Take It To the Bank! Week 7 CFB

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By Paul Schmidt

Ahhh…4-0.  That sounds really nice.  I finally showed what I can do last week with a 4-0 week, and some easy-money lines in C-USA and the WAC.  Given my reliance on Central Michigan this season it was really nice to get a boost from some of the other smaller conferences…

This week’s lines are a smattering of weird…a little bit because of some rivalry games, like Texas-Oklahoma, and a little bit because teams like Michigan chose this week to take on an FCS school (Delaware State in the middle of the season??).  The latter might be because of the Big Ten season starting earlier, I know, but find an FBS opponent, guys, seriously. Failing that…I guess the Blessed Sisters of the Poor might be available…

As always, this week’s four games are below, with the lines being the ones featured at the Harrah’s Casinos in beautiful, sunny Las Vegas.  Which I miss.  Sniff.

Oklahoma (+3) at Texas (neutral site game)
So this game gets played in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas…which is in Texas…which leads me to wonder just how this could be viewed as a neutral site game.  I guess it is somewhere near equidistant from both campuses…but it is in Texas.  That’s like when Illinois plays in Chicago at the United Center and has the audacity to call it a neutral site game…it isn’t.  They’ve only lost twice there.  That sounds like hoomecourt advantage to me…

Either way, Texas is better than their ranking at this point.  The defense has been really impressive this season, even if Colt McCoy has looked a little…off.  He’s not playing BADLY…but he isn’t looking all that good either.  It’s pretty insulting, if you’re a Longhorn, that this line is on,y three points, because it isn’t like Sam Bradford looked great last week against Baylor…so what does all that mean??

It means Texas should be favored by way more than this…and they prove it on Saturday. Pick: Texas -3

Northwestern (+14.5) at Michigan State
Wait….what??  This is the same Michigan State team that dominated Illinois last week, sure…but EVERYONE has dominated Illinois.  That’s not unusual! 

What is known is that EVERYONE at skill positions for the  Spartans is at least dinged up. They’ll have at least two RB’s not playing with a third that will play injured…their backup QB hurt his throwing arm last week…and yet they are laying more than two TD’s??? 

The cavaet here, I suppose, is that Northwestern looked awful against Miami (OH) last week, but I really don’t think that will be an issue here.  Even if Willy and the Wildcats don’t win, they will keep it close. Pick: Northwestern +14.5

Miami (-14) at Central Florida
I’m a believer in Jacory Harris, and you should be too!  I also believe in Randy Shannon’s ability to coach, and get teams ready for games where they might get caught looking ahead.  This is a perfect example of a game like that for the ‘Canes.  Central Florida really isn’t any good, but they could keep it close if Miami plays with disinterest.

However, the ‘Canes haven’t done that yet this year. Though the win against Florida State looks less impressive, the Oklahoma win remains really legit.  The Georgia Tech win is looking better and better, and getting blown out in Blacksburg by Va. Tech isn’t the worst thing that could happen to you. More and more, they are looking like a team that could steal a BCS Title Game berth. 

Either way, I think this is a Miami team that remains focused on their goal of getting a BCS game themselves…that quest continues with a blowout on the road this week. Pick: Miami -14

Kansas -9 at Colorado
If the Northwestern line was the most perplexing of the week, this one, weirdly enough, made the most sense.  I knew that people would give Colorado too much love this week after playing Texas close. It’s like clockwork, this happens EVERY week — one bad team shows up for a week and then the next week gets a ton of action.

And make no mistake, Colorado is a really, really bad team.  They just might be the class of the crap in the Big 12. Now, Kansas may not be world beaters, but they are playing good solid football, and the offense is led by a QB in Todd Reesing that, though he doesn’t wow you with his arm, just doesn’t make mistakes.  That in itself should be enough to blow the Buffs out of the water, even on the road.  My, how the coaching stock of Dan Hawkins has fallen…Pick: Kansas -9

Last Week: 4-0
Season Record: 13-10-1

Take It To The Bank! Week 5, NFL Edition!

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By Paul Schmidt

Last week, I bragged about how well I was doing with my NFL picks.  I said EVERYONE should listen to me.  I even went so far as to demand from my wife that she should start betting all of my games if I went 4-0 again.

If you read that last paragraph and didn’t understand that I probably REALLY pissed off the gambling gods, well, then you haven’t gambled enough. 

I went 2-2, which was respectable, but it wasn’t real good, regardless. I made the indefensible move of wagering on a TERRIBLE Washington team laying a ton of points…and I guess not knowing that Buffalo was awful, despite every Buffalo fan I know telling me how bad they were.  Just dumb.

So coming into this week, I realized I’d have to just go with what I knew from the first four weeks, and I do feel like, I, and really all of us, know quite a bit at this point.  Hopefully…it will be reflected in my picks.

This week’s lines seem a little goofy.  I actually had trouble picking the 4 games I officially wanted to bet, because I really didn’t mind almost every single game.  I can’t remember that happening in the last few seasons. Also, you’re going to see some of the highest lines that I’ve seen in a few seasons, which should make for some fun wagering.

