Welcome to Bet the Farm, Razzball’s weekly NFL wagering contest. We’re back for our second season and ready to take you on over the course of 17 weeks of NFL play. For those new to the game, here are the rules:
- You start with $1,000 in contest money to make wagers with. You may join in any week.
- You can wager on the spread or Over/Under for any NFL game, so long as your pick is made by kickoff of that game. The Yahoo Sports Odds page is a good place to get betting lines: you may use the best line you find available when you make your post, but revisions to wagers are not allowed.
- Your wager must be in an increment of $10.
- You must beat the House: Therefore, you only receive 90% of your wager for a win ($9 on a $10 bet), but lose 100% of your wager on a loss.
- Your wager may be any amount between $10 and your full bankroll.
- New this year: If you lose your entire bankroll, you are allowed a re-buy for another $1,000. Unlimited re-buys are available.
- New this year: Bet the Farm staff will keep track of the full leaderboard for all participants. However, any player who has taken a re-buy will be listed below all players who have not taken a re-buy – even those with lower current balances. It’s always better to not lose all your money. Players with two re-buys will be listed below those with one re-buy, and so on.
Now, the standings after Week 1:
Josh Carey: $1,061
Darth ripken: $990
frankgrimes: $970 (Week 2 bets: Car -2.5 $110, Chi -5 $110, Jets +14 $110)
Bonghuetz: $952 (see the note below about your score)
Natural Born Champs: $930
Mr. April: $897
Comatose: $0 (first re-buy available)
Tehol Beddict: $0 (first re-buy available)
(Mean: $955.76 , Median: $957)
*Bonghuetz: Per the rules above, bets must be in increments of $10 (to make the math not insane for those of us keeping score). Your wagers were all at $25 (which I didn’t catch before the games). So I graded out your three losses at -$25 each, but gave you the full $27 for a win at a $30 bet. This made you $4.50 in fake money this time, but just a note to check your wagers for the future.
Keeping the full scoreboard this year, while a bit of a pain in the Chris Berman for me, does give us the opportunity to collect some metadata (no, real metadata, not NSA “metadata”) about how the group as a whole is performing. And wouldn’t you know, everyone collectively is just about 10% in the red? Why is that significant? Because we’ve set the rake at 10%, so while I’m not tracking everyone’s records on my own (THAT is far too much work), after one week it looks like we’re pretty much all at about 50% and the House is taking their cut. This, by the way, is exactly how sportsbooks make their money. On the plus side, our readers weren’t the only ones taking a bath this weekend (that link isn’t as bad as you think it is). We had four players “Bet the Farm,” and, as expected, two nearly doubled their money, while two others will be sitting at the bottom of the standings with the option to re-buy. We’ll have to see if jaywrong lives up to his promise to only bet on the Chargers, which served him well in Week 1. Of course, only one “regular” bettor outperformed me in Week 1, which is why I get paid the big bucks (read: nothing) to write this column. I’ll let Zorboss explain himself down below, though.
Still, all of you do deserve a lot of thanks from us here at Bet the Farm. We’ve already topped last year’s high-water marks for comments on a post, and I’m pretty sure we have more people playing in Week 1 than we did at all points during the season last year. That’s great to see and hopefully everybody keeps it up as the season goes on. I especially love seeing the posts fly in after the Sunday afternoon games and prior to Monday Night, taking advantage of earlier results to place new wagers. And major props to frankgrimes for trying to make my life easier by making $110 bets (which in actual gambling pays out to $100 even. Here it’s suppose to be $99, but if people want to make exactly $110 bets, I will absolutely give that extra dollar on a win for the effort. Is that cheating? Maybe, but as the man who makes the rules, I think I’m allowed to make one minor exception – which literally does not apply on any other bet amount).
Josh Carey’s Picks
Bankroll: $1,061 (+$61)
Record: 3-1-0 (Last week: 3-1-0)
Locks: 1-0-0 (Last week: 1-0-0)
(Last year’s finish: $1,656; 49-34-1 [58.3%], 11-5-1 in locks. 2011 finish: 50-32-3 [58.8%] in top 5 picks each week)
“Oh my God,” Random Football Fan exclaimed, watching some part of NFL Week One unfold. “Did you just see that!?”
“No, what happened?” asked Another Random Football Fan, also watching NFL Week One.
