What is going on with 2020 in the world of sports? This year there was no March Madness. The NBA, NHL and MLB all took massive blows.Today, MLB announced that baseball lost over $3B this year. The LA Dodgers also paid dearly by winning the World Series but losing $100M along the way. And the Dodgers ownership has to throw in the World Series bling at another quarter of a million.
College Football Powerhouses
This brings me to college football. Not the way Alabama, Clemson and Ohio St plays. Not your Notre Dames, USC, Georgia or Oklahoma teams. We still see Florida, LSU and Oregon hanging onto the days of old glory. But where are all the teams of the past. The teams that we could count upon while feeling warm and fuzzy seeing them in the top 5 or top 10 and certainly the top 20 year after year. What happened and who took their place? Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio because history is NOT repeating it’s past?
I’m talking about this group.
As you read this list, do you ever recall ten former great teams that have almost become extinct in the Top 25? One or two are expected but look at this entire list and think about what has happened to each team and question if they’ll return.
Michigan Penn St Stanford Florida St Michigan St Washington TCU Nebraska Oklahoma St Baylor
When these ten teams were sprinkled into the Top 25, the World seemed a whole lot safer. Those that resisted change or hung onto the status quo are curled up somewhere in shock. These teams keep coming up on betting lines and fans, the public and alike, continue to have their memories tricked by their horrible play and out of their bankroll of Benjamin’s. Is this a case that we gamblers should forget about them for years to come? Or do you go broke by backing a myth? One thing is for sure; the oddsmakers will still make you pay a premium to bet them based on loyalty and bad recall.
Who are these newcomers?
This is the ranking of eight teams this week in the Top 25. I would bet if you know one player on any team, you’d be five players ahead of 99% of the betting public.
This is what we’re left with. But for how long. The Athletic Director’s from the past list beginning with Michigan and going right down thru Baylor need to tape this AP Top 25 poll to each Coaches door. I would venture to say that every missing team from yesterday’s list makes over $1,000,000 per year. Some make upwards to $10M per season. I’m getting to my research to see exactly where Liberty is located.
It’s so easy to root in the underdogs but it’s normally limited to one or two freak of nature teams. Not half of our top 20 or so. I grew to enjoy this years crop of top 10 teams but am really looking for the end of 2020 and replacing Coastal Carolina, Marshall and Northwestern with Michigan, Penn St and Nebraska. Hopefully everything changes next year and 2020 never repeats.
Home teams get to enjoy the comfort of being on your home turf, whether it’s maintaining a game-week rhythm or eating meals in your home, or sleeping in your own bed. They also don’t have to contend with travel protocols. But does that add up to more point spread covers?
Thru 9 weeks, home teams are 76-70-1; 51.7% straight/up
Road Team Perks
Performing well in road games has become less difficult, thanks to the advancement of private air travel, football technology and mental fortitude. You have talking headsets now in helmets, and you have signals from the sideline …so the hardships of yesteryear are behind us somewhat.
Thru week 9, visitors are 70-77-1; 47.6% straight -up
Nearly empty stadiums make for just one variable that a coronavirus world presents, and accurately projecting its impact will prove to be a difference-maker for everyone’s bottom line. The biggest adjustment yet might be the decision to limit fans’ attendance at games. So how has this affected home-field advantage? Although it’s too early in the season to reach a definitive conclusion, it’s evident that the home-field advantage is waning from past NFL seasons. During the 2019 season, home teams were a mere nine games straight up,132-123-1, combined above .500, (.518 win rate), the lowest home win rate since 2002.
Home teams over-all: 70-77 ATS; 47.6%
41-53 ATS; 43.7%
Home Team Advantage?
The assessment begins with a concept that already seems to have become outdated: home-field advantage. In fact, home teams won just 52% of regular-season games last year. That ranks as the third-worst season in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) and worst since 1972.
Home dogs are 29-24; 54.7%
53-41 ATS; 56.3%
You’re handicapping betting behavior more than anything, especially on the higher-profile games, Denver will still have its altitude, warm-weather teams still must endure late-season elements, and travel will still involve challenges and annoyances that figure to inhibit a team’s performance such as navy to back road games.
