This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 10/22/2008
A - Alexander, Shaun. The incredible fall from grace has taken a potentially brief detour to the nation's capital. The former MVP needed a job, the Redskins needed running depth, and Daniel Snyder is more than happy to spend money without thinking about it - it was a match made in heaven. Not surprisingly, Alexander had almost no impact in his first game since he was covered in inches of rust. The team didn't need him, though - Clinton Portis torched the Browns for 175 yards and a TD.
B - Big Brown. Being a horse racing fan is not for the faint of heart. Heading into the Breeders' Cup on Oct. 25, the big story was the looming showdown between Big Brown and Curlin in the Classic. Now it will never happen. The Derby and Preakness winner, who has struggled with foot issues throughout his career, was injured while training on Monday and was immediately retired. Now he's off to the breeding shed to make millions, and owners of mares bred to him will hope that he passes on his freakish speed and not his fragile feet.
C - Clemson. It took the Tigers way, way longer than it should have, but they finally came to their senses and realized that Tommy Bowden is a lousy coach. Bowden was fired this week after letting yet another season full of promise totally get away from him. This move might help stop the bleeding this year, but more significantly it ensures that the team will get a fresh start next year. The best part of the situation was that senior QB Cullen Harper, a guy who has seen his confidence destroyed this year by Bowden, wasted no time telling the press that he was quite certain the coach deserved the boot.
D - Dallas Cowboys. There is so much to say about this team that it's hard to know where to start. Tony Romo broke his finger, thought he could play anyway, then discovered he can't throw with a broken finger. Shocking. The team has problems virtually everywhere except receiver, so they did the logical thing and traded away their whole draft for Roy Williams. Their game against the Rams shouldn't have been close, and it wasn't. The only problem is that it was the lowly Rams who won by 20. Needless to say, this was not the team's best week.
E - EliteXC. If you haven't heard yet then this could be a sad shock for you - EliteXC no longer exists. That means that Kimbo Slice is not just concussed and ashamed, but also jobless. The organization scored a major coup when they landed a contract with CBS. That continent-wide exposure only showed what MMA fans already knew, though - EliteXC sucked. They burned through mountains of cash, and just couldn't last anymore. It also didn't help that they seem to have been caught fixing their fights. That rarely helps credibility.
F - Fabian Brunnstrom. The Dallas Stars have a new star. Brunnstrom is a 23-year-old rookie. He somehow was undrafted, so he set of a bidding war this year when he chose to come to the NHL. Dallas won, and they are thrilled they did. Brunnstrom scored a hat trick in his first game - just the third player ever to do so, and the first in nearly three decades. He scored again in his third game, too. If he's even half as good as he looks so far then he'll be a serious bargain for the $2 million he makes each year.
G - Giants. I make no secret of my dislike of the Giants, and I will take shots at Eli and company whenever possible, but this time it seems justified. A week after getting embarrassed by the Browns the team bounced back to beat the Niners. It wasn't pretty, though, and it shows me that this isn't the team people thought it was. Manning was, at best, barely effective. He didn't make many costly errors, but he certainly didn't rally the troops - he completed just 51 percent of passes for 161 yards. The running game wasn't great, either. I am not drinking the New York kool-aid.
H - Hopkins, Bernard. This guy might be old and increasingly bizarre, but on Saturday night he proved he can still fight. The 26-year-old Kelly Pavlik had made it through his first 34 fights without a loss, but he was totally outclassed and dominated by the 43-year-old Hopkins en route to a one-sided decision. Now boxing has a problem - Pavlik has two titles, but this was a non-title fight. That means that the WBC and WBO have a middleweight champion who is suddenly as scary as a kitten.
I - Indianapolis Colts. This team is a total mess, and I am sick of trying to figure them out. A week ago they blew out the Ravens, and they finally looked like we have long expected Indy to look. They built on that much-needed momentum by getting crushed by an injury-plagued Green Bay team this week. Peyton Manning was even worse than his brother, completing just half of his passes, getting picked off twice, and not throwing a TD. The running game wasn't great, the defense couldn't contain Aaron Rodgers or the running game, and Indy again looked thoroughly irrelevant. I don't think many people thought this team would ever be three games out of first, never mind after just six games.
J - Joba Chamberlain. The Yankees pitcher is the winner of this week's Idiot of the Week. When a guy like him returns to his hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska people are going to notice. He showed that he has the insight and maturity to live in the public eye - he got hammered, grabbed a beer for the road, jumped behind the wheel of a flashy borrowed car, and sped excessively. Hank Steinbrenner's head just might explode if his team doesn't start just keeping their collective heads down and start winning some games.
K - Kitna, Jon. The Lions have put Kitna, their starting quarterback, on the injured reserve, assuring that they won't have him for the rest of the year. That means that Dan Orlovsky has the reins. Normally, that kind of thing would be of interest to bettors. Things are so bleak in Detroit, though, that this hardly matters. If anything, Orlovsky gives this team a little spark of hope - he completed just two passes to Calvin Johnson, but they were impressive. One was a 96-yard TD, and the other was a 58-yard completion. That wasn't enough to help them win, but then neither was Kitna.
L - Las Vegas. Justin Timberlake hosted his first PGA tournament in Las Vegas this past week in an attempt to become the Bob Hope of his generation. Most of the big stars in the game are sitting at home counting their money these days, so that leaves room for the lesser names to make some cash. Tour rookie Marc Turnesa made the most of the extra room to move. He opened with a 62, and led wire-to-wire for his first career win. The win couldn't have come at a better time - he earns a two-year exemption at a time when a trip to Q-school was looking likely.
