Bad beats. Every gambler has to endure them. And listening to someone talk about their bad gambling beat is a bit like listening to someone talk about "that one hand of poker that oh my god you wouldn't believe what happened". Since I am gambling every day, and have been for the past decade, I have bad beat stories for days. But I wanted to take a moment to reflect on, honestly, one of the worst beats of my entire NFL betting career, which I endured last week.
Again, I've lost games all sorts of ways. Hail Mary's. Garbage-time fumble returns and pick sixes. Safeties. Missed extra points. You name it: I've lost a bet that way. But last week's miss with the 'over' in the Cleveland-Pittsburgh game stands out precisely because it wasn't one freak, fluke play that tore my ticket. Instead it was a three-and-a-half-hour torture chamber. And I was stuck watching the unthinkable unfold while also setting up that last-second gut-punch.
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So, I had Cleveland-Pittsburgh 'over' 41.0. It was a great setup and a good bet for a variety of reasons. But it lost, 30-9. And it lost despite these facts:
- The two teams combined for 801 total yards of offense.
- If you add in defensive penalties, over 940 total yards resulted in just 39 points.
- Even with those insane yardage numbers, there were three other "short-field" situations where teams turned the ball over on their own side of the field, putting the opponent immediately in scoring position.
- Both teams had first-and-goal situations from the one-yard line and failed to score a single point.
- There were three total first-and-goal situations that started inside the five-yard line that yielded a combined zero points.
- I could've at least scored a 'push' in this bet, but the Browns missed the extra point that would've made it 24-10. Had that extra point gone through the Steelers would've kicked after their next touchdown and the final would've been 31-10.
- The last two drives of the game were 12-play and nine-play drives that covered 75 and 92 yards, respectively. Those two drives produced zero points.
- The game ended on the back of a nine-play, 92-yard drive by the Steelers to kill the final six minutes of the game. Pittsburgh was at the one-yard line - just ONE YARD away from cashing my ticket - and took two knees to end the game. And that situation occurred only because Cleveland misused its timeouts.
So next time you lose a bet in the most horrific way possible, I want you to think back to this fun story and remember that you are not alone.
Here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings for Week 11:
1. New England Patriots (9-0) - It is awful tempting to take the points this week in a Bills-Patriots Monday night meeting. A touchdown is a lot of water to carry in a rivalry game this late in the year. But that's what I refer to as a "Thursday bet". On Thursday, the points seem like the sharp play. But on Monday night at about 8:15, maybe 10 minutes before kickoff, when you see Foxboro rocking, then they cut to Hefty Bag Full Of Old Kids Toys Rex Ryan, then see a shot of Tom Brady flash on the screen there is only one thought that will creep into your mind: "What the hell was I thinking?" The Patriots are 5-2 ATS in their last seven Monday Night Football games and 12-5 ATS in their last 17 games against teams with a winning record.
2. Arizona Cardinals (7-2) - What the hell was Carson Palmer doing in that third quarter? Look, the Cardinals rallied and showed a ton of moxie by really manhandling Seattle up in the Emerald City. But Palmer's two horrific fumbles, both of which led to touchdowns, is exactly why I have trouble going all-in on Arizona as the favorite in the NFC. I think the Cardinals are clearly the best team. But I simply do not trust Palmer not to do something jaw-droppingly stupid in a crucial time. Arizona is now 23-10 ATS in its last 33 games and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 home games. The spread on this game has spiked from 3.0 before Cincinnati's MNF loss to its current spot at 5.0.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (8-1) - I'm not going to crush the Bengals for that loss on Monday night. It was ugly, by god. But they are 7-1-1 ATS on the season, and they have been manhandling good opponents all season. Also, Cincinnati's defense just keeps improving each week and has only allowed 26 points over the last three games. They hadn't held an opponent below 20 in the three previous efforts. Cincinnati's loaded secondary is actually a really good matchup with Arizona's wide receivers, and we'll see if the Bengals defense can continue their solid work. Cincinnati is 9-3 ATS after a loss and 4-0 ATS on the road.
4. Carolina Panthers (9-0) - It is impossible not to be impressed with how Carolina is playing right now. This is just some old school, physical, beat-you-down football. They won't beat themselves. So the team that deals them that first loss is going to have to execute and play very well. And that's not going to be Washington this week. The Panthers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 and 5-1 ATS in their last six. One thing to be careful about with the Panthers this week: they play at Dallas on Thanksgiving. We will see if they get caught looking ahead to that game and looking past the lowly Redskins.
