Dave’s Free Play, Friday 10/31/14

I’m not real big on gimmicks. That’s pretty much right down the line, whether it’s sports or basically anything else. I’m not knocking anyone who likes them, they’re just not for me.

So you’ll understand why I’m so against the MLB All-Star game deciding which league hosts the World Series. I know I’m in the minority on this one, but I’ve detested the three-point field goal in basketball since its inception. Ditto for the designated hitter. You can toss in the college football overtime system as well. To me, these are all gimmicks. I’m not going to preach here in hopes of gaining support. If you like any or all of these deals, that’s cool.

But the worst gimmick of all for me is the hockey shootout. This one drives me batty. It’s a team game, and suddenly games that go 65 minutes and remain tied are decided in duels between a single skater and the goalie. This idea is so awful the NHL throws it away once the playoffs begin. Thank goodness for that, at least.

The good news is that the shootout in its current form is on its last legs. The AHL is the guinea pig for prospective rules changes. For those not up on the hockey scene, the AHL is hockey’s top minor league, similar to baseball’s AAA leagues.

The AHL rule is 4-on-4 for four minutes of overtime. At the next whistle, it become 3-on-3. If the game is still tied after seven minutes, the teams then go to a three-player shootout. I’d still like to see that aspect eliminated completely, but based on the early returns, the games are almost all being decided before that happens.

Fan reaction has been hugely positive. It’s wide open hockey, but there’s still a team element, and the fans apparently love it. I think it’s a great idea, and I’d say that this change coming to the NHL next season is a huge favorite.

Now if we can just get college basketball officials to actually call intentional fouls at the end of games intentional fouls, since that’s exactly what they are… but that’s a rant for another day.

————–

The luck bitch nailed me on Thursday night, with a nasty beat on Louisville, and two more OT/SO losses on the ice. I’m 19-3 in regulation NHL results, and 1-6 in games that go past regulation. And yes, that probably has something to do with my intense dislike of the current NHL OT rule.

I’m up more than 16 net units in October, with all the plays being one unit, and that’s in spite of a ghastly 2-8 in anything that goes beyond regulation. In other words, the results have been really good and that’s with a substantial dose of rotten luck.

The November special is buy one month, get a second free. In essence, $750 takes you through the end of the calendar year, and all my plays across the board are included. Sign up using the “buy now” feature on this page. Or, simply email me at cokin@cox.net for payment details. Also feel free to inquire about my exclusive net winners program.

—————-

No good on the Thursday free play, aa the Ducks were the wrong side. They played a very sloppy game with a boatload of defensive zone turnovers and that’s going to generally result in a loss. I’ve got a Sunday NFL game for today’s comp.

11/2  01:05 PM   NFL   (465) ST. LOUIS RAMS  at  (466) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Take: (466) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS -10

So here’s something a little different. I’m generally not even mildly interested in laying doubles in the NFL. But in breaking down this particular game, I’m having a difficult time envisioning how the Rams have a real chance to compete.

This has been a tough year for the Rams on the injury front, and it just keeps getting worse. They’ve got some real issues at this point. The Jake Long injury is a killer as far as the offense goes. The secondary is seriously beat up as well. In fact, you can pretty much take a look at almost every position on this football team and you’ll find someone having to sit out.

The 49ers should come to play here. They already own a victory over the Rams, but that was a game in which San Francisco stumbled out of the gate and trailed 14-0 before taking charge.

I don’t see much difficulty for the favorite here. The only question I really have is whether or not the 49ers will come with the intensity necessary to deliver a knockout punch. Fact is, this has not been a great team coming out of its bye week. But this time, it’s also off a real thumping administered at Denver. Plus, with just a 4-3 record, the chalk has to know they absolutely cannot afford to take a loss in a game of this type.

I can’t say I love the idea of spotting this many points in almost any NFL battle. But the intent here is to try and take advantage of a mediocre underdog that’s gashed pretty badly right now. If the home team come out of the gate quickly, this is blowout material. Even if they don’t, I believe San Francisco has an excellent chance to pretty much wear down the shorthanded Rams. I’ll therefore bite the bullet and will look to lay the lumber with the 49ers on Sunday.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 10/30/14

Congratulations to the Giants on their third World Series championship in only five years. That’s a remarkable achievement, and while the players have to get the job done, the work of Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy certainly can’t be overstated. As for Madison Bumgarner, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence et al, nothing short of tremendous.

No hot dogging, little flash, great fundamental baseball. The Giants didn’t have the best roster in baseball this season. In fact, I think one can make a good argument that the Giants haven’t had the best talent in any of their title runs. But this outfit is pure money when it matters, and that’s all that counts.

The Royals put together an amazing run and they were a blast to watch in this post-season. Hopefully, it won’t be another generation until they return to the playoffs.

And now for one final time this season, the dreaded misuse of the sacrifice bunt, or more accurately, the intentional out. Ned Yost did some great work with his pitching staff in the playoffs. But his obsession with bunting nearly prevented the Royals from getting this far, and his complete misuse of this strategy reared its ugly head once more in Game Seven.

Bottom fifth, and Madison Bumgarner gives up a hit to the first batter he faces, as Omar Infante singles sharply to start the frame. Next up, Alcides Escobar. No question, Escobar is a good bunter and under the right conditions, having him move Infante up 90 feet while possibly beating out the bunt might be acceptable. In this instance, it was brutal strategy and the results were predictable.

First off, the best chance the Royals were going to have against MadBum figured to be right when he entered the game. As great as the lefty has been, this was still an unfamiliar scenario for him, and sure enough, his velocity when he first entered the game was down a couple of ticks. So giving up an intentional out here was not a great decision to begin with.

