Should I hire a Wagering Professional Service?

Let’s start with this, a professional sports bettor earns a living from winning wagers anywhere from 55% or above. For many new to this business, that statistic seems small. Most bettors think that professionals win every game to earn their living. That is far from the truth, yet have you tried to win 55% or more against the spread? Making a living also entails something most bettors cannot master: the art of bankroll management. This article is not about bankroll management, but we need to discuss it. The opinions of professionals are not exclusive to winning wagers, but how to manage the money while wagering is almost exclusively a professional realm. It is common to see a novice bettor go on a winning streak making severe advances. However, it is more common to see that same novice out of money only several weeks later. Why does this happen?
Most bettors need to learn more about whether they are making good wagers or their odds of winning their bets. I am not speaking of the sportsbook’s odds but of the bet odds if it is made. Let’s use the Super Bowl. Circa sportsbook opened the line at KC -2.5. All the money quickly came in a made the line PHI -2.5, finally settling around PHI -1.5. A professional will respect the opening number. Once they see the line move, they will act quickly to take advantage of the best number of KC+2.5. Once the number falls back to PHI -1 or KC +1, they will pass on that wager. Instead, they will find alternative solutions like KC on the money line for plus money. That is just the tip of this, however. If you bet on PHI -2.5, how bad of a wager was that? Do you know your odds of winning that bet? Because you know the odds are -110 (laying $110 to win $100), what if your odds of winning the -2.5 wager were only 45%? Would you still lay points knowing you would only win this wager 45% of the time and have 52% odds? This is what a professional can tell you!

            This industry is so convoluted with “professionals” that most novices do not know whom to follow. The mainstream media provides flat-out unusable content. Most people use social media to find their ideas and suggestions, yet virtually all those people are just trying to use sign-up money to make a living. This is a buyer-beware business, but it doesn’t have to be!

            Look, professionals are not on social media throwing their picks; it is not in their best interest. They are competing with you to get the best numbers. Sure, they might be selling services for which you gain access to their picks. But they don’t give out anything. Their time is valuable, and they charge you for it, and so does every other business. There are two types of legitimate betting services. Type one is to follow a professional, allowing access to wagers they make for a fee. Type two is where professionals, possibly more than one, provide insight, data, and wagering ideas for you to decide how to make your wager. Virtually everything else is nothing more than a scam. Remember, if anything is FREE, reconcile how much value to attach.  No professional consultant values their time so little less enough to give anyone anything for FREE.

            Why pay anyone at all? Most bettors need to be able to win more to make money. Most bettors make mistakes that professionals do not. Most bettors need to wager more on their unit size to afford a service. Most bettors make exotic wagers expecting huge returns. Most bettors have an illusion of what sports betting is. Also, using a non-legitimate service can be another pitfall. There are many pitfalls for these bettors.
First and foremost, you will not have to deal with the pitfalls that make this endeavor tedious and a losing proposition. It would be best if you gained revenue based on your winning bets. You should also learn from a professional and understand the business better. You will save the hours of preparation time required. Sports wagering is a grind that requires hours and sacrifices. You will be able to make money. You will be able to learn the business. If you can afford a professional service fee, it is in the best interest of your wagering career that you invest. In the long term, you will come out ahead. Avoiding mistakes and allowing someone else to find good wagers is imperative to success. The most significant difference between a novice and a professional is that a professional only makes good wagers. They don’t always win, but they will be successful over time by making only good wagers.

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My Super Bowl Breakdown and Wagering Selections

The Circa Sportsbook opened this game at KC -2.5 and quickly saw the line move to PHI -2.5. It has settled at PHI -1.5 or -1. The total opened at 48.5 or 49 in most places and now is 51. By listening to pundits and anyone else who will gladly give you their opinion on this game, many common themes are being told. PHI has a great defense. PHI has a record number of sacks. PHI scores quickly as they are the highest-scoring team in the first half of the NFL. PHI has a great secondary. PHI has excellent receivers. PHI can run the ball. PHI has Nick Siriani, the Coach of the Year. The theme could include other things too. I have heard about how great they are on converting 4th downs; Jalen Hurts is 16-1 as a starter, Hurts has scored more TDs than any other QB, etc. There is heavy optimism for PHI. VSiN betting splits show that 67% of the money comes from PHI.

I don’t care who wins. But I do watch how my wagers turn out. I say that
because I do not have an agenda to rail for one side or the other. Instead, I
need to find out how to make money. So, with that said, here is my breakdown.

