- The Season's Over -

Want to Own Empty the Bench? Buy It!

February 3, 2014

We’re in the process of closing up shop here at ETB — yes, a process that’s been in the works for years now — and are hanging up the old “for sale” sign. If you’re interested in purchasing the Empty the Bench domain and all the good stuff that comes with it, please contact me at gornron [at] yahoo [dot] com.  – Brian

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No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Feb. 3, 2014 at 3:39am in Administrative

Four of the Greatest NBA Games of All-Time

October 17, 2012

Thanks to our sponsors who contributed this post.

The other day I hooked up with a fellow sports handicapper, who happens to be a huge National Basketball Association fan. Being as we hadn’t touched base since the 2012 NBA Playoffs had ended, the conversation quickly turned to the Miami Heat finally crowning their King by getting a ring on LeBron James’ finger. After briefly chatting about the NBA Finals series being kind of anticlimactic, the conversation quickly turned into a rather heated debate over which contests could be included in the discussion of the greatest games in NBA history.

There are a ton of games that qualify, most of which have kept hoops fans who had bets tied up at sports betting sites on the web, up until the wee hours of the morning, fingers crossed. After we each rolled out several games that were tattooed to our collective memories, here are some of the more memorable NBA games that received a common nod. Thoughts?

Indianapolis Olympians vs. Rochester Royals – Longest NBA Game in History

Back when sportsbooks were just beginning to dot the Nevada desert landscape – they were called Turf Clubs back then – Indianapolis and Rochester played in what is still the longest game in NBA history. The date was January 6, 1951, and the Olympians edged the Royals 75-73 in six overtime periods. While both teams would later fold, this contest stands the test of time not only for its length, but for its influence on the NBA as well. While games often reach the 75-73 point range by the third quarter today, this match-up was played before the shot clock was introduced in the NBA. With both teams seemingly playing keep-away from each other, the 23 total combined shots in overtime helped usher in the 24-second clock era in 1954.

Detroit Pistons vs. Denver Nuggets – 1983 NBA Contest Pays OVER Bettors Big Time

If you need proof that the implementation of the shot clock helped raise scoring in the NBA, look no further than the Pistons versus Nuggets gem that was played at the McNichols Sports Arena back on December 13, 1983. Though only watched in person by some 9,655 fans, this contest was a shootout from the get-go as the teams were tied 74-74 at halftime. The assault on the rims continued in the second half and the fourth quarter ended with the scored tied 145-145. Three overtime periods later, the Motor City Bad Boys finally pulled down a 186-184 victory. The 370 total points scored was, and still is, the NBA record for most points in a single game.

Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan vs. Phoenix Suns Charles Barkley – 1993 NBA Finals

Considered by many hoops fans to be one of the greatest games in NBA Finals history, the matchup between Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley back on June 13, 1993, is easily in the conversation. This Game 3 Finals contest is known as much for Jordan’s 44-points scored in a losing effort as it is for Bulls guard Scottie Pippen shooting a horrendous 13 of 33 from the field – in a game played in his own backyard. Charles was in charge in this one as Barkley pulled down 19 rebounds, helping the Suns to a 129-121 triple overtime win. This was after Chicago had taken the first two games of the series in Phoenix against the Suns, who had an NBA best record of 62-20 that season. In the end, the marathon loss was just a blip on the map for the Bulls as Chicago captured their third straight Larry O’Brien Trophy with a 4-2 series win.

OKC Thunder Leave the Grizzlies Singing the Memphis Blues in Triple Overtime

Oklahoma City and Memphis waged an epic Game 4 battle in the NBA Conference Semi-Finals back on May 9, 2011. In that contest the Thunder rolled the Grizzlies 133-123 in triple overtime from the Home of the Blues. As the sixth-longest contest in NBA history, this was a game changer for the Thunder as they tied the series at two games apiece heading back to OKC. After leading for most of the game, Memphis was down 96-93 with three seconds to play. Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley then drained a 26-foot three-point jumper to send the contest into overtime with the scored tied at 96-96. Another 26-foot Memphis three-pointer, this time by guard Greivis Vasquez, sent the game to a second OT with the game tied at 109-109. The second OT saw each team score ten points before the Thunder outscored the Grizzlies 14-4 in the third OT period to capture the victory.

