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.”
I had so much fun doing the picks for last year’s playoffs that I’m bringing it back for another run for the 2006 playoffs. But, you say, where was this stuff last week? Well, I skip the wild card round for two reasons. First, my end-of-year awards show really drains me – I need a …BZT… breather after week 17. Second, and more importantly, the wild card round is an abomination. I’m old school, baby, I was setting lines since before the AFL-NFL merger, before all this hoopla. I refuse to acknowledge that the wild card round exists, just like the music of …BZZT… John Tesh. And now people are suggesting we add another round to the playoffs? Great idea, geniuses, but why stop there? Let’s make it like hockey, where they play games for 6 months to eliminate three teams and then have enough playoff rounds to drag the season into June. Ice Hockey – IN JUNE! Is it any surprise that the people who thought up the NHL’s playoff structure ran the league into the ground? But I digress. Let’s just say that the NFL is better off with fewer playoff games because we appreciate the exclusivity. There are already teams with barely a .500 record making the NFL playoffs, do we really need to expand the playoff season to include teams that couldn’t even win more than half of their regular season games? You wouldn’t be drooling over a box of Cuban cigars if you could get a Montecristo down at the …BZT… Kwik-e-mart, and you wouldn’t care a lick if two 8-8 teams played an extra week to see which one was going to lose to the 14-2 juggernaut in round 2.
Now that I’m off that soap box, let me delight you with my picks for this week. All times shown are Eastern.
Washington at Seattle (-9) – o/u 41 – Saturday, January 14 – 4:30 PM
Oh, those tricky Redskins, they sure are crafty. How often do you see a team win a game in which they were so thoroughly outplayed? You may say they got lucky, but in my book the Skins won because they have a lot of …BZZZT… moxie. That’s right, moxie – Joe Gibbs oozes moxie. An underrated team most of the year because of a brutal schedule that featured a whole lot of the AFC West, Washington is now riding a six game winning streak into the Pacific Northwest. They feature a stout defense that has been creating a ton of turnovers in the second half of the season, including two huge turnovers last week that directly led to winning their wild card game. Because Seattle played in the cushy NFC West they have a fancy record and home field advantage, but they really haven’t been much better than the Redskins this season. Does this mean I have east coast bias? Not entirely – as I’m made of metal, I’m partial to dry climates. Note that I live in the desert. What, you think they made gambling robots out of stainless steel in 1958? There are areas in the east, say Syracuse, that see a lot of precipitation, but nothing as damp as Seattle. So it’s not an east coast bias, per se, it’s more of an anti-Seattle bias. Surprise, there’s a 70% chance it’s going to rain in Seattle on Saturday. No matter, I’ll be warm, cozy, and into my …BZT… 4th martini by kickoff.
Anyway, there’s a lot to like about the Seahawks offense, especially since the week off allowed receivers Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram to rest their boo-boos. Throw in league MVP Shaun Alexander and this is looking pretty sweet for the sea birds. You can be sure that the Redskins are going to do everything they can to shut Alexander down, so the key for this game is whether or not Matt Hasselbeck can exploit Washington’s banged up secondary. Hasselbeck is awfully underrated here, with the low profile you’d have no idea he was one of the top 5 QBs in the league this year. That’s more than enough to get the job done on Saturday; I don’t see them having too many problems moving the ball. So can the Skins keep up? Will the defensive coordinator on the Seahawks PLEASE double team Santana Moss? This is starting to get …BZT… ridiculous. Mark Brunell has looked terrible since tweaking his knee a while back, and even against this average Seahawks defense I don’t see the Redskins scoring gobs of points.
If the game was in the Eastern time zone I’d have no problem picking Washington to win outright, but Seattle earned home field and that’s enough to give them a win here. But not by the ridiculous 9 points they’re laying for this game. Take Washington plus 9 points. 41 points is a nice over/under line, I’m thinking a score of 24-17 might be in the cards. If you really need the extra action, consider the location and the chance of …BZZZT… rain, and take the under.
New England at Denver (-3) – o/u 44 – Saturday, January 14 – 8:00 PM
On paper this game is a huge mismatch. Denver has been better than the Patriots all year, and the Broncos have a historically tremendous home field advantage. In week 6, New England traveled to Colorado and got dismantled in the first half, going down 21-3 before rallying to a 28-20 loss. A lot has been made about the Patriots getting healthy down the stretch but Denver also had a chance to get its best defensive player, Champ Bailey, healthy for the playoffs. Realistically I only see one way for New England to win this game, and that’s by getting to Jake Plummer early and often. Well, that or obtaining a large supply of those invincible stars they use in Super Mario Kart. In the week 6 meeting, Bill Belichick tried his best to get his defense in Plummer’s …BZT… grill only to watch Denver light up the woeful Pats secondary with long passes to Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie. The deep passing game set up a 68-yard run by Tatum Bell, a simple dive play where Bell emerged from the line of scrimmage like he was shot out of a friggin’ cannon. Yes, this was the same game that tricked the fantasy football world into thinking Bell was for real. Then, as if on cue, Shanahan quickly pulled the rug out from under Bell owners, relegating him back to the waste of roster space he occupied for most of the season. Not that I’m …BZT… bitter.
