At 20/1, Koepka shows he is a major force

By Jeff Fogle  (VSiN City newsletter) 

Brooks Koepka won his third major in his last six tries.
© USA Today Sports Images

Brooks Koepka kept charging to cap off another major win in the PGA Championship. Plus, a pennant race powder keg…and box score updates for handicappers from the NFL, CFL, and WNBA. Time to tee up another week in VSiN City!

PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka wins second major of 2018, third in his last six tries!

CBS and on-site galleries spent much of Sunday reveling in Tiger Woods’ return to championship form. But Tiger’s stunning 64 (stunning because he didn’t hit a fairway until the 10th hole!) wasn’t enough to derail “Major machine” Brooks Koepka from overpowering a star-packed leaderboard.

Koepka shot a 4-under 66 to best Woods by two strokes at 16 under. Tiger finished at 14 under. Adam Scott was third at 13 under.

Earlier this year, Koepka won his second straight US Open. That makes the 2018 PGA his third major in has last six tries. (He didn't play in the Masters.) Considering the size of these fields, and the number of elite golfers getting informed respect in betting markets…that’s an incredible accomplishment. 

Koepka entered the event at around 20/1 on the Betfair Exchange and on many futures boards. Woods was around 37/1 on global exchanges, but much shorter on US futures boards because so many fans love betting him domestically. 

Once again, under pressure, Koepka showed power…accuracy…poise…and an imperviousness to fatigue that jumps out because so many other contenders look exhausted at the end of their rounds. Koepka makes his opponents submit MMA style. 

Congrats to those of you who took a shot pre-tournament on Koepka, and to those who found success in matchup betting. No more majors in 2018. But the popular Ryder Cup will be played in France Sept. 28-30. And THAT will be the most heavily bet Ryder Cup ever given all the great names on the US and European rosters and new legal sports betting availability across the homeland.   

MLB: Divisional races tighten, setting up blockbuster week of critical clashes

Before we check in on our “Magnificent 7,” we wanted to pay particular attention to how many divisional races tightened up this past weekend. In a moment you’ll see that this is just in time for a HUGE week of very important head-to-head battles.

Betting baseball is going to be a lot of fun down the stretch! Let’s see if futures prices get more appealing with so many teams still in the hunt. 

NL East: Philadelphia lost two of three in San Diego, after losing two of three in Arizona. Atlanta won two of three with Milwaukee, putting the Braves on top by one one-thousandth of a point. It’s a virtual tie in terms of “games behind.” Washington is still hanging around as sand trickles down the hourglass. But that brutal gut punch of a loss Sunday night in the bottom of the ninth inning could be a season-destroyer for the Nats.

NL Central: St. Louis is trying to crash the party on the heels a five-game winning streak. At the top, the Chicago Cubs aren’t pulling away as fast as fans had hoped. Milwaukee isn’t getting punished yet for disappointing recent form. 

NL West: Wow…Colorado won three of four at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) to get within a half-game of the defending NL champs. Arizona didn’t take much advantage, losing two of three at Cincinnati. Heading into the new week, the Diamondbacks have a one-game lead over LAD, 1.5 games over Colorado. (If the playoffs started today, only Arizona would be in the brackets!)

AL West: Seattle swept a four-game series at Houston! Are you kidding?! The Astros are dealing with some injuries, but their performances lately at Minute Maid against both Seattle and Oakland have opened the door for a surprise divisional winner. Houston still leads. Oakland is now only 2.5 games back. Seattle is four back.  

MLB: In our “Magnificent 7,” Red Sox and Yanks bully bad teams…but some others struggle

At the beginning of the season, we promised to monitor the seven teams Brent Musburger labeled as “The Magnificent 7” on a weekly basis throughout the 2018 campaign. Those were the seven teams with Regular Season Win totals in the 90s in preseason betting markets. 

Four of those seven teams currently lead their divisions (Boston, Cleveland, Houston, and the Chicago Cubs), one is locked into a postseason berth as at least a wildcard (NY Yankees), and the other two still have a chance to play in October (LA Dodgers, Washington). 

In betting terms, five are money losers in 2018. Only Boston, AT 50 GAMES OVER .500 straight up has been able to create meaningful profit for backers. 

