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2 games down, 1 to go for World Cup teams

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

No shocking World Cup eliminations yet…but some powers are in precarious positions as group finales begin Monday. The latest from soccer, baseball, Canadian football, and the WNBA as another wild week starts in VSiN City.

World Cup: A quick weekend recap 
Getting caught up after a busy weekend. Quick recaps of games played Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…in kickoff order…

*Brazil beat Costa Rica 2-0. Want to spend a little time on this Friday encounter because Brazil was being blasted at the time for playing a scoreless tie until injury time. You probably remember Brazil scored two very late goals to get the win. The stats show this was one of the biggest slaughters of the whole tournament. Brazil won total shots 23-4, shots on goal 9-0, and corner kicks 10-1. Took awhile for any of those shots to find net. But any sort of “what’s wrong with Brazil?” or “Brazil is a fraud” zingers should hold off until they really play a bad game. Market still has them power-rated clear of the field. 

*Nigeria beat Iceland 2-0. Solid showing for the African side, with advantages across the board in game stats (though not dominant), and a 1.5 to 0.5 win in “expected goals” from Michael Caley (@Caley_graphics on twitter). Market had it a near coin flip, but Nigeria was more impressive than that expectation. Huge game with Argentina next. 

*Switzerland beat Serbia 2-1. Swiss scored a relatively late goal to win it, but were fairly dominant in controlling flow of play. Another near coin-flip in the market where the winner established superiority. Swiss won shots on goal plus corner kicks 12-6, and expected goals 2.2 to 0.8. Swiss could steal Brazil’s group with a rout of Costa Rica. But, that would put them in the much tougher half of the knockout bracket. This result ended a string of Unders, and started a string of Overs. 

*Belgium beat Tunisia 5-2. Felt more like a scrimmage than a game. Belgium isn’t as good as it looked here, because this was just a big party. Futures prices are shrinking though. 

*Mexico beat South Korea 2-1. Mexico has made “bend, but don’t break” work so far. That’s a dicey approach when combined with expectations at this level, particularly if you’re prone to occasional defensive lapses. South Korea won shots on goal plus corner kicks 13-10, after Germany crushed Mexico 17-5 in that stat in last week’s shocker. Mexico wins the group by beating or tying Sweden, but could miss the knockouts entirely by losing to Sweden by two goals or more if that’s coupled with Germany beating South Korea (which is extremely likely). 

*Germany beat Sweden 2-1. Heartbreaker for the Swedish side. Can it regroup in time for Mexico? Big question for the side-by-side group finales in a few days. Expected goals was a virtual toss-up at 1.5 to 1.4 for Germany. Big compliment to the underdogs. 

*England beat Panama 6-1. Another scrimmage. England forced a goal differential tie with Belgium thanks to this monster margin. Will set up a bizarre group finale that could come down to whoever commits the fewest penalties advancing via “fair play,” in a pairing where it’s likely going to be much better to lose than to win! We put that part of the story on your radar the other day. More media entities are picking up on it. In combo…purposely fouling the opponent could help a team advance to the easier half of the knockouts. Though, seems like it would be easiest just to kick the ball into your own net very late in a tie game.  

*Senegal tied Japan 2-2. Exciting clash where two relatively even teams (Senegal a short favorite) were both playing with peak intensity because getting to the knockouts was within reach. If you didn’t watch, Senegal got the best of play, winning shots on goal plus corner kicks 12-5. Both teams carry four points into the group finales. 

*Colombia beat Poland 3-0. Disappointing week for the Poles. James Rodriguez of Colombia is nowhere near full strength. But his presence helped the South American side control the day. Finale matching Colombia and Senegal will likely be for one spot (Colombia must win). If Poland no-shows its finale, that would put Japan through. We’ll talk more about those kinds of dynamics on game days through the week. 