Here’s where it got way worse. I fully expected that since Yost was willing to give up Escobar, he was naturally going to pinch hit Josh Willingham for Nori Aoki. Aoki had a terrible World Series. He didn’t hit a lick, and that’s not all. Aoki is 0/for his career against MadBum. He was 0/16 coming into the game. There is simply no acceptable rationale for giving up a hot hitter like Escobar and then letting your coldest hitter step in against a guy who completely owns him.

Never mind that Aoki got good wood on the ball and nearly got a hit. He made an out, and that was basically the ball game, at least until the Blanco misadventure in the bottom of the ninth.

There’s no way of knowing what might have been had Yost not gone the route he did. The way Bumgarner was throwing, he probably gets the Royals out anyway. But as I’ve relentlessly stated so many times, the idea is for the manager to put his team in the best position to win. Yost did the opposite by giving away Escobar and then letting Aoki bat, and that’s all there is to it.

—————–

I made just one play on Wednesday and lost it, as the late surge by the Hawks fell short in NBA action. I almost stole this one, as Atlanta had cut the Toronto to lead to four inside the final 30 seconds. The Raptors then clanked two free throws…but no one boxed out the shooter and he got his own rebound. That was curtains, and I’m now 1-1 to start the new NBA campaign.

Lots of possible plays on the Thursday night ice, I’m playing both college games, and I’m going to have a big Saturday card.

Here’s the November special. It’s simple enough. Buy one month at the regular $750 rate, and I’ll include a bonus month free. In other words, buy November and December is on the house. That’s a nice discount and I’ve had a really good run over the last five months. All plays are included and are emailed with analysis as soon as they’re decided upon. More into available by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net.

————

Several good spots in the NHL tonight, and here’s a look at one of the games very likely to be on my final card. I always like to wait for goalie confirmations and any morning info that comes across the wire, but I’m pretty well set on this play.

10/30 5:05 PM   NHL  (13) ANAHEIM DUCKS  at  (14) ST. LOUIS BLUES

Take: (13) ANAHEIM DUCKS +105

I wasn’t sure what to make of the Ducks entering the new season. But if the early indicators are accurate, this team has a chance to contend and could be sticking around for awhile come springtime.

Anaheim appears to have what could be a dynamic goaltending duo in Andersen and Gibson. But what I really like about this team is how sound they’ve been as far as a the basics are concerned. The Ducks are playing very close attention to the details, and they’re executing Bruce Boudreau’s game plans to a tee.

Boudreau was probably a little hamstrung coaching the Capitals, as he had a few guys on that roster who were ultra-talented but not regarded as great team players. That problem doesn’t appear to exist with the Ducks, who are not flashy but are very effective at doing the little things that win hockey games.

There’s no knocks here on the Blues. They’re a good team and making the playoffs should be a mere formality for this squad. But in breaking down the early season analytics, the Ducks are simply the better outfit right now. Maybe that changes as the season progresses, but I’m only interested in what happens this evening.

I want to ride the hot hand and that’s the Anaheim side. This team is 4-1 both at home and on the road, and they’re a very impressive +12 in goal differential right now. That’s a team worth considering at any kind of plus money, and they’re my side here. Look to grab the best price with the Ducks tonight.

Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 10/29/14

Here’s the weekly Wednesday Wise Guy Report for this weekend’s college football action. Info is courtesy of various sources in Nevada, as well as stateside underground stores and offshore contacts. These are not necessarily plays I’m on myself, it’s just information that can hopefully provide some insight on line movement that’s taking place.

306 Louisville received steady early action and there was also a line adjustment made here by the books based on expectation when another negative piece of info on Florida State was announced. Definitely sharp money to begin with, but lots of steam chasing subsequently.

313 Boston College was popped early by the pros but that number appears to now have settled in. The Eagles could be a popular public dog on game day.

324 Pittsburgh was apparently a play from a service with a very big money following. That’s opposite the square side, as my info is that “way more” tickets are being taken on Duke.

The pros have been firing and winning on 328 Miami Florida the past few weeks, and they’re betting the ‘Canes again this week.

330 Appalachian State is getting action from both the pros and the joes. One of my contacts told me his players have beaten him every week either on or against the Mountaineers.

It’s not yet a big action game, but the sharps are playing more 332 Army, while the public is more on the Air Force side.

Early wise guy action was on 349 Arkansas, although that game seems to be leveling off now.

356 Middle Tennessee State is proving attractive to pros and amateurs alike. No doubt the ugly BYU effort on national TV last week has much to do with that.

360 Georgia will be the most popular public side on the entire board this Saturday. Most of the books I talk with said they’re not really getting much pro dough either way on this game.

377 Old Dominion has been drawing steady sharp action since their game with Vanderbilt went on the board.

Serious dollars have shown on both sides of a big PAC-12 game, but the most recent flood was on 386 UCLA. But one of my contacts feels strongly that late pro dollars will show on underdog Arizona.

Finally, the sharps are currently siding with 407 San Diego State as the Aztecs travel to Reno for a meeting with Nevada.

————–

3-1 here on Tuesday, with an NBA winner on the Mavericks, and NHL scores with Ottawa and Anaheim. The lone loser was Calgary, as the Flames dropped a shootout to Montreal. I’m not 1-4 in hockey games that have gone past regulation, whole going 19-2 on those decided in 60 minutes.

Here’s the irony of sports betting. Of the four games I played on Tuesday, there is zero doubt that the best performance was turned in by the team that lost. The Flames completely dominated the Canadiens, but I ended up getting beat on that wager. The Mavericks lost but slipped inside the number. Ottawa wasn’t any better than Columbus but ended up on top. Anaheim got the game’s only goal on a shorthanded breakaway against the Blackhawks.

