I have learned a lot of lessons this season.
And while I am not going to share all of them right now (one day I’ll write a tell all from my yacht), it feels like an appropriate time to offer one of them as we enter the home stretch of the NFL regular season.
That lesson? There are no what-ifs.
In gambling it is easy to sit back and wax poetic about all that could have been. One made field goal, one called penalty, one completion.
But the important thing here is that when you do this you are costing yourself the opportunity to be right as well.
The corollary to the no what-ifs is actually that there are infinite what-ifs and that if you indulge one then you have to indulge them all. What if your winning bet had included an injury? What if that kicker had missed the extra point? What if you hadn’t bet that game?
This argument is neatly captured in the American classic Mighty Ducks. If you haven’t seen it you should stop reading this website until you have, but as a refresher for those who might forget: Head Coach Gordon Bombay was a hockey prodigy whose career took a hit when he took a penalty shot and clanged it off the post. His whole life he asks the question, “What if it had been three inches to the right? Where would my life be?”. It isn’t until he tells this to Charlie, his plucky, scrappy captain that he is given the right perspective. Charlie shares, “Well, what if it was three inches the other way? You would have missed completely”.
By spending his time thinking about that one what if, Gordon Bombay has opened the door to all of the what ifs. Charlie helps him see that if you think about one, you must think about them all and if you think about them all you will almost always see that you have come out in the middle (or slightly ahead if you manage to be a plus gambler) in all the possible what ifs.
So unless you are prepared to tally up all the what ifs of all the wins and losses, paying attention to one is a fool’s errand.
There is beauty in this, though. Once you decide to let go of what ifs, then you open the door to confidence. Without worrying about may or may not happen, it is easier to stake a position about what you believe will happen and then accept the consequences.
In gambling, money is made when you take a position and hold it. Bet with confidence and then accept variance. It might not be the catchiest slogan, but it is helpful to handling losses and maximizing wins.
Own the results and learn from them. Grip it and rip it. Clear eye, full heart, can’t lose. Quack, quack, quack.
Here are the Week 15 Best Bets:
TEN -3 vs HOU 4 Hoots WORMS Delta: 21 for TEN
It feels like Tennessee has been a best bet for the past month, but then again, they have been a winning bet for the past month.
And in this case, I think we have another opportunity to capture them in a spot where they are being undervalued.
If we look at this matchup merely from the lens of the Ryan Tannehill Titans vs the Texans over the same time period, here is the breakdown of the two teams:
Titans: 6-1, 31.4 ppg, 23.3 ppg allowed, +57 point differential
Texans: 4-3, 25 ppg, 25 ppg allowed, 0 point differential
Now, you can point to a blowout loss to the Ravens as the driving force behind the Texans lack luster numbers, but they have also lost to the Broncos and Colts during that span so we can’t totally write off that game.
And speaking of that Broncos game, you know who plays just like the Broncos? How about a team with a dominant running game, an explosive passing game, and a defense that can make plays when asked.
If you are not feeling the Titans here, then I would recommend that perhaps the over is another way to get a piece of this game in a plus value situation. If not that, then perhaps a bet on the Titans to win the division will offer a path.
Either way, though, recent history has told us that the Titans have the ability to hang with anyone offensively and I for one am not willing to bet against a team that is popping in both WORMS and the eye test.
Titans by a million, forever.
TB -4.5 @ DET 4 Hoots WORMS Delta: 12 for TB
Once again, we could talk about Tampa Bay being an underachieving, sleeping giant; being two plays away from two more wins; about the strengths of their offense and the ability of their defense to make plays.
But I wrote a whole intro about ignoring what ifs, so we can’t talk about that.
Instead, let’s deal in facts.
The Lions are playing this game without their QB1, QB2, RB1, WR2, and TE1. They are implied to score about 21 points. That seems far-fetched.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is missing their WR1A. They still have a WR1B and plenty of other weapons, though, and even though Jameis Winston injured himself but practiced fully by the end of the week.
So at the end of the day, Detroit is a shell of a team that was .500 with all of its pieces. Tampa Bay is one piece removed from a .500 team.
That simple math should lead us to an easy bet on the Bucs to be able to run up the score in a dome against David Blough and company.
WAS +6 vs PHI 3.5 Hoots WORMS Delta: 9 for WAS
Full disclosure, I make this pick in spite of the knowledge that I am essentially selling my soul.
Picking Washington is to pick a racist, poorly run, player harming franchise that does not respect its fans, employees, or an entire race of people.
