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Jerry Bo: World Cup 2018 Russia: The calm before the storm

While you can't win this trophy, you can sure win some bets. @FIFAWorldCup verified Twitter account

There is an obsession with possessing the 11 pounds of 18-carat gold that is only offered every four years. Some say playing for your country is the greatest feat one can accomplish, a chance to represent your roots and homeland.

No stage is more significant than that of the FIFA World Cup; the wait is over. Welcome to Russia!

LATEST ODDS TO WIN 2018 WORLD CUP

Brazil              +450
Germany        +475
Spain              +600
France            +650
Argentina      +950
Belgium         +1200
England         +1800
Uruguay        +2500
Portugal        +2800
Croatia           +3300
Colombia       +4000
Russia             +5000
Poland            +8000
Mexico            +10000
Denmark        +10000
Switzerland    +10000
Sweden           +15000
Senegal           +15000
Egypt .            +15000
Serbia .           +20000
Iceland           +20000
Japan              +20000
Nigeria .         +20000
Peru                +20000
Costa Rica     +30000
Australia        +30000
Iran                 +50000
Morocco         +50000
South Kore    +50000
Tunisia           +50000
Panama .       +100000
Saudi Arabia +100000

Some of the odds have changed with some places having Brazil as slightly the lone favorite.

Be attentive of the news coming out of Spain as news is breaking that they might sack their manager before the start of the World Cup. Julen Lopetegui announced recently that he would be taking over the Real Madrid vacancy, the way he went about the process didn't sit well with the Spanish FA and there are rumors of him being fired with less than 24 hours until the kickoff of the tournament.

PROPS

Mexico - Team Stage of Elimination
Round of 16   +200

I like this wager for the reason I think that Mexico will advance out of this group with the second spot. Although this would be a great accomplishment, failing to win Group F matches you up with no other than tournament Favorite Brazil. El Tri advance and lose in the round of 16 to Brazil.

Brazil reaches the semifinal        -102
As mentioned above, I think Brazil wins their group matching them up with CONCACAF representer Mexico. A win there matches them up potentially with Belgium. Playing a Roberto Martinez led team that is historically known for attacking and leaving spaces will be the end of Belgium, seeing Brazil through to a South American clash with Uruguay.

Uruguay stage one points over 6½        -104
Listed as a MAX pre-tournament bet, Uruguay to win the group will be tied into over 6.5 group points. In this tournament, a win is worth 3 points a draw 1. With that in mind, I see the South Americans winning their first two group games, seeing them face up against the host in the final group game. The only worry here will be that if Uruguay has already clinched the top spot in the group, they may opt to rest players in the final group game. Still, I think they have enough to pull out a draw vs. a Russian squad who will potentially be eliminated at this point.

Brazil stage one points over 7½        +150 3U
This bet, plain and simple. Brazil will run through the group stage accumulating 9 group points. Even if qualified for the round of 16 going into their third match, Serbia is a very favorable match-up to get the final 3 points to win this wager. I like this bet quite a bit.

Peru total World Cup goals over 3      -160
Group C is one I see plenty of high scoring affairs in. I also have expressed my love for this Peruvian team, and I think they can score more than three goals through the group stage. Paolo Guerrero's return will be a story line to follow in Russia, look for him to be one of the top goal scorers of the tournament.

Belgium stage one points over 6½        
This comes back to my predictions of Belgium taking the group. The first two matches I see as a relatively easy 6 points. The final game of the group stages will see England and Belgium fight for the top spot in the group. A draw in the final game will see this bet cash if Belgium wins the first two games as predicted.

Neymar wins Golden Ball       +795
This is Neymar's tournament to shine, and he will do just that. Look for the Brazilian start to light up the pitch, find different props on him as he will be a stud this tournament. The Golden Ball goes to the best player, the Golden Boot, to the top goal scorer. We like this bet rather than the top goal scorer as he is likely to see extra attention at times, leaving him open to also get assists throughout the tournament. Goals and assists on a team that will be playing deep in the tournament is the perfect recipe for the best player in the Cup. Another bet I saw was will the top goal scorer in the tournament be Brazilian? -300. If Brazil is favored that heavily to have the top scorer than Neymar should top the list.

Argentina - Top Team Goals corer
Messi       -150

Juicy, but justified. The horse for the Argentine National team, the world best #10 is known to carry this team time after time. Four goals in Brazil 2014, look for Lionel Messi to pick up where he left off and lead Argentina through the tournament.

Peru - Top Team Goalscorer
Paolo Guerrero   +200 2U

Another value bet, as he is the teams leading scorer and we saw that in his return after getting his ban lifted. Nothing short of spectacular netting two goals.

Paolo Guerrero - Total Goals O/U   .5 Over 2U

The wager is basically will he score this World cup with the total sitting at .5

England - Top Team Goalscorer
Harry Kane

Fresh off the big resigning with Tottenham, we take a shot with the English top target. A lethal finisher from any spot, look for Kane to put his stamp all over Russia in 2018. Raheem Sterling is the other player who could lead the team, but I see Kane being the beneficiary of Sterling's pace and ability to get England out in open space with the ball.

Colombia - Top Team Goalscorer
Radamel Falcao    +250

El Tigre waited four years to get his chance once again to represent Colombia in a World Cup. Remember a time going into Brazil 2014, where Falcao was deemed as one of the best finishers in the world at that moment, and James Rodriguez was more of a sidekick. An injury vs. a third division player in one of his last games with his club team before getting ready for Brazil 2014, saw him miss his chance to play in a World Cup. Look for a Tigre to be reborn in Russia.

The World's greatest sporting event is finally here, and a wise man once told me: “Soccer, is a sickness we are all born with, but in sickness and in health, ALWAYS TOGETHER “

RIP DAD, wherever you are…...

 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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