The above explains clearly why one should always look beyond the final score to try and determine how the game was played. The final score tells which team won and which team lost, but that’s about it.

This has been a banner month for me with the bottom line now more than 20 net units to the good, and I’ve looked up my fifth straight winning month in the process. I’m excited about what’s in store in November with college hoops about to get started.

Details on the November special in a couple of days. Meanwhile, the weekly and monthly packages are available via the “buy now” feature on this page. More info or details on my exclusive net winners program available by emailing me at cokin@cox.net.

————–

The two Tuesday free plays split, with Dallas delivering an NBA winner, while the Dallas Stars lost on the ice in OT. Here’s a college football game for Saturday that looks reasonably promising.

11/1 12:00 PM  CF   (351) WESTERN KENTUCKY  at  (352) LOUISIANA TECH

Take: (352) LOUISIANA TECH -6.5

Here’s a good example of how final scores frequently don’t tell the real story, and how betters can derive value moving forward. Western Kentucky got the win and cover last Saturday as they ended up with an insane 66-51 victory over visiting Old Dominion.

The game was close than that final tally indicates, and one could easily argue that the Hilltoppers were a little fortunate to just win the game, let alone cover. One fourth quarter play really swing this free for all. The Monarchs were driving for a go ahead score when disaster struck. Juwan Gardner played the hero role for the home team when he picked off a pass and rumbled 96 yards for a TD that pretty much ended the proceedings. If Gardner doesn’t make that play, there’s a really good chance ODU gets the upset.

I make sure and keep notes on games that go like this one for a couple reasons. One is the potential of an immediate profit by garnering some value the next week. The other is for future reference. I’ll have next year’s meeting between these teams circled as a possibly strong revenge spot for Old Dominion.

As for this Saturday, I actually ended up downgrading Western Kentucky on my various power rankings off what I deemed an artificial win. The Hilltoppers have been going backwards for some time now, with their matador defense the primary culprit. There’s no question this team can put points on the scoreboard, but right now they aren’t stopping anyone.

Louisiana Tech has now won three straight, in spite of playing very lackluster first half offense the last two games, against UTSA and Southern Mississippi. But the Bulldogs are doing a solid job on defense, and if they can put forth a similar effort on Saturday, it bodes well for their chances against Western Kentucky.

I’m not real enamored with the home team’s offense. They should be running the ball better than they have recently, and that portion of their game needs to come back to life on Saturday. But that really doesn’t figure to be a problem against the shoddy Hilltoppers stop unit, which is about as bad as it gets presently.

I made this number considerably more than where it opened, and even with the spread going up some over the last couple of days, it’s still in what I would consider to be a beatable range. I expect Louisiana Tech to get home by double digits this weekend, so I’ll recommend laying the points with the Bulldogs.

 

 

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 10/28/14

I get asked frequently about sources I rely on myself for information in the various sports. It’s  a difficult question to answer, as it’s easily triple digits. But I have a couple that I believe should be on everyone’s list as far as a couple of sports are concerned.

Neither of these is really geared toward gamblers, though the data one of them is of immense value as far as in depth statistical breakdowns are concerned, both from a team and individual player standpoint.

Kenpom.com is exactly what it says it is, which is advanced analysis of college basketball. There are game score predictions, but those are of little use to me as there’s no handicapping included. But the wealth of information as far as pertinent data goes is spectacular. For anyone working with metrics, it’s invaluable and a phenomenal time saver. I don’t know what I’d do without it, to be honest.

The baseball season is about over, but I’m a seamhead and I follow the game 365 days a year. My one must read is Joe Sheehan’s newsletter. This isn’t geared toward gamblers, but I think it’s the best read around. It’s consistently thought provoking and at times is just plain fascinating. If you’re a fan of the game, you’ll like it.

Note these are unsolicited endorsements. I think I spoke with Ken Pomeroy once several years ago in a radio spot. I’ve gotten to know Joe Sheehan pretty well over the years, and chances are you’ve read his work in Sports Illustrated or various other publications, either on line or in magazine form. But the main thing is these are each very inexpensive subscriptions, and for my money, worth way more than either Ken or Joe is charging.

I would definitely recommend visiting kenpom.com and joesheehanbaseball.blogspot.com to sign up. I feel confident you’ll be glad you did.

—————

I passed Monday’s action, but will definitely be involved tonight with a slew of NHL games and the opening night slate in the NBA. I’ve already sent out four college football plays and it looks like a substantial card this weekend.

I’ll be running a new special for November that should be available in the next day or two. I’d recommend waiting for that to appear in the “buy now” menu. But in the meantime, feel free to contact me for info on what’s coming up or about my net winners program. The email address is cokin@cox.net.

————–

I’ve already got a free NBA play posted for this evening. Here’s one from tonight’s enormous NHL slate that looks promising.

10/28  5:35 PM  NHL  (15) ST. LOUIS BLUES  at  (16) DALLAS STARS

Take: (16) DALLAS STARS -120

A pair of solid squads in action tonight on the ice as the Blues head to Dallas for a duel with the Stars. The home team is off a wild game that concluded with Dallas on the wrong side of a 7-5 decision against the Islanders. St. Louis gained some momentum last start with a tense divisional win against the Blackhawks.

You can put an asterisk next to that Dallas loss to the Isles. The Stars played Anders Lindback in goal, and the Dallas #2 netminder is getting close to a demotion to the minors. Lindback was terrible in this game and while he wasn’t the only member of the team having an off night, it’s safe to say he was the worst player on the ice.  Kari Lehtonen will be back in goal tonight for Dallas, and going back to the last couple months of last season, Lehtonen has been one of the hotter goalies in the NHL.

