Avoiding the Red Zone: Week 3 NFL Wagers

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has the Dolphins off to a surprising 2-0 start this season. Our NFL handicapper likes them again in Week 3.

No full write-up this week as our NFL handicapper, Dan Urda, is out of town this weekend. However, below are his 4 plays, as discussed on the podcast earlier in the week.

Week 3 Picks:

DET/WAS Over 48.5 – Facing one of the top cornerbacks in the league last week in Patrick Peterson, Calvin Johnson put up 6 for 116 and 2 touchdowns.  Now he and the rest of the Detroit offense face a Washington defense that’s allowed an average of 35.5 points through the first two weeks of the season. Scott Hanson might have to devote an NFL Red Zone split screen solely to this game.

MIA -1 vs. ATL – The Falcons have injuries piling up on offense with Sam Baker and Stevan Jackson out, and Roddy White still limping through his routes.  Cameron Wake will be able to pin his ears back and go after Matt Ryan all afternoon long. Plus, Ryan Tannehill has a really hot wife, in case you forgot. Not saying it will help him cover the spread, but it can’t hurt.

CHI -2.5 @ PIT – Again, Pittsburgh sucks.

3-team teaser: SEA -9.5, SF Pick, DEN -5.5 – This 3-team teaser has more chalk than Obama’s March Madness bracket.  However, there’s no way San Fran loses at home after stewing about that Seattle loss all week, Jacksonville might not cross midfield against the Seattle defense with a possible Chad Henne-Jordan Todman backfield, and it’s Peyton Manning vs. Terrelle Pryor in Monday Night Football. Sometimes all the 1-seeds do advance.

NFL Record Year-to-Date: 5-2

Week 3 #PhillyFastBreak Survivor Picks (11 entries left competing for the $48 top prize):

Survivor_Week 3

Sixers Feeling Blue

Former Golden Eagle Vander Blue will look to work his way into the mix at Sixers training camp. Not pictured.

Blue Man Group, Eiffel 65 and Tobias Funke move over, there’s another blue man to discuss.  In what is shaping up to be a training camp free-for-all, the 76ers added another body to the fray Thursday, signing 6’4″ former Marquette guard Vander Blue to a partially guaranteed contract.  Just 21 years old, Blue went undrafted in this past NBA draft following a junior season with the Golden Eagles that saw him average 14.8 ppg on 45.4% shooting.  An incredible athlete, Blue appeared to work hard on his admittedly poor shooting game, improving his numbers across each year of college to finish at 30.3% from three and 75.6% from the foul line in his final season.  He was an integral part of Marquette’s tournament run to the Elite Eight, featuring a 29-point effort against Butler.

Blue was on the Houston Rockets roster in the Orlando summer league but really shone with the Memphis Grizzlies in Vegas.  Blue showed off strong offensive game, highlighted by a 24-point effort where he sank five triples during the game.  If early results at the professional level are truly indicative of continued progress in his perimeter game, Blue has a real shot at earning a place in the Sixers rotation for the upcoming campaign.

Signing of Vander Blue – At this point, I feel like the Sixers offseason signings could be evaluated with a base template: ‘_________ is a young player who had success at the collegiate level but has yet to establish himself in the pros.  If he could improve upon the ________ aspect of his game, he could be a key contributor for the team both this season and in years to come.’ Another low-risk, high-reward move. Classic Hinkie.

5/5 tanks:

5 of 5 tanks

2-on-1 Fast Break Podcast: 09/18/2013

Trent Richardson likely won’t shed a tear about leaving the Browns organization.

NFL handicapper Dan Urda re-joins the podcast to discuss the following:

Part 1

– Trent Richardson being traded to the Colts

– His 3-1 Week 2 record and wagers for Week 3

2on1 Fast Break Podcast_Week 3 Wagers_Part 1

Part 2

– The recent ruling for sports betting in New Jersey

– Outlet Pass segment: answering a reader question about the potential 2nd overall pick in the NBA draft

2on1 Fast Break Podcast_Week 3 Wagers_Part 2

Full podcast also available on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQVQTMxh8Mg

Week 2 Wagers: 2013 NFL Handicapping

By Dan Urda

Our NFL handicapper likes EJ Manuel and the Bills getting three points against Carolina.