Regardless, if Denver can continue to play with the same balanced attack this weekend, it’s going to be tough for New England to stop them. Now, you know I like Tom Brady about as much as I like any QB in the game. The pinpoint accuracy, the keen decision making, the …BZZT… dashing good looks, what’s not to like? I mean, other than the constant whining like a little girl about not getting respect. Look Tom, the entire New England area of the country firmly believes you could change water into wine if you felt like it. Just shut up about the whole respect issue, because you sound like a real tool. Nevertheless, just because he’s insecure about that hole in his chin doesn’t mean he can’t sling the ball around like a …BZZZZT… champ. Interestingly, I think Brady will single-handedly keep this game from being a blowout, he’s that good.
I could see Belichick doing something in this game to disrupt the Broncos offense, and if Shanahan wasn’t a 2-time super bowl winner on his home turf I might believe that would work. But as much as I admire Belichick’s moxie – and trust me, the man is swimming in moxie – and as much as I like Brady’s skills on offense, the Pats defense just isn’t up to the task here. Take the Broncs and lay the 3 points. I also love the over, these offenses are both able to score points in bunches – I’m thinking a 35-24 final.
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis (-9.5) – o/u 47 – Sunday, January 15 – 1:00 PM
This is an interesting match-up. Both Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy have a long history of soiling the sheets in the playoffs, and it’s not like Peyton Manning has the best …BZT… reputation either. Alas, someone has to win this game, and I don’t see how the Colts don’t get the nod here at home. It was less than 2 months ago that Manning and company completely dominated the Steelers 26-7 after jumping on Pittsburgh from the word go with a long TD pass to Marvin Harrison. Sure, Ben Roethlisberger was just coming back from knee surgery and he’s healthy now. But that doesn’t change the fact that what the Steelers do well is run the ball and control the time of possession, and it’s tough to do that when the other team’s offense is constantly putting pressure on you to …BZT… score points.
Don’t get me wrong, the Steelers have a great defense and a significant special teams advantage in this game. They have plenty of skill on offense between Hines Ward, Willie Parker, and Jerome Bettis. But the Colts have seen significant improvement from their defense this season, and even if you think a healthy Roethlisberger is three times as good as the QB that played back in week 12, that still only puts the Steelers scoring in the 20s, which has to be the best case scenario here. Is there anyone who thinks the Steelers defense is good enough to keep the Colts from scoring nearly 30 points? I don’t.
That said, 9.5 points is a stiff number to cover against a team with a decent offense, even a garbage TD is going to blow that spread. Besides, I don’t think Indy is going to beat a good Pittsburgh team by 10 points in the playoffs, Dungy definitely doesn’t appear to have the …BZT… moxie to pull that off. Take Pittsburgh and the 9.5. 47 points is a bit steep considering the 33 point total the last time these teams played, and I barely like the under this weekend as well. Something like 27-19 sounds right to me.
Carolina at Chicago (-3) – o/u 31 – Sunday, January 15 – 4:30 PM
Our final game of the weekend is a stout match-up starring two of the league’s best defenses. Even including the meaningless final game of the year, the Bears allowed only 12.6 points per game this season despite the fact that their offense was so brutal that the defense was almost constantly on the field. Former deeper sleeper pick Rex Grossman gets the nod at QB again for the Bears, who finally decided midway through December that Kyle Orton and his awful …BZT… beard needed to grab a seat on the bench until Rex hurts himself again. We can be reasonably sure that DeShaun Foster won’t be experiencing the same amount of arm tackling we saw from the Giants last weekend, which means another 100-yard game is probably not in order. Seriously, I haven’t seen grabbing like that since a bachelor party 2 years ago at the Crazy Horse II. Jake Delhomme is a nice player, and Steve Smith was one of the best receivers in the league this year – if there’s a weak spot in the Bears defense it’s against a #1 receiver like Smith. Keep in mind that a weak spot on this defense is like a tiny blemish on a foxy showgirl – we’re picking nits here.
Of course, the Panthers also feature a defense stiffer than my 5:00 martini, which is saying something considering that I’ve had several …BZZZT… martinis by the time 5:00 rolls around. It’s not quite to the level of the Bears, but it’s clearly the strength of this squad. Now, Chicago has a decent running back in the resurgent Thomas Jones, and I’m thinking Muhsin Muhammad would like to have a big game against his former team. I’m looking for a nice game from Jones in this one. But that’s about it on offense for the Bears, and I expect Carolina to have a field day forcing Grossman into mistakes. My prediction right now is that whichever defense scores first is going to win this game, and Carolina has as much a chance as Chicago does in that regard. Don’t forget, one well placed hit on Grossman means Orton is back under …BZT… center. I’m sure that’s not lost on John Fox and his staff. Fox has some Gibbs-like moxie potential going on over there, I’ll be keeping my eye on his gameplan.
This is going to be the closest game of the week, since any turnover can swing the game in another team’s favor. I like the Bears to win it but since they’re giving points and there’s a great shot Carolina will win this game outright, I’m suggesting you take the Panthers and the 3 points. 31 points is a ridiculously low over/under, but honestly I can’t see too many scenarios where these teams put any kind of offense together. This feels like a 10-9 game, take the under.
Until next time, Showgirls and Gin, my friends, Showgirls and …BZT… Gin.