Here’s my four Week 5 games:

Minnesota  (-10.5) at St. Louis
This line is what really got my toes a-tappin’.  I thought this would be the biggest line of the week, and it’s not close.  Look, I think Brett Favre is just as overrated as everyone else…but he’s absolutely in the zone now.  And while I typically HATE teams coming off the short week (one less day to heal and prepare for the next game), but this is the Rams.  They are the worst team in the NFL.

And when you think about it…that’s saying something with a team like Oakland out there on the board to say that about…Pick: Minnesota -10.5

Oakland (+15.5) at New York Giants
I’m not all that sure I can remember seeing a line higher than 15.5…perhaps during the crazy New England run two years ago, but I can’t be sure.  I think I remember a 17 point one then…but the fog of old age is setting in…

Look, this Giants team does nothing spectactular, but they find ways to blow you out.  They’ve won every game this year by double-digits, and that certainly won’t stop this week.  And this week, it’ll be cold and miserable in New York, and that great Giants defense has GOT to be licking their chops to take on JaMarcus Russell this week. 

Russell is closing in on being historically bad, and this might be the week that gets him there. Trust me, I know that this is a lot of points to lay, but I think we’ll get there with room to spare with New York pitching a shutout. Pick: Giants -15.5

Tampa Bay +15.5 at Philadelphia
This Philly team is just a little bit scary. I think they are really good, but I think at this point they might be starting the wrong QB.  McNabb, if not 100% healthy, just isn’t better than Kevin Kolb.  It’s a sad thing to say, but I think it’s true. 

Westbrook looks like he is going to play for Philadelphia, which is good for them, but he’ll be spltting time with LeSean McCoy, so, once again, I think they just might be keeping their best option on the bench part of the time to assuage the veteran. 

See, the above is my problem with the Eagles…their young guys might be the best guys they have, and they aren’t getting them the proper amount of PT.  For that reason, and for the friskiness of the Bucs last week with Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson at QB…well…

And yes, I’m ignoring how horrible the Bucs run defense is.  It’s awful.  I am going on a limb and saying that it won’t matter this week. Pick: Bucs +15.5

Atlanta +2 at San Francisco
Apparently folks aren’t down with the 49ers yet. 

I was sold after they should have beaten the VIkings on the road.  That was a flukey loss.  I’m not really convinced on the Falcons and Matt Ryan yet…and I know, I know, I have a season and a third of evidence saying Matt Ryan is one helluva QB.

But something keeps nagging at me. I think he has a propensity for laying a stinkbomb, and this is a really good Niners defense, helmed by Patrick Willis — my darkhorse pick for Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL.  He is just a beast. And with that defense and an offense that just doesn’t make mistakes, especially at home…well, I just think this is the strangest line of the day.  Niners roll. Pick: San Francisco -2

Last Week: 2-2
Season Record: 11-5

Take it To The Bank! Week 6 CFB

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By Paul Schmidt

After an embarassing 2-2 week this week, I’m not picking against someone.  My mom tied me, and while she knows sports, she really does, I know betting and that just shouldn’t happen.  This week, I’m going back to basics, and picking on my own.  And next week, I’ll have a guest again.  Probably. Maybe.  Applicants can apply in the comments, and show me  a thing or two. 

This week’s games were really difficult, first off.  I thought a lot of the lines were either right on, were games that I just didn’t care to bet on, or were games that I just had no idea what would happen. That’s what makes gambling tough, I suppose. 

But enough rambling, on to the picks.

Michigan St. (-4.5) at Illinois
So let me get this straight: Illinois suffers another lackluster, indefensible loss at home…benches their starting QB…practices more damage control than football this week…and I’m supposed to believe that they can keep this game within a touchdown?  I don’t think it’s going to be within THREE touchdowns! 

I don’t honestly care if it is going to be Homecoming for the Illini (it is) or if this is the make-or-break game of Ron Zook’s coaching career (it is).  This is going to be a Spartan rout. Pick: Michigan State -4.5

Alabama -4.5 at Mississippi
It’s pretty obvious that Ole Miss is a little bit overrated.  Jevan Sneed is not what everyone thought, and the losses to graduation, specifically Michael Oher at left tackle, really have hampered the Rebels this season.

There’s those that think ‘Bama may be the best team in the SEC.  I certainly do believe that they are the most rounded, balanced squad in the SEC, though I don’t know about the best. I do think that, even on the road, they can (and will) effectively end the Rebels’ season with a win. Pick: Alabama -4.5

Idaho (+4) at San Jose State
I know, I know…you’re thinking, why in the hell are you betting on teams in the WAC?  That aren’t named Boise State or Fresno State????  There’s money to be made, that’s why, and it’s right here!

Idaho is having their best season in years, and has a pretty spiffy 4-1 record. Their only loss was in Seattle to Washington (a loss that doesn’t look too bad in the wake of their upset of USC), and has two really solid wins against Colorado State and Northern Illinois, the latter here in Illinois.  San Jose State has been wildly unimpressive so far and only beat the Cal Poly-SLO Mustangs last week 19-9.  And they’re a crappy FCS team!!!

Idaho is 5-0 against the spread this year so far…look for them to move to 6-0 and win this one outright. Pick: Idaho +4

Houston (+2.5) at Mississippi State
I am still in love with this Houston team, even after a terrible loss to UTEP.  They certainly can’t afford to lose another game — Even though they are probably out of the BCS race, quality wins could continue to bump the team up.  They certainly won’t quit, not if QB Case Keenum has anything to do about it. 

