My NFL Picks: Week 12, including the Panthers at Cowboys and Patriots at Broncos during Thanksgiving weekend

Week 12 of the NFL season begins with the league’s usual trio of Thanksgiving games, including the 10-0 Panthers traveling to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in QB Tony Romo’s second game back from injury. The Sunday night game features the Patriots and the Broncos, but with QB Brock Osweiler under center instead of Peyton Manning. Byes are done for the season so we have full 16-game slates the rest of the way. I went 8-6 against the spread last week, bringing my total record to 75-85 so far in my picks for the season, I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick is in red

Thanksgiving games
Eagles at Lions (+0.5)
Panthers (-0.5)
at Cowboys
Bears (+9.5) at Packers

Sunday 1PM games
Vikings (+1.5) at Falcons
Bills (+5.5) at Chiefs
Rams at Bengals (-8.5)
Raiders (-1.5) at Titans
Buccaneers at Colts (-3.5)
Jets (-3.5) at Dolphins
Texans (-2.5) at Saints
Giants (-2.5) at Redskins
Chargers (+4.5) at Jaguars

Sunday 4PM games
Cardinals (-10.5) at 49ers
Steelers (+4.5)
 at Seahawks

Sunday Night Football
Patriots (-3.5) at Broncos

Monday Night Football
Ravens at Browns (-2.5)

1968 Anderson Helmet 3

My NFL Picks: Week 11, including the Packers at Vikings and Bills at Patriots

Week 11 of the NFL season begins with a mediocre TitansJaguars matchup tonight, but the action picks up on Sunday, highlighted by the Packers battling the Vikings in a key NFC North contest. The week ends on Monday night with a BillsPatriots AFC East rivalry game. I went 6-8 against the spread last week, bringing my total record to 67-79 so far in my picks for the season, I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick is in red

Thursday Night Football
Titans at Jaguars (-2.5)

Sunday 1PM games
Colts (+6.5) at Falcons
Broncos (+1.5) at Bears
Cowboys (-0.5) at Dolphins
Raiders (-1.5) at Lions
Rams at Ravens (-1.5)
Jets (-2.5) at Texans
Buccaneers (+5.5) at Eagles
Redskins at Panthers (-7.5)

Sunday 4PM games
Chiefs (-2.5) at Chargers
Packers at Vikings (-0.5)
49ers (+12.5)
at Seahawks

Sunday Night Football
Bengals at Cardinals (-3.5)

Monday Night Football
Bills (+7.5) at Patriots


My NFL Picks: Week 10, including the Bills at Jets and Patriots at Giants

Week 10 of the NFL season begins tonight, with Bills head coach Rex Ryan returning to MetLife Stadium to face his former team, the Jets, in a key AFC East rivalry game. MetLife is also the site of another big game this weekend, as the 8-0 Patriots visit the Giants on Sunday afternoon. After a bad 4-9 week against the spread last week, my total record is now 61-71 so far in my picks for the season, I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick is in red

Thursday Night Football
Bills at Jets (-2.5)

Sunday 1PM games
Bears (+7.5) at Rams
Browns (+4.5) at Steelers
Cowboys (+1.5) at Buccaneers
Lions at Packers (-11.5)
Panthers (-4.5) at Titans
Dolphins (+6.5) at Eagles
Saints (-0.5) at Redskins
Jaguars at Ravens (-5.5)

Sunday 4PM games
Vikings (+2.5) at Raiders
Chiefs at Broncos (-6.5)
Patriots (-7.5)
at Giants

Sunday Night Football
Cardinals (+3.5) at Seahawks

Monday Night Football
Texans (+10.5) at Bengals


Why I Don’t Agree With New York Banning DraftKings and FanDuel

On Tuesday, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman ordered daily fantasy sports (DFS) operators DraftKings and FanDuel to stop accepting bets by state residents, arguing that the companies’ games are considered illegal gambling, according to state law. I disagree with the decision, which affects me as a New York resident who has been playing in NFL contests on DraftKings this season. The companies plan to appeal the decision.

