GAMBLING RECAP

Week 12: Playing favoritism pays off

Tom Brady and the Patriots covered again. Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

The holiday season is upon us, so don't play favorites when fancying gifts. Have an open mind and give from the heart.

In the the world of NFL gambling, doing the complete opposite has been the formula for cashing tickets lately. Playing teams favored and using the "what have you done for me lately mindset," has shown to be profitable.

Favorites have been on an extraordinary 54-24-7 run since the start of Week 7.  Just in November, teams favored are 37-15-4, closing the best month for favorites covering the spread, in the super bowl era.

Sunday, followed the model, as favorites went a remarkable 12-3-1 ATS in week 12. Favorites took a commanding lead vs. the number in 2017, leading the way 89-74-9.

After the dust of the first 11 games settled, the books were headed to a Sunday bloody Sunday. Teams favored started the day 9-2 ATS, with the Patriots and Eagles who were heavy public favorites, covering the double-digit spreads. As the first set of games came to a close, the books were sweltering. The Patriots scored a late touchdown in the final seven minutes of the game to push the lead to 35-17, while the Eagles were cruising vs. the Bears. Needing a public favorite to lose, the attention of bookmakers turned to the Panthers vs. Jets game. Then, a fumble returned for a touchdown by linebacker Luke Kuechly and a late Graham Gano field goal, and Joe Public was eating filet mignon for lunch. The bookmakers did get some slight help with the Bills winning outright, and in the later games, the Cardinals upset the Jaguars. The savior to a horrible day for the books came in the Sunday night game, where the Packers came up short 28-31 but were able to keep the game close as 14 point underdogs.

Biggest underdogs to win

Bills +9 (+320)  16-10

Cardinals +6 (+230) 27-24

Biggest favorites to cover

Patriots (-16.5) 35-17

Eagles (-13.5) 31-3

Falcons (-10)  34-20

Play action or pass went 2-5-2 in Week 12. One game kept us from being great as we hade our teasers tied to the Steelers. The Sunday night game was the difference from ending 7-0-2. We are now 22-21-4 on the year.

Ravens-7     PUSH

Panthers-4  WIN

Colts +4 (bought the hook) PUSH

Falcons TT over 30 WIN

xSteelers-7/Jags+2   LOSS

Steelers-7/Eagles-6.5    LOSS

Chiefs PK/ Steelers-4/Patriots   LOSS

Steelers-4/Eagles-3.5/Bengals+2  LOSS

Steelers-4/FalconsPK/Eagles-3.5  LOSS

Totals

Bookmakers have been extremely sharp when putting out totals. The over-under was 7-9 in week 12 and is 88-86-2 for the year. The Monday night primetime game went under if you got the number late (39.5) and -7.5. Many bettors were able to get in their wagers at o/u 39 and -7, Proving how valuable the half point is off the key number 7. Primetime games this year have been quite profitable for over bettors, sitting at 23-15( 60.5%) through week 12.

We are getting close to the end of the year, here are the Pre-Season Win totals according to Las Vegas Westgate Superbook for future wagers.

 

 

ESPN Power Rankings

1)Eagles

2Patriots

3)Rams

4)Steelers

5)Vikings

Super Bowl Odds

New England Patriots    +250

Philadelphia Eagles    +350

Pittsburgh Steelers    +600

New Orleans Saints    +1200

Minnesota Vikings    +1200

Atlanta Falcons    +1200

Los Angeles Rams    +1400

Carolina Panthers    +1800

Seattle Seahawks    +2200

Kansas City Chiefs    +3300

Los Angeles Chargers    +3300

Jacksonville Jaguars    +4000

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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