5. Minnesota Vikings (7-2) - I'm kicking myself for not cashing in on the Vikings again last week! That is now eight ATS wins in a row, and this has been the best bet in football this year . Minnesota has zero wins against teams that currently have a winning record. But that doesn't mean that they aren't ripe to pick one up this weekend against Green Bay. The home team is 7-2 ATS in this series, and Minnesota's physical defense should be able to impose its will similar to what Denver and Carolina did to the Packers.
6. Denver Broncos (7-2) - Am I the only one that thinks the Broncos will be much better off without Peyton Manning at the helm? No one thinks that Brock Osweiler is a long-term solution for anything. But if you watch him play, the guy can make some throws. And with Denver's defense and potential running game, I think that will be enough for this team to play its way into the postseason. I also think that they will be able to revert the offense back to that true Kubiak-Shanahan system with Osweiler under center. So look for more rollouts and tight end action from Denver this week. The Broncos are 10-2 ATS following a loss.
7. Green Bay Packers (6-3) - Here is a sentence that I don't know if I've ever typed: Aaron Rodgers was awful last week. I have no idea what he was looking at or what he was doing. But Rodgers was terrible from start to finish and, frankly, he hasn't been very good in weeks. Granted, Randall Cobb dropped an early touchdown pass that would've changed the complexion of that game. But Rodgers had a lot of time to recover and has simply been missing a lot of throws lately. The Packers are 39-18 ATS in their last 57 divisional games, and they are 24-11 ATS against teams with a winning record.
8. Buffalo Bills (5-4) - Rex Ryan does have a history as a thorn in the side of Bill Belichick and the Patriots. He was feisty against them in these primetime spots with the Jets. The Bills were actually taking it to the Patriots in their Week 2 meeting, marching down the field on their opening drive and smothering New England early. But then the penalties - oh, so many penalties - took over, and the Bills really gifted New England about 17 points. Buffalo is just 6-20 ATS in its last 26 games against the Patriots, and it is just toughto think that the Bills can hold it together mentally for 60 minutes to win this game or at least cover this spread.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) - In my mind this Steelers team is the epitome of how awful the NFL is. This isn't a good team. It really isn't. Pittsburgh is not for real at all, and they have about a zero percent chance of winning a Super Bowl. But they are a Top 10 team in the 2015 NFL season. They have to be. Who below them am I supposed to rank ahead of this group? I'm not buying the Steelers for a second and will gladly bet against them down the stretch of this season.
10. Seattle Seahawks (4-5) - I think people forget just how many close games, near misses, and fortunate wins the Seahawks were able to secure over the last few seasons. But their primary strength was the fact that they could physically dominate opponents at the line of scrimmage. That's not the case anymore, and there is simply no getting that back.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (4-5) - I don't know what it is about Andy Reid and the bye week, but the man is a magician. Last week I wrote that momentum and confidence are the two most important things in the NFL heading down the stretch. I don't know of any middle-of-the-pack team with more of either than the Chiefs right now. And realistically this should be a 6-3 team just outside the Top 5. But those late giveaways against Denver and Chicago are an anchor around this team's playoff chances at the moment. The Chiefs are now 7-3 ATS in their last 10 divisional games, and they are 6-2 ATS in their last eight against a team with a losing record. However, Kansas City is just 2-6 ATS on the road, and it is a tall task to ask them to win three straight outside of Arrowhead.
12. Atlanta Falcons (6-3) - The Falcons offense has had two weeks to right itself. And now they get to go up against a very vulnerable Indianapolis defense. What I am looking for is for Atlanta to be a bit more aggressive taking shots down the field. They have scored only 46 points in their last three games and are 0-5 against the total in their last five games. Atlanta is moving the ball at will between the 20s - the hallmark of the Shanahan system - but they simply are not stretching defenses down the field and giving Julio Jones opportunities for big, off-script plays. The Falcons are on an 0-5 ATS slide, and it is tough to trust this group laying nearly a touchdown to the backdoor-busting Colts.
13. New York Jets (5-4) - The Jets are doing exactly what I thought they would do this season: start strong and fade late. This is one of the oldest rosters in football, and New York is just wearing down week after week. The disruption at quarterback really hasn't helped, obviously, and New York is screwed if they have to go with Geno Smith this week. The Jets aren't going to be able to run the ball or control the line of scrimmage against Houston. So Smith is going to be forced to make plays in the passing game. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has his second revenge game in as many weeks, is capable of doing that. Smith is not. So for me the play in this game is completely determined by who lines up under center for New York.
