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NFL preseason opener keeps bettors on edge

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

August 2, 2018 12:02 AM

Last minute thrills all over the sporting world. Bears cover in the final moments. A CFL thriller decided in the final seconds. Then TWO bottom-of-the-ninth rallies in the playoff chase. Another great week comes to an end in VSiN City!

NFL Preseason: Bears rally for a cover, but not a win in Hall of Fame loss to Ravens

Though the game was meaningless, bettors were sweating both the side and the total in the final moments. Down 17-10 with just under three minutes to go…at market prices of Baltimore -2.5 with an Over/Under of 35…Tyler Bray and the Chicago Bears finished off a 92-yard, 10-play touchdown drive to get within a point. No overtime here! A failed two-point conversion attempt would cash tickets for Chicago and Under. 

Baltimore (-2.5) 17, Chicago 16

Total Yardage: Chicago 276, Baltimore 194

Yards-per-Play: Chicago 3.8, Baltimore 2.9

Rushing Yards: Chicago 65, Baltimore 113

Passing Stats: Chicago 26-50-2-211, Baltimore 17-27-2-81

Turnovers: Chicago 4, Baltimore 2

TD Drive Distance: Chicago 34-92, Baltimore 77-36

A lot of slop. Two touchdown drives were very cheap…so it’s not like Over bettors had much reason to gripe. Sure, the early scoring “pace,” was fast. But it was also artificial because of field position. 

Do you know how hard it is to total just 211 passing yards on 50 attempts! And Baltimore wasn’t exactly firing downfield on all cylinders with only 81 passing yards on 27 throws. 

Always important to break down preseason box scores by quarterback. Neither projected starter played, with Mitchell Trubisky and Joe Flacco biding their time. 

Chicago Quarterback Stats

Chase Daniel: 8-16-2-53

Tyler Bray: 18-34-0-181

Very disappointing numbers for Daniel, who is experienced enough to shine in the postseason (which he has done in the past). Two picks on only 16 tosses. Bray didn’t accomplish much that mattered until the late TD drive. 

Baltimore Quarterback Stats

Robert Griffin III: 7-11-1-58

Josh Woodrum: 6-6-0-37

Lamar Jackson: 4-10-1-33

RGIII was sacked three times, so that stat line isn’t as good as it looks. Jackson was also sacked three times, so his night in the pocket was even worse than his poor numbers make it look. Jackson was second on the team in rushing, though, with 25 yards. Woodrum earned his paycheck. 

CFL: Toronto rallies from 38-14 down to shock Ottawa 42-41…. Johnny Manziel debuts for Montreal Friday on ESPN2

Should we start calling Toronto's new signal caller “McLeod Bethel-Football?!” The Toronto Argos ended the James Franklin experiment at quarterback (except for sneaks at the goal line), starting journeyman McLeod Bethel-Thompson instead. After nearly three quarters of shakiness, Bethel-Thompson led Toronto back from 38-14 down to win…connecting on a TD pass with just a few seconds to go.

Toronto (plus 6.5) 42, Ottawa 41

Total Yardage: Ottawa 427, Toronto 433

Yards-per-Play: Ottawa 7.9, Toronto 6.9

Rushing Yards: Ottawa 46, Toronto 131

Passing Stats: Ottawa 27-35-1-381, Toronto 25-37-1-302

Turnovers: Ottawa 2, Toronto 3

Somehow…Ottawa won yards-per-play by a full yard…won the turnover category…returned two punts for touchdowns (!!)…and still lost! Obviously, it was a very efficient rally from the Argos…as everything they did turned to points after Ottawa relaxed too early then lost its defensive legs in the final minutes. 

A potentially huge result because it lifts Toronto up off the mat and slows down what had been an Ottawa pull-away in the East. Redblacks now 4-3 this season, Toronto 2-5. What was going to be a four-game lead is now just a two-game lead…with plenty of time for this to be a confidence builder for the Argos. 

Saskatchewan visited Edmonton (-6.5/52.5) in a late Thursday finish. This weekend’s remaining schedule…

Friday: Hamilton (-6.5) at Montreal

Saturday: British Columbia (plus 11.5) at Calgary

Bye: Winnipeg

Friday night brings the official CFL debut of Johnny Manziel. You can watch that game on ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. ET, 4:30 p.m. in Las Vegas. 

