And “defense” was all the start of this game was about.  The first quarter ended in a tie as both defenses seemed to be up to the challenge.

Then came the second quarter. . .

The Atlanta Falcons showed the world what the youth can do.  After the defense stripped Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount of the football, the Falcons responded with two passes to Julio Jones and then they had Davonta Freeman handle the rest as the Falcons took the first lead of the game.

Late in the second quarter, the Patriots found themselves down 14-0 but putting a drive together, mostly due to three third-down holding calls against the Falcons defense.  But even when things seemed to be going their way, things went terribly awry for Tom Brady and the boys and Brady tossed an interception into the hands of Falcons corner back Robert Alford, who returned it 82 yards for a touchdown.

But something happened at halftime.  Maybe it was Bill Belichick changing up the game plan, Tom Brady remembering he was Tom Brady or maybe it was Lady Gaga’s halftime performace (I give it a 8.5 out of 10 – solid performance.)  Whatever it was, things had to change for the Patriots.

Instead of change though, it appeared to be more of the same as Matt Ryan threw his second touchdown pass and the Falcons went up 28-3.  The Patriots finally put up a touchdown before the end of the third quarter, but their kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point.  After three quarters of play the Patriots weren’t even in double-digt-points.  Total disaster for the proud Patriots franchise. . .

Let’s go back to Lady Gaga for a second.

During her stellar halftime performance she performed a medley of her songs.  Two of those songs stood out “Edge of Glory” and “Born This Way.”   Those two song titles must’ve been the reason the Patriots decided to wake up in the fourth quarter to play some football.  There is no closer “edge” to glory than being down 19 points in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl.  And the Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady is just cut from a different mold of legendary quarterbacks.  It’s something that can’t be coached up, or even explained.  He was simply “born this way.”

Tom Brady, along with running back James White, must’ve saw either fatigue or inexperience settling into this Falcons defense, because they looked flawless in execution against them.  Meanwhile, Falcons offensive coordinator must’ve had his head and heart already in San Francisco (where he accepted the head coaching position) because the play calling, which has been nearly perfect all year – became highly questionable.  The Falcons were averaging just about five yards a carry against this Patriots defense and he seemingly abandoned it.  Most questionably when it was 3rd and 1 and they decided to throw a pass from shotgun and when they could’ve controlled/killed more of the clock –  they kept on throwing it. . .

The Patriots redefined the term “stealing the momentum,” as the Falcons looked completely shell-shocked. They not only gave up 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter – they gave up 25 unanswered points to close the game as the Patriots put up a touchdown in overtime, courtesy of James White to win the Super Bowl.

Keep this in mind.

Matt Ryan threw for 284 yards, 2 touchdowns and had a quarterback rating of 144.1.  The Falcons as a team were averaging 5.8 yards a rush and 7.5 yards a play. They even won the turnover battle (2-1).  The Falcons also had history on their side.  In the history of the NFL Playoffs, teams that lead by 19 or more points going into the fourth quarter were 93-0.   Now because of the Falcons, that record is 93-1.

But was history really on their side?

Tom Brady creates history.  Re-writes history.  Becomes history.  Embodies it.

As shocking as this incredible comeback was – this was the one team, led by this one player and this one coach – who have been incredible their entire careers together.  Achieving the impossible is well within the Patriots’ grasp.  They prove it all the time.

G.W. Gras

@GeeSteelio

 

How the Falcons Will Beat The Patriots

It’s all come down to this.  Finally.

The Super Bowl is upon us and we have the Atlanta Falcons representing the NFC and the New England Patriots representing the AFC.  At this point, it’s a given that the Patriots have made it this far again.  This dynasty has been one of the most consistent and dominant of any dynasty – in all of sports.  Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, scoffed at his silly four game suspension and ran through the league on a 12 game revenge tour throwing 28 touchdown passes and only 2 interceptions.  We all know the accolades Tom Brady possesses and we know that winning this Super Bowl only adds to his incredible legacy but the truth is – we all already know how great Brady is.  Him and head coach Bill Belichick will be the quarterback/coach combo people will compare future pairings to for years to come.  But all good things must come to an end.  Don’t they?

When Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was a freshman at Boston College, Tom Brady had already won two of his four Super Bowls and was en route to becoming an American sports icon.  Both of them in the state of Massachusetts, separated by a 35 mile drive along Interstate 95.

Fast forward into time and Matt Ryan is now in his ninth season as a pro and Tom Brady is in his fourteenth season – in which seven of those led him to the Super Bowl.