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No CommentsPosted by ETB Contributor on Oct. 17, 2012 at 12:18pm in Administrative, NBA

JaVale McGee a Perfect Fit in Denver

March 23, 2012

JaVale McGee

Still just 24 years old and playing in his fourth NBA season, JaVale McGee is only scratching the surface of his potential after averaging 11 points (54% FG), 8.4 boards, and 2.5 blocks in just 27:30 minutes/per over the the last two seasons with the Washington Wizards. We’ll never know whether his immense potential would have ever been fully tapped and realized in Washington, but like many others I have a feeling the deadline deal that rescued him from that dysfunctional (and directionless) franchise and plopped him smack in the middle of the young-and-fun-to-watch Denver Nuggets just might be the best thing that happens to the freakishly long seven-footer.

His impact was immediate and sizable in his first game as a Nugget, as he came off the bench for 24 minutes against the Detroit Pistons Wednesday night and racked up 15 points, 7 boards, 3 blocks, and 1 steal, including a high-difficulty alley-oop pass from half court and a game-winning slam dunk off a missed Afflalo free throw.

The solid, stable coaching staff in place should pay dividends in the development of his raw offensive game, while the hard-working and generally focused core of Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried (Manimal!), Danilo Gallinari (somewhat of a lost season for this kid, unfortunately, thanks to recurring injuries), Wilson Chandler (welcome back), and Arron Afflalo figures to rub off. McGee’s unbelievable length and athleticism is a wonderful match for this uptempo offense, and his much-needed shot-blocking talents (about 2.5/per over past two seasons) help shore up the glaring weakness that is current starting center Timofey “Posterize Me” Mozgov in the middle.

You don’t need any sportsbook review to know Mozgov won’t be starting in the middle much longer, however. It’s hard to say how quickly George Karl will fully commit to McGee at center–it’s entirely possible, in fact, he comes off the bench for the rest of the season as the Nuggets’ impressive depth allows Karl plenty of room to tinker with his starting lineup and rotation based on matchups.

Come opening day of the 2012/13 season, however, McGee will firmly be “the guy”, and hopefully be flaunting something beyond just the dunk on offense–as well as a new contract with his rookie deal that’ll pay roughly $3.5 million next season is set to expire. Denver acquired McGee for a reason, though (okay, they also wanted to dump Nene’s bloated contract), and I fully expect him to be taken care of if not this offseason then sometime during next.

I already liked the Nuggets’ direction and pool of young, internally developed talent–McGee makes both that much stronger.

2 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 23, 2012 at 2:43pm in NBA

A Super Night at the Super Bowl

February 3, 2012

Wherein Joe Namath has no time to “make a pass” and we learn that even aliens from the planet of Carthoid get their gasoline “from the same place everybody else does: the a-rabs.”

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Feb. 3, 2012 at 9:31am in NFL

Which of These Is Not Like the Other?

January 12, 2012

Jimmer

2 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Jan. 12, 2012 at 9:15pm in NBA

Things That Made Me Smile During the Trail Blazers – Clippers Game on January 10, 2012

January 11, 2012

Blazers

By Brian Spencer

+ Reggie Evans, the undrafted 10th-year veteran playing for the fifth team in his NBA career, logged just under 17 minutes of action off the bench, chipping in 2 points, 7 boards, 1 assist, and 1 block. Ho-hum numbers, sure, but the guy’s contributions can’t be measured in flat post-game box scores.

Evans was a major get for a Clippers team that suddenly looks like a legitimate contender in the West. He’s essentially a two-trick pony—defense and rebounding—but any team harboring serious championship aspirations needs role players like Evans. Loved his offensive rebound late in the fourth quarter, where he streaked down the middle of the paint and tipped the ball away from LaMarcus Aldridge (or was it Camby?) as two or three other Blazers near the glass looked on like disinterested pedestrians wearing cement shoes. He then dished a nifty no-look pass to Chauncey “Big Shot” Billups for one of his signature three-point bullets. Key play in the Clippers’ fourth-quarter comeback bid.