Add to your Handicapping
Over the past five years, a league-high 14.7% of NFL games were decided by exactly three points. The second-most common margin of victory was seven points (9.9%), followed by six points (7.1%).
Roethlisberger has rebounded from last year’s season-ending elbow injury and has guided the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-0) to their best start since 1978.
Jackson has helped the Baltimore Ravens to a 5-1 mark for the third time in franchise history, matching the starts of their two Super Bowl championship teams (2000 and 2012).
Mayfield has lifted the Cleveland Browns to a 5-2 record, which hasn’t happened since Bill Belichick was the coach there in 1994.
Burrow has produced only one victory for the Cincinnati Bengals (1-5-1), but this year’s No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft is on pace to become the league’s most prolific rookie passer.
Overall, the AFC North has the second-best winning percentage by a division’s top three teams (16-3, .842) through Week 7 since the 1970 merger, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. The only division that was better was the 1975 AFC Central, which featured the Steelers, Bengals and Oilers all winning 10 games.
Here’s a look at how these quarterbacks will shape the AFC North going forward:
What has your quarterback done thus far? What kind of first half has he had?
Jamison Hensley (Ravens): Jackson’s playmaking ability has carried an offense that isn’t as strong along the offensive line and hasn’t received much from the wide receivers. He’s just in a difficult situation because he isn’t playing at last season’s off-the-charts, MVP level. Jackson remains a special dual threat, ranking 10th in QBR (76.1) and first in rushing average (6.9). But he’s regressed as a passer and hasn’t been crisp in throwing the ball. Jackson is 26th in completion rate (63%) and 27th in passing yards (1,135). If Jackson can become a more consistent passer, Baltimore will be extremely dangerous.
Ben Baby (Bengals): The top overall pick in the 2020 draft has established himself as a top candidate to be the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Burrow is on pace to shatter Andrew Luck’s record for most passing yards as a rookie (4,374 in 2012) and is coming off his first 400-yard performance in the NFL. But more important, Burrow is steadily showing improvement in how he sees the field and has naturally stepped into a key leadership role.
Brooke Pryor (Steelers): It’s hard to overstate the kind of start Roethlisberger, 38, has had this season. The Steelers are undefeated, and his return is a big reason for that. Before Sunday, the veteran had thrown only one interception. He threw three more against the Titans, but only one was the product of a poor decision. His surgically repaired elbow is holding up, and he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. He’s also showing a willingness to work on his deficiencies, taking extra time to practice his footwork, build relationships with his younger receivers and throw at stacked trash cans to improve the placement of his deep ball.
Jake Trotter (Browns): Mayfield’s first half has been up and down, especially against AFC North competition, with a pair of sterling performances against the Bengals and rough outings against the Ravens and Steelers. Altogether, though, he has improved from his dismal 2019 season and currently ranks inside the top 10 in the league in QBR. Mayfield will need to show more against somebody other than the Bengals if he is to prove he’s still in fact Cleveland’s quarterback of the future.
What is one cause for concern or troubling trend you have observed about your QB and why?
Hensley: The lack of a deep passing game. Defenses are going to drop safeties and load up the box to stop the Ravens’ running game until Jackson makes teams fear his ability to throw over the top of them. On passes of 15 yards in the air or longer, Jackson’s 14 completions ranks 26th in the NFL and his 36.8 completion percentage is 27th. Baltimore has the potential to stretch the field. Jackson frequently hit speedy wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown on long throws in training camp. It just hasn’t happened as often in the regular season, and this has to become among the Ravens’ top priorities on offense going forward.
Baby: Burrow’s biggest issue has been his knack for holding on to the ball for a little too long. His tendency to let a play drag out as he looks for a receiver downfield has played a role in a number of his sacks and is something he’s readily admitted. At LSU, Burrow was known for his ability to extend plays, and that was one of the reasons the Bengals loved him during the pre-draft process. However, he’s still finding the balance between risk and reward in the NFL.
