This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 09/18/2007
A - Arrested. Tyrell Gatewood, a safety for Texas, became the fifth Longhorn arrested since June when he was picked up on a drug charge this week. Apparently the team wants Austin to be renamed Southern Cincinnati. This ridiculous lack of discipline comes at the same time as the team has struggled mightily and is very lucky to be 3-0. Coincidence?
B - Boomer. I may owe David Wells a bit of an apology. I had a lot to say when the Dodgers picked him up from the scrap heap on which San Diego dumped him, and none of it was very nice. Since then, though, he is 3-0, he's had four quality starts, and he's a legitimate and reliable arm for a team that desperately needs one.
C - Cheating. It was a week for cheaters, and a clear sign that Europeans frown upon an unfair advantage far more than we do. Bill Belichick gets busted for spying on his opponents after being warned not to do so. The total fine - $750,000 and the loss of a draft pick. McLaren gets caught spying on their Formula 1 rival. The total fine - $100 million. And no, that is not a misprint. I bet the dude in the hoodie wouldn't even think of cheating again if he was hung with a fine that big.
D - Denver. The Broncos won thanks to a sneaky timeout call in overtime against Oakland, and they are 2-0, but anyone who has seen them play has to be concerned. At this point these guys are not an elite AFC team despite their record. Both wins have been by the narrowest of margins, both have required late comebacks, and they have been against Buffalo and Oakland - not exactly powerhouses. What happens in Week 4 when a Colts-Chargers-Steelers stretch begins?
E - Edgerrin James. This is what Arizona signed up for. After a season that was a total write-off last year, Edge is averaging 110 yards and a touchdown a game this year. Now if the offense around him could break the habit of totally disappearing for long stretches of time then this team might be a force to be reckoned with. They're already 2-0 ATS thanks, in large part, to him.
F - Fraud. Michigan was the first team to expose themselves as a fraud this season. Auburn and Virginia Tech were next to join the ranks. Those disappointing squads must have been having one heck of a good time, because teams were rushing to join them in the world of the utter disappointments. TCU completely bombed to prove that Cinderella doesn't live in Texas, Louisville dropped a shootout to state rival Kentucky, and UCLA stunk the joint out against a Utah team that looked like Urban Meyer had never left.
G - Green Monkey, The. $16 million is a lot of money. It's an especially large number when it's the price of a horse. The Green Monkey, who became the highest priced horse in the world last year as a two year old, finally made his racing debut at Belmont on Saturday. The only reason I didn't personally beat the horse in a foot race was that I wasn't in New York this weekend. This is one incredibly slow dud of a racehorse. He finished third, but the lead wasn't even a dim possibility.
H - Hockey. The NHL preseason started on Saturday. That's all I'll say about it for now because I know that 95 percent of you could care less.
I - Irish. Wow, is Notre Dame ever bad. I mean really, really, really bad. I know Charlie Weis is a genius and all, but it makes no sense at all to me that a guy with an ounce of competence to let a program of the caliber of Notre Dame sink that low. I don't think a major conference team has ever played worse, because I don't think it is possible to play worse. Shameful.
J - JaMarcus Russell. The No. 1 draft pick finally signed a gigantic contract, ensuring that no one in his family ever has to work again. It also means that we are doomed to hear yet another ridiculous flurry of stories about when the right time to let him start is. Like we haven't had that enough of that with Brady Quinn already. With Derek Anderson playing so ridiculously well in Cleveland this week, and Josh McCown looking so uninspiring for Oakland, it may actually be a race to see who starts first.
K - Kellen Lewis. Have you noticed what Indiana's sophomore QB is doing? He has his team overachieving at 3-0 (2-0 ATS), and it's all him. Against Akron on Sunday he was 19/24 passing for three touchdowns, and he rushed for 198 yards and two more touchdowns on just 18 carries. That was the most rushing yardage in Division 1-A. Imagine the press the guy would be getting if he played for a team that anyone cared about.
L - Lewis, Marvin. Dear coach: Remember how you used to be a defensive coordinator? You were really good. What in the world has happened? Cincinnati used to be terrible on defense, and they just keep getting worse. Allowing a QB to pass for five touchdowns and a running back to rush for 215 yards in the same game should be impossible. Never mind that it was against Cleveland. What a joke. The team has about one more offseason to do something about this before their window slams shut.
M - Mallett, Ryan. I know I talk about Michigan a lot, but it has been a long year already. So just indulge me now that there is finally some good news. The Wolverines saw a glimpse of their future when the freshman QB started on Saturday, and it is very bright. He is going to be a serious stud. He was composed, he has a rocket of an arm, and he looked very comfortable finding receivers in the endzone. He'll hit the bench again for much of this year, but the team certainly won't miss a step when Chad Henne leaves.