Now that all “second games” are in the books, let’s run a summary of shots on goal plus corner kicks for all 16 showdowns. That’s a hybrid indicator stat we introduced to you earlier in the tournament. They’re ranked in order of differential. 

Shots on Goal Plus Corner Kicks (from ESPN box scores)
Brazil 19, Costa Rica 1
Belgium 17, Tunisia 7
Senegal 12, Japan 5
Spain 9, Iran 2
Switzerland 12, Serbia 6
England 10, Panama 4
Russia 10, Egypt 5
German 13, Sweden 9
Morocco 11, Portugal 7 (!!!)
France 9, Peru 5
South Korea 13, Mexico 10 (!)
Nigeria 10, Iceland 8
Australia 10, Denmark 8 (!)
Argentina 8, Croatia 7
Colombia 9, Poland 9
Uruguay 7, Saudi Arabia 7 (!!!)

A lot of surprises in there…and some less-than-awesome stats for market contenders and highly regarded spoilers. Among the teams not making it to 10 in this hybrid stat combo were Spain, Portugal, France, Mexico, Denmark, Argentina, Colombia, and Uruguay. Definitely concerns that play could get very conservative once the knockouts are here.

World Cup Monday: Simultaneous finales in Group A, then Group B 
Group finales run side-by-side chronologically to help prevent unfair information advantages. Monday, Group A finales begin at 10 a.m. ET (7 a.m. in Las Vegas)…Group B finales begin at 2 p.m. ET (11 a.m. in Las Vegas). Three-way lines are from the Westgate as of early Sunday evening by way of the odds page at vsin.com. Money lines are taken from offshore, usually Pinnacle (which has very short juice when global liquidity is this high). Goal lines are from offshore, and are used to help pin down expectations in power rating terms (goal fractions). 

Group A: Uruguay -0.1 goals over Russia
Three-way: Uruguay plus 155, Russia plus 200, draw plus 205
Money line: Uruguay -120, Russia plus 113
Goal line: Uruguay -0.25 goals (Russia -133, Uruguay plus 123)

Group A: Egypt -0.5 goals over Saudi Arabia
Three-way: Egypt -120, Saudi Arabia plus 350, draw plus 250
Money line: Egypt -278, Saudi Arabia plus 237
Goal line: Egypt -1 goal (SA -200, Egypt plus 170)

Group B: Spain -1.3 goals over Morocco
Three-way: Spain -325, Morocco plus 1025, draw plus 400
Money line: Spain -1200, Morocco plus 600
Goal line: Spain -1.25 goals (Spain -118, Morocco plus 109)

Group B: Portugal -0.7 goals over Iran
Three-way: Portugal -150, Iran plus 475, draw plus 260
Money line: Portugal -450, Iran plus 300
Goal line: Portugal -1 (Iran -147, Portugal plus 134)

Turning those into estimated “market” Power Ratings…
Group A: Uruguay 1.9, Russia 1.8, Egypt 0.8, Saudi Arabia 0.3
Group B: Spain 2.5, Portugal 1.9, Morocco 1.2. Iran 1.2

Odds tightened in Egypt/Saudi Arabia from earlier market ratings because that’s a lame-duck game with nothing at stake. Maybe Uruguay, Russia, and Portugal should all be a tick higher. We’ll have to see what happens in knockout numbers. Still clear that those three will be priced at least a few tenths to a half-a-goal behind the heaviest favorites. 

Don’t forget to watch “Russia 2018: The Tournament Show” on VSiN every afternoon this week for the latest from this huge global sports betting event.

MLB: Here Comes Cleveland! Indians go 6-0 to star for “The Magnificent 7”
A week ago at this time, it seemed impossible that the “disappointing” Cleveland Indians could surge past the Chicago Cubs in both straight up and market terms within seven days. Sure, a manageable scheduled was at hand for the Tribe. But the Cubs would finish their week with four games against the lowly Cincinnati Reds!