But this, unfortunately, is not a morality competition. It is about finding places where teams are being over or undervalued. So despite it costing me my soul, I do love Washington this week.
For weeks now, they have been beating the spread and playing solid football. Their defense is difficult to pile up points against and their offense is capable of converting some drives into points. That recipe produces close games that often go overlooked.
Philly, meanwhile, is in a tail spin. They required a late game rally and overtime heroics to beat an Eli led Giants team. That win stopped a three game losing streak, but it does not change the position they are in.
They are missing multiple wide receivers, multiple running backs, and have had various offensive linemen in and out of the lineup.
They are reeling and although they may win this game, they seem destined to struggle in doing so.
And if this bet is costing me my soul, the good news is that a Washington win will result in me having two souls.
That means I can bet on Washington with a clear conscious next week.
MIN -1.5 @ LAC 3 Hoots WORMS Delta: 11 for LAC
It has become a running joke inside my head that at least once a week I need to pick against WORMS.
It offers me the opportunity to claim victory either way, although so far I have come out on the losing side more often than my creation.
In this case, though, I see a path for me to defeat WORMS.
The main reason for this is that the Chargers are coming off of a massive win against a Jacksonville squad that is mired in one of the worst stretches in NFL history.
With WORMS weighting this win (in my opinion) too heavily, it is struggling to see the real picture of a Chargers team that consistently disappoints. Case in point, after upsetting Green Bay to put themselves in line for a potential playoff run, LA lost to Oakland, Kansas City, and Denver before blowing out Jacksonville.
In other words, this team is not good.
Minnesota, meanwhile, hasn’t been blown out all year and has managed to keep all of their losses to one score or less (save for a 10 point loss in Week 3 to Chicago). Given the division and conference they play in, this is impressive.
So then, without offering too many statistics, this comes down to a team that is a proven and consistent winner versus one that is not.
The Chargers win against Jacksonville can’t erase a season of disappointment, and the Vikings are not a team that disappoints.
SEA @ CAR under 50 3 Hoots
It’s the return of our over/under bet!
After a hiatus from including these in our best bets, I came across one that I cannot, in good conscious, pass up.
With Seattle traveling to Carolina, this game has a chance to feature the most run heavy game plan in the NFL this season.
As a quick recap, we know that Seattle’s desired outcome in this situation is to jump out to a lead and then sit on the ball for large stretches of time. The best example of this was their game against Atlanta where they got out to a bid lead in the first half and then had Russell Wilson throw the ball five times in the second half.
This is going to be even more emphasized given that Carolina has one of the worst run defenses in the league over the past month. Over their past three games they have given up 175 rushing yards per game.
Carolina also happens to have a terrible quarterback. Kyle Allen has played his way out of the job for next season and has left the Panthers relying on Christian McCaffrey for everything.
So overall, we have two teams that want to run and the team that is favored is prone to a slow pace when they are ahead.
This is a high total game that may go over because of the porous Panthers D, but I see it going under because of the conservative Seahawks O.
The Big Money Makers
Old parlay fingers is heating up!
For the first time all season, we won two of our printed parlays last week, in large part due to the fact that we shrunk down the size of the bets we were working with.
So naturally, we are sticking with what worked and placing modest parlays that maximize sensible earnings for ourselves.
Since our parlay coffers are full, let’s place a couple of responsible parlays and then let’s let is all hang out in a couple.
And a friendly reminder, these parlays aren’t used to keep the lights on, they’re for buying a chandelier.
Also please remember that these bets were made throughout the week and include odds gotten at different points in the week.
Here are the Big Money Makers for Week 15:
PARLAY 1 - The 3 Hooter
TB -4 (-115)
TEN -3 (-115)
MIN -2 (-105)
BUF to win (-105)
$34 to win $418.99
PARLAY 2 - The WORMS
TB -3.5 (-110)
TEN -3 (+100)
CIN +9.5 (+100)
BUF to win (+100)
$72 to win $1027.64
PARLAY 3 - The I don’t give a Hoot #1
TEN -3 (+100)
CIN +9.5 (+100)
BUF to win (+100)
LAR -1.5 (-110)
SEA to win (-250)
SF to win (-510)
NO to win (-450)
$25 to win $766.59
PARLAY 4 - The I don’t give a Hoot #2
TB -4.5 (-115)
TEN -3 (-110)
WAS +6 (-110)
CIN +10.5 (+100)
BUF +1 (-115)
LAR -2 (-110)
MIA +3 (+100)
MIN -1.5 (-110)
SEA CAR u50 (-115)
$15 to win $4956.37