Week 1 was a success.  While 2-1 doesn’t look sexy on paper (Editor’s Note: It doesn’t have the curves of a 3 or an 8), it is a very successful day in the betting world.  So successful, in fact, that it isn’t even sustainable.  My goal for the season is 58%, so I’m more than thrilled with Week 1’s results.

To start off, I will eat some crow.  I don’t know if the Browns are worse than I thought they’d be (Editor’s Note: This.), or the Dolphins are better.  It’s probably a combination of both, but I read that game completely wrong.  Three first half interceptions from Brandon Weeden didn’t help my cause, but Miami’s defense looked very dangerous, and they may have just enough on the offensive side of the ball to win a lot more games than I thought.  Only time will tell.

As poor of a selection as that was, I hit the Kansas City/Jacksonville game on the head.  It wasn’t even a game, it was a bloodbath.  I had penciled the Raiders in as the worst team in football but I may have been wrong.  In fact, while everyone else is psyched for the Manning Bowl this weekend, I’m actually pretty intrigued by the Bridgewater Bowl.  Jacksonville at Oakland: does either team want to win?  The loser of this game may likely end up with the number 1 pick in next year’s draft and come away with a franchise quarterback.  I would love to see both teams blatantly tank, and just trade interceptions the entire game.  How entertaining would that be? Note:  while I won’t touch this game betting-wise, I do think the Raiders defense is a sneaky fantasy play for those of you who use a different defense every week.

The moneyline parlay hit, despite the Patriots and Colts taking a few years off of my life by almost losing to inferior opponents.  But a win is a win, and I’ll take it any day of the week (or any Sunday, Monday, or Thursday to be more specific).

On to week 2, where we have four plays, eliminating the potential for another 2-1 week; but heck, let’s go 3-1 this time!

Week 2 Picks

Buffalo Bills +3 vs. Carolina

This play is a combination of my being impressed by the Bills (E.J. Manuel in particular), and unimpressed by Carolina.  I understand that the Panthers played a tough Seattle defense, but it’s not like they were in Seattle.  On the road, the Seahawks defense isn’t as ferocious.  Overall, I just don’t like this Panthers team.  They never play up to the level their talent suggests they should be on.  They have an incumbent coach and the players don’t play with a lot of energy.  I think the Bills will have a ton of energy with the home crowd.  There is a lot of excitement over the fact that the Bills might have their first real quarterback since Drew Bledsoe, and in this spot, I think they win this game straight up.  But to be safe, gimme the points!

Detroit Lions -1.5 @ Arizona

I’m kind of in on the Lions this year.  The team has looked great, from their walloping of New England in the third preseason game (the only one that means a thing) to their opening weekend debut in which they destroyed Minnesota.  Minnesota isn’t great, but they were a playoff team last year, and the game wasn’t even as close as the score says. I don’t hate the Cardinals and I know that it is hard to go into any West Coast team’s stadium and win, but I think this line would be appropriate if it were last season’s Lions team going into Zona.  This team is much better.  Ill roll with the squares on this one, and hopefully I won’t regret it.

Redskins/Packers over 49.5

No long write-up here.  I like both offenses and am iffy on both defenses.  That’s really all I got.  But when I trust both quarterbacks in a game, I will take the over, especially as long as the NFL continues to be a quarterback’s league. (Both teams were well over this total in Week 1, I’m on board.)

Moneyline Parlay: Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals +120

This play contains three playoff-caliber teams all making their home debuts, with two of them coming off opening-week losses.  None of the opponents scare me, particularly on the road (due to Atlanta’s injuries, I’d hesitate to bet against the Rams if this game were in St. Louis, but at home the Falcons should find a way to win).

That’s it for this week.  Enjoy the games, and remember never to bet too much that losing would result in your inability to do so (Editor’s Note: We’re all about responsible wagering here at Philly Fast Break).

NFL Record Year-to-Date: 2-1

Survivor Entries:

Below are the remaining entries for #PhillyFastBreakSurvivor and everyone’s picks for Week 2.


Week 2 Picks

Two New Sixers Join The Fold

Sam Hinkie continues to shop in the bargain bin this offseason.

1. Young

2. Affordable

3. Some Degree of Upside

Those are the criteria new Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie has utilized when searching for players to fill out the roster this offseason. Refreshingly, the team has no desire to overpay any veterans to come in and help scrape together a few extra wins. Instead, the Sixers are bringing in as many young, raw talents as they can find, in the hopes that the legion of player development coaches they’ve hired can turn ‘garbage into gold’ in at least one or two cases. The latest two lottery tickets Philadelphia will scratch off this season are former Los Angeles Laker Darius Morris, and ex-Temple Owl Khalif Wyatt.

