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Wildcard Weekend Gambling Guide!

| January 14th, 2022


All lines are from DraftKings Sportsbook. 

Saturday

  • Money Line Parlay: Bengals over Raiders, Bills over Patriots (+112).
    • I’m a believer in Bisaccia magic, and I think the Raiders pass rush will give Joe Burrow trouble, but the Bengals just have too much firepower to lose at home in the first round. I wouldn’t feel confident laying the six points, so I’m hanging onto the money line.
    • The most overrated victory of the season was New England’s Monday night victory in Buffalo. It wasn’t a real game. It was a football chess match played in a typhoon and Belichick might be the sport’s only master. The Bills are the better team, with the better quarterback. That’s where my money goes in the postseason.

Sunday

  • Money Line Parlay: Bucs over Eagles, Cowboys over Niners (+113).
    • Philly is 0-7 against playoff teams this season and the way you exploit this Bucs defense is with an accurate quarterback. (The Eagles don’t have that.) Tom Brady isn’t losing to Jalen Hurts.
    • Cowboys vs. Niners profiles as the game of the week but I don’t think San Francisco’s secondary can hang with these Dallas weapons. How the hell are the Niners covering a receiving corps that goes 4-5 deep with talent? (They’re not.)
  • Same Game Parlay: Chiefs -12.5 over Steelers / Under 46.5 points (+264).
    • I think the Steelers score ten points in this game, which means the Chiefs need to score only 23 to cover the number. It also means they need to score 37 to hit the over, and in frigid conditions that seems unlikely. 30-10 hits both bets safely and that’s my final score prediction.

Monday

For me, Cardinals at Rams is a gambling stay away. I don’t particularly trust either team. But the guide needs to have some action.

  • Spread: Rams -4 over Cardinals.
    • Since beating the Bears on December 5th, the Cardinals are 1-4, only eking out a victory over the Cowboys. This is a team, and a head coach, that peak on Halloween every season. And last week, in a game they needed, they let Rashaad Penny run for 8.3 yards per carry. You need to be tough to win on the road in the playoffs. That’s not this team.
    • Why is it a stay away, then? Because Matthew Stafford has been sneaky terrible for over a month. Would anyone be surprised if he threw three picks and threw the Rams season away?

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Bears at Steelers Game Preview: Ranking August Wilson’s “Century Cycle” & Predicting Another Bears Loss

| November 5th, 2021


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And I’m finding it very easy to ignore all of the elements of this franchise that are not called Justin Fields.


Three Questions Facing the Bears Monday Night

Question #1. Can the Bears stop Najee Harris? A lot has been made about the lack of pass rush the last two weeks but the run defense has been just as bad. Fournette averaged 5.4 per carry. Ronald Jones averaged 6.3. Elijah Mitchell averaged 7.6. The Steelers have not been a particularly good run team but they stay committed to it; Harris is fourth in the league in attempts. If the Bears don’t improve dramatically in this department they’re going to get blown out.

Question #2. Can the Bears block T.J. Watt? We have this answer already, don’t we? Nick Bosa got Fields twice. Myles Garrett got him 11 times or something. The Bears don’t have the talent on the edge or the schematic prowess on the sideline to nullify elite edge rushers. Watt has game wrecker potential Monday night.

Question #3. How much can Justin Fields do? He doesn’t have time in the pocket. He doesn’t have receivers getting separation. Fields will have to be every bit of what he was against San Francisco (and then some) to keep the Bears competitive with Pittsburgh. (Which is sad, honestly, because Pittsburgh isn’t very good.) What does that mean? Probably another 75-yard plus output on the ground to keep the chains moving. Asking that from him weekly is a recipe for disaster.


Ranking August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle

Wilson’s “Century Cycle” – all set in the Hill District of Pittsburgh – is the greatest achievement in the history of the American theatre. He is a playwright and poet of the highest order; his characters stampede across the stage, driven by love and rage and mysticism and a desperate desire to simply survive.

