Dave’s Free Play, Monday 12/21/15
I made the comment some weeks ago that the Kansas City Chiefs had a legitimate chance to put together a 10-game winning streak. That wasn’t as daring as it might seem, as the team had a dream schedule down the stretch. I also stated that this would get them one of the two AFC wild card berths. I might have sold the Chiefs short on that one.
It’s suddenly a horse race to the AFC West finish line as the Broncos have put it in reverse. Denver really let one get away yesterday, as they coughed up a big lead in an eventual 34-27 loss at Pittsburgh. The Steelers scored 24 unanswered points to register a very important win, which certainly enhanced their chances of getting to the playoffs.
The Broncos are locked into the post-season already, but this team has some real issues on offense. This was the third consecutive game where Denver was held scoreless after halftime. It’s pretty clear this team has QB problems. Peyton Manning is getting closer to returning, but let’s just say there’s question about whether there’s anything left in that tank. Brock Osweiler might be good down the road as he gains experience, but he’s struggling presently.
Regardless of whether Denver holds to win the division or arrives in the post-season via the wild entry, they just don’t look like a force to be reckoned with right now. The second half game stats the last three weeks are thoroughly discouraging. The view from here is that Gary Kubiak and his staff are getting beat in the halftime adjustment category. That might sound familiar to some fans of the Houston Texans.
While the Broncos are fading, the team that’s rising would be the Seattle Seahawks. The two-time defending NFC champs are now locked in as a wild card after taking care of business against the Browns yesterday. Seattle is a scary team right now. They’re peaking late once again, and while Carolina could end up 16-0 while earning the top seed, I think the Seahawks are starting to look like the team to beat in that conference. That swagger is back and QB Russell Wilson is playing at a sky high level right now. The hangover from blowing a second straight Super Bowl title is now a distant memory and I don’t believe there’s a better team in the NFC at this time.
The fade by the Broncos hurt me yesterday, as I played the game on Saturday at +6.5, not anticipating that it would fly all the way to 7.5 by game time. I’m usually very good at getting the right price if not the right result, but I missed the boat on this one and it proved costly. The other stuff split out yesterday, so my tough sledding continues. I already played tonight’s football game and will have a small handful of college buckets on Monday as well, along with a likely play on the ice.
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The Packers managed to get the win and cover at Oakland as the free play, although I can’t say I was particular impressed by the way they played. Green Bay was basically gifted 14 early points and they needed every one of them. Tonight’s comp is on a college basketball game.
745 SAM HOUSTON STATE vs. 746 UC IRVINE
Take: UC IRVINE -10
If you want to have a very good idea of what betting lines will be for college basketball well in advance of the number actually being posted, there’s a very easy way to get this info. The very popular kenpom.com website offers projections on every D1 game. These numbers are almost invariably very close to where the actual line opens. The website is absolutely the nuts when it comes to the array of statistical data involved and the annual subscription fee is a drop in the bucket that you’ll profit from immediately if you’re researching matchups.
I always get interested when I see the betting line open at a number that isn’t close to where kenpom has it. Today’s game at El Paso between Sam Houston State and UC-Irvine is a classic example. The kenpom projection is Irvine by 5, but the true opener on this game was Anteaters -10.
This looks like a game where the physical advantages are all Irvine and that caused the oddsmakers to inflate the number in order to hopefully generate some play on the underdog Bearkats. Sam Houston won 50 games over the past two seasons. But the Bearkats graduated most of their top talent they’re really struggling to put the ball in the basket so far this season. Sam Houston is 5-5 thus far, but only two of the wins came against D1 opposition and three of the losses were by substantial margins.
Irvine is sitting at 8-4 and while I wouldn’t say they’ve been anything sensational, they’re also not underperforming expectations. All four losses were to better teams, and they’ve taken care of business against the teams they’re supposed to handle.
As for those physical advantages, the Anteaters are much, much bigger than the Bearkats. Sam Houston is going to have to knock down some outside shots here and also work hard to protect the glass. While it’s true that UC Irvine is not really a particular good rebounding team, they’re just so much bigger than this opponent I don’t see how they can miss getting some second chance putbacks.
I suppose there’s a small site advantage for the underdog with the game being played at El Paso, but I don’t see it as particular significant, and the most I’d award the Bearkats is one point. It looks like the oddsmakers didn’t give them even that.
This kind of goes back to an old belief I’ve maintained since I started betting back in the days when we parked our horses outside the sports book. If the guys putting up the numbers post one that is way off where it’s apparently supposed to be, trust the guys putting up the numbers. That’s the way I see this game, and I’ll go that route with a call on UC Irvine minus the points.