Fishing in Lockness – NFL Wildcard and BCS Title Game

by dave on January 4, 2013

My Vegas condo agreement requires me to publicly tout gambling picks for the week. I can’t GUARANTEE A FIVE STAR LOCK OF THE MILLENNIUM, YOU ARE A COMMUNIST TRANSVESTITE IF YOU DON’T BET ON THIS but I can identify the games that seem to me to have an essence of Lockness about them, which smells like a mix of algae, brackish water and lizard breath.

Also, I am totally welcoming of all communists. Transgendered, transvestite or other.

Is there anything better than unexpected good news?

This morning, I woke up planning to spend my morning at an auto shop getting a minor but annoying issue with my car fixed. It seemed to my unsophisticated eye to be a simple fix, but I am jaded to expect the worst any time I walk in a mechanic, where seemingly no matter what issue I arrive with, I drive out hours (if not days) later hundreds of dollars poorer.

So, I didn’t start the day in the best of mindsets, until I got an email from The Shadow – friend of this site, international sex symbol and my partner in our LVH SuperContest entry, Team THH. In addition to the season long contest, in which our entry has been mired somewhere below the mean all season, this year LVH instituted a mini-contest for early joiners. The entry (or entries) with the best aggregate records across the final three weeks of the season, would win $10,000. With no shot at the big money, we focused on this as a chance to get our money back.

Week #15: We started off well with a 4-1 week, our 2nd or 3rd 4-1 week of the season, our only loss being the New York Giants getting thumped by Atlanta. But at 4-1, along with about 100 other entries we were at least still in the discussion

Week #16: We assumed our dream ended with a 3-2 week after the Bucs decided to finish the season 2 weeks early and got blown out at home by the Rams. The Giants poured salt on our wound by losing again – this time getting blown out in Baltimore. With 3 losses and several teams with 1 or 2 losses we abandoned hope of finishing in the money in the Mini-contest.

With no chance at money we had three goals with week #17 remaining (1) just one 5-0 week, (2) get our record above .500 across the contest and (3) finish in the top 50% of the contest.

Week #17 – Things started well for us. Indianapolis easily covers their +6.5 spread, winning the game outright. Buffalo blows out the Jets, thanks to yet another fine show of incompetence by Mark Sanchez and the Titans dominate the Jaguars. With the morning gone, we are 3-0. In the afternoon session, after Houston’s loss, the Patriots came out with an eye toward earning the #2 seed and dominated the Dolphins, ensuring a playoff bye week. 4-0 with only the Redskins remaining.

The Redskins held a 3 point lead over the Cowboys with three and a half minutes remaining and it sure appeared that at best we would get push and a 4-0-1 week. But then Tony Romo did Tony Romo things to start the drive where he has a chance to win the game and propel the Cowboys to the playoffs –lofting a pass to the flat that is intercepted by the Redskins. Deep in the Cowboys end, the Redskins could either run out the clock, kick a gimme field goal if unable to gain a first down or score a touchdown. Ultimately, they score the touchdown, giving them a ten point win and giving Team THH a 5-0 week. Miracle one is completed.

The perfect score has also gotten us above .500 on the season: 42-41-2. Miracle #2.

After some virtual rejoicing, we all move on with our lives – I moved on to the bowl games that peppered the next two days. Shadow and Turner turn to family, football and then work.

It was just this morning, as part of an on-going email exchange I asked Shadow if he had ever gone back to check how we had ended up in the final standings – could we really finish in the upper half of the 745 entrants?

It was a picture in his response that added a couple watts to the blinding Vegas sun outside.

(Note, this isn’t doctored in any way, despite an 18 way tie, they really did put us at the top on the official standings released on the LVH website).

Not only had we finished with a 5-0 record, got above .500 for the season and ended in the top half of all entrants (349 of 745 – Miracle #3), we somehow clawed back into a tie for the Mini contest prize.

Miracle #4 – more than enough miracles for us to be sanctified.