This Super Bowl brings a story line most love to see in the playoffs – NFL’s number one defense verse the NFL’s number one offense.  The Patriots are only allowing 15.6 points per game while the Falcons are averaging 33.8 points per game.  Keep in mind the Patriots played five of six worse teams in the NFL this year, and they played against a plethora of back up quarterbacks this year (or guys who are at least the equivalent to back-up quarterback status).  Without taking anything away from them though, in the AFC Championship game they held a Steelers team that averages 25 points per game to 17, and held Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to average 6.7 yards per attempt.  What helps New England is that they are third in the NFL in points scored at 27.6, but again – the competition wasn’t much and the offense would usually find itself in great field position.

The Falcons are a young defensive team (four rookies starting) and had their struggles in the early going of the season and then it started to look as if it was coming together right when it needed to.   In their playoff games against the Seahawks and the Packers, they won those games at scores of 36-20 and 44-21 respectively.  All season long the Falcons had been giving up 25 points per game and their offense would generally score about ten more points than that to add a check in the win column.  Now, with this defense making life easier for an offense that is 3rd in passing yards, 7th in rushing yards and 2nd in total yards per game – – this team has gotten from “scary-good” to flat out “dangerous.”

The New England defense on average, allows 3.9 yards a rush, while the Atlanta Falcons average 4.6 a carry.  This results in what I have named a “Clash Average” of 4.25 yards a carry – favoring the Atlanta Falcons (don’t ask how I come up with this method – but it’s proven and it works).

New England’s pass defense will come under attack as well. They already allow the opposition to complete 61% of it’s passes and the Falcons are humming at a nearly 70% completion percentage.  While New England’s Malcolm Butler has transformed himself from a Super Bowl hero to a top five corner back in the league – he’ll be matched up against the best wide receiver in the game in Julio Jones.  Butler will probably have safety help (as they did for many plays against Antonio Brown in the AFC Championship) but that leads to a lot of issues going against the Falcons.  Much like Brady, Matt Ryan doesn’t “force” anything – he takes what you give him.  In doing so, the speed they have after-the-catch kills a lot of teams.  Sanu, Robinson and even the running backs Tevon Coleman and Davonta Freeman make things happen after slant, hook and “dump” passes.

Brady loves to do the same with the talent he has – but Atlanta’s defense has something that New England’s lacks — speed and athleticism in the linebacker department.  Head coach Dan Quinn is a defensive minded coach and he has built this defense more on speed than strength.  This means the rushes will be faster and the reaction to receivers who are “sitting in a zone” will be noticed quicker.

Vegas has set this game at -3 favoring the Patriots since last Sunday night and it hasn’t changed one bit.  The over/under is set at 59.  Falcons as a three-point dog and the over would be the way to go but when it’s all said and done we all just want to know who wins the Super Bowl and not just cover the spread. 

Matty Ice and the Falcons win this one 38-24.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Who Should be MVP?

When discussing this year’s NFL  MVP Race,  a few names come to mind.  The Dallas Cowboys throw two names into the mix, the Patriots have their usual candidate, as do the Packers – while the Raiders and Falcons – get involved in the conversation this year as well.

First, let’s trim out who won’t get the award.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and . . . Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot.  This isn’t a bias thing either.  I actually have nothing against the Cowboys, or their fans – I think both get a bad rap to be honest. . . either way, these two – won’t be in consideration and here’s why.  Dak Prescott, stepped into some big shoes to fill this season and handled all of the pressure of being the Cowboys starting quarterback with the poise and consistency teams want in their franchise QB.  He threw for 23 touchdowns and ran for 6, had a completion percentage of 67.8% and threw for over 3600 yards.  Impressive – for a rookie.  Those numbers are great, and by comparison his stats looked a whole-lot-better than reigning MVP Cam Newton’s.  The issue with Dak is those are good QB numbers, but not MVP caliber quarterback numbers AND. . . the powers that be won’t give this award to a rookie. . . Zeke Elliot, was one of the most exciting players to watch this season, and his success running the ball could very well have been the main reason for Dak’s success this year. . .Elliot finished as the league’s top rusher with 1631 yards, 15 touchdowns and at an average of 5.1 yards a carry.  He made the NFL’s All-Pro First team as a rookie and showed not only his ability to run, but to catch and block at the position.  The issue here is that Demarco Murray played behind this same offensive line in 2014, ran for about 200 more yards than Elliot and did not win the award AND. . .the powers that be won’t give this award to a rookie. . .