While many of the themes above are factual statements, they are just game
elements. From the very beginning, there is a reason Circa Sportsbook opened
the number with KC as the favorite. My friend and colleague, Jeff Dawson,
always says, “respect the opening number.” Most bettors are past that
point, as we are almost two weeks past that date, and other trends or stats are
filling their minds. If Circa believed KC was the favorite, were they wrong to
believe that? I say no.

At this point, everyone knows about the soft schedule PHI played. If you
don’t, you should. It was the NFL’s most manageable schedule. It is more
important to consider that PHI played only 2 QBS in the top ten rankings for
QBR (DET J. Goff and NYG D. Jones). Here is the list. In the games where they
played a top-10 QB, they allowed an average of 21.3 points. If you move that to
inside the top 15 (Prescott gets included), the average points allowed are 26.
Also, the key to note, KC QB Patrick Mahomes is ranked #1 at QBR!

There needs to be a more critical call against PHI for how they have played, especially Jalen Hurts, since his return in week 18. In the two games he missed, week 16 and week 17, the defense allowed 40 points to DAL and 20 points to NO. Their defense allowed points to talented QBs during the season and is not one of the best. However, I expect them to be solid. But the offense has been concerning regarding the passing game. Since his return, Jalen Hurts has attempted 17 passes of more than ten yards in his three games. He has only completed 5 of them. That is a 29.4% completion rate. He did throw a TD over 10 yards, either. Below are his charts for those games. KC Patrick Mahomes has attempted 19 passes of more than 10 yards, completing 12 (63.2%) with 2 TDs.

The vaunted PHI OL is statistically different from what most people think,
especially when pass-blocking. The PHI OL ranked only 12th in pass block win
rate. This is interesting because all we hear about is how dominant PHI’s OL
and DL are, yet KC is 2nd in sacks with 55 and 3rd in adjusted sack rate. It
may turn out that KC will pressure Hurts as much or more than PHI. PHI is the
best defense with 70 sacks and #1 in adjusted sack rate, but they will line up
against the KC OL, which is #1 in pass block rate and only allowed 26 sacks on
the season, ranking 3rd best.

Football Outsiders wDVOA (weighted DVOA, which credits later played games
more than earlier ones) has KC 34.4% #2 and PHI 28.9% #5. This leads to the
question of Circa. Did they get it wrong? Not according to wDVOA. So my game
theory would be that PHI runs the ball as much as possible. It is a strength,
and try to play from the lead. I have serious doubts if they trail in this game,
which leads to the game script. I will say it this way. I am comfortable with
Mahomes and Reid playing from any game script (behind or ahead), but I am only satisfied
with Hurts and Siriani if they play in front. In 2021, Hurts had a script where
he played from ahead in 46.7% (based on 274 of 587 dropbacks when PHI had a
>40% win probability). In 2022, he had 95.1% (598 of 629). It means they
were always ahead. They capitalized on whom they played for sure. Since PHI was
not behind often, Hurts can be charted for in the 2nd of games in 2022, where
he was in an unfavorable game script (losing, WP <50%). His results are alarming.
He had a -01.83 EPA/play and a 40.8% success rate. In comparison, his results
are +0.125 EPA/Play and 48.6% success rate when in favorable game script. This
leads to believing Mahomes can come back if necessary and Hurts cannot.

I also know that KC needs to get more credit for their defense. Sure, it is
not full of Pro Bowlers like PHI, but wDVOA ranks it 12th, just
outside the top ten. I did mention their ability to rush the passer. It is
2nd/3rd best in the league, depending on which metric. However, their pass
defense has improved dramatically, and their rush defense ranks 15th. KC has
always been known as a team needing to outscore what their defense allows. This
KC defense is not exceptional, but it is better than those from the past. The
chart shows KC’s defense from weeks 1-7, then from weeks 9-21. It went from
ranking 27th vs. the pass to 9th! This also coincides with the return of rookie
CB Trent McDuffie. As much as they are improved, they can still be run on.

Lastly, KC played in a lopsided Super Bowl the last time they were here.
They had a banged-up OL, and TB had Mahomes running for his life. Reid and Mahomes
will want to take that taste out of their mouth. Reid is known for his extra
prep time success 28-4, including last week vs. JAX. He is admired for his game
plans, opponent preparation, and play calling. Siriani is more known for his analytical
prowess and listening to the progressive side for when to “go for it or
not.” This suggests that what Reid is good at outweighs what Siriani is good

I bet KC +1.5, KC ML.