We didn’t win the $450,000+ SuperContest first prize but we never expected to. However, at most, 38 of the 745 entrants got any money back from the LVH SuperContest this season, and we were one. Our $525 prize ($10,000 split 18 ways), barely covers one-third of our entry fee, but this is probably the most satisfying win of the season for me. We joined the contest to play with the big boys and succeeded in every way imaginable.

I am already looking forward to the planning for next season that will occur at our celebratory dinner this weekend.

Oh, and at the auto shop, 5 minutes of work at no cost fixed my problem – thanks Raymond!

Lockness #1 – Houston vs Cincinnati Under (43.5)

Over the last several weeks I have been trying out a new system for handicapping football games. I found it on the internet, and you can always believe everything you find on the internet. Anyway, what the system told me this week is that all the games have point spreads with little value. It came out slightly preferring all of the underdogs, but none with any great value. Basically when I asked it for advice, it shrugged its shoulders and replied ‘you got me’.

In the AFC I lean toward Houston winning (I think they re-discover what made them the best team for much of the season) as well as Baltimore (you think Ray Lewis is losing his final home game to a rookie quarterback?) but the system’s lack of confidence has rubbed off on me. Even with my vague and loose definition of ‘lockness’ I can’t come up with any teams that fit.

But this new system actually produces a projected final score as well and for the Houston /Cincinnati game it projects a final score significantly less than the Over/Under of 43.5, so let’s go with that. Will I bet this? Yes. Will I bet it confidently? No. Like any other bet this weekend.

For the record, the system says this score will be: Houston: 19.77, Cincinnati: 16.05. And you thought that one-point safety in the Fiesta Bowl produced a weird score.

Lockness #2 – BCS Title game: Notre Dame (+10) vs Alabama

Lockness #3 – Hail Mary of the Week: Notre Dame Moneyline (+290) vs Alabama

We’ve all been there. Bets have been going against us all day. Down to one last bet, it just isn’t worth trying to win less than double our money because when you are trapped at the bottom of a well, 3 feet off the ground is still deep in the well. We need the big score to get back. We could look for a parlay and hope 5 or 6 things all break our way or we can find one highly improbable thing that might, maybe, possibly, could happen and go all-in on it. This is the ‘Break Glass in Case of Emergency’ bet in the sports book.

I love Notre Dame as a big underdog against Alabama in the BCS title game next week. I have bets on them at +9 and +10 already, totaling more money than any game I have bet to date. If it gets to +10.5 before kick-off I will lay more.

Unlike my middling NFL picks though, this isn’t based on the any other mathematical system, it is based on history.

Think back on the BCS title games when one team comes in as a prohibitive underdog – a team that hasn’t looked impressive or played a great schedule. That team seems to always play it very close if not win out right. To me, the 2012 Notre Dame is a perfect reflection of the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes team. They have played and won several very close games over unimpressive foes (2002 Purdue, 2012 Pitt). They rely on defense and the offense not making mistakes. And in the national title game they play a fast, Southern team that is seriously looking at the word dynasty if they win again (Ohio State played defending national champion Miami). Ohio State won out-right in double overtime (thanks to some dubious officiating) but regardless, they easily covered the two touchdown spread. I think Notre Dame does the same.

All of these beliefs that I have clung to for weeks have only been bolstered by the less than impressive showing by the SEC in the last week. LSU losing to Clemson (ACC pride!); Florida getting crushed by Louisville (Soon-to-be-ACC Pride!); Mississippi State losing to Northwestern; South Carolina squeaking by Michigan. Maybe, just maybe the SEC isn’t as strong as people think when they see those jerseys. Maybe Bama has feasted on bad offenses and mediocre opponents (remember they didn’t play South Carolina or Florida, two of the three best teams in the East).

Maybe Notre Dame has heard for a month how they don’t deserve to be on the same field as the mighty SEC.

Maybe, just because Notre Dame is located in the Rust Belt people forget that they already beat USC and Oklahoma, teams with just as much speed as any SEC team.

For the first time since about 1988 I will relish in my family’s heritage and be a huge fan of the Irish. Fight on Notre Dame, fight on.


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