Two Post-Week Five Notes

In my just completed "Memoirs of an Earner," I mention how many earnees (losing bettors)--especially the many frauds in the tout business--often select horrid teams on their selections. Their REAL reasons for doing so are that:

1) It is a form of great "marketing" when such teams happen to win. When a tout (or an ego driven bettor) wins such a game, he can take bows all around on his "original" pick winner. That he might have lost the last five such bets before this winner is often forgotten. Also an unsuspecting bettor who reads about this winning selection is often impressed enough with it to sign up for the service. After all, most "normal" bettors would never dream of making such a bet.

2) If the bet losses, this loss is often quickly forgotten since it would seem, after all, to be the "expected" result.

3) This reason--which I will write more about below--is that often a loss by such a bad team can be "excused" by bad breaks, like fumbles or dropped passes.

As all clients know, my one loser this last week was on the Rams (service used +10 for the grade, though I am sure that some clients got a better price--not that this much helped!) over the Vikings.

While some might think that "ego" drove me to make this selection, I can just say that it really did not. Or if it did, it was an extremely small and subconscious reason. As I tried to write in my analysis, I felt that the Vikings were in a gigantic letdown type of spot where they had recently tended to play poorly and not be "up" for the game. I felt that the Rams would be most eager to break their 13 game (going back to last season) losing streak. And most critical, my odds-maker (-7 on the Vikings) and power rating (-5 1/2 on the Vikings) both much favored the Rams.

And the third "reason" given above for many others making this selection (loss probably would be able to be excused on bad breaks), certainly appeared to come into play in this game. The Rams had an incredible three turnovers (two lost fumbles and an interception) inside the Viking ten-yard line. Their fourth turnover not only killed a potential scoring drive (play started on the Viking 35 yard line) but was a fumble returned for a touchdown by the Vikings. Most would now figure that these turnovers had a "cost" of 31 points. (In these calculations it would be assumed that the Rams would have scored on all three drives that were killed by turnovers inside the Viking 10 and that the fourth turnover probably not only "cost" the Rams a field goal but gave a touchdown to the Vikings as well. Hmmm. 31 points lost, the Rams lose by "just 28" and we were getting ten (meaning we lost the spread bet by 18 points) points, so hey, I got unlucky and was "robbed" yet again by bad breaks. So many bettors would think.

One very long-time betting fraud (who has, as I point out in my "Memoirs" book, has made his entire living the last 33 plus years scalping suckers stupid enough to "follow" him) named Lem (AKA Ice Cream Soda Head) Banker would (when I knew and dealt with him in the mid 1980's) excuse literally dozens of college and NFL football losses in such ways on just about every weekend.

What never occurred (probably still the case for this now pathetic aged relic) to Ice Cream Soda Head is that mistakes like lost fumbles happening often (or a statistically significant number of times) to such teams IS PART OF WHAT MAKES THEM A LOUSY TEAM. Which the Rams are. Which is also a key part of the reason I made just a small bet (selection) on them.

While four turnovers in the game (three inside the ten) in Viking territory seemed to overdo this "bad team fact" even for a lousy team like the Rams, I am not at all sure that I had bet the "right" side in this game. I say this because:
1) In the first possession of each half, the Vikings had long (80 and 90 yard) touchdown drives to put them up 7-0 and later 24-3. On first possessions of halves teams often show their "true" colors in a game. These possessions showed that when the Vikings wanted to that they could move at will on the Rams--even though they were not much "up" for the game. I realize that this does NOT mean that the Vikings would now be certain to win by over ten points (thus defeating my selection), but these drives did have some significance.
2) After both Ram scores in the game, the Vikings answered with a score right away. This even happened very late when the Rams scored to get "within" 10-31. The Vikings had no "urgency" at all to score at that point. Their outright win (and virtually their spread win as well) was virtually assured even without another score. But get it they did. This also showed a lot that indicated Viking dominance in this game despite the rather even stats.

What the above shows at the least is that if the Rams HAD kept the game close (or scored instead of fumbled on those deep drives) that the Vikings probably would have answered with scores themselves. Being up by at least 11 points from early on, the Vikings had little urgency to do so.

In my post-game thoughts on this game (which soon became much happier thoughts as we won late plays easily on the Falcons and Seahawks) I realized that I probably handled this game exactly correctly in my pre-game study of it. (Any jerk can say what was the "right thing to do" AFTER the game!) The huge emotional and value edges I saw in my pre-game observations made the Rams a decent play. And since they are truly a bad team who have and can find all sorts of ways to lose, I was wise to keep the bet a small one.