Current records entering the new week…

Boston 85-35…plus 33.5 units after a 6-1 week

NY Yankees 74-43…plus 1.5 units after a 6-1 week

Chicago Cubs 68-49…minus 0.5 units after a 4-2 week

Houston 73-46…minus 9.5 units after a 2-4 week

Cleveland 66-51…minus 14 units after a 5-2 week

Washington 60-58…minus 20 units after a 3-4 week

LA Dodgers 64-55…minus 22.5 units after a 2-4 week

Badly timed slumps for Houston and Los Angeles. Both went 2-4 last week. The Astros dropped an extra unit because they’re so expensive on a daily basis. Last year’s World Series teams are now down 32 units for the season. 

Boston is virtually assured of finishing the season with the best record in baseball. That would give the Red Sox home-field advantage in any postseason series. Despite currently enjoying the second-best record in baseball, the Yankees will likely have to survive a wild-card game just for the honor of drawing Boston in the divisional round. Brutal. 

There are no head-to-head meetings this coming week for the M7. But don’t let that trick you into thinking it’s going to be a dull seven days. It’s amazing how many contenders are lined up against each other with so much at stake. 

Early Week Series Matching Winning Teams

Washington (60-58) at St. Louis (63-55) (starts Monday)

Seattle (69-50) at Oakland (70-48) (starts Monday)

Milwaukee (67-54) at the Chicago Cubs (67-49) (starts Tuesday)

Tampa Bay (60-58) at the NY Yankees (74-43) (starts Tuesday)

Boston (85-35) at Philadelphia (65-52) (starts Tuesday)

Colorado (63-55) at Houston (73-46) (starts Tuesday)

It’s too early to call Seattle-Oakland an “elimination” series. But it’s going to be very hard for either to catch the Yankees because of relative schedule strengths remaining. HUGE series in the AL West. Milwaukee at the Cubs is a battle of 1-2 in a division.

Late Week Series Matching Winning Teams

Chicago Cubs (68-49) at Pittsburgh (61-58) (starts Thursday)

Colorado (63-55) at Atlanta (64-51) (starts Thursday)

Milwaukee (67-54) at St. Louis (63-55) (starts Friday)

Houston (73-46) at Oakland (70-48) (starts Friday)

Tampa Bay (60-58) at Boston (85-35) (starts Friday)

LA Dodgers (64-55) at Seattle (69-50) (starts Friday)

Reeling Houston has to deal with Colorado and Oakland this week. The Dodgers have another tough weekend trip. We haven’t even had time to talk about the NL wild-card picture. What if St. Louis stays hot? Will be a fun week to cover from a market perspective here in VSiN City. 

NFL Preseason: Catching up with key team stats from exhibition action

Back on Friday we were able to run numbers for all the early Thursday finishers. Let’s pick up with the West Coast games from Thursday…and finish out the weekend. 

San Francisco (-4) 24, Dallas 21 (late Thursday)

Total Yardage: Dallas 338, San Francisco 454

Turnovers: Dallas 0, San Francisco 3

Dallas jumped to an early lead. The fact that SF closed so strong (17-7 win in the second half) might suggest the Niners will offer value through August. A team that was clearly focused on rallying to get a result with backups trying to impress. That 454 mark in total yards was the best of the week league-wide. 

Indianapolis (plus 2) 19, Seattle 17 (late Thursday)

Total Yardage: Indianapolis 265, Seattle 195

Turnovers: Indianapolis 1, Seattle 1

One of Seattle’s touchdowns was on a fumble return. So, total yardage tells the story better than the scoreboard. Neither was great for four quarters. Seattle sure didn’t look very interested in offensive fireworks. Smart to keep Russell Wilson healthy. 

NY Jets (-4) 17, Atlanta 0 (Friday)

Total Yardage: Atlanta 254, NY Jets 253

Turnovers: Atlanta 1, NY Jets 1

Sam Darnold did look great…but the Jets as a whole really didn’t. Nice first half. Only 253 total yards on 4.2 yards-per-play for the game. OK to look at this bandwagon. Be careful jumping on it just yet. Bettors who pushed the line up to -4 were rewarded by the quarterback war, at least in the first two quarters. 

Oakland (-3) 16, Detroit 10 (Friday) 

Total Yardage: Detroit 227, Oakland 345

Turnovers: Detroit 1, Oakland 1

Really ugly night for Detroit. Only 3.5 yards-per-play, and 3 of 14 on third down tries. 