Random Football Fan went on to describe, in exasperated tones, the incredible, mind-blowing, completely unforeseen event he just witnessed.
“That will surely impact my betting on games in Week Two!” Another Random Football Fan replied. And he is an idiot.
Yes, that conversation is obviously fictitious (maybe the names tipped you off), but it illustrates an important point. For seven months, all of the information we’ve collected to make wagers took place off the football field. This new, live-action data is exciting and new (yes, the redundancy in that sentence was intentional. And yes, this parenthetical is mostly an attempt to not have that edited away by the powers-that-be[editor's note - you got away with it this time!]). And it is human nature to wholly and completely overreact to it (in fact, this happens during every week of the NFL season, but never more so than in Week One). The fact that what we just watched represents 100% of the football season so far makes it very easy to forget that what we just saw was, in fact, only 5.88% of the actual NFL season. If the NFL season were an NFL game instead, we would be just about three minutes and thirty seconds into the first quarter. One need look no further than Monday Night’s Philadelphia-Washington game to see how misleading such a small sample can be. In that timeframe, Washington had returned a fumble for a 75 yard touchdown and held a 7-0 lead. However, the entire game ended up very differently once it had time to completely play out. The best example of this? Barring ties, at least five 1-0 teams will be 1-1 this time next week; and at least six 0-1 teams will also be 1-1. That’s 11 teams that will go from either “good” or “bad” to “mediocre” in one week, and the number may be even higher, depending on the outcome of games between teams that don’t have identical records after one week.
The point then is not to completely disregard the results we’ve seen so far. Some developments (the weakness of the Pittsburgh offensive line, the questions about the Giants running game, how bad Josh Freeman looks) are very much worth paying attention to (I also just ended a sentence with a preposition, but screw it, it’s staying that way). However, we want to filter the developments we’ve seen through the lens of what we were expecting at the beginning of the season. I had Kansas City pegged as a fringe Wild Card team, around 8-8 or so. Beating a Jaguars team that is probably 1-15 with Blaine Gabbart and 3-13 with Chad Henne fits the mold of such a team. Likewise, a Cowboys team I had at 10-6 or 9-7 holding off a 9-7 or 8-8 expected Giants team at home also seems about right. Looking at only last week’s results, we could make the case for the Chiefs being just as good as the Cowboys. But when we factor those results into our preseason expectations, we can come up with a case that continues to see Dallas surpassing the Chiefs. That’s information we can act on when we make wagers this week. It’s far less likely you’ll find a “good” line this week if you consider just last week’s results. But consider what you were thinking before, as well, and things start to open up a bit. With that, on to the picks.
$60 Dallas +3 at Kansas City (LOCK OF THE WEEK): This spread opened as a pick’em – a reasonable line considering that Dallas is actually better than the Chiefs, but on the road. But the public (read: fish), rapidly bet it up to Kansas City -3, suggesting the teams are actually equal. Folks, they aren’t. A good rule of thumb is to assume that most people betting on football games are idiots (Sorry, guys) and when they bet a line that far in 24 hours, they’re being lemmings who aren’t considering the full picture. I was expecting to make this wager as a pick’em; the fact I get 3 points made me increase my wager $20. I really made my case for this pick above, so bet this game and bet this game hard people.
$30 Miami +3 at Indianapolis: Last week I wrote that Indianapolis was going to be perpetually overrated this year because of their playoff appearance last season when they were really a 7-9 team. I’ve already got one notch in my belt from that one, but this is another game the public has bet up from a pick’em to three points that I am just thrilled about. Even if we accept the Raiders are a better team than the Browns (they are), the Dolphins 13 point road win is still more impressive than Indianapolis holding on to a 4 point edge at home. My read on these teams is that they are about equal, with a possible edge to the Dolphins (more complete squad, only real spot they lose to the Colts is at the quarterback position, which is not by much). So getting the points to erase home field advantage is just great. The only worry here is Mike Wallace‘s inability to shut up and accept a win leading to Ryan Tannenhill forcing him the ball the same way Tim Tebow is forcing himself to be a QB only. Neither will end well.