This will also be an Under game. I suggest waiting as long as possible to
make the wager, however. It is 51 now and may trickle up as more money comes
in. Under 51.5 or better is the target. I will be wagering that I have not yet.

In terms of prop bets:

Mahomes MVP +120

Total TDs in 1st half Over 1.5 +125

WBC Rosters are Out, now what?

It is important to understand who the teams will play as they progress in the tournament. For example, we must know that the two betting favorites can not make the finals together. The chart above shows the four-team pools, the dates they play, and where the games will be played. It also shows how the pool winners advance and which pool they are paired to. From the example, the betting favorites are the Dominican Republic and the USA from pools D and C. However, those pool winners advance to the quarterfinals, where they will play each other. So only one of them can advance to the championship eliminating the other. Let’s look at the odds as of today, 02/10.

These odds are from Draft Kings. We see that the Dominican Republic is +200 and the USA is +225 as the favorites. As we explained above, only one could advance to the championship. If we are to bet on one of them, we must dig deep into the teams to differentiate which one has more value because it would not be in our best interest to wager on both. Looking at the other side of the bracket (pools A and B), we see that Japan is +280 (3rd best price), the Korea Republic is +1400, and Cuba is +1400. The odds tell us that the Dominican Republic will play Japan in the championship. However, the USA could mess that up!

I think Japan will win that side of the bracket, as their team is better than anyone they compete against. Below is their roster. It is headlined by MLB superstars Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish, with 2023 new Japanese players to MLB Masataka Yoshida (BOS) and Kodai Senga (NYM). This roster includes former MLB M Tanaka and Y Kikuchi (TOR).

If we bookmakers make odds of making the championship round, this is the best bet. Still, Japan is also a formidable opponent to the Dominican Republic or the USA, making them the best value at +280 (opened at +300). It is often said that it is not wise to wager on the favorites. The reasoning usually is based on the short return provided by the shortest prices. However, when we have teams better than the rest, winning the wager is the value, so we must get the best price when we can. Think about the University of Georgia being the NCAAF favorite and winning the championship. No matter what anyone tries to tell you, a winning wager is better than a losing one! Large returns can be had on other wagers, as I don’t think it is best to play on teams other than the Dominican Republic, the USA, or Japan.

The next question is which team should we like from the bracket side with USA and Dominican Republic? I will list their rosters as above with Japan and show my charts comparing the teams base on Steamer projections for 2023.

These are loaded with the best players in the game. Now let’s look at a breakdown to see which team is better.

Looking at the charts directly above, the position players show the USA with an OFF WAR avg of 19.4 and a wRC+ avg of 125.3, which are slightly better than the Dominican Republic. If we remove Robinson Cano metrics from DR results, we get DR 17.8 OFF-WAR and 124.6 wRC+, which makes them still behind, but not by any measure of an edge. Team USA has 5 players at 30+ OFF WAR but no one over 34.9. The DR has only three over 30+ OFF WAR but has two over 40+. They have Juan Soto (55.5) and Vladimir Guerrero (42.8) MVP-caliber ratings. This tells me team USA offensively could be deeper, but the DR could be more explosive. They are the best two offensive teams in the tournament. I was surprised by the pitching. I fully expected the USA to fall way short. However, the starters have a slightly better FIP and WAR average. They have more starters too. Team DR has the NL Cy Young winner from 2022 in Sandy Alcantara and the only starter to average 10+ in K/9 with Cristian Javier. As listed, Clayton Kershaw would be the best USA starting pitcher, and I would have him listed as a favorite over either Alcantara or Javier. The bullpen is again where I thought team USA would be worse, but they don’t show that way. They have a better K/9 and FIP than DR. However, there is a big issue here. When those bullpen doors open, the relievers for the USA do not have the octane (gas) that DR has. These games are like World Series atmospheres. The bullpen needs to shut down games, which means velocity! The DR has four guys who can come in, throwing over 97, and team USA have zero!

At this point (a month before the games), I think the Dominican Republic is the best team and a better wager than the USA. Plus, I see a value wager to make for team Japan. As the spring unfolds, injuries, issues, chemistry, and players that fall out or are added in will adjust the odds. I will wait until the pitchers throw and have limited or non-issues with their arms before making any wagers.