Brian Elliot will start for the Blues and he’s looking reliable enough. Unfortunately, Elliot won’t have a fill complement of skaters in front of him. The Blues got hit with a team-wide flu bug last week, and a couple of key guys might still be missing tonight. Paul Stastny is hopeful of returning this weekend, but the star center is still out for this game with a shoulder injury.

I’m bullish on Dallas this season and it’s hard not to be impressed with this team’s offensive firepower. The defense has been a bit on the shaky side to start the season, but I’ll just call that a work in progress that should continue to show improvement.

As for tonight, it looks like a bright spot for the Stars. The sloppy defensive effort against the Islanders doesn’t figure to be duplicated, and Dallas has a big edge on offense right now, particularly with Stastny out for the visitors. I see Dallas as an undervalued entry right now, and feel the number on this game could easily be 10-20 cents higher than it is. Not a bad situational spot, either, so my call is on the Stars to skate away with the hime ice win this evening.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Monday 10/27/15

Another college conference preview today, with the spotlight on the Big West this time. If I were to rank my top conferences to wager on, the Big West would annually rank right near the top. I’ve got good info pipelines throughout the league, and whether or not it’s a marquee conference matters nothing to me. The money spends the same regardless.

1. UC Irvine… The Anteaters made it to the NIT last season, but have a great shot to take the next step this season. This team has no discernible weaknesses aside from free throw shooting. Irvine has loads of size and depth. They should cop a second straight regular season title.

2. UC Santa Barbara… Big Sauce is back for his senior season, and that automatically stamps the Gauchos as contenders in the BW. Alan Williams is the best player in the league. Michael Bryson should flourish with the move to small forward and Zalmico Harmon excels at running the offense. I’m picking UCSB behind Irvine as far as the regular season goes, but they’re actually my choice to get this league’s automatic come conference tournament time.

3. Long Beach State… The 49ers will play the toughest non-conference slate in the league once again, but don’t be misled if their record is so-so prior to the onset of league play. The Caffey/Lamb backcourt is very solid. The frontcourt has some questions, but if transfer Eric McKnight is a fit, Long Beach becomes a dark horse to win the conference.

4. Cal State Northridge… Reggie Theus worked wonders in his first season at the helm of the Matadors, basically missing a trip to the Big Dance on a bad call. Northridge took a hit when Amir Garrett decided to give up hoops to focus full time on his baseball career. But the Matadors are deeper than they were last season and the Maxwell/Hicks combo is strong. I don’t know how long Theus will be on the scene with bigger offers likely to be coming, but this program is on the rise as long as he stays.

5. Hawaii… No questions about Isaac Fotu, who will be a tough matchup for every team he faces. Garrett Nevels improved as the season progressed and he should thrive as the primary shooter on this year’s entry. But Hawaii is shaky beyond that duo with lots of unknown quantities, so it’s tough to see them notching another 20-win season.

6. Cal Poly… Joe Callero’s Mustangs suffered through an injury riddled regular season but put together a stunning conference tourney run that didn’t end till the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Lots of depth here, and Callero’s teams are always a pain in the neck defensively. Getting offensive production could be an issue. Likely no better than middle of the Big West pack, but the Mustangs will never be easy to play.

7. UC Davis… Corey Hawkins should be a Player of the Year candidate in conference. The Aggies will get two key components that were injured last season back, and this team should put up plenty of points. Two big problems still exist, though. I’m not sure this team can guard anyone, and composure was a major issue at times last season. The Aggies had too many games where they blew their focus and gave up monstrous runs. If they shed that tendency, they could move up a step or two.

8. Cal State Fullerton… The Titans had a rough go of it last season, and more growing pains figure to be in store this year. Alex Harris figures as the go-to guy for Fullerton and second year coach Dedrique Taylor is hoping a couple of transfers can have an immediate impact. I would expect incremental improvement this season, but the Titans are still a recruiting class or two away from being any kind of a threat to contend.

9. UC Riverside… Dennis Cutts is now the full time coach at Riverside, and they have a couple of pretty good players in Taylor Johns and transfer Charles Standifer. But the main problems still exist. The Highlanders are small and therefore need to strong on the perimeter, but they can’t shoot. Riverside should compete hard and might pull a few upsets, but avoiding the Big West cellar will be tough.

—————-

Small loss on Sunday here, with -2.2 in the NFL, but +1.5 with the Giants on the runs line at the World Series. October overall is looking really good, and this will be my fifth straight profitable month. My annual goal is to produce a minimum of +52 net units of profit, and that figure is now not only within reach, but will likely be surpassed.

My weekly and monthly packages are available via the “buy now” feature on this page, and I’ve got a net winners program that I believe is the best in the business. Email me at cokin@cox.net for details on that. Also, stay tuned for a strong November special that will be unveiled later this week.

————

The two NFL free plays split, with the Texans winning easily and the Lions getting the outright victory on a miracle rally, but missing on the spread. It’s a short card on Monday, with just a pair on the ice plus the Monday Night Football game, so I’m opting for an opening night NBA play as today’s comp.

10/28 %:05 PM  NBA  (501) DALLAS MAVERICKS  at  (502) SAN ANTONIO SPURS

Take: (501) DALLAS MAVERICKS +4.5

Raise that banner, San Antonio Spurs. The world champs certainly have earned another great ceremony after clearly establishing themselves as the best franchise in the NBA with another superb playoff run last season. While one has to think this team will start to show some cracks at some point with age being a factor, I’m not ready to bet against them boom the last men standing at season’s end yet again.