The Reds aren’t so lowly lately. And, Cleveland now has a better record than the Cubs thanks to a 6-0 weekly mark for the super-surger, compared to a 2-5 straight up, minus 6.5 units week for the suddenly hibernating bears.

Current records entering the new week…
Boston 52-27…plus 10.5 units after a 3-3 week
NY Yankees 50-25…plus 9 units after a 4-4 week
Houston 52-27…plus 6 units after a 4-2 week
Cleveland 43-33…minus 5.5 units after a 6-0 week
Chicago Cubs 42-33…minus 6.5 after a 2-5 week
Washington 41-35…minus 8.5 units after a 4-4 week
LA Dodgers 41-35…minus 16.5 units after a 4-2 week

A few powers lost a step this week. Houston, Boston, and the Yankees all lost between 2-3 units in the American League. Washington had a disappointing weekend at home against Philadelphia, which dropped the Nats into third place in the NL East. Only Cleveland and the LA Dodgers were in the black for investors. 

A couple of head-to-head meetings his week. Cubs and Dodgers have a return engagement at Chavez Ravine after playing in Chicago last week. Then, the renewal of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry that could drive both teams past 100 victories in 2018 as they battle to avoid falling into a Wildcard spot. 

Magnificent 7 Head-to-Head This Week
Chicago Cubs (42-33) at the LA Dodgers (41-35) (Monday-Wednesday)
Boston (52-27) at the NY Yankees (50-25) (Friday-Sunday)

The M7 are still positioned in such a way that any regular season meeting is a potential playoff preview. Will be interesting to see how the Cubs respond to that lost weekend in Cincinnati. 

Teams with Winning Records Squaring Off
Early Week

NY Yankees (50-25) at Philadelphia (41-34) (Monday-Wednesday)
Cleveland (43-33) at St. Louis (40-36) (Monday- Wednesday)
LA Angels (41-37) at Boston (52-27) (Tuesday-Thursday)

Philadelphia is in the middle of a real gut-buster. Sandwiched between weekend attractions with the Washington Nationals is a three-game home series with the Yankees that will have the stadium packed (including many NYY fans making the relatively short trip). Good tests this week for Cleveland too. Are the Indians ready to steamroll quality opposition? 

Weekend (all start Friday) 
Washington (41-35) at Philadelphia (41-34) 
Atlanta (44-32) at St. Louis (40-36) 
San Francisco (40-39) at Arizona (44-33) 
Cleveland (43-33) at Oakland (40-38)

Atlanta continues to hang tough in the NL East. Braves are happy to see the Nats and Phils beating each other up. San Francisco has stayed off the mainstream media radar so far. The NL West is tight enough that a hot run could push the Giants into serious playoff discussions. Great time and place to make a statement against the Diamondbacks. 

A bunch of Overs Sunday, so we’ll put our “get away Under” discussion on the shelf for a while during these warmer months. Did want to mention a couple of trends that the VSiN family was discussing on the air or on twitter this weekend. 

*Sam Panayotovich noted before Friday’s doubleheader featuring Oakland and the Chicago White Sox that losers of G1 in twinbills this season have bounced back to win the nightcap 12 of 15 times. Make that record 13-3 with the Chisox forcing a split that evening. 

*Greg Peterson alerted twitter followers to a lengthy Colorado Rockies tendency for playing Overs recently. After Sunday’s continuation of the theme, Rockies’ games are now 19-4-2 to the Over the last 25 outings. 

Canadian Football League: Blowout bonanza in Week 2
Blowout after blowout this past week in the CFL. Straight up victories were by 23, 46, 17, and 34 points. Point spreads were relatively close to the vest, which means the market missed the actual margins by 20, 43, 23.5, and 30 points. 

Last Friday we ran the numbers from Ottawa’s 40-17 blowout of Saskatchewan. Now, the other three. 