A Sample Preview – Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles

            The last time the Baltimore Orioles were an above .500 team was in 2016.  They went 89-73 then and made the Wild Card in the playoffs. Again, last season, BAL was predicted to win a few games and finish last in the AL East. Keep in mind; that this is a team with 100+ losses in 3 of the past five seasons; in one of them, they only played 60 games, so it was 3 of the past four seasons! Amazingly, they won 83 games last season and finished 4th ahead of BOS in the AL East. This is a very young team with emerging talent, so they should be exciting and fun to watch. Unfortunately for them, both the Pythagorean model and the Base Runs models show they were lucky to win as many games as they did in 2022. BAL benefited by either 4 or 5 wins depending on which model you look at, yet that would not have prevented them from a 4th place finish (albeit a much closer finish). This means we need to start with BAL as a just under .500 team with a wins number of 78-80 games. As we dive into their players, we will see if we should expect another greater than .500 season, a playoff run, or a fade.

            The offense ranked 20th in runs scored and 18th in OFF-WAR. It has 99 wRC+, or 1% below an average offense. Their issues are in getting batters on base., They ranked 22nd in OBP. This low rank stems from a batting average of only .236 and below the league average. Their BABIP ranked 22nd, so when they put balls in play, they were worse than the league average at getting on base. BAL was 20 in BB/K, which means free passes were not as plentiful as strikeouts. This is common for a young team learning the strike zone. Another sign of this is they ranked 4th worst at O-Swing% (swing and misses at balls outside the strike zone). They were an average offense in the power departments. They hit 171 HRs, ranking them 16th, and their ISO rank was 14th. As the offense was average in most areas, the starting pitching left a lot to be desired. It ranked 25th in WAR with a 7.2. They threw only 802.1 innings, ranking 23rd and burdening the bullpen with a heavy workload. The starters won 41 games which ranked 21st. By comparison, OAK starters won 40 games. They ranked 22ns in FIP. The key to this was their inability to get strikeouts. They ranked 27th in K/9 under 7.00 at 6.95. There were only five teams that could say that. They also were terrible at allowing HRs, ranking 21st. Due to these factors, teams were able to hit for a high average against them. Opponents batted .265, giving BAL a ranking of 27th! Another way to gauge the performance is to look at ERA- and FIP-. These are based on a 100 scale, and BAL produced 112 in each. It means they were 12% worse than the average staff. The bullpen was how they maintained winning. They ranked 10th in WAR and won 42 games! So, the bullpen won more games than their starters. They threw 631 innings, or 8th most. It ranked 11th in FIP, not so much because of its ability to get strikeouts (22nd ranked) but because they were great at BB/9 (4th) and HR/9 (9th). Hey had only a few free passes and gave up limited HRs! They were top 10 in GB%, leading to the few HRs. It is not that they were unhittable; the opponents batted .238 against them (ranking 20th); moreover, they didn’t put guys on nor allow the ball to be hit out of the park.

            Number one prospect Adley Rutschman made his debut on May 21st. BAL was 16-25 on that date after losing to TB 6-1. Since that date, BAL went 67-54, which was 13 games over .500. He led their offense with an OFF-WAR of 22.5. He produced a WAR of 5.3 which is All-Star caliber. He finished behind league leader JT Realmuto who had a WAR of 6.5. He played in 113 games. He was 3rd in runs scored with 70. He led their team with a BB% of 13.8% and batted .254. He led them with a wRC+ of 133, or 33% better than average. He led their team with 35 doubles, plus he hit 13 HRs. He hit his first HR one month after his debut, so he kept improving as he saw more pitches. He makes contact too. He only struck out 18.3% of the time. Anything under 20% is excellent. He will be 25 years old and looks like the real deal. Anthony Santander led in RBIs (89) and HRs (33). He produced a wRC+ of 120. His OFF-WAR was 15.0 and 2nd on the team. It was the best season of his career. He is only 28 years old, so he should build from this. No other BAL batter had an OFF-WAR in double-digits. Cedric Mullins effectively led the team with a .258 batting average (Mancini had .268 but had 270 fewer at-bats). Mullins also stole 34 bases which was second to Jorge Mateo, who had 35. All three of these hitters have a K% of less than 20%! Ryan Mountcastle was the only other batter over 20 HRs with 22. He also produced 85 RBIs. However, he led the team in strikeouts with 154. Below are the Oriole batters from 2022 and their ZIPS projections for 2023.

