Gamblor and Son of Gamblor are both predicated on a single theory: that the linesmakers in Las Vegas know what the hell they are doing.  And they usually do – which is why, despite finishing the season on a downward slide, losing money 7 out of the last 8 weeks, it still managed a small profit for the season.  But I’m still furious about the line in last week’s Miami game.  It’s the worst line I can remember seeing since I started paying attention to spreads four years ago.  There are plenty of times when Vegas sets lines that lead to lopsided betting.  And there are plenty of times when they end up losing big money on those games.  But it happens less often than those times that they win big money on those games – that’s why they do it.  Which is why you’ll very often see the line sit tight regardless of how lopsided the action becomes. The sportsbooks know what their odds of winning are, they are content with the action they’re seeing, and they are perfectly happy to take their chances rolling the dice – because they expect to win more than 50% of the time.

Not so in the Miami-New England game last weekend.  The line opened up at -1.5.  By kickoff it had moved to -6.  Minus fucking six.  Sometimes you see a line move half a point.  Sometimes, Vegas gets a little nervous, or feels like treating themselves to some insurance, and you’ll see the line move an entire point.  But four and a half points?  It just doesn’t happen.  Sure, sometimes a stadium’s roof will collapse during the week and you’ll see the game get pulled off the board and replaced with an entirely new spread, but I’ve never seen a spread move steadily upward, one point per day, for the entire week.  It was panic, plain and simple, and it was panic for a good reason: Vegas knew they were going to lose money on this game – lots of money – and they were begging people to put some money on the Dolphins to even things out a little.  Few people were that stupid.

It’s kind of funny, because I lost even more money on the New Orleans game, and I’m not particularly upset about that one.  Even though Tampa Bay seemed like a better bet (with Atlanta expected to rout Carolina, and New Orleans having a history of sitting their starters in meaningless games) and this turned out to be true, the action on the Buccaneers – Saints game was evenly split.

Anyhow, I’ll do a full post-mortem on Gamblor’s season next week when I’ve got more time and the right tools at hand (I’m currently in Delano, California, which you’ve never heard of unless you have a relative serving time in one of the state prisons in the vicinity).  My gambling season is over.  As I did last season, I’ll continue to post Gamblor’s thoughts on the postseason – but the program is not designed to make postseason predictions.  Neither I nor the computer is going to be wagering anything.  Especially this week – the spreads this week are just about perfect and Son of Gamblor has absolutely no opinion on any of the games, while Gamblor just has small hedge bets on every single one.

Computer’s Pick: Seattle (+10)
Bet Amount: $3.72 (Gamblor only)
COMMENTS: Everybody knows that New Orleans is going to win this game.  The fans know it, the sportsbooks know it, the Saints know it, and most of all, Seattle knows it.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t be close.  New Orleans just hasn’t been sharp lately – I thought they would manage to fine-tune things before the season ended, but they didn’t.  And now they’ve got to walk into Qwest Field and beat a team that everyone agrees shouldn’t be in the playoffs.  And they will.  But players feed off of doubt, so you can expect Seattle to pull everything together for their season’s swan song – and they should be able to keep this one from turning into a blowout in front of their own fans.
Computer’s Pick: NY Jets (+3)
Bet Amount: $4.95 (Gamblor Only)
COMMENTS: I like the Jets.  I do not like their chances here.  I fear we’ll see a repeat of last year’s AFC Championship game – the Jets will manage to shut down Peyton Manning for a half or three quarters, but he’ll eventually figure their defense out and pick it apart.  This game might be tight, but I have the feeling either the Colts will cover the spread, or win by a field goal.
Computer’s Pick: Kansas City (+3)
Bet Amount: $2.40 (Gamblor only)
COMMENTS: Baltimore is a playoff-caliber team.  Kansas City is not.  They coasted into the playoffs courtesy of a weak schedule (their NFC opponents this year were from the NFC West) and a weak division (featuring the first team – the Raiders – to sweep their division and still miss the playoffs).  I have a hard time figuring out how on earth Kansas City can even keep this game close, let along win.  I think Baltimore wins this one in a rout.
Computer’s Pick: Green Bay (+2.5)
Bet Amount: 4.34 (Gamblor Only)
COMMENTS: I very rarely pick against the Packers.  And I won’t here.  Aaron Rodgers is capable of putting up huge points against any defense – and Philadelphia’s has already failed to contain him once this season.  I’m hoping that this game turns into a shootout – like last year’s shootout between the Packers and the Cardinals but ultimately I expect Michael Vick to make a mistake before Aaron Rodgers does.