Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bill's Guide to Gambling (alternate title: How to Lose Money By Being Stupid), Part 3 of 3

Whoa, I kind of took a break there.  I figured that Bill was on a break (check his Instagram for awesome pictures of him golfing!  Actually maybe don't bother), so I might as well take one too.  Here's what I learned: blogging is fun.  Let's finish Bill's comprehensive gambling guide, since he's back from suspension tomorrow.

I'd like to say for sure that even if I were hired to work at Grantland like Bill Barnwell (who did a slightly-less-awful-than-Simmons job of making picks in Bill's absence), I wouldn't turn into a Simmons disciple, but I can't, because you literally couldn't pay me to work at Grantland.  At every salary level reasonably able to be offered by a somewhat popular sports website owned by a big media company, I would sooner panhandle than work for anything associated with ESPN.  But I won't say "You couldn't pay me enough" to work there.  Because you know what?  For $1,000,000 per second, I will happily sell my soul to Disney.  No problem.  Just give me the contract.

OK, back to Simmons.  Underdogs went 13-16-1 since my last post, making them 44-43 on the year.  So remind me--is it the year of the dog?

Rule: Don’t forget — it’s the Year of the Dog!!!

Ohmygod it is!  It's the year of the dog!!!!!!

Write it down! YEAR OF THE DOG!!!!!!!!! Got it?

I literally did!  I literally just did!!!!  Where is my free money?!?!?!?!?!

Before we hit the rest of the Week 1 picks, I wanted to mention my “circle” theory 

About as useful as my "Larry B has a huge penis" theory.

that I keep bringing up in podcasts but haven’t properly explained in print. 

Ah, THAT'S the problem with whatever half-baked waste of pixels he's about to spew--it hasn't been explained in PRINT.  Finally!

We don’t have legitimate NFL juggernauts along the lines of the early-’90s Cowboys anymore; the Salary Cap Era makes it impossible. 

This is true.  He should have just ended the article right here.

By January, every playoff team just hopes they became one of the seven or eight contenders with a chance to win the Super Bowl.

This is not true.  He should have ended the article back there.  Sure, some pretty good teams (2011 Giants, 2012 Ravens) just want to hang around for as long as they can and sometimes it works out.  Then there are really awesome teams (2012 Broncos) that flat out fall apart when the chips are down, and specifically, fall apart because they fail to execute, not because "the league has too much parity boo hoo!"  This being a Simmons article, though, I suppose the oversimplification of something fairly complex is to be expected.  TEN NBA TEAMS WILL CONTRACT BY 2012.  WHO SAYS NO.

Think of it this way: You always leave an NBA season saying, 

Think of it this way: if you are writing a guide to gambling on the NFL, what's the first thing you want to do?  Yes, that's right, you took the words right out of my brain: you start babbling about the NBA.

“The best team clearly won,” with very few exceptions (2013 and 1988 being the most recent). 

Even for Bill, this is staggeringly retarded.  I'm not even sure I want to go into explaining all the times between 1988 and 2013 that the "clear" "best team" did not win, because I want to go to bed before 4 AM.  The 2011 Mavericks were clearly better than the Spurs, Bulls and Heat?  The 2007 Spurs were clearly better than the Mavericks and Suns?  The 2006 Heat, with all of their 52 wins, were clearly better than the Pistons or Spurs?  And so on and so on and so on, perhaps most glaringly demonstrated by the 1995 Rockets, who went 47-35 and finished 6th in the West (Hakeem started 72 games, by the way, so it's not like they were hampered by an injury to their HOFer), but who were apparently "clearly" the best team in the league.  Holy dinosaur shit, this is bad, even for Bill.  

You always leave an NFL season saying, “One of the best teams caught a few breaks, took care of business and deserved to win.” 

Back to being right, except you can replace "an NFL" with "a sports season of any kind at pretty much any level."

Most of it makes sense, but not all of it: the Helmet Catch, 


Rahim Moore, 

Take it from this Broncos fan: it makes perfect sense.  Moore was a 2nd year safety who was on the team for his hitting and run support, not his coverage.  He never should have been on the field for that play.  It's really not particularly surprising that he got beat deep on that play.  Flacco threw that pass like 90 yards in the air.

Kyle Williams, 

The dude fumbled a couple of times.  He's not currently on an NFL roster.  It's not like he was revered for his non-fumbling ways prior to that NFC championship game.  It was chilly and damp that evening.  This is not nonsensical in any way.

Santonio Holmes dragging his feet … 

You mean an awesome athlete make a great catch?  THE BASKETBALL EQUIVALENT OF THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN, EXCEPT IN 2013 AND 1988 (I didn't mention it earlier, but of course him listing that year is a dig at the Lakers because of course it is; they won more games than anyone in the NBA that year but were CLEARLY NAWT THE BEST TEAM even though they were defending champions).  THE BASKETBALL ARIZONA CARDINALS WIN THAT SUPER BOWL 10 TIMES OUT OF 10. 