Minnesota (-1) 42, Denver 28 (Saturday) 

Total Yardage: Minnesota 406, Denver 299

Turnovers: Minnesota 1, Denver 2

Fun game to watch. Both head coaches seem interested in results in August. Minnesota’s Mike Zimmer has the longer history, and clearly was mad that some of his backups blew a 24-14 lead before rallying late to re-establish order. One of Denver’s touchdowns was on a punt return. Kirk Cousins was sharp in limited action for the Vikes. Case Keenum was not for Denver. Probably OK to keep looking at the Vikes in value spots based on Zimmer’s history. 

Arizona (-3) 24, LA Chargers 17 (Saturday) 

Total Yardage: Los Angeles 387, Arizona 174

Turnovers: Los Angeles 4, Arizona 1

Very important you pay attention to the stats here. If you only scoreboard-watched, or just got the final score the next morning, you’re going to be tricked into thinking Arizona played well. Chargers dominated at the point of attack, but kept turning the ball over. Arizona was 0 for 11 on third downs! Just 3.6 yards-per-play for the hosts. Cards had a fumble return TD. Stats are suggesting something closer to Chargers 20, Cards 10 should have been the final score. 

NFL action resumes Thursday. 

CFL: Johnny Manziel gets a point spread cover, and probably a concussion…but not a win

Only three games north of the border last week. Let’s take them in the order they were played. 

British Columbia (plus 3.5) 31, Edmonton 23 

Total Yardage: Edmonton 370, British Columbia 279

Yards-per-Play: Edmonton 7.0, British Columbia 6.3

Rushing Yards: Edmonton 52, British Columbia 40

Passing Stats: Edmonton 27-42-2-318, British Columbia 16-29-1-239

Turnovers: Edmonton 3, British Columbia 3

BC has been competitive since getting a real quarterback onto the field. A bit lucky to pull the upset given those stats. Lions helped by a punt return touchdown. BC moves to 3-4 with the win. Edmonton falls to 5-3.

Winnipeg (-6.5) 29, Hamilton 23 

Total Yardage: Hamilton 390, Winnipeg 270

Yards-per-Play: Hamilton 7.6, Winnipeg 6.1

Rushing Yards: Hamilton 139, Winnipeg 90

Passing Stats: Hamilton 17-27-0-251, Winnipeg 13-24-0-180

Turnovers: Hamilton 2, Winnipeg 1

Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli continues to NOT be as effective as his stat volume would suggest. Even when not committing turnovers, there’s a tendency to move the ball in the middle of the field. Winnipeg probably didn’t play as badly as the raw stats make it look. Some rope-a-dope involved. Blue Bombers now 5-3 on the season. Hamilton is 3-5, but in the weaker East where a bad record isn’t much of a penalty. 

Ottawa (-14) 24, Montreal 17

Total Yardage: Montreal 271, Ottawa 601

Yards-per-Play: Montreal 6.6, Ottawa 7.8

Rushing Yards: Montreal 103, Ottawa 114

Passing Stats: Montreal 16-26-0-168, Ottawa 44-55-1-487 

Turnovers: Montreal 3, Ottawa 5

A lot to talk about here. Game wasn’t televised in the US. Scoreboard watching suggested Montreal was putting up a great fight. Alouettes led 9-5 at halftime, then faded late. What ACTUALLY happened was that Ottawa moved up and down the field at will on the poor Montreal defense, but couldn’t stop turning the ball over. Montreal had an interception return TD. So, just 10 offensive points for Manziel. Montreal’s only touchdown came when he tried to bully his way into the end zone, got virtually knocked out on a high hit, but his teammate recovered for the score. 

The good news for Manziel followers is that he stopped trying to force passes where they didn’t belong. No interceptions. The bad news…the offense was still horrible (as was the defense)…and he reminded everyone of the likelihood that he’s going to run himself into injuries. Running quarterbacks have a million ways to get hurt. No way to guarantee longevity. 

Ottawa leads the East with a 5-3 record. Montreal falls to 1-7, with the only win coming over an opponent shorthanded at the QB position that week (Saskatchewan). 

A quick review of our estimate of “market” Power Ratings based on this past weekend’s point spreads…

86: Calgary

83: Edmonton, Winnipeg

81: Ottawa

80: Hamilton

79: Saskatchewan

77: British Columbia

73: Toronto 

70: Montreal

We’ll probably have to cut back on CFL coverage in a few weeks when regular seasons begin in college football and the NFL. We’ll stick with it through the month. 

WNBA: Atlanta and Seattle continue to impress, but Dallas fires its coach!