            ZIPS Projections

            Whoa! We see someone new atop this list! Gunnar Henderson is this year’s #1 prospect! He is of the ripe old age of 21 years old! His projections are sweet! A 24.8 OFF-WAR and 5.0 WAR lead the team. Look at the RBI 90 and runs 100 projected! He has power, too, with 24 bombs! He plays 3rd base which will supplant the playing time of Jorge Mateo; however, the productivity should be much better! ZIPS has the most aggressive projections for Henderson. Steamer projects a 17.1 OFF_WAR and a 4.1 WAR. Rutschman has a 23.1 OFF-WAR projection, so now they have two bonified offensive performers! Roster Resource suggests that their lineup should be Mullins to leadoff, Rutschman, and Henderson. Add to this the nearly 30 HRs of Santander and Mountcastle, we have the makings of a potent offense. BAL added veteran Adam Frazier to play 2b. He is a well-rounded player who should help with defense and offense. Overall, if things break right, they could be much fun to watch, and their productivity could be much improved. However, things could be more along the lines of learning curves too.

            As we looked at prior, the starting pitchers need some help. Dean Kremer led the staff with a 1.7 WAR. He started 21 games and threw 120 innings. He was great at not allowing HRs or BBs but was not a strikeout pitcher. Unfortunately, this team has no true ace. John Means would be the most qualified for that role, but he was injured last season, only throwing eight innings. He had Tommy John surgery in April of 2022 and is likely to pitch later this season. Journeyman Jordan Lyles made 32 starts and threw 179 innings to lead the team. He also led them in wins with 12. Kyle Bradish is their best K/9 starter with an 8.49. Unfortunately, he also is the worst BB/9 and 2nd worst HR/9! Kremer, at 120 innings, was 2nd most, so innings limits will be a concern in the future. Below are the starting pitcher results for 2022 and the ZIPS projections for 2023.

            ZIPS Projections

            Here we see more significant changes with new names! Cole Irvin from OAK and Kyle Gibson from PHI are newly acquired pitchers. Next, we see John Means with 20 starts and 100+ innings. These are much better options than having Jordan Lyles be your leader. Again, these are not ace-type starters but better than serviceable performers. Now we get to be excited again. We will see Grayson Rodriguez, who is the #7 prospect. He was injured last season, or his debut would have been then. He is only 23 years old. He went 6-1 in 69.2 AAA innings last year. He had an outstanding 12.53 K/9 (97Ks) in those games! His average fastball is 96-98mph hitting 100+ on occasion. He has a big sweeping slider and a hard-breaking curveball. He has the stuff of aces! Roster Resource suggests Gibson will be the number one, then Irvin. Bradish and Kremer stay in the rotation, followed by Rodriguez. Due to the number of innings thrown last year by the starters, they will need to go deeper, using more pitchers than this group. They do have options there. The bullpen had three pitchers with a WAR of 1.0 or more and another who just missed with a 0.9. Felix Bautista led the team with 1.4. He also had a 12.06 K/9 rate! All four of their best relievers did have an issue with BB/9, as they were all over 3.15. Bautista took over the closer role in July and earned 15 saves. He only allowed 38 hits in 65.2 innings.
Bryan Baker produced a 1.2 WAR in 66 innings, and Cionel Perez a 1.0 WAR in 57.2 innings. Neither one will be the primary setup guys for 2023 as Roster Resource suggests Dillon Tate throw the 8th and re-acquired Mychal Givens to pitch the 7th. This bullpen’s depth is excellent by having Baker and Perez slide back. ZIPS projections are high on Bautista but not Givens. Givens is a high K/9 guy, and Tate is not, so their usage could vary, pending on the situation. This bullpen is as good as last season, but it is not better.

            I started by having BAL enter this season at 78-80 wins. Their offense was average, and their starting pitching was below average. They have improved in both areas. Much depends on Henderson and the continued development of their young players. It is often not a pure surge to success but a steady growth. Although improved, they do not match up with NYY, TOR, or TB regarding the pitchers. They cannot overtake any of those teams, but they could compete with TB if the offense comes together rather well. The AL East does get the benefit of a balanced schedule as well. Eighty-two wins (.500) is a reasonable target, and if things break right, maybe the upper 80s in terms of wins.