+ At one point in the fourth there was a close-up of Chris Paul getting ready to inbound the ball from the baseline. Just behind, a lumbering Blazers fan screaming bloody murder at him, his red-faced friend seated next to him dying of laughter. Good times.

+ Raymond Felton playing really, really well and with as much confidence as I’ve seen from him (which isn’t to say I focus on or follow Felton that closely). He’s still not a great shooter (41% FG career, 36% in 9 games this season), but the fifth-overall pick in ’05 looks like he may have found a home in Portland. Good vibes and positive body language every time I’ve watched the Blazers the past few weeks. Last night was one of his better overall efforts so far: 17 points (5-10 FG), 8 assists, 3 steals, 1 board, 3 turnovers in 37:30 minutes. Smooth, assured, and smart.

+ DeAndre Jordan, the sometimes scary-good, othertimes scary-bad 6-11 center of the present and future for the Clippers, calming swishing two clutch free throws with about 3 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Why notable? He’s shooting a lowly 41% from the line so far in his four-year career. Nothing bothers me more than NBA players who for whatever reason never figure out how to be at least 75% free-throw shooters—particularly guys like Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard who get fouled purposely because they are (or were, in O’Neal’s case) so pitiful. Here’s hoping Jordan and the Clippers’ coaches make this a point of emphasis moving forward and add that dimension to his repertoire.

+ The rollicking atmosphere at the Rose Garden, where the place is always packed (or at least looks that way on TV), where the fans are always in tune with the game and screaming their hearts out, and where the public address announcer rarely needs to prompt the crowd to scream said hearts out. Nothing more depressing than watching a, say, home game for the Atlanta Hawks and hearing the PA constantly starting chants of “Defense!” by himself—and getting little to no reaction.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace Photo Credit: Icon Sports Media

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Jan. 11, 2012 at 1:12pm in NBA

Degenerate Gambler Weekly: Week 14 NFL Picks Against the Spread

December 9, 2011

Team hug

By Brian Spencer

How We Did Last Week: Rough week at 3-4. Not a total disaster, but the problem is that we got our bottom three picks correct and top four incorrect, which hurts us in our weekly pool (first pick counts for 7 points, second pick for 6 points, and so on).

We’re running a bit behind schedule this week–and I’m flying out to Bangkok tomorrow–so we’re giving you the quick-and-dirty version of this week’s picks. Choose, but choose wisely, my degenerate friends: we’re in the final month of regular-season betting, so make it count.

Best Bet

San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) at Arizona Cardinals: The last three previews I’ve read for this game either predict the Cards to win outright or to cover. I can see where that line of thinking comes from: the 49ers field a somewhat stale offense, the Cards are actually somehow on a mini-roll and at home, and most of the Arizona’s losses have been close ones. Honestly, we’re a bit nervous about this one, but in the end, we feel more comfortable betting on the more talented team. 49ers will find a way to cover this one, but it’ll be close.
PICK: 49ers Cover

Strong Bets

New Orleans Saints (-3.5) at Tennessee Titans: This one screams “trap game” and “trap spread”, and I’m loathe betting for or against either one of these teams since they always seem to fuck us one way or the other. The Saints are one of the hottest (and best) teams in the NFL right now, while the Titans are solidly in middle-of-the-pack territory. Again, hesitant to take what looks like a slam dunk double-digit win for the Saints on paper, but, well, we’re taking ‘em anyway. PICK: Saints Cover

New England Patriots (-7.5) at Washington Redskins: Last week the Pats were 21.5 point favorites at home against the winless Indianapolis Colts. Final score: Patriots 31, Colts 24. That’s one truly horrendous pass defense in New England, but we see at least a 10-point win here. PICK: Patriots Cover