Here’s our latest estimate of “market” Power Ratings in the CFL based on this week’s point spreads…

86: Calgary

83: Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa

81: Hamilton

78: British Columbia, Saskatchewan

73: Toronto 

71: Montreal

Argos should rise at least a smidge off Thursday’s upset. 

MLB Thursday: Boston continues to outclass the New York Yankees in AL East chase

We’ve written a lot about the New York Yankees in recent weeks. They were almost a daily featuring during long, tough schedule stretch (we usually focus on games matching teams with winning records here in VSiN City). When we started contributing daily “tips” to the New York Post, that encouraged even more research on the Bronx Bombers. 

What’s become clear amid all the analysis is that Boston is much less vulnerable than NYY to bad things happening. Yes, the Yankees are awesome when the starting pitcher goes deep into the game and the offense is scoring consistently. They become mortal very quickly when that doesn’t happen. The recent injury to Aaron Judge helped expose this issue because he was such an important part of their offense. 

*Records since June 21: Boston 26-8, New York 18-17

*Click here to read Thursday’s NYP article on the ramifications of Boston being the much better “road” team than the Yankees this season.

*Check out Friday’s NYP article on offenses more likely to “create” runs without homers (keyed toward Astros/Dodgers series, but shows Boston shining and NYY a big disappointment).

*Sunday, look for a preview of the Yanks/Sox Sunday night game on ESPN that focuses on depth of high impact players. Five Red Sox players are noted, none of them named Steve Pearce!

Boston (pick-em) 15, NY Yankees 7 

Total Bases Plus Walks: New York 22, Boston 41

Starting Pitchers: Sabathia 3 IP, 2 ER, Johnson 5 IP, 4 ER

Bullpen: New York 5 IP, 13 ER, Boston 3 IP, 1 ER

Steve Pearce hit THREE home runs and knocked in EIGHT in this series-opening laugher. While the Yankees bullpen aces who lock down the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings with leads are studs…the rest of the staff is outmatched by quality. C.C. Sabathia could only make it through three innings. The game blew up after that. 

Boston is now 76-34 for the season, running away with the best record in baseball. The Yankees are 68-39, now 6.5 games out of first place. If Boston just plays .500 ball the rest of the way (26-26), it would finish 102-60. Yanks would have to go 34-21 to catch them. If Boston “cools off” to 30-22 from its current heater, Yanks would have to close 38-17. It’s a bigger lead than it seems…and skeletons have been showing in the New York closet for a few weeks. 

Also Thursday…

St. Louis (-140) 3, Colorado 2

Total Bases Plus Walks: Colorado 10, St. Louis 11

Starting Pitchers: Senzatela 6 IP, 1 ER, Mikolas 7 IP, 1 ER

Bullpen: Colorado 2.1 IP, 2 ER, St. Louis 2 IP, 0 ER

Dramatic bottom of the ninth rally for the Cardinals. Wade Davis suffered his fifth blown save of the season. Colorado fans won’t let him forget this one because it was so important in the playoff race. With one out…single…another single for first and third…stolen base of second…two-run single.

Figures it was singles that won the game. Neither team had an extra-base hit all day! Seven singles and three walks for the Rockies. Eight and three for the Cards.

St. Louis moves to 56-53 on the season, hanging on in the Wildcard race by its fingertips. Colorado takes its second straight loss to fall to 58-50.  

In other early Thursday finishers…

*Philadelphia (-190) beat Miami 5-2. Another dramatic ninth inning rally. Miami led 2-1 heading to the final frame. Phillies tied it with a one-out ground out…won it with a three-run homer by Maikel Franco. Philadelphia now a dozen games over .500 at 60-48. Huge result because of the next two scores.

*Washington (-290) beat Cincinnati 10-4. Nats just a game over .500 at 54-53 after their third straight win. Washington sure does pile on the offense when things are going well. Recent victories by scores of 10-4, 25-4, 9-1, 10-3, 7-3 despite going 8-7 their last 15 games.   

