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Monday, September 29

MAURICE CLARETT ENTERING THE 2004 NFL DRAFT 

(Zapote, Costa Rica, 29 September 2003)-Maurice Clarett is taking the NFL to court in order to enter the 2004 NFL draft. He is suing in an attempt to be declared eligible for the 2004 draft, or to force the NFL to hold a supplemental draft at an earlier date.

The petition was filed in US District Court in Manhattan last Tuesday. The suit claims that the league rules, regarding underclassmen entering the NFL draft, violate anti-trust laws. The NFL currently prohibits any player from entering the draft until he has been out of high school for at least three years. The NFL is the only sport with a draft that does not allow teams to select players when their high school eligibility is finished.

Alan Milstein, the lawyer for Maurice Clarett, has been quoted as saying, "We think we have a good case. We think Maurice will be in the NFL by next season." When asked how long it would take, he replied, "Three months, best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is it takes past April, but I don't think it will be a worst-case scenario."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello was quoted in response to the suit, "We do not believe that this lawsuit is in the best interest of Maurice Clarett, or college football players in general." When asked about his chances of winning a potential lawsuit earlier this month NFL Commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, responded " My feeling as commissioner is that we have a very strong case and we'll win it."

The NFL Players Association said in a statement Tuesday that, under the collective bargaining agreement, it wouldn't sue, or be party to a suit against the league challenging the college draft.

BetCBS.com FUTURE ODDS :
Will Maurice Clarett be cleared to enter the 2004 NFL DRAFT?

Yes, Maurice Clarett WILL be cleared to enter the 2004 Draft -140
(Wager $140 to win $100)

No, Maurice Clarett WILL NOT be cleared to enter the 2004 Draft +100
(Wager $100 to win $100)

* Betting 'Yes' includes Supplemental Draft

Tuesday, September 2

PRESEASON FOOTBALL - "Its all about the info." 

This past week I received an interesting email from a new player. He wrote the following, "Dave, how come I called in on Tuesday and the Chiefs were +1.5, but now they are -3? I opened an account with your book because I was told you offer fair lines. How come the game I want to bet has moved 5 points? I wanted to take the Chiefs +1.5 not lay -3."

The situation that this player experienced happens all too often in the preseason. Players sometimes cannot understand why games move so little in the regular season (1/2 point to 1 point), but can move 5 points or more during the preseason. My explanation of this preseason phenomenon can be summed up in one word - information. As Gordon Gecko said in Wall Street," I know of no more valuable commodity than information." Information is the sole reason why the Chiefs game moved from +1.5 to -3.

When the opening line was handicapped on this game in Las Vegas there were certain key, often intangible, factors that were not taken into consideration. It is these key factors that the Wise Guys zero in on when they make their bets. It is these key factors that lead to drastic line movement in preseason football.

Two of the most important factors, that can result in line movement on NFL games, are money and information. Of these two factors, information plays a much more significant role in the preseason. If a Bookmaker takes a large wager on a preseason game it does not mean the line will automatically move. However, if a Bookmaker takes a wager from a player, who has access to important information, then the line will probably move, regardless of the amount of money that has been written on this game.

Let me give you an example: Player A, an experienced player, who works hard to find valuable sports information, may come in right now and bet the Cowboys -3 for $2000. The Line Manager who runs betCBS immediately knows to move that line to -3.5 on the Cowboys. Soon, every other book in the world will be -3.5 as the player continues to bet the rest of his sportsbook accounts. Player B, a wealthy player, but not a professional, may come in right now and bet the Cowboys -3 for $2000, and we won't move the line. Why?

The logic is this. Player A made his wager because he 'knows' the Cowboys and how they are likely to play. On the other hand, Player B made his wager because he 'likes' the Cowboys, but does not have information that will factor into the outcome of the game. Although he bets a large amount of money, Player B does not have access to valuable information, and his opinion on a game will not justify moving the line at betCBS, or around the world. In this case the line remains Cowboys -3 until a Wise Guy decides to play, or enough money and bets are taken on one side of the game, that would justify moving it a small amount in an attempt to take back money on the other side.

