College and Pro Football: This Weekend's Best Bets
We interrupt this week's football picks (which I swear I'll get to, because I know you want to ride that 3-3 wave I was on last week) for a brief worshipping at the altar of Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner.
We are not even a year into Silver's tenure yet, and already he has eradicated the league of Donald Sterling, actually revealed what's in the league's bylaws and constitution publicly, and been the steward of a new media rights deal that is so lucrative that the league's biggest problem now is figuring out how to properly work in all of the new salary cap space over the next few years.
And now comes maybe his greatest undertaking yet -- the backing of legalizing sports betting in the United States.
In an op-ed piece for the New York Times, Silver very succinctly lays out the reasons why the continued ban on sports betting domestically everywhere but Nevada is archaic and a complete missed opportunity financially.
Silver accurately points out that billions of unregulated dollars are wagered illegally in this country every year, and thus billions of potential dollars in taxes flushed down the drain. He accurately points out that in Europe, fans can wager at sporting events from kiosks and smart phones. Finally, he identifies all of the facets a proper rollout of legalized sports betting must have in the United States:
These requirements would include: mandatory monitoring and reporting of unusual betting-line movements; a licensing protocol to ensure betting operators are legitimate; minimum-age verification measures; geo-blocking technology to ensure betting is available only where it is legal; mechanisms to identify and exclude people with gambling problems; and education about responsible gaming.
Without a comprehensive federal solution, state measures such as New Jersey's recent initiative will be both unlawful and bad public policy.
Finally, he addresses the most crucial argument against legalization of betting, the potential breach of integrity of the game, an issue for the NBA considering they're the only major sports league here to have one of their former referees (Tim Donaghy) admit to fixing games while he was in the league:
Let me be clear: Any new approach must ensure the integrity of the game. One of my most important responsibilities as commissioner of the N.B.A. is to protect the integrity of professional basketball and preserve public confidence in the league and our sport. I oppose any course of action that would compromise these objectives.
But I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.
Two words. Hear, hear!
One day, when Adam Silver's vision comes to fruition, I'll finally be able to place my weekly wagers here without having to fly to Las Vegas to place them in person at a betting window. (Cough, cough....what are you looking at?) Let's get to this week's picks....
Florida State -2.5 over MIAMI (FL) Jameis Winston, by my observations, appears to be a questionable teammate, a questionable citizen, a questionable date, and a questionable supermarket patron. One thing he is really good at, though, without question, is playing football. For some reason, this line not only hasn't risen, but it's strayed toward a pick em multiple times throughout the week. Yes, people are climbing on Miami despite the fact that they're 8-7 in their last 15 games and 0-3 against ranked teams during that span, losing by double digits in all three games. Jameis Winston, on the other hand, has never lost as a college QB. If I lose this one, then it truly wasn't meant to be. But I'll be damned if I win this one trying to get cute by taking the Hurricanes. (Begins Seminole war chant...)
Mississippi State +8.5 over ALABAMA So how does the number one team in the country wind up catching 8.5 points (and at times, rising throughout the week) in a game in November? Well, first, you need to be a number one team that we're not used to seeing near the top of the rankings (Check.). Next, you need to be going against a team whose Vegas value is at least somewhat inflated (Check.). And finally, said inflated team has to have a little Napoleon marching the sidelines in a must win situation (Check, check.). What's not being factored in by bettors is the fact that a) Alabama is going to be banged up from an emotional steal of a win in Baton Rouge last week, and b) this is not the covering machine version of Bama from the last few years. The Crimson Tide is 3-9-1 ATS in its last 13 games. I think they win, but if I can get more than one score with a team with a capable QB as the underdog, I'm taking it.
WISCONSIN -6 over Nebraska Pretty much because...well, would you take THIS guy on the road in a big game?
Yeah, didn't think so.
Seahawks/CHIEFS UNDER 42 This feels like a potential street fight, with two teams that can run the football and two quarterbacks who can manage a game with the best of the upper tier game managers, and throw in a little cold weather...this feels like a recipe for, like, 16-13.
Detroit/ARIZONA OVER 41 In the category of "Just when you thought you'd seen every wagering trend you possibly could," I had this little nugget sent to me by my man Dustin Crider this week:
"Any game where the total is between 35.5 and 42 points, and one team has 4 or more consecutive wins (Detroit) against opponent after 5 or more consecutive wins (Arizona), play OVER. This is 25-0 since 1983."
I have no idea why this is the case, I just know it's 25-0. TWENTY FIVE AND OH. It's a LOCK, JERRY!!
Eagles +6 over PACKERS The rule at play here is that any time there's a game where the final margin is 28 or more, the following week, you bet against the winning team and you back the losing team. Call it the "Monster Bounce Back" rule. The Packers beat the Bears by about 100 points last Sunday night, so we swallow hard and ride Mark Sanchez against Aaron Rodgers, and tell ourselves "I can't believe I'm doing this," like sitting down at a $100 minimum black jack table with like $300 in your pocket. (Now, if you think I'm also backing the Bears this weekend, you're nuts.)
Last week: 3-3 Season total: 28-36
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.