Now, let’s look at who shouldn’t get the award.

Let me preface this by saying: “I love Tom Brady.”  There is not a thing to like about this man as a football player.  The professionalism, the consistency, the mastery within his system and that super-hero like chin – it’s all there.  The issue here is, as dominant as Brady was this season, and as much as one must love his “revenge tour” this year – he missed 25% of the season due to a suspension.  Yes, the suspension was petty and pathetic, but that’s not the issue here.  When looking at the numbers, he actually had a better season than the previously mentioned Dak Prescott (who started every game for the Cowboys this season).  Brady is a marvel to watch, a future Hall of Famer – and if he played a full 16 games this year, it wouldn’t even be close. . . Someone else who didn’t play a full 16 games, albeit in the most “unfortunate of fashions” is the Raiders’ QB, Derek Carr.  Although impressive at 63% completion percentage, it falls short of Brady and Dak – and he finished with 28 touchdowns to his six interception.  He was surely on his way to throwing for over 4000 yards, but his season was cut short due to a leg injury received in his week 15 contest against the Colts.  The Raiders, without Carr, ultimately dropped from a bye-week to a wild card in the playoffs and got booted out in the wild-card round by the Houston Texans.  Sure, his value was evident, as his absence made his team subsequently collapse but an MVP should be able to finish out the season – not be on the sidelines when the team desperately needs him.  It’s a tough break, but this is real life. . . This brings me to Aaron Rodgers.  My bias is a bit full blown here (BearDown for life) but Rodgers threw for over 4400 yards and a league leading 40 touchdown passes.  His heroics have been drooled over and over by commentators every week and his smug smile on this eight-game winning streak is the prominent image the NFL has going for itself right now.  Let’s not forget though this is a team we wrote off somewhere in that four game losing streak, where Rodgers looked either “off” or generally “uninterested.”   Folks love to live in the present, but this is an award based an a whole season – not the last few weeks.  When it’s all said and done, it will come down to the numbers and because of that –

. ..  The winner is. . .

Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons.  Yes, Rodgers has two more touchdown passes than Ryan, but where else does Rodgers edge out Ryan?  Not in yards per game, yards per attempt, not in completion percentage, rating or even yards (where Rodgers falls short by about 500 yards although he attempted almost 80 more passes than Ryan).  “Matty Ice” has been the leader of the NFL’s strongest offense this season and has earned the respect to be in that group of “next level” quarterbacks in the league (I refuse to use the word “eli—” ah, you almost got me!).   In his ninth NFL season, Ryan has put together his best season to date.  At 31 years old, he could be at his “veteran savvy” stage, which means we should expect this level of consistency for years to come.  There is no doubt, Matt Ryan should win the MVP this year, and maybe another in the future.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Rollin’ With the Tide

Last week was the first time this season that the college picks went 1 for 3 – but things were all good as we scored perfectly with our NFL locks.  This week, looks like one where you have to keep faith in the hot hands and pay close attention to any trends developing.  We’ve been putting in work this season for you guys so keep checking for this column weekly and visit mybookie.ag so you can beat the NCAA and NFL odds. . .

 

Cincinnati Bengals +8 at New England Patriots

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Everybody in New England is still riding high on Tom Brady’s comeback performance last week against the Cleveland Browns.  Brady threw for over 300 yards with three touchdowns – but this week he’s going against a real team, and a real defense in the Cincinnati Bengals. . . eh, is he really?  The Bengals performance last week was pretty much fitting considering how they’ve underwhelmed at the beginning of this season.  The Bengals defense allows teams to complete passes at a rate of 60% and are allowing 4.4 yards a rush.  The Patriots have the kind of offense set up to do both, especially with Brady back and looking fresh-as-ever.  The Bengals might be able to take away the threat of the two tight-end sets the Pats love to sit in, but that only means the Pats will go to a power running game if the linebackers and safeties are paying too much attention to Gronkowski and Bennett.  This is going to be a problem for every team in the league this year against the Pats.  It’s at New England and it’s a single digit spread – smart money is riding the Pats right now.  How can it not be?

