Surprise, surprise: I didn’t win my bet on the Philadelphia Phillies last week. The good news is that I didn’t lose it, either. I played Over the run total of 8 in last Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, and the result was a 6-2 final score – a push. That brings my season-long betting total on the Phillies to 5-9-1.
There are two pieces of good news in this, though. First, baseball season only has a few weeks left. Second, football season starts soon, too.
As far as this column goes, football season starts this week. Below, you’ll find my take on a few NFL season win totals. Next week, the NCAA Football season picks will begin. And the week after that, I’ll feature MLB, NCAA Football and NFL picks. Man, do I love fall!
The Background: Let’s start with the Phillies. It’s been much of the same for the team lately. They’re 5-5 in their last 10 games, 58-67 on the year overall, 19.5 games out of first place. They’ve climbed up to third place in the division, but that’s not much of an accomplishment; it’s more an indictment on the New York Mets and Miami Marlins, who have both been playing even worse baseball recently.
This weekend, the Phillies host the division-leading Washington Nationals, who have the best record in the Majors at 77-47. The projected pitching matchups for the series are Kyle Kendrick vs. Edwin Jackson tonight, Roy Halladay vs. Gio Gonzalez tomorrow, and Cliff Lee vs. Jordan Zimmermann tomorrow.
The Line: Phillies +110; Nationals -120; O/U 8
My Take: For the second week in a row, I’m skipping right to the Over/Under line. I just don’t have a good feel for this Phillies’ team right now in terms of wins and losses, particularly because you never know who manager Charlie Manuel is going to put into the starting lineup. The Nationals at -120 looks enticing, but I’ve gone down that road before and been burned (See two weeks ago with the St. Louis Cardinals).
So let’s analyze runs scored. In their last 10 games, there have been an average of 8.4 runs per game scored in Phillies games (4.3 for; 4.1 against). In that same time, there has been an average of 8.3 scored in Nationals’ games (4.6 for; 3.7 against). We’re hovering barely above the O/U line of 8 based on those stats alone.
Now onto the pitchers…
In Kendrick’s four August starts, there have been an average of 8.25 runs scored per game. In Jackson’s four August starts, there have been an average of 6.75 per game. Those numbers would put us slightly under the total of 8 runs. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll see something odd – Kendrick not allowing any runs in his last two starts. That’s just not like Kendrick at all. He’s pitched very well lately, but can he keep up a shutout streak? I doubt it. So even though the oddsmakers seem to have this O/U line pegged pretty good, I’m still betting the Over.
NFL Season Win Totals
With two weeks left before the NFL regular season begins, now is a good time to take a hard look at the season win totals and see if there is any value there. One total stands out to me…
• Dallas Cowboys (8.5): The Cowboys went 8-8 last year, and the oddsmakers are predicting something similar to that in 2012. I, however, think they’re in for a big drop-off, for a few reasons. First, the NFC East Division should be significantly better all around. The New York Giants (9-7), Philadelphia Eagles, (8-8) and Washington Redskins (5-11) could all be in for an increase in wins from last season’s marks. Plus, the Cowboys have serious injury question marks on the offensive side of the ball with TE Jason Witten and WRs Miles Austin and Dez Bryant all hobbling already. The team is putting a lot of faith in RB DeMarco Murray, too, and they’ll need him to perform at a high level, otherwise they’ll be in trouble. I like playing the Under here.
A few others I don’t love, but would consider…
• San Francisco 49ers: Under 9.5 (+150)
• Oakland Raiders: Over 7.5 (+125)
• Seattle Seahawks: Over 7.5 (-155)