Random Musings Today …

Back in May after the NFL Draft but before any team conducted their summer OTAs, the oddsmakers posted the win totals for every NFL team so that fans could bet OVER or UNDERHere is a link to an article that summarizes all of those prop bets.

Let me save you some trouble here.  If you add up the win totals for all 32 teams, it comes to more than 256 wins – – which is not possible since there are only 256 NFL regular season games.  The reason for that disparity is that the betting public tends to bet OVER more frequently and more heavily than they bet UNDER.  The oddsmakers are not trying to predict how many games the teams will win; the oddsmakers are trying to set numbers that will get an equal amount of money bet on either side of each proposition so the oddsmakers can make a living on the vig.

Obviously, the smart thing to do there was to bet every team to go UNDER because some of those bets were guaranteed to be good with only 256 games to be played.  Now that we are about 75% of the way through the season, I thought it might be interesting to look at some of those props from last May.

  1. The Packers must go UNDER the 10 wins in the prop bet.
  2. The Saints are already OVER the 9.5 wins in the prop bet.
  3. The Raiders must go UNDER the 9.5 wins in the prop bet.
  4. The Falcons must go UNDER the 9.5 wins in the prop bet.
  5. The Rams are already OVER the 9.5 wins in the prop bet.
  6. The Niners must go UNDER the 8.5 wins in the prop bet.
  7. The Chiefs are already OVER the 8 wins in the prop bet.
  8. The Bears are already OVER the 5.5 wins in the prop bet.

In addition to these 8 prop bets that are already decided – that is 25% of the universe of possible wagers – there are several teams that can earn a push if they win out for the season.  Take the Eagles for example; they have won 5 games to date with 5 left to play.  The win total in their prop bet was 10; they cannot possibly go OVER but they can still get to a push on the prop bet if they win their remaining games.  There are several teams in that status at the moment.

I will try to remember to do a tally of all these prop bets at the end of the regular season to see how the “strategy” of taking every team to go UNDER would have fared.

Moving on …  When Jon Gruden took over the Raiders last winter, some people thought that the game had changed since his coaching days and that he might have difficulty adapting to the “new NFL”.  Because he had stayed in close touch with the NFL as part of his broadcasting preparations, I did not think that would be a major problem for him, but I did wonder how his “roster philosophy” would fit with the roster that existed in Oakland upon his arrival.  Yes, one can turn over a roster; I understand that.  I also understand that such a process does not happen overnight, nor does it happen without some ”discontinuities”.

With the Raiders’ record standing at 2-9, I think it is fair to say that there have indeed been some “roster discontinuities” that have been less than positive – and I am not talking about the trading of Khalil Mack.  It is more than that…

Jon Gruden’s calling card in the NFL is as an “offense guy”.  I will spot him for the moment the major error that he made in trading away Khalil Mack.  What I will not spot him is the decision to release Michael Crabtree and then to trade away Amari Cooper.  Do not misinterpret; I am not trying to make either one of them out to be the next coming of Jerry Rice or Randy Moss; neither of them is nearly that good.  However, both are significantly better than what Jon Gruden has kept on the Raiders’ roster – or brought to the Raiders’ roster – this year.

Last week, Derek Carr targeted Marcell Ateman 10 times in the Raiders’ loss to the Ravens; no other Raiders’ pass-catcher was targeted more than 5 times in that game.  Ateman is a rookie WR from Oklahoma State; he caught 3 of those passes for a total of 16 yards.  I have a difficult time believing that Marcell Ateman is a better WR than either Michael Crabtree or Amari Cooper.  Maybe that is more than an insignificant part of the reason why the Raiders rank 24th in the NFL in offense as of this morning?

And speaking of roster moves that look like bad decisions, the Jags decided in the last offseason to give Blake Bortles a 3-year extension at $54M.  It seems logical to interpret that move as saying:

  • We were 15 minutes away from beating the pats and going to the Super bowl in 2017.
  • Blake Bortles was sufficient to get us to that point.
  • If we shore up some other parts of the team, we can get over the hump here.

As I understand that contract extension, the Jags paid Bortles $15M as a signing bonus and guaranteed him $27M over the three years of the deal.  His base salary for 2018 is $5M meaning that he has already pocketed $20M of that $27M guarantee.  With the Jags on the horns of a 7-game losing streak and Bortles being benched this week in favor of Cody Kessler, the decision to commit to Bortles last off-season deserves serious scrutiny.  Moreover, it creates an off-season dilemma for the team again this year.

  • Do the Jags bring Bortles back once again as the presumed starter?
  • Do they eat the additional $7M they owe him as a guarantee and move on?
  • Can they afford the $17M cap hit he will consume in 2019 if they release him?

Finally, since I mentioned the Raiders’ difficulties this season, let me close with this observation by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“’Super Bowl’ in Oakland now refers to:

  • “a game the Raiders used to play in once in a while
  • “what owner Mark Davis requests when he goes to the barbershop.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………