Sports and Gaming News 10

Kevin looks at the wagering week that was and is to come with his usual dose of analysis and insights. A weekly must read.

Sports & Gaming News

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Bobby Bowden is one of the few truly refreshing personalities in all of sports. I was sorry to see the announcement of his contract extension overshadowed by the investigation into probable Heisman winner Peter “Dionne” Warrick and fellow wideout Laveranues “and Shirleus” Coles. Warrick and Coles can accept cars, cash, women, jewelry, airline tickets, hotel suites, designer clothing, and a partridge in a pear tree from agents as they leave the locker room following FSU’s bowl game. Three months is too long to wait, however, and the duo apparently worked with a department store clerk to purchase $250 of clothes at a 90% discount. With the knowledge of right and wrong fully imbedded in Warrick, he scolded reporters, “It’s not like I killed the president.” Oh well, at least Bowden’s making more than Neuheisel again.

The NFL was not kind to bookmakers this weekend, although they came back some when the public sent it in on Miami Monday night. When considering betting patterns you don’t ordinarily think of the public steaming the St. Louis Rams on the road, but a local guy somewhere in America tells me he’s never been sided in a game like he was with the Rams over the Bengals on Sunday.

The poor performance of big favorites in the NFL is well documented (at least by me in my books), but big favorites in college should also be approached warily by the intelligent player. The top teams in the country routinely drilled their opponents from 1993-1997 and many players have enjoyed the ride. The linemaker has reacted to the ride by inflating the numbers to the point where they tough to overcome. Florida State, Florida, Nebraska, and Ohio State are the “Fab Four” who led the charge through the mid- 90’s. Since the start of the 1998 season, those four are now 25-33 against the spread as a double-digit favorite.

As examples, let’s look at the Florida State and Nebraska contests from Saturday. Both teams had their games covered at halftime yet failed to finish over the number. The Huskers were a 27½-point choice over Oklahoma State and led 38-0 in the third quarter. Nebraska allowed two late TD’s and the Cowboys “earned” the cover, 38-14. FSU also had their game covered, leading 44-0 at halftime as 41-point chalk. Duke outscored the Seminoles in the second half to cover the big number, losing by “only” 51- 23.

Many bettors lay enormous points with the thought of teams running up the score for poll position. But the top programs laying huge points aren’t worried about the polls in these walkovers. Neither FSU nor Nebraska will be hurt by these big wins, as their dominance was clear before they took their foot off the gas. The only ones who are hurt are bettors laying the lumber. Another factor to remember is that big home favorites can play everyone, including scout team walk- ons. On the road, travel restrictions don’t allow them to take those players. Due to the better talent on the field in the fourth quarter, these power programs may be a better proposition laying multiple touchdowns on the road than they are at home.

They’re off this week, but can there be any NFL squad more primed for a tumble than the Redskins? As my friend Jeff Nelson of Nelly’s Sportsline pointed out to me this week, the ‘skins lead the NFL in offense, yet give up more yards defensively than they gain offensively. Then again, If anyone is due for some good luck, it’s poor Norv Turner.

My knowledge of hockey roughly matches my understanding of the geopolitical factors affecting the economy of Trinidad and Tobago, but I found the new overtime rules in the NHL a little suspicious. Teams used to get 2 points for a win, 1 for a tie, and none for a loss. This lead to the five minute overtime periods being quite boring, as teams would play extremely conservatively and accept a tie rather than suffering the devastation of an overtime defeat. To spice up OT play, teams now play 4 on 4 and are guaranteed a point for a “regulation tie” and can only gain a point in OT by picking up the victory. Should lead to more wide-open play, right? But imagine it’s late in the season and the Sabres are taking on the Bruins in OT. The Sabres have struggled against the Canadiens all year long but have beaten the Bruins like a drum. If the Bruins and Canadiens were battling for a playoff spot that would have them taking on the Sabres in round one, would Buffalo be tempted to take the guaranteed point and let Boston win in OT to give the Bruins a leg up on les Canadiens? A stretch, I know, but does anyone remember the Colts taking a safety years ago to intentionally tie or lose (I forget) a game to improve their playoff positioning?

Obviously, hockey underdogs will become poorer propositions under the new rules, as more talented favorites will have nothing to lose in OT and there will be fewer ties. Hockey is trending toward becoming a straight moneyline sport in Las Vegas. Expect offshore outlets to offer multiple new and traditional wagering options on hockey as they continue to gobble up market share from the disinterested Vegas properties.

Readers of my new book “Football Betting’s Cutting Edge: New Strategies for a New Era” should check out the NFL strategy explained on pages 109-112, which can be used this week for the first time all season. This methodology will take about thirty seconds per week, is 57% in the 1990’s, and will give anywhere from two to five qualifying plays each week for the rest of the season. If you haven’t read my book, $29.95 (GA residents add 7% tax) to Kevin O’Neill, Box 29334, Atlanta, GA 30359. Mention “S&G; special offer” for Priority Mail shipping.