Starting with Morris, the soon-to-be 3rd-year player is still just 22 years old, after being drafted by the Lakers in 2011 with the 41st overall pick, following his sophomore season at Michigan. The 6’4″ point guard exploded during his second campaign with the Wolverines as a versatile stat-stuffer, averaging 15.0 ppg on 48.9% shooting, 6.7 apg, and 4.0 rpg. Morris actually set the single-season assist record for the school, until being recently surpassed by Trey Burke. Interesting fact: in Michigan’s first round NCAA tournament win over Tennessee, they were the first team to ever win a tournament game without making a free throw (Sam Hinkie and his analytics would not approve).

With the Lakers, Morris never saw much regular playing time, until the playoffs last season when the Los Angeles roster began resembling the cast of the Walking Dead. Starting amidst a host of Laker injuries, Morris dropped a career-high 26 points and 6 assists against San Antonio. However, he was torched defensively by Tony Parker and company in a blowout loss (but really, who aside from Lebron wasn’t abused by Parker last postseason). Across two regular seasons with Los Angeles, Morris shot the ball well from behind the arc in limited opportunities at 37.3% (28-75). That being said, he only shot 22.3% on three pointers across two seasons of college, so his long-range game is likely still very much a work in progress.

In Khalif Wyatt, the Sixers have made official a signing that has long been suspected since the former Owl’s strong performance in the Orlando Summer League. Across five games, Wyatt averaged 13.8 ppg in just 19.2 minutes of action, and shot 42.9% from behind the arc. After shooting a high volume of threes at a clip of 35.8% across four years of college, it’s conceivable that with some additional coaching at the professional level, Wyatt will be the team’s best outside shooter this season. Unfortunately, he’ll also rival Evan Turner for the team-lead in sourpuss faces to the referees when calls don’t go his way. Nevertheless, with the Philadelphia roster extremely thin on the wings, Wyatt will be given every opportunity to carve out a spot in the rotation. Let’s hope the commitment he showed to getting in shape and honing his craft prior to summer league carries over now that he’s ‘made it’.

Signings of Darius Morris and Khalif Wyatt – As with Wroten, Hinkie is bringing on players who excelled at the college level and is hoping to develop them into cheap, usable rotation pieces for the time when he hits big on one or two of the team’s high lottery picks. Barely any cap space is being devoted to these types of players and they certainly aren’t game-changers in the sense that they’ll prevent the team from bottoming out in the win column. One of the most exciting parts of what should be an admittedly tough-to-watch forthcoming Sixers season, will be finding out whom among this cast of characters will step up and seize this opportunity to carve out a permanent NBA career for himself. Sixers basketball: Where former college stars get one last chance to shine!

5/5 tanks:

5 of 5 tanks

2-on-1 Fast Break Podcast: 09/12/2013

NFL handicapper Dan Urda re-joins the podcast to discuss his 2-1 performance in Week 1, his wagers for Week 2, Eagles-Redskins, and more.

Microphone Clip Art

2on1 Fast Break Podcast_Week 2 Wagers

Also available on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGlhf7MWvyQ

Apologies for the poor sound quality; it seems the microphone picked up heavy rain from outside.

2-on-1 Fast Break Podcast: 09/06/2013

New to the site, NFL handicapper Dan Urda joins the podcast to discuss the opening game between Denver and Baltimore, his futures bets, Week 1 picks, and a bonus college ML parley for Saturday.

Microphone Clip Art

2on1 Fast Break Podcast_Week 1 Wagers

Also available on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzIWgBuUHTw

Let us know what you would like to see included for future podcasts and also submit your ideas to name the weekly NFL picks column.

Week 1 Wagers: 2013 NFL Handicapping

By Dan Urda

Experienced NFL handicapper Dan Urda will be bringing you his weekly plays throughout the 2013 NFL season.

Perhaps no feeling in the world compares to the weeks (and now days) leading up to NFL football season.  For millions of Americans, this time of year means lazy Sundays filled with great company, beer, and disgusting high-calorie food.  For me, it is also a chance to make some money.  Look, I know a ton of Americans bet on sports, but most people who do so are just casual bettors who want to make the games more interesting.  All of that is well and good, and some average Joes will have weeks when they win big, and that’s great for them.  But there is a big difference between those guys, and people who take the craft of handicapping seriously, focusing on the money-making side of betting as opposed to just having action.