For some background, DFS companies are legal under federal law; a 2006 federal law exempted fantasy sports from a prohibition that was instituted on online gaming, under the guidance that it is a game of skill as opposed to luck. Schneiderman apparently doesn’t agree that DFS is legal under that law, saying “it is clear that DraftKings and FanDuel are the leaders of a massive, multibillion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country.”

In his letter to DraftKings, Scheiderman stressed some of the differences between DFS and traditional, seasonlong fantasy sports that makes DFS illegal while the seasonlong variety is legal, including that the “instant gratification” makes it easy to play DFS, which has “no long-term strategy.” He also argues that DFS is closer to poker — in that a small number of pros profit at the expense of more-casual players — than a lottery. According to Schneiderman’s investigation of the site’s data, the top one percent of winners get the majority of the winnings.

Let me address the points made by Schneiderman. First, I think comparing DFS to poker hurts his argument because I have long argued that poker is a game of skill that, like DFS, should be exempt from that 2006 ban on online gambling. Schneiderman seems to think that because the outcome of the contests relies on outside forces that the DFS players cannot control — namely the athletes — there’s no skill involved in winning at DFS. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, DFS participants have no control over the performance of the players they select, but there is skill involved in choosing which players you want on your team. The people who do it right study stats of previous games and the players’ matchups in the coming games to determine who to select — you’re not randomly selecting players with no basis for your choices.

This also goes into my counterargument to Schneiderman’s point that the top one percent of DraftKings players win the most money. Many of them are DFS professionals who do it full-time. They spend hours, and even days, to select their lineups each week. Conversely, a casual player like me often spends some time on Sunday morning choosing players before the kickoff the 1:00 games. Naturally, you would expect the people who are able to put more time and research into it to win more often — and that would kind of indicate there’s some skill involved in DFS, not that it’s a “multibillion-dollar scheme,” which was the conclusion that Schneiderman jumped to.

Further, those DFS pros are wagering a lot of money, with the possibility of a large payout. So, of course, they’re going to get the majority of the winnings when most DFS players are probably closer to me; I play in one $3 contest a week, and sometimes add a second, similarly priced contest. I don’t expect to win thousands of dollars when I’m wagering so little. I’ve won $10 each of the past two weeks, which is a decent return on my small investment.

Going back to Schneiderman’s letter, he charges that DraftKings promotes its games as “a path to easy riches that anyone can win,” enticing player with claims of becoming a millionaire. That scenario sounds familiar. Where have I previously heard claims of easy riches and becoming a millionaire? Oh yeah, that’s right, I’m thinking of New York Lottery commercials. Of course, that’s it.

So how do DraftKings’ and FanDuel’s claims of winning big differ from the New York Lottery’s? Simple. New York runs its lottery and profits from the people who gamble on it, hoping to win millions in contests in which they have no control over the outcome. Which is pretty much the argument Schneiderman makes for banning DFS — which, I should point out, New York doesn’t make any money off of. And that, in my opinion, is why Schneiderman is going after the DFS companies — he wants his share of the pie from the more than 500,000 New Yorkers who play DFS, according to DraftKings spokeswoman Sabrina Macias.

The fact that Schneiderman only banned DraftKings and FanDuel — by far the two largest and most successful DFS operations — and not the other, smaller sites that run DFS games seems to confirm my suspicion that it’s about money. He is going after the two sites that make the most money off of DFS becasue the state stands to gain the most by going after those two sites.

So the solution is simple. Rather than banning DFS, New York should regulate and tax it. By regulating it, the state can control how DraftKIngs and FanDuel run their games, to make sure it’s not the “scheme” that Schneiderman thinks the sites are running. By taxing it, New York gets its share of the millions of dollars that the sites take in from New York residents. New York is obviously not opposed to gambling; in addition to the lottery, the state regulates the New York Racing Association, which runs several horse racing tracks across the state, and a couple years ago legalized casino gaming other than the Indian casinos that have long operated on Indian reservations in the state.