I don’t think that the Bulldogs are really that good, but regardless of whether or not they are, their offense won’t be able to keep up with the Cougars’.  Pick: Houston +2.5

Last Week 2-2
Season Record: 9-10-1

Take It To The Bank, NFL Week 4

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By Paul Schmidt

Another week, another winning week.  I’m on a roll with these picks, although I did only go 3-1 last week.  What the heck is wrong with the Titans??  Or is Kerry Collins just remembering he’s Kerry Collins?  Or drinking again? 

Now we’re getting into where the books and oddsmakers really should have a pretty good handle of what’s going on, so this week it’s even more important to be very careful about which games you wager on.  Look at all those lines this week — there’s literally only one line that jumps out as insane, and you better believe that we’re going to lead off the picks with that game….

Dallas -3 at Denver
So…let me get this straight.  Dallas has a good week one, loses at home to the Giants, and then squeak by a terrible Carolina team, again at home…and that leads to them laying three points on the road?  To ANYONE??  I don’t think Denver is as good as their 3-0 record, but that Cincinnati win is looking a lot better now, even if it was a fluke.

Don’t ever, ever forget that Denver is one of the toughest places to go on the road, either…the altitude, that crowd and the way the stadium was built to shake when the crowd gets loud…it’s intimidating.  And Denver wins this game outright.
Pick Denver +3

St. Louis +9.5 at San Francisco
The Rams are just terrible. Although they might be a little bit better wiith Kyle Boller at quarterback. That right there might be the most telling thing you can say about the Rams though, that Kyle Boller makes them a better team…yikes.  Plus you’re putting them on the road against a good 49er squad that won’t miss Frank Gore, then you’ve got to feel good about San Fran’s chances. 

And about that Frank Gore injury, really, don’t worry about it.  Glen Coffee is more than capable of filling his spot.
Pick: San Francisco -9.5

Buffalo (PICK) at Miami
In case you haven’t figured out this week’s theme, it’s that “We Heart Injured Quarterbacks!”  Now, to be fair, if Chad Pennington had been playing and this line was, say, -6 in facor of Miami…I think I still like Buffalo. 

Instead, we’ve got Tyler Thigpen maybe, Chad “Don’t call me Sonja” Henne.  It’s just not a good situation in Miami this week, and it looks like they will fall off a lot from last year.
Pick: Buffalo (PICK)

Tampa Bay +8 at Washington
How awful are the Buccanneers?  REALLY awful.  REALLY REALLY awful.  And you know what?  I liked the Redskins laying 8 BEFORE Tampa Bay coach Rahim Morris announced that Florida Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson was going to start at QB for them. Apparently he doesn’t have much going on after this weekend with the Marlins.

What?  It’s a different Josh Johnson?  That I’ve never heard of before this week?  And now he’s ACTUALLY a starting QB in the NFL?  Seriously???  And I can wager actual money against him?

Even the Redskins, as bad and dysfunctional as they are, can’t screw this up.
Pick: Washington -8

Last Week: 3-1
For the Season: 9-3

Take It To The Bank, Week 5 CFB

By Paul Schmidt

Welcome back to week five of my fearless prognostications!  Lots of good last week, and let’s face it, I was due.  Even though my Illini let me down (and by let me down, I mean gave me a swirly for roughly 3 and a half hours), I was able to come up with an over .500 week, and a win against my competitor, Peter Christian. 

Granted, I received a luck-of-the-Irish push from the Houston Cougars, but a little luck never hurt anyone. 

So coming off a solid 2-1-1 week, I’ve decided to bring in someone special for this week’s competition, someone who…well, if I don’t win this week, I think that I’ll just let her make the picks the rest of the season.  That’s right, her…this week’s guest is my Mom.

As for her gambling resume, she doesn’t really have one outside of NCAA bracket pools and participating in a weekly NFL confidence pool. In fact, I explained point spreads to her prior to her making her picks — though to her credit she pretty much knew what was going on there.

On to this week’s games!

Penn St.(-7) at Illinois
 (MOM) The pundits, with good reason, have all picked Penn St.  I will go out on a short skinny limb and say Illinois will win or at least fall within their 7 point spread on Sat.  I’m of the opinion Penn St. is overrated and Illinois and their coaching staff will come out of hibernation this weekend.  Plus, I NEVER bet against “My Team”!  ILL!  Pick: Illinois +7
(Paul Schmidt)
Sigh…I-N-I.  Is Penn St. overrated?  I don’t know…Iowa’s defense was just unbelievable last Saturday, so I don’t know that that is an accurate measure.  However, after last week’s debacle, there’s no way I’ll be able to pick them ever again.  Personally, I think an angry, angry Penn State team rolls this week. Pick: PSU -7