Even people who have watched every game for the past 20 years and consider themselves experts on the sport often make common mistakes when it comes to betting.  Maybe they don’t shop around for the best line.  Maybe they waited too long to place their wager, and the -2.5 line is now -3.5.  Or maybe they think they know the sport so well that they bet on 10 games on one Sunday.  Casual bettors generally won’t pay any mind to things like that, and in the long run, they lose money they could have won.

I am not an expert by any means, and I am not the best handicapper you’ll ever read (Editor’s note: False, he’s definitely the best. Keep coming back to the site).  I have had winning years and I have had losing years, as the NFL is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, sport to profit off of in the long run.  But what I do promise you is that every play I give you is one I play myself, and one that is well-researched.

Week 1 in the NFL season is unlike all the rest in that the lines are released over a month before the games are played.  That has its benefits (I got KC -3 a few weeks ago and now it’s up to -3.5), and its disadvantages (anybody who took the Bills at +7 a month ago now has a very unfortunate line).  However, for the sake of this column’s integrity, I will only post plays with the lines that are widely available now.

So kick back, relax, or just print this column and take it with you to the bathroom.  Here are my plays for Week 1 of this coming NFL season, along with a few season-long futures I’ll be throwing some money on as well.

Futures and Props:

Cincinnati Bengals will make the playoffs – $140 to win 100

The only reason the line is this low is because there is name value in the Ravens and the Steelers.  But talent-wise, those teams are in for down years.  Cincy has a tremendous defense, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, and very few, if any, glaring weaknesses.  Andy Dalton’s mediocrity is the only thing that could hurt them, but he’ll be used like Matt Schaub in that he doesn’t have to win games, he just has to not lose them.  I see them at least getting a Wild Card, with a division title very possible.

Oakland Raiders under 5.5 wins – $200 to win $100

Laying 2:1 on a prop like this is completely insane, but I have them at 3-13.  Basically I am wagering that this team does not beat Jacksonville, Tennessee, Kansas City at home (no chance on the road), San Diego at home (ditto), the Jets in New York, AND find another win in the schedule.  They have no shot at Indy, at Denver, vs Washington, Pittsburgh, Philly (although this scares me), Giants, Houston, Dallas…all respectable teams.  The Raiders do get Denver in week 17 when the Broncos could be resting players, but they also won’t want to jeopardize their top two pick.  No way in hell this is a 6-10 team.  Lay the juice. (Editor’s note: Love this play. Some reports have the Raiders going into Sixers-esque tank mode for Jadeveon Clowney.)

Week 1 Picks

Chiefs -3.5 at Jacksonville

I got it at -3 but I’ll still take it at this line.  The Jags are terrible.  This is a full-on fade of a bad team, along with the fact that I trust the Chiefs to be so happy having a new coach that they play hard for Andy Reid (I just vomited in my mouth a little.)  Yes, the Chiefs were 2-14 last year, but the team was crippled with injuries and had a terrible quarterback.  Alex Smith is at least decent, and while he may never be an MVP-type guy, he will help the Chiefs win the games they should win.  This one falls under that category.

Chiefs 24, Jaguars 13

Cleveland Browns pk vs Miami

The Browns are not going to be awful this year, and I think they start things off with a home win.  This is another situation where the terrible coach is gone and the team just has a certain feel to it that is more exciting than in years past.  Miami was not as good as their record last season, and don’t really have anybody on offense who scares you.  Browns win this game and finish 8-8.

Browns 28, Dolphins 17

3 team, 10 point teaser:  Cards +14.5/Colts +1/Patriots pk

The Pats line has skyrocketed since the Bills announced that their likely QB will be an undrafted rookie who was 4-14 in college.  (Editor’s note: I can’t decide whether I’m proud or disappointed that he avoided the overused Tuel Time joke).  Most books have them at -10 now.  So I’ll do the easy thing and lower that to pk.  The Cardinals have a solid defense, and are by no means more than two TDs worse than the Rams, even in St. Louis.  The Colts have the Raiders at home.  Yeah, I’m pretty confident in these.