*Atlanta (-160) won at the NY Mets 4-2. Braves move to 58-47, stay a half-game behind the Phillies.  

*San Diego (plus 140) won at the Chicago Cubs 6-1. Padres out hit the Cubs 15-3. Chicago still clear in the NL Central standings with a 62-46 record. Rare recent win for San Diego, who had been awful the past few weeks. 

Golf: In a huge “made-for-betting” matchup, it’s Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson Thanksgiving weekend in Las Vegas!

Reports surfaced early Thursday of a $10 million “winner-take-all” golf match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson scheduled for Thanksgiving Weekend. The event will reportedly be played at Shadow Creek golf course in Las Vegas. 

Obviously “winner-take-all” with these two marketing juggernauts is a relative term. Heck, $10 million is a relative sum given their career tournament and endorsement earnings. But, it’s likely to be a HUGE event for sports books because both golf superstars have large betting constituencies. 

Jeff Sherman (@golfodds on twitter) of the Westgate tweeted the opening odds at Tiger Woods -150, Phil Mickelson plus 130. Woods has enjoyed more impressive recent form, including a temporary spot atop the leaderboard during the final round of the British Open. 

Plenty of important golf to be played before then. The PGA goes August 9-12 at Bellerive near St. Louis. And, 2018 is a Ryder Cup year! This fall’s event is set for September 28-30 in France. 

WNBA: Dallas demise continues, Los Angeles lights up the Lynx

This has turned into a regular theme. Elizabeth Cambage has a huge scoring game for Dallas, as the rest of her teammates disappear in a losing effort. Thursday, poor defense and sloppy offense vs. a team that entered the game 3-23!

Indiana (plus 6) 84, Dallas 78 

2-point Pct: Dallas 60%, Indiana 51%

3-pointers: Dallas 5/22, Indiana 7/20

Free Throws: Dallas 13/21, Indiana 15/20

Rebounds: Dallas 41, Indiana 25

Turnovers: Dallas 21, Indiana 9

We’ll start with Cambage’s numbers…37 points and 9 rebounds. As is usually the case, she shot well while the rest of her teammates didn’t. 

Liz Cambage: 15 of 25 (60%)

Rest of Team: 15 of 39 (38%)

Cambage is tough to stop when she gets the ball close. But, she is turnover-prone when trying to force things. Seven giveaways Thursday, part of what was a team-wide category disaster. How can you lose turnovers 21-9 against one of the worst WNBA teams in years?!

And, again, poor defense from Dallas. It allowed over 50% inside the arc while only forcing nine turnovers from the league doormat. What Cambage is doing may be great for fantasy betting and marketing. But, TEAMS don’t win that way. That’s four straight losses, and a 1-4 record since the historic scoring night vs. disinterested New York. Dallas falls to 14-13. Indiana now 4-23. 

Los Angeles (-3) 79, Minnesota 57 

2-point Pct: Minnesota 47%, Los Angeles 49%

3-pointers: Minnesota 1/10, Los Angeles 8/16

Free Throws: Minnesota 6/10, Los Angeles 7/11

Rebounds: Minnesota 35, Los Angeles 30

Turnovers: Minnesota 14, Los Angeles 9

The inconsistent Sparks are fantastic when things are clicking. Thinks clicked immediately here, with a 20-8 lead after one quarter. Though Minnesota is still very talented, it’s just not happening this season. Very hard to see the Lynx running the table in the playoffs with so many dynamic threats in the way. Though, part of this lame second half may have been due to the fact that Minnesota must play Friday night in Seattle. 

Los Angeles moves to 16-11 with the win. Minnesota is a half-game behind at 15-11. 

Here are VSiN City’s estimated “market” power ratings based on this week’s point spreads. We use a standard three points for home court advantage.  

88: Seattle 

84: Minnesota, Los Angeles

82: Atlanta, Connecticut

81: Phoenix, Dallas

80: Washington

78: Las Vegas

74: Chicago

73: New York

72: Indiana

Along with Minnesota/Seattle Friday, the Las Vegas Aces visit Elena Delle Donne and the Washington Mystics. 

Another week has flown by in VSiN City. Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

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