Winnipeg (-3) 56, Montreal 10
Total Yardage: Winnipeg 588, Montreal 195
Yards-per-Play: Winnipeg 8.3, Montreal 5.4
Rushing Yards: Winnipeg 245, Montreal 66
Passing Stats: Winnipeg 26-33-0-343, Montreal 19-30-1-129
Turnovers: Winnipeg 1, Montreal 3

An unlucky 13 straight losses and non-covers for the horrible Alouettes over two seasons. Looks like last week’s relatively close 12-point loss at British Columbia was a red herring. Or, maybe BC is worse than realized this season. Critics have been harsh on this Montreal franchise, from management down to the players. You saw why here. Winnipeg was starting a rookie QB. Alouettes will only have a chance when opponents blow them off.  

Hamilton (plus 6.5) 38, Edmonton 21
Total Yardage: Hamilton 528, Edmonton 348
Yards-per-Play: Hamilton 9.8, Edmonton 7.9
Rushing Yards: Hamilton 196, Edmonton 62
Passing Stats: Hamilton 19-29-1-332, Edmonton 20-30-1-286
Turnovers: Hamilton 1, Edmonton 2

This is a result to pay attention to, because it wasn’t a power blowing out a patsy. It was a potentially up-and-coming underdog winning handily on the road over an opponent many think has a great chance to win the Grey Cup this season. Run your finger down those numbers on the left side to get a full sense of how impressive Hamilton was. Doing that at EDMONTON is a big deal. Looks like Johnny Manziel is going to have trouble cracking this lineup. Jeremiah Masoli had big numbers with only one pick. 

Don’t forget that Hamilton hung tough on the road at Calgary last week until a late TD run cost it the cover. You can’t start any tougher in the CFL than “at Calgary” and “at Edmonton” right now. 

Yards-per-Play
Hamilton 8.3, Calgary 7.7
Hamilton 9.8, Edmonton 7.9

A developing story for now. Let’s see if the Tiger-Cats can keep it going. 

Calgary (-4) 41, Toronto 7
Total Yardage: Calgary 564, Toronto 216
Yards-per-Play: Calgary 11.1, Toronto 4.8
Rushing Yards: Calgary 205, Toronto 76
Passing Stats: Calgary 24-26-0-359, Toronto 20-30-0-139
Turnovers: Calgary 1, Toronto 1

Calgary’s a power, so it’s not a shocker that they won big. But, Toronto wasn’t supposed to be so hapless. That’s now 0-2 straight up and ATS for the Argos, with double-digit market misses in both games. We should note that Ricky Ray did have to leave the game in the first half for Toronto. That explains the woeful offensive numbers. No excuse for such a big defensive no-show. 

We’re not going to run the futures prices this week. Those were a bit sketchy offshore with the QB injuries. Both Saskatchewan and Toronto saw their QB’s get hurt. Peak respect should go to Calgary, Winnipeg when healthy, and Edmonton if the Eskimos bounce back. 

WNBA: Updated “market” Power Ratings for the new week
Sunday’s schedule was packed. But, every game was either a double-digit straight up win, or a double-digit cover (or both). No reason to write up any boxes, after we just endured that lack of drama in the CFL. Some high-quality basketball when the best teams are playing each other. Not everyone can keep up.

Here’s an updated set of estimated “market” Power Ratings based on point spreads of the past few days. Use three points for home court advantage to project a future line using the point differentials on this scale between any two teams. (Minnesota was -7 at Las Vegas Sunday, meaning they would be -10 on a neutral court…so we made sure those two teams were 10 points apart on our scale.)

We should emphasize again for newcomers that this isn’t “our” rankings of the teams. This is our best guess at how “the market” is rating teams based on recent pricing. 

86: Connecticut
85: Minnesota, Los Angeles
82: Phoenix
81: Seattle, Washington
79: Atlanta, Dallas
78: New York
75: Las Vegas
73: Chicago, Indiana

Busy week ahead as the World Cup knockout matchups work themselves out. We appreciate that you start your days with us here in VSiN City!

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