This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 10/02/2007
A - Ageless. Brett Favre was the top passer in the league this week, and Green Bay continues to be the biggest surprise in the NFL. Bettors haven't started to completely believe in the team yet - they are 4-0 ATS, and they have covered easily each time, showing that the lines are softer than they need to be. The amazing thing about the Pack is that their schedule suddenly looks like they could put up some serious numbers if they keep winning - there is only one game - at the Cowboys - that looks unwinnable at this point.
B - Brennan, Colt. Hawaii piled up the points and won big again to move to 5-0, but Brennan had a rough night that will almost certainly cost him any chance he had at the Heisman. Well, 30-of-49 for 369 yards and three touchdowns isn't bad at all, but it was the five interceptions that have to be a huge concern. If Idaho hadn't matched with five interceptions of their own, Brennan could have caused some serious trouble for his team.
C - Curlin. Wow. It had been a rough summer for the Preakness winner, but a break was apparently just what he needed. The horse came back to action to face older horses for the first time in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. It was a strong field, including Lawyer Ron, the best older horse of the summer. Curlin and Lawyer Ron locked in a stretch duel, and I was convinced the younger horse was beat, but he dug in and won by a short neck. Impressive, and it definitely gives us something to look forward to in the Classic. This could change, but right now I feel that we just watched the class of the field have a duel.
D - DeSean Jackson. I was pretty convinced that Jackson was just another over-hyped flashy kick returner. Then I watched the Cal-Oregon game. He didn't get a chance to show much on the kick return, but I have rarely seen a player single handedly shred a very good opponent like Jackson did. Cal would have been nowhere without him and his relentless playmaking.
E - English Channel. No horse is more snake-bitten at the Breeders' Cup than this horse. Perhaps the best turf horse in the country, English Channel has twice failed to win the BC Turf. He'll be trying again this year, and he comes to the race in great form. He was dominating in the Hirsch this weekend, moving through an impossibly small hole on the rail and running away when he got clear.
F - Fabulous Strike. The Vosburgh brought together perhaps the strongest field of sprinters of the year, including the return of Discreet Cat. It was 5/1 shot Fabulous Strike who left his mark, and served notice that he is a serious BC contender. He crushed the field by almost six lengths, and added some validity to his record. He'd had some extremely fast times this summer, and had huge Beyer's but this was by far the best field he had faced.
G - Griese, Brian. His performance wasn't all that Bears fans were hoping for, but it was certainly an improvement. He was reasonably accurate and he did something unfamiliar to Bears observers - he threw too touchdowns. His three interceptions were a concern, but not surprising given the lack of protection he has to deal with and the stunning lack of a running game. This certainly does not look like a playoff team. Their 0-4 ATS record is not a fluke.
H - Hard Spun. The Kentucky Cup Classic was supposed to be the last prep to allow Kentucky Derby champ Street Sense to move onto the Breeders' Cup Classic in fine form. No one told Hard Spun. The rival who had previously been unable to come out ahead took the lead from the start and never gave it up. Street Sense was second in the four-horse field, but the race left us with more questions than answers.
I - Injured. Clay Buchholz has sure had a rollercoaster six weeks. He won his debut for the Red Sox on Aug. 17, threw a no-hitter next time out against Baltimore, was promptly sent to the bullpen where he got another win against Baltimore on Sept. 6, was out until he lost against Toronto on the 19th, and then packed it in for the season with arm problems. If Boston struggles against the Angels then his fragile arm could get part of the blame.
J - Joey Harrington. I have said mean things about Harrington every chance I have had since he left Oregon, so the least I can do is say something nice when he deserves it now. He was 23-of-29 for 223 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Falcons to their first win. That's the second straight big game for the beleaguered starter. Maybe all he needed was a legitimate starter on the roster to challenge him.
K - Kentucky. The Wildcats are one of the great stories of the year as they move up to No. 8 in the polls, and Andre Woodson has been truly special, but the fun could end soon in Lexington. The next three weeks feature probably the hardest schedule any team has over that stretch. They head to South Carolina, then host LSU and Florida. If they are still standing then they are absolutely for real. Heck, if they stayed unbeaten ATS I'd be incredibly impressed.
L - Leinart, Matt. For the second straight week Leinart struggled, and Kurt Warner looked strong when he replaced him. You have to wonder how long it will be before the Cards just skip a step and put Warner in from the start. It's too early to say so for sure, but it's tempting to say that USC studs aren't all that we thought they were in the pros - Leinart, Bush, White - the list of underwhelming performers isn't short.
M - Mets. I am thankful for a lot of things, but nothing more than the fact that I am not a Mets fan. Tom Glavine capped a truly impressive collapse with a terrible performance on Sunday. How do you lose a seven-game lead in less than three weeks? Never mind that they have a six billion dollar payroll that is way too expensive to be this bad. The Phillies should be proud of themselves, but they should all also send a big thank you card to the stinking Mets. Ridiculous. The worst part isn't that they went 5-12 in their last 17, but that they were favored in all of the games. They were at least -206 in their last seven, and they lost six. They should be charged for arson for burning that much bettors' money.