With that in mind lets go back to the Hall of Fame game this past Monday night. The game opened up in Las Vegas at Packers -1.5. Right out of the box the Wise Guys started to bang the Chiefs hard. Chiefs +1.5, Chiefs +1, Chiefs pk, Chiefs -1, Chiefs -1.5, and it didn't stop there. They continued to relentlessly bet the game and drove the number 5 points until it settled in at Chiefs -3.

This was a serious preseason Steam game for the Wise Guys. So what information did the Wise Guys have that would move this line so dramatically? This game came down to two very important preseason factors that the Wise Guys keyed in on: 1. Coaching 2. Back-up Players Coaching.

Here's how their thinking played out. Dick Vermeil has always been an aggressive preseason Coach. He pushes his players hard in training camp and likes to set the tone for the season with big wins early in the preseason. This does not mean Vermeil will win every preseason game; it just means that Vermeil should be factored heavier when handicapping the line when compared to Mike Sherman. Decisions that Vermeil makes in the game would have more focus on winning the game than those made by Sherman.

Back-up players. The Chiefs have more depth with their second and third string players than the Packers. Both teams starting QB's were scheduled to only play 2 series. Not much of an opportunity to make an impact. The real game would be decided by the second and third string QB's and players. Todd Collins was 12 of 16 for 127 yd., with no INT's, while the Packers backup QB's combined 8 of 14 for only 71 yards, with 2 INT's. Not a huge discrepancy, but definitely enough to point the advantage marker to the Chiefs.

These factors, and others, led to the Steam play on the Chiefs. First the Wise Guys hit the game, and then the public followed, until we were heavily sided on Kansas City. At game time, 73.4% of all the wagers we wrote on the game were in favor of the Chiefs. Needless to say, we had a huge decision on the game and we were rooting hard for the Packers. Fortunately, for the bookmakers, this game was canceled in the 3rd quarter as a result of lightning and torrential rain.

The 9-0 score, at the time of the cancellation, would have led to a big payday for the Wise Guys, as well as the majority of our players. We booked a large amount of money on the Chiefs at every number from the +1.5, all the way, until the Chiefs were laying -3. The Packers were obviously outplayed the entire game and, at the time the game was canceled, were very lucky to be down only 9 points. We escaped with our tails between our legs on this game. Chalk one up for the Bookies.

There are three potential Steam games to watch this week: Opening Line Current Line Reason: Browns +3.5 Browns +2.5 Quarterback Controversy Redskins -1.5 Redskins -2.5 Coaching: Spurrier Cowboys -1.5 Cowboys -3 Coaching: Parcells.

Under the Weather-Not Just a Play on Words 

Have you ever noticed serious snow on your TV? No, I don't mean the kind associated with technical interruption of your favorite sports show. I mean something worse, like wind, rain, sleet and snowstorms. You know-those elements of Mother Nature that have had such a profound impact on the outcome of football games, through the years.

Every season there are a handful of games played on NFL Sunday where the outcome is directly related to the weather conditions under which they are played. The point is this; those gamblers who can identify the games likely to be affected by bad weather, can gain a distinct advantage for themselves when making their wagers.

In order to illustrate graphically how weather affects the game, it is probably best to use an example that sticks out in my mind from recent memory- the ill-fated AFC Championship Game 2002 at Foxboro, better known as the "Brady Blizzard".

On January 19th 2002, the New England Patriots and their second-year quarterback, Tom Brady, took on the Oakland Raiders, who were powered by a high scoring offense, and led by veteran, Rich Gannon. Foxboro has always been a hotbed for extreme weather conditions and this day was no exception.

The early weather forecast for the day of the game was the following:

Temperature 15-30 degrees F

20 + MPH Swirling Winds

Expected Snowfall 3+ inches

Field Cover 3 inches

The game started off with a light snowfall, which soon turned into thick, heavy white flakes, reducing visibility to almost nothing. The field surface as well as the surface of the ball became slippery, which led to many turnovers, and drastically restricted the passing game of both teams.