$30 New York Jets at New England OVER 43: Yes, the Thursday night games are notorious for low scores as teams recover from the short week. However, while I don’t have any specific data to back this assertion up, I suspect the Patriots have scored something like an average of 42 points or so in games with The Hoodie on the sideline after a result deemed “disappointing.” Let’s remember that the Jets really should have lost to the Bucs, still have no good players outside of Antonio Cromartie and will probably be thrilled to score ten points in this one. Yes, that means I’m saying the Patriots will score at least 34 points, and yes, I think they will (they scored at least 29 points twelve times during the season last year – including in both games against the Jets).
$20 San Diego at Philadelphia UNDER 55: Like I said above, there’s a lot of success to be had in being “contrarian” in betting and going against what the public has most recently seen. And, in Philadelphia, what they’ve most recently seen is “Holy Crap that Chip Kelly offense is insane and so high-tempo!” It is, and it is. But this is the NFL, and putting up 57-10 scores just isn’t going to happen like it did at Oregon. For all the talk of the tempo of Monday night’s game, it took a late comeback by Washington to secure a number over this line. And that’s if this is indeed the status quo for the Philadelphia offense. We don’t know yet if this success is sustainable or if opposing defenses will learn to scheme and gameplan against it. That uncertainty gets priced into the under on this one. Plus, you could always have one team just suck so horribly that you sort of get to the under by default. Be honest: you wouldn’t be surprised if that happened to either team in this one.
Total wagered: $140
Follow @josh_carey on Twitter for updated picks as the weekend approaches, and Josh’s full picks for every single game against the spread.
Bankroll: $938 (last week -$62)
Record: 1-3 (last week 1-3)
Locks: 0-1 (last week 0-1)
It was a rough start to the season for Zorboss, and rightfully so, as I put my trust in Josh ”not to be confused with Carey but I thought throwing the ball was a free play in the NFL that’s why I’ve never bothered to practice any passing plays”Freeman and Ben ”I thought I had ten Mississippi before anybody could tackle me” Roethlisberger. At least I found a way to win in my local fantasy league… oh, wait, I lost in that match. Got through to week 2 in my office suicide pool… er, lost in that pool as well. Found a way to win in the Razzball writer’s league with an historic performance by Peyton Manning… whew, that one is true, I did win! Finally, a good piece of cheese after all the mold.
$60 Philadelphia -7 (LOCK) vs. San Diego: Not all wins and losses are created equal. The Chargers blew their season/home opener to the Texans after being up by 21 points, which in turn feels like a double loss. Their reward is to travel all the way across the land of the free and the home of the brave, on a short week, to play the up-tempo and flashy Eagles. Eagles 34 Chargers 17.
$30 Miami +3 at Indianapolis: This bet is a tough one for me to make as I have an affinity towards the Colts. They are my squad. I root for them first and foremost, way ahead of my distant second fantasy squad. But,the best way to make a bet is with your brain and not brawn; that’s how the saying goes, right? Anywho, before I set myself spiraling into a mild depression, the Dolphins seem to be the better team after a quality week 1 win, while the Colts are still trying to figure out how they squeaked out a win against a perennial basement dweller. Dolphins 24 Colts 20.
$30 New Orleans -3 at Tampa Bay and $30 OVER 47: Four field goals and only three points scored in the fourth quarter in last week’s game vs. Atlanta. Chalk it up to a little bit of rust and a few injuries on the offensive side of the ball. You must be asking yourself ‘why is he betting on the Bucs to score some points, when, in his opening paragraph, he compares Josh Freeman to a bag of 5 cent beer cans’? Firstly, you should ask yourself what sound does a fox make, and second, we are getting seven less points from last week (which is a bargain for Saints games as only once last year, you guessed it on the road in Tampa, the line was set at under 50 at 49.5, and that game went over easy at 35-28). Surely the muscle hamster can cross the goal line at least twice in the maze that is Ray Jay stadium. Saints 31 Bucs 20.
$30 San Francisco +2.5 at Seattle: I know these two teams are arch division rivals, I’m aware of the Seahawks home field advantage, but man I was really impressed with the Niners last week. The ability to run the ball and throw it will only cause confusion to every defense that attempts to slow them down. This may be the only time we see them as underdogs in a game, so jump on the gold rush right now before it’s too late and the sieves run dry. Niners 24 Seahawks 21.
Total Wagered: $180
Now it’s your turn! Give us your picks for Week One in the comments below. Also remember that you can access the most recent “Bet the Farm” post at any time by choosing “Wagering” under the “Contests” menu on the main navigation bar.