That’ll be all for Week 1.  I don’t force plays just for action, and there will be weeks when I may not have any at all.  But for now, let’s go with these three, even if I lost some value by waiting this long to give them out.  Here’s to a good week to begin a great season.

In addition to his work as a handicapper, Dan Urda also writes the occasional movie review for afterthecut.com. You can follow him on twitter @DanUrda.

How Low Can They Go

Believe it or not, Spencer Hawes will be among the team’s best 3-point shooters this season.

1, 2…4, 5, Sixers. Philadelphia fans shouldn’t expect to see too many threes with the roster the team has assembled for Operation: First Overall Pick. Three-point shooting has never been a strength for the Sixers in recent years, often leading to one-dimensional players such as Jodie Meeks getting more minutes than warranted because of their ability to help the team in that area. Last season, the Sixers actually finished in the middle of the pack, tied for 13th in the league at 36.0%. However, the team’s top three shooters in Royal Ivey (42.0%), Dorell Wright (37.4%), and Jrue Holiday (36.8%) are all gone this season, after Sam Hinkie and company jettisoned the majority of players who would hinder Philadelphia from losing games this season.

The question we’ll examine is whether Philadelphia will be the worst three-point shooting team in the league, or even among the worst group historically. The worst team in league history (min. 200 attempts) was the 1990-91 Washington Bullets at 19.4% (guess they only carried short-range ammo). The last three seasons have seen Minnesota, Charlotte, and Toronto last in the league at 30.5%, 29.5%, and 31.6%, respectively. Let’s go through a simple projection analysis to see where the Sixers may end up among such prestigious company.

The team as a whole made 518 of their 1,438 3-point shot attempts last season, sitting in the bottom third in the league in attempts.  Given that Sam Hinkie values threes and shots at the rim more highly than the previous Sixers regime, it’s safe to say the team’s attempts will rise, but as a simple exercise, we’ll keep the attempts the same.  Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes are the only returning players who took a significant amount of threes last season (excluding Jason Richardson who is expected to be out for the year), combining for 87 of 246 (35.4%).  Any remaining attempts will be sucked up by James Anderson, Michael Carter-Williams, Tony Wroten, and whoever else they fill out the roster with such as Khalif Wyatt.  That group doesn’t exactly resemble a murderer’s row of dead-eye marksmen. 

Anderson has been a career 33.3% shooter in the NBA and Wroten shot 30.8% across the NBA and D-league in his rookie season.  Carter-Williams and Wyatt shot 29.2% and 35.8%, respectively, at the college level.  We’ll assume any improvements from shooting coaches at the professional level can offset the farther distance of the three-point line to keep their percentages consistent.  Plugging those percentages in evenly across the remaining 1,192 attempts not taken by Turner and Hawes, the Sixers project to shoot 32.8% as a team during the upcoming season. 

While these analytical methods are purely back-of-the-envelope, it’s safe to say that the team will be among the bottom teams in the league from behind the arc, even if not dead-last in the league. Certainly, at around 33%, the team will not be bad enough to reach historically poor levels of outside shooting efficiency. Still, with outside shooting projected to be among the worst in the NBA, combined with the absence of a post presence that has plagued the team for years, the Sixers are well-positioned to struggle offensively, essential in their quest to lose more games than any other franchise.

Philly Fast Break 2013 NFL Survivor Contest

Prove Jeff Probst and Destiny’s Child aren’t the only survivors out there.

In honor of our expanded coverage into NFL handicapping for the 2013-14 season, we’re offering a free NFL survivor contest for fans of Philly Fast Break.  For those unfamiliar with the survivor format, you select one NFL team each week to win their game straight-up (i.e. regardless of spread).  If your team wins, you advance to the next week; if they lose, you are out.  The catch is you can only use a particular team once throughout the season.  Last participant standing wins!

Prize money for the winner will be a 1:1 ratio based on the number of twitter followers for our @PhillyFastBreak account (max $100).  So be sure to follow us and #FF the account to your friends.

Picks each week can either be messaged via twitter to @PhillyFastBreak or e-mailed to admin@phillyfastbreak.com (if you want to be more secretive about your selection).  All picks must be in before the first game of the week (including weeks where a Thursday/Saturday game takes place).  We will be tweeting our weekly selection at the first snap of each week, and as always, you have to beat Philly Fast Break along with everyone else to take home to pot!  So take some time to think about those selections.

Best of luck to everyone!