The One(s) that got Away
The One(s) that got Away
It is Monday again and time to either cry into your coffee thanks to a nightmare of a betting weekend or do a quiet dance around your office cubicle after sticking it to the house and living to tell the tale today. Let’s take a look at some of my plays this weekend and a blow-by-blow of the highs and lows of the live watch of a bet.
Case #1: Purdue @ Minnesota Point Spread: Minnesota -11
Sometimes the losses are not a backdoor deal or a slow demise or a freakish in-game mishap. Sometimes they become way too apparent, too soon and are just too painful. This loss was pretty evident by halftime. Ok, maybe even before that if I was being honest with myself but, hey, we all have to have faith.
Let’s take a look at my reasoning for the play. Coming into the matchup, the Golden Gophers had the #1 ranked offense and the #2 ranked defense. Yes, their first three games were basically against the sisters of the poor but they had come off of a decisive road win over Michigan State. A 183-24 scoring differential in four games tends to make you feel good. Heck, the Gophers hadn’t trailed yet all year. The Boilermakers, meanwhile, came into the game with question marks at quarterback after sixth-year senior Aiden O’Connell missed the previous week’s game with Florida Atlantic with an undisclosed injury. Darn you college football with your ability to not disclose injuries! After sneaking past Florida International..yes Florida International for the love of God..28-26, the Boilermakers didn’t appear to be a team that could compete with the Golden Gophers on the road. Granted, when O’Connell was announced as a go at game-time, I was a bit less confident, but only slightly less.
Moments before the game, the announcers let it be known that Minnesota’s starting running back Mohamed Ibrahim would be sitting this one out with a minor ankle injury. Ok, feeling even a little less confident than before. Three straight 3-and-outs and a turnover and things were, well they weren’t good ok?! My teeth gritted, I had to endure the ESPN announce team’s incessant use of the term ‘Spoilermakers’ and suddenly Purdue’s annoying habit of upsetting Top-25 teams in recent years seemed plausible. Wait, not here, not on Homecoming Weekend!
With the score 10-3, the Golden Gophers are driving down the field for what appeared to be a game-tying score before halftime, human error reared its ugly head. A wide open Minnesota receiver took a pass off the, well off his hands in the middle of his chest, and turned it into a tipped ball interception for Purdue. A 10-10 halftime might have turned the tide. Instead, trailing by 7, the Golden Gophers never quite recovered despite holding Purdue scoreless in the 3rd quarter and tying the score at ten. I just knew, it wasn’t their day. No running game, poor luck, it wasn’t going well. Two late drives by the, grrr, Spoilermakers and the once dominant Golden Gophers were heading out of the top-25 and back to the pack of also-rans. Today’s lesson: Sometimes when a bet seems too good to be true, it really is.
Final Score: Purdue 20 Minnesota 10
Case #2: LA Chargers @ Houston Texans Point Spread: LA Chargers
I haven’t done a deep dive into the NFL yet but the same issues occur in the pro game that does in the college game. I will acknowledge, however, that the college game tends to be more volatile than the NFL in terms of point swings. This is due, in my opinion, to better players, higher execution and slightly better coaching. While it isn’t crazy to see a crazy 21-point swing in college from one quarter to the next, it is far less likely in the NFL. Possessions are more precious and teams can shrink a game down to fewer and fewer possessions with the ability to execute and utilize the clock. There are always exceptions to that rule, however.
The banged-up LA Chargers limped into Houston to take on a Texan team that appeared to have overperformed in the first few weeks. At 1-2, it appeared to be a do-or-die game for the Chargers if they still fostered any hope of winning the highly competitive AFC West. Out of the gates, I was feeling really good about this one. A 27-7 halftime lead for the Chargers didn’t do a thing to dissuade my good feelings.
The NFL Red Zone may be the greatest invention ever put together, Scott Hansen notwithstanding, and no news was good news as various red zone trips were shown. A must-win, a huge halftime lead and a relatively poor Texans team didn’t give me any reason to check my phone for updates. Then, that darned Scott Hansen cut to a Texans drive, 27-14 Chargers. Ok, all is well. A brief letdown by a very good team that will know how to close this game. Relative quiet and I had my eyes on some other plays and thinking about 4:00 games. Nothing to see here.
Oh no, why is Scott Hansen switching to Houston again? Is it me or does he seem unusually smug when showing the Texans cut the lead to 27-20 with a touchdown pass?! No need to fully panic. It is the fourth quarter and…wait, turnover?! Damn you Scott Hansen!! Now they cut to the drive deep in Charger territory. I agonize over every play until, bless his heart, Khalil Mack with a huge sack. I check the field position, are they out of range?? Sadly, well within range, the Texans connect and I’m suddenly down, 27-23 -5.5 points. Six minutes left and the Chargers will probably try to drive it down and, if I’m lucky, kick a field goal. NFL Red Zone escapes to other games. I refuse to check the score, it’s too painful. This can’t end in my favor. Wait, there’s Scott Hansen again. Briefly, I cursed him until, wait…there goes Austin Ekeler for his third touchdown of the day! A ten-point cushion with two minutes left! Normalcy reins supreme down the stretch as the Texans can’t get down the field and what was I worrying about? I had it all the way!
Final Score: LA Chargers 34 Houston 24
So what exactly did we learn this week? Check the injury report right up until the last moment you place your bets. Check the history of the two teams and lastly, even the NFL professionals have lapses and nothing is sure except that we are all unsure. Also, be sure to check out my premium bets and packages here for all the inside knowledge in baseball, NFL and college football.
*College and NFL football lines courtesy of draftkings.com