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The Sin City BetBot 6000 Presents….Championship Sunday!

Initially built by NASA to set lines for the Las Vegas casinos in the late 50’s (who do you think funded the Apollo missions? The government? It was the mob…), The Sin City

Betbot 6000 calculated lines for over 30 years. The Betbot was given various upgrades through the years, not always with the best equipment, but he was very good at setting lines, and living the good life.

The Betbot was de-commissioned in 1990 after San Francisco destroyed Denver in the Super Bowl. The 45 point spread simply fried a number of the Betbot’s wires and he retired. The Betbot was discovered by Fantasysharks.com and retooled to give fantasy advice. He lives now to help your team with deeper sleepers to start each week.

The Betbot’s column is transcribed each week by Chris Dolfi, Joe Petrizzi and Tom Walls, because, “Typing is a dame’s BZZZT job.”

There’s a natural order to things. Sometimes the natural order gets upset, but more times than not, the natural order…BZT… prevails. Now, the natural order was pretty bleeping upset after Wild Card Weekend. As I reviewed last week, all of…BZZZT… the road teams won week one, except for Denver who lost to the Colts.  Speaking of last week, it turns out players don’t get rusty, but robots do.  I went 1-3 ATS and 1-3 on the totals in my …BZT… first week back in the books.  But if you stop reading now, you won’t get to hear about my line in Showgirls.

Last week, all of the home teams won, quite impressively, except for the Steelers…What was Bill Cowher thinking? Run…BZZT… the ball! So, we are back to the natural order of things, for one week, anyway. All one and two seeds…BZZZT… are alive, and kicking (which is more than we can say for Doug Brien).

This week, Pennsylvania will be NFL central with games in The City that Loves You Back (yeah, that’s their tourism slogan – believe it or not) and The Town Where the Steelers Play. Speaking of Pennsylvania, I am…BZT… considered by many Amish to be their representation of the Devil. I guess it’s cause I’m all technology, baby. I am All Technology. That’s a little Betbot 6000 fact you probably didn’t know. I have to tell you, I’m not too fond of the Amish myself. Hey, if they’re gonna despise me, I’ll despise them straight back into Blue Ball. It’s not like I’m worried about any Amish seeing this column you know? Seriously, though, the Amish are beautiful people. Quite a few of the …BZZZT…BZT…Amish teens come to Las Vegas during their Rumspringa. and what they see here usually sends them right back to Bird in Hand, double quick.

Superstitious Luddites aside, last week featured …BZT…some routs. Now the four best teams in the NFL are facing off in two very meaningful games.  Good thing the early game doesn’t start until 3:00, that gives me an extra 2 hours to work on my taxes.  Who am I kidding?  I’ll be into my third martini by 12:30, as usual.

Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, 3:00 ET PHI -5

To use an oft-quoted line from Poltergeist – they’re baaack. The Eagles have taken a lot of heat over the last three seasons for a number of disappointing NFC championship game losses. You know this, I know this – the …BZT… Eagles and the Falcons know this. The Falcons are also facing some dubious history, as the record for dome teams playing outside during in winter is …BZZZT… pretty awful. None of that matters once these teams take the field on Sunday.

This looks like a mismatch on paper. Statistically by yards and by points, the Eagles are better on offense, better on defense, and better on special teams – but the Falcons have …BZZT… Michael Vick.

