Dave’s Free Play, Monday 12/28/15

  • December 28, 2015

The Arizona Cardinals will likely enter the playoffs as the #2 NFC seed. But I’ve got them atop my power ratings as the best team in the league, and they sure looked like it on Sunday afternoon. The Cardinals destroyed Green Bay in a totally lopsided 38-8 mauling.

My #2 NFC team is Seattle, even though the Seahawks were big upset victims to a mediocre Rams entry. The game meant next to nothing to the Seahawks and they played like it. Had this occurred in a more meaningful situation, there would be some kind of an adjustment in my rankings. But I basically just dismissed the performance as it was of little consequence.

I’ll be interested to see the approach these teams take next Sunday as they meet at Arizona. There probably won’t be much on the line unless Carolina somehow gets upset at home by Tampa Bay. If that were to take place, the Cardinals would have great reason to win, but that’s a long shot. More likely, we get a game where neither team wants to gamble on injuries, and where neither wants to tip their hand with a potential playoff battle looming down the road.

I also thought the Seattle effort, or lack thereof against the Rams, validated an opinion I’ve had for what amounts to forever. That is, the players don’t really care much about where they’re seeded. Seattle would logically want to finish as the #5 seed, as they would then get to face the Redskins, who will enter the playoffs as the #4 seed. But logic and reality don’t always share the same platform. It’s my experience that the players just want to make sure they’re in, and that from that point on it doesn’t matter who they’re playing.

In any event, the only somewhat meaningful game next week in the NFC will be the Vikings-Packers showdown for the NFC North title. I’m not sure how much that really matters either. True, the winner gets to play at home on wild card week, but there’s no bye on the line. In fact, one might argue that the loser of this game might make out better. That team could end up facing the Redskins, while the winner might get Seattle. No offense to Washington fans, but if I’m a Packers or Vikings supporter, I’d rather avoid an opening round clash with the Seahawks.

Over in the AFC, things are now wide open thanks to the Patriots loss to the Jets coupled with the Steelers getting stunned by the Ravens. Pittsburgh is now the team on the outside looking in, but they’re far from being out of it. They will need to beat the Browns, and then hope the Jets lose at Buffalo. That’s not exactly a cinch not to happen. Denver still needs to win a game as well, although even if they were to get beat by the Bengals tonight, they still have the Chargers at home next Sunday. But the fading Broncos really need to win tonight, or they are very likely to end up as wild cards, as the Chiefs are now positioned to overtake them for the divisional title. And no doubt, the Jets vs. Rex Ryan with the post-season on the line is pretty compelling.

There might not be huge suspense on the line next Sunday, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be a big wagering weekend. Pay as much attention as you can to the reports from the various beat columnists around the league as there’s often a gem or two having to do with a team playing out the string that can garner a nice betting edge for the final Sunday. I know that’s one thing I’ll definitely be keeping a watchful eye on throughout the week.

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2-2 Sunday here. That produced a small profit as I went heavier on the Cardinals. As has been the case on what seems like a daily basis this month, I lost a game I probably should have won as the Bruins were the better team throughout at Ottawa, but the final score disagreed and that’s how the result gets determined. Nevertheless, anytime I can go .500 and pick up a few dollars, it’s not the worst thing in the world.

I probably won’t have much tonight. I’m not forcing plays, and my numbers aren’t offering a great deal this evening. If I end up taking the night off, no big deal. There’s plenty coming just around the bend. For info on how to get exactly what I’m on each day, along with the included guarantees, email me for all the pertinent data at cokin@cox.net.

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Tough beat on the Sunday free play. The Bruins pretty well dominated at Ottawa, with a better than 2:1 scoring chance advantage, but a great game by Craig Anderson and a kind of fluky Ottawa goal went against Boston and that’s simply the breaks of the game. I’m going heavy chalk for the Monday comp.

KINGS  @  WARRIORS

Take: WARRIORS -12.5

It’s not so long ago that I generally wouldn’t even consider laying doubles in the NBA. But flexibility has to reign when it comes to betting on any sport and so it goes in the NBA. It’s no longer the worst gamble in the world to bet on the blowout occurring, and that’s the case tonight as Golden State plays host to Sacramento.

Note that as I’m writing this piece, the game is not on the board everywhere due to the status of Warriors superstar Stephen Curry. He’s nursing a calf injury and while he’s currently listed as probable, some books are exercising caution and have the game off right now. I used the Southpoint line, as that’s playable right now.

The game sets up pretty well for the favorite. The Warriors just don’t seem to suffer letdowns, so in spite of the fact they’re off the big game win against Cleveland, I’m not going to try and look for a flat mindset that might not exist. What does exist is the matchup. The Kings love to play as fast as they can, and so does Sacramento. These are the two quickest-paced teams in the NBA, and I think it’s safe to say the Kings don’t do it nearly as well as the Warriors.

The recent meetings between these teams bears out that opinion as Golden State has owned the Kings. They’ve won the last six by an average of 19 points per game. You can argue that’s small sample, which it is, but it’s also relevant in my opinion as there’s no reason to think the Kings are suddenly going to try to play this game differently than what is their norm. And as for the Warriors, if you can’t slow them down, you’ve basically got no chance unless they have an off night collectively. Golden State has one loss all season, so apparently that just doesn’t happen.

I made this number Warriors -18, and note I upgrade this team when they have two or more days rest coming in, as their numbers in that situation are simply ridiculous.

Assuming Curry is good to go, I expect the usual result tonight. That is, another big win by the NBA’s best team. The Warriors minus the heavy lumber are the choice.