Just Trust Us

Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) vs. St. Louis Rams: With A.J. Feeley and Sam Bradford both highly questionable at best to be under center on Sunday, the Rams will likely trot Tom Brandstater out as their starting quarterback on the road in one of the toughest environments in the NFL. Those will be the first snaps of his career; if he falters, recently signed Kellen Clemens would be the next in line. Uh, yeah. PICK: Seahawks Cover

Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers: Another potential trap game, and we think the Panthers offense are going to hang some points on the board here, but it’s that Panthers defense that’s the problem: they can’t stop anybody right now. Atlanta needs this one.
PICK: Falcons Cover

Denver Broncos (-3.5) vs. Chicago Bears:Overheard in the Lord’s Favorite Watering Hole in South Heaven: “What time is it? Tebow time!” PICK: Broncos Cover

Houston Texans (+3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals: The Texans seem to have team-wide faith in rookie QB T.J. Yates, and why not? He’s obviously a work in progress, but hasn’t been the season-killer some may have thought he’d be after Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart both suffered season-ending injuries. The Texans ride Arian Foster, Ben Tate, and one of the league’s best and most underrated defenses to a road win over the reeling Bengals.
PICK: Texans Cover

San Francisco 49ers Photo Credit: Icon SMI

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Dec. 9, 2011 at 11:36am in NFL

Degenerate Gambler Weekly: Week 13 NFL Picks Against the Spread

December 1, 2011

Laurent Robinson

By Brian Spencer

How We Did Last Week

We stuffed ourselves silly on Thanksgiving and couldn’t recover in time to get last week’s picks up, but of course still turned them into the weekly pool. A strong 5-2 week looked like a surefire 6-1 week, but then the Steelers offense happened on MNF and they failed to cover 9.5 at the Chiefs, despite an anemic showing from Tyler Palko & Co. As for Week 11, it was our worst showing of the season by far: 1-6. Oops.

Best Bet

Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) at Arizona Cardinals: We usually feel really good about at least one game every week, if not two or three, but nothing really jumped out at us as a lock. This is the closest thing to it, with a streaking Cowboys team heading to the desert to take on a Cardinals team that’s represented themselves well enough as of late, but one we still have very little confidence in against a team that’s clicking like Dallas is.

Look for Laurent Robinson to extend his incredible touchdown streak to six games in a row, and for studly rookie RB DeMarco Murray to help salt away a double-digit win in the fourth quarter. PICK: Cowboys Cover

Strong Bets

Green Bay Packers (-6.5) at New York Giants: At first glance this feels like somewhat of a trap game and spread, but can’t overlook just how dismal the Giants have looked since their 24-20 upset of the New England Patriots a month ago. The loss to the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago was embarassing, but the blowout loss to the Saints was somehow even worse: the Giants defense basically packed it in midway through the third quarter. I’m also sore about that garbage touchdown they gifted to Mark Ingram, which handed Mr. Thell an inexplicable two-point win over me in fantasy football.

The Packers can’t keep this up forever (right?), but injuries are really taking a toll on the Giants right now, as is the losing and dimming playoff hopes. We can see this being close, but also see the Pack winning by at least a touchdown. PICK: Packers Cover

Norvball

Cincinnati Bengals (+7.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers: The season-ending (career-threatening?) injury to top CB Leon Hall is such a shame: this Bengals team has proven they’re legitimate playoff contenders, but the loss of Hall obviously hurts.

How about that A.J. Green? Head coach Marvin Lewis recently called him “the most impressive first-round pick he’s ever been around”, and it seems he leaps his way to big, acrobatic plays every week; if the guy had any basketball goals, I’m sure some NBA team would invite him to camp. He leads the team in receptions (44), receiving yards (745), and TDs (6), and pairs nicely with his rookie classmate QB Andy Dalton. This offense is going to give teams fits for years, especially once they find a young stud running back.