The Pick: Patriots -8

San Francisco 49ers -7.5 at Buffalo Bills

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The elephant in the room is that the 49ers are second to last in rushing yards allowed per game with 146.8 and the Bills are ranked third in the NFL in rushing offense (5.1 ypc and 137 yards per game).  Also, after having a miserable season opener against Baltimore, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has been doing what is asked of him and more (sometimes).  They are riding a three game winning streak in which their last two games included beating New England and Los Angeles on the road.  Now they’re back home and waiting on a 49ers team flying in from the west coast.  It might not be blistering cold weather they’ll be flying into but none-the-less, that jet lag and a 60% chance of rain on Sunday (yup, I checked) – could be enough to spell doom for Chip Kelly’s offense.  San Francisco knew when they played Arizona last week, they would get a heavy dosage of running back David Johnson, and yet they still couldn’t do anything to stop him.  Bills running back Lesean McCoy is averaging 5.3 yards a carry while quarterback Tyrod Taylor is averaging over 6 yards a clip.  The 49ers are a one dimensional offense, and that one dimension – their running game – is overrated, averaging less than four yards a carry.  Say what you want about Rex Ryan but if you’re a one dimensional offense and that one dimension is not impressive – his defense will eat you alive.

The Pick: Bills -7.5

 

Alabama -13 at Tennessee

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Tennessee entered this season (again) with much hype.  They have the coach, the depth and even the experience at key positions on the field.  What has that gotten them so far?  Sloppy wins against two non-BCS conference teams and miracle victories in back to back weeks against Florida and Georgia.  Butch Jones’ team finally ran out of luck last week and lost to Texas A&M 45-38.  On the other hand, Alabama has been consistently looking like the best team in college football since week one. The fact that Vegas has them as a double digit favorite against a team as athletic as Tennessee and in front of a hostile crowd of over 100,000 people, says a lot.  Unlike Jones in Tennessee, Nick Saban has complete control of the emotions and focus of his roster.  Last week’s victory over Arkansas saw a final score of 49-30 and it really wasn’t even that close.  After the Crimson Tide were up by 25 points, they were  effortlessly going shot for shot against the Razorbacks.  Tennessee’s potential never comes to play – Alabama comes to play every week.  Anything less than a double digit victory is a failure in coach Saban’s eyes.  On average, Alabama scores eleven more points per game and allows eleven less points per game than Tennessee.  The Vols are allowing over 180 rushing yards a game, which spells trouble against a Tide team that is averaging 5.7 yards a carry.  Saban is a perfect 9-0 against the Vols, so that works in your favor as well. . .

The Pick: Alabama -13

Southern Mississippi +24.5 at LSU

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Interesting game right here and maybe LSU’s legacy and SEC ties are giving them more respect than they currently deserve.  Or, maybe LSU is still a dominant force to those from the outside looking in on the SEC.  Whatever it is, this is a huge line favoring a team coming off of a 42-7 victory over Missouri two weeks ago. There are no surprises with LSU.  They will play tough defense and run the ball.  That’s all they pretty much can do because they have a non existent passing attack.  Even without their stud running back Leornard Fournette in the game, the Tigers were able to wreck havoc behind this offensive line with their running back combo of Derrius Guice and Darrell Williams (who combined for 293 rushing yards against Missouri).  Southern Mississippi isn’t the team they’ll be throwing against anyway, as this feisty unit still hasn’t allowed over 1000 yards passing against them after six games.  Teams only average a total of 11 receptions a game against this unit as well.  The run defense is average at best, allowing 4.5 yards a carry, but they’ll no doubt be leaving the wideouts in single coverage.  Southern Mississippi’s offense is ranked 12th in yards per game in the country, posting up 530 yards a game with a very balanced and strong offensive attack.  This is by far their biggest test of the year on both sides of the ball.  This is not a typical SEC non-conference-cupcake opponent for LSU.

The Pick: Southern Mississippi +24.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Giants/Ravens under 56.5; Ohio State +1.5;  Alabama -1 and Patriots +3.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

T.O.C.T.M – July ’16

The Only Column That Matters: July 2016. . .

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Where do we start this week?  With Donald Trump obviously.  Eh, not really – but let’s talk about the Republican National Convention (or as the cool trust-fund kids call it “The RNC”).   Everyone’s favorite NFL bust, Tim Tebow was rumored to be a speaker at this year’s RNC but Tebow only confirmed that it was indeed just a “rumor.”  Tebow is said to be a future possibility in the Republican party down the line, but man, we’re not promised tomorrow and this would’ve been something we all could’ve enjoyed.  Trump has been accused of turning the presidential race into a circus while Tim Tebow is the ring-leader of any media-driven-circus.  It would’ve been great to see hard-core Christians who support Tebow in everything he does be in the same room as Trump enthusiasts who can sometimes be obnoxiously loud and obtuse.  . .