Northwestern at Purdue(-7)
(MOM)
I like Northwestern.  I’m not sure why except I think they have the better personnel.  They can win this game easily if they just stop with all the mistakes. That’s the real question, whether they can get it all together. Pick: Northwestern +7
(PS)
Northwestern is quickly moving into Illinois territory with the inconsistency they are playing.  How one of the nations’ best defenses returns almost everyone and then plays as badly as they have this season is mystifying to me.  Make no mistake, this is a must-win for the Wildcats, but Purdue isn’t as bad as people think.  They looked really good against Notre Dame last week, and while that might not be a glowing review, I think it will be enough to cover at home. Pick: Purdue -7

Central Michigan (-8) at Buffalo
(MOM)
DAH!  Central Michigan all the way. A great “D”  that wins games add a prolific quarterback and you’ve got the Central Michigan Chippewas. Pick: Central Michigan -8
(PS)
I love my Chippewas.  I love Dan LeFevour.  And one thing my mom didn’t add, Buffalo is awful.  Temple routed them last week.  ‘Nuff said.  Pick: Central Michigan -8

Toledo(-4.5) at Ball St.
(MOM)
 Ball State will be desperate to win their first game this weekend. But their inexperienced cornerbacks will not be able to contain Toledo’s quarterback. It looks like Toledo will come out on top of this contest as Ball State is no match….what a difference a year makes. Pick: Toledo -4.5
(PS)
That right there might have been the most in depth, and best, analysis of a MAC team ever posted on this website.  Ball St. is really, really bad this season.  And let’s not make Toledo sound like world-beaters, either.  But they’ve got a really good offense that can put up points, and in a worst-case scenario will simply outscore the Cardinals to cover the way-too-small spread here. My thought is they win by 20 at least. Also, with Ball State’s most famous alumnus in hot water this week, you know that’s not a good sign…Pick: Toledo -4.5

Last Week: 2-1-1
For the Season: 7-8-1

Take It To The Bank!! Week 3, NFL Picks!

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By Paul Schmidt

Welcome back to the most exciting part of the weekend!  Actually, I wrote these earlier, and I thought I posted it.  But I didn’t.  Everyone come see how smart I am!!

Last week was a GREAT week…4-0 for the week!  I was due to pick something right eventually, right? 

In all seriousness, I do hope that the last couple of weeks, that you got out and made a little money yourself, because these first couple of weeks of the NFL season are typically the easiest to work with.  The books don’t REALLY have a feel for the teams yet, and that provides all of us with opportunities!

Of course that means that this week there will be LESS opportunity right?  That this week, the powers that be will be getting a handle on things?

Well, not so fast, my friends (channelling my inner Lee Corso!)…This week’s lines present a whole lot of opportunity, which is somewhat surprising.  Usually, when a line looks too good to be true, it probably is and should be sending off gambling alarms that yell, “Danger!  Danger!” in your head.

But this week…maybe we’re getting just one more week of value before the other foot drops.  As always, these are lines from the Harrah’s Casinos in Las Vegas.

Chicago -2.5 at Seattle
Ladies and gentlemen, the Seneca Wallace era!  Look, I don’t typically advocate wagering on the team you pull for, but any time you have a chance to bet against Seneca Wallace, even at home Qwest Field where the Seahawks have an insane home field advantage, you have to do it.
Pick: Chicago -2.5 

Tennessee +2 at New York Jets
I’mabigfan of the Titans.  They’re typically my go-to team after the Bears go away for the season, mainly because…I like the uniforms.  Yes, I’m a woman.

But the greater force at work here is that this is a better football team than we’ve seen this season.  Their defense is better than this (though not as good as last season, it should be mentioned).  Their offense is, as we saw last week, extremely capable.  And this is absolutely a must-win game for them.  This should be an outright win for the Titans.
Pick: Tennessee +2

San Francisco at Minnesota -6.5
I’ve seen this line as high as 7 points, which seems odd for a team that is playing as well as the 49ers are.  The Niners defense has been outstanding, and the offense in the hands of Shaun King has been far better than anticipated.

Meanwhile, Minnesota has not been tested yet, playing two of the worst teams in the NFL in the first two weeks of the season (Lions and Browns) and we still don’t really know what Brett Favre is going to do against a legitimate NFL offense.  This week we get to find out.  And herein is my upset special of the week.  Go nuts on the Niners, bet that money line!!
Pick: San Francisco +6.5

New Orleans at Buffalo +6
The #1 gambling rule of the 2009-2010 NFL season stays in effect:  Do not ever, ever bet against Drew Brees.  In fact, if you’re not wagering on him, you’re missing out. 

I’m not impressed with Buffalo’s defense at all — it’s at least on par with New Orleans’. And therein lies the rub – No one’s offense is as good as the Saints’ and Buffalo is going to be forced to play catch up this week.  The only hope for the Bills is that Fred Jackson goes off early and often, and even if he does, it may not be enough.
Pick: New Orleans -6

Last Week: 4-0
Overall: 6-2

Take It To The Bank!! Week 4, College Football

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By Paul Schmidt

Welcome back to Take It To The Bank! First things first — let’s clean up after last week.  It was a respectable 2-2, with two things blindsiding me: 1) Florida, by Urban Meyer’s own admission, saying they didn’t need to run Tennessee out of the stadium because he knew they were only playing to not get blown out.  Awesome.  Next time, could someone tell ME??  Is that really too much to ask??  2) Texas and Texas Tech playing some defense. Defense in the Big 12?  Really?  Next thing you know, someone is going to tell me Tim Tebow isn’t Jesus!