Anyway, with Troy Polamalu looking questionable (concussion symptoms), we’ll take the points in a key divisional matchup that could come down to the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh won the previous matchup by 7 points; we woudn’t be shocked if that margin of victory is reversed in Cincy’s favor. PICK: Bengals Cover

Just Trust Us

St. Louis Rams (+13.5) at San Francisco 49ers: The Rams are terrible and the 49ers are cruising on their backs of their imposing defense and serviceable offense. Still, 13.5 points seems rich for a 49ers offense near the bottom of the league in total yards per with 308. This is basically Colts/Pats Jr. (see below): it’s tough covering spreads like this. PICK: Rams Cover

San Diego Chargers (-2.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars: I know–we just refuse to learn our lesson with the Chargers. Classic Norvball on display in that last week’s overtime loss to the Broncos, wherein the Chargers, as usual, played not to lose, not to win. Nothing new on that front. It’s a small wonder that Norv wasn’t fired on Monday morning, especially since that loss, their sixth in a row, basically killed the season. I guess it’s just business as usual in San Diego.

The Jaguars, on the other hand, endured the exact opposite this week after their 20-13 loss to the Texans pushed their record to 3-8. Head coach Jack Del Rio was canned, a number of players were benched or cut (including WR Jason Hill), and their owner cut bait on this lifeless franchise and sold the team. Sadly, we’re still not sure which team is in more disarray, but like the Chargers to cover because… well… honestly, I have no fucking clue why we think they’ll cover. We just do. PICK: Chargers Cover

Indianapolis Colts (+21.5) at New England Patriots: We’ve only seen a small handful of 20+ point spreads in the last 11 years, so we had to get this one on here one way or the other just for fun. Look, the Pats should cover this, easily… but the margin of error on spreads like this is thin. An ill-timed, wacky turnover here, a fumble there, a dropped touchdown pass–it won’t take much.

Plus, as woeful as the Colts are in nearly every aspect of the game on both sides of the ball, let’s not forget the Pats defense has issues too. We expect a ball-control plan of attack by Indy to try, probably fruitlessly, to keep Brady & Co. off the field, so you never know. Oh, fuck, it’s probably a Pats blowout, but can’t resist what might be our only opportunity to root for the Colts all year. You just know this game (with the spread considered) will come down to one play with under 2 minutes to go. PICK: Colts Cover

New Orleans Saints (-7.5) vs. Detroit Lions: I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this, but our weekly picks are the result of intense discussions of all the games on the docket between me, my ETB colleague Andrew Thell, and our friend Chris. What’s my point? I’m the only reason the Saints are this low on the list: Andrew and Chris liked this game a lot more than I did, mostly because they aren’t hopeless lifelong Lions fans who can’t bear to bet against his team to lose in such a big game.

I actually like the Lions’ chances in this one, not only to cover but also to win. They could just as easily get blown out, which would make sense if you compare the Saints’ Week 12 demolition of the New York Giants with the Lions’ whimper of an effort against the Packers on Thanksgiving. Remember, however, that the NFL is wildly inconsistent from week to week, and if you’re betting with spreads I know you remember the Saints laying their fair share of puzzling clunkers (the Week 8 loss to the Rams stands out).

Still, the Saints are rolling and the Lions are reeling. The Saints are our pick, but go Lions! PICK: Saints Cover

Laurent Robinson & Norv Turner Photo Credits: Icon SMI

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Dec. 1, 2011 at 8:29pm in ETB Articles, NFL

Degenerate Gambler Weekly: Week 11 NFL Picks Against the Spread

November 17, 2011

Rex Ryan

By Brian Spencer and Andrew Thell

How We Did Last Week

We pitched a 4-3 record for Week 10, striking out on our Panthers, Vikings, and Bills picks: all three were blown out. It happens. We move on, starting with the Thursday night tilt between the Jets and Broncos.

Best Bet

New York Jets (-4.5) at Denver Broncos: Kudos to Broncos head coach John Fox for adapting to the lack of NFL quarterbacking skills possessed by his starting quarterback, and to Tim Tebow for executing the plan. As you know by now, last week Denver ran the ball 55 times (55!) against the bumbling Kansas City Chiefs, while Tebow only attempted 8 passes (8!), completing 2 (2!). They won the game 17-10, and have now won 2 of Tebow’s 3 starts on the season. Well done, guys.