But I think the Spurs could be a bit vulnerable early. They’re a little thinner than usual starting the season with a few injury issues and let’s face it, Greg Popovich cares way more about where this team is in April than their standing in October.

San Antonio will be down one starter and possibly two if Kawhi Leonard can’t go on Tuesday. That hardly translates into the Spurs having no shot here. They’re still going to be favored and anyone putting any stock into the 2-5 pre-season ledger is crazy. But I can see the Spurs perhaps getting out of the gate a little slowly.

I like this edition of the Mavericks for the most part. Much of the optimism for this team is thanks to Rick Carlisle, who’s simply one of the best coaches in the league. I’ll submit Monta Ellis as exhibit one. Ellis never impressed me as anything more than a somewhat undisciplined shooter prior to hooking up with Carlisle. That’s not the case anymore, as Ellis was the most complete player he’s ever been last season.

Dirk Nowtizki is still Dirk Nowitzki for the most part. Chandler Parsons is a terrific addition and Tyson Chandler should be an asset as long as he stay on the court. The one big area of concern here is point guard. Jameer Nelson has loads of experience and will run the offense well enough, but he’s a liability on defense, especially against opposing point guards with size.

I like the prospects of the mild upset here. Defending champions frequently struggle in that first home game thanks to a multitude of distractions. Plus, the Spurs are a little dinged up right now, and the rivals from Dallas would love to ruin opening night. The Mavericks appear very live to me, and while they’re not getting all that many points, I see the Mavs plus the available number as the side.

Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 10/26/14

I’m skipping the usual rundown of selected Saturday college games. A variety of reasons in play here, but the main one is that I’m pretty much on fumes at this point. This is my busiest time of the entire calendar year. Full college and NFL boards, NHL, the World Series, NBA just a few days away and college baskets right around the bend. That translates into lots of hours doing research that has to be done. And Saturdays are simply insane right now. So it’s a quick blog tonight, and I’ll do some catching up tomorrow.

————-

Not exactly my luckiest day of the year on Saturday, although the overall bottom line was actually pretty good. 5-3, +1.8 overall. But not winning Kentucky on a crazy fluke (onside kick returned for a TD) was a bitter pill. I also managed to lose another OT game in hockey as the Panthers went down at Arizona. I’m off to what I believe is my best start ever in the NHL, yet am somehow still 1-3 in games that go past regulation. I’m 17-2 in games that get decided in 60 minutes.

The weekly/monthly packages or the net winners program are going to be expanded even more shortly with the NBA about to begin. That’s not a high volume sport for me, but when a good spot shows, I’ll be there. Add in all the football and plenty of pucks and it’s definitely action time. Use the “buy now” feature on this page to subscribe, and bear in mind there’s a guarantee that comes with the monthly offer. Get all the info or ask about my net winners program via email at cokin@cox.net.

————-

I’ve already posted one free play for the NFL, and here’s one more from the Sunday card. This play is not on my card yet, but might end up being added in the morning. I’l tweet that info (@davecokin).

10/26 10:00 AM   NFL  (265) HOUSTON TEXANS  at  (266) TENNESSEE TITANS

Take: (265) HOUSTON TEXANS -3.5

If NFL games were shortened to perhaps 55 minutes, the Tennessee Titans would not be in such dire straits. Unfortunately for the Titans, the games last 60 minutes and this outfit is as awful as it gets at the end of games.

Tennessee lost at the finish line last week at Washington. They managed to hold on against Jacksonville the prior week, but just barely as the Jaguars got a late TD and then recovered an onside kick before missing a potential game winning FG. The week before that the Titans led Cleveland 28-3 and lost the game.

I don’t have much interest in backing a team in any closely lined game when they display a consistent negative tendency such as this one, so that pretty much eliminated any consideration of backing the Titans here.

Now Tennessee is going with a first time starter at QB as Zach Mettenberger steps under center. The former LSU star appears to have some upside despite being just a sixth round draft pick. But he’s also got next to nothing in the way of experience and he’s facing a tough defense here.

The Texans have to be smarting off a frustrating loss on Monday at Pittsburgh. Houston basically blew this game in a stretch of about two minutes late in the first half.

I’m not high on Mettenberger in this matchup. He’s going to see blitzes galore courtesy of Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, and let’s just say that Mettenberger is not the most mobile guy around. If the rookie can burn the Texans with some good throws, they’ll have to back off and Mettenberger could have a great first start. But I just can’t envision that being the case and I will be surprised if there aren’t some sacks and a turnover or two in the game.

The Texans have their own problems. Ryan Fitzpatrick is average at best and he’s always vulnerable to the critical turnover. But Fitzpatrick has lots of familiarity with this defense as he wore a Titans jersey last season. I think that’s a small edge for Fitzpatrick, and obviously he’s love to go back into Nashville and engineer a road win.

The betting public is going to love the Texans here. They are definitely  the square side in this contest. But the Titans are what sure looks to me to be fade material here with the first time starting QB and the continued late game melts. No bargain on the price tag but I’m siding with the Texans to get the win and cover.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 10/25/14

Here are the quick takes from the Friday quartet of college games:

Cincinnati did pretty much whatever it wanted in a romp over South Florida. The Bearcats lost starting QB Gunner Kiel to injured ribs in the first half, but they didn’t miss a beat with Munchie Legaux under center in the second half. The stats were totally lopsided with Cincinnati dominating every aspect of the game. The 34-17 final was a little misleading.

