This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 12/18/2006
A - Anthony, Carmelo. Not only is he a decent player, but the dude packs a potent punch. At least when the guy he punches doesn't see it coming. Maybe Melo, the NBA and the UFC could do some sort of cross-promotion. Anthony now has 15 games off to train for his mixed martial arts debut.
B - Betts, Ladell. I'm not the only one who wrote off the Washington offense when Clinton Portis went down. Betts, the backup, has very quietly put together four straight 100-yard games, and the team is 2-1-1 ATS since.
C - Carter, Quincy. The former Dallas QB got busted for drug possession this weekend. He's well on his way to being a criminal loser. How is the Bengals' backup QB situation?
D - Ducks. Anaheim's hockey team is the best in the NHL these days. They've won 12 of 15 in the last month, they can score, they have an incredible defense and they are a profitable team to bet on. I attribute the impressive results to the fact that they don't have to be called the Mighty Ducks anymore.
E - Embarrassing. Imagine you're a college football player trying to make a name for yourself. Would it help if your parents went and complained to the AD because you aren't getting the ball enough? That's what QB Mitch Mustain's parents did at Arkansas. Mustain will have fun with that in the locker room.
F - Falcons. Not the Atlanta variety, but the Air Force ones. This team is pretty impressive. Sure, their 11-1 record has been built against a lot of cupcakes, and their Top 20 raking is probably inflated, but they are top five in the country in field goal and three point percentages, they control the tempo and they play very solid defense.
G - Garcia, Jeff. Terrell Owens' favorite quarterback is about to get a nice payday. He's won three in a row as starter, he's 2-0-1 ATS in that time, and he has the Eagles looking like a legitimate playoff team. Somebody would be lucky to have him as a starter next year.
H - High school coaches. I don't know if it's because of "Friday Night Lights," but it's interesting that high school coaches are getting college respect. North Texas gave one their top job, and they are getting coordinator positions all over the place. We'll have to keep an eye on it to see if it has any long-term impact.
I - Indefensible. Why do you hate me, David Carr? I try to defend you and tell people that you're a solid quarterback with a great completion percentage and lots of upside, and then you go out and throw four absolutely terrible interceptions against New England. You are 5-9 ATS and you're team is lousy. I quit. Next time someone says you suck I'm not saying a word.
J - Jacksonville. How in the world do you figure this team out? They destroy Indianapolis, then lose to the Titans, despite Tennessee's completely non-existent offense. They crush the Jets, then get manhandled by Houston. Offensive coordinator - Dr. Jekyll. Defensive coordinator - Mr. Hyde.
K - King. Sidney Crosby is the new king of the hockey world. He took over the scoring lead with 10 points in two games last week, and he should be on top of the scoring race for years to come. Guys in the NHL don't usually peak until their mid-to-late 20s. Sid doesn't hit 20 until August. He's LeBron on skates.
L - Lovie Smith. Chicago had the ball late in a tied game. Smith, their coach, decided to kill the clock and head to overtime. I'm obviously not the only one who has no faith in the Bears' offense when it's under pressure. Does that decision make you want to bet on them in the playoffs?
M - Mora, Jr., Jim. The world is a much better place with Moras as coaches. There is no family that can be more consistently relied upon to say really stupid things when given an opportunity. You can't tell me that his boneheaded comment didn't factor into the Atlanta loss. It probably won't get any better for him this week, either.
N - NFC. This conference finds a new way to suck every single week. You would have to give me quite the price to convince me to bet on an NFC team against almost any AFC team in the Super Bowl. I don't think there is a single elite NFC squad, and New Orleans and Chicago did nothing to change my mind this week.
O - On his knees. That's where Brady Quinn is right now, praying that there is some way he can possibly end up anywhere other than Detroit or Oakland. If I were him I'd go to the combine, have Vince Young tutor me on the Wonderlic, walk for the 40, and throw every pass short. It would be better to drop into the fifth round than to play for either of those loser franchises.
P - Phoenix Suns. This team is really, really good. 14 wins in a row is one thing, but they've also gone 9-4-1 against increasingly public-boosted spreads in that time, and they swept a five game eastern road swing (and went 4-1 ATS) last week. Toronto is up next. That'll make it 15.
Q - Quarterbacks. Did you see some of the performances put up by winning QBs this week? Lousy. Really bad. Vince Young - 8 of 15 for 85 yards. Philip Rivers - 8 of 23, 97 yards, two picks. Brett Favre - no TDs and three picks. Apparently you don't need good quarterbacking to win. There's hope for Oakland yet.
R - Road trip. Almost every coach in the NFL says they would rather be on the road, and away from all the distractions, right before Christmas. Will that desire turn into a trend this week?
S - Smith, Alex. I've believed in the Niners all year. I've been mocked. Smith seemed like a candidate for first overall flop, but his stunning performance in the fourth quarter against Seattle this week shows that he has what it takes. His team is only going to keep getting better.
T - TCU. The Horned Frogs are the heavy favorites (-11.5) in the Poinsettia Bowl, the first bowl game of the year. It's time to start paying attention to teams you have ignored all year. Or longer. Hey, does that LaDainian Tomlinson kid still play for TCU?
U - Un-miraculous. Of the 336 Division I basketball teams, 61 made coaching changes this year seeking a miracle to change their fortunes. Only 19 have winning records so far. The lesson - don't overcompensate for a new system when you are handicapping hoops.
V - Vick, Michael. I'll say it up front - I think Vick is a detriment to his team. Sure he can run, but he doesn't help the Falcons win. With Atlanta needing a late comeback, Vick took a seat on the bench and let the backup play. Are you serious? Sure he had a tweaked groin, but would Favre, Brady, or any other QB with heart, have sat down in that situation? Disgusting.
W - Wichita State. Is it too early to wonder whether the Shockers may be more than just a novelty act? They're 8-0, they won Sunday 102-46 (it was against Maryland - E. Shore, but a 56 point win is a 56 point win), they are 4-0 ATS, and they have some very legitimate wins. How long until people start calling them the next Gonzaga?
X - Xavier. It was a rough week for Xavier, the mascots of this A to Z. They lost games they should have won against Creighton and Cincinnati, but got some of their mojo back by beating up on Arizona St. The Musketeers have only been underdogs twice and they haven't covered either time.
Y - Youngsters. We are at the start of the next big trend in college basketball. Bill Walker finished high school early so he could join Kansas State this week, and he looked great in his first game. USC point guard Daniel Hackett finished a year early and he has started every game. Top freshmen are going to keep getting younger.
Z - Zip. The points scored by Miami against Buffalo. Did it happen because Miami isn't very good, is Nick Saban too busy interviewing for Alabama to make a good game plan, or is Buffalo just turning into a very solid team? I choose the latter, and I suspect a lot of AFC teams are hoping the Bills don't squeak into the playoffs.