The cycle is ten plays detailing the African American experience in this community over a century, with each play taking on a different decade. This is my ranking. If any of these plays are being staged near you, see it. (There are good film versions of Fences, Ma Rainey and Piano Lesson streaming but the experience simply isn’t the same. These are, at their very core, plays.)

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10. Radio Golf

Old Joe: That’s a nice pin you got there. That look like the flag. Nice colors. The Red White and Blue. We had a flag during the war. Company B Fourth Battalion. Fellow named Joe Mott carried the flag. He got shot in the head on the second of November 1942. He was betting against it but he lost. Lots of men died under that flag. That American flag was everywhere. Joe Mott carried it into battle but it was everywhere. In the mess hall. In the dance hall. We had a great big mess hall and they would bring the women in from the town and we’d have a great big old dance. You look up and there would be that flag hanging behind the bandstand. That flag was everywhere. You saw it in the morning when you woke up and you saw it at night before you went to bed. Sometimes you saw it in your sleep. When the time come and I saw Joe Mott fall with that flag…shot right through the head… bullet went in one end and come out the other…I don’t know where it went after that.

09. King Hedley II

King: Pernell stepped on me and I pulled his life out by the root. What does that make me? It don’t make me a big man.

08. Gem of the Ocean

Aunt Ester: You think you supposed to know everything. Life is a mystery. Don’t you know life is a mystery? I see you still trying to figure it out. It ain’t all for you to know. It’s all an adventure. That’s all life is. But you got to trust that adventure.

07. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Cutler: Slow Drag ain’t missed a stroke. The gal, she just look at her man with that sweet dizzy look in her eye. She ain’t about to stop! Folks was clearing out, ducking and hiding under tables, figuring there’s gonna be a fight. Slow Drag just looked over the gal’s shoulder at he man and said, “Mister, if you’d quit hollering and wait a minute . . . you’ll see I’m doing you a favor. I’m helping this gal win ten dollars so she can buy you a gold watch.” The man just stood there and looked at him, all the while stroking that knife.

06. The Piano Lesson

Berniece: Money can’t buy what that piano cost.

05. Two Trains Running

Holloway: Aunt Ester give you more than money. She make you right with yourself.

04. Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

Bynum: When you grab hold to a woman, you got a whole world there.

03. Seven Guitars

Hedley: He would not call me King. He laughed to think a black man could be King. I did not want to lose my name, so I told him to call me the name my father gave me, and he laugh. He would not call me King, and I beat him hard with a stick.”

02. Jitney

Booster: Car service. (One of the more beautiful last lines in theatre history.)

01. Fences 

Cory: How come you ain’t never liked me?

Troy: Liked you? Who the hell say I got to like you? What law is there say I got to like you? Wanna stand up in my face and ask a damn fool ass question like that. Talking about liking somebody. Come here boy, when I talk to you. Straighten up dammit! I asked you a question… what law is there say I got to like you?

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Reflections on Watching the Other Teams Play Football

| November 24th, 2020


(1) Colts came into the week as the league’s top-ranked defense. Chiefs came into the week as the favorite to win the Super Bowl. Both teams allowed 31 points. Both teams won. The above Tweet from Mike Francesa mirrors something Gil Brandt Tweeted not so long ago and something I’ve been harping on this season. The days of building a team around the defense are over. You have to build a team that can score seven points with a minute remaining. Explosive players. Speed. Oh and someone who can accurately throw the football to explosive players with speed.

Monday Night Football’s game between two top 5 defenses should have cemented this idea.


(2) Just marvel at what the Steelers have done. This was a team defined by running the ball and playing defense for fifty years. They still do the latter well, drafting consistently good players on that side of the ball. But they saw how the league was changing and completely shifted their offensive philosophy. And year-after-year they’ve added more weapons, and more speed on the outside. Smith-Schuster. Washington. Diontae. Ray-Ray. Claypool. They’ve adapted to the modern game. And they have the quarterback.


(3) Carson Wentz is broken. His mechanics have gotten shaky. His internal clock is way off. Sometimes he rushes throws because of phantom pressure. Sometimes he holds onto the ball for an eternity. Is it fixable? Probably. But one has to believe Doug Pederson is considering more than just a Jalen Hurts package. Can Hurts possibly be worse than this?