My second post Week Five observation concerned a game I strongly considered as a play/bet but passed. (The Sunday night Colt-Titan clash where I strongly favored the Titans.) Why I favored the Titans in this game and what ultimately caused me to pass them in the game is not important in this discourse.

This game was truly the Titans "last chance" for 2009. A loss would not only drop them to 0-5 (no team in NFL history has made the playoffs after such a start) but be both their third in the AFC South division (pretty much killing them on just about every potential tiebreaker against teams in that division since a loss would give them one loss to each divisional rival) but also their fifth in the AFC. Thus a loss would mean that the best that the Titans could do in AFC games would be 7-5, which would be virtually fatal in many potential Wild Card tiebreakers.

Thus this home Sunday night nationally televised game was truly the Titans season!! Their ultimate 9-31 loss to the Colts pretty much ended it.

What was most significant to me was THE HOW of this loss. If the reader recalls, the Titans had closed the margin to 9-14 against them late in the first half. The Titans were scheduled to receive the second half kickoff. A defensive stop here on the last Colt first half possession would be critical. Instead of getting this almost "life-and death" stop, the Colts cut through the Titan defense for a 93 yard touchdown drive that pretty much broke open the game, as well as ended the Titan season.

Two key plays on this drive were very dubious "roughing the passer" calls against the Titans. These two ridiculous calls gave the Colts nearly 1/3 of the yards (30 of 93) they needed on this drive on a silver platter.

These plays and the fact that they did much to end the Titan 2009 hopes show the sad state of the NFL and its officiating. This sad state began in 1978 when the stuffed suits that run the NFL (along with the stuffed shirts who headed and head the networks who pay huge bucks to the NFL to televise their games) decided that fans wanted to see more offense in games. In 1978 new NFL rules basically made holding by offensive linemen legal (to protect the quarterback more and thus "allow" him to get more yards and points than before) and made seemingly even breathing by a member of the defensive secondary on a receiver "illegal."

In more recent years, the league and network stuffed shirts have gone totally nuts trying to protect quarterbacks, especially the "marquee" ones (of which Peyton Manning who got the benefit of these calls certainly is one). The latest such rules make it illegal to have just about ANY contact by a player on a quarterback. If the quarterback is hit "low" that is called "roughing." If the quarterback is hit anywhere near his head, that is "roughing." If a defender is on the ground and tries to tackle the quarterback from that position (in past times this was considered a heroic defensive play) that too is now 'roughing." And if the quarterback is even run into by a defender (I wonder what is a defender supposed to do when he is near the quarterback and about to tackle him when the quarterback has released the ball--stop in mid-air and turn his body around??!!) after he releases the ball that yet again is called "roughing." And even if the quarterback is somehow tackled "legally" (this will probably be made totally obsolete in five to ten years) that can even be called 'roughing' if the quarterback is tackled too strongly of thrown to the turf in that way.

Not only does the above make a mockery out of the game but makes such plays and the inevitable penalties very widely subject to the "intepretation" of the refs. And sometimes, as the Colt key TD drive showed, such interpretations can literally kill a team (and as readers know this is far from the only game where such has happened--the Pats Week Four win over the Ravens was greatly helped by a few "roughing the quarterback" calls). This rule and the pass interference one (where a team could be hit with a 50 yard plus penalty on just one play) has greatly made the NFL game into a literal crapshoot in ways. One can find NO equivalent in any other sport where a call subjected to interpretation can often decide games or even the whole season for a team. (In the NHL the equivalent would be if the league decided to call penalty shots far more often than now, when it is an exceedingly rare call.)

As long-retired Steeler linebacker Jack Lambert once said about quarterbacks, "Why don't they put skirts on them?"

The NFL was a game that was set up a very long time ago to be a TACKLE football game. Hard hits, tackles, and yes, injuries (which I NEVER LIKE to see) are inevitable in such a contest. By the above overreaction and overboard behavior to "protect" players--especially offensive ones--the NFL is beginning to become a crapshoot joke. I have always felt that basically the players should be the ones who decide a game. It should not be a ref who is making some interpretation.

But sadly, the NFL is becoming just that. Key regular season, playoff and yes even Super Bowl games will inevitably be decided in this insane fashion. As will bets on games.

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