1 A.M. NFL Mid-term Confessions
by Robert Ferringo - 11/06/2006
(This is an excerpt of an article that appears in the current addition of Every Edge Magazine)
It's 1:04 A.M. Monday morning. I've been drunk for about 34 of the past 60 hours. The vultures are swirling. Hitting my deadline seems as likely as recovering an onsides kick.
(Oh, and never, ever tell your wife that you'll help her stop smoking by quitting too - especially not when you're trapped in the fiery cauldron of another twisted football season, or on the eve of most important mid-term election of your lifetime. If you choose to do so, make sure you're fully stocked with vodka and trail mix. Put yourself on a strict regiment of two handfuls-per-drink and you may stand a chance.)
But that's enough of that nonsense, eh? On to The Show. We've had our own mid-term moment of realization in the ol' National Football League as Week 9 came and went. The fulcrum of this professional gambling season was an exciting event (unless you were in San Francisco) and the die is now cast for the winter stretch run. And here's a thought to remember as teams slowly sink into Desperation, one that crystallizes the first half of the regular season: They are who we thought they were.
You can't help who you are. Some people are honest and noble grocery baggers. Some are depraved, sexually deviant psychopaths chasing Mexicans across the border with semi-automatic assault rifles on the weekends. Others are Senators. Regardless, you are who you were meant to be and in the end your true colors will come through. And no one knows that better than Denny Green, the man who submarined one potential dynasty in the Great Lakes before sabotaging another in the desert.
But if that's the Truth, how do you explain the worst six teams in the NFL against the spread this season?
Miami (1-7 ATS), Pittsburgh (2-6), Arizona (2-6), Carolina (2-5-1), Cincinnati (2-5-1) and Seattle (2-5) represent the Bankrupt Bunch. If we break it down, we have two Super Bowl representatives (Pitt, Seattle), two sexy Super Bowl picks (Cincy, Carolina), and two sheik sleeper selections (Arizona, Miami). So what happened? Why aren't these teams who we thought they were?
The truth is that they are. And I have the numbers to prove it.
None of these six clubs are in the top 15 in rushing. Only two of them are in the top 15 in third-down conversions. They represent five of the 13 most penalized clubs in football. Wait, there's more. Only two of them are in the top 15 in total defense or have a positive turnover differential. Finally, only two of them are in the top 10 in red-zone offense.
Basically, these teams are sloppy and don't execute. It's that simple. People can dress them up with pretty tags like "defending champs" or "Super Bowl favorite", but in the end they can't help but to be who they were meant to be. The public may believe otherwise - and that's certainly fueling some sketchy numbers on these groups - but these teams don't play good football and can't be relied on for more than frustration and angst.
The moral of this story is that the next four weeks should be the prime profit time for gamblers. We already have a mental framework established for the teams, a plethora of statistical information, and a slew of meaningful trends that have helped craft an organization's fingerprint. Toss those into a variety of systems and the lines should be ripe before resting starters and lame duck coaches come into play in late December. The stars are aligning.
Based on what I know of these teams, here are three units that I think will get hot over the next few weeks. Some will make a run for the playoffs, while others will just make you money:
1. Detroit - Besides a trip to New England in December, the Lions play four of their next five against teams at .500 or worse. Three of those four are at home.
2. New England - They're not anyone's sleeper. But they have some work to do to lock up a bye and miss Indy in the second round. Chicago and Jacksonville are the only teams with winning records left on their schedule.
3. New York Jets - In the next two weeks they'll get hammered by New England and Chicago, which will lower their stock. They'll answer by going 4-2 ATS to close the season.
Here is a trio that I think will be Red Cross teams (non-profit) over the next few weeks before possibly making a late ATS charge:
1. Chicago - Road games at the Giants, Patriots and Rams will make this next five weeks a gauntlet. At some point, the Grossman-Griese controversy will surface.
2. San Diego - Five of the next seven are against teams with winning records. Four of them are on the road, and if they lost Donnie Edwards they are in big, big trouble.
3. Dallas - I hate to interrupt Tony Romo's Hall of Fame induction speech, but Dallas faces Indy, New Orleans and Philadelphia soon, with trips to the Meadowlands and Atlanta sprinkled in.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.