Pryor: Roethlisberger’s passes are being tipped at the line of scrimmage more often this season, including one against the Titans that led to an interception. That’s a product of the run-pass option (RPO) offense, Roethlisberger said Wednesday. And while that’s not ideal, the quarterback said he isn’t concerned. “The ball is going to have to come out quick because it’s a run kind of play,” Roethlisberger said. “You have to get the ball out quick. Sometimes the blocking is not there. Sometimes when you’re throwing a lot of the underneath stuff and quick routes, the ball has to come out of your hands quick, and it’s going to, obviously, be a lower pass.
“Coach [Mike] Tomlin says all the time, ‘If you’re not going to get home, get your hands up.’ I think that’s what we are seeing a lot from defenders when they think they’re not going to get home or they think the ball is going to come out quick, they’re just getting their hands up. That’s creating some tipped balls, but we’re not too alarmed with it yet.”
Trotter: Mayfield has really struggled against the better blitzing defenses. On Oct. 18 against the Steelers, for example, he went just 2-of-6 against the blitz for 11 yards and an interception; he also took three sacks, a career high for him against the blitz. Mayfield was much better against the Bengals on Sunday, going 6-of-8 for 94 yards and a touchdown, with the one pick, against the blitz. Cincinnati’s blitz, however, is rather toothless. Future defensive opponents with more prolific pass rushes are sure to study the Pittsburgh film.
What is the most telling stat of your quarterback’s performance thus far?
Hensley: Completion rate. Jackson is 4-0 when he connects on more than 55% of his throws. It’s been a barometer for success throughout his three-year career. He’s 22-1 as a starter when completing more than 55% of his passes, and he’s 3-3 when he fails to do so. This shows that Baltimore wins as much with Jackson’s efficient play as his electric moves.
Baby: Burrow leads the league in passing attempts and completions, which indicates what the Bengals are putting on his plate as a rookie with no preseason or OTAs. Burrow has responded by throwing for 2,023 yards, which ranks third in the NFL behind only Matt Ryan and Deshaun Watson. Burrow’s completion percentage is 5.1% over the expected rate, according to NFL Next Gen Stats data, so he’s been effective despite all the attempts.
Pryor: Roethlisberger’s air yards are way down from previous seasons. He’s averaging 6.68 air yards for the season, the lowest through the Steelers’ first six games of a season since the stat was first tracked in 2006. That doesn’t mean that Roethlisberger can’t throw the deep ball with his repaired elbow, it just means the Steelers are running a different kind of offense than in previous seasons. Roethlisberger is getting the ball out of his hands fast, throwing quick slant passes and letting his playmakers do the work.
Trotter: Against the Bengals, Mayfield is 5-1 in his career with a scintillating combined QBR of 87. But against everybody else? He’s just 12-18 with a QBR of only 51. Beating up on the Bengals won’t be enough for Mayfield if he’s to become a top-half-of-the-league quarterback. So far in his career, Mayfield is just 5-12 against opponents above .500, with a QBR of just 46. That isn’t good enough.
This season will be considered a success for your QB if …
Hensley: He wins a playoff game. Jackson could finish out the regular season with a 15-1 record and he will ultimately get judged by how he fares when it matters the most. The lack of a postseason victory is really the only disappointment in Jackson’s short run as Baltimore’s starting quarterback. He’s led the Ravens to two home playoff games and lost by a combined score of 51-29. While Jackson shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame for the playoff flops, his five turnovers have fed the narrative that he can’t win in January.
Baby: Burrow finishes the season healthy. Because of Burrow’s playing style and the offensive line’s shakiness, the rookie is prone to a lot of contact. While some of that is acceptable because of his playmaking ability, the weekly progress Burrow makes will immediately cease if he’s out for any period of time. If he can stay on the field the rest of the season, he will gain valuable reps as he builds toward a 2021 in which expectations will be much higher.
Pryor: The season is already a success for Roethlisberger. Returning to the field after significant elbow surgery was hardly a given, but Roethlisberger has done that and then some. The season will continue to be a success if he finishes it the way he started — throwing 13 touchdowns to four interceptions with a 68.2 completion percentage. With Roethlisberger back and playing so well, the Steelers don’t just hope to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017, they hope to make a deep run in them.