(4) Everyone needs to stop with their anti-NFC East nonsense. We have divisions. You win the division, you get into the tournament. That’s the sport. And for those who don’t know, the NFC East carried the league’s ratings water for about twenty years. This was the best division in the sport for a long, long time. They’re having a down year. But I’m going to seriously enjoy watching this play out. (And I think it may be decided on the field, Week 17, when the Giants and Cowboys meet.)


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Speculation Station: Who Will Rise? Who Will Fall? Who Could be a Dark Horse Contender?

| March 5th, 2018

All right, Bears fans. We’re still a couple weeks out from the official start of free agency, and while a few noteworthy cuts, extensions, trades and franchise tags have all taken place we’re still pretty much just…. waiting.

I’m not a data wizard like John, nor covering a lot of breaking Bears news like Andrew, so I’m diving headfirst into the deep, consequence-free waters of speculation. Think of this article more like a conversation between two drinking buddies at the bar. Open a beer while you read if it helps, and come join me! The waters are warm and not to be taken too seriously.

This week we’re talking about expectations. More specifically, two teams I think will exceed expectations in 2018, and two I think are heading towards disappointment. I also picked one (wild guess, complete dark horse, probably doesn’t stand a chance, but what the hell, it’s March?) team that I feel on a gut level might have a breakthrough year.

I tried to mostly steer clear of the super obvious (by that I mean I didn’t pick the Browns to still be terrible), and it goes without saying (but I’m going to say it, anyways) that moves made in free agency and the draft, along with the other 50 million variables that might change a course of a season, could greatly affect my views on these five teams come the start of the season.

For now these are my predictions:

Two Teams Primed to Improve

Chicago Bears

I mean, this is DBB, guys. Obviously I’m going to include them. Most every fan has it in their hearts that *this year* is going to be *the year* their team gets awesome, right? The great news for Bears fans is this year we actually do have a lot to be excited about! Including:

  • A talented young QB who has the potential to make a significant leap from Year 1 to Year 2.
  • A new energetic head coach and a high quality support staff bound to inject energy into the locker room.
  • A good amount of cap space so Pace can target quality players that can do things like “run routes” and “catch the ball”.
  • Prestige and history that comes with playing for a franchise as distinguished as the Bears makes Chicago a very attractive location for top free agents.

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Divisional Round Game Predictions

| January 12th, 2018

Went 2-2 ATS last week and would have been 3-1 if I’d remembered never to lay 9 points on an Andy Reid-coached team under any circumstances. Still, 2-2 is a good start. Need a 3-1 week to keep the dream of topping 7-4 alive. I’m confident.

All spreads from BETUS, Thursday evening.


Atlanta at Philadelphia

Saturday – 3:20 pm CT

Pick: Falcons -3

This is the hardest game to analyze on the weekend because it’s impossible to know what to expect from Nick Foles. But if the Falcons defense plays as fast and angry as it did against the Rams, how could anyone expect Foles to get anything done through the air? A few interceptions are likely as the Falcons continue their journey to Super Bowl redemption…maybe. Falcons 20, Eagles 14.


Tennessee at New England

Saturday – 7:15 pm CT

Pick: Patriots -13

This Titans crap has gone on long enough. Patriots 27, Titans 10.


Jacksonville at Pittsburgh

Sunday – 12:05 pm CT

Pick: Steelers -7

Here’s my hot take for the column: the Jaguars defense is overrated. Jimmy G tore them to ribbons on Christmas Eve. Since then they’ve faced the offensive juggernauts of Tennessee and Buffalo and could easily have lost to both. (Tyrod Taylor had plenty of opportunities.)

I can’t imagine a scenario where Ben Roethlisberger repeats his mid-season “maybe I don’t have it anymore” nightmare. I can imagine a scenario where Chad Henne finds his way onto the field to replace Blake Bortles. Steelers 30, Jags 10


New Orleans at Minnesota

Sunday – 3:40 pm CT

Pick: Saints +5

Last week I didn’t trust Goff. This week I don’t trust Keenum. Both had wonderful regular season but the playoffs are an entirely different animal. Every single throw carries the weight of the entire season. Is Keenum ready for that pressure?