Five games to recap.

Atlanta (-5.5) 86, New York 77 

2-point Pct: Atlanta 40%, New York 61%

3-pointers: Atlanta 10/26, New York 2/17

Free Throws: Atlanta 22/30, New York 11/14

Rebounds: Atlanta 32, New York 42

Turnovers: Atlanta 6, New York 16

A continuation of recent form on the scoreboard and against the market. Atlanta is still on fire straight up and ATS despite losing a key player to injury. A must win in the crowded chase for the #2 seed. New York is still horrible, overrated, and prone to fall apart in the second half. Though, NY did shoot well inside here. One of those games where the Liberty either turned the ball over on the way to the rim, or scored if they got there. Atlanta played clean and earned a lot of extra free throws. Dream now 22-10. Liberty 7-23. 

Washington (-10.5) 93, Dallas 80 

2-point Pct: Dallas 35%, Washington 43%

3-pointers: Dallas 10/30, Washington 11/23

Free Throws: Dallas 18/22, Washington 22/24

Rebounds: Dallas 43 Washington 35

Turnovers: Dallas 12, Washington 6

Tough spot for Dallas. Back-to-back, and Elizabeth Cambage was out with an injury. The team hadn’t been winning lately when fresh! Washington is now 20-11, and continues to peak at the right time. Dallas is still well-positioned to get the eighth and final playoff spot at 14-17. That said, after the game the franchise FIRED head coach Fred Williams! Assistant coach Taj McWilliams-Franklin will coach the remainder of the season. WOW. 

Connecticut (-12) 82, Chicago 75 

2-point Pct: Chicago 42%, Connecticut 46%

3-pointers: Chicago 7/17, Connecticut 3/18

Free Throws: Chicago 14/17, Connecticut 17/22

Rebounds: Chicago 33, Connecticut 51

Turnovers: Chicago 16, Connecticut 16

Connecticut shot poorly from long range, but made up for that with a big rebounding edge. Enough to get the win, but not a cover at the high price. Connecticut is now 18-13. Chicago playing out the string at 11-20. 

Seattle (-1.5) 81, Minnesota 72 

2-point Pct: Seattle 49%, Minnesota 43%

3-pointers: Seattle 11/25, Minnesota 6/17

Free Throws: Seattle 4/6, Minnesota 4/4

Rebounds: Seattle 39, Minnesota 29

Turnovers: Seattle 14, Minnesota 9

Big message-sending spot for the Storm after Seattle played so poorly at Washington. Re-established their bona fides as the championship favorite. “Hey, Minnesota…you’re not the best any more…we are.” Hardly any free throws. Were the players saving their elbows for the playoffs? Seattle’s unbeatable when the treys are falling at that volume. Storm now 24-8. Lynx 17-14

Phoenix (plus 1) 86, Los Angeles 78 

2-point Pct: Los Angeles 42%, Phoenix 63%

3-pointers: Los Angeles 9/21, Phoenix 10/25

Free Throws: Los Angeles 11/15, Phoenix 18/23

Rebounds: Los Angeles 28, Phoenix 32

Turnovers: Los Angeles 9, Phoenix 15

Big shooting night for Phoenix, which cancelled out its turnover issues. Sparks still a half-game in front in the messy playoff picture. Los Angeles is 18-13, Phoenix 18-14.

WNBA Playoff Picture (top 8 make it)

1…Seattle 24-8

2…Atlanta 22-10

3…Washington 20-11

4…Connecticut 18-13

5…Los Angeles 18-13

6…Phoenix 18-14

7…Minnesota 17-14

8…Dallas 14-17

9…Las Vegas 13-18

Everybody plays 34 games. Las Vegas is back within a game of Dallas because the Wings have dropped NINE in a row. Best two get a bye into the semifinals (where best-of-fives begin). Seeds 3-4 get a bye into quarterfinal “play-in” games. Seeds 5-8 have a play-in game…to get to another play-in game…in hopes of reaching the semi’s. Traffic jam around some coveted spots.

Updated “market” Power Ratings…

88: Seattle 

84: Los Angeles

83: Washington, Connecticut

82: Minnesota

81: Atlanta

80: Phoenix

78: Las Vegas (home)

77: Dallas (with Cambage), Las Vegas (road)

75: Dallas (without Cambage)

74: Chicago

72: New York, Indiana

Longest Monday report in awhile! See you Tuesday. 

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