Trotter: The Browns finally snap the NFL’s longest active playoff drought and make the postseason for the first time since 2002. Mayfield’s individual performances in between are sure to be dissected. But if Cleveland makes the playoffs, especially out of the rugged AFC North, that will be a clear sign Mayfield has taken a step forward as well, while giving him, the new front office and first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski a foundation to build off of moving forward.
Meanwhile, in another divisional game, the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills will play host to the reeling New England Patriots, who are two games under .500 for the first time since 2001.
We asked our experts for their thoughts on the Patriots’ fortunes, as well as biggest potential upsets, fantasy football flops and potential sleepers.
What’s your top upset pick for Week 8?
Matt Bowen, NFL analyst:Raiders (+2.5) over Browns. With Derek Carr pushing the ball down the field in recent weeks, coach Jon Gruden can scheme up vertical throws versus a Browns defense that lacks urgency and ball production in the back end.
Kevin Seifert, national NFL writer:Raiders (+2.5) over Browns. The Raiders will see the film of Baker Mayfield‘s season, see that he has really struggled when pressured, and adjust accordingly. When under duress this season, Mayfield ranks No. 27 in NFL QBR (50.5). When not under duress, he ranks No. 8 (79.2).
Seth Walder, sports analytics writer:Lions (+3) over Colts. Detroit came through for me last week (thanks Todd Gurley II!), so I’ll roll with them again. Kenny Golladay is catching absolutely everything. His 71% catch rate is almost 19% above expectation given the targets he has received, per NFL Next Gen Stats, so I’m banking on him to win a tough matchup against a resurgent Xavier Rhodes.
Field Yates, NFL analyst:49ers (+3) over Seahawks. Coach Kyle Shanahan remains a treasure of an offensive mind, and despite a host of injuries and Jimmy Garoppolo‘s at-times unsteady production down the field, the team can scheme up ways for players to put together chunk plays consistently. I expect this game to be close, perhaps with some of the typical 49ers-Seahawks drama, but ultimately believe San Francisco can pull off the upset in Seattle.
FILE – In this Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, file photo, Los Angeles Rams kicker Samuel Sloman (1) makes a field goal against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game in Inglewood, Calif. The Rams have released rookie kicker Samuel Sloman after seven games with the team. The Rams (5-2) dropped their seventh-round pick on Tuesday, after he had a field goal attempt blocked in their 24-10 win over Chicago on Monday night.(AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File).
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams have released rookie kicker Samuel Sloman after seven games with the team.
The Rams (5-2) dropped their seventh-round pick on Tuesday after he had a field-goal attempt blocked in their 24-10 win over Chicago on Monday night.
Veteran NFL kicker Kai Forbath is expected to take over for Sloman. The Rams signed Forbath last week off the Bears’ practice squad.
Sloman won a three-way competition for the job in training camp, but his first NFL job had been rocky ever since he missed a 29-yard field-goal attempt in the Rams’ season opener against Dallas.
He missed three extra-point attempts for Los Angeles, and he missed three of his 11 field-goal attempts, with two being blocked. He also struggled to get enough distance on kickoffs.
“It’s a tough situation as a rookie to come in and have some of the pressure that that kicking position entails,” coach Sean McVay said Tuesday. “In a lot of instances, you go through some things, and then you end up getting a chance (with another team) down the road. That’s the hope that I have for Sam. Those are never fun conversations, but I think he understood that we needed to produce at a higher level.”
Sloman was the replacement for Greg Zuerlein, who was among the NFL’s top kickers for much of his eight-year tenure with the Rams. Zuerlein left Los Angeles in the offseason along with longtime special teams coordinator John Fassel to join the Cowboys.
The Rams signed Forbath a week ago after Sloman missed his third extra point, but gave Sloman one last chance against the Bears because Forbath didn’t clear COVID-19 protocols until Sunday. Sloman made a 22-yard field goal, but his 48-yard attempt against Chicago was low and easily blocked.
Forbath is a Los Angeles-area native who played at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High School and UCLA. He kicked for six teams in his first eight seasons in the NFL.
Forbath was Washington’s kicker for four seasons while McVay was an assistant with the team. Forbath finished last season by making all 10 of his field-goal attempts for Dallas, but was still released in favor of Zuerlein in August.
