August 2012

Football picksAugust 31, 2012

This is a game where it’s hard to determine which story is the biggest. The Denver Broncos are starting an entirely new era with Peyton Manning at the helm. They should be much better on offense in 2012, replacing Tim Tebow with an actual quarterback. This should go nicely with a defense that beat people up in 2011. That brings about the question – can they get off to a hot start against a good Pittsburgh team? There are a couple of different factors to consider. In this one, the Broncos are one point favorites, so the the betting public sees this as a close game.

The first factor to consider is whether the Steelers can overcome the most difficult venue in the NFL. There is a reason why Denver always plays well at home & is a good choice for your NFL picks. It has to do with the altitude. Teams that are not used to the light air can have trouble with conditioning. This happened to the Steelers in the playoffs one season ago, as they fell late in the game. Denver feeds off of its fans, as well, making Invesco Field a really tough place play. The smart money is on Denver playing really well in a great environment.

The second factor has to do with the Pittsburgh offense. Can the Steelers take it to the Denver defense? Can the explosive Pittsburgh offense actually throw the ball down the field on the Broncos? The answer is that Pittsburgh should be good enough to move the ball. They should hit on a couple of big plays down the field during the game. Pittsburgh will also lean on its running game – an element that it didn’t really have in the playoffs last season.

How will this game shake out? Many people will bet the Steelers in this game. They will choose Big Ben and the guys to take down a Bronco team that barely won eight games last season. That might be a foolish bet, though. The Broncos are tough at home. They have a lot of momentum and excitement right now. The Peyton Manning experiment will be a success, at least in week one. Think about that before backing the Steel city.

Posted by Wunderdog’s trusty sidekick ” Wundercat ”



Football picksAugust 31, 2012

The San Francisco 49ers remain one of the best stories in the NFL. Alex Smith and company probably should have made it to the Superbowl last season. They were a botched return or two away from beating up on the Giants. Now, they start a new journey with a slightly re-tooled team. They still have an awesome defense that stops the run and gets after the quarterback. They still have some of the same problems on offense that they had last season. Now, they get to go to Green Bay to start off the year.

The Packers are just a less than touchdown favorite at home in this game. The Packers were routinely favored by a ton of points last year at home. Now, they are slightly shorter favorites in a game that figures to be pretty good. What do we know about these teams? What should we expect when the two clubs square off during the first week. You should know that it will be a battle of wills. It will be a battle between an elite offense and an elite defense. Who wins depends upon who can inflict their will on the other.

Chances are that the Packers will still be the most powerful offense around. Last season, Aaron Rodgers destroyed opponents in route to a record-breaking season. They routinely put up 30 or 40 points against all sorts of teams. This was especially true at home, where the Packers blew most people out. The Packers also tend to play very good defense at home. This is the where the real difference comes into play. On the road, the Packers are not nearly as potent on the defensive side of the ball.

Many people believe that the 49ers were a mirage last season. They believe that the team had no business winning all of the games they won. This is only partially true. The 49ers were certainly not an explosive offense. They won with turnovers and good defense. Some would say that the turnovers were good fortune for this team. The truth is that San Francisco took down teams using strength and attitude. They created turnovers on defense in a way that other teams could not. Are they for real? They might possibly be. Whether or not it will be enough to win at Green Bay is another question.

Green Bay went almost the entire 2011 season until they finally lost. It is a good bet that they will win this week. The game might be closer than you think, though.

Posted by Wunderdog’s trusty sidekick ” Wundercat ”



Baseball picksAugust 25, 2012

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Taking Advantage of Day/Night Situations in MLB

As teams play virtually every day for six straight months, there are a lot of situations that take place in MLB. It is a grueling schedule with lots of attrition. Players need some rest at times, because Cal Ripken is a rare player.

I decided to take a look at if, and how these situations can be exploited to find a window of value. What follows is the discovery and well worth the read.

Ask any gambler if he would be happy to connect on 61.8% of his picks at -110 odds, and I don’t think you would find one that wouldn’t sign for that right now.

How about if he had an opportunity to play on the same 61.8% probability of winning, but instead of laying at -110 odds, he was on the receiving end of a +120 odds situation?

That is exactly what you are about to become privy to.

The toughest situation in baseball, outside of the doubleheader, is playing a day game after a night game. The fact is that this situation arises far more often than the doubleheader, so there is more reason to embrace the numbers, and more plays.


Many, if not all managers, will rest players for a day game that follows a night game. Catchers quite frequently are given that day off, as well as some veteran older players, platoon situations, etc. The door swings both ways, but what if you have a pair of weak teams to begin with – those that are both below .500?