This week we’re adding a new wrinkle to things, by bringing in a guest picker.  I select the games and send them out. That week’s guest makes their picks and then I make mine.  Since I also only pick 4 games, I have a tie-breaker pick for the week, something tailored to how skilled of a gambler I think the person is.  This week, we have The Bank’s other degenerate gambler, Peter Christian, taking the podium.  Though many of you may know Pete, I asked him to write a quick intro for those of you that don’t:

“My gambling resume: I learned the ropes from one of the worst gamblers on the planet, though he’ll never admit it. Watching him gamble was like watching Paris Hilton act. It was clear he was going to keep wasting time and someone elses money trying but there was no way he was ever going to get better.

He showed me the ropes however and put me on the path to learning the way to follow the way things worked. To this day I’m still a small timer but I’ve had more big wins than big losses (though my small losses probably outweigh the small wins) with the biggest coming on the opening day of the NCAA Tournament in 2005 when I parlayed the four afternoon games into a months salary (minimum wage in Wisconsin). I haven’t won a parlay since.”

Wonders never cease — Apparently I taught Pete how to gamble.  Who knew?

Anyway, here’s this week’s games.

TCU at Clemson (-2.5)


Peter Christian: Clemson has fans with heart. We recently saw some of that “heart” after a tough loss to Georgia Tech. That kind of passion can only be found in what we’ve come to call a group home but is more well known as an asylum. Crazy things happen to crazy people, the Tigers go crazy and cover the points. PICK: Clemson -2.5


Paul Schmidt: Tiger fans definitely go crazy, but the team does too — just not in a good way. Clemson is typically one of the more schizophrenic teams in all of football, and that won’t change again this week.  TCU has something to prove, and they saw last week what happens to “BCS Buster” teams that don’t come out for big games (Utah and BYU). This is the Horned Frogs’ chance to make a statement. PICK: TCU +2.5

Michigan State at Wisconsin (-3)


PC: Let me be clear, I hate betting on the Big Ten. Despise it. I dislike it more than thinking about the type of exam I have to get when I turn 40. That being said I hate this Wisconsin team even more. I’m not sure I like Michigan State either but I want the points and the Spartans. PICK: Michigan State +3

PS: Michigan State is terrible.  I’ve been operating on that premise for several weeks, and it certainly is beneficial for betting purposes. Good teams, quite simply, don’t lose to Central Michiagn at home (no matter how good I think they are).  If you’re good, that just doesn’t happen.  Now I’m supposed to expect them to hang with Wisconsin on the road?  I don’t think so.  Remember, home teams essentially get a 3-point bump — think these teams would be equals on a neutral site?  No way.  NO WAY.  Sconnies roll. PICK: Wisconsin -3

Illinois at Ohio St. (-14)

PC: Remember when I said I hate betting on the Big Ten? I lied. If I was in one of the states where it is legal to gamble, I would bet on this game so fast that Usain Bolt would do a double take. Buckeyes at home could cover 1,000,000 points against Illinois… Though I’m only gonna lay the 14 required.  PICK: Ohio State -14

PS: Call it a hunch.  However, was there really any doubt where I was going when I decided to pick this game?  As I’ve said, you never bet with your heart, you bet with your head.  And I’ve only ever wagered on the Illini once…of course, that was November 10th, 2007, against Ohio State…and we know how that turned out.  Funnily enough, that was considered by many to be a trap game…and I got 13.5 points that day too. Again…just a hunch. PICK: Illinois +14

Texas Tech at Houston (-1)

PC: This is definitely the hardest of the four games to pick. Not because the teams are evenly matched but because you can’t ever predict what is gonna happen with Tech. They could explode for 50 or they might puke on the coffee table and struggle to find the end zone. I’m taking Tech and the point and rolling the dice on a shootout. PICK: Texas Tech +1

PS: I watched Texas Tech and was really impressed last week. I was really surprised that they could handle McCoy and the Longhorns offense, with so many weapons. Just a great effort.  However, Houston’s got the best offense in the country, hands down. Case Keenum is a helluva QB, and I think he can exploit the Red Raider D.  Especiually after finding out that, yeah, Colt McCoy probably could have too, but he was sick with the flu and on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Pedialyte…PICK: Houston -1

TIEBREAKER: Select one over/under number and make your pick.

PC: Minnesota at Northwestern O/U 48.5

I LOVE betting the over/under line. Mostly because it let’s me watch a game I normally wouldn’t watch with a reason to get invested in both teams’ offense or defense without really causing my blood pressure to go through the roof. With this game I feel obligated to take the over. After last years’ shootout I expect more of the same and the points will add up on both sides of the scoreboard. PICK: Over 48.5 points

PS: Arkansas at Alabama O/U 58

I think I developed a little bit of a man-crush last week on Ryan Mallett. He was simply unreal against Georgia, and that game and the offense in it was ridiculous.  However, Alabama’s D is juuuuust a little better than Georgia’s.  So why would I bet the over here?  Because while Alabama’s D might hold Arkansas to 20 points or thereabouts, Alabama’s offense is DEFINITELY a threat to put up 50 points on their own against a Razorback D that was…well, let’s say they were performance-challenged against Georgia. And given Bobby Petrino’s history of not necessarily caring about that so much, one has to believe that isn’t something that’s going to change. PICK: Over 58 points

Last week: 2-2
For the Season: 5-7

Take It To The Bank, NFL Edition Week 2!