14. Oakland Raiders (4-5) - The public got buried trusting the Raiders last week, and they could be setting up for something similar this week. Seventy-seven percent of the wagers in this Detroit game are coming in on the Lions, the second-most lopsided action of the week. Look, I've been driving the Derek Carr bandwagon all season long and have been out in front of this Raiders surge. But the reality is that this team's ceiling is still just competitive, not playoffs. They don't have the depth or the defense. And now that they aren't sneaking up on people - or taking advantage of scheduling advantages - they are going to be exposed down the stretch.
15. Indianapolis Colts (4-5) - This is the team I am most interested in watching coming out of the bye week. Are the Colts going to get it together? Or are they just the overrated money trap that I thought they were coming into the season? Matt Hasselbeck will get the start this week in Atlanta, and the Colts offense has been undeniably more effective with him under center. But unless the Colts can find more answers than just T.Y. Hilton in the passing game - and find a way to get some stops and force some turnovers - I think the answer is pretty evident. This spread has moved down to 5.5, indicating sharp money on the Colts, and Indianapolis is 5-2 ATS following a bye week. This could be a season-defining game for Indy. We'll see how they respond.
16. Chicago Bears (4-5) - Who has been saying all season long that the Bears are a lot better than people think? This guy. Last Thursday night's game in New York showed once again that you always side with the coach in a matchup of former-coach-versus-old-team. We have a similar scenario this week with John Fox going up against the Broncos. Here is the problem with Jay Cutler, who is really haven't a strong season: he plays with expectations. When he is an underdog and can just let it fly he can be great. But the minute that Cutler gets into that role of the favorite, and the role of a guy who you expect to play well, he goes out and melts down. The Bears are just 6-20 ATS in their last 26 home games and 2-6 ATS against teams above .500.
17. New York Giants (5-5) - This is it for the Giants and Tom Coughlin. They have two weeks to prepare and then they will have one final stretch run opportunity under Coughlin. Whether they make the playoffs or not I'll be surprised if Coughlin is back next year. But if he wants to make one last run it all starts on the other side of the bye week.
18. St. Louis Rams (4-5) - Who has been saying all season long that the Rams are not nearly as good as people think? This guy. Benching Nick Foles was the right decision; he is not even close. The Rams offense can still be effective running the ball and working the misdirection with Tavon Austin. The Rams are 6-0 ATS after a double-digit home loss, and I think that they should be able to work the body against a banged-up Baltimore team. But St. Louis is just 1-4 ATS in its last five road games, and how in the world are you supposed to believe in Case Keenum? Seriously, what the hell is wrong with the quarterbacks in the NFL right now?
19. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5) - What a complete and total loser Mark Sanchez is. But it begs the question - and this has really been the issue with the Eagles all season long - why did Chip Kelly think that he would be the guy for the job? Tampa Bay's Cover-2 is the absolute best scheme for the Eagles offense to face, and with a healthy Bradford I think the Eagles would've put up 40 points this week. But there's just no way to expect anything but comical failure from Sanchez, and the Eagles defense is going to have its hands full with a Bucs defense that was held to just 10 points last week.
20. Miami Dolphins (4-5) - I'm still not buying into this team or Dan Campbell at all. They were able to be slightly less incompetent than the idiot Eagles last week, pure and simple. Were it not for a fluke blocked punt and Sam Bradford's injury, that game likely would've ended up as another double-digit loss for the Fins. Miami is 4-10 ATS in its last 14 games, and they have been one of the worst home wagers in football over the last decade.
21. Washington Redskins (4-5) - Washington's two big offensive explosions have been more a product of going up against two inept defenses with ridiculous systems (Tampa Bay and New Orleans) than anything positive about the Redskins attack. Washington is going to try to bang heads with Carolina, running the ball to set up some play-action passing. It isn't going to work because Washington isn't going to be able to run the ball. The Redskins are jus 3-13 ATS the week after covering the spread and they are 7-15 ATS in their last 22 games overall.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) - The story from last week's game is all about the Tampa Bay defense. Granted, Matt Cassel made their job a lot easier. But Tampa Bay's front seven came to play and stood up to a very capable Dallas running game. They are going to have to avoid the letdown this week in their trip to Philadelphia, and the pass defense is going to have to answer the bell against an Eagles attack that's really set up to exploit Tampa's soft underneath coverages. In a random statistical quirk, the Bucs are actually 17-3 ATS in Week 11 over the last 20 years. Tampa Bay is 20-7 ATS in its last 27 games in November.