I like the idea of the home team here as a dog, because the advantage percieved by the visiting road favorite is quite likely negated by the altered lineup. The only other factor is starting pitching. If they are a large favorite, that is usually an indication that they have a very strong starter and may justify the line, so I only want to look at games where they are a modest favorite, shunning the obvious.

So where does that leave us is playing on a home dog, when both teams have a losing record, and it is a day game following a night game, and the line is from +106 to +135?

The last nine years have seen this trend have eight winning seasons to just one losing season, and it works anytime of the year with all winning months April through September. It does however spike a bit in late August through September, and I think because the rosters expand, and bad teams (under .500 as the case here) are more apt to apply greater substitutions in the day game. The edge that they are perceived to have is no longer the same.


These home dogs carry a viscous bite as they are an amazing 47-29 (61.8%), to an average line of +120 which yields an ROI of an off the charts 35.7%!

This has defied the odds for nine years, and is winning again this season. The books are not closing the door, so down the stretch when this has been at its best potency, you have a strong case to make a few plays with a huge winning advantage!


TREND OF THE DAY: Oakland is now 50-20-1 to the under in their last 71 games vs. a right-handed starter.


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Football picksAugust 17, 2012

Ready for the College Football Prop Bet of the year?

Those of you who have been with me for any significant portion of the past eleven years know that I am not prone to splashy statements. I have never once released a “lock” and in fact, I often preach the opposite – any bet can lose.

That being said, I have a prop bet that I really love for this upcoming 2012 College Football season. Of course, don’t go crazy and overbet your bankroll on it. Remember, anything can happen. But when we find value, we need to pounce. So, keep sound money management in mind when betting this. But by all means, get down on it.

Texas A&M UNDER 7 wins (+110)
(available at Diamond Sports and Bookmaker as well as other sportsbooks)

The oddsmakers have predicted that the Aggies will win seven games this season. They actually are telling us that eight is more likely than seven as well as they have put the OVER at -140 and the UNDER at +110 (some sportsbooks have them listed at OVER 7.5 with negative odds on the under). I disagree with their assessment. With all due respect to Aggies fans (I have nothing against Texas A&M whatsoever), I give the Aggies a very small chance at reaching eight wins (what would be required to lose this bet, regardless of which line you take). This team is undergoing some major changes (move to a new tougher conference, new coach and new quarterback), yet they are expected to win more games than last season? I’m not buying it.

Again, those who know me know I don’t make recommendations based on gut feel. I use the math. When I make a big play, it’s backed by statistics that tell us we have a very high chance of winning. We’ll get into those numbers shortly. But first, a little about Texas A&M this year vs. last…

Goodbye Old – Hello New

The biggest change of course is the move from the Big 12 to the SEC, the meanest, baddest football conference on the planet. A&M’s conference schedule just got a whole lot harder. After opening at Louisiana Tech, they face Florida on September 8th. They also get the privilege of playing South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU, Auburn, Alabama and Missouri this season. On top of this huge change, the team has a brand new head coach (Kevin Sumlin) and a new quarterback.

Offense – Top players gone and QB is a major concern

In 2011, this team was ranked No. 11 in the FBS in scoring (39.1 points per game) and No. 18 in passing yards (over 291 per game). The Aggies were especially productive in the red zone last year, ranked No. 2 in the nation, scoring 95.2% of the time. Unfortunately for them, Ryan Tannehill and his record-setting 3,744 passing yards is gone to the NFL. It’s unclear who will replace him, which is not a good sign. Either Jameill Showers, Johnny Manziel or Matt Joeckel will take over. Whoever lines up as the signal caller will struggle relative to the experienced and talented Tannehill. The good news is that the offensive line is solid and experienced. But, Quarterback is the most important position in football. The fact that this team still hasn’t decided means that whichever inexperienced QB gets the call, will not have had much dedicated time with the No. 1 offense.

Defense – Weak in 2012

The Aggies defense was ranked No. 70 overall last season, allowing over 28 points per game. They allowed opponents to score 88% of the time in the red zone, ranking them No. 101 in the nation. They ranked No. 109 in the nation against the pass. A&M allowed 30+ points six times and 40+ four times in 2011. Folks, these are not good numbers. There are only four returning defensive starters that played 7+ games last season. To make matters worse, A&M must replace both starting cornerbacks. While Tannehill and the offense were able to simply outscore teams last season, they won’t have that kind of offensive production to rely on in 2012. In a conference that thrives on great defenses, A&M’s is anything but.