This is the kind of Spring Training info to be looking for

When it comes to Spring Training, it is important to focus on who is injured, who has changed things, who is limited, and so forth. It is NOT important to focus on games, innings, or results. Sure, that is not a carte blanch statement, but the gist is results are not the most important element to understanding how a team is prepared to start the season. Knowing how pitchers will be used in terms of pitch limits or where they might fall in the bullpen is more important. The same is true for position players. Suppose we can understand if the player is healthy, if there is a role/position change, or if the player is trying to improve his swing. These are the types of notes we should be taking. We should keep an updated list for every team. Another important data point is pitcher velocity gained and lost from the previous year. We can see the rise and demise of pitchers from these reports. If a pitcher loses velocity, there is a strong probability he will not pitch as well as in the past. Pitchers have been gaining velocity with all the specialized work regarding the Rapsoto machine, high-speed cameras, spin rate monitors, and so forth. These pitchers have a great chance of performing better than in the past. This type of information is not built into a line because it is not viewed as important to a power rating. However, we can get a head start on sportsbooks if we know something that can alter the value of a team in the first few weeks of the season, and the sportsbook will have to catch up regarding adjusting their lines.

A perfect example of this information comes from Jeff Zimmerman at Fangraphs. He writes an article named Mining the News. I am pasting a few tidbits from his Feb 2nd article to share, and I encourage you to seek this kind of knowledge and by all means, read his stuff.

• Michael Brantley might not be ready for Opening Day.

Astros outfielder Michael Brantley remains hopeful he’ll be ready to be in the Opening Day lineup following shoulder surgery performed in August. Brantley said Monday he will clear another hurdle next week when he begins taking batting practice, a major step with Spring Training less than three weeks away.


• The team will NOT utilize a six-man rotation but will have to be “flexible” with Shintaro Fujinami used to a six-day rotation. • A.J. Puk will be shifted to the rotation. • Dany Jiménez is the favorite to win the closer’s role. • Jesús Aguilar is working on his swing to hit high fastballs.


• George Kirby and Logan Gilbert will have their innings limited in Spring Training and to start the season. • Jarred Kelenic is in the base shape of his life. • Cal Raleigh (thumb) and Tom Murphy (shoulder) both had surgery this offseason.


• According to the GM, Grayson Rodriguez is expected to make the Opening Day rotation.


• Brock Burke could throw over 100 IP out of the bullpen.


• Kenta Maeda is 100% healthy. • Jorge Polanco is “ready to go“. • Alex Kirilloff still has a sore wrist.


• Ronald Acuña Jr. thinks he’s back to normal.


The team plans on utilizing some combination of five-man and six-man rotations and tandem starters.

AFC Championship Game

CIN playing KC has become a rivalry. CIN is 3-0 but has had to come from behind in every one of those games to win. We have superstar QBs, injuries, and flip-flop lines. I have a clear picture of all this offense, all these playmakers.

I don’t think this goes as scripted. These two teams will make long drives with multiple plays (even out of short fields), reducing the clock. Thus I think scoring will not get out of control. Another key here is CIN on defense, especially in the 2nd half. They are the #1 EPA defense in the 2nd half of the NFL! They make tremendous adjustments. Another factor is why I think there will be less scoring than what is thought to be. The total has not flipped like the game spread. It opened at 49, then an adjustment for Mahomes injury, falling to 48.

Let’s look at this too. CIN has better playmakers, a better QB (Mahomes hobbled), a better DL vs. the run, better defense vs. the pass, and better special teams. KC has the better OL and coaching staff. I believe CIN is the better team. According to the Pythagorean wins standings, KC is worse than their actual record, and CIN is better than theirs. Now add that CIN played the 4th most difficult schedule and KC only the 29th! CIN is tested!

In the previous matchups, Joe Burrow has a passer rating of 121.0. He averaged 36 attempts with 26 completions for 327.3 yards. He had 8 TDs and 1 INT! He was sacked 6 times (2 per game avg). Joe Burrow is 23-3 (including the win vs. BUF last week) when he gets sacked 3 or fewer times! He is 4-8 when he gets sacked four or more times. BUF rushes the passer better than KC, and CIN did not have trouble in the snow against them, even with backup linemen in the game. Burrow was 7-8 with 1TD against the blitz vs. KC in week 13. KC will need to find a way to pressure without blitzing. I expect a similar game from them against KC. This bodes well for CIN.

Patrick Mahomes led the league with 183 designed rollouts and scramble-type passes. His passing grade was 2nd best in the league. When he was injured last week, he returned and threw 20 passes. Only 1 was considered a scramble or rollout. I believe he will be more active but not healthy. He will be more limited. A Patrick Mahomes at 70% is better than most teams’ starting QB. I expect KC to run more, thus taking some pressure off Mahomes.