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By Paul Schmidt

Last week, I thought taking some big dogs would be a great way to start the season.  I was only half right.  I nearly did earn the cover in the Baltimore game, but the Chiefs abandoned Tyler Thigpen for Brodie Croyle. OK, they didn’t really abandon him…but they certainly didn’t play him.  And Brodie Croyle sucks.  I do know that.  Given all that, the Ravens still only covered by one point, so we were all really close there.

As for the Lions game…umm…well, call it a bad hunch.

So where do we go this week?  What did we learn?  Let’s find out with these four best bets of week 2 in the NFL!

Oakland +3 at Kansas City
This is a hunch.  Great Oakland defense, and they’ll be playing a much less…organized, we’ll say…Kansas City D this week.  Plus, when you have either a healthy Brodie Croyle or an unhealthy Matt Cassel…it just doesn’t look good for the Chiefs this week.

Factor in that the Oakland secondary is actually more than capable, and that might mean that a win lies in the performance of Kansas City’s running game.  Do you want your money in the hands of Larry Johnson and Jamaal Charles?  I didn’t think so…

New Orleans (PICK) at Philadelphia
The Sports Guy at ESPN said it best, I think: I’m not picking against the Saints until I lose.  Well….I mean after last week…

In all seriousness, until anyone proves they can stop that offense, until someone draws up a realistic blueprint, I think everyone should be putting their money on the Saints and betting the over.  Hands down.  No questions asked.

Chicago +3 over Pittsburgh
The Bears’ secondary scares me, but I also think that “Ben” is one of the most overrated QBs in all of football.  I don’t think the Steelers running game is good enough that they can take this game over, either.

Jay Cutler will have something to prove at home, and if ever there was a must-win game in week 2, this certainly is one.  The Bears need this game.  A lot. A loss could cripple them, and worse yet, will most likely drop them 2 games behind Minnesota (and possibly Green Bay too).

Indianapolis -3 at Miami
I make this pick based on two things: 1) Miami looked miserable last week in Atlanta, and 2) Indianapolis’ offense looked bad against Jacksonville.

Now, I know that it looks like those two things are contrary to each other, but the thing is that Indy’s offense is too explosive to be kept down, and I fully expect that the two-headed hydra of Joe Addai and Donald Brown get off this week.

On the flip side, I have no confidence that the pupu platter of WRs that Miami has will make a dent in the Colts’ very talented secondary.

Last Week: 2-2


For The Season: 2-2

Take It To The Bank!!

By Paul Schmidt

OK, sports fans, welcome back for week three of college football!  This week is marked with…well, not a ton of marquee matchups.  It’s kind of a dull week after going through the games.  That doesn’t mean you can’t make money though!

You know, unless you listen to me….ouch.  1-3 last week?  3-5 for the season? Man.  That’s just depressing.  However, the MAC love I’ve been proposing…it paid off last week if you went with it! 

Let’s take a look at this week’s games, including a pretty consistent foray into marquee games…

Florida -30, at home against Tennessee
I think at this point everyone knows the story…on National Signing day last year for college football, Tennessee’s new head coach Layne Kiffen thought it would be a good idea to call Florida and their head coach Urban Meyer a bunch of cheaters and send in reports to the NCAA.

It probably would have helped if anything Kiffen alleged was actually true.

Meyer and his team have been pretty tight-lipped about this game, but make no mistake…Florida could hang 100 on them.  And Florida’s defense is going to be ready to absolutely tee off on the Vols.  I’d go as far to say that this is an iron-clad lock this week.

Iowa -4 at home against Arizona
I’m not a huge fan of this Iowa offense, which had trouble scoring points against Northern Iowa, for heaven’s sake.  And Arizona’s D is for real, which is saying something because they are in the Pac-10…for instance, they shut down my Man-Crush, Dan LeFevour of Central Michigan, completely, and he put up 350 yards of passing against Michigan State in their upset win last week.

However, I think Arizona’s is comparably awful when compared to their defense.  And Iowa’s D is better than Arizona’s. 

And finally, there’s this.  Generally, if teams are viewed as equal, you’ll see the home team as a three-point favorite. Are we really to believe that Iowa is only one point better than Arizona on a neutral field?  Color me skeptical while I lay the points.

Texas -18.5 at home against Texas Tech
Two words — “Revenge Game”.  The Red Raiders should be wildly overmatched in this one, as a whole new of position players get used to starting.  This is Texas’ first marquee matchup of the season and want to make up for their one mistake last year.  Look for this one to get ugly.

Washington +19 at home over USC
You know…I don’t have any other reason for this other than a hunch.  I love Jake Locker.  I think he’s a great QB.  The chosen one, Matt Barkley, is hurt and not playing (and if you noticed that this was up a little later on Friday, the reason is that I was waiting for this particular bit of information). There probably will be a little bit of a let down after last week’s HUGE road win against Ohio State.