The Falcons were up and down some this season because they rely so much on the play of their quarterback. I’ve seen a lot of Michael Vick and I don’t think there’s a …BZT… definitive way to stop him. Some people say spy him – but with who? Who’s going to catch him? Blitz him? Maybe – but you better not miss because your secondary will be …BZT… manned up and turned around while Vick runs for 20 yards behind them. Play to keep him in front of you and fall back into zones? Only if you want to see a whole lot of Warrick Dunn and TJ Duckett. Kids, there’s a reason Atlanta led the league in rushing yards per game this season – most defenses just do not have an answer for …BZT… Michael Vick. As soon as he steps on the field he’s the best athlete in the game, and as soon as he takes each snap 70,000 Philly fans will collectively inhale like 15 year olds trying to get a contact high at an Eric Clapton concert. I know, I …BZZT… love Clapton. And I love Vick too. How can you not love the one player good enough to finally get the entire city of Atlanta off their collective …BBZTT… tail and into the Georgia Dome for a change? People bark about his salary because his passing numbers are pretty terrible. No, he’s not a great QB. He’s getting paid because he’s an incredible playmaker – the …BZZZT… second best playmaker in the NFL.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, the best playmaker in the NFL lines up under center for the Eagles. Donovan McNabb marched the Eagles through the NFC like Patton marching the third army across Europe. McNabb’s taken a lot of heat for the last 3 years, because winning MOST of your playoff games isn’t good enough. Like Patton told the third, Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. But everyone who watches McNabb play can see he’s a winner – constantly fighting to shake off defenders, scrambling …BZZT… out of the pocket, buying time, waiting for a receiver to break free. Vick can have the 20-yard run on fourth and 26 – McNabb will get the ball downfield to Freddy Mitchell and move the chains. That’s the difference. That’s why the Eagles have made it to 4 consecutive championship games with a receiving corps that Patton would have socked in the mouth with a bag of urine. Patton was a good man. A good bleeping man.

Two years ago an Eagles team even more …BZZT… susceptible to the run held Atlanta (4th in the league in rushing ypg in 2002) to 6 points in a playoff game in Philly – what about this Falcons offense has changed since then? Vick hasn’t gotten any …BZZT… faster or any better passing the ball, the receivers are supposed to be better but that hasn’t produced results yet. Vick is a great athlete and watching him gives me the feeling that he can beat anyone given the right circumstances. I just don’t see it happening against a very well coached Eagles defense. The Eagles are …BZZT… good enough on that side of the ball to keep the Falcons from making big plays, and Atlanta’s offense isn’t built to move on sustained drives.

The Eagles fell short in 2002 (and in 2003) for the same reason Atlanta will fall short on Sunday – no one man can win an NFC championship game all by himself. This year the Eagles have Brian Westbrook on offense, and that’s all that Donovan McNabb needs. Just one player to distract the defense long enough to let McNabb make one more play and lead his team to Jacksonville. I like the Eagles to win this game by more than 5, and I like the total score under 38 points. There will likely be some …BZZT… nasty weather going on Sunday that will probably limit both teams offensively. I won’t be able to tell because I’ll be loaded by 3:00.

New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, 6:30 ET NE -3

Games like this are what pro football is all about. A clash of the giants to see who reigns supreme, at least for another week. (I would have said “a clash of the titans”, but the Titans were awful this year and I don’t think they deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as either of these two teams, and I also don’t like giving …BZT… actor Harry Hamlin any more props than he deserves.)

What really makes this game so interesting, though, is that both teams play similar styles – equally effectively. They both rely on …BZZZT… strong defense to keep them in position to win games. They both have a strong running game – which not only helps them score against other teams tough defenses, but also allows them both to chew up valuable clock time. They both sport signal-callers who, while they aren’t flashy, usually refrain from any major mistakes. They both have a bunch of WRs who can catch the ball and run good routes. They both have coaches who are pretty sharp, and seem to be able to get undrafted, free-agents to play better than Pro-Bowl players in some cases. They both have coaches who refuse to squander time-outs in …BZZZT… idiotic fashion, in very un-Martz-like fashion. (OK – that one probably didn’t need to be said, be I wanted to get in one last dig at Mike Martz this season…)

With all that stuff in common, looks like this one might be harder to forecast than it really is. Now maybe it’s my superlative programming that makes this so easy for me, but I bet if you look at it logically, there’s only one side to pick in this game. Unfortunately for …BZZZT… Steel City fans, their season ends this weekend. Oh sure, the Steelers beat the Pats already this season, but we all know that it wasn’t the same Patriots team they’ll be facing this weekend – a Patriots team with Corey Dillon on the field this time around, and with a new sense of purpose.

Now, before I get some …BZZZT… Metagon from Pittsburgh telling me my circuits are fried, let me tell you just why the Patriots will win this contest. Sure the similarities were many, but it’s the differences that tip the scales in the Pats favor.