23. New Orleans Saints (4-6) - Last week in this very space I predicted that the Saints would fire Rob Ryan heading into the bye week. That move was about 10 weeks overdue. I bet that was Sean Payton's happiest day of the season.
24. Houston Texans (4-5) - I agree with Pac-Man Jones: let's not get TOO excited about that win over Cincinnati. This is still an incredibly limited Texans offense that doesn't have NFL-caliber talent at quarterback or running back right now. Monday's game was the first time since the Tampa Bay game that I saw this defensive line completely control the game. If Houston is really going to claw its way past Indianapolis, it is going to take superhuman efforts like that every week over the final six games. Houston beat the Jets in the last meeting, back in 2012, but the Texans are just 1-5 SU and ATS in their history against New York. Just 13 percent of the bets in this game are coming down on Houston, making the Jets the "squarest" play on the board.
25. Dallas Cowboys (2-7) - Anyone that thinks that Tony Romo is the answer to this circus is kidding themselves. I cannot wait for Romo to come back, lead the Cowboys to a victory, get everyone back on the bandwagon, and then singlehandedly sink Dallas' season with two pick-sixes and a fumble against Carolina next week. Or even better: the Boys deal Carolina its first loss and then The Romo Meltdown comes the following week at Washington. Regardless, you know it is coming. Dallas has four of its next six games on the road, and at least two of them will be in frigid weather.
26. Baltimore Ravens (2-7) - Poor Baltimore. There's really nothing else to say. This team is an absolute shell due to injuries. Joe Flacco is playing great football. But there's just nothing to work with. This is basically a practice squad team fighting and clawing each week, and there's nothing they can do about it. The Ravens have covered the spread in exactly one of their nine games this year despite the amazing fact that not a single game they've played has been decided by more than one score.
27. San Francisco 49ers (3-6) - I definitely think that 13 are too many points for the 49ers to be catching on the road this week in Seattle. In a way this game looks like a similar setup to the Detroit-Green Bay game last week, which the Lions won outright. But do you seriously trust Blaine Gabbert on the road?Things have not been pretty for the 49ers this year. But it is about to get worse. Three of their next four games are on the road, including early start games in Chicago and Cleveland, and their next two home games come against Arizona and Cincinnati (combined record: 15-3).
28. Tennessee Titans (2-7) - The underdog is 7-2 ATS in the Titans-Jaguars series, but Tennessee has gotten worked over at the window the past two years while going 0-4 ATS. They are also 0-4 ATS in their last four trips down to Jacksonville.
29. San Diego Chargers (2-7) - Uncle Phil Rivers is always dangerous in the underdog role. He's dealing with a decimated roster, but he is still a tough guy to bet against when he's getting points. The underdog is 6-3 ATS in the last nine meetings with the Chiefs, and five of the last eight games in this series have been determined by exactly three points.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6) - I've seen the Jaguars rated a lot higher in several other power rankings this week. But I think a lot of people are overlooking the fact that the Jags actually shouldn't have won that game last week in Baltimore. Not, "they got lucky"; the NFL literally came out this week and said that the officiating crew botched the end of the game situation that allowed them to kick the game winner. So if Jacksonville were 2-7 instead of 3-6 and coming off a win would they still be favored by a field goal this week? I don't think so. The Jaguars are 8-20 ATS in their last 28 home games and 2-5 ATS on Thursday nights. They are 5-14 ATS following a win.
31. Cleveland Browns (2-8) - I was really trying to give Mike Pettine the chance. I really was. But I have seen enough to know that this guy has no business coaching an NFL team. He has absolutely no idea what he is doing in terms of in-game management, and there is no way he is going to be the one to lead Cleveland to respectability (if they ever get there). This has nothing to do with the Manziel vs. McCown debate, which I really thought was a lose-lose situation to begin with. This has to do with monitoring the game day decisions - and the reactions to them - by Pettine.
32. Detroit Lions (2-7) - I don't care if the Lions beat the Packers: this is still the worst team in football. Their defense is pathetic, and anyone that thinks that Jim Caldwell should be the face, voice, or anything else of the organization is an idiot. The Lions have talent. They can play with anyone. But they lack any type of discipline or direction and remain one of the most inconsistent teams in football. Detroit is 0-5 ATS in its last five games and 12-26 ATS in its last 38 November games.
Throughout the season I will have my NFL Power Rankings every Wednesday. My next ones will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 24 to accommodate the Thanksgiving holiday.
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