Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 11/30/14

  • November 30, 2014

I have a question for those who argued for so many years that there was no need for a college football playoff series. The stance consistently taken was that the two best teams would end up in the big game, and that all the conversation was good for the game. So the question is, what the hell could you possibly have been thinking?

This is the most exciting finish to any regular season in college football history. Take away the four-team playoff, and the only thing we’ve got is an argument that cannot be settled as to how an unbeaten team cannot be in the title game. Or, if the current Florida State entry happened to be in the title game, the dispute would be over whether it’s deserved based on their inability to soundly defeat anyone. Instead, we’ve got some monster games coming up on Championship Saturday and the water cooler convos leading up to the games should be awesome.

Regardless of which side of the Florida State fence you’re on, the fact the argument would not be settled on the field renders the entire conversation meaningless. A total waste of time because there’s no way to actually prove the point either way.

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about that anymore. If Florida State survives the ACC title game with Georgia Tech, they’re in. If Alabama can defeat Missouri in the SEC championship battle, they’re in. Oregon is a lock if they can handle Arizona in the PAC-12. TCU is now a favorite to claim one of the four spots as the rep out of the Big 12, in spite of not being forced to play a league title game.

The Horned Frogs were the big winners this weekend. They dominated Texas on Thanksgiving night, and will now move back into the Top Four thanks to Mississippi State getting knocked off in the Egg Bowl. TCU also benefited from a very shaky win by Baylor. The Bears can still perhaps get back into the conversation if they blast Kansas State next week, as they do own the win over TCU. But I think Baylor has hurt its cause with two less than impressive wins the last two weeks over teams they needed to crush.

As for the other playoff hopefuls, Ohio State is still alive and if the Buckeyes can beat Wisconsin in the Big 10 title game, they could force their  way into the fourth spot. That’s the real threat to TCU at this point, although one has to wonder if the committee penalizes Ohio State for an injury to its starting QB.

Ohio State’s best hope is that one of the top three teams get upset. That’s not an outlandish thought by any means. Alabama will be a big favorite against Missouri. But Oregon’s PAC-12 nemesis is Arizona, so that’s no cinch. As for Florida State, the Seminoles will be short chalk against a red hot Georgia Tech side, and if the Yellow Jackets get the win, it would qualify as no more than a very mild upset.

So this is truly good stuff. The only thing better? An expansion to eight teams for the playoffs. And that’s not far away.

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Good day here on Saturday (finally) with a 6-2 college football result. I got a really lucky win on Hawaii, as the Warriors back doored their way to a cover after being down 28-0. Not the first time that team has come roaring back to steal a spread win down the stretch, and after some of the beats I absorbed this week, I had a larcenous winner way overdue.

The December special is not on the “buy now” menu yet. But it’s simple enough. Buy the month and get a major guarantee of at least 10 net units of profit, with almost all plays being one unit. Anything short of that, no charge until a net profit of at least ten units is realized. Since it’s not on the menu yet, best move is to email me at cokin@cox.net for payment details plus more info on the package.

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Free plays are going pretty well right now, and Hawaii was, while not one to brag about, a helluva nice winner the way it played out. If bad beats are the ultimate pain in this endeavor, winning the ones that appear to have no chance are the flip side. Here’s this week’s NFL comp.

11/30 01:05 PM   NFL   (469) ARIZONA CARDINALS  at  (470) ATLANTA FALCONS

Take: (470) ATLANTA FALCONS +2

The most difficult obstacle for many bettors is the willingness to back an ugly side. That’s one of the differences between pros and joes. The pros don’t care. if they get what they’re looking for regardless of the criteria, they fire and let the chips fall where they may. it doesn’t mean they’re always correct, as any bookmaker can attest to, but the bottom line is that popularity of a play means zero to long term winners.

That’s the preface to my play today on the Falcons. Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way right off the top. The Falcons are not a good football team and they have a coach who apparently cannot tell time. At 4-7, the Falcons are perhaps the worst first place squad I’ve ever seen. And the bet percentages sure indicate that not many wagerers are hesitating to fade them here with the 9-2 Cardinals coming to town.

Okay, so here are a few reasons I’ll be joining the minority opinion. First, I think the Cardinals are a bit of a fraud. Bruce Arians has done an incredible job of finding ways to get what, off the actual data is a very average team, to the winner’s circle week after week. But those numbers are still revealing to me. I see the 2014 Cardinals as the updated version of the 2013 Chiefs.

You might recall KC started the ’13 campaign 9-0, but were never close to being that good. Once they finally lost, the wheels pretty much came off and the Chiefs went 2-5 down the stretch. I kind of look at Arizona the same way. They have managed to to compile a gaudy record, but now they’ve finally had that long winning streak snapped. I’ve been waiting for the Cardinals to finally lose a game, which they now have, and I want to see if if they’re going to now begin to slip off the rails.

Drew Stanton’s presence at QB has to start becoming a liability in my estimation. His road QBR numbers are terrible and without a running game, I think this Arizona offense is going to start struggling. I’ll accept the notion it might not happen here as the Atlanta defense stinks, but I don’t see Stanton taking even the Falcons apart.

The Falcons are serious underachievers. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see them as anything resembling an elite football team. But they’re at least middle of the pack in terms of overall talent, and should not be 4-7. That’s probably the Mike Smith factor, and he’s my biggest worry here. So it’s not like I’m in love with the Falcons, it’s more that I am convinced now is the time to try and beat Arizona.

In terms of my numbers, I’ve got this a tossup. With Palmer on the field, I’d probably have Arizona -2. But I started docking the Cardinals two points when he got injured and off the lack of offense Arizona has displayed the last two games, I believe the power rating penalty is warranted.

I don’t care much about the sharp/square argument. It’s interesting to observe and perhaps track, but I play my own opinions. As it happens, I’ve got one side today that’s probably pretty square. But this is one where I’m oppo the planet for all intents and purposes. I won’t call it a great value play, as I’m not sure it is to much of an extent if at all. But I like the spot in terms of fading the favorite and I’m lining up today on the Falcons plus the available points.