Excuse us if we’re not quite ready to jump on the Tebow Apologist bandwagon just yet, however. At some point some team is going to go back and watch the Lions/Broncos tape and figure out how to grind the Tebow-led Broncos offense to an ugly halt: stack the box and put your corners in press coverage. Dare them to drop back and throw. Absolutely commit to the run. It’s really not that complicated.

The Jets don’t strike us as a team that’s going to put up with the kind of shit Denver got away with against Kansas City, particularly coming off a humbling loss to the New England Patriots. We’ll be shocked–absolutely fucking shocked–if Denver has any sustained success moving the ball tonight. The only thing that will deep-six the Jets’ chances of covering are Sanchez turnovers and/or wildly ineffective play (a significant possibility), and/or special teams turnovers deep in their own territory.

Spreads for the pool at our local watering hole are released on Tuesdays; since then Vegas has moved it to 6. We’d take that too. PICK: Jets Cover

***Friday Morning Update*** Really, Jets? Yesterday I predicted that the only way the Jets don’t handily take care of business is if Sanchez turned the ball over and played poorly, and/or if the Jets’ traditionally rock-solid special teams underperformed. Well, let’s see here:

+ On special teams, kicker Nick Folk missed two field goals (though one was a 61-yarder), Joe McKnight lost a fumble on a kickoff return, and Broncos return man Cassius Vaughn (great name) returned a kickoff 67 yards and nearly took it to the house. Broncos punter Dustin Colquitt also pinned the Jets deep inside their territory on 3 of his 8 punts. Not a great day for Mike Westhoff’s special teams crew.

+ As for Mark Sanchez, he’s a bum. Later calling his effort “embarassing”, Sanchez finished 24-40 for 252 yards (6.3 YPA), took 3 sacks, and threw a game-turning pick six INT to Broncos CB Andre Goodman. The stats don’t tell the whole story though: “Sanchise” routinely missed open receivers, including TE Dustin Keller for a wide-open would-be touchdown, and rushed his throws when under any sort of pressure.

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer again orchestrated an excruciatingly conservative, predictable game plan that helped set this team up for defeat and a poor showing on offense. Credit Champ Bailey for doing a great job of sticking with Santonio Holmes, but that kid is a playmaker when given the opportunity: I can’t recall any plays last night designed to get Holmes open in the middle of the field, in space, on a crossing pattern 15+ yards down the field. It’s a real wonder that Schottenheimer is still with this team–he’s shown nothing and has clearly been the weak link on the Jets coaching staff for years now.

Despite the special teams foibles, this game would have been 20-3 Jets with a capable quarterback and offensive coordinator running the show. Yuck.

Strong Bets

Dallas Cowboys (-7.5) at Washington Redskins: Good times in Washington, eh? A week after Mike Shenanigans deemed rookie RB Roy Helu “the guy”, Ryan Torain gets the starting nod and the bulk of the carries, totaling 20 yards on 10 attempts; Helu ran 6 times for 41 yards, but who’s counting. News also leaked late in the week that desposed starter Rex Grossman was splitting first-team reps at quarterback with incumbent starter John Beck. Sure enough, Sexy Rexy got the start, was sacked thrice, picked twice, posted a 58.7 QB Rating, and the Redskins put up 9 points in a 20-9 loss to the then 1-7 Miami Dolphins. Kicker Graham Gano also missed two field goals.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys seem to be catching fire at just the right time, winning 3 of their past 4 by an average of just under 25 points/per. Save for two huge games looming against the New York Giants, they’re entering the patsy portion of their schedule, starting with this visit to Washington. We’ve seen nothing from the ‘Skins to suggest they can keep this game close. PICK: Cowboys Cover