N - No way. It's Sunday night as I write this and I am seeing things clearly. There's no way that Donovan McNabb really got sacked 12 times tonight, is there? Truly ridiculous. Clearly last week's big win was just a mirage. The Eagles looked really, really bad. They should be thankful that the Phillies made the playoffs today, so Philly fans will be a little distracted. Here's my favorite stat - Osi Umenyiora caused more lost yards with his sacks, 38, than any Eagle receiver gained all game.
O - Odd. Rarely have I seen a stat line as misleading as the one Daunte Culpepper put up on Sunday in Oakland's convincing win over Miami. He was just 5-of-12 for 75 yards. If you saw that you would be ready to call for his head. Two of those five passes were for touchdowns, though, and the big QB ran for three more scores. That's a pretty big game considering how it looks on paper at first glance.
P - Pavlik, Kelly. The undefeated Jermain Taylor was the biggest name in the ring in Atlantic City Saturday, but it was the other undefeated fighter, Pavlik, who came out with the win and Taylor's undisputed middleweight title. Pavlik was in trouble early, and was knocked down to his hands and knees in the second, but he rebounded to knock out the champ in the seventh round.
Q - Quit. Mack Brown should seriously consider handing in his resignation. It's not just that his team lost to Kansas State for the second straight year (though that's bad enough), or that their season is over before the Red River Shootout for the second straight year. It's that the Wildcats did the same basic thing this year that they did last year, and it worked even better the second time. Shameful.
R - Rockies. Win or lose in the one-game playoff against the Padres, I love what this team has done down the stretch. They won 13-of-14, including six as underdogs, and benefited from a rough 10-day stretch by the Padres, to force a best-of-one showdown. They've opened the eyes of baseball watchers with their young talent, too. This is not a flash in the pan team.
S - South Florida. I knew this was a team on the upswing, but I didn't realize that Matt Grothe and company intended to win it all this year. With their second huge win they announced that they are for real, and Auburn's win over Florida made the Bulls earlier victory over Auburn look even better. The story should get even better - they should be 6-0 heading into Rutgers, and they host Louisville and fellow Big East upstart Cincinnati, so anything really is possible. Their 3-0 ATS streak could end soon, though, because the public will be all over this Cinderella story.
T - Trent Edwards. I didn't think that Edwards was necessarily ready to start for Buffalo, but I guess he was going into a low pressure situation - the team had the worst offense in the league with starter J.P. Losman, so Edwards could do no worse. Instead, he did much, much better. He was accurate (22-of-28) and poised well beyond his years, and he was one miscue away from a practically perfect game. Buffalo deserved a break, and this surprising performance in a win was definitely that.
U - Ugly. The top 10 certainly wasn't tops this week. Five teams - West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida and Rutgers - all lost. At least three of the squads should be absolutely disgusted by their efforts. Four others - LSU, USC, Ohio State and Wisconsin - won but didn't cover. Only Cal managed to put a win and a cover on the board. If the public truly does like high profile favorites then this was an exceptionally bad week - Cal was an underdog at Oregon.
V - Very ugly. San Diego is a total, absolute mess. I didn't even know it was physically possible to give up 24 unanswered points to the Chiefs, but the Chargers showed us how it's done. I'm not at all convinced that they can fix this. Former coordinator Cam Cameron is an absolute disaster in Miami, too, but Wade Phillips is making a serious push for coach of the year in Dallas. Am I the only one who is thinking that maybe Norv turner wasn't the best option when a better choice was already your employee?
W - Willie Williams. The least shocking news of the week was that Louisville linebacker Williams got into legal trouble and got booted from the program. This is the same guy who was too much trouble for Miami to handle. That takes some doing. Williams just joined the program this year, and he had seen limited action so far, but he's immensely talented, and Louisville obviously desperately needs defensive help, so his stupidity is far from helpful.
X - eXcellent. The baseball playoffs start this week, the NFL is ramping up, college football gets more interesting every week, hockey has started, the NBA camps are around the corner, the Breeders' Cup is just around the corner, NASCAR is in the home stretch - is there a better time to be a sports bettor?
Y - Young QBs. Sept. 29 was apparently the day for young quarterbacks to crash back to earth. Jake Locker struggled, though his team hung tight with USC. Sam Bradford looked for the first time like a freshman. Tim Tebow was fine, but his team around him wasn't. Ryan Mallett struggled, giving Chad Henne more playing time than he was scheduled for. Jimmy Clausen got roughed up, and then may have lost his job to Evan Sharpley.
Z - Zzzzz. I made the mistake of watching Virginia Tech beat North Carolina on Saturday. I'm just thankful that I didn't slip into a coma. The Hokies are a pretty flawed team, and Butch Davis is a long way away from having North Carolina ready to contend, so this was a painful, painful 60 minutes of non-action. Thankfully, my viewing choices for the rest of the day were better.