South Alabama was in control throughout in a 27-13 win over Troy. The Jaguars are now 5-2 overall, including 4-1 in conference play. Had they just stuck with the ground game in the second half, this probably would have been more one sided on the scoreboard. Troy got the back door cover for later in the week bettors with a junk TD in garbage time.

Boise State overwhelmed BYU 55-30, and the Broncos were really humming on offense. The Cougars did not respond well to the verbal beating administered by head coach Bronco Mendenhall following last week’s collapse against Nevada. The BYU offense managed to eventually show some life, but the defense was beyond abysmal throughout. BYU misses Taysom Hill, but he didn’t play defense, so there’s no excusing this effort by the Cougars.

Oregon and California staged a big time shootout with the Ducks winning 59-41. Oregon has really gotten it going offensively since the OL got a little healthier. The spread decision came down to a failed two-point Cal conversion attempt on the last score of the game. Bettors on either side should have pushed at worst here if they were smart shoppers.

————

2-1-1 here on Friday. The push was on South Alabama, as I sent that out earlier in the week when the number was -14, although there was still also a bit of -13.5 available at that time. But as -14 was the consensus at the time, it grades as a push. BYU was bad call, the Lightning cashed in on the ice and I won a CFL play on Ottawa by the hook. October continues to be exceptional with a net gain of +16.9 (all one unit plays), and the idea is to add to that bottom line today. This will be my thinnest college Saturday of the season as it’s a tough slate for me and I have only four games as of now. I’ve got a few ideas on the ice where it’s going extraordinarily well right now, and the free play below is one I’m on for sure.

My weekly and monthly packages are available using the “buy now” feature on this page. There’s a +5 net unit guarantee with the monthly. Note that all my plays are included with any of my offers, including late adds based on info picked up during the day. I’ve also got a uniquely guaranteed net winner program for those who’d rather pay based on performance. Email inquiries to me at cokin@cox.net.

———-

I’ve got a pair of free college plays in action today, although the USC opinion is not going to make my final card. Tonight’s comp is on the ice and has already been sent out as an official play to all subscribers.

10/25  4:05 PM   NHL   (53) BOSTON BRUINS  at  (54) TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Take: (53) BOSTON BRUINS -115

There’s no doubt about it, the Bruins are going to miss the daunting blue line presence of Zdeno Chara for the next 6-8 weeks. The huge defenseman suffered a knee injury in what seemed like an innocuous collision with Islanders star John Tavares on Thursday night. Chara isn’t quite at the level he was a couple years ago, but he’s still a very strong performer and Boston won’t be the same team without him.

But I’ve found over all these years of handicapping sports that betting on a team immediately following a critical injury to one of its best players is actually a good idea more often than not. At the professional level, there’s less panic and stress than when this happens in college sports. In fact, it seems as though, at least for a brief window, the team with the injury gets more determined in an effort to prove to themselves they can still get the job done while shorthanded. I’m counting on that being the case tonight as the Bruins head north to duel the Maple Leafs in Toronto.

The Bruins have some other variables on their side tonight as well. Even though they lost the game to the Islanders a couple nights ago, Boston was utterly dominant in the third period and were very unlucky not to at least have forced overtime. I’m banking on them building on that late surge here. Tuukka Rask will be very well rested here, and he has done extremely well playing goal against the team that traded him away a few years back. Ask has some spectacular stats against the Maple Leafs, and I’ve got to rate him superior to either Jonathan Bernier or James Reimer.

There figures to be a great deal of emotion in the building tonight, with a pre-game ceremony scheduled in light of the terrible incident that took place in Ottawa earlier this week. Perhaps that extracts a super effort from the Maple Leafs tonight. But this is a team that for whatever reason just isn’t very good at home, and I believe the Leafs are hosting the Bruins at the wrong time. Boston should arrive with a chip on its shoulder off the aggravating loss on Thursday. This has also been a very lopsided series in recent years and I can foresee the visitors retaining their mastery over Toronto tonight. I’ll spot the short number on the road with the Bruins.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Friday 10/24/14

Quick takes on the week’s three completed college games:

UL Lafayette built a big early lead and then held off a late charge by Arkansas State that made it a little interesting. The Ragin’ Cajuns struggled in non-league play, but this very experienced entry has found its legs the last few weeks. Some peculiar early decision making by first year Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson proved costly.

Gallant effort by Connecticut in a 31-21 loss to heavily favored East Carolina. The Pirates jumped out to a 14-0 lead and it looked like the rout might be on. But the Huskies fought back to tie it at 21 and were in this game until the last couple minutes. ECU is battling Marshall for a possible major bowl berth and they really didn’t do themselves any favors with this lackluster performance.

Virginia Tech got massacred by Miami. The Hokies were totally inept on offense in the first half, and then turned it over three straight times to start the second half. Miami lost its shutout bid late on a fourth and long conversion by Virginia Tech, but this was a really impressive win for the Hurricanes. Did Virginia Tech actually beat Ohio State or was I hallucinating that day?

—————

Bad, bad call on Virginia Tech. But that was more than happily offset with two +150 dogs on the ice, with the Islanders and Blue Jackets each delivering the upset. So a +1.9 net gain and what has been an outstanding October continues. Subscribe to any of my available packages using the “buy now” tab on this page, and note there’s a +5 net unit guarantee with the monthly. If you’re playing for bigger bucks and prefer a performance based fee, ask about my net winners package by emailing me at cokin@cox.net.

—————

Here comes a free play on one of the Sunday NFL games. It’s the ultra-early duel overseas between the Lions and Falcons.

10/26 6:30 AM   NFL   (251) DETROIT LIONS  vs.  (252) ATLANTA FALCONS  (London, England)

Take: (251) DETROIT LIONS -3.5

The bad news is this game starts at a ridiculous hour for those of us on the left coast. The worse news is it’s not on the day the clocks get turned back one hour, so we don’t even get the extra hour of shuteye. That’s next Sunday.

The Lions should arrive in London in a cheery frame of mind. They’re off a terrific comeback win over the Saints and have set themselves up to make a serious run at a playoff berth and perhaps even a division title.

The Falcons are the home team in this skirmish, and considering the way they’re going right now, it’s probably just as well this home game is an ocean away from Atlanta. The Dirty Birds are really struggling and the sand in Mike Smith’s hourglass as this team’s coach is running out fast.

I’ve consistently made the point over the years that I like playing against lame duck coaches, or more specifically, those that are still working but that I consider to be lame ducks. Smith surely fits that bill at this point. Clearly, he can get off the hot seat if the Falcons can turn things around and mount a playoff run. In fact, that’s not as outlandish as it sounds as there are zero +.500 teams in the NFC South right now. But the reality is that this Falcons team is looking really raggedy, and I don’t see where the defensive improvement is going to come from.

It’s an admittedly simplistic approach on my part, but this looks like two squads heading in opposite directions right now. The Lions have won two straight and the victory against New Orleans had to be very encouraging. Atlanta has gone from 2-1 to 2-5 and they are starting to take on the look of a team that’s always waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. I believe that ties in with the status of the coach. The players know the score and it’s difficult to envision Smith being around beyond the end of this season, barring an unforeseen surge.

I made this number Lions -5 and that’s basically on the math. Factor in some intangibles and I think a case can be made that this is closer to -7. Unless the Lions shoot themselves in the foot or come out flat this Sunday, it’s a game they figure to win, and the number shouldn’t get in the way. Lions minus the points is my choice.

Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 10/23/14

Another college hoop conference preview on tap today, with the West Coast Conference in the spotlight this time. It’s a conference with what amounts to one cinch NCAA team and a couple others who figure as bubble candidates. Not many surprises in this outfit the way I see it.

1. Gonzaga… About the only issue for this team as far as conference play is concerned is complacency. Gonzaga is loaded. Pangos and Bell comprise a terrific backcourt, the bigs are good, and the recruiting class could be tremendous. I can’t wait to see freshman Domantas Sabonis in action.  You might remember his dad?

2. BYU… As Tyler Haws goes, so go the Cougars. Veteran team, ample depth, solid coach. The big question is where the points come from in the paint. If BYU solves that issue, they’re Big Dance bound.

3. Saint Mary’s… Randy Bennett scored with the graduate transfer rule when he latched onto ex-Stanford star Aaron Bright. Of course, that’a assuming Bright relocates his 2012 form. The Gaels had some intensity issues at times last year. A repair of that tendency has this team back in the tournament convo come February.

4. Portland… This should be the best Pilots entry in some time. Kevin Bailey is terrific and Eric Reveno appears to have some good newcomers to supplement a very veteran cast of starters. Portland looks to be a solid fourth place entry.

5. San Francisco… I see quite a bit of separation from the top four to the rest of this league. The Dons are probably the best of the rest thanks to their ability to get some points inside but the backcourt is shaky.

6. San Diego… The Dee/Anderson backcourt is very good. But there’s little to be excited about among the bigs and I can’t see the Toreros being any better than .500.

7. Loyola Marymount… Mike Dunlap takes over the reigns from Max Good. The Lions were a very lazy team at times last season. So in spite of losing some good players, particularly Anthony Ireland, I think you’ll see this team improve this year.

8. Pepperdine… Losing Malcolm Banks was a big blow. Stacy Davis will be outstanding, and I’ve been impressed with the improvement the program has shown under Marty Wilson. But there’s just not enough talent on hand for more than mediocrity.

9. Santa Clara… Another good guard tandem with Brownridge and Clark. That’s pretty much it. Kerry Keating’s team had little inside power last year, and that problem still appears to be unresolved.

10. Pacific… A rough go of it in store for the Tigers this season. TJ Wallace and David Taylor are the only returnees with any real experience. The most interesting newcomer is mini-guard Dulani Robinson. Ron Verlin did a nice job with Pacific last season, but prospects for this year are bleak.

—————–

I finally had a clunker last night, missing with the Giants as well as a rare NBAx play. First losing night in some time, but I expect to bounce right back tonight. Even with the 0-2, it’s still a 25-8 run the last nine days. Sign up for my weekly or guaranteed monthly package by utilizing the “buy now” feature on this page, or contact me via email at cokin@cox.net. That’s also the best way to get info on my net winners program.

—————-

Today’s free play is on a Saturday college game. This one is not yet on my personal card, but I’ll say it’s at least a favorite to eventually make the cut. In any event, it’s a game I’m eager to watch and hopefully I’ve got the right side.

10/25 04:00 PM   CF   (175) USC  at  (176) UTAH

Take: (175) USC -1

I see USC/Utah as one of the most intriguing matchups on the Saturday college slate. I don’t think either team is a true Top 20 entry, but each side is knocking on that door and this game is huge as far as the PAC-12 South race is concerned.

The Trojans have the athletes to give Utah fits in this game, and I think that’s one of the two big keys to this game. USC needs to do whatever it takes to speed things upland get Utah out of its comfort zone. The more wide open, the better from USC’s vantage point.

Utah, on the other hand, would prefer trench warfare. The Utes are in good shape if they can get first down stops. That would likely enable their outstanding pass rush to at least contain Trojans QB Cody Kessler.

Kessler is having a great year for USC. He’s accurate with his throws and I’ve been really impressed with his willingness to not force bad throws that lead to turnovers. But that could change if Utah is able to exert its usual pressure. To accomplish that, the Utes must find a way to limit Javorius Allen, who’s rumbling for more than six yards per pop.

Utah needs to establish its running game to sustain some productive drives against USC. I think that’s something they can do, as Devontae Booker is running ball very well. QB Travis Wilson can manage the offense effectively in reasonable yardage situations.

So it’s a guessing game of sorts as to how this plays out in terms of each team accomplishing its main objectives. My take is that in the end, the athletic superiority of the Trojans will be the difference. My greatest concern is Kyle Whittingham. The Utah coach is a terrific game planner and he successfully overcame the speed disadvantage in an impressive win at UCLA. But the Bruins were undisciplined with their assignments throughout that game, and I thought they lost the game more than Utah won it.

With the game being lined where it is, it’s probably a good assumption that this one could go right to the wire. But I’m siding with the view that Allen can produce enough on the ground to enable the very talented Kessler to carve up the Utah secondary and lessen the impact of that Utah pass rush. I’ll opt to side with USC as the winner in what should be one of the day’s best games.

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 10/22/14

Here’s this week’s Wise Guy Wednesday report for college football. Note that these are not my plays, just information gathered from various sources. Some of those are in Nevada, as well as in various locales both stateside and offshore.

107 Miami Florida got pounded on Monday as the ‘Canes moved from dog to chalk. Substantial buy back is not anticipated.

118 Auburn has gotten some early attention from the pros. South Carolina is getting most of its support from the joes thus far.

Most of the tickets are on Mississippi State, but sharp dollars are starting to show on 122 Kentucky.

The number on 129 Central Michigan continues to climb, with the Chippewas getting wise guy cash early and the public following.

Syndicates playing both ways on this one, but more of the sharp early action seems to be on 140 Pittsburgh as they host Georgia Tech.

The public is laying the wood with Wisconsin, but two of my sources agreed that they expect sharp buyback later in the week on 141 Maryland.

The Utah State QB injury situation is being ignored by the masses, but there has been a trickle of pro dough on 147 UNLV.

Big move on 150 Toledo that was apparently service-influenced, but the consensus is this number has peaked and will decline between now and game day.

The play on 165 Alabama has been mostly square, but it doesn’t appear the sharps are eager to be on the other side.

174 Washington State is going to be the apparent sharp side in a pros/joes battleground game against Arizona.

One sided action on 177 Georgia Southern so far, and this is another game where there might not be any sharp buys to bring the number back.

Nothing much happening yet on 193 Texas, but the general belief seems to be that sharps will buy the Longhorns at some point.

200 Hawaii is drawing some pro play as they play host to Nevada.

——————

2-0 here on Tuesday with the Giants as well as an NHL call on the Stars. The current heater still going, 25-6 over the last eight days. Obviously, it’s therefore a very good time to be playing my sides. My subscribers get every play, sent via email with analysis as soon as the decision is reached. There are no more expensive levels for supposedly stronger plays. Purchase either the weekly or monthly package using the “buy now” tab on this page, and note there’s a minimum +5 net unit guarantee with the monthly. For info on longer term or my net winners program, contact me directly via email at cokin@cox.net.

————–

No sweat with the Giants as the Tuesday free play. I have very little to choose from today. The baseball game will be be a personal play, but that’s for subscribers. I don’t see anything that stands out yet in the NHL for this evening. So I decided to go with my best NBA O/U win prop for the upcoming season.

ATLANTA HAWKS UNDER 42 WINS

I don’t play many futures for a variety of reasons. But when I see a situation where there are intangibles that I feel could produce either a positive or negative impact, I’m willing to tie up some dollars long term in hopes of realizing a profit. This mindset will generally produce Under plays, as bad news seems easier for me to spot in terms of speculating on a particular team’s prospects.

I don’t see things going well for the Hawks this season. They’re okay from a personnel standpoint, at least from a strictly Eastern Conference perspective.  Atlanta plays in a Southeast Division that can generously be described as wide open. On paper, they’re probably good enough to win half their games, so from that vantage point, the O/U is about where it’s supposed to be.

But there are all kinds of off the court issues already in place with this franchise. I’ve always believed in the domino principle, and when things are a mess at the top, there will be an impact throughout the organization. That’s the crux of my observations on the Hawks.

There’s uncertainty as to who’s going to own this franchise, thanks to Bruce Levenson sending out a racist email that he knew wasn’t going to go undiscovered. Danny Ferry is still the General Manager, but he’s taking a leave of absence follow his own inane comments regarding Luol Deng.

The Ferry situation is ridiculous. I don’t see any possibility he’s going to be retained by whatever individual or group assumes ownership of this outfit. So the “leave of absence” is highly unlikely to be anything other than permanent in the long run.

I realize there might be some who will disagree with me, but I don’t see how this mess at the top doesn’t filter through the entire organization, and that certainly includes the coaching staff and players. Once everything gets cleared up, maybe it creates a huge positive vibe that shows up on the court. But the current in limbo status is very likely to create a negative ripple effect.

The Hawks are not a franchise blessed with a great fan base. That’s not exactly a revelation, as it’s been that way for years with the team never really contending for anything. The ongoing off the court fiascos are doing nothing to endear this team to the locals and I can’t see how this team can enjoy a major home court edge with the way things are. Add in a middle of the pack roster and it’s a thoroughly bleak looking situation.

I don’t see Atlanta winning half its games, all things considered. More likely, they finish somewhere in the mid-30’s as far as total wins are concerned. That’s well under the posted O/U, so Under 42 is the play.