Again, I’m not saying the Huskies will win.  But I think that the other foot finally drops for USC this week, and that Jake Locker is a great enough athlete that he can overcome an amazing USC defense.

Good luck this week!

Last week: 1-3
For the Season: 3-5

Take It To The Bank! Week 1 NFL Edition!

4queens

By Paul Schmidt

Yes, it’s the most gambled on sport in the US.  Yes, there’s guys telling you what to bet on everywhere. The difference between them and I?  I’ll be right.  And I’m funnier.  And better looking.

Every week I’ll be picking 4 NFL games to wager on via the point spread, and the reason why as well.  It’ll be the tastiest matchups I can find.

Week 1, just like in college football, is the best week to put together a good run against the sports book (or…your bookie…ummm…not that I condone that), so tune in early on!

Kansas City +13 @ Baltimore

For one, it’s time to dispense with the idea that there’s some kind of home field advantage for most NFL teams to work with.  There really isn’t any more, whether it’s due to fans being sick of paying the exorbitant NFL prices and staying home (thus giving the seats to less vocal and hardcore fans) or because the new stadiums jsut are too acoustically sound to create a noise advantage (remember, many of these arenas make a looooot of money on concerts now), the fact is that teams win just as much at home as they do on the road.

In fact, when you factor in road underdogs, they beat the spread last season something like 250% of the time.  That’s a fact!

I like this Chiefs team…they have some very good offensive talent, and even if Matt Cassel can’t go, Tyler Thigpen is better than you think.  They have some solid players at the skill positions on both sides of the ball, anda even if they’re offense has trouble scoring, does anyone have THAT much confidence in the Ravens’ offense to win by two touchdowns?

Detroit +13 @ New Orleans

See above.  The difference is that the Saints DO get a boost from the Superdome, but that won’t help that their defense is still pretty crappy.

If you really are a betting man, I’d parlay Detroit with the “over” for this game, which is only 48.5.  One thing I can tell you to count on for sure is that there will be a TON of points on the board in this game.

San Francisco +6 @ Arizona

Starting to see a trend here?  I like the 49ers to win this game outright.

Why, you say? The Cardinals were the Super Bowl rep from the NFC last year, you say!  Well, the Super Bowl loser for the past 304 seasons haven’t made the playoffs the next year.  Seriously.  Look it up!

I think this is the start of the fall for the Cards, and there’s a reason why I drafted so many of them on my fantasy teams.  Because I don’t think they are going to be very good.  Wait…those don’t go together…

In all seriousness, Frank Gore will have a good game, his backup Glen Coffee should contribute, and I like the 49er WRs even without Michael Crabtree in the fold.

Green Bay -3.5 at home, over Chicago

I have some serious issues with the Bears defense.  I’m not a fan.  I think that Aaron Rogers will totally be able to exploit the Bears secondary, which didn’t look that good all preseason.  Now, I’m certainly not saying that I don’t think the Bears won’t score, I just don’t think they’ll score enough — I like the Pack’s D just a hair better than I like the Bears’.

Again…if you’re looking for a sweet parlay, I’d take a peak at the Pack and the over in this game, as it’s only 46.5.  That seems ridiculously low, and I’d expect that they could blow by that by halftime.

Week 1, it’s always fun!  Good luck, happy betting, and as always, be careful out there!

Take it to the BANK!

lasvegas-pano_
By Paul Schmidt

Week one is in the books, and I came away relatively unscathed. 2-2 for the week, both on late covers from MAC teams.  The MAC is frisky!  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!!

However, last week there were some stumbles.  Apparently Michigan is gonna be pretty good. And Oklahoma State, despite all my protestations, may actually NOT be overrated.  I can admit my mistake.  I’M A MAN! I’M THIRTY-ONE!

Anyway, the theme for this week is…well, why do I need a theme?  Just looking for winners, and as always, comments/harassment/challenges to my manhood are welcome!

Louisiana Tech +7.5 at Navy
I was looking forward to this line just as soon as the Ohio State/Navy game wrapped up last week.  Navy’s not as good as they showed last week, and Louisiana Tech is probably a lot better than you think.  They’ve got a very solid offense, and an underrated defense.  They nearly took the lead in the second half on the road against Auburn last week, but and interception near the end zone and then two plays later a 93-yard touchdown pass pretty much turned all the momentum around and keyed Auburn on to victory.

Point being, expect Navy to take a small step back this week, and expect Louisiana Tech to take a small step forward and cover this spread (and maybe, MAYBE have a chance to win outright).

Central Michigan +14.5 at Michigan State
I love me some Chippewas!  One of last week’s winners makes a return appearance this week.  Arizona’s defense was up to the task in the desert last week, but Central Michigan’s defense was far more stout than I could have anticipated, allowing just one touchdown and four Alex Zendejas field goals to a fairly solid Wildcat defense.

I’m a little worried about the lack of offense from the Chippewas running game, and all-around from Dan LeFevour in general, but I am confident that they can turn it around in Eas Lansing, a much shorter trip than Tempe, especially given that they will face a far less stern test on defense.

North Carolina -5 at Connecticut
It only took six games, but I’ve finally picked a favorite. I like this North Carolina team. Maybe not as someone at ESPN who actually picked them to win the national title, but they’re a really good team and I think it’s pretty possible they could surprise and win the ACC. It’s also a stronger conference than you think this season.