I suffered an unfortunate experience with a new web site that I allowed to carry my stuff after falling for their recruitment pitch (don’t ask, it doesn’t matter). It spurred the realization that I’ve been too busy trying to be so damn clever and haven’t showed proper appreciation recently for the professionalism of the core sites who have been carrying S&G; News from the very beginning. continues to be a great source for offshore information and to their credit have recently been running S&G; News even when we take shots at some of their advertisers. For those who like to chat, BW’s posting forums are monitored to maintain civility and guard against untruths, bogus posts, and character assassination. keeps adding new feature after new feature and if you haven’t checked them out lately you should avail yourself to the world of data they put at your disposal. We’ll tell you what’s new at and next week. You can find out for yourself with a quick click.

We may find ourselves on Georgia (+11½) over Tennessee on Saturday. This is an interesting matchup of two overrated SEC outfits whose quarterbacks are underachieving. Georgia has escaped with one-point home wins over Central Florida and LSU in consecutive weeks. Tennessee pulled off a similar one-point Houdini act against Memphis two weeks ago with a last minute bomb to set up the game winner, before using defense as offense in rolling over QB-less Auburn. With neither team playing to their talent level, take double digits and root for an outright upset by the Bulldogs, as it would set up juicy opportunities to go against them in upcoming weeks. Hopefully Quincy Carter, who can’t hold a candle to cross-state rival Joe Hamilton right now, will stop telling reporters he’s a Heisman candidate and start playing like one.

I had a losing day on Saturday and won on Sunday with the overall weekend grading out a loser. Hopefully our winning Sunday will keep us on top of the Sports Monitor NFL standings (Strategic Sports Publishing) and we’ve won every week in the pros so far. Almost every one of our selections in college and pro this weekend was decided by a lucky play or two. A very important commercial- free report entitled “Sports Betting Realities, Luck and Losing” is available right now on the hotline at 770.618.8700. On Friday night we’ll have one of our Saturday phone selections (unfortunately, we’ve done a great job isolating losers from our college card in recent weeks) and then on Sunday we’ll look at an NFL contrarian play which now carries a two year record of 17-6 (74%). That is followed up on Monday with a look at the relevant handicapping factors in the Monday Night game. The Sports & Gaming Hotline is a free 24-hour service, call 770.618.8700.

Whenever I visit one of the newer arenas, stadiums, ballparks, etc, it occurs that the teams involved should reward their fans in the upper decks with frequent flyer miles. The need for luxury suites and boxes, an economic reality today, has created a ring around the lower level of the arena that has lifted the upper deck seats into the stratosphere.

Designers of the new Phillips Arena in Atlanta have offered up a brilliant design to solve this problem. All of the luxury boxes, suites, and club level seating are on a single side of the arena. In addition to giving a neat visual effect of an Opera House, it allows the remainder of the upper deck seating to be significantly lower than similar seats in other arenas. I’ve been there, and it works.

Speaking of ballparks, a visitor to the “new” Comisky Park in Chicago would be shocked to learn that it opened only one year before Camden Yards in Baltimore. The ChiSox’ home may has well have been built in 1972, save for the wide aisles and the food court. I have a feeling those responsible that boondoggle don’t have their phone ringing off the hook with design work.

Last year Collins Cooper missed a field goal in overtime for Florida against Tennessee and Steve Spurrier saw to it that he never kicked again for the Gators. I wonder what kind of week that poor kid who missed the extra point in overtime is having. Reader mail took my to task for using the word “permutation” inaccurately last week. This week Jacksonville scored 17 points in an odd COMBINATION, a touchdown, two field goals, and two safeties. Other readers alerted me to Jim Brown being sentenced for wife-beating charges, but some topics are just too easy.

While I’m not much of a totals connoisseur, consider using under 40½ in the Pack- Bucs game on Sunday. Neither team is in good offensive form and each boasts a stout “D”. This game will not go over on offensive scores. The points to worry about are defensive scores, as each stop unit is opportunistic. But a mature Favre can be expected to be aware of who he is up against and game plan to avoid mistakes. Tampa’s Dilfer has been instructed to take sacks rather than suffer interceptions and fumbles. Look for a low scoring war between two quality defensive outfits playing conservative ball in the former “Bay of Pigs”.

Good luck this weekend, and be careful.

If you enjoyed this, be sure to send it along to your like-minded friends and colleagues. To be added to or deleted from the direct email distribution of S&G; News contact us at kevinon. Call 770.61 for free updated information. The Sports & Gaming Hotline is a 24-hour free service. | October 7th, 1999

About the writer
Kevin is the author of two best selling books on football betting. His weekly column covers the world of sports betting, the media and football handicapping.

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