NFL power poll
David Purdum writes about gambling for ESPN. On Mondays he recaps the betting weekend.
This week, Purdum quoted a veteran sportsbook VP who said, "I don't recall three weeks quite like this in my 25 years in the industry."
Three straight weeks of the betting public beating the books is as much of an outlier as you can imagine. Moreso even.
Purdum reviewed the Nevada Gaming records and in the long history of betting in Sin City, there have been a total of 11 months - ever - that Vegas has lost money on football. Eleven, and the last time it happened was November 2011. Wow.
What's different this time around? Lots of things in varying degrees, if I had to guess.
First, the Packers and the Cowboys are rolling, and they are two of the most popular betting sides in all of sports.
Second, the divide between good and bad teams has never been as telling, especially between really good and really, really bad teams.
The Packers crushed a bad Washington that is without a semblance of viable QB play and the Patriots bombed the Jets on Sunday.
Finally, the favorites - especially the heavy favorites are cruising. No NFL underdog of seven or more points has won outright this season. Sure some have covered but, if you play the money line on the teams favored by more than a TD, you've been perfect this season.
Like Admiral Byrd, let's head to the poll.
1. Arizona. The Cardinals were picked to finish last in the NFC West, and were plus-575 to win the division. But here they stand, the last unbeaten team in the NFL. That would be good for a two-game lead in any AFC division or the race on that side for home field. But not the loaded NFC, which has all of the top five in this week's poll.
2. Tampa Bay. The Bucs keep rolling, and Tom Brady keeps defying time and age. If his perimeter teammates stay healthy, and Brady keeps playing like he's 34 rather than 44, the Bucs are going to be an extremely tough out come January.
3. Green Bay. The NFC with the most to gain by grabbing home-field advantage, the Packers have won six straight. If you had a vote right now, is Aaron Rodgers the MVP? And while we're here, how great is this week's Thursday night game between Packers and Cardinals?
4. Los Angeles. Man, Sunday's win over his former team had to be sweet for Matt Stafford. The Rams outclassed the Lions in an 11-0 fourth quarter, allowing Stafford to smile and Rams fans to feel fortunate that Jared Goff's monster contract is someone else's issue now.
5. Dallas. Do I think the Titans and the Bills from the AFC are good? Sure I do. But let's tip the visor to the Cowboys, who are not only perfect against the spread, they are scoring in bunches.
28. Miami. Man, a trendy pick to make some AFC noise before the season, the Dolphins are swimming belly-up these days. Miami is 1-6 with a scoring margin of minus-80 and more than a few questions about whether they have the right coach and the right quarterback moving forward.
29. Jacksonville. Yawn. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy than Urban.
30. New York Jets. When the season ends, how are we going to be able to explain Jets 27, Titans 24 in Week 4? I'll wait.
31. Houston. So, simply asked, would you want your team to trade for Deshaun Watson? Not only from an ethical angle but also from a practical one, considering the slew of draft picks it would take. Discuss.
32. Detroit. Wonder what Goff thinks about his future. And, while we're here, these teams swirling near the bottom of the NFL bowl that need QBs have to be wondering who across the country will be this year's top option.
So the Braves are here. It's real and I couldn't be happier for my buddies who have ached and ailed with the Braves roller coaster over the last three decades.
Sure, most of the last 30 years have been successful, but the shortcomings have been painful.
Now the Braves get a chance to do the Lord's work and beat the Houston Cheaters, strike that Astros.
Side note: For those of us a certain age, imagining the Braves (picture Dale Murphy and those powder blues) and Astros (picture Jose Cruz in those multiple orange hues) from the cellar of the old-school 1980s NL West races in the World Series is almost comical.
Also, while we're here, each of these franchises was a central part of two of the worst baseball movies ever made. The Braves featured Danny Noonan playing the slugger in "The Slugger's Wife" and the Astros - remember Enos Cabell and Bob Watson in the dugout chanting "Let them play" - hosted "The Bad News Bears" in their rotten sequel.
As for this series, well, we're all rooting for the Braves of course, but can they win?
You bet your Bob Horner rookie cards they can.
The Astros' rotation is gutted without ace Lance McCullers. Yes the Houston lineup is loaded and complete - and they are really, Really, REALLY good at guessing at which pitches are coming - but so is Atlanta's.
Maybe I'm a homer, but give me the Braves in 5.
We had some technical difficulties and need to get more nominations for the best college football stadium experience.
You can go here to submit or put your nomination in the comments below.
With this week's anniversary of this little conversation we share each weekday morning, it has got me a little nostalgic.
My top few college football stadium experiences are as follows:
I was there when Alabama visited Auburn for the first time. That was great.
I was there when Patrick Nix found Frank Sanders to beat the Gators in 1994. I was lucky I did not get beat up or go to jail that Saturday.
I was there in Auburn in 1994 when Curley Hallman gift-wrapped - a game that Auburn had no business winning.
I was there at Grant Field when the Jackets tied Notre Dame, which ironically allowed Georgia to get to No. 1 in the polls.
As for my favorite stadium experiences, in no particular order, its Jordan-Hare, Neyland, Sanford, Notre Dame and Tiger Stadium in Red Stick. (Yes, Alabama is great and all, but I just can't put Bryant Denny on my list.)
This and that
- We talked about Tom Brady's 600th TD passes. How about this stat: Brady has 600 TD throws, and before Thanksgiving, he'll have more than Troy Aikman (165), Terry Bradshaw (212) and Steve Young (232) combined.
- And the fan who gave the 600th ball back to the Bucs and Brady on Sunday, go a little more than the original offer of a game ball and $1,000 in credit at the team store. The team also ponied up tickets for the rest of 2021 and all of 2022, signed memorabilia from Brady and receiver Mike Evans as well as Evans' game-worn cleats.
- You know the rules. Here's Paschall on the QB uncertainty for this weekend's Cocktail Party.
- Texas governor Greg About signed a bill that prohibits students in public schools from competing in sports that do not align with their birth gender. And I agree with it.
- Interesting back and forth about whether a straight actor can play a gay character, as Julianna Marguiles does on "The Morning Show."
- Speaking of the crapshoot that will be the quarterback draft class next spring, this mock draft has Matt Corral as the first QB picked at No. 7 overall to Washington. I love the draft. You know this.
- Yes, the Mannings returned to their Monday night sofas and continued to entertain. Good thing too, because that Saints-Seahawks game was a snooze fest.
True or false, it's Tuesday. Morning, Ern.
True or false, no one else will ever get to 600 TD passes.
True or false, a QB will go No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL draft.
True or false, the Braves get it done and win the whole shebang.
You know the drill. Answer some T or Fs, ask some T or Fs. And remember your nominations.
As for today, Oct. 26, let's review.
The gunfight at the OK Corral happened on this day 140 years ago.
"The Terminator" was released on this day in 1984.
On this day 25 years ago, the Yankees beat the Braves in Game 6 to clinch the World Series.
Speaking of cinematic connections of the Braves and the Astros, what's the Rushmore of the worst baseball movies. Go.