What’s most important – The Math

So we have some anecdotal evidence to suggest that it might be hard for Texas A&M to reach eight wins in 2012. But that’s never enough to risk good money on. We need some data that gives us a high confidence that this is likely to happen.

History often repeats itself. Do we have any relevant history that can guide us here? Yes we do and it’s based on data regarding teams that have a lot of upheaval in important positions. In this case, upheaval means a change in both head coach and quarterback.

Think about it, how important are these two things?

A change in head coach means major changes for players who have to adjust to a new way of doing things and often a new playbook. Sumlin is new as is his staff. Granted, Sumlin has coaching experience (head coach of Houston from 2007 to 2011 and several assistant gigs). But, he’s new to this team and has a lot to do in a short amount of time. A lot is up in the air and new this season. And, with change always comes disruption which usually equates to fewer wins in the short term. I am not knocking Sumlin specifically. I am just saying that change doesn’t happen overnight, nor without pain. Even if he’s the right man for the job (to be determined), it will take a while for players to get used to his approach and playbook and in the meantime, expect some turmoil.

A change in quarterback is equally disturbing for a college football team. This is the most important position on the field. A great quarterback can make a mediocre team a national championship contender. A bad quarterback can make a good team average. Experience matters. Again, no knocks on Showers, Manziel or Joeckel specifically. But, how good can they really be in their first real season? How much rhythm can they have with receivers? How much command of the team and huddle can these young men really have? And, none of them has been good enough as of the writing of this article to claim the job. Changing quarterback means disruption – in a bad way.

Now, combine these two forces and we have a really strong reason to believe that a team is going to under-perform, especially if that team is coming off a winning season. And the numbers back us up. Since the 2002 season, teams that changed both their quarterback and head coach following a winning season have gone on average from winning 69% of their games the year before making the changes to 53% winning following the changes. That’s an absolute drop-off of 16% and a relative drop-off of 23%! Less than a third of these teams were able to muster a winning season at all the year of the big changes. So that means two thirds of these teams had a record of .500 or worse the year after making these two big changes at the same time.

Yet, Texas A&M facing these historic numbers, and moving to the toughest conference in football, is supposed to win more games than they did last year? I’m not buying it.

I like Texas A&M UNDER 7 or 7.5 wins (different odds at different sportsbooks)

The Wunderdog

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Baseball picksAugust 17, 2012

Some people might tell you that the smart move is to make every MLB  baseball pick as soon as the line comes out. After all, this will give you a chance to make your pick before the line moves too much. There is some wisdom in this line of thinking. This ignores some of the realities that you will inevitably have to deal with, though. Baseball is a much different game. Because the teams play 162 games, there will be some interesting lineup moves that you will never see coming. You shouldn’t make your MLB picks unless you know have all of the information.

You also will want to know about the weather. Wind conditions make a huge difference in a baseball game. You can’t possibly know what the wind is doing until a few hours before the game. This is why it makes sense to wait as long as possible before making your picks. You should know that lineups are posted about a few hours before each game. If you will wait that long, you can see exactly who is going to be playing in the game. You shouldn’t make MLB picks until you have this information.

Don’t be afraid to wait a little while to pull the trigger on your MLB picks. The lines might move a little bit, but you will benefit from having all of the information. The best information is necessary if you want to come away with a winning baseball season.

Posted by Wunderdog’s Trusty sidekick Wundercat ”



Baseball picksAugust 9, 2012

When you make MLB picks, you need to bring all of the difficult factors into play. The smartest MLB bettors will consider every possible angle before they make their picks. One angle that you need to take into account is the ballpark where the game is being player. A ballpark will have a special impact on the total of the game. That’s because some ballparks play very large, while other parks play very small. You will need to price this into your picks before you make them.

Which stadiums are best for pitchers? If you are going to make MLB baseball picks on the under, then you might like to know this. Right now, San Diego is probably the best park for suppressing run scoring. Tampa Bay also has an extreme pitcher’s park. Minnesota has become well known for its large park, too. At night, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers have really good stadiums for pitchers.

When you want to make MLB picks on the over, then you will likely want those parks that are better for hitters. Coors Field in Colorado is a good hitter’s park. Cincinnati also has a park that plays well for hitters. Yankee Stadium and its small dimensions are very good for left-handed hitters. Remember this as you prepare to make your MLB picks. You don’t want to get stuck making a bad pick because you failed to account for this relatively simple handicapping factor.

Posted by Wunderdog’s trusty sidekick ” Wundercat “


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