N - Noel Devine. West Virginia's freshman running back phenom had 136 yards on the ground against Maryland on just five carries. Is that any good? With Devine, Steve Slaton and Pat White all ridiculously serious running threats, opposing defensive coordinators are in for a long night. All those teams that passed over Devine because of attitude concerns are probably kicking themselves now.
O - Oden, Greg. I'm guessing it wasn't a good week for Portland Trail Blazers' management. After deciding to build the fate of their franchise around Greg Oden, they couldn't be thrilled to hear that his 18-year-old knee is worn out and he'll miss a year with serious and potentially career-limiting micro-fracture surgery. The Blazers' opponents were going to be attractive anyway, but now they are even more so.
P - Patriots. Cheaters or not, this team is amazing. The offense was surgical, the defense was smothering, and they made a team that was supposed to be pretty good, the Chargers, look totally ridiculous. Philip Rivers looked like a high school QB most of the time. The Pats will have a misstep at this point, but they sure look tough to beat at this point.
Q - Quoi?!? That's French for 'what?!?'. Despite having no receiving corps and questions all over the offense, the Packers are 2-0, and Brett Favre is playing like it's 1997. He was 29/38 for 286 yards with three touchdowns and just one pick - if he keeps that up I'll have to stop telling him to quit. The Chargers will be a challenge next week, but 4-2 heading into the bye week is a real possibility.
R - Rags to Riches. So much for the best story in horse racing this year. The undefeated, Belmont-winning filly finally found her way back to the track for the first time since the final leg of the Triple Crown. It was a perfect fairytale story - she was returning to the Belmont track where she found her glory. Unfortunately, this fairytale had a sad ending. She fractured her leg in the race and will, at the very least, miss the rest of the season. That thud you heard was some of the luster falling off of the Breeders' Cup.
S - Saints. What's wrong in New Orleans? I gave them a mulligan after they bombed in the first week, but then their second week offensive showing made the season opener look good. There is something seriously wrong there, and it's not even like you can blame one player for the problems. The only thing saving them at this point is that their division is pretty lousy top to bottom.
T - Troy. Troy's upset of Oklahoma State as 10.5-point underdogs on Friday showed the power of scheduling over your head. Troy is far from being a powerhouse of any kind, but they preceded the game against the Cowboys with trips to Arkansas and Florida. Neither game was close, but you have to think that the exposure to strong teams set them up for this upset, and that it prepares them well for conference action. They are truly fearless - their other non-conference game is against Georgia.
U - Underrated. I have been a big Jeff Garcia fan since his days toiling for my hometown Calgary Stampeders of the CFL, so it makes me happy that he yet again proved what I have long known - this guy is very good. He's not flashy, but when given a chance he will avoid mistakes, build a rock-solid rapport with a receiver (Joey Galloway in this case), and lead his team to huge and much needed victories. He's 7-2 in his last nine starts. So is Tom Brady.
V - Virginia Tech. Boy, did I ever misread this team. I thought that they were a talented team that would play with passion this year driven by the emotion of their school. Instead, they are a bunch of listless underachievers who do enough to scrape by as long as the opponents aren't very good. There is no excuse for a team from Blacksburg to be 0-3 ATS.
W - Woods, Tiger. If you haven't seen the golf highlights yet this week, I hope you are sitting down. Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship this weekend to take the FedEx Cup and locked up Player of the Year. No, really. Kudos to the PGA for coming up with a playoff format that made the finish of the season way more interesting and really opened up the field to surprising and exciting results. Woods totally ran away with the race, so you can only imagine what would have happened if he hadn't skipped the first event in this joke of a post-season.
X - uneXpected. Steven Jackson, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Larry Johnson averaged 53 yards rushing this week. None of them found the endzone. Their teams all lost. None of them have broken 65 yards in a game, never mind 100. Three general managers, and millions of fantasy football players, have to be very concerned.
Y - Yuck. This weekend confirmed something I have suspected for a while - Trent Green is a piece of garbage as a quarterback. He was great, but he's done. Or at least, he has a long way to go to get back to decent. His four interceptions this week were brutal and inexcusable for a guy as experienced as he is. I don't see how Miami is a legitimate betting option with him in his current state (i.e. old) at the helm.
Z - Zero. The quest for my most desired record is alive and well in the NFL this year - zero wins on the season. 0-16 would be such painful fun. Nine teams are still in the chase. St. Louis, the Jets, and the Saints don't have any long-term potential, but the Chiefs and the Falcons are doing some really special things to make me believe in the possibilities. They don't play each other, so 0-32 is even possible, but just thinking about it makes me giddy.