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It’s amazing when rich people just make up their own issues.  We are also in awe when we talk about “power couples” in our country. . . and an American sweetheart.  Well this story has it all.  .  . When Kanye West released his song “Famous” he had the line: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/I made that b*tch famous/ I made that b*tch famous.”  This was of course in reference to pop/country singer Taylor Swift who Kanye West basically told, while she was accepting an award “Shut up, you’re not better than Beyonce.”  After the song was released Taylor was playing the role of the offended-yet-strong-minded-young-woman who looks down on those who must speak to women in such a way. . . As many of us already knew, Taylor was being fake as f…. Kanye’s wife, Kim Kardashian leaked a video of Kanye speaking to Taylor about the lyrics and her being perfectly fine with it.   Aye, Taylor.  We all kind of knew she was phony already, but to be exposed by Kanye and Kim – eesh, it’d be best if she just lay low for a while.  Swift is set to sue Kanye for illegally recording the conversation, and I’m pretty sure Kim will handle this bill as well. . .

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This has nothing to do with nothing, but what’s up with people’s obsession with the beach?  I understand, it’s the “Summer thing” to do and all, but why?  The beach has sand which is arguably the worst substance the Earth has ever created.  I think I still have sand in a Jansport book bag I took to the beach with me three years ago.  When sand is dry it’s hot as all hell and when sand is wet it’s basically mud – why would my feet want any part of that?  The fact that people actually drive to a sandy location, to lay-down in the smoldering heat, then pack everything up and go home after is a baffling series of events to me.   We buy air conditioners and fans in the Summer because the heat is too much.  As soon as you get home from the beach you wash off the disgusting sweat and “beach-smell” off of you and sit in an air-conditioned room.  What’s wrong with you people?

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How useless is this four-game suspension put on Tom Brady? According to Pro Football Talk – very useless.  If anything, it just keep Brady “fresher” in the season and might actually increase the Patriots chances of going to the Super Bowl.  You see, the Pats are still -200 favorite to win the AFC East (for you non-gamblers out there, that means in order to win $100, you’d have to risk $200.)  They are also a 6-1 favorite to win the Super Bowl.   The suspension is stupid.  This basically says, in the world of the NFL,  that if Tom Brady hit his wife or was caught doing drugs, it’s the same punishment for deflating a football that nobody can even definitively tell if it gives teams an advantage or not.  Is Tom Brady on Instagram or Twitter?  If he is, he should pull a huge douche move and every Sunday post pictures of him and his wife in bed counting stacks of cash laughing and being the perfect human beings that they are. . .

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What’s the score in this Joe Budden versus Drake beef?  Currently, Budden is winning three to a half.  Yes, a half.  But, if nobody hears the beef did the beef even happen?  Exactly.  Although, Budden is lyrically destroying Drake, all the Toronto native has to do is ignore it until it goes away.  It’s an unfair position but it’s the truth.  Drake gives life to Joe Budden if he tries to do a “Back to Back, Pt.2.”  Drake also must know deep inside, this is a battle he can’t win.   It all won’t matter in the end because Drake is killing the game right now with mindless, dance-hall infused, rap (?) music.  .  .

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If nobody else will say it, I will: Can we please be done with any and everything that involves future projects with Kevin James?  Yes, on the onset he looks like one of those happy-go-lucky, nice guys you want to have a beer with at a bar, but in reality he’s a class A jackass (allegedly) and his humor has a ceiling.  That ceiling was in “King of Queens” where he shined, even among the talented cast around him.  James is slated to have a new sitcom entitled “Kevin Can Wait.”  He’s apparently a retired officer with a family in this comedy and once again he’s married to a woman who is obviously out of his league (the actress Erinn Hayes).   He’ll be another bumbling, fumbling moron, who’s mindset is simplistic and gets himself into “comedic situations” that he’ll get out of by ways of the “puppy dog eyes and ‘I’m sorry’ routine” or the good ol’ “fat guy got lucky” routine.   The act is tired and so am I, see you guys next month with the next edition of The Only Column That Matters.

G.W. Gras

Check out the podcast “TheOnlyShowThatMatters” on Soundcloud and on the NGSCRadio Network

Twitter @GeeSteelio

 

Who Will Now Carry the NFL’s Torch?

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With everyone assuming that Peyton Manning’s career is done and with Tom Brady maybe having two more years in him, it’s time for us as fans – to move on.   Manning and Brady have been the center pieces for this league for as long as many of us can remember.  For some sports fans, they are the equivalent to what Joe Montana, Lawrence Taylor and Dan Marino meant to the generation before them.  The question now is: Who’s next?

