Monday, November 26, 2018

The Perils of Betting on Bad NFL Teams

There was a play in the Buffalo-Jacksonville game on Sunday that perfectly sums-up the inherent calamities involved with NFL wagering. The Jaguars were a 3 point road favorite presumably because they had just shown a pulse the week before against the Steelers and because the uninsured traveling carnival carousel that is the Bills quarterback situation was set to land back on rookie Josh Allen.    

With the score tied 14-14 in the third quarter, Blake Bortles lofted a typically wishful pass down the left sideline in the direction of Donte Moncrief who leapt in the air and made a great catch over a defender. (If nothing else, you have to give Bortles credit for initiating some amazing catches thanks to his "just get it in the vicinity of the target" throwing style he obviously learned from studying Eli Manning). Anyway, Moncrief and the defender came down with the ball together and Moncrief's ass landed on the one yard line before his momentum carried him into the endzone. The referee predictably and erroneously called it a touchdown. But the fun was getting started.

It's hard to tell exactly how the fisticuffs began because the camera was locked on Moncrief and the defender on the ground still fighting for the ball but it looks like one of the Bills players freaked-out when the ref signaled touchdown and then a melee ensued. Next thing you know Leonard Fournette and Shaq Lawson are up against the crowd throwing punches and you immediately recognized that you were in a low income city because not one person could afford to throw a $9 beer on them. At about the 25 second mark you can see Bortles enter the right side of the picture having just thrown a trident that missed every Bills player and sailed into the crowd impaling a burly woman named Marge causing her to choke-up a bratwurst on the woman in front of her who was also named Marge.   



By the time they sorted it all out, the call on the field had been overturned because the receiver was down at the one yard line, Fournette and Lawson had been ejected and we suddenly had the most excited crowd of Buffalonians since Old Charlie got drunk and passed-out behind the wheel of the snowplow and they had to chase it down before he drove into Lake Erie. (Fortunately Old Charlie escaped unharmed unless you count his wounded pride and the snowplow is now a city monument to all things Buffalo . . . booze and snow).   

So now the Jags had a first down on the goal line but without the services of their best running back. You can almost guess what happens next but I'll go ahead and detail it anyway:

1st and Goal from the 1

Run the decaying carcass of Carlos Hyde straight into the pile for a one yard loss.

2nd and Goal from the 2 

False start. Back-up five yards. 

2nd and Goal from the 7

Bortles throws a screen pass to Dede Westbrook who sprints into the endzone. Oh wait. Holding penalty. Back-up ten more yards.

2nd and Goal from the 17

Bortles gets flushed out of the pocket and displays the athleticism that made him the third overall pick in the 2014 draft ahead of Khalil Mack, Odell Beckham and Aaron Donald. He gains one yard.

3rd and Goal from the 16 

The pocket crumbles under the weight of mediocrity and Bortles is sacked for an eight yard loss.

4th and Goal from the 24

Josh Lambo's 42 yard field goal sails wide left.

At that point the crowd went ballistic and the Bills scored a touchdown on the ensuing three play drive aided by another Jags penalty. The Bills would add a field goal which effectively put the game out of reach for the hapless Jags offense and the game ended 24-21. Bortles' line for the day was 12-23 for 127 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT's and 3 sacks for 20 yards. His 2019 cap hit is $21M.   

But let's go back and examine the play that potentially flipped this game from a Jags cover to a Bills win. If Donte Moncrief's butt hits the ground a couple feet further downfield, the Jags score a touchdown and take a 21-14 lead in a game they had once trailed 14-0. Then the home crowd starts to lose interest and the rookie quarterback gets a little tighter having to play from behind instead getting to charge down the field with nothing to lose like William Wallace in Braveheart with 70,000 Buffalonians cheering him on (I'm guessing not a lot of Jacksonvillians made the trip). 

Not surprisingly, you will find a
wide array of options when you
Google "Blake Bortles Sack".
Or what if the Jags offensive coordinator Nathan Hackett had decided to do something on first and goal from the one yard line instead of running their third string running back up the middle? I know you're dealing with some limitations at quarterback but maybe take advantage of a defense that's frothing at the mouth and run a play action pass to a tight end which seems to work in the NFL about 127% of the time. In a related story, Hackett described his firing this morning as "a shock." Really Nate? What did you think was coming after seven straight losses during which your offense averaged less than 16 points per game? A new jet ski and a raise?

Anyway, my point to the extent that I have one is that the NFL is one seriously fickle and treacherous mistress. I was on the wrong side of that Jaguars pick because I moronically thought that maybe Blake Bortles could outplay a rookie but look at some of wacky ways I got picks right. The Ravens covered because Terrell Suggs who is older than disco picked-up a fumble, ran in a circle, tried to lateral it and then took it 43 yards for a touchdown in the 4th quarter. The underdog Seahawks won outright because Russell Wilson converted a 4th and 3 with 3:26 left by throwing a perfect 35 yard touchdown pass. I guess that's why he doesn't have a contract through 2020 and Bortles does? (And I'm the moron).

With all that being said, I'm 8-5-1 this week heading into the Monday night game using my new FGR Super System so I'm pretty sure I've got it all figured-out. Now I just need to find a bookie and a pawn shop.         

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.   
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