“I’ve been with Kai in Washington, and he’s pretty accurate inside the 50-yard range,” McVay said. “He’s got experience, and I think that’s important. The game’s not too big for him, and I think he’ll bring stability to that spot, and hopefully some more consistent production that we haven’t had this year.”
The Rams also signed kicker Austin MacGinnis to their practice squad Tuesday.
MacGinnis, a Kentucky product who kicked in the XFL, lost the Rams’ training camp competition with Slovis and Lirim Hajrullahu, but still made a strong impression on Los Angeles.
“It was really closely contested between those three guys,” McVay said. “(MacGinnis) gets great height immediately on his kicks.”
There are many ways to handicap football games when broken down to the basics. Here are 5 of the most important factors to share from 35 years of beating the Vegas number. In most match ups, a combination of all factors weighs into the final outcome. However, many handicappers choose to rely on one of the following methods more than another. It is the “identify” of that handicapper. As any CEO in the business world can do, handicapping “numbers” is very similar to crunching the numbers of a financial report. Let’s review the 5 most popular methods I’ve used during my 35 year career as “America’s Oddsmaker” and “The King of Vegas Sports Gambling.”
There are more “technical’s” available for each game than any other method. For example, when one hears that team A is 9-1 verses team B over the last 10 years- that is a technical. There are teams that are 9-2 at home and 2-9 on the road. Night games vs. day games and grass vs. turf are common examples of “tech’s”. One has to consider how teams play within their division, as opposed to outside their division. A team like the Oakland Raiders was once labeled as “unbeatable” on Monday Night Football. That technical trend is no longer applicable. Trends must be updated often. One can go back into the history of numbers and find all these “stats and trends”. Many trends follow patterns that don’t change for the way teams play. West coast teams traveling to play on the east coast with that early 1:00 est start had always favored the east coast teams. The time change and travel took its toll. But the oddsmakers have offset that by adding more points to the east coast team adjusting the spread. This is not an automatic bet any longer. Another one (the NFL is trying to avoid) is playing three consecutive games on the road. It used to be another automatic play going against the road team on that third road game. The oddsmakers have adjusted their point spreads but the average gambler has not. These are the type of technical points of reference to be careful.
One has to watch certain games where emotional factors are involved. This is especially true in college where emotions can run especially high (due to youth and bitter long-term rivalries). Revenge is good for “an emotional outlook” of playing a game. An embarrassing loss from the previous year also needs to be considered. There are certain rivalry games where all stats can be thrown out and the underdog will play like the World Champions. In the NFL, what you watched last week may be a huge change of play this week. A team that looked embarrassing and pathetic in week four might come out in week five and play completely opposite from the previous week. The oddsmakers are guaranteed to have made the line adjustments to trick the bettors. Beware and check with Wayne Root. There’s usually at least one game each week which this applies.
This is a combination of technical and emotional scenarios. There could be a “key” injury that is “situational” to that game. The weather could become a major factor in analyzing the game. Be careful of placing too much emphasis on injuries, as the team with the injured star often rises to the occasion for that situation. And when it comes to weather, wind is the number 1 factor- far ahead of rain or snow. This factor and by me usually betting live underdogs are the reasons to bet these games as close to kickoff as you can. There’s rarely an instance where betting a Sunday game on Friday is paramount.
Handicapping by using “fundamentals” is simply looking at basic fundamental “X and O” football stats. When team A is ranked number 1 in passing verses the number 27 passing defense, one has to look at betting team A. There are teams- due to age and lack of speed- that have trouble on turf. Make sure the fundamentals are in place in terms of statistics when doing the analysis. The playoff teams that rush the ball the most seem to win more often. Be sure to check rushing stats verses “against the rush” stats before placing a wager in this method of handicapping. And separate regular season versus Playoff stats- it’s a whole new season.