I mean, in the words of Tony D’Amato, it really is a game of inches.

Someone give this man a Pulitzer.  How many seconds do you think he spent on that line?  Four?  Zero?  Did his editor add it for him, just to see if anyone would notice? 

So you want to break into that January circle. Seven contenders usually do it, then there’s always that eighth late bloomer/sleeper/surprise team that unexpectedly crashes the party. 

No.  No.  That's not at all an accurate characterization of how the NFL playoffs work.  Fuck off and die, you hack.  

We’ll call that team the Wonk Team, 


since things always get wonky as soon as the Wonk Team reveals itself. 

2013's Wonk Team: the Decatur Staleys!  Watch out, NFL!

Check out how the last seven seasons played out. (Teams got two asterisks if they won the Super Bowl and one asterisk if they lost the Super Bowl.)

2013: Denver (13-3, alpha dog),* Seattle (13-3),** New England (12-4), San Francisco (12-4), Carolina (12-4), New Orleans (11-5), Cincy (11-5), San Diego (Wonk Team).

I hate that I'm even engaging on this, but Kansas City was clearly the wonk team, and they lost their first playoff game, because they weren't that good.  That is a common characteristic of what I'm assuming Bill calls "wonk teams," and just because the GREATRIOTS lost a Super Bowl to a #6 seed mediocre Giants team seven years ago, now all of a sudden we get to read about how wonk teams always gum up the works.  Sure, Seattle and Denver were pretty clearly the best teams in the NFL last year, and they met in the Super Bowl, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE WONKY CHARGERS?

2012: Denver (13-3, alpha dog), Atlanta (13-3), New England (12-4), Houston (12-4), San Francisco (11-4-1),* Seattle (11-5), Green Bay (11-5), Baltimore (Wonk Team).**

Hey, look at that!  The division champion Ravens, who kicked the shit out of the Patriots in New England after squeaking by the Broncos, just happen to be a Wonk Team (tm)(patent pending).  What a surprise!

2011: Green Bay (15-1, alpha dog), New England (13-3),* New Orleans (13-3), San Francisco (13-3), Baltimore (12-4), Pittsburgh (12-4), Houston (10-6), NY Giants (Wonk Team).**

Same for the 2011 division champion Giants, who were obviously a wonk team, while the terrible mediocre Texans were not!  Funny how that works!  I can't even go through the rest of this list.  If you want to develop brainrot, by all means, be my guest.

2010: New England (14-2, alpha dog), Atlanta (13-3), Pittsburgh (12-4),* Baltimore (12-4), New Orleans (11-5), NY Jets (11-5), Chicago (11-5), Green Bay (Wonk Team).**

2009: Indy (14-2, alpha dog),* New Orleans (13-3),** San Diego (13-3), Minnesota (12-4), Dallas (11-5), Green Bay (11-5), Arizona (10-6), NY Jets (Wonk Team).

2008: Tennessee (13-3, alpha dog), Carolina (12-4), Pittsburgh (12-4),** NY Giants (12-4), Indy (12-4), Baltimore (11-5), Philly (9-6-1), Arizona (Wonk Team).*

2007: New England (16-0, alpha dog),* Green Bay (13-3), Dallas (13-3), Indy (13-3), San Diego (11-5), Jacksonville (11-5), Seattle (10-6), NY Giants (Wonk Team).**

From 2007 through 2013, the alpha dog made three Super Bowls and lost all three … and the Wonk Team won four Super Bowls and lost a fifth. That makes no sense whatsoever, 

Sure, the teams that won the Super Bowl were good teams that maybe dropped a couple regular season games they shouldn't have, but had great QBs (some would say ELITE in the case of one Joe Flacco) and played their best during the playoffs.  This makes no sense, if you're fucking stupid.  If you have an IQ over 70 it's pretty unsurprising.  QUICK, BRING UP ANOTHER HALF BAKED THEORY THAT'S PATENTLY IDIOTIC!  IT MIGHT SAVE THIS IDEA!  

but it also makes SOME sense if you believe that (a) the “Nobody Believes In Us” factor matters way more than we realize, 

/finger gun to the head blowing own brains out motion

and (b) the NFL playoffs are a freaking crapshoot.

They are.  Like the playoffs in any American pro sport.  Since I am an AMERICUNN I love me some high stakes playoff drama, but I have to admit, European soccer (for all its insufferable fans and dumb idiosyncrasies) kind of has a good thing going with the whole no playoffs thing.  Really, do we need to keep letting 86 win MLB wild card teams win the World Series?