Another factor is the red zone. KC offense is #6, and CIN is #8 (no edge). BUT CIN is #5 in red zone defense, whereas KC is #26! No question it is a big edge for CIN.

I think CIN is the better team. They are tested and riding a winning streak of 10 straight games; they have the better QB and a solid defense. I played CIN +1.5, and CIN +109, and Under 48.

NFC Championship Game

These teams are images of each other in many ways, but some differences swayed me to take action. They are both known for having stellar defenses and the best defenses in the NFL. The quandary is that PHI has been the better team over the season, yet SF has been the better team since acquiring McCaffery. Football Outsiders weighted DVOA (where only recency matters) has SF at 43.9% DVOA and PHI at 26.3%. The gap is substantial.

I thought an underlying issue was going to be that PHI played the 32nd SOS (strength of schedule), which is neutralized by SF having played the 31st. It tells me the data is even between the two. Of the remaining playoff teams, PHI is #1 in EPA on defense in the 1st half, whereas SF is #3. PHI is known to start very fast (#1 in NFL) by scoring an average of 18 points in the 1st half. They are now facing a tough defense but not an impossible one. PHI should have opportunities, as SF does have trouble with QBs who run the football. In 2021, Hurts ran 10 times for 80+ yards, and this season both Marcus Mariotta and Jared Stidham found success. All that said, SF did not allow a single rusher to have over 70 yards rushing this season (PHI had 14 games where that happened). SF will not get gashed here, but Hurts might be why the offense opens up for that passing game. SF is susceptible to play action and deep shots. They rank 24th against those deep passes. PHI will not go up and down the field but can have success.

This is where the rubber hits the road. There has NEVER been a rookie QB starting a Super Bowl game! SF has a rookie QB in Brock Purdy. Yes, he had game managed them to this point, and the defense has held the line. However, I believe PHI is on another type of level. Brock has played 2 away games, one in SEA and one in LV. PHI has the better DL and OL, plus a better ST. This matters because PHI, who had 70+ sacks, will not just pressure Purdy as DAL did; they will put him to the turf. PHI gets pressure from all their pass rushers, whereas SF gets it from Bosa. Purdy was 3-10 for 24 yards vs. DAL under pressure. He was 16-19 for 190 yards when not under pressure. He will see pressure this week! I expect a lesser performance from him. HC Kyle Shannahan will scheme to offset the defense and has many skill players to do, but I think this defense is too much. SF ran the ball 21 out of 30 plays in the 2nd half vs. DAL last week. They were in a game situation that allowed that. What happens if they are behind? I believe PHi will get the early lead, and SF will have to ask too much from the rookie QB.

I played PHI first half -1, PHI full game -2.5, SF Purdy Over 0.5 INT

MLB 2023 Betting Guide and Preview Question?

I am currently writing the MLB betting guide. I have several articles for this season. However, it would be fun to see if there were any topics you wanted to read about or have included in this year’s edition. Please reply and let me know if a topic comes to mind. Thanks as always!

Elite Pitching

I have mentioned that MLB is in an era of elite pitching. The offense is down, and strikeouts are up, causing rule changes (banning the shift) and, on the field, adjustments (such as lower the height fences or moving them in) to aid the batters and run scoring. The casual fan needs to be aware of how good the pitching is. Here is a great way to understand how hard it is to put balls into play. The average velocity on MLB fastballs in 2008 was below 91.5 MPH. In 2014, the velocity was just under 92.5 MPH. The 2018 season had 92.8 MPH., so we can see an increase in velocity. Last season, the average fastball was 95.3 MPH! It was not long ago that 95.3 MPH was the top end. Last season saw 3,356 pitches of 100+ MPH! In 2021 and 2019, there were only 1,056 pitches at that mark. Last season had three pitchers, MIN Jhoan Duran, SEA Andres Munoz, and STL Jordan Hicks, averaging 100+ MPH! Home Runs dropped to 5,215 last year, down from 5,944 in 2021 and sown from the record year (2019) 6,776. Perspective. Bob Gibson had an ERA of 1.12 in 1968 (the year of the pitcher) with 268 strikeouts, 13 shutouts, and a Cy Young award. His velocity that season was 91.9 MPH! Maybe he could compete, but he would not be able to match the level of today’s pitchers! He would likely be the lowest-velocity thrower in a rotation! Let’s take this further. In the Gibson days of complete games, pitchers threw deep into games. Bob Gibson threw 28 complete games in 1968, and Juan Marichal 30. They each threw more than 300+ innings. The average starter in MLB last season threw 5.2 innings per start! There were 35 complete games for the entire league! Gibson and Marichal had 58 for just the two of them.