Who will be the new face of the NFL?  Who will usher in a new era of football?  Who has the charisma and talent to carry the NFL into it’s next realm?

Before we just throw out names, let’s have some guidelines.  The first is, although the NFL is in love with quarterbacks and quarterbacks-only, let’s give love to the other positions on the football field.  The second guideline is that this “face” of the league has to be no more than 29 years of age. Remember, the face of the league is not just someone with amazing talent, but also someone with a “look” and someone who can “sell” the league. . . as well as cars, cell phones, watches and whatever else comes with the territory. . .  With that being said, let’s scope out the talent.

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The first three names are the obvious ones:  Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson.  Wilson is the only Super Bowl winner of the group (for what that’s worth) and also has the better all around supporting cast.  Wilson, although he has the squeaky clean image, finds himself in the media’s eye often.  He has the pop-star girlfriend and “boy next door” demeanor, which people love about him.  Newton and Luck are a lot more similar than people care to admit (check out an article by yours truly, which was written before the season).  This season though, it seems obvious that Newton has taken a step further than Luck.   The Colts are a horrible team, no defense and a limited offense, so Luck will have an uphill battle along the way.  All three of these youngsters have a certain charisma that fans have flocked to and so have sponsors.

Although he’s only one year in and although he already has been injured at a position known to shorten careers, there is just no way to ignore St. Louis — eh, L.A. Rams running back, Todd Gurley.  Gurley reminds many of a younger Adrian Peterson and if that’s the case, Gurley will be a monster among men for the next ten years.  With the Rams being in L.A. now, Gurley moves a step closer to Hollywood.   Gurley has already said he wants someone to give him a shot at acting, so he’s looking to get himself recognized on and off the field in a hurry.  Now, the rest is up to the Rams to build something that looks like a football team around him. . .

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Defensive players never get their due credit but at least JJ Watt has found himself getting on TV a lot, even when he’s not playing football.  Somehow, Watt has become a household name (sort of) and his dominance on the football field is second to none.  His intensity and explosiveness catches the eye of even the most non-traditional football fan.  What ultimately holds him back in terms of being the “face” of the league is the fact that he plays defense and that he doesn’t play for that other team in the state of Texas.

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Rob Gronkowski is a fun player to watch and a fun name to say out-loud: “grahn-cow-ski.”  Although there is no doubting the “awesomeness” for which he exudes, there remains the question: “Will he be as awesome, when it’s time for Tom Brady to retire?”  Nobody knows.  Although, the educated guesser would say there would be some kind of drop-off in Gronk’s numbers when that day does come.  The NFL would probably not want to endorse Gronkowski as their “face” though because of his wild partying ways – especially after the likes of Johnny Manziel have made “partying” seem down-right criminal in the eyes of NFL loyalist. . .

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Wide receivers are fan favorites because they are sleek, flashy and know how to celebrate better than most of the players in the league.  Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr all have a look, character and their own brand of swag to challenge anyone for the crown of the “NFL’s New Face.”  All have at least one thing against them though.  For Odell, it’s just him getting in his own way.  What seems like fun to Giants fans, is mostly just annoying to everyone else.  He forgets he isn’t the biggest guy in the world and has a huge target on his back in the league. . . Dez is another who just gets in his own way as well.  At times just overly emotional and doesn’t think before he acts, on and off the field. . . Julio Jones, might be the best out of the bunch, but Atlanta needs to get some W’s on the board, because the face of the league can’t be on a squad most teams use as a punching bag. . . A.J. Green, has seen the most success, but that success in Cincinnati is always a predictable first round exit.  It’s become a punch line in the NFL and that isn’t a good look. . .

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If you had to guess for a secondary player, Arizona’s Tyrann Matthieu would get my vote.  That whole “honey badger” gimmick is working out pretty well for him and the fact that he came into the league with so many red flags and has kept himself quiet is a great sign.  He’s a natural and may already be the best safety in the NFL.  If you had to guess for an offensive linemen – Kyle Long.  Why not?  His lineage proves he can go “Hollywood” if need be and Chicago is dying for a star. . .

The NFL is definitely heading into a new era.  Offensively friendly and offensively softer, some would say.  These are the names that stick out above all though when it comes to carrying the torch for the NFL.  Some are soft-spoken, some are flamboyant.  Some are “sure things” while others are long-shots.  Either way, the talent is there for this new era, it’s all about who will separate themselves from the crowd.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio