Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 10/13/15

It’s tough to say what the right qualifications are to become a manager in Major League Baseball. One thing that isn’t necessary is having had a great career as a player. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that superstar players don’t make good skippers, because they operated at a level as players that most people, including other players, simply cannot figure out.

Ted Williams was a great example of this thought process. He clearly improved the old Washington  Senators when he became their manager many years ago. But Teddy Ballgame grew increasingly frustrated with the guys on the roster who just weren’t wired the way he was, and eventually just packed up his fishing gear and spent the rest of his life in Florida.

Of course, there have also been some Hall of Fame caliber players who enjoyed quite a bit of success as managers. But I think it’s fair to say that most of the great skippers were not necessarily great major league players. Earl Weaver certainly wasn’t. Joe Maddon is likely the consensus top choice as the best manager in the game today, and he never made it out of Class A as a pro.

Personally, if I had to rate the all-time managers, I’d have Dick Williams at the top of my list. That’s obviously debatable, but if he’s not somewhere on your Top Ten list, you need to make out a new list. Williams as a player was good, but not great. He fashioned a lengthy big league career but there’s no question his greatest fame came after he’d retired as a player.

In other words, there’s no set rule for what it takes to succeed as a manager at the game’s highest level. That said, if a great player expresses a desire to manage, I’m all ears, and I would suggest that struggling franchises pay attention as well.

That brings me to Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge should be heading to the Hall of Fame in a couple years. His career was nothing short of spectacular. Helluva hitter, an amazing defender, World Series champ, and about as popular within the game as it gets.

Last night on Twitter, while quoting the late John Wooden, Pudge made his desires clear. “Would love to take the next step and be a manager” was the tweet from @Pudge_Rodriguez and I would at least hope that little bit of info has already found its way to the accounts of several major league GM’s who either have or are about to have an opening.

Clearly, there is no guarantee Rodriguez would be a success as a manager. He has no experience in that capacity, and he could also be one of those all-time great players who can’t quite deal with players not quite as committed to all-out excellence as he was.

But if one is looking for the right ingredients, Pudge has to be a candidate to be a winner. Any baseball fan knows how many great managers were catchers as players, and the connection between those two jobs is obvious. Add in the championship pedigree, and a reputation as a guy who always gave it everything he had. Then toss in being young enough to identify with the guys playing now and also being bilingual….let’s just say there’s a lot to like here.

The lack of managing experience is not particularly meaningful to me. The game has changed from what it used to be, as it’s no longer just the manager making all the decisions. Coaches have more input than they used to and every team has an analytics department to assist in forming game plans. Putting a veteran bench coach next to Pudge to work with him would make sense.

But the bottom line for me is that if I’m, for instance, part of the hiring committee in Seattle, I’m going to be interviewing Rodriguez. If the job opens up with the Dodgers (let’s face it, that’s one loss away from being a probability after Monday’s results), I definitely want to investigate the possibility of bringing a guy like this on board. Pudge won a World Series with the Marlins, and the Marlins REALLY need a guy who can stabilize the franchise and maybe even help put some butts in the seats.

In other words, if Ivan Rodriguez wants to manage, and he apparently does, here’s hoping he gets an opportunity to do exactly that, and much sooner than later.


My Under play on the Royals and Astros looked solid heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, and then it didn’t. In fact, all four games soared Over on Monday as lots of the big boppers had their way with the hurlers. That was my only Monday play.

I’ve already gotten lined up on five colleges football games for the coming weekend, with adds on the way once the numbers get to where I’m hoping they’ll land. For details on what I believe is a great guarantee on my monthly package, simply email me at cokin@cox.net.


Daily free plays have done well lately, although Monday was a miss on the Royals/Astros Under. I’ll go with a side today as the MLB playoffs continue.

DODGERS (Kershaw)  @  METS (Matz)

Take: METS (no current line, will update on Tuesday morning)

Clayton Kershaw is one of the best pitchers I’ll ever see. I could write endlessly about the quality of his offerings. I have no idea why he hasn’t been able to duplicate his regular season success in the post-season. But there’s simply no denying he hasn’t been as overwhelming in the playoffs.

Kershaw is now faced with the task of keeping the Dodgers alive in their series with the upstart Mets. He did a solid job against them in Game One, but Jacob deGrom was even better and Kershaw eventually wore down and then got no help from that shaky LA bullpen.

The pressure here will be enormous. The failures of the last two post-seasons have to be in play when assessing tonight’s matchup and let’s face it, the Mets are simply playing better baseball than the Dodgers right now. In a way, the Dodgers are kind of fortunate to even still have a pulse.

Steven Matz will throw for the Mets and he’ll take the mound armed with the knowledge that he already dominated this opponent during the regular season. Matz also has the luxury of knowing that even if he comes up short, the Mets have that one-game cushion. For a rookie, that’s gravy, and beyond that, I haven’t seen anything to suggest that this kid won’t be up for the moment. Matz will also get to face an LA lineup that is simply better suited right now to facing righties as opposed to southpaws.

The Mets have played these first three games with a nothing to lose attitude. The Dodgers have played these first three games like a team with the weight of the world on their shoulders. The Mets are having fun, the Dodgers look like they’re toiling. Kershaw is awesome, and he might be able to find his groove and utterly dominate the Mets in Game Four. But I don’t see how that can be considered a sure thing at this point, and it’s also conceivable that Matz matches him pitch for pitch.

No widely available number on this game as I’m writing this, but price is not likely to be an obstacle. I’m going to look to line up on the Mets side to end this series tonight.


Dave’s Free Play, Monday 10/12/15

The verdict is in, and Chase Utley has been suspended for two games. If you’re reading this space, you already know who Chase Utley is and you’ve already seen the play. So I won’t bother to rehash all the details leading up to what happened. This is all about assessing whether the play was dirty and warranted punishment.

I am positive Chase Utley was not trying to deliberately injure Ruben Tejada. I’m not even sure why there needs to be any discussion as far as that goes. His intent was to break up a potential double play. Utley is a hard-nosed player, always has been, and no doubt that’s part of the reason he’s had such a long and illustrious career.

So don’t get me wrong on this take, but I thought the play was over the line and that MLB had to administer some kind of punishment.

I guess this comes down whether you believe that it’s anything goes as far as aggressive baserunning  is concerned or not. I’m in the camp that says there have to be some limitations. I’m not trying to make the game soft. But it isn’t football. And for all intents and purposes, Utley made a football play on Tejada.

Watch the tape of the play. Utley doesn’t begin his “slide” until he’s virtually on top of second base and the actual base itself might as well have not been there as Utley never even touched it. He went after Tejada. If you want to call that legal, I have no problem with it. I guess it’s all in the eye of each individual beholder. But from my vantage point, this was not a baseball play. The fact that Utley didn’t mean to break Tejada’s leg is a moot point. The way he went after Tejada clearly put the Mets shortstop in a situation where he was physically defenseless. To  me, that is not a baseball play and is therefore unacceptable.

The bottom line is that MLB apparently feels the same way, and that’s why Utley is being suspended for two games. The argument that this punishment is only being inflicted because a player got hurt? Of course that’s the reason. And it’s a really good reason. If a play that’s illegal results in another player getting hurt, the guy who caused the injury needs to be punished. By the way, Utley is only getting two games off. Tejada is still getting by far the worst end of this deal.


2-0 on Sunday with the Browns and Cardinals coming through. It appears as though I might have just one play today. I don’t like the football game to any extent, and the early scan of the NHL slate produced nothing of consequence. That one baseball play is also today’s free play below.

I’ve had a decent first portion of the football season. Nothing awesome, but a comfortable overall profit and I’m usually pretty good at improving as the season wears on. My current offer includes an iron-clad guarantee that’ll be tough to match with anyone else. For all the info, just email me directly at cokin@cox.net.


Easy winner with the Sunday free play on the Cardinals, and the comps have been doing pretty well lately. I’ll try to add another winner with an O/U selection on one of today’s playoff battles.

ROYALS (Ventura)  @  ASTROS (McCullers)

Take: UNDER 8 -115

The defending AL champs are on the brink of having their season end, as the Royals look to stay alive today against the upstart Astros. My numbers slightly favor Houston to end it right here, but when factoring in the betting line, there’s no value to be had there. But I do think I can make a case that the two starting pitchers have a shot at dominating here.

Yordano Ventura can get erratic at times. But I really feel as though that’s going to be less of an issue moving forward for the immensely talented KC righty. Ventura has shown those flashes of immaturity but there simply isn’t any doubting his stuff, which is electric.

Ventura has really come on recently, and this might well be thanks to a mechanical tweak that has paid off handsomely. Ventura has lowered his arm slot and this has resulted in more movement on his secondary pitches in particular. There’s a solid story on this at fangraphs.com that I’d definitely recommend reading as Eno Sarris breaks it down very comprehensively. The bottom line is that when you’re able to hit triple digits with the heater and also can command two or three other pitches, the sky is the limit. I feel as though Ventura is on the verge of becoming a superstar and I fully expect him to be a legit #1 starter next season.

As for today, don’t hang the hook. Ventura made that mistake in his rain-shortened Game One appearance and he can’t afford to make mistakes like that against the free swinging Astros. On the plus side, Ventura now enters extremely well rested for this game and I like him to contain the Astros today.

Lance McCullers is another tremendous young talent. McCullers profiles as the type of pitcher who is likely to give the Royals trouble. He can get a little wild at times, but the Royals are not a patient team and that often results in them swinging at pitches they probably ought to take, with the result being soft contact. McCullers wisely had his innings limited over the course of the regular season, and he has shown no signs of wearing down.

Good pitching will usually beat good hitting, and I think that’s precisely what we have a good chance to get today. I’m looking for Ventura and McCullers to be the stars, and if that’s the case, there’s an excellent chance this game will stay Under the posted number.


Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 10/11/15

Quick takes from some of Saturday’s college football games:

Maryland put up a fight for the first 30 minutes at Ohio State in Randy Edsall’s swan song as head coach of the Terrapins. The Buckeyes still haven’t played a complete game, but remain unbeaten. Maryland now begins a search for a new head coach. Take this to the bank. That program is extremely well funded and with new residence in the Big 10, they’re going to go after a very big name.

Clemson was a really easy 43-24 winner against Georgia Tech and it wasn’t that close. The Tigers obliterated the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech’s utter collapse after a strong start off last year’s great finish is a huge disappointment.

Georgia blew a 24-3 lead and also lost star RB Nick Chubb to a knee injury. Tennessee does an about face here after blowing three games where they had leads. Huge win for Butch Jones. Another bad loss for Mark Richt. I get the sense Georgia will always begged under Richt, but never great.

Oklahoma State lost the stats and also coughed up a good sized lead at West Virginia. But the Cowboys won a fourth down gamble in OT and then held the Mountaineers for a very important road win.

Arkansas was soundly outplayed at Alabama, but the Razorbacks did manage to slip through the back door late for a TD that earned them a pointspread win.

Monster win for Texas in the rivalry game with Oklahoma. As for the Sooners, they yet again managed to blow a game they had to have for a playoff shot. “Big Game Bob” has become the silliest nickname in sports unless it’s referring the inability of Stoops to win the ones that matter.

Temple was in an early game offensive and special teams fog against Tulane, with the defense keeping them close. Then the Owls woke up and absolutely bombed out the overmatched Green Wave. Temple is now 5-0 and in great shape to win the AAC.

Rice put together a terrific final quarter rally from 12 down to edge FAU, 27-26. Based on the stats, the right team won the football game. QB Driphus Jackson was the star for the winning Owls.

Wake Forest managed to win a football game where they had 142 total yards and five first downs. That is almost unbelievable. BC has a great defense, but the beat up attack is pretty bad and they also missed two field goals in the very disappointing loss.

Purdue scored a quick TD against injury riddled Minnesota and then watched as the Gophers scored the next 41 points. I think the handwriting is on the wall for Boilermakers HC Darrell Hazell. Joe Tiller did plenty of winning in West Lafayette, so while this might not be a great gig, it’s also not impossible. Sorry to rip Hazell, but his teams are consistently disorganized and that aspect falls on the coaching.

Michigan now has three straight shutout wins, first time that’s happened in ages. The Wolverines scored on the opening kickoff and never looked back as they bombed out a good Northwestern team. Suddenly the Wolverines are absolutely in the playoff picture. I think this Jim Harbaugh fellow might be a pretty good football coach.

Nebraska now has four losses, and each has come on the final offensive play for the opponent. That’s a really tough way to lose. There’s been buzz that the players aren’t really buying into what Mike Riley is selling and the Huskers are in danger of unraveling at this point. Wisconsin got away with this one, and the Badgers remain a bit of a disappointment in spite of the win.

Central Florida is a horror show. They got QB Justin Holman back for the game with UConn. He started red hot with 8/9 completions and UCF took an early lead. But it was all Huskies after that and the only thing worse than the Knights offense at this point is their defense. Hard to believe a George O’Leary team can be this inept at every aspect, but UCF absolutely is.

North Texas lost to an FCS team Saturday. Actually, they didn’t just lose, they got mauled. 66-7, and they got the last seven. At home, no less. That is the ultimate bottoming out and the Mean Green fired head coach Dan McCarney immediately following the game.

Oregon’s season is shot. The Ducks lost in 2OT to Washington State. It’s going to be fun to see what happens the rest of the way, The Ducks have rubbed it in on occasion to fellow PAC-12 opponents. Got a feeling payback is gonna be a serious bitch.

Louisiana Tech avoided overtime with a late FG after coughing up a double digit lead at UTSA. The Roadrunners are really young but they’re getting better. UTSA could be a value entry as the season progresses as there’s no quit in that team and they seem to be improving.

UNLV rallied to force OT against San Jose State. But the Rebels got their field goal blocked, and San Jose got the six-point win on a TD that appeared not to be on replay. The Spartans would likely have scored anyway, so it wasn’t highway robbery. Tough beat for UNLV backers with the chalk covering in the OT.

Michigan State continues to barely survive with the latest escape act coming at Rutgers. Sparty needed a late TD to avoid overtime against an opponent they were supposed to handle with relative ease. This high wire act is going to catch up with Michigan State if they don’t start putting together 60-minute efforts.

Florida State has been about as good as it gets the last two years at pulling games out late and they did it again in the rivalry battle with Miami. Not a good result for Al Golden, who is going to need a big second half of the season to keep his job as head Hurricane.

TCU pulled out a thriller at Kansas State. The Horned Frogs rallied from 18 down at halftime and were virtually unstoppable in the second half. Disagreed with Bill Snyder’s decision to kick a tying field goal on 4th and short with a little less than two minutes to go. I’d have gone for the first to try and possess the ball and have a shot at winning with a TD. Giving the football back to Boykin and company with 1:52 left was just not going to work, and it sure didn’t.


My Saturday bottom line rests on the result of the San Diego State/Hawaii game. It’s 21-7 Aztecs late first half asa I’m writing this. Sunday’s card will feature a couple of NFL sides, and I’ll post one of those below as today’s free play. (The Aztecs went on to win 28-14, so a good way to finish the day.)

For info on my rock solid October special that comes with a dynamite guarantee (and runs for a full 31 days, regardless of the signup date) just email me directly at cokin@cox.net. I think I’ve had a good handle on the colleges so far, and I’ve done a very good job of getting the best number on most of my games, which I release throughout the week in order to try and get that best number.


1-1 on the college free plays. Boise State was a laugher as the Broncos destroyed Colorado State. Texas State looked good for about 28 minutes, then they didn’t look good for about 32 minutes. The Bobcats are simply a horrible tackling team and their defensive front is about as tough as oatmeal. If that sounds like I won’t be betting on them the rest of the way, that’s about right. Here’s one in the NFL, and I’ll go the favorite’s route here.



So much for the 16-0 dream some Cardinals fans might have been entertaining off the three dominating wins to start the season. Arizona was not its usual efficient self last week and they were upset at home by the Rams. That should insure a focused effort here as the Cardinals hit the road to play the winless Lions.

The Lions figure to be pretty upset as well after what took place at the end of the Monday night game at Seattle. BatGate did the Lions in, or at least that’s what they think. I’m not getting into any debates here about the rule, because I really don’t care one way or the other. My only concern is what impact it has on the football team as far as today is concerned.

I don’t think this is good for the Lions. If a good team thinks they got screwed, it can provide major motivation. When it happens to the only team in the NFL that has yet to win a game this season, I can see frustration and negative feelings being the result. The Lions are a major disappointment to date, and staring 0-5 in the face is simply not what I can look at as a play on situation.

I’m obviously guessing at the mindsets of the two teams. But there’s no guesswork on the data. Arizona grades out as the better and more efficient entry on offense, defense and special teams and by a pretty significant margin right down the line in all three categories.

The road team will be public darling here, although to this point there doesn’t seem to be much of a response from the pros on the home dog, as is frequently the case. That could change in the morning. But either way it has little impact on my thoughts here. Murphy’s Law is following the Lions around this season, and I’d rather have the team that’s winning but should also be seething off its first loss. I’ll lay the spot with the Cardinals here.

Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 10/10/15

A few quick thoughts from the Friday quartet of MLB playoff games:

I thought Toronto manager John Gibbons made a mistake sticking with Brett Cecil to face Mike Napoli with a 4-3 lead in the 8th inning. This is not a second guess as I stated the opinion before Napoli delivered the game-tying hit. Nothing wrong with Cecil, who has had a fine season and has been tough on both lefties and righties. But Napoli is a much, MUCH better hitter against southpaws and as he was pinch hitting for Mitch Moreland, this was a bad gamble by the Blue Jays skipper. With no game the next day and this being the playoffs, I’m bringing the closer in to record a four-out save.

There’s obviously no way we will ever know what would have transpired had Osuna entered the game to relieve Cecil. But what did happen was that Cecil gave up the hit to Napoli, Osuna needed only 17 pitches to retire six hitters in the ninth and tenth innings and the Blue Jays never scored another run. So the AL team to beat is now heading to Texas facing elimination and their awesome second half run is one game away from being a hollow accomplishment.

The Royals are back even with the Astros thanks to their ability to overcome an early 4-1 deficit. This was a game KC absolute had to have with Dallas Keuchel set to throw Game Three in Houston, where he has not lost all season. The Royals continue to get next to nothing out of Johnny Cueto, although he at least settled down somewhat after another poor start. I thought AJ Hinch did the Royals a favor bringing in Oliver Perez in a critical situation. I know Perez did a nice job retiring one hitter in Game One. But he’s the weakest link in that Houston pen and even though it was just the sixth inning, I would have had Tony Sipp ready for the lefty specialist situation.

The Cardinals got a tremendous game from John Lackey and the Redbirds put smiles on the faces of bookmakers everywhere as they shut out the Cubs. There is a ton of money on the beloved Cubbies. While their continued presence insures long lines at the windows and lots of business, the sooner the Cubs are eliminated the better the Nevada shopkeepers will like it. As for the game, I don’t think anyone was hitting Lackey the way he was locating. The Cubs have another tough assignment on tap today as they will have to try and solve the usually difficult Jaime Garcia. Kyle Hendricks closed the campaign pitching well for the Cubs and they’ll likely need another strong effort from him here.

The punchless Dodgers were mostly no match for Jacob deGrom and the Mets got a huge Game One win at LA. The Mets defense did the Dodgers a couple of favors early in this one but the LA hitters could not take advantage. My only disagreement with Don Mattingly was his hitting Carl Crawford leadoff. But the biggest outs here were made by Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier. As for the Mets, full credit for a couple of great late game AB’s, particularly a critical walk worked by Ruben Tejada that really set the Mets up to score two crucial insurance runs.

Mattingly might not be my favorite tactical manager, but you can’t hang the seventh inning on him. Clayton Kershaw got himself in the mess with three walks, and one has to wonder if it’s a post-season mental block with him at this point. Mattingly didn’t have much choice but to make the move to a righty with the bases plugged and the game still 1-0. If you want to point a finger at someone, try Dodgers management. I made a big deal about them failing to address the bullpen issues at the trade deadline, and I think I got that one right. They simply do not have a trustworthy righty to work out of seventh and eighth inning messes and considering their propensity to spend whatever dollars they feel like spending, that was a huge error of omission.

This was a great day of baseball action from an excitement standpoint. Let’s hope it continues!


A bump in the road for me on Friday. I won my only baseball play, but lost both college football games. NC State looked great early but did not play well after that, and their offensive play calling was more than a little shaky. Southern Miss hung in nicely for most of the first half. But a blocked chip shot field goal turned the game in Marshall’s favor and they never looked back. Give the Thundering Herd credit. They’re not close to last year’s entry in terms of being able to dominate opponents, but they keep winning games. My NHL win streak ended at two. Columbus took a late 2-1 lead on a power play, and then fell apart in spectacular fashion, surrendering three goals to the Rangers in 77 seconds. Anyone who had the Under in that game had to be sick as it was a 1-1 game late in the third period and then the floodgates opened.

Loads of football for me today, and I’ll look to get back on the beam after stumbling on Friday night. You can sign up for my guaranteed October special at anytime during the calendar month and receive a a full 31 days of all my plays. Get all the info by emailing me at cokin@cox.net.


Winner on the free play as the Cubs and Cardinals stayed Under the number. I’ll go with some substantial chalk today for my second college football comp of the week.



I’ve been playing far more underdogs than favorites so far this season, but I’ll be going the chalk route in this game. I really like what I’m seeing from Boise State and my assessment is that if they’re on their game this afternoon at Colorado State, there might not be much the Rams can do about it.

Boise opened the season by nearly giving a win away against Washington and then getting burned late at BYU. The Broncos got ultra-conservative with the lead against the Huskies and it nearly cost them as UW missed a late field goal that could have forced overtime. Boise had a 24-14 final stanza lead at BYU and failed to hold that advantage, resulting in what might well end up being their only loss this season.

Lesson learned? Yeah, I think so. Boise State has been merciless in obliterating three straight opponents by a combined 163-14. Crushing hapless Idaho State was expected. But Boise actually closed as the dog at Virginia and they covered the spread by more than 30 last week against Hawaii.

The story here is twofold. One is the emergence of QB Brett Rypien. 51/69, 718 yards, six TD’s, no picks tells the story in numbers. The eye test discloses that this kid is fearless and playing with great confidence. The other big story for the Broncos is the defense. They’re completely stuffing opposing running games. These numbers are absurdly good, and I believe they really come into play today.

Colorado State had a couple of tough early losses against Colorado and Minnesota. Considering that the Rams figured to be down this season with some key personnel losses as well as the departure of head coach Jim McElwain, CSU was a bit of a pleasant surprise to start the season. But the last two weeks have not been so good. The Rams managed to escape UTSA with a narrow win but they really weren’t solid in that game, and they got worse last week at Utah State.

The Rams really need to run the football to be successful.QB  Nick Stevens is mostly a game manager right now. He’s okay if CSU is staying ahead of the chains, but I don’t see him as a guy who can take over a game just yet. That’s a key here as unless something radically different takes place, CSU isn’t going to have success carrying the football. Stevens has one of the top targets in all of college football in Rahshard Higgins, but he’s guaranteed to get lots of special attention from the Boise defense.

Stevens is likely to have to put together his best game for Colorado State to have a chance at the upset here. If that happens, I guess I’m in for a long sweat. But based on what CSU needs to do to have a realistic chance and based on what the Broncos do best defensively, that is not supposed to happen. As for the rest, I have no reason to think Rypien suddenly throws in a clunker and I really like the killer instinct I’ve seen recently from the Broncos. They do have a big game coming up as the Broncos visit Utah State next Friday. But I’ll trust the road team to keep the roll intact here and I’m laying the lumber with Boise State.

Dave’s Free Play, Friday 10/9/15

I was going to write a little baseball for today’s commentary. But I decided to watch most of the Thursday night football game between Washington and USC. I subsequently changed my mind on the topic.

Anyone who says it’s the players who decide the games rather than the coaches would be well advised to watch a replay of this game, as that old axiom is clearly not always correct. There’s no question in my mind that while Stave Sarkisian might not have lost the game, the USC head coach sure did his best to prevent his Trojans from winning it.

Tre Madden, Ronald Jones II and Justin Davis combined to carry the football 32 times in this game and the USC trio turned those attempts into 212 rushing yards. That’s 6.6 yards per carry. Washington could not contain the Trojans running backs.

But apparently Sarkisian and his assistants don’t have access to in-game stats, or they just chose to ignore them while also turning a blind eye to what was taking place on the field. In spite of the fact that USC was shredding the Huskies defensive front virtually every time they ran the football, the Trojans just couldn’t resist trying to air it out. I understand Cody Kessler is a very talented QB. But he was not having a good night throwing the ball, and even when he did find the intended target, the guys who were supposed to catch the football just weren’t able to do so.

The nadir of the evening for USC was its final drive. Sure enough, they’re rumbling down the field on the ground. And just like that, Kessler throws a long ball that falls harmlessly to the ground and USC finds itself in long yardage. Then, with only one time out remaining and down five, Sarkisian inexplicably decides to try a 45-yard field goal that ends up short.

Bad play calling, failure to capitalize on what’s working, horrible late game strategy in terms of risk vs. reward as far as clock management is concerned…. strike one, strike two and strike three. This was a really bad job by Sarkisian, and as a result the Trojans are now dead as far as having any shot to get the playoffs goes.

One other noteworthy mention here. Lest you think I’m picking on Sarkisian for one off night, consider this. The Trojans have been double digit favorites six times against power-five conference opponents since Sarkisian arrived (thanks to @McMurphyESPN for this tidbit). USC is 2-4 straight up in those games. That’s not good. Neither is Sark, I’m afraid.


A small profit here on Thursday as the Jets were NHL winners while I coughed back a half unit on the 76ers in an NBAx game. Philly rallied at the finish line to win by one, but the number had gone to -1.5 by the time most of my subscribers received it and it’s therefore a loss on the grading sheet. Nevertheless, another plus night and now the big weekend gets underway. I’ll be all over the college board, I’ve also got at least one MLB play on Friday and I’m excited about trying to maintain a nice little positive flow.

For details on what I believe is a terrific October special that covers a full 31 days of action across the board, email me directly at cokin@cox.net. This is a fully guaranteed offer and those who have already joined me are pleased with the results so far.


Winnipeg fell behind early at Boston, but the Jets eventually gained control and ended up skating pasty the Bruins in comfortable fashion as the Thursday free play. Let’s head to the MLB playoffs for the Friday comp.

CUBS (Lester)  @  CARDINALS (Lackey)

Take: UNDER 6.5 -115

In case you haven’t noticed, runs have not been easy to come by thus far in the baseball post-season, and home field has been a big disadvantage out of the gate. Not only have all four visitors been winners, none of the home teams have even enjoyed a brief lead. I imagine some of that will change today, but my focus as the Cubs and Cardinals get started is on the Total.

This is a matchup of two veteran pitchers who have each tasted a good deal of success in October. Former Boston teammates Jon Lester and John Lackey will now be adversaries, and I look at this game as one where scoring has a great chance to again be at a premium.

The big stage will not be an issue for either guy. Both Lester and Lackey have experience this atmosphere many times and each has managed to flourish more often than not. I make both pitchers favorites to do so again today.

There’s no way I can document this, but there’s no question in my mind based on all these years of viewing that veteran pitchers, especially high level ones, usually get a great strike zone in the playoffs. If that’s the case here as I suspect it should be, that’s bad news for the batters and great news for Lester and Lackey, who are each quite adept at avoiding the center of the strike zone.

The two starters are in solid form heading in, with Lester enjoying a stellar September and aside from a shaky tuneup start to close the regular season, that’s a ditto for Lackey. The Cardinals are not exactly robust against good southpaws and Lackey doesn’t figure to be a treat for the Cubs.

There’s even some small sample history here, for what that’s worth. The Under is 3-1-1 when Lackey starts vs. St. Louis and it’s 4-0 when Lackey faces the Cubs. Of course, for every positive trend one can usually balance the sheet with a negative one. In this case the Over has been a big winner recently when the Cubs play the Cardinals at St. Louis.

My main take here is that I trust the old pros to come up big like they usually do come playoff time. I’ll look for Lester and Lackey to put up their share of zeroes while avoiding the crooked numbers and I’ll take the Cubs and Cardinals to keep this one Under the number.


Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 10/8/15

The Cubs are movin’ on! Could this be the year the 107-year drought ends for the formerly lovable losers from Chicago? I won’t go over the top with unbridled optimism for this team just yet. No doubt about it, the win last night was tremendous. But that’s only one victory, and the Cubbies still need to capture 11 more until they finally can finally exorcise all the demons and curses from the calamitous misses over all these years.

From a fan’s standpoint, I’d like to see the Cubs win it all, simply because I know exactly what their base has gone through. I’m a Red Sox fan so I have some real perspective here. The outpouring of emotion throughout New England as well as everywhere else where people like myself have migrated was enormous. There’s no question it will be just as incredible if and or when the Cubs finally break through.

As for last night’s 4-0 Cubs win, Jake Arrieta was immense yet again in twirling his complete game masterpiece. Arrieta was also the focal point of an incident that caused both benches to empty, and I’ll focus on that for a moment.

About the only thing Arrieta did wrong all night was plunk a couple of Pirates with pitches a bit off the mark. Neither was intentional, but the Pirates decided to retaliate and Bucs lefty Tony Watson caught Arrieta on the backside with a pitch, which the soon to be NL Cy Young winner took exception to.

I guess it was a bit of a cheap shot by Watson and the Pirates, but it also wasn’t any form of headhunting and I also get the Pirates frustration. I think this goes back to the hard slide by Chris Coghlan that damaged the knee off Jung-ho Kang and put the Bucs star rookie on the shelf till next spring. Add in the knowledge that the wild card game was pretty much gone with the four-run deficit against a pitcher who is unbeatable right now, the two hit batters from earlier in the game… yeah, I get it. It was still a bit bush league if you ask me, and to be honest, I thought Arrieta should have just moved on to first base without saying anything. But it was desperation time for the Pirates, they knew the score and maybe they were hoping they could rattle Arrieta or perhaps even get him tossed from the game.

Obviously, whatever the reasoning for the Watson pitch, it didn’t work. Arrieta even managed to rub some salt in the wound by stealing second base before going back on the mound and finishing off his latest Picasso.

So the Cubs are now heading to St. Louis and here comes another clash that could have some fireworks as those two teams are not the best of friends. I think it’s must-see TV and can’t wait for the fun to begin.


2-0 on Wednesday with the Under in the baseball game and a nice underdog winner on the ice with the Rangers. My current college card for the weekend won’t get started till Friday, but I’m at nine games right now and there’s a very good chance two more will be added between now and Saturday.

To get the lowdown on my guaranteed special that will be on the table for the entire month of October, shoot me an email at cokin@cox.net.


The Wednesday free play was on a Saturday college contest, so no result there yet. I’ll take a chance with a hockey game for tonight’s comp.



The Jets-Bruins matchup features what might be best described as two escalators heading in opposite directions. Winnipeg is off its best season in ages, and the Jets have a great chance to rise a little more in the overall standings this season. The Bruins are looking as though they’re heading into a rebuilding phase and the general consensus is that Boston will be absent from the playoffs once again next spring.

The Bruins had some significant chemistry issues last season and they have cut ties with a number of veteran players. The core of this team is still on the old side, and while there might be some solid young talent on the way, I think it’s fair to assess that cohesiveness could be a big problem early in the season and perhaps beyond that.

The Jets, on the other hand, are an arrow up franchise. I don’t see any discernible weaknesses here. The defense was excellent last season, the offense appears improved and the suspect goaltending, which had been an ongoing problem, is not really a worry at this point. There is some concern that like many teams who spring forward one year, there could be some regression the next. But I really feel as though the Jets now have their deepest and most talented roster in years. I expect this team to knock on the door of the NHL’s overall top ten this season.

The Bruins have one of the league’s better goalies in Tuukka Rask. He figures to see lots of vulcanized rubber this year. It looks to me like the Boston blue line corps could be a major liability. The two best guys are long in the tooth, and the rest of the group is average. This was a weakness last season and I don’t see improvement on the way. Up front, the Bruins have more hope with some emerging talent arriving and they’re bigger than they’ve been. But overall, this just isn’t a particularly good roster and the opinion in many circles is that the the best thing the Bruins can do is focus on the future while tolerating the present.

I suspect there could be some early season value to be had fading the Bruins. Tonight looks like a possible example as Winnipeg sure looks like the better hockey team, but they’re the dogs tonight at Boston. I’ll opt to grab any available plus money with the Jets to win this game.



Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 10/7/15

There’s a full blown scandal taking place in the world of daily fantasy sports. The main topic of conversation regarding this booming industry has been whether it’s gambling or a game of skill. The answer to that question is both. There’s unquestionably luck involved on a day to day basis. Long term, the better players will win and the the lesser qualified participants won’t. So while it’s clearly gambling, there’s also a clear edge for sharper investors.

But now there’s a major problem unfolding and this is not a good thing for the daily fantasy sports industry. Based on what we know to this point, an employee of one of the two big outfits won a ton of money playing at the other site. This is really bad. While there’s no guarantee this actually happened and there’s also no guarantee it would result in a big win on any one day, there’s the distinct possibility of a huge advantage for the people involved.

It’s as simple as this. If I’m working at DFS site #1 and I have access to knowing what the biggest consistent winners are using to construct their lineups, I’m going to have a very nice edge taking my chances at site #2. If I’ve got a confederate at site #2 and vice versa, the edge increases even more. There’s just no way that this can be allowed.

This is to me, eerily similar to the whole proxy controversy we have with the big money contests here in Las Vegas. It’s my position that proxies should not be allowed to participate in the contests, as they have information simply not available to other participants. If I’m a proxy and I know what some of the leaders are playing, I can use that information for my own benefit. That is patently unfair, and anyone who can’t see that is wearing blinders.

Ditto for the DFS scandal. I’m obviously a very strong proponent of legalized gambling. But it needs to be completely above board and alleged incidents such as this have to be verboten and dealt with very seriously.


I plunked down a half unit of action on the Yankees on Tuesday night and got Keucheled. So much for that. I’m in action with one baseball play on Wednesday as well an NHL opening night wager. Note I’ll be playing only what I consider to be prime spots in hockey, so there is  no package for my NHL plays. They will simply be included as an add-on at no charge for all subscribers. I’m up to nine college plays for the upcoming weekend, and I like the looks of this card as the drive for a third straight strong football week gets underway.

For info on what I think is an outstanding guaranteed offer taking place right now, simply email at cokin@cox.net and I’ll reply with all the details.


The free play on the Yankees didn’t work out, snapping a nice little win streak on the comps. I’m looking ahead to a Saturday college game for today’s selection.



Of all the games on this Saturday’s big slate of college action, here’s one that not a whole lotta folks will give a hoot about. But I think there are some decent reasons to get involved here and I’ve already made my wager on the underdog.

Texas State has a pretty nice scheduling edge coming into this game. The Bobcats had last week off, and they also have next week off. So focus for this game should not be a problem.

Quite a bit has transpired since Texas State last played. Their defensive coordinator resigned and Head Coach Dennis Franchione’s son Brad is now running the stop unit. Reports are that the players have bought in to a few subtle scheme changes taking place and that the practices have been really good. That’s encouraging, as the Texas State defense to date this season has been abysmal, to put it mildly. This is a team with designs on getting to a bowl this year. To accomplish that feat, a game like this one is enormous for the Bobcats and I’m excited about their apparent approach to Saturday’s clash.

UL Lafayette is down substantially from last year and they’re off two bad games. The Cajuns were destroyed two weeks ago at home by Akron, and they were on the receiving end of another lopsided loss last week at Louisiana Tech. Let’s just say there’s little on the ULL ledger of late to inspire a great deal of confidence.

I have Texas State as the slightly better team on paper. Of course, this isn’t getting played on paper and the Bobcats have to show some better defense than we’ve seen from them to date. But I do expect a bit of a spike with the coordinator change and if that results in a few more stops, then Texas State will have an excellent chance to win this game. There’s every reason to believe Texas State will be the fresher team and I don’t mind at all the fact they’re out to avenge a blowout loss at home to these Cajuns last season.

Whenever dealing with a pair of teams outside the Top 100 on the ratings, anything can happen as that’s just the way it is with well below average teams. But the sharp side here appears to be Texas State and I’m grabbing the available points with the Bobcats in this game.

Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 10/6/15

BatGate! The extremely controversial no-call blown call at the end of the Lions-Seahawks game is sure to be the water cooler convo of the day. Here’s my two cents. I don’t like obscure rules deciding the outcome of any game. Make no mistake, this is a pretty obscure rule. Most fans had no idea the rule existed. Ditto for the players, and I’m really not too sure about the officials themselves.

My take is that Calvin Johnson did a poor job protecting the football, Kam Chancellor made a great play jarring the ball loose and KJ Wright could have easily caught the ball in the end zone. Instead, he batted it out of the end zone and technically, it should have been Lions football. That’s the way it is according the letter of the NFL law. I don’t agree with the rule, but that’s not really the debate here. Wright escaped wearing some huge goat horns thanks to the unwillingness of the back judge to throw the flag.

What would really be nice is if the NFL rules committee got together and fixed some of their silly rules. The tuck rule (finally done away with a couple years ago), the process rule on catches, maybe this rule, a handful of others….come on, NFL. Your rule book is more confusing than the tax code. Introduce a little logic and maybe the stripes won’t have such an impossible job.

As for the game itself, the better team won. That Seattle defense is absurdly good. The offense might not be, though, and after getting phenomenally lucky with his fumbles all of last season, the worm started turning for QB Russell Wilson last night. The Lions are now the lone remaining winless team in the league and while understanding the angst of their fans over the ending, Detroit also did little to indicate they’re anywhere near a return trip to the playoffs.


I lost with the Seahawks, so the football week ended up a still solid 10-6. That’s two strong weeks back to back and the coming week’s slate looks very promising,

The only way to get ALL my plays is directly through me. I’ll generally post roughly half the plays, maybe a little more, at the various sites that sell my selections individually. To find out how my October guaranteed special works, shoot me an email at cokin@cox.net and I’ll be happy to provide all the pertinent info.


The Monday free play was on one of the upcoming MLB playoff series, so that won’t be chalked up as a win or loss for some time. Here’s a look at tonight’s AL Wild Card duel.

ASTROS (Keuchel)  @  YANKEES (Tanaka)

Take: YANKEES -105

I’ll preface this by stating that as of now, I’m not yet involved in this game. I definitely want to see the Yankees lineup before proceeding and I’m also anxious to see where the line goes. I’ve got a lean to be sure, but whether or not the value pushes this to a full play remains to be seen. But here’s my analysis as to how I think things might go.

I’m not particularly worried about Dallas Keuchel starting for the first time on just three days rest. He’s a sinkerball pitcher and he’s not a max effort guy. Keuchel has also pretty much owned the Yankees, so he should take the mound with a great deal of confidence.

Masahiro Tanaka is more of an unknown quantity to me. Tanaka did not look good in his last regular season start against the Red Sox. The fastball wasn’t working especially well and his splitter did not have the proper depth. If that version of Tanaka shows up tonight, he’ll still get his K’s against the swing and miss Astros. But his mistakes might also get hit a long way and that Yankee Stadium short porch in right field could definitely come into play.

Nevertheless, it won’t surprise me if good Tanaka shows up here. This guy is an ace, and he’s managed to piece together a pretty good season is spite of the balky elbow that has clearly been at least an occasional hindrance.

I want to see the Yankees lineup. I’m assuming manager Joe Girardi will start Chris Young and I’m hoping he has him leading off. Young has enjoyed some success against Keuchel and he’s simply a better option here than Brett Gardner. How Girard configures his lineup is vital from my vantage point.

I see the big edge for the Yankees in the latter portion of the game. The Betances/Miller combo is dynamic and with each guy fully capable of multiple innings, one might argue that Tanaka needs to only throw five, or six at the most, innings. If the Yanks are ahead or tied, they’re in great shape and even down one run, they’d still have an excellent chance to catch up. I do not trust the Astros bullpen and I don’t think there’s any question that they need Keuchel to go very deep in this game.

I also won’t discount the veteran presence that abounds on the Yankees. The Astros are the party crashers who’ve arrived well ahead of the projections, but they can’t match up with the Yankees in the experience department. In a one and done setting, that could be a critical component.

This isn’t a strong opinion. Keuchel is absolutely not an easy guy to try and beat, and I’m sure not overly confident about Tanaka. But I have more check marks on the home team’s side here, so I’m siding with the Yankees for the free play on this game. Please check out my Twitter timeline (@davecokin) during the day for an update as to whether this play ends up on my card tonight.


Dave’s Free Play, Monday 10/5/15

Another Sunday, and another bad game for Colin Kaepernick. The steady decline for the 49ers starting quarterback has been in place for some time now, and while he’s not the only thing wrong with the team, he’s clearly the most visible problem.

I’ve been wondering aloud for the past two weeks as to why Kaepernick is still under center for San Francisco. He’s just getting worse and I can’t believe anyone on this team has any real confidence in him at this point. The running skills are still fine. But Kaepernick can no longer make relatively simple passes. Plus, the view from here is that he’s not seeing the field and processing his information properly. In other words, he really shouldn’t be on the field.

Armed with the knowledge of how Kaepernick’s contract is set up, I’m actually even more astonished he’s playing. Kaepernick is due $16.7 million next year and $19.3 in 2017. But that’s only if he’s still with the team. If the 49ers cut ties with him after this season, they would only owe him the balance of his signing bonus, and they would also save a bundle on the salary cap.

There’s one caveat, however. If Kaepernick were to get seriously injured, the 49ers would have to guarantee his salary for next season. So this begs the question…why in the world are they still playing him?

The only answer I can come up with is that the team’s management believes he can get it back together and become the Colin Kaepernick who looked like a budding superstar. I’d have to make that eventuality a huge underdog at this juncture.

If it’s not that, then I’m completely lost as to this stubbornness. The smart move is to simply go to Blaine Gabbert, hope for the best for the rest of the current season, and part ways with Kaepernick right after the campaign ends.

Based on the contract provisions, playing Kaepernick and risking injury is a very poor ploy. That’s strictly from a business standpoint. Mix in the team’s present situation, and the conclusion is obvious. Make the move to Gabbert and start thinking about the future.


My Sunday played out at 2-1 with winners on the Jaguars and Bengals and a loss with the Cardinals. A very nice weekend overall with the strong Saturday in college. Looking ahead to this next week of action, I’m not seeing the quantity I’ve had the past few weeks, but I definitely like the quality.

My October guaranteed special is working out nicely for those who decided to take advantage. The details are simple enough. A net gain of at least five units over the full 31 days is guaranteed, or the subscription continues until that minimum bottom line is achieved. The cost is $500 and the easiest method pf payment is to cokin@cox.net via PayPal. Feel free to use that email address if you’ve got questions or would like more detailed information on how my program works.


The Bengals completed a nice weekend sweep on the free football plays. Today, I’ll take a look ahead at an event that’s not lined yet, but one where I’ve made up my mind already.


Take: DODGERS (Series)

The 2015 Mets are a terrific story. This was a team that most felt might be ready to make a run at getting to .500. But the playoffs? That was a pipe dream for 2015, as the consensus was there wasn’t enough offense, and the staff was too inexperienced to contend this soon.

That was obviously not the case as the Mets are NL East division champs and it’s all gravy at this point. I don’t think there’s even the slightest amount of real pressure here. The Mets are perceived as overachievers and I actually think that’s part of the reason they’ve done this well. Low expectations often yield surprising results and if the Mets lose to the high expectation Dodgers, there shouldn’t be many complaints.

As for the Dodgers, they have the weight of being a season-long favorite that has to make a serious post-season run or the season will be regarded as a total failure. Whether or not they get as far as they’re built to remains to be seen. But I like LA to advance here.

The primary reasons for my confidence are the awesome 1-2 punch at the top of the Dodgers rotation. Clayton Kershaw has been utterly dominant and Zack Greinke is not far behind, and that’s if he’s trailing Kershaw at all. Kershaw in particular is as go with as it gets right now. Yes, there’s the memory of the 2014 playoffs, which ended up being a bit of a nightmare. But I can’t see that being a roadblock to backing Kershaw here, and in fact I expect it to be a motivator for the amazing southpaw.

The Dodgers are rightfully going to be priced as substantial chalk in this series. That might scare some off, but not me. As exciting as things are for the Mets with their brilliant arsenal of young arms and an improved offense since the arrival of Yoenis Cespedes, this is a still a team with one major flaw. The Mets have been absolutely horrendous against good teams this season. I don’t mean not so good, I mean staggeringly awful. That’s a huge key to me. The Mets did a great job of taking care of business against teams at their own level or below. When facing off against winning teams, they lost continuously.

No question, I’m going to need that there are no slip-ups in the games Kershaw and Greinke start as the rest of the LA rotation is very ordinary. But I’ll take my chances with that top two and in tandem with the inability of the Mets to beat the better teams, I’ll be laying the price with the Dodgers to win this series.

Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 10/4/15

A productive Saturday in the colleges. Here’s a rundown of the games I was on with a few observations.

Appalachian State was the first bet I made this week, but despite getting a decent number, the Mountaineers burned the bread. The big chalk looked great early but give credit to a bad Wyoming team for playing hard throughout. Spread determiner was a garbage time TD by the Cowboys as they scored with just a few ticks left. Key play was a long bomb that worked when my side’s DB fell down.

Florida International was a wrong side from start to finish at UMass. I actually nearly stole this getting +3.5 when FIU got within three in the fourth quarter. But this was not a game I was supposed to win as the Minutemen thoroughly dominated for virtually the entire game and really should have won going away.

Iowa got the outright win at Wisconsin in a game that figured to be close and ended up being exactly that. The Badgers stubbed their toes on several occasions, but that is becoming a rule rather than the exception at this point. Sharp money showed up on the Hawkeyes and while the outright result was in question late, the spread result pretty much wasn’t.

Nice win for Pittsburgh against a Virginia Tech program that is in decline. Gotta wonder how much longer Frank Beamer stays on the sidelines. The Hokies are pretty ordinary at this point. The Panthers are gaining confidence under new coach Narduzzi and could be a pesky dog in conference play.

Tulane was much the best as they throttled Central Florida. The Panthers really need to get QB Holman back from his broken finger as their offense is pretty awful right now. Big win for the Green Wave and the final score was not indicative of how lopsided this game was. Tulane ended up as a 1.5x play for me so I was very happy with this result.

Kansas State lost the game but managed to stay within the number at Stillwater. The Wildcats had a terrific first half but they were completely outplayed throughout the second half. Thankfully, they hit a big play following a bad defensive holding penalty by Oklahoma State, and that was on a third down deep in their own territory. That set up K-State for a needed TD, which was huge from a spread standpoint. I’m not sure how many games it was, but this loss ended a very long Bill Snyder streak of winning when ahead at halftime.

Air Force got stopped on a fourth and goal fairly early against Navy, and that pretty much set the tone for the day as the Falcons were concerned. I had a feeling I was in trouble when this line went down as far as it did. I don’t like being on steam chaser sides and this game was one of those. Navy was the better team and earned the win and cover.

Alabama was a snap decision for me. Nick Saban plus points against Mark Richt? Sign me up. Grayson Lambert is still the same QB he was at Virginia. Not the worst guy on the planet, but he just doesn’t seem to see the field well. As for Richt, this didn’t help his rep for coming up short in the biggest games.

Boston College has a tremendous defense. That’s keeping them in games as the offense is not good at all. Neither is the kicking game. BC had a great shot to get the outright upset, but the kicker was well wide left and that was that. If you watched the game, you saw a very relieved David Cutcliffe on the Duke sideline at the very end. This game was an obvious Under that I passed on, but the Eagles plus the points worked out well enough.

Vanderbilt was my payback for the Appalachian State fade. The punchless Commodores rallied from ten back in the fourth quarter and that’s not something they’re particularly well equipped to do. Second straight very tough loss for Middle Tennessee, and this was a game they really wanted against their big brothers from just down the street.

Arkansas tried to give away the game to Tennessee, but the Volunteers were having none of that. I think the heat is really on Butch Jones at this point. Tennessee was sharp early and led 14-0, but the Hogs hung tough and eventually took the game over. Bret Bielema passed on a short FG in the fourth quarter and went for a fake that failed. I thought that was a very shaky decision at the time but it didn’t end up mattering and I ended up not needing the points. But that line was too high in any event.

Colorado State looked pretty good early with a 10-3 lead at Utah State. But the Aggies, who’ve struggled so far this season, got it going nicely in the second quarter and stayed sharp despite a weather delay at halftime. Wrong side with the Rams in this one.

Result for the day was 8-4 on full game plays, 0-1-1 on a pair of small 2H middle shots. +3.85 altogether and it’s on to Sunday in the NFL.


The October special will be in effect all month and covers a full 31 days from whenever the signup takes place. There’s a nice guarantee with this package. For complete info on cost and how the program works, just email me at cokin@cox.net.

My Sunday ticket will feature three NFL sides and I’ve also already played the Monday night game. I haven’t done any baseball work yet for the final day of the regular season, but the likelihood is I’ll just wait for the playoff action to begin.


Iowa and Pittsburgh both worked out nicely as the free plays. Let’s see about getting another plus result with this week’s NFL comp.

265 CHIEFS  @  266 BENGALS

Take: BENGALS -3.5

The season is only three weeks old, so it’s risky to formulate unshakable opinions, unless you’re talking about the Patriots, the Packers, and at the other end of the spectrum, the Bears. But maybe after four years of getting to the playoffs and then going home fairly rapidly, just maybe this Bengals team might have a shot to do a little more.

Cincinnati has certainly been impressive thus far. Andy Dalton might never be a superstar and he can still make the occasional horrid mistake. But he’s a QB with a wealth of weapons and I have to say I really liked how he responded to some major fourth quarter adversity last week. The Dalton we’re used to seeing would likely not have rallied after blowing the lead at Baltimore. But this time Dalton came up big, with a huge assist from the amazing AJ Green.

That was a great win for the Bengals. They have a dangerous look ahead with the Seahawks coming to town next week. But this is a 3-0 Cincy entry that is playing at a very high level and on paper, they’ve got a great chance to keep the run going here as the Chiefs come calling.

Kansas City has been decidedly ordinary so far. They managed to beat the Texans on the road to get the season started. But they were deadly brilliant in that game and I don’t think they’ve looked good in losses to the Broncos and Packers. The final score in the Green Bay game was phony as that game was a blowout. Sure, it was Aaron Rodgers orchestrating the annihilation of the KC secondary and Andy Dalton is not Aaron Rodgers. But the Chiefs have holes on that stop unit and this Cincinnati team has the arsenal to exploit those vulnerabilities.

I like the notion of coming back with a team I just won with. It’s more a comfort zone feeling than anything else, but after winning with the Bengals last week, it’s fairly easy for me to fire right back on them in a spot where they look to me to be the superior squad. If Cincinnati plays the way they have through the first three weeks, they’re going to win this game and I’m willing to lay the points with the Bengals here.