This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 10/15/2007
A - Adrian Peterson. This guy's pretty good. Did anyone in the NFL more single-handedly lead his team to victory this week than Peterson (except maybe LaDainian Tomlinson, but we expect it from him even if he hasn't been at his best up to this point this year)? Twenty carries for 224 yards and three touchdowns. Not a bad day. Tavaris Jackson was only 9-of-23, but Peterson easily made up for that in a huge win against a key rival.
B - Brennan, Colt. Though Hawaii is 7-0 and still in the BCS hunt, it certainly hasn't been the fairytale season that Brennan was likely hoping for. He's throwing a lot of interceptions, his team is struggling to win almost every week, he's had injury problems, and his position at the top of the NFL Draft is being seriously challenged by Andre Woodson and others. On the other hand, he'll be the most practiced player in the draft - he threw 75 passes on Saturday. No other starter in the Top 25 threw more than 49.
C - Cincinnati. What kind of bizarro world are we living in if Cincinnati is favored by 9.5 over Louisville and that's not a misprint? The Bearcats have been a great story, but their 28-24 loss showed that they aren't quite ready for the big time yet, and Louisville is clearly a better team than they have looked during their horrific struggles of late. It's amazing what can happen when a team plays a little defense.
D - Disaster. What a mess Eric Gagne has become. Canadian baseball fans are fiercely loyal to the Canadians in the major leagues, but I don't know how I can defend Gagne any more. I thought the trade to Boston was a gem, but I couldn't have been more wrong. He has been disastrous twice in the ALCS so far, and there have only been two games. This guy can't see any more action these playoffs. If he does, I wish there was some way to know about it in advance, because the Indians are huge favorites any time he sees the mound.
E - Evander Holyfield. He may be about 412 years old, but Holyfield fought on Friday in an attempt to earn his fifth world heavyweight title. He lost a unanimous decision to Sultan Ibragimov. Despite the setback, the former champ, who actually turns 45 next week, says he will not retire. Why would he - he's already long since ditched every last shred and dignity and self respect, so what's the point in stopping now? This guy is clear proof that getting hit in the head really does scramble your brains.
F - Finally. It took six weeks, but the Saints finally looked like the Saints. For the first time they played with the grace and ease on offense that we came to expect last year, and the results were obvious on the scoreboard. Reggie Bush looked like he was potentially worth his draft position. If they keep it up they have the schedule to get to 5-5 without much of a challenge and really make the stretch drive interesting.
G - Green Monkey, The. I can't imagine spending $16 million on anything, but if I spent $16 million on a horse the least I would hope is that it could run. The Green Monkey, the most expensive yearling purchase in the history of horse racing, lost badly at Belmont this weekend for his second disappointment in two starts. The race was a great example of how the public is sometimes irrational - despite not getting to the track until the fall of his three year old year, and despite struggling badly in his first start, The Green Monkey was made the even money favorite.
H - Harrell, Graham. The Texas Tech QB is benefiting from a system designed to let him score a pile of points, but he still deserves a lot of credit for what he is doing. So far in seven games (and I assure you that none of these numbers are a misprint) Harrell has completed 74 percent of his passes for 3,151 yards with 31 touchdowns and just three picks. It will be very interesting to watch what happens now that he moves into the meat of his Big 12 schedule.
I - Indians. I'm admittedly anti-Red Sox, so I will look for any reason to believe that they could lose, but Cleveland fans and backers have to feel pretty good about the fact that their two aces, Sabathia and Carmona, struggled in their starts and couldn't get out of the fifth, yet the team heads back to Jacobs Field with a split. Boston would rather have Beckett and Schilling starting a best-of-seven at home then Dice-K and Wakefield starting off a best of five on the road.
J - Jeff Gordon. Gordon proved that his win at Talladega wasn't a fluke by coming back and winning Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Gordon has steered his No. 24 car to the top of the Chase standings and seems like a very good bet to be there when the season ends. You might not like him, but he's clearly determined and focused on his fifth championship.
K - Kentucky. The Wildcats are a hard team to figure out. I was ready to write them off as a false contender who benefited from a soft schedule to start the year after they were outclassed by South Carolina last week, but then they showed how good they can be when they shocked LSU this week. Which team is the real Kentucky, and which one shows up against Florida this week?
L - Look out. Michigan has won five straight, they destroyed Purdue this weekend, they are back in the poll where they belong (No. 24 and rising, baby!), and two losses doesn't look like nearly the problem that they did a few weeks ago. This is the year the Wolverines go all the way in the biggest comeback in the history of college football. And yes, I am delusional.
M - Morelli, Anthony. Will the real Anthony Morelli please stand up! The quarterback who looked confused and ineffective when his Nittany Lions lost to Illinois looked like a composed, confident veteran when Penn State dismantled Wisconsin this weekend. You never know what you are going to get when Morelli takes a snap, and that makes handicapping Penn State very difficult. Of course, handicapping the whole Big Ten is a real challenge this year.