You’d be nuts to like Roethlyzplyk over Brady in a title game. I mean, besides the fact that Roethlyzplyk is a rookie in only his second playoff game ever, you just gotta respect Tom Brady. The guy is 7-0 in the playoffs, and already won the Super Bowl twice – being named MVP both times in the process. This past weekend, Big Ben almost managed to lose a game in which the opposing team didn’t score an offensive touchdown the entire game. It took 2 missed FGs from the Jets to keep him in the playoffs, and he won’t have that luxury this weekend. Look, I’ve got nothing against …BZZZT… Benny Boy, in fact I frequently lauded his accomplishments throughout the regular season – but if he even looks half as bad as he did against the Jets, the Patriots will tear him apart.

Additionally, the Patriots are a much tougher team with Corey Dillon on the field, than off it – like he was for the last contest between these two. If the Patriots get up on the Steelers this time around, they have the luxury of handing the ball to Dillon and watching him …BZZZT… punish the opposing defense while the Patriots eat up clock time. If you don’t think Dillon is that much of a difference maker, you don’t have to look farther than the last time these two met with out Dillon – net result: 6 attempts for 5 yards. OUCH! Toss in the fact that the unstoppable duo of Bettis/Staley has been anything but in the red zone as of late – the Steelers have only managed 9 TDs in their last 30 trips inside the 20 – and it looks like the edge goes to New England here as well.

Look – it’s actually real …BZZZT… simple in my robotic mind: if the Steelers can get a few early turnovers and build a 17 point lead or so early in the contest – they’ll win. That’s how they beat the Patriots the last time they met, and it’s how the Steelers beat the Eagles in the week following that. It’s just not gonna happen this time around. New England rarely makes mistakes, and never …BZZZT… the same ones twice. They’ll keep the game close in the beginning, and just like the Jets they’ll make sure they hold the Steelers running game in check and make them rely on Benny Boy – and that’s a lot of pressure to put on a rookie (in addition to the pressure he’ll be facing from the Pats D-line).

So, take the Pats and give the points – the spread rarely plays a factor in NFL playoff football anyway, so you gotta go with the team that will win the contest outright. As far as the over/under is concerned, at 35, I’d avoid it like the …BZZT… plague – since 35 is right about on target with how my circuits say this one will end up. If you’re a degenerate gambler (and really who isn’t?), I like the UNDER, but just a little ..BZT.. bit.


Dear Sin City Betbot 6000,

I know the 90s were a rough time for you…But I was wondering what you thought about that movie, Showgirls ? I like to watch by myself quite a bit.

Brian G.


Dear Brian G.,

Eww…BZZZT…wwww . Please, faithful readers, never tell me about movies that you watch by yourself again!! Wow. I did not need to hear that Championship Week.

Anyway, I’ll answer your question. Yes, the 90’s were very, very hard for yours truly. After my logic boards fried when the Niners bear the Broncos by 45 points, I simply snapped. I was down and out, and…BZZT… not feeling very good about myself.

Then, one day in late 1993, a good friend of mine, Joe Eszterhas called me. He had written a script about a small town girl trying to become a showgirl and wanted my help to ‘punch up the script’ . I gladly volunteered, I needed…BZZT… the money, and it sounded like fun. Well, I changed a lot of things. The Kyle MacLachlan character is based loosely on myself. Writing the script was …BZT…a lot of fun, I would have changed a lot of the dialogue, but saw this movie as a campy trip like Roger Ebert’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

A few months later, the director, Paul Verhoeven called me and wanted to ask if I would be in a scene or two. I …BZZZT…agreed, and only had one line. The lovely Elizabeth Berkley was dancing on the stage, and I…BZZZT… was supposed to be a bouncer who hits on her and says, “Hey, baby, I’ve got a phone call for you…In my pants!!”

I don’t know what that line was really all about, but I did my line and got paid scale. I was happy with my work. I found…BZZT… out that that line made such little sense, that it didn’t even make it onto the Showgirls Extended DVD. Too bad, but it was a good time, and I learned to trust in myself again.

If you have any questions for the Betbot, please send them to his Fantasysharks contact at twalls@fantasysharks.com .

So long, and remember – showgirls and gin, my friends – Showgirls and BZZZZT Gin.

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