Aaron Rodgers

New York Giants (-3.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles: You hate to take a big spread with the Giants because of their propensity to play down to their opponent, but 3.5 is too hard to pass up here. It looks extremely unlikely Michael Vick will suit up with the broken ribs this week, and even if he does he’s unlikely to be effective; the Iggles’ top WR, Jeremy Maclin, is also extremely iffy. That likely leaves Vince Young under center, a man who does not respond well to pressure–and the Giants can assuredly pressure the quarterback. On top of this, it’s a massive divisional game at home and Eli Manning is playing by far the best football of his career. PICK: Giants Cover

Just Trust Us

Green Bay Packers (-13.5) vs. Tampa Bay Bucs: On Monday we watched in agony as the Packers decimated the Vikings in every aspect of the game and easily put to bed our expectations that Minnesota would keep it close and cover the 13.5 spread. We wonder how much longer Green Bay can keep this up–and don’t forget that defense was struggling leading up to Monday night’s massacre–but this doesn’t feel like the week that the bubble bursts.

The Bucs are in shambles right now, and Lambeau Field isn’t exactly a friendly venue for struggling, warm-weather teams. After rooting for the Packers to slow things down against Minnesota, we’re looking forward to rooting for them to run it up instead.
PICK: Packers Cover

New England Patriots (-14.5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs: The reasoning behind this can be summed up in two words: Tyler Palko.

No, this is actually a rich spread and we like to avoid favorites in these situations, but New England is excellent at home and Bill Belichick has never shied away from pouring it on. Brady finally snapped out of his funk in the second half against the Jets last week, and the Chiefs are absolutely reeling after back-to-back embarrassing losses in Arrowhead to the Dolphins and Broncos. You also have to wonder how many more devastating injuries this team can take before they fold up camp and call it a season. I think zero is the answer.
PICK: Patriots Cover

Carolina Panthers (+7.5) at Detroit Lions: We like the Lions a lot better as a team and we expect them to win this game, but they’re having issues of their own right now. Detroit can’t seem to establish a balanced attack on offense, and opponents are pinning their ears back and going after Matthew Stafford. He’s looked rattled as a result, posting QB Ratings in the 46-86 range with yards per attempt under 6 in four of the last six games.

And while the Detroit front is excellent at bringing pressure into the backfield, the Panthers are a team that can make a team pay for being over aggressive with the extremely mobile Cam Newton at quarterback and talented Jonathan Stewart catching screens. This smells more like a 4-7 point victory, not an 8+ win. PICK: Panthers Cover

Buffalo Bills (+2.5) at Miami Dolphins: Come on now, the Dolphins are favorites all of the sudden? Yeah, they’ve won two in a row (against the abysmal Chiefs and Redskins) and they tend to play better at home, but this is still one of the worst teams in football.

Don’t overreact to the Bills recent losses to the strong defenses of the Jets and Cowboys. Say what you will about Buffalo and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s recent struggles (I for one don’t think he’s a long-term solution at quarterback), but there’s a lot more talent on the Buffalo side of the ball and I’ll take Fitz, Fred Jackson, and Chan Gailey over Matt Moore, Reggie Bush, and Tony Sparano any day of the week. With Stevie Johnson looking more and more likely to play, expect the cunning Gailey to make the necessary adjustments to right this ship on offense and the Bills to win outright. PICK: Bills Cover

Rex Ryan and Aaron Rodgers Photo Credits: Icon SMI

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Nov. 17, 2011 at 5:51pm in ETB Articles, NFL

Degenerate Gambler Weekly: Week 10 NFL Picks Against the Spread

November 11, 2011

Arian Foster

By Brian Spencer

How We Did Last Week

We felt particularly confident about last week’s picks, and turns out we were right: 5-2. It looked like 6-1 until the Ravens scored a last-gasp touchdown to ruin the Steelers -3.5 (they led 20-16 with 8 seconds left); the other miss was picking the favored Kansas City Chiefs to cover 5.5 vs. the then-winless Miami Dolphins. The Chiefs instead took the day off.