N - Nebraska. I thought that this team had bottomed out and was climbing back up to their lofty peaks this year, but apparently they are still digging downs to the depths of ultimate failure. Two straight humiliating conference losses has the team reeling, and makes me happy that yet another historically elite program is even worse off than my beloved Michigan.
O - Over. In a rare Sunday night game, Nevada traveled to Boise State this weekend. The total was set at 61.5, one of the eight highest totals of the weekend. Both teams went over that total in a ridiculous 69-67 quadruple overtime victory by Boise State. This is one of those cases where you would feel really ridiculous if you bet the under.
P - Pain. Another week, another batch of quarterback injuries in the NFL. Pivots have always been fragile, but I'm not sure we've seen so many starters go down in such short time as we have this year. Arizona had its second starter go out when Kurt Warner suffered an elbow injury, and Vince Young looked like he could barely walk thanks to a hurt quad. Both teams lost, and the poor performance of the backups was a big reason why.
Q - Quit. The Breeders' Cup lost an intriguing contender when the six-year-old Shakespeare had to quit the road to the Mile. The horse was retired after a tendon injury that had previously kept him off the track for almost two years flared up again. His comeback from that injury only lasted two races, but the most recent was an impressive win in the Woodbine Mile that put him back in the public eye.
R - Rams. I'll admit it - I have speculated in at least two different weeks this year that the Rams will finally wake up a bit and put up a valiant effort that will lead to a nice cover and maybe even a win. I'll never do that again. Gus Frerotte threw five interceptions and the running game was non-existent as the Rams were embarrassed yet again. They lost to Baltimore this time, but they would lose to anyone the way they are playing. I'd say they are definitely the worst team in the league it weren't for Miami. The two teams are in a dogfight for the cellar.
S - So old. Sure Vinny Testaverde isn't old in real terms, but in football years he's about 512. That makes it especially impressive that, just a week removed from watching the games on his couch, Testaverde stepped in and not only managed not to mess up too badly for the Panthers, but was responsible for a big win thanks to a huge touchdown pass to Steve Smith. Impressive.
T - Tom Brady. He had 388 yards and five touchdowns against the best team in the NFC. The Patriots are amazing, and Brady has never played better. Here's what you should do - go out to your favorite sportsbook and beg them to let you bet on who will win the NFL MVP. Take 3/5 on Brady if you have to - at this point no price is too low for this virtual lock.
U - UFC. There is discontent in the world's biggest MMA organization. They failed to sign Fedor Emilianenko, the nastiest heavyweight in the world, this week, and then Randy Couture, the heavyweight champ and one of the biggest names in the sport, cut ties with the organization over his frustration at their inability to get him a fight with Emilianenko. The loss of those two fighters opens a huge void in the heavyweight class, though it's a void that is lacking the excitement of big names.
V - Vikings. Minnesota won a big game on the road at Chicago this week, and they have apparently found the key to success that they may have lacked in earlier weeks - have a brawl before the game. Reports say that there was a pretty serious fight in the Minny dressing room on Thursday. Punches were thrown, chairs were tossed, and stitches were needed. Coach Brad Childress will probably make riots a part of the weekly routine now.
W - Workouts. With the Breeders' Cup less than two weeks away, the contenders are just working out and getting ready to travel to New Jersey. There were several eye opening works among top horses in recent days. Sprint hopeful Smokey Stover went a brisk :58 1/5 on Sunday. Big names like Any Given Saturday, Lawyer Ron, Discreet Cat, Octave and Wait a While were also on tracks around the country Sunday morning.
X - eXplanation. The crazy season of upsets in college football continued this weekend with the losses by LSU and Cal. My wife, who knew nothing about college football when I met her but is now, at times, alarmingly passionate about it, has a theory about why top teams keep losing this year - everyone sucks. I've tried to tell her that that might be a bit extreme, but frankly it makes as much sense as any other possible explanation I can come up with.
Y - Yikes. Will Colorado ever lose again? The Rockies are playing like I have never seen a team play. They aren't flashy or overpowering, but they don't seem to believe they can lose. The most interesting part, to me, is that they don't look like a team that is ridiculously overachieving or riding a wave of momentum. They are just doing what they do and it is working. Wow.
Z - Zoom. That's the sound Stanford is making on their rapid trip to the top of the Pac-10. While that may be an exaggeration, the Cardinal did themselves proud in the follow-up to their stunning upset of USC. They covered against TCU, and they almost managed to pull a win off. Tavita Pritchard, the backup QB who was so good in the fourth quarter in L.A., was again very solid this weekend. Jim Harbaugh definitely has his team on the rise.