New Orleans has the corners to limit what the Vikings receivers can do outside, allowing their front to harass the Minnesota signal caller into mistakes. Then the game falls on the arm of Drew Brees and, well, he’s just fine with that. Saints 20, Vikings 17

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Bears Beat Steelers Without The Use of A Quarterback: Rapid Fire

| September 25th, 2017

The Bears won a game they had no business winning without the use of a quarterback. Their defense and rushing attack were so good they could have beaten any team in the league yesterday. Their quarterback? Non-existent. More thoughts:

  • There’s never been a play in league history like Marcus Cooper’s failure to complete a return touchdown at the end of the half. He wasn’t showing off. He wasn’t celebrating. He just…stopped. Cooper claiming he thought he was in the end zone is insane. Just keep running. Why would a player EVER stop until he’s through the back of the end zone? This had the potential to join Marion Barber running out of bounds and staring at a Rodgers fumbled football as one of the worst modern Bears moments. But they won…
  • I can’t remember a game where the Bears ran the ball like they did yesterday. The Steelers knew the run was coming and the Bears didn’t care. Right down their throat over and over, including an overtime win without a pass thrown. That’s historic stuff. 6 yards a carry for Howard. 6.5 yards a carry for Cohen.
  • And if this ends up being a memorable Bears season, we should all remember Jordan Howard leaving everything on the field yesterday. With his shoulder deteriorating by the second, Howard refused to be sidelines. It was movie plot stuff.
  • Mike Glennon is a terrible football player. What’s most frustrating is that he occasionally shows he’s capable of throwing the ball down the field. He just refuses, unabashedly, to do so. Take that back. What’s most frustrating is his complete inability to process what’s happening on the football field.

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Data Responds: Bears vs. Steelers

| September 24th, 2017

 

  • Bears win! It’s been so long I’ve forgotten what that looked like. Hell, I had forgotten what it looked like for them to have a lead, as this was the first game that happened at any point since the first half of week 15 last year.
  • Good teams find ways to win close games, and bad teams find ways to lose them. Despite trying their best to throw this one away with a litany of stupid plays, the Bears still found a way to win. Hopefully they can build off of this going forward.

Offense

  • We’ll start with the good and focus on all three running backs, starting with a monster day by sophomore Jordan Howard, who looked like his rookie self for the first time this year. He ran hard, was decisive, and finished runs with power. Holes were there better than they’ve been so far this year, but credit Howard for playing better as well to take advantage of it. Howard did have a 3rd quarter fumble (though on replay it looked like he was down) that let the Steelers back in the game, and he had to leave the game twice with his injured shoulder in the 2nd half. Still, he came back and finished the game in OT, and finished with 138 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Just for good measure, Howard also led the Bears with 26 receiving yards.
  • Tarik Cohen rebounded from a poor week 2 effort as well. He made a big play in the first half and a huge play in OT that jump-started the Bears’ offense and should have won the game (he was incorrectly ruled out of bounds, costing him a tochdown). His electricity showed up in limited touches (though 16 is still too many). Perhaps equally important, the Bears finally started using him properly. His small size means that he can’t sustain as many touches as he’s been getting, so this week they started using fakes to him to open things up for others. They ran him around on a fake reverse several times, and this helped open up the running game for Howard.
  • While we’re talking about running backs, Benny Cunningham was back from an ankle sprain today and made a few nice plays on 3rd down. Twice he caught checkdown passes way short of the sticks and turned them into a new set of downs for the Bears.
  • Now for the quarterback, which is a lot less fun to talk about: it’s been 3 weeks and 3 bad games for Mike Glennon, who completed 5 passes (none of them to wide receivers) on 8 pass attempts for 31 yards in the first half. Despite this incompetence, the Bears still held a ten point halftime lead; just imagine how good this team could be if their quarterback wasn’t completely terrible. It stunts their entire offense, from the play calling to the run game.

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