We’re running a bit behind schedule this week, so here’s the quick-and-dirty picks for Week 10. Some tough spreads this time around with so many clunkers on the schedule, but after discussions into the wee hours of Thursday morning we’ve emerged with seven picks we feel pretty good about.

Best Bet

Houston Texans (-2.5) at Tampa Bay Bucs: Arian Foster and Ben Tate are both currently on pace to rush for over 1,000 yards, and have played major roles in getting the Texans off to their best start in franchise history. That’s despite losing Mario Williams for the season and Andre Johnson for the past 5 weeks (this week makes it 6).

Having those horses in the backfield is obviously fueling the strong start, but that pass defense is quietly turning into one of the league’s best: the Texans are currently second overall in passing yards allowed/per (182.6) and are tied for fourth overall in team interceptions (11).

Those two recipes for success are not good for the up-and-down Bucs. With DT Gerald McCoy on the shelf now for the rest of the year, Albert Haynesworth was brought in to help shore up a rush defense that’s been gashed over 132.4 yards/per and allowed 8 rushing TDs; we don’t think he’ll make much difference. On the other side of the ball, third-year QB Josh Freeman, as well as his second-year WR Mike Williams, have regressed. PICK: Texans Cover

Strong Bets

New England Patriots (+1.5) at New York Jets: This one’s a toss-up. We know the Jets always play the Pats tough, and that the Ryan Bros. consistently devise defensive game plans that limit Tom Brady’s effectiveness. Speaking of defense, the Patriots are allowing more total yards per (416) than anybody in the league. It’s tough to sweep the Jets, but we just can’t see the Pats losing three in a row. They need this one. Pick: Patriots Cover

Cam Newton

Carolina Panthers (-3.5) vs. Tennessee Titans: Chris Johnson finally showed signs of life out of the Titans backfield last week, rushing for 64 yards (4.6 YPC, his best game total so far) and tacking on 46 receiving yards. He’s still only scored 1 TD on the season, however, but this could be the week he breaks on through: the Panthers allow 133 rushing yards/per (28th overall) and have already yielded 11 rushing scores (tied for worst). We’ve said this a few times now with Johnson, but if he can’t do it this week, when will he?

Regardless, the Jekyll-and-Hyde Titans’ bigger problem is figuring out how to control Cam Newton, Steve Smith, and the Panthers’ (at times) dynamic offense. All in all we like the Panthers at home more than we do the Titans on the road. PICK: Panthers Cover

Just Trust Us

Minnesota Vikings (+13.5) at Green Bay Packers: It’s NFC North Rivalry Weekend with the 6-2 Bears and 5-3 Lions squaring off in Chicago, and the unbeaten Packers hosting the 2-6 Vikings, who are coming off a bye. Minnesota hung tough in Week 7, with rookie QB Christian Ponder at the helm of a 33-27 loss in his first NFL start. We think it’ll be a similarly competitive affair, with a steady pounding of AP helping the Vikings control the clock and keep that almost unstoppable Packers offense off the field as much as possible. Speaking of unstoppable, look for Jared Allen to add two more sacks to what’s looking like a record-setting 2011 resume. PICK: Vikings Cover

St. Louis Rams (+2.5) at Cleveland Browns: We’re not going to watch a single minute of this game and don’t recommend you do either, unless your only other option is Jacksonville and Indianapolis. Or Washington and Miami. Ugh. Steven Jackson is the difference here as the Rams pick up a rare win. PICK: Rams Cover

Buffalo Bills (+5.5) at Dallas Cowboys: Somehow forgot to post this pick on Friday when this was published. Right, so… Bills didn’t cover.PICK: Bills Cover

Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5) at Indianapolis Colts: Like the Rams/Browns game, this game is for football masochists only. You have no reason to tune into this one unless you own Maurice Jones-Drew on your fantasy team. Don’t ask. Just bet. PICK: Jaguars Cover

Arian Foster & Cam Newton Photo Credits: Icon SMI

1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on Nov. 11, 2011 at 4:34pm in ETB Articles, NFL

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