5) BETTING AGAINST THE PUBLIC
Wayne Allyn Root use to notice that most of his friends and fans lost nonstop in sports wagering. So a light bulb went off in his head over 35 years ago AND still applies to this day. Wayne began studying public opinion- and betting against it. He simply calls it “going against the public.” Experts might call it “Contrarian Betting Strategy.” His thinking is 90% “contrarian” to the public. And he has been the most successful handicapper in America for 35 years- starting with his days as co host with Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder on Financial News Network (now CNBC). Wayne’s track record for over three (3) decades has been the source of the media declaring him “America’s Oddsmaker,” “The Face of Las Vegas Gaming” and “The King of Vegas.” It is the reason that Wayne was awarded a star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars- alongside Elvis, Liberace, Wayne Newton, Bobby Darin and Siegfried & Roy. He is the only professional sports handicapper ever honored (and the youngest recipient ever). All these years later, Wayne’s focus remains on betting against the public. The public has a difficult time betting underdogs- so WAR bets on the underdogs. That’s where the point-spread value is found. When the point spread is rapidly escalating because of a “key” injury, WAR bets on the injured team. WAR loves to bet against popular “public teams” and wager on what he calls “orphans” (teams the betting public ignores or believes has virtually no chance of winning).
Wayne Root (WAR) has built a legendary career by going against the crowd and traveling “the road less traveled.” That’s the reason why Wayne has been a superstar for 35 years in a business (sports handicapping) and a town (Las Vegas) where’s stars come and go, rise and quickly burn out and fall. Handicapping champions boom, then they bust. Only Wayne Allyn Root has stayed at the top of his game for 35 years. Only Wayne Root has attracted several MILLION calls from America’s sports fans and bettors. Only Wayne Root can attract the kind of accolades from the American media found below. This 2020 football season, it’s time for you to experience the POWER and PROFIT of Wayne Allyn Root. It’s time for you to go to W.A.R. against the bookmaker and emerge victorious. Let’s go to WAR together week after week. I promise you a very successful 2020 season.
The excitement in New England understandably is high following the addition of Cam Newton, but Patriots fans might want to temper their expectations. It might be a shorter list if we wrote a paper on the Patriots weaknesses in the Revolutionary War. Today’s New England Patriots have some glaring shortcomings But the media hype is all about new quarterback Cam Newton. Pats fans might want to temper their enthusiasm while betting fans might want to rev up their bets against the Pats. Or at least be aware of what’s at stake
The most difficult schedule in the NFL belongs to New England. They have their normal difficulty at Miami. While Brady always played well at Buffalo, the Bills will be favored to win at home. The Jets should be their 2-0 sweep. But what about their non-conference games? At Seattle, at the Chiefs, at Houston and at LA Rams. Playing Denver, San Francisco and Baltimore at home will be ultra challenging at best.
It the past it was Brady to Gronk. Now it’s Newton to a tight end of the unknown variety. This weakness for the Patriots is not only an issue for this season but has been for the last few years. Their offense loves to use the tight end especially up the middle needing a long completion. But this weakness comes at the tight end spot and that position both in the passing game and in the rushing attack shows a gapping hole. This offseason, New England did draft a pair of tight ends in the NFL Draft with the selections of Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene in the middle rounds of the draft but it remains a mystery on how they factor into the offense.
Many question who are the targeted wide receivers? Although Edelman will continue to be solid as he always is and hopefully will be, that leaves little else. Sanu, Harry and others could step up even more than what they did in 2019 but that group doesn’t necessarily raise any eyebrows as being filled with talent. Who will Cam Newton look to as his favorite go to guy? Once other teams identify him, they will game plans accordingly. Do you still like New England?
Can they excel on the defensive side of the ball? Their linebacker core indicates maybe not. I think the Pats’ most troubled position is linebacker. Behind a thin defensive line, the Pats’ linebackers are greener than the Belichicks have been used to in recent years and that is not the talent needed based on the scheduled top-notch quarterbacks they have to face.Donte Hightower is among football’s best but we always worry about injuries. It may be tough to bank on the two-time Pro Bowl selection making it through a full season healthy. Young linebackers Winovich and Bentley also have their work cut out of them as their roles are expected to expand in 2020.
So the bottom line is you now see a different picture of what’s presenting to Coach Belichick and his staff. The media has led many to believe that the only void they had was to replace Tom Brady. It’s far from that.
I would bet under 9 wins as a future bet and additionally would be cautious on straight bets as the oddsmakers will take advantage on the love the public has for New England.