My NFL Picks: Week 9, including the Packers at Panthers and Broncos at Colts

We’ve reached the halfway point — Week 9 — of the NFL season, which features a big NFC matchup with the Packers, looking to bounce back from their Week 8 loss to the Broncos, traveling to Charlotte to take on the 7-0 Panthers. The Broncos have a notable game of their own, as QB Peyton Manning heads back to Indianapolis to take on the struggling Colts. I went 7-7 against the spread last week, bringing my total record to 57-62 so far in my picks, I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick is in red

Thursday Night Football
Browns at Bengals (-10.5)

Sunday 1PM games
Dolphins (+2.5) at Bills
Packers (-2.5) at Panthers
Titans at Saints (-7.5)
Raiders (+4.5) at Steelers
Rams (+2.5) at Vikings
Redskins at Patriots (-13.5)
Jaguars at Jets (-6.5)

Sunday 4PM games
Falcons (-6.5) at 49ers
Giants (-2.5)
 at Buccaneers
Broncos (-3.5)
 at Colts

Sunday Night Football
Eagles at Cowboys (+2.5)

Monday Night Football
Bears at Chargers (-3.5)

royals world series

Royals beat Mets to win their first World Series title in 30 years

The Mets were the hottest team in the postseason after sweeping the Cubs to win the National League Championship Series, but the Royals were the better team in the World Series, winning it with a 7-2 victory in 12 innings of Game 5 on Sunday night at Citi Field to win the team’s second World Series title, the first since 1985.

Mets SP Matt Harvey threw well through 8 innings — striking out 9 while keeping the Royals off the scoreboard — but when he went back out for the 9th inning, he allowed a leadoff walk to OF Lorenzo Cain, who scored on a Eric Hosmer double, after stealing second base, to cut the lead to 2-1. Closer Jeurys Familia then came in to relieve Harvey. After inducing a groundout by 3B Mike Moustakas that advanced Hosmer to third base, C Salvador Perez hit a grounder to third, and after 3B David Wright through the ball to 1B Lucas Duda to get the out there, Hosmer broke for home and, after a bad throw by Duda that got away from C Travis d’Arnaud, Hosmer scored the tying run. OF Alex Gordon then grounded out to end the inning. After the Mets went down in order in the 9th, we went to extra innings.

After scoreless innings in the 10th and 11th, the Royals broke it open in the 12th inning, scoring 5 runs off of RPs Addison Reed and Bartolo Colon, ultimately winning 7-2 after closer Wade Davis struck out the side, allowing just a single to OF Michael Conforto in his inning of work, to end the game. Perez, who hit .364 in the Series, was named MVP, becoming the first catcher to earn the honor since the Blue Jays’ Pat Borders in 1992.

This series may be over, but these teams aren’t through with each other yet; they’re set to play each other in a two-game series in Kansas City to open their respective 2016 seasons in April.

nfl logo

My NFL Picks: Week 8, including the Packers at Broncos in a battle of undefeateds

Tonight begins Week 8 of the NFL season, with the Dolphins visiting the Patriots. But the highlight of the week is a battle of 6-0 teams Sunday night when the Broncos host the Packers. I went just 5-9 against the spread last week, bringing my total record up to 50-55 so far in my picks, I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick is in red

Thursday Night Football
Dolphins at Patriots (-7.5)

Sunday 9:30AM game (London)
Lions (+5.5) at Chiefs

Sunday 1PM games
Buccaneers at Falcons (-6.5)
Vikings (-1.5) at Bears
Bengals (-0.5) at Steelers
Cardinals (-5.5) at Browns
Titans (+3.5) at Texans
49ers at Rams (-8.5)
Giants (+3.5) at Saints
Chargers (+3.5) at Ravens

Sunday 4PM games
Jets (-1.5) at Raiders
Seahawks at Cowboys (+6.5)

Sunday Night Football
Packers (-2.5) at Broncos

Monday Night Football
Colts at Panthers (-6.5)