            This brings the next level of elite pitching most don’t look at. It is popular that we know the names Jacob DeGrom, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, and Sandy Alcantara, but these are very few. We might have a list of nearly 15 pitchers we classify as the best starters. Most starters are out of the game by the 6th inning, and the bullpen takes over. We must start understanding how relief pitchers have become vital to winning games. The best of this group can dominate games more than the starters do. ATL manager Brian Snitker said, “Every time that bullpen door swings open, it’s velocity.” “The guys, they weren’t like that. The closers weren’t throwing like they are now. But it’s kind of the way they are growing up and now are trained. Amazing to me”.  2022 saw starting pitchers average 8.00 K/9. The relievers averaged 9.00 K/9. Remember that they are throwing 3.1 innings per game, or 35%. The best has an unbelievable K/9. Let’s look. NYM Edwin Diaz 17.13, SDP Josh Hader 14.58, CLE James Karinchak 14.31, PHI Jose Alvarado 14.29, MIL Devin Williams 14.24, and Andres Munoz 13.29!

            Only five bullpens out of the thirty teams were 10% or worse than an average bullpen (measured by ERA-). Only ARI 112, BOS 112, KCR 116, PIT 117, and OAK 117 fit that bill (MLB average is 100). The league batting average was .243, and eight bullpens were worse. The starters averaged 1.18 HR/9, and the relievers’ less than one at 0.96. Bullpens have also mastered the slider. It is the pitch that is the toughest on hitters. Only five bullpens were below average when throwing this pitch (CIN, BAL, PIT, WSN, and ARI). The slider seems to hand in hand with fastball usage. These are thrown at velocities never thought of previously. There are enormous numbers of elbow issues with pitchers, and now you can see why. The human body likely is not built to withstand this much torque, so it gives out or breaks.

            When handicapping games, we should look at bullpen usage. On average, a relief pitcher will throw 18 pitches during an outing. The MLB average for a team that used relief pitchers in consecutive games was 87. This suggests that half of the games played saw a relief pitcher used the previous night. We want to know if the pitcher is available for the game we are betting on tonight. An excellent way to look at this is to see how many pitches he threw and when his last outing was. If he were to throw more than 18 pitches, and it was last night, he would likely not be available tonight. It is essential to know who is available too. There is a rotation of sorts to a bullpen. The main guy comes into the game in the ninth inning (closer). He usually has the most dominant weapon and can get outs with limited contact. Then, there are the 7th and 8th inning guys whose job is to get the ball to the closer. They should have shut down innings, handing it off to the team’s best.  As bettors, we want to know if this rotation is intact or if there must be some other plan. It will help you not lose games at the back end because the bullpen gave it up. The bullpen is a weapon for managers. Bullpens can get over-leveraged and tired, so we need to keep an eye on how it is used. Overall, we need to be betting on good bullpens to close out games and against the few who are not.

WBC is coming this Spring!

I will be involved in the World Baseball Classic. I had fun with this the last two times it was played. In the inaugural 2009 classic, Japan won the championship. They were followed by the Dominican Republic in 2013 and the USA in 2017. The last WBC was canceled due to the pandemic. As the players are representing their countries, it feels like there is the energy of a playoff game at the stadium. It is an electric atmosphere! Watch this clip!

So to hype this up a bit more, the rosters this year are a “who’s who” in MLB! I will post them for each team as we get closer to the games, but Team USA is slated to have Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Trea Turner, Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, and more! Team Dominican Republic is slated to have Vladimir Guerrero, Wander Franco, Jose Ramirez, Juan Soto, Julio Rodriguez, and more! These teams are bringing out the stars to play in this event, especially team USA which never really has had the ultra superstars play. There are odds out for this event, and Team USA and Team Dominican Republic are co-favorites at +225 to win. I posted the odds below. These odds are from Draft Kings.

This event starts on the first of March, so as the game is near and rosters solidify, I will dig deeper into the matchups of the teams and players. I will likely wager on a champion and the individual games as well. What a way to start the baseball season!

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