M - Monday Night Football. Where in the world did that come from? The Broncos had been among the league's finest offenses. The Patriots had problems galore, and were coming off a very ugly loss. So, of course, Denver couldn't score at all, and Matt Cassel did his best Tom Brady impersonation en route to a lopsided and thoroughly unexpected 41-7 New England win. Anyone who says that sports betting is easy obviously ignores games like this one.
N - Nolan, Mike. The writing was pretty clearly on the wall in San Francisco. The Niners came into the season with mild hopes given their lousy division, but they have been pretty bad, and it isn't getting any better. Mike Singletary was destined to be a head coach and he is with the team, and replacing the coach has worked very well for St. Louis, so it made sense that Nolan became the scapegoat. I think and hope that Nolan will get another chance eventually - I think he has talent, and it was great to see a coach in a suit.
O - Ouch. It wasn't that surprising to see BYU lose to TCU. After all, the Horned Frogs have a very solid defense, they were at home, and they were fired up because they were viewed by many as the third team in a two-team conference. It was shocking, though, to see how badly TCU shattered BYU's BCS-busting dreams. The game wasn't close on either side of the ball. Two lines of thought came out of the game - maybe TCU is the team in the Mountain West that deserves to play in a January bowl, and surely some high profile program is going to take a shot at TCU coach Gary Patterson in the offseason.
P - Phillies. Coming into the NLCS, pretty much the only thing anyone wanted to talk about was Manny Ramirez. Philadelphia didn't seem to care. They set the Dodgers back on their heels early on, and L.A. never recovered. Cole Hamels was the MVP, and he was brilliant. One of the really interesting stories, though, was Shane Victorino. He wasn't flashy, but the former Dodgers' prospect repeatedly found ways to make his old team pay for giving up on him.
Q - Quenneville, Joel. This one is a truly strange story. The Chicago Blackhawks came into the season as a very young team with very high hopes. Four disastrous games in, head coach and former Blackhawk on-ice legend Denis Savard was fired. The fact that he was out the door less than five percent of the way into the season makes you wonder why he was there in the first place. It wasn't that surprising, though - Quenneville is a proven coach, and he was on board with Chicago as a consultant, so the move was very easy to make.
R - Revenge. Cam Cameron had a terrible year as coach of the Dolphins last year, and he didn't get a chance to make up for it thanks to the regime change in Miami. He landed in Baltimore as offensive coordinator, and on Sunday he got his first shot at revenge. He made the most of it. His offense looked as good as it has all year as Baltimore rolled over the Dolphins. There is still a long way to go, but Joe Flacco is looking better every week under Cameron.
S - Super coach. If the Coach of the Year was awarded now, then Jim Haslett would have to, at least, be the runner-up behind Jeff Fisher. Haslett took over a St. Louis team that seemed to be incredibly beyond hope, yet somehow he has managed to make them believe in themselves. They have won both games with Haslett at the helm. That's impressive enough, but the exclamation point was the way they absolutely dismantled Dallas on Sunday en route to win No. 2. It seems ridiculous to say, but given how weak the NFC West has been, the season isn't lost for the Rams. Yet.
T - Tampa Bay. The Rays are going to the World Series. That's one sentence I never thought I would write. They didn't make it easy on themselves, though - blowing a seven run lead late in a potential clinching game is hard on the team's psyche, not to mention the bettors that backed them or had the under. They showed the negative effects of that setback in Game 6, but, as they have all year, they showed much more maturity than they should have in Game 7 to win it all. I was thrilled to see Matt Garza get the respect I've long been convinced he deserves.
U - UFC 89. There was a UFC event in England this past weekend, but it wasn't a particularly high profile or interesting one. The good news, though, is that it was available for free on TV instead of as a pay-per-view. In the main event, British fighter Michael Bispng rode the wave of national affection to a unanimous decision over Chris Leben. With the win, Bisping moves closer to a shot at Anderson Silva. I'm not sure if that is a reward or a punishment.
V - Very solid. I have to finally admit it - Texas is a good team. Perhaps very good. I wasn't convinced after they beat Oklahoma - I thought that the Sooners did as much to lose as the Longhorns did to win. Their showing against Missouri, though, makes me a believer. Colt McCoy was essentially flawless, and the defense was stunning, as Texas took a team that looked unbeatable and made them look like Baylor.
W - West Coast. I know that it's a long way from the West Coast to the east, but this is getting ridiculous. Three West Coast NFL squads crossed the country this weekend, and all three lost. That makes the westerners a perfectly putrid 0-11 this year in the Eastern Time Zone, and an almost as ridiculous 2-9 ATS. Ridiculous. The only possible way to explain this one is that the West Coast is mostly weak this year, but even so this is bizarre.
X - eXposed. The San Diego Chargers are not a great team. I'm not even entirely convinced that they are a good team. They were coming off a huge win over New England, but they left that momentum at home when they were packing to go to Buffalo. The Chargers were lifeless and sloppy as they got beat by a team that wanted it more and worked harder. I don't want to completely write off a guy this talented, but something is incredibly wrong with LaDainian Tomlinson. I hope that it's something more fixable than age catching up to him.
Y - Yikes. Washington State may very well be the worst team in the country. No one expected them to be particularly competitive against USC this week, but they were at home, so it didn't seem like too much to expect them show a pulse. They didn't. They lost 69-0, and though it is a cliché it is true here - it wasn't nearly as close as the score indicates. Mark Sanchez was very impressive, tossing five TDs. Not to take anything away from that, though, but I think I would have been good for at least three scores against that defense.
Z - Zzzzz. The Bengals are so bad that I can't be bothered to write about them any more, other than to say two things. First, Marvin Lewis is the worst coach in the world, but I'm even getting bored of saying that because I say it so often. Second, maybe they are playing the wrong Palmer. Carson's little brother Jordan got a bit of action in mop-up time and he completed three of his four passes.