Here’s what my 2014 circle looks like: I’m locking down Seattle (my 2014 guess: 14-2), New England (12-4), Denver (12-4), San Diego (11-5), New Orleans (11-5) and Cincy (11-5) as my six true contenders. 

Disappointingly reasonable guesses, even if the Saints look crappy and the Bengals suddenly look shaky.  I can't believe the damn Patriots got their act together yet again.  I hope Brady throws a 99 yard pick six that costs them a playoff berth in week 17.

The seventh contender: the NFC North champ (Green Bay or Chicago are both going 10-6 and it will come down to the 17th tiebreaker). And for the Wonk Team, let’s go with either Green Bay (if it’s a wild card) or A Team Coached By A Harbaugh Brother. That’s right, San Francisco and Baltimore — I’m looking at one of you to get your wonk on.

By which he means, both of those teams are good, so TRY NOT TO SHIT YOUR PANTS if one of them does well in the playoffs, because HOLY SHIT NO ONE BELIEVES IN US EXCEPT EVERY PUNDIT WHO BELIEVES IN EVERY TEAM ON A WEEK TO WEEK BASIS.

One more note: I don’t think San Francisco AND Green Bay will make the playoffs. 

They will.

At gunpoint, I’d say Green Bay is in, San Fran is out … and Baltimore will be the Wonk Team. My other three playoff teams: Tampa, Indy and Philly. So there you go.

I can't dump on him too hard because so much of this is actually somewhat reasonable, but Jesus, the Bucs?  Why?  The Lovie Smith factor?  Mike Glennon?  Hard to understand what he was going for there, until you realize he has his head up his own ass most of the time.

Why didn’t I decide on a Wonk Team to win it all? 

Because wonk teams don't exist?  Because it's idiotic to say a 9-7 team will win the Super Bowl?  It doesn't matter, no one gives a shit about your consistently shitty predictions?

I believe the Seahawks are talented enough and hungry enough to become our third back-to-back champs since 1994. 

How he managed to not make the cutoff 1999, and point out that only New England has repeated since then, is beyond me.  Maybe he actually is changing.

Unlike so many other defending champs, they didn’t lose three or four key free agents; they didn’t get fleeced of their slightly overqualified assistant coaches; they didn’t have to overpay any of their Super Bowl heroes; and they actually might be more explosive than last season because of Russell Wilson (edging closer and closer to his prime) and Percy Harvin (finally healthy). 

Meh, mostly reasonable, but after 6 weeks, it looks like Wilson is kind of bumping against his ceiling already, the defense is still great but no longer devastating, and Harvin isn't a huge difference maker.

They have the best home-field advantage in any sport. 

#hottaek!  Not that it's a dumb taek, it's just 1) been said like 50,000 times in the last 5 years by everyone, and 2) every good team has a good homefield advantage; that Seattle's seems to be a little bit better than most really isn't a "win the Super Bowl" kind of difference maker.

And best of all, everyone writes off defending champs for all the reasons mentioned earlier — we just assume the NFL is too much of a crapshoot, and that you’re never getting that lucky twice.


You know what? That’s awesome for the Seahawks. In a weird way, they’re almost the “Nobody Believes In Us” champs. 

This is the stupidest line in this whole column; pundits and fans everywhere picked the Seahawks to repeat.  But Bill has decided that didn't happen, with no evidence to support this contrarian position presented, because it fits better with his narrative.  Bill is truly a dickhead.

I have them beating my beloved Patriots in the Super Bowl, followed by four straight months of my dad complaining, “I can’t believe Pete F​-​-​-ing Carroll just beat us in the Super Bowl.”

If the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl, I will stop paying attention to sports forever.  Don't let me down, rest of the AFC.  I kind of like sports.

More from Barnwell/Simmons later.


Anonymous said...

"We'll call this team the Wonk Team, because with them, things get wonky." is very uncreative and reminds me of the guy in Not Another Teen Movie: "Mr. Isn't first string anymore... isn't first string anymore."


Another fantastic breakdown, many props.

His love affair with the Seahawks has really gotten out of hand. They won the freaking Super Bowl in a blowout and he still has to pretend that they're his special secret superfriend team that no one else talks about. "I liked them first!" What a fucking child.

ivn said...

in Simmons' defense, the 2011 Giants were outscored on the season and swept by Washington, and qualified for the playoffs basically on the basis of Miles Austin not bringing in a near-certain touchdown on SNF. not totally crazy to call them the "wonk team."

on the other hand, no fucking way were the Titans the "alpha dog," in 2008. no one went into that playoffs thinking, "man, the Titans are the team to beat." Pittsburgh was more or less the favorite, and he's intentionally misremembering to prove his point. just like with the 1988 Lakers (was Detroit better than year? or the FACKIN CELTS?)