By half time, both of these powerhouse teams had accumulated a total offensive output of merely 7 points. The game was chock full of turnovers, and as it progressed, the running game became the focus. Both teams fought to get anywhere near the opposing end zone just to get a chance at a field goal try. In effect, a game that is usually measured in yards, became a game of hard-fought inches, and ultimately ended in one of the most controversial calls in NFL history.

Everyone reading I assume remembers the use of the Instant Replay Reversal, which late in the game ruled the Tom Brady pass as incomplete, rather than a fumble. I remember it painfully well myself, since the reversal on this call cost me, and many other books, a great deal of money in the playoffs. Without that particular reversal, we would have "cleaned up" on the game. Moreover, we would not likely have lost as much at the end when the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Even now, while watching replays, I am still not 100% sure that Brady's arm was in a forward motion when Woodson laid down that crushing tackle.

Here is a little history on how the line moved that stormy day:

The game opened Sunday night in Las Vegas with the Patriots three-point favorites at home, and good for a total of 41. Rich Gannon and the Raiders had been putting up strong offensive numbers all year long. Right from the start the total started getting bet over with 42's popping up all over the country.

Season averages for the two teams were as follows:

Raider's Offense 297.83 yds per game

Patriot's Offense 256.95 yds per game

Both teams had strong offensive numbers. Under normal circumstances, we would have been heavy on the over at game-time for both, Straight Bets and Teasers. Instead, that wicked Northeastern storm crept in before the start of the game, and the total on the game began to get slammed hard on the under.

The wise guys played the game under 42, under 41, under 40, under 39, until finally it settled at 38. If the game hadn't started, the wise guys would have continued to play it under as the snow continued to fall.

The outcome of the game is engraved in history. One of the most controversial calls in football history resulted in a final score of Patriots over Raiders 16-13. With the total staying under, and the game landing on the number 3, the cost to us was huge money. The wise guys, and semi-wise players alike, killed us on the under 42 and the +3.5 -30.

This particular contest offered up everything we try to protect against in weather-sensitive games. Here are some tips for you to keep in mind when handicapping weather games.

Tip One-Weather is an Equalizer

During games of heavy rain and snow, the ball becomes slick, quarterback to receiver eye contact is poor, and footing is less certain. Since it is harder to get a good grip on the ball, turnovers result. The increase in the number of turnovers favors the underdog, and opens up more opportunities for an upset.

Result: The wise guys bet us hard on the underdog. Most of the money booked was on the Raiders +3.5 (1-30).

Under normal circumstances this game may have been an offensive shoot-out. However, with the prevailing weather conditions, the respective Patriot and Raider game plans shifted focus from offensive play to defeating the other team defensively. In essence, emphasis on ball control and conservative play calling resulted in a low scoring game.

Result: The wise guys bet us very hard on the under.

Tip Three-Weather Forces an Offensive Running Game

The swirling winds during the game gusted 20 plus MPH. Without the ability to throw accurately, both quarterbacks became more dependent on the running game. That is OK too, except that running the ball takes time off the clock, and results in a shorter, low-scoring game.

Result: Due to the increased winds, the wise guys bet even more money on the under. The game moved four points before the start of it.

Tip Four-Weather Forces Teams to Rely on the Kicking Game

This type of weather forces teams to adjust their game plans. These two teams both relied heavily on scoring touchdowns all season. In a game like this one, the ability of the field goal kicker can be the deciding factor.

Result: In this game both kickers played well. Janikowski was 2 for 2, including a 45 yarder. Vinatieri was 3 for 3, including a 45 yarder. In other games, a weakness at the field goal position would sway the odds heavily in favor of the opposing team.

The Post Mortem

Looking back now, this game was a disaster from the start. The game was a dead under even before it started. The wise guys took the money and the stage was set for a disastrous Super Bowl, especially when the Patriots covered the 14-point spread.

Weather played a significant role in the outcome of this game. The underdog covered and the game stayed under. There was no way to take money back on the other side. The game was a total landslide from this bookmaker's perspective.

End Result: The bookmakers got killed, but there were a large number of happy players the morning after. They were celebrating the wake.

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