Connecticut struggled on the road at Ohio last week with turnovers (though the did have the game in hand in the fourth quarter regardless), and that in itself is reason enough to doubt the Huskies this season. Should be a fun game though, as the new facility in Storrs is a great place for a game, and it’s always fun to see a football game involving traditional basketball powers.  It’s like they don’t know exactly what was going on in the game.

Northwestern -18 at home over Eastern Michigan
I can’t really believe that I’d condone wagering on the Purple Wienies from Evanston…but consider this.  Their offense is clicking, they’re at home, and they’re playing a team that just lost — at home — by two touchdowns to Army. 

This shouldn’t be closer than 30 points.

Last Week: 2-2
Season Record: 2-2

You Can Take It to The Bank!

money

By Paul Schmidt

Welcome to the new feature on The Sports Bank, where I tell you how to make money in a completely legitimate and accepted way!

You know, as long as you live in one of the states that approves of gambling on sporting events.

That’s right, each week I’ll be advising you of the four best lines I see on the Big Board every week in college football (and professional, starting next week), and give all of us a chance to line our pockets with a little bit of scratch!

So quick housekeeping notes:

1) If I place a bet against your team, it’s nothing against them, I just want to make money, and I don’t think they will cover/beat the spread.

2) Just because you think a team will win does NOT make them a good bet.

3) Betting on your own team is never a good idea, and I’ve only bet on the Illini one time — which happened to be in 2007 against Ohio State (-13).  I only wish I’d teased it with the under and put a bet on the money line…

4) Betting on the big name teams and games is not always the way to go — the books don’t pay a lot of attention to the smaller conferences (and that will CERTAINLY be reflected in my week 1 picks here), and generally, if you know a little about the teams, you can make some money on the lesser schools (I watch a lot of WAC football late on Saturday nights…trust me on this).

5) If a line looks too good to be true, it probably is — even with point 4 in place, the people who do this job are still very good at what they do.  Be careful out there! 6) For record-keeping purposes, I’m looking at the Harrah’s Casino’s lines, which will be current when I type the pick in. Why Harrah’s?  I generally stay at one of their casinos while in Vegas, and I like most of them.  So there.

And with all that in mind, the best week of the gambling year is here, week one of college football!  The lines are a little goofy, you can play your sleepers without a ton of danger, and some big conference teams are oooooover-rated!!

As a quick bonus pick, generally, books will not take action on a Division 1-A football team taking on a 1-AA team.  I’ve heard a couple rumors of bets being taken on Florida and Charleston Southern.  While I’d never suggest betting the house on them, Charleston Southern is reportedly +62.  That’s a whoooole lot of points for a team that probably won’t have their first team on the field for more than the first half.  Again, I’m not saying bet the house there, but there’s probably value.

Now on to my picks (which, oddly enough, are all underdogs for week 1):

Western Michigan (+13) over Michigan (@ Michigan)
Since all we have to go on is last year’s games, Michigan seems to be getting too many points here. Western Michigan popped Illinois pretty good in Detroit last year, and Illinois routed Michigan in the Big House.  I’m not saying that I used that to make this pick completely…but the Broncos do return Tim Hiller, and he’s probably the second best QB that you’ve never heard of.  Again…not saying Michigan will lose, but I really, really don’t think they win this game by two TDs (the amount needed to win the bet).

Georgia (+5) over Oklahoma State (at OK State)
I like this Georgia team. No one seems to be talking about them and I think they are just as talented as anyone else in the SEC this season. I also think Oklahoma State is one of the nation’s most overrated teams — that’s right Mike Gundy, I said it.  I’M A MAN!!! I’M 31!!!!  The SEC has something of a history of stifling high-powered Big 12 offenses recently (last year’s national title game), and I like Georgia to win this one outright.

Northern Illinois (+16.5) over Wisconsin (at Wisconsin)
I don’t know a ton about Northern, but they seem to return a lot on defense (though they lost their best player to graduation and the NFL in defensive end/linebacker Larry English). This wouldn’t seem to bode very well for a Wisconsin team that should struggle mightily to score points on offense.  I don’t think Wisconsin puts up 17 total in this game, honestly.  That still might be enough to win the game, but not come close to covering.

Central Michigan (+13.5) over Arizona (at Arizona)
Remember when I said, just a little earlier, that Tim Hiller was the best player you’ve never heard of?  The best is playing in this game.  Quick…who has the most yards from scrimmage of any player in college football the last three years?  I’ll even tell you, he’s got an insane 11,702 yards from scrimmage.  Give up?

The answer is Dan LeFevour, an extreme dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate (at least he should be). He’ll pace a very, VERY good Chippewas offense this season, and could go a long way towards improving his Heisman candidacy with a road win against a Pac Ten team. Look here as well for the Chippewas to win outright (and if you’re of a mind, place a bet on the money line!! I’m seeing +450 or thereabouts, meaning you have to wager 100 dollars to win 450).

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to comment on how obnoxious I am, how good/bad my picks are, any questions you might have, and, most especially, how wonderful and praise-worthy I am…

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